Is your life a French farce too?

For some years now, I’ve been convinced that my life is extra specially eccentric. This could be down to my personality, or it could be a matter of perception but things didn’t start too well this week, because I left my phone in Scotland. Then… well… let me share my Wednesday afternoon with you.

Wednesday is market day in Bury. It’s also one of my three days a week at the gym. This Wednesday, I also went for coffee with some of the other mums after the school run. After trogging round town to various stores – McMini’s party is coming up so I was buying party bag stuffing as well as the usual stuff I got home, hid the plastic bag full of McMini party kit, had a quick shower, did a bit of writing, ate my lunch and decided to leave for school pick up half an hour early so I could drop into Waterstone’s and speak to the YA manager about my new book releases.

That’s when I realised I didn’t have my wallet.

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Oh.

It wasn’t in my bag either.

No worries, I remembered I’d put it in with the shopping because there have been purse thefts recently and I usually keep it in a pocket on the outside of my bag, well, rucksack (I have a small child, I am doomed to carry a rucksack so I can jemmy in all the mountains of shit required for managing a small child through the trials and tribulations of every day existence; snacks, plasters, wipes, sting stick, calpol sachets etc). I checked all the bags I’d had my shopping in, including – a real high point – the one in the wheelie bin.

Nothing – which was, kind of, a relief in the case of the bag in the wheelie bin because I’d emptied Harrison’s litter box into it – but all the same.

Oh.

So I had a think. The last place I’d gone was the gym. I rang.

No wallet.

Oh.

So there was only one thing for it. I must have dropped it. I consulted my watch. Half past two. OK, where was the cat? Out. Right so I needed to get him in first. No wait, I didn’t. First I needed to check in the garage round my bike. I got the electric bipper to open the door and went out into the street, closing the garden gate behind me.

No wallet.

Oh.

Our garden is walled all around and the gate is about 7ft. As I closed the garage I realised I’d locked myself out of the garden. I’d have to climb in. Except that I don’t have as many knee ligaments as other people and I was a bit worried about the 7ft drop from the top of the wall to the ground below. After an energetic work out at the gym the knees didn’t feel up to it: neither did the rest of me.

Ah. Hang on. The garage has two windows at the back. Both festooned with cobwebs and probably cemented shut with stour but they are there, nonetheless. So I went back in and I tried to open the less cobweb covered of the two. It wouldn’t budge.

Bollocks.

OK, let’s call that Plan B. Back to over the wall. I cast around and found a small plastic garden toy thing which McMini loved as a toddler. I put it by the fence and climbed up.

No. I decided. Not a wise move to go over there.

I put it in front of the gate.

No. I wasn’t going over there either.

I tried using a log against the window frame and hitting it with another log. It wouldn’t budge. It must be locked.

Ping! An idea dawned. I tried the other window. It was unlocked and it opened. Flaming typical. Never mind. I was in. I broke my way through the cobwebs and dropped into the garden below with the agility and grace of a heffalump tripping over a rock. Looking at my arms I realised my journey through the window had transformed me into the cobweb yeti. Another shower required tonight then to wash them out of my hair. I tried to brush them off but they clung to me determinedly.

Ho hum. Never mind. I was in the garden now, even if I looked as if I’d been down a derelict coal mine. I got the keys, opened the gate and then put the primary coloured child toy away again. I double checked that there was no sign of my wallet on or around my bike.

There wasn’t.

Balls.

That meant I must retrace my steps to the market to see if I’d dropped it. That meant I must find the cat and put him indoors and that meant I didn’t have much time. I couldn’t leave him. He’s only 4 months old and the other feline visitor to our property, Big Vern as we now call him, tends to drop by in the afternoons. Big Vern is a real Ray Winstone of a cat. More of a tabby panther. I don’t want him and Harrison to fight if I’m not there to split them up.

After chasing the very over excited and skippity kitten round the garden for 10 minutes – this is a brilliant game Mummmy! I want to play it forever – I realised I wasn’t going to catch him. However, another five minutes bouncing a ping pong ball on the patio and he was there, ready to play. I threw it into the house and when he ran in after it, slammed the door and locked it. Time was running out. It was nearly 3 o’clock, and that’s when I have to leave to get McMini. I got my bike and cycled up to the gym. I checked where I lock the bike up and asked in a cafe nearby.

Nothing.

For fuck’s sake!

I cycled up the hill and as I got towards town remembered that the party shop was a little further from the market. That was the last store I visited so I went there. They didn’t have my wallet and it wasn’t anywhere near there. But going there did jog my memory. I hadn’t checked all the bags, because I’d forgotten to look in the hidden one from the party shop, which probably contained my wallet, but now it was too late to go home and check. So I went along to the school, picked up my boy and in the end he went to the park with a friend and her Mum. I cycled home and, as predicted, I found my wallet in the hidden bag.

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So as you can see, I bring a lot of shit on my own head (not to mention stour, cobwebs and potential for injury in this instance). Never let it be said that I don’t make life interesting for myself. I put the washing out, while I was there and then went back to the park to pick up my boy. Naturally I didn’t make it to Waterstone’s.

So if anyone else out there has a the kind of short term memory that would make a goldfish laugh, this is just to let you know that you aren’t alone. And hey… it makes life interesting and I am proof positive that you can successfully organise the odd thing, in spite of yourself. Er hem.

Finally, moving on to more important stuff Few Are Chosen, K’Barthan Trilogy: Part 1 – and also myself – get a shout out from Island Editions’ Reading Recommendations spot, or at least, got, yesterday. So here it is, please feel free to have a look, there are some fine books recommended on the site and if you like it, please feel free to share. There are a lot of good folks trying to help us indies and sharing, liking and generally appreciating their efforts is the way we can thank them. It also helps bring them more traffic, better search engine rankings, higher visibility on facebook etc.

So if you want to pop over to look, like and share the love you can find it here.

There’s an M T McGuire book signing coming up, too. Yes, despite having the organisational skills of a butterfly with indecision I have managed to arrange something. Try not to be too amazed, even if I am. The lovely people at Diss Publishing Bookshop, in Diss, in Norfolk, will be hosting a signing on Saturday 30th August, between 11 and 13.30. I’m very excited about that. More details can be found here.

 

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At my back I always hear time’s winged chariot hurrying near…

Twenty one years ago, when I was 25 – yeh I see the smoke coming out of your ears as you do the maths – a good friend from University was killed in an air crash. She was lively, fun and when we graduated – in the middle of a deep recession – she was one of the few people I knew (I was the other one) who didn’t carry on and do a Masters Degree (no chance of a job so I may as well get another qualification) or just take one look at the job market and do law. Never one to conform, was Sharon, she started to design and make jewellery, instead. I signed on as a temp with a firm of contract cleaners – not quite in the same league. You can see who had the get up and go there can’t you, phnark, but I digress.

Her death had a profound effect on me.

When I heard about the air crash I knew I was going to have known one of the victims. It was almost with a sense of inevitability that I read the huge profile about her in the Times, as one of the most poignant losses. I never got to say goodbye to her. I spent her funeral stuck in a traffic jam on the M6. I got to the wake, spent 20 minutes apologising to her parents for not being there and drove back to London, never to see them again.

But even now, I think about her a lot. I doubt there’s a week goes by when I don’t. I also think about two other friends I lost recently, one of whom was just 60 and the other of whom was a year younger than me. In conjunction with Sharon, I also remember one of my Grandfathers. He died a few years before she did but at the end when he was living in a home, he talked a lot, and with urgency, about a friend of his who’d died when they were both 25. My Grandfather said how he still missed his friend and I remember thinking how deeply it must have affected him and later, when Sharon died in my 25th year, that it was almost as if he knew.

And why am I talking about this cheery subject on the day I launch my book?

Well, because I’ve just been reading this post here, and while I was reading it, a few ideas that have been scattered about my brain finally came together. Because quite a few people have asked me, recently, how come I just do stuff, like writing books. When I answer that it’s impossible for me not to it raises the question, what’s driving me on? After all, I can’t produce books fast enough to be viable to a publisher. I don’t know anyone in the publishing industry either. Commercially, I’m flogging a dead horse. My answer is always, because I have to but I think in some weird way, I’m also doing it for my lost friends. It’s as if I have to live a fuller and more vibrant life for their sakes, in a celebration of who they were and because they no longer have the chance.

I guess we all think we’re going to live forever. And there’s nothing like somebody one’s own age dying to give one a cold slap in the face with reality. We’re not. So I do stuff, because I want to do it before I, too, shuffle off my mortal coil and I do it NOW because tomorrow may be too late, as I have seen from the experience of my friends.

That’s why I keep writing when there’s little commercial point. Why I spent a good 13 years trying to work out how to write a book and why I spent another six chipping away at the K’Barthan Trilogy. I also believe I should make the best job of my work that I possibly can. That’s why I’ve spent ages agonising over each word, splurged on editors, pestered kindly souls to beta read it and bought fabulous covers (well I think they are).

Today’s piece of sage advice, then, is this.

Follow your dreams peps. Do it for yourself and for the people who can’t. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Take life by the bollocks and run with it. Find something you want to do and do it. If you can’t find something you want to do have fun trying out the things you might want to do. Don’t wait for the right time to start. The time will never be right, it’s not in the nature of life. Don’t wait for a future you have no guarantee of seeing. The only way to make your dream come true is to take that first step. Just begin.

And trust me all that time eating snail and tortoise dust will be worth it for this moment, when you know that it’s done. And it feels… amazing. Really. Trust me. You want some of this. Make a start.

Oh… and did I tell you I had a book out today? More on that story, and links to buy, here.

Or buy it on Amazon here

CoverLookingForTrouble

Back cover, Looking for Trouble.

Back cover, Looking for Trouble.

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Help! Help! It’s the Chaos Fairies… and some other stuff…

First up, I’d like to thank the host of brave souls who have started following this blog recently. I really appreciate it and I apologise that I haven’t been able to pop over and visit everyone back. The spirit is willing but, as those of you who have been reading this blog regularly for a while will know, my life is a bit chaotic.

However, while I freely admit that my general organisational life plan seems to be reactive – as in lurching from one oh-shit-did-I-forget-to-do-that crisis to another – I feel that today there were mitigating circumstances. The Chaos Fairies were with me. I was very organised this morning, I dropped off McMini and put a wash on nice and early. The first inkling that the Chaos Fairies had turned up was when, after about an hour I went back to see if the washing was done and discovered the machine had switched itself off.

Dan dan daaaaaah. It was an old machine and I kind of thought this.

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Yeeeeeeek! (Yeh yeh. Eyebomb, therefore eye am.

Luckily it was only the plug. I fixed it. No more harm done than an hour of sunlight and drying time dropped.

A few moments later I returned to my computer to start on my to do list. I managed a couple of things. Booyacka! Then, while my anti-virus programme updated itself I planned the flyers and bookmarks I was going to make.

Or not.

When I tried to open my dtp programme I discovered that my anti-virus had taken the unilateral decision to quarantine the executable file. I couldn’t get it out so I had to reinstall. Then it decided that the latest update of flash was also malware. Then I switched it off file checking and left it to look at e-mails and the internet stuff. I should probably look into that one sometime. In the meantime I’ve managed one book mark and trust me, it was a major achievement.

So I trundled off to collect McMini having pretty much blasted my only day to work this week into nothing. The handlebars had come loose on my bike and were wobbling about. Luckily it was just a case of them moving up or down rather than turning while the wheel stayed pointing straight on but it was… odd.

On the up side. I found the shoes I wanted to wear – which I haven’t been able to find all week – stacked neatly among McOther’s. What the hell was I doing when I put those away? Perhaps the Chaos Fairies felt a little bit guilty and pointed me in the right direction. Or maybe not.

However, it’s probably going some when you come close to forgetting about the launch of your own book. Which is on Saturday by the way. Gulp. Yep, as usual my effort to effect a smooth, ritzy launch is a complete shambles. I’ll be clicking publish on Amazon slightly early, for the ebook, for the simple reason that I will only have patchy access to the internet from Friday morning onwards and it would be a pity if it didn’t appear on the day it was supposed to. If you want to make sure you get your copy it is available to pre-order in all formats pretty much everywhere except in the case of the ebook on Amazon. Phnark.

Never mind. It’s not all shambolic. I do have a signing coming up in Diss, just down the road in Norfolk. Details coming soon.

Right then. For now, here’s a list of the places where you can get hold of an advance copy of Looking For Trouble.

The cover of Looking For Trouble

The cover of Looking For Trouble

To preorder multiple formats – as they become available – click on the links.

In ebook format…
Kobo
Smashwords
iBooks
Barnes & Noble (nook)

In print:

The Book Depository.
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon US.
From your local Amazon, if you live outside those two.
Waterstone’s

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Words With A Fellow Petrolhead

I have been very tardy with this one but my good friend, fellow member of the Gumbee Fantasy Authors’ Guild and also, fellow Petrolhead, Will Macmillan Jones has been kind enough to let me witter on about my books, my theories on economic stability and all sorts of other cobblers, on his blog.

So Will, a belated thank you, and everyone, Will does write a cracker of a blog post so pop over to say hello and do have a look around his blog. You can find the article here.

And if anyone’s come here from there the books page I mentioned, and cleverly forgot to give you the link for is here.

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What do you see, you people looking at me?

As many of you probably know, there’s a little bit, in WordPress, that tells you what people typed into their search engines to get to your  blog. I’ve just been looking at fellow Gumbee Writers’ Guild author, Jim Webster’s latest post about the absurd things people type to get to his – apparently it’s a big favourite with people looking for Marks & Spencers knickers.

Boringly, most of the people who come here have either typed a variant of “why do so few UK agents handle sci-fi and fantasy” into their search engine and come up with this post or they’re actually looking for me. Or at least, they were. After reading Jim’s post I had a quick look at my stats and this is what I found.

the beebatron cbbeis, the beebatron tardis
Excellent. Yes, random person, I can confirm that I, too, have noticed that the Beebatron which was on CBeebies a while back, was the old 1970s Tardis control console. Did you also notice that it then went on to be come Riff the dog’s mixing desk in Carrie and David’s pop shop.

Second: snurd, phn erotcia ah ah ah oh

Yeeeeeees. That one’s a bit of a worry.

The word “snurd” didn’t mean anything when I came up with the concept but I have checked the Urban Dictionary since and discovered that “snurd” is also a contraction of “snotty little turd”. Which, in itself, is quite interesting.

Tangental Hint: the Urban Dictionary is kind of like Rogers’ Profanisaurus – only a bit more serious. However, if you write any kind of spec fic it’s always worth checking it out before you name anyone or anything. You don’t want to discover that your hero’s monika is also the slang term for one of those loud honk-like farts that sounds as if someone’s dragging a table across the floor of the room above. I didn’t know about the Urban Dictionary when I started out.  That’s why I have a race of bad guys called the slang term for a fellow who has one ball that hangs considerably lower than the other.

So there you have it. The Urban Dictionary: gold. Now then, where was I? Ah yes…

What all this illustrates to me is two things: First, what we write on the web can be taken very differently to the way in which it is meant. Second, it’s going to be there for a very long time.  Your views my change, your outlook may mellow but that rabid rant you posted in 2008 will be with you always. This thought crystallised further when I opened my second blog alert this morning and found this article about whether or not agents google the writers who query them: short answer, they do.

Today’s advice, then. Think twice before you speak on the net, especially if you’re an author. Think extremely hard before you make any flippant remarks at anyone else’s expense or anything that might paint you as mean or vacuous or prejudiced. Remember, if you’re prone to bitch about publishers and agents, that if you ever want to work with them one day, they’re going to check you out. They’re going to read everything you’re saying now. So think, my lovely peps. Otherwise, hitting that ‘post’ button, or publishing that book, could constitute several high-calibre rounds to the foot.

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Oh no, the M word! Yes. Marketing.

I’ve travelled to another blog to write today’s post… So if you want to discover the connection between inter-galactic church travel and marketing books, I’m afraid you’ll have to click again and visit my excellent friend Seumas Gallacher, here. In fact, please do.

Seumas is a bit of a success story having sold 70,000 copies of his books – which is about 69,900 more than I have so obviously, I’m in awe. Since I’m not usually invited anywhere – except back to apologise – I’m also feeling pretty honoured to be guesting on his blog.

Seumas writes a very good blog, btw. He talks an awful lot of sense with a Scottish accent – he’s from Govern – think Billy Connolly and you have it about right. I can thoroughly recommend his blog and one of his books – I haven’t read the others yet. So yeh, do pop over there. I can recommend it.

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Entrails, Omens, Eggciting News and Eggstraordinary Matters…

Well, OK, not entrails. Moving on.

Big is the order of the day, it seems. Our garden has been surprisingly free of random cats this week, not because of Harrison, who hasn’t had his shots and isn’t allowed out yet. Nope, not Harrison but because of a new random cat arrival.

Big Merv, as I am calling him is a monster of about the size and build I’d expect from the Beast of Bolsover. A true juggernaught of a cat, he is a little lardy but mostly he is just built like a brick shit house. He is a dark brown tabby with a white tummy which he likes to show me at every available opportunity. He is clearly very loved by someone somewhere because he’s a sweetie. He’s also confident, placid and yeh. Huge.

Meanwhile this morning, I encountered another enormity. With the preparation of a birthday cake in the offing I went to the market to buy some extra eggs.  Naturally, I went for extra large, in which there was this.

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Yes. That’s a chicken egg on the right, the one with the terrible wart. And the one on the left? Well, believe it or not that’s a chicken egg too. All I can say is, I sure wouldn’t want to meet that chicken – and if she’s normal chicken sized then all I can say is, boy, she must have been screaming for an epidural. I bet she was in a bit of a scramble, eggcetera, eggcetera. [no more eggscorable egg jokes: ed]

So here’s hoping that all this bigness of eggs and cats is an omen for big success for the K’Barthan Trilogy… says she, jemmying in a buy-my-book reference with a large crowbar. Ooooof, kadang. Ouch, my toe.

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Feel free to buy my books, if you want to and if you already have, thank you. And if you enjoyed them, feel free to tell your friends and/or leave a review in as many places as you like. And thank you to those of you who did.

In the meantime, Book 3 of the K’Barthan Trilogy is out today. I’m afraid it isn’t the last one. There are four books in it. Yes, I count like Baldrick. But there you go. If you’d like to purchase it, you can do so in these places:

In e-book format from…

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Your Local Amazon – wherever you are.
Kobo
Smashwords
iBooks – coming… eventually
Barnes & Noble (nook)

In Paperback format from…

Book Depository
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Your Local Amazon – wherever you are
Waterstone’s

 

One Man: No Plan M T McGuire

The back cover of One Man: No Plan by M T McGuire

 

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