Fall in New England (versus) Autumn in West of Scotland.

New England - Fall - colours I’ve never witnessed it first hand, but I believe New England is absolutely glorious in the Fall. It would certainly be hard to argue otherwise, given the images we here in Scotland see via television movies and the like.

Glasgow is some 13 degrees further north than Boston. It sits on roughly the same latitude as Novosibirsk Oblast (Russia) so perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised by the contrasting perceptions of the year’s third season.

But it doesn’t stop me feeling a tad jealous.

Here’s how I see it:

New England - Fall - bridgeNew England: couples walk romantically hand in hand through the woods. They scatter the dry, brightly coloured leaves as they walk, kicking them into the air for the gentle autumnal breeze to cushion their fall back to earth.

West of Scotland: couples walk hand in hand through the woods. The word ‘romantically’ is omitted, for they are merely providing ballast to prevent the other from slipping on the soggy, rain-soaked leaves.

New England: on a bright, sunny day, a happy, smiling middle-aged man contentedly blows the brittle leaves into neat, uniform piles on his manicured, picket fence surrounded lawn. He then effortlessly lifts them into the appropriate refuse bin, which he places on the sidewalk for collection by the local  waste collection agency.

Houston - Autumn - drabWest of Scotland: on a dreicht, overcast and damp day, a miserable, brow-beaten middle-aged man loses the coin toss / argument / will to live and his wife sends him into the overgrown garden. He accidentally bends the leaf-rake on the second sweep of the heavy, sodden leaves. For the next hour he pushes the leaves into little manageable bundles with his feet, which he then stoops to lift into the appropriate refuse bin. He finally risks a hernia by dragging to the pavement for (eventual) collection by the local council.

New England: little mammals take advantage of the new, insulated and warm sanctuary created by the recent fall of leaves. They are pictured in various wildlife journals all cute, curled up and comfortable.

West of Scotland: little hedgehogs and other small mammals form an orderly queue at the local housing offices, citing the damp, cold and drab conditions they are expected to live in. They are pictured in various daily newspapers brandishing placards and threatening legal action.

FireworksNew England: having served notices of eviction to the adorable little mammalian tenants, happy and excited families from the street gather round the residual piles on Bonfire Night. A match is placed under the leaves. They ignite almost instantly, spreading a cozy glow across the garden that warms the feet of those attending the fireworks display, and now busy toasting marshmallows in the fire’s periphery.

Bonfire smokeWest of Scotland: a boxful of spent matches lie strewn on the ground beside the slimy, wet pile of leaves. That brow-beaten, middle-aged man again loses the the coin toss / argument / will to live, and is supervised by his impatient, irksome neighbour as he siphons a litre of petrol from his car into an empty bottle. Having splashed this over the sodden leaves, he flicks the flame of a disposable lighter onto the musty mound. It ignites. Eventually. But there is no immediate, spreading warmth.

There is smoke. Lots of smoke. It brings tears to the eyes of those trying to quickly retrieve their still cold potatoes from the base of the supposed fire, before the litre of ‘unleaded’ permeates the skin.

The  kids from the street have lost interest and are now indoors playing Xbox. The wives are now in the kitchen and on their third bottle of red. One of the husbands has gone home to check on the dog. Another excuses himself on the feeble excuse of having office work he should be doing.

The brow-beaten husband waits with the irksome neighbour for the smoking stack to extinguish. There is silence in the garden. A heavy, damp silence.

 

And the winner is …………

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19 Self-Editing Tips For Your Writing

pencils-self-editing-help

Re-posted from the ‘A Writer’s Path‘ blog – even though it does probably mean a complete redraft of ‘Evhen & Uurth.’

by Jacqui Murray Now that I’ve published my first novel, To Hunt a Sub, I can say from experience that writing it and editing it took equally long periods of time (and marketing is just as i…

Source: 19 Self-Editing Tips For Your Writing

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Dead Men Walking

Cartoon zombie isolated on whiteDEAD MEN WALKING

The path was well worn, for they came in numbers.

To many, the journey had taken the form of almost religious homage. But for the majority, the subjugated, it was a feared and tortuous trek into the unknown.

Penance or penalty – who could tell? It mattered not.

Even those forced to accompany their masters on frequent trips were fearful of stumbling upon unexpected terrors. For this was an unforgiving land – a strange, soulless wood land, fraught with dread and trepidation around every turn. A land inhabited by a species of beings, shy by nature, who would gather in small groups but scamper into the darkened recesses when approached by outsiders. For it would seem they too were tormented by the unknown.

Colin had been here before, of course. Most of the village’s menfolk had.
But this particular command to saddle up the iron horse and prepare for a new venture into the living, breathing nightmare took him by surprise. Surely his master had laid sufficient sacrifices at the altar of Ingvar to last until the year end at least? Had their dues not been fully satisfied? What more could be required of them?

Colin’s hands were visibly shaking as he prepared for the journey. A survival pack was hastily replenished with revitalising fluids, spectacles, a mobile communicator and most importantly, cash. The god, Ingvar rewarded the offering of cash. This Colin knew only too well.

The short trip to the edge of the mysterious wood land passed quietly and the iron horse was securely stored in a place that would later become as difficult to find as the end of a rainbow.

Colin’s master led the way towards, and through the rotating gates to the place of nightmares. Colin took a deep breath and closed his eyes as, from somewhere deep within, he found the courage to follow.

Instantly, his heart sank. His knees trembled. His head felt as if it were being squeezed by a contracting band of steel. Experience, however, reassured him.

“Focus on the positive. Always the positive,” he told himself. If his master was in benevolent mood, there may be a reward at the end of the trek. Assuming he made it through unscathed, that was.

Trailing a discreet distance behind his master, Colin joined the sluggard masses. Eye contact with the other subjugates proved difficult, but when by chance glances were exchanged, he could see into the very souls of the others. They were neither dead, nor undead. They were caught in a twilight world where all emotion had been thwarted. Until they made it to the other side (if they made it to the other side) their minds belonged to their masters. Only the naïve or plain stupid would offer up opinions of negativity. Even those who opined what they considered a neutral indecisiveness would be ruthlessly smote down in a volley of retribution.

As they wandered deeper and deeper into the petrifying forest, their masters would casually pick up items for brief inspection, pat them, then cast them aside once again. Colin and the other subjugates, however, would become disorientated and nauseous. Their very existence lay in the hands of the masters. So long as they remained no more than a few steps behind, and didn’t let them slip out of sight, they knew it would all have to end. Eventually.

Focus. Envisage the end. How good will it feel when it’s all over?

And then it was.

Suddenly, the trail opened up. No longer was it a random path meandering throughout the heavily wooded area. It was now a straight, direct walkway through a deep valley, dwarfed on both sides by mountainous blocks erected in temple-like fashion – a place for final worship before leaving the kingdom of Ingvar.

The mood of Colin and the numerous other subjugates visibly brightened. Their pace increased. Their gait lightened. They were nearly home. All that remained was to wade through the wide, but traversable rapids.

It had been done before. This was do-able.

And there, in the near distance, the reward. Colin’s master gave that look. Simply translated, it meant: ‘Yes. Ok. You’ve been good. Go on.’

And Colin ran and Colin skipped over to the reward. Now – ice cream or hot dog? Or maybe some meatballs to take-away? Or some cinnamon rolls?

Decisions. Decisions.

Weekend visits to Ikea were sometimes worth the grief.

 

_______________________

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SEE A SAMPLE OF ‘SOUL SURVIVOR.’

cartoon-god

‘The Summons’ and ‘Thought Shower,’ the first two chapters of  ‘SOUL SURVIVOR‘ (working title) my latest attempt to write a hundred-seller, are free-to-read on Booksie.com

THE BLURB:
A rather incompetent junior god and his beautiful minder; a bad tempered, cantankerous crow, and a psychopomp with a troubled past – why would anyone put the fate of the planet in the hands of this motley crew? Dux Shrevas may just be having second thoughts.

angry-crow-2

psychopomp

 

 

 

 

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AMAZING REVIEW!

Amazon.com logo -500Since I stopped promoting ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee’ about a month ago, it has virtually flat-lined as far as sales go. But the time had come to give more attention to drafting my new book, ‘Soul Survivor,’ (working title.)

It seemed the kindest thing to do was to take ‘D&RW’ down that sad, one-way trip to the local book-vet, for …. well, sssshhh – you know.

But then last night, came THIS – an absolute belter of a review from a reader in USA.

The book has also been included in the ‘I Recommend …’ Top 10 Humor books on Lia London’s excellent blog.

Maybe there’s life in the old (damp) dogs, yet.

amazon-us-review-brilliant

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THE WORST MAN ON MARS – unleashed at last.

TWMOM - advert

You can buy from here ….. or here.

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#1 INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLER, BABY!

Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee - 200That’s right – ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee,’ can now legitimately be classed as a #1, International Best Seller.

OK, it’s kinda stretching things a tad, but following a wee promotional push on the USA, Amazon.com site this week, ‘D&RW’ rose from an overall ranking of 1,127,973 to 15,902. (I believe there are over three million titles available on that platform.)

Not only that, but, wait for it …. it reached the #1 slot in the ‘Books > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Pet & Animal Care > Rabbits.

It also reached a ranking high of #3 on Amazon UK – Kindle Store > Books > Home & Garden > Animal Care & Pets . Essays.

Yeah, they’re rather niche classifications, I know. It’s all good fun, though.

So that’s now a year since its release. It’s sold reasonably well and has served its purpose as an experiment in writing and finding my way around the publication / marketing landscape.

The latter really is most time consuming and is a necessary evil for indie publishers. Keep on top of it, and the book will steadily climb / maintain its position in the rankings. Stop, and unless you are an established writer with a substantial fan base, the title will drop like a stone to settle somewhere amongst the silt and dust that forms beneath the virtual shelves at Amazon.

But proactive marketing is a big distraction from new projects. So ‘stop,’ I must.

Maybe now’s the time to take ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee’ on that sad, last journey to the book vet. I mean, there’s no point staggering on trying to flog a dead, erm … well – you know.

Anyhows! Right now I have a rather bad tempered, cantankerous crow (or rook – I haven’t yet decided) and a psychopomp banging on the inside of my head, desperate for an introduction to y’all in the next few months.

You’ll know them when you see them.

Rook 300

SOUL SURVIVOR - working cover

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