I Am So Glad There Is Justice In The World

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So I figured that before I resort to smashing your brain over the head with the hefty, blunt object that is my 2011 NaNoWriMo/vember crusade (which will ultimately consume this blog for the month of November while I write a lengthy amount of fiction and grow a [not so lengthy] mustache), I’ll talk about something completely unrelated for the time being.

I am so glad there is Justice in the world.

I’m not talking about this justice:

I’m talking about this Justice:

Yeah, those two French guys that make that cool disco music. And they’re also not to be confused with these French guys that also make cool disco music too:

Who are also really awesome, but for now I want to talk about Justice.

So, why Justice? Well, they released their second album this year, Audio, Video, Disco. Four years in the making, and I’ve been listening to it nonstop since I bought it. It’s pretty damn catchy. I mean, going back to their debut album, † (cross), to that first song on that first album, Genesis. Nothing kicks off an album quite like Genesis does on .

Horsepower isn’t quite Genesis, but then again, what is? Horsepower isn’t quite Genesis, but it’s still pretty awesome.

And the rest of the album is filled with super catchy synth-tastic riffs and wicked beats and shit. Just look at the first single off the album. The video’s pretty cool too.

And that pretty much goes for the whole album. Even the 27 second filler track has its own charms. And the hidden track after Audio, Video, Disco, is awesome in its own way.

The album is awesome. That’s all there is to it. And that’s all I want to talk about before I bombard this space with “NaNoWriMovember Day x: Today I wrote x amount of words and here is how my mustache is growing.” I bet you’re looking forward to that.

So, yeah, in the beginning there was Justice. There was Genesis. Then they were all like “Let there be disco and strobe lights and shit.”

And it was all good. was awesome, and then there was Audio, Video, Disco. And it was all good.

And I am so glad there is Justice in the world.

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Review: Lost in Cat Brain Land

Review

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a review. Now that I’m on break from my studies I’m going to make a push to do more of this sort of stuff. I want to read more, watch more movies, write more flash fiction, submit more stories to publications, write a bit of non-fiction, and catch up on the books I’ve read this year that I want to review.

I figured I’d go right back to when I first started reading bizarro fiction. The book that started it all for me was Cameron Pierce’s “Lost in Cat Brain Land.”

It turns out that I actually wrote a review for this book way back then, and posted it to the book depository. So, to save me some time, I’ll copy and paste the review and then add my thoughts on the book now.

“This book is a quick read. At a glance it’s just a cluster of quirky short stories. The blurb on its own is just plain bizarre, however, what got me with this book, what really makes me adore it so, is how it works in its subtleties. Yes, it’s weird, but it takes a certain skill to build a connection between characters and reader, and I found numerous times that I actually cared about the little blue tea-thieving creature, or the thing that crawled up from the shower drain. It’s not weird for the sake of being weird. It’s weird pretending that everything is perfectly normal. And I guess that’s a strong metaphor in itself. Some of the short stories are better than others, but the overall quality is brilliant. As a first impression to Pierce’s work, and as a first impression to the bizarro genre, I’m thoroughly pleased with the book. If you like weird and if you like going somewhere entirely unexpected from one page to the next, and you don’t mind being disturbed (or in fact thrive on the awkward pleasure it brings) then I strongly recommend this book. I’ll probably order Pierce’s novel “Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden” very soon, as, quite simply, Lost in Cat Brain Land just wasn’t enough. I finished it and felt the need to read more of this guy.”

Now that I’ve read “Shark Hunting“, as well as a couple of his other books, “Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island“, and “Abortion Arcade“, I can quite safely say that my confidences in Cameron Pierce were well placed. I’ve even grown to respect him as an editor, putting out some fantastic books under the Eraserhead Press imprint, Lazy Fascist. Since writing that review, I’ve read a lot of bizarro in general, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my summary of the book is probably oversimplifying things a bit much. It’s not just weird pretending to be normal, it’s often of a different world altogether. No pretending. It has its own warped logic to live by. I still believe that the strength of this book, and some of  Pierce’s other books, comes from his ability to make his strange foreign worlds feel close to home. We become attached to the characters. I would say his best work that I’ve read has been either “Pickled Apocalypse” or “Abortion Arcade” (and in particular from Arcade, the novella “No Children”). I have his latest book “Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom” on order and I can’t wait. It seems he gets better with each book. Ever since I read this book, the one that introduced me to the bizarro genre, I haven’t looked back.

Free ebook for you!

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Ok, here’s the deal. I love it when people read my stories. I’m a writer, that’s how I am. I love it when my friends read my stories and I love it when strangers read my stories. If everything goes to plan, I’ll have my first novella in print  by 2012. And while I’m working on that, I’ll also be working on a number of other stories and determining how ‘sellable’ they are, if I could get them published too.

I’ve had one story brewing for most of the year now, and I’m thinking I’d like to turn it into a novel. It’s a space western. I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking “woah, space westerns are pretty awesome”, you’re thinking it must be something like Star Wars or Cowboy Bebop or Firefly or something. Well, yes and no. I’d say it’s more like Trigun or Doom Magnetic. Anyway, I’ve developed it into a novelette for a university project, and at the moment it’s just the bare bones of the story. A real mixed bag of characters battling it out in the deserts of Mars. Eventually, there’ll be a bit of space travel action, and I wouldn’t rule out a steampunk/cyberpunk-esque side story.

But what you get here is a 7,500 word novelette, and yes, it’s part of a larger narrative, but it is a fully functioning narrative arc as it is. And it can be yours for free! You just need to click on the link.

Once Upon A Time On Mars – Part One

If you do decide to check it out, I’d love to know what you think of it, or even if you just let me know that you read it/downloaded it. I decided I would give it away for free because there are a lot of people that might like my writing, but won’t know unless they’ve got something to read, and I don’t want people to have to pay for my stuff before they know who I am or what my writing is like. It’s also a thank you to the friends who have supported me through my past few years trying to become a professional author. And if you read it and enjoy it, there’s a good chance I’ll be more inclined to finish the story. I’m considering the possibility of serialising it and releasing it as a series of novelettes. Maybe.

If you do read it, and you like it, thank you so much. If you want to share it, that would be amazing. If you want to keep up to date with my work on this project, I’m posting my updates here.

And you can take pride in the fact that simply by downloading and reading this FREE EBOOK you will be supporting this guy:

And on a related note, next month I will be doing “NaNoWriMovember”, which is a portmanteau of “NaNoWriMo” and “Movember”, where NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month (50,000 words in 30 days) and Movember is growing a mustache in November to raise money for prostate cancer. I’ll probably grow a shit mustache, but the writing should be good. This year I won’t be writing one novel. Instead, I’ll be working on a 15-20,000 word novella (the one for publication next year), as well as a bunch of other short stories that may one day end up turning into novellas or novels. One is a time-travelling thriller where the main character experiences a traumatic experience in his childhood, grows up obsessing about it, then goes back in time to learn more about it only to discover his adult self was the cause of it all. Another is a buddy-movie-type nuclear apocalypse story where two best friends are the only survivors of the apocalypse, and they quickly discover they have nothing in common. And I’ll more likely than not start working on Once Upon A Time On Mars Part Two. So those are just a few things to look forward to should you choose to support me as a writer.

ENDGAME

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I put the title all in capitals to make it seem more impressive.

I’m in my third year of university, studying Creative Writing and Literary and Cultural Studies. For the most part, it is very enjoyable and rewarding. For the most part. However, I’m at the point in the semester where all my final assignments are due. I don’t have exams, but I’ve got some major essays. This is my toughest semester yet, and after this I only have to do a semester of part time study before I graduate. But first I’ve got to push past this week. I’ve already written my creative writing major project, which consists of a creative work just over 7,000 words, a space western, and a 3,000 word essay on the cultural significance of bizarro fiction.

What remains is a 3,500 word essay on Akira and the apocalypse in post-WWII Japanese culture, due in three days, and a 4,500 word essay on Blankety Blank and postmodern suburbia.

With time dwindling away, and so much work left to do, where do I go from here?

I gotta figure out my endgame.

Now, let me explain; this is not the same thing as leaving my assignments to the last minute. Yes, they are finished right before the deadline, and they may end up with better marks if I get on top of them earlier, but two, three days before the assignments are due and I’ve got my essay plans figured out and I sit down to write it, I make sure to spend the time saying what I want to say. Sometimes I draw a blank and it takes a long time to write the essay, but I don’t just throw shit on the page and hand it in. I figure out my endgame.

This semester I knew was going to be hell towards the end of semester. So I booked some time off work to make sure I had the time to get it all sorted out. And I chipped away at my workload, piece by piece, breaking the study and essay writing with reading some not-so-taxing literature (fiction/manga) or watching something bloody and entertaining on TV. While this could be percieved as slacking off, I would call it “preserving my mental wellbeing.” I can’t cram my study too early or I’ll snap and when it comes time to finishing the assingments off and handing them in, and I’ve got no energy to get over the line. Or I do, but very sloppily.

Some people are organised and can do all that time management/setting goals and following through type thing, but that’s not me. I got my ideas in my head, and I put them down onto paper, and then I shift them around until something clicks, and then I write my essay. So, my endgame usually requires a fair amount of preparation, just not as thorough as some people.

Right now, I’ve got the texts I’ll be using as case studies, I’ve got my research topics, I’ve got a bunch of research material and notes. For my first essay I’ve got a rough essay plan that’s about ready for me to write into a 3,500 word essay. Then it’s a matter of planning, writing and editing my 4,500 word essay over the weekend. The only problem I foresee with this is the three days of work in the lead up to the weekend. I’m probably going to have a few very late nights and potentially even an all-nighter or two. It’ll be exhausting, totally mentally draining, but that’s why I save my best efforts for the endgame. When I’m finished it’ll be all the more rewarding.

And with this I hold onto the knowledge that next semester is going to be a much lighter work load.

This works for me. As I said, this is how I find I can manage my time best to achieve the best results. For other people, this is not necessarily the case. I’m getting used to the study now, but it’s still a fair amount of effort and pretty tiring on the brain. This time next week I’m going to be so tired, but right now, I’m just making sure I’m in the best possible position for going into the endgame.