From The Fishbowl

Scribbles about stuff

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Not Quite Normal is Available Now

That is all. – Free edition (9 stories) – Full edition (19 stories + bonus content)

Thankee, sai.


It Just Ain’t Right


I’ve never written a blog in advance on this, well, blog before. But I’ll make an exception this time. When this goes up, it will be 29/2/12, the day that I finally bring out Not Quite Normal. A project that’s been a year in the offing and five in the production. I hope that if you’re reading this, you’ll consider buying a copy. When it’s actually been uploaded and formatted, I’ll put a link to it. Once again, there will be a free version and a paid one. That will be $1.99 USD, payable through PayPal (I don’t believe you need an account, you can use their system for a debit or credit card). If necessary, I know of a place where I can sell it outside of PayPal, since I know that’s a point of contention for some people. That’s just how Smashwords, my ‘publishers’, do payments. It’ll be available exclusively through their site for a couple of weeks before they can distribute it to iTunes and Sony and Barnes & Noble and so on. I’m looking into getting it on Amazon’s Kindle store as well. I’ll give an update about that as and when. Frankly, I’ve been focussed more on getting Not Quite Normal completely finished than distribution. But Smashwords are great, and perfectly safe, so there’s no need to worry.

At the tail end of last week, I decided it might be a good idea to make a trailer for the anthology. A little video. I considered a Vlog, and then realised that I’m not very good at talking to actual people, let alone speaking like a loon into my computer screen. So I made a stop-motion animation. Yeah, I know. It took far longer than I had anticipated, but I was very happy with the results. You can check it out here. Pass it on, if you want. That would be nice.

Anyway. To Not Quite Normal. Here is the table of contents. It might give you a bit of a flavour of the stories within. You’ll recognise some of them – the free previews, and maybe one or two more. Items that are bolded are in the Free Edition, everything else (including the bolded items, of course) are in the paid one.


The Helper (Part 1)


Not Quite Normal

The Well of Wisdom





The Helper (Part 2)

Genocide by P45

The River

The White Door

Truth or Dare

Late Night TV


The Suez Crisis

St. Martin’s Eve

A Perfect Endeavour

The Helper (Part 3)


Notes on the Text

Red (Draft 1)

Image Credits


About the Author


End Note

Essentially, if you download the free version, you’ll get nine stories, plus a little end-matter. (You might have noticed I’ve cheated a little with The Helper – I’m counting it as three stories since they practically are!) This all adds up to about 17,000 words. For free. Don’t say I never get you anything nice.

On the other hand, if you pay $1.99 (around £1.25 Sterling) – which, let’s be honest, in this day and age is barely anything (to send a DVD in the UK First Class is £1.09, let me put it that way) – you’ll get all nineteen stories, plus a lot of extra bonus content. This comes in at around 52,000 words. That’s about six thousand more than The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, incidentally. How good is that?! Some of them are even quite good. I promise.

Making Not Quite Normal has been a great experience. Whether it pays off or not – my aim, if you read my last blog post, is to at least sell enough copies to get paid – I’ve had fun. And it’s certainly not going to be the end. I’ll do it all over again in the future, one way or the other. No doubt. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.



Today I released the fifth and final preview of my short story anthology Not Quite Normal. As I announced last week, the anthology will be out next Wednesday, 29/2/12. The new preview is called The Helper – Part 1 and I will love you forever if you’d be so kind as to download it and help me spread the word a little.

If you’re wondering, Parts 2 and 3 will be released in Not Quite Normal. All three are – obviously – part of the same tale, but each is also perfectly readable as a standalone story. It’s kind of like Star Wars – they make sense individually, but it works on a new level if they’re read at the same time. I hope you enjoy it. I really like the story (ego alert).

I thought I’d divulge a little more information on Not Quite Normal this evening, since we’re in the home stretch.

As I’ve said numerous times, there will be two different versions of Not Quite Normal released. The first will be totally free. What I haven’t said before is how many stories that will include. Well, I’m going to say now – nine. That’s the five previews plus four new ones. I don’t quite know how many words that will come to, but I’d estimate around 20,000. For free. Nice, yeah?

The paid edition will include all of the free stories, of course, plus ten more. On top of that, there will be some bonus material. There’ll be a section where I explain some of my writing methods and thought processes etc, for one. I’m going to include a first draft of one of the stories in NQN, called Red, because it’s so dramatically different from the finished article and will hopefully give the reader some idea of my editing process. I may or may not even include some poetry that I’ve written, if I’ve got enough balls come publishing time. All in all, I’m estimating that the full version of Not Quite Normal will come to about 50,000 words. Give or take, obviously.

And the price? As promised, it will be low and under a couple of quid. All things being equal, it’ll be $1.99 – according to Google, that’s £1.27 on today’s exchange rate. I think that’s probably a decent price for 50,000 words that I’ve been working on for the past five years, wouldn’t you agree? But I may reduce it for the first few days – Smashwords has a coupon system that I may experiment with – to try and tempt some more people.

My aims for the project are modest and – I like to think – realistic. I have no idea how many people are going to download Not Quite Normal, but I’m hoping for a handful. I’ll be blunt – I need to have sold $10 worth of product to get paid by Smashwords. That’s 6 copies at $1.99 in order to push it over the limit. That’s translating approximately 10% of the people who’ve downloaded previews into full purchases. I think that’s achieveable. Maybe. If I can get that then I’ll be a happy man. If more people than that buy it, I’ll be ecstatic. I’ll be honest, though, I’m nervous.

Anyway. If you want to help (God knows I need it!), please retweet, share on Facebook, download the previews and generally help me to get the word out. If you do something for me, even a retweet of one of my plugs, email me – is what you need – and I’ll shower you with praise and perhaps some sort of reward. I really want this to work and, as I said, all it will take is six people paying less than $2 to make me the happiest man on the planet.

I’ll leave before I start to sound desperate. I don’t mean to, but I do genuinely care about this project and want it to work. Hopefully, you know that.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

Makes Sense


Today I have a few announcements related to Not Quite Normal, the short story anthology that I’ve been trying to big up for the last few weeks.

The first is that the fourth preview story, entitled The Well of Wisdom, is available to download now, in all manner of eBook formats (like .epub for iOS/many things and .mobi for Kindle, as well as in .pdf and a simple HTML version). It’s a bit of a change of pace, it being more like a fairy-tale and pretty close to being high fantasy. And it is, as with all of the NQN previews to date, completely and utterly free. Please check it out and pass the good word onto as many friends/relatives/crazy people on the bus as possible.

The second announcement is that there will be just one more Not Quite Normal preview story. It will be out sometime next week, probably Wednesday. I have a choice of two, and haven’t quite decided which one I want to pass out first. But, basically, the important part of this notice is that there will be just one more.

The fact that there will be only one more should tell you something. That the release date of Not Quite Normal is approaching as rapidly as the stampede that killed Mufasa. And you’d be quite right in that assumption. Not Quite Normal will be released, fully, very soon indeed. On 29/2/12, to be precise. The most unusual, strange and, indeed, not quite normal day of the year, being that it doesn’t exist 75% of the time. As I promised, there will be a free version and a premium one. I don’t want to announce the price of the premium anthology yet, but, again, I want to stress that it will not cost much at all.

Please help me to get the word out. The response I’ve had so far has been fantastic. But I’d love it to be even more fantasticer, and the only way that’s going to happen is with your help.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say right now. Thanks, as ever, for reading.


I wrote in an earlier post about a couple of dreams I’d had. That was partly inspired by the fact that I’d recently been reading The Sandman collection graphic novels by Neil Gaiman. Since then, I’ve been (very slowly) reading his prose novel American Gods. Which is really good. And it’s inspired me to write something else. Which is neat.

Today I’m going to blog about God.

Now, I did this before, on one of my old blogs. It’s around in cyberspace somewhere, but it’s such a huge part of my life as a writer that it’s probably beneficial to write something similar.

I want to begin by giving you my personal views on the subject. Let me start by saying that I’m not religious. I do not go to any kind of church or place of worship, I have no intention of doing so either. But if you do, well, knock yourself out. I ain’t gonna stop you.

But just because I’m not ‘religious’ doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in God. Which I do. Sort of. I believe that there’s something else, that there’s more than just this physical realm. I can’t say for sure quite why I feel that way, it’s just an instinct. Maybe whatever it was had a hand in the universe’s creation and just left us alone. Maybe it genuinely does have a hand in the everyday life of every man, woman and child on Earth. I don’t know. But I do think there’s something. I like to think there’s an afterlife as well, if only because the alternative – that these 80-odd years are all there is and once you’re done, you’re done – is terrifying to me. Like, possibly-my-biggest-fear level of terrifying. Well, either that or heights.

As I’ve said, I don’t attend church or consider myself religious. But I use religion as the basis of stories very regularly. It’s not really on purpose, but characters in my writing often tend to be religious, or at least bear sort of relationship to religious myths. Angels and demons often show up, and more often than not the main character has some kind of messianic significance. It’s all very cliché, of course, but that’s just how I tend to lean.

But American Gods has made me look into branching out a bit. The majority of the religious subtext that I infuse – if it’s there at all, of course – is Christianity-based. I guess that’s just because of the culture I’ve grown up in. Despite what the Daily Mail might say, Christianity is still a huge part of British culture, even if certain events are getting more and more secular by the year. (Tesco selling Easter eggs on Christmas Eve being a prime example.) We still perform Nativity plays at Christmastime, we still have Songs of Praise on a Sunday evening and we still have churches within easy reach of our front doors. We’re taught Christian mythology at school, whether we want to hear it or not, and religious symbols are all over the place. It’s what we know most about – hence it transpires into writing.

But there are so many other religions out there. Of course, there are mainstream ones – Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Scientology (lol) – but there are so many littler ones as well, that are either still going or have been banished to the depths of time. I find that scenario incredibly interesting. Who says that any of the religions going today have any more merit than the ones that have now gone? Do we have any right to think that Jesus as an icon is more important and will live in the world’s collective mind for longer than Odin? Or Horus? Or Heracles? Or Anansi? I could go on. All of these gods were once incredibly important to the people who worshipped them.

Why am I bringing all this up? Well, a couple of the stories in Not Quite Normal have a minor, ancient god in them. Call it branching out, but I’m doing my research and trying to make him noticed again. Or at least bring him to a few modern people. I’m going to be a tease now and not say what he’s called, but I promise you that he is/was real. You’ll be able to look online and in books (and even in real world places). And I really like him. Really like him. So much that I want to create many more tales featuring him. Just taking a step or two off the beaten track might have led me to an even greater path.

He’ll be featured in the final Not Quite Normal preview, which will be live in a couple of weeks. I’ll undoubtedly be back before then. Thanks, as ever, for reading.



Well, this is later than I expected. I’ve been trying to blog over the past few days, but I haven’t really found anything interesting to say. That’s probably just because I’m boring. And I don’t want to seem like this blog is just here to pimp Not Quite Normal (I will be talking about that shortly, but only for a second, promise!). So this post is going to be about something very close to my heart: myself.

See, recently, I’ve been getting all nostalgic. I posted previously about my love affair with the Harry Potter series. But what I didn’t mention was that since I did all that thinking on the series, my mind has turned to my childhood a little. Call it a quarter-life crisis, if you want. Without the crisis bit. Anyway…

It came to a head earlier this week, when I was instructed to sort through some of my old stuff, which was just sat in the loft, gathering dust and broken bits of ceiling insulation. Since my room was redecorated and ‘modernised’ last year, I just haven’t had the space for it. And man, it was a blast from the past. Especially when I found my Game Boy collection.

I’ve always said that games and gaming  – Nintendo, specifically – have been a huge part of my life since I was tiny. A lot of people grow up with music – they can relate certain periods of their life to songs that were about at the time, that sort of thing. Exactly how old they were, exactly where they were when the first heard the song etc. Well, I can do that with games. (For the record, the following is being written without resorting to Wikipedia or any other site to check facts about dates and the like, just so that you know. Hopefully I won’t fail miserably.)

For instance. The oldest Game Boy I found was a clear-plastic original Game Boy, which cost my parents a small fortune back in the day. It needed new batteries, but otherwise worked perfectly. The game that was in the slot was Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. I got that from a second hand shop in Boscombe (a suburb of Bournemouth) when I was approximately seven years old. I distinctly remember the cart being a bit dodgy and, sure enough, it didn’t quite load properly.

Another original Game Boy cart was a pirate, multi-game pak. I know, naughty. I got it on my one foreign holiday, in Benidorm, Spain, in August 1999. I was, uh, very ill shortly after because I drank too many Slush Puppies. We’d been careful about not drinking tap water, but – d’oh! – the ice for the drinks came from the tap. British people may also remember this month because it was the date of the total solar eclipse. Yep, the one time something monumental happens in my country, and my family takes me to bloody Spain to get the runs. Typical.

And then the Game Boy Color. That I got for Christmas, 1998. The main reason I remember that is because my former favourite game of all time (now reduced to second because of the blisteringly brilliant Mass Effect 2), The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, came out a few weeks before it. I had a choice: I could either get Zelda or the GBC at launch, and get the other for Christmas. I think I probably made the right choice.

Exactly one year later, I got a badge from N64 Magazine (which is still going – sort of – as NGamer) because I sent in a gameplay variant (which is still good ‘fun’ – try and hookshot onto every roof in Kakariko Village without touching the floor!) which got published. It was also the week that my mate and his mum had to sleep in our living room because her partner was being a bit of a bastard.

The original Game Boy Advance was up next. That was clear blue plastic. I got that on launch day, after failing to win a competition from Nintendo Official Magazine to win a pre-launch one (I’m still bitter about that). I unfortunately can’t quite remember the year – it was perhaps 2001? – but I know that I got F-Zero Advance with it. It also notably began my launch-day Nintendo streak – since that day, I’ve bought every single major Nintendo console release on launch day. It also began my streak of playing said consoles for about three days before getting bored and playing something else. Yeah, I’m kind of mad like that.

I could go on. Playing Ocarina of Time after my grandad’s funeral is one that always comes up in my mind. 21st September, 2001. Getting my N64 in Year 4  – Feburary 13th, 1998, if you want me to be specific – at Winton Primary School (I was in Mr. V’s class) from Toys R Us. My Granny from Ireland being in the UK when my parents got my my Super Nintendo in 1993 (packed with Super Street Fighter II Turbo, if you were wondering). I don’t have a specific date for that one. Consider me a failure if you must. I got my first Xbox 360 on 20th April 2006, and my second on 8th March 2009. Which, if the parttern repeats itself, probably means I’m due another one this month. Oh crap.

And even more recently. I’ve always been an attentive student at school, college and University. Indeed, I didn’t even miss a class through illness from September 2005 right up until October 2009. However, I did – without a hint of regret, I might add – skip my final poetry class of my first year of University – 23rd May, 2008 – because that was the day Rock Band came out. I like music games that much.

(If you know me you will undoubtedly have heard me say this before, but if you’re a new reader, you may want to know that I despise 99% of the poetry ever written throughout human history. Naturally, having to take a mandatory, 12-week class on poetry in my already-horrid first year at Uni made me want to slit my wrists. That’s probably quite bad of me, especially since I like to think of myself as a writer, but I’m being totally serious. I can count the amount of poems I even vaguely like on one hand, and they’re all either by Shakespeare, Seamus Heaney or…no wait, that’s it.)

So yeah, I quite like games. I kind of feel like they’re a huge part of me. They are, as I said earlier, ‘my music’. Although The Beatles are/were pretty damn good.

Anyway, allow me to completely change the subject.

Today – well, yesterday – I released the newest preview of Not Quite Normal, called Mirrors. I’m not going to plug it that much, but you can get it in a multitude of eBook formats for the low, low price of free by clicking this thingy, which I suggest you do with reckless abandon. Hopefully it’ll go down as well as Tomahawk and Endeavour have done. Fun fact: it was the first story I ever wrote for a piece of University coursework. It’s actually quite humorous to see how far my style has come on in the four years since then. Let me know what you think – I’ve updated the Contact page with some places you can, uh, ‘hit me up’.

As ever, many many thanks for reading. You can’t possibly know how much this means to me. Back soon.

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