Here is a recent review of Trinity by Stacey J Mitchell. This brought a big smile to my face.

Stacey J. Mitchell

TrinityWhen Ben Rider finds his childhood imaginary friend, Trinity, in his kitchen, he knows something isn’t right. Trinity hasn’t changed a bit. He still has three personas: cowboy, pirate, and private eye. He still smells of chocolate, and he still has a habit of massaging his earlobe.

Ben is trying to keep his video game development business alive and finalise a deal with an American games publisher, while keeping his disintegrating marriage together. Now, with the reappearance of his imaginary friend, he has his sanity to worry about too.

Trinity claims he has come back to help Ben sort out his life and guide him to his destiny. But over the days that follow, Ben’s life goes haywire, and it looks like he might meet his destiny sooner than he thinks. Thanks to Trinity, Ben will have a restaurant collapse on top of him, be seduced and later shot at…

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Hatstands and Mini-skirts

I haven’t posted on this blog since the 6th of June. Lot’s of stuff has happened since then. My mother-in-law came to stay with us for three weeks. We went to Spain. And, of course, there were the Olympics. I’ll cover all these in future posts.

I have also been preparing a new cover for my novel, Trinity. The new cover went live on Amazon today, albeit in postage stamp size, so here it is in all it’s, err, glory.

Please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

Diamond Jubilee Madness

So, the Diamond Jubilee is over. There was quite a lot of rain, some boats, some groups and singers, some fireworks, some beacons, a very long church service that got TV coverage on two of our main channels, and the colours red, white and blue featured heavily, usually in the form of the union flag. All pretty standard stuff for jubilees.

The Jubilee Concert took place on Monday evening. I didn’t see the whole concert, but I managed to catch some of it and, from what I saw, it was a pretty mixed bag when it came to the quality of the performers.

Some of them, naming no names . . . oh, bugger it, Sir Cliff Richard and Cheryl Cole, had difficulty in hitting the right notes, or hit the right notes but in the wrong order. An affliction Sir Paul McCartney suffered from too, but to a much lesser degree of severity than the aforementioned artistes.

Sir Tom Jones showed them how it should be done by giving a belting performance of Momma Told me Not to Come and Delilah. Stevie Wonder kept the good stuff going by performing Sir Duke, Isn’t She Lovely, Happy Birthday and Superstition.

But the absolute highlight of the whole event for me, was Madness who performed Our House and It must Be Love from the rooftop of Buckingham Palace. The palace itself gave a pretty mean performance too during Our House as its facade was lit up by a very clever light show that changed its whole appearance.

Sex and Scaffolding

I am not a prude, but I generally don’t like sex scenes in novels. I find them boring, and they very rarely do anything to move the story along. Don’t get me wrong, sex is great in its place, but when I read a thriller, I want thrills, not titillation. If I wanted to be titillated, I could go and watch porn on the internet.

Now, having said all that, I have to confess to having sex scenes in my novel, but they all “fade to black” before the squishy bits happen . . . well, all except one. The one sex scene that is played out in semi-lurid detail, is crucial to the plot, so that is why it’s there.

The scene is below. You won’t be able to tell why it’s crucial to the plot, unless you’ve read the book, but at least you can get it out of the way now, and then buy the novel (links in side bar) and skip it when you read it . . . I do like to look after my readers.

 ***
 We managed to get out of the main offices and across the car park without anyone seeing us. I unlocked the padlock on the barn door, pushed it open, and ushered Bonnie inside. I followed her in and switched on the lights.

“Awesome, I’ve never done it in a construction site before.”

“This is going to be our new office space.” I linked my arm through hers. “Come on, down here.” We made our way to the far end of the building, where there was a ladder secured to one of the towers of scaffolding. “Up you go.”

Bonnie looked at me and laughed. “You want me to climb this ladder?”

“Yes, we can’t do it down here, someone might come in, but up there no one will be able to see us. Why, you’re not scared, are you?”

Bonnie’s eyes widened and she playfully pushed my shoulder. “Hey! This is one girl who is scared of nothing. Here, hold these for me.” She took off her high-heeled shoes and handed them to me. “No peeking,” she said, and ascended the ladder.

I put the shoes into my jacket’s pockets and waited until she was almost at the top, then I followed her up. The structure swayed slightly as I climbed the ladder, and it didn’t feel as stable as it looked. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Bonnie was making her way to where some crates were stacked and partially covered by a tarpaulin. I stepped from the ladder onto the boards and started to follow her. Then I stopped as the boards bent slightly beneath my feet.

“Come on, Ben, what’s keeping you?”

“Be right with you. Don’t start without me.” I took another tentative step. The boards gave under my weight again, and I instinctively put my arms out to the sides and transferred my weight onto tiptoes, as if that would make me any lighter.

Bonnie laughed. “What are you doing? You’re not walking a tightrope, you know.”

I ignored her and continued my daring high-wire act until I’d covered the distance between us, by which time she was crying with laughter. “And what’s so funny?”

She wiped tears from her eyes. “You are.” She took my hand and pulled me to her. Our lips met, and Bonnie fumbled with my belt buckle. After almost a minute, and with my belt still securely fastened, Bonnie broke away from the kiss, giggling. “I’m sorry, Ben, you’re gonna have to do it.”

I deftly displayed my expertise with belts and unbuckled it with a flourish, then I unbuttoned the waistband of my trousers, leaving the zipper for Bonnie to undo. Her arm snaked around my neck, and we were kissing again as our hands explored each other’s bodies. I stroked the warm, smooth skin of her legs, and gradually eased her skirt up. Bonnie positioned herself so I could enter her.

We moved in time with each other, rhythmically rocking our bodies, slowly building up the pace of our lovemaking. Bonnie’s breath came in ragged gasps in my ear, spurring me on to increase the force of my movements. She moaned and whimpered as her hands pulled on my hips. It felt incredible, like the whole world was moving in time with us.

I opened my eyes and discovered the world was moving. The scaffolding was swaying backwards and forwards in time with our movement.

“Aarrgghhhhh!” I yelped as the wall approached us, then receded back to come at us again.

“Oooohhhhh!” moaned Bonnie in response, with her eyes tightly shut.

The tower swung forward and almost hit the wall. “Oh dear God! It’s getting closer…”

“I know…I can feel it too…”

Visions of us found dead in each other’s arms among a pile of collapsed scaffolding filled my head. The doctor shaking his head as he proclaimed the cause of death to be acrobatic shagging, while television news cameras broadcast our fate to the nation as an example of the dangers of unsafe sex.

The tower lurched forward with a sound of metal scraping on metal, setting my teeth on edge. Then it groaned loudly as it swayed back. “It won’t hold out much longer.”

“Don’t hold out.” She pulled hard on my hips, and I went past the point of no return.

I closed my eyes, and all thoughts of impending doom and collapsing scaffolding left my mind as Bonnie bucked beneath me. Completely spent, I shuddered to a halt and opened my eyes again. The scaffolding was still swaying, but not as much now.

Bonnie was staring at the ceiling. “Oh, wow, Ben,” she said with laughter in her voice. “You really rocked my world this time.”

We Will Ask The Questions, Mr Fox . . .

I was recently interviewed for AuthorsAnon (link in side bar) by the awesome B LLoyd. It was my first interview as an author, but not the first time I’ve ever been interviewed. Over the years, as a games industry professional, I’ve given interviews to such august publications as The Independent, The Coventry Evening Telegraph, and various computer related magazines.

The first time I was interviewed was in 1992. My then partner (that’s business partner) Scott Williams and I had created a video game called Krusty’s Super Fun House, and it was starting to gain attention. A fairly new magazine at the time, N-Force, ran a feature on the game and said nice things about it, so I decided to phone their offices and thank them. They were pretty enthusiastic and asked if they could interview us, so I said yes, after checking with Scott.

On the day of the interview, two journalists arrived at my house. One was from N-Force, and one was from its sister magazine Sega Force. The interview went smoothly. Sensible questions about game development, level design, programming, graphics and animation etc., were asked and answered, photos were taken, and the two journalists went back to Ludlow to write, what we thought were going to be insightful articles about game development for the edification of their readers.

Here is a taste of what the resulting articles were like:

Scott is the sensible chap on the right. I’m the long-haired one on the left, wearing a black leather jacket and cowboy boots. I’ve always been a fashion icon.

“Pat disembowels Scott and feeds his steaming entrails to a passing lion. ‘Listen to other people’s views and be prepared to take criticism!’

Scott disintegrates Pat’s head with a thermonuclear device and shouts to me, ‘And remember, the rewards for coming up with a great game can include interviews with such prestigious magazines as SEGA FORCE!’

What a creep! I leave their dungeon lair with the sounds of the tormented still in my ears and the blood of hapless Nintendo owners on my boots . . .”

Any hopes we had of becoming the go-to-guys for comments on the games industry pretty much died with those two articles. And my dream of Michael Parkinson seeing one of the interviews and immediately booking us for his chat show, died on the day the magazines popped through my letterbox.

The pictures littered around this post were taken from the two magazine articles, and there’s one thing that bothers me about them — I can’t ever remember having a blonde moustache!

Here I am in 1992 aged 36, complete with a mysteriously blonde moustache. Scott was about 10 or 12 at the time. It looks like Aviator shades were the must have fashion accessory of the day.

Forget the Cowboy, Now There’s a Pirate in the Kitchen

This is a scene from Trinity. It takes place quite early on in the book. Ben, the protagonist, is staying at his ex-wife’s cottage in Wales. She is having problems with her second husband, and has followed Ben to the cottage. The scene takes place in the cottage’s kitchen, and features an appearance by Trinity, Ben’s imaginary friend, in his pirate persona.

This excerpt contains some bad language.

 

I pushed the empty plate away from me while it still had a pattern on it. “So, why are you here?”

“I was worried about you, Ben. The way you were yesterday, y’know, the state of your house, and all that talk about seeing your imaginary friend again. I thought I’d come down and see if you were okay. You don’t mind, do you?”

“No, of course I don’t mind. In fact, it’s great to see you.” It really was great to see her, especially the way she was dressed. She was wearing a figure-hugging dress that accentuated every curve of her body. “But what about Jack? Won’t he mind?”

“Jack’s out of town for a few days.” She pushed her chair back from the table and crossed her legs, causing the hem of her dress to ride up, and giving me a flash of thigh. “He doesn’t even know I’m here.”

If I had been sober, this was the point the alarm bells would be ringing, but I wasn’t sober, and I was enjoying the situation.

“In fact, no one knows I’m here, except for you and me.” She took my hand in hers. “And no one else needs to know, if you know what I mean.”

“I see.” I wondered what to do next. I was ninety-nine percent certain my ex-wife was seducing me, but there was always that one percent of doubt. What if I was wrong?

“And there’s something else.” Her voice had become almost a whisper. “What we did yesterday, y’know, in your lounge?”

“Er, yes.”

“I enjoyed it, and I’d like to do it again.”

One hundred percent, definitely one hundred percent!

“And you’d like to do it again, wouldn’t you, Ben?”

“Er, yes, of course I would.”

Helen stood up and reached behind her neck. “Good, I’m glad.” She shrugged her shoulders, undulated her hips, and the dress slid down her body to lie on the floor at her feet. “Do you like what you see?” She stood before me wearing some tiny scraps of cloth that just about passed as underwear.

“Arrhh, that do be a fine-looking wench,” Trinity said from behind me.

“Holy shit!” I jumped up out of my chair.

“Are you all right?” Helen said.

“Yes, I’m fine, great, er…” Say something. “Holy shit, you look fantastic.”

“Aren’t you going to take your clothes off too?”

Trinity had moved across the room and was standing behind her, ogling her bottom with his eye patch raised. “Arrhh, ’tis a sailor’s dream come true.”

“You mean you want to do it in the kitchen?” I said, keeping a close eye on Trinity, who was now crouching down behind her.

“Yes, why not? It’d be fun, don’t you think?” She wiggled her hips.

Trinity’s eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head. “Man overboard, I’m going in.” His hands moved towards her bottom.

“Fucking hell, no!” I grabbed her arm and pulled her to me.

A look of alarm flashed in Helen’s eyes. “Ben, what’s wrong with you? You’re not developing Tourette’s syndrome, are you?”

“What? Er, no, I’m sorry. It’s a bit cold in the kitchen. Let’s go into the bedroom, it’ll be more comfortable in there.” I hustled her towards the kitchen door.

“Oh, okay, if that’s what you want.”

I opened the door and almost pushed her through it.

“My, you are in a hurry,” she said, and giggled.

I stared a couple of daggers at Trinity before following Helen’s bottom up the stairs, to the sound of Trinity’s laughter from the kitchen.

Planes, Spain, and The Mother-in-Law

Every year, my wife and I try to get away for two weeks in Spain. We stay in a villa a couple of miles outside of a small town called San Miguel de Salinas. Although the town is quite close to Torrevieja, Orihuela, and Alicante, it is quiet and sleepy in comparison . . . Well, it is until fiesta time rolls around, which it seems to do on an alarmingly frequent basis, and then the skies over the town light up like there’s been a terrorist attack in a fireworks factory, and the sounds of amplified flamenco music and local indie bands mixed with the pyrotechnic explosions fill the air until the wee small hours. But most of the time it’s peaceful, and that’s the way I like it.

The villa.

The first couple of times we went there, my head was filled with romantic notions of sitting outside on the terrace with a long, cold glass of something alcoholic that I would sip while typing profound and insightful musings on my laptop, which I’d expand at a later date into the basis of a prize winning novel. Then I would take my cane, don my panama hat at a jaunty angle, and venture out for an afternoon stroll. The reality, however, was ever so slightly different. First of all, the sun was so bright I couldn’t see a thing on the laptop’s screen, and secondly, there were comfortable sun loungers by the pool and ice cold beers in the fridge and the collection of paperbacks I’d brought with me that all needed to be read. So, my Spanish routine began to develop: take a beer from the fridge; grab the book on its own, alongside the pile waiting to be read on the sideboard next to the patio doors; step outside, and while away the day on a sun lounger, reading and occasionally imbibing a beer until it was time to go out and eat. This routine became so ingrained I could perform it with my eyes shut.

Pimientos Restaurant and Terrace.

In the evenings we like to frequent the excellent eateries that can be found in the area, with our favourite being Pimientos Restaurant and Terrace. The food and wine at Pimientos are excellent, and we’ve spent many happy evenings there. How we came to discover the place is a story that involves hardship and suffering on a cruel and unusual level, but I’ll save that for another post.

Anyway, after we’d been going to Spain for a few years, the wife’s mother decided to invite herself along on our next trip. Now, my mother-in-law is a . . . erm, unique individual. This is a woman who upon seeing some magpies outside her window, in the middle of Cardiff, rings my wife to tell her she’s just seen some penguins. And she was being serious. She is well versed in the art of spouting nonsense. She is also a remarkably consistent woman having a bad word to say about everybody. Indeed, when she’s not talking gibberish, she spits so much venom, she gets fan mail from spitting cobras.

And so it was with some trepidation that we set off on this particular trip to Spain. Our first day there happened to be our wedding anniversary. I had booked a table at Pimientos for a romantic celebration of the occasion, but when it came time to leave for the restaurant, we discovered that the mother-in-law had assumed she was invited too. So, no romantic evening then, but we decided to make the best of it and set out in high spirits.

The welcome at Pimientos was as warm as the midsummer evening. We all chose from the menu and I ordered a bottle of good quality wine. The food came, and it was up to their usual high standards. My wife and I both tucked into our meals with relish, but not the mother-in-law, no, her food was poked at and prodded and pushed around her plate for at least ten minutes before she declared, “I don’t do be hungry, our Josie.” And drank the wine instead. She followed this up with several large vodkas and tonics, and finished off with a brandy.

When we eventually got her back to the villa, I assumed she would go straight to bed to sleep off the effects of the booze. I assumed wrong. She decided to join us on the terrace, where she drank more vodka and tonic while chatting incessantly in a voice that got louder with every passing drink. I guess you could say it had not been the evening I was expecting.

This castle is a recent building and has a restaurant in it's grounds.

The next day, I was the first out of bed. I made some coffee and took it outside, grabbing my book and glasses from where I’d placed them on the sideboard next to the patio doors. Eventually, my wife and her mother put in an appearance. My wife got into the pool, and her mother proceeded to talk to her non-stop. After almost two hours of this constant chatter droning in my ears, there came a point where I thought I’d gone deaf, but it turned out she was just pausing for breath. This brief respite soon vanished when she started up again. I couldn’t take any more of it, so I made my excuses and went for a walk down to San Miguel.

When I returned, both of them were taking a siesta, and I had peace and quiet to read my book. However, when I went to get the book and my glasses, they weren’t where I’d left them, and neither was my pile of extra books to be read. A thorough search unearthed them in a drawer of a cupboard in the dining room. I put them back in their correct place on the sideboard next to the patio doors, little knowing I had just experienced the results of one of my mother-in-law’s many little foibles.

For the two weeks that followed, my books and glasses would disappear from the sideboard next to the patio doors, and turn up in various drawers and cupboards around the villa. Even the sideboard next to the patio doors made brief guest appearances as the sideboard in other parts of the villa. All of the furniture would be rearranged three or four times on a daily basis. It was like being haunted by a poltergeist with OCD.

The main drag in San Miguel.

The two weeks came to an end, and it was with some relief I boarded the plane to come home. At least in a few brief hours I would be free of the mother-in-law and the surreal world she inhabited, and I could once again set foot on planet Earth. But she had one more trick left to play on us.

We passed through passport control without incident, collected our bags from the carousel, went to leave and were pounced on by two enormous Customs Officers who bundled us into a side room. One wall in the room had a mirror running it’s full length. I’ve seen enough cop shows on TV to know we were being watched from the other side of the mirror. All I could hope for was that one of the watchers wasn’t pulling on rubber gloves.

We were questioned about where we’d been and the purpose of our visit. Our bags were opened in turn and the contents examined, and then they opened the mother-in-law’s rather large suitcase to reveal countless cartons of cigarettes. It seemed I had just been to Spain with a ruthless black marketeer, and I wasn’t the only one who thought so. The officers set about interrogating Mrs Big, who in turn, answered their questions and added irrelevant details and pointless anecdotes. The looks exchanged between the officers revealed a state of growing confusion. Was I in the presence of a criminal genius, or just a woman who was too sheltered to realise how much potential trouble she was in?

For two hours we were detained by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, but in the end they let us go. And as they opened the door to let us out, I couldn’t help but notice the strange, haunted look in the officer’s eyes. I knew how they felt.

The Best Thing I Have Ever Done.

I have been privileged enough to have shaped the lives of two young people who have now grown into adults: my step-daughter, Sarah, and my son, Zack. I am proud of both of them.

Zack is currently studying at the University of Connecticut as part of his degree course at the Nottingham University. He is the first member of my side of the family to go to university, and that makes me immensely proud.

Recently, he, along with some friends, went on a trip to Washington DC. And one of the friends, Justin Lacy, posted some photographs of the trip on Facebook. Justin very generously gave me permission to post some of them on here. Click on the photos to see a larger version.

So, dear blog viewers, here’s some pictures of the best thing I have ever done.

My thanks to Justin for the photographs, and I’m thinking of you, Zack. Have a great time, son.

Caught Red-Handed

One of the most common pieces of advice handed out to writers is to Write What You Know. As advice goes, this particular nugget of wisdom is pretty rubbish, unless you happen to have a lifestyle similar to Jack Reacher, or James Bond. And it’s entirely useless if you write Sci-Fi, or Fantasy, or Sparkly Vampire Fiction etc. Happily, I don’t write any of that stuff, so I was able to “write what I know” for a scene in my book.

The scene deals with a situation where my, not so heroic, hero, Ben, is caught red-handed doing something he shouldn’t. Here is a short excerpt from the scene, and yes, something very similar happened to me.

 

I waited until John had left the room, and I turned to Bonnie. She was looking at me in an odd way, almost as if she was making sure everything was where it was supposed to be. I smiled and she moved her gaze to her lap. I took the opportunity to give her the once-over. She was dressed in a matching grey jacket and skirt. The skirt was tight and clung to her thighs, accentuating their shape and length. My eyes travelled along them and down to her calves, which were perfectly formed and tanned. I looked back up to her face to see her watching me from behind her hair.

Shit! Caught in the act. Quick, say something.

“So, you’re a woman…”

What am I saying?

“I mean, of course you’re a woman. It’s just that I, er, we I mean, we weren’t expecting you to er, to be…”

“You were expecting a man?” she said, looking directly at me, her apparent shyness gone.

“Something like that.”

Something like that! Get a grip, for heaven’s sake.

“I mean, yes, a man.”

Damn!

 

Okay, end of excerpt. I’ll be the one walking around with a brown paper bag over his head for the rest of the day.

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