Irons in the Fire

What’s next, Jez, what’s next?

That’s the question I keep asking. It’s a very good question that must be asked. There’s the old joke about the guy who starts to clean his room, only to stop and start making lunch, only to stop and start taking a phone call, only to stop and wash himself, only to stop and fix a leaking tap, etc, etc and by the end of the day he has worked himself out and accomplished nothing.

That’s a very real trap.

I have many, many things I want to be doing. If I have a couple of lifetimes, I might be able to get through some of them, but I don’t and I can’t so that is a pickle. What can I do? There’s only one me and I’ve got limited resources and time and all of that.

I can prioritise, that’s what. I can put those projects forward that are doable and urgent and worthwhile. Aren’t they all? Yeah, but some more than others. I can’t go into exactly what my criteria is. What I can say is that there are pressing issues outside of writing and art that need to be done, so they rank right up the top (mostly because I’m responsible for making them happen). Next to those, I have my own personal endeavours and investigations that I want to do just because. OK, so they aren’t so critical, but all work and no play makes Jez a dull boy.

Lastly, I have books that want to come out. Tedrick Gritswell needs his third book. Paranormology just got Milena. Darkness from Below wants a re-write. In fact, it wants a complete overhaul.

That’s where I’ve landed:

  • I’ve finished the audio book of Atlas, Broken.
  • I’ve written three quarters of the next Tedrick Gritswell but put it down to let it simmer.
  • I’ve written the next book in Paranormology but put that down, too, because I’m not happy with it.
  • I’m overhauling Darkness from Below. It’s now going to be very different indeed from its original form.
  • I’m making plans to construct some cool experiments in the garage.

Hang on, hang on. Didn’t I just say that starting too many things and not finishing them was a bad thing? Yes, I did. That’s exactly what I said. So why did I stop with Tedrick and Paranormology? Because I’ve gone as far with them as I’m comfortable with. For now. There is such a thing as over-working, and for each book I’m at the stage where I need to step back and let it sit.

Muscling through to get something finished when there’s a clear-cut path to success is fine and recommended. When the end is obscure, though, or if there’s too much going on, backing off is a perfectly viable strategy. Tedrick, you see, is done. Done to the point where I can come back with a fresh, critical eye and start it up again when I’ve decided how to proceed. Paranormology is done. Done to the point where I could publish it right now, but it wouldn’t be what I’d want. I’m too close to it, too invested.

So those two are parked and Darkness from Below is my current project. This is going to take some brain-work. It’s going to be furious typing and several thousands of words every day. It’s going to be planning and deleting slabs of text and revisiting stale paragraphs that haven’t been seen since 2012. And that’s going to take time, which is fine. In the meantime, when I get bored, I’m going to do my experiments to keep my brain fresh.

In short, I’ve had a lot of irons in the fire, only not all at the same time.

Atlas, Published

Quick one – It’s UP! The Audiobook version of Atlas, Broken is up and out and on Google Play and Chirp and all of those places! Well, it is not up on Audible yet, but that seems to take a year and a day, so I’m not surprised, and it’s not about to put a dampener on my celebrations.

I’ve put the links here for your convenience:

Audiobooks

Kobo

iTunes

Google

Chirp

And it’s available at 50% off for a limited time from Chirp!

Giving Atlas a Voice

It was a tough book to write. Henry Ludlow, that sorry excuse for a protagonist, never stood a chance. It was unfair. He didn’t get much of a character arc. George Abbot said something like, in the first act, your hero gets stuck up a tree. Then, in the second, you throw rocks at him. Finally, in the third act, you get him down from there. He has changed, he has progressed.

Henry doesn’t, though. He gets plenty of rocks thrown at him and his tree is more like a thorn-bush. And in the end, he’s not allowed to come down. It isn’t a Disney ending and it certainly isn’t what people seem to want the story to be. There’s nothing really uplifting or inspirational.

Sure, you want Henry to succeed. You want him to find some strength within, some untapped resource that he needs to discover. You want him to figure out life. You want him to get it.

But he doesn’t get it. He can’t, and that’s the problem. That’s the goal of the story. Henry is doomed. He is doomed and the people who can save him won’t, or can’t. Either way, it doesn’t matter. He’s not a super hero, he’s barely an average guy.

I doubted that I was actually doing something wrong, there. Was I being needlessly cruel? He’s just a character, after all. But he’s not just a character. He’s more than that.

Then I read a couple of Franz Kafka books and I realised, yes, not all books needed to have fairy-tale endings. Not all books needed to even have likeable characters. Maybe Atlas, Broken, isn’t a nice book, or a happy book, or a readable book, but it’s a book that I had to write and now, I’ve figured, I might as well do the audiobook as well.

The setting is in suburban Melbourne. The folk are typical suburbanites. There are Tim Tams and seagulls and beer. Really, this should be right up my alley. Let’s see.

Cooper Alley Ghost Released!

The wait is over! What’s the next ghost going to be? Now you can find out! The sixth book of the Paranormology Series is released today at all your favourite e-book outlets:

Smashwords
Google Play
Apple Books
Amazon Kindle
Kobo / Rakuten
Barnes & Noble

or simply click the link to

books2read.com/cooper-alley

To get it from just about anywhere (links updated daily).

And all for less than a cup of coffee. What? That’s right, it’s only 99c!

There is a delay with distribution of the audiobook version, so currently it’s only at Kobo, but as things unfold, I’ll update the links for you.

Don’t forget to leave a review!

Happy Sunday, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy it.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Tyrrell

Hunting Ghosts

I spend a lot of time fixing issues in my job. Software engineering is about creating solutions, yes, but it’s also about diagnosing and fixing problems. Some problems are run of the mill. You see the symptoms, you hear the complaints, you look at the context and it all points to one thing. A busted database, user error, cruddy printer heads.

Then there are those bugs that crop up and have no immediate solution. They are reported as ‘it sometimes crashes’ or ‘it intermittently goes slowly’. These are the ones to watch out for. It’s too easy to fob them off as ‘ah, user error’ or ‘an anomaly, nothing more’.

The report itself is full of assumptions, and these assumptions must be solidified. What was the user doing at the time? When does it normally occur? Is it the same terminal each time? Is it happening at other sites? In fact, there are so many possibilities of what it ‘could’ be, that it’s seemingly impossible to see what it really is. Worst of all, the assumption that the user has isolated the incident to where it broke is a terrible one. More often, the user has a prejudiced idea about what the nature of the problem truly is.

Jumping in to solve a problem at this point is prone to error, and one can easily find oneself chasing ghosts about, grasping at elusive problems in all the wrong places.

And that’s where being methodical comes in. If there is one rule I’ve found when busting bugs, it’s to go back to the very, very start. Take all of the current context with a grain (or spoonful) of salt. Stop, relax, take a breath and look at it from afar. Is the machine turned on? Is the application running? What version is it on? Is there network access?

All of these things, and more, can be assumed. Without testing, they cannot be taken for granted. It usually only takes a second to verify these basic things, and, from there, move onto the more complex issues. Funny thing, I would say that over half of the problems I face stem from something very simple, and half of the rest stem from something only marginally less simple.

And so it goes on, getting more and more complex until there’s nothing left. You find the code looks clean, the tests are working fine, and even when you artificially break the code to recreate the issue, it won’t fail.

And then it gets into hunch territory.

What’s the hunch? Your best and worst friend, the guy who pops up at the wrong time and gives you the right answer, but then talks utter crap for the rest of the week. The dude who hasn’t got the slightest clue why but knows for sure that the problem is a threading issue introduced by a third party integration. The hunch leads you up the garden path for a day, or gives you the answer in a sip of coffee.

The perfect thing about hunches is that we can often test them, test the assumptions, test the outcome. Sure, it can be wildly incorrect, and that’s where the mixing of the two mindsets comes into play: Be methodical, and rule out the obvious, then entertain your hunches by testing their claims, seeing if there’s any validity.

It is the same with Cooper Alley Ghost. The protagonist has had a bellyful of rigorous scientific methodology, and has been trained to ignore his feelings, what the nagging, unreasonable back of his mind is telling him. Until now.

Milena shows us that there is more to this world than the explainable, that so much is going on about us for we cannot account, that we cannot understand. We cannot put it all into a single sentence to explain it and we need our hunches, our guts, our feelings, to guide us.

The Professor is not so blinded as to dismiss feelings from his own personal convictions. Rather, we find that it is incumbent upon him, as a member of the scientific community, to maintain his rigorous methodology, or suffer the consequences of ridicule among his peers.

Less than a week!

Exeter, a bustling town with a wealth of surprises, is now home to the Professor. He has set up his laboratory and has fished for active hauntings and, to his great delight, has succeeded in finding what could be the most perfect case on record, one that might be used for scientific analysis on the nature of the other world.

They’ve already had run-ins with the locals, and now they are wiser to the lay of it all, so it’s time to investigate in earnest. Of course, the city has its own surprises waiting for them. What will all this mean?

You can find out in less that a week! The official launch of Cooper Alley Ghost is on Sunday 26th of April, 2020. But you can get it now, on pre-order, with the eBook up at all major retailers:

Smashwords
Google Play
Apple Books
Amazon
Kobo
Barnes & Noble

The audiobook has been submitted and is currently under review, but there seems to be a delay on the publishing. I’ll keep you posted about that. I know Ah’dhu is a fan of the Audio versions, because then he can get his ghosts on the run.

Jolimont Street Ghost – Audiobook

I’ve always liked the name ‘Jolimont’, ever since I would walk down that street toward the Melbourne Cricket Ground to go sell pies and chips. And on the way home again, exhausted and covered in post-mix and fryer fat, I’d stumble under the sign for Jolimont Station and wait, half-dozing, for the train to come and take me away.

The darkest of the series, Jolimont takes a good look what happens when you let rumour and gossip go unchecked, when you take for granted the goodness in people, when you become confident in your own findings. Both the Professor and the narrator are blindsided by the goings on.

Yes, it was the narrator’s clumsiness that got them into that mess. It was his fault, intentional or otherwise, and so it was also his duty to rectify the situation. Does that make him evil that he unleashed the demon? I don’t think so. It makes him naive, and it shows the danger he poses if he continues to bumble about in a child-like fashion.

And so the voices needed to reflect this. Chester had that ye olde radio voice, not too hard to pull off, although I must say it was difficult to maintain.

Sergeant Hart was a little tougher. He had to be rough, yet exude that forced politeness of a man of the city. I had to imagine him in his bobby hat sporting decent hair on his lip and chin.

Something like this dude:

https://images.immediate.co.uk/production/volatile/sites/7/2018/05/GettyImages-173451128-5969f4d.jpg?quality=90&lb=620,413&background=white

Lighter on the science, with more adventure, I reckon I like Jolimont the most so far, even more than Beaumaris.

As of writing this, Jolimont is out on all the major platforms. There was a delay in getting to Audible, probably because of the Corona Virus. Isn’t everything, these days?

It’s at:
Amazon
Chirp
iTunes
Kobo

and one hundred and one other places.

The Red Pen’s Revenge

The excitement builds. The whisky is poured. Draft two is complete. It is a relief. The first run, you see, doesn’t feel real, it doesn’t feel like the end product. It’s almost as if the first copy is a grainy image of what is to come. It can be lax. It can be unstructured. Things don’t necessarily need to follow or make sense. Great slabs of story are missing. Other flabby bits are hanging off the sides, waiting to be cut out.

What a mess! What a disaster! How can we clean this thing up and get it into something readable? Well that’s where the second draft comes in. Still on the machine, I read through it all, start to finish, and cut out what needs to be cut out and put in what needs to be put in. I correct obvious errors or grammar and spelling and correctness. I think whether the timing makes sense, the locations, the people and the settings.

Is that what this character would do? Is that really the best way to describe that? Bit by bit I massage the story out from its amorphous shape and, with a pinch here and a cut there, it becomes a story with a purpose. Great. That’s the point I’m at now. That’s the moment of ‘woot’ where I can take a breather and fix up the garage or fly a kite with Joey.

That’s not the end of it, though. For now comes the nasty part – the Red Pen.

The Red Pen is ruthless. The Red Pen cares not for fancy constructs, nor for passive tense. The Red Pen spots that naughty comma and herds it into the right spot. It scrawls its thoughts down in haste, it draws arrows and brackets and, when it gets really steamed, it draws thick lines through words, sentences, even whole paragraphs!

That’s what happens when you leave a Red Pen in a cup for half a year. It gives it time to plot and scheme. I only hope there’s something left after it has had its fill.

What week is it?

Is it Wear your Best to Work week? I’m all for that kind of thing. I mean, we live in a fantastic age where we have incredible choice for what to wear, so why not bust that suit out and wear it with pride? But no, no, it’s not that week.

Is it Stay in Bed week? Unfortunately no. While I would welcome the change of pace, I’m sure the economy wouldn’t enjoy workers dropping tools, wheels, keyboards and pens to take a kip.

Is it Put your Phone Away Week? I wish, I wish, I wish it was. You know how much fun it is when you can talk to someone without a black rectangle covering their face?

Alright, alright. I’ll let you in on the gag. It is, in fact –

Read an Ebook Week - Banner sized for Facebook
Smashwords Read An E-Book Week!

And to celebrate, they’ve got a bazillion titles up on discounts. 25%? Yup. 50%? You bet. 75%? Even so.

100%??? There sure are! In fact, if you head to my profile page:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JeremyTyrrell

You’ll find all of my books for… free. That’s right, gratis. Go nuts. Get the entire set of Adaptation (Just get the compendium, it’s easier). Go on. What’s that? You want an octopus detective? OK, go get Tedrick Gritswell of Borobo Reef and, while you’re there, get Tedrick Gritswell Makes Waves.

Not your thing? Grab Atlas, Broken or the Bullet. Or if you’re into Paranormology, grab all five books and shove them in your cart. Electrons come free, baby, so go nuts.

Then, when you’re done, go and visit some other authors and give them some love. And then… and then… and then read them! That’s part of the whole ‘Read an E-Book’ week deal. If you enjoy them, great! If not, that’s fine too. Oh, and if you don’t mind, please come back and leave a review when you’re done.

If reading really ain’t your thing, might I suggest you listen to the audiobook versions? It’s kinda sorta still almost and E-book, right? It still counts. It’s just that you’re reading with your ears. Yeah. Let’s run with that.

What are you still doing here? Go and read a book!

Read an E-Book week goes until March 7, so get in while you can.

Portsmouth Avenue Ghost Audiobook

After the events of Jolimont Street, the Narrator and the Professor are pariahs in their own town. It was already a struggle to get cases to investigate, so it is only natural that they would venture somewhere more populated. With a big town comes many people, not all of them natives, and with that comes, you guessed it, more voices.

Madam

You’ve got Madam. Middle-aged and well-to-do, she was also the head of her family and at war with her other half. She needed a manicured voice, one that held power and poise, not at all flighty or weak, even though she is confused. She must keep a brave face, in spite of everything.

She’s actually a Texan, apparently, but you get the idea.

My biggest issue was not so much the femininity of the voice, rather my tendency to start speaking like Her Majesty the Queen. In fact, I’ve found that with a lot of the voices, I come close to sounding like parodies and I need to actively check myself, pause, and start again.

Mister Belfiore

Mister Belfiore is Italian. I don’t think that comes across so strongly in the book, but that’s who he is in my mind. He plays a more prominent role in Cooper Alley, so I had to make sure that whatever voice I used, I could maintain between books.

I started with my go-to voice for Pantaloni, breathy, old and heavily accented. Nope, no good. Too old, too breathy. Still, it’s a starting point. What I needed was a somewhat younger version, someone in their 50s or 60s.

Salvatore Lo Leggio: Il suono di un violino. Una poesia di ...
Like this dude

I backed off on the accent some, sang the ‘Franco Cozzo’ song to get in the mood and left him a little wheezy.

Zindello

Now for the main event: Zindello. I haven’t any Romanian friends, and if I did, I’m sure I wouldn’t any more for the terrible disservice I have done to the vocals.

I have watched Eurovision. I have seen the various countries and heard their accents and tried to mimic a few. Pah, who am I kidding? After a few words, my mouth degenerates into a generic Eastern European drawl, located nowhere in particular between Russia and Lithuania.

Still, it’s Zindello. It’s the self-assured strutting man who knows what he wants and how to get it. He’s this guy:

In my mind, Zindello is somewhat more youthful, with a more sculpted moustache and beard.

His voice is forceful, he comes across as brash and bold and dangerous. He knows about everything he needs to know about. He likes to be in control. No, he must be in control.

Throw in the usual ruffians, the hotelier and what have you, and Portsmouth Avenue comes out a very hard book to do voices for. It certainly took the longest to date, if only because I needed to frequently stop and re-adjust my voice to get back into character.

You can find Portsmouth Avenue Ghost in Audiobook at most outlets but, as at the time of writing this, Audible hasn’t gotten around to it. There’s some kind of hold up with the publishing gods. Maybe I haven’t sacrificed enough virgin sardines or something.

Google Play
Apple iTunes
Kobo / Rakuten
Chirp