Andrew McEwan's Blog: Words Are the Gravy On the Mashed Potato of Life

February 22, 2015

Cause and effect. Everything has consequences. The stars are alive and so are you.

I'm about finished a novel called Spare Parts For Spaceships, which is about a man who might be a robot, or vice versa. Two thirds of it is in fact Thump, the second volume of which never met its resolution and thenceforth (after much delay, a visit from the cancer fairy etc.) decided it was going no farther. The new title is in fact the original one, dating back to 2000, when I was living in Birmingham and doing the first year of an English degree. That ended early, too! Whole other story. Ergo: I now have a MS of around 129k. Probably it will shrink a little, but hopefully not too much. What I'd like is for someone with a shred of nous, an open mind and a love of sci-fi to read it and let me know what they think. If this is you let me know.

My sink is blocked. I'm rapping a piece of wood off the pipe behind the fridge. So far physics isn't helping.

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Published on February 22, 2015 10:08 • 112 views • Tags: cogs, editing, einstein, fridge, gears, newtonain-physics, robot, sci-fi, space

January 11, 2015

Happy New Year and all that. Out with the old etc. Yeah. Whatever. Like you believe any old crap. Ha. Believe in better, surely. Why not? I'm an optimist with the scars to prove it. Last year sucked big time but here I am positively bursting with positivism. And I'm not even going to check the spelling. My spirit is reckless. My poetry is awful. I could never draw as well as I wanted so I took to writing instead. A man needs an outlet, something to run on his electricity. If only I wasn't so ill-disciplined and lazy.

I aim to write two books this year. The fact I've written two thirds of one already should help. THUMP vol. 2 kind of got caught in that gap between cancer and I-don't-know-what-the-fuck-I'm-doing. I was having problems with it and I still am; or will be once I can bring myself to read through the ms again. I last did this in June during a five day chemo session and I wasn't sure which was worse. Probably the chemo, but I'm still finding it hard to locate my writing mojo; although I suspect it is hidden close by with all my other mojos, lost and unrecognised. The second book extends to roughly 1600 words at present and is the third installment of The Great Geordie Novel, following on from Ocellus and The Orange Propeller. Titled The Lost World Of, it has an autobiographical theme but isn't really about me (I know). It's about the other me, namely Swene, who appears in the first two volumes. That Swene and I are related is obvious. He just has more fun than I do. He's fictional after all. He doesn't have a day job. He has an inbetween days job. So much more versatile. There'll be a fourth and final book eventually.

Harking back to my previous post many of my titles are free to download from Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Some fantastic reviews would be welcome. Or indeed some terrible ones, so long as they're well written. You don't have to like a thing to respect it. If it's not for you then move on. Planting bombs is simply a person's way of saying they've failed. Which is about as political as I intend to get right now. There are greater minds turned to such things; hopefully more knowledgeable. The pen, however, remains mightier than the sword.

And that's about it from me. I'm no blogger, as I've said before. These random tracts are just that. Sometimes they go badly wrong, yet I've always reisted the urge to delete. We all have bad days, eh?

Read. Learn. Resist.
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Published on January 11, 2015 07:46 • 121 views • Tags: beer, chocolate, death, download, drugs, free, geordie, novel, optimism, rock-n-roll, sex

December 7, 2014

I've fourteen titles on Smashwords. Previously the older stuff, slightly mad sci-fi and peculiar otherness, was free to download. Well I can confirm I've misplaced my balloons and currently eleven of these great works will now cost you nowt; indeed you can but benefit from taking a wander through my back catalogue. Paracetmol not included.

No I'm not including a link. Don't be lazy.

Happy Christmas.
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Published on December 07, 2014 12:42 • 112 views • Tags: books, free, genius, sci-fi, small-furry-rodents, smashwords, stools

October 5, 2014

Last night, whilst suffering terrible indigestion, I stood in the garden of my mother's bungalow and stared at the stars. Staring at the stars used to be something I did fairly often; usually supine, after a drinking session. The view wasn't that great. It was a little cloudy and the street lights bled a sickly orange, but the stars were exactly the same. Quiet, blinking, huge and far away. I would have had a profound moment of reflection, but I got over that years ago. They were just stars. Suns about which planets turned. Planets on which life struggled, pausing now and then to wonder why. And then I went back inside.

These blogs are random specks of light largely meaningless against a night sky. They're also meant to be funny, in a tongue-and-cheek kick myself in the balls kinda way. Sometimes that may get lost, that healthy indifference to universal helplessness. But whatever anger I vent comes with a purpose. It is fuel.

I'm still on the sick. Not back to work till November. Hurrah! Of course, I'm using this time productively, writing and creating and doing all sorts of amzing things. If only. I haven't written more than a few hundred words in months. My latest novel, THUMP vol. 2 lies abandoned. It was getting lost in its own maelstrom anyway. Plus I'm still waiting for a first review of THUMP 1, which literary slight, whilst not necessarily unexpected, has thrust me into a dark bottomless pit of desp... Kidding. I'm fine. Cancer has cured me of depression. Fact.

You people really need to lighten up, as BoJack Horseman might have said.

To wit, another five weeks of 'getting better'.

I bought a Playstation. This is what footballers do when they're rucuperating from injury. They pretend they're still in the game. Work on their virtual skills in the belief it will improve their general all-round superness. They may be right. I don't know. I'm struggling to get to grips with Gran Turismo, beginniner's level, in which I mostly crash. The best I've managed so far is to finish fifth. I achieved this after learning I could use my credits to buy better tyres. Who knew? The unreal world is just full of surprises. I may disappear into my TV and never be seen again. Yes, exactly like a normal person.

The real world is a terrible place. But this is why we have love and alcohol. If you're going to moan about it, at least try and be funny - even if your humour is misunderstood. Better yet, escape into an alternative universe. Yes, read a fucking book. One of mine perhaps. They're not all bad. Bit of a challenge maybe. Alternatively, stick with the status quo, go quietly into the night and never look up, never dream, never shout when no-one's around to hear; and most importantly, always, always comply.
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Published on October 05, 2014 06:29 • 115 views • Tags: anger, books, defiance, funny, huge, indigestion, quiet, stars, writing

September 3, 2014

I have to admit this is largely my own doing. I don't write books people want to read and I'm terrible at self-promotion. Not that I write bad books; it's just a matter of taste, or rather convention, for folk are impossibly conservative when it comes to their likes and dislikes and most won't travel off a given path unless persuaded (by recommendation) or pushed.

Self-publishing has opened a can of worms over recent years. Some have made a great success of it, whilst others have merely added to the growing pile of worm sloughings. I like to think I have something original to offer, but originality is no guarantee of readers; indeed, the opposite might be said to be true. And round we go again. So what's the answer? Clearly there isn't one. One, in fact, must simply persist, laughing off the one star reviews and smiling at the £0.14 Amazon now and then drops into one's bank account. Years of hard work and effort are besides the point. Conform or die, publishing says. Well, publishing, fuck you.

I had major surgery to remove a tumour four weeks ago. First they cut open my belly and remodelled my stomach. Then they opened my chest under my right shoulder and cut out my osophagus, along with the offending part. My stomach was then joined to what remained of my gullet and I was glued back together again. I had drains in my sides, tubes in my arms, nose, belly and winky. I only spent eight days in hospital, however, which was pretty good going, and now I can drink wine and munch crisps again.

Life has never been particularly kind to me: my true love was lost, I've only ever received rejection letters from publishers and agents, I've been bankrupt, have no pets or kids, not had a holiday in decades, and in the fourth year of junior school I wasn't made a prefect. Some of these things still rankle. I'm fifty next year. And you know what? I don't give a shit. And neither frankly should you.
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Published on September 03, 2014 08:29 • 105 views • Tags: beans, blogholes, books, failure, peanuts, publishing, surgery, wine, worms

July 5, 2014

Clickety clack.

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Published on July 05, 2014 12:22 • 94 views • Tags: bookviral, ebook, great-source-of-potassium, thump, trumpton

June 22, 2014

Not dead yet, in case you were wondering.

Two months and much ado with sharp objects, blood and dodgy chemicals later, and I'm back drinking wine and eating a Chinese. Chemotherapy is not recommended, especially if, like me, you have the veins of a princess.

On the plus side I sold a book on Amazon (a rare event) and a well known bank gave me a credit card (evil laugh).

So, THUMP. Taps foot. I gave away six copies a while back and NOT ONE review! I am heartbroken; worse, convinced of some terrible conspiracy. The forces of publishing are arrayed against me. Internet spiders are brandishing their pointy teeth at scared reader Hobbits who are quietly shuffling away. Or maybe I'm just rubbish. At marketing anyway, which I've long considered the Devil's business. Hmmm. Quandry. A little evil is perhaps necessary in the world, to which I'm giving BookViral ( a go. Eighty quid. Watch this space and all that.

THUMP, vol. 2 is two thirds done, currently majorly stalled. Ditto.

That's all for now. The remainder is scrawled on my living-room walls. I have girly ice cream sticks in the freezer and new bedding. I'm 49 next month and plotting a debauched coming decade. You know, if you're female, smiley and interested.

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Published on June 22, 2014 12:28 • 125 views • Tags: blood, bookviral, boooze, death, magnum, needles, sex, thump, vegetable

April 27, 2014

After two weeks in limbo I finally get to see an oncologist this week. Said doctor will outline my coming chemotherapy, two cycles of which I will have over a period of six weeks. Roughly five weeks after that (July) I will have surgery to remove a tumour from my osophagus.

I was diagnosed with cancer on March 12th. It wasn't a total surprise. You don't get referred to 'a team of specialists' at a major hospital for no reason, although the guy who carried out my endoscopy spoke only of scarring and ulceration and his 'concern'. It's a consultant's job to deliver the bad news. My arse was barely on a waiting room chair a minute before a nurse took me to be weighed. Another minute seated and I was ushered into a consulation room and left alone for ten minutes listening to mumbled voices through the wall. Then came the handshake, followed by a frenetic fortnight of tests, a CT scan, more tests, endless needles in my arms, swabs, ECGs and finally a PET scan, where they inject you with radioactivity and instruct you not to move for thirty minutes. All this is free of course. It's called the NHS and it's a marvel. I'm lucky enough to live in the north east of England. The Royal Victoria Hospital, along with the Freeman Hospital, have taken very good care for me. In the near future the latter will shoot me up with drugs and the former cut me open, and I'll be extremely grateful. Cancer care in this region is amongst the best in Europe and my plan is to welcome it with open arms.

The chemo is to shrink the tumour and knock out any lurking bad cells on a micro level. My tumour measures about four centimetres but hasn't spread, so the prognosis is good. I should be okay. This is a curative scenario. The surgery will involve using part of my stomach to fill the gap left by removing the affected area of my osophagus, thus shrinking it somewhat, having first opened my chest and deflated a lung. There will be tubes coming out of me I'm told, but I won't complain. And yes, I have given the tumour a name. It's personal.

Timothy is a psychotic robot in the book I'm currently writing, THUMP vol. 2. Volume 1 is available to download/buy; also currently the subject of a Goodreads giveaway, six PB copies up for grabs to anyone in the UK. I went global with my last giveaway but this cost me a fortune and the retruns weren't great, and frankly I'm skint, although Smashwords did just pay me $28.

To conclude. I'm not dead yet. What more can you ask, eh?

Buy a book!
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Published on April 27, 2014 03:53 • 156 views • Tags: book-giveaway, cancer, death, humour, limbo, nurse, robot, surgery, tumour

March 9, 2014

What makes a book a success? Great writing? Sparkling originality? Or how many copies it shifts? The latter as far as mainstream publishing is concerned. Clearly a beef of mine, granted, but in the spirit of smug fuckyouality I have designed a clever flow chart to demonstrate 'publisher thinking'. If I was truly clever of course I could somehow magic this up here by means of HTML. Maybe. As I'm not I shall leave it to your own devices - pen, paper, or your imagination. Anyway, the chart flows like this.

How Publishers Think or The Roast Chicken Test.
Is it roast chicken?
| |
| |
We can publish it. We can't publish it.

Everyone likes roast chicken, right?

Okay, moving on. I recently noticed a bump in my Smashwords revenue. Currently it stands at a little over $30. This is actual income. From sales of books. I dug into my sales & revenue report and yes indeed, folk out there are buying copies of Warm Refrigerator from Barnes & Noble online, mostly in the States. It can be no coincidence that this is my one title that features a detective. Detective fiction is gravy it seems. Not your usual detective novel, unsurpringly, but a tale of a man lost in Purgatory that would (nudge, hint) make a great movie. Go on, purchase it. There are ditties.

Barnes & Noble source ebooks from Smashwords. Hurray for Smashwords, I say. Unfortunately Waterstone's don't provide their users with a similar service in the UK. Which is a shame. And damn lazy if you ask me. Thus this past few days I've been having the odd dig at Waterstone's on Twitter. Hey, you don't want to be on my Shit List. An author spurned and all that. Then again I'm not one to hold a grudge...

This coming Weds I'm off for a Direct Access Gastroscopy. Not worried by this, but I'm no great lover of hospitals. Indeed I once threw up at reception in a A&E. Such experiences are meat and drink to the bard, naturally. And one should embrace all aspects of the human condition. Worst case scenario is I am a condenmed man. Far more likely, however, that I will get to trudge on indefinitely in the service of words.

Veg with that?
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Published on March 09, 2014 08:36 • 96 views • Tags: bullfrogs, cash, detective, ditties, gastro, publishing, rain, roast-chicken, sales, twitter, underpants, vegetables, warm-refrigerator, waterstones

January 30, 2014

Greetings, friends and aliens! How are you this fine day? It's been a while. I've been busy. Okay, sort of busy. In fact, I've been holding my breath.

After four months and a full MS request I got a rejection this morning. Pah. The book was THUMP, and the agent shall remain nameless; but now that's done and dusted I feel...liberated. My last post was in September. Wow, look what I was doing in September. Not pretty. The whole depression/medication business came to nothing. I'm pleased about this. Goes to prove you shouldn't listen to other people's ideas about your mental health. You should cut down your drinking instead.

Naturally, I've taken up whiskey. There is logic in this, believe me. In terms of units a glug of Scotch is higher on the sensible scale than three cans of strong lager. There're only 28 units of alcohol in a 750cl bottle. That's like ten day's worth of allowable units and a bottle lasts me a month.

My sanity aside (and I'm feeling chipper today, thanks) I have actually been doing a lot of writing. THUMP vol. 1 is out in paperback, too. The 2nd volume is a third written and I currently have a giveaway running on Goodreads whereby you can get your grubby digits on a signed copy of Armwrestling the Dead completely for nowt. I do need to work on my profile, however. Expose myself more, if you will. I'll never be everyone's mug of choice, but my audience is there, lurking. I just need to coax you forth.

So it's back to the literary anarchist's chalkboard. Me selling out is put on hold.

Remember, you kick ass, you never kiss it.

Happy, kittens?
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Published on January 30, 2014 06:13 • 108 views • Tags: agents, cake, juice, kittens, literary, paperback, penguins, thump, whiskey

Words Are the Gravy On the Mashed Potato of Life

Andrew McEwan
...there may be lumps in either or both.
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