Paper Cuts – The Front Cover!

Hello!

The Kickstarter continues to rumble on with 11 days left. Thank you to everyone who’s pledged, shared and re-tweeted it!

Remember, if we beat the amount raised by ‘How To Be Dead’, there’ll be a little extra something for everyone who pledges £5 or more!

In the meantime, I’m extremely excited to share the quite frankly brilliant front cover with you:

papercuts4coffee1It’s been designed by my stupidly talented brother Paul Turner. He’s captured exactly what I wanted. An air of the mundane alongside shit getting fucked up. Exciting, is it not?

Though I keep shouting at him to sort one out, he doesn’t have a website but you can see more of his work over here on Instagram.

Bloody arty lot, the Turners.

If you’d like to ride the Paper Cuts Train, you can can get involved in 3 easy steps.

1. Click on the button below to visit the Kickstarter page and pledge your support. The limited edition paperbacks are very popular at the moment.

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2. Click on the button below to share with your awesome Facebook friends.

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3. Click on the button below to let your bazillion Twitter followers know about ‘Paper Cuts’.

tweet2Thanks Everyone!

Dave

Voting – Some Handy Tips

(I wrote a large chunk of this at the last election. Seems pretty apt now as well.)

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It’s best to think of Polling Day like ‘The X-Factor’ Final, but with the added disappointment of the winning act’s song stuck on constant loop for the next five years.

People have registered in record numbers, meaning that there will be many more first time voters. With this in mind, I’ve compiled this guide to the voting process to help the newbies deal with the often confusing procedures ahead.

First, there WILL be old people. This cannot be avoided. They are placed there by the parties in order to drive home the futility of existence and break your spirit. Do not be swayed. Engage them in a conversation about cake or Tommy Steele when presenting your polling card.

Candidates and their representatives may be present. You can tell which party they’re from by the colours they wear. I remember them using this poem.

Labour are red,

Tories are blue

Lib Dems are yellow,

Aaargh. Aaargh. Aaargh. Aaargh. Aaargh. Aaargh. Aaargh.

(It needs some work)

You’ll recognise Ukip as they have the same party colours as The Standing at the Back Dressed Stupidly and Looking Stupid Party in Blackadder.

blackadder

If you’ve got around the OAPs and not been reduced to a sobbing mass of existential terror, you will be presented with a ballot paper and invited to enter the polling booth. Once there, I prefer to sing “Jerusalem” to myself in a rich baritone to create the right air of solemnity.

It is traditional to mark your ballot paper with a cross (If you are voting for Ukip this is also known as “your signature”) against the name of your chosen candidate, but writing “LOL”, “ Likes This” or drawing a smiley face are also acceptable.

If you can draw this on your ballot paper without crossing a line twice, your vote counts double:

cross

If you are considering voting tactically, you are required by law to shout “You sunk my battleship!” at the top of your voice while in the booth.

Leave the pencil behind. This isn’t fucking Argos.

Fold your ballot paper (I prefer to make mine into an origami Huw Edwards) and place it in the ballot box along with any loose change you may have.

Run to the pub and reflect on what you have done. Practice the phrase “It’s not my fault. I didn’t vote for them.”

Good luck and happy voting!

How To Be Dead 2: Electric Boogaloo

OK, that was briefly the working title for ‘Paper Cuts’, the second story in the How To Be Dead series.

After the success of the Kickstarter campaign I ran to raise funds to publish my first novella ‘How To Be Dead’, I decided to do the same again for the sequel. This morning, full of excitement, terror and coffee, I pushed the button and the ‘Paper Cuts’ Kickstarter page is live and ready for your love.

For those of you who don’t know, Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Every project creator sets their project’s funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

We’ve actually hit the target as I’ve been writing this! Bloody hell! I cannot thank everyone who’s backed the book enough. Once again, you’ve shown what remarkable people you are. You’ve made this old geek very, very happy again and I shall raise a very large glass of wine to each and every one of you tonight.

So, now I want to share an idea with you. I’ve been mulling it over for some time.

The third book in the series is half-written, so that will follow quickly on the heels of ‘Paper Cuts’. After that, I have other stories that I want to tell and I’ll continue to publish these through Aim For The Head Books.

By that point, I think I’ll have a vague idea of what I’m doing. So I’m hoping to do more than publish my own poor quality jokes in the future and use Aim For The Head to help other authors get their work out into the world using a profit sharing model.

It’s all still at the ‘sketch on a back of a napkin’ stage, but if – with your help – we can make the How To Be Dead series a success and get Aim For The Head Books off the ground, this could help other writers get a better deal and see new, exciting work available.

The bottom line is the more funds that we can raise, the more I can put into launching Aim For The Head Books.

And if we exceed the total raised by ‘How To Be Dead’, there’ll be a little something extra for everyone who pledges £5 or more in a cut-price Oprah style.

Are you in? If you are, you could help ‘Paper Cuts’ with just three clicks.

1. Click on the button below to visit the Kickstarter page and pledge your support. The limited edition paperbacks are very popular at the moment.

kickstarter2

2. Click on the button below to share with your awesome Facebook friends.

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3. Click on the button below to let your bazillion Twitter followers know about ‘How To Be Dead’.

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There. That was nice and easy, wasn’t it? You’ve done a good thing. Three good things. Go on. Have a biscuit. Have three biscuits. You deserve them. You’re awesome.

(If you’ve not read ‘How To Be Dead’, you can get a copy by clicking the links below. It’d be great to have you on board!)

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Paper Cuts – Chapter One

I’m running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of ‘Paper Cuts’, part 2 in the How To Be Dead series of novellas, and it’s action stations at Aim For The Head Towers. In the meantime, here’s the first – unedited – chapter to give you a taste of what’s in store. My apologies for any spelling mistakes and clunky grammar.

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2nd September 1666

London was burning. A raging firestorm roared and shrieked through the narrow streets, consuming the tinder-dry wooden buildings. Thick, choking clouds of smoke rose into the sky, blocking the sun and plunging the city into a false night. Attempts at extinguishing the fire had been abandoned and people were fleeing the destruction with whatever possessions they could carry; carts and panicking horses filled the roads making it impossible for the firefighters to get through. The turbulence of the boiling air made the wind veer erratically and the flames spread insidiously in all directions. Soon they would creep to the paper warehouses and gunpowder stores on the river front and all hope in saving the city would be lost. Four horsemen watched the inferno from its very heart. Embers and burning flakes drifted and danced around them like a blizzard in hell. Their cloaks were not singed by the flames, nor their armour tarnished by the smoke. Their steeds remained calm as tongues of flame licked at their hooves. They’d seen this sort of thing before. Shiny of hair and proud of bearing, Conquest sat sure and true atop his white stallion. On top of the red horse sat he who was known as War. Barrel chested, he looked as if he was made almost entirely of auburn hair and anger. Next to him, Famine shifted in the saddle of his black horse. Horseback riding was uncomfortable for one with a frame as slender as his. The rider of the pale horse needs no introduction. ‘Is this it, then? The end of days?’ asked Famine in a thin voice. ‘I don’t know,’ Conquest replied. It certainly had an end of the world vibe. He turned to the Pale Rider. ‘Death, is this happening elsewhere?’ Death shook his head solemnly. A fireball flew over their heads with a high pitched whine and crashed into the thatched roof of a house. It collapsed in on itself and the explosion threw sparks onto the neighbouring properties. These, in turn, caught alight with a hungry crackle and rained down fire. ‘I’m bored,’ bellowed War. Conquest thought for a moment, came to a decision and tugged on the reins. His horse obediently turned away from the blaze. ‘Come on,’ he said to the others. ‘I’m going to find an ale house. If this is the apocalypse, I’ll be damned if I’m doing it sober.’

*

The Four Horsemen made their way through the narrow and winding cobbled alleys until they reached London Bridge. The bridge was an haphazard jumble of shops and businesses that precariously balanced over the murky waters of the Thames. The crowds instinctively parted to allow the riders through. As they trotted over, Conquest noticed that the buildings that spanned either side of the road were beginning to smoulder at the edges. After much delay and many assurances that they did not require any of the goods or services offered by the tradesmen, they finally passed through the Stone Gateway on the opposite bank and crossed into Southwark. They rode along the riverbank for a short while until they found a tavern that would suit them. They hitched up the horses and ordered the stable boy to bring grain and water. Once the horses’ needs had been met, the Four went in search of their own refreshment. The south bank of the river was congested with onlookers, the fire obviously the entertainment of the day. Despite the inn’s popularity, their armour, weapons and general demeanour meant that the Four found an outside table overlooking the conflagration with little difficulty. The first drink did little to quench their thirst, so Conquest was sent to the bar to see if a second would do any better. Death looked out over the Thames. It was smeared orange and seemed to burn like the River Styx that he supposedly guarded, if you listened to the more popular poets of the time. On the north side, families wrapped in blankets stood in pathetic huddles as they waited for the usually reasonably priced river taxis which, in a textbook example of supply and demand, had become a lot less reasonably priced overnight. A ragged flotilla of lighters, barges and rowing boats was making its way upriver from the east. Never underestimate a Londoner’s ability to make a quick shilling from someone else’s misfortune. Conquest returned with four pints of cloudy brown liquid and bags of pork scratchings. Famine grabbed the snacks from the tray before he could even sit down. Conquest placed a glass each in front of his three companions and took a large gulp from his own. War eyed his glass’s contents with suspicion. ‘What’s this?’ he growled. After his swig of the drink, Conquest was now having trouble breathing. He wheezed, ‘The innkeeper informed me that this was favoured by his most discerning clientele.’ ‘You mean the drunkards?’ ‘Yes.’ Conquest wiped his eyes on the back of his riding gloves. War beamed. ‘Excellent!’ Conquest regained his composure. ‘I was talking to a fellow named Samuel at the bar. Apparently, it all started in a bakery on Pudding lane.’ ‘Don’t talk about pudding,’ Famine moaned, wiping crumbs from his tunic. ‘I could really go for some pudding.’ The Four settled in and sampled several more of the ales that the tavern had to offer. They all agreed that the beer was excellent and there was little chance that the world would end today, but tomorrow’s hangovers would make them wish that it had.

*

The afternoon had turned into early evening when a tall, elegant man glided over. He was dressed in a long red coat stitched from the most exquisite material and balanced a wig the size and shape of a substantial bush on his head. He drank from a glass containing the finest claret while his eyes darted around like he was looking for something to steal from somebody. Probably their soul. He tapped the silver tip of his cane on the table in a demand for attention. ‘Good afternoon, gentlemen.’ War jumped clumsily to his feet. His hand grasped for, and missed, the sword at his side. ‘Beezelbub!’ Beelzebub looked hurt. ‘Do none of you have the courtesy to pronounce my name correctly?’ Conquest looked him up and down, his head wobbling. ‘What are you wearing?’ Beelzebub pirouetted so that everybody had a good view of his marvellous garments. ‘Oh, these rags?’ he said with false modesty. ‘Just a little something I threw together.’ ‘You look ridic-ridic-. You look like a tit,’ War said, falling back into his seat. ‘You were all wearing those same clothes the last time I saw you,’ Beelzebub said with disdain. ‘After the Battle of Bosworth.’ ‘Ah, yeah.’ Conquest turned to Famine. ‘How did we do in that one?’ ‘I don’t know. I stopped counting after Agincourt,’ Famine slurred. ‘Look at you. It’s like the Restoration never happened,’ Beelzebub said. ‘Everyone at court is wearing this style. In fact, I’ve just come directly from Whitehall. His Majesty has ordered the destruction of all the buildings in the fire’s path. Travelling south of the river usually gives me a nosebleed, but this has the best view.’ He gave a smile that War wanted to punch into the Thames. ‘You did this, didn’t you?’ Conquest tried a dramatic sweep of his arm, but only managed to slap Famine in the face. ‘Just passing the time. I really thought we were getting somewhere with that plague, but it seemed to just peter out. Most disappointing.’ Beelzebub looked down the table. ‘You’re being very quiet, Death. I thought this would be your kind of thing.’ Conquest answered. ‘He’s sulking. It’s been twenty years.’ ‘Twenty three years, to be exact, and it’s starting to get on my bloody nerves,’ said War. ‘Famine ate the last of his biscuits,’ Conquest continued. Famine stared at the ground. ‘I bought him some new ones.’ ‘He’s never been the same since he made that vow to never kill,’ said War. ‘How’s that going?’ asked Beelzebub. Death rocked his flattened hand. So-so. Beelzebub looked at the empty pint pots that covered the tabletop. ‘What’s the cause for celebration?’ ‘The world made it through another day. That’s reason enough.’ Conquest raised his glass and the other three clinked theirs against it. ‘But the end of everything is your raison d’être.’ ‘Don’t mention bloody raisins. You’ll set Famine off again. You know what he thinks about health food.’ War laughed loudly at his own joke. ‘Is it, though?’ Famine asked quietly. ‘Is it our responsibility? The end of the world, I mean.’ ‘It is our destiny,’ War replied. ‘Because they say so? Just because they believe it’s going to happen doesn’t mean it should. We don’t bow to them on any other topic. We don’t know why we’re here. We’ve heard nothing.’ Beelzebub’s face turned as red as his coat. ‘He said so!’ ‘Did He?’ replied Famine. ‘There were burning bushes and prophets and all sorts.’ ‘Have you spoken to Him personally?’ ‘No. But…’ ‘I’ve been thinking about this for a while. We’ve been abandoned,’ Famine said. ‘If He put us here at all. Perhaps we only exist because they want us to. “Don’t blame us,” they’ll say. “We didn’t break the world. It was those Horsemen”.’ Conquest thought this over. He had been leading them for millennia, but where was he leading them to? His memories of the early days were hazy now. He remembered the excitement, though. A whole world, new and green, that was their’s to explore at their leisure. They had crossed continents and navigated oceans. They had been privileged to witness the rise of humanity, though they had stumbled many times on the way.  They had watched the construction of the pyramids of Giza and the destruction of Babylon. The were instrumental in the rise of the Roman Empire and, after they had switched sides, had brought it to its knees. There would be more great achievements and, no doubt, great failures in the future. This wasn’t the first city they had seen burn to the ground and he was certain it wouldn’t be the last. A scuffle broke out between two drunkards further along the towpath. Conquest said, ‘They seem to do a pretty good job of breaking things on their own. I don’t see why they need any help from us.’ ‘What about that volcano in Sumatra? The ash cloud that killed off almost every living thing?’ Beelzebub said. ‘We didn’t think they’d make it. They’re a resilient bunch. They’ll need a push.’ ‘I’ve kind of got used to having them around the place,’ Famine replied. ‘Think of everything we’d lose. Art. Music. Ale.’ There was a general murmur of approval at the mention of the ale. Conquest winked at a buxom serving wench and said, ‘And the women. I’d certainly miss them.’ War rattled his scabbard. ‘So this flaming sword is just for show, is it?’ Conquest patted him on the arm. ‘I’m sure there’ll still be plenty for you to do. Their wars will grow bigger and they’ll think of more imaginative ways to be unpleasant to each other.’ War relaxed a little. If previous behaviour was an indicator of future action, then Conquest was right. Humanity had evolved from simply hitting each other over the head with blunt objects to intricate instruments of warfare with breathtaking speed. They really had a knack for it. Now that he’d had a few beers, the end of the world seemed like an awful lot of hard work. Two thin wisps of smoke snaked their way out of Beelzebub’s nostrils. ‘I want my thousand years of glorious rule! I was promised!’ People were beginning to look over to see what the commotion was all about. Witnessing a bar brawl would be an excellent way to round off the day’s excitement. ‘Be a poppet and keep your voice down,’ Conquest said. ‘That’s it, then?’ Beelzebub asked in a more measured tone. ‘Death. Talk some sense into them.’ Death merely shrugged and waved his empty glass. It was time for another round. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ Beelzebub hissed. Conquest looked back towards the city. Against the bruised sky, London Bridge was an arrow of fire pointing to a future that was no longer clear. He gave one of his smiles that, in a few hours, would persuade the barmaid to accompany him to his chambers. “I think we’re retiring.’

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Hope that works for ya and you want to read more. If you want to know how all this started, you can get hold of the first part, ‘How To Be Dead’, from the interweb:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Smashwords

Paper Cuts

So, things are coming together for the Kickstarter campaign for the second novella in the How To Be Dead series ‘Paper Cuts’. The brilliant editing and design tea from HTBD have been assembled, so my incomprehensible ramblings will be sorted out before they reach you. It’s all going to be ready for launch on 1st May. That’s less than two weeks away. Eeek!

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of the t shirt that’ll be one of the Kickstarter rewards.

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Because the end of the world shouldn’t mean you can’t look swish.

If you haven’t got your copy of How To Be Dead yet, you can download it from these fine interweb emporiums:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Smashwords

Thanks for all your support so far and I hope you’ll carry on the journey with me for parts 2 and 3.

Love

Dave

x

How To Be Egg

‘Jesus rising from the dead. Was that one of your mistakes? I ask because I’m concerned that wars have been fought and millions of lives lost over what was essentially a cock up.’

‘You take one day off for the Easter bank holiday and you never hear the end of it,’ Death said. ‘And how do you guys commemorate the resurrection? By spending Bank Holiday Monday walking around DIY stores wishing you were dead too.’

Good news! How To Be Dead is now available on Smashwords, so you can now get your hands on a copy for your non-Kindle eReaders!

And to celebrate the launch, it’s completely and utterly free over the bank holiday weekend! Yay!

You can download it here.

It’s still available on Amazon for the princely sum of one pound sterling.

But what about the thousands of you who have already read it?

Book two in the series, ‘Paper Cuts’, is coming soon. It’s got more Death, more Dave, more pages, more action and lots more biscuits.

I’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign on 1st May 2015 where you’ll be able to order advance copies of the eBook and limited edition paperbacks. But no mugs. Oh dear God. No mugs. Ever. Again.

If I can give you all one piece of advice, it’s never offer mugs as a Kickstarter reward.

Now, I’ll let you get back to your hot cross buns and chocolate.

Love

Dave x

8 Low Budget Science Fiction Films More People Should See

While I’m an unapologetic fan of the big multiplex explodey sci-fi blockbuster, I think the really good stuff exists at the other end of the budget spectrum.

When you don’t have the money to melt the audience’s faces with intergalactic civil war, the excitement has to come from ideas. That’s when the genre moves into more interesting territory. Using the extraordinary to say something about the ordinary.

This list is, in no way, definitive. The rules I applied were A) They were cheap. B) Made within roughly the last decade.

It’s just a bunch of movies that I enjoyed and, if you haven’t seen them, I’d recommend you check out.

MV5BMTgwNjY5MDkzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTAxMTcyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_Primer (2004)

The Daddy of low budget science fiction. Four engineers experimenting in their garage accidentally invent time travel. Which Alan Sugar also did when his R&D team were working on the Amstrad Emailer, apparently.

Made for about a fiver, horrendously complicated and full of jargon, it refuses to make it easy for the viewer. I have to watch it with a handy diagram I found on the internet that explains all the timelines.

Gripping and rewards repeated viewings. Just typing a few words about it has got me wanting to watch it again.

monsters

Monsters (2010)

What do you do if you want to make an alien invasion movie, but don’t have the money to film an alien invasion?

Simple. You set it afterwards when the world has dealt with it and got on with things.

Made for about $500,000 with a tiny crew and off-the-shelf SFX software, the director Gareth Edwards went on to make Godzilla. (Which I enjoyed, but found rather humourless. Which is a bit odd when you’re dealing with something so gloriously insane as Godzilla).

There’s a real chemistry between the two leads (unsurprisingly, as they’re played by real-life couple Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able) and the gas station scene is so gloriously beautiful, poetic and moving it left me shaking.

safetySafety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Three journalists try to interview a man who placed a classified ad looking for a companion to go time travelling with him.

Less a science-fiction and more an utterly charming comedy/drama about lost and lonely people. The writer/director team are now making Jurassic World, and if that contains half the charm and wit this film does, I’ll be at the front of the queue when it’s released.

timecrimesTimecrimes (2007)

Time travel is popular with low budget movies. I assume it’s because you don’t need monsters, aliens, explosions or another world. Hell, if it’s a time loop film like Timecrimes, you can just use the same sets over and over again.

This one’s a Spanish movie about a man accidentally getting into a time machine and travelling back half an hour. I think of it as the Anti-Primer as the plot delicately unfolds like a beautiful flower and answers all the questions you have at various points in the running time.

Tom Cruise bought the rights for an American re-make, so watch this one now before he ruins it.

moon

Moon (2009)

Five years later, I’m still annoyed that Sam Rockwell didn’t get an Oscar nomination for his performance as the only inhabitant of a moonbase. Coming to the end of his three year stint, things go – well – slightly odd. And that’s pretty much all I can say without revealing too much.

It reminded me of those great ‘cerebral’ science fiction films of the 60s/70s like 2001 and ‘Silent Running’. Director Duncan Jones went onto make the bigger budget ‘Source Code’ with Jake Gyllenhaal (who I’m a big fan of even if he caused my beloved Taylor Swift to write a break up song about him)

coherence

Coherence (2013)

One of the few films that I immediately re-watched when it had finished. Things go batshit mental at a dinner party when a comet passes close to the Earth.

Awkward, claustrophobic and smart. Essentially a relationship drama told through the prism of quantum physics, it asks how much do you really know your lovers, friends and – in the end – yourself? And it’s got Xander from Buffy. Sign of quality right there.

attack

Attack the Block (2011)

Joe Cornish’s movie is simply the most fun you can have through the medium of film. Aliens crash into into a South London estate and everyone, both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, begins to fuck shit up.

But it’s more than that. As we get to see the boys beneath the hoodies, Cornish handles the social commentary with a light touch and great big bloody fanged wolf-aliens. And when did Ken Loach or Mike Leigh have great big bloody fanged wolf-aliens in their films? Amateurs.

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Europa Report (2013)

Another found footage film.

No! Wait! Come back! This is proper Hard Science-Fiction! Actual boffins with letters after their names have praised the film for its accuracy and depiction of space travel.

A team of astronauts go to Jupiter’s fourth largest moon in search of life. Things, of course, don’t go completely as planned. Told in a non-linear style using the spacecraft’s onboard cameras, it uses the claustrophobic location to its advantage and squeezes an impressive amount of tension into its efficient 90 minutes running time.

There. A proper blog post. That went alright, didn’t it? Anything else you’d recommend film-wise? What did I miss off?