The Soldier is on a kindle monthly deal for September (in the UK) so you can buy it for 99p. Get in there!
The Soldier (Rise of the Jain Book 1)
Took a day yesterday to clean house from top to bottom, and finally clean all the glue, paint and wood stain spots off my front terrace. It was also a day of peeling onions for pickling. The chilli sauce will be next.
I was going to bring my laptop down to book my flight home, just couldn’t bear the thought of it today. I’ve now got to try and think of positive aspects of the UK in winter. . . Nope, struggling here.
Nope. I have to bear in mind that winter here isn’t exactly a beach party. Positive aspects of the UK: gas central heating, big fuck-off TV with surround sound and The Expanse to watch, carpets. . . nah, still struggling.
I guess I’ll have to see the winter as a time of health focus with fasting, long walks, hitting the gym and a severe reduction in booze consumption, and nose to the grindstone on the word processor.
Blimey. I’ve just realised it’s not even 4PM yet. Quick kayak run that – shows what a day of rest can do. And just in case you think I’m spending my time enjoying myself rather than working. I did my 2,000 words this morning . . . though I enjoyed that too.
Full of piethachia meh skortho (lamb chops with garlic) as opposed to pethachia meh skortho (which would be children with garlic) and now enjoying a warm evening at Revans. It’s weird. I’m here for another month yet, know I know when I have to go, still feel like I’m leaving shortly. The drop in temperature contributes. In the village I contemplate wearing jeans and don’t want to sit outside anymore. This translates as high summer in the UK.
I’m sure the tourists here are loving the yip yipping on the beach. Bloody people with dogs who think it’s okay to let them just keep on barking, yipping, yapping whining and howling. It’s not okay. It’s selfish disregard for others. Fuck right off.
I passed 100,000 words today but didn’t do my 2,000. With the timeline of the book all over the place, making alterations gets a bit more complicated. For example: I decided that the prador destroyed the satellite here, but did the colonists have it for surveillance when they retrieved the fusion reactor? Or when the mobile strangler fig tried to eat Nursum? Or when the multidapt aliens grew wings?
The rat-dog from Hell is back. Whatever. I’ll be out on my kayak on the peace of the ocean soon.
Well that was depressing: I’ve just booked my flight home. But then I should step back and get a bit of perspective. It’s over a month away and most people don’t even get to stay here that long.
Okay, after last night’s excesses I did a big kayak run to burn the shit out of my system. My turn-around point was a beach called Stousa, a round trip I estimate at 15K – 3.25 hours. I even came back wanting a beer. This morning the mere thought of beer turned my stomach. Kala na patho (I got what I deserved).
12K walking in the mountains this morning, 10K on the kayak this afternoon, and no beer. Sometimes you just need to straighten yourself out.
And another 12K in the mountains in the morning and 10K on the kayak this afternoon. Only this time I have beer, because I’m entitled, because it’s Sunday, and because a couple of days of abstinence in this place is worthy of a medal.
I can attest that the pickled onions turned out very nice, since I ate a whole jar of them last night. I’m now looking into ways of preserving black figs since I’m getting loads of them. Tried oven drying. Next I’ll try sticking them in syrup.
I’m now at that point in the book I will call the ‘how do I sort this mess out’ stage. This entails lots of deleting, moving stuff around and figuring out how to tie off plot threads. It unfortunately means that the word counts of 2,000 become much more intermittent. This is no good for my OCD, but I expect I’ll compensate by counting steps in the mountains or paddle strokes while out on the kayak.
And here’s a rarity for the annals: me actually making notes. Of course the picture is sufficiently blurred so you can’t read them. . .
I can understand how natural forces end up personified as gods, demons, angels or whatever. Out on the sea today I developed a strong case of Tourette’s while talking to them. I set out against the wind, ended up in waves that weren’t exactly malevolent but did seem to be toying with me. If I hadn’t been alert I suspect I’d have been flipped a couple of times. Then as I came back, the wind changed direction while I was out from the coast. The big waves that had at last been working with me, acquired small waves on top of them heading in the opposite direction, and on the last third of the trip back I was paddling against the wind again. So naiads, nymphs, zephyrs or Poseidon bored and rattling his trident to see how big the waves need to be to have the Englishman off his kayak? Not unusual here: Greeks bored and playing with the xenos for entertainment.
Okay, latest bit of food preservation. The syrup consists of a cup of red wine vinegar, two of sugar and juice of a lemon plus zest. I microwaved the figs to sterilise them and stuck them in hot jars, syrup poured in and then on with the lids. I have absolutely no idea how these will taste. Pretty good I think. . .
Um. As I commented to someone on here: I have a doorway in my house with a stone arch. It’s okay if you’re a little Greek granny but not so good if you’re a hungover Englishman. The sore lump on the top of my head attests to this.
The book, now past 100,000 words, has two possible courses. I can finish it with the characters, plot threads, alarums and excursions I have thus far. Or I can do the Raymond Chandler ‘time to walk a man in the room with a gun’. The gun in this case would be a fully armed and equipped prador dreadnought arriving just when it seems problems have been resolved. What do you think?
Time to return to the village. Do I sensibly stay in and cook for myself, or go out for food and quite possibly too much to drink. I think I know the answer already. . .
Thanks to Adam Fairchild we now have a new ‘meme’. Having read Dawkins I’m not sure I like the usage of that word, but. . .
Okay, now I’m full of lamb chops with garlic, chips and salad. Suddenly the tight T-shirt is not looking like such a good idea. Oh for those days of a six-pack stomach that didn’t change after four pints of beer, a donna kebab and large chips. Long gone I fear.
Phlegm, sore throat and a dry cough have been screwing with me for about five days. Yesterday I felt well so ate out, and drank ouzo. I woke in the middle of the night coughing my lungs out and feel pretty shitty today. But still I’m reluctant to forgo my kayak 10K. Sitting here trying to come to a decision on that. . .
Uhuh, going out on the kayak while a cold is coming on was not such a great idea. For three days I’ve been out of it. My body’s thermostat went haywire and all my muscles feel leaden and beaten. The cough progressed to nicely ‘productive’ and moved through the phlegm spectrum to an interesting pale jade colour. The blobs of sputum have been seemingly immiscible with water and at times resembled grapes. Still buggered – sitting here in Revans in jeans – amoxycillin washed down with orange juice. The sea looks lovely for kayaking, but I have to go home.
The sea is flat and calm, it’s sunny and lovely and warm. Antibiotics and nighttime coughing episodes aside, I’m going out on that fucking kayak later.
Okay, I was warned that fruit juices interact with many drugs. *sigh* oh well. I washed down the antibiotic with beer. Anyway, after the 10K kayak I feel much better. Sometimes there comes a stage when you’re feeling shite when you have to get off your arse and push yourself. I will of course be remembering these words when I’m coughing my lungs up tonight.
Excellent. I slept without coughing last night. The cold is gone, the lungs are clearing, I wrote with enthusiasm this morning, and shortly I’ll be heading out here:
A cold can last interminably. I wonder, however, how long it can spend incubating in the body before its effects really make themselves known? I felt crappy and worn out for some time before my throat felt a bit icky. Then again, just being worn out makes you vulnerable to the bastard virus.
Okay, feeling healthy again, the sea was calm, so I had to do the 15K kayak. Not feeling particularly weary either. I’ll probably bugger this all up later with a meal out and too much to drink. That’s life.
Cover reveal time. Here then is The Human, the concluding (and of course action packed) book of The Rise of the Jain trilogy. Enjoy!
So I was a good boy and didn’t go out and drink away my health gains last night. In fact I was knackered and didn’t want to do much more than lie on my sofa. But gains were made as it seemed my subconscious had been chewing things over. I ended up in that state between waking and dreaming afterwards and sat down to scribble a few lines which, when expanded, will be the last quarter of the book. This morning I made some alterations to suit this then went straight into my 2,000 words. Very satisfying. And yes:
Well that was a very laid back kayak trip. No wind, no waves, just sitting back in the thing and paddling along slowly. Actually needed after yesterday’s adventure.
Emptying out now. It is September and getting late now. Quite sad to think this is the last year the Stratos is open under Dolores and Van. No more ‘spot Neal Asher’ and no more spicy food as an antidote to the generally bland Cretan fare.
After a karavachi of ouzo in the Stratos to wash down hot wings followed by roast lamb, time to stagger over the hill to Revans. I will probably regret this in the morning.
A few people in Revans but it’s early yet for the after dinner crowd. Steadily reviving now as my digestive system deals with its recent assault. But I mustn’t stay out too late. Besides the danger of turning into a pumpkin, I have work to do! See, even in this setting I continue to do my job. . .
1,500 words done despite the ouzo hangover. Completely still and no wind when I headed down here from the house. From the moment I arrived the wind started blowing. It’s those bloody zephyrs again. They’re out to get me.
Well that was cool. The wind kicked up some big waves on the way to Koutsouras, then it died on the way back and the waves eased off. Ahead of me I caught sight of something large and grey-brown and a glimpse of something that looked like a fin. After a moment of buttock-clenching I went to investigate. It wasn’t a fin but a flipper. I spent a happy few minutes watching a turtle sculling through the waves. It then turned away and dived. Excellent. First time I’ve seen one of them while out on the kayak.
Right, back up to the house to write the 500 words to complete today’s 2,000. The excitement never ends.
I was looking at the clouds in the mountains last night and thinking WTF, this is early. I then saw this FB memory from four years ago. Perception of the present based on a certain selectivity about the past can be deceiving. This probably explains a lot about the ‘Oh my God the climate’ crowd.
4 years ago
21 September 2015 ·
Ah the crappy weather has arrived. Just been watching a thunderstorm and apparently we’re due for rain all night. Καλο βραδυ!
As somebody (Ricardo Graves) once described it, it’s blowing a hooligan out there. Dismissing the immediate grotesque mental image that summons up, I’m looking out to sea and wondering. Probably better if I just went home and did stuff around the house and garden. But then again, I like a challenge, and in this wind I might be able to get the kayak airborne. . .
Okay, I easily ran with the wind to get out to the point. I turned the kayak into it once just to be sure I could paddle back against it. Sheltered going round the point then straight into it beyond there. White water, spray whipping up, then a strong gust picked the nose of the kayak about a foot out of the water and skidded it sideways. I suddenly lost my spirit of adventure at that juncture and turned around.
Eating out again tonight (because I haven’t bothered filling the fridge) but definitely avoiding the ouzo. The Gabbiano is packed with Scandinavians once more. You can tell by the tables all together in a line – some throwback to Viking drinking halls or something. Mede and toasts to Odin. But they don’t seem to be violent and I haven’t glimpsed any concealed axes.
Ah, I did that then. And now I’ll take this opportunity: all those who know me on Crete, please keep a lookout for dumped wooden furniture (no veneered crap) for me. Cupboards, chairs, tables . . . I’ll be needing some projects next year.
4 years ago
22 September 2015 ·
Okay, one scary chair renovation complete. Before and after pictures…
After a recent discussion with someone, about agendas and motivations, I have to wonder if I’ve become a bit too cynical. My story-telling faculty (as it did when I was suffering from anxiety) tends to tell the bad stories and those are the ones I believe. Perhaps I should cut people more slack?
Okay, that’s enough self examination. Where’s my kayak?
Windy again today, but not quite so bad as yesterday. I think it might be dying off. I’ll see if I can get a bit further with the kayak. Only two weeks of this left now before my return the grey of the UK, alcohol abstinence, fasting, sweating in the gym and plenty of writing of course.
Thanks to Martin Lambert for this and, via a roundabout route, seeds of the top one here the Carolina Reaper. I may not get chillies this year from the four plants I’m growing, but hope to have someone picking and freezing them for me. Should make for some interesting chilli sauce next year.
Oh dear. I had to go and get a top from the car and still feel a bit chilly. The end is nigh for the acclimatised. If I was staying to the end of October I could see myself down here in jeans and jumper, while others would be walking around in shorts and looking like broiled lobsters.
Ah fuck nuggets. Guess which company I found a cheap flight with a few weeks back: Thomas Bleeding Cook. I now have to find out what the hell is going on with that, probably book another flight, and probably find the prices have skyrocketed.
Oh right. I just got an email from Directline Flights concerning the Thomas Cook clusterfuck. My money will be refunded but I have to book another flight. Prices are already going up what with others looking for flights. Annoyingly I really do have to get back to the UK before a certain date, so I’m probably going to get shafted on price.
Hmm, I think I better return with the laptop later and start checking out flight options. An awful lot of people have been stranded by this. Maybe I will have to do an Athens transfer – not too much of a problem since I have no hold luggage.
Right. I managed to book an Easyjet flight back on the 7th. The cheaper flights were all gone and they weren’t putting up prices on those remaining, so the cost was €80 – 90 more. It wasn’t a cheap flight, but it wasn’t silly money either. Glad that’s sorted!
I suspect that quite a shit storm is going to be hitting Crete next year. Here in Makrigialos the very large Sunwing Hotel was 100% Thomas Cook. The knock-on effects of that closing down are not going to be pleasant. Meanwhile it seems that 80% of hotels on Crete have contracts with TC. We can only hope that an efficient company moves in to fill the void.
Right. Checked in and ticket ready to print so that’s as certain as it can be. Now preparations for departure. The only one at the house is a neighbour watering plants and picking and freezing my chillies. Nothing else needs doing really. Next a UK shopping list: tape for the handle of my kayak paddle – important stuff like that.
I imagine that teenagers in Maoist ‘study sessions’ thought they were speaking truth to power too. Nice to have unfollow or 30 day snooze for idiots who think otherwise.
I have a headache this has made me irritable. I think I’ve snoozed about ten people on here. Perhaps I should stop looking at stuff. My irritation levels rise every time I see that bloody Greta or more about politicians trying to shaft democracy.
Ah fuck this I’m off. Social media seems more like Bedlam to me today.
Nope nope nope. Still Bedlam on the social media. I’m going to have to limit myself to reading replies to my posts and ignore everything else for a while.
Waves are eating the beach here and cloud is looming heavy over the mountains. 100% humidity yesterday, which was noticeable this morning when my car struggled to start. Not entirely sure that’s down to the damp – a mouse might have nibbled a wire somewhere. I’ll head out on the kayak and upon my return try to avoid the beer. I have cover briefs to do for the Owner trilogy and need to get them to Bella soon. Meanwhile the present book advances apace: railgun strikes from above and a WTF is that! And during the mayhem it turns out someone is not quite as human as they should be. I like it when a plan comes together.
Okay, I’m being a good boy today. Here’s the evidence:
Okay, cover briefs sent off to Macmillan and a contract elsewhere agreed (no, I can’t tell you because I would have to send a Jain mycelium to eat out your cortex). This involved coming down to Revans with my laptop. Of course, now I’m here. . .
Gag. A quick scroll through FB and Twitter and its repetition of Greta/Brexit/Boris. I beat a hasty retreat. Anyway, 2,000 words written this morning as I join up the dots of a nasty AI weapons development conspiracy and line up the players for final mayhem. I then had a nice dinner of vlita and tsipoura and, when my stomach feels less like a barrage balloon, I’ll head out on the kayak. See, that was better than all the 1st world problems virtue signalling SJW political wank out there.
I felt a bit bloated and crappy recently, probably as a result of antibiotics and some evenings of being a tad dissolute. So 12K in the mountains this morning and shortly 10K out on the kayak. No bloody beer either! The walk did infringe on my writing time so only 1,500 words done. I will do the rest later.
Um. I think I’ll head towards Koutsouras today. The sea is nice and calm(ish) and the other route towards Kalo Nero would be good. However, I know that once on it I would be tempted to do 15K and, after this morning’s walk, I’d end up completely knackered.
Then again. . .
And my next resolution will be not to make resolutions. . .
Um, no writing done this morning. Yesterday I did 12K walking in the mountains then 15K on the kayak, then I had some drinks with old friends (Chris and Anna), went home, ate something and crashed on the sofa at 8.30 and didn’t wake till 1.30. The ensuing disrupted night’s sleep left me be a bit crappy this morning. Instead of writing I spent my time digging out a load of rotted grape matter from the kazani next to my house. As they still raki from fermented grapes they dump the debris into a nearby ruin. And I spread this lot across my garden. So something achieved, anyway. Kayak time now.
Meh. Eight days to go and I’m back in the UK. But I must try to be positive about that (he said, while wondering about what might be involved in relocating here permanently). Of course I have to remember that winter here is not exactly a pushover. The convenience of central heating is not to be denied. Meh.
So anyway, what’s the writing SOP? I have The Human ready to come out next year in March-April-May (I don’t know the release date). I have Jack Four written to first draft and the one I’m working on is up to 115,000 words and I should have that done to first draft by Christmas. I have stories coming out in Ian Whates collections (perhaps you can say something about those Ian?). I’ve got a story called An Alien on Crete coming out in Azimov’s and a novella called Moral Biology coming out in Analog. I have other stories ready to submit to a few markets. Other things are also happening but are either under an NDA or I’ve agreed to keep my gob shut about them. I have to talk to Bella Pagan about a new contract with Macmillan. Plans? I’ll get this latest book to first draft and again make an attempt to kick out some more short stories. So, all in all, this writing lark is going quite well.
Okay, Bella Pagan tells me the publication date for The Human is the 16th April.
30 September at 13:22 ·
It’s great to be back in our favourite village and to meet up with our old friend Neal.