Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Thursday, 22 October 2020

'Coffee Cup Killer' Launch Delayed

Unfortunately, due to last minute editing adjustments and unexpected printing times, the official launch of novella 2 of the Jake Jones Sleuth-Hound series 'The Coffee Cup Killer' will be pushed back to Monday 26th October. I'm very sorry about this.

But if you haven't already, now is the perfect time to read novella 1 'The Old Mice Killer', which has been updated as a new edition, to get into the zone. You can snap it up as a paperback (£3.99) or ebook (£1.77).

I'm hoping to go live on Facebook on Monday and answer your questions about the new chapter in Jake Jones' adventure, so if you have anything you'd like to ask, please leave them in the comments. 

Thanks, and see you then!

Sunday, 18 October 2020

The Coffee Cup Killer

I’m very happy to announce that my new novella ‘The Coffee Cup Killer’, the next episode in the Jake Jones Sleuth-Hound saga since ‘The Old Mice Killer’(2017), will be published by Raptor Filmz on Friday 23rd October! It will be available as an ebook on Amazon and Kobo (£2.99/$3.99) and a paperback from and myself (£5.99/ $7.75).

Jake Jones is a sleuth-hound in a city full of femme fatales, drug cartels, corrupt cops, dirty politicians and dangerous power-lords. He has a nose for trouble and he follows it always. But what starts out as a simple stalker case spirals into something much worse, as Jake finds himself embroiled in the latest spate of bloody murders to plague the city - those of the Coffee Cup Killer...

Many thanks to everyone who has offered insight, advice and encouragement to help Jake Jones on his journey.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

A Watched Kettle ...

 Waiting for a response from agents and/or publishers for a month or even two, is hard.

Checking your inbox and finding nothing but nothing each morning can really be quite disheartening. But people in the publishing industry are overwhelmed with manuscripts in their in-tray and it takes time; I understand that. There’s nothing else for it but to wait patiently, or even begin some new project.

Being a firm believer of the power of positive visualisation, however, I have decided to imagine the letter that I hope to receive from an agent or publisher in the next few days.

Dear Mr Young,

I would like to apologise wholeheartedly for keeping you waiting but I would like to thank you sincerely for sending us the synopsis and first three chapters of your hilarious and original work, ‘The Coffee Cup Killer.’ We at the office were falling about in gales of laughter and awe. Somehow you have captured the angst of the whole world by harnessing the absurdity of the current situation by using the seldom double-swung double-edged sword of double sarcasm. Wonderful. Poetic. A Chandleresque dog detective in a spoof-noir world of talking animals? Never since Homer’s Iliad in dactylic hexameter has any literary work fully captured the imagination of the planet. May we be the first to congratulate you on such an epic novella and inform you that we shall encourage the Nobel Prize Committee that they need look no further in selecting their next winner. Congratulations in advance. Suffice it to say that we would like nothing more than to have our names associated with yours from now on, in fact we’d like to pay you for the honour, your reverence. Please accept this advance of £15,000 which we trust will cover you and your family comfortably so you can focus on the much anticipated sequels The Puppy Master, The Red Herring and Jeers of Derision, in order to deliver them to the best of your comedic genius and at your earliest convenience to your billions of fans-to-be worldwide.

Ha! I can dream I suppose...

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

The Coffee Cup Killer : Chapter One

For the sheer heck of it, to find out how it sounds and to celebrate finishing the first round of editing, I read out the first chapter of The Coffee Cup Killer, The Second Jake Jones Mystery, on video. Then I added noir jazz music and black and white old film effects. Because why not?

The Coffee Cup Killer A Jake Jones Mystery Prequel to The Old Mice Killer Coming Soon ... © Chris R Young 2020 Music : MrSnooze

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

2020 Hindsight

Well, it's that time of year again, when we look back at what we've achieved and forward to what we want but fail to change. Casting my gaze around my office I see barely-glanced-at A4 print outs with things like:

Goals for 2019

Write a book (Aa Apple) - failed, but I've begun compiling my 2000-2020 compilation of short stories called Hidden In The Old Stone Wall, which will hopefully be ready early 2020

Coffee Cup Killer – failed, but I've written a few more chapters and figured out a few more in my head, plus have some checked at West Lothian Writers with some great feedback

Don't Give Up – success! I have not given up.

Plant bushes in front garden – failed. But I have planted 20 tree seeds in pots in the green house, Hopefully they sprout in the spring

Publish another short story - failed. But Thick as Thieves is out now published in a compilation called Knucklehead Noir by Coffin Hop Press.

I also, as if that wasn't enough, can see another A4 print out right next to it that says:

2019 New Year's Resolutions

Good Hour Every Day : Music, Language, Write – failed
Speak Japanese every even day – failed
Exercise 3 times a week – failed
No alcohol – failed
Work 9 hour days – 4-4-1 – failed
Tai chi every morning – failed, but did do it a lot of mornings
Go to bed at 10:30pm - failed
Wake up at 7am – failed
Seven fruit and veg a day – failed
Spend less money – failed
More family time – failed
More garden time – failed
Save money – failed
One coffee max – failed
More water – failed
Be more patient – failed
Cook more – failed
Write one letter a week – failed
Reduce plastic waste – I think we actually may have succeeded with this one with our use of ecobricks to insulate the loft rafters. So much so that my wife was getting sick of ecobricks scattered around the house and stopped buying plastic bottles of orange juice.
Walk more – failed
More board games – failed, although we did play Risk with a few of the local kids which seemed to go quite well. "World domination, kids! It's what it's all about!"

I only looked at and read these sheets of paper twice. Once when I put them up at the end of 2018, and again just now. So I can safely say that didn't work. 

Perhaps I was unrealistic in my goals. Just too many. My most successful year of fulfilling New Year's Resolutions I think was a couple of years ago when I only had one:

Don't be an Asshole

which was later downgraded to :

Try not to be an Asshole

So what then can we take away from this? It's better to have a goal and risk it unmet, than to have no goal and achieve nothing. Then again it's quite nice and less stressful to achieve goals that one had not really set out on achieving. But too many targets and you miss them all. As I believe it was Confucius who once said 

“The dog that chases two rabbits catches neither.”

So with this in mind then, let's try to gather a list of NYRs that are both achievable and easy to remember. 

I think I'm going to split these up into three parts: Vows, Goals and Regimen. (Already sounding too much)

2020 Vows, Goals & Regimen


I vow not to fly in 2020
I vow to drive as little as possible and less than last year
I vow to expand my vegetable garden and grow more in it


To complete Hidden In The Old Stone Wall
To either find an agent and/or publisher for or self publish Hidden In The Old Stone Wall
To complete The Coffee Cup Killer


Early to bed, early to rise
Write 250 words every day
Exercise at least once a week

One thing I realised in 2019 is that it's almost as hard for me to go to bed early as it is to get up early, and that these things are two sides of the same coin. It actually takes effort to go to bed. It's taken me 44 years to get my head round this (and I still haven't). You'd think it would be easy to climb into a nice warm snug area and read a good book until you get sleepy, by which point you're already in prime position to nod off. 

But no. I have to play Firefight on Halo OTSD until 3am. Then hate myself and climb the stairs of shame, brush the hairy teeth of tardiness, pull off my clothes of disorganisation, drop my underwear into the laundry basket of humiliation, climb into a freezing cold, draughty bed of despair, read for a few uncomfortable moments and then extinguish the light of disgust and lie there with feet of ice seeing flashbacks of popping grunts and failing to knock out big blue hunters by elbowing them on their armour.

But, happily, some goals I completed in 2019 by accident are:

The planting of 20 native British tree seeds with my son
The first draft compilation of 'Hidden in the Old Stone Wall'
The setting up and running of 6 Saltire Open Mic Nights with Steven Dakers
Successfully (I think) held the 2019 Scottish Short Film Festival in July

Had my iPhone stolen and reverted back to Nokia, thereby healing repetitive strain injury in right wrist
Began a petition and Facebook page to try to save Carmondean Library
Wrote the song Halloween Blues and covered I'm Yours, Friday I'm in Love and El Condor Pasa
Popped my busking cherry
Popped my stand up cherry
Got a dangerous metal bench moved from the local playground
Wrote a nice email to Hannah Bardell MP about the wildfires in Australia

That's about it

In my younger days I used to buy a day-to-a-page diary from John Menzies and try my best to fill it in over the course of the year (I still have these). Then on New Year's Eve I'd sit down and enjoy reading through it all again and ponder life's imponderables. But alas I don't do that any more. Mostly because I always felt guilty about not being able to keep up with my diary writing and wasting all that paper, so instead I switched to jotting in undated notebooks whenever the notion took me. Just found them and there's a few pages from 2019 so I'll take a wee stroll down memory lane and see if there's owt worth sharing.

Sunday 9th March

Ye gadzooks! Another day in the valley and I only have T minus three minutes to figure out what's wrong with my life!
  • No motivation,
There! That was easy!

Monday 11th March

I have nothing to say. Everything I have to say has been said before by better minds than I. Half the stuff I say I regret, and the other half is divided into thirds - funny stuff, informative stuff, and stuff people don't want to listen to.
    But on the whole most of the stuff I say is better left unsaid. Even the funny stuff I say is not wanted or lends anything worthwhile to the debate.
   So what is worth saying?
   Nobody wants to hear the truth, and nobody wants to hear lies. What does that leave?

Saturday 13th April

Went to the library and my son picked up two books at random to appease me - one about space and the other called Business Finance for Kids.

In the post office he bought some super sour candy called 'Hazardous Waste' which I tried too and it almost tore my mouth apart.

Wednesday 1st May

Struggled to leave my bed at 7:45am this morning. Decided to not decide whether to have a day off today.

Wednesday 22nd May

Today my son said his teacher humiliated him for not knowing his fractions or how to simplify 63/77ths. He was quite upset about it and said he couldn't remember exactly what she'd said because he'd tried to block it from his mind. I just tried to help him practise some fractions and then talk him through his emotions, relating to him a bit how primary school teachers traumatised me when I was a kid. Knocking my head together with Neil Law's and staring at me with excess mascara. I still feel nervous even now when going into the primary school to pick him up
   Anyway, he seemed to cheer up a bit after that.
   Personally I have lost faith in the present Scottish education system. Hardly any homework, days off galore, free time on Fridays which are half days anyway. What the fuck? No wonder he doesn't know his fractions.

Wednesday 6th June

So why the hell am I starting up an Open Mic Night?

Saturday 15th June

Played chess against the computer while listening to Rage Against The Machine.

Thursday 10th October

My son came home and lit up the household with his laughter and songs as usual.

Saturday 26th October

Okay. In an effort to clear my mind of the scum layer of thoughts and crabbit emotions encrusting the upper regions of my psyche, I am now endeavouring to write some diary here in my own dining room in my own house in the peace and quiet of my own family's absence.

Monday 4th November

This is the only thing I know for sure. The date. Nothing else is certain. Nothing else is written.

There. That was fun.

But no matter your successes or failures of 2019, or your goals, resolutions and hopes for 2020, I wish you all peace, harmony and happiness for the coming year. See you on the other side :)

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

A Cat Is For Life - A Short Story

I finished suckling and opened my eyes. We were lying on a soft white rug in front of some strange red and yellow crackling stuff that emitted a pleasant, but potentially dangerous, warmth. Over my mother and I reached the limbs of an ominous yet brightly decorated tree all greens and browns. My reflection in one of the large shiny baubles was curved and curious. I could see my pink nose, my short stubby whiskers, and my big, questioning green eyes. Under the tree were packages of all shapes and sizes, all wrapped up with string and colourful paper. I inspected these with interest but, compared to the soft warmth of my mother, the hard corners and edges offered little except the temptation of something to scratch my chin against. The air was filled with a variety of delicious smells I could not identify.
“Good morning love,” Mother smiled drowsily. “And how are you this fine Christmas Day?”
“Fine Momma,” I said. “Thank you for the milk.”
“You’re very welcome little one.”
I blinked lazily again at the bright, flickering tongues sending out heat that dried my eyes. “Momma, what’s that?”
“That’s fire my son,” Mother said. “It feels nice on a winter morn, doesn’t it? But you must never sniff it or you will burn your tiny nose.”
I sighed. “I have lots to learn.”
Mother grinned. “Yes, but there’s no rush. No rush at all, my young treasure. Take your time, enjoy life.” She got herself comfortable and made to drift off to sleep again.
I studied her. “Could you give me some … advice?”
Mother opened her eyes. “Advice?”
“Yes Momma,” I said. “It looks like a big, cold world out there. What should I do? How should I act? You are a cat of experience but it’s all new to me.”
“Well,” Mother purred. “I suppose I could give you some starters. First of all : Know and protect your boundaries.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll understand when you’re older and venture outside to meet other cats.”
“Uh, okay. Protect my boundaries.”
“Yes. But don’t overdo it. Laze the day away whenever possible. A good work-life balance is critical. 80% napping, 20% work. No more.”
Suddenly a huge pair of stocking-clad legs stepped over us. I jerked my head up to see they were attached to a plump, cooing giant carrying a tray. A shiver ran through me.
“It’s okay darling,” purred Mother. “That’s one of the Owners. They look after us. Bring them a small dead animal now and then as sacrifice.”
“Yes, they love it. I always like to pop one in her slipper. Her reaction is a delight.”
“I’ll try to remember.”
“Now, in the night-time, you must stalk restlessly around.”
“Because it’s our way. Also it helps expend your extra energy in order for you to nap efficiently during the day.”
“Oh, and never smile.”
“Ever.  And never apologise.”
“What if I make a mistake?”
“Always act like you meant it, my love. You must keep your feline pride intact. In Egypt we are gods, remember. Remain aloof.”
“I’ll try.”
“Another important one is that pingpong balls are spawn of Satan and must be chased to the ends of the earth.”
“Yes. Little round white plastic orbs. Sometimes they will try to trick you by playing dead, but if you bat them with a paw off they will run again. Mark my words, little angel.”
“I shall … keep an eye out.”
“And sometimes, after a nice bath, you may feel the urge to cough up hair. There is absolutely no shame in this. ‘A fur-ball on the carpet is better than in the small intestine,’ my mother always told me.”
“What else did she tell you?”
“She often said, ‘Lap - don’t slurp.’
I gazed at her in bafflement.
“‘Sit patiently,’ she also said. ‘Look at a door and it shall be opened unto you.’ Ah, I miss her.”
I snuggled in to Mother. “Was she a good cat?”
“Yes, she was. She gave me the gift of love, and I pass that on to you.”
“And what about your father? Did he give you any advice?
“I didn’t know my father much, but I do remember one thing he used to say. ‘Remove your head you may not can, if you stick it somewhere under your whisker span.’
“That rhymes.”
“Yes, but it doesn’t quite scan. He wasn’t much of a poet your grampa.”
“It’s a lot to take in.”
“There’s plenty of time for learning about life my love.” Mother closed her eyes and stretched.
The packages under the tree again caught my attention. “And Momma, what are those?”
Mother didn’t bother to open her eyes this time. “They’re presents. The Owners and their family give them to each other at this time of year to show they love them. Just like I give you these words of cat wisdom to you, because I love you.”
A lump formed in my throat and tears prickled my eyes.
Mother opened her lids. “What’s the matter?”
“I don’t have a present for you,” I whimpered.
“Oh my love,” Mother said, hugging me close. “You are the best gift for which any cat could ask.”

© Chris R Young December 2019

Sunday, 19 May 2019

A Nice Message

Just received this nice message from author L. D. Wallace:

"I've just finished  'The Old Mice Killer' and all I can say is WOW! 
I loved it. Fab fun. Awesome. It's brilliantly quirky and excellently written. It's a mega hit! Highly addictive and I can't wait to read the next one."

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Open Letter To Theresa May

It's totally cool to write letters to the Prime Minister

27thMarch 2019
Dear Mrs May,

Thank you for the hard work and efforts you've put in to honour the results of the 2016 EU Referendum, in which I was one of the 17,410,742 people who voted Leave.

At that time I thought it would be better for the UK to have more control over its destiny, but I have to confess that I'm neither an economist nor very smart. I didn't clearly understand the ramifications of Brexit and my optimism and positivity often lead me to make unrealistic and in hindsight not very good decisions.

For example at the time I didn't realise the problems that would arise regarding the border between Northern Ireland and Eire. Nor did I expect so many huge companies to be forced to leave the UK due to the imposing of enormous tax duties. The chlorination of chicken offered on a plate by the US is similarly not very attractive. A lot of other EU rules regarding the environment are actually pretty good and I'd hate to see them be at risk after we leave.

In summary a lot of things have come to light since the referendum that weren't clear then, and we're all a lot better informed. That's why I'd like to say that I'm sorry, I've changed my mind and believe a second referendum is the only way forward.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Young

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

The Deputation (1)

Below is more or less what I read out at a West Lothian Council Executive meeting (when a member of the public does it they need to request a 'deputation') at Livingston Civic Centre this morning about the transfer of Carmondean Library to the Ability Centre building across the road.

Carmondean Library, Livingston North
Good morning, and thank you for the opportunity to speak before the council this morning. Just to introduce myself, my name is Chris Young, I'm a member of West Lothian Writers and the Federation of Scottish Writers and I love libraries. 

I'm originally from East Kilbride but have lived in or near Livingston for the past 7 years. I've been writing since I was 17, and spent many happy hours in the E.K. Central Library lost in books or studying for my highers thanks to which I was able to go on to study at St Andrews and gain a degree. I firmly believe that having a study area away from home where I could concentrate and have every reference at my fingertips helped me pass my exams.

When I lived in Japan in a suburb of Tokyo called Machida, the library there had a great selection of English books, and it was these which helped me stay out there for so long. Not only reading Science Fiction by Philip K Dick, but also the English translations of Japanese classics like 'I am a Cat' by Natsumi Soseki.

While in Japan and researching the internet where to come back to with my family in 2012 I remember zooming in on Carmondean via Google maps and being very happy to find a location that had a supermarket, a train station, a kindergarten, a health centre, a library and a pub all in close proximity. Saturday was Dad day and I took my son to the library, where we enjoyed the books, and then the cafe, before going home. I knew immediately that Carmondean Library was a very valuable resource for children and adults. It seemed well stocked with thousands of books that would take several years to get through. It had plenty of space, study materials, computers and study rooms for when I tutored students. It even had computers for kids and a wooden train for them to climb on. The staff were helpful and friendly. And it was quiet.

These days we are suffering from a 'Screen Epidemic'. It's a major challenge for parents to get their children away from games, movies and social media. It has actually been shown in a study that too much screen time can have an adverse effects on children's exam results. Whereas other studies have shown that those who read fiction actually live longer than those who don't. Having Carmondean Library reduced and hidden away would be another blow for parents trying to fight screen addiction.

A good library, like Carmondean, is worth its weight in gold, because each book is like buried treasure waiting to be discovered. 

So libraries should be protected, like parks, museums, green belts and forests. A good library is a book sanctuary, a safe place for troubled minds to escape their daily stresses. The link between mental health and physical health has been well documented and good libraries provide for this. A walk there prevents a plethora of ills.

As an English language teacher I also have an interest in child literacy. In Japan I was teaching young people from the age of three upwards, and one of the challenges was familiarising them with these alien shapes that we like to call 'the alphabet' and how they relate to sounds. 

Libraries are educational through fun and creativity. When I returned to Scotland I often got requests from parents to help coach their children – usually people from overseas, but occasionally a Scottish family would find that their child was struggling with English and ask me to help. That's when I realised that some young people in Scotland have a problem with literacy. And the best answer I could give them is reading for enjoyment. 

Mark Twain dug libraries
And now to the subject of budget cuts. I know times are hard and ways have to be found to save money. Have the following measures been considered?

Putting in a lower ceiling to reduce heating bills.
Installing solar panels on the south facing roof to reduce bills
Charging more for late returns.
Renting out DVDs, Blu Rays, Cds, Games, Audio books
Advertising on billboards on the outer walls
Appealing to the public to raise funds to keep the library open
Donation Book clubs, Writing clubs

Lawrence Banks who I met through my Facebook page 'Save Carmondean Library,' had this to say: “This is a valuable local facility and is a central location. This library is essential and should be kept open as it allows locals to read good books and assists children when students are preparing for exams. Removing this facility would disenfranchise local students whose life chances would be lessened by renoving Carmondean Library. Keep Carmondean Library open.”

So to summarise then I just wanted to let you know that Lawrence and I at least feel that Carmondean Library ought to be preserved and I don't think we're the only ones. The local people have their lives enriched by its proximity, like a park or museum. If it's tucked away it'll be out of sight out of mind. If it's not as good as it was, fewer people will avail it of its services. Reading should be celebrated. Yes, hospitals, fire stations and police services are important, of course they are, but so are adventures of the human spirit. Affairs of the heart. Characters that teach us persistence over adversity. Real life inspiring autobiographies. If the library is reduced, diminished, so will the rainbow colours of Carmondean. So will the light of the smiles on adults and children's faces. If Carmondean Library is sold off to become a McDonalds or a Starbucks, the unique culture of the area will sadly suffer.

So I'd like to request more time to do a thorough public consultation with an online petition, large boards in the entranceway of Carmondean Library notifying the public of the situation with a comments box, flyering and street surveys, and to present the findings at the next meeting.

I'd like to finish with some quotes:

A library is a place where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity.” 
― Germaine Greer

Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” 
― Walter Cronkite

I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.” 
― Ray Bradbury

In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” 
― Mark Twain

Thank you.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Saving Carmondean Library

Had a nice meeting at BNI TGI in the Edinburgh Marriott after which rushed back to Dobbies, Livingston to begin some video editing, when at the back of nine I saw on the Save Our Ability Centre - West Lothian FB Page there was a meeting about the proposed squeezed relocation of Carmondean Library into the Ability Centre building, at 9:30am in Livi Civic Centre. 

Typical, I thought. Having the meeting just when I'm at BNI TGI and can't attend. Then I looked at my watch. It was 9:10am. Oh. I can attend.

Immediately discarded my half drunk pot of tea and jumped in the car, parked it up at Howden Park and legged it down the hill to the Civic Centre with loads of great arguments I intended to put forward for how important libraries are (student literacy levels, social interaction, promoting and using imagination and creativity) and why Carmondean Library is perfect where it is (nice and central, next to supermarket, health centre and park) and should be protected, invested in, expanded even (more books, audio books, DVDs, book clubs, writing classes) - not crammed into a building and shuffled off out of sight.

I jogged breathlessly into the Civic Centre only 10 minutes after the meeting started, signed in and crept into the public gallery unsure whether I could/should/wanted to say something, and/or whether I should blurt something out even if I wasn't allowed, while simultaneously shaking my fist or some such. 

After a nice chap confirmed to me the public weren't actually permitted to comment, I resigned myself to sitting in the public gallery between someone who bore all the resemblances to being a reporter from my days doing work experience at the EK News, and two other people sitting up the back. 

The Save Carmondean Library issue was the last on the agenda. It turned out the nice guy who who told me I couldn't comment was the Acting head of Housing, Customer and Building Services who seemed to be leading the charge to move Carmondean Library into the Ability Centre (push pull Jaws effect here) and 'decant' the staff and users of the Ability Centre into Deans Community High School for ten months while the renovations took place. 

According to he and the Acting Head of Social Policy the feedback that they had received about the proposal to cram Carmondean Library and Ability Centre into one building was nothing but positive. Everybody they had spoken to was over the moon about the move. People were tripping over themselves to spill adulations and praise upon them like pearls.

But who have they talked to? Well, not me. And they don't seem to have heard of Facebook in general or the 'Save The Ability Centre' page or 'Save Carmondean Library' pages in particular.

After cramming my fist in my mouth in an effort to not blurt out something untoward, the meeting drew to a close and I had a chat with the other two good people in the gallery, who it turns out were to be my allies in this fight, and I look forward to working with them in the hope that we can bring this to light, reach the public and find out whether it really is a necessary and popular move, and if not, what else can be done instead.

It's just a shame a public consultation (not to be confused with 'engagement') was carried out before all of these plans were put in motion rather than in the coming months just before they are finalised.

Then if/when we win all their work that we have paid for will not have been in vain.