Atlas, Published

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

I’ve put the links here for your convenience:

Audiobooks

Kobo

iTunes

Google

Chirp

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

Atlas, Submitted.

The past few weeks have been cold. Bloody cold. OK, not Canada cold, so I can’t complain so much, but there’s something to be said about doing voice work when you’re chilly.

I have to rug up in layers, of course, because the garage isn’t heated and, though the sound booth has a good bit of insulation, it, too, is not heated. In summer it’s a hot-house and in winter it’s a refrigerator. The problem with layers, though, is that the warmer stuff tends to be noisy.

Noisy clothes? Yep, totally. You probably don’t pay much attention to it, but when you move your arm or twist your torso, or lean forward or back, or even roll you neck, there’s an associated noise. If you’re naked, it’s not so evident. If you’ve got on cotton, it’s hushed. If you’re wearing a polyester puffer-jacket, it’s the equivalent of unwrapping a Mars bar in the middle of a quiet cinema.

Not good. The slightest shuffle or motion (let alone wild gesticulations) are captured on the mike and each scene needs to be done again. And again. It’s a waste of time, but at least I’m warm.

Cotton hoodies are pretty good, so long as I suppress the zipper on the front. It makes little ‘tink, tink’ noises that are pretty darn obvious. I’ve taken to putting a blob of blu-tack underneath to stop it chattering while I’m vocalising. The chair is solid, steel chair, very cold on the tuchus, so I’ve put a small cushion on and covered it with a terry towel.

I can’t put a heater in there because the space is too confined for anything that isn’t electric, and electric heaters are notorious for making a hum. I’m thinking seriously about pre-heating the space before I start, to take the edge off. Makes sense, I guess, only we’re on the other side of winter and that means the days are getting warmer and all of this effort will be for nothing until the next year.

So that was me these past few weeks: Squatting in a rickety sound booth, freezing my proverbials off, rugging up in a woolen beanie, gloves and scarf with a wodge of blu-tack stuck to my zipper. And that’s if the weather was favourable. It was a slog, but I got through it and I’m happy.

I had to do the supermarket scene again because there was a lot of choppiness and I flubbed the voices. Everyone got a bit too bogan and by the end of it, I couldn’t even understand what I was saying.

After all of that, Atlas, Broken has been turned into an audiobook and submitted through Findaway for processing. It will be a few weeks before we see it come out the other side. Fingers crossed I’ve dotted all my i’s.

Giving Atlas a Voice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Captain Underpants

Had holes in my jocks. It’s a thing, you know, when your undies are old and you’ve worn them so much there’s nothing left in the rear and it looks like a farmer has gone and blasted you with rabbit shot.

Normally it’s a matter of going through the drawers – no, not like that, the drawers that hold the drawers – and fishing out the knickers that don’t look like they can survive another round with Mr Crotch. Those with flaccid elastic or holey rumps get tossed into the bin, neither reprieve nor quarter.

Today was different. Today we had a problem. Lock-down says we need to wear a mask or face a fine – real money – and I wasn’t about to hand over my dosh for want of a piece of material across my snoot.

The Mother of Invention tapped me on the shoulder and presented the two problems before me: Worn out smalls and the need for a facial cover. What else was there? The front of the noodle bag has a gusset, or is that a pleat? Whatever it is, it’s the bit that holds the goods and it’s shaped perfectly to form a chin. Heck, it’s like the guy who designed them used his own face as a model.

So what was left? Trim off the bits on the outside, seal the edges, put some elastic down the sides and add some pleats (or gussets?) around the nose, and job done:

Real super-heroes wear their undies on the outside!

Holds my sideburns and goatee, doesn’t flop around and it’s made out of that soft material that can sit against your skin all day long.

Don’t worry, they were washed beforehand.

Cooper Alley Ghost Released!

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

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

or simply click the link to

books2read.com/cooper-alley

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

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

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

Don’t forget to leave a review!

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

Sincerely,

Jeremy Tyrrell

Hunting Ghosts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then it gets into hunch territory.

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

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

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

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

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

Less than a week!

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

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

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

Smashwords
Google Play
Apple Books
Amazon
Kobo
Barnes & Noble

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

Manifesting the Ghost

They hide behind corners, slipping away as you turn your head and stare at the spot where you could have sworn something was. They crawl through the roof spaces, making soft scuffles as they dance over the insulation and under the wiring. They flit about at night above your head, just out of reach, disappearing in the morning light only to reappear in the next evening.

They are always there, always snapping at your brain, whispering as loudly as they can, vying with each other for a few seconds of your attention. You can entertain them or ignore them, it doesn’t matter, they will persist, for there is nowhere else for them to be, nothing else for them to do.

Then you pick one. You sneak up on it while it shies away, corner it. Sometimes you are scared of what you see, what you feel. It’s a blasphemy, a curse. It’s hideous. It’s ugly. It’s downright sinful. Other times you find a curious, almost enlightening sense of wonder. There’s something different about this one. You hold onto it, teasing it, ignoring the others that hiss jealously. This one, you think, wanted to be caught because it’s special.

You don’t know why it is special, it just is, and you know it. You couldn’t pick it up and show it to anyone and ask them, because as soon as you did so, it would melt away in your hands and you’d be left with nothing but shadows. How many have gotten away like this? How many are so swift as to erase themselves altogether, never to be seen again.

They can come back, though. Not often, but they do return. Like an old friend, you feel emboldened to dispense with the usual superficial nonsense and let it do the same. It envelopes you, moves through you, becomes you. It shares secrets and steals yours. Such familiarity is dangerous, dangerous yet necessary. Once you have it in your power, or the other way around, you can bring it into this world.

There’s the necessary groundwork. Rituals, incantations, sacrifices – oh, so many sacrifices! You do it in the dark, in quiet nooks where no one disturbs you, late at night, cheered on and jeered at by the others. You emerge, each morning, with bloodshot eyes and raspy voice, stumbling and weak. Yet you persist, because you have a purpose and you must finish it. Even if it all turns to dust, you must finish it.

But why? Why go through the pain? To what end? To the end of so many human pursuits – to create. To make something where there was nothing. To share with others a discovery, a riddle, a joke. To do, to be, and let it, too, do and be. For to ignore it would be akin to murder, only that which never lived can never truly die. By symmetry, perhaps that which has died may yet live?

And once you have brought it forth, you are responsible for its welfare, for it did not ask to be in this world, that was all you and you must be prepared for everything it will do, everything it will be. So your destinies are entwined from that point onward. Don’t be scared, it’s yours to command, within reason. That is the reward for the price you pay.

Jolimont Street Ghost – Audiobook

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

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

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

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

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

Something like this dude:

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

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

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

It’s at:
Amazon
Chirp
iTunes
Kobo

and one hundred and one other places.

Cooper Alley Ghost – Preorder

Can’t wait for the next in Paranormology? Me neither! That’s why I’ve been working into the night, propped up alternately by coffee and gin, to work the red pen and exercise my typing muscles to get the second draft down and smash out the third.

When I was working at MacDonald’s, I learnt a very important quote: “Hustle, don’t rush.”

In other words, get your stuff done quickly without sacrificing quality. It’s about being efficient, and thorough, and, above all, not procrastinating. And that’s exactly what I did. By last night, I was completely bushed, but I had in my hot little hand a manuscript that I could call a book.

And do this morning I consolidated and checked and poked and corrected and pushed Cooper Alley Ghost into the Smashwords Meat Grinder. What does that mean? It means it’s up.

Up?

Up! As in, it is going through the motions of publishing. First it goes through the Auto-vetter. That’s Smashwords’ fancy device to weed out common issues with formatting and the like.

Then it gets an ISBN: 9780463495261. Woot! With this, and after it has been checked for premium status, it gets distributed to the book outlets like Kobo and Barnes and Noble and iTunes. For Google Play and Amazon, though, I need to do this myself.

Finally, on 26th of April, 2020, it gets released into the big, wide (scary) world!

Head on over to the Smashwords page and have a look. The process of submitting to the other retailers takes a bit of time, so be patient. I’ll update the links as I go. And I’ve knocked up a landing page here. In the meantime, I’m going to settle down with a gin & tonic.