Cheeseburger Gothic

The Cairo Beta is available

Posted February 26, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

For those very special people who signed up early.

I'll be more active around here now that I'm done.

I'm planning two weeks in Beta, three weeks in pro-edit, a week's production and then it gets released.

The draft came in at just under 40 000 words. I still plan to release this volume for free. Partly to drive subscription sign ups, partly because everyone has waited too long for it.

The next book is tentively titled Stalin's Hammer: Paris.

Hard core AoT fans will be happy to know that as yet unseen original series characters and ships will be returning for that.

The final installment will be Stalin's Hammer: Moscow.

33 Responses to ‘The Cairo Beta is available’

KreepyKrawly mumbles...

Posted February 26, 2016
How do we know if we're "Special"... ß-Þ

MuttsInc would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2016


If you walk past a mirror, stop and introduce yourself, you're special in so many ways.

If, however, you feel a compulsion to lick your refection, that's perfectly normal behaviour.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted February 27, 2016
Well, that, of course, depends on where and what you are compelled to lick.

MuttsInc mutters...

Posted February 28, 2016

seems there's a shortage of the letter L in my computer, unless refection is what I meant...and I hadn't run that thought - where and what to lick - any further in case the temptation to try it became overwhelming...

okay; tried it...kept my eyes closed though...

I taste strange...

NBlob would have you know...

Posted February 28, 2016
Show of hands; who is surprised?
Yep

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ShaneAlpha is gonna tell you...

Posted February 26, 2016
I still think Stalin's Hammer : Dubbo would be better.

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she_jedi puts forth...

Posted February 26, 2016
*Squeeeee!* Well my weekend will be lost in beta editing then.

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Blake would have you know...

Posted February 26, 2016
"partly because everyone has waited too long for it."
Based on that logic, George RR Martin & Patrick Rothfuss are going to be paying the readers for the delay...
(Probably the jibe works more widely with the onlybformer, but i finished 'Wise Mans Fear' this week and am thus feeling a bit like an Apple fanatic with a new macbook)

Spanner mumbles...

Posted February 28, 2016
Oh it works for Rothfuss. I'm like some sort of word junkie waiting for the next book.

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guy asserts...

Posted February 27, 2016
Excellent news, but I'm looking forward to the Paris one even more. A very different France to the one we all know and love, with 15% of the country occupied by the Red Army and the French political establishment split between former collaborators, former resistance fighters and communist stooges. All of them blaming the Americans (and to a lesser extent, the British) for their misfortunes.

Paris thoroughly trashed by the Nazis, their buildings lying in ruins with their famous art collections looted and either buried in coal mines in Soviet occupied territory, transported to Moscow or destroyed in Berlin.

French pride and arrogance can be a diplomatic minefield at the best of times. This is not the best of times.

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NBlob reckons...

Posted February 27, 2016
Huzzah. I guess I'd better buy me some Rome first

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Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted February 27, 2016
Tap, tap, tap, tap . . . still waiting.

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted February 27, 2016
Special as in.

I AM A FKN GOD! YA MUPPETS!!!!!!!!!

YEAH BABY TEARIN IF FKN UP COME GET SOME....

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HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted February 27, 2016
OK
Back to likin inta shape this masterful fkn tome!.

Therbs mutters...

Posted February 29, 2016

By which you mean:

*cap fkn muppet here*

*fkn 'splosion here*

*50 cal burst here*

*nuke Beijing!*

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jennicki swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 28, 2016
Oh Havock. :)

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Spanner asserts...

Posted February 28, 2016
Mr15 is re-reading Weapons of Choice. I may have um confiscate it for reasons so I can re-read it.

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MuttsInc reckons...

Posted February 28, 2016

I'm planning two weeks in Beta, three weeks in pro-edit, a week's production...

Okay, here's my problem : That sentence probably makes a whole bunch of sense to some people (that ain't the problem) but to me it could be the holiday manifesto on a cruise ship (that part there; that's the problem).

I build houses for a living; I utilise technological advances such as the hammer, and nails. Sometimes even a nail-gun. And concrete. Not a computer, for which people are thankful - I type with one finger on my left hand and one on my right, constantly looking for letters; my backspace key has a shiny, smooth hollow in its centre - worn from making mistakes.

Any assistance would be invaluable. Thanks

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 28, 2016
OK. Beta editing. The raw first draft goes to a dozen or so punters who volunteer to read the awful piece of shit because (1) they want to get the story before anyone else, (2) they have a mental illness which manifests itself as unbridled pedantry, or (3) they like to edit. (See 2).They make changes, suggestions, comments to the document and I edit the story in line with those suggestions etc. That takes about two weeks.The manuscript then goes to a grown up professional editor, who gets paid handsomely for, well, editing. That also takes a couple of weeks.When those changes are all made, the book goes into 'production'. I hire an artist to do the cover and somebody who knows how to write code to turn the Word document into html. They bundle up the words and pictures and send me an ePub file (for iBooks, Kobo etc) and what's called a Mobi file, which is the format used by Kindle.I then upload the files to the various online bookstores where they'll be available and wait for the gold plated hovercraft to glide in.

she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted February 28, 2016
If one suffers from (2) and (3) how does one get to be a grown up editor, and not a pleb beta editor? (Asking for a friend).

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 28, 2016
A degree in Editing and Publishing, followed years of indentured penury and slavish internship.

Dirk swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 28, 2016
hmm you could do the epub/mobi part yourself after the last edit: https://calibre-ebook.com/ has a nifty feature that makes those from pdf/doc ... just a thought.

Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted February 29, 2016
Thank God I'm just the military consultant and not the line editor. I'm fairly certain my eyes would bleed if I had to do that job.

insomniac mutters...

Posted February 29, 2016
How much difference does the crowd editing make? Does it allow for your proper editor to consider deeper things without being distracted by a few misspelled words, for instance?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 29, 2016
Crowd editing has got to save time and money. Depending on the crowd, of course.



John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 29, 2016
The professor nailed it. Beta editing cuts down the basic trench work by the pro editor and probably cuts my bill in half.

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MuttsInc is gonna tell you...

Posted February 28, 2016

Sir, thank you very much.
I'm rather embarrassed the boss had to come out on the factory floor and explain all that; I'm also kind of humbled - as an avid reader of some five decades vintage - that I haven't given the process due consideration : I walk in a book store, there they all are. Breathe deep and hold it. Then I buy one, go home and read it, make suitable noises of appreciation (or get three chapters in and bin it) and go back to the store for another. Repeat the next day.

I don't know jackshit about editing but I do have a healthy dose of OCD. Are there vacancies in the industry for people who don't know what they're doing but are extremely particular about it? (I don't do sock drawers or arrange hovercrafts alphabetically)

Whilst I'm parading my ignorance, one other aspect bothers my inner-pedant : As the author, you slave your guts out and are happy with the final product; the (highly-paid) editor says blah and blah and gotta change this and that, but you disagree, vehemently. Is his opinion a lock, or are civilised dummy-spits on your part permissible?

My apologies for taking up so much of your spare time; I had no idea it was that complicated and time-consuming to get the work published.

Perhaps you could suggest a forum where wanna-be writers go to ask dumb questions, pour out their latest bucket of unreadable swill and be chastened back to their day job? I'm outta my depth here; I just enjoy the craft of writing. Bit like walking onto a nudist beach with all your clothes on and everyone knows why...

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jason mumbles...

Posted February 29, 2016
I have a degree in editing and your use of the word pedantry does not in any way offend me. In fact I think you may be understating the level of detail obsession demonstrated by this sub genre of humanity.

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DarrenBloomfield asserts...

Posted February 29, 2016
It appears I'm no longer special, since my inbox is bereft. Oh woe is me. Is this the very definition of first world problems?

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Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted February 29, 2016
In the event that y'all forgot - it is GOOD to be The Rhino.

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DarrenBloomfield is gonna tell you...

Posted March 1, 2016
""... alcohol being the elixir of Satan and the ruination of all virtue."
Man I need a drink.

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HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted March 1, 2016
well...i have to say its pretty fkn good, so much betterer now I have finished editing the fkn thing and getting JB to understand just how to describe in detail with alomost the smell what 3 feet of sharpened steel does, when ran from crotch to gullet, taking into account the various pops and hisses that emanate from the newly formed opening.

Therbs mutters...

Posted March 2, 2016
I reckon you just wanted to put in a fart joke

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First of the freebies roll out

Posted February 2, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

After test firing the system early this week, I pushed the big red button on the mailing list today. Everyone who signed up for it should be getting their first letter with a link to a free copy of Here be Monsters over the next day or so. The release is staggered because Mailchimp's software decides when you are most vulnerable to my approach.

It's nice to see the book out in the wild, even though the story has been published before. It's not just a tease for the mailing list. Monsters was a test run for me, to shake out the process of releasing titles without a major publisher behind them. I learned something at every stage.

The next big step is to release Cairo. I'm looking at mid-March for that and then monthly releases of the other Stalin's Hammer titles and the new Dave Hooper books through until September.

I do have some real anxiety about this.

Not so much about the whole scheme failing. I have readers. They buy my books. I love them with a deep, physical intensity for this. But I also have trade publishers who are important, and I hope they can see the sense in me walking this path. By building the list I build a marketing machine to sell their books. By publishing new works in the original trilogies, they'll sell more of their backlist too.

And bottom line, I just couldn't make ebooks work across multiple contending publishers. The slot machine only pays out when you have one title released by one publisher, globally, simultaneously, at the same price. It really wasn't fair to my local ebook publishers either. Momentum, the Pan Mac imprint, would do all the work on a manuscript, take all the risks and then find themsevles locked out of 97% of the English language market.

I felt guilty even sending them manuscripts.

So, bottom line, there are new books coming in all the old storyworlds – Axis of Time, the Disappearance, Hooper – but I'm doing them myself, to industry standard, while still working on mass market trade published fiction.

Anyone who hasn't signed up to the list and would like to, can do so here: http://eepurl.com/bxdqjP

And anybody who feels like writing a review of Monsters has somewhere to go now.

67 Responses to ‘First of the freebies roll out’

balri mumbles...

Posted February 2, 2016
I read the first few pages and I like where it's going

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JG swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 2, 2016
Thank you very much, John.
Very generous of you. I'll read Here Be Monsters over the coming week or two. Ta also for the link to post a short 88-word review at Amazon, which I'll write pronto, once I'm done reading.
Cheers.
Joanna




JG asserts...

Posted February 4, 2016
Done and dusted. Review posted.
Joanna

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Jbtoo reckons...

Posted February 2, 2016
I am not worthy, but I am appreciative and I will read and review

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Surtac puts forth...

Posted February 2, 2016
I have successfully deployed the weapon in this theatre of operations but gmail wouldn't let me reply to tell you so.

Btw. I loved it. More at some stage would be good if the schedule allows.


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pmacleod has opinions thus...

Posted February 2, 2016
Ripping yarn. I would not normally read a zombie story but this was great. Almost like a Hornblower novel with a bit of scifi. Keep sending out teasers like this and I will buy the ebooks immediately you post them for sale.Thanks for a great read.PM

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Sharpy mumbles...

Posted February 2, 2016
System worked well. Cheers Guv

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted February 2, 2016
I can feel an epic *squeeee* coming on. Apparently Mailchimp thinks I'll be most vulnerable to your approach at 10am while at work, which oddly enough is pretty accurate.

I'm looking forward to fleeing my workplace and consuming this bad boy, then I shall write an 88 star review per my Master's instructions. Thanks JB!

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ShaneAlpha has opinions thus...

Posted February 2, 2016
Still a whacking good read. ( I have the original bookmarked in my browser)
I actually never expected the next part of this universe to be about their escape from Sydney.
I always imagined a longer novel where American rebels sneak into Sydney to try and find some future tech or knowlege to fight the British Empire with so that they can be independent again. Perhaps with some French supporters.

ShaneAlpha is gonna tell you...

Posted February 2, 2016
and obviously Rhino and Boylan are involved.

Rhino mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2016
Obviously

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Peter in the bleachers puts forth...

Posted February 2, 2016
All good through the dreaded IPad. Gmail said it arrived at 12.59 am. Bit early to start reading at that time! Thanks for trying something new JB. Looking forward to Cairo. Any chance of Branch McKinnon ever re-appearing in one form or another?

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 2, 2016
All good downloading to the heathen Nexus 7 into the Kindle app. I'll try to read soon and also come up with an appropriate set of 88 words, although my pile of shame is building up, if such a thing is possible on a tablet as it doesn't increase in height. Still have my Dan Carter biography to start, and if that can't get me going, what will?
Actually I have a vague plan to obtain, if possible, a set of biographies for numbers 1 to 22 of the 2015 world champion All Blacks.

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Sparty mumbles...

Posted February 2, 2016
Forgot how good the "voice" and framing device in this story is. Review left. Steampunk next?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted February 2, 2016
Why not? Stoke the boilers!

GhostSwirv reckons...

Posted February 5, 2016
My lawyers are watching closely for any appearance of a U-Boat.

Mind you when I say 'my lawyers' I mean the guy PNB recommended knew their way round alternative history copyright lore.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted February 6, 2016
My influence on the Scribe is nill. I forcefully instructed JB to depict
Professor X Boylan as a tall and handsome babe magnet. I was quite
firm in my demand. It didn't happen.

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Rhino asserts...

Posted February 3, 2016
Received.
Read.
Reviewed.
2 reviews shown on Seppo Amazon as of this morning. Mine was first (of course) and a second 5-star appeared overnight.
When you review don't forget to pimp the mailing list.
Birmo - action item for you is to get a link to sign-up on CBG. Probably in the works.
Waiting with breathe abated for #TheDave fanfic. Should do something similar for The Disappearance for late 2016. I need an excuse to return to Rhino, Agent of Echelon. LOL.
And does anyone want to read the continuation of Mutph's nuptial weekend ... The continuation of The Bachelor Party?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2016
I would. But only if I appear as a character in the story - a handsome, tall, sexually attractive gentleman with a full head of hair obscuring his otherwise pronounced saggital crest.

And I need to smell good. That is very important to me.

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2016
I have read and reviewed oh Captain my Captain! If only Amazon would allow ratings of more than 5 stars. SOOO limited Bezos, get your act together!

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Surtac is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2016
A technical question about the book John if I may.

Does it have an ISBN or ASIN or some other pesky cataloguing id? It would make it much easier to add to Librarything if it did.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
It has both, 'Tac.
ASIN B01BBJPZI0ISBN: 9781311903174
Both numbers get assigned after submission, which is why you don't find them in the book.

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Therbs mutters...

Posted February 3, 2016
Enjoyed it again. Love the Tench voice.

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BigWillieStyle swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2016
OFF TOPIC - can PNB or Murph explain a couple of things? Why do the caucuses in Iowa & New Hampshire matter? And what is it about Ted Cruz that people in Iowa would find so appealing? Ta.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2016
They matter because they are the first states where real people have to make an actual decision, and because of something elusive and possibly illusory that is coveted by the political class called "momentum" - aka "the Band Wagon Effect."

The people in Iowa who find Ted Cruz appealing are fundamentalist pseudo christian neo fascist under educated corn farmers who want nothing more than to replace American civil law with Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Ted Cruz pretends to be an fundamentalist pseudo christian neo fascist who wants to replace American civil law with Leviticus and
Deuteronomy. And he pretends to admire corn farmers.

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pitpat would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
Thanks JB, crazy brave hope it all works out. Unfortunately I am one of the very few who uses kindle app on a windoze phone as my primary digital fiction device and after faffing around with it for a couple of minutes realize I will need to get a third party app. Not a biggie, I will sort it out when after I get through some work. Might just be the excuse I need to get a half decent tablet. Cheers and Beers ( or rum in this case)

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2016
You're that guy?! I wondered who that was.

pitpat swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2016
I just like to support the little guy who is being monstered.

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Gutz mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2016
Was going to write something insightful but only the word pisscutter comes to mind!

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DarrenBloomfield would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
"What Hell is this, sir?"
Sydney.
I knew it. I FKN knew It!!!
Darren (in Melbourne).

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DarrenBloomfield mutters...

Posted February 3, 2016
Jeez, the exchange rate is crap. I put in 88 stars at Amazon, and only got 5 up on the site.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
I blame Vargas Llosa.

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jennicki would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
Just signed up for my copy!
*evil laugh* Smithers, grab the crochet blanket with the least amount of holes, and some sort of chocolate delight. It is time for the zombie lit.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2016
Huzzah

Huzzah for the scribe. Only criticism; far to short. I was just getting into the swing and it was over. Like when a hooker or therapist says "times up." I guess one doesn't get much in exchange for one's immortal soul these days.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted February 3, 2016
Not your soul anyway.

damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2016
It's sad really. There was a time when you'd get good drinking money for NBlob's immortal soul.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted February 4, 2016
Don't listen to them, Blob. I can get you top dollar for your soul, and my commission for arranging the sale will be very reasonable.

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dweeze swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2016
I read it. I enjoyed it heaps. I went to post a review. And got this:
"To submit a customer review: you need to use an Amazon account that has successfully been charged for a purchase."
I'm so tight that I never fed the beast of Bezos before...and I aint gunna start now. But, I will promote the link elsewhere.

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sibeen mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2016
I find it nearly beyond comprehension this attempt to butter me up with with freebie. Look, I know this would work on bottom feeding scum, that Boylan for instance, but an upstanding member of the community like myself - I feel sullied.
Note this may be as I'm in Canberra this week on an urgent job. I just don't have time to be faffing around, and won't get to this until next week.
SOB.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2016
Being bottom feeding scum has its perks. I got a free book! And today I'm going to get a free lunch when I tell my mate that I "accidentally" left my credit card at home.

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ChrisB is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2016
Got my email this morning. Been smiling all day. Thx JB!

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GhostSwirv would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2016

"A thing that might be dreamed of by a Wren in the grip of opium"

JB you are a genius ... and using the Coat Hanger as a zombie bungee-jumping staging post was just delightfully inspired.

Much more please ... Captain Tench is my new favourite.



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Miss Maudy is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2016
Ahhh the serendipity... I'd just closed the Kobo on my last read and was pondering what to read next, when what should pop into my inbox but a missive from JB. Click here and your reading decision is solved. Excellent work and timing, sir.

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2016
I'm really curious as to why Mailchimp decided to send Miss Maudy and ChrisB's letters 24hrs after everyone else. Resumable it's firing these things off according to some algorithm.

Miss Maudy asserts...

Posted February 4, 2016
Oh, it arrived Tuesday I think. I was forced to do housework on Tuesday night because my minions had no clean undergarments meaning no playing on the internets for me. It wasn't until last night that I discovered it - it went to my real-life email as distinct from my futzing around on the interwebs email.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted February 4, 2016
@ Miss Maudy - best comment yet. Beautifully evocative. Sincerely. Please don't ever imagine your existence is mundane. We are made richer that, when you play on the internets, you spend some time here.

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2016
JB, that's what happens if you get Tony Abbott to do work for you ... oh, sorry ... wrong male chimp.

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she_jedi mutters...

Posted February 4, 2016
I will confess to a fatal to felines level of curiosity about how Captain Tench managed to woo and wed the kickass chick he rescued from the Opera House. How on earth an upright 18th century gentleman from a time where universal suffrage was the stuff of dreams and women were merely property managed to reconcile his upbringing and societal values with a gun toting 22nd century feminist would be fascinating to discover.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted February 4, 2016
Yes. Yes it would.

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted February 5, 2016
Mz She-Jedi, I can only speak from personal experience but I'd guess it went something like;
This chick is So Fricken Awsm that I will lay down everything to have her at my side.
What I'd be more interested to work out is what He "brought to the table" that wooed her. I hope it isn't something as mundane as a high status protector for her & Thomas, but you know chicks are often more calculating when it comes to the care & protection of offspring. I also hope she doesn't have a *thing* for Mr D'arcy & Jane Fricken Austen.

GhostSwirv has opinions thus...

Posted February 5, 2016
The only way we'll ever know how Captain Tench captured the heart of his good lady wife Jennifer and the trust of her son Thomas would be for someone like She_Jedi, JG or ShaneAlpha to put their not so delicate thoughts into words.

Or JB you could just get PNB, Havoc and Rhino to ghost-write it like you usually do.

she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted February 6, 2016
NBlob I heartily agree on the high status protector thing, AND the laziness of a Jane Austen fetish. And that's writing as someone who has developed a Pavlovian response to Colin Firth in a wet shirt from the first time I saw that version of Pride and Prejudice.

GhostSwirv, I had not choice but to accept your challenge. I can't begin to write in Tench's voice, so I had to take a more neutral narrative. Hope this helps:

Captain Tench was staring at his mother again. Thomas felt sorry for him; the captain usually stared at his mother with a look that could only be described as baffled admiration. “Poor Tench,” Thomas thought with slightly malicious sympathy. “He’s got it bad.”

“Do you think my mum’s hot?” He sidled up and asked the captain innocently. Right on cue a look of instant concern crossed Tench’s face as he turned to look at Thomas.

“I... Is the heat distressing her?” Tench asked doubtfully, swinging back to look at Jennifer, who looked considerably cooler and unruffled by the suffocating heat of Sydney in January than did the captain, clearly dissolving in the heavy wool and linens of his uniform. “Perhaps she’d like a parasol to shade her? I’m sure one of the ladies would have a spare.”

Thomas started to laugh at the misunderstanding, then sobered at the politely baffled expression on Tench’s face. “Not, hot, as in the weather,” he explained. “But...” and here his ten year old vocabulary started to fail him. “You like her, right?”

Tench’s face brightened. “Oh yes, I admire Madam Jennifer greatly. She’s an extraordinarily brave and resourceful woman. You must be very proud to be her son.”

“Um, yeah. She’s awesome.” This wasn’t going quite the way Thomas had expected. He WAS proud that his mum was a total kickass gun toting super babe, although that dive into the harbour with an army of the walking dead after them may have taken ‘total kickass’ a tad too far. It was Thomas’s turn to brighten, as inspiration struck. “Even before the zombie apocalypse, all my friends thought she was a total MILF.”

“A what?” Tench gave Thomas that look that adults do, when they don’t know the meaning of the lingo, but they know there’s something suspicious about it.

“Oh yeah,” Thomas was warming to his subject. “That was a couple of years ago though. She appreciates a man who thinks she’s still got what it takes to be one. You should go talk to her about it.”

“Oh.” Tench looked apprehensive. “A... MILF, you say?”

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted February 6, 2016
And part two:

Jennifer had finished cleaning her gun and was scrounging through a bucket of spare bullets to reload it, when a shadow fell over her. She looked up, to find Captain Tench hovering at her elbow with an open parasol that was suddenly shading her, and proffering a hip flask. She reluctantly took the vessel from him and took a cautious sip. It was water, which briefly disappointed her, although she’d swear she tasted a trace of leftover rum.

She raised an eyebrow at the captain, wondering what this latest bout of chivalry was about. She knew he meant well, but damn this boy had some strange ideas at times.

“Master Thomas was concerned that you were feeling the heat,” he explained, waggling the parasol in explanation. “And I tried to get you some milk, but the goats still haven’t recovered from the journey. Although, I’m not sure how milk would assist with relief from the effects of this weather....”

“Milk?” Jennifer repeated in astonishment. “What made you think I’d want milk?”

“Well, Master Thomas said that even before the advent of the Scourge, all his friends thought you were.... now what was the phrase?”

Jennifer froze as a sudden wave of rage overtook her. “He didn’t say ‘MILF’ did he?”

“Why indeed! I believe that was the phrase.” Tench stopped at the look on her face, and took a step backward as Jennifer got to her feet and advanced on him.

“Tell me EXACTLY what my son said to you,” she demanded.

“Er...” Tench clearly knew something was up, and clung to the bro code a second too long before he quailed at the look on her face. “He inquired as to whether I believed you to be ‘hot’....”

That meddling, shit stirring little twerp. She should have tossed him in the harbour and left him there.




Tench stared in baffled astonishment as the murderous look on Jennifer’s face suddenly lost focus, and she turned away.

“THOMAS!” She called for her child in a shout that would have done a Highland Grenadier sergeant proud, in that it carried clear across the encampment, with just the right mix of a summons and an inherent threat of extreme violence should that summons be ignored.

“Will you excuse me Captain?” Jennifer asked, taking the parasol from him and closing it. In her hands it suddenly acquired a more sinister shape. “I need to talk to my son.”

“Of... of course, Madam,” he replied, bowing to her, and then executing a retreat that was definitely bordering on hasty, but not yet tipping over into undignified. He took back all the instances that he ever thought the women of his own time were baffling enigmas. They had nothing on the mystifying Gorgon that a woman of the 22nd century was capable of becoming.

GhostSwirv puts forth...

Posted February 6, 2016

Excellent prose She_Jedi ... how indeed will Tench overcome a meddling Thomas to win the heart of fair maid Jennifer?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted February 7, 2016
Filed under U for Useful.

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Steve reckons...

Posted February 4, 2016
I was hoping Samuel Marsden (the flogging parson) would make an appearance. Nothing like a good dose of violent sadism for those thrice-damned zombees.
Love your work.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 5, 2016
He's a good pick for the sequel.

AKM. reckons...

Posted February 8, 2016
<pricks up ears> .....Sequel....? Noice. Swoit; even.

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nick reckons...

Posted February 5, 2016
i loved it , although i can imagine writing in the voice of Tench would make life hard for you.be very interesting to do the story from other characters view points , almost like a oz version of world war z , uptimers , aboriginals , french explorers who may sail past ect . perhaps lotsa opportunities for fan fic , although i would not horrify you with my spelling / grammar....again thanks heaps

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DarrenBloomfield mumbles...

Posted February 5, 2016
I really enjoyed it. Thanks.

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AKM. would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2016
Received my copy, much obliged. Privileged to be in on the ground floor of such an adventure.
The evolution of publishing- 'tis a wonderful thing to watch.

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JG mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2016
Hi. Just wondering if others can see all the reviews for Here Be Monsters. Last week there were seven (when I posted mine up on 2 Feb), but today I could only see one there (one by Peter O, posted 8 Feb). Strange. Was looking forward to reading all the reviews - all five star reviews.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted February 10, 2016
Huh! That's weird.

insomniac mutters...

Posted February 10, 2016
disappeared for me too

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TL reckons...

Posted February 17, 2016
Haven't read it yet but blown away by the audacity and effort of the whole venture (um, hope it works out). Even for a novella that's a serious amount of time invested. Will buy a paid book to assuage feelings of guilt.Confession: I only occasionally stumble across Cheeseburger Gothic but do you have a more detailed outline of the Kafka-esque mess that online publishing seems to be? (If not, blog post topic suggestion?)Cheers

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MuttsInc has opinions thus...

Posted February 23, 2016

Got my copy today (thank you) and did a security scan on the computer (no malware installed or hacking tools piggy-backed in) and still have some (small, insignificant) amount of money in my bank account and all my naked pictures (and yours) remain on file.

Not that I'm untrusting; if everything was free we could all stop this 'work' shit and get drunk(er). That's not it at all.

I was reading your scribing's on feeling physical love for your readers; I looked over at my bookshelves, saw the spine of Weapons of Choice and my balls did this weird little retraction thing in my pants. Dunno if they were happy or freaked out, but I thought you should know before you write anything else about free and love.

Sir, thank you for the literature, my apologies for what's beyond my control.

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MuttsInc mutters...

Posted February 29, 2016

Just finished reading Here Be Monsters; thank you the freebie.

How I (personally) differentiate 'good writing' from a 'good story' : The inside of my skull becomes one of those small plastic dioramas - the liquid filled ones depicting a fixed scene (usually contains tiny pseudo-snowflakes) that when shaken, allow the contents to swirl around before settling slowly upon the base.

When I read Monsters, the floor of my head was Sydney Harbour, and I stood on the ship's deck. The sky was a dome (as is the inside of my head and the aforementioned diorama) and the writing painted pictures; sound and smells were added; emotions made manifest and I didn't know which direction to turn, such was the spectacle - a problem solved by the narrator. I was inside the diorama, and it was somewhat of a surprise to discover that Sydney Harbour fits quite comfortably inside my head.

That's not being pretentious and I hope your pockets don't smell of urine when they dry out.

Simply saying "I enjoyed it" seemed rather pithy and abrupt; especially considering for a short time there, I actually was a member of the ship's crew (though nobody passed me a shot of rum, more's the pity)

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A truly horrifying writing app

Posted January 29, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

I can't believe I'm going to buy this thing and actually try use it. Flowstate. A writing app. First, I already have more than enough writing apps on my desktop and other iDevices to keep a basement full of monkeys cranking out War and Peace sequels for a year. Second, this thing is... frightening.

It's designed to promote 'focus' and focus is good, right? But it doesn't just depend on a full screen environment; it deltes what you've written if you stop writing for mre than five seconds.

Five fucking seconds!

I stopped for about half a minute in that second par just to ponder an awkward piece of phrasing. I'd have lost the lot. Bad enough after a couple of lines. Can you imagine the howls if you actually did crank out the words for half an hour and then lost them all?

((Shudder)).

Anyway. The whole thing is so crackbrained I can't help myself. I have to give it a try. I'm including a link to the app store so that I can at least get a couple of bucks back via my own associate payment. I don't recommend anyone else try this at home.

21 Responses to ‘A truly horrifying writing app’

Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted January 29, 2016
No, I think Kung Fury is what we needed.

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Lulu has opinions thus...

Posted January 29, 2016
Five seconds??? To quote Truman Capote, "That's not writing, that's typing."

MuttsInc has opinions thus...

Posted February 23, 2016
if you read between the lines (that'll be humorous in a tic) you'll observe the rationale for an instructional (re)exploration of methamphetamine and a user-friendly sequel to the classic, this being - 'On The Road, (Part Two) If I Stop I'll Lose It'

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted January 29, 2016
Are you going to go for the 30 minute option?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted January 29, 2016
Gah! You made me lose everything!

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted January 29, 2016
I'm all for trivial solutions, so perhaps holding down a little used key like slash or a number while you are thinking would be a solution to losing everything. When your time is up, do a search and replace on that keystroke.

Dave W puts forth...

Posted January 29, 2016
Tired-one, that sounds like a true public servant work-around.

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Stephen reckons...

Posted January 29, 2016
Have you ever tried Write or Die? writeordie.com
Sounds like a similar idea, but not quite as likely to lose your work (though there is a Kamikazi mode).

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HAVOCK21 would have you know...

Posted January 29, 2016
yeah...well something tells me that this might not be good for me, the computer or the fkn software maker!!

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GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted January 30, 2016

Double GAAAHHH!!!
Using that freakin' app its taken me three days to type this response!

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Babes is gonna tell you...

Posted February 2, 2016
I think I'll hold out for the app that has a cute little person pop up every time you write another hundred words that says varying iterations of, "That was brilliant!/I am in awe of your remarkable talent!/the masses will be clamoring to read this!/etc." ;-)

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted February 2, 2016
Yeah, that I'd pay fifteen bucks for.

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jennicki puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2016
I am trying so hard to write a novel, JB. But I seem to have developed ADD around the same time smartphone and Netflix appeared on the horizon.
Surely just a coinky-dink.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2016
Shirley.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
I wrote a novel, Jenni. No one liked it. But I don't care what they think. In my heart I know I write good.

damian reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
I've recently learned that you need to use a coffee cup to weigh a smartphone down when you put it in a sink full of water.

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jennicki reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
I get the shakes when I'm too far from my smartphone.
I would read your novel, PNB. Fo sho.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2016
Great. Just great. Another person who hasn't read Sex Slaves of the Congo by Jason Dante (my pen name)....

I am getting very tired of my continuing lack of literary celebrity.

GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted February 4, 2016

Was that you?

I thought you were Jarryd Diamonte who penned the semi-autobiography Sex Slaves of the Mongrels?

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2016
OMG PNB! That was you? I loved that book! I thought the scene between Lumumba and Dikembe was especially poignant. And that escapee lass with her alcoholic dog was genius.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2016
I am told that it has been said that Lumumba and Dikembe are an edgy postmodern Troilus and Criseyde. I have no idea what that means, but I am taking it as a compliment.

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I thought I invented the word 'bloodpot'

Posted January 22, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

But apparently I owe some licensing fees to Woody Guthrie, who first used the term when writing about Donald Trump's racist old man, who used to be his landlord.


I suppose Old Man Trump knows

Just how much Racial Hate he stirred up

In the bloodpot of human hearts

When he drawed That color line

Here at his Eighteen hundred family project ....

The whole, strange story is at Quartz.

10 Responses to ‘I thought I invented the word 'bloodpot'’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted January 22, 2016
Welcome to the party, pal. Imagine my personal chagrin when I learned the term "nimrod" used in a pejorative sense did not originate with me.

Nocturnalist would have you know...

Posted January 22, 2016
I ran into "nimrod" as an insult in Calvin & Hobbes and couldn't get my head around it. Where was the negative in being compared to a mighty hunter of legend and one of the X-Mens' cooler enemies?

Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted January 22, 2016
Reports on the British parliamentary debate about whether to deny Donald Trump entry to the UK reminded me of great British insults like 'wazzock' & 'twazzock'.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 22, 2016
"“I used it when I was a kid,” says Harding. “It was fairly common in the north, in Lancashire and Yorkshire.” According to Harding, it takes its name from the habit of medieval kings to “take a crap on a shovel”. The royal turd would be “wazzed” out of the window and the wazzock was the tool for performing this operation."

JBto asserts...

Posted January 22, 2016
I love this so much

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted January 22, 2016

I thought up the word "wankgull" but it never caught on.


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DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted January 22, 2016
I can't understand why "Captain's Call" (Itself ripped off from Julia's 2013 Captain's Pick of Nova Perris surely?) beat out "Buttecracke" for Macquarie dictionary's word of the year. Robbed.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 22, 2016
I blame Vargas Llosa.

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DarrenBloomfield ducks in to say...

Posted January 22, 2016
whenever I hear you invoke Senor Llosa, I always picture you calling out "Llosa!" in that McBain-style pose, crying out "Mendoza" <img class="irc_mi" style="margin-top: 49px;" src="http://i.imgur.com/M7835Ax.jpg" width="540" height="514">

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DarrenBloomfield puts forth...

Posted January 22, 2016
damn, that didn't work.

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"It wasn't much of a race riot."

Posted January 21, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

Late last year I spent a couple of days rolling up and down the freeway between my quiet, vanilla flavoured hilltop suburb, and The Wood, aka Woodridge, which is more of a Hilltop Hoods suburb. Indeed I was hanging out with a couple of rappers Mad Mike and Junior Finau, subjects of an SBS doco going to air on 26 Jan.

I don't do a lot of this kind of work these days, mostly because I can't escape the gravity well of Planet Parenthood. Even the few days I spent in the Wood were a challenge to fit in with everyone else's end of term schedule.

Still, I'm very glad to have had the opportunity. Columns and blogs they come and go, but this sort of work can resonate for a long time. It was a rare privlege to meet the artists too. Something else I don't do as much of these days.

Junior’s parents were forever reminding him of the sacrifices they had made to get the family to Australia, of the opportunities and future that awaited him now he was here. He repaid them early, with a 10-day suspension from school for fighting in the car park. He explains that he was protecting his cousin and his rep. Yes. He understands it was dumb.

During the interview to talk his way back into school, he told the deputy principal he was going to be school captain. Everyone laughed at him, but he turned that back on them in his final year, when he was duly elected to the position.

He heard the same laughter a few years later in court, during those wild years, when he was explaining to judge why he should go free after he’d been pursued through the city by helicopters and police dogs.

He’d gone to Southbank looking for a fight. Some homies had told him some other homies, who’d done this thing, that disrespected the other thing, they were in the city, in the tourist and entertainment precinct. Payback time. Junior was up for that, but the cops had his number. And they had helicopters and dogs. Junior’s backup was missing in action. He laughs it off, now that he can.

“People be like, ‘yeah, you a legend, bro, I got your back, I got your back for life, bro’. And I’m looking around thinking, ‘well, where the fuck are you now?’.

Read it all here. (And admire the beautiful html work!)

11 Responses to ‘"It wasn't much of a race riot."’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted January 21, 2016
The html work is actually fairly impressive.

In LA "the Wood" refers to Englewood (South Central LA). NBlob and SWMBO have been through part of it on our way to the Watts Towers. I was impressed by how well they controlled their fear.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted January 21, 2016
He's been jabbering about it ever since.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted January 21, 2016
I said I was impressed with how he controlled his fear then. Afterwards? No comment.

NBlob asserts...

Posted January 21, 2016
Well, you did have a handgun of a calibre you could fit a squirrel down the barrel. And you plied us with liquor and fine nomables. After you left I was stuck hanging with those peaceniks in Pasadena who don't own A Single Gun!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted January 22, 2016
I didn't tell you, but I also had a Louis Vuitton hand grenade. I love LA.

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AuntyLou has opinions thus...

Posted January 21, 2016
That is just beautiful. I worked for a solicitor in Woodridge in '81. It was a tough place then, and I mostly saw people on some of their worst days, but I met some real characters that I remember to this day. It looks much more multicultural now but the sense of place still remains. I (scrawny 19 y.o. female ) was only really scared twice - once when some yoof tried to set fire to the office by blocking the only entrance/exit with flaming junk mail. The other when I was catching the train alone after working pretty late and the local knife wielders were the only others in the compartment. They gobbed off a bit but I think they were on their way to a decent fight so I was ok. But most folk were just regular people. Like your Mad Mike said "It's all the struggle. " Quite the piece. Kudos

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Rhino mutters...

Posted January 22, 2016
In ones and twos people are delightful.
In mobs and tribes they should be exterminated.
Great piece. Sorta' like a Boyz in Da Hood Lite. LOL.
I have a great idea for a new Scared Straight program ... you ship your hood rats lite to Atlanta, Detroit or LA for a month and we'll send them back as model citizens. Or master criminals. Damn, unintended consequences.I need to think this cunning plan through.

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Squid has opinions thus...

Posted January 22, 2016
Thanks, that was a great piece JB.

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she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted January 22, 2016
That was really great, thanks JB

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Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 23, 2016
Great article...

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted January 30, 2016
Nice one JB, it's been sitting in my 'to read' tab for a week. It's damned hard to find a new story in among the multigenerational misery.

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Manuscript away. Cairo approaches Beta

Posted January 18, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

This morning I punched the send button on a side project which blew out to become a major commitment over the last couple of months. As these things do. I had a commission from one of the academic publishing houses to gather up all the blog posts I’d done on writing advice and turn them into a book.

It was something I’d been planning to do as a self published project – a proof of concept for the idea of doing my own, shorter titles that didn’t fit in with my main trade publishing game. But New South Publishing heard about my blog-to-book idea and waved a cheque under my nose.

What was I to do?

What was I to dooooo…

So I took it on, set myself a stupid deadline, and ended up working on it over Christmas/New Year. The rewriting took longer than I’d hoped and there was more original content to write up than I’d planned. Same old, same old. One day I will learn not to work over Christmas. Anyway, this morning at about 7.45am I finished nipping and tucking the formatted draft in Word and sent it away.

It felt, as always, like heaving the deadweight of an elephant carcass off my chest. I celebrated with a cherry danish and an extra large coffee. I may have a drink this evening.

I can now swing into the work I wanted to be doing in January. Getting my mailing list up and finishing the draft of Stalin’s Hammer: Cairo. I have a few more chapters to write before I drop it into Beta. Lets call it another week.

Anybody who wants in on the Cairo Beta read can email me at jbismymasternow at gmail dot com.

The Beta will be done on Google docs again, and from last time I understand it works a lot better if you guys login with a gmail address.

32 Responses to ‘Manuscript away. Cairo approaches Beta’

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted January 18, 2016
Def up for beta on Cairo.

AuntyLou ducks in to say...

Posted January 18, 2016
Moi aussi s'il vous plaît

HAVOCK21 would have you know...

Posted January 18, 2016
AffirmativeRodgerYepOKAY
Im inFK YES
....me tooooo!

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DarrenBloomfield would have you know...

Posted January 18, 2016
"I may have a drink this evening"

Very droll Minister, very droll

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she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted January 18, 2016
*hand up* Me! ME! Pick me for Cairo beta! :)

she_jedi mutters...

Posted January 18, 2016
Ppfftt! Spoilsport. Besides, you're not my real dad, I'm not listening to you :P

NBlob mutters...

Posted January 19, 2016
Real is such a subjective, pejorative term. I refer to think of him as heritage, organic and artisanal.

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Brother PorkChop puts forth...

Posted January 18, 2016
Beta me please. Nothing I enjoy more than a good whpiping.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted January 18, 2016
Honestly I gave up last time, so much faffing. It was like some hellish labyrinth of faff, with vague inticements cooing in my shell pink as if from sirens with Statham like hair dos and RM boots. "It'll be worth it" the voices said "Exclusive Birmo Splodey, just for you" so I struggled on, climbing mesas of faff without supplemental oxygen nor Sherpa. I'd reach what appeared to be the apex of faff, only to discover another one piercing the scudding clouds. Eventually I realised I had a house to build and could entertain myself poking Wrinkly with a jabby stick. Sure it lacked the style of hand-wrought artisanal Splodey, but sometimes one must compromise. I shall see where I left that gmail account of mine.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted January 19, 2016
Mesas of Faff, a new novel of mystery and intrigue by Jason Dante*

"It's terrific!" Dean Koontz

"I, as myself, was compelled to continue reading by candlelight long into the night as I lay in my bed ensconced in good English flannel turning page after page while a storm raged in the countryside and creatures of the barnyard and forest huddled together for companionship and warmth but no funny business because it was too cold for funny business of any ilk or variety of plant or animal or insect no matter how compelling the eldritch primal drive to cry out away into the night with pleasure and pain that engrosses the primitive mind and soul." Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton

"He's a fraud!" H. L. Mencken

* The pen name of Paul Nicholas Boylan

insomniac reckons...

Posted January 19, 2016
"The book was totally engrousing. It's two bums up from me." Cindy-Lou

Dave W mutters...

Posted January 19, 2016
Cindy-Lou pressed the release button on the car hoist, allowing the two vagrants who had threatened her with the busted remains of a bottle of thunderbird and a shopping trolley filled with what appeared to be three disassembled shopping trolleys. As the hobos shambled into night, she looked around the K-Mart Auto and Tyre centre and wondered how she had ever gotten to the point of thinking she could be a wage slave. It had been seemed simple at first, a matter of just making enough money for rent and make-up but, after 3 shifts as a night-manager, she was sure that the offer from the owners of that Indian casino to 'dance' was way more legit.

dweeze mumbles...

Posted January 19, 2016
"Bum sniffing awesome. 4 Woofs."
Trixie

Therbs would have you know...

Posted January 19, 2016

"Glub glub. Glub glub."

- Clive Cussler

DarrenBloomfield puts forth...

Posted January 19, 2016
As a provider of some of that faff, in the form of highly entertaining annotations*, let me apologise to you, and to anyone else, I may have offended**

*unhelpful drivel** you see what I did there?

Lulu mutters...

Posted January 19, 2016
"only to discover another one piercing the scudding clouds"

Can faff really pierce anything, even clouds? I thought it was, by definition, ineffectual?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 19, 2016
Faffing is a human abomination that pierces anything and everything. Humans are the only animal that faffs, or feels compelled to.

(Sincere apologies to the Spirit of Samuel Clemens.)

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Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted January 19, 2016
I'm in, again.

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Gutz has opinions thus...

Posted January 20, 2016
And yet Adil languishes in the forests, not knowing who to report to or what his fate holds for him. Gutz preaching for the redshirts.....

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Guru Bob has opinions thus...

Posted January 23, 2016
Book sounds like a great idea...

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Guy would have you know...

Posted January 26, 2016
I'm very pleased to hear that there's going to be a second installment of Stalin's Hammer. It's been a while...

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 26, 2016
Yes it has, guy. For reasons beyond my control. And now, for reasons within my control, that second instalment will be free.

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Guy ducks in to say...

Posted January 27, 2016
Well that's a mighty generous gesture to your loyal fans and admirers, kind sir. I'm really looking forward to it.

I do hope you'll continue the series after Cairo, even if we have to stump up our hard-earned florins to read them? With all due respect to your other work, the Axis of Time was, to me at least, the most satisfying and entertaining of all of them.

One suggestion - could we have a map? The situation in Europe particularly sounded particularly interesting. I would like to know exactly which parts of Italy, France and Greece were occupied by the Soviets? The situation in Asia was even less clear, so it would be cool to have a map to refer to.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2016
There'll be at least two more Hammers after Cairo, Guy. You'll be crossing my pals with silver for them. But if they do well I'll restart the whole series with a full length novel.

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Peter Macleod mutters...

Posted January 27, 2016
I can't wait. Axis of time was probably my favourite trilogy, Stalins Hammer Rome was equally good. Please bring it on and then another episode or many.Thanks for a great read.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted January 27, 2016
You're welcome, Pete. I'm very much looking forward to rebooting it all.

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Guy asserts...

Posted January 28, 2016
Two more Hammers after Cairo? Excellent news - and better still a potential full-length novel to come after that! Much to look forward to methinks.

BTW - which cities will feature after Cairo?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 28, 2016
Definitely Paris and maybe Bonn.

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Guy has opinions thus...

Posted January 28, 2016
Paris would be a good one - the City of Light stripped of all it's artwork by the Nazis, which was probably destroyed by the Germans before the end in an act of spite (a hint of this in the Monuments Men). Also constant tension with the Soviet occupied SW France/Monaco - the NKVD on the French Riviera and in Monte Carlo! A badly weakened France, with a significant Communist element within their body politic, seething with resentment at having to rely on the English-speaking world for their protection.

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Guy has opinions thus...

Posted January 28, 2016
I should have said Soviet occupied South East France and Monaco, of course.

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