2020

Happy new year!!

It’s been quite a while since I made a post on here. Life has gotten in the way, but I’m back again in this new year. As of today I’ve just hit 64,000 words in my latest story, with the working title End of Times. It’s going to be the longest thing I’ve written, and I’m no where near the end. I’m really excited to share it with everyone, but it’s going to be a long way off. I think I’m about a third of the way through the story and it’s going really well. I have been writing between 500 and 1000 words a day, and it’s my first resolution of 2020 to carry that on.

2020 is going to be an exciting year. I’m getting married in April. It’s going to be here before I know it. Lots of planning and preparing to be done and no time to be nervous.

My fiance bought me a new tablet with a keyboard, that I’m using at the moment to write this, which allows me to write wherever I am. It’s much lighter and smaller than a laptop so I can write on my lunch at work.

I’ve been reading a lot more recently, which is good. I used to read all the time, but the heavy reading lists (including some really dull books) at university made reading less fun. It’s taken me a few years, but I feel that I’m enjoying reading a lot more than I used to. My second resolution for 2020 is to read one book a week.

At the moment I’m in full-on Star Wars mode. I’m reading Star Wars Thrawn, about 200 pages in, and really enjoying it. I have a pile of Star Wars comics to get through. I’ve also seen Rise of Skywalker twice at the cinema and loved it both times. Before it came out, Tabby and I watched all of the films, episodes 1 – 8, Rogue One and Solo (In about a week and a half), and Rise of Skywalker feels like a natural conclusion to everything. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to see what they do next with the franchise. The stand alone movies in a couple of years can’t come quick enough.

I read Watchers by Dean Koontz between Christmas and New Years, which was a really good read. It’s a real page turner and I got through it much quicker than I thought I would. I haven’t read much of Dean Koontz, but I plan on changing that in the next couple of months.

Looking back at 2019, we had a lot of excellent books and films. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood really stands out as my book of the year. It’s sequel we didn’t need, but it more than lives up to the original. I really enjoyed it and urge anyone who hasn’t, to read both The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments. You won’t be disappointed.

My film of the year is a toss up between Knives Out and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I keep on going back and forth between the two. Knives Out is a really fun film that kept me guessing to the end and I’m really happy to hear its getting a sequel. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is an epic that only Tarentino can make. When watching I was completely absorbed into that world. My only gripe is the length as I had to leave the cinema to go to the toilet. I got the blu ray for Christmas and re-watched it to see the bit I missed, and enjoyed the film even more the second time around. I’ve read rumours of a 4 hour version coming out this year and I am more than happy to enter that world again and see more.

I’ve also joined Letterboxd to keep track of the films that I’ve watched and hopefully find some films that I would otherwise miss. If you would like to follow me, or check out my ratings on the films I’ve seen so far this year, you can do so here:

https://letterboxd.com/Ashley93

I have one list on my profile of my favourite films, which is in no way complete and I plan to add to it soon.

My third and final resolution for 2020 is to update this blog more often. I don’t write on it enough, even though I enjoy doing it. My plan is to do more little update posts. Keep people updated with how writing is going, the films I’ve watched and the books I’ve read as well as news on when books will be coming out. I have 4 finished novels, with only 1 published. I really want to get my writing out there to as many people as possible and I plan on taking that a lot more seriously this year.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

Ashley

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I’m Back

It’s been nearly 3 months since I last wrote on here. How time flies. I’ve been getting used to a new job and a new sleeping pattern. It’s been a struggle at times and writing these blog posts keep on slipping from my mind. I’m back now though.

I have a new computer, an actual desk top computer. Writing feels more professional while I sit at it. I’ve been writing most mornings before work. Getting anything between 500 and a thousand words done. At the moment I just hit 47000 words into my new, and as always, untitled novel. This is going to be the longest thing I’ve ever written and I feel like it’s going well. Not sure when it’ll be finished, because this is a long story and I’ve got a long way to go. It’s a story I’ve been working on since I was in sixth form, but finally pieces have started to fall into place.

I’m going to start uploading Homecoming again, which I’m annoyed about how long it’s taken to get on here. I’m going to make a page with all of the previous chapters on it, making it easier for people to catch up and keep up to date. That should be done early next week. I’m also looking into getting both Homecoming and The Broken Pocket Watch into print and kindle books. Editing takes a while and it’s not fun, but I’m taking it more seriously.

I’ve been reading and listening to e-books while walking to work. I’m nearly at the end of the Wayward Pines trilogy, which feels so much better than the TV series. Even though I know the general plot, it’s still good to read the original story. I’m also reading, My Sister, The Serial Killer, which is really great. Not a long book and I expect to be finished pretty soon.

I did recently listen to the audiobook version of Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son, written and narrated by Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. That was a great book and a great insight to some really good films. I’ve never been a big fan of memoirs, I read a bit of them and then get bored, but listening to them read the book made it a lot more engaging and I really enjoyed it.

I’ll be back soon with new chapters and new updates. I’m sorry it’s been a while, but at least this time I have been writing.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

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The Outsider by Stephen King

Image result for the outsider stephen king

I didn’t know anything about this book before reading it, other than it was a crime story. I’m not the biggest fan of crime stories, I probably haven’t read the right ones. I picked this book because it was the new Stephen King book out in paperback and cheap because of that. I started reading it Saturday morning, thinking I’ll read a couple of chapters before breakfast and before I knew it I was over a hundred pages in and couldn’t put it down. That’s something people say a lot about books, but it’s a good cliche and very true in this case. I had to know what happened next. I would recommend this straight away to anyone.

It’s hard to talk about this book without giving spoilers, so be warned. There will be spoilers from this point on. Nothing major, just enough to say why I liked this book so much.

I was enjoying this book quite a bit as a crime story. I’m not too familiar with the genre so I was along for the ride. I was piecing clues together and not getting very far. A man being in two places at once and I was jumping to the obvious conclusions, one of them was an impostor. I thought it would be simple enough like that, but I was still enjoying the book. Probably would have finished it, had a good time and mostly forgot about it.

That changes around half way through. On Saturday night I was sitting up in bed reading, trying to figure out the growing mystery when the plot started twisting. Slowly at first, but then the twist really hit. I stopped reading and thought I had stumbled into an all out horror without realising it. I put the book down with chills shivering through me.

It and Dracula combined with a crime novel makes The Outsider. Two of my favourite books. I loved this book and finished it within two days. Stephen King has a knack for creating characters that I care about way beyond the plot. I wish every writer was this great at building up characters. I want to know what happens next to them and I think that’s the trick to anything horror. If I care about the characters it adds to the fear. I’m not just scared of something, I’m fearing for the character’s lives.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime or horror. It’s a mixture of crime and horror. It’s a chilling read with twists and I really enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

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Homecoming – Chapter Seventeen

I make it back to the hotel room in the early afternoon. There’s no point rushing. I grab a glass from the side and take it into the bathroom. Red eyes staring back at me in the mirror, as I fill up the glass. I take a swig from the cool water and place the glass on the side. Splash water on my face, as if that will help. It doesn’t. I can’t cry any more, it’s not fair. I can’t just feel sorry for myself. Those things happened a long time ago and there’s no use wallowing about now. For a second the urge to go out and see Tim’s family, the Campbells, rises, but not for long. I don’t think I could actually see them, even if they think all is forgiven. That’s what Ryan said, I still can’t believe it I hate myself for what happened, so God knows how they feel about it, and I can’t blame them. Probably best to let that wound heal on its own. They don’t need me to reopen it.

After washing my face again, I go back to the main room and grab the phone out of the bag. Brand new and sealed. One of those crappy cheap phones that are only good for phoning and texting. It’ll do though. Probably needs charging for a full day before use as well. Casey would have a go at me if I turned it on any sooner, what a shame she isn’t here to see it. I rip the packaging apart and plug the phone in. I’ll let it charge while I fiddle around with the sim card and such. Going to need to top it up as well. OmniCryo, never heard of that network before. Sounds stupid, like they were trying to hard to sound cool. Whatever, I’m sure they take card payments.

There’s a little note in the bag, which the phone was in. I pull it out and read Jet’s number. On the other side is another string of numbers with ten pound credit written next to it and a little heart. Nice. She’s too nice. Can’t believe how she’s turned out now she’s an adult.

Finally, a battery appears on the small screen with twelve percent written inside it. I can turn it on now at least, who cares if I mess up the battery it’s not supposed to last forever anyway, nothing does.

I set my language, date and time and then go into the contacts. I forgot how fiddly the buttons are on these old pieces of crap. So small. The home screen only fits on icon at a time, with arrows on either side. I’m lucky it’s even in colour. I scroll through to the phone book icon and click in the big button at the top of the pad. The only option is top up. I dial and follow the automated commands to type in my code, wait for the confirmation and hang up. Next thing is to add the contacts in. I type Jet’s name and number in, and then grab out the crumbled piece of paper from the night before and do the same for Ryan and Casey. That’s everything sorted. Finally things are going my way. It’s been a good hour since something’s gone wrong so maybe I can get this whole crap done with and go back home. I don’t want to be here anymore. Hey there’s even time for a drink.

Got to stop thinking like that, first thing first. I call Ryan and wait.

“Come on, answer. Answer,” it goes to voicemail. “Hey, Ryan. It’s Chris. I just wanted to ask about the suicide I forgot about it last night. That’s the whole reason I was here. What’s going on with that? Get back to me whenever you can. This is my new number, the old phone died. Speak soon.”

That was easy. One step done, nearly at reward time. Next I call Casey.

“Hi?” she answers.

“Hey, Case, it’s me. I’ve got a new number. My phone died, and I left the charger in the car.”

“Hey, Chris. Good to hear from you I was starting to worry.  So what’s happened down there since yesterday?”

“Absolutely nothing. I’ve spent most of the day looking for a phone and I’ve left a message for Ryan. It’s been productive.”

“Sounds it. I’m sure you will get there at some point. There’s no deadline so doesn’t worry about that. Just keep me informed.”

“Yeah I will do. Got to check in with my boss. Can’t let her think I’m just prating about here not doing much.”

“Sure, just spending my money on booze and women.”

“How did you know? You sent spies here to watch me?”

“Are they not subtle enough?”

We both laugh and there’s a comfortable silence that follows. Why don’t we hang out any more? Since University it seems like we never see each other, unless it’s for work. I don’t really see anyone from that time any more. No one I hang out with now went to University. Drinking buddies, I call them, most of them owe me money and I owe the others.

“So what’s happening there?” Case asks, breaking my thought.

“Not much. My dad died.”

“What? Are you serious. I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

“Yes. I’m fine. It took a minute to get used to the idea, but I’m okay. It was going to happen one day and if you didn’t send me here I probably wouldn’t have ever found out.”

“Jesus. That must have been a shock.”

“It was. Not as much as he got remarried and had a kid”

“What? Seriously? That’s insane. When? Have you met them?”

“A few years back, and no I haven’t seen him. Don’t want to either.”

“You have a brother. You have to see them.”

“Half-brother. There are a lot of things I’ve done in the last day that I never wanted to do, so I’m going to draw the line at meeting my half-brother who I never knew existed before today.”

“That’s fair, but it’s still your brother.”

“Yeah and apparently he was a really good dad to him and actually cared. Good for him. People are probably only saying that because he’s dead.”

“Jesus, Chris. That’s a bit harsh. He was still your dad.”

“He sure was, and what an amazing dad he was. I’m glad that no one else had to suffer his crap and that his other child got better attention. Maybe he wasn’t drunk the entire time either. Maybe he didn’t hit the kid’s mum and the kid didn’t have to lay in bed and listen to them argue with only the quilt as protection.”

“Chris. Maybe it was wrong to send you back there. If you really don’t want to be there you can come back any time. I’ll drive up there and pick you up myself. I’m sorry, dude.”

“Don’t be. I’m just venting. It’s really annoying. Everyone I’ve spoken to about Dad says he was such a good guy and a good father. He wasn’t. I know that, they know that. The only reason they say otherwise is because he’s dead.”

“There might be some truth to that, but I don’t want you to have a breakdown. I thought it would do you some good going back there.”

“So, you admit it?”

“What?”

“That this was all some kind of ploy to get me back in this hell hole.”

“No there was a story there. You know that.”

“Yeah, but anyone could have covered it.”

“No, they couldn’t. It wasn’t really a good story to send someone on. It’s all based on hunches. It sounds weird, but I have no proof. Sounds like a myth that’s been passed along one too many times. You were the only person I could send. It helps that you know the place. You can see how it’s different. No one else could do that.”

“Sure. I’ll take that as a compliment. I know you think this is doing me good, and maybe you’re right. You’re also right about the story. There is something here. I can feel it. The people here are different. The streets are quiet. The whole place gives of this uneasy vibe, and the people are way too nice and helpful. Nothing about this place reminds me of my childhood and I don’t think places like this actually exist in the real world. There is something here. Maybe they murdered my Dad and covered it up together, as a town. That would make sense at this point.”

“Umm? I hope not. That would be really messed up that I sent you there. It’s not like you’re going to get an interview like that.”

“Sure. I’m going to try and get in contact with Ryan again. I’ll speak to you soon.”

“Check in tonight and let me know what’s going on. I’ll text you if I hear about the car or anything else.”

“Thanks, Case.”

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An Overdue Update

It’s been a while since I posted on here. I should do it more often but not only does time slips away faster than I realise, I often don’t know what to write about. Things have changed quite a bit since I last posted though. I have a new job, one that should give me more time to actually write and actually read. At my old job I could work twelve plus hour shifts with as little as half an hour breaks. Obviously I was tired most of the time. Now I have strict 8 hour shifts with an hour and twenty minutes break a day. I have more time than I know what to do with. I’ve read half a book on my phone just on break in the last two weeks.

I’ve also finally finished It by Stephen King. Definitely my favourite King novel. Absolutely gripping throughout it’s epic length. The longest book I’ve ever read, and the only book over 400 pages that I’ve read since Uni (Audiobooks don’t count). Uni took all of the fun out of reading, but I finally feel like that’s coming back. The book It, was an unbelievably good read which I never wanted to end. Once it finally did I wasn’t disappointed, which I always find I am at the end of a long book or series. It’s hard to wrap things up nicely, but Stephen King managed this in It. The novel is in my top 4 books of all time, joining Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I need a fifth book to make this a nice number, but nothing compares. So throw any suggestions my way.

I also finished writing Homecoming, my 4th finished novel and started writing my next one, with the working title; End of Times. I think the title will change, it was just something to name the document. Homecoming was completely out of my comfort zone, while End of Times is within my comfort zone genre-wise, but the scope is beyond anything I’ve ever attempted before. It’s going to be the longest thing I’ve ever written. I started it three weeks ago and have already hit the 10000 word mark and don’t feel like I’ve even started yet. I can’t wait for people to read it. It’s going to take a while before I can get close to sharing it. The idea has been floating around in my mind for nearly ten years, but it’s started to piece itself together.

Speaking of Homecoming, I’m going to try and upload one chapter every week, probably on Saturdays or Sundays. I’ve uploaded around half of the novel so far, and will try to be more prompt about it. It’s also an a focus of mine to make it easier to find all the chapter of both Homecoming and The Broken Pocket watch so people can catch up and share these easier. I’m also determined to get The Broken Pocket Watch in print by the end of the year. I’m crap at editing, but I’ll make a real effort to achieve this.

That’s all for now,

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

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