Yikes, the world got strange since the last one of these. Here’s some stuff that might cheer you up.
FREE MUSIC: AMBIENT SILENCAEON ALBUM
I’ve recorded a new Silencaeon album, SHELTER / PLACE, designed to help people focus when working from home. Two 30-min tracks of mostly-repetitive, non-intrusive music that you can download for FREE/pay-what-you-want from Bandcamp.
If you’re working from home for the first time, you may be struggling to focus. I, and lots of other people who’ve been doing this for many years, listen to this kind of music when working to help. It removes ‘deafening silence’, without distracting.
Background TV, radio, or music with lyrics can distract, pulling our attention away from work. By contrast, ambient music fades into the background as our work begins to flow (I also listen to classical, for the same reasons, but that's for advanced practitioners only 😉).
I’m somewhat baffled and humbled to note that this went up a week ago, and it’s now already the second-highest earning Silenceaon release ever. It’s OK to download it for free, it really is! But thank you to those who’ve generously paid. (The top seller remains DEAD CHANNEL, by a significant margin. No surprise.)
THE ORGANISED WRITER: SHOUT-OUT FROM JOHN BIRMINGHAM
Writer John Birmingham (THE CRUEL STARS, ZERO DAY CODE) is one of those people struggling to focus at the moment, but his solution was a little different. John’s a friend, and a while back — and before the coronavirus really kicked off — I sent him an advance copy of THE ORGANISED WRITER manuscript to blurb. To my surprise, he found the book is actually helping him to get work done in these truly strange times, and gave it a shout on his blog.
In theory, TOW is still set to be published later this year... fingers crossed, eh? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
FREE ‘BOOK’: JOE SHELTER, A NOVEL CORONAVIRUS NOVEL
Like most thriller writers I’m sure, when it became obvious Covid-19 was going to be a big global problem the thought flashed across my mind to write some kind of thriller set during lockdown. At the time, the most significant “Shelter in Place” order was in San Francisco, and for some reason my mind imagined a Jack Reacher-style character grunting his way through the situation.
Then I immediately dismissed the idea, because when people are literally dying at this time, it’s kind of crass. This was followed by the realisation that there are almost certainly authors out there for whom that isn’t a concern, and who are filling their notebooks as I type.
And then I thought… why not spoil things by beating them to it?
So, for my own amusement — and, in turned out, the amusement of many of my friends and readers — I started posting humourous snippets of what that fictional novel might be, as if written by someone sorely lacking in both self-awareness and talent. One friend described it as “Garth Marenghi writes Jack Reacher”, and I couldn’t have put it better myself.
It went on for a week, and then I compiled them all into a free PDF, with additional notes from the ‘editor’. You can read the whole thing here:
For the record: I enjoy the Jack Reacher books, and have nothing but respect and admiration for Lee Child. I trust he’d see the funny side 😉
CORONAVIRUS AND CREATIVITY
‘Self-isolate? You mean stay indoors, don’t leave the house, and don’t socialise with anyone? Why, I’ve been practising for this my whole life!’
Still on the subject of focusing, I wrote a piece for the Crime Writers’ Association this week about the weird time authors are having as we try to write with all this [gestures at everything] going on.
I spoke to several other CWA members, all experienced writers, about the effect the lockdown is having on our work habits, not to mention the content of our stories. One writer in particular is feeling that part more acutely than most, as he recently recovered from Covid-19 himself…!
GOVERNMENT-MANDATED DAILY EXERCISE
Right now in the UK, we’re allowed (and encouraged!) to leave the house for daily exercise. So that’s what we’ve been doing, and as we live in a rather nice part of the country, also taking pictures of sheep, fields, trees, canals, and horses as we go. If you fancy a bit of bucolic beauty to help you destress, you may find it on my Instagram.
HERE I AM, STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU: