Disney+ UK launch date!

Even though the US is getting Disney+ later this month – November 12th to be exact – we finally know when the UK (and others, but they’re not as important because I don’t live there 😉 ) are getting the latest and -possibly- best streaming service: March 31st 2020!

This means that we’ll have access to a whole wealth of classic movies, TV shows and animations owned by Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Fox, and so much more.

For me that importantly is the Marvel umbrella of movies and, of course, the upcoming TV shows: Ms. Marvel, She Hulk, Moon Knight (OMG!!!), WandaVision, Loki, What If…?, and of course my two personal favourites…

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…and that’s just for starters! Who knows what Disney+ will bring year on year? 🙂

/nerdgasm

The Crow arrives, finally :)



The Crow is a superhero comic book series created by James O’Barr.

It is not just one of my absolute favourite graphic novels, telling the story of love and supernatural revenge, but also my all-time favourite movies.

The movie adaptation – which may just be THE best comic book adaptation ever – featured Brandon Lee in the lead role of Eric Draven and he absolutely OWNED it in what was, unfortunately, his final film appearance.

There were some truly awful movie sequels but also a really rather good TV series, The Crow: Stairway to Heave, starring Mark Dacascos (another amazing martial artist and all-round great guy!) as Eric Draven this time.

And finally I managed to get a Funko Pop version of The Crow character to add to my collection which will definitely take pride of place 🙂

Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever.”

Dad’s 80th birthday!

Well as the title says my dad turned 80 at the weekend. He’s had his challenges, medically, over the last few years – from cancer, to COPD, and heart failure – but he’s faced them all and is still here fighting so it was wonderful to be able to gather family around and celebrate a man who has done SO much (a career that has seen him in the police, in the Royal Air Force, in the military police, been awarded medals …but, you know, most importantly, just been filled with so much love <3 ) and see him enjoy himself with everyone.

Here are a few photos from the day:

Dad with his birthday cake.
Dad with me and my sister, Erica.
Dad with me and my wife, Carole, and our kids (his grand-kids) Mackenzie and Nathaniel; and his daughter Erica, with her kids Riley and Christopher, and his daughter (dad’s great-grand-daughter) Carly.
Dad with his sister, Marion, and her kids Janice, Jackie, Sandra, and Geoffrey.
Dad with his sister-in-law Gloria and her daughters.
Dad with his brother-in-law Eric and his children Laura, Robert, Chris, Keith, and Phillip.
Dad with his in-laws Doug and Pat.
Dad with his grandson Chris, great-grand-daughter Carly, and her mother Lauren.
Dad with his sister, Pauline, and her partner Phillip.
Dad with his niece, Corrina.
Dad with his friend, Emma.
Dad cutting his birthday cake.

Brand new anthology from Crystal Lake Publishing, including a story by yours truly!

Brand new anthology from Crystal Lake Publishing, including a story by yours truly 🙂

Shallow Waters—where nothing stays buried – http://getbook.at/sWaters3

With twenty-one dark tales diving beneath the surface of life, death, and the pain between them.

Volume three includes horror, thrillers, suspense, and stories of hauntings, monsters, clowns, twisted love, and the beauty beneath it all.

TOC:

Introduction by Joe Mynhardt

“Piece Meal” by Madeline Mora-Summonte

“The Anonymous Dark” by Jonathan Winn

“Number Seventeen” by Monique Snyman (Monique-Cherie Oberholzer)

“For Her” by Jo-Anne Russell

“Second Chances” by Rob Smales

“Maker of Flight” by Richard Thomas

“Inertia” by Joshua Hair

“Malignant Roots” by Red Lagoe (Leigh Anne Lagoe)

“Two to a Desk” by Dani Brown

“The Comb” by Theresa Derwin

“Echoes” by Megan Hart

“Haunted Places” by Mark Allan Gunnells

“Hallways, Long and Dark” by Dale Elster

“The Chance of a Lifetime” by Pete Mesling

“GOGGINS” by Stephen Crowley

“Caoine” by Jennifer Loring

“Hacked” By Mark Cassell & Patrick R. McDonough

“Ghosts of the Wood” by Tim Meyer

“Paid in Full” by Roberta Codemo

“This Other Door” by Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray

“Always and Forever” by Jay Faulkner

Experience it today: http://getbook.at/sWaters3

Shallow Waters is the official monthly flash fiction challenge hosted by the award-winning Crystal Lake Publishing. Every month a new challenge is posted online, with authors submitting via email. The best submissions are then posted on Crystal Lake’s Patreon page, where patrons read daily entries and vote for the winner. What you’ll find in these Shallow Waters anthologies include the most popular of our finalists.

Proudly brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

https://www.crystallakepub.com/

WorldCon Dublin 2019

tl;dr – I attended WorldCon and voted in the Hugos; that is frikkin’ awesome!!! 🙂 I met people I haven’t seen in real-life in years, I met people I’ve only ever spoken to on-line, I met people I’ve never met before, and I met ‘famous’ people I’ve been fans of for years. Basically, I had a FABULOUS time!!! 😀

Now the longer version.

As I said up there, I actually managed to attend WorldCon, or more formally the World Science Fiction Convention, is a gathering of fans of science fiction, fantasy, horror, gaming, cosplay, etc who come together to celebrate that in all forms but especially in literature. They are MY people; my tribe.

I never thought that I would manage to get to a WorldCon, due to logistics of distance (as they are normally thousands of miles away) and health (as planning anything in advance around me not getting ill, or travelling and not getting exhausted, is onerous and normally doesn’t happen anyway) but when WorldCon was announced for Dublin I knew it was my chance …so I leapt at it; and promptly got ill a few days before the actual Con started but, throwing caution (and copious amounts of medication) to the wind, I travelled down to the Dublin Convention Centre …leaving my wife and kids mid-vacation up North… and entered a venue with thousands of other people who were like me; no, not falling apart and ill! Geeks. Nerds. Fans!

During the four days that I was there I managed to attend a play called ‘ConEIRE’ written by KATE LATIEY and performed by the Fox Spirit Skulk, which was enormously funny. Many panels on such diverse subjects as ‘Irelands Legends and Lore’; ‘Northern Irish SFF’; Fairies and Irish folklore in YA’; ‘Imagining Disabled Futures’ (about disability and accessibility in speculative fiction); ‘Irish Horror and the Supernatural’; ‘2000AD and the Supernatural’; and more that I am probably forgetting. I got to attend readings by ADRAIN TCHAIKOSVKY, PEADAR O’GUILIN, and the fabulous PETER BEAGLE who was very generous with his time, talking to me about his work, writing habits, and life in general. I bumped into, and briefly chatted, with both JOE HILL (I did ask him about an outstanding interview with his dad, Stephen King 😉 ), DIANE DUANE, and GEORGE RR MARTIN, he of the Games of Thrones. I spent a lot of time in the open area where the stalls, ‘shops’, and information desks were talking to publishers, book-sellers, jewellers, cosplayers, and the guys from the BIG BANG comic shop, as well as the ever lovely DECLAN SHALVEY (still Mackenzie’s favourite artist) and KEIRON GILLON. I bumped into GARETH POWELL, finally, after being ships in the night all convention. I got to watch a wonderful cosplay competition called The Masquerade, one evening, which REALLY highlighted just how talented these people are because most of the costumes/make-up on display wouldn’t have seemed out of place on stage or screen!

And then the Hugos. I voted on work that I thought was most worthy of winning a Hugo for the first time in my life and I felt the pressure of doing so; this wasn’t something that I took lightly. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t sit in the auditorium for the Hugos, even though I was intending to …I went and had dinner with friends instead, who realised that I was very tired and sitting alone for 3-4 hours wouldn’t have been the best thing; they were right.  We watched the ceremony, and results, via social media instead (as I would’ve done at home 🙂 ) and some of the people I wanted to win, did, and some didn’t; that’s the Hugos.  I’m still humbled to have been part of it. I want to take this moment to say 1/ how great it was to meet ALASDAIR STEWART, finally, in real life and 2/ that his work is amazing and he’s a winner in my eyes!

For me though the biggest and best thing about WorldCon was the people! Meeting people and catching up with them after years.  Meeting people in real life for the first time after years of only communicating via social media. Meeting people for the first time ever and connecting immediately. The people made WorldCon for me and, even a week later, I am missing their presence.

So, let’s talk about those people:

First the people that I knew in real life but hadn’t seen in ages.  That was PAT MAHER and ALLEN STROUD, who I used to run around in muddy fields with and hit people with latex …that isn’t as rude as it sounds, but maybe, for some, it is weird, because I am talking about live-roleplaying.; I did say I wore my geek/nerd  credentials proudly, didn’t I? Seeing both of these guys was really nice because, obviously, nostalgia, but both are just genuinely lovely people too; through ALLEN I also got to meet KAREN, and we spent a lot of time discussing things very relevant to my life and my children which I am extremely grateful for …plus, thanks to Karen, somehow, I now find myself a member of The British Science Fiction Association 😀

Secondly, the Otherworld NI crew. This is a grouping of lovely local people involved and invested in the SFF community and scene. JO ZEBEDEE is at the forefront of this and while we see each other occasionally this time we got to spend some quality time together, as well as sit in on her panels, which was great. SAM POOTS is a dynamo who was always everywhere but, thankfully, we got to sit and chat too.  PATRICK was running an awesome D&D game, which seemed to be running non-stop, and the feedback I heard about it was phenomenal (I’ve even told him he needs to run it again for us local folks 😉 ). Then there was the ever-awesome KERRY BUCHANAN who it doesn’t matter how many times I see her she’ll always bring a smile to my face (and a hug, of course); her panel on disability in the future was outstanding!

Next – and apologies if I miss anyone (please remind me if you see this and I’ve been a ditz!) – ALL the people I finally met who I only usually spoke to online: PAUL M. FEENEY is someone that I’ve been speaking to for years now, and I’m so glad that we finally got to meet and hang out; he is an awesome writer, and awesome guy, and I hope he realises how great he is! TRACEY FAHEY is part of the Fox Spirit Skulk, a great writer, an immense intelligence and fountain of knowledge, and just such great company and fun to hang out with; even though we’d never met before this weekend it was honestly like hanging out with an old friend. Speaking of the Fox Spirit Skulk I have to say that I finally got to pledge allegiance to the benevolent dictator herself, ADELE WEARING owner/publisher of one of the best presses around, after many years of only social media communication and signing contracts for her …everyone in the Skulk, MR. FOX 😉 (TOM), MARGERT, KATE LAITY, GUSTAV, and CHLOE AND PAUL YATES were just warm, welcoming, and so much fun! PENNY AND SIMON JONES were people I hadn’t spoken to much in the past (or at all 🙂 ) but meeting them was like talking to old-friends, and the hours spent in their company was fabulous. I also finally got to meet LYNDA RUCKER in real life; she’s so cool and as much a hugger as me! 😊

…and then there was DION. I’ve been speaking to Dion, online, on and off for more than a few years but wasn’t prepared for the force of nature that I met; I think that I probably spent more time in his company than anyone else’s during the four days, and it was worth it.  He is a very funny guy, but also extremely warm and caring at the same time, and it was like spending time with the best friend that you only see every year or so, not someone you’ve just met.

Through the ever-awesome MICHAEL CARROLL (read 2000AD and Judge Dredd folks!) I met MICHAEL SCOTT and COURTNEY DILLON and, as you do at a convention about sci-fi and books, we talked about Buffs (bandana type scarfs), tattoos, and martial arts; I think that I found my other tribe there 😉

I only got to see her a handful of times (her panels were amazing; Irish horror and supernatural was extremely informative , and the 2000AD panel, with Michael and WILL SIMPSON was the BEST panel I attended 🙂 ) but MAURA MCHUGH was as lovely as ever and has to be commended for the work she did in putting this WorldCon together; thanks Maura, personally at least, as I had a blast!!!

Ultimately it was a great experience – though one which physically wrecked me! 🙂 – and took me a few days to come down for the ‘bubble’ I’d been in and recover from the ‘blues’ of not being there afterwards.  Everyone involved in putting it together should take a bow because I’m sure it was like a swan for you guys – a great experience for us and madness underneath keeping it running.  Thank you for doing it!

Coming out of it I’ve been asked to write for an anthology, been told to write/pitch a novella for a shared world thing and am pitching an anthology I’ll edit to a publisher which hopefully will happen. Also, more locally, I’m hoping to write stuff for a couple of magazines too (I’ve been asked so would be rude not to).

To sum up: thoroughly enjoyed myself, a little broken by it, people made this event what it was, and WorldCon – you rocked! 🙂

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer has been renamed.

…and you have to think that this year’s Campbell Award winner Jeannette Ng, and her wonderful speech (which can be read in full here) at Dublin 2019 WorldCon, had more than a little to do with it, where she said:

“John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist. Through his editorial control of Astounding Science Fiction, he is responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists. Yes, I am aware there are exceptions.

But these bones, we have grown wonderful, ramshackle genre, wilder and stranger than his mind could imagine or allow.

And I am so proud to be part of this. To share with you my weird little story, an amalgam of all my weird interests, so much of which has little to do with my superficial identities and labels.”

So Jeannette will now be the last recipient of the John W. Campbell Award as, moving forward, it’s going to be known as the ‘Astounding Award for Best New Writer’ – and that is a MUCH better name! 🙂  

Break Kickstarter With Carbyne Jungle: The New TTRPG

Nor Cal Mythos is an Independent Game Design Studio based out of Salinas, California. The three lead designers have degrees and education in silly things such as Literature, Liberal Studies with Human Communication, Math, Business, and much more importantly approximately 70 years of combined experience in tabletop games including world design, mythology building, and relentless tormenting of parties with endless ravenous hordes of monsters seeking their deaths.

We have experience working in education, technology, editing, and business. Even better, we coach sword fighting to 7th graders, write fantasy novels, and have been building game worlds since we were 12, and one of us may or may not be the star of a majestic internet meme (too much fun was involved to be certain, and it was 15 years ago)… and one’s a cook!

Welcome to the jungle …

Carbyne Jungle is not the first system that we have built, but it is the first we are publishing and by far the best work we have ever done. It is the culmination of decades of experience with various systems, tweaking rulesets, and determining what we believe would be the best gaming experience possible. 

In Carbyne Jungle, we created a game system designed around everything we love in RPGs.

  •  Story: Carbyne Jungle takes place in an expansive universe filled with fantasy and sci-fi elements, a deep backstory, and a rich setting filled with quest seeds to get games going.
  •  Options: Our characters are completely customizable. Choose between hundreds of options of backgrounds for millions of possible combinations of abilities. 
  •  Fun: We designed our game engine with three styles of gameplay for players of all skill levels, all of which can be played simultaneously. Beginners can join right into the game using a simple ruleset and not miss out on any of the fun as they learn the Stock or Strategic rules.
  •  Unique Gameplay: In addition to  traditional roleplaying, we have an autorun game for times when no one wants to GM, and a card system to assist in gameplay and in creating random dungeons. Not only that, but we built an amazing combat system that really gets players into the game.
  •  Game Decks: Our game decks make playing simpler, are used for the Flip N Fight rule set that allows brand new gamers to jump into the RPG, and also for premade games that the entire gaming group can play. Those decks can also then be shuffled in to create random quests for players.
  • Don’t take our word for it. Check out the free Playtest! While stripped down compared to the regular game, it has the full rulesets and several of the species and character types of Carbyne Jungle!

To find out more, and to support their AWESOME Kickstater, go here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/carbynejungle/carbyne-jungle-the-new-ttrpg

Reading at Flash Fiction in the Orchard Armagh Event September 19th.

Image of words Flash Fiction spelled out on post-it notes.
Written poste-haste!

Flash fiction is something that I have become very fond of; part prose, part poetry, and all wonderful narrative, telling a story in as few words as possible can be as rewarding as it is complex. Distilling a novel’s worth of experience into a few pages, or even a few paragraphs, means that you must pay attention to not just every sentence that you write, but every word that you choose. If done properly it should reward the reader too – hopefully – with a concise and concentrated dose of literature where, in a lot of cases, mood and tone maters more than plot because you are starting near the end of the story itself.

And that is what makes it so addictive, as both a writer and reader, to keep on doing.

I’ve been very lucky to have had my shorter work – six-word stories, drabbles (100 word), micro fiction (less than 250 words), and flash fiction – published but, more so over the last year I’ve had the absolute pleasure of being invited to read at Flash Fiction Armagh events in various venues in Northern Ireland. On the 19th September 2019 I’m going to do it again 🙂

This time I’m going to be reading a dark fantasy/speculative fiction piece (with a splash of humour thrown in for good measure), called ‘Playing Both Sides’ which I wrote during Pride month and plays on my love of geekdom and the underdog.

Flash Fiction Armagh this time takes place as part of the award-winning Armagh Food and Cider Festival; the readings take place in a teepee in the grounds of Crannagael House, which should be amazing! It promises to be a lot of fun, with cider tasting, locally sourced food, music, and of course all of the fabulous stories from the amazing writers (and me 🙂 ):

Gaynor Kane At Castleward

Maria Mc Gilly Green and Bitter

Csilla Toldy Wallflower

Jay Faulkner Playing Both Sides

Rachel Toner On The Shelf

Kerry Buchannan The Ages of Nan

Tim Hanna The Birds

Rosemary Tumilty The Homecoming

Ellie Rose Mc Kee The Caller

Brid McGinley Dogs in Space

Gerry Mc Cullough Not Quite Dead

Lorna Flanagan Boots Trudged Across the Yard

Yvonne Boyle The Silver Casino PlayerGary Hunter Rain and Smoke

With thanks, as always, to Byddi Lee and Réamonn Ó Ciaráin, the organisers of Flash Fiction Armagh, for this opportunity!

For more information and tickets (£10) click here.

Gatwick drone incident – when is terror ‘terror’?

The drone incident at Gatwick is the most disruptive airport trespass in UK history, and authorities have stated that (obviously) it is intentional but have stopped short at calling it a ‘terrorist’ act.

Gatwick’s runway has been shut since Wednesday night; About 110,000 passengers on 760 flights were cancelled at one of the UK’s busiest airports, having a knock-on effect across, literally, the world.

The Army has been called in to assist Sussex Police in the incident with helicopters and even snipers on the lookout for the perpetrators and potentially shooting down the drones.

In the past terrorists used guns and bombs to take lives but also to instil fear and disrupt elements of the running of critical national infrastructure and just our way of life. When this became harder to do they started using cars and vans to drive into crowded public areas, or attack us with knives and other ‘at hand’ weapons, again to not just take lives and injure, but to cause fear and disrupt our way of life.

… one of the UK’s busiest airports, a part of the Country’s Critical National Infrastructure and a gateway to Europe and the rest of the World, is currently shut down. There are approximately 11,000 people stuck at the airport and ten times that many people who simply have been left abandoned from their destinations. They been left in fear too because the news reports are saying how easy it would be for a drone to take down a plane; to cause a plane to crash. They are in fear because they are seeing armed police men in the grounds of the airport and Army snipers. They are seeing police helicopters. And they are far from home and stuck with nowhere to go.

If that isn’t the definition of ‘terror’ then I don’t know what is.

If terrorists started with bombs and guns, then moved to cars, vans and knives, could they now have moved to drones …to toys …to take down a massive part of the British transport system, right before Christmas, and instill a new type of chaos and fear, with such ease?

If so, that thought alone is actually terrifying!