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  • astone2292

    Author Guess Who #20 - Reveal!

    By astone2292

    Holy smokes! I mean literally. Okay, not really, but use your imaginations for a moment. A dark theater stage. The crimson curtains slowly open to fog creeping out into the audience. A lone spotlight shines upon a mysterious silhouette. Who could it be? What is their purpose? Will they entertain or shock us?  For those who fell asleep, it's the fourth Thursday of the month, which means it's time for the Author Guess Who reveal! If you missed out on the interview, you can read it right... 
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When Denial Was My Only Option

(This is part of a continuing series about how I tried to come out as gay in an Evangelical Christian environment. If you haven’t read my other essays in this series, please find them here, they will put this essay into context)   Spring 1985 “I don’t believe you’re homosexual,” he said. “I believe you’re bisexual, mostly heterosexual, and this is a phase you are going through.” I just nodded my agreement, what else could I do? We were sat together in the tiny study of h

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in My Story

Book Review: Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood

It is 1930s Berlin and “Christopher Isherwood” is enjoying the notorious nightlife and culture of the city. Isherwood is an upper-class Englishman, surviving by teaching English to different citizens of the city, as he explores a life very different to his previous one, that opens him up to a diverse cast of characters. This book has become a modern classic, the basis of the musical and film Cabaret, but don’t expect a novelization of Cabaret here. The musical was inspired by this novel but

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

I Forgot My Mother’s Birthday

Last month I forgot my mother’s birthday. I was writing on my computer, glanced down at the bottom right corner of the screen, and saw the date. It was my mother’s birthday, or it would have been. My mother died twenty-three years ago. At first, after her death, I used the date of her birthday as a time to remember her. Using the date of her death for this was too much, too morbid and too negative. Her birthday was in January, in the cold winter after Christmas, and was always celebrat

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Esaay

Look, it's a blog post. Crazy.

Writing: New rule: don’t start posting a new book in the fall right before the busiest season for retail. Just don’t. There will be tears. Mine, specifically.  New rule #2: Listen to your heart when it tells you that a story you’ve written is best read in a single go. Or, at least, that it should be available in its entirety from day one for those to wish to absorb it that way.  Keeper of the Rituals was never meant to be posted a chapter at a time. I think I mentioned that at the

Book Review: Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie

At the height of the Second World War, millionaire Gordon Cloade marries the beautiful young widow Rosaleen Underhay. Two days after they arrive in London, Gordon Cloade’s home is bombed, killing all the inhabitants except for Rosaleen Cloade and her brother David. In 1946, Rosaleen Cloade has settled in the village of Warmsley Vale, where her late husband’s home is and she is surrounded by his relatives who all lost out on their inheritances when Gordon married her. Then a man turns up in

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Not Any Human Heart, My Human Heart

Last week I saw my own heart beating. I have seen a human heart beating before, but not my own. Many years ago I did a post-registration nursing course and part of that involved watching certain operations performed. I was watching a spinal operation. The surgeons accessed the patient’s spine via their ribs and deflating their lung. I looked over one of the surgeons’ shoulder and down into the patient’s open chest. There I saw that person’s heart actually beating, its rhythmic, synchro

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in blog post

Cinematic

I could’ve titled this entry “Doubt” again like the previous one. As the stakes of my story get higher, and the threads I’m weaving are only just beginning to come together, I have doubts again. More than ever before. Is it getting ridiculous? Is it still believable? Even a fantasy story has to be believable. I love these characters so much, and they’ve grown in me for such a long time, that it would end me if anyone hated them. I sound ridiculous. So to give my characters and story de

drown

drown in writing

'Sparrow' by James Hynes

James Hynes Sparrow My rating: 4 out 5 stars For a nearly eighteen hour long book, this was peculiarly riveting. Even more so when you realise there are hours of the story during which nothing much happens. And yet, those hours draw you in with their vivid descriptions of life at the tavern / brothel which forms the central locale of the novel. They make you care about the various characters, especially the young boy who narrates from old age what it's like to be a nameless slave livin

northie

northie in Review

Book Review: Johnny Come Home by Jake Arnott

Against the backdrop of 1972 London, four lost souls collide. Pearson has just lost his lover, O'Connell committed suicide. The activist Nina feels her ideals slipping away from her as she also watches the trial of the Angry Brigade, the anarchist group accused of a spate of bombings. Sweet Thing, a streetwise rent boy, can make anyone desire him, but who or what does he desire? Johnny Chrome is on the verge of his big breakthrough as the next big thing in glam rock, a breakthrough he has been w

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Doubt

Writing about not writing is, in fact, writing. So now I have a blog! Having the perfect writing setup for over a decade isn't actually enough to produce good writing. Duh. Of course, it isn't. I pride myself on being a good judge of quality, and nothing I had written passed the test. Judging it by my standards was enough for me to decide, "Nope." But: To get better at writing, you need outside feedback. Even mediocre writing will be improved with furious editing.

drown

drown in writing

'In Memoriam' by Alice Winn

Alice Winn In Memoriam My rating: 5 out of 5 stars Enthralling. Poignant. The horrors of war and a tender love story. You might think there are already too many stories about young Englishmen from privileged backgrounds who find themselves amidst the unspeakable events of World War 1. I half thought so too when I finally started this book after having it for several months. The opening chapters are a volley of names, characters, and their interactions at a 'public' school whi

northie

northie in Review

In The Mourning Day (Thicker Than Water Chapter 9)

When I first envisioned Jefferson as a town, the fictional city of Charming, CA from Sons of Anarchy came to mind, but certainly smaller.  Thoughts of a rustic, desert town, with pine trees and scrub brush lining the streets instead of lush foliage and bushy oaks.  The town could fit anywhere along Highway 97 from Central Washington to Central California.  The motel they stayed in based on an experience a friend of mine had at some crap, roadside place. Unless the situation calls for it, I

John Henry

John Henry in John Henry's Blogs

And the Truth About Political Promises.

My government has let me down, again. Am I of any value to them? They certainly don’t seem concerned about me. They made me a promise, told me to wait and wait, but never kept it and now… In July 2018 prime minister Theresa May promised to ban conversion therapy. In 2019, Boris Johnson repeated the pledge during that year’s general election campaign. Yet here we are, November 2023, and again there is no sign of the promised ban. This month’s King’s Speech, were the government outlines the l

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in blog post

It's That Time Of The Year

Yep, it's that time of the year. What time? I hear you ask. It is the time when we are either thinking about or trying not to think about Christmas. It's also the time when many charitable organisations get the begging bowl out. I've already had my begging bowl out, been around the usual local companies and a few more. I've been lucky and received donations and promises of help from all that I have approached, and I am grateful for everything that has been received and promised. Now I've got the

Mancunian

Mancunian in Christmas

Tears, Coffee and Foreshadowing (Thicker Than Water Chapter 8)

So, here we are in Chapter 8.  It's another transitional scene that I wanted to show more of the bonds that hold the Padilla family together. Of course we start with the aftermath of Bryan and Kenny's conflict.  Bryan is showing a rare moment of vulnerability, where his attachment issues get triggered.  I find that it's key to keep bringing this up, because everyone's motivations and activities are dictated by how they handle trauma.  Bryan doesn't grow close to most people because of the f

John Henry

John Henry in John Henry's Blogs

Book Review: Sex in Cyberspace (Men Who Pay For Sex) by Sarah Earle and Keith Sharp

They say prostitution is the oldest profession, therefore those men who visit prostitutes must be the oldest Customer Demographic, but what do we know about them? The majority of research done has focused on prostitutes, very little on the men who use their services. Sarah Earle and Keith Sharp make these men the focus of their research and raise some fascinating points. This book is written from a sociological study, looking specifically at men who use the internet to find sex workers. Ear

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Book Review: Showtime 2020: The Collected Works of Newham Writers

This anthology is a collection from a writers workshop in East London. As such is has been designed to showcase the writing coming out of this workshop, and so is a very mixed anthology. This isn’t just a collection of short stories only, or just poetry or only essays. This collection contains many different styles of writing. There are short stories here, but also poetry, essays and even drabbles (100 word stories). The strength here is this collection’s variety. If you don’t want to read

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Bonding, Backstory and Baggage (Thicker Than Water, Chapter 7)

So, Chapter 7.... As with most of the chapters I write, I'm never certain where the story is going until it's done.  I generally have clues as what each chapter should have in it, but often, turns are taken that I wasn't prepared for, and this chapter wasn't an exception. Up to this point, Bryan hasn't really been interested in Steve as a person.  He hasn't been rude to the man, but given Bryan's issues with father figures and relationship issues, I was prepared for this to be another

John Henry

John Henry in John Henry's Blogs

Childlike Simplicity

Nights like tonight make me miss things Stupid things Things that no one else would miss. The sound of distant traffic through open windows Sitting on old shag carpet Parents sitting on a well worn yellow couch with brown and orange lines Grandpa showing off his and grandmas new recliners at the center of the room Pictures all the way back to their childhoods on all of the old oak furniture. The high pitched whine of a CRT tv finally getting decent signal

Book Review: The Fallen Curtain by Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell was known for her dark psychological thrillers, but she also wrote many short stories, throughout her career. This was her first collection of them, many of which had been previously published in different magazines. At her best, she always had a feel and understanding for character, especially people caught up in events greater than themselves. Here are several short stories that showcase that ability. She captures characters both on the edge of society and those who are basti

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Book Review: Rude Britannia: One Man's Journey Around the Highways and Bi-ways of British Sex By Tim Fountain

Tim Fountain set out here to explore Britain’s sexual highways and byways, to explore the fetish clubs, swingers’ clubs, dogging sites and much, much more. He didn’t want to just observe but to explore and experience the sexual underbelly of Britain, the side of Britain that isn’t celebrated in the guide books, well most of them. The result is this book, but it’s more than just a chronical through one man’s sexual adventure. What lifts this book is Fountain’s style and perspective. He doesn

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

'A Nobleman's guide to seducing a scoundrel' by KJ Charles

A Nobleman's guide to seducing a scoundrel by KJ Charles My rating: 4 out of 5 stars One of many things to love about KJ Charles' books is how anchored they are in their particular historical period. She doesn't hit you around the head with facts, or elevate research over plot. Instead, we join A Nobleman's guide to seducing a scoundrel in the early 1820s when Gothic novels are still the rage, medievalism is becoming an academic study, the Napoleonic Wars are over, and smugglers now op

northie

northie in Review

Book Review: How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman

It’s the suburbs in the 1970s, and two teenage lads, Enn and Vic, go to a teenage party to meet girls. Vic is the charming and handsome boy, who is always successful with the girls, while Enn is tongue-tied and awkward around them. At this party Vic pushes Enn to talk to them, to finally have some success with the opposite sex, but the girls at this party are amazing and so easy to talk to. This short story is a showcase for Neil Gaiman’s storytelling skills and his otherworldly imagination

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

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