A.J. Walker

writerer

Camping at Bishop's Castle (Again)

This weekend it is my now annual pilgrimage to Bishop's Castle, in Shropshire, for the Real Ale Trail Festival. I think it's my ninth in a row as ten years ago I was at T in the Park, in Balado, this weekend in 2009 watching bands including; Kings of Leon, Snow Patrol, Blur, The Killers, Regina Spektor, Mogwai and Squeeze (incidentally, looking at the band list I note that Mumford & Sons were playing in the King Tuts (first on, on the Saturday) though I didn't see them).

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Once I stopped going to T in the Park with my music festival buddies (after 2009) I began to go to Bishop's Castle Beer Festival with my ale drinking buddies instead. So basically this weekend has been a big one for fifteen years or so, albeit with very different festivals. Both involve camping though and I very much enjoy it. Every time I do it I wonder why I don't do it more. It will be my first camping trip of the year and will be swiftly followed by camping the following weekend where I am camping for a wedding! I dare say there won't be too many people leaving their tents suited and booted (although I believe there will be at least one more doing the same).

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Last year at the festival it coincided with England doing rather well in the World Cup. There was a lot of sunshine, lovely booze, boss people and all round good vibes (these peeps in the photo are all looking suitably in the pink). Incidentally, Rachel in the front there, behind her dad on the right, is the lovely lady getting married next week - and the groom is lurking there on the left too.

It's nice to get a new Eurohike tent for this year - even if it is the same design as it used to use. It served me very well (including back in T in the Park).

Roll on a couple of weekends of fun camping, lovely beers, decent bands (largely in the Vaults) and good times.
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Podcasts and Web Formatting

Created a page on Podcasts a few weeks ago and put up four of the podcasts that I currently listen to, namely;

  • Sodajerker
  • 13 Minutes to the Moon
  • New York Times - The Book Review
  • Blank

During the week I realised that whilst my blog was displaying fine on a mobile the Podcast and Publications page was not displaying correctly (they were all fine on the desktop). I've ended up having to double up what's in my website creator (Rapidweaver) then hide/display the relevant pages. Bit of a pain, but not the end of the world. It has however meant I haven't had time to update my blog (or the podcast page) whilst I dealt with it. Anyway, I'm getting there now.

I've taken the opportunity to update the Publications page with the link to the upcoming 'Don't Open the Door' anthology, which is due out on the 26th July.

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It's been a good week for podcast listening. Yesterday I listened to a couple of the Art of Process pods, produced by Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. Incidentally I have been a fan of Aimee Mann from the 1990s onwards. The album 'Whatever' (1993) is a wonderful listen and if you ain't got it then you must get on it. I was lucky enough to see her a few times in Manchester.

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I can thoroughly recommend the Art of Process to any of you creative types. As the name implies it is about processes people use for the creation of their arts, be it writers, songwriters, comedians etc. The podcasts are around an hour long and involve discussions with successful artists. The two I listened to this week were Ian MacKaye (Fugazis) and Jean Grae (a multi talented hip hop, actress, comedienne etc). Whilst I knew little about the former I knew nothing about the latter. But both were fascinating podcasts and a great listen.

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The Blank podcasts fit well with the Art ones with conversations with artists (very much UK, whilst the AoP one is US) about periods that they may have suffered to get through, their Blank times. Sometimes in these podcasts there isn't actually that much about the blank times to be fair, and they can be just as much about their processes. Yesterday's pod was with the lovely comedienne Rachel Parris, of Daily Mash fame, who is most personable during her chinwag with the genial hosts. Equally recommended.

Of course earlier in the week my Podcasts included the unmissable 13 Minutes to the Moon and The New York Times Book Review. And needless to say my weekly Archers catch up (poor Jim).
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New Songs, New People

Open Mic again last night, so of course I was there again. Ollie arrived later so I went up first to be followed by Matt Author.Com. There was another poetry performance, which was funny. And a couple of the excellent regulars as well as a couple of Open Mic virgins.


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Started and ended with a few of my usuals, which sandwiched in a few new ones for me from the Waterboys and Green on Red.

Set list:

  • Somewhere Down the Road
  • Heart Breaks Like the Dawn
  • Strange Boat
  • A Man is in Love
  • Shed a Tear (for the Lonesome)
  • Whiskey in my Whiskey

There was a bit of a CAMRA event on in the pub with Karl, the brewer from Liverpool Brewing Company there, so downstairs was busy with some CAMRA bods. I introduced a blue nose from CAMRA to the event and he enjoyed watching one of the newbies and a couple of classics from Dave Glyn Jones.

As I was off on Friday I even went on for a pint with everyone, in The Swan, before getting the last bus home. A predictably good evening.
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Approaching the Door

This week the cover for the upcoming horror anthology 'Don't Open the Door' was released. I love it.

Looking forward to receiving the book and reading all the stories. The book release is going to be soon; I dare say I may mention bits and pieces about it from time to time.

The anthology is edited by Cory Mason and has stories from:

  • Luke Elliot Alphonso Jr.
  • Johvan Calvo
  • Yawatta Hosby
  • Augie Paterson
  • L.M. du Preez
  • J.A. Sullivan
  • A.J. Walker (that'd be me)
  • T.H. Willoughby
  • Kimberly Walkens

I'll put some links through to the authors pages and/or twitter accounts - once I've got my shit together.


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The cover design is by Christine M. Scott - Nice job!

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Strange Love

Made some time to play some guitar this afternoon and went back to some oldies from The Waterboys.

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Strange Boat

Went for Strange Boat and A Man Is In Love two classics. Next time maybe Fisherman's Blues and A Bang On The Ear. We'll see.

First time up I ended up with lots of background noise before I realised I had on my CD, amp and PS3. Turned these off and the noise disappeared. You live, you learn.

Anyways, now time to write something for the Seedling Challenge.
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Steeling Myself

Going on my second Wirral ale trip tomorrow. Back to the great Yorkshire beer city - Sheffield. Looking forward to it. Know my way around the city's boozers pretty well by now.

Yesterday I played at the Open Mic in the Sanctuary once more. I was back in a checked-shirt (green). As well as being back in a proper garb, we were also back were we were supposed to be upstairs with a microphone and PA. Huzzah! We were down one Bobo though, who was home with Delhi Belly or some such. Shame. Hope the evening's rest did him good.

I was first on (always good for me, as following Dave Jones is a killer!). Played six songs, including an encore (well the next guy had gone for a smoke) and got asked for a request ('Couldn't Get Arrested'), which I played. A request… that's a first!

Yesterday's set;

  • Sweet Carolina (Ryan Adams)
  • Somewhere Down The Road (Chuck Prophet)
  • Take Me Down to The Infirmary (Cracker)
  • Whiskey in My Whiskey (Felice Brothers)
  • Save It For A Rainy Day (Jayhawks)
  • Couldn't Get Arrested (Green on Red)

Couple more newbies turned up later on, who were both great.

Si supplied some nice beer including a new local one from Tyton Brewery and the famous Beartown 'Creme Bearlee'.

A good evening, as ever.
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Getting Close to the Door

Got sight of the cover for an upcoming horror anthology that I will be featured in: 'Don't Open the Door'. I can't wait to see the finished book. The cover looks ace and I am looking forward to getting it out in front of you soon.

I haven't read any of the other stories featured in it. But there are some great guys and gals involved and it will be fab. Really enjoyed writing my story, which has a nice setting and a bit of a folksy background. The brains, brawn and editor behind the anthology is Cory 'Tomo' Mason, who you can find on Twitter @TheBestTomo

Watch this space (and follow Cory) for details - and the cover. I'll no doubt be writing a few bits and bobs about the anthology on this blog and in numerous tweets.

In the meantime, if you're really not sure, well… don't open the door.
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Too Good TV

Part of the time problem lately has been because there has been so much good TV that I've not managed to avoid. Much of it on the BBC, ably supported by Sky Atlantic.

In the last couple of months we've had:

  • Game of Thrones (Atlantic)
  • Fleabag (BBC)
  • Line Of Duty (BBC)
  • Follow the Money (BBC)
  • Cardinal (BBC)
  • Chernobyl (Atlantic)
  • Gentleman Jack (BBC)
  • Inspector Montalbano (BBC)
  • Summer of Rockets (BBC)

and this week we've got the wonderful 'Killing Eve' returning to BBC. Oh, and there's 'Good Omens' too on Amazon Prime.

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We really are living in a time of some great TV. Whilst it's great to be entertained by such wonderful productions it doesn't half get in the way of your own creativity. It's too easy to get home and stick an episode, or four, on of any of these programmes. Damn you writers and producers! And I haven't even mentioned Blue Planet or Springwatch or any of the great BBC4 docs. Or the wonderful football season.

Whilst I am not suggesting missing any of these programmes, indeed I am suggesting the exact opposite, I think if you are watching anything less good than this lot then perhaps turn it off and do something creative instead. When there's so much good TV about there is no need to waste any time with dross.
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Becoming A Writer

Have just read another book about writing: 'Becoming A Writer' by Dorothea Brande. It's an interesting one. And is not about the rules of writing and there are no plans or plots in there. It is more about the methods of getting into it. Turning off and switching on. Or something like that.

It is from 1934 so one can only wonder at what she would say about TV and Social Media. Basically, I dare say, she would say 'Turn it off and just write, you damn fool!' Then look at that stuff, if you must — once you've hit your goal. It's not exactly mystical: don't read before you write, or else your writing will be affected by it. Ditto listening to radio or films, or even conversations; basically, avoid anything with words in it.

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'Becoming A Writer' Dorothea Brande (1934)

A decent read with some nice writing exercise ideas. Strangely she says nothing about word processors or writing software. She does suggest having two typewriters (one desktop and one laptop). ;-)

To save you reading it: make some me time, make it quiet, relax, get into the zone… then get stuck in. Or something like that.

It's a worthwhile read and it's made me think about my writing. This blog is called 'Writerer's Block' but other than some flash and VSS365 related things there hasn't been much about my writing lately. It's largely been music, football and beer.

I am going to replan my writing and attempt to get into a groove or at least try to manufacture better habits. I won't herald what I am doing quite yet. I will give a few things a go and see what works for me in terms of getting things done, including new writing projects and finishing the almost mythical TWO.

#amwriting

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Some Parade!

Well, what a weekend. Had to go to the parade, of course, to soak in some of the colour and noise, but most of all to welcome the boys back. Town was heaving with something like 750,000 people out to see them, so it was a bit of a headache to decide where best to watch them. The last time me and the lads went to greet them was after we beat West Ham in the FA Cup Final in 2006 and I decided (for it was my call) to watch it around the same place again. That time we had quite a long time waiting around, but this time we the advantage of being able to watch the stream of the parade live, so we could watch it to see where they were up to and leave in good time to watch them.

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As it was up behind the Walker Art Gallery it was only up the road from the Sanctuary, so it was a no brainer to get a nice couple of ales in there then walk up when they looked about ready to make it down the road. My only fear (being the one making the call) was there was a delay on the stream and as we walked up past Lime Street Station I did think it seemed remarkably quiet and wondered for a moment. But I needn't have worried. As it happened we walked off the closed fly-over on to the dual carriageway, where there were plenty of people about but lots of room too. We were only there for a couple of minutes before the motorbike police came down to clear the way, followed by police on foot - we could not have timed it better. We were close enough to touch the buses as they went past. Brilliant.

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The Liverpool boys were all up for it, swinging their scarves, singing, banging the side of the bus. Milner and Robertson looked particularly energetic. Maybe it's the Ribena (or lime and soda) but I don't know where Milner gets his energy. All the guys were obviously loving it - especially Klopp.

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Got some fab photos. Shouted and sung a bit. Followed the bus down to the bottom of the road. And basically loved it.

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Then was back in the Sanctuary within about 45 minutes of leaving it! Win-win-win!!
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