Allen Donnelly

Author, Artist, Whimsy Merchant

This is the official website of the science-fiction/fantasy novelist, Allen Donnelly.
It is the repository for info about books, poems, general geekery and stuff about baking

I remember...

...when all of this was fields, as far as the eye can see!
Well, technically it is all still fields, and open moorland, because I live in the middle of nowhere. Nonetheless, my point remains...

I'M GETTING OLD!

Older, anyway. Forty one, to be precise, for I was born on March the 4th, 1976 and this Saturday will mark the 41st anniversary of this momentous event.
In celebration, I have initiated the Birthday Protocol!
Which basically means I'm using it as an excuse to have a sale on my books and eat cake.
Since I can't offer you some of the cake (and I absolutely would if I could, honest), instead I have chosen to give (*adopts Bane voice*) the gift of literature to you, the people.
Ahem.
Anyway. This weekend, from the 3rd to the 5th of March, my first two books - Crystal Eyes and Heroes Wanted - will both be completely FREE to download from Amazon.
In addition, Sorrows Herald (the sequel to Crystal Eyes) and my latest, The Salvager, will both be on offer at significantly reduced prices from midnight on Friday to 11 pm on Sunday. I think. The time picking thing on Amazon's author dashboard was a little wonky.
Unfortunately, the discounts can only be offered in the UK and US Amazon stores although the free books are, I believe, universal. Why this is the case, I don't know. You'd have to ask Amazon about that.
So there you are, cake and awesome books! YAY!
You know what would be a great birthday present, to make me feel better about the slow trickle of sand through the hourglass of my life? 
REVIEWS! Please review them. Pretty please with a cherry on top.

What else is happening in the world?
(*looks at world*)
You know what? Never mind. Let's leave that horror show for another time.

That's it for now.
Until next time, be excellent to one another
Al
P.S. Here's a pic I took yesterday from my back door, just in case you didn't believe me about the fields. Usually there are just sheep and the occasional rabbit in there, this time it was a red squirrel...

Happy New Year!

What do you mean, I'm a week late? Well, yeah, okay. It wasn't meant to be like this...
New Years Eve: I had plans, man, plans. I was gonna say a heartfelt goodbye to 2016 in fine style, or at least as much style as a man living alone can manage.
And for half an hour, it was fabulous, everything was shiny and bright, I made a coffee and Irish cream. But then, about half way through my coffee, things started feeling a little too bright. And why were my shoulders suddenly cold? I mean, I wasn't wearing a jumper, but the shivering seemed excessive. Was the room spinning a bit? There was definite spinnage going on.
Fabulousness was swapped for a thick jumper, comfy slippers and a thick blanket (a present from my friend Karen that turned out to be invaluable), shininess swapped for heavy fleece.
I spent the next four-five days with a fever, curled up underneath the blanket, feeling like death its very self. So, basically, I cancelled New Year. It's not happened yet. I'm going to have another one once I finally shake off the lingering traces of whatever it was I caught.
So, on the negative side, 2017 got off to a fairly crappy start (not that it's officially started yet, not in this house). On the positive side, I got to catch up on a lot of shows on Netflix from within my blanket cocoon. Here's a run down!

  • Brooklyn 99 - binge-watched the 3rd series on New Years Eve. As wonderful as ever, the perfect antidote to a burgeoning fever.
  • The Expanse - that's some damn good sci-fi. Highly recommended. Thomas Jane's hair is quite distressing though.
  • Shadowhunters - cheesy garbage. Just needed something trashy as a brain cleanser after the next show on the list
  • The OA - Flatliners with interpretative dance and a lot of WTF. Well made, beautifully acted, but I have no idea what the point was
  • Van Helsing - not great, not terrible. Quite enjoyable in a post-apocalyptic kind of way
  • Troll Hunters - animated thing from Del Toro. Only a few episodes in but enjoying it so far

No writing happened. In fact, this is the longest I've stared at a computer screen in ages and my head is definitely starting to protest. I still have to finish the story I was writing for NaNoWriMo but it's not going to get back to that for at least a couple more days.
So anyway, Happy New Year, I hope it's a decent one for all of us who aren't bigots or fascists.
I'm not going to say anything more about last year - let's just pretend it never happened.
I got some more nice reviews on The Salvager and Heroes Wanted, so thank you to whoever left those. It's impossible to overstate how much those reviews matter, especially to a small-time author like me. I'm just saying, I wouldn't object to a few more...
Right, the world's getting a bit fuzzy again so I'm vanishing back inside my blanket cocoon to watch some more Troll Hunters.

Later, lovely people,
Al

And that's November done!

What a month, eh? I know, I know, let's not talk about it.
Let's be positive - I've done NaNoWriMo! 
Are those straws clutched in my hand? I rather think they might be.
Anyway, I've just gone past the 50,000 word mark on a novel despite the crushing, existential angst that is the default emotion of 2016. I consider that an achievement in itself, although to be honest, this year, just finding the will to get out of bed in the morning should earn you a medal.

This novel, which I've called The Beating of an Iron Heart, is actually the same novel I did for the 2014 NaNoWriMo (then called simply Ironheart - see, I came up with that name first, Marvel! You know, in the unlikely event that it ever gets popular enough to warrant attention from anyone who would care).
And there was another attempt at it earlier this year. Basically, this is my third try at getting this damned story to do what I want. It remains to be seen if this one will work out.
Hope springs eternal, right? Man, that phrase sounds hollow this year.

I don't have much else to offer, it's cold (except in the Arctic, but let's not talk about that either because Jesus Christ it's all just too much), and I'm going to pretend that everything isn't going to hell and have a coffee and Irish Cream to celebrate. I might even have a second chocolate biscuit.

Finally, congratulations to everyone who took part in NaNoWriMo this year!
Let's do it all again in 2017. Hopefully I'll actually have finished this story by then and the world won't have ended. Fingers crossed!

Al

This year...

I can't even make jokes about 2016 being awful any more, it's just taken too much and given back nothing but misery, sadness and fear (unless you're a Leicester City/Chicago Cubs fan).
Seriously, fuck this year.

Since the results of the American elections came in, in between bouts of incoherent screaming, I've come up with several pieces of searing, scorching rhetoric, all of which I've deleted because what the hell's the point? I have no real insights to offer, nor any solutions, and many better writers than I am have already laid out everything I wanted to say.
I'm an utterly obscure sci-fi writer and mediocre artist who lives in the arse end of nowhere in northern England, as middle-aged, middle-class and white as they come. All I can offer is support and sympathy and maybe a distraction from the awfulness that is the world.
For what little it's worth, I've made The Salvager free on Amazon from now until the end of the weekend. It's a fun, lightweight sci-fi story about mechs, friendship and a boisterous, bisexual Irish woman in a wheelchair who pilots a mech. It's not going to change the world at all but it might help you forget about it, at least for a couple of hours.
It does feature, as one reviewer noted, a lot of sand. Lots of sand. It's set on a planet that is largely desert, sand is inevitable. If sand is not appealing then this may not be the book for you.
It's normally priced at 3 bucks (or, the way the British currency's been going, about £100 by the time you read this). If you read it and it think it doesn't completely suck, consider donating the money you didn't pay to one of the many American charities set up to help the people who will likely suffer the most under the rule of the racist orange fuckwit with a ferret nailed to his head.
Here's a non exhaustive list of possibilities, there are many others you could choose from:

The Human Rights Campaign
The Trevor Project
Trans Lifeline
Planned Parenthood
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

And even if you don't have the cash to spare, just give someone who looks like they need it some support, even if it's only a smile or a hug (if they want a hug - I'm not suggesting just leaping on people).

On the day after the election, I saw on twitter that it was also the anniversary of the death of Dylan Thomas, the great Welsh writer. These words from one of his most famous poems seem apposite for these dark times:

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Right, I'm going back to my NaNoWriMo novel, I've fallen behind on my word count.
Stay strong, be good to one another,
Al

Farewell, my friend

I'm afraid this will be a break from my normal, infrequent blogging that generally revolves around me trying to get you to buy whatever book I've just dribbled on to the market (which hardly works anyway). This is a much more personal post. It doesn't fit with the usual theme, it might even be considered self-indulgent but it's my blog and I'm going to indulge. 
I just need to have this written down somewhere, publicly, even if no one ever reads it.

Warning: contains much sadness

Almost exactly eleven years ago, my mum was looking for a dog to have as a companion. Suffering as she was from terminal cancer and all its accompanying treatments, as well as two arthritic hips that had been replaced, the dog needed to be calm, easy-going and friendly - nothing too rambunctious or energetic.
She went with my nan to her local Dogs Trust, a charity for finding homes for dogs, to find one to adopt. While they were there, one of the ones they saw a small, quiet Jack Russell, with broad shoulders, little stubby legs and floppy ears, and my mum...wasn't all that taken so they left empty-handed.

One of the first pics I have of Midge, taken eleven years ago tomorrow

One of the first pics I have of Midge, taken eleven years ago tomorrow

My nan, however, was a lot more enamoured with the little terrier, and badgered my mum into reconsidering. They went back the next day and adopted the Jack Russell, and my mum took her home, named her Midge and made her part of our family. It was one of the best decisions she ever made.

My mum ended up with a dog who was friendly, playful, incredibly easy-going and a joy to have around. She could not have asked for a better companion and I believe to this day that, in those last three years of her life, it was Midge who kept her sane and gave her a reason to get up in the morning.
I feel a huge debt of gratitude to Midge for helping make that time more bearable for my mum.

Once my mum died, in October of 2008, Midge came to me. And again, the presence of such a friendly, loving dog helped to make a horrible time more bearable. She has been my constant companion ever since and I treasure every moment. And I would trade everything I possess to have more of them.
A couple of weeks ago, her appetite started to decline, probably precipitated by a combination of bad teeth - something that had caused her problems in the past - and a long-standing heart murmur that once prompted a vet to complain that it was too loud for her to make out the heartbeat properly. Despite the vet giving her antibiotics for any lingering tooth infection, and steroids to try and boost her appetite, and despite me constantly waving assorted delicious treats in front of her face, she would still only eat in fits and starts and lost a lot of weight.
Eventually, I could persuade her to take nothing but water and she no longer had the strength to stand unaided.
Yesterday afternoon I took her to my local vets, and very calmly and peacefully they sent her off to sleep. Although the vets did all they could to make itt was perhaps the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
Now my house feels empty and quiet. I keep looking over at her bed to check that she's doing okay, except that instead of a pair of brown eyes looking expectantly back at me because it's getting near lunchtime, the bed is empty, and this is wrong.
When I finally went to bed at 3 o clock this morning, having put it off as long as I could by binge-watching Supergirl, I lay in the dark and listened out for the familiar sound of her breathing, and the snoring that was always disproportionately loud for such a small dog, and instead there was silence, and that too was wrong.
From where I sit I can see her water bowl. I need to refill it because it's looking a little empty, but I don't because there's no point, and this is also wrong.
Nothing is right anymore, everything is out of kilter and different and I want my little Midge back.
The universe doesn't work like that, however, so instead I distract myself with computer games and YouTube and Supergirl, and when those sudden, sharp stabs of grief intrude I try to think about all the good times and the happiness that she brought me and my family over the years.

A more flattering angle for her than for me

A more flattering angle for her than for me

I will hold on to the memories of the walks we took, of the way your little legs would scamper across the ground, even of the times you managed to find something truly, truly rancid to roll in; and the times spent playing tug of war with the old football that you stole off two boys who were having a kick about, prompting my mum to have to hand a fiver over to them because you managed to puncture it; and the times when you would clamber up on to my bed and try to dig your way under the duvet first thing in the morning.

Midge, you were the sweetest of dogs and the finest of companions. Thank you, and I hope I was able to give you a good and loving home. Your presence made my life infinitely better and I miss you more than I can put into words.


Farewell, little sausage.