Allen Donnelly

Artist, Author, Whimsy Merchant

This is the official website of the artist and science-fiction/fantasy novelist, Allen Donnelly.

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.

The Well Oiled Machine

That's what this operation is. Oh yes, no doubt about it, the Donnelly publishing machine is a finely honed, perfectly balanced, ruthlessly efficient thing, shark-like in its hunger and pursuit of perfection...and it just released a book a day early because the idiot at the keyboard got the dates wrong.

So yeah, The Salvager is out! Surprise! It certainly was to me when I turned my computer on this morning to do some last-minute, pre-release promo.
Somehow, when setting up The Salvager on Amazon, I was sure I'd set it to release on Tuesday the 25th of July. Convinced of it, I was. Now, the more astute among you will be frowning at this point and going, "But Allen, Tuesday is the 26th," and you would be exactly right.
Somehow, I was absolutely positive that Tuesday - which is to say tomorrow as I'm writing this - was the 25th. I couldn't tell you how, why or when my brain decided to commit to this reality, but here we are.
So, er, yeah - please buy it!
It's a cool story with some of the best characters I've come up with (in my less than humble opinion, anyway).
I'd also love it if you might sling a review my way as well!
You can find it on Goodreads here as well!

Currently I've got it setup as an Amazon exclusive to try and take some advantage of their KDP Select thing, but I'm not a fan of exclusivity so I'll be making it more widely available after the first 90 days are up.
Not a lot happening here. Writing, painting, watching red squirrels nicking bird food...

Salvaging some pride - New Book!

Another hilarious blog title, because my next book's called The Salvager. And the blog's title is "Salvaging some pride". Salvaging, see?
It's a gift, it really is.

So, The Salvager, a fun and exciting tale about friendship, adventure, giant robots, human consciousness and beer, can be yours to own on July the 25th!
In fact, you can pre-order it from Amazon right now and I would greatly appreciate you doing just that. Ah, go on now!
Also, please tell your friends if it sounds like the kind of book they'd be interested in.

I really like this book. Obviously, I'm biased, but I think you might like it too. It was a lot of fun to write and I love the characters.

What else has been happening? Well, not a lot. Once I finally heard back from Angry Robot that they didn't want to publish The Salvager (more fool them. I'll show them, I'll show them all!!!11!one!) I've been working on getting it ready for self-publishing. 
Other than that it's just been slowly walking the dog (oh so slowly, poor old bag of bones - her, that is, not me), trying my hand at watercolours and playing Overwatch (man alive, I'm addicted to that game, but please, for the love of all the gods, nerf Torbjörn!).

That's it really. All that remains for me to say is BUY MY BOOK! Please?
(Man, I've got the hard sell down to a fine art)

I'll leave you with a painting of a, er, whale? Probably? Something like that anyway.

World Book Day (oh, and some other day. Let's not dwell on that)

It's the 3rd of March, 2016, and it's World Book Day according to the hashtag on twitter. So happy World Book Day, everyone! Buy a book, read it, love it, leave a nice review, hug the author and tell them everything's going to be okay - don't worry about lying to us, we're very gullible.
You could even get one of my 3! Hell, you can even get the first one - Crystal Eyes - for free from Smashwords, iTunes and Barnes & Noble!

It is also, as I write this on the 3rd of March, 2016, less than 24 hours away from me, Allen Donnelly, exiting my 30s.
Tomorrow will mark the fortieth anniversary of my birth, way back in 1976.
God that sounds like a long time ago...
I remember thinking that forty seemed so far away, so oooold, as to be almost inconceivable. And yet here we are. Or rather, there I will be tomorrow.
Here's a pic of me at about age 4 or 5 I think. With some rhubarb. Not sure why...
I don't actually care about turning forty, it's just another number and, hopefully, we'll all get there eventually, but I do tend to get a bit maudlin around birthdays - I enjoy wallowing in existential angst too much not to indulge when give such an opportunity.
If nothing else, it offers an opportunity to look back at what you've accomplished over the last decade...

Moving on.
Let us save the wallowing for tomorrow, when I intend to do nothing but play video games, eat unhealthy food and probably drink some wine, and today focus on the here and now.
I'm still working on the sequel to Heroes Wanted. Some books, Heroes Wanted included, flow like water, the words all but tumbling out of me. With other books, like the sequel for example, every sentence is a battle, every word has to be dragged out as if it were blood from a stone. Every time you think you've got a hold on it, it twists in your grasp and you need to shift directions.
This one's been a battle and I'm still not done.

I've still not heard anything back about The Salvager from the Angry Robot open submissions thing. I desperately want to get that book out there because I think it's awesome but it's going to have to wait; tough for an impatient old man like myself.

Away from literature, I'm trying to get better at the arting and the drawing (which I tend to post on my Tumblr and DeviantArt pages). This drawing is supposed to be Furiosa from Mad Max, by the way. Just in case you were wondering.
I might try sticking some of the less crappy efforts on Etsy or something. Can't make any less money from it than I do from the book sales...

Well, I've managed to avoid doing a morning's work by writing this blog post so I guess it's lunchtime and I'm a couple of hours closer to being 40.

Have a great day!

It's Christmas Time!

And this Christmas, why not give the gift of Crystal? My critically acclaimed (by at least a couple of people on Amazon and Goodreads - that counts, right?) first novel, Crystal Eyes, is now FREE!

Unless you want it from Amazon, that is. They won't let you set the price of books to nothing so it's stuck at the exorbitant price of 99 cents on there.
I mean, I have no objections to you going to Amazon and giving me money for it - quite the reverse, in fact - but you can get it for nowt from pretty much everywhere else.

Am I not generous? Am I not benevolent? Am I not desperate for attention? The answer to one of those questions is definitely "Yes", I'll leave it to you to decide which one of them it is.

In other news, I've sent The Salvager in to Angry Robot's open submissions thing. As always, throwing anything at the world of publishers is a long shot, but so it goes. We'll see in a couple of months I guess. 
If that doesn't work then I might try an agent, or maybe I'll just put it up myself like I have with the last three.
I think it's a cool story (I'm biased, obviously) and Aimee, one of the main characters, is definitely a favourite of mine.
Right now, I'm still working on the sequel to Heroes Wanted, tentatively titled...erm...I got nothing so far. Heroes Wanted 2: Hero Harder. I dunno, it's a work in progress.

As for Christmas itself, I've done nothing. Well, that's not completely true - I've bought some food and sent some Christmas cards. The festive spirit is really something that happens to other people.
Also, I understand that some film or another has just come out that people are excited about. Tragically, thanks to my ancient, decrepit dog and her knackered heart, I'm not going to be able to go to the cinema to see it as I'm reluctant to leave her on her own for that long.
I suppose it's theoretically possible that I might be able to avoid spoilers until it comes out on disc or streaming but let's face it, the odds are not in my favour on this one.
Ah well, I look forward to seeing it in a few months. I'm talking about Star Wars, by the way. Did that need saying? Probably not but I thought I'd better be clear.

Finally, let me leave you with the traditional farewell for this time of year...
May the Force be with you!

And a merry Christmas as well, I guess.