Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Songs to give you the shivers

A while ago, I wrote this passage:

“Music was a language that couldn’t be translated. You heard it in the way people fumbled to explain why they loved a song, before reaching for ‘you have to listen to it’. You saw it in the way people drove with their windows rolled down and radios turned up, the way they pressed their favourite records upon friends, the way courting lovers made cassettes for each other to express the inexpressible. They wanted to share in the only way they could. Yes, a musician could describe what he technically admired about a song in terms of keys, chords and melodies, or look at sheet music to understand the notes that must be played, although it didn’t pass on what gave music the potential to be so powerful and infectious. Styles came and went, and different genres and bands did it for different people, but Murmur had come to understand that the common thread running through them all could be summed up in one word: heart. All great music derived from this human core; the passion, pain or joy that artist poured into the song and transmitted to the listener. Without heart, a song was nothing more than an empty shell.”

In this spirit, I want to share some songs that have really been doing it for me recently (and yes, I did go on a spending spree after reading Pitchfork’s Top 50 albums of 2013). These songs give me the shivers.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Beat the Slush Pile #1 - Erotica

You've all heard the advice about submissions to agents and publishers. Read the guidelines. Double space. Use a clear font. Be professional. Be courteous. Conform!

I say fuck that. Your standard approach is just going to earn you a slot in the wobbly slush pile, where it will fester for months underneath a thousand other novels written by other professional, courteous, conformist authors. You, dear writer, are special. Way more special than all the other special people out there. Why not show it to the publisher with a grand gesture that will inspire awe and ensure a six-figure advance?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why Authors Shouldn't Think Too Hard About Symbolism

I love this story about a young student who wrote to authors asking them about their use of symbolism in their work.

What I find more often than not is that when I finish a piece of work and give it a last read, I discover many happy accidents of symbolism—which means my subconscious has been churning away and doing the work for me. Not that it particularly matters, in my view, as what I write and what somebody reads are two completely different entities.

Killer Cows: When Life Imitates Art

This story is so close to the start of Apocalypse Cow, in which a single zombie cow escapes from a slaughterhouse and kicks off an animal apocalypse, that even I'm a bit scared.

I  think it may be time to start a website tracking bovicides, as they seem to be growing. We need a Cowsplatometer!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Why the Term ‘Reverse Racism’ Should Be Scrapped

As of late, I’ve been stumbling across a landslide of links to articles and videos posted by friends about the concept of reverse racism, and how it doesn’t exist.

Reverse racism, in case you didn’t know, is when people of colour are accused of making generalized negative comments about the pigmentally challenged (my own PC term, feel free to appropriate it for your personal use if you wish to be sensitive around touchy white folks).

Now, the reason I am writing this on my blog instead of the comments thread on one of these linked pieces is that a white person popping up in such a racism discussion to do anything apart from virtually nod his head in agreement sets pulses all a-flutter.

So, if you have chanced upon this and don’t want to read an opinion that challenges this way of thinking, look away now.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Presenting the must-have vintage mobile communications transport device for hipsters!

This weekend, my wife Nats and I were discussing ways to make more money. Well, Nats, I believe I have cracked it. I have yet to set an RRP for this amazing product, but considering house prices in London and the fact this could serve as a mobile home as well as a mobile phone/transport device, I'm thinking of setting the bar as high as the penny farthing upon which it is based.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Satan Wants YOU! to Listen to Peter Andre

At the heart of my novel Wannabes, a sample of which you can read here, is a simple theory: that those fuming religious extremists who believe Rock (and any other kind of music with energy, passion and a bit of swagger) is the devil’s music have got it arse-for-tit.

The whole ethos of spirituality, of religion, is supposedly about aspiring to be somebody better, a being of pure love closer to God, and what better eases such an ascent than music that comes from the heart, music that is truly creative and makes the listener feel something?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I have writer's vacuum, but at least I saved a frog

I’m not producing a damn thing at the moment, yet I don’t consider myself to be suffering from writer’s block. ‘Block’ suggests that there exists a great reservoir of words hanging dense and fluid in mind, and that to unleash the flood all I have to do is roll aside that mental stone, pull the pesky little boy’s thumb out of the dike and fuck the risk of Holland flooding, or place an oversized crate of dynamite at the base of the dam and try not to get drowned in a tumultuous, roiling, foaming, crashing wave of coruscating verbiage. 

I have no sense of there being any such reservoir, which you may consider no bad thing given the potential of unleashing so many unnecessary adjectives. I detect nothing behind my absence of inspiration and words. In short, I have writer’s vacuum. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Authors and the Agent Conundrum

A few weeks ago, I gave this piece of advice on Chuck Sambuchino’s blog over at Writer's Digest:

You may have to compromise to gain commercial success. As an artist working in a commercially driven industry, you could face an uncomfortable choice. Your agent and publisher will usually look at your labour of love with an eye on what is right for the market, not what is right for your vision. Publishing is an industry, and industries want to make money (although kudos and credibility in the form of prizes or critical acclaim from the intelligentsia form a lesser part of the equation). It is up to you whether you refuse to compromise your vision, and thus run the risk of your career facing a potentially fatal setback, or accede to their requests. Just make sure you can live with the consequences of your decision.

Given word count restraints, I didn’t have space to go as deeply into this as I would have liked, but a conversation with a friend the other day reminded me I had more to say. My friend, a budding writer, sent her manuscript off to an agent about two months ago. The agent got back to her expressing an interest in working with her. A big ‘Yay!’ is in order, right? Well, yes and no.

Friday, November 01, 2013

7 Things I've Learned so Far

I don't normally do writing advice, since I generally feel that I have no idea what I'm doing, but Chuck Sambuchino asked me to contribute to his blog over at Writer's Digest, so I obliged. Below is what I told him.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cruel Britannia is done

It's been a long slog, but Cruel Britannia, the follow-up to Apocalypse Cow, is now done. If you want to have a sneaky peek at the first six chapters, look no further than here.

Geldof and Lesley are back, along with a surprise return and many new characters as Britain finds itself on the verge of obliteration.

I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Zombie cows in London

The costumes have been hired for our zombie cow book trailer in London this September. Below is what we will be wearing.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Volunteer as a Zombie Cow for the Day

I’m sure we can all agree that volunteering is a beautiful, selfless thing to do. There are so many disadvantaged groups that could benefit from a little of our time: un-stroked kittens;  elderly men with bad combovers that need held down by helping hands so they don’t undulate in the wind like seaweed; people suffering from the delusion that Jeremy Clarkson isn’t an enormous twat.

However, being a selfish bastard, I’m not going to ask you to help any of these people. I want you to serve for the charity of me. Not enough people are buying my book, which means I can’t feed my cigar, caviar and champagne habit. This is a tremendously tragic travesty, which I aim to remedy with your help.

Since Apocalypse Cow has a whiff of the B-movie about it, I plan to produce a homemade book trailer while simultaneously raising awareness of the book. How? This September, I am going to hire a panto cow outfit. I will then get some Apocalypse Cow posters pinned back and front and film the cow running wild around London and Glasgow, scaring the shit out of passers-by while I film.

So, how can you help?

1. You can volunteer to be a zombie cow or zombie cow victim for the day. The dates I am thinking of at the moment are Wednesday September 11 in Glasgow, from 11am to 5pm, and Saturday September 14 in London, from 9am-4pm. I can promise you a fun day out, credit on the film and alcoholic beverages while we run around making tits of ourselves.

2. Film yourself, your friends, your dollies, your Star Wars figure collection or your beloved hamster being attacked by a zombie animal of some variety and send the clip to me. It can be as ridiculous as you want it to be. Dialogue, scene and setting I leave entirely up to you.

3. You can send me a large sum of cash so I can hire Peter Jackson to produce the trailer for me in the style of Bad Taste or Braindead. I think his rates have gone up since those days, so be generous. I'll accept returnable bottles (as long as you haven’t jammed cigarette ends into them) and food stamps.

In case you are wondering if this is a bad joke of the kind served up in my book on every other page, it isn’t. I am perfectly serious and would very much appreciate whatever time people are willing to give up.
If you liked Apocalypse Cow and want to see more books in that vein, or if you are simply looking for some shits and giggles, drop me a line through Twitter, my Facebook author page or by email.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Ain't getting on no plane? Shut up, fool, and fly BA.

Mr. T demonstrates how planes fly. Sort of.

I hate flying. I really hate flying. I really really…well, you get the idea.

I’m the source of those noxious fear farts that get sucked up by the air conditioning to recirculate with decreasing intensity, like the echo of a grating voice in cavernous room.

I’m the person who claws big chunks out of the armrests any time the plane so much as wiggles. No matter how many analogies I draw with bumpy roads I always think I’m going to die.

I’ve been on a small jet that hit the wake turbulence of another plane on the way from Juba to Nairobi, making it feel as though a giant had grabbed the tail fin and was using the aircraft to scratch his hairy arse crack.

I’ve flown Tajik airlines, where the hostess told us the oxygen masks were ‘a mixture of fire and oil’ before the rumble of take-off made panels fall open and show exposed wiring.

I’ve been on a plane that had to turn back and make an emergency landing after getting a cracked windscreen on the way to Moscow.

You would think I wouldn’t fly any longer, but I have to: for work and to visit family. And so, rather than spend the rest of my life in a fear funk, I have decided to start a new airline for all those like me.

Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to have Mr. T—BA Baracus of A-Team fame—come onboard as founding partner of our new airline, which I can now unveil:

BA Airlines
Aint’ getting on no plane? Shut up, fool, and fly BA

Our business model is simple. The night before you are due to fly, we give you a nice glass of warm milk. While you are ‘sleeping’, our staff bundle you onto a comfy stretcher, pop you into the back of an ambulance and shuttle you to your plane. You will wake up in a recovery room at your destination.

Best of all, our prices are competitive. With no need for in-flight services such as food or movies, and no need for seats, we simply slide the passengers into pods, allowing us to pack three times as many passengers onto flights and cut out all the overheads.

Add in the fact that our all of the planes in our fleet will be fitted with giant dungarees and draped with gold chains, and that the engines will be moulded and painted to look like bulging biceps, and I'm sure you will agree this is a winning business model.

Mr. T and I hope to have our first flights up-and-running by the end of 2014.

Any potential investors who wish to get in on the ground level on this astonishing venture can send money to my bank account, details of which will be made available upon request.

Don’t be a sucker. Fly BA.

Monday, July 01, 2013

New writing contest

I'm a big fan of writing contests. They give you focus, a deadline and kudos in victory, which you can then use when approaching agents and publishers.

I'm an even bigger fan of first-novel awards, as winning the Terry Pratchett prize (see how I'm not afraid to name drop) got me started.

So, I was pleased to see the inception of the Bath Novel Award.

If you are unpublished author with a work in progress, or a completed novel, get over there right now and enter.

Friday, May 17, 2013

And the winners are...

And so, the two winners of signed copies of Apocalypse Cow are:

Gerard R Burge, for the Top Gear combine harvester with flamethrower attachment, something I wish I had written into the book. Could just imagine Clarkson overrun in a field, fighting to the last, before finally being pumped and gored.

Jas Young, for a bizarre crocheted crossbow that fires knitting needles up cows' nostrils.

Please send your home addresses to freelancelogan@fastmail.co.uk.

Sorry for the delay in picking winners. I have spent most of this week being rather sick.


Thursday, May 09, 2013

Win Signed Copies of Apocalypse Cow

Today, the UK paperback of Apocalypse Cow, winner of the inaugural Terry Pratchett Prize, goes on sale. To mark this occasion of global import, I am giving away two signed and personalized copies, which I will post to anywhere in the world.

To enter the competition, simply answer the question below and post your response either as a comment on this blog, as a message to @MichaelLogan on Twitter, or as a comment on my Facebook author page.

The question is: If you were attacked by a zombie cow, what method and/or weapon would you employ to defend yourself?

The two funniest, and punniest, answers will win the books. If you lose, don't worry: it's on sale in all the usual places, priced at around six quid.

The competition will run until the end of Monday 13 May, and winners will be announced the day after. I will then arrange to get your home addresses privately, as we don’t want your online stalkers to find out where you live.

As to why you should want to win a book about zombie cows, here is what the critics think:

'Apocalypse Cow made me snort with laughter' - Terry Pratchett

'"This clever and very funny twist on the traditional zombie novel is exceedingly well executed (it approaches but never quite steps into parody territory), and it ends with a scene that pretty much demands a sequel. Great stuff for horror and fantasy fans"' - Booklist (Starred Review)

'A comic, blood-soaked romp through the UK, at times a hilarious social satire, and at others an action-packed gore fest, sure to please fans of the traditional zombie story...an accomplished novel by a promising writer' - Press Association

'Logan has a flair for unique description ... and for painting a mental picture almost photographic in its clarity. An impressive start for an author who’s going places' - Publishers Weekly

'Michael Logan gives us a fast-paced dark comedy stuffed with violence, sprinkled with sex, reminiscent of Tom Sharpe, including witty lines and observations that are Pratchett-esque in their pointiness' - Sunday Express

'Ploughs the same furrows as Shaun of the Dead, wonderfully parodying the zombie and survival horror genre, but at the same time paying homage to it...worthy of a place amongst the best apocalyptic fiction...eminently readable, brilliantly written and side-splitting funny' - Bookgeeks.co.uk

'Logan manages to find a great balance between the dark and disturbing and the quirky and hilarious, all the while intermingling plotlines like a seasoned pro' - Rue Morgue

'This is one of the funniest zombie books I’ve ever read. Michael Logan has created a great new entry in the genre, and promises to be a must-read author' - Night Owl Reviews

'Michael Logan's black comedy is an absurd yet utterly addictive read' - Stylist Magazine