Coming next!

1 Jan

I’ve spent the day sorting out the cover for my next release. I’ve finally decide to release another Sherlock Holmes story as a stand alone ebook.

I haven’t decided on an official price yet but it’ll probably be about $1.50 or £1.20 in the UK. It may not go on sale to US markets due to copyright issues but I’ll definitely be selling it in the UK through Smashwords.

I hope all the Sherlock fans support this release and buy it!

Summing up 2016

31 Dec

So to sum up my year:-

Started (and finished) a new job.
Wrote a novel in 28 days (it’s still in edits!).
Submitted over 25 stories.
Sold nothing.
Received 2 free contributor copies of an anthology I’m in.
Wrote 87 new short stories.
Moved house.
Tried & failed NaNoWriMo.
Got older.

Swimming In Jelly [a silly poem]

17 Dec

Swimming In Jelly, By Ray Daley

Let’s all go swimming, go swimming in jelly, Jilly & Jimmy & Bob,
Just don’t crazy, don’t invite Daisy & certainly don’t invite Rob!
We can 3 have fun & when we’re all done we can have trifle for tea.
So let’s all go swimming, go swimming in jelly, what a wonderful thing it’ll be.

THE END.

Deconstructing Magic

14 Dec

CAUTION! CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT A MAGIC TRICK! STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW HOW IT’S DONE!

Today I’m writing about something that interests me very much, the world of magic and illusion. Today I’m going to be explaining how a trick is performed.

Today’s trick is “The Mad Scientist” as performed by “Professor” Al Carthy. I first saw this trick performed when I was about 8, whilst watching The Paul Daniels Magic Show.

I had a MASSIVE fear of Frankenstein (at the time made even worse after seeing “Carry On Screaming“) so seeing this illusion scared 7 shades of shit out of a very young me.

Apparently, Al is STILL performing this trick today, almost 40 yrs later!

I’ll include links to 2 different performances of the trick as there are some slight variations between the two. I’ve been a massive fan of how tricks work for a long time and it’s the main reason why I like Penn & Teller, they like to explain how some tricks are done.

I find I appreciate the staging of an illusion more if I know how it was done.

Version #1:-

This is the trick in what I believe to be it’s original incarnation.
“The Scientist” walks out, carrying the top half of his creation. Walks over to the animation machine (stage left) and places the top half of the creation onto the table top.

He examines the creation (vanishing behind the animation machine) then quickly reappears, repositioning the creation to go and get the creation’s legs from around the front.

He demonstrates how the legs work then goes behind the creation to attach them. He then moves the creation around to the front of the animation machine and plugs the creation in, then fires the machine up, bringing the creation to life!

The creation then walks around, up some steps, almost falling over but amazingly managing to hang at a seemingly impossible angle. The creation rights itself, walks back down the stairs where The Scientist deactivates it & begins reading his notes.

The creation unplugs itself, walks over to The Scientist who turns around, then the creation pulls off The Scientist’s head, who falls to the ground, apparently dead.

In this version of the trick, the creation breaks character at the end and Al takes his bow.

#

Version 2:-

This is what I call the “scary version”, it’s my belief that this is the version I saw on the Paul Daniels show near Halloween.

“The Scientist” walks out, carrying the top half of his creation. Walks over to the animation machine (stage left) and places the top half of the creation onto the table top, he then gets the creation’s legs from around the front.

He demonstrates how the legs work then goes behind the creation to attach them. He then moves the creation around to the front of the animation machine and plugs the creation in, then fires the machine up, bringing the creation to life!

The creation then walks around, up some steps, almost falling over but amazingly managing to hang at a seemingly impossible angle. The creation rights itself, walks back down the stairs where The Scientist deactivates it & begins reading his notes.

The creation unplugs itself, walks over to The Scientist who turns around, then the creation pulls off The Scientist’s head, who falls to the ground, apparently dead.

#

How it’s done.

In version 1 that’s Al walking out with a dummy scientist attached to the back of him. His legs are disguised under the lab coat. Al positions himself into the table, bending his legs.

At this point, the assistant who is playing the scientist is already under the “animation machine” and helps Al remove the dummy, which is why the scientist vanished from view for a moment.

It’s to allow the assistant to stow the dummy & swap places wearing an identical costume.

In version 2, Al is being carried by the assistant with his legs hidden by the lab coat. When the assistant places Al onto the “animation machine”, I believe Al is putting on his shoes.

The assistant then goes around to the front of the animation machine and gets the fake legs, showing how they work as a distraction to allow Al time to secure his shoes.

As the assistant is pretending to connect Al to his “legs”, the fake legs are being stowed in the same compartment where the dummy of the fake scientist was placed.

Al is then moved into position and connected up to the “animation machine”. Al does some simple robotic actions and walking. His deliberate slow small steps are established to show how “the creation” walks.

When he reaches the middle of the top step, he stops there for a reason. It’s the area rigged for the next part of the trick. As Al reaches that step, he slides his shoes into some preset rods that allow him to do the forward lead without falling.

After the “lean” you’ll see Al taking 2 slight steps backwards, that’s to release himself from the rods. It’s just then a matter of walking down, positioning himself for the assistant and waiting for his musical cue to pull off the scientists head.

Obviously it’s a fake head, the assistant is much smaller & wearing the fake head & neck rig on their shoulders. As the “scientist” falls, you’ll note the assistant places their hand on Al’s arm to guide their fall safely.

I assume this also done to ensure the fake shoulders rig doesn’t come off in the fall.

In the Paul Daniels version (version 2) the trick ends with the creation (Al) holding the scientists head in the air. However, in version 1 the creation places the fake head onto the animation machine & Al breaks character, takes his bow & smiles.

In no version of this trick do we ever see the scientist move after the end.

#

So that’s how this excellent and extremely entertaining trick is performed.

The Final Trump [a poem]

8 Dec
The Final Trump, by Ray Daley.
 
America’s retractions,
Of Freedom in fractions,
Sounds unlikely to exist.
But if done so slow,
That the people don’t know,
Then no-one is likely to resist.
 
The End. (It’ll be here before you know it.)

NaNoWriMo 2016, Lessons Learned

6 Dec

So I thought that now we’re almost a week into final month of 2016, I’d tell you how my NaNoWriMo went this year. It failed.

I did not write 50,000 words of novel. In fact, I bailed on day 4.

On day 1 I wrote 2212 words.
On day 2 I wrote 2288 words.
On day 3 I wrote 1730 words.

I called my failure on day 4 having written a total of 6230 words towards a new novel. So why was this?

I called the close of play for several reasons.

1) I knew I couldn’t sustain a narrative with only 1 character.
2) I hadn’t done any prep work.
3) The research was digging into my writing time.
4) I decided too late to actually take part.
5) I’d not long moved house.

So what did I do for the rest of NaNoWriMo?

I left it a few days before deciding I’d still like to write stuff, so I went the NaNoRebel route aiming for 50k of anything that’s not a novel.

How did I fare with that task? Again, I failed.

To be precise, I wrote 20 complete short stories totalling 28,887 words. While this may not be 50k, I counted it as a personal victory for me.

It’s 20 stories that I didn’t have before November.
20 stories I can potentially send out to submission.

I didn’t write every day. But I made a lot more words than I expected to.

I don’t see my not hitting 50k for either reason as an actual fail.
I’ve written stuff that didn’t exist before. I wrote anything at all!
That’s a big thing for me, considering how my brain gets on certain days.

What I’m saying is, take what you will from your NaNo experience.
You might not have written a novel, or reached 50k but what ever you DID accomplish was through your own hard work.

Kid J [flash fic]

24 Nov

a-boy-and-his-dog-is-by-sandara

Kid J

By Ray Daley

7th August 2016

Completed 22/11/16

(inspired by A Boy and His Dog by Sandara)

“When I was a kid, you had to be careful when the battery finally went flat. Several million tons of metal falling from the sky at high velocity is deadly. But kids manage to find the humour in any situation. You could hear them shouting from miles off into the distance ‘Big Dogs! Landing On My Face!‘ It always made me laugh. Until it almost happened to me. It’s not a laughing matter.”

That was Old Ken, spinning his war stories to anyone that’d listen. Rocking in his busted up rocking chair, missing one leg below the knee and a right arm. But he’d always say “Shake!” and offer his stump, just to freak the normals out.

You don’t see the big ones very often now. It’s mostly the wreckage of those long since crashed.

That’s why I became a scrapper.

Three million tons of metal don’t just get up and walk away, and we’re pretty lucky they don’t. I never could understand why those old Military programmers gave Big Dog the ability to jump over a mile straight up. Yeah, admittedly it made for easy going when you came across ravines, cliffs and chasms but how often was it a patrol was going to come across a mountain they couldn’t just blast the shit out of?

Almost never. And those photonic laser cannons were always charging, as long as there was daylight.

Did I ever mention that Rendii has three suns? If if ain’t solar powered, it ain’t worth shit these days.

#

So I’d spotted this new wreck, came down about a month ago now.

The dust clouds had only just cleared the day I headed out there. You gotta get up pretty early if you want the primo pickings, scrap-wise.

It took the best part of a day, heading out to the crater on foot. Man, if I could just find one of those old thruster packs! I’d be the envy of every scrapper from here to Mansoor Prime. Kid J, King of the Scrappers.

Most wrecks, I normally got there third or fourth. There’d still be some good pickings but all the best systems would be long gone, stripped by the first comers. At least I was never a Lucy Latecomer. They were left with the raw metal. Man, I hate those bastards! If I ever start heading down that rocky road, shoot me in the fucking head, okay?

So there I was, walking through the last of the falling dust clouds, all my sensors hiked up three points past the safe limit.

But safe limits are for infants and Lucy Latecomers. “No risk, no reward!” as Old Ken always says, in his lucid moments. He don’t get many of those these days, I can tell you.

So like I was saying, all my sensors were racked up in the red zone.

And then I got a ping.

That’s a bad thing, before you ask.

The thing about a wrecked Big Dog? They’re all supposed to be dead, no functioning tech. Made ’em that much easier to strip down.

Yet here was this one, pinging away like a fucking alarm clock or some shit like that.

#

Wake up, kid.”

“Huh?”

I said wake the hell up kid, I need your eyes.”

What the hell? I opened my eyes and I could see… shit, no way. “Big Dog?”

In flesh. So to speak. You fully functional again then kid?

No way. It wasn’t possible. This hulk had fallen three miles and hit the ground hard. No way was it working. They never worked!

Yet here I am, kid. Who ya gonna believe, some old one legged drunk telling his war stories or your own eyes?

I’m dreaming. I must have tripped over a rock and hit my head. Yeah, that’s it. This is all a horrible dream.

Pretty lucid, if it is kid. In fucking three dee, too. And colour! You know how hard it is to dream in colour?

I looked over at the metal beast.

Can that shit kid. Call me Big Dog.”

“I can hear you in my head. What’s up with that?” Old Ken had always told us they spoke, just not like this.

Tech Sergeant? Nine stripes? That old fart still alive then? Boy, is he gonna lose his shit when he sees me.”

“You know Old Ken?” I asked.

The damn thing laughed. How can an AI construct laugh?

It’s fucking funny kid. That ain’t what I used to call him though. Are we gonna see him any time soon?

I looked at Big Dog. I could see its running lights blinking off and on. It appeared to be mostly intact. “Can you give me a systems report, Big Dog?”

Minor hydraulic leak in my front left leg. Main sensor array needs a reboot. That’s why I hijacked your sensors. Sniffed a bunch of real good cerebrum coming my way then piggybacked myself on top of you. Right now, your ass is mine, so to speak. Go ahead, try to move.”

I could look left and right, I could breath and I could open and close my eyes. And I could talk. Nothing else was responding to instructions. “Ah, I did fall and hit my head then. I guess this is a dream? Must have damaged my spine, that’s why I can’t move. I must be paralysed.”

Then without any notification by me, my right arm started to wave up and down.

“I didn’t do that. And I can’t feel my arm moving either. I should at least feel the wind.”

Big Dog laughed again, that weird synthesized chuckle. “Hi mom! Look, no strings!

Huh? What the hell is wrong with me?

It’s me, you dummy! I’m moving your arm. And that breeze feels pretty damn fine. Eleven degrees. Been a good long time since I had access to such fine tuned sensors, I can tell you!

That was slightly disturbing. “Okay then. I guess you’re in my head, right?”

Fucking A.” Big Dog had an odd way of talking. Almost human, or heavily influenced by same.

I groaned. “If that means yes, okay then. At least give me control of my arms and legs so I can get up and see if I can get you going again?”

And just like that, it was like a switch went on. I stood up and walked over to Big Dog. “Everything appears to be in order. If I recall, there’s an inspection hatch in your left rear ankle, right?”

That’s right kid. That’s you then, Kid J, according to the ident?

“Fucking A.”

Big Dog chuckled again. I guess I was getting used to him now. “You can open the panel now kid, I deactivated the shock field. By the way, there’s a rifle in there. Best you gear up. I’m getting feedback. And that can only mean bad things are heading this way. Have you got any comms with your home base on that headset of yours?

Ah. So Big Dog hadn’t had access to everything then?

I ain’t no snooper, kid. I just checked the basics. Who you were and what gear you had. Headset weren’t listed on the manifest.”

Good to know. Big Dog seemed like an honest sort. Time for me to reciprocate. “Because it’s busted, just wearing it for show. Plus it does a good job of keeping the sand out of my ears. I think if you bypass primary buffers you should be able do self repair on that leak. It should get you fully ambulatory again. We going for a walk then?”

I got a double beep in my ear.

Estimating completion of self repair in about sixty seconds. Here’s a free piece of advice kid, start pulling back now. I’m tracking forty sand tanks heading right towards our location. And they sure as hell ain’t coming to wish us a Merry Christmas, okay? I calculate they’ll be here in about eight minutes. That’s more than enough time for you get to a safe distance. As soon as I’m fixed I’m gonna bounce. That don’t mean I’m leaving you, I’m just attacking them.”

“But I could…”

No buts kid. You wouldn’t last ten seconds against one sand tank, let alone forty. I calculate my chances of success in destroying them all are two percent. Now be a good kid, get your ass to safety. Tell Old K9 I miss him.”

“K9?” I asked.

Old Ken. It’s an old joke, he can explain it. Repairs complete. Start running back the way you came. Maybe ask Old K9 about that tech he’s got in his trunk, okay? Big Dog out.”

And just like that, he was gone. Launching himself off towards the incoming sand tanks.

As I was running, I could hear him firing everything in his arsenal down at them.

Then their final transmission. “BIG DOGS! LANDING ON MY…

#

We never saw those sand tanks. I guess Big Dog under estimated his abilities.

“What did he say, Kid?” Old Ken just sat there in his rocker, laughing his ass off.

“Two percent, K9. And that he missed you. You gonna explain what’s so funny?”

Old Ken just pushed the metal trunk over to me. “Just take it. If Big Dog thought you could use it, I guess I can let it go. You’ll need to fix it though.”

I flipped the lid open and read the ID tag.

Mark Four Thruster Pack. Solar Powered.

“You know something Kid. Me and Big Dog, used to have a saying, back in the old days. He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.”


As I slung the thruster pack over my shoulder I shrugged at Old Ken. “And that applies how?”

“I’m still here ain’t I Kid? And so are you. Think on that, and spare a thought for old Big Dog.”

I smiled. “Big Dog. You sympathetic bastard!”

Old Ken laughed. “That he was Kid. That he was. So you want that thing?”

I nodded. “Sure. I think I can use this.”

THE END.