BOOK LAUNCH 101: THE WORLD WE LIVE IN

The modern book launch: how do you expect to be taken seriously as a writer if you can’t make a video?

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AND YES, THERE’S A VIDEO!!!

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GET UP! GET DOWN! GET THE TRAIN!

Another video from my adopted country, this time from my adopted city.

Here’s what we do when WE go to work!

The video from one man flash mob, social artist Peter Sharp, has attracted attention from around the world.

Mr Sharp said it was a way to help people transition from “fear-based public spaces to love-based public spaces”.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but on the train it’s like this crazy void where people just disconnect from life and the opportunities sitting next to them,” he said.

Well, if you’re not going to sit there on the way to work and read one of my books, like my niece does – God bless her cotton socks! – then you might as well be up and dancing!

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PINK AND HER VIETNAM VET DAD

The amazing Pink brings her Vietnam Vet dad on stage to perform a song he wrote himself about the war.

Someone described this as Full Metal Chills. I agree.

Warbaby, Colin Falconer

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LETS ALL PLAY A TRICK ON A HOMELESS PERSON

I’m feeling pretty crap at the moment, life has not been good lately, so I thought I’d make myself feel better by playing a trick on a homeless person.

Let’s rip up their sign!!

That was fun. To have even more fun, you can donate to this homeless veteran’s fund right here.

It could help the guy get an apartment, food for six months, new clothes for job interviews, maybe even start a new life. I hope so.

So here it is. I’m playing it forward. Nothing like a good prank.

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THE JOYS OF RESEARCH #2: SIBERIA. MIDNIGHT. JUST YOUR PAJAMAS.

So this time it was the Trans Siberian Express from Moscow to Vladivostock. Photo: Jim LinwoodWe had got as far as the tundra and so far no one had thrown up in the dining car. Things were looking good.

There were four people in our cabin; a Dutchman, well into his sixties; a young English bloke; and us. The Dutch guy was very quiet and kept himself to himself, sitting on his bunk, staring out of the window or reading paperback.

Late one night, somewhere in Siberia, we pulled into a train station. I sat up. The Dutch guy got out of his bunk, put on his dressing gown, and said we seemed to be stopping for a while and that he was going to stretch his legs. The others were still asleep.

After a while I dozed off again, too.

photo: Jim LinwoodWhen I woke we were rattling away again, the vast tundra stretching out either side. The Dutch guy – never did find out his name – was not in his bunk. Wonder where he went? Must be in the dining car.

As the morning passed and he didn’t come back from breakfast, we started wondering aloud where he was. We asked questions of other passengers. Finally we told the conductor, who organised a search.

He was no longer on the train. But is passport was still in backpack. So were his wallet and all his credit cards.

Bugger.

Dutch train passengers outside the Netherlands Consulate in Omsk

Dutch train passengers outside the Netherlands Consulate in Omsk

Never did find out what happened to him. Sometimes I imagine him standing on a deserted train station, in the middle of the vast tundra wastes, in his paisley dressing gown and slippers, waiting for the next train and nervously eying the wolves watching him from the end of the platform.

Or toiling in a windswept prison farm, somewhere near Omsk, eating gruel and tearing at a moldy hunk of stale bread with frost-blackened fingers.

How did he miss the train? I’ll never know.

But at least the story had a happy ending. He left behind some rather tasty poffertjes in his backpack. They were delicious.

FRIDAY: the joys of research #3: DOGS ON A TRAIN

Silk Road, Colin Falconer, Genghis Khan

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WHY I’M PROUD TO BE AUSTRALIAN TODAY

The video was made by Sydney Macquarie University media and law student Kamal Saleh, as a social experiment to test if anti-Islamic views in Australia were as widespread as the media would have us believe.

“This video is hard proof that the Australian public do not welcome hate against Muslims,” he said. “Yes it does occur but it is clearly not welcome.”

The footage was shot at Hyde Park in Sydney on 2nd October, between 2pm and 5pm

Mr Saleh said he expected most people would ignore the Muslim woman and boy who participated in the experiment. Instead almost every person who witnessed the attacks sought to intervene.

Well done, Australia. Hope for humanity yet.

Silk Road, Colin Falconer, Genghis Khan

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the joys of research #1: BIG CHUCK IN LITTLE CHINA

photo: jan reurink

photo: jan reurink

I was finishing the research for SILK ROAD. We were on a train from Xian to Kashgar, three days that would take us south of the Great Wall, skirt the Taklimakan desert and on towards the Pamir Mountains and the distant Stans – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan.

It was dinner time. We went into the dining car and sat down. The menu was in Mandarin, of course, but never mind, once we saw something we liked on another table we would just point.

We looked around. There was nothing that didn’t look like gristle floating in fat.

"So who's turn to throw up and who's turn to mop?"

“So who’s turn to throw up and who’s turn to mop?”

So we ordered two beers while we thought about it. The beers came warm, in a big wooden bowl.

Okay, never had beer that way before. Something new.

The guy sitting at the table in front of us stood up and patted his belly with both hands. Wow, he must have enjoyed whatever he had.

Or maybe not so much.

Because next thing, he projectile vomited down the aisle of the dining car. It hit the door behind us like pellets out of a shotgun. There was a stunned silence.

The chef is informed his services are no longer required

The chef is informed his services are no longer required

The guy nodded and walked out. The waitresses ran up with a cloth and a bucket of water and gave them to his wife. She then got down on her hands and knees and started mopping up after him.

We finished our beers. The waitress came over and pointed to the menu. We shook our heads. What’s: ‘Thanks but we’ve lost our appetite,’ in Mandarin?

We lived on biscuits and chocolate bars the next three days. Never mind, when we got to Kashgar, things were bound to get better.

We reached our hotel. There was a tourist standing outside.

We waved. He leaned over and threw up.

Welcome to the world of research.

Wednesday: The Joys of Research #2. Why not to get off a train in Siberia in the middle of the night.

Silk Road, Colin Falconer, Genghis Khan

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THE DANGERS OF OMNIPOTENT VOICE IN FICTION

A very funny video, illustrating the dangers of omnipotent voice in fiction.

If you are easily offended, don’t watch this.

If not, you’re in for a belly laugh.

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IS TOM SWIFTY RUINING YOUR STORIES?

When writing dialogue in your stories the golden rule is to keep to just ‘he said’, or ‘she said’ as an attributive.

Tom_Swift_Cover_1939_unrenewedElaborate too much and you focus attention AWAY from what your characters are saying onto what YOU are saying. And as an author should be invisible inside their own story, this is not what you want.

Most of all, you want to avoid the Tom Swifty.

The Swifty takes its name from a boy’s adventure hero created by Edward L. Stratemeyer.

Under the pseudonym Victor Appleton, he published a series of books featuring the young Tom Swift. Appleton went to enormous lengths to avoid repetition of the unadorned word “said”, with sometimes hilarious results.

Parodying the Tom Swifty has now become an art form in itself. Here, for your amusement and delectation, are a few:

stories. writing, how to write1. “I’ll have a martini,” said Tom, drily.

2. “That’s the last time I’ll stick my arm in a lion’s mouth,” the lion-tamer said off-handedly.

3. “Hurry up and get to the back of the ship!” Tom said sternly.

4. “The doctor had to remove my left ventricle,’ said Tom, half-heartedly

5. ‘Is that your cat?’ Tom purred.

6. “I can’t hear a thing,” said Tom deftly.

7. “This must be an aerobics class,” Tom worked out.

8. “Who would want to steal modern art?” asked Tom abstractedly.

9. “Fire!” yelled Tom alarmingly.

10. “You have the right to remain silent,” said Tom arrestingly.

stories. writing, how to write11. “Use your own toothbrush!” Tom bristled.

12. “This must be the Netherlands,” Tom stated flatly.

13. “We have no bananas,” Tom said fruitlessly.

14. “Would anyone like some Parmesan?” asked Tom gratingly.

15. “We’ve run out of wool,” said Tom, knitting his brow.

16. “I’ve got to fix the automobile,” said Tom mechanically.

17. “Do you call this a musical?” asked Les miserably.

18. “I’m tired of smiling,” moaned Lisa.

stories. writing, how to write19. I want a motorized bicycle,” Tom moped.

20. “I can do an excellent impression of Sinatra,” said Tom, being perfectly frank.

21. “Has my magazine arrived?” Tom asked periodically.

22. “I need to clear my throat,” said Tom phlegmatically.

23. “Are you homosexual?” Tom queried gaily.

24. “Have you ever been whitewater rafting?” Tom asked rapidly.

25. “That is remarkable,” remarked Tom.

26. “I’d better repeat that SOS message,” said Tom remorsefully.

27. “This chicken has been stuffed,” said Tom sagely.

28. “How long will I have to wait for a table?” asked Tom unreservedly.

So – you get the idea. There’s a lesson in there for every writer.

And the best way to avoid an unintended Tom Swifty is not to complicate things … he said, simply.

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THERE ARE SOME LINES A COP SHOULD NOT CROSS

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