It looks like my master plan for a mind-blowing Christmas Special is going to have to wait until next Christmas. Just too much to do in the next few weeks, I’m not going to have the time to put into it. Not even if I get up early in the mornings, and I have been doing so for the past few days and already know I’m not going to be able to carry on with it. Too tired, brain failing.

I have work to do, and that sustains me through an eight-hour work-day (and the five-hour post-work family time is no problem), but doesn’t leave me with enough for a four-hour pre-work session as well. The past few months I have had two books burning their way out of my head and that’s been fantastic, but … I don’t know, maybe it’s the winter. I can’t write while I walk anymore – too cold – and it’s dark all the time. No solar charging, no bonus writing time in the middle of the day. I can get out at lunchtime for my walk but that’s about it.

So I’m going to have to focus on the job. It’s huge, and it used to be enough. And for now, it sort of has to be enough again, because it pays the bills. But I’m losing the joy of it.

Yesterday was good. I turned off my ‘home’ rig, turned my back on all the peripheral shit, and just got immersed back into it again. And it went well! I just need to do that, now. Again and again and again. See if something comes back.

Today, and tomorrow, are more challenging because I am not going to get to sit and work uninterrupted. I have to hike out to the head office, and the customer office, respectively, and deal with a whole bunch of distraction – and probably added complications, stresses, scope-changes and demands. And the looming worry that this is just too much shit I just don’t want to do. What do I do about that?

Well, not much choice. I do it. I start, and if it becomes apparent that there’s just too much volume, I get backup. That’s always an option. Makes me look bad, but getting the job done and keeping the customer happy is the important thing, not my professional pride and appearance. Still, I don’t think it’s going to come to that. I’m just venting it here, getting the poison out, and preparing to carry on. It’s a big job. That’s all.

I just mean, there won’t be a particularly amazing Christmas Special this year.

Try again in 2015. My master plan will still hold up.

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Tuesday morning dreaming

Had a dream on Tuesday morning.

It was something to do with Jurassic Park (or at least Jurassic Park, the theme park, as opposed to the movie), although unfortunately it was completely on the sidelines and there were no dinosaurs at all. Totally disappointing. I, and a friend of mine (and I have no idea who this friend was), were investigators of some kind. There was a big journalist-y brouhaha going on outside the InGen offices, with people asking the InGen spokesman about the rumours that they were creating “monsters”.

My friend and I bypassed this and made our way into the InGen office, which was very big and modern and stylish. I had gotten a visitor card from somewhere or other, so we were able to make our way past the reception desk and into the deep bowels of the office building. After getting in an elevator that turned out to be of the up-and-down and side-to-side glass variety rather like the one in Cabin in the Woods, we ended up somewhere in the sub-basement, which was actually more of a cross between a semi-constructed parking garage and a natural cave.

Speaking of bowels, my friend at this point turned into Donna Noble from Doctor Who – a pretty decent sidekick to infiltrate the InGen office with, right? – but she then needed desperately to go to “the loo”. That was funny until I, in complete dreamlike denial of my actual physical reality, also started to need to go to the toilet. Donna found a toilet first, down in the weird carpark cave, and went inside. Hideously loud and protracted diarrhoea noises ensued, and I shuddered and moved on because I knew she would be furious at me for overhearing.

It was at this point I had a flashback and remembered the receptionist who had checked my visitor card telling us that there were toilets we could use, and how to use them. For some reason the instruction “sit on the toilet and activate it by saying ‘pool’” had stuck in my memory. Yes, I said pool, not poo – although in my dream I may have mis-heard.

I found my way back into the office building proper, and into this super-advanced and weird unisex toilet with an assortment of bizarre stencilled icons on the stall doors. Instead of just male and female stick figures in pants and dresses respectively, there was a half-dozen different shapes and sizes of stick figures and most of them seemed to be accompanied by stick figures of midgets or small robots. I didn’t have a robot with me (or a midget), but I went for it anyway. The toilet turned out to be this sort of thing you had to climb up into, as though the gap in the door at the bottom of the stall was the only way into it and that was at chest-height, and then inside there was only enough room around the toilet to sort of squeeze yourself into a sitting position, so you were entirely enclosed by this sort of padded framework with the occasional glass window – one at head-height, and others in the floor and seat-level.

This wasn’t readily apparent until I had sat down, said “pool”, and started trying to squirm out of my pants. At which point the whole toilet stall suddenly went mobile, like one of those transporter modules from Wall-E – yes, this was a smorgasbord of movie references – and hovered me off down a corridor, sitting on the toilet in full view of what turned out to be a really rather crowded office-building-slash-hotel-slash-spa.

Undaunted, as I hovered over the heads of the crowds in the corridor, presumably on my way to the pool, I continued trying to get my pants off.

I woke up, however, before I could seal the deal.

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Bring an Eejit

A whole lot of empties, €125 in my tip jar and a Jauren Silvan weasel sitting on my bar cabinet wearing a tequila lid hat. Now that’s what I call a party.

Boonie the jungle weasel.

Bar weasel! Bar weasel!

As mentioned a couple of days ago, a most excellent Saturday night was had and by all reports it was fun for all involved, with the possible exception of my Palokas sister- and brother-in-law who still have this little issue with Walder to worry about.

Anyway, things kicked off in about the most amazingly ego-boosting manner possible, with Zack and Virva turning up to reveal that Zack had put together a Zeegon Pendraegg costume, while Virva was in her “TEAM BRUCE” T-shirt. This shirt was just a happy coincidence since they’d had it made for a multiple-cancer-surviving friend of theirs named Bruce, but it was very much in theme. The Zeegon costume was flawless, with every one of the scant details[1] I’d put in the story covered – from Boonie the jungle weasel to “PIVs are VIPs” on the inside of the shirt.

[1] I’ve seen too many fans complain about authors going on and on about what their characters are wearing, so I may have erred on the side of “it’s a uniform, that’s about it” when describing my team. More details will emerge but for now, it looks like life will dictate art in a lot of cases.

Mrs. Hatboy then revealed that she had created a Janya Adeneo costume, and when Mr. Fahrenheit arrived he too was kitted out in a very decent Janus Whye, complete with organiser pad with counselling notes for each character. I believe he updated this as the evening progressed.

So, my evening began with a group of fans dressing up as characters from my book and promptly and thoroughly out-geeking me with their knowledge and enthusiasm. It simply can not get better than that.

Zeegon, Janya, Janus.

My very own group of sci-fi conventioneers: Zeegon (with Boonie), Janya (with subdermal implants and scars), and Janus (with organiser).

Not long after this, the bar really started filling up and so for a long time I was kept busy making drinks and signing books in frantic succession. I guess the legendary hospitality of Bar Äijä’s was once again confirmed, as people waited exorbitant lengths of time for their drinks, which I had usually forgotten by the time their turns arrived. Still, everyone seemed to be having a good time and I managed to down a couple of drinks myself.

There were complaints about the Bloody Mary being a bit too heavy on the Tabasco, but I sampled it extensively and I had to enhance mine quite a lot before it became a challenge. We just have wimps in our midst.

Drinking and merriment continued unabated. I took a couple of breaks to help get the kids ready for bed, and also to move Wump’s baby seat over into the Hawkins’s car so they could drive Bella and Walder to the emergency room. That’s where they all spent the rest of the night, earning them the rightful Big Damn Heroes Award for the night[2][3].

Walder and his magnetising adventure.

Walder had a great time.

[2] Mrs. Hatboy, obviously, must share this award because she basically took care of everything, from the pancakes to the child-wrangling to all entertainment and mingling outside a two-metre radius of the bar.

[3] The Hawkinses also treated me to a beautiful Parker fountain pen – the sort I drool over every time I go downstairs for art supplies at the academic bookstore – for book signing. So, winners.

It seems that, at some point during the evening, Wump had been in my office and had found my magnetic buckyball-clump desk toy. She likes playing with this and extending it out into a snake. The problem came when my dear anoppi decided to use the convenient floor space to change Walder’s nappy, at which point he may or may not have grabbed and swallowed one or several of the magnetic balls. We just don’t know, because there’s no trace of them now.

The USians in our crew were immediately worried because buckyball magnets are apparently one of these big off-the-toy-market danger items because kids ate them and ended up with bowel issues due to two buckballs magnetising from one loop of intestine to another. So off to the emergency room they went, and were told (presumably by a janitor) that there was no point in doing an X-ray because the buckyballs wouldn’t show up, but if they hadn’t come out in the poop in a few days they could do an MRI (because apparently highly-magnetised metal in the bowels is just fine and dandy to go through an MRI with). We still haven’t heard anything useful, but my opinion of Finnish diagnostic medicine has taken a lot of punishment over the years.

During one such absence, The Pas took over the bar and fixed a “One With Everything”, apparently because he was channelling the Booze Whisperer. It may actually have also been Heikki’s fault, but I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt since all the rest of the drinks he made were very good.

One With Everything.

This may be the reason the Booze Whisperer did not in fact show up this night.

There was also a couple of centimetres of snow on the ground, so after a few drinks The Pas decided to vent his directionless anger in a surprisingly harmless and entertaining way – by holding a series of snowball duels out in the yard. Three snowballs each, ten paces each, turn and fling. I understand that he took down a surprising number of people (including myself) by hitting them on the left leg, before finally being hammered by Jarmo, who was enjoying Bar Äijä’s for the first time and may or may not have been looking for a reason to pelt snowballs at The Pas. I couldn’t say. Well played to him, though.

Mr. Sundahl was also well-installed at the bar, and enjoyed a variety of gin & tonics and Tequila Motherfuckers. I’m sorry that his requested Irish coffee did not pan out the way he might have wished – we will do better next time. And speaking of Irish, Gerry was in attendance and a selection of Baby Guinness, Squashed Frog and other shots were consumed before her driving status required her to stop.

There were far too many people to name, from the usual suspects among the family, role-players and Lionbrides-and-ex-Lionbrides, to newcomers Katy and Mr. Kauppinen (although the latter has visited Sotunki before, this was his first time at the bar). The drinks menu was a great success, the books I had available sold out swiftly, and the D6s rolled freely. The Pas rolled an impressive 22, which was actually a fairly standard Tequila Motherfucker but was made special by the fact that he’d hit 5 4s and a 2. We arbitrarily decided this meant the Tequila Motherfucker was going to be in big shot glasses, and was going to have absinthe instead of Kahlúa. So he had that, and kept it down like a champ. Honourable mention should also go to Aleksi for managing the “Blaran Lärvilauta” (or “Blarn Lärvilauta” on my misprinted menu) single-handedly, although he was right to point out that it was just four random shots, so nothing to really freak out about.

The trivia quiz was enjoyed by all, and won by Mr. Fahrenheit with something of an inner-circle advantage, but very well-played nevertheless. Some of the other responses were quite surreal, but it was a lot of fun.

I’m actually hard-pressed to award a Pissiest Pants this time around, unless it was me – I don’t think anyone was particularly hammered or obnoxious. Certainly by the time the crowd thinned out and Heikki told me to take a break and let him tend bar, I wound up with at least four drinks lined up in front of me and that’s when I started making up for lost ground. But even then, and even once the Hawkinses got back and also started trying to catch up, there was no great problem with people overdrinking.

I’ll go ahead and award myself and The Pas with a mutual Last Man Standing, since we ended up sitting in the snow in the back yard sharing a smoke, and I then installed him on the couch with a very, very small blanket and went to bed with icy-damp underpants, causing Mrs. Hatboy some momentary consternation.

Mr. Kauppinen, and his hairy little friend Günther, had very patiently waited for the bar to empty so he could take the couch-bed in there. The following morning everyone seemed to be in one piece and I got them on a bus towards the centre. Then all that remained was the cleaning up.

All in all, an excellent night. Thanks to all involved and my sympathies to those who missed out. Next book will be out soon, and we’ll do this all over again.

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Mondays, case of

A case of the Mondays.

Still waiting on pictures and updates as the report takes shape, so here’s another random space-filler and Facebook-joke. I’m still on hiatus, technically, so am trying to focus on writing for work rather than here on my home computer.

Still getting a little bit done, but sadly have not had much of an opportunity to get creative writing exercises going for the daily blog. Sorry about that, everyone (and hey, I can sort of say ‘everyone’ these days, without hyperbole – last time I checked, there were 90 subscribers to this blog! Woo, how about you call go and buy three copies of my latest book now?).

But yeah, still just resting, waiting, trying to focus on the office work until the Christmas panic is all over with. Hence my case of the Mondays. Almost time to switch off here, and go to my work desk.

In other random news, I do appreciate it when my friends post up fun sciencey-stuff on their Facebook walls. It is an easy and entertaining alternative to research, and gives me some very cool material to work with. The universe is indeed a weird and staggering place, and not just those parts of it inside the Goldilocks Zone.

Different worlds, different rains.

Also, I made a funny.

Carry on.

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A Brilliant Night

Full report will have to wait until the photos are all ready to go, and I get closure on some of the open-ended incidents (for example my poor little nephew Walder getting himself scanned for the magnetic office toy he swallowed … hope it all comes out alright), but for today I will just say that this was a fantastic party and all went fabulously. I am truly, truly blessed.

As promised, the book-launch party included a quiz about the book (that would be Eejit, available on and as paperback and e-book), the winner of which received a fabulous prize.

The winner, in a close call battle with another competitor who also has a character based on him in the book (so these guys should have done well), was Mr. Fahrenheit.

Whye, God.

Or “Janus Whye”.

Some of the responses were fairly … unique.

What is this I can't even

And baffling.

And others…

Just no.

This is where you failed.

However, nobody spotted the true bonus question, which was not on the quiz at all but rather on the special drinks menu I made.

Damn it.

If you spot the error, you win all over again.

All in all a good night, this was just by way of a teaser.

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Brief filler-anecdote

That is, an anecdote that is brief, for the purposes of filling in a gap in the schedule. Not to be confused with a brief-filler anecdote.

Watched the second Hobbit movie with Wump over the past couple of nights, the extended special DVD edition. It was her first time watching the movies, having watched the extended DVD of the first Hobbit movie a while ago already.

Now she has to wait for the final instalment. Although I suppose I should start reading it to her soon. She’s beginning to get an attention-span for longer stories.

It was entertaining, watching it with her. And I did like some of the extra bits and pieces the special extended edition had. Hard to pick out some of it, of course, since the whole movie in a sense is a series of extended and deleted scenes. But anyway, there you go.

Wump seems to be enjoying it. I think she, like the rest of us, will ultimately rail against how little Smaug was in the movie. But then I always considered the minimalism of Smaug, the Balrog, Morgoth, basically anything big and bad and interesting, to be one of the more disappointing facets of the books too, so I suppose that’s just a faithful reproduction.

Funny, though, when the gold poured into the giant dwarf and then spurted out and re-melted, her response was “why is it molten again?”. Good question, Wump.

It was interesting to see how she reacted when Bilbo said “mine” in his spooky my-precious voice. It was a scene during the spider attack in Mirkwood[1], when Bilbo drops the ring and it lands near a big bug thing that looked like it has wandered off-set from Jackson’s King Kong movie. Weta Workshop being lazy, I think. Anyway, Bilbo dropped the ring, it landed next to this big bug, and Bilbo lost his shit for a moment, trying to get it back.

[1] Mirkwood as also severely underplayed in that book. My love of deep, endless forests has its roots in this story, as well as in The Magician’s Nephew.

When he grabbed it, and said “mine” to the battered carcass of the bug he’d just smashed, Wump remarked that he’d gone all Evil Voice. So I explained about the One Ring and the change it causes in mortal beings, and reminded her about Gollum in the first movie.

Ahh, it’s getting more and more fun to watch stuff with her.

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Tweeting away

Once again, nothing much to add today. Got a super-busy day coming up, with work and all, as well as a whole lot of organisation to do for the party tomorrow. I’ve been working on the quiz we’re going to hold (fabulous prizes to be won!), and it looks like I’m not going to have time to write up any more Eejit Cards Against Humanity, for the time being.

So much to do, so little time.

I probably won’t have a chance to pre-write the blog posts for this weekend either, but with any luck I’ll have a nice Chucky Report to make on Sunday, concerning Saturday’s book launch party. I hope it will all go off smoothly – the Bar Äijä’s staff are getting pretty slick and professional with their events these days. Practice makes perfect, after all.

This time, I’m thinking of adding the Bloody Mary to the menu. Eejit is, after all, a rather bloody little book.

Speaking of which, it looks like I got my first Amazon review from someone I don’t know – or at least I can’t figure out who it would be even though it’s possible I do know them. Anyway, thank you Goody1, you made my morning!

I’m still tweeting up a storm, and getting the occasional retweet from various places in response to my absolutely shameless spam.

Don't care. Got RT'd.

That’s all for now. As you were.


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