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Top-notch middlebrow escapism

 

Here’s The Body Abroad, a book I wrote that no one knows exists because I have done zero to make the world aware of it. I wrote it a long time back and my agent at the time got quite excited about it, and sent it off to a big Hollywood agent, who also got excited and sent it off to about twenty Hollywood big-league producers and players like Tom Hanks and the guy who directed Ace Ventura. The agent made up an Excel spreadsheet so we could keep track of the impending frenzied bidding war, except there was no frenzy, only a single solitary nibble from the guy who directed Fight Club, who got some other guy to rewrite it on spec, but wasn’t happy with the result.  But it was considered good enough to be in the Hollywood mill there for a while.

Of course I got all excited counting my chickens into six figures, but nothing came of it and I couldn’t even find a publisher, so I eventually published it myself. My goal in 2018 is to try to draw a little bit of attention to it. I’ve always described it as top-notch middlebrow escapism. It’s a pretty good read if you like a paranormal thriller about prisoners who can bilocate out of prison. Bilocation is like astral projection only you can be physically present in two places at once. The body proper stays behind in a meditative, almost vegetative state, and the body abroad relocates to some other chosen place. The Body Abroad ends in mid-adventure, and is presented as part one of a trilogy;  I’d love for someone to take the characters and their predicament at the end of book one, and write book two. Then they can do book three, too. Save me a lot of grief! Generous terms for any takers.

Here’s the Amazon link, which includes a very generous chunk of it– the first four chapters worth:

 

 

 

 

 

All the Romance a Man Can Stomach

 

 

Here’s  a novel I wrote awhile back.  It’s sitting on Amazon like a wallflower at the dance, waiting for someone to take a chance.

Originally I published it as A Lady Under Siege, by B.G. Preston, because people who know publishing told me it was a romance novel. They persuaded me to rewrite it a bit, to better fit that genre. B.G. Preston was my idea, to hide the fact I was a man, because that might prejudice romance readers against me. It got good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but what struck me most, hearing back from friends, is that while women recognized it as a romance, men didn’t think it was. It was just a good story, told mostly from a male mindset.

So I rewrote it, simply rearranging a few chapters and giving it a more ambivalent and less HEA ending. That’s Happily Ever After — the only reason I know that is, the people who told me it was a romance novel told me it needed an HEA.

Once I toned down the HEA, I decided it needed a more male title, so out with A Lady Under Siege and in with All the Romance a Man Can Stomach.  And it needed a new, more masculine cover, with Duct tape on the spine (Jane Ryder’s idea) and an action-packed illustration. The painting actually figures prominently in the story, so that was easy. If the back cover copy is too small to read, just right click on it and click view image. I’m sure you knew that. But some in my peer group are challenged that way. I like to help them out.

Here’s where you can find it:

https://www.amazon.com/Brian-Preston/e/B00PP9KRXQ

Once in a while I give away a copy. Here’s a review from my new friend Chris, the dad of a friend of my kid’s– not a formal review, just something he sent along in an email the other day:

I loved it. It was the first novel I’ve read in years.

I took to telling the story in simplified form to my kids and they got quite into it.

This is my target audience– guys who haven’t read a novel in years.

I’ve written a new novel called Stag, and am trying to get a real live actual publisher for it. Like All the Romance, it’s not highbrow or difficult– it’s fun, goofy, and a little bit “fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke;” and while women friends do get the joke and tell me it’s hilarious, I do see it as more of a guy thing. It would definitely be enjoyed by guys like most of my guy friends– guys who haven’t read a novel in years.  There are millions of them. How do I reach those people?

 

 

Hummingbird enabler

 

 

A few years back we built a sun room on our deck. When we sit in it we are surrounded by glass on three sides. Lots of windows to see what’s going on outside, without actually having to go outside. Perfect for rainy winters in this part of the world.

Lately we hung a little hummingbird feeder by suction cups on a window, and now we have a little friend coming to look in at us while we look out. We’re kind of like its bartender, or enabler. Instant massive hit of sugar in one spot without having to go from flower to flower. Not that she doesn’t still go from flower to flower through the day, but it seems she likes our sugar blast as a pick-me-up in the morning, and in the evening as a bedtime snack.

I worry giving her sugary water like this might make her dependent on us for her survival, but in a way she already is dependent on us, because we planted a whole pile of red flowering species around our house, and that’s why she came hanging around here in the first place. I see it as a small example, symbolic of how in this day and age, every species in the world can be said to be dependent on us– us humans I mean– for their survival. Our behaviours will decide their fate.

So here I am, playing around with this hummingbird as something between a wild curiosity and semi-pet, while today there’s a super-depressing story in the news about the death of another of the local southern resident killer whale population. Basically their leading defender and researcher admits that the whole bunch of these chinook salmon eaters are “in the sunset of their existence” as their essential and specialized food source disappears. They are starving, it seems. Meanwhile they are monetized as pets with a large playpen– chased around the local waters every day by a flotilla of tourist boats keeping a supposedly respectful 100 metres away.  We’ve scooped up all the salmon on them and left them nothing to eat. There is a sense here in Victoria that we are responsible for them, and we can’t let their extinction happen. Humans will take that on, at least on a case by case basis– save the orcas, save the marmots, save the tigers– but really every species out there is dependent on us. That’s a lot of responsibility, and we haven’t faced up to it yet.

Nilanjana’s amazing saffron pistachio ice cream

 

 

This ice cream is the most delicious I’ve ever tasted. Recipe by my lovely wife…

 

1 ½ cups whole milk

1 cup granulated sugar

3 cups heavy cream/whipping cream

½ teaspoon good quality saffron

1/8 teaspoon ground green cardamom seeds (shell removed; make sure they are flavourful, not old and stale)

1/8 cup unsalted, shelled and chopped pistachios (use more if you like)

 

Warm ¼ cup milk in the microwave, add the saffron to it, mix, and set aside for 30 minutes.

With a hand-held mixer, mix the rest of the milk and the sugar in a mixing bowl until the sugar dissolves.

Add the cooled milk and saffron mixture to the mixing bowl along with the cream, ground cardamom, and pistachios.  Mix well.

Turn on your ice cream maker and pour the mixture into the freezer bowl. Depending on your machine, you will get a soft and creamy ice cream in about 20 to 25 minutes. The ice cream will get a firmer consistency if kept in an airtight container for about two hours. It is best to serve it after keeping it out of the freezer for about ten minutes.

Enjoy!

 

 

Too Many Georges– A serialized novel rendered whole

 

Years ago, 2004 to be exact, in those naive and innocent times when it seemed like George W. Bush was the worst  president the USA could ever possibly elect,  I wrote a novel for The Tyee called Too Many Georges.

It featured an utterly superfluous Vancouverite male named Dalton who decides he wants to make a difference– he’s horrified that Jeb Bush’s son George P. Bush, the nephew of George W. Bush, and grandson of  George H. W. Bush, might someday run for office in Texas, all part of the Bush family plan of making him George III, that is, the third George Bush in the dynasty to become President. So he flies to Dallas to confront the youngest of the Georges.

It all seemed very pressing at the time. In the intervening dozen years, politics became a lot weirder than even I imagined possible. But there is some good stuff here, actual research into the Bush family and some of the nasty things they were deeply involved in, like the Bay of Pigs, the invasion of Panama to collar Noriega, and the search for MIA soldiers post-Vietnam as a cover for running opium out of South East Asia to finance the CIA.

I’m putting it up as a public service. Maybe some researchers can make use of that information. George P. Bush has gone on to run for public office in Texas, exactly as predicted. He is in fact the only Bush ever to win in his first attempt. In 2016 he worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, while most of the rest of the Bush dynasty sat that one out.

Also included is a lot of research about George II of England, who was torn from his mother’s bosom as a lad and forbidden to ever see her again, after she cheated on her husband, who at the time ruled over the wee Germanic state of Hanover. He had her locked away, while he went on to become King George I of England, obviously with no Queen by his side.

So it’s informative, and has a few laughs too. It’s told in the form of an email exchange between Dalton and his friend Rachel, who’s gone hippie in the Kootenays.

Enjoy. It’s all right here in a pdf file:

 

Too Many Georges by Brian Preston

The revolution needs a date. How about 420, 420. That is, April 20th, 2020.

 

Pretty much most people will agree that the world is not working too well right now.

We think of ourselves as such an evolved species, but violence and injustice still rule the day.  Especially when scarcity kicks in– too many people for the amount of land, food or water. And that’s happening more and more.

Many people I know think there needs to be a big change in human thought and behaviour, before we completely wreck the planet. A paradigm shift. A revolution.

A revolution? That’s where it gets tricky. “We’d all love to see the plan,” as a certain Beatle so famously put it.

The only social events I ever planned in my life were parties, and the first step in planning those was always choosing a date. So I’ve chosen a date. April 20th, or 420, is already somewhat established in the public mind as a revolutionary day, thanks to marijuana connoisseurs and activists.  April 2020 can also be written shorthand as 420, so April 20th, 2020, can be called 420, 420. So easy to remember.

Okay, so we have a date. The revolution will commence 420, 420. By my reckoning, that gives us about 950 days to get organized.

For the official kick-off party, let’s take our theme from Emma Goldman, who (also famously) said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”

Dancing is good. I suggest the official theme song of the revolution should be King Harvest’s song “Dancing in the Moonlight.” Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR47TZdJg64  

Why this song? Because of its positivity, uplift, and dismissal of violence.  That is really the most basic principle I would lay down for the revolution: it has to be completely nonviolent. Because nonviolence is the direction humankind needs to head.

Apart from that, we need a lot more discussion about what the revolution should look like. To me it has to embrace more cooperation, more sharing, more sustainability, and less attention to personal gain and short-term profit. Others may have different ideas, but to me those things are hard to argue with. The internet allows for a kind of participatory democracy that lets anyone in the world with a computer add their opinion. Let’s keep it positive, and stick to ideas to make life collectively better for everyone.

I’m hoping someone will take this idea and run with it, maybe set up a website with a name like Therevolutionhasadate, and ideas can flow into and out of there. People could post ideas and principles, and others could vote on them so we get some idea of consensus going.  As a techno-simpleton, that kind of thing is beyond my talent. Plus I’m lazy. Hopefully someone more skilled and enthused will go for it. Good luck to anyone who does.

At the very least we can have a big party on 420 420, where everyone gets outside together and dances in the moonlight.

 

This is what I find strange

 

 

I find it strange you will read my posts from the newest to the oldest, when in fact ideas and thought processes are like flowers– they germinate from little seeds, and grow into little seedlings, and then get hardy stems and leaves, and then blossom. But in this case,  you start reading with the flower and end with the seed. The opposite of a traditional story, which starts at the beginning, and ends at the end. Here you start at the end and scroll down to the beginning. That feels odd.

A hammock is essential to a haven

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