Read The First Chapter of Rocket Man Here For Free!

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If you follow the blog or the stuff I write, then you’ll know I put out a new short story called Rocket Man, which is one story I’ve written that I really love. It would be great to get as many people to read it as possible. So in an attempt to do just that, here is the first part of the story. Have a read and if you like, get your copy of the story below.

Enjoy — CP

Prologue

“I count the stars some times too,” she said.

      It was Diane, Matt’s crazy chain-smoking neighbor. She was standing at her fence, looking up at the night sky. He wasn’t in the mood for company, this was why he came out here, away from the black veiled tears and the crying strangers that had gathered in his house, stinking up his carpets with grief and stealing the now-stale food from his kitchen. Diane had always been kind whenever they had passed each other on their street; she didn’t say much and said just enough, making her the perfect neighbour in Matt’s eyes. Lisa had always liked her too. She said Diane made her feel like she was a heartbeat away from the Swinging Sixties, with a hippy for a neighbor – a neighbor that, on occasion, had more flowers in her hair than in a well-kept flower bed.

      Looking at her now, Matt realized what Lisa had meant; the way Diane dressed was like nothing in this world, never mind this era. She wore an Indian-style long dress that was brightly coloured, with a rainbow bull’s eye in the middle and a pair of sandals that looked like they were made of wicker. Her hair was wiry and frayed; like she’d perhaps stuck her fingers in a socket and liked the way it set off her eccentricity. He realized that he’d been staring at her without saying anything for nearly a minute now, the silence stretching between them like a kid ready to fire an elastic band at his least favorite teacher. He looked up at the stars again and let their glare rain down on them both. She didn’t seem to mind the silence, which was good, because he wasn’t much in the mood for talking. 

After a few last draws on the smoldering cigarette, she stubbed it out on her side of the fence like it were a knee high ashtray and took out the pack for a next go round. She looked toward Matt. “You smoke?”

He smiled. “Not since I used the bike shed to shield the lighter from the wind.” 

“Take one now, you look like you need it.”

He took one from the packet and she smiled, the wrinkles smiling with her, and the nicotine yellow teeth dazzled Matt like a row of tiny, fading suns. Matt lit up from her light and took a deep draw, careful not to cough up his first intake. No matter how old you got, you never quite shook that urge not to lose face when smoking a cigarette and always wanted to look cool besides. The smoke hit the back of his throat and wormed it’s way down into his lungs and he felt 15 again sneaking a cigarette away from his parents, his teachers and playing the Fonz in front of his friends. Although, now he thought of it, he was never sure whether the Fonz actually smoked a cigarette. Just seemed like everyone who wore a leather jacket in those days did. He blew out the smoke, clouding the night sky for a split second and smiled. It was just like riding a bike. “I’ve not done that in a while.”

Diane, already halfway through her own, smiled. “It’s never too late to start a bad habit.” At this, Matt laughed and took another draw. The two perfect strangers smoking in silence on a nippy November night. 

      “How’s little Tommy holding up?” she asked. Not taking her eyes away from the smoke rings and the stars. 

“He’ll be OK.” 

“And you?” 

It took Matt a little longer to respond this time. And when he did, he wasn’t sure he believed the answer. “I guess I’ll be too.”

Diane nodded then, and stubbed out her cigarette. But before she could turn back inside, Matt stopped her. “Diane?”

“Uh-huh?”

      “Before. When you said you count the stars. What did you mean?

“What did I mean?”

“Yeah.”

She smiled and reached her hand over the fence and gave Matt’s a little squeeze.  “I want to make sure my family’s got plenty of friends up there too.” And with that, she patted Matt on the shoulder and disappeared like a ghost into her own house.

      Matt sat there a few moments letting her words sink in. How could she possibly know? A few months before it happened, he and Lisa had been sitting on the porch as he was now and looking up at the stars. She was nagging him for neglecting the telescope she had bought him for this 40thto which he’d promise he would use and soon. According to the box you could see onto the face of planets, moons and stars. “You never know. You could be the first man to find life on other planets. Just like you always wanted,” she had teased. 

      “This your plan all along? To get me back to work?” he laughed. She just wrinkled her nose and smiled but he knew there was some truth to it. She’d been so angry when he’d left his job that she called is bosses at NASA and tried to get them to take him back. But, as Matt had told them (he had some pull their being one of their chief engineers – a literal rocket scientist) they were in no way to listen to her even if they wanted to bring him back to the space programme or make her happy. Leaving the space agency had been one of the tougher decisions (it had been his dream as a child) but the time it had given him with Lisa and Tommy was more than any project, build or mission could give. 

They had been out there for an hour now and he was worried she was getting too cold. As if to ease his fears she brought her cardigan close over her shoulders and leaned into him, never once looking away from the night sky. 

      “You’re thinking about what happens.” she said. “Next. After.”

It was true; he did little but these days. Lisa always knew what he was thinking before he did. He didn’t respond, just held her close. 

      “It’s OK to talk about it. You won’t have much chance to talk with me after so you may as well use up the air between us now.”

He looked at her. The way she kept her humour, dark and brittle as it was at times, never ceased to amaze him. She looked up at him, the blue in her eyes still sparkling despite all that was going on behind them. Finally he relented. “What do you think happens? Next.”

      She snuggled in and pointed to the stars. “I think we go up into the sky and join the stars. Why do you think there are so many?” 

      That was the last conversation they had had when it was just them; they way they had been forever before. The last time Lisa had a good day and the last time they sat out together looking at the night sky. He stubbed his own cigarette out and made his way back inside. He figured Diane must have overheard them talking that night. Whether she was being cruel or kind he hadn’t decided. Although, after what would happen next, he wouldn’t pay a second thought to his neighbour’s motives, whether it was a cruel trick or a kind word wouldn’t matter. That conversation beneath the stars, smoke and silence swirling between them both, wouldn’t even fall on Matt’s radar again. Not after what was about to happen. Not after Matt saw it. 

Just days after Lisa had left Matt, Tommy and the rest of their family and friends behind for a life amongst the stars and just days after this quiet conversation between two strangers, everything was about to change for Matt, Tommy and everyone in the town that Lisa had departed. Just days after Matt believed he’d lost everything; he thought he’d found something again. No, this conversation, and any that followed wouldn’t matter to Matt. 

Not after the night he saw the face in the sky.



Rocket Man
By Christopher Patrick

Rocket Man - Now on Amazon!

That’s right! Rocket Man is now available on Amazon and is currently FREE!

It would be lovely if you got involved and downloaded a copy now - and left a review!

Its a touching story of love, loss and hope - with a bit of space travel thrown in. 

Head to Amazon now! 

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GCTDHGR/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_n1DCBbKGJRCW9

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Sal & Jez: The Keepers #2

Sal and Jez are The Keepers. Of what?

 

You decide. One keeps asking and the other keeps asking.  

 —C.Patrick

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Jez: Sal.

 

Sal: Aye.


Jez: There’s people done me wrong.


Sal: Aye. As us all.


Jez: But I’ve not told many. But the folk who done me wrong have told people there side of the story, I’m sure. The way certain eyes look at me at time.


Sal: Those who rush to bend the ear are those most likely to lose their own.


Jez: Aye. Fair point. (Pause) What if they get a hearing aid though Sal?


Sal: Whit!?

What Readers Are Saying

The world is a dark and scary place, which is one of the main ideas behind my second short story collection The Shadow People Won't Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls (available to buy from Amazon here).

The response for those who have ordered the book (THANK YOU!) and read the book, has been amazing. It seems to be doing the trick. 

So don't take my word for it - take the word of the readers as a recommendation. Get a copy now, have a read and smile. It'll help you turn the light on. 

--C.Patrick

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Sal & Jez: The Keepers #1

Sal & Jez pop up now and again with interesting conversations from a story yet to be written. Who’d like to hear more from Sal & Jez?

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Sal: “Jez?”


Jez: “Aye?”


Sal: “What happens to those that take other people’s suffering as a prize?”


Jez: “What?”


Sal: “If you take an other persons suffering as a prize. If someone’s pain gives you cause to smile. Have you won, or have you simply lost twice?”


Jez: “Depends. What’s the prize?”


Sal: “Nothing Jez. Doesnae matter. Just go back to watching or go back to sleep.”


Jez: “Awrite. Here, Sal?


Sal: “Aye?”


Jez: “What would you do if you one the lottery?”

 

— The Keepers (C.Patrick)

Book Recommendation: Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks


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As warm and witty as you imagine a conversation with the man could be. There’s something nourishing and wholesome about the stories in this book. Perfect for a rainy day or a sunny afternoon.

#readalittle #readsomething #tomhanks #uncommontype #typewriter #shortstories #bookstagram #bookshelf #reading #reader #bookworm #bookish #bookrecommendations

The Podcast Is Back....Sort Of!

The complete Series One of our Toasted Fiction Theatre is now available! All 14 episodes, ranging from a murder mystery in space, a reality TV comedy,  funeral crashing grannies and intense police interrogations are streaming again!

We've moved from Soundcloud to Anchor FM allowing us to bring you all 14 episodes of the podcast. Now, we just need to get moving onto a second series.......

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Toasted Fiction's Top 5.......Reads of 2017

As the year draws to a close, the Top 5 of 2017 lists are propping up in earnest. As a keen reader, listener and watcher, I would feel remiss if I didn't pay tribute to the books, movies, TV shows and music that have kept me entertained throughout the year and the creatives who make them and inspire me to make too. So here we go, the top 5 list, start with my Top 5 Reads of 2017

 

 

 5. American Gods by Neil Gaiman  A strange and compelling story, it took me a long time to finish this book, and usually if it takes me that long to really get into a book I would have given up. However, there was something irresistible about the story of Shadow Moon and his road trip throughout America, meeting old Gods & New with his travelling companion Mr. Wednesday and the high stakes game they are both playing.   I couldn't put it down. And it still lingers.....

5. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A strange and compelling story, it took me a long time to finish this book, and usually if it takes me that long to really get into a book I would have given up. However, there was something irresistible about the story of Shadow Moon and his road trip throughout America, meeting old Gods & New with his travelling companion Mr. Wednesday and the high stakes game they are both playing. 

I couldn't put it down. And it still lingers.....

 4.  Mrs Fletcher  by Tom Perrotta.  This uniquely crafted story, both a coming of age and coming of middle-age tale, draws all of Perrotta's chief strengths as a storyteller here in this charming riff on  The Graduate . There are laughs, gasps and a few tears as we follow both Mrs. Fletcher and her son as she tries to find a new purpose in her life (in new and surprising ways) and her son tries to find where he fits in at college - soon realising that he might have a different place in the food chain than he did in high school.  It's a fascinating read, made even more-so as Perrotta switches deftly between first and third person narratives. He has the knack for making the ordinary seem extraordinary and the mundane feel dangerous.   NB: The narrative style is something that inspired the short story  Wiggies  which features in my new collection   The Shadow People Won't Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls.      

4. Mrs Fletcher by Tom Perrotta.

This uniquely crafted story, both a coming of age and coming of middle-age tale, draws all of Perrotta's chief strengths as a storyteller here in this charming riff on The Graduate. There are laughs, gasps and a few tears as we follow both Mrs. Fletcher and her son as she tries to find a new purpose in her life (in new and surprising ways) and her son tries to find where he fits in at college - soon realising that he might have a different place in the food chain than he did in high school.

It's a fascinating read, made even more-so as Perrotta switches deftly between first and third person narratives. He has the knack for making the ordinary seem extraordinary and the mundane feel dangerous. 

NB: The narrative style is something that inspired the short story Wiggies which features in my new collection The Shadow People Won't Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls. 

 

 3.  Someday, Someday, Maybe  by Lauren Graham.  Lauren Graham's story (and debut novel) about Franny Banks and her attempts to become an actress in New York during the 1990s is one of the most pleasant surprises I had with a book this year.   Picked up purely by accident (and curiosity as I had just binged watch  Gilmore Girls  with my better half) I fell completely in love with the world, characters and dilemma's that Graham has written. I found it very hard not to smile wildly throughout each page.  It's charming, funny and absolutely delightful. I found myself disappointed when the journey came to and end, hopeful that there are more adventures of Franny Banks to come in the future.    

3. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham.

Lauren Graham's story (and debut novel) about Franny Banks and her attempts to become an actress in New York during the 1990s is one of the most pleasant surprises I had with a book this year. 

Picked up purely by accident (and curiosity as I had just binged watch Gilmore Girls with my better half) I fell completely in love with the world, characters and dilemma's that Graham has written. I found it very hard not to smile wildly throughout each page.

It's charming, funny and absolutely delightful. I found myself disappointed when the journey came to and end, hopeful that there are more adventures of Franny Banks to come in the future. 

 

 2.  Ready Player One  by Ernest Cline  Ahead of the forthcoming Spielberg adaptation (and by recommendation of a friend) I finally pulled my copy of  Ready Player One  off the shelf   and dived in, immediately glad I had done so.  Cline's nostalgia-soaked adventure captures the magic of the great pop-culture phenomena from the 80s and takes us on a (surprisingly, given the references) original story of Wade Watts as he hunts the elusive Easter Egg left behind by reclusive genius James Halliday, creator of the OASIS.  An absolutely thrilling ride, the pop-culture references and inspirations do more than simply prop up the story or act as shorthand between the writer and reader, nor are they cheap gimmicks. They are absolutely essential to the story and the wonderfully realised characters that inhabit Cline's world. It's an unapologetic love letter to a fascinating and important era in the realms of books, music, movies, TV shows and games.   Fresh, fun and inventive and almost my top pick of the year.

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ahead of the forthcoming Spielberg adaptation (and by recommendation of a friend) I finally pulled my copy of Ready Player One off the shelf and dived in, immediately glad I had done so.

Cline's nostalgia-soaked adventure captures the magic of the great pop-culture phenomena from the 80s and takes us on a (surprisingly, given the references) original story of Wade Watts as he hunts the elusive Easter Egg left behind by reclusive genius James Halliday, creator of the OASIS.

An absolutely thrilling ride, the pop-culture references and inspirations do more than simply prop up the story or act as shorthand between the writer and reader, nor are they cheap gimmicks. They are absolutely essential to the story and the wonderfully realised characters that inhabit Cline's world. It's an unapologetic love letter to a fascinating and important era in the realms of books, music, movies, TV shows and games. 

Fresh, fun and inventive and almost my top pick of the year.

 1.  11.22.63  by Stephen King  An epic in more ways than one, King takes a simple premise (what if you could go back in time and stop President Kennedy from being shot?) and turns it into one of the great time-travel stories of recent years.   We follow high school English teacher, Jake Epping as he takes us on his journey from 2011 into 1958 by way of an  Alice In Wonderland -esque rabbit hole in the back of his local diner in a small town. Tasked with the noble mission of saving JFK on 22nd November, 1963, Jake has a long time to wait. And it is the intervening years between 1958 and 1963 that are King's masterstroke.   To say much more would be to spoil such an expertly woven story, which is what  11.22.63  is. Of that there is no doubt. It is more than just a time travel story. It is a parable of our times, a great love story, a thriller, a horror, a tragedy and an adventure all rolled into one.   If you pick this up, you'll find it hard to put down and the length of the story won't bother you a bit once you get started.   Perhaps one of Kings finest novels. An absolute treat, sharp edges and all.

1. 11.22.63 by Stephen King

An epic in more ways than one, King takes a simple premise (what if you could go back in time and stop President Kennedy from being shot?) and turns it into one of the great time-travel stories of recent years. 

We follow high school English teacher, Jake Epping as he takes us on his journey from 2011 into 1958 by way of an Alice In Wonderland-esque rabbit hole in the back of his local diner in a small town. Tasked with the noble mission of saving JFK on 22nd November, 1963, Jake has a long time to wait. And it is the intervening years between 1958 and 1963 that are King's masterstroke. 

To say much more would be to spoil such an expertly woven story, which is what 11.22.63 is. Of that there is no doubt. It is more than just a time travel story. It is a parable of our times, a great love story, a thriller, a horror, a tragedy and an adventure all rolled into one. 

If you pick this up, you'll find it hard to put down and the length of the story won't bother you a bit once you get started. 

Perhaps one of Kings finest novels. An absolute treat, sharp edges and all.

What are your top reads of 2017? 

OUT NOW: The Shadow People Won't Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls

“The world is a dark place sometimes. But don’t worry, The Shadow People Won’t Take Us Alive. Allow me to light the way...”

The second collection from best-selling author (honestly, it's true) Christopher Patrick (me) is now available to order! 

I'm really excited to be bringing another book out - the second one after 2016's Toasted Fiction: A Collection of Very Short Stories (That Nobody Asked For) - with another range of stories that are designed to make you laugh, cry a little but ultimately feel good. 

The Shadow People Won't Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls features tales of hope, love and family. From an old lady's wig collection to a last minute quest for crisps & dip to the apocalypse, the idea behind this book is to warm your heart and shine some light on even the darkest of days.

2017 has been a bit of a gloomy year. Perhaps this is in reaction to that. We've got to find a little joy and a little hope and a little love to get us through. And, like the characters in this book, if you're one of the lost souls don't worry - everything will be alright in the end. 

It's available in both paperback and digital. Get your copy now and allow the book to light the way. 

The Shadow People, they won't take us alive.

Praise For The Author's Last Book "It's entirely possible that this is my favorite book this year" Dave Barrett (Author of It's All Fun & Games) "These little pieces of Toasted Fiction are gems" Jason Pomerance (Author of Women Like Us)