Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Book Review - Debris

Debris - Jo Anderton - 464 pages - 2011 (Kindle version)

My quest to read books I don't normally read led me to the debut novel of Jo Anderton, "Debris", a steam-punk-esque, sci-fi/fantasy tale of class divides and technology gone wild. It isn't a book I would normally pick up, as I'm not a huge fan of steam-punk (it feels too forced and cliched at times) and a book's description that involves words like "architect" ,"pions" and "powersuit" are not normally that attractive to me. But as this is my year of pushing myself I bought an e-book version from Angry Robots and have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Exciting News

This week has been an odd one; I started it thinking there was something really wrong with my heart and/or lungs, due to breathing problems and chest pains, only for it to end on the highest of highs. Fiction has nothing on real life and its unpredictability.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Film Review: The Woman in Black (2012)

A good ghost story seems hard to find in modern films; too many rely on shock tactics, whether it be via gore or something jumping out of a wall, to build up that sense of terror that can be achieved just from watching a door handle slowly start to turn. The Woman in Black is a welcome return to ghost story telling of the past, and though it's a different beast to the play and book that precedes it, the film still offers a genuinely frightening and entertaining experience.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Modern Greed or a Tale That Needs Telling?

So news has 'leaked' that Amanda Knox has been given a  $4 million book deal with HarperCollins for her version of events surrounding the murder of Meredith Kercher and the ensuing court case against Knox and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. It seems an odd time to "cash-in", considering that the Italian courts are appealing against the release of Knox and Sollecito, and as America has an extradition treaty with Italy, this could get very embarrassing for the publisher should she be sent back for a retrial. Or maybe that would just increase sales...

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Over 10,000 Hits and Counting

Hello word seekers. I noticed that my visit count for the ol' rant-o-meter here has just passed the 10,000 hits mark - woo hoo! I find this extra impressive as I haven't posted much recently but it is super appreciated. Thank you to all of you that come on here regularly and a smaller but no less grateful thank you to the fly by night, blink and you'll miss-em visitors.

A quick catch up is probably in order. Today I submitted a short story to an anthology publication (deadline tomorrow - I just love cutting things as fine as possible) and will now wait to see what they say. Oddly, I wouldn't mind a rejection, if it comes with some feedback. But we will wait and see what happens. I admit I would much rather it be accepted... I must also mention my fabulous friends who took on the role of beta-readers for it. I got some excellent feedback and it really helped make the story better than I could have managed on my own. Thanks guys! (You know who you are - I owe you all at least one drink.)

In other news I'm coming out of a chest infection (another one!) that caused some never experienced side-effects before. Turns out not being able to breathe isn't much fun, and the steroid pills they give you for that make your stomach burn like you've just eaten the hottest chili in the world, with an added dash of molten lava. But I am on the mend, and that's been the primary reason the blog's been so quiet these last few weeks - writing in my cold office was on my list of "things I can't do until the drugs start working". But I'm back, and looking at my writing schedule again so should have a few more regular posts in the coming weeks.

I'd remove those scissors - that amount of writing block
can result in plucking out your own eyes.
I've also had a bit of a rethink re. "The Tome that Never Ends", otherwise known as my attempt to write a novel. I have realised a painful truth - it needs a lot of work. I mean a lot. At the moment the ending just sorta happens, and doesn't feel like it's due to the protagonist's decisions. Which we can all agree is not good. The problem is a lot deeper than that though - earlier on I just don't give her enough to work with. So... I am keeping what I've done BUT the stakes are being made that much bigger, huge in fact, so that failure really isn't an option for the main characters. I realised all this due to writing the short story I mention above; the first version of that was too safe, so I made it nastier. That in turn led me to think about my longer work and I realised I had done exactly the same thing; playing it safe resulting in uninteresting beige stuff. I'm glad I've realised this though, as it should result in a better, faster paced and enjoyable read. It's got me quite fired up too and that's normally a sign I'm onto something.

So more words to come, possibly in a couple more short stories to throw out there while I totally rejig the novel. Who knows what the next short story might teach me?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Book Review: God Is Not Great - How Religion Poisons Everything

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything - Christopher Hitchens - 2007 (Kindle 2011 version reviewed) - 320 pages

In light of his recent death I thought I'd finally get round to reading this book from Hitchens, written at a time when I was a bit disgusted (to put it mildly) with his support for the war in Iraq. At the time I didn't feel any need to read it; I'd enjoyed Richard Dawkins' rant about religion but didn't see the point in his or Hitchens' books, seeing them as simply preaching to the choir. To me they didn't seem to be saying anything particularly startling or, for a convinced atheist, anything that hadn't been said before. Having now read Hitchens' contribution I can honestly say my initial assumptions weren't far wrong, but he does a far better job of supporting his piece then Dawkins, and his writing is a wonder to behold.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Flash Fiction - "True Love"

Chuck Wendig posted a flash fiction challenge to his blog, "The Present Tense"; to write a maximum of 1000 words, all in the present tense. It's an odd tense to work in, and I thought it needed a lot of concentration to stay in it. Can't promise it's one I'll use in my fiction but it was nice to try it.

So I present you with my effort, "True Love". Hope you enjoy.