Thursday, 26 January 2012

What a palava!

No, it's not, its Hue and Cry (see what I did there?) and its a New Orleans/ Scottish blues/ funk hybrid.

Lovin' it.

Monday, 23 January 2012

World Book Night 2012

World Book Night 2012 will soon be upon us and if you want to be a “Giver” you need to rush your sweet ass over to their WEBSITE  and register.

The choice you will be presented with this year is quite interesting. And I don’t mean “interesting” in that bland, non-committal way that the word can often be used. I mean, interesting.

They range from the popular to the classic as they attempt to meet every taste.

We have (among others) Jane Austen, Martina Cole, Roald Dahl, Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy and Marcus Zuzak. (An actual A - Z list!) And the genres seem well represented, ranging from crime to horror to fantasy to classic and modern general literature.

All of the books chosen (and you’ll just have to take my word on this, cos I haven’t done the research) will have been a commercial success. And where I’m sure the writers (the living, breathing ones) will enjoy the attention, it would have been nice to see some less well-known writers and books getting a mention.

Any glaring omissions? Who would you like to have seen included and why?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

At the Movies ...chez moi.

Last night I wanted to watch a movie with The Wee Fella (TWF) so I sent a query out on Facebook and Twitter (I am SO of the moment, am I not) asking for suggestions. Plenty came back, but I had watched all of ‘em. (I should have just scrolled through Ricky’s blog – link on the right - to see what took my fancy).

Anywho, we ventured off to Blockbuster without any clue really. We’d seen all of the recent releases that we wanted to so we moseyed over to the 99p section - more out of hope than expectation, to chance our luck.

TWF happens to have pretty good taste in movies. He likes ‘em “action-y” or funny, or scary and well-acted with good production values. They have to hang together well – meaning the character’s actions have to be consistent with what we know about the character AND he can also smell when he’s being patronised from 100 paces. Which caused all kinds of problems when we were taking him to sports lessons.  “That guy (the golf pro) said I was really good. What a liar. I barely hit a ball. I was crap.”

We took out two. What the hell. Am I good to him or what.

Outpost  - the cover made it look like it was about zombie/ghost Nazis and TWF thought it looked like “it was going to be so bad it would be good”. Surprise, it was actually decent.  Not brilliant, but it totally held our interest for 86 minutes, in places was satisfyingly gory for a teen (I meant to say earlier that gore is good) and TWF gave it 7.5 out of 10.

Legacy: Black Ops  - with Idris Elba from The Wire (most actors have their age written beside their name in articles. For Idris this is replaced with “The Wire”.) The cover – and the title – give the impression that this is an action-fest. And if that’s all you were looking for then you’d be greatly disappointed. This movie was much, much more.  And in a good way.

Elba is hiding out in a shabby hotel room after surviving the months of torture that followed a failed mission in Eastern Europe. He is torn between retribution and personal salvation as he his conscience attacks him and he ponders the ascent of his brother, an ambitious senator with designs on the presidency, who appears to be no saint himself.

If Idris Elba had given this performance in a mainstream movie it would surely have earned him an Oscar nomination. He was intense, utterly convincing and fully committed to the role. One of the best acting jobs I’ve seen for a loooooong time. You knew this man had committed some awful deeds, but despite this, Elba’s haunted and scarred figure engaged your sympathies and pulled you onside.

It’s quite possible that this movie didn’t get the plaudits it deserved because it hinted at an all out action-er and then became a tight psychological thriller, basically set in one room. While I was getting used to what the movie was REALLY about I felt the pace lag, but when the penny dropped and I was caught up in Elba’s performance, I was locked in and engrossed.

The last word, as usual goes to the Wee Fella. “That guy from The Wire was AWESOME and I never give a movie ten out of ten, but I’m giving that a ten.”

So there ya go.

Friday, 13 January 2012

An interview with ...


(Frankly, it's all about me.)

Go to The Inspiration Forum and read a little more about "Blood Tears".



Wednesday, 11 January 2012

May Actually Contain Nuts.

David Cameron, Prime Minister was let out in public today; and was yet again on record bumping his gums about things he is under-qualified to talk about. The British movie industry was receiving his attention and our Dave opined that we should be making more “mainstream” movies.

I have some questions, your bumptiousness.

What does that even mean? “Mainstream”.

Let’s say it means commercially successful. Movies that make money, yes?  Which begs the question - does he think movie-makers go out of their way to make nae money?

Or does he want UK film-makers to go all Hollywood? Big names, big budgets, special effects and a storyline Arnie could drive a truck through? Where’s the money for that going to come from?

Here’s the thing, dear David, nobody knows which films are going to make money. (Stuttering Royalty or inept suicide bombers anyone?) And here’s another thing – didn’t you abolish the UK Film Council?
Cynical me ties the timing of this comment in with the release of The Iron Lady. Is DC imagining a time when film-makers are making a biopic of his life and keen to make sure they are in a position to take full advantage of his “legend”.


Another thing that caught my eye recently –  something for the brain-cell impaired - a warning sign on a jar of peanut butter that read “May Contain Nuts”.

And another thing that caught my eye...

I had occasion to be in a hotel. Away on business, dontcha know. (Jeez, do I live the highlife or wot?)My well-appointed room had all the usual stuff including an (empty) mini bar and a safe, which was nicely tucked out of the way. Wandering about the room, scoping the facilities – as you do – I opened the wee door of the safe. On the inside was a warning that read, Danger of Suffocation.


The frontage of the safe was rectangular. About five inches high and about eight inches wide. Picture me with the daft expression on my face and thinking WTF.

I had to try it out. I twisted my neck and lined my face up to the opening. I pressed against it. Nope. I could still breathe. Quite well as it happens. But I had my full weight on my feet. What if I was unsupported?

So I lined up a coffee table, stool and dresser – not an easy task as they were all different heights - lay on top and moved to press my face against the mouth of the opened safe. Before I moved in, I had a moment of panic. What if this worked? What if I did actually suffocate? What would they tell my family? Would they put it down to some strange auto-erotica thingy?

My trousers were safely zipped and belted, so no danger there. I hopped off my perch to check, just in case. Aye. We were decent. I put my shoes and socks back on as well. (There are some devious fuckers out there – who knows how their minds work.)

So. Safety factors all accounted for, I lay across the table, stool and dresser. Lined my face against the safe opening and pressed against it. Sadly, I noted that breathing remained an achievable goal.

But people don’t put these signs up for nothing, people.

What if I wrapped a scarf around my head before applying to the safe? A quick mental inventory and I spotted the flaw. I had no scarves on my person. But I did have a spare shirt.

I wrapped this round my head and moved back into position. It was a more comfortable way to be possibly suffocated, what with the cushioning against the metal of the safe, I thought, as I waited for my breath to fail.
Nothing dangerous happened. No auto-erotic thingy. No danger of suffocation. My pesky lungs kept on filling themselves to spite me. Bastards.

(Do I, or do I not put myself through the mill for you, dear reader?)

Realising the sign was a dud I re-arranged my room and slung off my shoes and socks. I could feel a letter to the government forming in my head. Maybe we should get David Cameron to talk to the public about the dangers of misleading signage? 

What do you think?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Getting to The End

I haven’t been one for doling out the writing advice on this blog, not least for the reason there are lots of people out there much better at than me.

However, there’s one thing I’ve been asked a lot recently and I thought it might be fun to get a wee discussion going.

Lots of people start writing a novel. Lots of people don’t get very far writing a novel. (Some cruel people might argue that too many people do, but that’s for another blog.)

The people that struggle to finish might ask, how do you maintain the effort required to get to those two little words: The End?

But if it’s something that you have done for years now and it’s something that you just do, you often don’t know how to answer.  Although “Blood Tears” will be my first published novel, it was the 3rd to be written – and I have now written a further 3, so experience tells me I can go all the way.

I compare this to when I go swimming. As a part of my (off and on) fitness regime I swim a mile once or twice a week. The first 20 lengths of the pool are the WORST. I’m all heavy-limbs and aching joints and an internal moan that goes – whyareyoudoingthisthisissfeckingawfulstopnow. Then because experience tells me I can go the distance, I get past the hump, get into my rhythm and before you know it the last touch down is looming.

When writing a novel, there is always a hump. I’m a pantser – I’ve set the characters in place, the story is unravelling and I hit a wall. “Where the feck am I going to go now?” plays on a loop in my head.

What do I do? 

I keep on writing. 

Experience tells me I am capable of finishing and it also allows me to trust that my sub-conscious (or as Stephen King calls it – the boys on the boiler room) is working on a solution. I keep at it. I keep showing up at the coal-face and then, one day, it all falls into place like a grand, DAH-DAH! (I swear the sun always comes out and the birds set up an orchestral movement right at this very moment.)

So how does that help the first-timer, you ask while wagging a finger at your screen?

Don’t know, he smiles wickedly.

What I will say is that if you are serious about writing you will need to develop a mindset of persistence. Get your arse on the chair – your fingers on the keys – and get on a programme of writing activity, because this work of art/ bestseller/ piece of crap/ work of genius/ wouldn’t wipe my backside with this nonsense – and yes, that’s how my brain considers each of my novels during the writing process -  isn’t going to write itself.

And if you get to The Hump and you trust in your characters, the world you’re creating and your story, keep coming back to them because they hold all the answers.

Do you remember the first time? (Writing a book, silly.) How did you keep at it?

Monday, 2 January 2012

Start your year off with a smile ...

Fun. Remember that? I'm done with the miserablism of 2011. How about you?