The Weekly Ramble #2

I want to talk about cliché, a word every blogger and writer clashes with every time they put finger to key board, and in this place it’s okay to talk about it…

Is it cliché to come across as artsy and reflective when talking about being a writer? As much as I like the image of wearing a dark roller neck jumper, cradling a whisky tumbler, staring thorough thick rimmed glasses and reclining in a popular chat show sofa; that image totally isn’t me.

I find myself dancing around the inevitable question when somebody tells me they’ve read my work, it’s almost as if they are waiting for me to ask ‘what did you think?’. Instead I’ll weave around their words and seem disinterested, yet another typical behavior artists have towards their work.

But cliché seems to evolve around everything successful in story telling today, you see it in similar looking book covers, titles and everyone has to have at least two reviews on that cover. As much as we strife to stay away from cliché, we need it for our stories to thrive.

In my writing I like to suggest something typical is about to happen or a certain person has traits that are seemingly familiar only for the reader to discover there is something much deeper within and that is the inner message of all my work. I call back to my latest novel The Teleporter, and the main character Kurt Wiseman. On the surface of this story the whole deal reeks of comic book style cliché with a dusting of comedy, something I meticulously toiled over and decided would probably sell the book, something now I was very wrong about. I wanted people to come for the super hero bit, but stay for what the story is really about (read it and you will find out). In essence I failed to capture the right level of cliché in a super hero comedy, a niche which would seem failure proof.

Unfortunately cliché moments in the book are what sometimes define them, readers want to see the good versus evil battle, the damsel in distress get rescued, the rugged semi handsome guy put in the save, an older paternal/maternal type perhaps die on their valiant sword for their efforts, the guy gets the girl, the nerd is actually a warrior, the monsters came from space, the bad guy is bad for a reason, the dead parents… the list ultimately goes on.

What if all of the above is justification to say there are no more original stories?

Something which I half agree with, but what if you can get over that statement by being different, perhaps delivering the story in a different way that distracts the reader enough not to think this was the same old stuff. If can call back to another one of my works; Open Evening, the not so typical high school horror with so much more waiting underneath the surface. Yes you’ve got the typicality of such a story, but the way it is delivered, the struggle, the uncertainty, the ultimate resolve all have a different and a cliché busting way of providing the story which is totally different to those in it’s genre. Just read the reviews, not one bad word goes against the actual story.

If I’m going to plug my books it is not complete without Darke Blood; a not so ‘vampirey’ type vampire story… again the whole deal begins with your typical horror affair but what comes out the other end is a bunch of things done before, but not like they have been done in Darke Blood.

All of my work is example enough to say cliché can be embraced and avoided. There are ways as writers and bloggers that we can deliver our products and words differently. Then again if we are all going to be different, then aren’t we actually the same? I guess that’s cliché to say…

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Reasons why YOU should read Open Evening

Shameless self promotion alert and as an indie author most of the time if I’m not shouting about my books, nobody else is. So here’s some top reasons why you should invest your money, imagination and hopes into the literature I have brought into this world, we’re gonna start where it all began…. Open Evening

 

1. Open Evening is different…

Okay, you’re probably thinking everyone says that about their stuff but stay with me here. Open Evening initially reads like a typical high school horror but spends most of the book being anti towards the genre and even turns the cliche back on its self. Our nerdy sometimes socially struggling narrator has to overcome so much more than a lack of confidence to survive what becomes a night of running and trying to live.

2. It represents kids today, even though it’s based in 2003…

Everyone who has ever been a teenager will know what I mean by the struggle of what high school is, and that is one of the main themes captured in Open Evening. I took the idea of this book from a bunch of notes I wrote when I was at school and could easily tell this theme ran throughout so I had to translate that to Open Evening. Whether your’e the bully, the jock, class clown or anything in between, there is something everyone can relate to in the whole psyche of high school and that is present in Open Evening and still relevant in today’s society, I mean look at 13 reasons why.

I will even admit there are some elements of Open Evening which are taken from my own personal experiences, so you could say its semi autobiographical.

Sometimes it feels the teachers are against you and sometimes it feels like the world is against you, just what ii really is, and something else was lurking underneath it all….

3. Open Evening is extremely action packed…

Yes there’s running and screaming, but there is also a lot of sequences that involve fighting and explosions. If Open Evening could be compared to a film it would sit somewhere between Alien, Aliens and Jurassic Park. The books and relatively short style chapters are designed to keep pages being turned and there is never a dull moment, and if it goes quiet be scared, be very scared…

4. Open Evening is practically free to read..

Technically if you have kindle unlimited you can download the e-book for free but if not the price is well below most books and if your’e like me and prefer holding a book in your own hands then you can find it via amazon for £6.99 or some dollars…

5. Open Evening is part of a wider franchise….

Open Evening is indeed just the beginning of a wider franchise which looks deeper into the occult world. By the time you have finished Open Evening there will be a bunch of head spinning questions in which the wider franchise will answer for you. This includes my second novel Darke Blood which is set in the same world as Open Evening!

This year Cemetery House will be released, the direct sequel to Open Evening. It will then move towards the world of Darke Blood in a cross over story planned for 2019! So there will be a plethora of books and stories to invest your imagination in, which all started with Open Evening….

6. Special bonus reason… Cemetery House is coming this Halloween!

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The Weekly Ramble #1

I’ve been inclined to start a weekly article called the ‘ramble’,  a place to take my writing and more importantly opinions of stuff that 3 novels and counting just couldn’t contain…

Everyday I find myself scrolling through social media, playing the proverbial game of bingo spotting the usual bullshit that fills up our timelines and stories, yeah I’m in that crowd, but normally I share stuff because it might enrich someone or at least make them aware of my efforts as a writer, it could even make someone happy.

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Us human beings have and always will be on the hunt for instant gratification, hell I’m sure that’s what the ‘gram’ is named after, a basic extension of life invader or Facebook as you all know it. An opportunity to create blatantly planned and set up moments… back to that game of bingo, I see a full plate of food with a pair of sunglasses and maybe a book. The only thing missing is the phone which should be face down, just eat the damn meal and read the book instead, nobody really cares about your average life. People emptily like the picture probably because it’s better than the one below it, of that person telling you how good and full his life is when really deep down that post is aimed at an ex and so again I stamp my bingo card.

You can define the social media user by two crowds, the constant posters and the ones who hide but are always watching. The watchers will say they’ve had enough of Facebook and will probably deactivate their account when they get round to it, or in fact they have just returned from a three month stint of that blank profile picture, you’re not fooling me, you are just the same in nature to the constant posters, you need it, for the gratification and because it’s still there you return.

I mean I am no saint when it comes to social media, of course I probably over use it, I am human after all, and my weird journey as an author wouldn’t be what it is without that. Success as a writer and on social media echo each other in the same bipolar way. Take my latest novel, The Teleporter, a super hero type comedy with a hell of a lot of relation to this modern world, it’s anti Trump, and sometimes pro booze. There are so many things in that book that make it unique, despite that and all my marketing efforts, it sold less that 20 copies. Bipolar right? Or maybe bad timing or maybe nobody is interested unless it’s Marvel or DC, or so many other theories, I think maybe the cover has something to do with it, not that it’s bad, I think it’s wonderful, but is there some kind of primitive dislike for a certain colour or font? Because whenever I put that cover up anywhere on social media, the likes and attention are seriously reduced. Is it the title? Weird huh? and you should see for yourself, it’s probably the most interesting outcome I have had for a book, it has simply been rejected.

Now rejection is something we all need to embrace if we want to use social media, people wont always be there to like your stuff, and people that do without fail, are they liking the content or the person? Rejection may as well be my middle name when I began this journey into the words, I still have the rejection emails in the hundreds via the inbox of a time not so long ago.

I continue to process why the Teleporter has seemingly failed, and I say that in the least dramatic sense, I know some have read it, but not a lot, and it is still very early to really gauge the success of it. How I process this stuff is simple, retreat into writing, keep churning out content across genres, I’m holding hundreds of darts and the target is somewhere ahead. As long as I keep throwing, some day the I’ll make something stick….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Lincoln to leave the Walking Dead

Okay so its time we talked… about the very recent news in television because if you are my demographic of reader then you probably know at the very least what the Walking Dead is…

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The breaking news is (which you probably know by now) the show’s lead Andrew Lincoln and it’s main character Rick Grimes will be bowing out of the show by the end of next season (9). Fans of the hardcore persuasion reacted in one of two ways:

A groan and a mutter of ‘this show is properly dead now’, or…

‘Oh god please no why?’.

Most would probably be number 1, kind of including me, but why? 

Let’s face it the previous season (8) of TWD was pretty much a car crash which then the survivors of said wreck tried to stumble away and take the wreckage of that car and try to carry on with the journey. That’s kind of a deep metaphoric analogy but also pretty accurate. As s8 unfolded there came that slow build feeling that perhaps something major was shifting, and then they killed Carl…

Now all of the last series wasn’t bad, there were some gripping Negan v Rick things, a few twists and a continuation of some real good characterization, Morgan comes to mind, who may be one of the finest actors in the show, not to take away anything from the performances which in essence has kept the show running. There were action sequences and a lot of tension but I had this feeling throughout that a dark cloud had began to form over TWD, and maybe just maybe it’s taken things a bridge too far.

I’ve talked about my grievances previously and honestly think the performers and whole show is a victim of terrible management and overly bold writing which has attempted and failed to take the show somewhere different. In fact some places and arcs of the show have failed, whilst others (Father Gabriel and Eugene) have shone brightly, it’s a mess basically, and the fans don’t deserve the ride they have been taken on. I felt as if by the end of the season TWD had been dragged through mud and only just come out the other side. Retribution seemed paper thin, with the underwhelming disarming of Negan, and then the subsequent hint that next season solid alliances may be tested.

And now we hear that the show’s lead has chucked it all in… deep sigh. 

Viewer numbers are down and will be plummeting evermore with the absence of it’s main character. Half of me wants to carry on and see, whilst part of me thinks, is this really worth it? I always imagined the end of TWD to be some plethora of drama and high tension which included Rick and his son Carl, both of which will be gone. They are both synonymous to the story and personally I think neither character works without the other, maybe why Lincoln has come to his decision.

If I could fantasize and book/write the final episode of the TWD the whole show would have moved towards the impending doom of the human race. It was always going to head that way, even without a zombie apocalypse the human race is doomed (light huh?), but with this walker fest it still turns out that way. Rick will probably die dramatically a scene before the end and Carl would have survived with his sister, maybe a few others would be left, like Daryl who finally tells his back story. The whole thing would be wrapped up and maybe even left open for a future revisit.

It is such a shame that partial fantasy is dashed, I don’t think we are going to get a Breaking Bad style ending that all the fans deserve, more like a slow death of a show which not so long ago gripped the world of television.

No doubt Andrew Lincoln has brought a fine performance to TWD but even I think he’s had enough…

 

Restored Faith is coming home…

The tag line of my very first book was to ’embrace the unexpected’ and I know, I’m tooting my own horn here, especially when it comes to my work, because pretty much nobody else will.

It seems every other review I get these days is just a snarky half autistic commentary nit picking the finer details of what are in my opinion good enough stories, but after all that is all they are stories, and this summer has produced one of the finest stories right out of the unexpected. I’m talking about the FIFA world cup and England.

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I’m making my return to blogging after quite a long stretch of radio silence, that’s what writers do, they recede to the words, I’m busy with stuff that’s all but even I had to stop and take note of the past month. I want this entry to be more of a love letter than just a remorseful sulk towards yet another knock out of the three lions and I have good reason. We all have good reason for this to be positive.

Nobody including me even thought England would have a chance of reaching the last 4 of a 32 team competition. I just looked forward to seeing a game of international football every night for a few weeks, there’s just a more interesting vibe about the international game, that combined with a tournament makes it must watch-anything-can-happen-television. And then England played their first game…

As I tuned in via the BBC I player to see England take on Tunisia I really didn’t know how to feel or what to expect. Truth is, the last proper game of England football I followed was against Iceland, an embarrassing and probable all time low point, but even before then my nerve endings were singed and near dead (memories of 2014, 2010 and even 2006 were responsible for this). As I rallied behind the many unknown faces to me wearing the three lions kit I then got that usual frustrated feeling I always used to get, I guess that just comes with watching England, then Tunisia equalized via a penalty and it pretty much looked like a carbon copy of every damn England tournament game, ever.

England are always the architects of our own demise or some controversy always denied us, and then something unusually special happened. Harry Kane scored a winning goal in injury time. A small glimmer of hope began to form in many of our imaginations, could we actually do this? Was lady luck finally siding with England?

Fast forward to a Wednesday night in July and the whole country were united in watching our football team for the first time since I could really remember. The journey there became intertwined with a nation falling back into love with international football, this time so well documented in the internet age. The memes were rife and the world couldn’t look away or ignore the fact that football was coming home. It didnt rain in all the time England were in the world cup.

Then you have to rewind, this thing may read like a Tarantino scene shuffler but you have to look back in history, for me my earliest memory of England was that grey kit, Alan Shearer, Gazza and the old Wembley Stadium. I was seven years old when my dad moved the sofa closer to our tv to watch my first taste of England football glory.

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I sat there 22 years ago watching the man who is now our manager miss a penalty against Germany in Euro 96′.  That moment hurt all the way up until this year because now I find myself with nothing but respect for the man toting the waistcoat as he gracefully and calmly marched himself into football legend. Gareth Southgate’s efforts wouldn’t be enough to go past an experienced hard working Croatia team, but there are so many positives this time. He redeemed himself from 96’s clutches and that folks is the greatest part of this story and so now when I looked up to that England team as they faced a well turned out group of fans after all their efforts, I felt nothing but hope. 

We didn’t lose in controversy, there were no cheats or red cards, there was no real negativity, we weren’t robbed, even in defeat England had finally earned the faith of their following again. The black heart of disappointment finally began to beat again even if we fell on our sword, we fought all we could.

England reached a fine turning point this summer, they won a penalty shoot out, and rightfully deserved, Columbia were a threat and also bad sports. That moment is when I fully believed this whole deal had changed and that is what England fans must take away from a truly wonderful effort. Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing, and I honestly predicted England to bow out via the semi finals, something we hadn’t reached in nearly thirty years mind!

For the first time in a generation the England manager represents nothing less than hope and respect. The future of this young now big match experienced team is bright, yes it hurts, it will for a while, but then there is a belief which will shine through. We’ve got our national team back, and if I could travel back to 1996 and tell my seven year old self that we would get to the semi finals of the 2018 world cup, just after we bowed out to Germany, I know I would take that. Don’t be angry, be sad for a while but know that England’s best is yet to come! I’ve followed football all my life and even the club I religiously followed (QPR), had their day a number of times, trust me, one day it will come home for England, but for now we will have to settle for restored belief, pride, faith and more importantly hope.

It was nice to have that belief, even if it was temporary it united England for just a few weeks and I am sure it will again. Thank you England. 

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