Weekly Ramble #22

Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you cannot create. We only learn in this world by creating, and we can only create by learning; these two forces foster each other and above all they give everyone in this world purpose. 

I have learned that to create is to feel and be free. To be free in this world is to live and to feel makes this whole deal real. Nothing sets me free more than writing and creating worlds. Find what sets you free, pursue it, get addicted to it, believe in it and shout about it. Some day soon if you try and keep trying, you’ll find a small group of wonderful like minded folks who may do the shouting for you, reward them, befriend them, be kind to them. Give back what has been given to you and be humble. Remember those who’ve helped and those who haven’t, don’t carry grudges; laugh at such things.

Buy that second hand guitar and teach yourself to play, you might suck to begin with; but you’ve gotta start somewhere and learn. Find others who suck and befriend them. Learn to play and figure this stuff out together. Put a band together and start to jam; get that first gig but keep playing no matter how crap the reviews are, eventually you’ll learn and eventually you’ll get good. You could even be the next Cobain or Grohl because they never gave up creating. They always had it inside them and so do you.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you cannot create.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blood of the Sixth By K. R. Rowe – a review

A slow burning tale that twists into the deep shadowy darkness of the unexpected…

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There’s a lot going on under the surface of this story which sits within the realms of gritty urban horror, mystery and witchcraft. Blood of the Sixth has a complex interwoven plot which is delivered in a way that makes it an easy to follow read; something I imagine the author has worked tremendously hard to achieve. The whole layout of the book from short sharp chapter length, to characters all the way to general story has been well thought out.

Like all good books Blood of the Sixth is about a lot of different things which are all linked by the main story. The concept of something lurking in the shadows is exploited well and gives the book a psychological edge; there were some instances it really got into my head but in a good way.  The main character ‘Allie’ is an on the surface quirky soul with a lot more going on in her head and beneath the surface much like the whole story.

For some parts of my reading experience I genuinely laughed and others I found to be quite harrowing (again in a good way) as there were some real graphic violent portions all of which fitted well for the genres. The use of description in some instances has been painstakingly constructed and again the hard work by K. R. Rowe is obvious to see.

Overall this story is a journey that slowly twists throughout and culminates into a great ending. In the latter stages I found myself unable to put the book down.

5 Stars 

 

5 Reasons why you should read Darke Blood

I’ve come to believe that anyone can write a book. I mean that in the singular sense. Most of us have enough inside us to create one book’s worth of content and tell a story worth reading. Although having one book out there is indeed a phenomenal achievement a real writer only finds themselves after that first journey. What I’m saying is indeed subjective and from experience but I truly believe that I became a writer only after I managed to finish drafting Darke Blood and so here are five reasons why you should check out my story of true darkness… 

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1: This was the most difficult project I’ve ever drafted… and arguably the most ‘book like’ book I have out there… it’s probably the most rewarding too…

I almost sent ‘DB’ into the recycling bin around a third of the way into drafting. It made me angry that I just couldn’t get the book to work or fit with any type of story. My writing style isn’t to have much of a particular plan, in fact for this book I had 3 or 4 ideas and no real idea for a finish. Without boring you all to death with vague details let’s just say I persevered and found myself as a writer, pulled everything together during an angry session at the gym one day and created a story I am damn proud of.

The real truth is; and this is further to my point above, I gave myself 4 ideas and then said ‘let’s go write a book’. Being able to write a story on the spot with just a handful of concepts is the definition of a real writer. They will find a way to link everything together via characters, plot and setting no matter what.

Most of my books read like a film, but ‘DB’ reads in a more stationary manner making it deeper and immersive and overall more book like.

2: Yes it’s a vampire story, but that’s just a side genre…

Creatures of the night have been done and done again we all know that and I knew that going in. But Vampires have never been seen in the way I delivered them (sophisticated and logical, no offence or slander towards others though) and as much as people think they have been done; there’s still a huge array of vamp stories out there. This story is Vampires grown up. Above all DB is about identity and finding yourself even if you can only see pure darkness eventually you can find your own light to shine a way.

During the difficult draft I decided the world of Darke Blood was in fact linked to another world created in my debut novel, which brings us to numero 3…

3: Darke Blood is set in the same universe as Open Evening!

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I had a great deal of fun building bridges between Open Evening and Darke Blood. Without dropping a bunch of spoilers I will say it just makes sense for these stories to be in the same ‘time’ and world. If you have read ‘OE’ and if you are looking closely you’ll see a few hints towards the ‘DB’ universe. This becomes a little more obvious in ‘DB’ and those who know the two universes will collide eventually.

4: The characters

Quite simply Darke Blood is a character driven novel, for much of the writing I let them lead the charge and you’ll find arguably the greatest cast I have ever assembled on the page. One of the biggest motivators to write this novel for me personally was to tribute Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a subtle sense as well as carving my own path. Those who are one with the Whedon will know his work is driven and centered by diverse three dimensional characters and Darke Blood tributes that. There is a character for everyone waiting in Darke Blood

5: There’s going to be a sequel!

I have already drafted the sequel to DB and at the far end of this year I shall delve into the editing phase. In terms of release date, we’re looking at 2020. ‘Darke Awakening’ will see the world of Open Evening and Cemetery House collide with Darke Blood in the ultimate culmination and cross over.

Bonus Reason 6:

Turns out cross overs are hard and long (that’s not a porno honest…) so ‘Darke Awakening’ is part 1 of 2 Darke Blood sequels. ‘Darke Apocalypse’ will close the story and crown the ‘Darke Trilogy’ along with carry on the story of Open Evening and Cemetery House. This will be later as opposed to sooner so you have got all the time in the world to read Open Evening, Darke Blood and Cemetery House.

Bonus Bonus Reason 7:

Okay I’m pushing it now and I don’t want to go hard sell but Darke Blood is relatively undiscovered. The truth is it needs a bunch more reviews and reads before I will even think about launching the sequel. My big plan and aspiration this year is to get DB read and reviewed more. You could be responsible for the success of what is a deeply immersive character driven story. Anybody who does wish to read it, I will happily send an e-copy for free in exchange for a review so get in contact for more info…

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A letter to Netflix

Dear Netflix,

I write this with hope it reaches someone who can at least entertain my thoughts and ideas for just one moment. Thoughts and ideas is my craft and the industry I represent is made up of them. I’m talking about authors and specifically in my case independently published authors. An indie author is an unpublished writer who never gave up and found their own path towards publication. They never let main stream rejection stop their dreams being achieved and they put their life and soul into their passion; telling stories. This also applies to ‘traditionally published’ authors and there is no deviation between indie and traditional in terms of hard work, passion and quality of work.

Most authors all share the same struggle of telling the world their work exists. The ways I have seen fellow wordsmiths spread the word is indeed creative, insightful and inspirational. But the distribution of our product is only as good as the ‘distributor’ and by that I frankly refer to the one mainstream book distributor who claims to be in everything from ‘A to Z’.

This is no way an attempt to bash or slander such a large scale business, what they have done in recent times to literally provide anyone with content the opportunity to publish is truly wonderful; this also includes me, but a market dominated by one solitary force results in just a single winner; the business. They get to write the rules and by that I mean they take high percentages of small scale authors royalties and overall treat everyone like a number; again not a bash, just an observation and hence comes an opportunity.

Specifically looking at the e-book market in a broad sense, there is no particular large scale competitor who can provide writers and readers with an alternative. Healthy competition in any market will always have an outcome that benefits the customer and the future of e-books is just waiting for the opportunity for it’s market to be opened with genuine competitors.

E-books will only ever go so far with a sole distributor but what if there was another on the same scale? What if someone else stepped in to the market with large scale aspirations who also gave authors and creators not a better opportunity but an alternative opportunity? That is indeed why I have written this letter because e-books are such a fantastic opportunity for a content provider as large as Netflix. This idea is indeed in its conceptual infancy and there is a bunch to think about, but in essence would ‘streaming’ or ‘lending’ e-books be that much of a difficult feat? Sure you’ll probably have to buy a bunch of extra servers but there are hundreds if not thousands of authors who would be more than willing to give out their work for the world to read and at the same time the market will be fairer for everyone involved.

Netflix lending e-books is a future I think we can all agree would be an awesome thing. I can even imagine Netflix original books becoming Netflix original series or films. And whilst Netflix is truly a red hot business right now it would be taking a huge step for producing way more content with e-books.

I look forward to hearing what you think about this concept.

Yours faithfully

Lee Hall

Indie Author, Netflix customer since ’12 and ideasmith.

 

For anyone reading what do you think? All industry thrives upon healthy competition in the market, and if you agree with this concept we need to get this in front of the right eyes. Please share, comment and tweet so we can prove that words and ideas can change the world for the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Undertown: A novella by K.Noel Moore – Review

“Something happened tonight, I don’t know what. Something that ripped the veil between the Chicago of the living and the Chicago of the dead…” 

Undertown is a clever fusing of history and horror intertwined with real events set around the historic crime wave/prohibition era of 1930’s America. I found myself reading this novella in one sitting within a few enjoyable hours. undertown

The story centers around main character Billy Foster jumping from his present to past in a clear and well paced style. As Billy’s coming of age tale unfolds towards a life of crime influenced by his older ‘brother’ George it slowly moves and twists into a ghostly direction that is unique for the genre.

In the present day of Billy’s story we see him along with homeless companion Sam as they both struggle in the fringes of the crime society beneath the streets of Chicago. There are subtle hints that suggests an unspoken romance between the pair; something I thought added an extra dimension to their friendship giving this retro story a modern feel and relevance whilst not being over done.

There are plenty of references and terms used in the narrative which are authentic to the historic era with a handy reference/definition section placed at the end of the book (something I felt was a nice touch and shows the author has put in a large amount of care, research and thought into).

Overall Undertown is a perfectly paced, easily readable and well written history novella with just the right amount of chills and atmosphere to make it stand out.

5 Stars 

 

Altaica (The Chronicles of Altaica) By Tracy M Joyce – Review

Fantasy world building that reads like historic fiction…

‘Altaica’ is a book set in a world of clan’s, troops, magic, bows, swords and a plethora of diverse characters. Although I did struggle to get into it initially , I enjoyed this debut novel which has been put together with an imaginative and intricate level of detail. altaica

The writing style has a feel of historic fiction meets fantasy; giving it a unique voice comparable to Wilbur Smith meeting essences of a modern day Tolkien. There were some instances I forgot that this was in fact based in fictional places as I became immersed into the story. I particularly enjoyed the diverse range of characters with their unique names which the writer has clearly put in a lot of thought and time to create along with the world they live in.

Overall ‘Altaica’ is an epic journey and delivers in gradually immersing readers effectively to escapism; something which all authors no matter the genre strife to achieve. This type of book and the way it is written makes it very accessible for those unfamiliar with the fantasy genre along with satisfying those who frequently visit worlds such as this one created by Tracy M Joyce. You could even say this book steps out the barriers of genre that it would usually be defined by and carves its own path making for a unique, fun and enjoyable read.

Four Stars 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #21

There goes another decade, well nearly. Time flies when you’re writing books I guess and this year just sort of crept up from the shadows. The past few weeks have all kinda merged but things are trying to settle down…

Lets talk goals for 2019; because A new year feels like a fresh start, this is my year and it may even be the crowning piece of one hell of a decade.

  • I’m handwriting the first draft for my next book, a paranormal romance in the form of a diary. Yes I said romance, my whole deal in writing is to nail as many genres as I possibly can. If you can tell a story, genres are just the variable. We’re looking at a festive season 2019 release and I may fully self publish this one, I will still need an epic cover though!
  • Book Code named ‘Project X43’… or the real title ‘Jack Thorn’ – ‘In the future there will be robots… and this book is my writing destiny’. This year I’m finishing the rebooted draft and I’m going to find an agent and get it published (yep easier said than done). Those who have followed me from the start will recognize the ‘Thorn’ name and yes this book is massively linked to it.

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  • Darke Blood Sequel: ‘Darke Awakening’ has already been drafted and for those who have been keeping up this one serves as not only a sequel to ‘DB’ but it’s the continuation of Open Evening and Cemetery House. This year I will hopefully edit and set a release date for the Awakening. It will probably see the ‘light’ in 2020.

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So that’s all of my writing goals for 2019, let me just take this opportunity to say, keep it real, be safe and may the force be with you! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Ramble

2018 has been a punishingly brutal year. Too dramatic? I’ve been taking the last few weeks to look back and actually find a way to accurately describe what this year has been and that’s what I got. But now comes the save, because nothing in this world worth having comes without a fight and the last 12 months have been the most important of this decade for me and for a lot other fellow bloggers/writer folks…

There were a few occasions when things turned really, really, really dark and I’m not taking a shot at my energy supplier because the greatest tool we have as humans is our mind and as much as it can take us to wonderful places, it can turn sinister. Some few months ago the fire of all fires in my heart almost burned out, you know that fire which drives us to do what we do in life. It stokes and heats up the engine that carries all of our hopes and dreams, yeah that, it almost went completely out. Mostly for reasons that are internally swilling around inside me and those reasons turned to thoughts which then turned to dark dark feelings, but that fire (think of it as the one in the Goblet of Fire) burst back to life after some epiphany style thinking and like Peter Pan I had found my happy thought which in turn brought me into the light. You have to experience true darkness if you ever want to see the light (Darke Blood reference and fu**ing true dat).

We’re two months removed from that now and although I haven’t fully gone back into book writing I will be very soon. Those two months that followed have been as a matter of fact the most important time of my writing life and they can be defined by one word, connections. If you ever want to succeed in anything these days you have to connect and that is what I have done. 

People are starting to take notice of my efforts and my work is actually starting to take off, I’m talking sales every other day, book reviews and people dropping me lines about reading my stuff. Things have been boosted massively via this blog and Twitter with the use of a wonderful hashtag #writerscommunity which has slowly put me back together again because we are all on this journey together. And do you know why this has happened? I interact with other bloggers and writers and since August I have offered Indie book reviews in which my to read list for next year is near full! I’m not just writing content and saying buy it, follow me or fu** off I’m reaching out to those who need it and deserve it, my distribution plan is simple, follow and interact with others.

2018 has been a roller coaster of events and emotions and this has been a damn important year for my writing, I now have 4 books published, that’s double compared to last year! I’m damn proud of this but the one thing I will be most proud of has yet to happen, before this year closes out I have my finest achievement yet to happen; on friday I will be a property owner with my better half, I’m getting my writing room and I’m bringing the table I have always written on because as always the story continues….

This is my official sign off for 2018 and my final words are this… thank you for joining me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zone 23 by C.J Hopkins Review

A wordy but very addictive and immersive read…

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Zone 23 is a story told in a uniquely odd and sometimes funny style. C.J Hopkins has created an imaginative and deeply descriptive world of social classes. There were many instances I found myself amused and then there were times I didn’t particularly understand whether or not something was supposed to be funny or more serious. Either way its a very immersive read and the author’s vocabulary range is like nothing I have seen before which is a big positive and something many aspiring authors should take note and learn from.

I found myself unable to put this book down and I managed to read it over a three day weekend although I didn’t get much else done as it is a very long but overall rewarding read. The description is heavy a lot of the time which unfortunately weighs down the flow of what is a really gripping and immersive tale.

Much of the themes echo to the world we live in today although it is set in a ‘dystopian’ world and makes fun of the genre in a clever and original way. Many of the chapters end on a cliffhanger giving it an effective page turning quality. The characters throughout felt three dimensional and believable in the world they live in.

Above all I would describe Zone 23 as a highly immersive, very interesting story with some attributes many of these ‘dystopian’ tales could only dream of having.

4 stars.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Review

Being part of the Nickelodeon generation (the good Nickelodeon generation) I’ve been looking forward to this Netflix adaptation/re imagining ever since it was announced, plus you know most of my books delve into the occult and my first TV hero was Buffy the Vampire Slayer so on the surface this show looked to tick many a box, or so I thought…

First of all this isn’t a fully negative review of what I thought was a mostly decent show but…

We’ll start with the good: 

The Characters…

Netflix have done an outstanding job in casting this thing; from the lead who is great and also has eyebrows like it’s 2018 because suddenly they became a thing, either way Kiernan Shipka carries the show as sixteen year old Sabrina Spellman; a half witch half mortal about to delve into the witchcraft underworld of her hometown Greendale. In fact I think possibly the best thing about this show is the array of characters and the cast. Love interest Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) carried his role with a depth and emotion that was well played throughout. Of course the Aunties are back in the form of Miranda Otto (scared the hell out of me, but also glam AF) and Lucy Davis (from the UK office), we even see a new character, housebound cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) who acts a lot of the time as a sort of consoling adviser to this young witch as she tries to balance mortal life of a typical High School teenager with that of the occult. Of course there are bad guys in the form of ‘the sisters’ and lead villain Michelle Gomez spends the entirety of S1 as the main antagonist. I have to mention Salem, who is a cat yet again but more of a ‘familar’ who doesn’t speak this time… (I’ll allow that as this isn’t predominantly a comedy)

The Setting

I loved the look of the town known as Greendale and surrounding forest. Everything seemed to have a certain dark grit which was delivered by some typical of the genre angular camera work . The high school stood somewhere between Archie comic and dark realism; in fact the production design and sets were flawless on screen. Greendale does indeed look to be an interesting place…

So Netflix are doing well, but then we get to the actual story which is where the problems begin…

I really really wanted to like this show, and I did mostly but Sabrina has problems with it’s story, there isn’t just one, there are several stories, in fact there are too many. The main story, sub stories and back stories spread this show too thin. Much of the time I felt the long running time of each episode did in fact drag which to me is such a shame because this show has so much potential. They seemed to be doing too much at once which to me felt like there wasn’t enough of everything.

Story telling in television and cinema seems to be a problem these days with the fact people make these wonderful productions with great performances, production design, costumes, effects… but the story is where it’s lacking (ref The Walking Dead, Star Wars, any Hollywood Horror film…) and that is where Sabrina falls down. There isn’t enough for what it is and that’s worrying for something with hour long episodes. There isn’t enough action to stimulate the dragging effect that seems to weigh this thing down. With Buffy every episode had to have a sequence of action, even if it was a solitary out-swinging kick it had something, this show doesn’t.

Attention spans are shortening and this whole binge watch thing works if the show is binge-able but it has to come naturally and not forced/planned. Orange is the new black works as a great example of this, you want to know what happens next, the tension grips you throughout but with Sabrina they tended to force every ending with a cliff hanger enticing viewers to binge, but after that long hour previously I really didn’t feel like another one.

This is problematic going forward and the show needs to do a lot to convince me to carry on watching for season 2. Netflix is great but not everything they do is. Just tell a story and stop worrying about telling several…

Final Thought and it’s positive!

The final episode was in fact awesome and if you like the occult genre then do check it out. There are some great characters; great performances and some familiar faces.