Weekly Ramble #15

November is a shitty month. Its a kind of a between space, like an airport or a station, full of people on different paths; all of which are in my way… okay that’s super pessimistic and people aren’t the problem, they are the solution, but the point I’m trying to make is simple, November sucks, and its not a destination, its a holding space…

I’m not currently reading which is a problem. For a writer it’s almost like a blockage. With no reading there is no producing or creating, no flow, just stifling emptiness. Writing books has taken a step back for now; I’m part way through another stage play script, progress is slow like this month.

Everyday recently I am assessing my options, and without seeming above everything, I feel as if I am too good for the writing platform in which I am sat. I’m a higher class player in a lower division and I know that sounds super ego but it’s true. My ‘success’ feels somewhat held back by my lack of salesman skills. I’m not a seller, I am a creator and I have learned they are two completely separate entities.

I watch or read stories thinking I could have done that better or different; my vision for a story has been enhanced through my journey past four publications and two stage plays. I can never sit and not create, even when the pages are blank, my mind is full of ideas. And it’s okay to create.

What I need is someone to sell that creativity to a bigger wider market. Someone who sells like I can create. Do I dare contemplate trying to get an agent? I know this time the circumstances are different but the goal has always been the same, to create, perhaps someone else can deliver…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Ramble #14

I’ve had an epiphany. Whilst publishing I became lost. My mind began to reel and wonder why this was all worth it. Why bother when the ‘rewards’ for this deal are pretty much minimum.? Why try to recapture nothing more than a ‘fad’ of deciding to publish a book two years ago? Back then it felt like everyone I knew came out to support me. Today it feels like I stand within a ghost town of that support; not that I hold any anger or bitterness towards the fact I feel very much solitary in my latest publication because I am not. There are only a handful of supporters this time; they are the elite, they will never fail me, they will always support and only partially that is why I do this. 

So why do I do this? That is where my epiphany came from. I don’t do this for reads, for sales, for money, for recognition, for reviews, for exposure or any other temporary possessive thing. I do this simply because it fulfills me. I write stories because ultimately they are truly about life and what I have seen and felt in this life. In essence they contain more truth than any conversation I have ever had. So if anyone ever asks me why my work stands out it is simply that, my stuff doesn’t contain an ounce of bullshit, it is the truth personified and that is all I will ever strife to do in writing, to make it feel real.

I have to create, and I always will. Publishing is more or less just a side effect or even a symptom of that. Hell, I’m just sitting in a chair typing away and playing around in the worlds I build. I know for a fact I am not for everyone in this world and neither is my work, and I am learning to live and accept that. I don’t ever intend to please everyone, because why I write is purely selfish, I do this for me.

My appreciation for those who have paid money to read my stuff will outshine any other feeling I have for this work. That small group I call the elite are there for me and I am ever so damn thankful. Hopefully they’ll feel what I do when I lay down those words, if they don’t I have failed but then again I am just doing this for me, because I am a creator and I need an outlet.

4 books equals experience in not only writing but everything that comes with it. A book series takes time to establish readership, leaning all of you writing efforts onto one series is simply foolish, I have learned that only today. As a writer we must cross genres, test our ability daily, go places even we feel uncomfortable, tell other stories. Good luck writing just a series, unless your J.K it aint worth it, but my all means write. Sit in that chair and bleed for the words, above all create and make, if that doesn’t stick try again, and again and again. For the love of god never give up, a young naive fool walks away from a battle worth winning. A experienced person will only ever wage wars they can win. Life is too damn short to dwell on failure or lack of success when most of the time it is in the eye of the beholder anyway.

So what only a handful of people bought your new release. They are your elite and your tribe. Reward them, let them know they have made you happy for just a second enough to know they care.

Either way I’m already into my next project because I will Always Be Writing…

 

 

Weekly Ramble #13

Crichton has been gone 10 years. Something I  learned yesterday on the anniversary of his passing. Sometimes we are too busy in the world to stop and reflect, sometimes we just have to step away to think about life and how one day we are here the next we are gone.

More recently I have been too damn wrapped up in getting my 4th book published that I’ve lost my way a little, I’ve lost who I am whilst trying to be what I want to be. And learning of this poignant anniversary brought back a memory that carries everything I stand for. I’m not being dramatic and I am not trying to take anything away from a world renowned writers passing this is more of a tribute than anything and its also truth. When you speak from the heart and when you speak truth, people truly listen and care. 

In 2005 I was sixteen years old when I took my first job as an airline cleaner at Heathrow Airport. Whilst on that job I found a discarded or even left behind book titled ‘Timeline’ written by Michael Crichton. I quit that job way before I finished reading Timeline but that book had a lasting effect on me. It inspired me; an already want to be writer; it pushed me to read more and so every time I had some extra cash I spent it on his work. Michael Crichton became my writing idol for some years, all I would read is his stuff, all I could read was his stuff. Slowly I became more and more immersed in his science fiction- research heavy narratives.

Now why is just finding a book and reading it anything special? because of what came next. That sixteen year old kid who quit cleaning planes never forgot the style of Critchton or the tales he wrote, that sixteen year old kid lived his life and read all he could. Then he delved into writing seriously. He worked tirelessly much like Michael and he eventually became a published author of 4 books. His friends and family supported him and spread the word about a book called ‘Open Evening’ a book inspired much by Jurassic Park and Prey. 

It wasn’t until I stopped and thought about it for a moment that it actually sunk in. That moment I found a book influenced who I became and only all these years later has it actually become apparent. Books have a power to not only immerse but to influence others.

We aren’t here forever and I never got the chance to thank Michael for his influence on me as a writer and a person. He’ll never know how he shaped my work and possibly others. You can still see his work even today; Westworld and the new Jurassic films come to mind. His books will live on through readers and writers alike and that is what we work for. Sometimes that wordsmith goes silently by whilst others become immersed in their worlds. The day I learned of Michael’s passing ten years ago crushed me because I knew there wouldn’t be any more of his works and I would never get the opportunity to meet him.

Maybe one day…

 

Weekly Ramble #10

The 4th book release is nigh, and things have been taking off, but this isn’t just all me. My projects are brought to life by the efforts of some real dedicated people. As a writer I would simply be lost without my editor. There is a hell of a lot more to editing than most people think. All of my stories have been painstakingly crafted, long after my work has been done.

This one may the best work I have seen not only from an editing point of the view but the cover artwork also,  a reveal will follow, and I am sure it will impress, it blew me away and conveys exactly what I want to say in this story.

Readership is growing by the day with my most loyal readers leading the charge with reviews and general buzz about my words. The tribe is small but very effective and dedicated, something which means more than anything else. This thing will take time, it always does, in essence writing a book feels like sending a letter two years ago and finally getting a response this week.

Reviews really do sell books but most importantly above all, people talking to one another sells them more than anything. We live in a world where spoken communication is dying, maybe talking about books will keep it alive for a little longer, we’ll see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #9

Twitter is shit. There you go I’ve said it. And it’s the truth. I’ve never really figured out the tweet machine and so my jury rests upon the fact it sucks, probably like all social media. Everybody is just looking for that one up so they can sell you whatever they want to sell.

I asked myself recently if I could live without twitter and so I chose not to install it on my new phone, and I’m better for it mostly. Now I check on the ‘land of weird repetition of the same shit’ once a day at best.

Facebook have seemed to distance themselves from it also, and I know for a fact they aren’t perfect, but these days I have taken more of a shine to Instagram which is linked. Truth is, nobody can withhold and keep up a presence across all platforms unless you have a media team, and I do not. Either way, this revelation has made me feel good.

In fact I’m doing great right now, things are moving towards my 4th book release and I’ve even got my first book review gig. The wheel is beginning to turn with another review for the Teleporter and organic sales of Open Evening.

Its the first day of new a month and with it comes the hope of good things as the leaves begin to fall into a new season. I’m optimistic this somewhat difficult year will have a decent end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #8

I’m writing a screenplay. It’s a world of rules and words I have yet to explore. A venture in which I inevitably wanted to pursue, maybe there is someone out there who see’s the vision of Open Evening as I do, a thrilling, run and chase story that delves into the unknown and unexpected.

There has been progress in my indecisions of what to do next as a wordsmith. We are a species that is in fact always drafting. I have at least 3 future projects in the pipeline and there will always be more. Sometimes it feels as if there is no finish line but to keep working for me is bliss, a purpose, even a calling.

Writing is something I find myself needing more everyday, I also find myself enjoying it even more. The success I have had is minimal; but these books are an investment in time, they will always be there, even when I am not, I wonder if authors of yesteryear thought that too. Many of which never saw their titles reach the pinnacle of success in their lifetime. A true artists lament. But that isn’t why I write. Of course the fame and lifestyle of earning big bucks would be a desire, but I write because I enjoy building worlds and the characters that reside in them. Their struggles and overall battles towards redemption echoes mine and others in real life. If there is no element of realism in fiction then why write anything at all?

Have something to say, even if it is whilst being chased by unholy demon creatures who came from underground. There is always a message, there has to be. We function as humans by looking at the finer detail by taking someone else’s words and interpreting them for ourselves.

This all sounds artistic and deep, but it’s truth, and truth is something all fiction must contain if you want to grasp a reader. Pull them in with shit that you’ve seen or seen others go through. Make it life or death, convert the mundane into high octane, put action where there was once just peace and solitude. Overall make the reader believe what you have to say, base characters on real people without dropping their name to avoid a lawsuit, relate to where you work and the fact management will always be the bad guy. Look for the hero where there are only villains and maybe that saviour you need so much is staring you back in the mirror.

If you plan to write anything in this life, make it count, and make it as if you have something to say. In years to come some English lit major will probably spin that into some prose study stuff, but that’s alright, people are still reading your work. To write is to build and vent, it’s probably what sets us apart from the animals, we can create, and we can do it well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

el director

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….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

proud

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.

southgate

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. 

paper

The problem with… Potholes

Okay, so I’ve been letting this one slowly cook in my mind for a little while, and normally I don’t like to go all political or serial debater in my posts. But seeing as the Hall of Information is my corner of the internet, I thought I would, because let’s face it, there isn’t one driver in the UK who doesn’t face the daily dodge of potholes.

hold on jack

I’ve tried to make this less of a generic poke at what is the main problem with Britain’s roads, apart from the overcrowding, HGV’s, sneaky speed camera placements, road rage, BMW’s and of course the recent snow shit-uation. And I point those problems out with the least amount of hostility, apart from the damn snow (shakes fist at clouds).

There is a particularly relevant to me case study that will hopefully enlighten those within the borders of ‘Great’ Britain and even those looking from afar. Because everyone loves a good old fashioned story of complaining.

Note: This SAGA has been going on for over a year!

Exhibit 1: Early 2017 

potholio

The above picture is marked in two different colours via some wonderful work by yours truly in MS Paint, which isn’t as good as those XP days..

The green represents the private property in which I reside. If the camera panned up a little you would see me pecking away at my latest novel or even putting up a finger depending on your approach. As you can see there is some dirt and upon closer inspection water damage below the window which is caused by the shit-uation in Red.. 

This particular patch of road in Watlington Oxfordshire, (I wont do street names, people might find me…) is riddled with pot holes like the one you see. And you might be thinking, that isn’t so bad… No car is going to fall down that…

Wrong, because the deal shown in Red, is severe deterioration of the road so much so, water cannot actually flow into the drain pictured. Actually the water just sits there by the kerb. This means when a driver of the speeding persuasion (another problem with UK’s roads) or not so fast persuasion (again a problem) passes said spot it splashes and damages private property. A grade 2 listed building!

Exhibit 1B

exhibit d.PNG

The above picture shows the first initial repair, the date 27th of March 2017. That’s a year ago folks, and look at the miniscule effort. It’s as if somebody just painted over the hole with thick black paint and its worth noting the dirt and damage beneath the window of my house, a grade 2 listed building…

fix me

Now what can one do in such a situation, well there is a handy website known as Fix my Street.  Which you can report potholes and indeed attach pictures, lots of pictures, which I have done, lots of times. They even pass it on to local councils. Sounds good right, well..

And so we must move on, to exhibit B… 26th of March ’18

29681298_10155694427117424_1224382644_o

This is a current in door view of the recent ‘fix’ that some men in a flatbed did one late morning for a couple of minutes. Now this one doesn’t show the smaller scale repair they did, with even less scraps of tarmac. This time they made the effort to drill that and fill most of the hole, stopping a majority of the rain water, but there is still a lot of splash-age going on. Please excuse the miniature tea set simply put in for scale…  And water still seems to sit there destined to cover private property yet again, and damaging private property yet again.

Now disappointingly the rough patch is in desperate need of a resurface was ignored again. Referring to exhibit 1 the area marked in Red is the total problem hence Exhibit 3 below…

exhibit 3

Now that’s a much better expression of how inadequate the repairs have been over the course of, well a long time. My thinking here is logical to the point where I think one proper pothole repair would save the cost of multiple shoddy ones… that’s just basic maths right? You can see the water still sitting there waiting to wash over the house with its all too familiar colour of oily grey with a hint of precipitation. 

And so here is my latest entry to Fix my street. I even attached a photo with pretty colours pointing out the obvious problem…

fix me street

Of course I went into full condescending sarcasm mode, and why shouldn’t I, this is just an example of what is happening on a daily basis in Britain’s Roads. I say screw the economy for a while especially if we cant even get to work in the first place because I fell down a hole, or splashed some good looking writer’s house.

The council or whatever their real name is have replied saying this problem has been actioned to be repaired, but it still hasn’t and may have even been forgotten…

All joking aside, this situation is no joke, people face serious damage and serious threats to life from roads that need a look at properly. Motorways, A roads, B roads and every other driving surface are riddled in this country. Something must be done…

Got any pothole stories, don’t just tell me, hit up Fix my street and then share this post so we can shame Oxfordshire County Council who will be tagged on the Tweet machine, so waves to those peeps, and do something about it… seriously before someone gets hurt, badly. 

Darkest Hour Review

It’s February again, somehow. So I had better write another blog post before my 100 plus followers forget me. Yeah I said 100 plus! There has been an influx of new follows to the site as of recent and I must thank you all for the support, why not stay a while and read my latest movie review…

d hour

It’s 1940, and Great Britain is on the back foot of a crushing European Invasion from Germany. Their forces are in retreat and have been pushed back. Many of the soldiers are pinned down in either Calais or Dunkirk.

Back on British soil, the government is in turmoil. The current Prime Minister and his support is in disarray (quite like today but on a lesser scale). There are calls for a new Prime Minister, and that is where our story begins…

Darkest Hour

I imagine this film will be used in schools for many years to come. It begins much like a documentary as the credits open showing black and white images of war over a silent soundtrack, nobody in the busy cinema made a sound or rustled a bag of M&M’s. Quickly we are taken back to a time full of uncertainty, a time not far from our own.

A raucous crowd of politicians are gathered in London’s Houses of Parliament and call for the current Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) to step down. This is so a coalition government can be formed. We soon find ourselves introduced to the man who gets the job, Winston Churchill via Gary Oldman in what will probably be his finest hour in acting.

Now I’m a 90’s kid, I never knew what Winston Churchill was really like apart from footage of the past, but I can honestly say I believed it was him throughout and not Gary Oldman who brings an assertive but endearing take on one of history’s greatest ever leaders.

We don’t just see him as a leader who can talk the talk, we see Churchill behind closed doors, we see him toiling over speeches not only he writes but with his assistant Elizabeth Layton played by Lily James in a just as convincing role. In fact the whole cast were convincing throughout and delivered a masterclass in not only history, but of those who wrote it.

There were recurring scenes throughout the film as Churchill met with King George IV depicted by Ben Mendelsohn in what is another Oscar worthy shout in this film. It showed their relationship build from the ground up. We saw Churchill battle his own war cabinet, whom he selected himself and yet another great performance comes from the one true king of Westeros Stannis Baratheon; Stephen Dillane (Viscount Halifax).

Darkest Hour is a simple film and a complex film at the same time. It’s a simple nod to history but shows the complexity of how the world achieved peace through sacrifice. It stands as a reminder to not only great leaders but the people on the ground who experienced war first hand. I guarantee you will laugh out loud and be moved emotionally.

There were some fantastic scenes depicting the times of struggle and showing the mood of people on the streets and London underground. What I liked the most was indeed the amount of powerful quotes in this film (below).

My verdict is this film is must see for the history lesson, but you’ll stay for the performances.

King George VI:  How do you manage drinking during the day?

Churchill: Practice.

King George VI: One never knows what’s going to come out of your mouth next. Something that’ll flatter, something that’ll wound.

Winston Churchill: My e-emotions are unbridled. A wildness. In the blood. I share with my father. And my mother also. We lack the gift of temperance.

 

Churchill: Those who never change their mind never change anything.