Weekly Ramble #60

The bravest people amongst us are the ones who realise that they need to reach out for help. To seek a solution for whatever problem you face means deep down you care. And self care is so damn important in this life.

It’s okay to not be okay sometimes and admitting that is a victory in it’s own right. The truth is I have the highest regard and respect to those who talk about it in any way, shape or form. It’s alright to express your emotion in whatever way that helps process feeling. By all means cry, laugh, growl, sit in silence or even blog about it; hell I’ve processed stuff by writing whole novels (my poor readers…).   

I can only speak from experience when times have been tough in life and although it may appear you are falling down branch by branch landing between your own legs each time, trust me when I say eventually life does give you a break (from the nut shots).

Some things aren’t forever and this includes the suffering our minds can go through; just think of it as another stage in this journey called life. As much as it’s easier said than done coming from a guy in a ‘good’ place currently, these days we’re all not far from spiraling.

You could feel like that one in one thousand kid roaming the school hallway knowing and feeling that this place isn’t where you fit in; I’ve been there and some day soon that sensation of not belonging, much like school will fade. You’ll find those who are like-minded, that’s a human instinct to find others like yourself and school; it’s a public place, you have to do it for now but not forever.

You could be working a shitty job for a shitty boss just trying day in day out to prove your worth; some folks will never understand or appreciate that worth; by all means work hard and gain experience but not everyone deserves your energy and graft.

Remember that your own mind well being comes first and there are numerous ways to overcome rough patches; take a social media break, binge watch an entire series on Netflix , and personal favourite; keep a diary of how you feel and then look back on those days gone by to see how strong you’ve become. Lean on your friends, those who are true friends will be there when you are in need.

Life has a funny way of getting better eventually and whatever storm your in now, will blow over, trust me, even though I don’t know everything…

Do what you have to do to take care of yourself in this life.

What quote gets you through life?

I shall close with my go to quote from one of my true heroes…

 

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The stories that inspire us -‘Hamlet’

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

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Shakespeare, the original story teller. The true architect of language and narrative. You’ll find his influence near enough everywhere when it comes to the written and spoken word; sometimes you won’t even know you are using a phrase that he originally influenced. His works these days have even extended to cinema and television. 

Many of us came across the Bard’s work during our school years. Too many walk away from those lessons thinking his work is boring and almost inaudible to follow. That’s a tragedy in its own right and probably down to a lack of teaching execution. Although I don’t blame teachers not being an effective vessel to explain Shakespeare, like all art it’s  an acquired taste and also subjective.

For me Hamlet is the true epitome of story telling. It has almost everything a good story should have. Love, life and death with near enough all the elements that make a good story just that. Betrayal, deception and triumph; enveloped by that word ‘tragedy’.  They never taught me about Hamlet at school. I remember ‘Macbeth’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ but the Prince of Denmark and his laments I didn’t find out until I was cast as him in the play.

When you take on a work for the stage, be that by any writer you take a part of them and perform it as your own. You also sometimes; not all the time, become engrossed into their story and by becoming a character you only truly appreciate the weight of a story and it’s true power.

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Death is all around Hamlet, the character and the story. His ever so famous ‘to be or not to be’ monologue is about the contemplation of such and as the story unfolds death slowly reaches over near enough all involved. He urges love interest ‘Ophelia’ to get away which becomes an unintentional shun leading to the shuffling of her mortal coil. ‘Claudius’ plays the typical step father figure that is cliche even to this day – he did have a hand in killing his brother who happens to be Hamlet’s father the King; sound familiar yet Simba?

The only significant survivor by the close of play – spoiler alert; although you’ve had hundreds of years –  is ‘Horatio’ who utters those ever so famous words but before then we see a deceptive plot to poison Hamlet which goes ‘badly’ for Shakespeare’s standards along with a memorable duel. As I said it has everything and as our language continually evolves further and further away from that used in this classic tale, it’s so important we remember and honour it.

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For those looking to improve their craft on stage nothing will do it better than the words of William Shakespeare. From modulation and dictation all the way to understanding of how a basic story is put together and all the way to being able to learn lines – if you’ve learned and nailed Shakespeare on stage, everything and I say everything you do after will be noticeably easier. Great stories of tragedy or even triumph never fade and well I suppose the rest is silence….

Do you have a favourite Shakespeare work? 

Weekly Ramble #59

I am fully immersed into book editing mode. Delving back into the pages and words I laid down nearly two years ago has lifted me. It’s surprising how well polished I left what I thought to be a first draft of ‘Darke Awakening’. Over the books and years my style of drafting has evolved into an edit and go process which pays off when you return to a project. 

This book will have it’s challenges but the most difficult part of the writing process has already been figured out. It’s a masterpiece, an intricate complicated shitstorm of fun intertwined with several story arcs combined to tell one great mess of a book which I personally adore. It may well be a tad ambitious but what I have edited so far has restored my faith in a story told over three books; Open Evening, Cemetery House and Darke Blood – three books readers must take on to enjoy this next one and hence the real challenge in all of this; marketing the whole thing.

Personally and it might sound indulgent and egotistical but I’ve said this before; I actually don’t care if people don’t like what I write, I do it for the story telling and not the reaction of mass audiences.

Yeah we get bruised as creators when someone gives us a scathing review but that isn’t why we are in this game. We do this because we want to create and to contribute towards art and literature. We do this because it fulfills us and shines a light into this dark void of life. Opinions and audiences are variable, the story we tell is the constant.

To reach the summit of those two sacred words ‘the end’ is to truly live as a writer. And to create something from the imagination entirely from scratch is to be free. All of us live to be free. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stories that inspire us – ‘Dumb and Dumber’

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Comedy is often overlooked in this world. The ability to make one laugh is possibly the most human thing someone can do and to me one of the easiest ways to make someone comfortable or uncomfortable. Most of us know there is a very fine margin between comics and depression but laughter can be a vessel out of the darkness.

‘Hey, wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?’

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‘Dumb and Dumber’ is a film that many might judge by it’s simplistic title and much of the story is simple but to me it’s a fun and even heartwarming story about friendship. Two friends Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) are going nowhere in life ‘unless you wanna work forty hours a week…’ and set out on a road trip to reunite a briefcase that Lloyd witnessed a woman drop before getting on a flight. It’s the typical road trip buddy story where the pair find themselves in stupid but very funny situations.

‘Why you going to the airport? Flying somewhere?’

Like a lot of cinema in history it has a few non PC moments but for most of the film Dumb and Dumber carries an innocent level of comedy in the realms of stupidity – both on a physical and literal level. Without over analysing it, the script is a juggernaut of quotes that I say to myself quite often. Much of my comedy influence has come from this film over the years where both actors put in considerable performances and today their resumes are decorated.

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Carrey and Daniels are household names

The film appeals to a wide range of ages which is the key to all successful comedy. There are more adult style gags which will go over younger audience’s head’s while the physical and straight up silliness will get everyone laughing. Although this film was released in the early 90’s it still stands up quite well and the soundtrack like all Farrelly brother’s films is golden.

‘You know, Lloyd, just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!’

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For many years and even today this is film that brightens up my day. It’s fun, silly and easy to watch. You can find the influence of Dumb and Dumber in much of my work from my novella ‘The Teleporter’ to the Pantomime plays I have written.

It is my opinion that without comedy the world would be a much darker place. And if you are ever feeling down in any way my advice; find something that makes you laugh – for me that’s Dumb and Dumber.

Do you have a go-to comedy film or series? 

Weekly Ramble #58

I’m sad but proud. After spending ten consecutive years performing for my community drama club I have hung up my ‘acting’ boots – they were a fine pair of acting boots, very comfortable in fact and the parts I have trod on that stage will stay with me for life. The truth is I thought I would be a lot more upset but I guess the pride and happiness of what has been achieved in those years is shining brighter than anything else. And the real truth is, I’m not leaving for good, I’m just leaving the stage…

Over the past couple of years the Iver Heath Drama Club has entrusted me to write their annual pantomime shows; a leap in its own right and possibly the greatest compliment my writing and myself has ever received. That’s what I am going to continue doing, writing stories which is the dream that was forged out of performing for that wonderful club. I vowed to that family to pledge my pages, my pen and my stories – a deal that I will honour for as long as I write.

As a performer I got the perfect ending on that stage, having adapted our own version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs I was then cast as the Magic Mirror which is apt because ten years ago it was my first role. Sometimes things go full circle. This time around I gave that role more meaning and along with everything I had gained on that stage it became the epitome of all of me. Even though it sounds like this was all about me, it wasn’t and this ending was about passing on the torch, or crown to those who deserve it.

While the high of the most successful IHDC show begins to wear away I shall recede back into writing stories and reading some truly wonderful stories on my TBR list. While one door closes many other will open not just for me but for those who let me belong to what is a fantastic community run club. I have already drafted next years script!

And just remember this;

The greatest stories aren’t the ones we read,

The greatest stories aren’t the ones we write,

The greatest stories are the ones that we live.

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Weekly Ramble #57

Seeing your own writing come to life and put onto a stage in front of an audience is something I am still getting used to. It’s an incredible and rewarding feeling. As writers, bloggers and creators many of us don’t ever get instant applaud for our work. Books can take years to ever gain any type of gratification so most of you can imagine when an audience member approaches me and say’s that I did a good job, it’s probably the pinnacle of being a story teller. And I wont lie, even after the past weekend which now seems a lifetime away; I’m still rather high from it all and perhaps I should be. 

The truth is I am damn proud of the stories I have created but the plays, they are truly special because they are made by the performances and the production. My writing is a mere first step, or even a suggestion of an idea; the rest is in the hands of everyone else. Those performers and everyone else involved should be proud, not only because they have brought a fantastic show into this world but because there aren’t many good  moments in this life to be proud of. Life can be bitter sometimes and it can bite you hard and bring you down. You must find things to be proud of to cast light over the shadows of hardship and that’s up to you. Taking pride in one’s work is probably more important than any other type of praise or reviews; the fact that you did it and it made a difference; a positive difference in your life is all that matters when it comes to story telling.

Be proud, all of you!

Awesome Indie Book Recommendations

It’s been quite a while since the Hall of Information showcased some awesome indie books. I need views, authors needs sales and you need reads. It’s the triangle of life so here goes…

mindLet’s talk about ‘MIND: Two Short Tales of Horror’ by E.H Night which I found to be a unique and imaginative reading experience. Even with it being a shorter book the descriptive style carried my interest throughout the two tales included.

To quote my review back in December;  ‘it’s almost like these stories simply suggest what is happening and our imagination’s fill in the rest – this is a form of story I hold in the highest regard…’  

This book is a great example of what creative writers can do with a smaller page count – something that authors don’t get enough credit for!

Next up came Indie read number 39 of 2019 which also happened to be an ARC from awesome fantasy author Jimena Novaro who reached out to see if I would be interested in reading her latest release ‘The Relic Spell’. Having read her previous book ‘Blue Rabbit’ I jumped at the opportunity to take on yet another great story.

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I found myself immersed in ‘The Relic Spell’ which is a real world fantasy story featuring sorcery and magic while also being full of originality. My lengthy review pays tribute to what is a wonderful addition to the genre and it’s book 1 of a series which I shall be reading more of!

Here’s just a snippet of my review;  It’s very clear to see Jimena Novaro has spent much time writing a story that feels personal and inviting at the same time. The book contains so much for a reader to enjoy, from a wealth of great characters to a story where something is always happening; if there isn’t action, there’s tension, intrigue or mystery…’

I’m pulling a sneaky one on ya for this next book rec but I’m doing it with the best of intentions…

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Those who tune in regularly will know this year I plan on releasing my 6th book which just happens to be the sequel to ‘Darke Blood’ (and the Open Evening books) so I thought maybe I should promote it in some way.

I could just say ‘hey go and read my vampire novel’ but what I will say is this:

Quite recently and for the first time in some years I have been reading Darke Blood and while slightly flinching I am going to admit it may be my best work. Now I’m not particularly entitled to say that but I will. Check it out and if you like the premise I will send you an e-copy…

My next book rec comes in the form of two stories which cap off one hell of an awesome science fiction series. ‘Prodigal Sun’ and ‘High Steaks’  are two reads I enjoyed over the festive season and make up the final books (so far) of the Quantum Series by Christina Engela. This collection I spent last year and the beginning of 2020 delving into. I am going to be brief because I plan on putting out a separate showcase for the series soon but I urge you to check them out!

Next up on my list is a chilling crime thriller called ‘Dead End’ which is the first of a series known as the ‘Clown Conspiracy’ book series by Mallory Kelly. Yet again this is the type of writing that champions shorter reads and for good reason because in the shorter amount of pages you get everything you want as a reader from a great book.

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To quote my recent review;

‘For a book that I read in just under an hour it sure packs one hell of a chilling punch. From the very beginning this story plays with the imagination while also delivering an ever so well written ride that will have readers turning the pages. The use of description by Mallory Kelly is atmospheric and suits the creepiness that comes with the cornerstones of horror to many, clowns and haunted houses…’ 

 

 

And last but certainly not least let me share with you my latest review ‘The Seller of Sins’ by Kristina Gallo which is An engaging immersive tale of relationships and what people will do for love…’

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There’s a lot happening in this story which is about many different things but mainly relationships. And yet again I have chosen to read a shorter book but it manages to contain a lot of back story and important character detail which carries the premise of a couple who are married but don’t seem to want to be anymore. Their individual paths eventually cross and culminate in a dramatic finish.

 

That wraps up my latest book reviewing endeavours. Do you have a recent book recommendation? 

Thanks for reading and catch you in the next one!

 

 

The stories that inspire us – ‘Beauty and the Beast’

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

I was five years old when the theatre bit me and it bit me hard. It wouldn’t be until fifteen years later that I walked through the doors of a drama club and realised my life long dream of becoming a performer. Even though I was and still am introverted on the surface, in 2010 I finally had the confidence to take the plunge onto the stage.

In recent times Disney have boasted their adaptation of Beauty and the Beast to be as old as time. Perhaps it is and the theatre production which bit me hard just happened to be Beauty and the Beast – a tour of the Disney inspired version. Although it was quite a while ago now I still remember being captivated by the colours, the sights, a walking candlestick and of course the spectacle of a Beast overcoming a curse and magically transforming into a Prince. It’s a story that has and always will have a place in my heart. The animation and recent live action film are both spectacular to enjoy as an adult and for children alike and the same can be said for the original fairy tale.

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In fact the original fairy tale is probably the best of all fairy tales and even though that is just my subjective opinion the premise, characters and overall story is pretty solid and you can understand why Disney have had success with it. Even though their version is scaled down in some senses by omitting the sisters they add their own spin on things in their own fashion.

My own story telling and performing have always run in a sort of parallel. For some years they were hand in hand but very separate. I would write science fiction/horror while my performing self would appear in pantomimes based on fairy tales and comedy farces or even some Shakespeare. Being in shows gave me confidence to reveal to the world that I wanted to be a writer – it also helped both socially and even in job interviews. I guess you can say I owe a lot to performing and those two hands which held those separate things – story telling and performing would eventually clasp each other as I put together a short comedy play known as ‘Hotel Doom’. With moderate success for a community drama club production my eyes were set firmly on another sight; a full length pantomime play – a British tradition and the big time annual ‘thing’ that my drama club did to survive.

I began work in adapting my own version of Beauty and the Beast taking influence from the many shows I had been in along with that original tale; of course some minor inspiration came from the ‘mainstream’ versions but all in all, the script is original and my own. My main inspiration came not only from the solid source material but also from when I was a kid myself looking up to that stage and seeing the Beast transform along with those colours and everything else.

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Those who know me closely will know the outcome. The Iver Heath Drama Club took on my script and in a sense took a huge leap; never had anyone in the 70 plus year history of that community club had ever written a full length show. The script was way more expansive and ambitious than anything seen at that club. The cast of 18 performers and chorus ensemble put on a show that sold out all performances and even had standing ovations; even now I get emotional thinking about how that whole show went. All of it was inspired by a story that has lasted the test of time and that is the true dream any writer or creator has – to see their work last that test of time.

Beauty and the Beast is a story that inspired my writing and helped it reach heights I would never imagine. Up until now it is my finest moment in story telling and combines my performing and writing.

It still pays dividends as this year Iver Heath Drama Club have entrusted me again to put on another show inspired by Snow White; which is yet another pinnacle fairy tale.

Do you have a favourite fairy tale? 

 

 

 

 

 

The stories that inspire us – ‘Timeline’

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Welcome to a new series that hopes to give insight to some of the stories I have experienced that shaped me and my writing. Many of them I hold close to my heart and some you may end up taking on as recommendations. Without the stories in this series I would not be here today!

Although this series will cover stories from all mediums it starts with a book that might possibly be one of the most important I have ever read. This is the story of destiny and how I came to find a story called Timeline. 

I grew up near Heathrow Airport, in fact the runway stood no more than two miles from my house. We were parallel to it so we didn’t get the flight path noise, plus in that distance there were a stack of fields and houses in that space. The sounds of take off and jet engines I found comfort in, I still do. Eventually I found myself a job at the Airport. In 2005 I was sixteen years old without a clue about the real world, what real work was or who I really wanted to be. The dream of being a writer was still forming and back then the prospect of being anything and nothing all at once fed the imagination of the dreamer in me. Back then I had never properly read much apart from some kids stories and of course ‘the Lost World’ by Conan Doyle – another entry for another day perhaps…

The work I found wasn’t great. It was a bottom rung of the ladder type of gig although the money wasn’t bad for someone my age. My first job; aircraft cleaner. My stint at Heathrow only lasted about six weeks – sixteen year old Lee didn’t want to work Christmas so he handed in his notice… but the one thing I did get out of that job may serve as my reading and writing destiny. This is what I found, discarded and probably aimed at the trash… (you don’t ever throw books away, that’s a rule)

82388540_2767793129922668_5957050524938272768_nI picked up this book while cleaning and immediately the authors name grabbed me.

‘That’s the guy who wrote Jurassic Park, I’m sure…’ 

And I was right. Michael Crichton is the guy who wrote Jurassic, so if he can tell a story that good about dinosaurs then what can he do with time travel?  Being a big time fan of Back to the Future my mind was open about another time travel caper. So what can he do with time travel?

My answer is: everything you can imagine and more! I took this beaten and weathered book home and read it cover to cover in around ten or so days over Christmas 2005 – I had no friends anyway…

The picture above was taken especially for this entry. Timeline sits on my shelf alongside eleven other Michael Crichton novels. When I open it, I still smell that musk of old pages, it takes me back to that moment where I discovered a novel about realistic time travel. But it’s not just about that, like all good books, like all good Crichton books, it’s about so much more. As well as being a history lesson, it’s a roller coaster of science, action, deception, twists and turns. When I finished reading this book I had only one goal in life – to read more of Crichton’s works and I did. My aspiration and dreams of becoming a writer began to form because of this man’s work and his stories.

If there is a truly pinnacle moment in my writing and reading journey it would be when I found Timeline. Only three years after I had found this book Crichton sadly passed away and I remember exactly where I was. I will never be able to thank him personally for the story that inspired me to go on a write my own works under his influence with his works on my shelf beside mine where they will always be. The inspiration of stories lives on in those who have read them and experienced them.

Have you ever found or been given a book and it ended up being a masterpiece?

Weekly Ramble #54

I need an agent. That is my conclusion if I want to achieve what I want to achieve. With every book my following goes from strength to strength and without disparaging any of my supporters, it’s not enough. My reach or lack of it belittles what I have achieved in writing. Without sounding high and mighty, my efforts as a story teller are falling on deaf ears. 

As a person who started this at absolute zero I cannot help but look back and be damn proud of where I am. But if this dream of mine was a house I built from the foundations, I’m still siting in the footings of the basement. For the stories I have written and the efforts I have put in, the return if I were to look at this as a business person is lacklustre. The board of directors would have shut me down after book 2’s release.

It’s conflicting because ‘business’ is not what this journey is about. I’ve written 5 books. Every single one them became a huge learning experience in both publishing and the written word. Some incredible folks have helped me get them out there; editors, cover artists and the like. Reviewers have kept my belief alive. For all these efforts in vain I am a story teller and I know what a story is. You can only learn to write stories by finding it within yourself. Anyone can be taught grammar, punctuation, spelling and all of the functions of language, but to be able to pen a story from beginning, middle to end with everything in between, that is what I learned while putting together 5 books.

And now after everything I set out to do, even in creating this blog, I am back where I started – looking for a literary agent. But this time I am armed with experience and the know how of story telling. The times have changed and everything I thought I knew about getting an agent, the last time I queried circa 2013, has changed. Apparently science fiction isn’t looked down on anymore. It just so happens to be the genre I am going to use to find an agent. But I need a book and I’ve got one. This year I drafted ‘Jack Thorn’ a story, the story that got me into writing. It’s funny how things go full circle. And as I said, I need an agent…

Have you queried to agents recently? Any good responses? Let me know via the comments, this is our journey, not just mine…