Weekly Ramble #66

Solitude is difficult. Even as an introvert myself human interaction with strangers plays a part in my my life. Just seeing other people gives comfort that none of us are alone in this. For a world that is so well connected there’s a deep sense of loneliness in all of this and some are going to struggle. Those who live alone especially so. 

But even if the most dire of situations you’ll find opportunity. There is only one agreement about this rather mystery illness that’s sweeping the world; it’s contagious. What can you do to fight a contagious disease; stay healthy. Use the time given or lent to you for exercise, catching up on sleep and for cooking good healthy food. All three of these register as self care in my eyes and in times where you cannot physically socialise to feel better, find other ways.

This distancing deal might be around for a while to come. Standing in two meter lines at checkouts and only going out every ten days, my grandparents had it worse and I’m not comparing because I know the impact this is all having. The economy is going to fall to shit, jobs are going to get lost but if you have your health, your body will look after you throughout whatever tough times lay ahead trust me.

The world needs you to take care of yourself so do it by any means necessary. 

 

Weekly Ramble #65

It gives me a sense of hope that even in these times people are buying my books. Not that the sales or royalties matter, let alone do they even contribute to my salary but the thought that someone has been interested enough in the blurb or cover art to give an essence of my soul and imagination a try. 

Hope can give a person enough to know that maybe they are on the right path no matter how uncertain all of our near futures are, some things will shine through this dark time, like sunshine on a rainy day, feeling that heat just feels better when it’s been cold for so long. People who continue to blog and read this blogging effort I must thank you from the bottom of my heart. We must keep the spirit of what we were alive enough so we don’t lose what we stood for. 

I’m trying, like always to create stuff that will at least take one person away for a while and most of my reduced audience seem to appreciate that while those who appear not to be tuning in are distracted elsewhere – this is a difficult time I know and I hope all of you are holding up.

I’ve started a diary that I hope will capture everything that’s going on right now, from my personal life all the way to current events. This is a fascinating historical time and without a diary to convey the essence of in the moment emotion, I couldn’t possibly relay this in years to come. It’s also a way of coping and a self care practice of reflection. Like stories, once I had laid them to rest on paper they no longer need to reside in my head. This coping strategy is working at the moment.

My plan like I said before is to have a business as usual front to all of this. There is no reason not to carry on especially with all the closures and postponements going on around the world, the Hall of Information hopes to carry on throughout.

Good vibes and health to you all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #64

Nobody could have predicted that a pandemic would cause so much fucking stupidity amongst the masses. I want to think that it’s the few that have spread this dumb hysteria to stockpile food. This post was never intended to slam people or the ‘masses’ and first and foremost it’s a check in with all of you because I’m fine, and I hope you are too!

Empty shelves in 2020. What are we doing? Starvation is going to kill us long before some potentially lethal but possibly not flu – anyone else think what the fuck? While everyone seems to be panic buying for the apocalypse, where are the answers to any of this? Why don’t we know anything? To take Ibuprofen or not? Hot weather apparently kills it… Other vaccines or medications could work in helping fight it? I mean are there a bunch of old wives in charge of this thing? At this point I would prefer that; at least we would be comfortable and rational right?

Now that I’ve got my swearing out and vented just a little, I feel semi okay but this is quickly becoming a fight of a generation. People are still not listening. Stay inside unless you’ve got to work or get food. The whole lock down thing, that is a final final resort because it will kill the economy. Countries who have imposed it have done for the better of their people as opposed to GDP’s. The people running the show are probably just as miffed as we are about it all.

Over here in the UK a lock down would probably be pretty difficult to enforce. The schools close today – a sad realisation that there are some kids who won’t take their final exams this summer and finish school like they deserve. Teachers taken away from their calling. So so many jobs rely on places being open. This whole damn deal is such a mess but in this trying time, we’ve got to be strong, we must look out for one another, the older generation who are apparently susceptible to this thing need protecting; they raised us after all so now it’s our turn to help them. To those working in all walks of medical; they will be the real heroes in all of this,

I’m trying desperately to carry on with my normal schedule. Somehow I finished reading a book earlier this week and put up a review. Editing is 75% done of Darke Awakening and I fully intend to publish it this September. This is going to be the new normal for a while and so I will be checking in regularly via this ramble series from now on.

Wherever you are in the world, tell me about what’s going on? We have to be together in this no matter where we are. What’s happening?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stories that inspire us – PlayStation 2

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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It is the most successful gaming console to date and this week twenty years ago it was released; apart from the wave of some readers probably muttering ‘Oh god I am old’ this is a fantastic piece of history to celebrate in gaming and I was lucky enough to be a kid at the time… 

158 Million people owned a PS2 with the original release coming out in Japan on the 4th of March 2000 – the rest of the world would have to wait until later on in the year and me, I got hold of one after spending all of my 13th birthday money in 2002. To this day I still remember shopping around finding the best deal which came from the now extinct (in the UK) Woolworths.

Having been very lucky to own its predecessor PlayStation, like all kids I wanted the new thing and so that fresh plastic smell dominated the living room as I opened the packaging and set it up. The very first game I played was Medal of Honor: Frontline – which was a tribute to history itself while also nodding to the Spielberg epic ‘Saving Private Ryan’. A group of us crowded around the living room television while it took us away to artillery fire and allied soldiers on a beach in France. I have always embraced the imagination of where a game takes you and this was history.

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PlayStation 2 had a lasting influence on my life and even now as a writer its still inspires my stories. Back then I had all the time in the world to play but not a lot of income so new games would be sparse and arrive via birthdays and Christmas. I could always rely on a service which doesn’t exist anymore: Blockbuster video game rentals… The race would be on to complete a rented game in the handful of days I owned it and many many times I succeeded but again with a small crowd around the screen.

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Red Faction shaped my science fiction writing….

Not only did the games of PlayStation 2 shape my writing influence they also played a huge part in introducing me to the music I would come to align myself with.

These were still the days when parents overlooked age ratings on games and by Christmas 2002 my uncle gifted me possibly the greatest PS2 game ever and not for the reasons you think.

Yes the story was great and the whole production was amazing and Grand Theft Auto Vice City is indeed an incredible playing experience but for me it was a gateway to rock music.

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Bands like Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Megadeath, Motley Crue and Tesla would blare out of my room while I cruised along Vice Beach – this was my safe haven and back then rock music was bullying material at school. That music paved my interest into the bands I listen to today and without out it there would be no Rock and Roll man!

Looking back on this era of gaming, it truly was a golden age and I’ve only mentioned the tip of what is a huge iceberg of games, so check out my favourites below….

Do you have any PlayStation 2 memories?

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Weekly Ramble #62

Sometimes it’s okay for authors to read more than they write.

That’s my deal right now and it’s kind of addictive and easier than creating. To sit back and immerse yourself into something where another has done the work is not only nice and easy but one of the top reasons I chose this path to begin with. Behind every tenured writer is an equally tenured reader; if you aren’t then you’re not doing this write – puns are the lowest form of humour hence why I exist… You must put in the equal amount of time for both reading and writing if you strive to get better at it. I remember fondly staying up after bedtime reading Roald Dahl and then later on Crichton with the greatest memories of being immersed. The only thing that has changed is that I’ve only read indie books in the past year and half with the quality mostly being equivalent. 

Not only does reading apparently make you smarter, it’s also been linked to reducing the chances of dementia plus its escapism in its finest form. The greatest gift authors give is their words and so readers get to reciprocate by leaving a review; the better ones do anyway but it’s also okay to read something and not publish your thoughts – try and explain that one to indie authors…

February has dragged and most of us know its January in disguise, especially with the whole leap year thing. Soon I shall delve back into editing of Darke Awakening and of course my book promotion efforts are soon going to be set to full force!

Watch this space. Until then tell me what are you reading? 

Weekly Ramble #61

The editing process of book number 6 has gone well. ‘Darke Awakening’ is a bold and somewhat incredible feat – if I’m allowed to say so. The work we do must give us some sense of pride and as I reached the summit of what was a second draft, I feel a little more relaxed about it. 

When it comes to my own stuff, my main concerns when penning any story are:

1. Is this thing going to work?

2. How the hell am I going to market it?

Luckily when I drafted ‘Darke 2’ I put in a huge amount of effort in answering question 1. First drafts serve that purpose and now comes the probable difficulty in all of this – getting people to read it!

My marketing endeavours have historically worked to an extent and this time around I shall be looking at previous methods while also trying to find new ones. My audience is in a constant state of gradual growth which helps immensely.

Those in the loop will realise I have subtly prefixed ‘The Order of the Following’ on the end of Open Evening, Cemetery House and Darke Blood’s amazon page titles. And in order for Darke Awakening to be fully appreciated they need to be read first as it is all linked together in what is an ambitious crossover. You can expect to hear more about ‘The Order’ soon.

dfw-lh-3dx2The hardest challenge an indie author faces is brand awareness and distribution. Translation- telling people your works exist and that they have appeal. That’s what I shall be doing in the coming months so watch this space!

For a while I can let it sit and go back to reading some awesome indie books. My current read is a book called ‘NightJar’ – its a wonderful foray into the English language, I urge you to check it out.

Those of the author persuasion how do you tell people about your works? 

 

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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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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?