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?’

Image result for dumb and dumber

‘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.

Image result for dumb and dumber

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!’

Image result for dumb and dumber gif

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.

83322034_10156467812481739_981451510908977152_o

83325442_10156467801216739_503027359981502464_o

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.

beauty and the beaast.PNG

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.

B AND B.PNG

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 #50

Weddings can be an incredible thing. I should know, I’ve been to 2 in the past week. Both of which were for some of my best friends and people I know. Whatever your outlook on love and togetherness all reservations and opinions of such are reunited when you see a couple who mean the world to you get together. Sometimes it takes a wedding to truly realise that two people are meant for each other.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve become a person who cares less about my own success and more of a person who cares to see others do well. Perhaps that’s me being the connoisseur of stories, seeing real characters in this world answer to destiny and succeeding.

In fact there is nothing more in this world that I want than to see others achieve success and to find themselves. Of course love can be a huge part of that for many of us, but there are folks out there who are yet to find such things and can still be happy. Perhaps happiness like love is in the eye of the beholder.

Being just a few days removed of my own brother’s wedding I am starting to process how special that day was, not only for him and his now wife but for the family and friends that were part of it. Families have a way of drifting apart for whatever reason but life is too damn short and sometimes it takes something like a wedding to reunite old memories and acquaintances. Family, friends and love is important to us all, it’s what makes us truly human.

I think I nailed the best man’s speech. They laughed and enjoyed my words which were from the heart. There was emotion, laughter and fun – not just in my speech.

In a world where many of us all have our own struggles, it was days like that which make it all worth it and you probably know the saying by now, ‘love is all you need..’

Chilling Book Recommendations for Halloween… part 1

Halloween is just around the corner and considering horror is probably my favorite genre in both cinema and reading here are some chilling books I’ve read over the past year which I recommend…

jacko.PNG

“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

‘Undertown: A Novella’ by K.Noel Moore is a chilling and clever fusing of history 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. 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.

 

‘In space, not all things were certain… not even death’

demonspawn-2018-cover-front1

Next up is ‘Demonspawn’ by Christina Engela which is a sci-fi horror space story with psychological mystery and suspense throughout. The somewhat damned crew of the I.S.S. Mordrake; a ship seemingly stranded and damaged beyond repair in the furthest reaches of space then stumbles upon another ship, derelict and just floating there…

The story reminded me of films such as Alien and Event Horizon but Demonspawn could easily stand shoulder to shoulder with them. There were many concepts of the sci-fi genre in this book that were original and put together in a way not seen before anywhere else. You can grab yourself a copy here.

 

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

sitch

In Blood of the Sixth’ by K.R Rowe  there’s a lot going on under the surface of a 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.

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 so trust me when I say this book is good!

‘A modern vampire story that takes the reader on a journey of twists and turns…’

Nocturnal blood

There are only a handful of authors out there who are keeping the vampire genre alive and one of them is Villimey Mist who presents ‘Nocturnal Blood’ a story than convinced me throughout the duration of my reading experience that it truly is a great addition to the genre!

I found Nocturnal Blood to be a highly readable tale of bravery, friendship, character development and vampires; a genre in modern times that doesn’t get nearly enough credit especially when stories like this exist. Its also an important story in a sense that the M.C suffers from anxiety and O.C.D which is a brave thing for an author to write about!

The sequel is coming very soon so now would be a perfect time to grab yourself a copy!

 

“There are more than shadows lurking in the darkness of those trees.”

dfw-lh-db-cover-ebook

Wait what? Your plugging your own book in this thing? My answer to you is fu** yeah and why not! Keeping with the theme of vampire stories here’s mine. ‘Darke Blood’ is a story that reviewers have convinced me is worth reading – I personally thought for quite some time it wasn’t that great but some awesome people have left some awesome reviews for a story I literally had to find my inner author to finish writing it! The journey is turning out to be worth it in the end and the sequel is coming next year!

Here’s a recent review by Blair from the awesome Feed the Crime blog… 

And with that self promo I have no shame in this is the end of part 1, stay tuned next week for part 2! 

Have you got a chilling book rec? Drop it in the comments because here at the Hall of information we are always looking for more book reads!

A guide to getting published: Part 1

Very recently I was asked in person about my experiences of being a published author. What does it take to reach that moment of holding your own book in your hands?

How do you go from imagination and thought harnessing all the way to print?

Thinking about it, if we can go deep only for a few reflective moments and if I were to turn around and look at the road that lays behind me. Just beyond that moonlit horizon is a whole series of stories and experiences that made up my official journey to publication.

This series of posts is a guide of how I did it, what I learned, what went well, what didn’t and above all and like everything in the world of ‘publishing’ it’s subjective towards the beholder. By that I mean there is more than one way to get ‘published’ and be ‘successful’. There are several inputs that result in different outputs, but luckily for you this is my road map of a journey which started in 2012.

First of all above anything you have to answer the 3 following questions…

So you want to be a writer?

I was twelve years old when I first started writing on that old windows 98 computer, it was a rainy Sunday afternoon… Everyone has their story and mine probably isn’t any different to how you or anyone else realized they wanted to be a wordsmith. It’s the very first thing you must decide, do you really want to do this?

For me I just had a story in my mind which expanded by tenfold over the years, it grew with me as I became an adult and never ever went away. Sometimes you should listen to the various characters in your head even if they do talk out of term. This persistent universe which I had created convinced me that I should one day show it to the world and hence question number 1 was answered.

writingDo you have what it takes to dedicate yourself?

You have to be really dedicated! No I really mean that…

Again I’m being subjective when say this because I can only relate it to my experience. Are you ready to dedicate the hours and time into putting together a story that is made purely from organic thought? Are you willing to learn the translation process?

Translation huh, you ask. Writing is nothing more than taking a thought in your brain and converting into written word. But the big revelation is that you don’t have to be that good at it to be successful! And most writers are judged for their particular style of translation.

So can you translate what you see in your mind into words and sentences?

To be honest in the earlier days I struggled immensely with my description and detail. This is something which will only improve after spending hours practicing and even now I struggle. Back space will feature heavily along with giving your laptop or computer screen the death stare of ‘vacancy’.

My original routine consisted of coming home from work, taking a shower, making a cup of tea and then spending 4 hours writing. This grasping the translation stuff doesn’t happen overnight and for nearly two years I was writing more than I was doing anything else outside of work. Was the stuff I made any good? Probably not and I would even say that out of that 4 hours of work 30 minutes of it produced anything readable. It does take time and there is no short cut to putting in hours.

Nowadays my process has evolved as I have. I will spend up to an hour drafting new material, and all of it mostly readable work!

In this step you will have to financially commit yourself in buying a PC or laptop. Unfortunately and as romantic as pen and paper is, it’s just not the fashion!

So do you have what it takes to put in the time?

Okay so you’re dedicated but it still isn’t enough!

Are you the right person to call yourself a writer?

This is NOT a deep reflective question where you will spend days pondering about what your calling is in life. Take it at face value. Are you willing to be very very patient, so patient that it’s a discipline.

There is no better way to look professional and serious by being patient/cool about things. Just breathe and relax.

So you’ve sent a dozen copies of your manuscript out and haven’t received a reply. You may never will and what have you lost? Sending stuff out to zero response will happen but the concept of not being bothered by any results will really give you a one up. There are probably many many sorry cases of people following up and demanding they read their manuscript and consider it to be the next Harry Potter series. Just be cool and if someone likes what you write, they’ll find you trust me.

Mold yourself into a patient and professional person even if this is just a hobby. There is no excuse for bad manners in life and writing is no exception.

This will be a journey of solitude, and by that most of the time nothing really happens other than you, a laptop and the story. So be prepared to be alone, only a writer becomes a story teller alone.

Prepare to be criticized and judged. People react in weird ways when you say you’re a writer. How you handle that will define how you take any criticism.

write 2

Next comes the real journey…

I can’t physically teach you how to write and develop a work process, that’s up to you to figure out.

So you’ve written your masterpiece and edited it over and over again until all you see in those words is white noise.

Now it’s time for the big plunge, going public!

Arrive on social media and figure it all out

In order to build a profile as an author you have to have an online presence.

You can do this as you are writing, but to really be taken seriously you must be on social media. I began with small baby steps, I created an author page on Facebook and then got all my friends to like it. Over time friends of friends will engage and as you network other writer types will join in.

Next came twitter and eventually I got myself into blogging which is a big thing these days.

Blogging is an opportunity to talk and not be interrupted, its also an opportunity to share your opinion to the world. Whether that be a topical review, pressing journalism or just an update about what you are writing. A blog is a center piece to your online presence. Give it a catchy and even a slightly humorous name. Remember we aren’t curing disease here we are just arranging words together that turns into something that reads well. Have fun, be silly, be serious but above all be there! To date my most successful blog post is nothing about books, its about Yoga! 

Social media success is somewhat an enigma at times. It’s not all about ‘hey I’m a writer and my big book is coming next year’. You almost have to go fight club and not actually talk about that sort of stuff. It’s sounds weird but it’s true. Post stuff that you find interesting and may not be relevant to writing, you may just find yourself with a new follower or comment. In my resources section you can see a brief guide to social media including the use of Instagram. 

And so you’ve taken the plunge into deciding you want to be a writer. By now you may have even completed a first draft, and yes my first drafts are also awful. The Facebook page has been launched and you have started to blog. You may even be thinking about how weird twitter really is.

Your building blocks are starting to form a foundation towards getting a book out there! 

Part 2 will feature my journey and the choices I made in getting my first book published! We will cover the details of what goes into being independently published and what you need to do to get there.