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The Fast And The Furious, Tokyo Drift: A Review

This is the third in the Fast and Furious franchise and doesn’t feature any of the characters already seen, other than a brief appearance by Dom right at the end. It’s also set the latest of all five out so far.

In this film we start off in th U.S in a car race between two college kids. They both get arrested and one gets off lightly being the son of a cop. The other, however, gets shiped off to his dad in Tokyo to try and keep him out of trouble.

Naturally of course that doesn’t last. He’s soon in another car race though he has no idea how to drift and promptly crashes the car he has been loaned. The rest of the film is where the plot really kicks off. He has to work to repay the cost of the car while at the same time wants to steal the girl from the guy that beat him.

While this plot is a little more ‘teen’ than the previous two have been it still works as a good movie. It’s one of those overcoming/coming of age kinda movies where there is a task to perform and some family reconciliations along the way.

There is a little bit less of a bad guy and really being in danger feel to this one. Although there is a death it just doesn’t seem quite so bad. Maybe its the lack of shooting in comparison to the previous two but something there is a little lacking. I have always liked the blend of car chases, shooting and family fun scenes and this one doesn’t quite pull of that combo. It is definitely better than film 2, however.

 

Writing dialogue: How-to

I was going to come up with some simple instructions for how to write dialogue well, but I actually think someone else has already summed it up well on their own blog, so I’m actually just going to link to a post Joe Konrath made here. I don’t agree with everything he says as I think dialects can work if done well but it’s pretty  much spot on and I know my dialogue has improved thanks to reading his blog.

A Moment In Time

As I’ve already blogged about here I offered to share book 3 as it happened. I also said that it would be based on an idea started here.

My first task was to name my two characters. I had Jordan from the forming ideas post but as I plucked it out of the air I decided to rename him. He’s now become Sherdan. I also needed to name our little Christian girly and I ended up going for Anya. Feel free to let me know what you think of those names and suggest any alternatives if you don’t like them. That’s kinda what me blogging this is going to be about. You get to yay or nay everything (though I do reserve the right to not listen if I really believe myself to be right) and I’m happy to explain my reasonings behind choices.

Sherdan means untamed in celtic and Anya means favour or grace.

With the two names decided upon I would normally then go into the character bio’s and start to get a feel for what the two of them are like as well as start to put some background together for my plot and opening. I’ve not done that yet, however, as I had another moment between our two characters come to me. This was mostly inspired by a very random dream I was having where I was trying to explain to Simon Cowell (I’d auditioned for x-factor) why I didn’t mind that God did things I didn’t understand. So thank you Simon Cowell for your inspiration (isn’t it awesome that you helped and you didn’t even have to try). So here’s the resultant chunk.

A Moment In Time

Anya was still curled up against the wall when Sherdan walked in. He frowned but sat down in his normal seat. She raised her head and smiled at him. Her body was still slumped and she did not hold her head up for long before she put it back down again.

The food he had left for her was untouched. With her weariness so evident this confused him. She had now been in his compound five days and not eaten a single thing. He had moved her to more comfortable quarters as well but she ignored the bed and other furniture and just sat in the corner of the room.

“You still won’t eat,” Sherdan said. She shook her head.

“I am not going to let you read the prophecy just to keep you from starving yourself.”

“That’s not why I am doing it.”

“Why are you?”

“I’m fasting so God gets you to show me the prophecy.”

“You are insane… that makes no sense. You will end up killing yourself. I thought that kind of thing was something Christians frowned upon.”

“I’m not suicidal if that’s what you mean. I’m fasting because God wants me to.”

“God wants you to starve yourself to death?”

“No. I feel God has asked me to carry out this task, of checking the prophecy and I personally find fasting and praying an effective method of achieving things that seem otherwise impossible. I won’t die.”

“I’m confused.”

“Sometimes doing things that don’t make sense ends up being the right thing to do. I am only a single thread in a tapestry. Only God knows the whole design.” Anya paused and rested for a moment. Sherdan waited. He could see she was struggling. Normally he would have cut a Christian off when they were going into this level of their faith but he had to admit her behaviour had his attention.

“The things I do may seem odd or insignificant but God knows what will happen to the threads I am weaved with. The direction every conversation will go. What of the words I speak will have an effect on other people and their decisions. All I have to do is obey and I will see his great work unfold. Already the things I have said and done have had an effect on you.”

Sherdan did his best to hide his shock at her last remark. It was like she had read his mind. Only seconds before he had been pondering the unusualness in him giving someone so seemingly crazy so much of his attention.

“So, can I see that prophecy now?”

Sherdan hesitated, for the first time. He knew he should not but he was unsure how much longer she could last without food and this whacky little Christian was oddly endearing.

When he still did not respond she raised her head again. Her eyebrows raised expectantly.

He looked away as he shook his head and got up to leave. Not yet.

 

Next time

Ok, the next blog I want to do on these guys I’m going to completely open up to your influence. It’s going to be an interview with Anya. Yup, you read that right. I’m going to let you, the readers, interview Anya. For the rest of the month just comment here with the questions you’d like to ask her. I’ll then come up with the answers to the best ones and post them here for everyone to see. So what are you waiting for, comment below to find out about her.

Giveaways Galore!

Quick update to let you all know about the giveaways running currently for my ebook, With Proud Humility. You can enter to win a copy on my facebook fanpage just by commenting. Nice and simple.

For something a little harder but for chances to win other ebooks and prizes as well The Romance Reviews blog has a summer event going where you can answer questions to earn points and be entered for all sorts of different prizes, one of which is my ebook.

I’m also going to be chatting live in the lounge at The Romance Reviews on Friday from midday. Come on over and have a chat if you are about.

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Warning Order: A Review

Warning Order by Jamie Fredric is another book from the Indie authors list my own book is included in and can be found on Amazon.co.uk here. It’s a war time historical adventure set about 40 years ago.

Warning Order synopsis from Amazon

Not one to stay within the boundaries of an NIS warning order, Navy SEAL Captain Grant Stevens usually follows his gut instincts. This mission will be no different as he attempts to terminate a plot by East Germans to annihilate Russia’s heads of government. Teaming up with Joe Adler and, his long-time friend, KGB Officer Grigori Moshenko, the three will confront murderers and kidnappers from behind the Iron Curtain, as they try to diffuse the deadly plot before the world is thrown into turmoil.

My opinion

I have to admit I found this book a little hard to get going on but when I did I couldn’t put the book down. It’s very well written and the plot is very nicely woven out. It kept me guessing right till the very end. There’s a really nice balance between action, description and dialogue which helped the book flow along at a very nice pace.

The author did a really good job of expaining all the technical terms for things like parachute drops, mission types and explosives so even though I’ve not read many war books I could still get my head around what the hero was doing and how he was doing it. He also handled all the different languages represented well.

My one moan has to be the characters. There were a few too many I think and I struggled to keep up with them all and figure out who was who to begin with, which is probably why it took me a little while to get into. I also think that the author may have done as well, as the side charactes often lacked a little bit of depth. The main characters were fine and I soon adored Captain Grant Stevens but the side characters were not quite so well done.

Bearing that in mind this book gets 4 stars from me. Characters are my main love so I feel I can’t give it higher.

 

Disclaimer: I was in no way paid for this review or otherwise persuaded to give a favourable book review, this is entirely my own opinion.

Author Interview: Chris Turner

This is a new feature I wish to run on my blog. Every so often I’m going to interview another author and talk to them about one of their books/something they are working on. This first one is going to be a very good friend of mine, Chris Turner

Tell us about your latest project.

Well Jess, I think you should know about this, as it was your idea. I’ve not got any ideas for a novel currently and nor do I have the time to write one, but I have a few short story pieces hanging around. You kindly offered to write some too and lend your name to an anthology of short stories. So I’ve been rewriting an idea that I had quite a while back but it’s got a whole new angle now. I’m quite eager to get it finished and share it, but I can’t really talk about it with everyone for fear of mentioning spoilers. Suffice to say, it’s fantasy themed and has an explosive ending which will leave you wondering.

When and why did you start writing?

Wow, that’s a hard question. I guess I started when I had to learn, but the first fiction writing I remember doing was in year 2. Each class was given a cuddly toy and everyone had to write a story about it and they were then judged. I’m now almost ashamed of the story, even though it won best in the school. All I’ll say is that it was called Dr What and the Dinosaurs and featured a red phone booth. My Dad was a fan before Eccleston came along and although I’d never read them, I must have got some inspiration from them.

I’ve always had ideas for stories but rarely wrote them down. I remember throughout my childhood when I lay down to go to sleep I’d create stories in my head to send myself to sleep. I’ve gone through phases of trying to start writing things but have soon given up without any specific goal or encouragement. I guess I started taking it seriously when we started Flight Productions, as there was a clear purpose and reason for it. That was only film scripts though and now with the rising e-book market and ease of self publishing, I see no barriers preventing me publishing my own stuff. So in summary, it was thanks to you Jess. You saw I had ideas and encouraged me to record them and develop them fully, and I must say I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.

What’s your favourite genre to write and what’s your favourite genre to read?

I tend to write lots of short reflective stories about characters that are merely observing the world around them with all its jewels and scars. I like slow completive pieces as they allow me to think as I write them. I enjoy showing people flawed characters who still have some redeemable qualities. I also enjoy writing sci-fi and fantasy. Fantasy is a new one to me but culture building is something I’m enjoying rather a lot.

When it comes to reading, it is almost exclusively sci-fi and fantasy. I’ve recently finished the most recent Discworld novel and am now reading Kil’n People by David Brin, a sci-fi I highly recommend. I also read a lot of non-fiction and try to expand my knowledge often. I’m reading an introductory book to Communication Studies and a few theological texts.

What inspires you?

What doesn’t? I take my ideas from all walks of life and whatever I think about. This can often by films, but it isn’t always. I feel particularly inspired to create when in a place of natural beauty. On a nice day when the world around me is free from defects and all I can say about my surroundings is how nice they are, I tend to think about adding to it. I can just let my mind stop wanting to add anything more and just let it sort through what lies within.

I also find people very inspirational. Not big figures of history but close friends who share life with me. Their own struggles and overcomings always encourage me to keep pressing on. When I hear what other people have done with their lives, even though they may not see it as massive, I can’t help wanting to help them and also press on myself with my own goals.

Do you have any quirks to how you write?

I’m not sure really. I don’t think so, but I only write the way I know how. I tend to vary the format I choose as I get bored of it too easily otherwise. I find that if I keep the medium fresh I can keep myself interested more easily.

I don’t shut out distractions and rarely force myself to focus solely on one thing. If I’m writing on a computer I will have emails, facebook and my phone all going at the same time. I’ve even been known to write more than one things at once, as I find taking a break when stuck is the best way to overcome it. I do tend to write in lots of short intense stints as opposed to one long session. Whether this is good or not I don’t know, does that count as a quirk?

I do prefer being alone though. I like to talk things through with myself as I do it, and people would give me a few odd looks if I started doing accents in the coffee shop. May have to try that all the same though.

Are their any of your characters you particularly relate to, if there is, who and why?

All of them I think. Each has a part of me that I can relate to in some way. The current short story I’m writing is partly a metaphor for real events that happened to me and I am thus writing it in first person. I won’t say what events but suffice it to say that the central relationship is based on one of mine. I tend to relate to other people’s characters more than my own, but I think Aydin must be the one I relate to most. I think time spent with them has a huge impact and I’ve known him for about a year or so now.

There is one I’m very attached to and has always been my favourite though I’m reluctant to give details away. I had an idea for a film where two omnipotent beings come to earth and they disagree with each other. Mankind has to decide which to side with or risk being destroyed in their ongoing struggle and he is one of those two. I’ve been thinking about him for about eight years now and he’s still got hidden depths and I love that about him. I wouldn’t say I relate to him particularly but he is certainly my favourite.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

Well, I’ve told you about the short stories but of course it doesn’t stop there. I have my blog (shameless and in fact quite full of pride plug for something I think deserves far more attention), which is a constant ongoing thing. I love the freedom it offers in lack of structure except what you impose on yourself. I can talk about anything and in as much depth as I feel it deserves. It also means I have to keep up to date with films, so have a lot of good upcoming films to look forward to. Reviewing the new X-men film, Cowboys Vs Aliens and Tintin are all things I’m looking forward to doing.

There is also a lot of Flight work going on, though I’m not sure how much I can say. Suffice it to say, filming is not far off and our first project is not something you’d expect from what we’ve been doing so far. It’s a short thing that you should be able to catch for free, so keep looking out for it, as Jess will be involved too. I’m also thinking about Aydin again, but not in the same way. I’m actually having to let go of a lot for the next Sardis project, but this time its going to be even more innovative and interactive than the twitter novel.

Next I think I’ll have a coffee. Because its better than tea.

Jess says: I think I have to disagree wtih you Chris. I prefer tea. Other than that though I’ve loved having you here on my blog. Thanks for answering those questions and being so lovely.

If anyone wants to check out Chris’ blog you can find it here

2 Fast, 2 Furious: A Review

As I promised to review all 5 fast and furious films. Here’s the second.

I have to admit this was my least favourite of the five. Although it was still a fairly good film it only had Brian (the cop) from the first one. He looses his job for letting Dom go in the first one and agrees to help the police catch another criminal to get his criminal record cleared.

As in the first one, nothing quite goes according to plan, Brian doesn’t get along very well with the cops trying to ‘help’ him and there are car races and explosions galore. I guess I just seemed to find this one a little too far fetched. There were a couple of ‘gadgets’ that were a bit ott and I’m not sure they would have actually used them.

I also think I missed Dom. He was by far my favourite character in the first one. It wasn’t quite the same without his brooding presence. I just didn’t engage with the other people in the film quite as much as I had with Dom and his family.

In terms of car races, explosions etc this film was just as good as the last but unfortunately my least favourite over all.

Kindle forums: A Distraction

Recently I have been doing a lot of promoting and while I was doing so I found myself getting more and more involved in conversations with other authors on the Kindle forums.

There are actually two kindle forums. There is the Kindle publishers forum which is only accessable through an authors account and this is where the majority of the authors actually spend their time (there has been a lot of hostility towards authors from readers on the other forums for some reason, personally I’d love to get to interact with book authors) here there are the standard help with formatting forums, accounts problems, etc  but there are two other forums where I spend a lot of my time.

General questions forum where we all talk about everything from pricing, reviews, blurbs, sales levels and what we should do next.

Then there is my personal favourite section of them all the ‘Voice of the author’ forum. It’s full of marketing advice, authors swapping books for review and general encouragement. I’ve probably bought more books thanks to this section of the forum in the last 6 months than I have in the last 6 years.

In the other kindle forums on the main Amazon sites there is a fairly new section called meet our authors. This shows great promise as long as readers actually come and meet the authors of course. I’ve set up my very own meet the author discussion page so anyone wanting to chat to me about my books etc can head here.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time in discussion pages for particular books. Each product on Amazon has a section just above suggested similar discussion pages where anyone can either create a discussion thread or join in an existing one about the product. For example one of my readers on Amazon.com created a Why I loved ‘With Proud Humility’ discussion thread.

If you’re an author or a reader I’d encourage you to head over to chat to lots of other people and distract me even more from writing 😉

The Fast and the Furious: A Review

I recently watched the 5th Fast and Furious film at the cinema, with my husband Phil. Both of us have been long term fans of the films, and I wanted to try and sum up why I liked them and what I liked about them. Over the next little while I’ll review all five of the films I’ve seen.

For my husband it’s easy, he likes cars and he likes it when there is action and things blow up. And although I like cars too, it’s not entirely enough to make me like the films as much as I do.

Warning: There are spoilers

In the first film we follow Brian (Paul Walker) an undercover cop as he tries to figure out who is hijacking the local trucks and stealing their loads. This leads him to Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew, Letty, Mia, Vince and Jesse. The film mostly consists of a few car races, a hijacking scene in which Vince gets shot, though survives, and some more shooting and cars blowing up at the end. It also has a fairly well acted romance between Brian and Mia. Brian ends up respecting Dom so much that he lets him go at the end rather than arresting him.

Even though Dom is the ‘bad guy’ in this film, there is something about him I like. He has a cute habit of making his family and anyone with them say grace before eating and he really obviously cares for his family and sister.

Brian is mostly just trying to do his job at first and then really enjoys being accepted into the famly unit Dom has got going. It’s fairly obvious from the beginning that most of the other cops do not like Brian that much and I think he is very touched by the family atmosphere Dom goes to every effort to create.

It goes to show that sometimes a sense of belonging somewhere is more valuable than the morals we originally hold to. That loving each other and forgiving people’s faults is sometimes more important than them being punished for doing the wrong thing.

The film makes me think a little of a quote from the Bible where it says ‘people will know that I am God because of your love for one another’ and yes that is paraphrased because I couldn’t for the life of me find the actual bible verse and, unlike normal, biblegateway couldn’t help me find it either. It made me look at my own church friends and realise how blessed I was that I could consider them family just as Dom could his friends.

The Meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything!

42!

 

That is all.

 

 

Well no actually it isn’t, but this is my 42nd blog and I’m afraid I just couldn’t help myself.

I did say I’d talk about my book sales during my promotion period so I think now is a good time to do that.

Well lets start with sales figures before the promotion. I had the book priced at just over £2 and I was getting about 62% of that after vat, amazons cut and download costs. I was getting an average of 5 sales per month and knew that changing the price to 70p at a royalty rate of 30% that I needed to sell approximately 6x more in the same period. So for a half month I needed to sell 15 copies to make it financially sensible.

I’m pleased to say I sold exactly 20 copies in the 16 days it was only 70p. Now that might not seem like a lot to some people but considering I was only getting 5 per month roughly one over 6 days to then get just over 1 per day was a very lovely boost. Also, considering the genre I’m in I seemed to be getting quite close to the genre top 100 on Amazon.co.uk with those sales figures.

Despite all that, however, I have decided to raise the price again for now. I still found that approx 50% of those sales could be traced back to something I did during those two weeks and I think I would have had higher than normal sales anyway. So I’ve raised the price again and will see how it affects the sales going forward. They may well drop off again but at least I know that my own efforts in getting the word out there is paying off. I directly sold at least 10 copies of my book in only two weeks from things I posted, facebook status’ etc.

So overall I’m pleased everything is picking up but I’m going to play with the pricing a bit longer.