Archive for » October, 2011 «

NaNoWriMo Prep

I’m all set for NaNoWriMo and due to start tomorrow. Book 3 is now named, it’s called Sherdan’s Prophecy. I am signed up on the main NaNoWriMo site and all set to go, you can check out my user page here. I will try and update my progress at least a couple of times during the month to let people know how I’m getting on but people can also check out my user account on the NaNoWriMo site to see as well.

Obviously a lot of my background work has been put up here as well as some small parts I considered having in the book itself. I’m not necessarily going to be including the parts I’ve already written and if I do I’ll need to rewrite anyway to fit them in with the story as it goes so I don’t consider myself to actually have started writing already. Thankfully with the wind-down to November I’ve managed to get all of Novemeber’s blogs scheduled, apart from a few slots for updates, so blogging will continue as normal over November.

Good luck anyone else doing NaNoWriMo, please comment if you are.

Cowboys And Aliens: A Review

I thought long and hard about seeing this movie, not able to decide if I’d like the combination of western and sci-fi. Then I saw the trailor and realised both Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford were in the film and my mind was made up, yes I’m aware how shallow that is but I really actually liked Daniel Craig as bond, and, well Bond and Indiana together just gave me goosebumps.

Well I watched it and to be honest it was pretty much what I expected. Horses, explosions, a very surly Daniel Craig, a grouchy but cute Indiana and plenty of really ugly looking aliens in spaceships. It’s one of those films where the trailor lets you know the mood and the genre lets you know the rest.

It wasn’t badly acted but it was nothing special. It was definitely like taking Bond and Indiana and putting them together in the wild west with a healthy topping of Extra Terrestrial. Bond was bond and shot stuff and Indiana made wise cracks and was responsible for exploring stuff. The cinematography was good but nothing special and it was a fairly standard action movie.

I loved the film and had a blast watching it. If you like Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig you’ll probably like it to. If you like one of the two it would probably be bearable but if you don’t like either it wouldn’t be worth watching, not even for the aliens, or Sam Rockwell as he doesn’t even get to dance in this film.

How To Live With A Creative Mind

This isn’t actually a subject I profess to be that knowledgeable about. I would definitely consider myself to be a creative mind, but in terms of living with it, well I regularly forget to eat, I’m emotional at the best of times and sometimes absolutely nothing will convince me to put my pen down and stop writing.

However, a couple I greatly admire, Jeff and Julie Crabtree have recently finished putting a book together, Living With A Creative Mind. This book is something I’ve been waiting to read for many years. Ever since the first time I had the privilege of hearing Jeff and Julie speak. I’ve been fortunate enough to get an early copy of the book and will be reviewing it as soon as I have finished reading it. For now though just check out the website where you can read the first chapter free. You can also buy it but if you’re not in Oz the shipping rates are a little nasty. They are working on getting it available to the rest of the world.

Seriously if you’re not even sure you are a creative mind it’s good reading for understanding anyone in your world that is creative and why they seem so crazy most of the time.

Author Interview: Helmy Kusuma

Helmy Kusuma has kindly agreed to do an interview today.

Tell us about your latest project.

There Is Hope, which is a short sci-fi about post-nucleo-calypse world. I wrote this in the middle of finishing my second novella. A little break once in a while works wonders.

So far you have shorts and Novella’s published, do you intend to ever write a novel or prefer to stick to shorter works?

I have a plan to write longer, but the idea might dictate differently. I fell in love with Peony by Pearl S. Buck. I want to write that kind of story.

Do you have any quirks to how you write?

If you consider a well-fed stomach a quirk then a quirk it is. I can hardly think, let alone fantasize, with all those lil’ devils growling inside.

What’s your perfect writing day like?

Sun peering over the clouds after a mild rain, a slightly damp breeze, pungent smell of wild flowers, a glass of water and classical music playing on the background. That is the perfect setting for my perfect writing day. I don’t mind about the count of words.

You seem quite relaxed in your approach to word count per day, do you set yourself any deadlines or keep a relaxed approach to your writing in every aspect?

I guess I am relaxed to the point of lazy. Sometimes I set a deadline, only for it to be missed later on.

Well, I am very new to this kind of thing, so it might change in the future…but I don’t see it coming any time soon. Teehee!

What book do you wish you had written?

‘Inverta’. Huh you say. I intended, originally, to write ‘Inverta’ some six months ago, but inertia got hold of me, so it is currently still a wish.

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

Taking a bath. Oh, you mean after finishing my second novella. Let me see…I would like to write ‘Inverta’, of course, and in between writing it I will probably finish several short stories and have started a new business.

You sound like you have several ideas that you can move on to when you are finished with your current project, do you keep a record of your ideas for a later date or just start whichever idea is in your mind when it is time to start something new?

When the idea is bugging me enough, I will start writing right away, else I will usually do some sketching and noting. Later, when the idea is more developed, I create a folder and a doc for it.

If you want to check out any of Helmy’s work you can do so at the following links:

Mementoes of Mai:

There Is Hope:

A Flash of Inspiration: Collection of Very Short Stories by Indie Authors:

You can also find more information on his own blog, or follow Helmy on facebook or twitter

Background Details: Book 3, part 3

I’ve been plotting book 3 and in the process have found I needed to do some more research. I wasn’t going to share it but it ended up actually being quite cool, so I am now.

The main point of research I wanted to look into was declaring a patch of land an independant country and whether that was possible. Also if it was possible if it was likely to happen and how easy it was to achieve. It turns out it’s one of those things that is easy in theory but not actually easy to do.

The first info I found was the wiki page on micronations. You can view it here if you’re interested. A micronation is a entity that claims to be a state or country but is not yet recognised as one, for whatever reason.

The page then goes on to list some of these. There are some very special ones. My favourites are the off shore one in the UK where people have claimed an abandoned war brig and called it an independant country and somewhere in Oz A guy declared independance when he couldn’t pay his mortgage and now does not allow lawyers access to his country. People are special, they really are.

The most useful part of wiki’s page however was the list of things needed to become an independant country. I’ve listed those for ease.

  1. A permanent population.
  2. A defined territory.
  3. A Government
  4. The Capacity to enter into relations with other states.

There were then a few other useful pages I found about people and places that were trying to declare independance. The most useful of those I found was a non-country in Georgia that is doing everything it can to become a seperate country from Georgia. The info on that can be found here.

In terms of writing book 3, I’ve decided I’m actually going to make it my NaNoWriMo book. With all the stuff I’ve been doing to prep this book I’ve not given myself enough time to prep another for NaNoWriMo. It also means I’ll get book 3 written quicker than I originally anticipated and should be blogging it sometime either in November or just after. Either way my blog in 12 days time will probably be NaNoWriMo related.

Unwritten: A Review

I’ve never reviewed a song before but I recently got asked to listen to Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield and the words hit me like a ton of bricks, so thanks Alex for the prod to listen to it.

Here’s the video –  Unwritten on YouTube

Lyrics

I am unwritten,
Can’t read my mind
I’m undefined
I’m just beginning
The pen’s in my hand
Ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your innovation

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

I break tradition
Sometimes my tries
Are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned
To not make mistakes
But I can’t live that way oh, oh

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

I totally love the lyrics, I mean I would, they are all about blank pages in a book and wanting to write and be something new. It’s more then that though, so much more.

The songs all about embracing the future, the future totally unique to you and your path. Carving your own through-road in and around the lives of other people. It’s about choosing to embrace the unexpected, the moments of spontaneous opportunity. On top of all that it’s suggestive of the awesome middle ground between free-will and fate. When there is a path we can create by our choices but also the knowledge that we’ve got some help from somewhere.

The part I love most though is the feeling of new beginnings. When times are tough and stuff goes wrong we can close the book on it and move on to something new, something fresh, and something entirely our own.

Enigma

Enigma is one of those words not heard that much but one that most people recognise. Despite being an author I didn’t know the meaning of this very lovely little word until someone called me an enigma about 5 weeks ago. I then had to look it up, here’s the dictionary definition for those few people like me who aren’t sure of it’s meaning:

e·nig·ma

[uh-nig-muh]

noun, plural -mas, -ma·ta  [-muh-tuh]

 

  1. A puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation: His disappearance is an enigma that has given rise to much speculation.
  2. A person of puzzling or contradictory character: To me he has always been an enigma, one minute completely insensitive, the next moved to tears.
  3. A saying, question, picture, etc., containing a hidden meaning; riddle.
  4. (initial capital letter) A German-built enciphering machine developed for commercial use in the early 1920s and later adapted and appropriated by German and other Axis powers for military use through World War II.

I’m assuming the person who referred to me as an enigma meant point 2 of the dictionary definition. At least I hope so. However, whatever my describer meant the word has been stalking me ever since. No less than a week after I was called an enigma I happened to be watching Stargate Sg-1 reruns and suddenly found myself watching an episode entitled Enigma.

Three days after that I find myself listening to a song about Enigma’s. Then only a few days after that I saw the word Enigma on a sign on the side of a building. I have to admit I didn’t think too much of it until I found myself searching through dvd’s to watch at a friends house and found the only music dvd they had was the video’s to music by the band Enigma. At that point I knew there was no getting away and I resigned myself to my fate.

As I finish off this blog it may be worth noting I sit here eating a cornetto Enigma, from a box of 4 I was given only a few days ago. The caramel ones are highly recommended.

Author Interview: Paul M. Schofield

My interviewee for today is Paul M. Schofield.

Tell us about your latest project.

The latest project is finishing the first sequel to TROPHY, my first novel. The story of the New Victorian Empire continues on in TROPHY: RESCUE. Additional new characters have complicated the plot and added new twists and turns to keep the action and thought provoking ideas churning along.

What book do you wish you had written?

I wish I had the command of language and the insight to develop characters the way Jane Austen did in Pride & Prejudice. It’s an absolute masterpiece in nuance and dialogue.

I’m curious that although you say you’d like to write like Jane Austen you write Action and Sci-fi, do you intend to try other genres and see if you can one day master a book like Pride & Prejudice or are you likely to stick to just the one genre?

There is an old saying: “Jack of all trades, master of none”, and I would prefer to master at least one genre. Although I admire Austen’s writing I know my strengths run to action and description. I also love science, the hobby of amateur astronomy being particularly fascinating, so I guess I’m locked into the sci-fi, action-adventure genre for now. Writing is an ongoing challenge. One famous author stated we never master our craft but remain apprentices. I want to be the best I can be, sticking to what I write well, making the words live in the minds of my readers.

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

Of all my characters it would have to be Martin. He’s an average kind of guy that’s thrown into a terrifying situation but ends up making the best of it. He’s also an outdoors-man and has a love for animals, something I can relate to. He never gives up.

What started you writing if you remember, and why do you write now?

I’ve always been creative and had a love of nature. Years ago we wrote and played our own music in a rock-band. I’ve had a career of architectural design and dabbled in some poetry. In 1991 I took a creative writing class and started the ideas for Trophy. It lay dormant in a drawer until a year and a half ago and then I really put some effort into it. I write now because I love it. There is something quite satisfying about sharing a story and your deepest ideas.

You imply writing is not your only career, are you a full time writer currently and if not do you wish to be?

My career as a designer continues in part-time mode. Alas, bills must be paid and I like to eat and support my family. Full time writing, even making a modest living from it, would be a dream come true. I don’t know how many hours a full-time writer puts in, but I try to write at least two hours per day, usually in the morning.

You took a creative writing class, would you say this has improved your writing and recommend it to other aspiring authors?

I took the class when I wanted to start writing. If you are in that position, by all means, take the class. It’s a good way to get your feet wet and see if you like it and have the discipline to carry it through. If you are already writing connect with other authors, attend seminars, read and study about character development, point of view, description, elements of style, etc. Have others, paid or otherwise, edit your work. Never publish without professional editing of some sort.

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

Completing the Trophy Saga will take a few years. Included are two sequels and two prequels along with the original book, five books in all at this point. I have the basic ideas, titles, and direction for them, but they will take unforeseen twists and turns. That is the fun of writing … where will it all end?

You say you have the basic ideas, titles and direction for your next few books, do you plan them out in advance in detail or just dive right in when writing?

My original instructor gave me a valuable piece of advice: Always know what your ending is. In that way you can always write toward it and never be plagued by writers block. I know what all my endings, titles, and general lines of action are. I work around very loose outlines that might cover a few chapters at a time. Then I can dive right in and follow my thoughts like a flowing river, but always to the same planned ending.

You can find out more information about Paul at his website and at the Book Junkies Library.

 

Background Details: Book 3, Part 2

A few months ago I wrote a blog post detailing some of the background details that were needed and some research points for Book 3. I thought I’d share some of the research and interesting things I found in follow up to the previous blog here.

My first point of research was Bristol, I’d like to know where the Universities are and all the transport links and map off an area where Sherdan’s compound could be. I went on google maps and had a look around the city, I couldn’t find anywhere already perfect for a compound but I did find an area that with 9 years of change could well be suitable. Here’s a shiny map of the area with a red outline of the part Sherdan’s people will occupy.

I’ve kept my boundary lines off main roads for the most part, especially as I’ve not yet decided how Sherdan will keep unwanted people out, if he even will. I’d like there to be some kind of barrier of sorts, just not sure what yet.

As you can see the entire main Bristol University Campus is included in the area and I’m going to make that the main headquarters of Sherdan’s little empire. Bristol Homeopathic hospital is going to be the entrance of the main underground bunker and the school that’s not labeled in the middle of the area will be some high rise flats and useful things like a Hellipad.

I estimate with my modifications there will be approximately 4,000 people in this compound, with over half of them being young people of student age and just above.

Bristol University will still be taking Students on each year as that’s how Sherdan is making new people with abilities. Spiking the students in some way.

I wanted to have it in the coffee or something like that but it turns out orally ingested enzymes are broken down by the stuff in our stomach before it can be absorbed by the body, essentially having no effect at all. Therefore I’ve decided to have a patch or armband the students and surrounding people are encouraged to wear to support something, like a nicotine patch it will allow the enzymes or whatever chemical compound I want be absorbed by the body.

Stage 3 of my research was into cults, I want to know how much Sherdan is likely to have achieved before people have noticed he’s up to something. I found that most cults that stay relatively close knit and don’t talk too much can easily have several thousand members for quite a few years before anyone really hears about them, at the most there might have been the odd local news paper report or two but unless Sherdan has deliberately talked about his cult publicly himself there won’t be much awareness of what’s going on at all.

My final point of research was the miracles that God was likely to perform. It seems there are four types of these, the healing three which are cures, exorcism and raising from the dead and the natural miracles that involved God controling nature in some way. This actually leaves me with a lot of scope to explain something as God if I need to.

In terms of progress with the book I now only have my character bio’s to do which I probably shan’t post. I’ve already done a couple of character interviews so I’ll leave it there. Hopefully that means my next post concerning book 3 will actually be the opening scene or two, maybe, if I do really well a whole chapter.

Captain America: A Review

I went to see this film at the cinema in 3d just after it came out. I don’t read the Marvel comics so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I knew Captain America was the first Avenger and that this film was the lead up to the Avengers film next year. I also knew that he helped in American wars so I was expecting some war stuff.

Like Iron Man 2 there wasn’t as much action in the film as I was expecting. Other than a sort of car chase near the start their was hardly any at all in the first half of the movie. Even when they did get into the acrtion they glossed over the destroying of all of the Hydra bases, bar the first and the last. I thought this would bother me. I like my action films. Surprisingly it didn’t. There was lots of delicious back story and cross over characters that I was oblivious to the lack of action until I got to the end and suddenly thought ‘hang on a sec, where were all the explosions and fight scenes.’

I was in love with the majority of the cast. Tommy Lee Jones provided some amazing comic relief in a role that was perfect for him. Captain America himself was spot on and so was his girly, Agent Carter. Samuel L. Jackson had his usual cameo right at the end.

I was delighted when I saw Hugo Weaving’s face pop up only a few minutes into the film, I practically had kittens in my cinema chair. I do believe I squealed in a proper fan girly style. Unfortunately my delight lasted all of about 5 second, he opened his mouth and for those brief few second a mostly ok German accent came out. It soon got dropped, however and it never really ever came back. In terms of the role Hugo Weaving made a totally perfect Red skull but why why oh why did he not practice the accent more and get told by the director to reshoot the scenes that weren’t good enough. Hugo you let me down!

I did have a second fan girly moment, however, when Howard Stark was introduced, who was incidently played very well. I just got very excited when they reused the theme from the Stark expo in Iron Man 2 to introduce Tony’s father. He was amusingly very similar to Tony Stark as well and it was great comic relief to hear some of his lines.

So all in all apart from a slightly dodgy (read non-existant) german accent I thought this film was amazing and really really can’t wait for the Avengers film next year, or Iron Man 3.