Archive for » May, 2012 «

Dark Shadows: A Review

As many people are aware this is the latest Burton, Depp, Bonham-Carter and Lee conglomeration. It’s based on some old tv series I have to admit I’d not heard of and having only seen the first major trailor fir this film I didn’t really know what to expect, other than I thought it would be rather funny and would have a few darker undertones.

Annoyingly it wasn’t as funny as I expected. Still reasonably amusing but not the full blown funny I had hoped for. Maybe it was because the cinema wasn’t that full or because I went with a different set of people to my normal cinema buddies, but the atmosphere just didn’t quite get there for me and there were a few points when I’m sure I’m the only one who laughed out loud.

The acting wasn’t entirely up to scratch I don’t think either. It felt a little like everyone was tired and maybe a teensy bit bored. even the usually perfect Depp didn’t quite bring his quirky character completely to life, though he got the closest of the lot. Christopher Lee just felt wasted as the ship Captain and while Helena Bonham-Carter had some good moments it wasn’t a particularly good character to be playing for her.

I also felt that they tried to pack too much into the film. It was very story heavy and because so much had to happen in the plot I don’t think it allowed each part to properly develop. There was no room for relational development so people felt too trusting too soon etc. It could have actually benefited by being 20 minutes longer and having more funny one liners in as a result.

The final point I didn’t like was all the magic, but I suppose that’s to be expected from a vampire film, although the trailor didn’t imply that much and was a little more light-hearted than the film actually turned out to be. I think this also would have been improved by adding a bit more to the film in terms of humour and relationship development.

While saying all these bad points, this is a film made by one of the greatest directors of our time and with some of the best actors so even though it felt like an off day for them it was by no means bad. I don’t regret seeing it or spending the money. I just wasn’t wowed like I’ve come to expect from this group of people.

How to keep having fun when your hobby is your job

This is actually something I’ve really struggled with lately. Four years ago after naff days at work and when I wanted to chill and have fun I’d pick up a pen and write, then I quit my job so I could write full time. Now when work gets stressful I turn around and wonder what to do.

Well to start off with, the best thing to do is try to remember why it was fun and a lot of the reason it was fun the first time around was because there was no pressure. It didn’t really matter what people thought because it was just a hobby.

There are a couple of ways around this now –  take the pressure off again, although this only works if the pressure can be taken off. By the time the hobby is earning money there can be pressure to keep it financially viable. Another way to keep the pressure off is to write two types of things. Some for money and then something else , just for fun, in a new genre or a completely different style or anything else that no one really needs to know about or see unless it’s finished and it’s good enough.

Of course, there is always finding a new hobby. This can sometime work if it’s in a similar field. For example if you were an actor, being behind the camera might be fun or a painter might like to try sculpting or something that draws on a few of the skills already learned and allows for experimentation and fun. Whatever is a bit different but similar enough that it’s a little easier than starting something brand new.

Making sure to take time out also helps, When a hobby becomes a job then there is only one boss and that boss is you. It can be very easy to put in more hours than a full time job normally requires. At the end of the day take a little time to look after yourself, relax and have fun with other people. The best cure I’ve found for stress is a good giggle with some friends.

 

The Escape Company: A Review

The Escape Company by Steve Fardon is another indie book I picked up on my kindle. The blurb suggests a fun story about two male friends who spring their wives from jail because they view them as being locked up for silly reasons. While slightly immoral and highly illegal I actually really liked the premise for the book.

As long as you don’t take it too seriously it’s a pretty fun ride as the two firm friends plot their way through several prison escapes and move the families to Spain afterwards. They decide that they enjoy the fun so much that they offer themselves out to certain types of criminals to get their loved ones out of jail too.

This was a really nice easy summer style read, with nothing too serious and plenty of amusing moments. A bit like a reverse Sherlock with a little less believability but nothing too outrageous and I found I wolfed it down.

I think I’ll probably pick up a sequel if it comes out sometime but it will be one of those books I read for a bit of light entertainment.

My only drawbacks with the book were the few moments I felt a bit like I was just being told what happened rather than shown but I think with this style of book that’s hard to do. It’s probably why it felt very lighthearted even when they were in the middle of prison breaks. I also noticed a few typos that could have been easily found with a spellchecker, like words run together without spaces but there weren’t  a huge number of these so they didn’t put me off too much.

Unfortunately I can’t actually recommend anyone read this book even though I would like to. I read this book as part of a review swap with the author who wrote it and despite being prompted several times and also requesting more reviews of his book in other threads on the same forum the author has not returned the review of other peoples books, including mine. So as much as I love this book I don’t think much of the author’s integrity.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 15

Every afternoon for the last four days Anya had managed to go invisible. The first time it had shocked her and she had practised every moment she knew for sure she’d be undisturbed. She did not want to be interrupted by him again.

Thinking of the night before, she stopped pacing and went to the window. She could see their snowman sitting on the edge of the front lawn. The rest of the snow was melting but the snowman still stood tall and proud.

For most of the day Anya had been preoccupied with going invisible, but she knew she needed to be careful when she tried it. She didn’t want Sherdan to know that something was different about her.

At first she had wondered if it had been her mind playing tricks on her because of trauma. It wasn’t until she managed to disappear again that she realised it was really happening. Her first thought was that Sherdan must have given her the drug against her will but it had only worked while she had been praying.

Once she had achieved the same thing for a third time she stopped pacing and praying, and just stood in front of the mirror. She focused on the way she had felt right before her reflection had disappeared the first time.

For several minutes nothing happened. She sighed and closed her eyes. When she opened them again she couldn’t see her reflection.

Unlike all the previous times, she stayed invisible. Anya had expected it to fade as it had done every time before but after fifteen minutes, nothing. She gnawed on her bottom lip, worried she would be stuck like that. Thankfully, after concentrating hard on wanting to be visible again, she saw herself slowly appear in the reflection before her.

She didn’t dare try again after that and waited for Sherdan as normally as possible.

When he did finally come to see her, he was later than usual and looked a little flustered.

“Is everything all right?” she asked.

“Yes, everything is going well. I am busy preparing things for the next stage. This area of land shall be a fortress within the next week.”

“With me locked at its centre.”

“It’s the safest place for you”

“Perhaps.”

“Are you still completely against taking the drug and gaining an ability?” Sherdan asked. Anya did her best not to let her confusion show. She’d assumed he’d already put it into her system.

“I don’t want it, but I suspect it’s the kind of thing you’d do to me while I slept if you really wanted it to happen.”

“No, I have more respect for you then that. I might still force it upon you, but not in secret.”

“You’d still make sure you had your way then?”

“Of course.”

Anya smiled at Sherdan when he said this. She didn’t seem able to be annoyed at him for anything. She’d also noticed that, since their evening in the snow, he had been much more open and honest with her.

If he hadn’t already given her the drug, however, it meant her invisibility must have come from somewhere else. In that moment she almost told him about it.

“Sir? I think you had better come take a phone call that’s just come through for you,” the radio squawked, disturbing their evening together.

“Who is it Nathan?” Sherdan replied.

“The chief of police.”

“I’ll be right there.” He rolled his eyes at Anya. She laughed.

“Seems you’re in trouble with the law.”

“Well, they have been trying to arrest me for most of the day.”

“So my future husband, and the possible father of my first child, is a hardened criminal.” They both chuckled.

“As I said before, you’re safest here.”

With that, Sherdan left her for the rest of the day. She sat and pondered everything he had told her. Not everyone got personal phone calls from the chief of police when they were being pursued for arrest, especially when the very act of phoning showed that the police knew where he was and could theoretically apprehend them.

She was also sure he’d been truthful about not giving her the drug. The only other way she could conceive being given the gift of invisibility was God, but it was a new trick, even for Him.

Anya was still thinking this over when she fell asleep. It even continued to puzzle her the following day. She had no intention of looking a gift horse in the mouth, however, and stood herself in front of the mirror as soon as she knew she would have privacy for more than half an hour.

She focused on the same feeling as the day before and her reflection disappeared in front of her eyes. Anya grinned. It was an awesome feeling, even if her clothes were still visible.

For the next few hours she practised moving between her normal state and invisiblity. Each time the transition got quicker and took less concentration.

Anya gasped several hours later when, in transitioning from visible to invisible, all her clothes fell to the floor. She tried to pick them up and her hands went straight through them.

She hesitated, not knowing what to do next. As she stood thinking she faded back into view until she could see herself naked in the mirror, her clothes still in a pile under her feet.

Suddenly it dawned on her that, if her hand had moved through the clothes, in the same state she might be able to move through other things. She picked up her T-shirt and held it in her hands.

Anya took a deep breath and focused on the needed feeling. As usual, she turned invisible. She paused and concentrated again. A few seconds later the top fell to the floor and, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t pick it up again.

As soon as she was sure she couldn’t lift her clothes, she reached out to the bed. Her hand passed right through and she felt an odd sensation as it did. Feeling very brave, she stepped right into the bed. Her lower half all tingled until she stepped back out again.

She grinned as she allowed herself to fade into view again. There was no way Sherdan could force her to do anything she didn’t want to any more.

She danced around the room and thanked God. She was as free as she wished to be. The weight and stress of the last few days fell from her and she laughed with happiness at her new found liberty.

Picking up her clothes, she pulled her underwear back on but she was disturbed by the sound of footsteps outside the door. She froze with only her lower half clothed.

The key turned in the lock. Anya did the first thing that came into her head and her jeans and thong fell to the ground again. In her invisible state she glanced at the clock. It was only half four. Sherdan was early.

She watched Sherdan come into the room, followed by someone else in a lab coat. He was one of the two guys in the laboratory she had walked in on. In his right hand was a syringe. She knew what was in it. Sherdan had at least warned her.

Anya smiled to herself as he scanned the room. He looked straight over to where she stood, but he was completely oblivious to her. He put his finger to his mouth and looked at Hitchin and then walked silently towards her bathroom to knock on the shut door.

“Anya are you in there?” he called. She didn’t respond and had to resist the temptation to laugh. He knocked again before trying the handle. The door opened without resistance. Sherdan marched in and checked behind the shower curtain.

“She’s gone!”

“The door was locked.” Hitchin motioned towards the now open door behind him. Sherdan shrugged and ran from the room. Hitchin fixed a cap onto the syringe and followed.

With a very large grin on her face, Anya allowed herself to go visible and put her clothes on. As soon as she was decently attired, she left her unlocked room and followed the two men to Sherdan’s study.

Super 8: A Review

Super 8 was one of those films I saw the trailor for and thought, yeah that might be worth a watch. I didn’t go to see it at the cinema but borrowed the dvd from a friend as soon as I could.

The trailer implied the film was a cutesy kids action film with a little bit of a serious alien undertone and for the first 30 minutes that’s exactly what it was. The kids making their own film were so stereotypical it was brilliant and, although a little like watching an old kids film, it was retro in all the right ways.

For kids, the acting was superb and the whole cast of miniature adults had me won over pretty quickly and they never let me down the whole way through the film.

The let down came when the film got a lot more serious than the trailer implied it would. The alien’s introduction scene was actually really rather violent and gory for what appeared to be a more childlike film. The alien was the kind of alien you would expect in an alien horror film and not a Stephen Spielberg kids film and the way the film was put together was a lot more jumpy than I’d have liked. I don’t mind a film that makes me jump one or twice but I think I jumped at four separate points in more of a horror film way.

I loved the cast and routed for them the whole way but when the film had finished I felt a little like I’d been miss-sold it. It was far darker than I was expecting and I really don’t think I’ll be buying it, which is a shame because I was hoping for another ET moment.

Historical accuracy

Lately I’ve been doing research for my fourth novel and also with my first historical book out and my second very very close to being out I’ve been thinking a lot about historical accuracy.

There’s a lot of history and studying any one section of it well can take an entire lifetime. This can present a problem when writing historical novels. I’ve only got soo much time I can devote to researching an area. Admitedly I usually stick to my favourite era and the one I know the most about, 1790-1850. It’s the regency era, the French revolution, the abolition of slavery and the early parts of Queen Victoria’s reign. There’s obviously more to it than that but I feel fairly comfortable in that era.

The other problem is sometimes the plot and story is deemed more important than a historical fact, after all I write fiction, and to me, writing relatable characters who go through something people can understand is often more important than whether they really would have spent time with that person, or would have prefered a bow and arrow over a spear. If they don’t spend time alone with that person romance won’t blossom and people in battle with only spears get one or two hits in then get massacred, but bows and arrows means the fights a little more even. I’m sure you get my drift. Sometimes I deliberately write something historically inaccurate.

The biggest killer though is that 90% of the historical information we’re taught and we read in other books is actually wrong (yes I have just made that stat up). Though in all fairness, most of my sources these days are the internet and we all know how consistent that can be. Sometimes I will find something out, think I am right, and be wrong. Likewise some people will read my books and think I am wrong because they’ve read something different somewhere else, but I’ll actually be right. On top of that we all make assumptions. Someone may read that people in the 1800’s in the US could rarely read, even nobility, so assume people in London in the 1800’s also can’t read. Most people in the Uk are fairly aware they could, however. Jane Austen’s and Beatrix potter’s sales figures anyone?

It’s history, and by definition of a lot of it no one from then is still alive to tell us what it was really like, and it wasn’t the same everywhere even if we know what it was like in one place. You can’t compare a 1810 regency historical romance with a 1810 American-front historical romance. You can be pretty sure the two sets of societies had very different sets of rules, issues, and quirks.

I don’t write regency historical romances. I actually don’t like them (the whole chaperoned everywhere all the time missconception gets me angry. It was only really London and Paris and there were certain ‘public’ places you were allowed to talk unaccompanied) so I’d really appreciate it if people stopped comparing my historical adventure novels set in the 1800’s, in other places, to regency.

In fact I’d really like it if people just generally started off from the assumption that the author did do research and generally only think they didn’t if some big glaring mistake was made, like having steam power in the early 1800’s. Although, if that does happen and you’re worried, check you’re not in the steampunk genre. If you find you are, and are about to throw said book across the room in disgust at the historical inaccuracy of having steam almost 100 years before it was invented, please put it down gently and make a note to not read that genre again, you won’t like it.

Oh and also people, read the blurb, it helps give you an idea of where the book’s set and if you’re getting that regency romance you want. Also don’t tell me you didn’t know my first book was set in the Caribbean. It does say so in the blurb and last I checked Montserrat hadn’t moved.

Trade: A Review

Trade by Tareq Hassan is a book that I picked up as part of an indie reviewers circle. It’s cover and blurb had me totaly suckered into checking the book out. I generally love myself a good spy book, especially if there’s some action in there as well as investigation sort of stuff.

Unfortunately that was pretty much where my love ended. Now don’t get me wrong for a foreign writer the English was pretty darn good. There was the odd word or two that seemed odd but for the most part the book was written in as good an English as I manage.

The problem was in all the jargon and dialogue the characters used. I just couldn’t understand the conversations and what half the characters were saying and therefore who worked for who and what they thought of everyone else. I also couldn’t at all work out what some of the characters had to do with the plot, or even what the plot seemed to be, except something to do with 9/11, a legal firm, drugs and muslims that might become terrorists.

I got so frustrated that I put the book down for a few days about 25% of the way in and tried to come back to it later. I then managed to get about 40% of the way in before getting more confused and putting it down again. When I gave it it’s third try I only got to 42% before I just really couldn’t go any further.

The final straw for me was a scene where one of the characters who was introduced earlier called Danny (I think it said he was from MI but I can’t remember and I think it should have been MI5 or MI6 rather than MI) showed up at 10 Downing Street and just walked in to talk to the Prime Minister. I thought just walking in was a bit odd but didn’t think too much of it until the conversation between PM and Danny started. The PM spoke like an American and a very crude one at that. I’m sorry but I just couldn’t imagine Gordon Brown or David Cameron talking like that.

I know the PM is much more polite when he’s in front of the cameras but they still speak very differently to the standard yank. They most definitely don’t say ass for one. I’m fairly sure it’s arse.

As a result I have my first ever did not finish. I’m sorry I just really can’t believe this book anymore.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 14

For those joining the read part way through you can catch up on old chapters here

 

Their hands touched as Sherdan handed Anya her hot chocolate. She was curled up in his favourite chair with him, sat on the floor beside her, near the roaring fire in the study. Her cheeks glowed and her hands were pink as she warmed them up on her drink. Her smile, like a child on Christmas morning, spread more warmth through him than the fire ever could.

She soon finished her hot chocolate and yawned. Normally he would have let her rest at this point but he didn’t want to this evening. He liked having such amicable company in his study, even if she had sat in his chair. He watched as her eyes closed and imagined her sitting there some months from now with a very large bump. The thought made him smile.

He allowed his mind to wander as Anya fell into a deeper sleep. He had been happier since Hitchin had told him why Anya was here. It comforted him that she had a purpose; that his reaction to her torture had been more than him going soft.

Sherdan knew they would not be able to wait long to have children, however, if theirs really was to be the first with multiple abilities. There were already couples within the program and who knew when a woman would fall pregnant.

It had also occurred to him that Anya would need to take the drug before she got pregnant. Giving it to her wasn’t something he had thought much about, considering that she might die. Knowing she would live changed things.

He decided to suggest it to her in the near future. He would give her the choice for now. If he needed to force her he could do so at a later date. She seemed to like feeling as though she had a choice, even if he knew that she didn’t. Offering her more time had made her significantly more amiable. He just hoped she would not want too much more.

It didn’t bother him that she had been let out of her room and then encouraged back by some miraculous force. As far as he was concerned the very force that had given Hitchin the vision had also brought her back. It was comforting that she wouldn’t really ever be able to refuse.

Everything else aside, however, he didn’t want to hurt her and really hoped that when the time came she would be ready and willing. He gazed at her lovingly; she was fast asleep in the chair and had been for a while.

Sherdan felt reluctant to disturb her but he would need to sleep soon himself and despite the progress he wasn’t leaving her outside of a locked room. He didn’t trust her that much yet.

As carefully as he could, Sherdan slid his arms underneath Anya. She soon stirred and looked at him through sleep hazed eyes.

“Bed time,” he whispered. She struggled against him as he lifted her.

“It’s okay, I can walk.” Sherdan didn’t let her go but moved with her towards the stairs. He noticed that she was lighter than she had been the first time he carried her, making it easier for him to carry her smoothly.

He placed her in bed and pulled the covers over her. She dozed again before he’d even finished that much but he wasn’t so fortunate and lay wide awake in his own bed for several hours. His thoughts were full of their evening together. He had never enjoyed snow so much.

It had been a long time since Sherdan had taken time off let alone be silly with someone for an entire evening. The snowman they’d built had been huge. He couldn’t remember ever making one so large as a child but the best creation by far had been the snow angels. He had taken several photos.

When Sherdan woke up the following morning he sighed and didn’t want to get up except to see Anya. They had breakfast together, as had become normal, before he had to continue with his work.

The morning post brought a letter from the mayor concerning the roads. He had found a legal loophole that meant he could claim the roads back for public use. Sherdan had been expecting it.

He wrote a letter back, politely declining and offering to negotiate an alternative. He knew that the Mayor would say no but he wanted to appear reasonable wherever possible. There was also the fact that it would buy a few more days before they would need to progress to the next stage.

Sherdan soon went over to the command bunker, although he lingered briefly to straighten the carrot-nose on their snowman. After a morning of arranging and coordinating he spent the afternoon with Hitchin.

The first batch of the applicants had taken the drug, boosting their numbers by twenty. There wouldn’t be any new talents yet, but a few days or so in Hitchin’s care and some interesting things would start to happen.

Sherdan looked over their test results and reports so far and then went to introduce himself to everyone in the medical rooms.

All the test subjects greeted him enthusiastically. A few were a little nervous but he soon boosted their confidence. When he went back to Hitchin he had a query to make:

“The young girl in the batch, Ellie, how old is she?”

“She’s nineteen according to her application,” Hitchin replied once he had pulled out her file.

“Can we get that checked? I’m not sure she’s that old.”

“They will have checked when she applied.”

“I know, I would just like it double checked.”

“Of course, I’ll have that done. Can you tell what any of their powers are yet?”

“No, not yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long.”

“Do you want to add Miss Price to the next batch?” Hitchin asked in as relaxed a manner as he could manage. Sherdan looked thoughtful for a moment.

“Not yet, I’ve only just told her about your vision.”

“Did she respond well?”

“Not at first. She’s requested time to get to know me.”

“Be careful how much time you give her. She needs to take the drug and have an ability before the child’s DNA is mapped.” Hitchin had frowned at Sherdan briefly. He knew his friend thought he was being too soft on Anya.

“I’m aware. I won’t leave it long.”

“Let me know when you want her added to a batch then.”

Sherdan nodded and left the scientist to continue his work. He was a little concerned that he hadn’t been able to see any of the new abilities yet in the latest group of residents, but for the moment it was only a passing thought. He wanted to focus on Anya again for the coming evening. He would need to suggest she take the drug. Hitchin was right, he couldn’t wait much longer.

He found Anya pacing and praying again when he joined her later. She seemed a little preoccupied while they ate and only gave him one or two word answers to his questions.

“Is everything all right?” he asked when he could ignore it no longer. She nodded. “Have you thought any more about our situation?”

“A little, I enjoyed yesterday evening.”

“Good, I did too. I have been hoping to present something else for you to think about.” Anya frowned but didn’t say anything. “I’d like you to take the drug.”

“I’m really not sure I want to.”

“I need you to.”

“Biblically it goes against everything I believe in. The body I have already is the way God created me to be, with all my limitations. I’m sorry Sherdan. The rest I can consider but I will never willingly take that drug.”

“You won’t go away and think about it? It would be difficult living in a community of people who had taken it if you were the only one that hadn’t.”

“I really won’t change my mind on this one. I won’t take it.” Sherdan looked off into the distance while he tried not to snap at her. She would have to take it at some point but he didn’t want to spoil their evening together by arguing.

Anya didn’t need to know that he wouldn’t take no for an answer until he injected her with it. There was even the possibility of doing it while she slept so she would not know until afterwards, but he would only do that as a last resort.

They spent the rest of the evening playing cards and talking about their childhoods. She had owned many pets and Sherdan hadn’t ever been allowed a single one. He’d also had no brothers or sisters and Anya had one of each.

She’d not had a poor family but it hadn’t been anyway near as rich as Sherdan’s. He had inherited a large amount of property which was the basis for his current situation. He himself had proved clever enough to have a natural science degree from Cambridge.

Sherdan saw Anya look down at this. He reached out his hand and tilted her chin back up. She looked sad but held his gaze this time.

“I don’t think less of you because you are an artist with a more… simple life.”

“But if I marry you that shall no longer be the case.”

“Do you not want the money and power I offer?”

“It is not the money or the power that bothers me; it’s the temptation and corruption that comes with it.”

“You think me corrupt?”

“I think you’re too used to getting your own way.” Sherdan frowned. He felt his anger rising up inside him and did everything he could to suppress it.

“You may be right,” he said, shocked himself. Anya’s eyes went wide. “I usually get what I want.”

They parted each other happily as they had done the night before. Sherdan decided to talk to Hitchin about giving Anya the drug without warning. She would have to forgive him for going against her will. He knew it would upset her but she was right, he wanted his own way and was not very good at taking no for an answer.

The following day, as Sherdan expected, the police had turned up at several of the road blocks and requested they be removed. He personally went to each one and explained that it was private land and he didn’t have to. The police left all but one after speaking to him, giving him time to have the last few emitters put in place.

He wanted to go talk to Hitchin but knew he needed to keep abreast of the situation with the police. It wouldn’t be too long before they had all the paperwork sorted and would insist on moving the barriers. He doubted they would try and take the barriers away themselves but even if they did try they would soon realise it was impossible.

Sherdan estimated that it would only be a day or so before they would have their third and final line of defence set up. Thankfully the technology was easily attached to each emitter and over half the area was already attached.

The work he had to do kept him from focusing on Anya. As a consequence she had gained time before he would force her to take the drug.

Just after lunch Sherdan received a phone call from the Mayor. It wasn’t something he had expected.

“Dr Harper. My Police chief has informed me that you are still refusing to open the roads.”

“Yes, I did warn you that I wouldn’t.”

“I’m giving you one last chance to cooperate.”

“I really don’t think you understand. Nothing you have the power to do will open the roads.”

“I beg to differ.”

“Do you have anything else to tell me?” At this the Mayor slammed to the phone down. It wouldn’t be much longer before his arrest was ordered.

As Sherdan expected, the police were soon trying to gain access to arrest him. He told the security guards to stand back and let the police try.

He sat down and watched on the camera as both the policeman walked towards the barrier and suddenly stopped. They quickly stepped back and looked at each other. Confusion reigned on their faces. Sherdan laughed as they tried again. They would be doing that for a little while.

“Keep me updated with events please,” Sherdan radioed the two security guards. He then focused on getting their next line of defence in place. There was no knowing when they would need it at this point in time but it was best to be prepared. Late in the afternoon he finally got to go see Hitchin. As usual he greeted him happily.

“I spoke to Anya about taking the treatment.”

“And?” Hitchin put down the lab goggles he had been wearing.

“She was adamant that she didn’t want to take it.”

“She needs to take it.”

“I know. Can you prepare a treatment for her for two days time?”

“Of course. We’ll want to monitor her health, just in case.”

“Yes, why don’t you bring the drug over in two evenings time and we’ll bring her back here once you’ve injected her and calmed her down.”

The police spent the rest of the day trying to get into the area to arrest Sherdan. None of them succeeded and reports came in of the police getting very frustrated. Most of them gave up. The few that remained sat in their cars and waited, not really knowing what to do.

This put Sherdan in high spirits for another evening with Anya. The last two evenings had gone very well. They had managed to avoided arguing and he found her letting him into her mind a little. He still hoped she would completely open up to him before long. He wasn’t going to allow anything less.

The Avengers: A Review

Yes I know the film was actually called the marvel avengers assemble in the UK, but that has the be the lamest film name ever so in my opinion it’s really just called the avengers.

In short the film was awesome. So awesome that I can hardly find the words.

All the leading up to it with all the not quite so awesome but still good marvel films like Thor and Captain America paid off, big time. The film was quirky, funny and action-packed.

The actors were all on top form and Robert Downey Jr and Samuel L Jackson’s roles were so perfect it just added to the awesomeness even more. Even Loki was very well cast and I believe has garnered a little fan club of his own.

The relationship between certain characters was good too and it enabled some brilliant one liners to be delivered. I think I laughed a heck of a lot during the film, so hard from one joke we almost didn’t hear another funny joke that came right after. I won’t spoil the story or plot but I believe the line was ‘Puny God’. Two words have seldom made me laugh so much.

Action wise the first half of the film was a little lacking but the second half more than made up for it with some amazing action sequences and fights. I think pretty much everyone got their beautiful fight scenes and there was a lot of smash.

Music was good too and as expected there was the odd acdc track curtesy of Tony Stark.

I loved this film and I really can’t wait for Iron Man 3 next year.

Plotting: How-to

One of the important aspects of writing anything is the plot. It has to engage the readers and make them want to keep turning the pages to ideally not put the book down but at worst make them want to come back to the book later.

For me personally I find my plot comes out of knowing my characters. I work out who they are and their strengths, weakness, flaws and redeeming features. I also work out what they are passionate about achieving within their background, their past and occupation. This leads me on to how they will meet and I usually try to start my book in some kind of ‘action’ moment before this.

The rest of the plot comes from conflict. Life is made up of trials, situations and problems that humans have to endure and get through. Plot is pretty similar. People like to read about characters overcoming things and getting to the end with some kind of resolution even if not a perfectly happy one.

From the start of the book I figure out what’s likely to go wrong based on their character flaws and weaknesses. Sometimes I’ll bring in a side character or two to help provide conflict and trials for the characters to overcome. In With Proud Humility, the pirates provided the biggest trial but I also had the two main characters clashing to provide trials for each other, as well as Marie’s father providing difficulties.

Often the plot of my stories is a mix of external people doing things to my characters and their own flaws creating situations where they have to grow and learn. By the end of the book I try to make sure they’ve all learnt a little something and are better people. They won’t ever be perfect but they do get closer.

I tend to find with this way of looking at the plot that it evolves out of the characterisation and makes the people easier to relate to. I never really have to sit down and hugely plot out the book. I’ll do rough notes on major events but the characters themselves drive the plot forwards with their personalities and decisions. The ending is usually a fixed point, the resolution point and the things the characters have learnt but the rest in between is simply my narrative of the journey the characters go on.