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Pirates, An Adventure With Scientists: A Review

I was fortunate enough to see this film at the cinema and very excited as Aardman are one of my favourite film makers. They get a lot of respect from me too with the length of time it can take them to make each film.

The film started fairly well with a few titters from the audience at various points and mumerings as we tried to figure out who were the voices we vaguely recognised. Martin Freeman was our first one right, the voice for the Pirate Captain’s first mate known amusingly as Second.

Unfortunately that was where most of the entertainment seemed to end. It was a fairly standard story with a fairly standard plot and fairly standard jokes and gags. I laughed a little but not often enough for an aardman film and I felt my mind wandering a few times during the film to other things.

I was actually a little dissapointed when I walked out. I can’t decide if the film was really that good or not. I don’t think it was bad, I guess it just didn’t match up to my usual expectations of an aardman film. The humour wasn’t very…’british’ like it normally is and I can’t help wonder if aardman have been a little scared to do their usual thing after the fiasco of dreamworks dropping them because the US didn’t ‘get’ flushd away (which is in my opinion the best film they’ve ever made)

I don’t think I’ll be getting this one unless it’s gifted to me at some point, unfortunately.

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.

 

With Proud Humility: Print Book Cover + Giveaway Result

I’ve finally got my print version of With Proud Humility ready to print and have ordered my proof. Since people have been waiting so long I thought I would share my very shiny new cover for the book.

As people might remember from a few months ago I gathered every item seen in this cover and my very awesome designer came up with this for me. As I also promised in the post I made to gather the parts I will be giving a free copy of the printed version away to one of the helpers.

Kezia Warren is the lucky winner and I will be making sure she gets one of the first ever printed copies of the book signed and delivered to her.

Chains Of Freedom: Excerpt

Here’s the opening approx 1k of book 2, Chains Of Freedom, enjoy.

 

Kaihaitu Huatare lay on her back in the long grass, staring up at the star filled sky. It would not be long until dawn and another day but she had not slept yet. She had so much to think about that even when she closed her eyes her brain carried on as if she was wide awake.

Eventually Kaihaitu stood up. She could not sleep now. Her village would arise soon and as their leader she could not let them see her troubled.

“Hehu, Matiu,” she called into the surroundings. Two small rustles in the grass came towards her and then two capuchin monkeys bounded out and chattered excitedly at her as they clambered up onto her shoulders. She straightened her clothes where their hands and feet had pulled them about in their scurry to their current positions.

Kai dressed simply, in clothes made from animal pelts. The brown leather complemented the creamy colour of her skin and was all that she wore except for a belt with a knife and small pouch.

Standing for a moment, she looked towards the brightening sky to the east, reluctant to head back to the village and her responsibilities. With a sigh she picked up the bow and arrows on the ground near where she had been laying. Hehu and Matiu chattered indignantly at this as they had to hang onto her shoulders tightly so they did not fall off. She ignored them, knowing they were perfectly fine and started the trek back home from her refuge.

The sun had just started to show her face when she arrived back to the huts of mud, stone and grass that made up the tribes home. Several of the people were already up and fetched her some fruit from a basket sitting out in the open.

After saying thank you to the older woman and asking her how she was, Kai handed both monkeys one of the small fruits. They stopped their excited speech to eat breakfast. The silence was a relief to her and she thoughtfully munched on some more of the fruits as she walked through the rest of the village.

No one else talked to her until she reached a small wooden outpost, built overlooking the east side of the village and the valley stretching to the nearest beach. She relieved the night sentry of duty and climbed the rope to the wooden platform.

For a few minutes the young male that she had replaced stayed with her. He filled her in on the happenings of his watch. He was new to this as was almost the entire tribe.

They had only needed to place people on guard duty since they had fought with the redcoats. Before then their village had been peaceful.

The male villager due to take his watch after her, Henare, disturbed her from her thoughts. She frowned when she saw him. He was early, he was also annoying.

To be fair to Henare, Kai did like him and he was a very respected member of her tribe but he kept following her around and fussing over her. Now she was the leader of the tribe she was considered to be ready for marriage by the majority of the village. Although she had several winters more than the fifteen that they normally expected, she did not agree.

He, however, seemed to think that not only was she ready to be married but that he was the perfect match for her. If she wanted a man who could build her a sturdy house with good furniture and keep her well fed, she would have been pleased. She wished for someone different entirely, even if she did not know who she wanted yet, he was definitely not it.

Henare was everything her mother thought a good husband should be, strong, yet protective and caring to Kai, and although what he lacked in intelligence he made up for by working hard. He also had a certain rugged appeal to his looks. There was something missing she could not define, however.

She pretended she had not noticed him until his head appeared above the level of the wooden platform she stood on.

“Good morning Kai, your mother said you had only had some fruit for breakfast this morning so I thought I would bring you some food and drink and keep you company until my watch,” he told her.

“Thank you Henare,” she replied as Hehu and Matiu scampered off her shoulders and up into the tree nearby. They did not seem to like Henare and always ran off when he turned up. This alone would be enough to stop her from entertaining the thought of having him as her husband. Hehu and Matiu were always with her and were much more important to her than having a partner was.

“You look tired, you did not sleep again last night?” Henare asked.

“No, I was busy.”

“Busy doing what?”

“Just busy… I had some things to think about,” she replied, not wanting to explain.

“Anything I can help with?”

“Not really… Actually there is something you could do for me,” Kai smiled, thinking of a way to get him to go away, “my mother needed help with her roof, it’s leaking in one corner.”

“Oh that, I fixed it already,” he said, looking very pleased with himself.

“Thank you.”

“You are welcome. I am sure it was not that which kept you awake all night, however.”

“No it was not.”

Kai lifted her hand up, stopping him from replying. She had heard something in the distance, away from the village and listened and looked intently up ahead. He knew better than to say anything.

For a few minutes they only sound that could be heard was the rustling in the nearby tree as Hehu and Matiu moved about. She then saw two redcoat men slowly creeping through the undergrowth. They had not noticed Kai and Henare watching them as they were obviously hunting something.

Suddenly one of them raised his gun and fired, narrowly missing Hehu. Kai instantly yelled out. Hehu and Matiu both ran down the tree towards her as she climbed down from the look-out post.

Another shot rang out and Hehu squealed and then stopped moving. She called out again as the two redcoats started to jog over. She picked up the motionless monkey as Matiu ran up onto her shoulder and tried to burrow into her neck, scared.

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.