Friday, 31 December 2010

Roll on 2011!

As if by magic, or some sort of time machine, we are already facing 2011; and I for one am looking forward to it. I have not had a good 2010, what with stress, illness and a death in the family, it hasn't been a great time. But that's the thing about life - you never know what it's going to throw at you. So I welcome 2011, as an end to what has gone before and a chance for a new beginning. And if I've leaned anything it's to not wait around for the good things to come but to get out there and make them happen. So in that vein here are my aims for the new year (not resolutions - no one sticks to them and I'm no different):
  • Submit at least three short stories to writing competitions (one in line already!)
  • Finish the novel - this terrifies me but I am determined to not do a Tolkien and take years to write the tome.
  • Move out - still at home with the parents but this is the year I plan to get out there and pay bills, rent, and food all by myself... Why do I want to do this again?
Let me wish all of you a great New Year, and may it be the year you go and do the things you love, learn something new everyday and be around the ones you love. Happy New Year!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to wish all readers a very merry Christmas, or whatever religious or non-religious celebrations you may be having at this time of year. I am at this moment watching "Family Guy: Something, Something, Dark Side". It's oddly putting me in the Christmas mood. So I started to think of what my top five Christmas movies are - and a Wonderful Life does not feature. It ain't that kinda list...

1. Gremlins - nothing like little gargoyle creatures to make you feel all warm and Christmasy inside. And death by microwave. Yo ho ho.
2. Scrooged - The best version of Christmas Carol. Well, apart from A Muppet Christmas Carol. Speaking of...
3. Muppets Christmas Carol - see above.
4. Nightmare before Christmas - Tim Burton, music, a skeleton and a kidnapped Santa. What more could you want!
5. Die Hard - Don't look at me like that. It's a Christmas Movie. With explosions and shooting. And Alan Rickman. Brilliant.

So between Doctor Who and... whatever else they put on that may be good (but likely won't be) I will be trying to watch the above at some point. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

#What's this? What's this? There's colour everywhere...#

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

So Much To Do, So Little Time

As this is supposed to be a blog from a would be writer I thought it was about time I added something about the things I'm working on. So I'm now going to keep a progress bar going on the right hand column so it's clear where I am and what I'm up to. And to also chart how little progress I'm making... Unfortunately with Christmas, and all the incumbent parties, dinners and shopping it entails I've had little time to work on much. But areas of note are:

- Working on a short story for a writing competition being held by the publishers of the Writers and Artists Yearbook (a valuable resource for any would be writer). If you're tempted the link is here, I welcome the competition! The theme is "Compulsion".

- The other ongoing project is the novel. At least I think it's a novel - it certainly seems to be getting longer the more I work on it. I'm aiming for around 200,000 words for the first draft so that the second draft can be shorter but still be a good sized story. But unfortunately I keep coming up with ideas that I need to feed into the narrative, forcing me to rewrite what I've already done... I'm also facing the dilemma that I may need to cut a whole chapter as I've realised the story works better if the reader is kept in some mystery about another key character - is he good, is he bad, is he really trying to help or has he ulterior motives? These are questions you don't ask when a whole chapter is from his perspective, unless I cut three quarters of it. Annoying too as I really like that chapter. Oh well, who ever said writing a novel was easy.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Christmas Chaos

Christmas is always portrayed as a happy, bright and cheer filled time of year. In reality it's stressful, busy and seems to bring the worst out in people. If it's not Daily Mail journalists (among others) wrongly accusing a man of rape who was only facing charges of having sex without a condom (I kid not - Sweden, you have some crazy laws), it's shoppers preparing to decapitate each other if it means they get the last "Dave the Funky Monkey". Ah, goodwill to all men and all that.

My personal experiences of Christmas has so far involved recovering from a hideous bronchitis infection (still coughing three weeks on), trying to not get too drunk at the work Christmas party and wondering when I will get the chance to do the rest of my present shopping when the whole of London has come to stand still because of snow. But there are reasons to be cheerful - with the aforementioned snow it will give people a chance to stay home and enjoy the holiday season with the family, rather than trying to while the hours away in the shops, and for all the kids on holiday right now it must be fabulous to be outside and making snow men. I was also made very happy by the newly announced Mass Effect 3 trailer, which I've watched more times than is probably healthy. What can I say, I'm excited. If you want to see it yourself here it is:

Friday, 10 December 2010

A Sad Day for UK Students

As most people in the UK probably did I watched the mess that was the "student protest" yesterday with a feeling of pride, for the fact that young people are finally standing up for what they believe in, and tremendous sadness and frustration, due to the unnecessary violence. A peaceful protest was hijacked by a mob of anarchists and losers, with too many students and other young people quickly joining in. And as ever the media are not interested in painting a balanced picture of what went on and instead resort to sensationalist headlines and images, practically ignoring the genuine students and protesters that were there for real reasons and not just to cause trouble. It has also meant they are not talking about the shameful actions of the Liberal Democrats who voted in favour of the rise in tuition fees, despite their election promises. They're also not talking about what this means for the future of the government coalition, as they only barely won this vote, and does not bode well for when even harder decisions have to be made in the near future.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Book Review: Under the Dome

Under the Dome – Stephen King – 2010 – 896 pages

First off you should know that Under the Dome is one of Stephen King’s longest novels, at a daunting 336,114 words in total. This review is from the Kindle version, as I couldn’t find any shelves in my home willing to creak under the great weight of this tome – but don’t let the length put you off. This is potentially one of Stephen King’s best, both in its ambition and its depth. For anyone who enjoyed The Stand or The Dark Tower series this is another epic tale of good against evil, set in a small town in the good old U.S. of A. It is also an exploration of cruelty, and seems to be a commentary on democracy and corruption in modern America, and how willing groups of people are to give up their rights when fear takes hold.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Film Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010)

Ending one of the most popular franchises in recent years was never going to be easy. Regardless of the flaws the earlier films have had, Harry Potter has always been a highly popular and very successful series of films, and above all fun, particularly for those who have read the books. So, just as J.K. Rowling no doubt struggled to do her heroes justice as she completed her saga, the makers of the films have been faced with tough choices. The first of these was to split the final tome into two films, rather than one, and how to remain faithful to the text while maintaining the pace. They haven’t been entirely successful in this but have still managed to produce an excellent addition to the series, and a compelling introduction to the final film next year.

There’s not much of a recap before being thrown into the thick of things at the beginning of the Deathly Hallows, so it may be best to watch The Half-Blood Prince before starting this one. To summarise, this is not a good time to be a wizard or a muggle, with the rise of Voldemort and his Death Eaters practically complete and now in open warfare with the Ministry of Magic. But these are wizards and witches not used to battle and it isn’t long before the spread of Voldemort’s army seems unstoppable. Our three heroes are members of a small group who know what’s at risk and so go in hiding to ensure that the dark lord can’t get his claws into Harry Potter. But Harry isn’t happy about sitting by doing nothing (was he ever?) and so sets out to find the remaining Horcruxes, the pieces of Voldemort’s soul spread out into everyday objects, to kill his nemesis once and for all. But Voldemort has plans of his own, and it involves making himself indestructible by gathering the Deathly Hallows together…