So…

It’s been a while. Funny year. And it’s even funnier how much can change in your life that time too.

Got made redundant about this time last year, really felt gutted. But, I was lucky enough to get another job. It was still tough though, they were my guys (in my last role) and I felt like I was ripped away from them if I’m honest. still, none of them seemed that bothered, which made it easier in the long term!

So I never wrote, for quite some time. Just never felt the desire. Not sure about you guys, but I find it very hard to write when I’m stressed? But, changing jobs brought about a fair bit if change. I decided to actually go back to school. So, I applied to do a masters in screenwriting. Got in. But oh, was it tough. Learning, I’d forgotten what it was like.

But it has worked out for the best. I have written almost none stop since starting. a % minute short with no dialogue, a 10 minute short with dialogue, a 30 minute short, a 50 minute feature and I’ve just finished a 160 page feature. I think, or hope, that my writing is better for it.

I have resolved to get back to writing books too, but again, feel like I have a very full plate at the moment. I’m mulling over ways to approach the new books. I’d really like to get readers involved, I’d like to ask them what I should write next. I guess I just need some readers so I can get started.

But, how have you been? What’s new with you?

Dave.

Game of Thrones TV show review

Let me just start by saying, that I had never read any of the books before I began watching the TV show. And I’m glad, I think. You see, I think the pacing of the TV show is much better, much more immediate, than the pacing of the books. And only after having watched the show, did I decide to give the books a whirl. In fact, I didn’t even know the books existed until I was 7 episodes into the show.

And, I had put off watching the show for weeks and weeks. I just didn’t fancy it, and the fact that Sean Bean was in it didn’t help. It’s not that I think he’s bad, I just didn’t think he was particularly good. So it was with considerable resistance, that when my partner said ‘Fancy starting Game of Thrones?’ I finally gave in.

And what a good decision it was. Until a year or so ago, my favourite ever telly show was The West Wing. I loved it, and could never imagine anything ever surpassing it. I was sad for TV, that it would never again reach those heady heights. Then two things happened. Along came Breaking Bad, and the Newsroom. I won’t go into The Newsroom here, I’ve said enough before. But Breaking Bad changed things quite a bit.

Initially, I really struggled to get into it. I found it way too tense for me, but then I was advised by a couple of colleagues that it was just a telly show, and that I should get over myself. Quite right. So I did. And loved it. I hope that one day, I can write something even remotely close to the genius of BB. Those moments when you are shouting at the telly, warning someone, hating someone. And they just draw out those moments, they know you’re shouting at the characters, and they want to torture you. Brilliant writing.

But we have just recently, in preparation for the 4th series, watched the first 3 seasons of GOT again. And I have to say, if they get it right again this season, it will become my favourite show of all time. I remember the way I felt when we finally watched the 1st season. I remember thinking how authentic everything looked. How quiet the show is. There are two sounds that will forever remind me of GOT. A draft blowing through open windows, and the crackle of a fire in the hearth.

I love the soft scenes, where two characters come face to face and chip away at each other. I love the cleverness of the dialogue. There is one exchange, between Arya and Lord Tywin, which is just outstanding. It is the conversation about stone masons and dragons, and how she pronounces Milord incorrectly. The two actors are fantastic, and the dialogue just works brilliantly. We all have our favourites, mine is probably Tyrion. But I also like Varys, yet nobody else I know does!!

He always works for the crown, that’s where his loyalties lie. I know he comes across as sly, but give him time, he’s a good guy! Its scope and depth are, frankly, incredible. The time GRR Martin has put into creating the world, the characters and the plot is astounding. It would seem he has thought of everything. Food, slang, lineage, factions, politics, etc. It is rich and fully thought out. Reading the books is harder work for me, but still enjoyable.

I was devastated in series 3 though, when it never got to the end of book 3. I waited, patiently, so that I could discuss it with the guys I work with, yet it never came. Though I know why. There is not enough happening in book 4 for them to concentrate solely on this for the 4th season. So they stole some of book 3 for season 4. But God it felt like torture when it didn’t come. Everyone was talking about the Red Wedding, but I knew what else lay ahead!

Alas, no, I have had to wait until now, almost a year. But here it comes, and if you haven’t watched it already, get back to the beginning and start watching. You will be richly rewarded.

I am going to try and wait until we have all 10 saved up, before I start watching. I don’t like my odds.

Dave.

My 8 year old nephew trumps me!

So,

after all the ours of effort, after nibbling away at fingernails, wondering if a book is ready to publish or not, my 8 year old nephew opens my eyes to how the creative process really works.

For homework, he had to write a poem about Egypt. Apparently, all of the other kids had to be coerced into writing something. Poetry not being high on the list of things to do for eight and nine year olds.

Jack though, is no ordinary boy. He just turned to his mother and rattled off the lines below, and that was his homework done. Now, I’m not likening him to Thomas or Kipling, but for an 8 year old, I think it’s quite impressive writing off the top of your head.

He is also the hero of my book series, The Auslander Series, which sort of makes it even worse. I mean, in the books he is a grown man and has been fictionalised, but then it turns out he writes better than I do.

Anyhow, let me know what you think.

Sphinx so high

High in the sky

Watching the days go by

Will I sadly see

Your lonely head

Watching the hours go by

This is called the life of a sphinx.

Speak soon, Dave.

 

Finally, I mean it this time!

I have had a couple of false dawns, but this time, it’s true. I have published the second book in The Auslander Series. It has taken much longer than I’d imagined. Much longer But now, it’s done. And as previously stated, I have learned my lessons in terms of re-writes. Use them wisely!

In fact, it has been my haste to get the books out there, that have hindered my re-writes I think. I wanted them out there as soon as possible. And so, having to sit down and re-write them has irritated me. So lesson learned here then. Take your time, get a bit of distance from the book, do something else. Then come back to it, and work very hard at making it better. If there are parts you don’t like reading, why would anybody else enjoy reading them. Cut them. Be brutal.

It’ll be worth it. If it’s good at full length, how much better will it be when you’ve cut out the bits you don’t like? So, here it is, my new baby. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it. if so, put up a review. If you don’t enjoy it, apologies, but still put up a review.

Buy it here

Re-writes – I finally get it!

I know I have said it twice before on here, but finally, and i mean it this time, I have finished Part Two of The Auslander series. It has been tough, my own fault though. I have been drawn onto other ideas. And it just isn’t a good idea to write more than one thing at a time. Because none of them get your full attention.

I did my re-write, then decided to go back to the beginning and do it again. And it was worth it, totally. And for me, it has given me more insight into the benefits of doing it properly. My editor, Irene, told me last year, “It is your opportunity to make your book even better.” I listened, but didn’t really take much notice. But in the last few weeks (I’m such a fast learner!) it really took hold.

It is your opportunity to make it better. If there are parts that you don’t like reading or re-writing, why on earth would anybody else want to read it? So cut, cut and cut again. I was obsessed with making the book as much value, by making it longer, as i could. But it’s much more important to make what is there as good as it can be. So, while it may not be a masterpiece, you can make it so much better by going over it just once more. Even when you think you can’t look at it any longer.

So it’s done. It is now with Irene for proof reading. Then hopefully, just one last pass to pick up any further comments she might have made. Then it gets uploaded to KDP. As I advised a few weeks ago, I got an old colleague of mine to design a cover. It looks great, and makes all the difference having someone with a design eye to do it for you.

So, fingers crossed, I will have the book available before Christmas. I have been under a fair amount of pressure from friends and family to publish, but it has to be right!

Hopefully, it will be. Dave.

Self publishing thoughts

Advancing through twitter over the past few weeks, it’s staggering the sheer number of people who have entered the world of writing and self publishing. Clearly, we all have ambitions to conquer the world of publishing, whether self, or traditional.

I tweeted an article earlier this week, about making the choice between self publishing and traditional publishing. It was an interesting article in many ways, but I couldn’t help but notice a glaring oversight. How many people who are out there right now, feverishly writing away, pouring their soul and emotion into their work, will ever truly get to make that choice. Let’s face it, before Kindle, Kobo and the others came along, allowing anybody to publish anything (well, almost anything judging by the recent furor over porn writing) when they chose to do so, it was hard enough to get published. Now that more and more books come out all the time, it is forcing publishers, and agents, to be even more selective about what and who they pick up.

In many ways, it’s good, as only the very best in most cases actually get published, and for the publishers, it showcases their work in ever greater favor with the public. But it makes the life of us new writers even tougher. Last year, I read a childrens book which I kind of enjoyed, but also found myself wondering how it had been published. I was amazed that the premise had been picked up, and even more amazed that it felt as though it hadn’t even been edited. But it was with a pretty big agency and a traditional publishing house, so it must have been through the mill. Then I discovered the author had been introduced to the agency, through a friend, and that’s how the deal was struck. No sifting, no desperate letters, no rejection.

The danger with having an imagination that allows you to put your thoughts down on paper, electronic or real, is that it also allows, in fact lets be honest it encourages you, to think about what life might be like if you ever achieve success. Bracing walks along the beach, writing in peace with a view to gaze restoratively upon, a long lazy lunch, followed by an afternoon of energetic prose. Meetings with your agent and publisher to discuss the finer details of the process. The joy of having people actually read and like your work, to fall in love with your characters as much as you do. To ask you questions about the books.

So it makes it all the harder, when you get no’s. But I ask you, what is your measure of success? I know it sounds a bit fluffy and lovey to say, ‘I write because I have to’, but I think there’s at least an element of truth in there. I do feel better when I’ve written something. But I think my measure now is, can I finish what i started. I’ve begun two different series, and I really need to finish them. As well as I can. Before I even begin to plan the next projects. One thing at a time.

I think, if you keep writing, you get better. And I don’t think it’s beyond reasonable to consider the possibility that out there, in the wider world, there might be a few thousand people, who will absolutely love your writing. To the point where they form a readership, just waiting for you to find them. And unfortunately, the only way to find them, is to keep working. Keep writing, keep getting better, and keep making contact with people. A friend of mine, who I work with, told me when i started writing that it would probably be 5 years before i got anywhere with it. I smiled and thought I would achieve something in less time than that. It turns out he may have been a bit optimistic with that estimate.

But, he has turned out to be quite an inspiration. During our time working together, he has been beavering away working on his music, and even before we worked together. His goal was to get to the point where he could earn a living, a salary, from his music. He has done small presses of vinyl every year I have known him, 250 to 300, and sold them all. They resell for £20 or £30 or more sometimes, on discogs. But DJing is where he has begun to make his money. He got a big break earlier this year, and since then it has snowballed. He went part time a couple of years ago, and is now talking of leaving completely. His other work demands too much time, and his success means it has become his priority. How amazing is that? He has played his stuff a few times at work, and has had a pretty lukewarm reception. But out there, beyond our office, there are much more sophisticated , discerning people than us, who love what he does. Earlier this year, he DJ’d the Chic after party in Amsterdam!

The point is, he knew what he wanted, and he as worked incredibly hard, putting in so many hours of mixing, DJing, party hosting, social networking and anything else that would help, and has achieved what he wanted. He can now earn a pretty good salary, more than his job here provided, from his music. He has done what so many of us dream of doing. He is going to leave his job, and do what he loves for a living.

So people, fret not at the no’s, think no more on the lack of sales. instead, put your back into meeting people, readers, the ones who might love your work. Go to book clubs, interact with book lovers, offer help to others doing the same (it will pay you back), keep writing, keep getting better, plan your stories and make sure they are complete. And use an editor, find someone you can work with, it really makes a difference to your work. No matter how critical you are of your own work, you will not see it the way a professional editor will!

Keep the faith, dust yourself down, Keep Calm and Carry on. Dave.

The Newsroom TV review

Firstly, let me start by saying, I loved The West Wing. I mean, i really loved it. I’ve watched it 6 times through. I loved the cast, the writing and the story lines. It was, and still is, the benchmark by which I judge all TV shows that have come since.

The Newsroom, is terrible. The story lines are still good, mainly. But everything i loved about the west wing, is pretty much everything i dislike about The Newsroom. I like almost none of the characters, the dialogue is ridiculous, and sarcastic and quite nasty at times. Almost to a person, they are a bunch of smart alec know it alls, who love nothing more than to show how clever they, by speaking way too quickly and giving each other, in turn, meaningful stares, and exasperated stares.

They have almost no empathy, they are bordering on sociopathic narcissism. I’m not even sure sociopathic is a word, but I’m sure one of the characters will correct me if I’m wrong. I wanted to love, it, in fact, for the first few episodes, i did. But then it just began to wear me down. As in the West Wing, it is full of unresolved love affairs, nobody ever quite gets there. The story arcs are pretty much the same too. In The West Wing, we had President Bartletts MS, which he disclosed in season 1 and 2. In The Newsroom, at the moment, it’s the story that turned out to be false, and has brought ACN to it’s knees. While factually not the same, it’s the suggestion that those beyond reproach, actually turn out to be human, and/or, liars.

In The West Wing, the sitting President was Democratic, like Aaron Sorkin. And at times, the republicans were painted to be nasty, and not a little bitchy. He has fixed that with The Newsroom. The station anchor is republican. However, he takes every opportunity to lambaste the republican party. It’s okay everyone, we’ve made the main character a republican, so its okay that he attacks the party. I’m by no means a republican supporter, I’m not American for a start, but it is just plain tiresome to have it constantly rammed down your throat.

I loved the witty repartee between the characters in The West Wing, I loved the actors in the roles, they made it less irritating by their delivery of the lines. The opposite is true of The Newsroom. It’s not true that nobody likes a smart a**e, it’s just that I don’t like these ones.

I wanted so much to love it, and I suppose I feel a little bit cheated that I don’t even like it. This though, is just my personal view, and I am utterly certain that there are a huge amount of people out there who absolutely love it. I hope you enjoy the last episode when it airs, and the seasons to come. I will watch again next season, hoping it will ease off on the superiority complex and just be good TV.

Dave.

World War Z (sort of) review

Considering everything I’ve read over the past months about this film, I have to be honest and say, it really wasn’t that bad at all.

There were production issues, budget issues/out of control, it was this, it was that, the CGI was bad. In reality, I think perhaps a great deal of this negativity came from people who’d read the book, by Max Brooks, and loved it. Honestly, I struggled to get into the book. I get how it’s clever and a different take on things, but I still didn’t love it, or indeed like it. I much preferred Outpost by Adam Baker. Yes, it was traditional, yes it was about Zombies, but i enjoyed it, and the writing was excellent.

But, back to the matter at hand. I sat down to watch the film, and after around 3 minutes had to turn it off in order to eat my dinner first, as there was no time to do both. It began with action almost immediately, and it stayed that way for the next hour or so. There are those that say Brad Pitt is the same in everything, and that may be true, but I like Brad Pitt!

The middle of the film sees him flying around the globe in an effort to track down patient zero. It’s pretty gripping stuff, and the tension hardly lets up throughout the entire movie. My only negative, is that the ending could have been a bit more dramatic than it was. It sort of fizzled out ultimately. But, I would definitely give it a go.

It is pretty gripping, the action is sharp and a little terrifying and the scope is commendable. From what I recall of the book, it would have taken an eternity to make a film of it, so in the end, the film makers have done the only thing left open to them, make it as you see it.

They have, and I enjoyed it!

Dave.