Thursday, January 31, 2008

Review of January 2008

The first month of the New Year slowly drags to a close and I look back over the last 30 days or so and see what they have brought me. Ok, so far my initial impressions of the year are good. As I posted earlier in the month, my aim was to submit short stories to two competitions - namely The 22nd Annual American Kennel Club Fiction Writing Contest and The Maria Edgeworth Short Story Competition. Not only did I send off two humdingers to these guys, but I threw in a third for good luck and submitted to the Glimmertrain Family Matters Competition. Keep a look out for the results on how I did in these contests later in the year.
On the non competition front, I also submitted two other stories. One, which I wrote last year, I submitted to old favourite Alienskin e-magazine, while the other went to new terroitry in Fantasy e-magazine. I hope to hear how they fare sometime in February/March.
I didn't quite make 4 hours of writing everyday, or the vaulted word count that I had hoped to reach, but I did write in excess of 14,000 words, which isn't bad.
I also started posting on Helium this month, even though I found the sight months ago, joined up and did nothing about it. I haven't earned any stars yet, but my four articles have got me the grand total of 11 cent, which I consider my first money from fiction!
In terms of reading, I had a goal for reading 9 books this month, which I exceeded by 2.
In non writing related information, I went back to teaching speech and drama this month, which so far has proven to be a success.
My plan to do something new each month started the year with Badminton, and I just managed to squeeze in a game with Hoofpot last night. As it was my first time playing, my focus was on hitting the shuttlecock, but I didn't disgrace myself and had loads of fun. Thanks Hoofpot for the great game and for going so easy on me.
Exercise wise the month has been good for me too, with lots of visits to curves, loads of walks on the beach with Janna and I started Salsa Slims class this week, which is fun, you learn salsa and you trim up all at the same time!
I notice some comments on the blog showing interest in reading the short stories I wrote in January. Because they are all out at different publications and contests, I naturally can't publish them on line, however perhaps a hardcopy viewing could be arranged for those who know where I live.
I hope all my readers had a fantastic January and are looking forward to what the next month holds.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Book Review: Monster Nation by David Wellington

This, as the front of the book proclaims, is a zombie sequel and second in the trilogy of David Wellington's books. While the first book, Monster City, focused on the mission of a handful of people to the undead infested regions of New York, this book travels back in time to the start of the epidemic and explains why it happened. The focus is split between two characters, a not so ordinary civilian who calls herself Nilla and an army man given the task of clearing up the mess. The story is engaging and the research for the zombies is interesting. I would like to know how this fitted in with the second book as regards time line, as it seems to contradict some occurrances in Monster City, but better understanding of the time line might sort that out. As can be expected from all zombie books, especially the second novel in a trilogy, it doesn't end happily but I found it hard to put down. Well done for Wellington in keeping up the momentum. I give it 7/10.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Reading the Competitors

It is great being a writer, because when you are reading magazines and books you can call it work! I picked up the last issue of Albedo One today (Ireland's speculative fiction magazine) and read it over breakfast. There were some fine stories in it, and all of them were written to a high standard, even if they weren't to my taste. However, I noticed an interesting thing about the different authors in the magazine. They were ALL male and most of them worked in computer programming. It got me pondering on the whole division of the sexes in writing. Are there more men writing than women, and are there more men writing in genre literature (especially sci-fi and fantasy) and if so, what percentage of them are involved with computers (as in their day job)? It's time I got some stories published and evened up the balance of the sexes I think (of course, I know there are loads of good female fantasy and sci-fi writers out there, it just was strange having a male only edition of Albedo One).
On the Helium front, Gifts from the Sea has descended a staggering 24 places since yesterday and my essay on Why I Write has gone down a mere 5.
I submitted another story today. It is a sort of magical fairytale fantasy story and I am particularly proud of it. It is off to a market that is new for me, so please God I will have good news.

Monday, January 28, 2008

3 competitions this month!

I sent off my story, 'The Memory of Fat' to the Maria Edgeworth Short Story Competition this afternoon, which brings my total number of competitions entered this month to three, and my total number of short stories sent out to four, which is probably more than my yearly total for the last few years. I also worked on my story 'The Dream Walker' today, which I started last October and finished in December, but I wasn't happy with the join between the start and the finish. I am happy with it now and think it is a cracking little story, but I am in a quandary. You see, I had intended it for Alienskin, but the final edit has come in at over 4000 words (and Alienskin has a 3500 word limit). Do I slash it so that I get the word count down, or find somewhere else to send it? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Review of week: 21st - 27th January 2008

I had a strange week this week, first taking off Monday and Tuesday to recover from the Feis and then succumbing to a cold on Wednesday which has since grown more and more incapacitating. Despite this, and the resulting reduction in work hours, I did manage to achieve several things.
I submitted 'The Shadow Room' to the Glimmertrain Family Matters short story competition.
I wrote 'The Memory of Fat', a short story intended for the Maria Edgeworth competition.
I completed my nine book total goal for the month.
On Helium my stories have been going up and down. This week they mostly went up, with Boats increasing a whole 29 places, while Gifts from the Sea dropped 29 places.
This week seemed to go a lot faster for me than the previous weeks, so it just goes to show that when you pack more into the day it really does make time go by more slowly.
Next week is the last week in January. I plan to do something new every month this year, and my new thing for January is to play Badminton, so I am playing on Wednesday (just sneaking it in there). I am also back to teaching next week, am starting Salsa Slims exercise class on Tuesday and entering the 30 day challenge in Curves, which starts on Monday, not to mention all the writing I have planned to do!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Book review: The Days of Peleg by Jon Saboe

The Days of Peleg starts off charting the adventures of the eponymous hero as he sets off on a 12 year voyage around the newly formed world after the events of the tower of babel. However, Peleg's journey soon becomes merely a series of loosely related incidents that don't build to anything and the latter part of the book changes from a chronicle of Peleg to a history of the world from the tower of babel to the coming of Abraham. Once Shem, Noah's son, enters the book he takes over the tale and you hardly see Peleg anymore, who is a likable character as he is very human with many failings, including a fear of heights. I admire Jon's intentions and I like his depiction of that early world as being very highly educated and technologically advanced. However, this book is VERY LONG at nearly 600 pages, and without a strong storyline to hold it together or a competent enough writer, I found it hard to finish. It also became very preachy at the end, and you just can't beat the Bible for tales from those early days. For writing style and content I award 2/10 but I'll bump it up to 3/10 because I admire his effort to write a book about this time in history.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Book Review: King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany

This is an early fantasy about the tiny town of Erl that wants to be famous and sends the son of their ruler over the boarder of Elfland to find a wife. It is at times tragic, at times funny but always imaginative. I can see many modern fantasies have been strongly influenced by this book, including Stardust, by Neil Gaimen. A good read. I give it 8/10

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Torchwood and other things

I watched the new episode of Torchwood on BBC 2 last night. It is a spin off series from Doctor Who and tries to be more 'adult' in its themes, hence the later time slot on BBC2 (usually after 8pm). I was disappointed in the first series but hoped it would find its feet and come back with a bang. It is a shame that the script writers didn't take the chance to be 'adult' and write darker, more complex horror and science fiction stories rather than just putting in sex. However, I was so disappointed in the new episode. The acting was so bad, it made the Teletubbies appear RADA trained. The direction switched from shaking, jumping cameras (so popular in modern entertainment) to still, staid set up shots. The lighting was flat and unimaginative. The sets creaked. The story would have been old hat in H. G Welles' time and the interplay between the characters was more like something on Eastenders with some aliens thrown in than what you would hope from some sci-fi show. I think all the good scripts are being given to Dr Who, which seems to get better and better, while Torchwood flounders in banality. I think they should extinguish its light now and save us from any more pain. I know I won't be watching it again.
Went to a quiz night in the golf club this evening with the gang. There was a good turn out, but I'm afraid to say we were robbed. No prizes won for us in either the quiz or the raffle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm Exhausted

I spent my weekend helping out with Feis Dun Dealgan in the Fairways Hotel in Dundalk. It was an exhausting two days. I was working from 8.30am til 7pm on the Saturday and from 8.30am til after 8pm on the Sunday. It was tough work too, with lots of walking around and I had to stay alert and focused the entire time. It was enjoyable as well of course, and there were a lot of talented and entertaining youngsters on stage. It was funny seeing my name on some of the trophies being awarded, but nice funny. Anyway, because I lost my weekend I decided to take Monday and Tuesday off instead and spent most of the time reading and sleeping. I'm back to work today, but I still feel exhausted and I have a cold coming on. I guess the last few weeks, not only the weekend, have taken a lot out of me. Being foolish and staying up late at night doesn't help either.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Book Review: Monster Island by David Wellington

This book was recommended to me by Amazon as I bought my copy of World War Z by Max Brooks. It is the first in a trilogy of zombie novels, starting with Monster Island, then continuing with Monster Nation and ending with Monster Planet. The reviews for the book were very positive so I thought I would give it a go. To be fair to David Wellington, he has handled the zombies well in this book. The story, as you might expect, is the end of civilisation brought about by the dead rising again and devouring anything living they can find. The western world, soft and unprepared, is practically destroyed while Africa manages to carve out some sort of existence. A group of female teenage soldiers travel to New York by boat on a mission for their leader, only to be thwarted by the millions of undead residents swarming the city. Wellington's research isn't as meticulous as Brook's and there were times where I felt it weakened the plot slightly. The boat trip from Somalia to New York, wisely, is not mentioned, but the lack of detail seemed to apply an ease which I doubt such a journey could be accomplished with given the circumstances. His writing style and framing devices for the novel did at times clunk along and he failed to explore some of the interesting ideas presented in his tale to my satisfaction. Saying that, there are elements of this novel that still creep me out thinking about them and I applaud him for taking a more spiritual rather than scientific approach to the epidemic. A good read for fans of zombie horror, but be prepared to get nightmares after reading this before bed. 7/10

Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Review: Spreading the News by Lady Gregory

This short, one act play is a hilarious comedy showing how bad things can happen when a deaf woman indulges in gossip. For sheer laugh out loud brilliance I award it 7/10

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Book Review: A Dark Night in Toyland by Bob Shaw

This is a collection of science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories by Bob Shaw. I had never heard of him until I picked up this book in the library and got it out because it looked short and easy to read, but apparently he has written several genre novels. This book is a collection of about a dozen of his previously published stories with a few new ones thrown in. The title story, A Dark Night in Toyland, is about a Minister who's son is dying from cancer. Other stories deal with wizards, fat that has a mind of its own and space explorers. They are easy to read, simply told and have original if not complex plots. Each story is also quite short, with the longest story 'Shadow of Wings' coming at the end. I can't say that I was blown away by any of these stories and already they are fading from my memory, but it was an enjoyable read. My rating is 5/10.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Review of the Week - 14th - 18th January 2008

This week didn't go so well for me. I was even busier than last week and tireder as well, so I got less writing done. I was nervous about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards announcing their next round of finalists, and that stole almost an entire day's work from me on Tuesday. I have also been working on some non-fiction pieces, which I akin to pulling teeth. I did manage to get 4 hours in on Monday, which is good. And I earned 4 cent on Helium with my two short stories, and posted 4 articles on the site (2 stories, 1 essay and 1 book review). I also exercised every day this week with curves and walking Janna. I had a couple of late nights early on in the week that made it harder to keep productive. It is also a short week for me this week as I will be busy working at Feis Dun Dealgan over Saturday and Sunday, so that is 2 writing days gone. I also only managed to read one book. Next week I don't have to do any teaching, so I am hopeful I will be able to catch up.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Book Review: The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

Last year Dean Koontz's beloved golden retriever Trixie died. In response he wrote 'The Darkest Evening of the Year' as a love story to his departed dog, and to all the dogs of the world.

The novel is about Amy, who runs a rescue network for golden retrievers, and her boyfriend Brian. They are both good people, but they both have dangerous dark secrets and, as it happens when you have dangerous dark secrets, they have a habit of coming out of the past to get you.

'The Darkest Evening of the Year' is written with the effortless style that Dean Koontz has perfected in his most recent books and, like many of his books, takes place over a very short period of time. There are thrills, deaths, evil people, good people, dogs and a down syndrome child. However, this book is about dogs above anything else. It is a sentimental look at how great dogs are, what wonderful companions they are, how they can heal us and bring us closer to God, and how much it hurts when they die. It is also about how much they are abused and tortured in our modern world. It feels like Koontz wrote this to honour Trixie (there is a touching dedication to his wife that she will meet up with Trixie in heaven and a picture of the dog at the end of the book) and to help cope with the grief of losing her. This love story to Trixie, and all canine kind, overwhelms anything else and leaves the human story a little flat. The first half of the book is almost exclusively taken up with dogs, leaving the main part of the action to happen in the second half and as a result it feels very rushed. I love dogs, and I love Dean Koontz, so I enjoyed this book, but it is certainly not on par with the excellent 'Brother Odd' and took me 6 days to read, compared to the usual 2 that it takes me to devour the latest Koontz helping.

If you love dogs, read it. If you can't stand them or don't want to read about them, then give this novel a miss. My rating 8/10

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I've been recognised!

As some of you might know, I had a bit part in a commercial for Meteor mobile phones that has been aired on Irish television since last October. It was great fun to make, and weird to see myself on TV, but it is a blink and you miss it part. However, this week loads of people have asked me 'Are you in the Meteor ad?'. Every day my students have been asking me about it - and these are kids who don't know me well, a lot of them only met me last week for the first time. Then in Curves today the instructor asked me if I was in the ad. I am very impressed that they noticed. I don't watch ads very closely and hardly ever look at the people in them. It is nice to be recognised.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

On to the next

I heard today that I didn't make it through to the next round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Here are some possible reasons:-
1. My reviewer doesn't like fantasy
2. My reviewer doesn't read anything without pictures
3. My reviewer didn't have time to read all its submissions and started accepting and rejecting randomly
Ah well, it doesn't matter anyway. A rejection is just another step closer to an acceptance. On to the next one (competition, agent, publisher). Good luck to everyone who got through!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Apologies and other stuff

First of all I want to apologise to all the Inkpot Files supporters who rushed over to Helium yesterday to vote on my story. As I only found out later 1. you have to be a writer at Helium to rate other stories 2. it is a blind rating system so you all can't vote for your buddy (like I wanted you to do). However, thank you to EVERYONE who attempted it and nearly bashed their brains out trying to succeed.
I've posted another story on Helium, this time in the sci-fi section. You can read it HERE.
In other news, congrats to VALPOT for her excellent articles (and one number 1 ranking) on Helium. Check out what she has to say about the US and Global warming, abortion and St. Albert the Great (just click on the names).
Today, the 15th of January,'s abna competition are announcing the list of 1000 short listed authors who got through for the next round. I am nervously waiting for their email to arrive. I tried not to think about it but I realised my reluctance to get to work this morning was due to having to check my email. From looking at the message boards, I think everyone is in the same position. It probably will be a couple of days before I hear anything - if at all. Please keep Valpot and I in your prayers.
I don't have any other news for the time being. Stay shiny. Inkpot.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Have you ever heard of Helium? I'm not talking the gas here, but the online community of writers and readers that is packed full of articles, stories and resources. No? Well, you should have, especially now that I have joined and have put some of my stuff out there for you to read.
Read my short story, Gifts from the Sea, now and rate it!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Review of week - the 7th to the 13th Jan 08

So far the year has turned out ok. I didn't get my 4 hours of writing in every day, but I wrote almost every day. I wrote 2 short stories (about 6000 words in total), submitted 2 short stories (one to the AKC competition and the other to Alienskin) and did some research into markets, competitions and other aspects of writing. I also scrapped loads of attempted first drafts and stared out my window looking for inspiration several times. I read two books (so far), went to a movie, did lots of walking and teaching, not to mention looking after an abandoned dog. My fitness age for today (on the wii) is 32 and my brain age is 26.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sometimes things don't go as planned - in a good way

Today was my day for research, writing articles and letters and working on assignments.
Instead, I wrote a short story.
I've had this idea knocking around in my head for the last few days, but I couldn't think of how to frame it. I was standing in the kitchen at lunch time, trying to warm myself at the aga, when suddenly the story popped into my head fully formed. I rushed to the laptop and wrote it straight through. I thought it was better to get it all written down when it was fresh in my head rather than writing notes and coming back to it another time. I don't know whether it is any good or not, I haven't read back through it, but from a writing point of view I am happy. So while I didn't accomplish what I set out to do today, something else good came along and I'm happy with this unplanned detour.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

After reading 'The Zombie Survival Guide' I had to get Max Brook's follow up, 'World War Z'. I was not disappointed. If anything, it far exceeds the first book. On the front cover there is a quote from Simon Pegg, zombie enthusiast. He proclaims this book 'An absolute must have', a thought I echo.
'World War Z' is set in an undisclosed future time - I'm not talking hundreds of years here, maybe a decade at most, but the technological advances mentioned in the book show that we have a few years to wait before the zombie Apocalypse. Sometime in the near future an outbreak of the solanum virus in China gets the dead back on their feet and looking for fresh meat. The plague spreads across the entire globe, destroying lives, countries and bringing civilisation to its knees. The book is a collection of interviews with the survivors, relating their first hand experiences of the war against the undead. It spans continents, cultures and includes the perspective of both the military and the civilian side of the war. It is also broken down into sections - the beginning of the outbreak, during the war, and the aftermath.
Max Brooks has certainly done his homework with this book. He writes with such ease and authority about situations - both real and imagined - that you begin to believe there really has been a zombie war and you are missing something. There is no hyperbole in this book. It is a really study in human behaviour and what would REALLY happen if the undead began to walk the earth. Every possibility has been looked into. He also gave himself the difficult task of writing with a dozen or more different voices. He captures each of the different people superbly, so well in fact that you have to remind yourself that it is actually fiction and these aren't real people. The stories range from frightening, disturbing, annoying to heartfelt.
I found this book hard to put down. It is not like a horror book - it isn't gory or sensational, but I liked it all the more because it felt real and made me think. More than ever I am planning my strategy for when the zombie's come. This is a must read. I rate it 10/10.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


At about 5pm Wednesday evening I was leaving for my teaching class when I met Faith. Someone had closed the garden gates and abandoned their puppy in our garden. At first I thought Mirpot had forgotten to open the gates after she had taken Rags and Woozer for a run, but I had driven into the house after that so I knew it couldn't be the case. Then I thought some random stranger had closed our gates for us. It had happened before. A few years ago someone had locked our gates with a chain and padlock and we had to get Michael (my brother in law) to cut them open. As I got out of the car to open them a little black and white dog ran out from the patch of scrub to the right of the gate and ran into the beam of the car headlights (it was dark by this time in the evening). She peered anxiously out of the gate and appeared nervous and distressed. I was angry because I jumped to the conclusion that some stranger had decided to use our garden as a park and run their dog in it (it is a big garden). As a human being failed to appear and I realised the dog was a puppy it soon dawned on me that the poor little thing had been abandoned. I had often heard of things like this happening, but I had never experienced it first hand before. I was fuming with the scum who would dump their puppy - especially dumping her by locking her into someone else's garden! She was shy and wouldn't come up to me at first, but soon she let me pet her and I managed to lift her into the car. She looked like a collie cross to me, and I'd say was about 4 -5 months old. She had a nice collar on her, slightly chewed, but no name tag. I took her up to the house where Mirpot took her inside. After my teaching class I came home to find the pup playing with Rags! I couldn't believe it, Rags is usually so cautious with new dogs, but they were having an energetic game. Mapot looked flushed and was close to hysterics at the thought of another dog in the house. As I looked after the pup for the evening my affection for her grew. I dubbed her Faith (after the fighting dog left for dead in 'In Search of the Moon') and my mind boggles at why anyone would want to get rid of her. She was friendly, affectionate, intelligent, well mannered. Janna and Rags practically fought to play with her and apart from a couple of accidents when she was first taken into the house, she was clean. She was used to a house, looked healthy and well fed and knew how to sit. She took a while to settle down that night - partly due to the excitement of the day and to the lack of exercise (I doubt it she had had a run in a couple of days and was a lively pup) but around 12am we all managed to get some sleep. This morning she had an hour of play with a friend's dog over acres of fields and, when it was time to go, she jumped happily back into the car. In the afternoon she had a run with Janna in the garden where they played together happily and she came back when I called her. For only knowing her a few hours she was an excellent dog. Unfortunately, much as I would have loved to keep her, I couldn't. I phoned Collon Animal Sanctuary but they were booked up until next week. Lyn Archer, the fantastic woman who works there, recommended I contact the Dog Warden as they have got very good at rehoming. I took her down to the pound and the warden was very nice. He assured me that she wouldn't be put down and that she would find a home no problem. He checked her for a microchip and said they would keep her for 5 days in case anyone claimed her and then she would go on to an animal sanctuary. I felt so mean as she was carried away, abandoning her again. She was such a lovely dog. People, if you can't look after a dog, don't get one! And if you have one and can't cope, please please please PLEASE give them to an animal sanctuary or the dog pound, don't dump them in someone else's garden or, worse still, on the side of the road.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Competitions for January

This month I intend to enter these two writing competitions:-

1. The American Kennel Club 22nd Annual Fiction Writing Contest.
Word length: 2000 words
Closing date: 31st January 2008
Prizes: 1st $750 2nd $500 3rd $250
Guidelines: Must feature AKC registrable breed or breed listed in the miscellaneous class.

2. Maria Edgeworth Short Story Competition
Word length: 2000 words
Closing date: 31st January 2008
Prizes: 1st Deirdre Purcell Perpetual Cup 2nd €100 3rd €50
Guidelines: Story can be on any topic and any genre

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Movie Review: Enchanted

Went to Enchanted tonight with Gonzalez, the Dancer and (not so) Broken Wing. It certainly lived up to its name. I was enchanted by it from beginning to end. It is the story of Giselle, a picture perfect Disney princess to be (she just has to marry the prince) who dreams of her true love - and finds him - only to be thrown into a magical pool on her wedding day and turned into a 3d real woman. She finds herself in present day New York, where nothing is like her home of Andalasia and she can't find her handsome prince anywhere. Step in Patrick Dempsey as Robert, and his daughter Morgan. He is a kindly lawyer who helps out the stranded Giselle and is slowly won over by her magical, and romantic, view on life. This movie had me enthralled from the beginning and kept me entertained to the end. The animation scenes are classic Disney, the acting is superb from the entire cast with not a bum note and I loved Giselle's CGI chipmunk, Pip (you see, this is how CGI should be done). A feel good, funny Disney fairytale for adults, I have a feeling this might be one for the girls (although the males in the audience certainly seemed to enjoy it too). I give it 8/10.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Book Review: The Boy Who Kicked Pigs by Tom Baker

This book is about Robert, a 13 year old boy who loves kicking toy piggy banks, murder, and dreams of destroying the entire human race. Following the legacy of Belloc's poems and Dahl's stories, this is a fantastic, bizarre, grotesque cautionary tale - do bad things and bad things will happen to you. I was interested in this book for two reasons - 1. It was written by Dr Who and 2. It was short. I found it a diversion (a little bit amusing, a little bit dull, a lot perverse) and can only award it 2/10.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Movie Review: I Am Legend

I went to see I Am Legend in the cinema last night with Valpot and Pinky. For those of you who don't know the plot, it revolves around Robert Neville (Will Smith) who is the last 'normal' human survivor in a world full of mutated, blood thirsty vampires. You all probably know that I am passionate about the novel of the same name written by Richard Matheson. To my mind, it is one of the best horror novels ever written. Its gritty intimate descriptions of Neville's life after the vampire Apocalypse are so realistic and scary, it really makes you think - how would I behave in that situation? and, if the everyone turned into monsters tomorrow, what would get you out of bed in the morning? The movie is so different from the book it would be unfair to compare them, so I will try to judge it as a stand alone piece. Will Smith is EXCELLENT in I Am Legend. As a lot of other reviewers have stated, the first half of the movie is brilliant and is carried by Smith single handed. Unfortunately, when I saw it in the cinema, it was so crowded I could only get seats in the first three rows that were so close to the screen I could count every hair in Will's permanently stubbly chin, yet even this did not distract from the tension and the pathos of seeing Neville roaming through a dead, over grown New York. The second half, when the ridiculous CGI vampire/zombies are introduced (I am not against CGI, I love CGI, but BAD CGI I HATE!) weakens the entire premise of the film and it gradually goes down hill from there. I would love to give this movie an 8 or a 9 out of 10. Will Smith is amazing, the dog who acts with him is fantastic, the scenes of New York are incredible, the direction is adequate and obviously a lot of money has been thrown at this movie. However, there are so many plot holes, inconsistencies and repetitions of hackneyed monster cliches from other movies that, book aside, I can only award it a generous 5/10 (if I were comparing it to the book, it would only get 2/10). Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it. I was pulled along for the thrill ride the entire 101 minutes, but afterwards I was left with a lot of questions. 'Why did they do that? How was this possible? It doesn't make sense that? Didn't they say this and then that happened?' Go to I Am Legend, enjoy it, but don't expect a satisfying meal of a movie that will stay with you for a long time afterwards. It is more like a bag of crisps. Delicious at the time, but ultimately unsatisfying.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Misnomer

The term 'writer' is a misnomer for writing involves more than just putting words down on paper. Yes, actually writing something - be it a novel or a short story - is important, but the amount of time you spend writing is small compared to the other things you have to do. Before writing a piece, research may be necessary and that can take hours, if not days and weeks of work. Then you have your notes to write up and sift through. When your first draft has been completed, it has to be read, re-read and worked on until it is perfect. Eventually, when you have your article, novel or story ready, it must be checked one final time, formatted correctly and sent off to the publisher or agent you had in mind when you wrote it. This sounds simple, but can be very complicated as each publication has different guidelines. And all of this work is for only one story, I'm not counting the publications, books, newsletters and websites that have to be read and trawled through simply to keep informed of the market and abreast with current trends. So when I said my aim for 2008 was to spend 4 hours a day writing, I meant actually WRITING. I didn't realise how hard it would be to accomplish because I forgot that I would have to spend double that time on the other business of being a writer.

Friday, January 04, 2008


I woke up this morning and the world looked like this...

and this...
so naturally I ran outside with Janna, camera (and video camera) in hand(s) and played in the snow. Janna had great fun running around chasing the ball. She didn't seem to mind the snow at all, so she must have seen it before, and she looked so cute with it on her nose.

I remember Angel's first time with snow. At first she kept on lifting her paws and walking in this really high stepping way, wondering what this cold white stuff was, and then she raced around and around snapping at the snow and barking. I did something I have never done before in my life today - I made my first snowman! Here is a picture of him with his original head...

Janna got very excited about the snowman and thought his head was a ball and ran off with it. It was really funny seeing her carrying the snowball in her mouth. It started to melt, so she dropped it, licked her lips and then tried to pick it up again where it promptly fell to pieces. She found that very puzzling and tried to pick up the pieces for a few seconds before racing off. I threw some snow balls for her. The snow was lovely - really crisp and soft - so it clumped together to make perfect snowballs. They would fly through the air just like the real thing, and Janna would chase excitedly after them, only to run around in confused circles when they landed and disintegrated, leaving nothing for her to retrieve.

After she decapitated my snowman, I made him a new - meaner - head, so she wouldn't run off with it again. She didn't.

After playing on the grass for about 30 minutes, I walked down to the gate to take some photos of the stream and of the paving stones. Janna was running around with the ball in her mouth. I was standing, camera raised in my hands, busy snapping when the postman whizzed past me on his bike. I think Janna deserves the award for the best dog in the world, because she just stood beside me and watched him go by with about as much interest as if he had been a fly. I held her collar until he whizzed past again and out the gate, but she wasn't interested and just wanted to go back onto the grass to play with her ball. Even when Woozer and Rags started barking from inside, Janna paid no attention. I wanted to take a photo of her in the paving stones, so I called her over. She kept running up to me and then running back to the grass, so I asked her to pose for a photograph on the snow. Immediately she ran up to me and stood still, posing. I said to her I wanted her to pose on the snow, so she ran over to the snow, dropped the ball and stood posing for the photograph. Once I had taken the photo, she picked up the ball and ran back onto the grass.

I couldn't believe it. I must state here that 'pose for a photo' is not a command, so this wasn't a trick Janna had been taught and while I take photos of her, I haven't taken so many that she would know what this phrase meant (or at least I don't think I am that much of a parrot). I know Muffin used to pose for photos, and knew exactly how to do it, but she had been photographed so many times from an early age that she was like a model when it came to cameras. She only had to see one being produced and she would practically say 'How would you like me today?' I was so impressed with Janna, she hasn't had Muffin's upbringing, and yet she understood exactly what I wanted. She is such a good dog. I know every owner thinks her dog is perfect, but I think Janna very nearly is. It started to snow again after that, so we went inside. I would love to have taken Rags and Woozer out to see the snow (they both ran over and sniffed Janna and I with a great deal of interest) but they are not as easy to handle outside as Janna.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Book Review: The colour of light by William Goldman

The Colour of Light centers on Chub, a good guy who grew up in midwest America in the 1960's and always dreamed of being a writer living in New York. The first part of the book centres on Chub during his college days, where he meets his best friend Two Brew and falls for the prettiest girl on campus. The second part of the book shows Chub living his dream and the final part of the book is about, in part, what happens when that dream falls apart.
William Goldman, apart from being a very successful screenwriter (Butch Cassidy and the Sun dance Kid, The Ghost and the Darkness), also wrote The Princess Bride. The Colour of Light is very different from the former novel, but his light, readable style is recognizable. This novel shows the highs and lows of being a writer, but it is also about life, friendships, coping with your past, relationships and the success of failure. There is even some mystery thrown in for good measure. I don't think it will be the best book I'll read this year, but I couldn't put it down and I certainly enjoyed it, so I will give it 7/10.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Last year I was filled with lots of literary ambition come January 1st and plastered my walls with posters containing scribbled notes of all the novels I was going to write in the year. Unfortunately I don't think I completed one of those tasks and looking back on those notes is a humbling experience. As regards my pledges - well, I didn't get near reading 150 books. I started 93 and finished 85, but it was a 33 increase on my book tally from the year before, so I am happy. This year I am aiming for a more doable 2 books a week. Submissions - well, I did submit The Moonwolf Chronicles (if, unlike VT, you count query letters and competitions) but no where near 30 times. I'm not going to make pledges about submissions this year. I want to keep things simple - in the hope that I might actually achieve something! So all I want to do is make one simple promise - I will spend 4 hours writing every day. I might do more, maybe I will only do that, but I want to devote that amount of time to actually writing. Will I manage to keep this promise? I don't know, but I only have myself to blame if I don't.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Congratulations Valpot

on winning DNOTY 2007. You deserved it. You deserved it 2004, 2005 and 2006, and finally you have been recognised for your genius. HURRAY!
Regarding the book of the year, I think you were robbed. Revenge of Queen Rose was the best book on the list - in terms of plot, character, originality, writing style, readability. I am a great fan of the Lucky Diamond, don't get me wrong, but Revenge of Queen Rose has all the LD has, and a little bit more. I think the fact that so few people have read it went against you when it came to the vote.


Wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR and all the best for 2008. May it be filled with magic, achieved goals, good friends, love, laughter, fun, swelling financial status, honourable mentions, kindness, overcome fears, new friends, old friends, families, pets, first places, exciting new paths and everything else that you could ever wish for.
(I wanted to upload an exciting New Year animation, but for some reason I can't upload video to blogger, I just keep on getting error messages.)