Friday, February 29, 2008

Review of February 2008

3 Books Read
11 thousand words written
One Short Story Competition entered

Not a great second month to follow up January, but my writing was severely disrupted this month by teaching.

Here is to March being a more creatively balanced month (plus it is holiday month, so loads more time for writing).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quote of the day:-

'The Pig Slaves Will Use The Lift'

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Epitaph

I think this should be written on my headstone, as it sums up my life:-
'I meant to, but I didn't'

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Book Review: One Door Away From Heaven by Dean Koontz

Anyone who has read my blog before will know that I am a fan of the Koontz-miester, especially of his work from The Face onwards. This book predates The Face and, while the writing style is more like his later work, the length is reminiscent of his earlier novels. Various reviews on Internet sites praise this book for its frank depiction of Bio-Ethics. For those of you who don't know, Bio-Ethics says that all people are equal, but some are more equal than others. What that means is that those of us who are sick, old, mentally or physically disabled should be murdered to let the healthy and the strong have access to the resources of the earth. It is a mode of thought that has become more popular in the last hundred years and has some popular followers including Hitler. It is insane, inhuman and barbaric. I can understand that Dean wanted to write a book exposing such evil but, at 800 pages, this book is heavy handed, preachy and boring. I struggled to finish this book and it took me four months to complete it. The set up is long and overdrawn, the ending is rushed and overly sentimental. I found it hard to be interested and invested in the characters as so little happened in the first 600 pages and the characters were randomly connected with little driving force. I suppose when you are as prolific at writing as Dean, you are bound to hit a bum note once in a while.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Weekend in Dublin

Janna and I had a great weekend in Dublin. We went for a walk on Brittas Beach yesterday, which was lovely, and Docpot, Tofpot, Pinky and Valpot all came along. Then we went to the cinema and out for a meal. Watched our video dairies from New Zealand and, apart from marvelling at how much better we were at filming than the lads in Cloverfield, we had a great laugh watching ourselves saying stupid things and looking tired.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Movie Review: Clovefield

I went to see Cloverfield with Pinky and Valpot today. There has been so much hype for this film it has been impossible to miss it unless you've been living under a rock for the last six months. If you have chosen the rock abode, then you won't know that Cloverfield is a monster movie told from the prospective of a group of young, attractive and well to do New Yorkers and their magical video camera (I saw magical because it never ran out of battery or tape and survived being dropped and bashed about numerous times without any loss of quality). The actors were pleasant, the special effects were amazing (I can't help from wondering how amazing I Am Legend could have been if they had the same fx company) and the monster was suitably monstrous. Unfortunately, unlike almost every reviewer who thought this movie was scary, I found it distinctly lacking in chills and overwhelmed with inconsistencies that made it amusing. The sound of the monster was laugh out loud funny. The army mobilized into New York with astonishing speed. There was no development, growth or change in the characters from the beginning of the movie to the end. The jerky camera movements grew more and more distracting as the movie progressed - who remembers to frame their shots as they are running for their lives? And I also found that, despite the slightly original idea of the video cam, the story narrative was very linear and traditional. As I watched it I wanted to find out more about the monster and less about the people. My enjoyment was also hampered by my two companions having to leave because of feeling sick brought on by the jerky camera movements. Ultimately I enjoyed the movie but it was an empty feeling, like candyfloss, and sickened me before the end.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Review of Week 4th - 8th February

I didn't have a great week this week. I started writing a short story for a competition and, even though the first draft is ok, I am totally stuck with it and I am either unwilling or unable to mold it into something new. Did write another rather nonsense short story. I started writing it to help me unblock, wasn't expecting it to turn into a story at all was supposed to be just random words, but it turned out to have a nice cohesive plot and interesting characters. Haven't looked at it since, so I don't know what I'll do with it, but it is lurking on my desktop to remind me that it is there. I have written more words so far in Feb than I did in Jan, which is good. Reading wise I'm doing ok with two books finished so far. This week is a short week because I'm going up to Dublin tomorrow for the weekend. Thank God Curves is closed for training tomorrow so I won't be missing a day of the challenge. At the moment there are about 8 of us in the running for top attendee and I don't want to give them an advantage by missing a day. Hopefully next week I will get some things finished and sent off, as March is a competition heavy month and I don't want to fall behind.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Black Gate Magazine

My first two issues of Black Gate magazine arrived today. I couldn't help but dive in. What a wonderful magazine. Packed full of fantastic fantasy stories, it is a pleasure to see and hold not only to read. It is large, A4 size at least, with a glossy colour cover. Published only a couple of times a year, it is almost like an annual. This is a thick magazine. The stories it contains are long, so the authors get lots of opportunity to write an immersing and realistic world and each of the stories is engaging - a first, in my experience with fiction magazines. It is also the first wholly fantasy magazine I have read, and I love it. How wonderful it would be to be published in this magazine. Unfortunately, due to the few times a year it is published and a high proportion of recurring authors, they are shut to submissions at the moment. Until they reopen their black gate for submissions (ha!ha!) I will enjoy reading it and would highly recommend it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Book Review: Through the Theatre Door by Geri Valentine

At last this brilliant book has made it into print in this lovely Disresponsible Nodpot edition. It focuses on Daniel, his best friend Malachy and his sister and her friend. While mooching around a skip they find a time portal that leads them back through time into the old hospital and they find that things aren't all what they seem. It has been almost ten years since I last read this book and I enjoyed reading it again just as much as I did the last time. 10/10

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Review of week 28th January - 3rd February

Writing wise not a lot happened this week. I started work on an outline for a book idea, which I hope to submit to a publisher within the next couple of weeks. I sent off one short story to the Maria Edgeworth Competition and submitted another to Fantasy online magazine. I read two books and started a third. My articles on helium went crazy this week, zinging up and down the rating scale, with Why I Write and Gifts from the Sea making the biggest leaps downwards.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Book Review: Monster Planet by David Wellington

I was eager to see how the series ended after reading Monster Nation, and stuck straight into Monster Planet, however I was punished for my greediness. I found this book disappointing, irritating and quite dull. Wellington seems to have fallen in love with his own new breed of zombies, which I soon grew tired of as they are all the same and are not as interesting, or scary, as the shambling undead. I also found it hard to have any sympathy or empathy for the characters. Not one of them objected to being zombified and the general impression I got from the series that it is better to be undead than dead, as at least you can still walk around. I can't imagine anything more horrible than being trapped in your body and watching it decay and it would have been nice to see at least ONE character think that way. Also, despite indications in the first book of a spiritual nature, and other occurrances suggesting a spiritual world, Wellington has either changed his mind or chickened out and abolished an after life in his fictional creation. All the characters, without exception, seem to feel it is better to stay death with becoming a zombie rather than enter a void. I find it hard to believe that people who have fought zombies for over a decade, facing death every day, would be so afraid of dying they would rather be an undead corpse. Real life shows that people who are in contact with death all the time are more willing to die when it comes to it and I think the normal human response would be revulsion at the thought of being a zombie. I also found the end of this book very bad. A disappointing final for a series I enjoyed in the first two installments. I can't help but feel this book has soured the other two for me. I want to give it a 2/10 but out of fairness for what has gone before I give it 5/10.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Competitions for February

I'm not too enthusiastic about my competitions for February, and might only enter one, as March is a competition heavy month and I want to start gearing up for it. Here are the two I have chosen for consideration:
Word Length: 2000 words
Closing Date: 28th February 2008
Prizes: 1st £300, 2nd £150, 3rd £75, 4th £50, 5th £25
Guidelines:Open to everyone over 16. Entries must be unpublished, in English and can be any genre.
Word length: N/A
Closing Date: 29th February 2008
Prizes: Work with editor to finish your book and publication
Guidelines: Looking for first 2 chapters, final chapter and one page synopsis of a book with engaging believable characters. The book doesn't need to be complete at the present moment (or so I gather)