Thursday, July 31, 2008

Review of July 2008

July went ok writing wise. My word count for the month is my second highest for the year so far, beaten only by April. My non fiction piece on Things I have learned from rejection was accepted for publication in the August edition of Tiny Lights: Searchlights and signal flares. I submitted seven stories for publication. The Invisible Ink Anthology was due for publication this month but due to delays with the printers it is still pending. Talking of delays - I finished my chapbook for International Day of Books and set it up with Valinora Troy's entry on I just have to check through the final proofs before they can be set for sale. I know the book launch was supposed to be the 27th July, but delays happen. It seems a common theme this month as two competitions I am waiting to hear the results of have set their response times back to later in the year. I also launched my website this month.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Welcome Honey

Picture of Honey at 2 weeks old

Docpot has a new addition to her kennel. I helped her pick up her new puppy today. Her name is Honey and she is a nine week old ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She was quiet at first but after a long nap she was more interested in exploring her new home, getting to know her house mate Toffee and licking up to her new owner. She reminds me of my Cavalier Muffin as a puppy. She has the same long legs and similar facial shape as Muffin at that age and she likes to climb onto your knee and legs, which Muffin loved to do. I wish Docpot all the best with Honey and I hope she will soon be best friends with Toffee.

Honey now, at 9 weeks

Saturday, July 26, 2008

24 Hour Short Story Contest

I took part in my first Writer's Weekly 24 Hour Short Story Contest today. The deal is you are given a topic and a word count at the start of the contest and you have to write an original story that adheres to both of these requirements within the 24 hour period of the contest. It is limited to 500 contestants and there is a small entry fee of $5. The competitions are run quarterly and there are 85 prizes up for grabs including money and publication. It is a bit of fun and something that stretches the creative muscles. The next contest starts on 27th September.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Invisible Ink Update

I'm sure you've been wondering what the story is with the Invisible Ink Anthology 2, in which my story 'All in the Family' is due to be published. It was supposed to be released at the end of June, but if you have been clicking on my link to the website recently you will see that it has been temporarily down for the last couple of weeks. I got an email from them today giving me an up date on what has been going on. Printer problems. They hope to have it all sorted out soon but expect another couple of weeks of delay. I can understand that, it is one of those unfortunate things that can plague book publishing. Better late than never, I say. Anyway, remember to get voting for my story once the website it back up and working again. Oh yeah, and buy the anthology too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Website Has Gone LIVE

I've been designing my new website the last few weeks and finally I have poked and prodded it into good enough shape to go live. Check it out here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

international day of books update

I designed the covers for the two entries in this year's International Day of Books today. I am really pleased with them and I can't wait to see the two books in print form. I don't think we are going to have them in time for the official launch date of the 27th, but they should be available for sale on line shortly after that date and in bookshops a little while after that. I can't wait!!! I had originally planned to do detailed paintings depicting scenes and characters from the books, but after I did up sketches I realised that my book looked like a trashy romance (which it isn't) and highly illustrated covers aren't in vogue at the moment. Also, time did dictate I go with a more simple design. I really like them though, I hope other people will and be tempted to buy the books after seeing them.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Movie Review: Wall-E

Wall-E (which stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth class) is the last robot left on earth to tidy up the mess after all the humans have gone to dirty up space. He is a silent, sweet creature with a cockroach for a pet and is nostalgic for the old junk that he finds as he does his work. There is one thing missing in his life however - love and companionship - as modelled on the characters from his favourite movie Hello Dolly. Perhaps the sleek new robot who arrives out of the sky one day could be exactly what he's looking for?
Wall-E is the latest in Pixar's excellent stable of top notch animated movies. As always, the visuals do not disappoint. There is very little dialogue in this film, but as they say, a picture tells a thousand words. The personalities of the robots are developed with each little twitch and blink of their robotic bodies and I think the animators deserve an Oscar for making them so lovable with body language alone. The depictions of the abandoned earth are also excellent and I couldn't help but wish that I Am Legend had cgi as good. The mixture of the live action footage and the animation I thought jarred and I disliked the cartoony images of the future humans, which I felt let down the film as a whole. As far as the story goes, it is ambitious in dealing with love, loss, and the lassitude of the human race. However it does not have a strong plot within those themes and I am suspicious it will not have as great a rewatch value as their other movies. I also found Wall-E very sad and came out of the cinema quite depressed. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy it very much, but it didn't live up to the greats like The Incredibles and Ratatouille for me. 3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Movie Review: Hancock

Will Smith is the titular character in this alternative super hero movie. Believing he is the only one of his kind, Hancock drinks a lot and saves people occasionally, but usually makes more of a mess rescuing someone than if he had done nothing. Into the fray steps Jason Bateman as a well wishing PR man who decides to transform Hancock into a superhero that everyone can love.
I left the cinema after seeing this movie feeling very confused. I felt that I had seen three different movies squashed together and I couldn't pick which one I disliked the most. There is the super hero movie, where our hero must discover his power and role in life and defeat the bad guys. There is the comedy movie - and at times Hancock does comedy with fantastic flare - where there are lots of jokes about the man who can fly but is reluctant to use his powers to help people out and then there is the third movie. The drama which, to my mind, was about invulnerability of youth, the vulnerability of loving people and having family and friends and the inevitable loss of power with age. None of these three themes were bad in themselves, but they each struggled for dominance without any one winning out and were put together with such obvious editing and mediocre special effects that as an overall piece of cinema it fell down.
There are a lot of things to like in Hancock and Will Smith is always enjoyable to watch, but it is so confused and messy that it is an unrewarding watch. On a side note, for those who are fans of Arrested Development, I couldn't help from thinking 'Rita and Michael got married!' while watching the movie (Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron play a married couple in the film). 2 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Good News Everyone!

I feel like I am repeating myself with the name of this post, but the news I bring is indeed good. The wise people at Tiny Lights have chosen my response to the question 'What have you learned from rejection?' to be one of the answers featured in the August issue of their Search Lights and Signal Flares section. Can't wait to see it. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

St Swithin's Day

Today is St Swithin's Day. Legend has it that if it rains today it will rain for the next 40 days and if it is sunny today it will be sunny for the next 40 days. Thankfully it has been sunny so far today (although there were a few spots of rain on my car windscreen - I wonder how much rain has to fall for it to count?)

But who was St Swithin? I've grown up hoping each 15th July that it would be dry, but I know nothing about the actual man or why his feast day is supposed to be a weather barometer.

A quick search on the internet revealed the following information: - St Swithin (or Swithun) was a saxon bishop of Winchester. Upon his deathbed he asked to be buried outside so that his grave could be rained on and trodden on. I would imagine this was inspired by humility. As Bishop, he would have been entitled to a fancy tomb within the church. Apparently, as per his wishes, he was buried outside but after nine years (on the 15th July 971) his remains were taken from their grave and placed within Winchester Cathedral amid heavy rain.

Where the idea that it will rain for forty days came from I don't know, but it has been around for a very long time. My Internet search also revealed this well known poem (I had never heard it before)

'St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain
St Swithin’s Day, if it be fair
For forty days, t'will rain no more.'

Apparently the Met Office in England tested it out and out of 55 occasions where it rained on the 15th of July it has never rained for 40 consecutive days afterwards. It certainly feels like it has in Ireland sometimes!

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Blogging Anniversary

I wanted to make a big thing of my blogging and writing anniversary this year (two years on the trot) and I had it marked with flashing lights in my calendar, but that all got wiped when my laptop got sick, so it completely passed me by. My cotton anniversary for the blog was on the 25th June and my writing career has been going for two years since the 3rd of July (the date I got the laptop back this year). I started this as an experiment for six months and now I've been doing it for two years. It is amazing where the time goes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The First Six Months

As the year is half over, I thought I would have a look at my writing statistics for the year so far.
1. Total word count - 71,339 words.
This word count is not accurate as I lost my data for May, so the real count is probably nearer to eighty thousand or above. I only record first drafts or large pieces of writing in my word count, so this doesn't include words written (and lost) during redrafts and edits, nor does it include blogs or any notes, plot outlines and character guides written or any writing for friends or family. At the beginning of the year I set a target of writing one million words this year. I have a lot of work to do to get anywhere near it by December.
2. Total stories written - 25
This is the number of stories I have written and completed to a standard I was happy submitting to publications. This does not count the stories not deemed suitable and sent to my imaginatively named folder 'Not to good stories'. My target for this year was to write a short story a week, so I think I am more or less on track with that.
3. Total stories accepted - 4
I was looking at a competition for new writers the other day and one of its requirements was that you not have more than three stories published and I thought 'Gosh, that excludes me. How cool!'. Ok, they haven't all been published yet, but they have been accepted. Remember, this is 4 acceptances out of 25 stories written, but 33 submissions, 13 of which I am still waiting to hear about.
4. Total books read - 22
I have also 3 books started and yet to be finished. I have a feeling that they will never be finished, especially as I sold one of them! My target for this year was to read 2 books a week, which I am obviously not going to do, but I wouldn't mind if I ended up with more than one a week.
Looking at these stats I can't help from focusing on what I wanted to achieve as opposed to what I did achieve. This can be helpful to spur you on to work harder and be more productive, but it is also good to acknowledge what you have done and looking back at the first six months, especially in comparison with my stats for the last two years, I am pleased.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Good News Everyone!

Yes, and unlike the Professor in Futurama, I actually have good news! My laptop has been returned to me. I am so glad to have it back. After weeks of the tough book, it seems so big! The screen appears massive and the keys are huge. I will miss the tough book. It was so portable and the battery life was fantastic. Anyway, the good news about my laptop is that it has a new hard drive, has windows vista (which I wanted after trying it out on Pinky's laptop), the missing buttons have been replaced, a lot of my missing files and photos have been recovered and it didn't cost and arm and a leg to fix. In fact, it was a very painless transaction for the pocket. The not so good news is that I miss having Microsoft office (boy, how I miss it!), and I am missing some documents that weren't recovered from the hard drive - most notably two book outlines with first chapters and several short stories I was working on. In Search of the Moon, Til the Moon Fails, Mungo's books and Seven Days in Hell were also missing, but I was able to find them (or versions of them) saved on various memory keys. I have learned my lesson from this episode and have backed all my files onto a memory key. This is a valuable lesson to learn and has worked out well before I had something really important that I couldn't afford to lose because I had to make a deadline to a big publisher.