dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Simple Cover

Maybe it's jealousy, but there are too many professional covers floating around. Hiring a talented artist is almost cheating. Just take a photo, blob your name on, and done. Quick idea, good basis, 5 minutes. Some covers these days are works of art and would look better hung in museums. Their rectangular space is crammed with detail. Sometimes you can't make out the name of the title or author. It's becoming refreshing to see simple cover concepts. They are all so generic now. If you want to design a book cover, you're probably better off looking at album covers for inspiration. Or paying that talented artist. Sod it, pay a ghost-writer to write the thing. You can dictate via phone. Why do anything yourself these days? In fact, why bother at all?  

Friday, 25 January 2013

Astonishing Brutality

A footballer recently caused uproar by kicking a ball boy (although he really didn't). Click/touch here for the Wheel Of Life's opinions on the current state of soccer in  England and how it compares to the real man's game, Rugby.



Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Schmoe 2 Titles

Here are the titles for Schmoe 2, a novelette flash anthology of light-hearted gym-orientated fiction. ‘Schmoe’ is the U.S slang word for nerds who adore female muscle, or just plain morons, but exceptions can be made for male muscle as well. The more schmoes the better actually, guy or gal alike. We're not fussy. Maybe it’s the wrong word but no matter. In England not many people are aware of its existence let alone its connotations so there’s no harm done. ‘Big’ or ‘Massive’ don’t have that same intriguing/unfamiliar ring to them. So Schmoe it is. Schmoe to stay.

1. Big Joe’s First Professional Pro Show

2. Hip, Fit And Sexy

3. Burger Banquet Max Out

4. Dolphin Breath

5. Shocking Advice

6. The Gun Smuggler

7. Is Wrestling Cheating?

8. Sand In My Face

9. One For Everyone
Which of these titles if any jump out at you? Usually the titles are a ‘huge’ clue to the likeability of the story. Some people have a knack for knowing which songs they will like the most on a new album they have never heard before simply by looking at the titles in the track listing. What do you reckon? If you could only read one of these, which would it be? What would be your second choice? The Gun Smuggler and Dolphin Breath? How about Shocking Advice and One For Everyone? Are you the kind of person who likes to get things done in order, or do you cherry pick, shortest story first?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Schmoe Sequel

SCHMOE 2 is complete and done, ready for print. For so many years all Word documents have been double-spaced after each sentence, with enormous indentations via the TAB key and too much white space in the margins. Correcting the layout of a long piece of writing can take absolutely ages. It’s a basic level of formatting. You should try reducing each and every double-space after each and every sentence to a single space in a 50,000 word document using only the crappy square touch pad on a laptop. Wowcher. You’re talking the patience of a saint right there. It’s pretty much like writing the whole thing again. Good job there’s a little trick/cheat for it. Hint: Find and Replace.

Yeah, Schmoe 2 was started early 2012, on and off as is everything now, but flowed very smoothly otherwise. Often, if there was no ending to one flash story, it made sense to move onto the next, and then halfway through that one, an ending for the previous one would come to mind. There’s no reason to be hanging around thinking up what to happen i.e If you are stuck on chapter 2, go back and edit chapter 1 until something comes to you.

It’s more fictitious than the first one. There are less stories, but they are slightly longer. It’s more about the characters who go the gym rather than the gym itself. But it’s still comically educational and offhandedly slapstick. It’s been combined with Schmoe 1 for a longer read. They’ll be printed together. Schmoe 3 will be added on, and Schmoe 4, and so on. At some point they will be redrafted with perhaps a single character running throughout instead of many different ones.

When will Schmoe 3 come along? Dunno, but it’s the future, long term, so one a year is not too much too ask. They are only 10,000 words long remember, a blessing of a length to work with, so at least 4 are needed before novel length compilation, with 40,000 words being the magic qualifying gauge for so-called novel status.

Schmoe will do down a storm with certain people. There’s simply no doubt about it. It’s niche. It’s for someone. It’ll resonate. Need help from Dragon’s Den though. There’s enough shite on the market in the fitness industry. Surely there’s room for this. COMING TO A SHOP 3,000 MILES AWAY FROM YOU SOON.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

An Author's Perspective

Blogging is easy. Putting entries in a diary is easy. Describing anything enjoyable is easy, like adding jalepenos and a fried egg onto a beefburger, for example. That’s why chefs never shut up, because discussing a passion is easy. Soccer reviews, getting descriptive about music, all easy. Starting a new short story on the spot out of the blue with no mental planning beforehand, however, well, that’s a little trickier. And novel writing…now that’s a challenge.

The novel comes slow, like pulling teeth with an adjustable spanner. There’s no flow to it, no relaxed conversational tone. Here, blogging, one can take risks with dialect and spelling, because Google is essentially one swollen brain dump factory where you expose your soul to strangers so they can collect files of data about you for nothing in return.

Any hard ground-out novel worth its salt should be poetic in parts, with cadence and swagger. It’s all your eggs in the one basket. All your—or the best of—your styles. There’s a time and a place to sling lingo and cockney rhyming slang around, because in a hundred years time who knows where your novel might be and who might be reading it. It may be wise to save the geordie and scouse accents for Twitter and Facebook. Save the text message jargon for the phone company satellites. You wanna be up there among the penguin classics, if you are confident enough and super serious about your craft. That means being as boring and as technical as you can possibly be, judging by the evidence.

Not that super serious is anything to aspire to. The easy-going comic churn-em’-out colloquial popular novelist is more likely to have a longer queue at book signings and a bigger bank account. The bank account helps before you start. A billionaire could self-pub his or her books all over the world in dozens of languages. That in itself would be a heck of a test, even with the finances and power. Imagine how daunting it can seem if you have not even found a publisher yet. If you have not even finished the first draft of your first book. If you are on the breadline without a computer, or printer, or access to a library, because the local bus has been terminated due to cuts, or blown up.

Let’s take a second to be grateful for being able to blog, being able to share nick ideas, and being able to express ourselves. Imagine the bohemian having no voice, and choking on his or her own creativity. As the poet John Siddique says, imagine Thirst without Water.

Take Ian McEwan. He doesn’t hit us with two books a year. He takes his time. There are lengthy gaps between his novels. So you know he thought about it. They come to him, he doesn’t reel them off.

Then there are the fast writers. The word-count obsessives. The commercially-driven touch-typists who keep office hours. They write so many books, even all their titles sound the same.

Credit to both kinds of novelists, but there’s only one kind of book in my book (the hybrid). The commercial thrillers tend to be he jumped over the hill and then he shot his gun and then he jumped over the hill again to do more shooting with his gun, while the others tend to be page after page of thought processes and emotions with nothing much going on.

Clive Barker needs a holla here. When he burst onto the scene, he published three different books of blood on the same day. Massive props to him for that. What a gentleman, giving customers a choice. Or a headache.

Choice is very important. A nice wide range of titles is attractive. But what about those one-hit wonders? You tend to remember their books more. Partly because they are only banging on about one, shoving it into your face every time you turn around. Their hard-sell tactics lodge in your noggin and give you a migraine. Is that the whole point? Is the product almost worthless, apart from its price tag? My name’s this I wrote this it costs this so why aren’t you on Amazon and buying it now. So much in modern day life is forgettable. The trick is having something snag in people’s heads for reasons of merit.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Resident Evil:Retribution

MOVIE ZONE Let’s start from the finish: The Resident Evil movies tend to end with the survivor’s back against the wall, tons of enemies crowding in from every angle, and ace symbolic music. That alone is enough for a certain amount of points from ten, for memorability. The music creeps in like Lucifer’s talons on the icy keys of a piano made from frozen tears. I think it started off on an Alice Cooper CD.

For once I can tolerate hundreds of gunshots and cars being flipped Michael Bay-style because this is a franchise of merit with something going for it on a philosophical level. Raccoon City and The Hive and The Umbrella Corporation have an iconic historical feel by now. Milla Jovovich is for this what Sigourney Weaver is for the Alien series. And that ladies and gents is all that’s required for a franchise to stay true to itself—have the same star simply show up for the next one. The instant you get a different person in, the whole thing goes Pete Tong.

Usually, generic Matrix-like fight scenes are embarrassing, but when it’s rubber-clad Milla in computer-generated environments then they're drop-jaw impressive. The punch and pomp and panache are popping off the screen. There were too many flying bullets, far too many, even for a series you have a fondness for, and like usual the first one is always the best. After one or two forgettable ones though, number 5 (is this really the fifth one?) is back on the up.

It’s so macho at times, like many other flicks out there, that it might seem laughable. But Scarlet or Kate or Charlize couldn’t pull this off, and what it does well, it does like nothing else does. Probably because this is a computer game movie, like Silent Hill. They have something about them. Visually stunning.