Tuesday 28 June 2011

Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award . . .

Well it happened again, didn't it. As much as I tried not to let it happen, I had no control of this thing leaping out from that corner and surprising me - despite all my best efforts to ward it off.

Yes, it's another Blogger's award.

That's two now, and both were awarded by Amanda Borenstadt over at 'A Fortnight Of Mustard'. She must love me over there. And you know what? I love her too. Thank you Amanda for the second award.

This award was the 'Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award'. I'm sure Amanda must have contacted the wrong person. Is my blog really that sweet? How could a scary picture of a half angel half demon have attracted the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award? Wonders never cease...lol

Anyway, the Rules are simple.

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you. (Tick)
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 8 deserving blog buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

So here goes:

1: I don't like talking on phones. I put this down to 'lazy hearing'. My mother is deaf, and she lip reads a lot. I find I do this too, and so when I can't see lips moving I sometimes find it difficult to understand what people are saying, despite the fact I can hear them.

2: When I was about 15 I was contemplating joining the Royal Navy. I have a first class qualification in - and you'll never guess what - communications. Yep, working with Radios and Morse code, which I now only know half of. God knows why someone who hates talking on the phone would want a job working over radios...lol

3: I'm still as blonde as they come.

4: I have a sneaky suspicion I'm turning into a 'Crazy Cat Lady'. I work at home all week, with my husband away trucking, and it's just me and my cat.

5: I own a pair of fingerless gloves for typing when I'm really cold - which feeds my belief about the crazy cat lady.

6: 'If I'm that cold', I hear you ask, 'why not put the heating on?' Well, the cottage I live in is over 300 years old, and as drafty as they come. Sitting down working for periods of time renders you with cold digits.

7: We have a whipping post outside our house. Yes, a 'Whipping Post'! Last used in 1665 to whip two vagabonds. I love telling people about it...and I never tire of people suggesting why I love living where I am - what with the 'whipping post' and all. I'll leave that to your imagination...lol

I now have to pass this award on to 8 others, but you know what, I'm going to go the easy route. I know too many good blogs to choose. You all have fantastic blogs that I enjoy reading.

There IS, however, someone I would like to award. He runs a simple comic blog about the daily shenanigans of his life. He doesn't preach; he doesn't try to advise; he just brings a smile to my face every morning when I read. I feel he needs to know how much I appreciate that.

SuperZero. Here's your very much deserved award!

Friday 24 June 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Max Bertolini

As the name suggests, the artist is Italian (sounds like a type of pasta).

Max Bertolini started his art career in comics. He then went on to illustrations, including book covers, and has continued ever since.

Some of his pieces are spectacular, and it was hard to pick a specific piece for this week's Pic of the Week, but eventually I made my mind up. If you want to look at more of his work, you can visit the gallery on his website.

But in the meantime, Enjoy . . .

'Thousand Year Empress'

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Zen Teachings . . .

And Now For Something Completely Different . . . Again

Not a lot has been happening since I last posted (although I did receive another Blog Award, with which I will post another over-the-top-award-acceptance-speech again soon) but for today I'm going to share with you some Zen Teachings - something I was emailed this morning and that made me smile. I'm hoping to pass this smile on. It's a shame to waste such a thing.


1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me for the path is narrow. In fact, just p**s off and leave me alone.

2. Sex is like air. It's not that important unless you aren't getting any.

3. No one is listening until you fart.

4. Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.

5. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

6. If you think nobody cares whether you're alive or dead, try missing a couple of mortgage payments.

7. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

8. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

9. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

10. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.

11. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

12. Some days you are the dog, some days you are the tree.

13. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.

14. Good judgment comes from bad experience and most of that comes from bad judgment.

15. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

16. There are two excellent theories for arguing with women. Neither one works.

17. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.

18. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

19. We are born naked, wet and hungry, and get slapped on our arse. Then things just keep getting worse.

20. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

Friday 17 June 2011

Pic in the Week . . . Angels & Demons . . .

Happy Friday everyone!

Since Tuesday's post were I offered the last scene from 'The Da Vinci Code' to watch if you were interested, I have still been in a Dan Brown mood and watched 'Angels and Demons'. This reminded me that art isn't just limited to Paint Brush on Canvas, but also in Sculpture.

I follow a couple of art blogs, one especially that focuses on some amazing scultpure work, and I really admire it because it's one thing that I've never tried.

Anyway, in the film set in Rome - for those who remember and those who haven't seen it - the character Robert Langford finds a sculpture of a being half angel and half demon. It's only there for a second, but it's a spectacular sight. I've since discovered that it's not an original Roman sculpture but designed and created specifically for the film. I love this piece. Here's a quick look at what the statue actually looks like in daylight.

And here is this week's Pic of the Week.


Thursday 16 June 2011

Funny Advert That Needs Sharing . . . Take A Look

This is such a good advert. I had to share it. You need to guess what it's advertising before the end

Tuesday 14 June 2011

The Written Connection With Readers . . .

You all know when you're watching a good film, when your eyes are glued, your mind is switched off and you're in that film. You see that character's dilemma and you're routing for them, you're on the edge of your seat, and you feel like screaming at them to not go up stairs! (And they always do and they always get murdered). Or with other genres, when you end up crying and feeling that character's loss.

Either way you become connected with that character; you feel their emotions and you experience them. (I confess when I watched 'PS: I love you' with Gerrard Butler, I was blubbering from the word go till it ended - and then the next day at work I could still feel myself welling up.)

Emotion is a very powerful thing, and it's easy to portray that in films by their chosen scores and soundtracks. Music in films, although not often noted when watching, plays a huge part. Have you ever tried watching a horror film with the sound turned off? Yeah, it rates a zero on the Scare-ometre. Music builds tension, humour, romance - or just the setting in general. It's a powerful, evocative tool.

So how can you add that sort of emotional feeling in writing when you have no scores to enhance it?

It's not always easy, but it's essential. For a reader, as you're all probably aware, to become as engrossed in a book as you get in a good film, you need to connect with the character; you need to see their dilemma, to feel their trauma and their emotion. You need to connect with that emotion; you need to recognise it and feel it in order to be transported from the couch you're sitting on to the world within the book.

Reading the right words can work just as well as any score, but it's finding the right words to use. For this, many writers call upon past experiences, to drudge up emotions and experiences that they can use and write about in hopes of creating something that the reader can connect with. This is great - Write What You Know, so they say. But what if you're protagonist is running down a street, pursued by a assassin with a blade that has their name on it? They need to hide! They need to shake their pursuer off but they don't know how. Their mind is a frantic mess and they need to think, but they can't concentrate. If the writer, like me, has lived a placid, almost uneventful life, how are you going to know what emotions to drudge up? We can only guess.

Or Cheat.

As some of you may know, I listen to a lot of music when I write. I have a huge eclectic collection from Heavy Metal to Classic. Each helps me to enhance an emotion when I need it, from quick, up-beat tunes for dramatic, heart pounding moments, to those softer tones for the quiet, solemn times. For me, it works. It allows me to switch on different emotions when I need them, and I find this helps in writing. I also hope that what I churn out connects with the reader in such a way that they don't want to return to the couch they're sitting on. Only time will tell.

And film scores are fantastic for this. Each piece has been composed for a specific scene, to enhance specific emotions, and to back up what I'm talking about watch this clip (click on the picture). It's the very last scene from 'The Da Vinci Code' (yes, I actually liked this film) It's not a very dramatic scene, in fact, turn the sound down and it's as boring as they come, but with the score . . . it transforms it into an extremely powerful and emotional scene.

Hans Zimmer is a great composer. He's done the Scores for hundreds of big films, Gladiator, The Last Samurai, Pirates of the Caribbean, Last of the Mohicans, Batman Begins, to name just a few, and I've recently tuned into his talent as way of honing mine.

Hope this rant helps in any way.

Friday 10 June 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Dave McKean

And I thought I had everything planned. Musing over my usual blogs this morning, I noticed that one blogger (SuperZero - everyone say Hi) mentions his favourite artist. Dave McKean. I've never heard of him, but the curiousity got the better of me - and me being me, I had to Google him. This threw all my planning out of the window.

Introducing Dave McKean.

He incorporates drawing, painting, photography, collage, found objects, digital art and sculpture into his work, and some of his pieces are rather interesting. But this wasn't the only thing that caught my attention.

Talk about Jack Of All Trades - and Master Of Them ALL . . .

Not only does he produce Art like this, he is also an illustrator, photographer, comic book artist, graphic designer, filmmaker and musician. I then discovered something else. He also created some of the fantastic original artwork that can be found in the Hardback edition of Stephen King's The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass - as well as smaller pieces that can be found in other editions (although the Picture below is not from this gallery).

For this alone he deserves a slot in this week's Pic of the Week.


Tuesday 7 June 2011

That Very First Manuscript. . .

I read a few blogs last week which spoke about first manuscripts, both published and practice runs. Carole Gill from over at Wicked Writers (everybody wave) spoke of her first novel being in the Crime Genre - although she now writes Dark Lit. Her first manuscript, 'Death is my Destiny' was inspired by the great noir classics. (Check out her blog post on Wicked Writers to read more).

It reminded me of my first manuscript. Yes, it's a complete mess; yes, there seems to be no such thing as Grammar within; yes, there are plot holes; yes there are flaws. In other words, it will NEVER see a publisher. But when I wrote it, I never intended for it to be published.

You see, I was 10 years old when I wrote it.

I'd written a few short stories before this; the first about a father who built and gave his daughter a time machine, allowing her to go back to prehistoric times, rescue a young Triceratops from a Tyrannosaurus (I loved Dinosaurs as a kid), and bring him home to keep as a pet; another being about a woman befriending a Dolphin who eventually got washed ashore and died - very sad stuff for a kid between the ages of 6 and 9. I had also attempted to start my first novel on numerous occasions, but it fizzled after a couple pages . . . until one day at the age of 10 I started and didn't stop.

I remember, somewhere in the age bracket of about 6 or 7, sitting down and watching an animated film with my family. It had everything; dragons, princesses, wizards, heroes and adventure. This film inspired my first manuscript.

I titled it: 'When Dragons Roamed the Earth' . . . or 'Romed' as I originally spelt it.

It was about a man named John who got taken from earth to a new fantasy world and was given the mission of rescuing a princess from an Evil Brother. There were four magical brothers, blue, yellow, green and red - but the red one was evil and was intent on killing the last two remaining princesses in order to rule the world. With two talking dragons as travelling companions, his adventures began and continued throughout 76 pages of scrawling handwritten text and illustrations.

The other month I was curious to remember what that film was that shaped the way I am today, and spent hours looking for that needle in a haystack on the great-wide web. But I was rewarded. I found the film, 'The Flight of Dragons', and I was pleasantly shocked. As I watched the trailer on YouTube I saw my first characters come to life. The film had everything; my two princesses - or heroines - the hero, the dragons, and four magical brothers including the evil red one. I had re-written the film - or at least stolen their characters. But the feeling of seeing this again after 25 years was overwhelming. Even though I can't remember the whole film now, it's played a HUGE role in my life. I'm now contemplating whether or not to look for the DVD . . .

Since writing my first manuscript, I've gone on to write 14 more, beginning with fantasy, then moving to thriller, horror and now, 20 years later, back to fantasy. So how come I've written 14 manuscripts but am not yet published? Carole Gill answered that.

"We grow while we wait, if we don't stress or pressure ourselves into paralysis. That first MS is our springboard--it might be a mess but it's a first step and first steps are important because every journey begins with one!"

It's taken me 20 wonderful years of writing adventures to get where I am today, not only honing the craft, but building confidence -something that is so important when wanting to put your work out there - and it's only now that I'm longing to meet publication round one of the nearing corners . . .

*Thank you Carole Gill for the inspiration for today's post.

Friday 3 June 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Banksy

And Now For Something Completely Different . . . (name that quote)

As opposed to my usual style of Fantasy etc etc, I've decided to dedicate this week's Pic of the Week to Banksy.

For those who are unfamiliar with Banksy, he's an anonymous Graffiti Artist whose work has appeared in cities all over the world, and who has a very polical view.

I hate to say it, but I do like looking at graffiti - not the typical tagging pieces that state "I Woz 'Ere", but the large, colourful and artistic pieces that brighten up a dull train journey into London. Some of these people have a talent that is more often than not unrecognised. I know the arguments against such graffiti, but some of these pieces are stunning!

Anyway, back to Banksy. It was hard to choose a specific piece, so here's a little taster of few I liked:

And now for the Main Pic of the Week (and you get more points for naming the film...lol)