Thursday, 30 June 2011

Katy Perry, Air Canada Centre in Toronto

Just taken a quick trip to Toronto, and happened to be visiting the Air Canada Centre.

Katy Perry is playing there tonight, and I managed to sneak a slightly blurry photo of the stage!



She's there tomorrow as well. Not my thing...but interesting all the same!


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Friday, 24 June 2011

For what we are about to read

I don't know about you, but the first thing I do when I pick up a paperback is to flip it over and look at the blurb on the back.

I have already ready it when I bought the book, you understand, but as I usually buy books all the time then leave them in a pile until I'm finishing reading my last purchase, I usually need a refresher on the contents.

Which is what is so frustrating about the Kindle. There is no back cover. And I often buy my books in advance when I spot ones I want to buy, or if there is a offer, or if I'm going on holiday.

Now ok, I can connect to the net and go to the Amazon website through the Kindle to read the blurb, but most of the time that's just not practical. I might be at work, where the wireless connection (I was too cheap to go 3G) isn't available for me to link to (and I probably couldn't access Amazon) or on a flight, a beach, or just in range of an insecure wireless connection that I would be reluctant to use.

 So I have to start and read a book while trying to remember what it's about. Or the period it's set in. Or whatever. So I would urge publishers to take steps, and add the blurb to the start of their books. And ask Amazon to create a shortcut that would take us to that page, so once more I can refresh my poor, tired brain with what it is I'm about to read.

I pointed this out to my publishers, and they kindly agreed from now on to add the blurb to the start of each book. They should be available shortly, but as we only set them up and republished last night, they may not be quite there yet! Follow the links at the end of this post.

But I think others should follow suit. Any thoughts?


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Thursday, 23 June 2011

John Locke

Not to give the guy any more publicity, but Kindle self-publisher John Locke has become a million seller. Because I this, I decided to look at his book, "How I sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months", and see if I could glean anything from it.

From the start this book has major issues. At one point he states he won't put filler in it, then proceeds to write completely irrelevant text for several chapters. Some interesting, most not. He also triumphs the $1 book, not noticing what a hypocrite he is when he states that this one is 'only' $5.

His approach to writing is also interesting, don't write about what interests you, but what will sell. That's fine, plenty of authors have done it, but to me it sounds as though he has tried to cram as much selling points in this book as possible, and even he admits he's not so sure about the finer points to a book, such as a  'plot'.  The books are an exercise in selling to the lowest common-denominator, and he actually tells off writers who have written books without a clear market and strategy in mind. If all you want from your writing is money, it's no doubt he's found an excellent way of doing it.

All in all the guy comes across as a smug prat, and the book is little more than a sales exercise for his other books. He struck me that he wrote like frantic presenter trying to sell you crap you don't need, bit of a snake-oil seller. I got bored of him boasting about his success, and his 'fans'. He tries to tell us that the book isn't an ego trip for him, but is it ever. Hearing that a fan has told him  they would take a bullet for him? Yuck.

And would his marvellous technique work? Well, I'll give it a go. I think he got lucky, priced at the right range, and the wave of imitators that come after him will wipe out the market.

Do I envy him? Hell yes. I want a best seller, but as usual I will do it in my own, uncommercial way.


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Wave

I recently watched a German movie called The Wave (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wave_(2008_film)).

It was really good, basically a teacher shows a group of students that it's easy for fascism to take over,  even now. It was based on real events, but events that took place in America in the 1960's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Wave), where Ron Jones wanted to show his students just how the Nazis could do what they did.

The experiment wasn't recorded, which is a shame as I can't see it ever been repeated!

Oh, and before you ask, the movie was subtitled. But it was worth the read...


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Goth Black Evil Mega-Folk Death Gore Grind Metal

My boyfriend is a big fan of Metal. I am too, but not to the extent that he is.  He reads Terrorizer (http://truecultheavymetal.com/), and I tend to have a flick myself. He's introduced me to some awesome bands, but I think what really makes it for me are the genre names.

You have the standard black metal, death metal, thrash, which most people have probably heard of. But then it starts to get a little more specialist. Nu-death, which presumably is like nu-metal/rock and includes rapping.  Grind and hardcore, black thrash, extreme metal, gothic metal, doom metal, death core, metal core .

You can also get sludge metal, which does sound like it's been dragged out of a sewer... and the gentler side of melodeath, nature-driven black metal, folk metal.  This leads on to the funkier side, black 'n' roll, death 'n' roll, and the obvious mentalpunk (obvious if you think about it!).

Things start to get more intense as it goes on, blackened speed metal, metalheads, technical death metal, crust-tinged rock, and more depressing with post doom and mornful-doom. Then it gets seriously violent with power violence, brutality, ultra guttural brutal death metal, southern fried death grind,   and the enchantingly named middle eastern party metal.

And this isn't by any means a complete list. It amuses me very much, I have a good laugh at bands that feel the need to be categorised as crusty blackened inhuman grindcore.

Does metal have the most categories for any music around? Possibly. I think they tend to create new ones so they can be the best 'goth-eveil-death-satan-grincore-sludge-metalheads' around, at least until another bands takes on the genre name!

But the best thing about these names? Listen to the music. They are literally describing what you can expect from the music. melodeath is literally death metal that is melodic, but unmistakably death. Doom metal really is the end of the world, and each extra word added just gives more to the music. So a new party game! Guess the genre of the album...


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Monday, 20 June 2011

Meetings

Ultimately in your career you will get trapped in a meeting you have no interest in, and people are discussing things that you don't need to know.

The worst type of meeting is where you find a nice place to go in your head and tune out, just as the boss looks at you and asks a questions. Trying to keep focus and sanity is impossible, yet we are forced into these situations constantly.

Which is why I can't wait to retire. To get out of this endless and tedious round of meetings involving work I have no interest in would be sheer bliss. There must be some better way of doing this, surely? I suppose the idea of a long meeting is so ingrained into business it's impossible to imagine functioning without it. I have literally not been included in meetings where they then discussed items important to my area, making decisions that affected me, and telling me after. But my role is such that if I don't attend the meetings, I end up missing out the one moment I need to be there.




Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Friday, 17 June 2011

Favors

What I really hate is when people whom you haven't seen in years call you up. Well, ok, I don't hate that part…but I hate it when they then ask you favors.

They haven't bothered to keep in touch with you, then suddenly decide that you're just the right person to help them out.

This happened when I left university. I hadn't seen or spoken to the woman in nearly a year, but she still saw fit to call me up. She asked what I was doing, if I had a job (clever), then started to moan that she had to go to somewhere to deliver a piece of work, and she'd never been before, and was nervous...now bear in mind she never asked me for help, she didn't offer to pay me, or help me in any way, she just hinted.

Which is something I also hate. If you can't even ask, why should I bother to volunteer? If she'd asked, I would ahve done it. But she didn't, and I just agreed with her how bad it was, and I'd never been there either. Eventually she got the hint and rang off, I haven't heard from her since. Where do these people come from?


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The proliferation of crap

We all have crap in our lives. And I don't mean your boss. I mean those little 'cute' things that people buy you for Christmas, or you buy yourself from those gadget sites.

The USB ports that humorously look like someone doing sit-ups.

Or the novelty mug you can't drink out of, but keep because your nephew gave you. Or the cheap ornaments you've picked up from various shops over the years because they caught your eyes and you wanted a souvenir. We put things away in case 'they come in useful', when we have no idea if they ever will. Yet to throw it away is worse because then we're wasting something.

Or we give it away to charity shops, who fill up with unwanted tat. We buy cheap cutlery and china because it's cheap, then throw it away because it's cheap and breaks.

This crap comes over in container-ship loads, and we lap it up. If we didn't buy it, then I'm sure we would all have more money, and more space in our houses. So I've taken a hard-line, nothing comes into the house unless I really need it.  As William Morris famously said,  "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." I plan to live by that.


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Rejection

I've written quite a few books in my time, and I've been rejected a lot. Actually my whole life is a series of rejections, but getting a novel published is the easiest way to get rejected. I've probably been rejected by every publishing house and agent in the land, and it's soul-destroying.

Each time you write you think it's the best thing you've ever done. That this is the one. You package them up, send them out (via email the last time), and wait  for the replies. And each time they come, they take a sledgehammer to you.

I don't even read them any more, I scan them looking for signs of hope, then they go into the sludge pile. It's a big pile now, although email makes it easier to just delete and forget. I don't know why I don't throw the old letters away...

I did have an agent once for a book I wrote called Hangman, now out in Amazon. They were the first agent I had contacted, and it was my first book. But they went under. No problem, I thought, I had an agent, I should easily get one again.

That was ten years ago, and until I got to meet the folks at DragonCity Publishing, I didn't have another bite. Yet I've kept on writing. Despite the endless rejection, I keep going. It's either an illness or a passion, I haven't worked that one out. All I can say is persistence works wonders...


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Plastic Fantastic

Can someone please explain to me where all the glamorous movie stars have gone? They have been replaced with plastic-freaky-Barbie-a-likes, who are all starting to look the same. Perhaps this is some kind of conspiracy?

I just really don't understand this trend for plastic surgery. Ok, so you get old and saggy. It's not nice.


But then again doesn’t this just smack of Hollywood hypocrisy? If you're a man, you can get away with wrinkles. A woman? It's a sin. Just don't get fat though, men, because fat people are bad no matter who they are. Unless you're a faded star looking for a rich man to marry...it's a product of our 'it's all about me' society. Unless we're the centre of attention, unless we're the slimmest, or the most orange, then we are nothing.

It's very difficult to keep a sense of self-worth in this atmosphere, but I won't succumb. For a start, the expense! And for the second, well, let's just look at the identi-kit actresses out there, shall we? The startled looks, the pouty lips, the wrinkled necks...these women pay a fortune to look like this, and the worst thing is that you can always tell.



Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Howling

I watched the Howling last night. It's funny because I'd always thought of it as being really 'racy'. Perhaps because of it's reputation, perhaps because I was quite young when it came out on video. Despite watching just about every horror movie available on video in the '80's, I never watched this one, perhaps because I thought it was about sex, and was too embarrassed to get it out. The artwork was fairly 'top shelf' stuff as well, I seem to remember boobs being quite prominent (though naturally no nipples!).

So I was anticipating a pretty sexed-up movie, even though my boyfriend said he couldn't recall it being quite so exciting! The version we had was an 18, and to be honest I fail to understand why it was. Perhaps it was the full-frontal (female) nudity? There was a sex scene, but it was mostly focussing on the fangs and fur rather than the naughty bits, although naturally there was plenty of chest action (male and female!).

Overall the film was an enjoyable romp of werewolf-ness, and had a lovely twist. I think my favourite moment of the movie is when a female star becomes a werewolf and instead of being hairy and horrible, she's all cute and fluffy like a little Pekinese! Ahhhhh.

Worst bit: I think the husband's part needed expanding (no pun intended). He was prominent at the start of the movie, then sort of disappears. I think they could have done a lot more with his situation, and the relationship with his wife once he'd been 'changed.'

I think it's really strange though that I was embarrassed to get out a movie that had sex in it, but never to get our gory horrors. I had a friend who was showing her nephew a computer game that is full of bloody violence. He was only small at the time, and she was very embarrassed when a cut scene involving sex came one. Now I'm all for children retaining their innocence about sex for as long as possible, but it's got to the point where sex is to be hidden from them, but violence is ok? Is that really acceptable?


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Loser!

Loser's Club has finally been published after a long and rocky road.

It's the tale of an exclusive club, to join you have to be a loser. Cera joins on the recommendation of a former friend, and discovers that though loser's live on the fringes of life, it doesn't mean they have dull lives. Some are in fact a little too lively!

Buy now for your Kindle, or just get it sent to your PC:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Losers-Club-ebook/dp/B0055EKY34/

 USA: http://www.amazon.com/Losers-Club-ebook/dp/B0055EKY34/

Germany:  http://www.amazon.de/Losers-Club-ebook/dp/B0055EKY34/


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Friday, 10 June 2011

Doppleganger

I have one of those faces that people seem to recognise. I don't know what it is about me, but people always seem to think they know me. As I'm very shy, this can be quite a problem. I do know that there is a doppleganger of me in Leeds, I went into a shop to be informed that my items would be ready later that week...even though I had never been there before!


Now available at Amazon:
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Human centipede

When the Human Centipede was on TV, I decided to waste my time and watch it. Yes, even before I watched it I had certain preconceptions about how good it would be.  But as I had only to give time, and not money to watch it, I felt I could just about manage it.

And it was terrible. Not in a 'so bad it's good way', it was just awful. The bad guy was suitably German and mad, the girls stupidly vulnerable, but the whole thing was utterly pintless.

The entrie 'shock' value of the movie was the thought of having to injest someone's waste, and be sewn to their bum. Well, yes, that is grotesque, but as you got to see people crawling around on all fours heavily bandaged it wasn't really that traumatic...and don't get me started on the stupidity. One of the girls gets away. She can leave! But goes back for her friend, even though she couldn't carry her, and knew what this guy was planning, and that he needed the three of them. If she had left...no movie. But as there wasn't a plot I'm sure we wouldn't have noticed.

The cop crying over his partner when he should have shot the bad guy...hell, the first cop managing to die when he had a gun...and please don't try to explain to me how the mad man managed to get the whole centipede up the stairs. Because I've already thought too much about this movie already...

The worst thing is that it made money, so they have made a sequel. I'm sure it'll have even less taste, and less plot than the first, if they can get it past the censors that is. Seriously, horror movies are fun, and scary, but this kind of thing just brings out the haters, and brings the whole genre down further.


Now available at Amazon:
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Biomechanical

I love strange music, and it doesn’t come much stranger than Biomechanical. The opening track of their album, Cannibalised, Fallen in Fear, is just astonishing. When I first heard it I described it as listening to music played in a dead city. It has the qualities of music being played very loud in a built-up area where everyone is dead, and the music is rebounding off the buildings so you cannot tell the source, you just get strange, overlapping fragments that echo across your brain. It's strangely beautiful, addictive music, but always retains that cold, dead edge that gives me shivers up my spine.  The rest of the album has that strange, layered appeal, as does the first album, The Empires of the Worlds. The biggest problem with it is that you need a really good stereo to appreciate every nuance of the music, the MP3 version I have just can't do it justice. But it is a gorgeous album. Just not for the faint-hearted. http://www.biomechanical.co.uk/


Now available at Amazon:
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Writer: the book

I wrote Writer a few years ago now, and it took me the longest I think any book has taken me to write.

At the time I was writing it I was going through a terrible time in my personal life, and found it very difficult to focus on the book for any length of time. However, I did find it a solace, and could use it as a way to express some of the difficult feelings I had at the time.

Writer started off simply, I had found a very old book of ideas and was fascinated by just how terrible most, no, all of them were. I decided to use them as a springboard to my tale about a writer who couldn't write, and the frustration of not being able to create means that his imaginings actually start to come real. All the ideas he comes up with in the book are mine, so you can judge for yourself how bad they were!

Some of the incidents in the book are actually events that happened to me, when John looks out of the window expecting to see a little girl, that's my night-terror, and the motorbike accident description was literally taken from my diary almost word-for word. I can still see that man today, and it still haunts me that I didn't have the words to express that incident.

The restaurant is also based on a true incident, though regretfully no-one to this day has given me a Mont Blanc pen, pity, because I'd love one! I do try to do this with my writing, bring in real-life events, but then again isn't that what you're supposed to do?

The ending came about because I didn't want a definitive answer. I don't think life is like that, I don't think we ever get the answers.


Now available at Amazon:
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Monday, 6 June 2011

Online dating

After a very bad relationship I found myself very alone, so I decided to try Internet dating.

I found it an amazingly difficult process at first, especially with my past relationship, but after a while I got used to it.

I got a few admirers, I rejected any that were still entangled with the ex's, and got rid of the obvious non-matches.

I talked to a few by email, and was amazed at the lack of interest. I'd get one-line emails with no sane way to reply to them without a one-word reply, or prattling on. One guy was very pushy at talking on the phone, something I hate, I would rather meet face to face. I did it, and found it to be ok, but didn't like that he refused to take my feelings into account.

There was one exception, he sent a long, detailed email, and I sent a long reply. After a week we met up, and we've been seeing each other ever since. I phoned Mr Pushy and told him I'd met someone, so in the end I went on one date, and found the man of my dreams. I realised now that if I was to do it again I'd take more care in who I selected.


Now available at Amazon:
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Friday, 3 June 2011

Money

I have a bad relationship with money, I need it, but I seem to want to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

I used to be worse, in fact I was very deeply in debt. So deep that I kept getting into deeper debt trying to scramble out...but I'm sure that's a familiar tale these days.

What astonishes me now that I look back is the absolute crap I bought with the money. I was in a lot of debt, and I couldn't even tell what it was all for. Some were for obvious things like the care loan getting merged in, but most was for things like 'collectables'. You know, Lord of the Rings figures, that kind of tat. Stuff I have no interest in now, but then it seemed I couldn't live without.

It took a lot of work to get out of that pit. And now I'm in deeper with a mortgage. So what am I doing? I'm putting as much money as I can into paying the bloody thing off as quickly as possible. It doesn’t have to be a lot, I have a limit on how little I can pay off at a time, but just like my loan, by not buying every little thing that takes my fancy, and saving even small amounts it's slowly going down.


Now available at Amazon:
*Hangman
*Writer

dragoncity publishing

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Hangman

Hangman is now available at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hangman-ebook/dp/B0053KHX8O/


When Sally attempted to kill herself by hanging, Elizabeth finds her life turned upside down. Not only had they known each other for their entire lives, but living close by and with few other friends, she suddenly has to cope with Sally's grieving family while trying to understand why this has happened.

Hangman is an unflinching look at what happens when suicide invades people's lives, and the possible causes. It examines the effect suicide has on both the family and close friends of the victim, and how it can pull their lives apart.

It also looks at bullying, and the desperate situation some of our most vulnerable members of society find themselves in when school is in session, and how simple acts of cruelty can taint a life.

Thought-provoking and at times distressing, Hangman is one person's journey of understanding into why these tragedies happen.


Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Afternoon Tea

I love afternoon tea, but it's very difficult to find a good place to have it. Which is why my boyfriend and I were delighted to go to the Cedar Court Grand hotel in York (http://www.cedarcourtgrand.co.uk/).

I have to say that the location was gorgeous, a huge red-brick building built in 1909 or so, and only recently refurbished to a high standard. And it was lovely, although the crushed velvet curtains and padded velvet alcoves in the bar aren't my taste.

The dining room where we ate was lovely though, we got a view of the City Walls, and it was tasteful and understated, the music wasn't quite what it should be, but as it was low, we easily ignored it.   The service was five-star, and the staff were very kind and helpful. They had a choice of black teas, which pleased my boyfriend as he likes to try new things. The food also came together, which is our preference as you can flit between the sweet and savoury, and don't fill yourself up before the cakes.

The sandwiches were lovely, the usual cucumber and egg, but also lovely open sandwiches of salmon and chicken. The scones were delightful, fruit and a walnut one each, with clotted cream and jam from The Fruit Kitchen, which is seriously good jam. The rhubarb and ginger was lovely, not too spicy, and the lemon curd was the best I've ever tasted.

There was also strawberry and raspberry, but as we didn't finish the scones, they came home with us with the left-overs. The cakes were delightful, a lovely orange and walnut one, which was Halloween orange, but very tasty.

A chocolate one which was rich and very good, a fruit tart that had just enough creamy mix to go with the perfectly tart and sweet fruit, and the pastry was just right. The last one was a cupcake, I have to be honest I find them too sweet, but it was certainly very nice. We couldn't eat it all, so we asked if we could take the rest home, and they graciously wrapped up our cakes and scones for a very lovely evening snack. Not that we needed much, we were very satisfied.

All in all, a very delightful experience, and we will be back.

 http://www.cedarcourtgrand.co.uk/Restaurant---Bar/Afternoon-Tea.aspx


Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Guilty pleasures #2

I'm very broad-minded when it comes to music, even the heaviest of metal I can find something to admire, it is art, and just as valid as classical, no matter what my father says!

Although when it comes to Steel Panther, I have to admit I'm slightly dubious to the 'art' part as they are truly a guilty pleasure. A spoof band that takes 80's hair rock and gives it a twist, usually to the sexual or even racist extremes.  I seriously do not listen to this band at work, just in case I start to listen to  'Asian Hooker' and start singing along... yet the music is catchy and amazingly well done. But the misogynistic outlook is difficult, to, um swallow, and as I said, the overt racism makes me wince. They have taken the joke to the absolute extreme, but they have done it so well. The 80's ooze out of every crack, literally, and with the high-def stereo my boyfriend you can hear every...slurp. This is not music for everyone, and I'm not sure it's for me.
I just can't get Fat Girl out of my head...
www.steelpantherrocks.com


Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing