Wool, Grapefruit and the World…

You do strange things when you’re pregnant.

I just spent three quarters of an hour trying to section a red grapefruit because I was fed up of having to dig the sections out and leaving so much fruit behind… I guess I thought that sectioning it would be easier; peel the fruit, cut out the sections and eat.

Hah!

Anyway, it occurred to me while I was sat eating my hard won grapefruit segments that the actual fruit is made up of all this little bubbles of juice that burst when you bite through them. They’re sweet with a sour after-taste and oddly compelling.

 

Writing is like that. Well actually, Reading is like that, not writing exactly.

I read “Wool” by Hugh Howey yesterday and it is the first SF book that I’ve read that has made me think in terms of the words I was reading. Each word was like a bubble of grapefruit juice, soft and elongated on my tongue and each time I read and understood what he was saying, the taste of grapefruit juice built up; sweet, sour and oddly compelling.

I had “Wait” by Take That playing while I was eating and the song seemed to fit with both what I had observed in the grapefruit and through reading “Wool”.

The lyrics that really stuck were:

 

Free your soul to me,

Words can set us free.

 

It’s true. Words can set us free; we just have to have the courage to say the right ones. They are the ones that hurt, the ones that highlight the problems in our world in such a way that we have to deal with them.

 

Reading “Wool” was a sweet / sour experience. On one hand the story was incredibly compelling and interesting. You wanted to see what happened to the characters next and it was difficult to think about mundane things (like washing up) while you read each chapter.

But about half way through the book something happened. I realise that whether he had intended it or not, Hugh Howey was commenting on what was happening in the world now. And that his vision of what the future could hold was a real possibility.

That’s scary.

Why?

Well think of it this way. It’s 2013. I’ve got two children (one 12, the other 8) and a third one on the way. If I think about what is happening in the world now, there is a very real possibility that their future, the one that I may never see, will be an ugly, regimented world where food and energy are rationed down to what you can afford to buy.
There will be a need to limit the population; whether that’s because of the food shortage, space shortage or whatever, so the joy of being a parent will be limited to those who either can win / buy the right or those who are considered so essential to the running of the world that they have to continue their line.

It will be a world of sacrifices with most people just trying to live in it the best they can with the hope that their children (if they have them) will have a better world in the future.

And that scares me.

It doesn’t matter what the energy companies say, fossil fuels (even shale gas) are finite. They will run out. The population of the world is expanding and instead of helping the Africans to improve their land and grow crops to feed themselves and maybe others, we are helping them to fight each other through the Arms Business.

It’s all so backwards.

 

I don’t care about money. Actually, that’s not quite true… I do care about it, but not in a materialistic way.

I’m forced through circumstance (lack of full time teaching jobs in my area, being unable to drive and a son who needs more than usual maternal attention due to being Aspergers) to remain a stay at home mum. So I write books, publish them myself (as best I can) and volunteer in the community as a Guider.

My partner, having been thrown out of one industry for being Dyslexic and undiagnosed Aspergers, is changing career to one that suits him as a person and looking for work. Unfortunately, it’s one of those careers that (like writing) is very difficult to get into without a lot of experience. Which he doesn’t have, despite being talented at his chosen career.

I care about money because we need it to live; you can’t buy food or energy without it and the prices are getting higher every week as the more materialistic of the human race try to pull as much of the world’s money into their personal accounts.

My writing makes a little bit of money. The rest (because of the aforementioned circumstances) we have to get through the benefits system. Which people higher up the money chain are trying to pull out from under us because they think that we don’t deserve it or that we are taking too much from the country and not giving back at all.

It’s a grapefruit juice bubble existence.

Sooner or later (the latter please!) it is going to be bitten into and who knows what comes next?

 

I’m not sure that I am making any sense at the moment – blame it on Sprog, he/she seems to enjoy making me write oddly – so I will leave you with this:

 

Read “Wool” by Hugh Howey.

Enjoy the words as they burst on your mind, revel in the wonderful story, then think about what he is telling us about our world.

 

And when the next chance comes for you to vote in an election of some sort, consider what the party you are going to vote for would do with the country you live in.

Would they make it better for everyone or just for themselves?

Grey and Grumpy day today – Help!

It’s Wednesday. Normally I’d be introducing you to a new writer or one that I really enjoy reading and there are several books that I’ve read recently that are worthy of the attention.

“Enchanted Glass” by Diane Wynn Jones for example. Her last published book , it is everything you expect from her and more. Or maybe Kristin Cashore’s “Graceling” or “Fire”; beautifully written and superbly built fantasy worlds that draw you away from the hum drum of this reality.

There are so many books on my “To Be Read” list. I’m in the middle of M Cid d’Angelo’s “Dark Running” and enjoying it immensely. I’m eagerly anticipating Terry Pratchett’s “Dodger”…

…but to be honest, today I can’t be bothered.

It’s halfway through the second week of September. The kids are back at school and the autumn weather is starting to appear. I’ve been writing and enjoying it, even though I’ve had a few bouts of vertigo and headaches.

Maybe it’s the rain? We’ve had some lovely weather over the last few weeks and now we’re starting to get the chilly winds and wet weather of a welsh autumn. The colours don’t seem as bright under the grey cloudy skies and I can feel myself drifting on that downward spiral.

I’m tired from having to get up earlier than I’m used to, now that NOS is going to high school and needs to be checked before he heads out to the bus. Maybe this is the beginning of the SAD season? It’s possible; I do have more problems with my depression in the winter than I do in the spring and summer. It’s the whole reason my desk is next to a window, so I can get natural light.

It could be my finances. I’m juggling the family’s needs against the little that we get coming in at the moment and finding that there is very little leeway. That’s enough to depress anyone, I suppose…

I want to write and help to support the family, but I’m so scared of mucking it up that I can’t concentrate on the writing enough to make it good!

*sighs*

It feels very much like I’m on a treadmill, running to try and stay in one place instead of dropping backward or moving forward. I know I should be pushing myself to go forward, but it feels like I am on a bungee cord, pulling against me.

So there is only one thing for me to do. Start pushing myself and pull hard enough on the bungee cord to make it snap and free me.
How am I going to do that? Well for a start, I am going to publish a few more things:

“The Heir of The Dragon” is currently in Beta Reading Stage. I’ve drafted and redrafted it enough to be happy with it, but I need to make sure it’s perfect before I put it out there. So hopefully that will be out in the next three months.

I have a collection of Horror Stories that I hope to get out by Hallowe’en, I just need to format and get a cover done for them. That will be under A.E. Churchyard. Watch this Space

I have moved into the last stages of editing for “The Angel’s Crown”, so that should be available in the New Year.

I’ve started writing the next story in the “Tales of Cassius” series. I’ve got my characters all built up, so that will be out there in January as well, or sooner if I can manage it.

I would like some help please though…

I currently have two books out on the kindle shelves:

The Necklace of Harmony

My first story collection… a gentle introduction to my mind.

One of the fun things about being a writer is responding to a challenge. This book is full of the results of such challenges…

From the wedding celebrations of Greek Deities, to mermaids, ghosts and superheroes, a whole gamut of creatures await your eager eyes.

Do you remember this? Well it is currently languishing at #393,998 on the bestsellers listing. I’d like to get it up the ranks a little and for that I will need help. How? Well here’s how:

  •  Have you bought and read it? No? Well please do so! I shall be doing a promotion to aid sales soon, but until then, please buy and read!!!

 

  • Did you answer yes to the above question? Have you written a review of the book on Amazon? No? Why not? It only takes a couple of lines to say if you enjoyed it or not, and if you’d recommend it or not. I’m not asking for an essay (unless you like writing them) just a tip of the hat to tell me if I’m getting it right.

 

  • Have you got friends with kindles? Have you loaned them your copy? You can do that you know… and once they’ve read it, asked them to tell me what they thought of it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Necklace-Harmony-Collection-ebook/dp/B0079HL2FE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1343998081&sr=8-2

The other book I published was this:

Tales of Cassius: Statues of Justice

Cassius Longinus has a long memory. He can remember over three thousand years and in all those memories, he cannot recall an atrocity like this.

New Texas was supposed to be a peaceful place where Reiskinn and Human could live side by side. That peace is shattered by the greed of a few and Cassius must put things right.

Brought back to society by a slave raid on a nearby village, Cassius is sent on a quest to retrieve the tribe’s women and children by the Tribal Shaman.

What he discovers when he finds them is beyond anything he has yet encountered…

Poor Cassius hasn’t even made it onto the seller list… he has however garnered a 4 star review:

“Justice must be served even if you’re three-thousand years old. Having witnessed humanity’s atrocities for that long time the hero, Cassius, puts an end to horrible wrongs inflicted by Earth colonists on the new planet’s natives. Can he bring overcome his thirst for vengeance and build a lasting peace? Can he validate the faith of the one who so touched his heart three-thousand years ago? Be prepared to want to read more.”
– Paul De Lancey, Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Cassius-Statues-Justice-ebook/dp/B008BKGPRS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344120397&sr=8-1

What can you do to help Cassius gain a foot hold? Exactly the same as the list for Necklace of Harmony:

  • Have you bought and read it? No? Well please do so!
  • Did you answer yes to the above question? Have you written a review of the book on Amazon? No? Why not? It only takes a couple of lines to say if you enjoyed it or not, and if you’d recommend it or not. I’m not asking for an essay (unless you like writing them) just a tip of the hat to tell me if I’m getting it right.
  • Have you got friends with kindles? Have you loaned them your copy? You can do that you know… and once they’ve read it, asked them to tell me what they thought of it.

I shall be sorting things out from my end, but please, if you enjoy my work or even if you only like my blog, then can you please go to the Amazon pages for both books and like them? Like the helpful reviews as well, and agree with the tags… It’s only a small thing, but if enough people do it, then I might actually be able to start pulling on the bungee cord, instead of fighting against the pull back.

The thing about the reviews is that we authors like getting them. I suppose that for us small independent authors, it’s a way of keeping score, of knowing how well you are doing and if it’s worth going to the trouble of publishing a new book. We write all the time – we can’t stop, but publishing, now that’s a different matter. As I said in my last post, there are hundred of words on my PC that will never see the light of day as a published book; I don’t feel they’re good enough, so they don’t make it out into the world.

Publishing something yourself, if you’re determined to make a good job of it, requires about ten times the effort of writing the story in the first place… so we keep score. We check our ratings and reviews and make daily decisions about our future as writers on them. It can get very depressing if you don’t have many readers…

*sighs*

The sun has come back out and I’m feeling slightly better than I did when I started this post. I’m going to go getAngel’s Crown” finished and ready for formatting…

Poetry, Pam Ayres, 50 Shades and Banana The Poet

I don’t talk about Poetry enough.

It’s a wonderful form of writing and is the one that most people experiment with as teenagers. I’m certain that everyone reading this has tried to create a rhyme or two… and I’m pretty certain that most of those people have come across their poetry years later, read it, cringed and thrown it out.

I’ve written enough poetry to know I’m not serious about writing it – I’m a Noet (NOt-a serious-poET) and proud of it. I use Noetry to write my children’s books and that is about it. I have got a few more than that and one day I might let them see the light of day… however, not yet – I don’t think the world is ready for that…

Anyway. I know enough about poetry to know when I like a Poet. I like Pam Ayres and have done ever since my Dad let me read a couple of her books.  Here’s one of my favourites of hers from when I was little:

Oh, I Wish I’d Looked After Me Teeth

by Pam Ayres

Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth,
And spotted the dangers beneath
All the toffees I chewed,
And the sweet sticky food.
Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth.

I wish I’d been that much more willin’
When I had more tooth there than fillin’
To give up gobstoppers,
From respect to me choppers,
And to buy something else with me shillin’.

When I think of the lollies I licked
And the liquorice allsorts I picked,
Sherbet dabs, big and little,
All that hard peanut brittle,
My conscience gets horribly pricked.

My mother, she told me no end,
‘If you got a tooth, you got a friend.’
I was young then, and careless,
My toothbrush was hairless,
I never had much time to spend.

Oh I showed them the toothpaste all right,
I flashed it about late at night,
But up-and-down brushin’
And pokin’ and fussin’
Didn’t seem worth the time – I could bite!

If I’d known I was paving the way
To cavities, caps and decay,
The murder of fillin’s,
Injections and drillin’s,
I’d have thrown all me sherbet away.

So I lie in the old dentist’s chair,
And I gaze up his nose in despair,
And his drill it do whine
In these molars of mine.
‘Two amalgam,’ he’ll say, ‘for in there.’

How I laughed at my mother’s false teeth,
As they foamed in the waters beneath.
But now comes the reckonin’
It’s me they are beckonin’
Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth.

Taken from the The Works: The Classic Collection 2008. 

And borrowed from http://www.pamayres.com

I also like Shakespeare, T.S. Elliot, A.A. Milne and Lord Byron…

She Walks in Beauty

by Lord Byron

SHE walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies
And all that ‘s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

I also know a fair few Poets from the writing websites I have been on.  Some of them are sticklers for form and metre, others are more relaxed.

My absolute favourite thus far, is Michele Brenton, a.k.a. Banana the Poet. She has three blogs. One is a Funny Poetry Blog, the second is a Serious Poetry Blog,  and the third is her ‘normal’ blog – where she talks about anything and everything.

Now, to step aside from my current line of thought for a moment (stay with me, it is relevant) I suppose that you might have heard of  “50 Shades of Grey” and the other two books in the trilogy.

These books have spawned a whole slew of copycats, tail riders, spoofs and parodies, all hoping to get just a little of this success that E. L. James has garnered. She worked very hard to get it, and despite my reservations about the books and the origin of them, I have to say, she has done what the majority of writers want to do – sell enough books to make a decent amount of money from them. So well done to her.

Michele also created a parody of  50SoG. However, her parody was so incredibly original and well written that it has knocked Roger McGough’s latest book off the top spot in the Poetry Top 100 Paid Bestsellers list!

I read the three poems in the book recently and I spent the entire time laughing. I’m warning you, do not read this book with anything in your mouth, liquid or otherwise, because more than likely it will end up splattered all over the screen of whatever you are using to read the e-book!

Combining Roger McGough’s storytelling ability, Pam Ayres’ naughtiness and Victoria Wood’s pith, Fifty Shades of Blue is the best of her work yet!

But don’t just take my word for it, here’s a sampler of the reviews she’s garnered thus far:

“THIS needs to be at the top of all the best-seller lists! (And not just the poetry ones)

I’ll admit it now that I’m not the world’s biggest poetry lover. But, thanks to Michele’s fantastic sense of humour and fabulous way with words, I’m finding myself devouring it in ever greater portions.

Fifty Shades of Blue is probably the greatest parody that the Fifty Shades series is going to see. Brilliantly funny, you’ll be crying with laughter before you’ve even turned the first page. Michele’s acute awareness of current pop culture has spawned a piece which is going to live on a lot longer than any of us can imagine. You NEED to read this whether you loathe the Fifty Shades series or think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.” – Rae Gee, Amazon.co.uk

* * *

“I’ve sampled several parodies of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, and nearly all come off as pastiches riding the inexplicably successful coat-tails of this bestseller.

And then there’s “Fifty Shades of Blue” – a true feat of literary and poetic parody. Written by the accomplished Michele Brenton, whose original work is reminiscent of Hillaire Belloc, she manages, in this equivalent of a Kindle single, to unleash a flurry of arrows in E.L. James’ direction that would make Katniss of “The Hunger Games” slack-jawed with envy. The humor is raw, and the aim is true.

Whether you love “Fifty Shades” or not, this parody will have you laughing out loud… and serves as a fabulous and affordable introduction to Brenton’s other, highly-recommended, poetry books.”– Semaphore, Amazon.com

* * *

“First, let me admit that I really don’t care much for poetry. In fact, it’s a little embarrassing whenever someone asks me what I think of their poem – because the answer is always the same, “I don’t really understand poetry” (which seems preferable to outright lying! HaHa)

That said, Michele’s new book, “Fifty Shades of Blue”, is the first book of poetry I can honestly say I love! It’s hysterically funny – without trying to be! Unlike a lot of poetry, you won’t need a dictionary to appreciate this book. Her poetry has a grounded, earthy feel.. real life in prose. Real poetry for real people!” – SM “sm-1” Amazon.com

So go on, treat yourself to a spot of poetry that will exercise the imagination and your diaphragm without breaking the bank!