Thursday, 29 September 2011

Reviews: Mrs Darcy Vs The Aliens / Made In Britain

Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens - Jonathan Pinnock

'The truth is out there, though it is not yet universally acknowledged’

I recently won a signed copy of Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens, published by Salt’s science fiction and fantasy imprint, Proxima Books.

I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and it was fun for the first couple of chapters. But honestly, it was a cut and shut job. A sprinkle of zombie sentences within the original story. But Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens by Jonathan Pinnock is different. Firstly, Mrs D is a sequel to the events in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen but with aliens. Mrs Darcy and her merry band of companions’ swashbuckle their way through alien shape shifters to help save the planet but more importantly save her sister. Think Mulder and Scully with Elizabeth Darcy as Scully and Mr Wickham as Mulder. There are regency bonnets galore alongside the ghosts, ghouls, tentacles and a pigeon named Colin. Mrs D is a witty and intelligent read. There are lots of in-jokes for the Austen fans – a mad man named Mr Firth, the housekeeper Mrs Dench, etc. Even Jane Austen makes an appearance and there’s even talk of the wet shirt scene too (I think a few mums at the back might have collapsed, please prop them up at the bar).

You can buy Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens from Amazon and other good, yet undead bookshops. You can find out more about Jonathan Pinnock on his website.

Made in Britain - Gavin James Bowers

I recently downloaded the Kindle version at a bargain price of £1.99. Made in Britain is published by Quartet Books.

Made in Britain is gritty, close to the bone, showing the real state of affairs in England and the life choices of young people. The novel centres around three northern teenagers: Russell who lives with his depressed mother, Hayley who lives with her father and whose mother dies of cancer, and Charlie, who lives with both of his parents. His father bullies Charlie’s mother. All three characters are coming to the end of compulsory education and need to face up to the opportunities (or lack of) available to them. These families are not the Haribo kind. Dysfunctional, grim and the lack of hope. Bowers succeeds in showing us the realities of the working classes (or as one character refers to ‘underclass’) in this tough economical world.

You can buy Made in Britain from Amazon and other good bookshops.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

I Really Should be Writing but...Call Centres

Cancelling my dongle internet has turned into a complicated operation. It has taken me over five days to actually get an answer from their call centre. I have tried in the evenings, in the mornings and lunchtimes. All Precious writing time.

I finally got through and this is want happened:

ME: I would like to cancel my mobile broadband, please.
Phone drone: Would you like an iPad for 16 pounds each month plus 400 pounds for the ipad?
ME: No thank you. I would like to cancel my mobile broadband.
Phone drone: We have looked at your usage and we can offer you a discount – how about 8 pounds each month?
ME: No thank you. I would like to cancel my mobile broadband.
Phone drone: why?
ME: I now have normal broadband.
Phone drone: What if you want to go outside with your laptop?
ME: I have my phone.
Phone drone: What if it breaks. You will have no internet. You will be stuck with no internet.
ME: That’s fine. I would like to cancel my mobile broadband.
Phone drone: But you. Will. Not. Have. Any. Internet.
ME: I can cope.
Phone drone: We can transfer your account to someone else and you can pay for the internet for them.
ME: No thank you.
Phone drone: Do you want a new dongle?
ME: No thank you. I would like to cancel my mobile broadband.
Phone drone: Do you want pay and go mobile broadband.
ME: I NEED to cancel my broadband and my account.
Phone drone: So, you want a full cancellation?
Phone drone: Oh. *puts me on hold, again* Okay, the contract finishes on 23rd October and we’ll send you the final bill. *hangs up*

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Hilary Mantel and Her Writing

Back in 2010 I saw Hilary Mantel read an extract from her Booker-winning book, Wolf Hall at the London Book Fair. I had already read a great interview in Mslexia (writing magazine) and really wanted to give Wolf Hall a try. And the usual thing happened - what happens in London Book Fair, stays at London Book Fair and I forgot about my promise to myself to try some Tudor historical fiction. 

A few weeks ago my Dad got me a copy of Wolf Hall from a charity shop. It's now on my to-be-read pile on my desk and will be read after Mrs Darcy Vs The Aliens.

On Saturday, The Culture Show (BBC) did a special on Hilary Mantel. She is a very intriguing writer and She did a good job to explain endometriosis as I know that it is a very serious condition that not many people know about. I know people who have this condition and when they explain it, people scratch their heads and just blame it on 'women troubles.'  

I loved her approaches to writing:
  • Trust your readers.
  • Concentrate on sharpening your memory.
  • Cut each page you write by one third. 
  • Work out what you want to say and write it in the most direct and vigorous way you can.
  • "Do I take my own advice - not a bit."
  • Mantel never wants her reader to feel settle - she doesn't want the reader to guess what the next sentence contains.
  • Layers beneath every interaction. 
  • On rejection - series of doors slamming
  • "Everyday I write I feel like a beginner" - there are no guarantees. 
  • Have to endure barren days. It can be slow as if it is the end of the world. 
  • A chapter can exist and you need to grab it quickly. 
 If you live in the UK then you can catch the programme on iPlayer for the next couple of days, over at the BBC website. 

Here's a taster from YouTube. 

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Time To Get Back To The Writing

Having a sprained rib cage hasn't been fun. I'm now an expert in daytime property programmes, could put an estimate on your antiques and can tell you about the right ways of keeping chickens. You never know there could be short story in all of this!

To be honest, I haven't written anything new for a while. My notebook is starting to fill up with ideas. I really want to create an ebook full of previously published short stories (by me, obviously) so they can be all in one place. I want the ebook to free because all of the stories have been published before and I don't want to rip off people! I have read a lot of articles on the Internet about creating ebooks so it will be fun putting the knowledge into practice! I have already started editing the stories and polishing them to within an inch of their lives. It's funny when they were originally published I considered them 'finished.' Now I am finding phrases that I don't like or titles that need changing. Is a piece of writing ever finished?

I have another idea for a series of link short stories, which could end up as a short story collection. Hold on, don't we call linked short stories 'novels' nowadays! This one is definitely a short story collection.

I have several short stories out on submission at the moment. Fingers crossed. There is also a competition I have quite tempted to enter too!

So, time to get back to the writing.

(Image found on a google search for typewriters).