Thursday, 31 May 2012

100RPM - One Hundred Short Stories Inspired By Music

100RPM has finally arrived!

‎'100 RPM' is a collection of 100 flash fiction stories complied by the lovely Caroline Smailes. All stories are inspired by songs on YouTube, each story being 100 words or fewer and there's an introduction by Nik Kershaw.

All money earned from sales will go to the charity One in Four (a registered charity which provides support and resources to people who have experienced sexual abuse and sexual

Plus I have a story in the collection too!

AND another bonus - it's a
bargain on Amazon!
100RPM is available at the moment as an Amazon Kindle ebook but you can still download it even if you don't own a Kindle. You can either download it onto your computer or via the Kindle app for your iPhone, iPad or Android.
Congratulations to all of the contributors : Rowan Coleman, Angi Holden, Matthew Borgard, Stephen Shieber, Matt Hill, Nik Perring, Nasim Marie Jafry, Sylvia Petter, Cally Taylor, Angela Readman, Ray Robinson, Katie Gunn, Angela Powers, Nick Cernis, Sophie Mackintosh, P.W. Lewis, Laura Crosby, Dan Purdue, Stephanie Ressort, Ryan Millar, Máire Carr, Dave Cornmell, Ruth Aird, Nicola De Gouveia, D. J. Kirkby, Elizabeth Player, Dan Powell, Michelle Flatley, Isabel Serval, Sara Crowley, Lynsey May, Simon Kewin, Fat Roland, Cathy White, Karl McIntyre, David Kendrick, Vikki Ross, Alison Woodhouse, Scott Pack, Sal Page, Helen Ladderbird, Hannah Harman, Catherine Walter, Suzy Floyd, Sonya Oldwin, Sam Wyld, Rachel N Joy, Emma J. Lannie, Annie Evett, Jennifer M Schmidt, Anna CardusAnsted, Red Morgan, D.E. Oprava, Donna Henderson, Xenia Smith, Louise Pearson, Cassie Morrison, Cassandra Parkin, Sam Thewlis, Polly Burns, Pete Domican, Hannah Simpson, Crystal Schwanke, Jennifer Domingo, Polly Johnson, L J Hart-Collins, Lorna Louise Hutchinson, Rebecca Emin, Caroline Luxford-Noyes, Edward Price, Carole McDonnell, Sarah Dunnakey, Teresa Nusbaum, Simon Kearns, Mike Bursell, Lisa Richardson, Cath Bore, Alexandra Brown, Tracy Kuhn, Sylvia Kelso, Kim Smith, J Bateman-Irish, Sarah Hutchison, PC Wheeler, Jamieson Wolf, Theresa Milstein, Jacqueline Christodoulou, Emily Wheeler and Caroline Smailes

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Book Review: The Testimony by James Smythe

The Testimony
By James Smythe
Published by Blue Door, Harpercollins

The Testimony by James Smythe is a gripping ensemble novel of a world heading towards an apocalypse.

The Testimony deals with the fallout of a broadcast, heard by most of the world, saying 'My Children. Do Not Be Afraid.' Panic spreads across the globe, increasing tension within countries, pushing paranoia to new levels. There are riots and bombings as the civilized world slips into chaos. Smythe builds on this big concept idea, showing us a world on the brink of collapse. He takes a classic thriller plot and executes the idea in an interesting and original way.

The reader follows the lives of 26 people and how they are affected by the broadcast. The characters are a diverse bunch of people stretching from a sales executive in London to a doctor in Bankipore. At times I felt like there were too many characters and that their motivations and emotions were sometimes muted but I think this adds to the documentary 'talking heads' structure of the novel. Each character must decide if it is God speaking, an experiment gone wrong or aliens. Some of the characters hear nothing. Each character struggles to adjust and decide if they should follow blindly or demand proof.

The Testimony reminded me of Lost and 24 - big cast of characters all pushed into a big life changing event. I could see The Testimony making a great TV series and maybe fill the big gap left by Lost. Just like Lost, there are questions and quite a few of them are left unanswered.

Smythe builds the layers of action and intrigue and makes the reader question the role of faith, terrorism, politics and science in their decisions. He builds layers in each segment, adding to the dilemmas and making it more compelling with each turn of the page.

I think The Testimony would make a great interactive app/ebook. The reader could either read it as a book or the reader could click on the character's name and read their timeline.

Sometimes it is hard to pull off a book with action with intelligent bits and usually one of them has to be compromised but The Testimony is full of action and thought-proving.

The Testimony is currently out as a Hardback and ebook. You can purchase or order the book from your favourite book retailer.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Book Review: Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke

My review of Peter Benson's latest novel, Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke is now up at The View From Here Magazine.

You can read the review by clicking through > Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke

Monday, 14 May 2012

Book Review: Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma

Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma
By Kerry Hudson
Published by Chatto and Windus
Published in July 2012

Before I start my review, I should say that I personally know Kerry. We met on a 'Life Writing' module at university. There are a few paragraphs from the novel - food being hid  under the sofa - that I remember from our workshop days. Kerry is inspiring. Many times she has told me to keep going with my own writing. 

I am still going to give my honest opinion. Preview of the next few paragraphs: AWESOME!

Last year there was a national newspaper asking where have all of the working class novels gone. Well here's your answer - Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson.

We meet Janie as soon as she is born. In the hospital, her family stand around her, eyeing her suspiciously. She can smell booze and their breakfast on their breath. The beginning reminded me of Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum as we get to see her character from birth and catapulted
into finding her way in a confusing world.

Tony Hogan tells the gripping coming of age story of Janie as she is catapulted along with her dysfunctional family through concrete council estates, through bed and breakfasts and bounces off another housing estate. Through Kerry's vivid descriptions, we are there with Janie every step of her journey (motion sickness included) as Janie and her mother claw their way out of Aberdeen, touch down in a former mining town, bus their way around London, end up in Scotland and finally they reach Great Yarmouth, alongside its slot machines and seafront cafes.

"So we trundled through the rainy streets; Ma in her nightie, winter coat and grubby plimsolls and me in a Moses basket propped on my pram." 

Kerry's rich and clever language leads us through the eighties and nineties childhood of filthy-mouth Janie as she follows her Ma every Monday to the dole queue and to the supermarket for her chip dinners (and lots of them).  I was cheer-leading Janie right from the beginning as she fights for freedom and becomes determined to break way from the past. She must fight to survive and battle her way through numerous 'uncles', booze, domestic abuse, drugs and bullies. A better, brighter future always seems to be just out of reach. But this book isn't a one way ticket to anti-depressants. Humour runs all the way through Tony Hogan.

I sprinted through the book over two days, only stopping to go on a Teaching Creative Writing course and to sleep. Tony Hogan is an addictive book. Promising to read 'just one more page' isn't enough.

Tony Hogan is a lively debut and I am really keen on reading more about Janie Ryan's adventures. Sorry Buddha in the Attic but you've been knocked off the top spot for best book in 2012.

You can pre-order Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma from your favourite bookstore.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012


My copies (one for me, one for my parents) of Jawbreakers have arrived!


I have already mentioned it but I'm going to mention it again. I have a flash fiction piece called Blackhole within Jawbreakers. Here is the first paragraph, which I hope will tempt you to buy the anthology.

"The view from my house isn't postcard perfect. There are shadows, always. I used to manage my land-locked hotel, and keep chickens as a hobby. Now, my house sits on the edge of a crumbling cliff and stares out to a micro blackhole. i am out of sync."

And look! It has a real life ISBN too - 9781849142854

You can order directly from The National Flash Fiction website.

Thank you to Calum Kerr and Valerie O'Riordan for creating such a beautiful anthology.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Teaching Creative Writing, Reading and Pre-Order

Sorry Blog, I haven't forgotten about you. I have been busy.

Last week, I attended a Teaching Creative Writing course at my old university. I know that setting a workshop in a pub, during a football match isn't the greatest of ideas. I also know about warm-up activities and lesson plans.

So why did I take the course? One day I hope to be a teacher (hopefully teaching creative writing). I didn't fancy training to be a teacher after university because I wanted to go out there and experience having a job outside the academic world. (I have always found teachers who have had previous careers to be the most interesting and inspiring).

We also did some writing activities that we could possibly teach to a group. I now have ideas for a few short stories. 
Kings Cross
Overall, I found the course inspiring and motivational. I now know that I really do want to teach creative writing.

I got to see the new Kings Cross concourse as I travelled to and from university every day. It's very swish! There is only one plus side when it comes to long train journeys - reading - I read two great books. I will be reviewing Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma soon and Two Cows And A Vanful of Smoke soon over at The View from Here Magazine.

I am also starting to think 'properly' about writing my next novel. I have an idea, several characters and locations. I just need to start writing them down instead of hoping my head will store them for me.

I also have a non-fiction idea fighting for attention too.

London Book Fair
And the week before, I went to London Book Fair for my day job. I can away a canvas book or two plus blisters. There are lots of fabulous books coming out over the next year.

Jawbreakers is now available to pre-order. The anthology will be released in time for National Flash Fiction Day. I'm looking forward to seeing my story in print and to reading the rest of the anthology.