Wednesday, September 30, 2009

cheese that resonates

I recieved an email today, one of those emails I hate. You know the ones: sent by a well meaning person, filled with cute cuddly cats doing kwazy things or heart warming phrases about positive thinking, loving one another, etc, etc. They usually end with a plea to forward the email on, to spread the uplifting vibes, and to feel good about yourself for doing so.

These emails make me wince and/or gag. They are supposed to be uplifting but, to me, they reek like Saint Albray if not sealed in a plastic container. They clog up your inbox with happy, smiley dribble, tinged with a sense of falsity. Punching the delete button is my usual response.

Not today. This one made me pause. This one didn't make me wince or gag. This one didn't smell.

This one makes me think about all those mornings, in recent times, when the alarm has gone off and I've ignored it, turning back over for more sleep, more dreaming. Dreaming instead of getting up and putting in an hour's work chasing those dreams.

This one I'll remember.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

dexter deliciously disturbing

Dark humour, multi-faceted characters, edge of the seat storylines, murder, and blood, blood, blood.

Dexter (Season 1) is a delight for fans of crime shows that don't pull punches, that don't dumb down plot lines, that offer up something new and original. It's not for the faint-hearted, it's not for those who yearn for completeness, it's not politically correct - but it's dark and disturbing, brash and bold, cool and complicated, tongue in cheek - and most of it's down to our main man, Dexter.

Michael C. Hall brings forth a complicated and original character - a killer of serial killers - a murderer with a code, who battles with living a 'normal' life - a life of relationships, co-worker conflict, issues with family, and buckets and buckets of blood.

Nothing sums up the show better than the final scenes - betrayal, murder, tears, confetti, streamers and large placards: "We love you Dexter!"

Highly recommended. Season 2 box set on order.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

just finished reading . . .

A well written mystery set in Scotland surrounding the reunion of old RAF buddies and the emergence of a sinister secret. A good enough read, albeit one that doesn't live up to its potential, considering the subject matter. Slightly better than run-of-the-mill.

Monday, September 14, 2009

reading crime

Last Saturday, I travelled to Reading for the 2nd Reading Festival of Crime Writing held at the Town Hall. It was a very entertaining day (the actual festival runs from Friday to Sunday) and I attended three funfilled events:
  • Murder in Mind - panel event about the world of psychological crime fiction with Stephen Booth, Jane Hill and a number of others, including a fave of mind, R.J.Ellory. As always, he was a very interesting panel member with great insight and analysis of the topic, and talk of upcoming books and screenplays was food for his eager readers. I missed a chance to chat with Roger at Harrogate, so I made sure I caught him this time, albeit briefly on his way to his book signing and my way to:

  • John Harvey - solo event where John read from short stories, poems and his latest novel, and fielded questions from the audience in an entertaining and informative manner. Very enjoyable.

  • Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre - these two fantastic (and hilarious) authors rounded off the day with a session that ran for over an hour and included stand up, readings from their latest books (and in Mark's case, a sneak peek at his next book) and Q&A, including an unusual question first up about why Mark's beard keeps disappearing("It's called shaving!").

The Reading festival is a different beast to the Harrogate behemoth, but just as entertaining. It's smaller in scale with about a quarter of the amount of attendees, but this creates an intimate atmosphere, allowing for more questions and, in some cases such as the John Harvey event, a more free-flowing structure. The only downside I'd comment on is the lack of time between events, meaning book signings were not an option if you had back to backs to attend.

It's not completely different to Harrogate though, with the key similarities being the attendance of BTZ regulars (Alison, Sarah, Carol, Jez) and a quiet beer afterwards with our favourite authors.

Another festival for the diary!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

just finished reading . . . quickly

This is Ian Rankin's effort for the Quick Reads line of books - novellas aimed at sparking people's desire to read books again.

This is an entertaining yarn in true Rankin style (sans Rebus) and is well suited to the shorter format (although, the ending seems a little incomplete). I expected something a little different from Rankin though, but maybe, if he publishes another shorty, he might venture out into other genres / topics, just to challenge himself a bit.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

just finished reading . . .

You know you've enjoyed a book when you finish that last page, slap the front cover with an open palm and hold it aloft. An inspirational story about faith and belief, finding out who you are, and striving for goals that seem out of your reach. A must read and perfect for any book club, as I discovered a year ago when I bought the book in Baltimore.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

the horror

I previously announced I was "Back". Back to working on my novel after three weeks of picking up the pieces of my shattered confidence. Back in the swing of things.

That's not entirely true, not yet anyway. The last two days I have looked at my desk or thought about writing and felt a twinge of deep rooted horror. And stepped away.

The source: a disastrous two hours of writing that occurred about two weeks ago, during my "Down" period. For two hours, I worked on my synopsis, encouraged by a second chance received from the agent who selected me in the Dragons' Pen at Harrogate Festival. She had critiqued my first attempt as part of the event, concluding that my work wasn't up to scratch, but kindly allowed me to submit a second effort.

Two hours, I sat there. Two hours working on my synopsis. Two hours and going no where.

My problem: I was stuck on the opening sentence. Everything I tried didn't work for various reasons: too vague; too wordy; inaccurate; or just plain rubbish. There was no happy ending either. After the two hours of pulling my hair out writing sentences and deleting them just as quickly, I gave up. And haven't been back since.

The horror of that late afternoon two weeks ago has stuck with me, making it difficult to return to my study and the blank page.

It's time to take my own advice, which is as follows:

In these circumstances, you just have to accept that you're in a bad place with your writing. Accept it and get on with it. The only way out is to write your way out. Keep tapping away, keep deleting the rubbish, and keep trying to get it right. There's no other way.

So tonight, without preamble or forethought, I am booting up the old Dell and starting my journey Back on that rollercoaster ride to publication.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

not far canard

Just back from five glorious days in the French countryside based in a little town where my friends Tam and Franck live, near Saint Gery. They were the perfect hosts, serving up unbelievable regional meals on the Aussie barbeque, taking us on enjoyable activities such as kayaking on The Lot, and creating a truly relaxing experience - sun, sleep, eating and drinking. They made it super easy to enjoy the holiday - thanks guys!

As well as the memories, I brought back three packages of the lush Saint Albray cheese, a jar of Maistres Occitans foie gras de canard, and a big tin of duck. A 1.3kg tin of duck.