Monday, 30 November 2009

Another Rejection

My story "Acting's a Hell of a Job" just got another rejection, this time from "Short-Story.Me!"

It's not doing too well this one, I think that's it's fifth rejection.

Still I've decided to try it again - off to Writing Shift.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Underworld: Evolution

Okay, okay - you're going to tell me I'm behind the times again. And once again you'd be right if you did so. I do occasionally let films get passed me, so that I end up watching them months or, as in this case, years after they came out. Hey get over it, I did.

Anyway - the film. Would you believe I actually read the novelisation of this film when the film had yet to be released. And before you wonder why I would read a novelisation, well it was a review book I'd been sent and I got paid for the review. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. I do remember it wasn't a bad read. Quick and fun but throwaway.

Anyway I digress the movie. As I expected pretty much. High on action, really good if a little far fetched effects and a paper thin plot. Well, what else do you want from a film like this?

And to the absolute highlight of the movie. Kate Beckinsale in a vinyl catsuit. Oh yes, remember I am male. I do notice these things. And even if she is a little short for my usual taste (she's 5' 7" tall, I looked her up) it's still a plesant site seeing her in that catsuit.

I guess a number of people might think I am being a little picky about her "only" being 5' 7" but why shouldn't I? I'm more than a foot taller than she is and I like tall women. My wife is 6' 3" tall so I know they exist.

Anyway, the film's a laugh. Nothing serious just good fun. The gore's pretty silly, the action almost superheroically ridiculous. Just what I wanted on a Sunday evening.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Time to wake up Britain

Over the last few days I've been following this Iraq Enquiry. It's worrying in one sense.

Over the last few decades you can scarcely get through a week (if you watch the news) without hearing an article mentioning the UK/US "Special Relationship". Well it seems it might be unravelling.

I guess it wouldn't be that surprising in a way. Relations between our two countries have not always been so amicable. But for the UK, very much the junior party in this relationship, it could be difficult if things soured now.

That is unless we get real and realise that we are not alone on this side of the Atlantic. Twenty two miles across a thin strip of sea lies France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Malta (ok more sea involved here), Cyprus (more sea again), Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and going the other way Ireland.

It could soon grow - Croatia, Turkey and Macedonia as candidates for joining, Albania, Iceland and Montenegro having applied and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia all considered potential future candidates.

But it goes further. Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein are all closely allied with the EU as members of the European Free Trade Association. A number of countries in the Caucasus, which although geographically in western Asia are considered culturally European countries and so could in the medium term future apply to join the EU.

If we realise that our future lies not as trying to restore former glories, the greatness of Britain as a standalone superpower are longer ago than anyone still living can remember, but as part of a close alliance of independent nations - a continent wide unity.

Please let us come to our senses.

One story less than two days old - rejected twice

The story I mentioned earlier (it's called "Chicken " BTW). Having received the rejection from Ruthless Peoples Magazine I decided to send it in to Short-Story.Me!

They only kept it for four hours, smashing the previous record, earlier in the day of seven.

I am kind of hoping though that it's not a bad story. I'm off to try to find it another potential home.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Second part of article live

A little while back I posted news of the first half of an article I'd written on the Marquis de Sade - origin of the word sadism. It appeared on the adult website Lucrezia.

Since then they've published the second part of the piece - on Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch, the man behind the word Masochism.

Okay they posted it nearly two weeks ago I just forgot to update this site. Anyway, apologies for being late, here's the link in case you want to read it. As before I want to remind you that the site has a lot of sexual content if you choose to go exploring. If you do I hope you enjoy it, they've certainly got a fair amount of content.

To do that you'll just need to remove all after the dot com in the address. The link I'm posting is stright to my article as a pdf. So no links back.

http://www.lucreziamagazine.com/index.php/editorial/articles/542-the-original-sado-masochists-leopold-ritter-von-sacher-masoch.pdf

Warwolves

Ho hum. Friday night, wife abroad on a business trip until next weekend. Sounded like a good time to put on another horror movie.

I picked Warwolves.

In just about every way imaginable this is a 1980s straight-to-video B-Movie horror. Plot, direction, effects and even cast.

Main names on the box are John Saxon, Tim Thomerson (from Trancers, one of my favourite 80s B-Movie SF flicks) and Adrienne Barbeau (Escape from New York).

It has a whole bunch of younger types in it too - including many attractive young women who's role is pure titillation - even though they are the bad guys (girls?). But to be honest I don't recognise any of them.

I liked 80s B-Movie, straight-to-video stuff. And so a large part of me rather likes this. The acting is hammy, the story fairly predictable, some of the scenes almost cringeable.

But it also stars an actor I have always liked - Art LaFleur. He's not a name many will recognise but I can almost 100% guarantee you will have seen him in something. If, like me, you like sf/horror TV stuff it's most likely from Angel - he played the T'ish Magev.

He's only in a small part but he was good every second he was on the screen. And he grabbed a cricket bat to fight werewolves. I didn't even know Americans would recognise a cricket bat.

Fastest turnaround - not a good one though

Last night I sat down with a new story idea in my head. I wrote it out in one sitting - not that it was hard as it only came to 1300 words.

Printed it, left it for half an hour. Re-read it. Edited it to 1100 words and submitted it to Ruthless Peoples Magazine.

Got home from work this afternoon, logged on, checked the email. And they'd rejected it.

Nicely though, despite the magazine's title. Still from when I had the idea to it being returned was eleven hours. Impressive. Would have been nicer if they'd wanted it obviously, but you've got to admire their speed. They only had it secen hours.

Unfortunately they also rejected the other tale I sent them a little earlier. They were nice about that too though.

And I've already sent them off to other potential markets. I'm not expecting the same time turnaround from them though.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Being philosophical

Last weekend I got food poisoning. Or maybe I have a new as yet unidentified allergy. I am allergic to bananas, fennel and alcohol amongst other things so it wouldn't surprise me to learn of another one.

All I know is I had a very pleasant meal last Sunday, three course plus mince pies, and by the evening I was starting to feel a bit dodgy. Middle of the night this turned into pretty serious discomfort. And essentially I couldn't do anything at all until Tuesday apart from things my body told me I had to do - URGENTLY!

Tuesday I managed to get out of bed - by about mid morning. Stumbled downstairs lay of the sofa and watched the end of the day's play from the second test India vs Sri Lanka (cricket in case you don't know) then discovered how bad daytime TV is (by looking through the listings not watching it - I wasn't that sick) and whiled away the afternoon playing some old videos and hoping to feel better.

Wednesday arrives I decide I want to go back to work - although probably was one day too soon. Still hadn't really eaten much but I don't like being ill so was going to work. It lifted my spirits although left me feeling totally drained. Even managed some crackers for lunch and a sandwich in the evening.

Today more improvement and I'm sure it will continue.

Right - that's the background over. Now to the point of this. I'm not after sympathy. I don't deserve it or want it. I'm not playing the "woe is me" card. We're all human, all prone to getting ill.

Getting to the point. When I get illnesses like this I thank...

...ok, what can I thank? The heavens? No. Ok - leave that aside. I'm just getting distracted anyway.

What I do is I count myself lucky that's all I have. A friend of mine suffers from Crohn's Disease. It affects generally the same areas of his system as my recent allergy attack / food poisoning / whatever did. But it's permanent. Mine is not.

So I am fortunate. I am not going to moan. It would not be right. I do hope my friend fortunes improve soon though.

...And no I'm not moralising

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Reviews Sale

I've just received an email telling me that Murky Depths, a UK based horror magazine, will be featuring four of my book reviews. These four short reviews - all about 250 words - will be included in either issues 11 or 12. They are for

Edward Lee - The Golem
Rio Youers - Old Man Scratch
Mike Resnick - Stalking the Dragon
W.D. Gagliani - Wolf's Gambit

I have noticed since sending it that the Edward Lee book was older than I thought, coming out in April 2009. I've owned up to it in case they want more recent titles. You never know though, they might be okay with it.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Annoyance and a quandry

Someone read this blog. That in itself made me happy. The comment the guy posted did not unfortunately. Not his fault, his post was perfectly fine. It's just what the comment told me.

I've written a number of tales, and have a couple more part done, featured an eight-foot tall blood-red, horned demon called Jyfyskrunifordkanifdraugbast, or Jeff for short.

It's a fondness I have for giving supernatural beings mundane names. Go figure.

Problem is the comment the guy posted mention a film being made called "Jeff the Demon". Ok, first thought - bugger!

Second thought is that this is a problem. I created my Jeff in 2007 as an idea for a really naff demon who developed a taste for the silly side of life. It actually came from the fancy dress costumes I saw at cricket matches.

Last year I started writing stories featuring him and in the last few weeks, more than a year after I wrote those initial stories, I sold a couple of them - one to Everyday Weirdness and one to House of Horror.

It made me happy. I like the tales. They're fun to write and I rather liked the idea of writing a lot more. I've added a group of friends, equally mundanely names - Alan the Ghost, Pete the Zombie, Bernie the Werewolf and so on. Pete's even had his own spin-off story.

And now I find out someone else also decided on the name Jeff for their demon. And it's in a bloody movie. Darn!

Leaves me with a quandry. Should I carry on writing these tales? After all from having read the blurb for the film this evening the two concepts are vastly different, even though they are both comedies.

I just don't know. It's frustrating.

Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Red Cliff

Must mention this film. I love Chinese epic films. Big scale, true cast of thousand jobs. And so seeing htis on the shelves in the video store was simply too good to miss.

And I wasn't disappointed. It's a little more martial than my favourite Chinese movies (House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower) but it is still wonderful.

Plot in a nutshell - corrupt, power hungry prime minister controlling puppet emporer decides that the lords of the southern lands need to be defeated to remove their threat. He has vast armies, far greater than those he intends to subdue. They face certain death...or do they.

My mother-in-law had a little difficulty in keeping all the various people in this apart. She kept mixing up this warlords, that prime minister, the other general etc. For good reason to, there are an awful lot of major characters in this, and not being overly familiar with Chinese names does mean you have to be on your game to stay with it.

But it's definitely worth the effort. There are some wonderful moments of imagination and clever twists. As the cinematography is absolutely stunning. Amazing.

Writing to music

I write most of my short stories, articles and reviews whilst music is playing. It helps me relax. It removes the rest of the distractions of the world and let's me get on with things.

Or at least it does most of the time. I'm sitting here now wanting to get some writing done and am having the most amazing difficulty finding music I can allow to flow over me - to just fill in the background. It happens sometimes. I'm finding even the music distracting, yet turn it off and I can hear the TV downstairs (family are watching some film or other, I don't know), the wind outside, the central heating system and about a dozen other noises. And they're getting into my head.

I can type blog entries, write emails, even do the day job (programming) with a much higher level of distraction than writing. I can do all of these while watching movies. I picked the remake of Hills Have Eyes whilst doing all this kind of stuff earlier (including the night's first blog entry).

But writing's different. I have a couple of ideas that I want to get down, a new Jeff story and another dark sf tale, but I'm yet to find my coverall audio background. I've had Yes on - a band I have been a fan of for three decades and know virtually every note, familiarity is good for blocking music. It didn't work, I was listening to it.

I tried my usual sure-fire - Suzanne Vega. I started concentrating on the lyrics. I've tried Rammstein in case getting rid of the English would work. It didn't I tried Tangerine Dream (no words) but still nothing. So I'm listening to the Frankie Goes to Hollywood greatest that's just come out and typing this, hoping that when I finish I may have found my head.

If all else fails I'll take a pad and a pen and go to bed. I've written a number of things longhand. Some times it just works best.

Wish me luck!

Finally watched the new Star Trek film...

...and I liked it. In fact I thought it was great.

I had been wary of this one sinc eI heard it was going to be a reboot. I've been a Trek fan since the 70s and have enjoyed (for the most part) the ever growing mythology.

Now we're virtually back to square one. Everything has changed. And I am actually looking forward to seeing what they will do with it.

Being greedy I would like a new TV series. The chance to see 22-26 new stories a year appeal more than a new film every three years or so. But I'll take what I can get. Any new Trek would be good for me.

Monday, 9 November 2009

New Article Live

The first part of one of my articles has been posted to the Lucrezia ezine.

The full piece is entitled "The Original Sado-Masochists" and is a double biography of the Marquis de Sade and Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch, the two men that the words Sadism and Masochism were named after. The second part will be posted shortly.

The site is a bit of adult one - okay it's dedicated to erotica I admit it. But it's the perfect home for the article.

You can find my piece at
http://lucreziamagazine.com/index.php/editorial/articles/536-the-original-sado-masochists-marquis-de-sade.html

It's up to you whether you read any more of the site. To be honest it's up to you whether you choose to read my article as well. I'm certainly not going to insist upon it.

It's the first article I've sold based on eponyms. I've always had a fascination with the stories behind words and when you can track it to a specific person I find it all the better.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Go Leicester, Go!

I am a big rugby fan. And I am a fan of Leicester Tigers - always have been.

And on Friday night they beat the World Champions South Africa.

I might be happy at the moment - even if England lost to Australia yesterday

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Doghouse

Anyone fancy a seriously good black comedy zombie movie that's equal measure buddy movie. Well Doghouse is it - providing that is you can cope with a British sense of humour.

Plot - a group of guys decide to head to a remote village in the English countryside for a weekend of all-out drinking and male camaraderie aimed at raising the spirit of a recently divorced friend only to find they stumbled into the middle of a secret biological weapon experiment which has turned all of the women in the village into zombies.

Queue excessive violence, incompetent laddish zombie fighting, and an all round good fun movie. This is one of the best films I've seen all year.

The Hills Run Red

Now if ever I've seen a film that was a patch job, built on bits of other movies, then this is it. I mean, seriously, I've tried wracking my brains to see if I can think of a single other movie that's less original than this - and I've failed. Even some remakes manage to bring more new material to the table than this.

Yet surprisingly it's not totally awful. It is rescued by pretty decent directing (nice paced, decent action), half-decent gore (even if repeated a time or two) and some excellent over-the-top psycho acting from William Sadler as the whack-job film director. Sophie Monk chips in a creditable performance as the equally deranged daughter.

Essentially three film nuts head into the middle of nowhere to track down the director of a never released, ultimate gore, horror film and making a documentary while they go. And yes they end up in the middle of a horror film of their own in true Blair Witch style only pitched up against a Texas Chainsaw Massacre / Halloween / Friday 13th style masked mad killer and his family.

Not bad given its shortcomings plotwise, but more than just watchable - it's half decent - surprisingly so.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Lisbon Treaty Ratified

The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, has signed the Lisbon Treaty. It means that all 27 nations in the European Union have formally fatified the treaty and it will come into force within weeks.

In the UK this has been widely reported as more of Britain's sovereignty being handed over the EU - an institution believed by many to be undemocratic. The treaty's had a lot of bad press. Okay there are areas where the voting rules have been changed - some vetoes have been removed, and votes can be passed by a majority of 55% of the EU's member states (providing they represent 65% of the EU population).

But it has many advantages. And these are actually in the areas many have criticised the treaty. The EU will get a President and a Foreign Minister. Now if you want my opinion - and if you've read down this posting this far it seems you might - this is a great thing for the EU.
I've said before that we are a small country in a world becoming more and more dominated by large countries. The USA, China, India and Brazil are all much bigger nations that we are. Add in Russia which, although only the size of the UK and Germany added together in terms of population, has a massive surface area and enormous available resources.

In fact if you list all the countries of the world in order from the largest land area to the smallest, the first on the list for an EU nations is 43rd for France. It's the only EU country in the top fifty. If Turkey joins we will get a second (Turkey is at 37 on the list). The United Kingdom comes in at 79th, behind countries such as Gabon (75th), Burkina Faso (73rd), Oman (70th), Cote D'Ivoire (68th), Uzbekistan (55th), Madagascar (46th), Myanmar (40th), Mauritania (29th), Chad (21st) and Kazakhstan (9th).

In terms of pure population the EU manages slightly better. Germany ranks 14th, France 20th and the UK 22nd. But we are still small fry next to China's 1.4 billion and India's 1.1 billion.

But if we stand together we are half a billion. And in having a single figure representing the common interest of 27 nations (and hopefully 28 very soon with Croatia joining, maybe even 29 including Iceland) we will have a much stronger voice.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Warlords

I have a fondness for epic scale Chinese movies - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the like. I like the sheer beauty of the cinematography and the epic size of the stories, true cast of thousand pieces.

This weekend we watched Warlords, an absolutely immense movie of battle in nineteenth century China. It's brutal in places, hundreds and hundreds die in some of the scenes. But it's not an unending series of war scenes. This has one hell of a story. I loved it. Definitely my kind of movie.

Two reviews live on nossa morte

Two more of my reviews are now live on nossa morte. The reviews are a book review of Dean Koontz's Relentless (at http://nossamorte.com/nov09issue/relentless.html) and a film review of Dead Girl (at http://nossamorte.com/nov09issue/deadgirl.html)

It keeps up my run with the magazine. I've had at least one review in every single issue of this magazine since it started two years ago.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

New Article Sale

Just got the contract for a non-fiction piece of mine called "The Original Sado-Masochists", a double biography of the Marquis de Sade and Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch, the two men behind the eponyms "Sadism" and "Masochism".

It;s a little bit more adult than most of the stuff I do in terms of subject matter and, although it does necessarily have some adult content having to describe their activities, I have not tried to be overly erotic or sensational about it. The piece is a straight (no pun intended) biography piece.

I'll post more when it goes live and you can judge for yourselves - or choose to skip it entirely. I won't be offended.

New Short Story Sale - Jeff the Demon take 2 + further resale

I just received the news that UK ezine House of Horror will be featuring another of my short stories in their January 2010 issue. This tale, "I Want to Stay", is the second to feature Jeff the Flesh-Shredder, after "How May I Help You?" featured on Everyday Weirdness a little over a week ago.

There is a third Jeff tale out there in submissions land. Fingers crossed on it - but I might send it in to House of Horror if the current submission is rejected. They don't pay much but I like the people who run it. More important to me than money that.

And talking of House of Horror, the first tale of mine they bought, "The Waiting Room", has been picked for their Best of 2009 print antho. This is in addition to it featuring in their Special Print Edition #2. So it's got three outings. Nice!