Thursday, 23 November 2017

Nanowrimo-less and a death

Hi guys

Hope your all busy reading and writing.

I was meant to get stuck into Nanowrimo this year as want to send a submission off by end of December to Angry Robot as they have open submissions on going till 31 December.

Sadly as always does in November something goes wrong.  In this case the sickness, decline and eventual passing of my Steddad who I've known for 22 years.  This is longer than my actual Dad as he died when I was 15.

Because of this the notes I was going to make in October got finished last week and I definitely won't be hitting the Nano monthly target of 50,000 words.

So have decided will try a mad sprint in final week despite a funeral looming and aim for 15,000 words which is better than nothing and it's what he would have wanted.

So RIP Pat xx

Catch you all laters.


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Thor - Ragnarok - Film Review

Hi guys

Went to see Thor- Ragnarok the third and so far best in the Thor trilogy of movies and Marvel fans are in for a treat.

Set after the second Thor film which saw Loki (Tom Hiddleston) impersonate Odin (Anthony Hopkins) it follows on with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returning to Asgard which is in disarray thanks to Loki.

Dangerous Artefacts are missing from the vaults and Heimdall (Idris Elba) who looks after the Biofrost bridge is missing.

After watching an hilarious play about Loki's death Thor calls Loki out who explains he exiled Odin to Earth.
On Earth Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in a funny scene shows them where he is.
Odin in Norway - home of the Norse Gods - explains his time is up but his presence has been holding back his daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett) who wants to destroy Asgard.  She destroys Thors Hammer easily and Thor and Loki escape by the Biofrost she hitches a ride to Asgard and knocks them off path.

Here is where the fun starts as Thor arrives on the planet Sakaar home of the Grandmaster (played excellently by Jeff Goldblum) who is host to gladiator games.  The current champion being Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who after Avengers - Age of Ulton has stayed as Hulk for 2 years and captured.

The fight between Thor and Hulk is awesome and a highlight of the film which shows Thor the stronger of the two.

Once the fight is over Thor and Hulk talk - have to admit Hulk talking quite a bit was weird but he does that in the comics.  
Thor has Hulk turn back to Banner who is confused and freaked out by being away so long and on an alien planet and they plan their escape back to Asgard with the help of Loki who also arrived there and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) who has links to Asgards past and the rock creature Korg (voiced by Director Taika Waititi who does an excellent job directing).

With other characters like Skurge (Karl Urban) who helps Hela to stay alive but joins Thor the film is packed with fun and has an Eighties feel.

It has some great action and funny gags and visuals which are similar to Guardians of the galaxy films.

Overall  -  A great Thor film and one of the best Marvel films out.

Score   -   9/10

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Happy Nanowrimo

Hi guys

Hope you're all well and busy writing as it's the first day of National Writing Month.
As you writers will know the aim is to achieve 50,000 words written on a novel in November.

Sadly I am behind due to other life issues and not finishing my notes on my Nano but will be up and writing soon.
As I've never finished writing 50,000 words I think I will aim for a more realistic 20,000 to 25,000 words which is better than nothing- wish me luck.

So once I've done more on my planning I will start by weekend.

My story is set in the future where humans are colonizing distant worlds although there is a religious group which tries to stop these Colony ships from leaving called Earthers.  They believe we should stay on Earth no matter what as God put us there.

So Defending the Colony ships is Captain Banks and his rag tag crew in their ship - Defender.  Once the Colony ship has left for deep space and the Earthers have retreated to their last hideout ironically in the moon Captain Bank's crew can enjoy some downtime.
Although President O'Hare wants them to head out to Colony X - the tenth colony which settled in a more isolated area of Space.
So Captain Banks must again gather his crew and set off to investigate not knowing one of his crew is a murderer and something deadly and sinister awaits them.
Is it a trap?

Hope you like the idea and yes I realise I should be actually writing instead of blogging.
But Nano I will catch thee up!

If any of you are doing Nano and want to add me my Nano name is Neilxuk!

Leave any comments below.

Enjoy x

P.s.  Yep Captain Banks is named after acclaimed sci fi author Iain M Banks and President O'Hare after the Captain on the first season of Babylon 5 which starts November 13th on Pick.

Monday, 16 October 2017

A Tribute part 2 - Helen Cadbury - Crime Panel

Hi guys

In a follow up to the previous post which was a tribute to author Helen Cadbury I thought I would re-use a post which I wrote for the 2015 Cleckheaton Literature Festival.

Both festivals had Helen who not only chaired the panels but also answered the questions.
Both panels featured fellow authors Leigh Russell and Alison Taft.
So without further ado these are their thoughts on writing.

L-R  Helen Cadbury,  Alison Taft, Leigh Russell 

Helen both asked and answered the following:
How did your writing journey begin?
Alison Taft –   Always inspired to write from an early age. Harriet the Spy was one of her favourite books.  She remembers one of her English teachers who everyone feared bringing her own story to read and everyone wanted her to finish the story.  Always kept a journal on her and after leaving a few jobs in her twenties wanted to be a writer.   This was put back as in her thirties needed life saving operation and her child’s life was saved.  Then decided to stop messing about and started first novel.
Leigh Russell –  Never intended to be a writer but loved books.  When young walked into a library and thought it was fantastic. Is worried about our children as they go for tablets and Kindles and they not as good as physical books.                                      Went to University got Masters Degree in University and became an English teacher although started writing late in life.  Got the idea for a novel when she saw a man on a path acting suspicious and imagination took hold wondering “what if she saw a body? ”
The idea of a man killing women took hold and wanted to know what makes people kill.  Wrote the story in six weeks, printed out and posted to Agents and Publishers.  Two weeks later had a call from publishers and signed a three book deal with No Exit Press.  Although she has recently released her tenth book with the publisher and signed a new three book deal.
Helen Cadbury – Also started writing quite late as started her career in acting.  Between acting jobs went on a Poetry course.  In 2004/5 was working freelance in Theatre.  In her free time went to an Adult Education Fair and went to pick up a leaflet on a chainsaw course. She saw a Creative writing course held by York poet Carol Bromley.
Helen went on to complete an MA at Sheffield Hallam University.   Wrote first draft of her debut novel in York.  Was fascinated about people going missing.
Is it natural for women to write Crime? What is appeal? 
LR – When started writing wrote for herself. The Detective character was originally male although changed character to a woman as women more interested in people and relationships.  Also when writing the killers character tends not to analyse being in a killers mind.  Leigh admits she can’t go a day without writing.   Also is not sure whether she would write another genre other than crime.  Admits Literary writers look down on crime writers.  Shakespeare is the best crime writer of all time.
AT – Thinks we read as we are looking for answers and crime has more questions about life.  Alisons first book is about looking for a missing father – she didn’t expect there to be a series.  We need to know why people go missing.
LR – Leigh thinks however disturbing crime is in a book  there is a resolution yet sometimes in real life there isn’t.
HC – Red Riding Hood is one of the earliest crime novels.  On a panel in York for Writers in Motherhood they wrote good suspense thrillers as they had daily anxiety with babies.
Reading – The Panel read extracts from their novels. 
LR – Read from her novel Cut Short. Her debut Geraldine Steel novel.  The section read was where the serial killer was known to the reader and main character.   Leigh trys to make her books believable.   As a crime writer need to play with readers expectations.
AT – Read from her manuscript her unpublished forth novel in the Lily Appleyard series where the main character opens a Missing Persons Bureau.  Admits the first time she read out to audience was at Otley literaturefestival.
HC – Read from her laptop a snippet if her second novel Bones in the Nest which is out in July. She has opened with the novel in first person instead of third to try get into someone else’s head.
Myself and the audience enjoyed and relished the pages read and all hope to read the rest later.
How did you get published? What’s your writing process?
LR – Wrote first book for herself.  When first novel was sent out had to do alot of editing.  Had to take out a lot of material.  Editor advised to take out anything not needed. She got a third through the book and wondered how she was going to finish it. Leigh wasn’t taking it seriously when she sent it off had no idea it would get published.  Admits didn’t plan series enough at the beginning and would have had a younger DS Steel.  Has written eight in DS Steel series so far plus two DI Ian Peterson novel spin offs.  Thinking of writing twenty in DS Steel series.
Now writes two books a year and loves writing.  If she ever lost the excitement of writing and reading would stop as wouldn’t be fun.
HC – Like LR wrote too much for first book had to take alot out and depressing as had to take what written out.  Main character in twenties so if keep writing character will out live her.
Wasn’t sure how to finish first novel.  “To Catch a Rabbit” won the Northern Crime Panel award where winner got published.  Publishers wanted to know more about book and characters so made synopsis up within thirty minutes.
The genre is widening at the moment.
LR – Has a rough idea of the end and how to get there. Got to trust yourself as a writer.  Crime fiction is plot driven have to put clues in but difficult keeping one step ahead of readers. Agatha Christie changed killer halfway through her books.
Do characters disturb you?
AT – No as not real.
LR – No not real.
HC – No saw more as taught in a prison.
Areas you wouldn’t go to in writing? 
LR – Wouldn’t kill a child in the books. Be too upsetting like in real crime.  Crime is moving towards horror as some crime books are too shocking plus too squeamish.  If writing about someone going missing would think of the family and their fears.
HC – Wouldn’t write about anyone in the prison or use a real story for a story.  Already written about some things she didn’t think she would.
Overall – A great evening for the audience,  fans of crime fiction,  the authors and the library.  Was a great insight into the minds of three crime authors at the top of their game and there was some great advice for would be authors (like myself).

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A Tribute - Helen Cadbury - 1965 - 2017


Just wanted to post a quick tribute to Helen Cadbury an author and friend I met at two Cleckheaton Literature Festivals.  Sadly she passed away from cancer in June of this year.

Although I'd only met Helen twice at the festivals we chatted quite a bit at both and she was very friendly and warm and asked about my writing.  We also messaged each other on messenger where she gave me writing tips.

                                      Helen at 2015 Cleckheaton Literature Festival

Helen was born in the Midlands and grew up in Saddlworth.  Writing was a passion for Helen since she was young but before she became a published author she had a variety of jobs including actor, drama teacher and worked in prison education.
As well as crime fiction she also wrote plays and poetry.

A collection of Helen's poetry is due out this November by Valley Press.

Out November 2017 by Valley Press

Sadly Helen's writing career is cut short just as it was taking off but the books she has out go check them as they are great reads.  I am currently reading her Sean Denton book 2 - Bones in the Nest.

Helen is survived by her husband and son.

Look out in the shops for Helen's third and sadly last Sean Denton book Race to the Kill out now in bookshops from Allison and Busby publishers.

Sean Denton book 3 - Out now

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Harry Potter and the Demon Box

Hi guys

As you may recall in an earlier post I had been having trouble getting back into writing as I hadn't written anything for nearly a year.  So I decided I'd write something fun like fan fiction and so had an idea for a Harry Potter sequel.

To get my creative juices flowing I've written the start to it which I will share below along with the synopsis although must stress I'm naughty as only watched the films and read first book but think around Christmas will read the whole series (maybe not the screenplay).

So if you like it and the synopsis would you want me to finish it?  Let me know in the comments and apologies to JK Rowling for butchering your world. X

Harry Potter and the Demon Box 


   Sally Henshaw was bored.  Really bored.  The same bored she felt every day in the slow traffic of London as the bus stopped and started nearly every minute on her journey home from school.

Sat on the top deck she sighed as she looked out into the gloomy streets below.  The hussle and bussle of people rushing around and the constant roars of engines and beeps from cars and the traffic tried to crawl along at a snails pace.

Sally looked to her Mum sat next to her.  Her face aglow from the mobile screen as she flicked through posts on Facebook.
‘Mum I’m bored,’ she moaned.
Without looking up came her Mums reply ‘Be with you in a minute just got to comment on this.  Oh it’s bangers and mash for tea.’
Sally scrunched up her face in disgust as it was the third time this week they had had that tea and she wasn’t keen on the sausages as they were cheap tasteless ones.  Sally also knew her Mum would be stuck on the phone till journeys end.

The bus pulled up in traffic and Sally looked out at an old ripped billboard.  The advert was for a film that had been out years.  She blew on the glass and made a dog shape with her fingers.  Wiping it away she noticed something funny happening to the billboard.
The billboard looked to be blinking and shimmering as did the wall it was on.  For a few moments both disappeared completely.  Sally was stunned to see a wide alley behind, the size of a small street with old fashioned and odd shaped shops and houses.
The few people on the alley were dressed weirdly old and in black.  A few owls flew around it.  Near to where the bus was a couple chatted in the alley both dressed in black.  The man had a hooded cape and wild frizzy hair.  The woman was old with a pointy hat.
Sally chuckled as she thought she looked like a witch and waved at them wildly.  Catching the couples attention she smiled as their faces looked horrified and puzzled at the same time.  They both pulled out black pointy sticks and waved them towards the bus.

Sally was scared at this and turned to her mum pulling on her arm wildly.
‘Mum look there’s witches and a funny street and owls,’
‘Yes dear,’ her Mum replied wearily and looked up.  ‘Where Sally?’
Sally turned back round to the window and there was the wall and billboard looking as they did before.  The bus moved forward in traffic a few feet.
Sally slumped back in her seat in wonder.  Had she imagined the strange alley and people or was it real. It felt very real to her.

Later that night Sally Henshaw had the most fantastic dreams of witches and magic she had ever had. 

Harry Potter and the Demon Box synopsis 

Magic is failing. Diagan Alley is becoming seen by muggles.   Platform nine and three quarters has lost its link to Hogwarts station and magic of all kinds keeps going wrong.
Sometimes simple spells don’t work and sometimes big magic fails.  This includes the flying of broomsticks which means the world Quidditch tournament is cancelled.   Worst still the magical animals like the ones in Hogwarts forbidden forest are dying.

Harry Potter and the Ministry of Magic find out it is the cause of a long forgotten artefact called the Demon Box.  They realise twenty years ago Voldermort set off the box which began slowly sucking in magic from the world as a back up plan.  In his arrogance Voldermort believed he would be victorious and defeat Harry and his allies then close the box but he was wrong.

Realising the only person who can switch the box off and shut it is Voldermort,  Harry must spirit travel to the underworld before it’s too late and get Voldermort to tell him how to switch it off.
Voldermort tricks Harry and escapes the Underworld searching out his number one disciple who has kept his body. (Think Insidious). Because it’s been twenty years even with magic his body is decaying and because magic is failing when Voldermorts spirit joins with his body iit goes wrong and he becomes distorted with a melting face and bent over. (Think Brundlefly from The Fly).

Voldermort goes to Hogwarts where he hid the box killing a few old professors including Hagrid and the school children including Harry’s go into hiding in the forest where they tend the dying magical beasts.
In the meantime Harrys spirit has to complete tests set by the keeper of the Underworld which he just passes and returns to his body and races off to Hogwarts with his friends for a final battle with Voldermort. 
Harry wins Voldermort but there are costs including Ron losing an arm and Hermonie sacrificing her magic to close the Demon Box making her a whole muggle.
Magic is slowly restored – end.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017


Hi guys

Just a quick post to let you know what I'm up to.

I can't believe we're in October all ready.  This year has flown by and I've wasted it by not writing.  Plus hardly blogged but at least I've read a bit more.

Anyway this month I need to post some belated blogs including -

  • Tribute to the late crime author Helen Cadbury - see last post for review on her book.
  • The Orenda road show which took place beginning of this year.
  • Three author event that took place other month at Leeds Waterstones and featured RJ Barker, Genevieve Cogman and Adrian Tchaikovsky. 
  • Last year's Sci fi talk with Alistair Reynolds and Peter F Hamilton. 
  • Maybe some post from last year's Cleckheaton Literature Festival.
I also want to finish The Cubbyhole ghost story in time for Halloween.   As well as this I'm thinking of a few other short stories to write to enter competitions. 

Plus I will be prepping for next month's Nanowrimo which I hope to smash next month as the story will eventually be sent to Angry Robots open submissions in December. 

Anyway guys keep reading and writing.   Chat soon.