Updating my ‘Brag Shelf’

As you know, I’ve been plugging away at this writing lark for a looming time. My first novel ‘Akane: The Last of the Orions’ was written close to EIGHT years ago and was published my Fox Spirit Books last year. In an effort to be more organised, I thought I’d update by ‘brag shelf’ pic featuring some of the anthologies and books I’ve been featured in! It’s been a long journey, but I’m quite proud of the work I’ve put out and there’s lots more to come, including my first pre-teen book coming out soon! You can buy any of my books following the link above and keep popping back for more updates. IMG_8065.JPG

Remembering someone I never got to meet

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So the last week has been Baby Loss Awareness Week. There’s been a lot of outpouring and sharing from mums (and dads) who never got to meet their baby. As always, it stirs up a lot of memories from when we lost our little bundle (well, hardly a bundle, more a pea) and has made me cuddle my little Lamb even harder as I think all the gods I have her in my life, whilst knowing the baby we never got to meet is watching over us all.

Movie review: The Woman in Black (2012)

The Woman in Black (2012)

Synopsis: A lawyer still grieving the death of his wife has to travel to an isolated town where the locals are terrified of a vengeful ghost with a penchant for killing children.

Director: James Watkins

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds

Review: The story of a grieving husband, separated from his family due to work and sent to a strange village filled with untrusting and unwelcoming locals. Is his grief causing him to see the ghosts that torment the town and who will be the next victim of the child-murdering ‘Woman In Black’.

Daniel Radcliffe, in his first major role post Harry Potter, plays the lead Arthur Kipps. I have to be honest, I never thought much of Radcliffe’s acting ability in the Harry Potter franchise and always felt that Emma Watson and the fabulous Rupert Grint acted magical rings around him and to an extent Radcliffe is out of his depth with this material. His inability to convey the emotions necessary for the depressed Kipps is obvious but luckily the solid cast and decent story covers for him.

I love a good horror story and I thought that I was too jaded to be actually scared but there were a number of points in this when I was genuinely jumping out of my seat. The cinematography was stunning and the eerie settings conveyed the mood better than Redciffe at points. What an advertisement for tourism to the UK. My only other complaint was the occasional slip into modern vernacular. I think Jane Goldsmith is an incredible screenwriter but she didn’t fully immerse the characters into the time, giving the movie an unbalanced feel. However, despite these minor failings, I loved this movie and look forward to the Blu-Ray release.

In conclusion, I think it’s fabulous that Hammer has begun creating horror movies once more and this one is sure to sit well next to their other classics.

Throw back Thursday: Fox Spirit Does Exe-Con (June 2014)

Aunty Fox, @VampiricChicken and I went to the inaugural Exe-Con, held in Exeter in June 2014. It was a fun event with local traders as well as larger businesses. Coupled with a lot of cosplay, books, comics and more it was a great event. Plus, we spread the foxy word and sold a lot of books, including launching my collection of short stories, ‘Weird Wild‘! I’m happy to say the events grown since then so am sure we’ll return to it next time. In the meantime, you can buy all Fox Spirit titles here.

Check out some of our pics from the day:

Movie review: Murder Party (2007)

murder_party_xlgSynopsis: A lonely man finds an invitation to a Halloween Party with a difference.

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Starring: Chris Sharp, Kate Portfield, Alex Barnett

Review: I love a good independent horror movie. They seem to push the boundaries which some mainstream movies don’t and often achieve more (more scares, story, thrills and more) on a smaller budget. The film sees loner Christopher find an invitation. Deciding he’d rather spend Halloween at a party than home with his cat, Christopher makes himself a cardboard knights costume, some pumpkin bread and sets off to party. However, it’s not the party he expected as he is greeted by a group of ‘artistes’ who discuss the most creative manner in which to kill Christopher.

Considering this movie was shot with a very minimal (if any) budget, the quality of the acting and the special effects is very good. There are lots of flashes of humour as the narcissistic group try to cover up a murder and compete for an art grant from the mysterious Alexander. I especially liked the conversations about food.

The characters are well defined and little phrases or gestures do more to flesh out the characters than excessive dialogue. It’s original in its delivery with unexpected twists and turns. Perhaps not a classic but a solid foundation for future work by the writer/director and cast.

Movie review: The Mist (2007)

The Mist 2007Synopsis: There’s creatures in the mist and it’s definitely not gorillas!

Director: Frank Darabont

Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden and Nathan Gamble

Review: Based on the Stephen King novella (one of my personal favourites) of the same name, David Drayton (Jane) must protect his son (Gamble) when a strange mist encompasses the town, trapping him and a number of other townspeople in the supermarket. It’s not long before petty resentments and jealousies erupt, and hints from army personnel about ‘Project Arrowhead’ getting out causes the shoppers to divide into factions. People being attacked by unseen creatures in the mist rapidly inflame the situation and finally Drayton must decide how best to protect his own life and that of his son.

I’ve long been a fan of the King novella and if you’ve read any of his work, there’s nothing surprising or new here: a small town in Maine is attacked but it’s more the exploration of how mankind deals with the unknown and outside threats which is covered here.

The characters are brought to life well and Jane plays the family man struggling to protect his son while coping with an extraordinary situation well, especially when battling against the crazed, cross-welding, religious maniac played to perfection by Harden – you’ll hate her and be in awe of her zeal at the same time. I found Holden’s character ‘Andrea’ in the Walking Dead to be extremely annoying but she didn’t drive me to want to commit murder in this, although she’s not the most memorable in my opinion. As always with a King story, there’s lots of minor characters who get to shine, especially those involved with closing the loading bay doors.

The action is well-paced and the director allows the cast to use the space well. There’s minimal CGI so the actors have to build the tension which they do. For die-hard King fans, they’ll be annoyed that the ending has changed from the novella. The novella offers the characters a future with hope but this ending is more bleak but in my opinion, this ending is stronger. After watching this, I can guarantee that the next time the fog rolls in, you’ll be checking more than your fog lights as you pack your car.

The Big Interview: Adele Wearing

When I first set up my blog one of my aims was to highlight inspirational women to show young girls they could aspire to achieve something that society, their school, friends or even their parents perhaps said they couldn’t. With that in mind, I interviewed authors, a charity CEO, and a friend who could best be described as a nomad, amongst others. I’m going to be re-running those interviews, with updates as to where they are now. To start us off, I’m catching up with Adele Wearing, founder of Fox Spirit Books.

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I first interviewed Adele in 2012. She’d recently set up the ‘Girls Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse‘, was reviewing books for un:bound and was planning to edit an anthology called ‘Tales of the Nun & Dragon‘ which would help launch Fox Spirit Books. Over the last four years Fox Spirit Books have published over 50 titles, been shortlisted for a number of awards and won the BFS best indie press in 2015, had a launch event at Forbidden Planet London (African Monsters) and generally been insanely busy. Coming up they have the Pocket Party to celebrate finally finishing the Fox Pocket series (details here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fox-pocket-party-tickets-25343708715) and an event as part of the Everybody’s Reading Festival in Leicester in October. Beyond that of course they are going live this year with their first titles for both the Fennec kids and the FoxGloves martial arts lines. Busy times but Adele continues in her aim for world domination, with a very fluffy tail. You can find out more at Fox Spirit Books and on twitter.

And here’s the original interview!

You’ve been described as a feral leader, a muse who kicks people in the face as well as blogger, reviewer and publisher. That’s a lot of alter egos. Are you a secret agent in disguise?

No. I’m actually a changeling. Hagelrat is the closest translation I
could find of my species name in your languages, even then I had to go
half dutch. Knowing that you are a changeling can lead to multiple
personality issues. It’s ok though, you’ll never have to deal with all
the voices in my head, some of them aren’t safe in public.

When are you happiest?
When I’m right in the middle of something I love. That could be
kickboxing, working on the books, having coffee with friends and
sometimes there is nothing better than curling up with a book, a
coffee and my cats. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Which living person do you admire most and why?
Oh it sounds horribly trite but it’s true, so it’s my mum. I know what
she’s handled over the years and just how tough she can be when she
has to be.

So you’ve established and organised the Apocalypse Girls, Fox Spirit, Un:Bound, Alt.Fiction and more. Can you tell us a little about each project and your plans for the future (although world domination seems to be a given).
The Girls Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse was just a bit of fun
really, somewhere for a whole bunch of us to blow off steam thinking
about the end of the world. It took off far beyond what any of us
expected and we have been working on a pitch for it.
Fox Spirit is a new venture, things seem to have aligned and now I’m
an indie publisher which is a little unexpected. I love the books I’ve
got on board and the authors, it’s slightly terrifying and very
exciting. The first books will come out in July.
Un:Bound was where I started with it all really, it started as me
talking to myself, then I discovered the blogging community, events,
got a team on board and ten video editions happened. It’s a little
slower these days but still running and I still try to review
everything I read, which shows how much less i’ve been reading I
suppose, or at least how few finished books.
Alt.Fiction was an established event, run by Alex Davis for Writing
East Midlands and last year when Alex stepped down I took the reigns.
It’s a wonderful event with fantastic people involved and it was
wonderful to see it come together this year. Can’t wait for next year.
What’s next? oh umm, well let’s get the books out and the next
alt.fiction event (Leicester Central Library, 6th October) done and
umm a couple more tournaments under my belt, do the unbound fantasy
movie and take it from there? In spite of my claims to the contrary
i’m not really seeking world domination, I just want to see what I can
do. I guess the plan is to keep pushing until something stops me. Then
push harder.

Given all of the above, what do you consider your greatest achievement?
All in all I’d have to say getting to here from there. A couple of years ago I was unfit, unhappy, and facing the collapse of my supposed to be shiny new marriage. Now i’m training regularly, and well we’ve been through the rest but I’ve never been happier. So much has changed in a relatively short time.

And what would be your biggest disappointment?
Stopping. That’s it really. You try a lot of things, some work some
don’t, that’s fine, but to stop trying stuff, to settle for how things
are and not push to do more, or do things better would bother me. I’m
also very conscious of the fact that people are trusting me with their
work. Vince doesn’t let go of things any easier than I do but is
trusting me to do what I need to for the movie and the authors and
editors involved in Fox Spirit are putting their babies in my hands
and I have to make sure they grow and you know, not shake them.

When do you find time to sleep?
Ah, well biologically we only need a four hour cycle of REM sleep, so
it’s fine. Actually I am usually up around 5:20am and crash around
10pm so I get plenty of sleep usually.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
I embarrass easily and forget it just as fast. The last one I remember
was having to get a pair of swimming trunks at the gym because I’d
packed a shortish dress for work and forgotten to pack knickers.
Ooops.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Hmmm, people who only treat people well when they can do something for
them. I fully recognise I am rubbish and unreliable when it comes to
doing social things or calling regularly, but I hope how I treat
people has nothing to do with what they can do for me.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Nothing. Oh I have regrets, but I’m happy with where I am now and
changing anything might bring the law of unintended consequences into
play so i’d leave well alone.

Do you have any superstitions/quirks/unique qualities others would call odd?
Ha, I’ve been called on the fact that I talk to myself and other
things (I got spotted explaining to a snail why I was moving it the
other day). I also compulsively check the doors before bed.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Awesome, but everything is at the moment. I expect there are lots that
I am happily oblivious too. I probably over use ‘when I take over the
world’, but you know.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I snore, like a log cutter. Only when I’m unsettled but if I leave a
window open you can hear it down the street.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Angel delight or jello pudding. Butterscotch. I’ll mix it up with a
fork in a measuring jug and instantly eat it straight from the jug.
It’s not classy and I don’t care.

What’s your favourite movie?
Ooh, tough one. I must have seen The Lost Boys a bazillion times and
when I recently saw it at the pictures for an 80’s event was lip
syncing line for line. Serenity is a regular re-watch, and The
Princess Bride will always be special. There are probably a dozen
films that I would always have to have whatever format we move into.
Ones I had on VHS and quickly replaced on DVD.

If you could be a character in any movie, TV show, or book who would it be and why?
She Hulk. I covered her for Know You Idols and face it, if I could
spend a chunk of my time being 6ft 7 of muscular awesome and the rest
of it being a badass lawyer and self defence expert I totally would.
She Hulk loves being a Hulk, fully embraces it and makes it her own.
Although Hawkgirl is also very cool, can fly has big hammer. You may
be seeing a pattern emerge.

What is your earliest memory?
I’m actually not sure. I have blurry recollections of holidays and
things from when I was very small but i’m no longer entirely certain
what’s memory and what i’ve been told about. I remember going to buy
fish with Grandpa when I was very small. He kept tropical fish and an
outdoor pond.

Tell us a secret.
Ah, should this be where I revealed I am a changeling? Rats. Something
else then. I can’t buy cheese anymore, because I love it and if I have
it in I will eat the whole lot in a day. I don’t even pretend to be
using it as real food I just cut slices and scoff it down. So now I
only buy it when I have guests.

Thank you, that was fun. 🙂

Thanks Adele, I’m sure we’ll be bugging you again for more updates in your quest for World Domination!

 

 

Movie Review: Forget Me Not (2009)

Forget Me Not 2009Synopsis: A group of friends celebrate their graduation with a trip but Sandy’s friends start disappearing. The strange thing is, the rest of the group don’t remember them. Is Sandy losing her mind, or is there a darker force at work?

Director: Tyler Oliver

Starring: Carly Schroeder, Cody Linley and Chloe Bridges

Review: When I read the blurb for this movie, I assumed it would be another teen horror/slasher so I was pleasantly surprised to discover a thoughtful and fairly well-made movie.

The vengeful spirit of a girl she played with when child is making Sandy’s friends disappear. There are the typical ‘jocks’ and ‘nerds’ who make up Sandy’s group of friends so in some respects you feel on safe ground. The acting is pretty solid and there’s some original ideas in here so it’s worth a Sunday afternoon (or Halloween evening!) watch. However, the story is fairly plodding and the characters are not that engaging which means Forget Me Not will soon be forgotten.