Friday, 22 June 2018

Review - To Be A Cat, by Matt Haig

To Be A CatTo Be A Cat by Matt Haig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this to my 9yo, who also enjoyed it too. It led to debates about whether some people are cats or not - and for a while there we believed they might be!

A fast paced, well-written, suspense-filled story about a boy Barney whose wish to become a cat comes true, and he realises that it's not always a good thing to get what you wish for. The underline message in this book is an important one: it is about accepting yourself and enjoy being who you are, because you are unique. In today's world children really struggle to remain true to who they are, wanting to fit in and make friends, especially with technology making it more difficult to connect and socialise in person.

This book also tells the story of the bully - the truth about who they are and why they behave as they do. I really liked the characters, they were easy to engage with and to have an strong emotions about: the horrible Miss Whipmire, and Barney's lovely best friend Rissa. It was full of twists in the plot too, and the mystery of the identity of the Terrorcat. There was so much to enjoy.

I would highly recommend this book. And I am rapidly becoming a Matt Haig fan.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 60

This week's photo was taken by one of my great writer friends, Michael Wombat, when he was in Blackpool, November 2017. This is a sculpture of a giant sea shell by Stephen Broadbent called The Golden Shell (or Mary's Shell) and it was installed on Cleveleys Beach in October 2013. It is inspired by The Sea Swallow children's book and you can read more about it here.

I love the possibilities this object inspires. I seem to be in a bit of a sci-fi/alien phase at the moment and this picture just fed into that.

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

Alien Objection

The report had said it was a piece from a satellite in orbit and it was nothing to worry about, although its lack of impact on the ground confused people. No one thought anything of it; it became a landmark, a natural sculpture of sorts, and being out in the tide line of the beach it didn’t bother anyone or get in the way. It was referred to as ‘The Shell’ and it drew visitors and helped the economy of the area.

Then the dead animals started to be discovered, all within a hundred metre radius. From small creatures like rabbits, hares, mice, to larger animals like badgers, foxes and even a deer. There was speculation that it was ritualistic: someone practicing the occult, but there was no defined lay out of the animals and no blood. The autopsies revealed they had all suffered some kind of brain bleed, along with ruptured ear drums.

People became a little scared. And then it happened: The first human body was found.

It was my neighbour’s son, little Jake. He was only 8 years old. He loved shells and stones, and could be found most evenings after school down by the edge of the sea, poking around in rock pools left behind by the high tide. His mum had made sure he had all his swimming certificates before he was allowed to go there alone, even so people still said he had drowned. But he hadn’t. He’d also had a brain bleed brought on by burst ear drums. And his body hadn’t been anywhere near the water when he was found.

It was enough to unnerve a few people and houses started going up for sale as families began to move away. And people stopped going to the beach. No one wanted to be near it. Except me.

I wanted to know more. I wanted to see it up close and touch it and try and understand if this thing really did have anything to do with it. Was I worried? A little, but I was born without ear drums so I didn’t consider myself at risk.

I went right up to it; I touched its smooth black surface. I tapped it and felt it vibrate under my fingers. The vibration went on a long time. I could feel it through my body and the ground.

I wondered fleetingly if it was a bomb – but if it was, surely it would have gone off by now? I walked all round it. I even climbed inside.

It was open, with coils that ran round like a spring. I could see everything outside: the sky, the sea. But it looked different: the colours were too vivid and it was out of focus, like I was looking at something projected. Then that vibration came again, and I felt the structure move beneath me. Then the view outside changed; I was no longer looking up at the sky, I was looking down at it, and around me was the blackness of space and the stars.  

But before I had a chance to react, I was back on the ground, although a ground that I don’t recognize. The sand has a strange purple hue and what looks like sea is a thick black syrupy liquid. The sky is blue and I don’t have problems breathing, but I haven’t yet dared to venture off the beach. I’m frightened what I’ll find there. Plus I keep hanging out inside the shell in the hope that it will take me back. But since my arrival it seems to be dormant, more like the sculpture it had became viewed as originally. No amount of tapping elicits a vibration. I don’t know what to do. I just want to go home. 

Friday, 15 June 2018

5 signed copies of Mostly Dark in aid of National Flash Fiction Day #NFFD #BookGiveaway

To coincide with, and celebrate National Flash Fiction Day on the 16th of June, I am running a Giveaway for my book Mostly Dark. I'll be giving away 5 signed copies of the Pocket Edition. 

It is a collection of 30 flash tales, the majority of which fall into the Horror genre. They are collected in such a way that they are divided by the phases of the moon: Full dark, Waxing, Full Moon, Waning, back to Full Dark again.

The back page blurb is: 

“Like the phases of the moon, Mostly Dark waxes and wanes with thirty tales of darkness and light. An intriguing maelstrom of broken minds and broken hearts, from revenge to desire, from new found love to soulmates, herein lies a tale for everyone. Prepare your senses for an emotional and sometimes terrifying ride. 

I will be running the Giveaway for 4 weeks – from Saturday 16th of June to Saturday 14th of July. All entrants need to do is sign up to my newsletter (click on the image below), and on 15th of July I will randomly select five names.

There is no restriction on countries. It is a global giveaway.

The Kindle Edition is only 99p at the moment on Amazon too!


Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 59

This week's picture is one of my own, taken at Dutch Comic Con in November 2017. They were displayed on a Steampunk stall. I thought it was time we had some steampunk. Not that I am much good at writing it! 

I'm not great at writing in steampunk genre, although I do love it. I am not good with historical fiction, and as I am reading sci-fi and about to publish a book in sci-fi, I ended up going in that direction. Not sure if it works, but it was fun trying.

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

Subtle Masking

Gangwin fondled the mask. The feel of the metal under his fingers was strange to him, as were the objects, but Hubrid had told him they were necessary for their attendance. Apparently these things would make their identities invisible to the people there. People. The word was full of strange mouth movements he’d found tricky to master.

Hubrid had told him the masks suited the occasion too, the launch of some kind of flying machine. It was a new concept to people, the idea of flying; they were excited and full of possibilities imagining all sorts. Gangwin had learnt not to react to the bizarre predictions they envisaged it bringing in the future.

Stifling laughter was hard for him, particularly trussed up with all the stiff materials wrapped round his body. When the diaphragm fluctuated he struggled to stop the sound coming out of his mouth. People didn’t like it. It shocked them and some turned their noses up when it happened. They deemed it inappropriate behaviour. He had never known a species so rigid and false.

But his job here was not to judge them, it was only to observe and report and divert. This was one of the key moments in their history. It was a step towards a future that would lead them in the wrong direction, or so the amalgam believed. Hubrid and Gangwin were here to see how they could alter it, or sway the people onto another path. They hoped to be subtle – hence the masks.

When they entered the building, their masks made them believable to the crowd gathered there. People were socializing while the craft languished at the back of the hangar. It was perfect for what they intended. Hubrid went off to do what he needed to the mechanics, and Gangwin found himself surrounded by a crowd, mostly females. It seemed people liked to talk, especially about each other, and he’d been a prize topic. He was new, unattached and had intelligence, which seemed to make him desirable. It was helpful in that it gave him influence and he started to spin the words, interjecting them with those in his own tongue that would start the process.

By the time the launch was due to take place the people’s thoughts had been infected, and when the craft failed to lift off the ground skepticism swept through them sending them in a new direction. They started to converse about the technology employed and its lack of refinement; how they needed to find a less disruptive system, one that blended better with the native planet. It seemed to spark discussion in other quarters too, and several months later Hubrid and Gangwin knew that their project was over and they could depart, returning to higher level of functioning.

But Gangwin insisted on taking the mask home with them, and it's now held in a place of reverence as a memorial to the efforts made to divert an unbecoming species.

Monday, 11 June 2018

National Flash Fiction day - Flash Flood Journal

And again, for the sixth year running (!), I have managed to get a piece of flash fiction accepted for the into the yearly Flash Flood Journal.

It's an international flash-fiction journal created by writers and edited by a team of volunteer editors on behalf, and in aid of National Flash Fiction Day, which takes place on the 16th of June.

Every 10 minutes a new piece of Flash is put on the Flash Flood Journal for the full 24 hours of Flash Fiction day. 

There's still time to enter if you fancy it!

National Flash Fiction Day happens every year. To stay informed on twitter, follow Flash-Fiction Day - @nationalfashfd and there is a page on Facebook too.  There is also a Micro fiction contest and a yearly anthology to submit to, but they happen earlier in the year.

I have never been successful at the Micro fiction contest but last year I was lucky enough to get a story in the anthology - Sleep is a Beautiful Colour.

This was my second entry. The first one was a bit too disturbing, either for the editor in charge that day or for the journal, but the second one was accepted. It will appear around 17:20 on the day. I will update this post with a link when it goes live.

Update: Here's the link to my flash fiction tale:  'Going Batty'. 

Friday, 8 June 2018

A new book is coming!!

Hello everyone,

Just a note to say I'll be releasing a new book coming this summer. Here's the blurb:

Slipping Through 

Journey into different dimensions

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to journey into other dimensions?

Logan and Elise discover a place where the dominant species isn’t human, but will they be able to return to their own dimension?

The Professor hopes Vladimir has unlocked the secret to a parallel universe, but is it what it seems?

David wants to get back home, but will enlisting Rob’s help trap them in the Jester’s game and slipping through forever?

The answers can be found in this collection of science fiction stories, offering the reader a glimpse into surreal worlds and the possibilities that lie in the cracks of the imagination.

 There will be a cover release shortly.

In the meantime: 

I am going to be running a giveaway for a print pocket edition of my first book Mostly Dark. If you are interested, sign up to my mailing list to keep informed.

My Review of Lord of the Flies

Lord of the FliesLord of the Flies by William Golding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's more a 3 and a half, but I couldn't quite push this one to a 4 star rating.

The ending of Lord of the Flies makes up for a lot of the book - great ending, but otherwise my overall feeling is that it is a peculiar book. I'm surprised this is a book studied in schools. Why? It's not well written - I struggled to work out who was speaking sometimes and sentences were stilted and description was unclear; how do you lift 'up' a cheek flap to see through a swollen eye? Is it for the storyline? One that I had heard raved about a lot, but was somewhat disappointing, and then quite gruesome, especially for school children to be reading or studying.

I had heard the group of children in Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome (No.3 - a favourite until Fury Road came along) were similar to those in Lord of the flies, but I couldn't relate the two at all.

I had expected much more: a much more developed sense of a society, but it was very primitive and slow moving. Maybe I need to remember it was written in 1954, and that these were sheltered children. Maybe I've been infected with the current modern view that everything should start with lots of action and not be a slow build to what is quite a big climax at the end. It's been a long time since I read something where I had only a couple of pages left but still didn't know how it was going to end. It was the saving grace of this book.

The description of the book in Wikipedia explains more than some of the description in the book about the events that take place in the book. I'm surprised this is an award winner, and considered good literature. It does not encourage me to read anything else by this author.

View all my reviews