There's some classics on my 'recommended' list as well as new, and not-so-new.
Musical DVDs first. I heartily recommend Pink Floyd: Live At Pompeii and Iron Maiden: Flight 666. They never get old, for some reason.
Movies. Obviously, although it makes Christmas a bit like groundhog day for the last eight years, there has to be the last Harry Potter. And of course the Star Wars Blu-Ray collection. It wouldn't be Christmas otherwise.
DVD series box sets include Absolutely Fabulous, the IT Crowd, Comic Strip Presents... (anyone remember those? Who launched Jennifer Saunders, Adrian Edmondson and Keith Allen, among others?)
Other blast-from-the-past box sets you can still get include Black Books, Gimme Gimme Gimme, The Young Ones, Bottom, Filthy Rich & Catflap, Red Dwarf, The New Statesman, Blackadder, and Girls On Top. And if your budget reaches, check out The Golden Girls. Classic Betty White!
If you haven't seen it, definitely get Bridesmaids - it's a hoot!
From the newly-released, there's The Inbetweeners Movie and Horrible Bosses...
And it has to be Super-8. Steven Spielberg back on his best form in this one. Saw it in the cinema, and felt just like being a little kid again, watching ET for the first time :)
If it was out sooner, I'd also add Cowboys & Aliens. Just thinking of Daniel Craig's method of concluding an awkward confrontation with a good... well, it makes me smile :)
I missed this at the cinema because DS10 was too young to go, so we bought it the week of the DVD release.
I have to admit, I've watched it about five times already! Not only do I love the Pegg/Frost dynamic (Hot Fuzz, Sean Of The Dead), it's revisiting all of my favourite films as a kid. Star Wars, E.T, Explorers, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The Goonies, The Karate Kid, Aliens - so many classic old lines and images (and so many classic new ones!) crop up in perfect synch with the plot. It's definitely more a film for big kids my age than little kids, with the added kick that it's for grown-ups by the use of colourful and irreverently hilarious language, that kids my age have since learned is part of the real world :)
Also featuring Kristen Wiig (Whip It, Bridesmaids) and Jason Bateman (Hancock, The Switch), the cast is packed out with comedy talent, including the voice of Seth Rogen as Paul, Sigourney Weaver at her boss-like finest since Working Girl, and brilliantly clumsy rookie agents Haggard and O'Reilly, played by Bill Hader and Jo Lo Truglio, both of whom I'd quite happily watch played again in another movie... Bateman in particular seems set to take over the boots of Harrison Ford, having picked up most of his cult lines for the film. Wouldn't mind seeing more of him in action. Er, I mean, action roles.
If, like me, you spent much of your youth in the video store scrutinising sci-fi covers, wondering whether to watch Ice Pirates again or Return Of The Jedi, the film PAUL is the perfect reassurance that you're not alone out there...
(Image by NASA) eBooks will never be found in future archaeological digs...
When I go into a bookshop, I don't find an enormous range of prices with various authors and publishers telling me their generic sci-fi book is ten times better than the one next to it, so they've slapped a price on it ten times bigger. If you're lucky, paperbacks all come in at around the same price, based on genre and length of book.
I've recently bought a tablet and started reading eBooks, and it's a disposable medium. If something is no good, it can be returned or deleted, similar to a library. If I love something and want to keep it to re-read, I'd buy a paperback copy. Having read one which was a bit of a disappointment not long ago, I was really pleased it was less than a quid's investment. I'd have put it in a second-hand bookshop if it was a real book afterwards, rather than kept or recommended it.
When you look at the top 50 UK Kindle books, most are under £2, some are even free, with only the very high-profile celebrity books sneaking in here and there at £4.99. It's an expensive toy to start with, so of course readers want to save on a few bargains once they've invested.
The charts are telling us what the people who read eBooks WANT to pay for their books, and HAVE paid.
All those books out there priced at £9.99 aren't getting a look in at these top rankings.
So I've put all my prices down to 99c/70p. (Except for my one 3-in-1 Heavy Duty Edition, still available at a whopping £2.12 for 1280 KB). Not because I want to get a top ranking, but because it's what the readers are demonstrating is a reasonable price, and what I've concluded from my own reading is reasonable. It's like a Lotto ticket every time - you may not enjoy the book, or you may love it and want to buy the hard copy. It's a small investment for whatever return you receive in entertainment terms.
(Beaulieu Motor Museum - Bond exhibit) Buy my expensive eBooks so I can get one of these! LOL :)
Eventually eBook pricing will find its own level, but it will be determined by what the readers are actually buying - not by the publishers.
I was already having a good day yesterday when this arrived. All my delayed final paperback proofs for Death & The City Books One and Two, Living Hell, AND the hardback copy of Living Hell, had arrived at 7:30 a.m. I'd approved them online and updated the bookshelf page on my website (see new banner at the bottom of this blog) - and at around elevensies time, there was another unexpected thump on the doormat. Along with the usual junk mail offering me car insurance etc, was a packet from Amazon, containing "Iron Maiden - Flight 666: The Movie" which I'd forgotten I ordered a few days earlier, in all the panic over where my books had got to and what ideas Customs officers were getting by reading my questionable fictionalised door supervisor urban myth antics. Which they weren't, obviously *gulp* :)
Awesome! And great timing - as I started the DVD, it reminded me that I first saw it on TV around the end of last year. I'd been so inspired by it that it was actually the impetus for me to go the indie publishing route, instead of waiting for the gatekeepers to green-light me as an author. Seeing Bruce Dickinson pack his band and crew and equipment into a plane and fly the whole kaboodle (himself!) to the gigs they wanted to do gave me such a great feeling of inspiration, that if I hadn't seen the movie on TV first time around - well, I wouldn't be here talking about it, or rattling on about the mail and plastering my book cover images everywhere. So the fact that it arrived on the same day as my remaining books that were pending release, is a big reminder to me why I set out to do this. And what people can achieve if they really put their minds to it.
"The Maiden" have been around since I was in school and beyond, back in the mid 1980's. The back patches that boys in my English Lit class wore on non-uniform school trips. The music. The music that you tried to get the DJ to play at school parties and he said he didn't have, while the many talents of Stock, Aitken & Waterman monopolized the decks. The mullets that boys grew the moment they finished their O-levels and GCSEs. The first tattoos, on those who were brave enough... the Donington regulars...
Bruce Dickinson and Rowan Atkinson team up for Comic Relief
...And Bruce Dickinson is a literary talent in himself - if you haven't read "The Adventures Of Lord Iffy Boatrace" which I bought when it was first released, you've missed out. Holy macaroni, I didn't know it was collectible! I wonder what my mint 1990 copy is worth? I wouldn't sell it to you anyway ;) It's like a rock-and-roll Tom Sharpe (of "Blott On The Landscape" fame). Written in various hotel rooms while on tour, indebted to night desk receptionists who handed over stationery to the crazy wild-eyed half-dressed man who apparently never slept, it's comedy genius. And I love reading about a male member of the English gentry who owns more high heels than I do...
"The Adventures Of Lord Iffy Boatrace" by Bruce Dickinson on Amazon - if you can afford it :)
He has his own band, he writes books, he flies a plane... Well, you would, wouldn't you? Except my Mum would probably steal him...
Back to the movie though. The reception the band get as they make their way around the globe in six weeks is astounding. And the fans know that this tour is for them - in one example, fans travel into Costa Rica from Ecuador and further afield just to see the epoch-making gig that they never believed would come this close to home. As one fan says "I always thought how great it would be to see them live, but then I remember, oh yeah, I live in the ass of the world, it'll never happen... And here they are." And the priest who has something like 187 Iron Maiden tattoos and named his son Stevie Harris, who includes anecdotes from Maiden lyrics in his sermons.
If the power of prayer has any weight to it at all, it certainly answered the prayers of all those fans who got to see their heroes perfom live courtesy of Ed Force One in 2008. Long may it continue.
Having missed three opportunities to see In Darklight live so far (car, lack of sleep due to shiftwork, toothache, suffocating under own writing hat) not to mention not being able to sign in to MySpace regularly anymore, because the site is so full and slow, it's like steering a diplodocus down the produce aisle of Waitrose (gutted) - after last time I went straight on Amazon and bought the mp3 album instead. And really glad I did.
If you like alternative rock sounds such as Sum 41, Good Charlotte and a drop of Green Day, these guys are for you.
It's easy to see why these guys are being kept so busy. They're both angsty and commercial at the same time, with a strong vocal that can carry off full rock backing, and solo acoustic piano. Inspiring stuff.
There's an impressive quality to the production value behind the recording and mixing, with some quirky interludes between a few of the tracks that serve to show off the mixing and musical talent in the band.
You can find them and sample their music, get their album info, and latest tour dates on MySpace atwww.myspace.com/InDarklight - and follow them on Twitter: @InDarklight
Looks like they're booked up with gigs and festivals, as well as private hire - you can catch them often in their base of Andover, Hampshire, or surrounding cities and venues such as Joiners in Southampton.
...Review as seen on the HarperCollins Authonomy website :)
Hi again Lisa,
Great news this is now published. My fingers are crossed that you'll sell many thousands of copies. ;)
I'm pretty sure I've read + backed this ages ago, but I'm back to peek again + comment in a transparent attempt to curry favour. ;)
I can’t really remember your book as it’s been so long since I last looked, but I’m heartened to read your list of favoured authors on your profile. With such a pedigree, I’m expecting you’ll have produced something pleasingly bonkers. ;)
I generally comment as I read since I find it the easiest way to keep track. So, without further ado, here I go. :)
Ohhhh now I remember this. There can’t be many books that start with a chick lit assassin in a Halloween costume. I’m baffled how I ever forgot this now. ;)
I like all the meandering asides of your main character. They contrast so well and so daftly with the topic in hand, killing. I’m honestly not sure if she’s a bit deranged or just v odd. Either way, it’s a fun start to read ;).
I like the description “Hollywood hitmen”. Sums it all up so well + speaks v loudly of her contemptuous attitude for those men. Is she right to be so confident, though? She’s either v good at what she does or she’s definitely more than a bit bonkers. Sounds like she doesn’t play by their old fashioned rules, though. Hmmm is that what makes her so effective? We’ll see. ;)
Her meandering thoughts on powerful women throughout the ages etc are quite telling. I think she may have a deep-buried inferiority complex and be out to prove something. When she sees her reflection, we get another hint she’s not exactly all there in the head. The complete lack of fear in her expression’s inhuman, especially considering what she’s up to!
I almost laughed aloud at the cheery image of her passing the postman in fancy dress, swinging her baseball bat. She’s just off for a merry day’s killing. Tra la la la la :).
I like the buildup while she’s waiting behind the hitman, musing away. The longer it goes on, the more my tension increases. I keep expecting him to turn around and spot her at any moment. When she finally gets around to the killing, it’s surprisingly easy and quick.1 blow. I think the instant’s all the more effective for its brevity. Hmm interesting revelation that stopping these guys is her job. It raises the question of who in hell she’s working for. It’s hardly a regular 9 to 5, is it? ;). I blinked when she shot him so casually. The action hammered home the fact she’s no amateur. Scary that death’s s easy for her. Brrr.
Surprise news comes that the postman’s the next target. Ironic they passed each other earlier in such a carefree manner. I wonder if he was having similar thoughts to her as he went by, musing about the killing to come. Darkly funny ;).
Intriguing mystery that the next target of the postman’s a student. I didn’t expect that. Why would anybody want a student dead? They tend to be so harmless.
Ah … seems like she got too close to the wrong person. That would do it. Those guys must be v jumpy about their privacy.
Wow great scene with the postman at the door. It was v chilling and effective the way she just reached out and made him shoot himself. I can really picture that scene + feel his confusion. Ah but he recognises her just at the end. Lara. This woman must have quite a reputation. No wonder, from what I’ve witnessed so far!
Strange mystery about the postman’s next target. Will we ever find out what the heavy duty thing is, I wonder? I like the following talking shop with head office. Filled with interesting details. My ears perked up when I hear she’s getting a wing man. I didn’t expect that. Lara seems like the sort to work alone.
Uh oh the upcoming partner’s somebody she knows + seems v unimpressed by. I’m sensing a lot of conflict’s coming. Wow if she thinks he’s weird, he really must be off his trolley!...
Well, what can I say? I sort of remembered the events in your book, but I’d forgotten just how bonkers and darkly funny they were ;).
Lisa makes 1 of the most unusual and interesting protagonists I’ve read on authonomy. If I knew her, I wouldn’t feel safe around her without bullet proof glass between us. She’s like a ticking time bomb. Not knowing what the hell she was going to do next kept me right on the edge of my seat for the entire time I read this.
The idea of a story based on a woman killing hitmen’s fascinating too. She’s the ultimate badass. Given the job she’s doing + her mental state, I don’t know if she’s the hero, the antihero, or some unholy mix of both. All I know is your story’s a lot of fun and I’d happily read all of it if I had enough time. :)
Despite the fact you’re now published and no longer need ratings, I’ve given you 6 stars. In my opinion, your book deserves it. Please let me know if this does well on kindle. I’d love to hear that great news. ;)
...Dat's what I call some Voodoo beats... Well, it must be lack of chocolate or something, having opted for Jelly Belly beans instead of an Easter Egg when shopping this week, for some reason I'm feeling on a bit of a downer this evening. All my latest stuff is edited and waiting for proofreading copies in paperback format, so all I have to do at the moment is twiddle my thumbs, or open a half-finished project and invent some new Zombies for Dorothy to munch on. I think it was moving some of the books on my coffee table, and unwittingly opening Teach Yourself: Managing Stress on page 179, about relationships. About how critical they are, to adult development and health. Well, I've still not had one, and I'll be 40 this summer - and having it rubbed in by well-meaning Psychology-lite books that I know less about intimacy than a Celica brake disc lifespan (especially when driving with the music too loud to hear the pads drop out as it gets trashed), doesn't do a lot for my self-image and confidence. I can probably still fool a psychiatric department, like I did a few years ago that I'm normal for my age, but that's only I reckon because I saw my paperwork afterwards and they'd got my date of birth wrong and had me down as 24 :) Must be my great DNA :)
Editing "Death & The City" brought back a lot of those memories too. It's about an unlikely hitman's nemesis, single mum Lara Leatherstone (not her real name - she chose it off an online Porn Star Name Generator), who has developed a highly-self-monitoring way of controlling her own psychotic personality disorders, which keeps her off medication and out of hospitals while throwing snipers off rooftops and shooting them from motorway bridges, when not on shift working in nightclub security. All good so far. But to make it a story, it became the tale of what happens when she's set up with another 'Deathrunner' work colleague, and along came the romance angle.
I didn't have any experience of romance to write from, so I used my imagination. As well as exploring all the everyday romantic delusional states that my former workmates and friends were experiencing as I saw them, to develop the scenery of surrounding characters in the book's setting of the nightlife hospitality industry.
Along came film producer Sophie Neville (in real life, not the story - IMDb profile here), and she wanted to have a read. So quite willingly I let her check out my first unedited proofs. Not only did she come back with tips on proofreading annotation and shorthand to help speed up my editing, she emailed asking me to ring, which I did one afternoon before heading to the day job - and she couldn't say more glowingly how great the romance parts of the story are, and how amazing and original they are. Humble thanks was all I managed on the phone, before having to make my excuses and go to work, but have been in a state of shock about ever since.
Either I over-compensated with my imagination for lack of experience, or I don't have the self-censorship of having real romantic events or intimacy to hide in my past, or to keep private. But I go from feeling vaguely fraudulent, to feeling shame that perhaps I've unleashed something that will raise single women's expectations beyond realistic achievement in real life if they go looking for it, to basic curiosity about what I'm missing out on - if a worldly, experienced and accomplished professional in the Media world can identify with and praise the kind of stories that come out of my own inexperienced head. At one point I even thought I had writer's block, trying to keep the scenario running. But I cracked it in my own way - I just can't believe that an antisocial hermit like me can come out with something in that scheme of things, that a fully-grown reader can find so appealing.
To find out about it, you'll just have to check out DEATH & THE CITY: Book One (and Two, which follows on directly, as they were too big for a single paperback volume) on Kindle now - and in paperback next month.
Anyway, enough about my noisy insecurities and depressingly lifelong singledom. (I don't drink, so don't tell me to go to bars or parties *bleck* - saw too much of that sort of thing scraping them off the dancefloor when I was an SIA bouncer).
It's dark and beckoning and gives as much attitude as a pack of Komodo Dragons in a cemetery full of shallow graves. Some of the tracks are truly cosmic, including "Blind Faith" featuring Liam Bailey, and "Time" featuring Delilah, and pack that proper big-style anthemic sound that you really need to get you out of that gyroscopic introspection when it's really eating away at you.
Plus the lyrics pack a punch that ring true as well. If you're advanced enough in your self-repair processes to handle a bit of "Fool Yourself", having it mashed in your ears is a good reminder that you're not alone :) Awesome stuff.
If you are finding that you have more internal questions than answers these days, I recommend "Head Case" by Dr. Pamela Stephenson Connolly, and if you can get hold of them, the self-help books by Dr. Raj Persaud that put psychoanalysis and mental health on daytime TV. The research was valid - even if the credits/referencing were vague ;)
For more background info on surgical psychosis, check out my case study on the homepage of www.screenkiss.co.uk
...Please be aware that the extent of my German in the exams at school, writing a sample letter for the imagined purposes of 'hiring home help', only goes as far as "Wir haben keine Kellar, wir kannst alles machen eine Kellar" which is very bad taste (and terrible grammar, an even greater crime in the language classroom). But in my defence was written many many years ago, before I even wrote Living Hell. In which more of my questionable approach to YA satirical literature can be found - especially considering I was a teenager myself at the time I wrote it. Wilkommen, Freunden! If I just called everybody Freudian, I do apologise. I should probably stick to writing what I know - particularly in a language that I know.
If I slip into the language of MS-DOS, please feel free to initiate a PC scan. Although this, of course, will only reassure you that the stuff it reveals was already there.
Anyway - this is me. Well, on a good day, or possibly night. Not currently the version of me sitting here typing, wearing a Tesco's Royal Wedding "Marry Me Instead!" t-shirt, eating Nik-Naks and wondering why my cup of tea is nearly cold already. Especially considering the temperature outdoors this afternoon. That's my real hair. Occasionally it tries to choke me in bed, if I don't tie it back. This is not as much fun as some people would believe. Particularly when there are no witnesses, and it gives you thoughts about being strangled by an invisible poltergeist.
I've recently taken up hula-hooping. This is definitely as much fun as anyone would believe! I hooped all the way through "Ultimate Santana" on the patio a couple of days ago, when I got my first custom hoop. Only the cat was annoyed, as it meant he couldn't get to his bowl without nearly being lasso'd, but he got over it. Pretty much as soon as the music stopped, the miaowing for food started.
...Also, according to my stats, and Google, this blog is a match for the search 'X-Rated Muppet Pics' :) Who's looking for x-rated Muppet pics? Shame on you! LMAO :)
But back to the subject. In the last month, I've edited and published three books onto Kindle - Living Hell (as mentioned), Death & The City: Book One, and Death & The City: Book Two. All three will be available in paperback from Amazon and Barnes&Noble in May 2011 as well. That's a grand total of 350,000 words proof-read and edited. My eyes are now squarer than the front of a Hummer. Hopefully, most of them can now be read by a sane person... I try not to discriminate against the mentally able - they have so much to give to society.
Also, exclusive to eBook format (because it's chuffing MASSIVE) is the 2-in-1-plus-1 "DEATH & THE CITY: HEAVY DUTY EDITION" which contains both books in the start of the Tales Of The Deathrunners series, and bonus material - the original feature film script "Heavy Duty" written in 1990. Later inspiring me to redevelop it as the background story of a character in a novel, leading to Death & The City.
I got the idea to include this version in Kindle format, after speaking to Jason Kingsley (Rebellion) at The London Book Fair last week. He was panelling a discussion on Transmedia, and the potential for eBooks to be more than the sum of their chapters, which has been explored by a few authors already. An eBook doesn't have to be just the electronic version of a print book anymore. The potential for reference books to have external material added is already huge. But the skill, in fiction, is going to be in holding the reader's attention to the end.
...Now see how a real author puts it better... Jessica L. Degarmo on Amazon
...The conclusion being that I've just been looking in the wrong places for romance all of my life, so whatever I do next obviously can't involve nightclubs, or loitering in cemeteries. I can't believe all that time spent as a teenager was wasted. Except of course for the zombie muses, but with a name like Voodoo Spice I don't think that comes as a big surprise.
Anyway, on the HarperCollins writer's forum website, authonomy.com, is a lot of talent. And some of them can write as well! And most of them, I can't even picture having spent any time at all sitting in trees, sneaking around in burnt-out derelict buildings, or reading gravestones when they were youngsters. It is a real eye-opener.
One of my favourite authors on the site so far, whose writing skills go far beyond the range of my immediate knowledge (trust me, after understanding the concept of a Valentine card, I have no experience what the rest of the stuff on sale this time of year is used for) is Jessica L. Degarmo. Now published by Night Publishing, I bought her first novel "How To Meet A Guy At The Supermarket" soon as it was available on Amazon.co.uk, and a hilarious migrating decimal-point pricing error had been addressed. I mean, wow. Like she said herself "I can't wait to see what the royalty on that is!"
So the book arrived, featuring a lovable character called Quinn, whose dilemmas meeting men are only matched by the challenges of keeping her writing column entertaining, and once she hits upon a way to combine the requirements of both, puts on her best produce aisle-strutting shoes and heads out to practise squeezing grapefruit with intent.
But real men out doing their weekly food shop aren't there to be plucked from the shelves like a special offer. Quickly sussed out by the staff, and confusing the occasional entirely well-meaning elderly gentleman or First Aider presented by her antics, she wonders how she's ever meant to find a relationship - or write a popular themed column - when she's closer to being barred from the store and restraining orders than to any dates.
But dates she does find, from a handsome beach babe to a Mr. Average with the passion of a cornflake, to finding love in the form of replacing her imaginary lost dog with a real one. And all along, you kind of know she's going to fall on her feet by the end...
Jessica's style of writing is perfect for romantic comedy, how she pushes her female protagonist to the cringe-worthy limits of a singleton's comfort zone, but brings her in line with humour and her character's own sense of the absurd in her situation.
I said to Jessica, having read this in one sitting, that I felt like I was watching a Jennifer Aniston movie. The story is so accessible and the humour so warm, and the character so identifiable, that I'm sure in the right hands it could go a long way indeed.
If you're single this Valentine's, (and zombie tales don't do it for you, although I can't think why not!) Jessica's laugh-out-loud book can be found on Amazon now in paperback and Kindle. Enjoy :)