Friday, 28 June 2013

Things and Stuff #8

Things and Stuff is a grab-bag of things that've been on my mind this week. In this edition: no editing, much ado, fancy cannibals, incredible penthouses, and Skulk artwork

Thing 1: NO EDITING
Wow, has it really only been four days since Monday? It feels like a lifetime. I suppose that would explain why my house isn't magically spotlessly clean yet. 

Thing 2: Much Ado About Joss Whedon's Amazing Garden
I went to see Much Ado About Nothing yesterday - it was really good, and I'm very jealous of his garden (for those not up on their Joss Facts, he directed the whole thing in his own house in twelve days). The acting was particularly wonderful - Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker are completely brilliant and it was fabulous to see Sean Maher as Don John - just dripping with malice. 


Also, Nathan Fillion is a much much better Dogberry than Michael Keaton (C) Joss Whedon

There was some inevitable strain from the modern day setting. It raised questions about what the Prince and Benedick and co had been doing before they arrived back from 'the action' that the play couldn't answer (it was obviously not any kind of actual warfare). And no matter how much you try to show that Claudio is concerned that Hero's cheating on him, and not just that she's not a virgin... all the text is still virginity-focused. Claudio was definitely a bit wet, but then Claudio is a Great Big Wet Weed in the play and there's not much any actor can do about it. The whole wedding meltdown scene is frustrating at the best of times because Claudio lets it go on so damn long before he actually comes out with the point, and Hero herself has so few lines while she's being accused. 

Still: it's a great play and a great film adaptation. Alexis Denisof's sponteneous push-ups are basically worth the admission by themselves. It's not on in very many cinemas so you should catch it quickly if you're going to!

Thing 3: The Adventures of Empath and Fancy Cannibal
Also known as the NBC series Hannibal, based on the Hannibal Lecter books/movies. I haven't been watching the show, but I've been reading Cleolinda Jones' detailed recaps of the episodes. They are, just like Movies in Fifteen Minutes and most of the other things Cleolinda does, absolutely brilliant. It's not at all suitable for children or anyone with a particularly weak stomach - obviously, on account of the series is full of cannibalism and other horrible things. But they are also really funny and clever and full of general awesomeness. It's not easy to capture the appeal, but I highly highly recommend you give the recap of Episode One a go if you're up for Wendigo metaphors, puppies, mental breakdowns and murder wizardry.

Thing 4: these two incredible New York penthouses 
I needed to get a hang on the floorplans of fancy penthouses, for Skulk Reasons, and I came across these two. Yep, I'll take both. Just charge the rent to Working Partners and Strange Chemistry, if we share it between them I'm sure they won't mind...


15 Central Park West (C) the architects, presumably, from ny.curbed.com
The first floor of the City Spire Penthouse (C) ditto - click through for pictures of the inside, they are amazing.

Thing 5: I've seen some Skulk artwork
I KNOW! How dare I bury the lede down here at the end of a Things and Stuff? Well, because I can't show it to you yet. But you can take my word for it, it's 100% awesome and cool and gorgeous and so exciting and I'm so excited about it and I can't wait to share it. Watch this space...

Friday, 21 June 2013

Things and Stuff #7

Things and Stuff is a grab-bag of things that've been on my mind this week. In this edition I am too busy to blog, so instead: foxes, butterflies, ravens, rats, spiders. 

Warning for arachnophobics: Thing 5 is a close-up photo of a spider. I've picked the spider image that gave me the least creeping horrors, but your tastes may vary. 

Thing 1: a Skulk


Gorgeous (C) unfortunately I can't find the photo source for this one, please let me know if this is your photo, it is beautiful.

Thing 2: a Rabble


Also known as a flutter or a swarm, but rabble is so much cooler (C) National Geographic

Thing 3: a Conspiracy


Oh yeah, this is definitely a conspiracy (C) Wikipedia
Thing 4: a Horde


The cutest, laziest horde (C) photo source also unknown
Thing 5: a Cluster


This is not a Cluster, because it's only one spider, but it was hard to find a photo of several spiders that did not give me the creeping horrors, so I went with the one that made me smile (C) Uda Dennie

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Things and Stuff #6

I'm late! I totally forgot to do my Friday post this week. 

In any case, Things and Stuff is a grab-bag of things that've been on my mind this week. In this edition: exposition, Once, ghosts, eyeballs and editing


Thing 1: Exposition
How much is too much? Too little? How long can someone realistically talk without being interrupted?

I've been editing like a demon this week. My brain has turned to mush. Here is a picture of a bunny.
Yep. (C) www.acuteaday.com

Thing 2: Once
I went to see Once on Wednesday, and it was really awesome. The sheer musical skills on stage were enough to keep me hypnotically glued to the stage - add to that some really lovely emotional moments and a couple of great laughs, and you have a very good night out.

The play itself didn't entirely live up to the flawless performances - I didn't care quite as much about the central relationship as I wanted to, and the girl definitely starts out as a straight down the line manic pixie dream girl and arguably stays that way even though very much does have her own stuff going on. But in the context of something that was otherwise so, so lovely, those are actually quite small problems.

Gold (C) the Broadway cast at the Tony Awards

Thing 3: Ghost stories
Two nights in a row this week I've dreamed complete ghost stories, with endings, and both made total sense at the time. I need to try to write them down. One was a slow burn creepy thing that started out normal and ended up with a mother and baby ghost and bugs everywhere, and the other was a huge haunted castle story with a group of tourists from the 30s, a million doors that looked exactly the same and a brilliant twist ending... that I just can't put my finger on in the light of day. There was some good stuff in there, though.  

Thing 4: Giant gelatin eyeballs
I helped make two of these this week. It was supposed to be a prop for Odyssey, but it didn't turn out quite as well as we'd hoped - the first one I threw away prematurely, and the second one worked better, but then I forgot to put it in the bag that J was taking onto the field. So now I have a slightly broken giant gelatin eyeball in my fridge.

Thing 5: I haven't got time to do a thing 5, I have to get back to editing. Here is a really nice picture of a fox having some thoughts.


Lovely (C) Philpen


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

7 Very Good Reasons You Should Pre-Order Skulk


I know, I said I was going to do a blog about obscure Tolkien characters next. But Luthien's going to have to wait, because on Friday I found out that SKULK IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER.

Every positive step along the publication trail feels like, to paraphrase Martin Lawrence, stuff just got real. When an agent asks to read the book, when you sign up with them, when a publisher makes happy noises to your agent about your story, when they take it to acquisitions, when they make an offer, when you sign a contract, when you get your edits...

But the biggest stuff just got really real jolt so far has definitely been discovering that right now this minute you can go along to your preferred seller of books and give them money in exchange for your very own actual copy of Skulk.

Why should you pre-order it, though? I mean, it'll still be there when October rolls around. Well, here are some very good reasons:

1: Pre-orders help me sell more books
When bookshops and libraries and internet book stockists see that people are pre-ordering a book, especially a debut, it makes them look at that book and that writer differently. It makes them think, 'hmm, I see people actually want to read this book. Is this the next Hunger Games? We'd better make sure we've got a couple of copies in stock.' That means more copies in shops, which means more people find out about it. I have no pretensions that Skulk is the next Hunger Games, but they don't have to know that. The more people who pre-order Skulk, or go into bookshops and ask where they can get a copy, the more we can trick bookshops into thinking maybe this is a book that could make us all rich.

2: Going into a bookshop to pre-order helps them sell other books too
Because let's be frank, you're not going to go in there and pre-order a book without looking around and maybe buying a little something for your summer holiday, are you? And even if you do somehow manage that, you'll be giving a bookshop money which makes them more successful which lets them buy more books which makes the whole industry better. Pre-order Skulk, become a benefactor for all literature forever.

3: Pre-orders help spread word of mouth which is basically the driving force of publishing nowadays and all that stands between Skulk and the NYT bestseller list
Especially if you take a second to tell someone else that you've ordered it! Perhaps on the internet...

4: You'll be the first to get a copy
And that's just awesome. If you love it, you can buy copies for everyone you know, and if you hate it you can start collecting dry wood for the bonfire. (Better buy up all the copies, that way you can make sure nobody ever reads it, and we want that fire to get nice and toasty).

5: If you order it in the next week, you'll be able to say you bought a copy of the book before it was finished
This freaks me out a little bit, but it's true. I'm writing this post as procrastination from editing the book! So really what you're buying if you order Skulk this week is a world of infinite possibility. By the time it gets to you it could be anything! (It's not going to be anything, it's going to be Skulk - but right now it could be anything. Oooooooooh.)

6: You'll probably forget
That is, if you're anything like me. You'll forget that you put 'totally go and buy a copy of Skulk when it comes out' on your mental to do list. If you pre-order it now, you'll get a handy reminder when it comes out in October, in the form of a copy of the book, which is the best kind of reminder.

7: You'll probably forget
The awesome flipside to forgetfulness? Surprise book! At the beginning of October you'll hear a thud on your doormat/open the door for the postie/get a 'you weren't here' slip through your letter box, and you'll think 'what's this? It's from my favourite book-selling operation. But I didn't order anything in the last 5-7 working days...' And then you'll open it and discover it's Skulk and hopefully not be too disappointed. It's like you're buying your future self a surprise present.

So go, go to Amazon or Foyles or Blackwells or Waterstones or your local indie bookshop or library and tell them you'd like a copy of Skulk.

Please?

Friday, 7 June 2013

Things and Stuff #5

Things and Stuff is a grab-bag of things that've been on my mind this week. In this edition: Malorie, Thrones, Glorious, blogging, Ninjago

Thing 1 : Malorie Blackman is the new Children's Laureate!
She is such a brilliant writer and this is such a brilliant choice - if you don't know much about her (I suspect everyone who is reading this will know more about her than I do, but still) and you're wondering why it's brilliant, you should read this Guardian interview.

(It was a huge huge honour to have her as the writers' honorary chair for Undiscovered Voices 2012, sh'e's a wonderful person and the very idea that she's actually read the first chapter of Skulk is sort of mind-blowing.)

Thing 2: This week's episode of Game of Thrones
I'm not going to go into it in any great detail. But I was expecting something pretty amazing, and my reaction still went a little something like this:

Peterson isn't, is he? (C) the BBC

Thing 3: Glorious!
The concert on Tuesday night was really, really awesome. I'm still buzzing a little bit. 290 singers make an incredible noise and as usual David brought out the best in all of us. And it's going to be on the radio on Monday!

Thing 4: I didn't get a sensible blog up this Tuesday
I was due to, because it's been a whole two weeks. To be fair, I had work followed by lunch followed by work followed by a concert. But all that really means is I should've thought about that in advance and written one on Monday.

Sorry about that. I've got one I like for this Tuesday! Maybe don't get your hopes up for any kind of measurable insightfulness or relevance to anything, though: it's about obscure characters from The Lord of the Rings. Sorry.

Thing 5: toy-based children's television
Did you know, Lego: Ninjago is actually really entertaining? Incredibly strange - it's set in ancient China but the bad guys in episode one are a skeleton motorbike gang, which is something I'm not convinced we could get away with in any WP book series. But Ninjago is also actually pretty funny, inventive and exciting. I have to admit to also having a major fondness for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and laughing out loud at episodes of Bob the Builder more than once.

I've watched all of these shows on Youtube, of course. What is a te-le-vi-sion? (C) Keith Chapman

It's slightly hard to accept that these stories that are explicitly created to sell toys (so much so that Lego Ninjago isn't actually shown on any UK channels because of laws about advertising to children) does not have to be creatively bankrupt. There's something definitely a bit icky about the concept of the ever-expanding merchandising opportunities that go with these shows. Did you know each Ninjago character has three different costumes? And weapons? And a dragon each? And lots of different vehicles and locations and bits and pieces?

I don't think you could argue that that aspect doesn't matter when you're looking at the TV shows that children watch (and they do watch Ninjago, apparently - they just watch it on youtube). But I am actually really comforted to know that as well as some genius business brains wringing every last penny out of pestered parents... there's actually someone behind the scenes writing engaging plots and funny jokes as well. If they're going to be hooked on advertising dressed up as drama, and let's face it, they are... it might as well be good.