Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review - Crisis Point and Power Surge

Power Surge (Villain.Net)Crisis Point (Hero.Com)I've described Andy Briggs' books as "twin cannons" in the past; maybe not on this blog, but in real life. This time, I felt a little disappointed.

Crisis Point and Power Surge are the two new books in the Hero.com and Villain.net series of books, respectively, taking off where the last titles left off. There has been a huge difference in them though, or maybe I'm only noticing this now: Briggs repeats himself a lot! And I don't mean from one book to the next, or across the two books. I mean throughout a book, he'll mention a point two or three times. Now, I'm aware the books are meant for younger readers, and he may be trying to remind them of certain things (like his mad theory on time) but I don't think he gives the reader any credit. I felt insulted to be reading something over and over again.

The plot, I found, was still enjoyable. In fact, it was only the repetition that really got on my nerves. If you've read these books, you know what I'm talking about. Two people, one in each book, consistently pop up to cause a huge amount of trouble for the protagonists on each story. Over and over and over again I read about it, and it got a bit tiresome. Only in the case of a second character in Crisis Point did it make any sense to keep throwing her back in, the reason for which you do eventually discover.

What I love most about the books though, aside from the whole superhero theme and the downloadable powers, is Briggs' ability to write the two books side by side! They happen at the same time, so the events in one affect the other. This requires a lot of thought, because things have to match up, and it can get quite messy. With these two books, he pulled it off even better than before, when he would painfully repeat dialogue too.

So, they're worth the read, if you don't mind the repetition. And you can get through both books in a day if you really want to (took me a little longer, but that's a story for another blog post).

There's more info on the books at: http://www.whichsideareyouon.co.uk/

Note that you can just as easily only read one series and still get a pretty good story. I find that both together wraps everything up nicely though!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Long list of books what need reading

No, it's not the most imaginative or coherent title. But it's true. I've got so many books right now that I need to read, and more that are unread and not on the list. Right now I'm reading a Douglas Adams book, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. It's as funny as the other books Adams has written, but I'm just not finding the time to read it as much as I'd like.

I've got the second book too, but I'm also expecting lots of books in the mail. One of those is a free review copy of a book that I need to review (Primal from Virgin Books). On the list is also one I've been trying desperately to get my hands on, Black and White by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge. Awesome looking superhero novel!

So epect a lot of reviews coming up. I've also got the next two Hero.com and Villain.net books to buy, and The Sorceress by Michael Scott. Lots of books to read... I'll have to control my urge to Tweet so much!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Magazine Competition

Hi all!

Well, I've been discussing this on the Lit Den forums, and we're hosting a raffle of sorts, a giveaway. It's very easy, for the fiction writers, journalists, poets, artists and photographers to be in with a shot at winning.

Now, we can't afford to just hand out books like other people (although I do have a few I will probably be giving away at some stage). However, we have three copies of The Literary Den Book of New Fiction 2009 to give away to the public when it's released. As far as I know, this will be in the middle of July, or perhaps a little later.

So here's how to win. Very easy, just submit to our magazine! Every submission, including those already made by members of the public, will be entered into a RANDOM draw to win one of the three books. All the money from the books goes to the Laura Crane Trust (reg. 1058464), based in Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

So what to submit?

We're accepting: articles relevant to the literary world, preferrably not something that will be old news very quickly; short stories in any genre, although if you're aiming for younger readers, please mention that; poems on any topic; comic strips which can be expected to continue through the magazine; artwork and photography that displays a message, or is a demonstration of real talent; writing tips, although it should be pointed out that we will be reading these, and if no one can see the point in what you're saying, it's likely it won't get in (general tips work best; the more experience you have, the better); book reviews of your favourite books, ever - any related to members of the Den are even better!

When to submit?

Right up to the release, and beyond. Although, unless there are huge delays, the competition will close the moment the book hits the proverbial bookshelf. Take it as being mid-July, but keep an eye on our Twitter to get the finalised date.

Where to submit to?

I will be accepting all magazine entries. Send them to literary_mania(at)yahoo(dot)ie with the subject line Magazine Submission on or before the closing date to be entered. All successful entries will be published in the magazine, though not all in the same issue, based on the number of submissions we get.

This is a new magazine people, specifically for the public! Tell your friends!

Note of word limits

Short stories up to 3,000 words will be accepted. We would prefer a minimum of 1,500 words, although less than that may still be published. Articles and reviews must not exceed 1,500 words, unless the subject content is large; contact us in advance if you're not sure. Poems can be of any length, though poems of length greater than 80 lines may not be published. Comic strips may consist of 1-6 panels. If successful, expect further contact to arrange sequel comics.

The Literary Den reserves the right not to publish work (although this doesn't happen a lot after we've said 'yes.') Please send in material in an editted form. The prize of three books may be subject to change, although such changes will be made public the moment they are final. Copyright remains with the author, although by submitting to the Literary Den, we reserve the right to publish your work elsewhere - note that the members of the Literary Den are not making a profit from the magazine or other sales. Any money the Den does acquire that is not related to the Laura Crane Trust will be used to further the promotion and development of the Den, and will not be split among the active parties of the Den.

Also note that successful poets will be contacted to submit to the an Anthology of Poetry, editted by Elizabeth Dyer.

Any further questions can be posted here, or emailed to me @ literary_mania(at)yahoo(dot)ie

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reading, writing and how I need four hours more daily

Morning all. I've discovered that my day is too short. I need to read dozens of books, and very quickly, so that I can move on and buy some more, and review loads more! And I have lots of writing to do, and too many distractions in my life too.

Let me start from the beginning. On Friday, I told myself I would write until I hit somewhere in the region of 7-8,000 words on my new book, The Company. Well, I failed to reach even close to that as a result of spending the day with Sam, then being lazy later that night. So I told myself, "Okay, weekend is here. Only six hours in work, then I can write some more!" No, that never happened. The work did, but I didn't write any more. At all. Over the entire weekend. I think I'm somewhat broken, and I need to fix it. I know what you're thinking too. "He's blogging, when he could be writing." I could be, but I need to get my fingers into practice first.

So today, I have to lock myself up for four hours and just keep writing. I got an idea last night that I'm going to implement into the story to stir things up a bit, while also continuing the way I had planned to. I've been wanting to get to this part of the story for a while now. I just haven't been writing it...

The book I'm currently reading is Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (the same guy who wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy). I'm only on page 12, but I'm enjoying it. I must spend about four hours reading that later too.

I also have to monitor my Survive The Net progress. I need one more reply to an interview on blogs before I post all three. After that, I can put Charlie McDonnel's one up. Survive The Net takes about three hours of my day away sometimes. It all depends on what I have to do. Today, I have to find more people to interview, so that could take up some time. I'm also entertaining myself with the survey I posted, so I keep checking back on it, using more of my valuable time.

So where do I stand? Let's see... four hours for writing, four for reading, three for STN, about an hour and a half for eating... I only got up at a bit past nine... and I spend an unholy amount of time on Twitter and checking emails and all that jazz.... I need about fourteen hours today! Oh damn! And that's assuming I finish up quickly on everything I do, don't get booted off the computer, and don't get bored/tired. Wish me luck...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stories le Lulu.com

So I was checking out Lulu.com, following my previous rant about expensive printing costs, and I found a rather easy way to provide the short stories for charity in print. I can even make them in colour if I want, but I don't see the point as I'm not much of a drawer, and I don't have suitable models for photographs.

However, if I were to print in colour, I could get what I estimate to be 16 pages printed in A5 for only €6.00! That's quite good! Add on €1.25 for revenue (€1 for charity, €0.25 for Lulu.com) and it's only €7.25 to print. In black and white printing, it costs even less! For a mere €4.61, the same size book can be printed. Adding on the same revenue and it only costs €5.86! Less than €6.oo people! It's a bargain, and that's only for people who want hard copies of the stories. It's great news for me, who will want to print a hard copy to display them at some stage.

If I choose to go for Lulu.com and Amazon.com though, it could be more expensive. In fact, I believe the price is doubled! So for those ones, I will be printing three stories together and upping the revenue to €3.75 so that each story still earns the same amount for a sale. I will need to do further investigation into the matter.

Still, low prices for stories, with all the money going to charity! Some specific charities I'd like to support are: The Laura Crane Trust, The Hanly Foundtation and The Manuela Riedo Foundation, who each deal with specific problems facing people. The LCT are sort of our partners in the Den; all the money we raise goes to them. The Manuela Riedo Foundation is a new one, which my friend Niamh is singing for in July (in Switzerland!!) The Hanly Foundation were really annoying people last Friday, but with a good cause. I'd like to support them if I can, but all I could do was buy a scratch card then, and only to get rid of them.

Naturally, I'll need to get in touch with every charity in advance to get a logo and a registered charity number. Here's where you can come in! Recommend a charity, leave a link to it, and I'll see if I'm not already covering the topic. If I am and I'm not writing for a charity under that topic, then I will pick the most suitable charity (based on the recommendations given).

If your recommendation is accepted, you'll be entered into a draw to win a free paperback copy of the story representing the charity. In fact, you'll get multiple entries. Each time a story is released, there will be a competition for one person to win a hardcopy of it, shipped to anywhere in the world! And it couldn't be easier to win. Just keep telling people about the stories, through Twitter and blogging and word of mouth, and each time someone says you recommended the stories, you'll get an entry. There will be more details later when the first story is published, which, by the way, I have begun planning.

Watch this spot ladies and gentlemen!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Big Summer Challenge

Change of plans since this morning. I'm no longer just working on Survive The Net and the those charity shrot stories. While I hope to be able to continue them, I'm now facing the challenge of writing and editting a novel by August 20th. This new WIP is currently at 1100 words and counting, but it needs to be at least 80,000 words!

Added to this, I need to edit Meet Sam between August 20th and September 7th. At this stage, I should know whether or not the WIP is in the short list for the competition it's being entered in to. If it is, then Meet Sam goes on hold. If not, it's being submitted to a publisher.

Assuming the worst in both cases (that I don't get short listed and I don't get accepted) I'll be sending off another novel that I have to work on a lot for late October. This one has a max of 80,000 words, and needs to be fit for 9-16 year olds (anywhere in there). So from the 8th to the deadline of the second competition, I have to write and edit a novel (although I may begin writing it early on). This novel won't be written otherwise if I get accepted by either the competiton or the publisher.

Whatever happens, I'm now working on three novels, for three publishers, in five months. Because of this, Survive The Net won't go on sale until (a) the current WIP gets published, (b) Meet Sam gets published or (c) the teen book gets published (and of course, any of them can get denied and I'll still put it to print).

However, this only gives me more time to put the book together and organise all the interviews I want. The short stories don't count as what the competitions prohibit, so I can still write them, whenever I find the time. I'll keep y'all posted on that.

Taking a risk / freedom!

Hi Universe,

Well, it's been way too long. However, I have an excuse (don't I always?) My dear old (young, actually, but you get the picture) laptop decided it was going to stop charging at all. So I can't use it. It's been taken off by Dell to be repaired, thanks be to God, but I haven't heard from them since and it's been a while.

The desktop I'm sitting at, meanwhile, is the worst thing in the world, ever. Up until this morning, it refused to work with Blogger at all. It's just shut down the Internet Explorer and told me to deal with things myself. Evidently, I'm back, and taking a risk with this before it decides to explode.

Lots has happened in the few weeks I've been forced away from my precious blog. For one, I've finished all of my exams! I'm officially free from the stress! Can I get a Hallelujah?! (moving on...) I've also begun work on the book I mentioned earlier in the blog: How to Survive (etc) which is being renamed simply as Survive The Net (subtitle: How to Survive and Thrive on the Internet).

This project is changing everything already. I've written interviews for a few parties, and I have many more in mind. So far, the delightful girls from Lipstick Royalty graced my e-self with an interview, and YouTube's own Charlie McDonnell (AKA charlieissocoollike!!) has agreed to an interview and has been sent the questions! Hazzah! Also on my interview list, in the middle of confirming the details, are Lessthan7, a YouTube collab. channel from several countries, and Lucas Cruikshank, also from YouTube, who makes the Fred videos. He's been the most difficult to contact, and I'm yet to get a reply.

Others I'd like to interview are Wil Wheaton (yes, the Star Trek guy) for his success selling books via Lulu.com, as well as the doctor who wrote My Stroke of Insight, for her success in not only overcoming her health problem, but in getting accepted by a mainstream publisher! I'd also like to arrange a Q&A with staff from Twitter and AudioBoo, as they've become fascinatingly popular since their arrivals, though not always with the younger crowd.

Added to that will be surveys (mass participation appreciated). I'll be exploring the sites people use, the reasons they use them, and the reasons they don't. Busy stuff, lots of work involved, can't wait.

Moving on swiftly now, to item number three in this ridiculously long blog post (can't you just feel my deprivation?) Yesterday, as I walking to the cinema, I thought about a work friend, Sandra, and a recent phonecall I had with her over a post on this blog concerning Lauren Keech and the story I wrote. Well, I've decided that I'd very much like to expand on the story, but make it more fictional. I'd also like to introduce lots of other issues, but too many in one tale would essentially kill the characters over and over again. The solution? I'm thinking a series of short stories, one every two weeks (that's the plan, anyway), each sold on Lulu.com individually at a low price (revenue of €1) with all the money going to charity. The charities will be chosen based on the theme of the story. Take a cancer-story, for example. The money from that will be going to my favourite cancer charity, The Laura Crane Trust.

For the series, I'd like to also help promote lesser known charities, which is why I said LCT rather than a larger organisation. I want these smaller charities to get noticed, because they deserve it to. So I'm asking you, please, to submit ideas for charities. I want to know about them, what they do, who they benefit, so that I might be able to work a story around that idea. The more personal the charity is to you, the better.

I'm going to begin work on these stories ASAP, working on Survive The Net at the same time, as well as edits of Meet Sam. When I have about five-six written and the charities' logos and permission, I'll begin posting them online for the low fee. Any and all support would be appreciated.

So, I think I've bored you all enough. However, if you want to keep getting annoyed by me, just look for my Twitter and follow. Also, keep an eye out for the official Survive The Net blog, which will be arriving shortly. Baifornow.