Category Archives: Review of 2012

Victoria Watson’s Review of 2012.

On today, the final day of 2012, it’s my turn to review my year. 

2012 has been a changeable year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?

I have a couple of professional moments that stand out for me this year. In August, I was given the job of official blogger at the Whitley Bay Film Festival. It’s a local project that’s in its third year and I was just thrilled to be involved. Whitley Bay is a seaside town that’s much beloved by people all over the UK, it was a popular holiday destination in the times when overseas packages were the things of dreams. The film festival holds showings in iconic buildings all over Whitley – including the old Spanish City Dome and the Lighthouse. The Film Festival is run completely by volunteers and I have got so much respect for the people involved. Not only do they set up the timetable, secure venues and get them ready for public viewings, they also make every screening unique as well as getting members of the community involved in a range of activities. I ate a lot of popcorn over those two weeks and I loved every second of it.

Film festival fun

The other moment is when I found out that my short story, The Piano, had won first prize in North Tyneside council’s Story Tyne competition. I received a letter informing me I was a winner but to find out which position I was in, I’d need to attend an awards ceremony on 29th November. I was pretty sure I’d come third, and was really just happy to be in the top three out of the hundreds that entered.

The lovely Mari Hannah judged the stories blindly and gave awards out in the children’s category, giving a brief synopsis of each story before announcing the title and name of the author. After that, came the adult category. When Mari read out the story in third place’s synopsis, I realised it wasn’t mine. Second, I thought, that’s pretty great. And then the synopsis for second place story was read out – and it wasn’t mine. A small tear slid down my face and The Boy Wonder squeezed my hand. My parents, my brother and his girlfriend had come to support me and I was really chuffed to win. Writing can be lonely and I often doubt myself and my writing so to get feedback from anyone is always helpful but winning an award made me realise I must be doing something right.

Story Tyne winner and judge

And how about a favourite moment from 2012 generally?

I was so relieved when President Obama got re-elected as I was petrified what America might come to if Romney had won.

However, the surprise of 2012 for me was the Olympics. I sat watching the opening ceremony, moaning about the waste of money and the farce that had been G4S but by Day 2, I was absolutely enthralled. My dad was an Olympic Ambassador while Newcastle hosted some of the football heats and he loved every moment of it. I remember visiting the city centre on the day of one of the matches and the atmosphere in town was absolutely wonderful. Everyone was smiling and I think the games in general really lifted the country. For me, though, the Paralympics was absolutely amazing. The stories of the athletes, from people who were born with disabilities to others who had been injured during childhood or in later life, were massively inspiring.

Favourite book in 2012?

I recently read ‘The Casual Vacancy’ by JK Rowling and it is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’ve never read any of her ‘Harry Potter’ books but the depth and intelligence she’s written in ‘The Casual Vacancy’ is absolutely immense. It’s a real tour de force. As an author, I found it absolutely incredible and ever so slightly intimidating!

Favourite film of 2012?

Loved ‘The Woman in Black’ – absolute fright-fest.

I’d waited four years for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and, although there were some things I was disappointed with, it was still totally one of the best films I’ve seen in ages.

Having not read ‘The Hunger Games’, I was really impressed with the movie. Like ‘Dark Knight Rises’, it had plenty of action which looked great on the big screen plus the costumes and sets are wonderful.

Favourite song of the year?

Paris’ by Jay-Z and Kanye West has been a massive favourite for me. My brother and I went to see them in Birmingham and, although I’d loved it before, seeing them do it live was ace.

Latterly, I have been obsessed with ‘Candy’ by Robbie Williams. It’s a real return to form for him and every time I hear it, I can’t help smiling and singing along.

Any downsides for you in 2012?

My health is a real struggle, it makes everything so much harder. I’m still undergoing investigations to give it an official name but it appear my immune system is attacking my body which means day-to-day is difficult and if I get an infection, I’m really knocked for six. But I remain really hopeful that I will get better or at least manage to keep myself on a more even keel.

Are you making resolutions for 2013?

I’d like to be more disciplined about my writing but I also know I have to be realistic and not run myself into the ground. That said, I promised myself 2013 would be the year I finished writing my novel so that’s my main aim.

What are you hoping for from 2013?

I’ve been so lucky that I’ve released two e-books this year and been featured in a couple of anthologies but in 2013, I’d love to complete my novel and get a publishing deal (a girl can dream, can’t she?).

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for reading this blog and for getting involved. From reblogs to retweets, interviews to short stories and everything in between, this blog wouldn’t be the same without the readers and contributors. I had hoped to have 20,000 views by the end of 2012 which may seem modest to many people but this blog has been going for just over a year and a half so 20,000 seemed pretty impressive. However, on 16th December, the blog reached the magic number. It gets views from so many different countries every day, it amazes me. So thank you for reading and supporting this blog.

I wish you all a very happy 2013! 

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Paul D Brazill’s Review of 2012.

Today, we have the lovely Paul D Brazill recounting his 2012 for our consumption. He may be a man of few words but the ones he uses are pretty good. 
Paul D Brazill
2012 has been a pretty great year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?
Lots and lots. It was great getting the True Brit Grit and Drunk On The Moon anthos ‘out there’ after the problems with the ex-publisher. And getting my writing translated into Italian by Atlantis was pretty tasty!
And how about a favourite moment from 2012 generally? 
I don’t ‘do’ current affairs and have only a small idea of what’s going on in the outside world but Euro 2012 was good fun and gave the Polish pub industry a kick up the dupa, which can only be a good thing.
Favourite book in 2012?
Loads and loads but Ian Ayris’ ‘Abide With Me’ was certainly a special book.
Favourite film of 2012?
‘God Bless America’, of course. Bobcat Goldthwaite is THE MAN!
Favourite song of the year?
Not only do I not ‘do’ current affairs, I don’t follow ‘the pops’. But my mate Richard Sanderson’s recent ‘Songs’ LP is choc full of good stuff!
death on a hot afternoon
Any downsides for you in 2012?
Accentuate the positives Vic! The inernet is full of moaning minnies so I try not to join in with them.
Are you making resolutions for 2013?
Live long and prosper!
What are you hoping for from 2013?
Only good things!

Carol Fenwick’s Review of 2012.

Are you still feasting on leftovers? Have you been to the sales yet? Carol Fenwick has taken some time out of her Christmas hols to review her 2012 for us.

Do you have a favourite memory professionally?

Yes, it has been a very good year. There are a couple of memories that stick out above others notably having my literary review for the previous issue of Beautiful Scruffiness published in the current one by Katie Metcalfe, involvement with Simon James’ Ménage a moi project where we exchanged a photograph for a hand-made gift, two of my self-publications, ‘Standing on my Soap-Box’, a selection of poetry and ‘Squiggles’, a series of  short stories about my three-year old son Samuel, and a surprise meeting with a professional editor and social entrepreneur really threw the cat amongst the pigeons.

And how about a favourite moment from 2012 generally?

Living in London during the Olympics and Paralympics was absolutely fantastic, and I’m not just saying that to show off, London  really was buzzing. Although I re-located there from Middlesbrough in 2009 I am finally just about finding my feet, after the friendliness of the north-east it is so cosmopolitan, now people have finally got to understand my accent, had to drop a few a’s and that though I honestly haven’t gone posh!  My husband, Simon and I were lucky enough to get tickets for the Olympic Volleyball, it was the perfect anniversary present. Looking after a three-year old and living with my in-laws, it is a very busy and jam-packed house at the best of times though we were all really pleased to see Obama get back in. Phew!

Favourite book in 2012?

‘Love Wins’ by Rob Bell, I reviewed it for the local Church Magazine, a real find and great as a self-help guide.

Favourite film of 2012?

‘The Iron Lady’ was much better than I expected.

Favourite song of the year?

I’m getting out of touch but my favourites are anything from Adele or Emile Sande, the fact that I can’t even think of a song, doesn’t say much for the year in music for me, but I guess I have little time for this, potty training Samuel is an ongoing saga in between snatches of Radio 2. God, I am getting old!

Any downsides for you in 2012?

Some projects have not come off, which can be really frustrating for everyone concerned.

Are you making resolutions for 2013?

No, I never make them as I am rubbish at keeping them!

What are you hoping for from 2013?

Finishing off collating all my works, a mammoth project in itself, though it’s helping me de-clutter and say goodbye to some ancient writing notebooks that go back to my late teens. It’s a bit sad saying goodbye but the PC is the ultimate clutter buster. I hope to finally master Kindle and send some works off to publishers which I hope will make 2013 a fantastic success.

You can find out more about Carol writing on her blogs www.carolfenwick.wordpress.com and www.differentplanetandshadowsoftime.blogspot.com

Ian Ayris’s Review of 2012.

Today we have the mighty Ian Ayris on the blog to talk about his incredible 2012. 

Ian Ayris

2012 has been a pretty great year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?

That’s a hard one, Vic. There’s been loads this year – from holding my debut novel in my hands to reaching number one in the Sports Fiction chart, to standing at Romford Waterstones at my first ever book signing. But my favourite moment has to be something that took place just a few days ago – a book signing at my beloved Dagenham & Redbridge F.C. An incredible experience.  One I will never forget. The books flew off the table, and we beat Barnet one-nil into the bargain, with a Matt Saunders blast from the edge of the area. Heaven, indeed. Come On You Daggers!!!!

Abide with Me

And how about a favourite moment from 2012 generally? 

I don’t take too much notice of the outside world, if I’m honest, Vic. But going to the Olympic Stadium to watch a day at the Paralympics was incredibly inspirational. 

Favourite book in 2012?

Really hard one, this. I’ve read loads of authors new to me this year – standouts include Les Edgerton, Josh Stallings, and Gerard Brennan. Can’t choose between them, so I’m going for one from each: ‘Fireproof’, Gerard Brennan – ‘Beautiful, Naked & Dead’, Josh Stallings – ‘The Bitch’.

Favourite film of 2012? 

I don’t really watch as many films as I should. But I did see ‘Badlands’ for the first time – and thought it was stunning.

Favourite song of the year?

Not quite a song, but my favourite musical thing this year has to be my discovery of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8, played by the Borodin Quartet. Just incredible.

Any downsides for you in 2012? 

There never is a downside, Vic. To anything. Just takes a shift to the left and a blink of the eye and the whole world can be whatever you want it to be.

Are you making resolutions for 2013? 

To take writing more seriously, and less as a pastime. 

Uncle Mildred

What are you hoping for from 2013? 

If all goes well, I’m hoping to finish the sequel to ‘Abide With Me’, knock out a novella, and also publish another short story collection. A lot of the depends, obviously, on the success I have regards the previous question.

You can read Ian’s blog at www.ianayris.com 

Visit his Amazon Author Page at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ian-Ayris/e/B004RQO13K/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Luca Veste’s Review of 2012.

2012 has been a pretty great year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?
It would have to be getting the phone call from my agent, Philip Patterson, offering representation. I’ve been in contact with him since February this year, and gone through three different versions of a book with him, before finally getting it right. He called, we ripped the book apart for 45 minutes, and then he said he wanted to represent me. A massive moment. A few more weeks of work on it, and it’s now out there on submission. Which is a really strange feeling.
And how about a favourite moment from 2012 generally?
It came down to two, and both are sport related. Narrowly missing out, is Liverpool winning the League Cup, and seeing King Kenny Dalglish with another trophy (albeit the smallest of the ones available). Pipping it to the post however, is the Saturday night at the Olympics, when Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and poor Greg Rutherford (remember him?) all won gold within an hour of each other. Mainly for Mo. That dude is the best.
Favourite book in 2012?
Again, it’s between two. ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn blew me away. An astounding piece of writing, which simultaneously inspired me and also made me want to give up writing. However, Steve Mosby’s ‘Dark Room’ wins out. I was convinced Steve couldn’t beat ‘Black Flowers’, or even my early favourite of his ‘The 50/50 Killer’, but with ‘Dark Room’, he produced an incredible novel. The best crime writer around, by a long way, for my money. He has a way of making what could be, in other hands, a bog standard serial killer novel into so much more. His use of language and imagery is genius. 
Favourite film of 2012?
I don’t watch many films to be honest. Never have time with two small kids running about the place. I’ve not been the picture house all year, and the newest film I’ve seen recently was ‘Inception’. So I’ll cheat and choose that one.
Favourite song of the year?
Not a big fan of new music. The only band I seek out new stuff from is Muse. My favourite on their new album is ‘Survival’. It’s Muse going full Queen, and being gloriously pompous and epic. Love it.
Any downsides for you in 2012?
Not really. It’s been a really good year. The release of ‘Off The Record 2’ and getting my own book finished made any minor niggles fade into nothingness.
Are you making resolutions for 2013?
I don’t make resolutions. I prefer to just keep on, keeping on.
What are you hoping for from 2013?
I finally convince Stephen King to write a short story for the ‘Off The Record’ oeuvre.
Visit Luca’s Amazon Author Page for more info on his books: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Luca-Veste/e/B005URYKFE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_10   

Darren Sant’s Review of 2012.

When I joined Twitter in 2011, I shortly realised 140 characters was not going to be enough for a chatterbox like me so I started this blog. Soon after that, I was getting followers and people tweeting me. One of those people was Darren Sant. Since then, he has become something of a mentor to me; encouraging me, connecting me with other wonderful, supportive writers and generally being a tip top dude. I’m happy Darren has taken the time out of his busy writing schedule to review his 2012 for us. 

Fave professional Memory:  This year it would have to be when Byker Books agreed to take on my Tales From The Longcroft Estate:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-From-Longcroft-Estate-ebook/dp/B007B1SPNA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354870816&sr=8-1

After the uncertainty and hassle of the whole Trestle Press problems, it was satisfying to know that my stories would live on. I’ve just submitted the second volume of TFTLE to Byker Books.

In addition to that I couldn’t be more pleased with how Near To The Knuckle is shaping up: http://www.close2thebone.co.uk/

I am passionate about fiction and love giving writers the opportunity to be published online. Reading each story that pings into our inbox is truly a delight. Craig Douglas does a lot hard work behind the scenes and I tend to be the public face of the site but it is truly a joint effort that we are both proud of.

Fave 2012 memory: I was very surly about the Olympics before it started. Consider this – if all the money that was spent on it was spent on sports in schools that truly would have been a legacy that carried on for years to come. However, I got carried away on the wave of national euphoria the same as everyone else. It seems to have been a good year for our profile as a nation. It was great to see the Paralympics getting a higher profile. Now those Olympian’s are heroes.

Fave book of 2012: Picking a favourite book is a near impossibility for me. I do so much reading. The fiction of Heath Lowrance has to be worth a mention. I recently read his novels ‘The Bastard Hand’ and ‘City of Heretics’, both are genre blending brilliance that I loved. A special mention for Allen Miles too. His novella ’18 Days’ moved me tears. Paul Brazill and the Ayris brothers have continued to blow me away with the strength of their work. I could go on all day….

Fave film of 2012:  I don’t keep up with films as much as I’d like to. ‘Skyfall’ was excellent, old style Bond as it should be done. I’ve been looking forward to seeing ‘The Hobbit’ that is out in a week as I wrote this. If they’ve done the book justice that’ll probably clinch it for me.

Fave song of 2012: Favourite music much like books is a very tough call for me. ‘Babel’ by Mumford and Sons was an exceptional album. Young Jake Bugg shows much promise too. ‘The Lion’s Roar’ by First Aid Kit is up there for me.  I like a bit of anything and everything to be honest.

Any downside?  There’s enough of those in the world without me adding to them here. As the year draws to a close I feel it’s a time to be positive. *Raises his glass and toasts happiness and good health in 2013*

Rachel Cochrane’s Review of 2012

Dramatist Rachel Cochrane runs her audio entertainment website listenupnorth.com which features podcasts of her own & other writers’ work available for everyone to listen online or download.  She is also currently developing her fictional character & alter ego Celia in a series of short films. Today she’s here to chat about her 2012. 

Rachel Cochrane

2012 has been a very busy year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?

Being on set and filming more Celia episodes.

Last year we filmed the first pilot episode of my character Celia, Housewife 49ish and the fictional diary of her intimate thoughts on life, family & whether she should have an affair with Simon from the village Greenhouse & Gardens Society.

This year ‘Team Celia’ (Shirley Anne Wood, Penny Lamport, Sue Chapman & I) decided to go for it & film episode 2 which was a great thrill.   You can read about it in celiatime.com – Celia’s blog

Celia

And how about a favourite moment from 2012 generally?

Watching Danny Boyle’s Olympics opening ceremony on TV & tweeting simultaneously.  It was palpable how the mood of the country changed from one of usual British cynicism to the realisation that was unfolding was really rather spectacular and we could actually be very proud of it.

Favourite book in 2012?

50 Sheds of Grey’ because I love it when people a) take the piss b) Don’t take themselves too seriously

Favourite film of 2012?

Well apart from ‘Celia’, of course, it has to be ‘Skyfall’ starring the incredibly sexy 1964 Aston Martin DB5 and Daniel Craig wasn’t bad either.

Favourite song of the year?

‘Somebody That I used to Know’ by Gotye featuring Kimbra.  A little bit different from the usual synthpop, proves I’m cool and it’s a great one to sing to your ex-boyfriends.

LUN

Any downsides for you in 2012?

Unfortunately (or some may think fortunately) there is only one of me; I cannot do everything at full tilt & I have had to accept limitations.  Therefore running listenupnorth.com, trying to get a writing competition off the ground plus filming more ‘Celia’ has meant less time to spend actually writing which has been a great frustration.

Are you making resolutions for 2013?

Make more time for writing!

What are you hoping for from 2013?

After 11 years of writing it would be great to eventually earn some money.  Otherwise work harder to ensure both listenupnorth.com & Celia go truly global.  I also want to produce my next radio play ‘In Loving Memory’.

Team Celia