Tag Archives: cinema

Review of 2017: Geraldine Ward

Geraldine Ward is another writer I have “known” online for many years. I haven’t yet had the opportunity of meeting her in the flesh yet but I really appreciate her taking the time to review her year. 

Please check back later today for our penultimate 2017 review. 

Vic x

My favourite memory from a professional perspective this year has to be appearing on BBC Radio Four’s Front Row on a podcast broadcast discussing NANOWRIMO. This was especially sweet because I was only one of three people picked in the whole country, in this instance for my region, Kent, out of the NANOWRIMO entrants and apparently there had been a lot of people applying to go for a slot on the show. Enough of the boasting, moving on!

A general favourite moment of 2017 is still writing related. This was reading one of my stories, The Fish With No Lips, from my book, Mark’s Magic Farmyard and Other Stories at the infants’ assembly at my son’s school. I have never read my work out to so many people so was quite nervous even though they were children. I have to say it was a great pleasure doing this and was very impressed how well the children listened and paid attention. I am also extremely grateful to the Deputy Head who gave me the opportunity to basically run the assembly!

My favourite book that I have read this year is not a contemporary one, written by Zora Neale Hurston called Their Eyes were Watching God. I loved the originality of Hurston’s voice and the heroine in it is an incredible character. Well worth reading.

I have watched very few films this year, so I am a bit light on that front I am afraid although I really enjoyed going to the cinema with my son, Sam to watch The BFG. An unexpected treat!

There have been some good songs this year. My guilty pleasure is Little Mix. However, I really enjoyed listening to Rag’n’Bone Man, Human. Love that one.

Downsides this year have to be breaking my foot twice. First time it was my right foot, then my left foot, this time my ankle. I am hoping there won’t be another injury on the cards, being a bit superstitious about things “going in threes”.

I am not making any New Year’s resolutions. There is no point as I don’t ever keep them. My only hope would be not to have another injury and survive the next year intact and in one piece.

You can find Geraldine on Twitter and Facebook

 

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Review of 2017: Rob Enright

Today we have Rob Enright on the blog to review his very eventful 2017. 

It sounds like it’s been a whirlwind! Thanks to Rob for taking the time out of his manic schedule to chat to us. 

Vic x

Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2017?
I started a new job outside of my aspiring writing career, working for a private hospital in central London which has been great. But writing wise, my favourite memory was attending the Darker Side of Fiction event in 2017 as an author. Sitting behind a table and signing books and talking to so many amazing people!! I did a few book signings in Waterstones which was always a dream, but to be at a big book event like that was amazing!

And how about a favourite moment from 2017 generally?
I got down on one knee and proposed to my wonderful fiancée, Sophie. So that has to be the highlight! We also became home owners this year! Wow… I really did adulting well in 2017!

Favourite book in 2017?
I got hooked on The Dark Tower series this year! The Drawing of the Three is possibly the greatest piece of fiction I have ever read!! I also massively enjoyed Nameless by David McCaffrey, the sequel to the outstanding Hellbound!

Favourite film in 2017?
Blade Runner 2049
. The sequel to my favourite film and it was absolutely superb. It has polarised a few people, but I thought it was just superb cinema. Closely followed by Logan and Baby Driver.

Favourite song of the year?
It’s been out for literally 3 days, but there are a number of songs on Eminem’s new album that I am listening to on repeat. Like Home, Heat and Believe are on repeat. Outside of that, probably Burning and No Peace by Sam Smith.

Any downsides for you in 2017?
Finally admitting that I was unhappy with my publisher. They released Doorways for me in 2016 and as 2017 went on, I found the whole process quite soul-destroying and really impacted my writing of the sequel. When I decided to request my release to return to self-publishing, I felt amazing. So yeah, it sucked getting that low but I couldn’t be happier now and am writing more than ever and expanding my business knowledge! Bring on 2018!

Are you making resolutions for 2018?
Yup! I completed more runs than ever in 2017 so am redoing all of them again but want to beat the time. I am also doing my first half marathon. Now the books are under my control again and we have got our house, I am going to focus more on my fitness.

Also, am planning on launching THREE books next year. So am throwing my all into it.

What are you hoping for from 2018?
To be as happy as I ended 2017. To have a 4 book series to be promoting next Christmas and to know exactly what I can do with them. Oh, and a dog. I am desperate for a dog!

You can find Rob on Twitter and  Facebook.  

Review of 2017: Josie Moon

It’s another hat-trick today! Boxing Day bonus! Earlier today, Tana Collins reviewed her year, now it’s Josie Moon‘s turn. 

My thanks to Josie for her introspective, honest account of her year. Check back later for our final guest today. 

Vic x

This year has been particularly exciting and memorable because of the Fish Tales Tour with the Alan Barnes Octet. We’ve performed the work nationally at a number of jazz venues and events and it has been a wonderful experience.

Having set up La Luna early in 2017 I am thrilled that we have produced three quality publications this year and that the fourth is scheduled for release in January 2018. Fish Tales, Fish Tales for Juniors and In Case of an Emergency are books that I am personally proud of and which reflect the work I have done this year as a writer, performer and editor. The website will have a shop window by early 2018 and all of the La Luna publications will be available to purchase directly from there.

This year my reading has been focused on psychology, recovery and trauma for personal and research reasons. One little book that I keep dipping into and which has been a great source of comfort and inspiration is When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.  It has been my go-to book on those days of feeling overwhelmed.

I’ve stopped bothering with cinema because I love the depth of storytelling in quality TV productions. This year it has been all about Twin Peaks, the Return. The combination of uncompromising aesthetics and storytelling made it a peerless piece of televisual art.  I’ve also enjoyed The Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale and Stranger Things.

I run a community choir which has a membership of 70 delightful and enthusiastic adult singers.  We’ve given concerts and performances throughout the year and have developed our repertoire over the course of our weekly rehearsals. I have to say, my favourite song of the year is the choir performing Cold Winds Blow, a song I co-wrote with Pat McCarthy, a fabulous jazz musician who I work with a lot. Jo Townell, the choir’s accompanist and arranger wrote a glorious choral arrangement of the song and we just love performing it.

Every year has its downsides. I have had many personal struggles this year. Everyone has them, everyone has trouble. My troubles have been heavy and hard going at times but all things pass and without challenge, change and darkness we don’t appreciate the light.

In 2018 I will be writing new material for a jazz and poetry collaboration plus new music for the choir. I am working on a huge piece of new work which is under wraps for now and I am excited about forthcoming La Luna publications and projects.  My resolution for 2018 is to live authentically in the clearing of being with my best human and to always look for the light

Review of 2017: Emma Whitehall

Today, we have another member of Elementary Writers on the blog to review her 2017. Emma Whitehall is not just a member of my writing group but a real friend.

If you get the opportunity to read her work, or see her perform it, I recommend you do so! I’ve had the privilege of working with her while she developed her collection ‘Clockwork Magpies’ which I am convinced will be insanely popular when it’s released. 

Vic x

Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2017?
It’s a tie. I went to Ireland for a literary festival in July, and I started a 3-month volunteer position at Mslexia in September. One of my stories was shortlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction award this year, and I was invited to read at the launch in Bantry, just outside of Cork. I went alone, and it was such an amazing adventure! Not only did I get to spend some time in a phenomenally beautiful setting, I started every day by hiking up a huge hill to take a short story course with Alissa Nutting, who wrote Tampa. I’ll never forget it!

Working with the Mslexia team has been amazing, too. All the girls on the team are brilliant, and I’ve learned so much about working for a magazine. I’ve even written one or two pieces! 

And how about a favourite moment from 2017 generally?
My gym-nut brother bought me a Fitbit a few months ago, and it has literally changed my life. I try about walk about 5-6 miles a day (including moving about at work), and I’ve lost 10lb in about 2 months! It’s become a stress antidote; there are days when I really can’t wait to put my trainers on, find a good podcast (I’m nearing the end of The Adventure Zone right now), and go for a nice long walk…

Favourite book in 2017?
Oh, this is a tricky one! I’d probably have to say T.E. Grau’s They Don’t Come Home Anymore, which is a brilliant novella about toxic friendships, obsession, and vampires. Through reviewing for Unnerving magazine, I’ve read a lot of really amazing indie horror this year.

Favourite film in 2017?
Stranger Things. I know I’m being contrary with that answer, but it’s structured more like an 8-hour film than a TV show, and the characters have stayed with me much more than any that I’ve seen in the cinema this year. Winona Ryder is incredible, and Millie Bobby Brown should get any role she wants for the rest of her career. 

Favourite song of the year?
My Tyrant”, by Felix Hagan and the Family. On the one hand, it’s a song about a turbulent, possibly unhealthy relationship…but it’s also about being totally, joyfully in love (or lust) with someone. It’s a raucous song that’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen to – much to my partner’s chagrin…

Any downsides for you in 2017?
Sadly, I lost my Leopard Gecko, Ace, just before I went to Ireland. It was old age, and he went as quietly as you can hope, but I was devastated. He was my constant companion – even if we were doing our own thing, on opposite sides of the room, we were always doing it together. I never knew reptiles could be so funny, so sweet, and so full of personality before we got him. I miss him a lot. He won’t be my last pet, but, for now, I’m still getting over the loss.

Are you making resolutions for 2018?
To keep going! I feel like, with a lot of things, I’m on the precipice; I’m about 3lb off my weight goal, I’ve had a few promising interactions with writing jobs (though I am still looking at the moment), I’ve been longlisted and shortlisted for a few awards, and my collection of short stories is very nearly done. I think I just need to keep pushing forward and not lose my nerve!

What are you hoping for from 2018?
I hope that, this time next year, I can hold a published copy of my collection in my hands.

Carol Fenwick reviews her 2013.

Today we have Carol Fenwick on the blog to tell us all about her 2013. Enjoy!
Vic x
2013 has been a great year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?
My favourite memory from a professional point of view has been getting my work out there with Amazon under the pseudonym Geraldine Ward. Just to be able to focus on my own writing and getting it into print felt wonderful.
And how about a favourite moment from 2013 generally?
Generally, this year has been filled with constant changes but moving house into a more spacious area has been pivotal to making my family and I much more relaxed about things. Forgetting the royal baby saga for a moment, for me the best moment worldwide has been the reaction by members of the public to events such as Children in Need and disasters like the one in the Philippines. This has increased my faith in human nature, especially as this year has mainly been a tough one generally I think for people, because of the financial crisis and world events.
Favourite book in 2013?

Favourite book has to be a toss-up between the relatively old and relatively new. I loved reading ‘Animal Farm‘ by George Orwell again. I would add an autobiography of Charlotte Bronte called ‘Bronte in Love‘ by Sarah Freeman was a real surprise pleasure to read. Goodreads and e-book technology has been a revelation and I look forward to purchasing some of my friends’ books with the vouchers I got recently for my birthday.

Favourite film of 2013?
My favourite, and  I am sad to admit, my only trip to the cinema this year was to see ‘The Hobbit‘ and I was suitably impressed.
Favourite song of the year?
I am sadly so out of touch and fed up with the kind of commercial dross in the charts usually attributed to X Factor related singers or bands that I am going to pass on this one.
Any downsides for you in 2013?
Downsides have to be the period before the relocation which was tough for all the family.
Are you making resolutions for 2014?
I am not going to bother with resolutions as I usually don’t keep them and they alter during the course of the year.
If Santa was to bring you any one thing you wanted on Xmas morning, what would it be?
It would be nice if Santa could offer me a publishing deal because I have worked so hard for it, but then I am not the only one by any stretch of the imagination and of course Santa isn’t exactly the blue fairy!
Carol’s blogs can be found at: www.muckypupsandchinadolls.wordpress.com
She also runs her own indie publishing company, Copper Beech and Silver Birch Publishing, as well as Mucky Pups and China Dolls.
Carol uses the pseudonym Geraldine Ward. Check out her Amazon Author Page.

Gill Hoffs reviews her 2013.

Today we have the very busy Gill Hoffs on the blog reviewing her year.

Vic x

Gill celebrating the completion of her shipwreck book's first draft

2013 has been a great year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?

Taking the final proofs of my shipwreck book with me to meet the descendant of a key figure as we laid roses on their ancestor’s grave was definitely up there.  I’d tracked him down online and before I approached him (through his incredibly lovely wife) he’d had no idea about his relative’s involvement in the Australian Gold Rush or the tragedy his great-grandfather had been a part of.  Receiving the first advance review was just wonderful, too.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the rest!

And how about a favourite moment from 2013 generally?

I try to avoid world news where possible, and the squalor of UK politics in particular, so I’ve generally only been excited by discoveries of old shipwrecks, ancient tunics revealed by melting ice, and mammoths.  But in general there have been plenty of happy moments duly celebrated with Nutella, such as the inclusion of stories from my book ‘Wild: a collection’ (out now from Pure Slush http://www.lulu.com/gb/en/shop/gill-hoffs/wild/paperback/product-20190137.html) in an American college course, and the unexpected joy of our car passing its MOT.

Favourite book in 2013?

I really enjoyed Michael J. Malone’s follow-up to ‘Blood Tears’, ‘A Taste For Malice’ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Taste-Malice-Michael-J-Malone/dp/1907869751.  It kept me reading into the wee small hours and was worth the yawns and grouchiness the next day.  I found it refreshing to read a psychological crime thriller with a male protagonist who wasn’t obsessed with alcohol or the lack of it – especially since it’s set in Scotland, and as far as the rest of the world’s concerned, babies there are weaned on whisky and wee green bottles of Buckfast.

Favourite film of 2013?

Since we have a six year old and no cinema within walking distance, we rarely get to the cinema, and when we do, it’s to see something with him.  So although ‘Gravity’ is wowing me with its terrifying trailers, I’ve actually watched ‘Monsters University’ all the way through and loved it, so yep, that’d be it.

If I can stretch the definition a bit, I’d say the boxset of Joss Whedon’s ‘Dollhouse’, though, as I couldn’t get enough of it and would stay up ‘til 2am despite it being a school night just to see what happened next.  I’d even go so far as to say that it was better, more mindbending and thought-provoking, than ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’.  And that’s saying something.

Favourite song of the year? 

The song I’ve listened to the most is probably ‘Birdhouse in your soul’ by They Might Be Giants, though it came out when I was a kid, back in 1989.  My son became obsessed with it and insisted on listening to this on repeat during car journeys.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Am-BF7ObCI   He’d worn out the Divine Comedy CD containing his former favourite, what he referred to as “the sheep song” but was actually ‘The gin-soaked boy’ (the chorus goes “Ba-baa-ba-baa-ba-ba-ba”…).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXP1oLtPyDA  I’m not a fan of ipod-type things.

I listened to a lot of Blur while working, and to ‘Best Days’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyWMFaHOEzM on repeat when I was trying to process the death of a loved one.  It was just the melody I needed to hear, there wasn’t any great significance to the lyrics or the title.  And ‘Suicide is painless (theme from M*A*S*H*)’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gO7uemm6Yo while I worked over the sadder parts of the shipwreck book, too, mainly because I had the film on to keep me company while I researched/edited/wrote.

As for a song that was actually released this year, hmm … there were a few.  The NIN/Carly Rae Jepsen mashup made me laugh and boogie in my rocking chair http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yArRnznVJwY and the reactions of some of my online friends to it were priceless.  ‘La la la’ by Naughty Boy ft. Sam Smith is catchy and gloriously rich with sounds, and the video is a masterpiece.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O1_3zBUKM8  When I looked it up on Wikipedia, the explanation of Bolivian legends really stuck in my head, and I recommend re-watching it after reading.

Any downsides for you in 2013?

Glandular fever (it made me its bitch before we moved back to Warrington from Scotland last year, and has kept me in line and wiped out ever since) and the loss of a family member in May.  I’d say something perky or upbeat about the latter, but it’d be a lie, and a crass, abominable one at that.  Iain Banks died too and I’ve never been so gutted about the death of someone I barely knew.  He was truly magnificent and I can’t bear to read his work again – yet.

Are you making resolutions for 2014?

No, not really, just continuing to chip away at my To Do lists.  Shaving my legs more often, I suppose (my son and my husband both complain about my “spiky legs”, the swine, but I’d rather be reading than concentrating on not skinning my legs – I get mental images of the chaps in our local takeaway using a buzzy thing to slice strips from the doner kebab, urgh!).  Smiling at strangers.   Learning how to play proper tunes on my trombone.  Any Radiohead or Manics hits suitable for that?

The Sinking of RMS Tayleur

What are you hoping for from 2014? 

My book “The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the Victorian Titanic” (out January 16th from Pen & Sword – see http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Sinking-of-RMS-Tayleur/p/6053/) to be a success and do the people who set sail from Liverpool on the ill-fated ship proud.  To dive the wreck in the waters off Dublin, preferably on a really calm day, and visit the memorials and graves of those involved.  And to sign with the right agent.

If Santa was to bring you any one thing you wanted on Xmas morning, what would it be?

Photographs of the captain, ex-convict, and ship’s surgeon who ‘star’ in my shipwreck book.  Failing that, I’d like first editions of all the Dick Francis paperbacks (no matter how tatty they might be, purely because I love contemporary editions and covers) or a boxset of ‘Gilmore Girls’.  And chocolate.  Always chocolate.  I know the question says ‘one thing’ but a) I’m crap at maths, and b) I like backup options.

Gill Hoffs lives in the north of England with a farty cat and never quite enough chocolate.  Her work is available widely online and in print. See http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com for details, email her at gillhoffs@hotmail.co.uk, or tell her a joke @GillHoffs on twitter.

Bea Davenport reviews her 2013.

To kick off our month of 2013 reviews, we have the lovely Bea Davenport joining us today. Bea has had an awesome year and she’s here to tell us all about it.

Vic x

Bea at her book launch in  2013

2013 has been a great year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?

In fact, I have two real high spots. The first has to be the publication of my first novel, In Too Deep. It was really exciting working with Legend Press in the run-up to the launch, and the event itself at Blackwells in Newcastle went so well.

The second high spot was getting the call from Curious Fox offering me a publication deal on my children’s novel, The Serpent House. I wrote this historical fantasy as part of my Creative Writing PhD at Newcastle University and I really wanted it to find a publisher, so that was a real champagne moment.

How about a favourite moment from 2013 generally? 

It has to be that wonderful summer we had. After all those gloomy years and that long, cold spring, it was absolutely glorious, wasn’t it? I wouldn’t mind another one like that.

Favourite book in 2013?

Always a tough one. I was very taken with Maggie O’Farrell’s Instructions for a Heatwave, although it helped that I read it on holiday because I always feel well-disposed to anything read in a horizontal position, through sunglasses.

Favourite film of 2013?

Agh! I was asked this last year and realised I hadn’t been to the cinema at all during 2012. In shame, I made a New Year’s resolution to see more films in 2013. Big fat FAIL. But I do have a favourite film, because I watched Ken Loach’s Spirit of ’45 on DVD, about the establishment of the welfare state after the end of the Second World War. It managed to be depressing and inspiring at the same time.

Favourite song of the year?

Falling by Haim (my new favourite band).

Any downsides for you in 2013?

I do feel as if I have been frantically busy all of the time, with barely a break. Like most writers, the pressure of making a living can make it hard to find time to write, especially new material. I think many of us imagine that getting a publishing deal will buy time to write, but for most of us the deals will never meet the mortgage.

In Too Deep is available now.

Are you making resolutions for 2014?

Hah. Look what happened to the one about the cinema! I’d like to say I will stop being so worrisome, but that would involve a personality transplant, so I probably shouldn’t bother. ‘Keep going’ is about as much as I dare to promise!

What are you hoping for from 2014? 

I have two books due for publication in 2014 – The Serpent House in June and a second crime/suspense novel for Legend Press in October. My hope is that both of these do well. And I would really like a holiday (please!).

If Santa was to bring you any one thing you wanted on Xmas morning, what would it be?

It would be the time-turner that Hermione used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It meant she could do more things in every day than normal time would allow. It would be very handy, I think. On the other hand, we all know how destabilising time magic can be, so a spa voucher would do instead.

Visit Bea’s website at http://www.beadavenport.com/index.html

Bea Davenport is the pseudonym of Barbara Henderson.