Saturday, 28 November 2009

Need a stunt man?

Check out Vinnie Wilson's showreel.

He's looking for more hours on film to go towards his quota for joining the guild. So if you need someone to: set on fire, or throw off a building, drag behind a car, or just kick the crap out of Jackie Chan style, Vince is your man!

Enjoy the showreel!
(The 2008 showreel and the Year In China showreel are also worth a look see.)

You can also visit his website to find out more.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Self-publishing - Part I

I've just received the finished artwork for the second of my two tarot books, THE YES / NO TAROT ORACLE, and I am extremely happy with it. Jo Spaul is a very accomplished illustrator, you can look at examples of her work on her website, here.

And I thought some of you might be interested in my experiences so far while trying to get published.

Basically, I've written two books on the Tarot* and have been unable to secure a publisher for either of them, so in the end I decided to do it myself.

Initially I was going to use LULU, but after some quick research decided against it (the new owners had increased postage rates to non-competetive levels, and some authors claimed they were having trouble getting their work taken off the site when they wanted to go elsewhere [I haven't checked them out since. So whether this is still the case, I don't know.]) - and in amongst the complaints thread someone recommended another self-publishing company, Authors OnLine. To cut a long story short, I decided to go with them.

Their fees are reasonable, with a low annual fee for remaining in publication, and the books are Print On Demand - so someone places an order, the book gets printed and shipped out. Quick, easy, no need to store quantities of books. Also a PDF version of each book will be available for those who prefer electronic media.
Best yet, the books they sell are available to all the usual book retailers - so whether you prefer to buy via Amazon, or via your local bookshop, or direct from them, you can!
As the author it is up to you to advertise your book. Just because it's published, doesn't mean it will necessarily sell any copies.

So far I have found the process pain-free, which is always good. Although they tell me that it does generally take about 2 months to get into publication from the date you sign the contracts.
The Christmas rush (which starts in August!) combined with a flu outbreak has delayed things slightly, but I am expecting both books to be available from January 2010.

I am using the delay to do a final edit on THE YES / NO TAROT ORACLE, while I await confirmation of the ISBNs.

I'm providing the text PDF files, they are doing the covers (under my direction) - Which makes my 'Control Freak Self' very happy.

They do various different packages to suit your needs, and they are very friendly, very helpful, and very busy (at the moment).

If everything continues according to plan I expect to be a very happy customer.

... Should you plan to use them, they are quite happy to vanity publish for you (for example, if you want that green crayon text, unspell-checked book of "My Favourite Moles in Dresses" that you wrote when you were six, published to show your friends), but if you are looking for a more professional publication that will be available in the shops, they do require a basic level of competence from their authors.

So far, so good. If things change, I'll let you know.


Read Self-publishing - Part II here

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


As a writer, you will be feted and courted and asked to achieve the impossible ... the person asking this will promise various things.

The question is, if they then delay implementing those promises
(for example providing a contract for work they want you to do by such and such a date, on a deferred payment basis - - and then don't even send you the draft version of that contract for discussion / haggling / wrangling over until well after the date they really, really, really needed the script by - How long are you supposed to wait? Are you supposed to wait? At what stage are you allowed to disembowel them?)
... do you:

A) Throw a fit, then write the screenplay anyway, and then refuse to hand over the finished document until the contract is finalized, signed, and delivered?

B) Throw a fit and refuse to put pen to paper until they come forth with the contract - even though this will mean definitely missing the deadline?

C) Roll over and wipe yourself off, hand them the script without the contract in place, and then go and cry behind the rock you normally hide under?

D) None of the above.


I'll just go put pen to paper then.

Any grinding of teeth, or swearing, you hear over the next few weeks will be me. After that, if you hear a large explosion (as of a bomb, or a fire, or high velocity ammunition being fired) - It wasn't me! ... You are such a lovely, supportive person. Will you be my alibi? Pretty please?
*grinding of teeth* *muttering punctuated by prolific swearing*

Where's the alcohol?

UPDATE: 26 November 2009, I've just emailed the producer the soft version of the riot act. We'll see what happens. He may have a completely legitimate excuse?
... Yeah.

UPDATE: 29 November 2009. Hmm. Apparently the project is not a priority, he'll get back to me about contracts next year.
Well, that's that one shelved for now, then.
(If you're keeping score, the answer was option B.)
It's good to get these things clarified. I shall concentrate on one of my other projects instead.
*gentle simmer*
... and moving on.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Misfits 4oD has previous episodes available on catchup here

It's dark and brilliant. If you are unaware of it, go check it out.

Ghost cats & other monstrous phenomena

Okay, Halloween is long gone, but I shall tell you a chilling tale of the other night.

Okay, it's not chilling at all. It was quite nice. But it reminded me of the time ... and then there was also that other time ...

Yeah, I'm a brilliant story teller me, you can see my career is gonna go far - - probably down the nearest drain! LOL.

So, the other night. ... Hmm, maybe I better go back aways, to when I lived in Reading, and before.

When I was little we had a cat called Wormsley.

[My mother, going to find a kitten: "Ugh! That cat's got worms!" Said kitten runs over and rubs against her leg purring.]

She was always a feature of my life, as she was a member of our household before I was - until we moved to Exeter and she moved into the old people's home next door, for a quieter life (our household was chaos incarnate much of the time). She was getting old and thin and we would occasionally see her sunning herself on our front lawn or the low wall beside it, and then about nine months later we saw her no more....

Many years later, while I was at University in Reading, I was rudely awoken in the middle of the night by a hurly-burly of of spectral cats - imagine a constantly moving ball of hyper cats playfully screaming and scratching their way across the landscape as they travel from one place to another on their joyous, tumulous, straight-out-of-the-witches-handbook, tangle of cats journey. Wormsley was one of them, and they had stopped by for a brief visit. They were in the area for two days and then they continued on their hurly-burly way.
It was a bit of a surprise, but I have had more freaky encounters than that, and it was nice to see her again + having fun with her friends.
(That same year the ghosts of our pony and our dog also came to visit me.)

A few years later, still in Reading, I was at the cinema with a friend and as the film ended we both felt the nice warm furry black cat (that had settled there unnoticed at some point during the movie) get up and jump down as we prepared to stand up. We both looked at it as it jumped down and there was nothing there - just the physical sensation of a cat departing. I scanned the floor between the seating but could see nothing. "Was that a cat?" My friend replied, "I think so." "Where is it? I didn't see it?" My friend, "It was a ghost, I think." I blinked a bit, but that tallied with my experience too. It was just a bit of a surprize having one turn up mid-cinema, during a sunny and otherwise uneventful afternoon.
The cinema staff were unaware of any cats, or of any ghosts, in screen 3. I did check....

And now we catch up with me living back in the safety of the Wilds of Devon - I think I mentioned previously that I inherited my mother's cat when she died. He was called Ubiquitous, otherwise known as Black Cat, and he was lovely in his own extremely scraggly Evil, Black & Midnight way. I changed his name to Monster shortly after I adopted him, after The Kingfisher Incident. (But then this was the cat that was witnessed by 3 other people, and me, folding up a swallow in mid-air after it made the mistake of flying in to my mother's kitchen.) I can only assume the kingfisher was ill or asleep or ... but then again Monster was a teleporting cat:

Cat in a locked box on the passenger seat. Cat by my elbow while I'm driving. Locked box empty. Hmm.

I used many far less flattering words to describe him that kingfisher day, but Monster seemed to fit him better than Ubiquitous or Black Cat, and Evil Black & Midnight Cat is not something you want to be shouting when it's his dinner time: so Monster became his name.

I never did really sense his presence when he was alive, unless he was actively hassling me - I think that may have been part of what made him such an astonishingly good hunter - and after he was killed in a hit and run, I still didn't really feel his presense strongly, although you could see him when he was around if you looked through the corner of your eye.
I first realised he was around again when I nearly tripped over him ... Have you ever done that? Seen something virtually under your feet as you are walking and trip as a result - only to realize there was nothing physically present for you to trip on?
He visits a lot, but I usually only sense him as something unseen out of the corner of my eye, or as I nearly trip over him.
(That cat was always getting under my feet! He's even worse now.) ...

But the other day, I woke in the middle of the night to visit the smallest room in the house - which is on the landing next to the stairs - Monster was around and getting under my feet as normal. As I left, I glanced in to the stairwell and got the shock of my life (okay, I have had worse - but this freaked me nearly as badly). A large animal was looking at me, eyes reflecting in the darkness. It lunged up the stairs at me - - and as my heart lept in to my throat, I realised it was our wolfhound, Brit. She died about 20 years earlier and she'd come for a visit. Give me a heart attack or what, why don't'cha! *rolls eyes*
This sensing the ghosts of pets can be problematic....

After I'd got over the shock, I gingerly got back in to bed - incase there was some other spectral something-or-other hiding under it. Well you never know.
There wasn't. Phew!

Well, that was the not-really-chilling-at-all tale of me getting freaked out by the ghost of our pet dog. If you're not familiar with wolfhounds, she was quite a small one, she came up to my hip when she was standing on all fours. (Her dad was 10 inches taller at the shoulder.)

As an adendum, my favourite of my step-mother's many, many cats came to visit a few nights ago. He was always a very heavy cat, who was the purryest thing you ever met. He is still excessively heavy as a ghost. You know it when he's curled up on you. Sheesh.
I knew he had been ill and wasn't expected to survive. When I rang the next day, sure enough he had succumbed.

Ah well, at least they're all happy.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Girl Number 9

I'm taking a brief procrastination break from the final edit of the second Tarot book, to let you know that Danny Stack has a great post which reminded me about the internet sensation Girl Number 9.

So if like me you don't tweet - 'cause face it there are more than enough other ways to procrastinate, or you do but you missed it, then now is the time to check it out.

All the episodes are free to view on the Girl Number 9 official website until the end of November and after that you can purchase the DVD with lots of behind the scenes goodies on board.

YAY! :)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Do you really want to be a writer?

Michelle Lipton has a great post discussing what you might want to take into consideration if you decide you really, really do want to be a screenwriter. Or, alternatively, if you already know in your bones that you are a writer, and you think maybe script writing is for you, then you really should read what she has to say. IMO. (click on her name above)

There are plenty of other screenwriters out there posting on the net that you might want to familiarise yourself with too - check out the links, over on the right.

The key concept is SELF EMPLOYED. Which is likely to go hand in hand with full time, or part-time, work as an employee in a day job that pays for the roof over your head and the food on your table. Because writing takes a long time to bear fruit - Terry Pratchett told me he couldn't give up the day job until he'd published his 6th book. In the event he waited until he had 7 books out, to be safe. (I quizzed him briefly at a book signing several years back as he kindly put his signature on my latest prized purchase.)
Even Phillip Barron has a day job, ask him, go-on. He may kill me. LOL.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Sad bast*rd.

I'm talking about me.

How many years has it been since I first saw the Welsh Whore and fell head-over-heels at first sight? Longer than I like to admit, 1994 ... when was that? Been a while.

And I haven't clapped eyes on him since 1998.

And now, I hear he's out and about again - - and my obession has switched itself from dull glow to fire on the hearth. Luckily it's not back up to full roar, but I guess that's only a matter of seeing his ugly mug again.


Bollocks. I'm supposed to be writing and recouperating, not pining for someone I can never have. GRRR!!!

'Scuse my language, but FUCK!

What else has happened this month?

Oh yes, Producer No#1 is making encouraging noises about The Grim (A.K.A. The Legend of the Beast) again. :)

So, in the last few weeks:
* 2 books (full swing),
* the American Collaboration Rewrite (full swing),
* The Grim (peering at me from the darkest jungle),
* and the Welsh Whore is hogging all my thoughts.

I have to concentrate on writing.
Someone send me an "anti-love potion"? Please?

[UPDATE 21st November 2009: Thank you for the anti-love potion. :) Greatly appreciated!] *evil laughter*

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

da-na ... da-na-daa ...

Well, I could write all about my current health issues which are impacting on the day-job, in addition to the added stress of the Evi-- Wi-- (erm, I've said waaay too much) . . . the lovely lady my Father loves and dotes upon and won't hear a word said against: my Step Mother, who ... and it is nightmare-ish for all concerned, especially her ... has been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer (although no one is using the T word, or palliative) but they found it early and she should pull through fine after a long and trying dalliance with chemo, radio, and drugs over the next 6 months, probably.
And no, I wouldn't wish this on her, despite everything. But it reminds me of the HELL that was 2004/2005 when my mother died.

But all of the above is boring and painful and generally crappy. So instead I shall write about something wonderful!
When you're as low as you can get, anything nice that happens is wonderful, but this really, really is. Maybe.


Okay - health impacting on day job, has also impacted on my self-esteem, so in order to regain my feelings of self-worth and the illusion of power, I decided to self-publish my two Tarot books (I'll point you at 'em when they're out - should be the next month or so).

So I'm doing the final edit on both books, getting them shipshape and up to scratch - basically quite a lot of work (as I'm having to learn some functions in word and in PDF that I've never used before), liaising with artists, and beginning to think I'm a bit busier that I wanted to be. But what the heck, I'm achieving my dream of seeing my work in print, and if no bugger buys them at the end of the day, so what. At least I'll have tried! :)

... and then ...


Just when you thought The American collaboration had completely expired, and the producer was long gone, ... he's circled back. :) And I swear I saw him lick his lips!

Basically he wants a finished script in December.

We're still discussing. It's early days. But suddenly my workload seems to have grown exponentially.

And thankfully, you can write from your sick bed. - - Otherwise I'd be totally stuffed, mainly because I'd have already eaten through my arm with boredom.

Anyhow, WAY-HEY! :)


For those of you interested:
I had what was most likely swine flu back in July, and it doesn't go particularly well with Asthma (I was one of the first to get it just after they'd stopped testing and said "Ring your doctor"), and the after effects - for me - have been unpleasant. I was doing okay, but feeling crappy, and then in late September I got a temperature (a brief lurgy of some kind) and since then I have been totally wiped out. It really ain't pleasant. The doctor says post viral crapness can go on for many, many months. All I can say is, I hope not, because this ain't fun.
If you have the chance to get the vaccine, I would say take it... but obviously it's your choice and I'm not qualified in any way to give medical advice. It's just my opinion, for what it's worth.