Another Year Older

Here we are at the end of another year. Time passes by so quickly now that some times it’s hard to keep up with events that unfold around us.

This last year has been eventful, not only on a global scale but a personal one too. I’m sure we have all gone through changes in our lives, challenges that we face on a daily basis do not get any easier we just learn to cope better. No matter the changes or the challenges, we all continue to strive to live our lives through everything that is thrown at us, and at times it seems that fate throws an awful lot our way. Never fall into the trap though that you are being singled out. Fate does not work that way. We all face challenges and we all have our demons and we all have our own way of dealing with them. The old saying is true that never judge a person until you’ve walked a day in their shoes. No one knows what others have to deal with so just be a little more tolerant when dealing with others.

I’m sure this coming year will be filled with more of the same challenges and I know we will face them with the same resolute determination we faces last year. With that in mind I would like to wish each and every one of you the best that you could hope for in 2016, may all your hopes and dreams come true..

New work

In October of 2015 I mentioned that I was multi tasking, working on several projects at the same time. I hinted that I was reworking a book I wrote back in early 2008 called Rogue, Dangerous Game. That book is now finished and has a new title, Death List. The premise has altered slightly and therefore some of the plot. I took ideas from the first book and changed them slightly, kept all the characters although a few had to change a little but the end result is the same, a rollicking good read.

I will be releasing it in the new year, details of which will be forthcoming as soon as I have them. In the meantime there are two Col Sec books just waiting the finishing touches so they too can be released. I’m waiting for the new year to start proper and for people to return to work so that I can get these going. As I wait for this I’m hard at work on more Col Sec books. There is an off shoot series that ties in with the events that occur in book 7, but that won’t be released before book 8. The events of these two books overlap somewhat even though they can be read independently, you’ll have to read them to know what I mean. All I can say is that the Wildfire Team is set to face their most deadly task yet in book 8 and Kurt, Zara and Matt face off against an enemy that threatens the lives of millions and plans to conquer the galaxy, a threat as old as it is deadly, but to find out what you’ll have to wait for it to come out.

I’m extremely pleased with these two books, they are somewhat of a new direction for the series at the same time keeping everything that makes the series what it is, the best sci fi action adventure thriller series possible.

Time for reflection.

Christmas means many things to many people. When I was younger, like most kids whom I grew up with, it was a time for spending time with your family, time off school(which was always good) and presents (which was even better). As I hit my teens and grew to an age where I could start work the meaning altered slightly. It was still a time for spending it with family, still time off from work,(which was good) and there were still presents(which was still better) but this time because I was earning money I could buy presents for others. It truly was a time for giving. When I had a family of my own it changed once more, the magic returned. Watching my kids faces as they saw the presents under the tree brought back memories of when I was their age and the magical feeling you got around that time. Now my kids are all grown up with families of their own and they are experiencing the magic I felt as they watch their own kids.

Something I saw on Facebook earlier this week made me look at this time of year a little differently. As the years have passed by my life has changed. This past year I have striven to realise my dream of becoming a full time writer. I have taken steps toward that dream and although I remain hopeful that it will materialise one day, that day has not yet arrived. Along the way I have made some new friends who are helping me in my endeavour but more importantly I have lost people who were more important in my life than I cared to realise. Not because I felt any the less for them but because in losing them made me face my own mortality more. I have long joked that I will live forever but sadly that fact was disproved by a simple post on Facebook. A class friend of mine commented on the death of another class mate and this was followed by a list of all those from our class who were no longer with us. When you see it displayed in front of you like that it is hard to ignore the unyielding truth. So now it is a time for reflection for me. A time not to mourn those lost but to remember. A time to be thankful for all the things you have in your life and not those you haven’t. When I take a tally of the things I have I realise I am one of the wealthiest men alive. Among my riches, which monetary wealth is not one, are my loving family and friends, something that cannot have a price put on them. I still have my health, which at my age never ceases to astound me and until this fades i will continue to live life as I have for these past numerous years.

Christmas means many things to many people and this is what it means to me.

Where has originality gone?

As everyone must know by now the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, has been released. Already just on advance ticket sales alone it has broken all sorts of records and no doubt it will go on to break even more. It is thought it could go on and break the record of most successful film ever held by James Cameron’s Avatar. That has yet to be proven but it definitely has a good chance.

I got advance tickets for the opening night and went alone with hundreds of others for what I hoped was to be an evening of unbridled cinematic pleasure. What I got though was an evening of disappointment tinged with pleasure.

We were told that the new Star Wars film would be back to basics, we would see more physical props and less CGI, that it would hark back to the original trilogy and try to wipe out the stain left by the prequel trilogy. In a way they were not wrong. What they failed to say was that they were reworking the plot from A New Hope, the very first Star Wars film, the phenomenon that began the whole trend and changed sci fi cinema forever.

I’m not saying that the film was bad. The acting was far superior than anything seen in any of the previous films and the dialogue finally worked, it was believable and not cringe worthy like before. There was comedy some laugh out loud scenes, there was tension and drama and conflict but nothing original. There was a huge sense of deja vu that ran through the entire film and some scenes could’ve been lifted entirely from A New Hope.

This fault I lay entirely at the feet of JJ Abrams the director and new guiding light behind the franchise. When he took over the reins of Star Trek he told the fans there would be changes, which there were and when it came to the second in the series when news of the plot and casting leaked he told the press that it would be nothing like The Wrath Of Khan. When the film was released it was obvious he had lied because it was a complete copy of that original film with minor tweaks that played into the new timeline he had created with the first film. Now he has done the same thing with Star Wars.

With any other franchise I think he would be vilified and probably thrown out of Hollywood but because he’s done it with two franchises that each have huge fan bases that are so eager for new material they would forgive almost anything he has been able to get away with it. These fan bases are so huge that he could alienate half of them and still make tons of money from the rest but for how long before even these fans realise they are being ripped off and say enough is enough, give us something new or don’t bother?

I enjoyed the film because it was a new Star Wars film but I have reservations about the next. I already know what I’ll be getting from how the Force Awakens played out. I’ll wait and see what we get and just hope reason prevails and we finally get what we deserve and not a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back.

Are we nurturing a nation of sociopaths?

As I get older I notice that good old fashioned values are on the decline which makes me wonder what is there in the future for us as human beings.

More and more I notice that the younger generations seem less inclined to stand up and take responsibility for their actions. This is a generalisation and is unkind to some genuinely nice upstanding people but for the point of this argument I’ll overlook it. A lot has been said about the millennials having a sense of entitlement and being narcissistic and from my experience this seems to be true in the most part. I have seen behaviour that in my day just would not stand, but for these it seems the norm. When did we relinquish the reins of what was considered good behaviour in favour of what we see now? When was respect for others replaced with selfishness or was it a gradual encroachment, so slow that we never saw it coming. Why does this young generation think they can take for granted that their parents and those in authority will not punish them for their actions. Why is it always someone else’s fault? I once saw a co-worker berate a fellow co-worker for his being late to work simply because his parking space was taken. The fact he was late and not there to take his usual space was not the case, in his eyes his co-worker was the cause for him being late. If he’d been on time his usual space would have been available and nothing would have happened but because he was late he never thought to consider the consequences of his actions and was only too ready to blame someone else.

This ‘not taking the blame for your own actions’is tantamount to being a sociopath. One of the main character traits of someone with this disorder is a lack of empathy, and a feeling of superiority, a complete lack of responsibility for your own actions. Is this what society is breeding?

I have no idea what caused this, I have opinions and theories but they are not substantiated so I won’t delve into them here. What I will say is that I noticed a downward trend in dicipline in schools the moment corporal punishment was abolished. I do not believe in coincidences, not when they are so glaringly obvious and unless this trend of empowering our youth with the false belief that they are untouchable is reversed, that they can do what they feel like with no consequences or repercussions then we will end up in chaos. As a writer of sci fi this sounds like the beginnings of a dystopian scenario and it probably is but it’s not one I would like to see come to fruition.

The Doctor was done a disservice by his writers.

Doctor Who has become a national icon and loved all over the world. Over the last fifty odd years he’s been around he’s been to the end of time and back, he’s been all over the universe but last night he went a bit too far.

Jenna Coleman, the present companion hinted she might leave the show this season after a ‘will she go or will she stay’ phase last season. It was leaked that this season would be her last, it was even foretold which episode would be her last. When that episode was aired it was reviewed as a beautiful ending, her performance was hailed as possibly her finest and most people thought it was the best way for her to go. The way her character died was thoughtful and stayed true to her character, which I found at times annoying but then she was gone and it left the Doctor alone. We all know the trouble he can get in when he’s alone so it left us with two episodes to finish off the season and plenty of promise.

The penultimate episode was basically a monologue for Peter Capaldi, a showcase for his acting talent and the final episode, the closing for the season had him returning to Gallifrey his home to face the Time Lords, but let’s not go there just yet. First we have the monologue to deal with. In a nutshell the Doctor was trapped in, I have no idea where because the whole episode was filled with illogic, and all he had to do was reveal who the Hybrid was. His captors, the Time Lords placed him in this place for eternity until he divulged what he knew about the Hybrid. He would try to find his way out, die in the attempt and be reborn to try again until he gave up what he knew. It was a puzzle he had to figure out if he wanted to leave. He found the barrier that was holding him inside was an impenetrable wall of a substance many times harder than diamond and once he reached this barrier and knew it was the only thing keeping him captive he struck it with his fist venting his anger and frustration until he was killed by the creature from his nightmares sent there to plague him. He struck this wall countless times with his fist over a billion odd years, each time he struck this harder than diamond wall he would die to start the process all over again. I was okay with this episode, I love a good puzzle, until it went into montage mode showing the Doctor reviving, going through the maze to reach the wall to strike it then die to start again, over and over again until the wall cracked and fell to release him.

Any writer who writes fiction knows there are rules, especially in fantasy, that you have to adhere to. In fantasy even if you’re writing about magic there are certain rules. You can’t just make shit up to move the story along or to get your characters out of a jam you have placed them in. There is a certain logic and order to it. Breaking a wall that is many times harder than diamond by hitting it many times over a period of a billion years is the kind of illogical shit I’m talking about. The Doctor is a being of intelligence, for him to revert to striking a wall with his fist to escape is illogical from the start anyway, he just wouldn’t do it. He’d figure a way out through some other way. The wall though, if it was as hard as diamond it would remain standing for eternity, after all diamonds are forever right. So therefore it would not break by being struck by a fist no matter how many times it was struck no more than a fly could topple the Great Wall of China by flying into it a billion times. Okay so the Doctor got out and finds himself on Gallifrey which sets up the finale nicely, if you discount the method he arrived there, which I can’t. The Hybrid is hinted at in the teaser trailer, there’s lot’s of running around and we are led to believe it’ll be a monumental episode leading to the Christmas Special and they were not wrong, but for all the wrong reasons.

There were so many things wrong with this episode I think the writers had no idea what to do and just gave up in the end. Jenna Coleman came back, even though they killed her off. The entire episode was about her and the Doctor trying to save her from the death he said he couldn’t prevent two episodes earlier and not about his wrath at the Time Lords for imprisoning him for over a billion years. It was random, it was meandering and it was boring. Nothing happened, Clara was still dead even though she was walking around being her normal annoying self and then there was Isildur, who did nothing to help the story along. Then there was the other TARDIS masquerading as the Diner. Now as far as I know, the chameleon circuit allows the exterior of the TARDIS to appear as anything, it could be a tree, a brick wall, a diner or even a Police call box. Once you enter the door though you pass through this illusion and into the interior of the TARDIS. How then could the Doctor be sitting in the Diner talking to Clara? The illusion from the chameleon circuit would not extend to the inside of the Diner. Clara entered her TARDIS through a door inside the Diner, another example of the writers not following the rules of logic and just making shit up to fit their terrible story.

Time travel is one of the hardest genres to write about, there are so many threads you have to keep in place, so many details you have to observe or else the story just falls apart and that’s what happened last night. The entire last two episodes just fell apart and made no sense at all. I have no idea what they were thinking and if they continue like this then the viewers will wise up to them and stop watching. The majority of the viewing public are not idiots and there must have been many people watching last night scratching theirs heads wondering what the hell just happened. Peter Capaldi is a good actor, he deserves better. He is the Doctor, so get rid of Clara and give him his show back and get better writers.

95% of success for any book is promotion

I’ve said on many occasions that the success of any good book relies on the promotion campaign. Any writer setting out to self publish their work needs to have a marketing campaign in place and most of that is promoting the work. In the past I’ve tried several tactics and so far none of them have been as successful as I’d liked. I’ve also said, and this is a truism all writers know or need to learn, that becoming a successful author is a marathon and not a sprint. I refer back to a quote that Morgan Freeman said in an interview some time back he said that it had taken him over twenty years to become an overnight success. This is true for many writers. They spend many years in the background working at their craft until they either are good enough or they have that one lucky break that catapults them into the spotlight. With this being a marathon I’ve begun some promotional work with a company called Newsignedbooks. They are tweeting about me, my books and have set up an author page for me which displays all my work in the Col Sec series to date. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

The next book in the series will be out in the new year.—author-page.html