BOOK REVIEW: Rule Zero by Laurence Timms

As I'm currently wending my way down the road of traditional publishing, my appetite for books of all stripes grows voraciously. So when Laurence Timms told me about his new book RULE ZERO - a "darkly comic fantasy thriller" - it sounded right up my alley! It follows Harry Bacon, a shady man from the depths of the Ministry of Defence, previously leading a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and now largely mothballed. But when experiments from his past start exploding all over the place, and his friends use their dying words to warn him, he is dragged back to adventure, recruiting unlikely allies to stop a mission of revenge. The style reminds me greatly of Jasper Fforde (The Eyre Affair, etc.) and it has the same irreverent approach to the status quo, though it is nominally a universe similar to ours. The novel uses gateway characters to good effect, using folk with no idea of this topsy-turvy underworld or those with only...
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Things I’ve Been Doing Instead of Updating My Blog

You know that thing where writers leave you hanging for months because they're off having "thinking time" or pioneering the depths of the ocean? You know how much we all hate that? Yeah, I'm that writer. Except without the exciting excuses. I seriously doubt anyone's been waiting on tenderhooks for me to update this blog, but if you have been even the least bit tender or hooked, I apologise. In the meantime, I've been working on a number of things - some of which I'm allowed to share and some which are currently under wraps, alas. Remember that exciting series of short films set underwater? While we work on the feature scripts, the team decided that we would move sideways into graphic novels. We're currently working on the first issue and it's coming along nicely. The Realm Pictures crew are also currently working on a number of projects which fall under the category of Not Talking About It Yet. Suffice to say, the boys...
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On Talking: Novels vs Screenplays vs Plays

I love dialogue. Great dialogue can make your heart sing, from the Crispin's Day speech in Henry V to President Bartlet's rant against God in Two Cathedrals. And I've always fancied I'm not half-bad at it. There are fundamental differences between novels, plays and screenplays that I'm not going to delve into here, but the thing that grabbed me tonight is dialogue. I've started attending Kites and Violence in Waterloo, a writers group run by the funny and devastatingly handsome Sandy Nicholson. This evening's readings were from a feature film and a play. Both were very enjoyable, actually (though I had to duck out early because of trains) but wow, they sound so different! I've turned my hand to novels and the thing I hate about them is all the damn describing you have to do. There is a basic expectation of description that is actively avoided in screenplays. I personally feel this can go too far - JRR Tolkien may have been...
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2011 Top Eleven

Here are my eleven favouritest things from this year. They all come with my highest recommendation. X-Men [Colon] First Class Out of all the comic book movies released this year, this was undoubtedly my favourite and a good film in its own right. It takes two big characters with decades of history and brings them back to their potential. It shows a complicated relationship develop into the closest of friendships - and then shatters it. The supporting cast enliven the film and the action plot ain't too shabby. Come for the fights, stay for the characters. Tangled After Disney's recent output, I was nervous about a new film. But the trailer sold me instantly and the feature didn't disappoint. The first song threw me completely, as I'm now accustomed to Pixar's style, but the dynamics between Rapunzel and Flynn (who I want to call Gwaine) sold it. Easily Disney's best film for ten years. Easy A I missed this at the cinema, so rented it on...
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NaNoWriMo Owns Me

I originally started this blog at the end of 2009, when I wanted to write 100,000 words of my Apocalypse novel in two months, Nano-style. That novel's word count currently stands at 18,041. That's because someone pointed out to me that the concept was exactly like 'Good Omens'. Disheartened, I shelved that novel and moved on to screenplays. However, I'm still passionate about the novel, and when I got the idea for an agoraphobic, techno-whizz detective and a streetwise ex-con fighting crime, how could I say no? And, oh look, it's November. And hey, I've won Nano twice before - 2006 (Vivid Images - never edited) and 2007 (Deus Ex Machina - partially edited, one of my favourite stories). So, I think to myself, I can do this 50k thing. Why not make it challenging? 80,000 words. That'll be a walk in the park. Yeesh. I'm only 5k behind schedule, giving me, at this moment, 21,859 words. Which, for those of you who can't count, is...
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The Writer on Holiday

If, like me, a week away from your laptop and constant access to Twitter fills you with dread, here are some tips to appease your creative sensibilities while still getting some much-needed downtime. 1) Scribble on paper and then lock your notes in the safe A paper note can be a refreshing way to examine your ideas and help you make connections you might not have otherwise grasped. As for the safe, this is not because some would-be plagiarist might steal them (see Lucy V's post here), but because the maid might be disturbed by the carefully planned murder laid out on hotel stationery. 2) Mobile apps are your friend I drafted this post in the bar with a cocktail. Evernote, Celtx, Dropbox - make sure they're synced and ready to go. Also, take advantage of any hotel wifi for a quick glance at email (though I dutifully set my auto-responder) - it's particularly good if there's a time limit to the thing, for those...
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A question of perspective

I quite like my Red Planet Prize script. It was my first television screenplay, so I'm sure it contains novice mistakes, but on the whole, I'm proud of it. Danny Stack made a post today about RPP entries: "...there were a grand total of 1,574 entries!" !!! "We're already immersed in the reading and the standard is proving to be very high indeed, making the 2nd round decisions all the more difficult." ... "...we're typically very tough on what gets through. In previous years, it's been around 20% of the entries..." Well, damn. Back to the novel then....
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Lens blur

What I am lacking in is focus. Today, instead of knocking out another chapter of Overambitious Island (though the night is still young), I plotted a new six-part drama series that we will call Asylum. There is no need for this new project, it is not filling a hole of emptiness in my life, and yet it will not be left alone. So I'm going to kick it into submission and get back to my novel, like a good girl. Yeah, right....
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Everything old is new again

I have successfully moved across Wales - go me! New job officially gets going next week, and while it's going to seriously cut into my writing time, it also pays pretty well. Still, like all amateurs, one day I dream of going pro. However, I take Michelle Lipton's caution that it might not all be hearts and roses when I get there. I signed up to The Bitter Script Reader's collaborative writing project. I think the last time I did something like this was at a sleepover when I was a teenager and we were trying to plan a rom-com-esque date for two oddly-named characters on a concertina piece of paper. I'm the third writer in Team Chynna, so I should receive my portion of the assignment mid-late August. In another piece of nostalgia, I completely agree with Laurence's ravings about Sherlock. I want to be that writer. I'm going to pick up some of my old projects now that the Red Planet Prize...
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