A NEW excerpt (chapter 19) of Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men released!


Okay, so I haven’t got my copy of the eighth book in Derek Landy‘s brilliant series yet due to being busy with voluntary work today so will be getting mine, reading and reviewing it inside the next two weeks. I might be waiting until Chosen by Benedict Jacka is released (5th September 2013) before getting both together but in the meanwhile, SP Weekly News over on YouTube have uploaded a video of Derek Landy reading a small section of Chapter 19 at the Edinburgh International Book Festival!

No real spoilers in this bit I don’t think but I hope you enjoy it:

The SP Weekly News Channel can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/SPWeeklyNews/ And don’t forget to check out Landy reading chapter one here and another excerpt, featuring Scapegrace, Thrasher and a wizened Chinese mentor here.


Should Writers Read Outside Their Genre?

I agree with this article but I would also say to try reading more widely within your OWN genre. Every writer has his or hers own Voice and way of doing things and creates such a range of writing styles that it can be worth stepping away from your favourite authors and trying news ones.
Kindle Samples and reading books from a different section of your local library are probably a good way to begin with this process.

Nic Widhalm - Author


It’s a cold, rainy afternoon. The kids are spending the day at Grandma’s, it’s too wet for yardwork, and your significant other is at a conference on aardvark mating habits. The fire’s been lit, the blanket dragged from your bedroom…all you’re missing is a good book.

Quick! What do you reach for? Come on, you’re a writer, you’re never far away from a book. You’re holding one now, while you’re reading this, aren’t you? Is it fantasy? Romance? Star Wars Slash Fiction? Is it the same genre you write?

Should it be?

What’s the advantage to reading outside your preferred genre?

Well, you’ll be exposed to new writing styles, for one thing.

Cormac McCarthy. Let’s start there. I write fantasy, specifically urban, and spend about 300% of my time (outside aardvark mating season) reading books by the heavyweights: Rothfuss, Martin, Sanderson, Weeks—I know, they’re all epic fantasy…

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Writing a World of Whimsy: Young Adult Author Claire Legrand

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article about a published author, Claire Legrand, who uses WordPress. I don’t know why but I seem to find that other published authors use Blogspot and, occasionally, their own websites for blogging. Rather uniquely, I’ve noticed that Heather Brewer, the writer behind The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod and The Slayer Chronicles books, vlogs on YouTube! You can find her channel 
Claire in this also offers advice to writers, published and unpublished, about using and writing blogs.

The WordPress.com Blog

Periodically, we share stories of WordPress.com users doing awesome things, from blogger David McRaney snagging his second book deal to memoirist Susan Morrison bringing her mother’s World War II-era diaries to life. Today, meet Claire Legrand — a young adult author of fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction worlds — who also makes WordPress.com her online home.

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Sixty second writing tips: relaxing into it

Matthew Wright

I suppose I am revealing my age, but my first short story was published in 1976. An embarrassingly inept teenage story, but it was published.

It took me a long time after that, though, to call myself a ‘writer’ – still less to feel I was competent, though I had been trained in the art and eagerly launched myself into practical writing – which is the only way to extend that learning.

What became evident is that there is a gulf between knowing how to write in theory – and doing it in practise. Having the theory is ‘consciously competent’ – the writer knows the stuff and can assemble something per technique. But it shows – the resulting material usually looks contrived, certainly to an experienced eye. There’s a step beyond – ‘unconsciously competent’ – where the content flows and the bones don’t seem obvious.

The way to get from one…

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Film Review: The Lone Ranger (2013)

Right, I am just going to get this review done!  I finally have a bit of time to actually write it although I cannot promise it will be the best. Sorry!

Told from the point of view of Tonto (Johnny Depp), the Lone Ranger follows the story of John Reid (Armie Hammer) and how he went from being a lawyer, on the side of the law to The Lone Ranger, on the opposing side of the law. John Reid’s return to his home town to his brother, Dan, and his family is less than happy when outlaw, Butch Cavendish, breaks out of custody and goes on the run. Dan enlists John’s help to track Cavendish down with other Rangers but is betrayed by one of their own, who is working for Cavendish. Cavendish and his posse ambush and kill the Rangers and, upon finding them, Tonto buries all of them. However, when a white spirit horse awakens John, Tonto encourages John to join him as they track down Cavendish together and to become The Lone Ranger.

This film is visually brilliant, if somewhat gory at times (surprising since this is a Disney film, even if it is rated 12A) and has all the connotations of a Western film. However, it is arguably also fantasy and, visually, slightly steampunk-ish. It is a great romp through the Wild West of America. The humour is also brilliant, if somewhat one side with Tonto seeming to get most of the jokes and John Reid played off as a bit of a goof and gets some slapstick comedy.

In a way, this film is Wild West Green Hornet, which was also a “how the hero came to be” story (a seemingly often reused story in Hollywood as of late!) A big difference is that the Green Hornet film (2011) had a much simpler story whilst Lone Ranger seems to go all over the place and at times, I was struggling to keep up. It was also slower in pace in comparison.

The only thing that made up for the pace and sprawling story was the humour. As mentioned above, I think it is brilliant, if very one-sided. The interaction between Depp and Hammer’s characters is great fun initially but gets a little repetitive.

The action is well paced and done brilliantly with the train chase at the climax of the film well paced and great fun to watch.

Something I would question is its uses of certain storytelling techniques. For one, it uses a framing technique of Tonto telling his story to a little boy in 1933. Is it needed? In my opinion, no. This film could easily have played out without the use of it. It also has a flashback to something that happens later in the story and, whilst the story does come back around and puts it in context, again, I don’t think it was needed or even necessary to put it in flashback. Why not just have the scene actually in its place in the story?

The music is well written but great soundtracks, regardless of the film, is to be expected from Hans Zimmer, who has done a fantastic job on Sherlock Holmes (2010) and The Lion King (1994).

In spite of the failings of the actually film, I do think there is just enough to rescue it from the panning of the critics in my opinion. It is funny, the action is great, it is visually exciting and the music is brilliant. I think it is worth a watch as long as you can forgive that  the story is not all that brilliant or well put together. Ultimately, it’s the story that let’s the film down.

Wakefield Lit Fest

Wakefield Libraries

Headliners Combined grab
Wakefield Lit Fest returns for its second year 21 – 30 September. The theme is ‘Everyone has a story’ and you can see the full programme and book online at the festival website There’s something for everyone – creative writing, stories, walks, art and of course authors.
Don’t miss the Readers’ morning on 21st with Gavin Extence (The Universe versus Alex Woods) and James Wheatley (Magnificent Joe), a chance to discuss the books with their authors and other readers. I’m really looking forward to a morning with other passionate readers talking about books!
21st September will be a red letter day as one of my favourite authors, Tracy Chevalier, is speaking (at the Westgate Unitarian Chapel at 7pm) about her new book The Last Runaway.
Carol Ann Duffy- yes, the Poet Laureate – is appearing on 26th for an evening of poetry and music then there is just time to…

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Wakefield Lit Fest, 21st-30th September 2013

After a fantastic first year last year, the Wakefield Lit Fest (website here) is back for a second year!

This years theme is Everyone has a story… and will be featuring writing workshops for various art forms, including prose and poetry with the Writer in Residence this year being Steve Dearden and ending with a meet and greet with Darren Shan!

The list of what’s on was released today, with the electronic version of the brochure available here. A list of events and more information can be found on the website, linked above, and some sessions and events are ticketed. Unless stated, all tickets are being sold at the Theatre Royal in Wakefield.

I will be attending as many sessions as possible (and can afford) so if you are in the Wakefield, West Yorkshire area at the end of September, come along and join in and don’t forget to explore the beautiful city and it’s surrounding area!

Food and Detectives in Crime Fiction

Thanks to someone who I follow on Tumblr (I am so sorry! I can’t remember who!),  I’ve just been listening to an episode of the Food Programme from BBC Radio 4 on the BBC’s iPlayer for radio.

The episode is called Feeding the Detective, looking at how food is now playing a large part in modern crime fiction, going right back to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. For any BBC Sherlock fans, the episode features a very short interview with Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss who reveal that the detective develops a hankering for chips in the first episode of the next series!

It is fascinating and certainly opened my eyes (or should that be ears?) to how food can be used to shape characters and stories, not just in crime fiction but all types of fiction.

You can listen to the episode here. Due to this being on the BBC iPlayer, I do not know if it is available outside of the UK and I cannot tell you how long it will stay on so listen to it ASAP if you are able to!


Elementals Writing Challenge

Okay, I am working on The Lone Ranger and Black Butler reviews, plus the articles but I am also applying for jobs so please bare with me. For now though, I will leave this elemental Writing Challenge for you all to get your creative juices flowing this fine Monday:

1. Fire
2. Earth
3. Air
4. Water
5. Electricity
6. Light
7. Poison
8. Darkness
9. Bubbles
10. Ghost
11. Blood
12. Hearts
13. Sand
14. Time
15. Space

Two good friends of mine over on deviantArt, Unspecified-Reasons and Cryogenic-Sean, have both blogged about and tipped me off to it and I am working my way through them. All the resulting flash fictions are going to be posted on my deviantART page (which should be linked in my “About Me” section).

Now, to figure out what to write for 3. Air…

Sixty second writing tips: music to my writers’ block

I like to listen movie soundtracks when writing but I have never thought of listening to music to help me when I have writer’s block. I think I will give this ago next time I get stuck.


Matthew Wright

We all know, I think, about music and writing – how different music can sets different writing moods.

You’re pretty much guaranteed to write something different while jouncing along to Katy Perry than you would if you hurled Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries through your sound system.

It’s a powerful technique and one I figured I could take a step further by using it as a device to un-stick writers’ block. Normally I either write in silence, or classical – no vocals – because words interfere with the ones I am trying to think of.

I got stuck the other day, though. Drastically. Which called for drastic measures. Specifically, a change of music to Nightwish at planet-cracking volume. Then Epica.

It worked. Sudden shift of ambience. Sudden shift of thought. Sudden shift of neighbours. I’d recommend it to any writer who’s stuck. Or has annoying neighbours.

Does changing the writing ambience…

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