Escaping to Fan Expo Vancouver

There’s little doubt that 2016 has been a grim year. We’ve lost folk heroes, rock stars, and a little bit of belief in the fundamental goodness of regular folks. But yesterday we set aside our fears and doubts, and dressed up as someone else for a day. We went to Fan Expo Vancouver 2016.

If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll know we try to go every year. I always intend to dress up, and I never do. Time and again, the Weasels have outshone me with their brilliant outfits, and been photographed over and over.

This year, I was ready. Having spent only a short period of time building s Doctor Strange outfit for Halloween, I had spruced up the Shakespearean Vader suit that I built so long ago. I shortened the cloak so I didn’t trip on it. I added extra bling. I was ready.

wp_20161108_014-2

We didn’t rush in this year – there would be no queuing! Eldest Weasel had booked a photo shoot with her personal Doctor Who idol, Alex Kingston, and that wasn’t until mid-afternoon, so we had a leisurely drive in to downtown, and then we gathered outside the convention centre while Mrs Dim figured out how to exchange our tickets for the wristbands that would get us inside.

001

Eldest Weasel’s friend came along as Kaylee from Firefly, while Eldest herself had really gone to town on improving her Time Lord Headdress.

dscn9465

Middle Weasel was Quicksilver (somewhat ironic, given her tendency to avoid moving whenever possible) and Tiny Weasel was Frisk from Undertale. You know, Undertale? the Game? No, me neither.

Attending Fan Expo in costume was wildly different from going in regular clothes. For one thing, I was stopped quite often so people could take photos of or with me. For another, I couldn’t actually see very much. My breath fogged up the eyepieces after about four minutes, and Mrs Dim had to guide me through the halls. I was glad she’d chosen a white jacket for the day, as it was easy to follow the white blur. Only once did it turn out to be the WRONG white blur….

From an atmosphere of fear and hate (through the internet news and the reactions of friends and family) we found ourselves in a place of acceptance and encouragement. Fans can be sticklers for details, vocally critical of the film industry when details are altered for a movie, or when a beloved character is treated badly for plot purposes. But I heard no criticisms of any of the costumed characters at the Expo. There was open admiration, compliments, applause, and , of course, photographs. Prominently displayed in the convention centre and the nearby hotel were signboards with the “Cosplay is not consent” policy clearly laid out. Some female characters wear skimpy outfits, and those that chose to dress as those characters could have no fear that they would risk assault for that choice.

Respect. Inclusion. Honest fun. Pursuit of interests for the joy they bring, not the financial gain.

It was a delight to step into this world, and imagine the one we live in coming back to these values one day.

Remembrance

wp_20161111_003-1

My grandfather was Frank Trasler. He fought in World War 1. Amazingly, he went to war with his brothers and they all came home safely – two even met by chance on a battlefield in France. Too old to fight in World War 2, Frank became an Air Raid Warden in London. I have the cap badge he wore for that duty.

My brother and my wife both served in the RAF. Both have lost friends and colleagues in their time. When I wear a poppy I do so to remember the cost of war. It’s not a glorification. It’s not a call to justify the horrors, it’s a reminder of what happens when greedy, ambitious or idealogically suspect people make flawed decisions. It’s never these people who pay for their choices.

The War Poets rarely ask us to remember war as a glorious struggle. They ask us to remember that real people fight and suffer and die in wars.

Wear a poppy and remember.

wp_20161111_002-1

An allegory (not about the election)

wp_20161017_001

Once upon a time, in a small village, there was a shop that sold pots. There were pots of all kinds, in different sizes and shapes. Some were squat and earthy, some were tall and elegant, some were useful, some were purely art pieces.

Each had only one handle.

One day, a new potter came into the shop. She was holding a pot with two handles. The proprietor looked over his glasses at her.

“Two handles?” he said, not quite sneering. “How…Unusual.”

The woman swallowed, but stood tall.

“This is how I make pots. With two handles.”

The man smiled in a patronly fashion.

“And that’s very admirable, but as you can see, all the pots in this shop have ONE handle. I simply can’t sell a two handled pot. No one would buy it.”

The woman frowned.

“Excuse me, but how do you know that?”

The man waved once more at the stock in his window.

“Because I’ve been selling pots for over thirty years, young woman, and I have never yet sold a two-handled pot. It can’t be done.”

The woman arched an eyebrow at him.

“Have you ever HAD a two-handled pot to sell?”

The man had no answer to this, and in his moment of confusion, the woman carefully placed her pot in his hands. Both hands instinctively closed around the handles, holding the pot firm. It felt right in his grip, comfortable, safe and secure. There was no arguing that it wasn’t different from every pot he’d held before. He liked the pot, but his pride prevented him from saying aloud how he felt. He cleared his throat.

“Well, look, I can see you’ve worked hard on this. I think we should be charitable and give a chance to new…odd, things. I’ll put it in the window, for now. We’ll give you a week, how about that?”

But less than a week had passed before the woman heard from the shop owner. Her pot had sold, and word had got round, and could she bring him more pots, more two-handled pots please. As many as ten? By tomorrow?

Along with the modest flow of people buying the new pots (new to the shop, but perhaps an old design, to be sure) came an angry potter. He was, he explained, there to represent the views of several potters who had concerns.

“These new pots of yours, ” he said, “They’re not right. Not proper.”

The shopkeeper frowned at that.

“I don’t see how that’s the case. They are pots. Whether artistic or practical, they do what needs to be done.”

The potter shuffled his feet, as if physically adjusting his mental stance.

“Look,” he said (and the strain of keeping a level tone was nonetheless evident in his voice) “I can see there’s a bit of a fad for this new style. Well, fine. If you want two handles on pots, I can supply pots with two handles.”

“Why?” asked a softer voice.

Both men turned to see the woman who had made the two handled pots. She had clearly heard the exchange.

“I beg your pardon?” grated the potter.

“Why would you suddenly start making two handled pots? I make them that way because that’s how I was taught to make them. It’s the way my family have always made pots.”

“I’ve never seen them before.” asserted the potter, as if that were a closing statement.

“Little wonder about that, since they’ve never had space in the shop before.” replied the woman.

“Well, now they are taking up space. Space that other potters have earned. Potters that have more experience, that have sold pots for longer than you…”

“Not hard to do, since I haven’t sold any pots before this week.” admitted the woman.

“Exactly!”

“But then again, that doesn’t make them better. It certainly doesn’t make them better at making two handled pots.”

The potter stared at her, then glanced at the shopkeeper who shrugged, unwilling to intervene. The woman continued in a level and understanding tone.

“You see, I know you are a good potter. I see your pots right there in the window and they are beautifully made. Some are useful, and some are too lovely to use. You are clearly a master potter.”

He stammered a vague thank you, trying to see why she should compliment him.

“And yet… All your pots have one handle. They only need one handle. That’s how they were made, how you have always made your pots. You COULD make pots with two handles, and they would be good pots, but you know what? You’d be making them because people are buying two handled pots. Not because you want to MAKE two handled pots. And before you could sell them, you would have to go away and learn about the design, probably from someone like me, who has spent her life making pots like these.”

The potter opened his mouth and the woman held up one finger. Not imperiously, not commandingly, just to indicate a moment’s pause was needed.

“You should make the pots you have always made. They will still be beautiful or useful. People will still buy them and love them. And yes, you may sell fewer pots because the shop shares the space with different pots. But you’ll be making the pots that you make best. The pots you understand. The pots you dream of. And so will I.”

So, this is the internet, where you have to point out when you’re writing a satire. This is not a satire, it’s an allegory, and it’s not about the American election, even though it seems like EVERYTHING is about the American election right now. This is about a discussion in the publishing industry that rose and fell recently. It’s how I feel about that argument.

Halloween is coming

halloween-background

Lazy summer days are great, and fresh spring mornings can be wonderful, but I have to admit that autumn is my favourite time of the year. It’s not the crunchy fallen leaves, or the tang of snow to come in the air, but one night of silliness: Halloween.

As a child in the UK in the 70’s and 80’s, Halloween was not a big deal. There would be a party on the night itself, or the weekend closest to, I guess, and there would be costumes and apple bobbing, but no trick or treating. By the time I was at Secondary school, there were Halloween discos, and rumours of trick or treating in local areas, but these were always accompanied by horror stories of razor blades in apples and so on. We knew about North American Halloween traditions, of course, because we watched movies like “ET” and saw the parades of costumed kids going about collecting sweets. None of them seemed to suffer horrific murder as a result….

In our final few years in the UK, we were on RAF stations, usually behind the wire, where a small community made for safe trick or treating. Mrs Dim came up with the idea of making a huge cauldron of soup and some hot dogs and making a gather point for adults. We could see the kids working their way up and down the road while the adults took turns supervising and eating.

By 2008, we were hosting our own Halloween party out in the world of civilians.

The kids even got to go trick or treating around the local roads (with adults in attendance, of course.)

But over here, the sheer scale of Halloween is impressive. When my writing partners from TLC came to visit in our first year, they went back with a suitcase filled with Halloween decorations that were cheap over here, but non-existant at the time in the UK. I suspect that situation has changed in the years since, but there’s no denying that people go all out for  Halloween over here.

The last two years I have been working Halloween night, and I will be again this year. It’s a quiet night in the library, even though the staff dress up and the Librarians usually have some sweets for any trick or treaters who make it in.

 

The Weasels will also be dressed up, and some will be roaming the streets in search of sweets, while others will man the Witch’s cottage, or whatever scary house we set up to trap the unwary….

The Latest Scripts from Lazy Bee : Sept 2016

Image result for Lazy Bee Logo

The latest round of scripts published by Lazy Bee Scripts have been gathered together in their regular newsletter (The Buzz). I’ve taken that list and some of  the other notices and put them here for your edification. All the scripts can be found by searching the title or author at www.lazybeescripts.co.uk  and it’s always worth checking out “What’s New” on the website.

Plays for Schools and Youth Theatre

Our latest publication for children (covering a range of ages) are:-

  • Peter Yates dispels a few Nordic myths while providing some real historical insight in his school piece The Vikings (9M, 3F)
  • The Seven Wonders (17M, 4F) by Nicholas Richards is an accessible and educational school play, that teaches not only history but also the power of books, and their ability to educate and inspire.
  • Roger Hurn’s new plays are ideal for school assemblies.  Thor’s Hammer (7M, 1F) is based on a traditional Scandinavian folk story, and Joseph And The Truth Stick (2M, 0F) provides a cautionary tale from ancient Egypt.
  • Face2Face (15M, 9F), Helen Spencer’s school ensemble piece is designed for Key Stage 2 pupils, with the theme of bullying at its core, though has many humorous TV-themed interludes.  Sam is a delightful child – happy, smiley and kind to others.  Well, at least that’s the impression she gives to grown-ups.  When her parents aren’t looking, or the teachers’ backs are turned, Sam reveals her true personality.
  • Gerry Murphy’s single setting piece The Three Wishes (7M, 3F) tells the cautionary tale of an impoverished peasant who makes a Faustian pact with Lucifer.
  • Young people come of age in the high school drama Behind Their Eyes (8M, 7F).  The play is a poignant dramatisation of the real life stories and experiences witnessed by the author Taylor Seymour.

 

Musicals and Musical Plays

Shows with a significant musical element – original songs or song suggestions.

  • Sarah Archer’s comedy drama Dearly Beloved (1M, 3F) features an original song and the opportunity for two others, and sees three very different people trapped in a mysterious room.  The trio must work together to find the answers that will set them free.
  • More amateur dramatics chaos in Cheryl Barrett’s comedy Free For Hall, as a double booking in the village hall leads to a tense stand-off.  There is potential for two song and dance routines.
  • Trinity Road School Reunion by Dawn Cairns is a full length musical with suggested songs.  A class comes back together years after school has finished, for a 70s night at a local pub.  New romances awaken, and old ones are remembered.  Some have changed quite dramatically, but the old bully is still the same.
  • And while we’re here, I should mention Ruth, Graham W Evans’s musical telling of the bible story.  We published this some time ago, but we have, at long last, added Graham’s CD of backing tracks for the show.
    We’ve also belatedly added vocal demos for a couple of children’s shows: A Musical Mother Goose by Gerald P.  Murphy and Minny Pinny Makes a Difference by Stuart Ardern.

 

Full-Length Plays

We are sponsoring the writing competition for full-length plays run by Bread & Roses Theatre.  (Submissions close on September 30.)  They are seeking plays with a majority of female roles (which is a good thing, reflecting the make-up of many theatre companies).  More information on their web site.  We look forward to reading the winning entries, meanwhile, our latest publications are:-

  • Ethan Bortman’s Obvious Guilt (4M, 3F) has been remastered with a British setting.  Nigel’s wife has gone missing and her mother is determined to involve the police.  As time goes by, things look blacker for Nigel, but he protests his innocence to the last.
  • A vivid historical drama on the life and loves of Byron, Mad, Bad, And Dangerous To Know (2M, 4F) is told largely from the female perspective, written by Jim and Bronwyn Jameson.
  • Play Safe (6M, 5F) from Paul Rudelhoff & Jane Hilliard is a full length farce set in a home for retired entertainers.  Trouble brews as two rookie criminals break in, with the intention of stealing the combination to a safe.
  • Lee Stewart’s Legacy (3M, 2F) centres around a dysfunctional family attending the reading of Uncle John’s will.  The provisos within lead the characters to in-fighting and nefarious scheming in a bid to get their hands on the inheritance.
  • Greeting Cards (2M, 2F), Frank Flynn’s comedy drama centres around two roommates.  Robbie is out of work, having suffered a stroke, while Max struggles to care for him.  Two women, Mandy and Max’s sister Gertie provide the catalyst for life saving changes for the pair.  There are three possible endings to choose from in Robert Scott’s The Amateur Killer (3M, 4F), a murder mystery drama centring around a local amateur dramatics society.  Director Daniel is letting his personal history with Lucas affect their relationship as he directs the production of Adieu, but it’s his knowledge of Lucas’ affair with Natalie that will lead to murder.
  • Two spirits ponder the manner of their death in Herb Hasler’s A Haunted Haunting (8M, 7F).  Confusions arise in this full length comedy, as medium Mona summons a host of oddball spirits to find the answer.
  • To Shut The Mouth Of Lions (4M, 2F) is a powerful drama from Dave Clark.  William’s wilful refusal to acknowledge his son’s lifestyle choice leads to a Christmas confrontation with his family.
  • Take five ladies of varying backgrounds and put them in the rest room at an exercise class.  They talk about their lives, their hopes and fears openly and unashamedly. Add into the mix a young, single, male fitness instructor and see what happens in Geoff Fulford’s Exercise In Discretion (2M, 5F)

 

Sketches, Skits and Short Plays

Mainly sketches, this time, but also a couple of short plays.  All running to less than 20 minutes.

  • Two Yorkshiremen share anniversary gift ideas and other worldly wisdom in Cheryl Barrett‘s Silver-Tongued
  • The mercurial minds at TLC Creative have gifted us with a menagerie of new skits, the settings of which range from boardrooms to safari parks.  These offerings come from David Lovesy with occasional help from Brian Two, and one contribution from Damian Trasler: The Business Meeting (2M 1F), Soul Bargain (2M), Imagine You Are A Tree (2 Either), The Wonders Of Science (2M), Is This A Sketch? (2 Either), The Earthquake Drill (1F, 2 Either), Shyfari (2M, 1 Either), and A Day At A Spa Resort (2M)
  • I Will Pass My Jeans On from Patricia G is a short but sweet piece.  Two sisters sort through some old clothes for the charity shop while their mother watches on.
  • Three new contributions from Robert Scott give equally humorous, sharp and absurd takes on the worlds of art critique, classical music and Hollywood film: Joan: The Movie (2 Either), For The Love Of Art (3M), and Symphony Dreadful (1M, 2 Either)
  • Philistines and experts face off in Herb Hasler’s Art’s Gallery.  (2M 1F)
  • Olivia Arieti adapts a Mary E.  Wilkins story in The Mayor’s Christmas Masquerade (5M, 7F)
  • The customer is always right, although in Peter Keel’s Book City they can sometimes struggle with the finer points.  (1M, 2 Either)
  • Tony Domaille’s spoof detective noir Rick Risk P.I. sees the title character embark on an amusingly cliché ridden roller coaster, meeting the glamorous Somer Field on the way.  (1M, 1F)
  • A case of mistaken identity leads to A Blind Date in Rollin Jewett’s short comedy play.  (2M, 1F)
  • Just A Bus Driver, Susan Middaugh’s ten minute drama, sees the title character confronted with a gun wielding passenger.  (2M)

 

Pantomimes

Here we have some traditional panto themes, along with a smattering of unusual subjects, mainly for family audiences (but one show that definitely isn’t).

  • Sharon Hulm’s collection of panto-themed sketches Behind You! features an interview with a genie, the characters of Robin Hood trying their hand at speed dating, and a piratey job interview.  More fairytale worlds collide in Goldie Locks And Some Other Guys, Sharon’s latest full length offering, where Goldie, jewel thief extraordinaire, is pursued by three hungry bears.
  • Cinderessex by Barry Smith is most definitely not suitable for family viewing.  Fairy Nuff’s magic allows Cinderessex to attend an exclusive party at The Glass Slipper club, owned by millionaire England footballer Jack Charming.  Only until midnight, that is.
  • Richard Coleman gives us a rhyming masterclass in Chaos In Wonderland, where Alice teams up with Jack to overthrow the Queen of Hearts.
  • Andrew O’Leary’s Rapunzel is our fourth published adaptation.  When the wicked fairy Gothel is stripped of her powers, they are accidentally transferred to the hair of baby princess Rapunzel.  Years later a brave boy sets out to find her and bring her home
  • Cleopatra Kicks Some Asp is a fun packed Ancient Egyptian-themed offering from Jonathan Goodson.  The evil Avaricia and her ugly sisters try to cheat young Cleo out of the Mighty Jewel of the Pharaohs.
  • Our second Ali Baba panto (others have Ali Baba and something else in the title, usually thieves) is set in a Cairo bakery – Will Fatima Baba’s flatcakes ever get the seal of approval from Pharaoh Rosher?  (Authors Bob Heather and Cheryl Barrett will donate a percentage of their royalties to charity.)
  • Suzan Holder gives us a a revised re-telling of Cinderella, our Version 6.  An updated rags-to-riches – via a pumpkin – story.
  • Aladdin has been given the girl’s school treatment by Rachel Harries.  This panto is designed for an all female cast, though can easily be adapted to suit a mixed bag.  Evil villainesses and magic lamps abound in our tenth Aladdin adaptation.
  • Dame Patsy’s pasty factory is under threat in The Parrots Of Penzance, Peter Yates’ eclectic offering.  The race to capture two valuable giant Peruvian parrots descends into pantomime fun.
  • Bottoms Up!  – The Panto by Hilary Ayshford sees pantomime meet Shakespeare, as A Midsummer Night’s Dream is retold with a healthy mix of modern day humour and eloquent quips.

 

One-Act Plays

We estimate run times from the number of words.  (There’s a post about this on the Beewaxing blog entitled ‘How Long is a Piece of Theatre?’) By our calculations, all these plays have run times of between 20 minutes and an hour.  The upper boundary may be of concern to groups planning competition entries (because usually there’s an upper limit of 50 or 55 minutes).  This concerned Tony Frier in particular, as his play would make a good festival piece but is possibly on the long side (though your production may well run at a faster pace).  In any case, Tony’s production notes say that he is amenable to cuts to meet festival limits.

  • Scott Kingsnorth gives us the remarkable Palindrome (1M, 4F), a dystopian drama with a unique narrative.  Ladies (2F), on the other hand gives us a more identifiable tale of post-wedding-party blues.
  • The true story of Donnie Merrett is superbly adapted to the stage in Tony Frier’s powerful drama As The Clock Struck Ten (6M, 4F).  At the age of 17, Merrett shoots his mother after she discovers he had been forging cheques in her name.  Joining the navy reserve upon release from prison, he soon returns to a life of crime and debauchery.  After fleeing the military and narrowly escaping court martial he heads back to London where he continues to demand money to fund his habits.
  • Our Little Secret (2M, 1F) is Rollin Jewett’s award winning comic drama.  Darlene’s evening in is interrupted by an armed intruder, and an unlikely relationship develops between the pair.
  • Geoff Rose-Michael’s latest thrillers are three different tales of drama and deceit – the dire consequences of cheating a driving exam in The Test (1M, 1F), a sinister cover-up in When You’re Dead (3M 2F), and an armed robbery that isn’t as it seems in Innocent Witness (2M, 2F).
  • Window Pain (3M, 4F) is a bitter-sweet comedy from Patricia G.  Brenda thinks she knows all her neighbour’s secrets from the comfort of her window.  The residents of her neighbourhood, however, have their own stories to tell, and they are stark contrasts to Brenda’s preconceived ideas.
  • An American and an English couple squabble in Rosemary Frisino Toohey’s drama Fish Have Feelings Too (3M, 3F).  Eventually the couples’ children diffuse the situation give them something else to think about
  • Matters Arising (4M, 1F) by Richard Moore features a routine will-reading gone awry, unveiling the web of deceit in the secret lives of the beneficiaries.
  • An obsession with ancestry and a desire to claim the inheritance of an obscure relative are the driving points of American Dreaming (5M, 5F), David Pemberton’s comedy drama.

 

Murder Mysteries

There are three new interactive murder mysteries in the latest crop.  Time for your audience to get out their magnifying glasses and work out whodunnit…

  • Downtown Crabbey is a period mystery by Joanne Mercer, set in 1900 in a London hotel trying to cater for American tourists.  The impending arrival of a hotel inspector has caused a panic in the dining room and, worst of all, a fork has gone missing.
  • Nostalgia for a different period from Debi Irene Wahl in The Monster Mashed – a mystery for a small cast of comedy horror characters, with a couple of songs thrown in for good measure.
  • Richard Adams presents a detective-led mystery in Mystic Myrtle which starts with a visit to a fortune teller and leads into an intricate tale where all of the characters have motives for doing one another in.  So the first mystery is who goes first.

 

 

New Web Site Features

Pick a number (not quite any number)

If you buy a performance set of scripts from us, we used to define that as one Producer’s Copy and a fixed number of Cast Copies. Now we’ve changed that so that the customer can choose the number of Cast Copies.  Normally, at this point, you’d be given a sales pitch about why more Cast Copies would be useful to you.  Of course I’m going to do that, but I’ll also tell you why you might want fewer (the cheaper option).
With some scripts, particularly large cast productions, it’s possible to have one actor playing multiple roles.  If you know you’re going to do that, then you can pick the number of Cast Copies you need.  (There is a lower limit, which is the feasible minimum cast size.)
On the other hand, you might want additional copies for members of a chorus, for prompt and stage crew and to give to competition judges. In that case you can add as many Cast Copies as you need.
(The same function also makes it possible to order multiple Review copies.)

Buy a collection, perform a script

We have a small number of “collections” – sets of scripts, generally sketches or short pieces, grouped by theme and bundled together (at a discount over the sum of the individual parts).  Occasionally, customers want to buy the collection but perform just some of the component scripts.  Our web site will now recognise this automatically and grant performance rights for individual scripts that were bought as part of a collection.

Get an up-to-date catalogue

We’ve moved the Catalogue (or Catalog, if you prefer the US spelling) into the [Browse] menu.  We’ve also updated so that the catalogue is generated when you click the button, so you instantly get a PDF which includes the latest publications.

Build your own catalogue

The point of the catalogue is to be printable (so that you can hand a copy round).  The problem with a catalogue is that it contains a lot of things that you don’t want mixed in with the things you might want.  The Lazy Bee Scripts search engine gives results that are closer to what you are looking for, but it’s more difficult to print.  Aha!  There’s now a button which enables you to create a PDF of your search results.

PDF Receipts

We have, for a while now, had a feature whereby you can generate a receipt for a paid order via the [Customers] menu.
We’ve extended that so that the receipts (and invoices, for orders for which you have yet to pay) are generated as PDFs – which look better and are easier to print.
This is particularly useful for customers who pay by card but want a receipt in their own currency (as long as it’s Euro or US, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand dollars).  The customer’s currency part of the receipt will be approximate – because we charge in pounds and the customer’s card provider does the conversion into local currency, so we never see the exchange rate – but for most purposes it will be close enough.

May the Fours be with you…

DSCN9336.JPG

Still putting one foot in front of the other, with three Weasels in tow…

It’s my forty-fourth birthday. Despite dire warnings regarding fruit and vegetables and the necessity thereof, I’m still here. Which is nice.

This summer has been long and very, very pleasant. We’ve had a visit from my parents and been out to see new places, as well as revisiting some old favourites. The Weasels have had independent adventure time, and plenty of family time too. Mrs Dim and I managed to take simultaneous vacations and discovered that we still like each other very much.

In past years I’ve put my books on sale and encouraged new readers to try them, but I think there’s enough misery in the world right now thanks to Brexit and the US elections, so instead I’m encouraging everyone to embrace the spirit of the Fours and review four books. ANY four books. Doesn’t matter if it’s a book you read last week, or your childhood favourite. Doesn’t matter if you post the review on Amazon, or on Facebook, or on a sheet of A4 pinned to the nearest telephone pole.

Reviews matter. They matter to the poor author who has torn their hair out arranging these 100,000 words into that specific order for your pleasure. They matter to other readers, who want to know if this is a book they should devote time to. And if Oprah and Richard and Judy and their ilk can influence entire countries to buy a book (“50 Shades” and “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” respectively) then you can encourage people too. Even if it’s just the author, relieved that someone has READ their book, thank you.

You don’t have to be a literary critic. You don’t have to analyse the beats of the plot, or the structure, or the effectiveness of the b-story. Did you like the book? Did it grip you from the beginning? Could you see it happening in your head as you read it? Did you want to read it right to the end? Were you sad when it was finished? These are the things people want to know about the books, not whether the symbolism was richly influenced by the pre-modernistic fiction of Northern France.

Summer’s pretty much done, and as Sean Bean is always here to remind us….

Image result for for England, James

Dammit, Sean, YOU HAD ONE JOB! Try again….

Image result for Winter is coming

Right. Thank you.

Yes, Winter is coming, so no more lying in a hammock reading books. Now comes the time for curling up in an armchair near the fire with books. It’s completely different.

So, may the fours be with you. Go FOURth and review books.

Be careful what you wish for…

VIDEO UNRELATED

I saw something on Twitter today that reminded me of an embarrassing moment everyone (particularly writers) should hear.

I had just finished writing my second full length novel. It was as bad as the first, although I wasn’t going to admit that to anyone. I was determined that this one would get published. I did my research and tracked down several publishers that dealt in similar books (similar in content and theme, not the fact that they were rubbish…)

But not for me the query letter, the polite introduction and gentle submission. Oh no, I was just going to bravely call these people and sell them my book over the phone! Yes!

I dialled the first number and asked to speak to the name I had found.  I told him that I had just written a great book, maybe the greatest book of the year.

I did. And I am cringing now as I type that.

He then did the worst thing he could possibly do. He asked me to tell him about the book.

It was only then I realised the importance of preparation. I thought that, having spent months bashing out this pile of paper, that I knew the story. That I understood the essence of it, that was was aware of every nuance of my tale.

I blathered. I hemmed and hawed. I may even have gibbered. I’m pretty sure I ended the call by apologising and thanking him for his time.

Calling publishers or agents direct may or may not be a good way to get their attention. Calling them without preparing what you’re going to say is a lunatic idea that will not help you in the slightest.

That book, like the first, remains unpublished, and rightly so.