So here we are, it is New Year’s Eve and I am at home. Not because I am some sort of loser (I am but that is by the by!) but because I have children and all my friends who live near me have children and there is no childcare. On top of that I always feel New Year’s parties are a bit of enforced fun so do not mind missing out, although I will go if I ever get invited!
Anyhow, it is the last day of 2017 and so it is the time to do one of those reviews of the year. Nothing like a good self-indulgent blog post to end the year! So here goes…
A few year ago I noticed that I was not hitting targets set for myself; work and family life are so busy that I never get anything done in the time frame I expect. I decided for one year to say that my target was just to write. That year was last year and was my most effective year of writing. I decided to do the same this year and, guess what? Yeah I have written even more. So much so that I cannot review in just a few built points so I am going to use different headings this time around…
I continued to write poems sporadically in 2017 and place them in my collection ‘Bad Poetry You probably never want to read.’ If you feel inclined you can read all my poems on wattpad. I managed five poems in 2017, the first of which was posted on the first day of the year (don’t expect the same to happen next year i.e. tomorrow!) and is about how my daughter keeps slyly stealing my glasses. It is entitled ‘The Glasses Ninja.’ I really wanted to move away from comic poems and my wife told me that my rhymes are a bit forced so I spent the longest I have ever spent on a poem writing ‘The Tale of the Vitae Plant.’ This poem was written for National Poetry Month and is about a great voyage, I tried to make a rhythm but it did not work so it really does dispense with many literary effects. I tried to evoke the feeling of an old poem set in the 1800s, I hope I achieved that.
With two children now running about parenting was getting difficult in April so I put my frustrations into a poem entitled ‘Parenting (or I love you but please leave me alone for five minutes).’ It is a tongue in cheek look at the stresses of being a parent and just wanting a little time to yourself. For the next poem I tried something a little different, I was trying to emulate Dr. Seuss as I had been reading a lot to my son, I therefore went for a nonsense poem about a farmer, where I created a range of funny animals. The poem is called ‘The Nonsense Farmer.’ The last poem of the year was in September and was released for National Poetry Day. I did not really like the theme of freedom that was given but tried to create something. Everything I thought of felt a little fluffy and unreal so I finally settled on an acrostic poem entitled ‘Freedom’ but linked it to being a slave to technology. I think that it is quite clever by you might not! The poems dried up after September due to another project which I will talk about later.
The First Flash of Hope
I had written a flash fiction story for publication in a free magazine the other year that did not get published. I enjoyed writing a story in only a thousand words so decided I would complete a book of twenty of them. As the first story was sci-fi I thought I would do all of them under the genre of sci-fi. I had made a list of some stories I could do but left it there. The plan was to release it only on Smashwords. However I realised I would never get it done unless I wrote them sporadically and updated slowly on wattpad. So this year I started releasing sci-fi flash fiction under the title of ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ The first was released in February and is the story that I tried to get published in a magazine, it is entitled ‘The Other Side of Mars.’ Even though I have a list of topics, the next flash fiction update, in April, was a new idea that sprung into my head. It is about a person who has a bionic arm fitted only for it to be used to hack information, unbeknown to the lead character. It is called ‘Bionic Hacker.’ The last flash fiction piece of the year was a little bit sillier, it looked at a planet that was ruled by ducks, a bit of a pastiche of Planet of the Apes. However, at the end all is not what it seems. The story is called ‘Planet of the Ducks.’ It was released in June and was the last flash fiction I wrote in 2017, again this was due to the project I will mention later.
A Close Shave with Destiny
If you have followed this blog you will know that I have written a fantasy novella set in a moustache entitled ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ I have been editing it for a long while as I intend to charge for it, releasing it in print and ebook, so want to make it the best I possibly can. This year I have finished two passes of it and got feedback from a beta reader. I am now running the book through my editing program, Pro Writing Aid. Once done it will, finally, be ready to release. I did manage to do something else I was very proud of this year, not only did I create the cover but I actually drew the image on the front. As I am a terrible drawer I am quite impressed with what I produced, you can see it here.
The Fifth Coin
Again, if you have followed this blog you will know that I have been writing a novel called ‘The Fifth Coin.’ This is a young adult novel that I won NaNoWriMo with last year, I did not take part this year due to time constraints. I am at the editing stage and have finished two passes of this but am not focusing on it at the moment, instead I want to continue with the other project and getting ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ released. You may or may not hear more about this next year.
Islands of Hope
The other project I have mentioned is ‘Islands of Hope.’ This came about after talking to a friend who told me of a serial novel he really enjoyed. I thought that by setting myself the challenge of writing something each week and updating it I could at least be releasing some of my work and building up a novel. I have been writing between five hundred and a thousand words each week and editing them using Pro Writing Aid then uploading to wattpad. The novel is a sci-fi one about a dystopian future where a company has taken over most of the world. A girl steals some bread and is taken in by the company then sold on as a slave only to be sold to the revolution. So far it is around thirteen thousand words long but is growing each week. You can read it by going here.
Right, so it appears I actually did quite a lot of writing this year! I suppose I should talk about plans for next year. It seems that the idea of ‘just writing’ works well for me. I will say this though, I hope to publish ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ and hope I continue to keep up the ‘Islands of Hope’ updates. Ok, so that is it, I hope I have not waffled to much. All that is left to say is have a happy new year and a great 2018 and here’s to more successes!
This week’s update is a bit longer at nearly 800 words, and it could have been longer but it felt right to make Chapter 11 short. I did not want finding Kira to take too long, but this chapter did allow me to build character a bit more, even if it is the thing I hate writing most, LOVE! Well relationship stuff. I also have a confession to make, I said this was going to be a pantster project but I have planned the next few chapters a bit. Ok it’s just a sentence but there are so many ideas in my head. Anyway, it’s my project so I’ll change the rules if I want! Actually I am just glad I am keeping up with my update schedule. Right, you can get yourself to wattpad and read Chapter 11 here or start from the beginning here.
So that larger update I talked about, not happening! Yes I am off work for Christmas but I forgot how much organising it takes when you have two young kids. I have managed to finish Chapter 10 though, it is a short chapter but does show you that revolution is not only taking place in the Channel Islands but also inside Princips Ltd. It has also given me some ideas for how the story can move forward on more than one front. We will be back with Kira next chapter but will then move to a new set of people. Anyhow, all there is to say is Merry Christmas and the usual fact that you can read Chapter 10 on wattpad here or start from the beginning here.
I saw The Last Jedi on Friday last week and, like a lot of Star Wars fans, I came out stunned and confused. I liked it but it did not quite feel like a Star Wars film, more a film with some Star Wars elements in it. It has taken me a few days to assimilate what happened and to help me do that I have read a few fan comments. The more I think about the film and the more I have read comments about how it ‘sucked’ the more I like it. What gets me most is the amount of questions fans that hate the film are asking, most of which are clearly explained in the film or by looking at previous films. This has got me frustrated, so to get things off my chest I am going to answer some of the questions with what I see the answer as. Before we go ahead, here is the old spoiler banner…
Anyway, on with the questions…
Why does Leia use the force to float into a spaceship?
I know other people hated this but it actually gave me tingles. She is a force user and strong with force, although not trained. Why can’t she survive in space and fly herself back into a ship? I thought it was cool. I was more distressed by them killing Admiral Ackbar!
How can they make Luke such a moaning hobo?
He thinks he is single-handedly responsible for Ben’s defection to the dark side, that he has somehow created Kylo Ren. Some people say he would not act like that, that he is a Jedi and would do the right thing, that somehow they are destroying his character by making him exile himself. I for one think it adds to the character, Luke is great and what makes him so likable, apart from the fact that Mark Hammill is cool, is that he is not perfect. Remember in Return of the Jedi that he needs to strike down the Emperor in cold blood to turn to the dark side. He did try to do that and was only stopped by Vader. Remember also when Vader says that if Luke won’t turn he will go after Leia, well Luke aint happy and really goes for Vader. He sometimes looses control, remember he does have a large part of his father in him. I think Luke considering killing Ben for a split second then changing his mind is exactly the sort of thing that his character would do.
I do feel sorry for Luke though as there are some horrible scenes he is in, particularly that one where he milks the four teeted water alien for green milk. I was saddened when I saw the scene, it was so silly. I get why it was included, to show how far Luke had fallen. And to be fair we do milk cows so it is not all that strange. I just personally thought it was a bit too far.
The next argument about Luke is this idea of him wanting to end the Jedi, that he now thinks the Jedi are just dreamers who think the force is for them. If you listen carefully to what he says it is clear that he feels that by having the light side in the Jedi, a dark side will always come up to meet it. Luke has not only exiled himself through guilt but to make sure the Jedi do not continue and as such, when the light side dies so does the dark side. Remember that every major incident involving the dark side rising to power has been, in part, affected by the Jedi. The Jedi supported Palpatine at first, they trained Anakin and gave in to Palpatine’s request, now Luke has trained Ben and been the cause of him turning to the darkside. I think it is Rey that makes him realise that even without the Jedi there will be light and dark, even with him in exile a warrior of light has risen to meet the darkness.
So all in all Luke is not so much running away as doing what he thinks is right to save the galaxy. I don’t get why people are so upset by that, the hero becoming a legend then disappearing and when needed is an unwilling skeptic is a pretty common storyline in films these days and as far as I see it, added to the character of Luke.
Why doesn’t the First Order just use other ships to cut off the Resistance ships?
That is a good question which I think is best described by a line Hux says then Snoke laughs about, “we have them at the end of a string.” That is exactly what this chase is, it is the First Order toying with the Resistance, watching them slowly collapse, like a cat playing with a mouse. And as we know with all cocky people, they get their comeuppance in the end, in this case some of the Resistance escape.
Why kill Snoke, we don’t even know who he really is?
Now I agree they could have done more with Snoke, his character had such intrigue and there were many theories about him. Even I had an idea about Snoke. It seems I was wrong, oh well! In fact I could still be right. But even though I don’t think he should have been killed, I can see that it was to move Kylo Ren’s character on and make him the main evil in the galaxy. He has been swinging between dark and light but killing Snoke was his final choice, and he chose the darkness.
Since seeing the movie I have also heard of a theory that came from a Star Wars comic. In the comic Palpatine can move his consciousness from his own body into a cloned version of his body. These clones decay quickly but allow him to stay alive. Could this be true of Snoke and in fact he is Palpatine, maybe he wanted Ren to kill him so he could move to a younger body? The same comic contains dreadnought class starships and Luke astrally projecting himself using the force, both of these are in The Last Jedi. It is now starting to feel like Disney have made some expanded universe stuff non-cannon so they can use the ideas in future films!
Is that it? Rey has no connections to other characters
I really hope it is, it was a breath of fresh air to say that she was a nobody, that she was not connected to any other character. Not everyone has to be connected, no-one asks about Poe or Hux’s parents, they do not have to be connected to any previous characters so why does Rey? It does not matter if her parents were not force sensitive, it could be an ability from earlier on in her bloodline or some new mutation. This stuff happens in the real world, well not with the force but some children are really tall compared to their parents or are athletic where their parents were much more academic. I really don’t think this is something to get hung up about, also Ren could have been lying to make Rey feel more alone so she stayed with him out of feelings of being wanted by someone, then they could rule the galaxy together.
What was the point with the Canto Bight mission?
I don’t have a problem with Canto Bight, it is clearly a metaphor for how the rich make their money and a dig at Hollywood, but in Star Wars terms it is a cantina scene. Most Star Wars films have them. Yeah some of the aliens are a little weird, but there were some strange ones in A New Hope. I also like that it is a pointless mission, not every mission the good guys take on has to be a success. It was a little bit of fun in the middle of the film that brough Finn and Rose closer together.
Why didn’t Luke just get off the island?
Firstly he does not need to and secondly it would be more dangerous if he does. That shed load of fire the astral projection takes would have wiped the real Luke out. I see the whole point of Luke appearing at the end to allow the Resistance to escape. Also what would happen if Ren had actually killed Luke? I think Luke feels this would cement Ren’s path to the dark side, by Luke dying peacefully Ren will not feel the guilt of killing him and thus there is still a chink of light inside him. Yeah that sounds a little farfetched but would work. I was really hoping that Luke was going to be seen raising his X-Wing in a link to The Empire Strikes Back then flying in and blowing up the cannon at the last minute. But hey, that didn’t happen. Still it was cool seeing him coming in at the end to save the day even if it is not the way I would have done it.
Where is the character development?
I am actually struggling to understand this question, look at the path Luke takes. How Rey is pulled toward the dark side but resists it in the end. The way Ren is deciding if he should convert to the light only to choose darkness in the end. How Poe is a cocky so and so that gets a lot of people killed but realises in the end that this is not the correct path. And Hux when, no actually Hux is just very shouty, he is a pantomime villain, I should hate that but I really like it. I actually love the bit where Poe is trolling him at the start. So yeah, there is a lot of character development.
Why is there so much silly humour?
There is a lot, too much in my opinion, but I have to say that most of it is pretty funny. Watching Chewie going to eat a porg whilst other porgs squeal and cry, seeing Finn get tazered and watching Rey annoy the caretakers as she destroys buildings and parts of the landscape give a bit of a comic relief. I understand that the film works without it and that much of the humour is hit and miss but I would not say it ruins the film. Although I would like less humour in Episode IX.
How can they move forward from here? This is the end of a trilogy not the middle part
Did you not see the end of the movie. The phrase, “we are the spark, that will light the fire that will burn the First Order down,” is said so many times and this pretty much sums up the end of the movie. The Resistance are calling in favours from anyone who is loyal to them, they are inspiring younger people who are oppressed, they are basically rebuilding. In fact I would say that Episode IX will be set some years later with the First Order in charge of the universe and the Resistance ready to strike out again. Maybe we will have a new Jedi Order trained by Rey and force ghosts, I am still holding out for their being a spirit council with the force ghosts of Luke, Yoda, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu and Anakin that guide Rey through her training and the setting up of a new Jedi Order. Rian Johnson even stated that it would be interesting to see a dark side force ghost, could we be getting Supreme Leader Kylo Ren being haunted by Snoke’s ghost, sending him more and more mad? There are plenty of paths to take and plenty of questions to still explore. I am most excited to see who Ren’s apprentice will be, remember, “always two there are, no more, no less, a master and an apprentice.”
The questions I really want answered!
After watching the film and considering if for a few days they are still a few questions I would like answered, maybe this well be done in Episode IX, maybe it is me being stupid and they are answered already…
- What are the Knights of Ren? We have heard a lot about them but never seen them, or are they the praetorian guards? I hope not, but where are they in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi?
- What happened to the Jedi trainees that escaped? Are they still with the resistance, are they scattered across the galaxy? I had a theory that Rey was one of them and that others needed to be awakened but, again, I guess I’m wrong. Or could it be that they were working with Ren and are actually the Knights of Ren? I am sure Episode IX will explain this.
- When Hux reaches into his coat to kill Ren, what is he reaching for? I take it that this is a gun but it looked to me to be a lightsabre. I really need to watch the film again and take a closer look. I read somewhere that Snoke has trained more than one apprentice, could Hux be that other apprentice? Could his over the top dastardly villain actually be a rouse? Is he a Sith hiding within the First Order? Or is it just a blaster he reaches for? Who knows, not me.
So finally, I will say this about The Last Jedi, it was definitely flawed but I am happy with the film overall. It did not go the way I expected but that does not make it bad. I can understand the frustrations of some fans but I agree with the sentiment that Star Wars fans are hard to please. Some say The Force Awakens was too much like old Star Wars and the The Last Jedi not enough like old Star Wars, basically people need to make up their mind what they want. I for one like to be shocked and when they killed Snoke I was definitely surprised. My only real gripe is how much they wasted the character of Phasma, but then again she could have somehow survived, I just don’t know how!
I have finished work for Christmas which means I may have a larger update next week, maybe not though. Anyway, down to this week, a look inside Princips Ltd, it’s a quick scene with the board of directors that sets up a potential villain of the story. It all might seem a little obvious and done before but there might be a few twists along the way. Anyhow, you can meet a host of new characters in Chapter 10 here, or start from the beginning here.
As a teacher, the end of the Christmas term is chaos and that has really shown this week in my writing, or rather lack of it. I have managed another update to ‘Islands of Hope’ today but it is short and simply builds on the characters a little rather than move the story along. It also, finally, completes Chapter 9. Chapter 10 should be a bit more exciting as we are going to get introduced to some of Princips Ltd’s Board of Directors. You’ll have to wait till next week for that, but for now you can read ‘Islands of Hope’ thus far on wattpad, Chapter 9 is here or you can start from the beginning here.
Recently I have been borrowing, what my son calls, chapter books from the library at the school I work in. The librarian has noticed this and decided to lend me a newly bought book that has yet to be categorised and placed in the library in return for an honest review. My eyes lit up and my brain said, blog post. So here it is, my review of Vulgar the Viking and the Rock Cake Raiders by Odin Redbeard and Sarah Horne (oh, I should say that there are some spoilers in there!)…
I was a little disappointed by the first chapter, it almost seemed like a book for older children. My son is four but he can get the general gist of books for eight to ten-year olds. It may be a strange thing to say, but I felt there were too many technical viking words. Yes it is about vikings, but I felt you needed to have some knowledge of them to access the book. However, chapter 2 onwards seemed to move quickly into writing that was fit for the age range. Along with the quick pace of the story came the silly jokes and gross situations, including juggling elk poo and eating bogeys. That good stuff that makes kids laugh and amuses adults, even though they do not want to admit it. From here it became sillier and sillier, however, what I liked is that it joked about this, it revelled in observational comedy. It was almost as if the characters were asking the questions you wanted to as a reader. For instance, when King Olaf tells the kids a story about how he survived at sea with no food or drink, he says he ate bogeys and drank seagulls blood, then one of the children asks why he did not just eat the seagulls (which is what I was thinking!). Another thing that got me into the story, but was maybe over my four-year old’s head, was that fact we were looking at modern vikings. It was set in the ‘olden days’ but the vikings had shops, a village and did not plunder or loot, Vulgar’s Dad even cleaned toilets for a living. The comedy comes from the fact that the vikings were now ‘civilsed.’ The whole situation in the book stems from the point that Vulgar wants to be a real, old-fashioned, viking. This leads to the three main characters making a boat to cross the village pond and stealing some cakes. It is such a preposterous plot that it is perfect for a children’s book. I actually laughed out loud when the three kids escaped the mob in their barrel boat only to be caught on the other side as the mob just walked around the pond.
Two other children’s books I have been impressed with are Wilf the Worrier and King Flashypants. I have likened these to Monty Python for children. I think that Vulgar the Viking is another book that can fit into this category. Maybe then, this is the state of children’s literature today. Have they finally caught on to alternative comedy much like adults got in the 1970s. Maybe it is the people who grew up with Monty Python that are now putting their ideas into children’s books. I for one am glad if it means we get such funny stories as those mentioned above. The one thing that annoys me, though, is that I have heard many people say these types of books are good for reluctant readers as if they are just silly and that is all. These books are actually well written and great for all readers, they are silly and make you laugh but most importantly they are entertaining. So, I for one endorse Vulgar the Viking and the Rock Cake Raiders and am satisfied to say that it adds to a growing list of what I call ‘proper comedy books for children’.