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’.
I really am fed up of editing, at the moment I check my stories myself at least twice, run them through Pro Writing Aid and sometimes get beta readers. That means it takes a long time to get anything ready. As I am a hobbyist writer I cannot afford an editor so it is up to me to do the best I can. I really just want to release my work. To alleviate this frustration I have started a new project entitled ‘Islands of Hope.’ I have had a brief idea for a story in my head for some time but have ignored it due to all my other projects. I am determined to stop flitting from one story to the next and actually get one finished!
Talking to a friend recently I had a great idea, why not release a book as a serial. If I commit to adding to it each week I can edit as I go. It is also exciting because in the world of writing I am a planster but I am going to approach this project as a pantster and just see where it goes. I am not going to give a specific amount I will upload each week just that I will put something up. Using wattpad will allow me to do this and I will notify everyone via twitter, Facebook and on this blog.
So before I go further I suppose I should give you a brief synopsis…
The year is 2145 and the Earth is largely controlled by Princips Ltd who have monopolised by slowly buying up different companies. The rich now live in mega cities whilst the poor dwell in slums. Countries have been reassigned as numbers and there are only a few independent states left. The one thing you do not do is cross Princips Ltd, break the law and you can be jailed or even killed. When Kira steals some bread for her starving mother she is caught and put up for slavery. Her new master is known for being brutal but reputations are not always what they seem, especially when you are taken to one of the most beautiful islands in the world, a far cry from the deprivation of the slums or bright lights of the city.
So there it is, not particularly original but should be a lot of fun. The first chapter is now up on wattpad and I will be updating something (maybe a whole chapter, maybe just a paragraph or two) every Saturday. You will also notice there is no cover, haven’t got around to that yet but it will come.
My only real concern about the project is that it will distract from my other writing and getting a full novel released with take even longer. Oh well, at least it will appease me for a bit. Keep checking back on Saturdays for updates. Oh yeah, you can read it by going here.
Now the competition to win a print copy of World Cup Dreams: Extra time edition has closed I am sad to say that, whilst I had numerous likes and gained a few followers, I did not get any entries to the competition. I think this is down to one of three reasons, nobody wants the book, my email has blocked the responses or, most likely I think, people could not think of a poem or did not have enough time to write one. To test this theory, I am reopening the competition but with one change, you do not need to submit a poem. That said, if you do submit a poem you will be more likely to win. Same rules as last time, fill in the form below and I will email for an address if you win. If I do get poems I will display them on this blog and link to blogs/Twitter/Facebook (if you want me to that is – tell me if you do not). I will even sign the copies if you want (although that might actually devalue the book!). Good luck!
Anyone who follows me on twitter will know that I have been writing a short story for World Book Day. Today is that very day and the story is unfinished. It is hard to hold down a job, be a husband and father and manage to write. I often find that I set myself deadlines and miss them. After the success of NaNoWriMo I thought a short story to help promote World Book Day in the school I work at would be an easy task. But after a couple of weeks that involved two parents evenings, a party for a friend and a job interview it appears the timing of World Book Day was not in my favour. The positives are, however, that I am over 4,000 words into a short story I had not even planned to write over a month ago. My plan now is to get the ebook ready and up on Smashwords over the weekend. I doubt I will actually do it in this time frame but do expect to get it all organised in a week or two. Another bonus is that the nice people at World Book Day have recognised what I was doing and given me some nice messages via twitter as well as letting me use the World Book Day logo on the front cover. So basically what I am saying is watch this space, it may be late but a new short story is coming and I am still planning on doing a reading at my school to, hopefully, show the students that reading is fun but writing your own stories is even funner (is that even a word?).
Yes it has surprised even me, after a stressful month I appear to have finished with large successes. At the start of November I set two challenges, to raise money for prostate and testicular cancer by growing a moustache and to write a 50,000 word novel. I planned to update regularly but as you can see by looking below this post, I only managed to do two updates here. It seems that everyone in the world knew that I was doing these challenges and thus decided to put on events that would pull me away. From friends visiting to having to work promotional evenings on to weddings, nearly every event possible happened (ok that is a little bit of an exaggeration!). By two weeks through the month the writing was teetering on the edge even if the tash was bushy and bountiful. By three weeks I was never going to complete NaNoWriMo but I had many a sponsor to my name for Movember. But you see, all those people on twitter and the NaNo site said don’t give up, just go for it. So I did. By 10pm on Saturday 3oth November I had written 50,000 words, not necessarily good words but words none the less. What is more interesting is that at the start of the month I thought I might not get the story to that many words as it was a straight adventure novel without too much plot twisting or political intrigue. Now I am looking at a draft of over 50,000 words and I am only about two-thirds through the whole novel. So the next goal is to finish it by Christmas then edit it so it is out by the end of January. But hey, NaNoWriMo was not about a finished product, a polished novel that could hit the shelves of any high street bookstore. The brilliance of it is simply that it gets you to put your writing first, some days you get home and the draw of some random TV show about dancing badgers in leotards gets in the way. But this month I said “NO, I will write,” and that is what I did. So I thank you NaNoWriMo, I thank you those who gave pep talks and I thank you copious amounts of tea because without you I would have four words written down and be moaning about the lack of time to do anything.
Oh yeah, on top of that I wanted £100 for Movember and managed to raise £170. It may have been itching all the way but I made it there too and am now free of all that excessive facial hair. Pretty good all in all. Now I have Christmas to look forward to and the stuffing of my face with chocolate, pastries and fine meats. Suppose I should do some writing and editing as well or The Journey Home won’t be out till 2020 or such like!