Good Morning, Sunday. 30-4-17

Another week where I’ve dragged my feet. I’ve struggled to get my butt in the chair and just write. A lot of that is me and not being strong enough to not just crash out when I get home and binge something on Netflix. Some of it is tiredness from the day job, but 99% of it is me struggling to get the motivation to sit down and write. At the moment I am writing in my lunch breaks but not when I get home of an evening. This I have really got to change. I am working on sorting out the reasons why I struggle at times, but it’s a little up and down.

To what I’ve done though: I’ve mainly been working on an anthology submission this last week. I’m a little stuck on it at the moment as I’m not sure where I want to go with it and I’m a little worried that I’m not sticking to the theme close enough. I’ve got a few ideas of how I can hopefully fix that but I think I’m going to have to wait for the edit to do that. If I start trying to do it now I’m just not going to get it done.

The second anthology I’ve heard about I’m really struggling to come up with an idea for. That submission date is before the first one, but I just can’t flesh out an idea that for the theme that really grabs me. I need to so some more thinking on it.

The fanfic piece, I haven’t touched at all this week. I should be stuck into it and progressing at a healthy pace now but it feels like I’ve let it slip by. So I’m going to change that in the next coming days.

We’ve got the Mayday bank holiday here in the UK this weekend so we get an extra day off, and I’m going to try and make the most of that. I’ve got a meet with Owen today which’ll probably take up the bulk of the morning and this afternoon I’m kind of planning a chill out/tidy up. It has been a tiring week and I’d like to relax a little as we get into late afternoon onwards. My brother got me the Predator trilogy (Predator, Predator 2, and Predators) on Blu-Ray for my birthday and I’m planning to have a Predator marathon tonight.

I will be getting to the Costa where I’m meeting Owen early, so I can get some words written and hopefully get past this little bit where I’m stuck on this story submission. That said, I need to get my arse in gear and ready to go. For some people going out in their pjs is an acceptable practice, but I’m not remotely one of those people.

Have a great day, folks.

9th January 2017

Toady I wrote 659 words on Penal earth before work and during my lunch break. This evening I have dragged my heels a little bit. I had a little trouble getting rolling but when I did I managed to edit through 3500 words of The Space Watch.

I think a problem I’m having with getting started each day with editing is its been so long since I’ve done any real editing I’m a little wary of it. Hopefully the more I do the more easier it’ll be to get rolling.

So far the story isn’t in too bad a shape, but I’m still in the bit I was on before I stopped for NaNo, and it’s the bit just after NaNo that I’m worried about. I fear it’s going to be messy and require a fair amount of re-writing, but if it does, it does. There’s not a lot I can do about it. I’ll try not to get demoralised by it if I do have a lot of work to do to tidy it up. I need to look at it as just another step in the process.

Reading wise I’m about half way through Day of Chaos: Endgame (Judge Dredd). This story is just getting better and better and I’m loving the artwork in it. I’ve also started listening to Alien: Out of the Shadows by Tim Lebbon. This is the audio dramatisation of it and I’m really digging it. It’s reminded me just how much I love the Alien films, and also how much I love anything set in space. I’ve got an urge to watch the Alien movies, and films like Sunshine, Moon, Pandorum, Avatar, and Event Horizon. Also the Predator films, and I want to dive into the Star Wars movies again (loved Rogue One, by the way). So I think over the next few weeks I’ll be digging these films out of my movie library and having a little look around Netflix and Amazon video, I might start with The Expanse, I’ve heard that’s good.

Tonight though I’ll be getting into Day of Chaos: Endgame before bed. I want to see how this gets resolved.

Subtle Influences

It struck me recently as I was watching Terminator 2 that I put Mini Guns into pretty much anything that I can and that it was the influence of this film and the movie Predator that gave me this fascination with this weapon. This got me thinking about what else I may have picked up during my life that comes out when I write, although I suspect this may only become obvious once I’ve had my work read by a few people.

This is a thought that has been running through my head and I suppose I like to put loyal and honest characters in my writing. I like putting certain vehicles in as well.  Having worked in the second hand car trade for the last fourteen years I’ve picked up on what generally is a good car and the types of car that I like tend to be reflected in some of my protagonist’ vehicles of choice. I mention guns a lot too. In my vampire collection I mention different pistols i.e. Berreta and Glock.

From now on I know I’m going to be looking at what I’m writing and trying to pick out where I’ve put my likes and dislikes into the text, which i suppose is all part of being a writer. We let our preferences come out in our fiction.

has anyone else noticed this in their own writing?

Movie Monday: Alien Vs. Predator


Alien Vs. Predator is the mash up of two movies series that. Any fans had been waiting for a long time, but I don’t think this 2004 movie was what they wanted.

Me, I like it. It’s not by far the best movie involving out of all the Alien and Predator movies that have been made, although I would like to say that the Alien Vs. Predator sequel is one of the worse films I have seen. Back to this film though. A team of experts is taken to an area near the Antarctic to investigate a sudden heat signature that has appeared under the ice. Once there a hole appears in the ice that leads down to the source of the heat signature. This allows them to get to the source quicker.
Once there they have a little look around, tripping a pressure switch as they do. This activates a series of mechanisms at the deepest point of the pyramid that is under the ice which raises and awakes a frozen alien queen that has been held there. Above ground three Predators have killed the support team and have made their way underground.
In searching the pyramid the team find a sacrificial chamber and many human remains that show signs of ritual sacrifice, although one of the team points out that it looks like something has broken out of willing sacrifices. After this the team split up and half go further down into the pyramid and find the Predators weapons and remove them from the stone case that they were in. This is when all goes to pot. Once the weapons have been removed it activates the pyramid. Alien eggs move up into the sacrificial chamber and, well you can guess. The walls in the pyramid also start to move around as well trapping different characters in different areas. People start dying and so on.

I can see why a lot of people do not like this film. It does not have the feel that any of its predecessor movies have. Sanaa Lathan is good as the lead but not entirely convincing. Raoul Bova is okay too. There is some good work by the support cast, Ewen Bremner and Colin Salmon especially. I loved seeing Lance Henriksen as Weyland too.
I like Paul W.S. Anderson’s work too but this felt like it missed something. It did not hold the horror edge that Alien did, or the intensity or aliens. The rawness of Predator was also missed. I think it lacked a lead. Sigorny Weaver, Arnold Schwarzenegger really took the reins of the earlier films and I think that having had a more powerful lead would have helped the film hugely.
It’s one of those films that I can watch frequently, its easy too watch and does not leave me scratching my head. The visuals in the movie are beautiful and the script is well worked.
It is deffinately worth a watch though, just don’t expect it to be as strong as Alien, Aliens or Predator.

Movie Monday : Predators


I am a huge fan of the original Predator movie, the Arnold Schwarzenegger one.  This was one of the earliest sci-fi movies like this that I can remember seeing.  It had so much to try to take in I watched it more times than I care to admit.  I loved how the Predator took Dutch’s  (Schwarzenegger’s) team of soldiers apart leaving only Dutch to fight the alien hunting them.  This was followed by Predator 2, and later on Alien vs Predator, which was not as bad as a lot of people say it was.  Although don’t get me started on the sequel to Alien vs Predator.  Then we had Predators, which many say is the worthy sequel to Predator (I half agree, but I did like Predator 2)

Predators starts with our protagonist (Adrian Brody) falling through the air, thankfully a parachute opens and he lands, albeit with a little thud.  There with Brody is I think seven or eight other people.  All are some sort of fighter.  One is a Columbian cartel enforcer, another is a member of the Yakuza.  Another is a Spetznaz soldier and you get the picture.  This little group slowly try to figure out what is happening to them and they soon find out that they are in a game reserve for the Predators.  As the film carries on we meet Noland, played by Laurence Fishburne, and I think that Fishburne has a lot of fun with this role.

This film does not mess about, the action is good, there is a nice level of terror and a couple of good little twists.  Adrian Brody and Laurence Fishburne are not the only faces that you will recognise which helps the strength of the film.  The soundtrack is taken straight from the original movie too which tugs at the nostalgia strings in our heads.  The visuals are stunning, although I don’t think that the jungle in the movie is alien enough for an alien planet but it is still very much worth a watch.

How Science Fiction Films have Influenced Me : Alien Invasion

The last few new alien invasion films that I’ve seen have left me thinking different things about this part of the genre and how I look at my own fiction.  Aside from Project Phoenix I have two other active alien invasion stories going so this is obviously something that gets my attention.  There was Skyline, which if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know my opinions of this film.  Although I’ve had time to reflect on it a little more now.  As I said in the previous post I think that there was too little attention focussed on the live action sequences and too much was relied on the special effects.  The actors are all generally pretty good but they are let down by the script and what felt like an inexperienced director.  The special effects were beautiful though.

The next one that I want to mention is Monsters.  For a film which had such a small budget (Wiki says it was about $500,000) Whereas that is apparently what was spent on the live action sequences of Skyline and apparently and another $10-20 million on the special effects, again according to Wikipedia.  But for that half a million dollars a stunning film was made.  It dealt with politics relationships as well as the aliens themselves.  There is a good sense of threat at the right times in the film and it makes that part of Central America look absolutely stunning.  The Director Gareth Edwards really deserves plenty of credit for this film.

Battle: Los Angeles was a film that I actually quite like despite its negative reviews.  Yes it is full of the typical Hollywood clichés, The retiring sergeant, the inexperienced lieutenant, the platoon of marines that have a gripe with the sergeant.  A little hint of romance and so on.  Arron Eckhart puts in an excellent performance, as always, which I think helps the film hugely.  If someone else was playing the role then I’m not so sure that it would have done so well.  One big thing that I liked about this film was that the invading aliens had a form of intelligence about them.  They took cover when they needed too, they had what we would think of as officers, but they also wiped out humanities armed forces within a heart beat (okay yes I’ve done that too) but I think a lot of people are getting a little tired of an alien force that can just wipe out earths armed forces without any real opposition.  I think a lot of people would like to see a story where there is a reasonably fair fight.  Eckhart has said that he would be interested in a follow-up film to this one, so would I because I think there is a lot here that this film could build on.

No Alien Invasion post would be complete without mentioning Independence Day.  I struggle to watch this film now, and all I can think about is that I’ve seen it so many times that its’ too ingrained into my memory and its maybe not got enough to capture my imagination any more.  I can still watch Predator, after a few thousand times, and still find it truly engaging whereas with Independence Day I can’t.

I write alien invasion stories so all these films are food for thought for me but I’ve found that I strip them to pieces too much to really enjoy them.  I think about how I would tweak characters or the aliens themselves and the plot and so forth.  I can picture how a London version of Battle LA would work, maybe that’s because I’ve been writing an alien invasion book for the last seven or so years.

Bad or good these films always spark an idea for me, do I use force shields? what do the aliens look like? what are they after?  Why are they after it?

Independence Day is the film that has influenced, well inspired, me the most when it comes to this part of the genre, but I cannot think of an invasion film which we, as viewers, deserve. Of all the great films that I have seen I cannot think of one which is truly epic by todays standards.  The original War Of The Worlds film was very good, but the Cruise/Spielberg re-make, well enough said, but I think that in this day and age we need another film with the epic-ness of Independence Day but for todays audience.  Even though I struggle to watch Independence Day it is still a bloody good film, but I think that movie goers today expect more from their movies.  I want to see a movie which has the epic factor that Independence Day had but also the depth and intelligence of a film like District 9.