Woohoo! I just booked myself into the Dublin Writers’ Conference in June. I’m so excited! Of the speakers, I only know Wendy Jones as I met her at a writers’ workshop in Elgin last year. I have plenty of time to read up on the others.
My main goal is to learn more about publishing and to network. I have also opted for a Pitch a Producer session, where Ken Atchity, an LA-based movie producer, will listen to a 1-2 minute pitch of my story and give feedback if it’s adaptable for TV or film. Secretly, I’m hoping my story will be chosen to be on the big screen, but that’s wishful thinking. If anything, I hope to learn more about what Hollywood is looking for at the moment and anything else I can about filming.
So excited! I really can’t tell you how much exactly, so I’ll just do a little dance now…
I know Mark Fowler from the One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Facebook site. We’ve been acquainted for two years now. Mark has been so lucky as to have his books published by Bloodhound Books and is doing pretty well, promoting his fourth book, Red Is The Colour, at the moment. I had the pleasure to chat with him yesterday evening through an author chat organized by Caroline Maston.
Mark L. Fowler
What made you become a writer?
Possibly because I wasn’t any good at most other things in life! I love telling stories, making things up, indulging my imagination but in a way that communicates a truth to my readers. When I feel I have something to say, I write fiction, and I try to get to the heart of things the best way I can.
Tell us a little about your work.
So far, I have published four novels: Coffin Maker (which took nearly twenty years to write!), The Man Upstairs, Silver, and Red Is The Colour. My books are all very different, and Coffin Maker, for example, does not clearly fit into any single genre, though it contains strong elements of gothic fiction and very dark humour. Red Is The Colour, on the other hand, is clearly a detective mystery thriller. The Man Upstairs is also a detective mystery, but with a twist of the very strange. While Silver can be read as a psychological thriller or as a gothic thriller. It is also very satirical regarding the publishing trade.
Why do you write crime?
Crime is only part of it for me. There is crime at the heart of my books, though I would like to think that I’m also trying to explore what makes people tick, why people behave in certain ways in certain situations. I love the psychology of human behaviour. And the darkest crimes-murder for example-raise so many questions. We want to know what forms the heart of a monster or why an ordinary man or woman could carry out the most seemingly depraved acts on another human being. I also enjoy reading crime, of course, and many of my favourite authors write in the crime genres.
What sparked your interest in the supernatural/gothic horror?
I’ve loved horror since the seventies when I used to stay up late Fridays to watch Hammer House of Horror. having said that, there are very few horror novels/films that I really love, whereas there are countless crime and mystery books and films. For me, many of the finest horror writers go beyond genre and are not constrained by it, for example, Ray Bradbury.
What do you find the easiest and hardest parts of writing a book?
For me, it’s starting a book that is the hardest part. Going off in the right direction, beginning at the right place. Once I get the opening right and the momentum starts to develop, I’m okay. I’m learning to plot a little before I set off as I always fear I may run up a dead end. Easier on the nerves having a basic plan, though to over plot from the beginning would kill the book off for me before it got started.
How much research goes into your novels?
I confess to not really being much of a researcher. Coffin Maker and The Man Upstairs were perfect for me, as I could make absolutely everything up. With Red Is The Colour, I gave myself a break by using a local setting, an area that I know extremely well and could write about confidently. However, there was the matter of police procedure, of course. I don’t particularly enjoy reading dense procedurals, and so I steered clear of getting too bogged down, but I did ask a police officer I know to help me with some of the details and to ensure that I wasn’t making any glaring errors. She was very helpful.
What do you do in between writing books?
Read books! And listen to music and watch films, mainly.
What have you got lined up for us?
I have a follow up to Red Is The Colour written and two psychological thrillers also completed, not to mention three YA books that I would dearly love to find a suitable publisher for. I can’t stop writing them! I’m taking some time though to consider my options before moving forward with my next publication and will keep you posted.
I wish Mark success in the promotion of Red Is The Colour. Mark’s book Silver is on sale for £0.99 at the moment, so why not grab that one as well while it’s hot!
So sorry for the late post this week, but I’ve got bad news and good news. The good news is that my waist is shrinking and that my weight keeps going down.
The bad news is that my weight goes up on Mondays and Tuesdays and I, again, didn’t hit my aimed weight for this week. I completely forgot it was Mothers’ Day last Sunday and was given a box of chocolates and a box of licorice (as that’s the thing you give your mother who’s on a diet). My weight has been below the 76kg during the rest of the week for over two weeks now, but I can’t seem to keep it low on Tuesdays. Very frustrating.
The worst news, though, is that I’ve hit that point where I’m fed up with this dieting. I crave cookies, desserts, and treats. And I eat them. They say you make things a habit after three months, but I never seem to make it to three months. I’ll try and keep on going as my waistline and weight keep being a positive reminder I’m doing the right thing, but exercising is a hit and miss at the moment.
Like I said, my weight was not what I wanted it to be on Tuesday as it was 76.1kg (12 stone). Today it’s 75.5kg (11.89 stone) again. WTF?! It’s as if it continually teases me on purpose. I’m very tempted to make Thursdays my weigh-in day, but I’m not a quitter 🙂 . My belt has definitely moved into another notch and have only one left. It measured 81cm (31.8 inches) I’ll get there!
I have noted these last weeks that I hold my right shoulder higher than my left. No idea why. Must have something to do with my right shoulder being tighter and always causing me problems. That said, my left shoulder joint is definitely looser than the right as it keeps ‘popping’ when I do exercises. I also appear to lean more forward on the photo of W0. Was my belly that heavy? 🙂
As I’m looking for ways to keep myself motivated, I ‘shadowed’ my current image over the one from week 2 (where I wear the same bra). The difference is minimal, but I’m definitely shrinking, most notably on the front. Note my hair has also grown 🙂 .
Btw, to minimalize the differences in the image taken, I measure the distance from the top of my shoulder to the bottom of my heel.
All in all, I’m not doing badly. I’m just struggling with eating healthy and doing my exercises at the moment. I hope these images give me enough boost to keep on going. I’ll also be trying some new yoga exercises to spice it up. I’ll persevere!
For Mothers’ Day, I wanted to see Black Panther. There was such a hype about it and it was a Marvel movie, so I had to see it on the big screen.
To be honest, the first time I heard about Black Panther was in the Forrest Gump movie and since then thought it was a movement, not a superhero (yes, I dropped history from my high school package as soon as it hit the twentieth century. My bad, but I had a reason). As I’m a fan of any superhero, I was eager to see this Black Panther movie.
Plot and Characters
The movie starts with a flashback, when Wakanda king T’Chaka (played by John Kani) visits his brother N’Jobu (played by Sterling K. Brown) in the US, finds out he is planning to help the African-American people by using Wakanda’s secret resource of vibranium, a meteorite metal that affects a plant which gives superpowers to those that ingest it, and kills him, leaving his son behind.
Fast forward to the here and now. King T’Chaka is killed (which is seen in Captain America: Civil War) and his son T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) takes the throne. The arms dealer N’Jobu was dealing with, the South-African Ulysses Klaue (played by Andy Serkis), finally steals a piece of vibranium from a museum, and shit hits the fan. (I’m not going into further detail as I don’t want to spoil the plot). What I must say is that the plot was very predictable.
All characters, except for CIA agent Everett K. Ross (played by Martin Freeman) and arms dealer (played by Andy Serkis), are African-Americans. Well, I don’t actually know if they are all American, but they’re of African descent for sure. I loved watching Michael B. Jordan, who played N’Jadaka, T’Challa’s cousin, even with all the scars from his killings. That man is beautiful. I liked his acting as well, very convincing. To be honest, more so than Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa. I liked Letitia Wright as Shuri, T’Challa’s sister. Boseman and Wright played their roles well, although I found it hard to believe they were related, but this always happens in movies.
What I liked
I liked the colorfulness of the movie, the well-choreographed action, the use of cg-rhinoceroses, and the technology suggested. If only it could be true (the technology, of course).
Some parts of the dialogue were funny, but, to be honest, I had hoped for more one-liners.
The music was notable. When the first African sounds blasted through the speakers, I experienced a ‘Circle of Life’ moment, but it was short-lived. I liked how they adjusted the music to the change of location.
I was very impressed with the graphics. Especially the technology looked believable.
I liked there was a female ‘Q,’ and liked the session where the new Panther suit was shown, albeit a bit cliché.
I liked the way they added political hints that living in America is not good for all Americans and that things still need to change in a big way. Not sure it had a place in a Marvel movie, but it was a great way to convey the message to a large audience.
What I didn’t like
Now, I’m having some issues with this movie.
Yes, it is good to see more African(-American)s on the big screen. In the current US political climate, we can’t see enough of them to show the world is a multiracial place. But is it necessary to put them all in one movie? I mean, I’m opposed to segregation, and yet, this is how I see this movie. No integration whatsoever. Oh wait, there is a white fellow featuring the full length of the movie and, lo and behold, he saves the day. Honestly, wasn’t there one Wakandan pilot available who could have piloted the aircraft? I’m having a ‘The Great Wall‘ moment here. Last week, I watched ‘Last Knights‘ and that movie was so much more multi-racially appeasing. If they wanted the movie to be a complete African-American feature, they should’ve left Martin Freeman out. Sorry, Martin.
Another issue, something that I can’t leave out, is that I don’t understand that a country like Wakanda, surrounded by multiple third-world countries, focusses on helping African-Americans. Why don’t they help their African neighbors around them first? Those that don’t have running water in their homes, those that don’t have an infrastructure to rely on as a basis for thriving enterprise, and those that are suffering genocide. Basically, their fellow Africans need more help than African-Americans. Why don’t they show Wakanda helping those people? Why does it always revolve around America? Maybe it was implied, but I must have missed it.
Yet another issue is the fact that the ‘rebels,’ those that want to use the vibranium to help African-Americans, immediately revert to violence. They want to make weapons and ‘overthrow’ the white Americans. Why conquer? Isn’t that an eye for an eye, i.e. rather barbaric? Why lower yourself to the level you abhor? The ending of the movie suggests T’Challa is finally willing to share Wakandan technology, but the majority of the movie shows that change is only achieved after resorting to violence first.
Maybe I’m taking this too far. Maybe I shouldn’t think this movie exists to help multiracialism forward and just watch it as a Marvel superhero movie.
An excellent addition to the Marvel movies, with colorful images, spectacular action, great acting, and a moral-of-the-story that is debatable.
Today, I received an email from the AMA (Ask Me Anything) team, asking me if I would like to host a session as an author on their site. I am so thrilled! I had never heard of them, but they are on Twitter. Any opportunity to get more exposure is good, of course, especially with my new release on sale this weekend!
Part of the process is that I have to authenticate that I am me, so I took this selfie. What do you think? Is this me?
Why not ask me a question? You can find the session here, ask your questions now, and will answer them on Monday, 12 March, at 11:30am EST. All questions/answered are typed, so no video live feed, but I promise to behave anyway 🙂
Tomorrow, the 8th of March, is International Women’s Day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. As I have just finished writing the Suckers Trilogy and am bloody proud of it, I’d like to dedicate this week’s interview to myself 🙂 Let me bare my soul to you.
Why did I start writing?
It may sound cliché, but I had a dream. I dreamed about a girl bumping into a vampire and instantly falling in love. You can’t think of anything tackier, but I liked it. At the time, I was listening to popular music and one of the songs was ‘When the beat drops out‘ by Marlon Roudette. I guess the lyrics of that song got stuck in my head. I told my children about my dream, and they told me to write it down. I sat behind my computer that morning, and for the next fortnight, I only left it for the basic human needs even forsaking television (which is kind of a big deal for me). I wrote 55K words and completed my first novel draft ever. It gave me an enormous high to write. Never ever had I experienced something like this. I never took any drugs, so I can’t compare, but it is possible to get high without them, apparently 🙂 .
What is my literary education?
I don’t have a literary education as science was my first love. When I was four, I suffered a heavy concussion and skull fracture, and I spent four weeks on my back in the hospital. The nurses in the hospital were nice, so I aspired to become one. From the age of six (for the life of me, I can’t remember why that particular age), my aspirations were set a bar higher, and I set my sights on becoming a veterinarian. Animals can’t talk and tell people what’s wrong with them, so I wanted to help them. Helping others is part of what I am. Fortunately, I’m an eager learner and did well at school. I had a huge setback when I contracted a severe bout of glandular fever, or infectious mononucleosis, in my late teens. Unfortunately, it affected me far longer than the few months they say it lasts on the internet. For decades, I was affected with a bone-felt tiredness, but I moved heaven on earth to become a veterinarian and finally became one in my early thirties. By that time, I was ready to have children and found animals no longer a priority in my life. After I gave birth to our twins and stayed home for one-and-a-half years, I re-schooled and became a high school science teacher. This proved too tiring and too depressing for me (I was trying to keep the students in their seats more than I was teaching). I gladly took the opportunity when an office job presented itself.
When I had brain surgery in 2009, I decided that life was too short to be unhappy. I quit my job, a joint decision with my husband, and pursued many hobbies. I tried painting, drawing, scrapbooking, chainmail-, metal-, and pearl-jewelry making, taxidermy, and photography. Never did it occur to me that I could write a novel. I had a diary in my teens, but after I let my then boyfriend read it which made him cry, I never put a pen to paper to entertain people, thinking I could only hurt people with my writing. During my university years, I wrote in a student magazine, but that was purely information transfer. I was an office manager and secretary for a residents’ association for years, but again, that writing was also pure information transfer. My past-time I spent reading, though. I loved Terry Pratchett’s books and Anne McAffrey’s stories. I read Tolkien, the Eragon books, and many others. I loved being sucked into another world, forgetting my own troubles. That’s what I’m aiming to achieve when I write.
Since writing Books 1 & 2 of the Suckers Trilogy in 2015, I’ve spent most of my time reading up on and learning how to write. I’m still learning but getting better all the time.
Is there a bit of me in my books?
Hell, yes! Many people who know me have mentioned this. They see me as Kate. I have the red hair, make rash decisions, and am a vertically challenged person (for a Dutchie). Not everything Kate does is me, though (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The two sisters of Kate, Maxine and Julie, also share the same first letters of my own two sisters, Marianne and Judy, but that’s where the similarities end. All characters are purely fictional and do not represent a particular person I know. That said, I based Caleb on the image of Ioan Gruffud and Charlie on the image of Peter Dinklage. They are two actors that I admire and love watching on the screen. I actually sent Peter Dinklage the first draft of my book but never heard anything back from him. I guess it’s not going to be filmed, then 🙂
Why do I write paranormal novels?
I love dressing up! At home, we used to have a large crate in the attic with dress-up clothing. Whenever we could, my sisters and I would dress up and play. My twin sister, Judy, and I used to make up plenty of fantasy stories on weekends when our parents would sleep in. With our dolls and fluffy animal puppets, we created whole new worlds, spanning our entire bedroom, where anything was possible. Our imagination ran rampant.
To be honest, I never had something special with vampires. Anything out of the ordinary would work for me, still does. I was engrossed in the Twilight series, though. The idea of being beautiful, being better at everything, and living forever attracts me. As a teenager, I suffered the usual teenager-amount of pimples. My sisters didn’t, and I felt like the ugly duckling. The only thing I had was being good at everything I did–what am I saying; I was excelling–until I contracted glandular fever. The disease made my grades plummet, and I had to sit my final high school year twice because of it. It caused an abyss in my self-confidence with a fear of failing which made me a terrible procrastinator up until today. As mentioned, I suffered a life-threatening head trauma twice, which makes one contemplate life a bit more than usual. Immortality is hence a very attractive alternative to this unpredictable and painfully short lifespan.
But your books all are based on romance, so why not write romance novels?
True, all my novels (this means not the novelette) have their feet firmly planted in romance. It is the core of the stories as without them they wouldn’t make sense. But there are so many stories about normal romances already. Don’t we all want to be special, experience something unusual, be part of something extraordinary? Enter the paranormal aspect.
There was a time I watched a lot of crime series on TV. Suddenly, I was fed up with all this pain and suffering as it became too real. I don’t watch any news or read any newspapers. It’s too depressing. What I want to achieve with my writing is for people to get away from this world and love on a deeper level. Hence, I also don’t take the (minimal) intimate details in my writing for granted. They have only been added to express the love, the romance, the needs of Kate, hoping it will flow over to the reader. I know my vocabulary needs to improve, but I’m working on this.
What’s next on the agenda?
First of all, I need to launch Killing A Vampire, Book 3 of the Suckers Trilogy. I screwed up the other books’ launches and want to do this one right. Procrastination is hard to overcome, but I’m trying my hardest. At the moment, only Book 1 exists in print format, and I want all three to be available in print. Before I can make this happen, I need to go through Books 1 & 2 and re-edit them (for the so-maniest time, I know), but I’ve learned so much since I wrote them, and they can do with another ‘upgrade.’ Audio format is the next step.
In the meantime, I am ready to start writing something new. Not writing for a few days made me depressed already. I’ve suffered from depression for a long time. My GP told me I was tired because I was depressed. I am convinced I was depressed because I was always tired. Who was right, I will never know. One thing I do know, and that is that writing is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. Don’t get me wrong. I love my family to bits and honestly couldn’t wish for a better life, but writing fires up my soul.
I’ve got so many ideas in my head. Number one and two are another paranormal/sci-fi novel (I never seem to be able to stick to one genre 🙂 ) and a whole new fantasy series in the style of Terry Pratchett. I love putting humor and sarcasm in my writing, and this seems like a good option to get away with this. I will send out a newsletter to my readers soon and ask them what they prefer I should write first.
Well, that’s me in a nutshell. I’m proud to be a woman, proud of what I’ve achieved, and proud of all the women in my life. You girls rock!
As I mentioned in Week 6, I was afraid I was losing muscle instead of fat, so I began doing exercises next to my yoga. As I had been doing yoga for six weeks, I felt my joints were ready for some more movement. My dear Canadian friend Stephanie mentioned HASfit to me, an online exercise program. She has been doing the daily exercises religiously for a few months already and has lost over 10kg. This result convinced me to try it out. You can do it from home, whenever you want (but daily with two rest days per week), and on the fitness level that suits you. I’ve started the foundation program, and I can tell you; it’s hard work! My body isn’t used to all that movement anymore and tries to fight me, but the HASfit instructors keep me focussed and motivated. They show you how to down or upgrade every single exercise, which is great when you have joint problems.
I can’t seem to get my weight under the 76kg on Tuesdays as the last two weekends I have been indulging myself. My weight drops, only to rise again after the weekend. The weekend before last I had a birthday party, and my husband took me out for a delayed Valentine’s Day celebration (see the temptations above!). This last weekend we went to Glasgow to see Imagine Dragons. Of course, this came with a lovely Sunday roast at the Rait Antique Centre (including sticky toffee pudding!) and a scrumptious dinner at TGI Friday. No wonder my weight loss is going so slow! 🙂
My weight this morning was 76.1 kg (11.98 stone), but most of the time it’s been under 76kg. I’m confident that next week I will officially go beneath the 76kg! I’ve given up on measuring my waist with my belt and have given in to properly measuring it with a measuring tape. Last week, it was 83.5cm (32.9 inches) and this week 82.5cm (32.5 inches). Whether this is a result of the diet or the exercise, I don’t know. My bet is on the exercise, considering what I’ve been eating and drinking 🙂 . I did notice that I can almost tighten my belt a notch further!
Here are the photos of Week 7.
Not much change again, at least not visible.
No other change than that more rounded belly. Now on to Week 8.
It’s a slow going process, but I’m okay with that. I’m still enjoying nice food in the meantime and not completely starving myself. I like the salads I make for lunch as they are more appetizing than plain sandwiches. I do need to curb my dinners crawling back to the way they were, with rice, pasta, and potatoes. Now fingers crossed I don’t need to celebrate anything soon!
Here are some images of the lovely stuff I’ve been eating the last two weeks:
Last week we watched only one movie. And it was a good one.
This is a 2015 movie and, as I just discovered on Wikipedia, based on the forty-seven Ronin historical event. It may explain the Japanese influences you see throughout the movie although the overall feel of it is more a medieval European style. I actually thought the Asian influences were put in by the director, Kazuaki Kiriya. However, the fact that Morgan Freeman plays the honorable nobleman puts the story solidly in the fantasy genre as African-American noblemen weren’t the norm in European nor Japanese history.
Plot and Characters
As mentioned, Morgan Freeman plays Bartok, the nobleman who stands up against a rising tyrant minister, Geza Mott (played by Aksel Hennie), who has won the trust of the emperor (played by Peyman Moaadi). Raiden (played by Clive Owen) is Bartok’s loyal commander and is commanded by Geza Mott, with the approval of the Emperor, to take the life of Bartok as punishment for his treason. From that moment on, Raiden’s spirit spirals downward, forsaking his duty as commander and husband, as closely observed by Geza Mott’s right-hand man Ito (played by Tsuyoshi Ihara).
What I liked
I liked watching Clive Owen. He reminds me of Nicholas Cage, but kinder. He has the face that can be cold and cruel, but also one that can be heartwarming, strong, and passionate. I miss that in Nicholas Cage, who always seems to smirk. Aksel Hennie was well chosen as the paranoid tyrant. He reminds me of Robert Carlyle’s role Durza in Eragon, but this didn’t happen during the movie; he made the role his own. I liked the way the story developed. The desperation, sadness, and despair portrayed by Owen were touchable and heartfelt. There were plot twists I didn’t see coming, which was also a nice surprise. I liked the multi-cultural cast, including Shohrey Aghdashloo, Ayelet Zurer, Ahn Sung-ki, and Cliff Curtis.
What I didn’t like
There wasn’t much I didn’t like. Obviously, there were the WTF moments, like when an archer shoots an arrow through a ring of 10cm diameter at about half a kilometer distance. But otherwise, I have no complaints. The acting was impeccable, the music appropriate and not distracting, and all effects believable. A movie you can get totally absorbed in.
This is an American movie (i.e. with a happy ending) full of action, suspense, and drama. Not one for the very young as topics of alcoholism, prostitution, and marital problems are touched upon, but worldly teenagers could watch this without a problem. I recommend watching it and promise you some good entertainment.
I’ve read some of the other stories, and I can tell you, these authors have frickin’ weird minds. Some stories are wicked, some are horrific, and some will make you want to keep the light on at night. Macaroni will never be the same…
My story is called ‘Rumour has it…’ and it’s about a girl standing trial for five most gruesome murders. Is she guilty or not? You’ll have to buy the book to find out! It’s out soon.