Back to the Future

This is a political post. If you don’t care for politics, other people’s opinions on it, or don’t want to mix writing with politics, then please don’t read on as my views are explicit.
I have always said I don’t care for politics. In school I dropped history when they were about to address the twentieth century. Reason being that I have a Jewish background. My father’s family lost many members during WWII (the family was as good as erased). My grandmother was originally Christian and hence refused for her family to wear the yellow star. Most of her children escaped execution (she was a very brave woman to stand up to the dictatorship of not only the Germans, but also her husband, who signed his own daughter’s death warrant when approving her marriage to a full-Jew in war time). As the whole war had a profound effect on my father long after the war had ended, which in turn affected me, I refused to have anything to do with it; a typical case of ostrich politics. How I now regret this teenager’s decision.
Only when Trump became President did I find myself watching every political news flash. Every single one of them pulled a heartstring, and I don’t mean in a lovey-dovey way. At first it was funny. The pathetic way Trump insisted on how big his inauguration crowd was. Really, who cares? Then there was the ‘alternative fact’ statement by Kellyanne Conway, Counsellor to the President. This was the moment when my ears started to tingle. Was I hearing this correctly? In that same interview she said to the interviewer ‘if (…), then we are going to have to rethink our relationship.’ I thought it a weird statement, not actually perceiving it  as a threat immediately.
Then Trump banned nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States and stopped the admission of all refugees. That was the moment I got goose bumps. The USA, the land of hope and prosperity, was no longer the country it once was for me. Somebody on Twitter put a big stripe through ‘The New Colossus’ sonnet by Emma Lazarus and replaced it by ‘Fuck you,’ supposedly as Trumps doing. This sonnet being the words that were once written on a plaque of the Statue of Liberty (now in the museum), welcoming all arriving immigrants and refugees to a land of freedom. I couldn’t have thought of a better representation of Trumps views myself. This all is what Trump is, for me, all about; creating a totalitarian state.
The comparison between Trump and Hitler just kept niggling in the back of my mind. I had to know if my fears were valid. As I don’t want to be accused of ‘alternative facts,’ I did a super-fast history check on Hitler online (not sure if this is real history of course 🙂 ). Hitler (according to the BBC, amongst many other websites) came into power after a threat to the country (this time it was communism instead of terrorism). Soon after, almost half of the country’s population voted for the Nazis in the General Election. Non-Nazi officials were threatened by the SA (Sturm Abteilung, or Storm Detachment) and the Reichstag (the German parliament) voted to give Hitler the right to make his own laws.
So far the comparisons between Hitler and Trump check out (with Trump not exactly making his own law with his latest suspension of letting in immigrants/refugees as per this website, although keeping these people out based on their country of origin (Muslim-majority countries) is, in my opinion, pure and open indirect discrimination).
Are we really heading that way again? Is history repeating itself? If this is so, we can expect the following: the rise of a Secret State Police (or Gestapo), the abolishment of Trade Unions, a deal with the Pope to take over political power in America as long as the Catholic Church is left alone, a People’s Court where judges will have to swear loyalty to Trump’s party, the birth of a paramilitary organisation (originally to protect Trump’s party meetings) that will control intelligence, security and police forces (and who will eliminate all those who oppose Trump), and ultimately the declaration of Trump to be the leader of a totalitarian dictatorship. It’s only early days of Trump being in power, but I still worry about where it is heading to.
Yesterday, a fellow author asked if we should expose our political views as a writer. Writers depend on their readers for their income. To expose your political view could possibly alienate half your reader platform and hence have a negative effect on your future. Most writers replied that they keep their private, political views apart from their writer platforms. I have been thinking a lot about this since and I have come to the following conclusion.
It is my duty to speak up. As a writer my voice may be heard just a little bit further than that of the average person. I don’t earn much, if anything, at all from my writing; I will not financially suffer from expressing my views. But even if I did,  I would not be able to live with myself if I didn’t speak up now, together with all those other people who are brave enough to speak up, for others may be hurt in a way that is unspeakable if we don’t. It is my duty as a human being. Discrimination, repression, and persecution of minorities may rise if we don’t. I don’t want history to repeat itself. I don’t want my children to go through what my father went through. We should never forget. We should always speak out, as loud as we can.

 

Frontier: A comparison

– Spoiler Alert! –

Last night my husband and I watched ‘Frontier,’ a series on Netflix. Reason for watching (for me) was seeing Jason Momoa, the guy who played Kahl Drogo in Game of Thrones (GoT). Love that guy. Unfortunately he didn’t take his shirt off in the series. Well, not until he was hanged from the ceiling for torturing, which doesn’t show off his pecs in the same light.

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My husband just had two extremely short nights behind him due to work and really wasn’t in for a long evening. I convinced him to watch one episode. Going to bed at 9pm will not give you a good night’s rest (that’s my experience at least). So we watched episode one. That ended with such a cliff hanger that we had to watch episode two, and then episode three. To make a long story short, we watched all six episodes in a row. And my husband stayed awake the whole time.

While watching I couldn’t help myself comparing parts/characters with other movies/series. I guess that happens when you watch a lot of TV. Following is a list of what I couldn’t help thinking. Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t want to know and spoil it for you if you haven’t seen the series yet (you can still click away!).

  1. The opening scene reminded me of Game of Thrones. First you have a ‘hook’ scene; a scene that starts the episode and hooks you into watching the rest of it. GoT did that with sex in the first five minutes. Frontier does it with sadistic violence. Nothing works as good as shocking your audience. Following the ‘hook’ you have the titles. They reminded me of GoT also. I don’t know if it was the music or the graphics or maybe a combination of the two, but it did.
  2. Landon Liboiron plays Michael Smythe (pronounced ‘Smith’). Put some glasses on him and paint a scar on his forehead and he’s Harry Potter.
  3. Alun Armstrong plays Lord Benton. He reminded me of Gargamel in the Smurfs; always dressed in black and up to no good.
  4. For a second I thought that Raoul Trujillo, who plays Machk, was Jeremy Irons.
  5. Katie McGrath, playing Elizabeth Carruthers, is just the spitting image of Keira Knightley (from Pirates of the Caribbean). Same underbite, same stage name (Elizabeth), more bosom.
  6. I was happy to see ‘Philip,’ from the series Travellers, played by Reilly Dolman. I like him. He played a minor soldier role, but his cute face was seen on screen again. To me he will always be ‘Philip.’
  7. Rimmer, from Red Dwarf, did his appearance in the form of Charles Aitken, who played Captain Johnson.
  8. A particularly funny scene was when the Indian grandmother, Kamenna (played by Tantoo Cardinal), talked. I kept hearing Na’vi,  the Avatar language. Particularly when she said something that resembled ‘Mok Thor.’

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That’s all that I can think of at the moment. I’m sure I had more when I was watching it. Let me know if you have any other comparisons 🙂 .

A different kind of cut

We’re desperately trying to hand in one of our movies into a film festival before next week, but Dave’s computer  is not available at the moment (Dave is our camera man/editor). Hence the task fell to me to edit the movie.

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I only acquired the Adobe suite, including Premiere Pro, a few months ago and I haven’t had a lot of time to get into it yet. Last Wednesday Dave gave me a speed course on how to tweek the light levels (I need to match two different camera takes) and how to do an overlay. It appears that my computer has trouble keeping up with such an advanced system and I need to take it easy, give it time to adjust. Time is of the essence!

But it’s quite different to calling “Cut!” as a director. I’m cutting and pasting like a maniac. Doing this, I realise it’s better to have too many takes than too little. Slight angle differences make a scene while compiling it, etc. A whole different learning curve! But I enjoy the learning experience, so I’ll keep going 🙂 .

 

Writers’ Corner update 26/01/2017

Check out my Writers’ Corner update 26/01/2017!

Even though I haven’t been on Flipboard that often this past week, I managed to accumulate thirteen interesting articles for you. From how to Gain 104.000 Subscriber With Just One Article to testing your Emotional Intelligence (or ‘how not to look like a serial killer’) to Digging Deep for the Truth. The latter which seems important in the current political climate. I also read an interesting article on George Orwell’s 1984, but as I try to keep my posts from politics I haven’t included it in my magazine.

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I am proud to share with you the birth of a new magazine of mine: Sci-Non-Fi. I kept reading all these interesting articles about scientific advances that we thought impossible not so long ago and I wanted to share these with you. But not every writer writes Sci-Fi, so I didn’t want to annoy those people with ‘my discoveries.’ Hence the birth of Sci-Non-Fi. In it there are four articles already. Check them out 🙂 .

Focus on Filming has an article on Reservoir Dogs, mainly on it being banned in the UK and its effect on the popularity of the movie. There’s an article saying there are Three Types of Creators. Which one are you? The third article has a nice short movie with Gorgeous Silhouette Shots made by cinematographer Roger Deakins. Well worth the view.

Health Herald mentions in an article that Spending Time Around Traffic Is Literally Destroying Your Brain. To stay healthier you’ll be surprised about the Coffee Anti-Ageing Benefit. There is also an article that heralds the end of neurodegenerative diseases with the Treatment coming from a Single Protein. Hallelujah!

Author Interview: Joy Mutter

I ‘met’ Joy Mutter on an author Facebook site (#One Stop Fiction) last year. We started chatting and got along really well. She helped me edit my first novel and picked up a few errors nobody else had found for which I am tremendously grateful. I read her book ‘The Hostile,’ which was weird and wonderful. I wanted to know more about the person who wrote this strange story, so she agreed I interviewed her. Read on to find out more about this lovely lady.

joy-mutterYou weren’t a writer all your life, but have been in the book industry for a long time. What did you do and how did you roll into writing?

For decades, I had no spare time to write professionally, although I have written since childhood for my own amusement. I was too busy looking after my husband and daughter on a smallholding in Kent while also running a graphic design business. I gave up graphic design in 2002, following my divorce. After a few crazy years reinventing myself, I knuckled down to write seriously in 2007. I’ve never stopped since and have no intention of doing so. In my fifties, I worked in a call centre in Tunbridge Wells for five years, writing in my spare time. None of my books had been published. In 2011, my back gave out. I was medically discharged from work after being told my permanent slipped disc was incurable. Never having claimed any benefits, I wasn’t about to start. I opted to try to turn a negative into a positive. My daughter was working in Stockport, so I boldly decided to sell my small house in Kent and move north to Oldham and buy a cheaper one to fund my writing, despite never having visited the area.

A change of job took my daughter back south a year later, so I’m alone. Living alone in an unfamiliar place can be viewed as an advantage, because writing is an insular occupation. In 2013, I met Diane at a local writing group. She gave me the encouragement and confidence to self-publish the books I’d written. I enjoyed the CreateSpace and KDP process so much that I’ve self-published nine books on Amazon. Book ten, the third paranormal thriller in ‘The Hostile’ series, is progressing well.

At the moment, you are a full-time writer. What does your average day look like?

My working day usually starts at 10 each morning until 6, seven days a week. It’s a mix of writing, editing, designing and marketing my books, but I try to write 2,000 words a day, occasionally over 5,000 a day when I’m on a roll. I could continue writing in the evening, but I believe doing something different is important; it keeps the writing fresh. My eyes are usually stinging by then anyway. Saying that, I often carry on marketing my books until bedtime. Writing is a full-time occupation; everything I do each day is related to it in some way. Every stranger I meet is a potential new reader. Taxi drivers, hairdressers, and Tesco deliverymen fear me. Yes, I can be a book bore, as it’s my passion.

Of the nine books you have out now, you mentioned your paranormal crime thriller ‘Random Bullets’ is doing the best so far (I’m expecting many more to come 🙂 ). Why do you think that is?

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More than any other, ‘Random Bullets’ was written from the heart, because it deals with a subject I’ve suffered from personally; disinheritance. I was disinherited by my crazy father for no reason I’m aware of, just as Edward, the protagonist of ‘Random Bullets,’  was disinherited by his mother, although Edward and I dealt with the trauma differently. It’s set partly in Jersey, where I was born. I was interviewed in February 2016 by two BBC Radio 4 producers as part of their Analysis programme on inheritance. They’d heard that ‘Random Bullets’ deals with the divisive subject of disinheritance and its aftermath.

Is ‘Random Bullets’ also your personal favourite or is there another one?

‘Random Bullets’ will probably always be my favourite. It has gained the most 5-star reviews, although my latest book, ‘Holiday for The Hostile,’ comes a close second. It’s unusual and readers have been extremely complimentary about it. Each book is special to me in its own way. With not wanting to limit myself to writing just one genre, I’ve published a book of short stories called ‘Her demonic Angel,’ a character-led novel called ‘Potholes and Magic Carpets,’ a non-fiction book about postcards, three autobiographies making up the ‘Mug’ trilogy, and three paranormal crime thrillers. My latest book, ‘Holiday for The Hostile,’ also has elements of horror in it.

You recently landed a job as an editor. What is your greatest peeve when reviewing books for indie authors?

I’m an accidental editor. I fell into it in 2016 while reading a book when I was part of a book launch team on Facebook. I’ve been part of several Facebook launch teams and have my own team for my latest book, ‘Holiday for The Hostile.’ The book that gained me my first editing job had already been edited, but had not yet been published. After discovering hundreds of errors in his book, I was concerned and messaged the author, sending him a long list of typos. He asked me to edit his book. The money he’d paid the first editor was returned to him, so he could pay me. Although I was busy working on my own books, I agreed to edit his. It’s now been published and is gaining great reviews. I dread to think what would have happened if he’d published it as it was. He mistakenly thought he could trust the editor to do a professional job because money had exchanged  hands. In this case, not so.

I’ve developed a habit of marking typos on my Kindle as I read. I don’t consciously look for errors, they jump out at me. I must have that kind of brain. If I know the author on social media, I offer to send a Word document with all the errors I’ve stumbled upon while reading their book. I’d hope they’d do the same for me if they find any in mine. I edit my own books, especially as my trust in many editors has been shattered after finding scores, sometimes hundreds, of errors in books editors have been paid hundreds of pounds to work on. Editors, please don’t indignantly jump down my throat. I know there are probably many brilliant editors out there; it’s finding them that’s the problem.

In January 2017, I agreed to proofread three books a month for a crime thriller publishing company. This came about after I sent a list of typos to another author after reading their ‘professionally’ edited book. The author is also the owner of a publishing company and asked me if I’d check their edited books for errors before publication. As I read crime thrillers anyway as my genre of choice, proofreading three thrillers a month is perfect. I’ve enjoyed reading the first books I was sent, and eliminated many typos. I’m looking forward to next month’s thrillers. I still have plenty of time to work on my own books. Long may it continue.

You make your own audio books. How long does it take you to make one and what equipment do you use?

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I’ve produced audiobook editions for ‘Her demonic Angel,’ my collection of short stories in various genres, and also for ‘The Hostile.’ I intend making audiobooks for several of my other books. I tend to earn more from my audiobooks than from my Kindles and paperbacks, possibly because there’s less competition. I narrate and sound edit them myself, although I have an actor friend who’s narrating the audiobook version of ‘Random Bullets.’ He loved reading the book and kindly offered to narrate it for me.

It usually takes me a month of constant, demanding work to record and sound edit one of my audiobooks. I own a professional microphone, headphones, pop filter, etc. and record onto my laptop in my small spare bedroom. I use Audacity software to record and edit, and ACX to publish my audiobooks on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. If I was wealthy, I’d pay someone to make my audiobooks because it’s so time consuming. As an Indie author, I’ve paid nothing to produce all aspects of my books in Kindle format, paperback, and audiobook. I do every part of the work myself, including designing the covers, book interiors, and promotional material. Having been a professional graphic designer for over twenty years has been extremely useful, so it’s a delight to design my own books after having to do it for other authors over the years. hostile-1-2

Your books, ‘The Hostile’ and ‘Holiday for The Hostile,’ are about a bathroom tile with powers. Where did you come up with that idea?

I’m now writing book three of ‘The Hostile’ series. It’s funny to think these three books came about solely from spotting a strange face on a small tile on my shower room floor. I started to ask myself, ‘What if…?’ I’ve had a powerful imagination all my life, so the rest is history. I love it when readers tell me books in ‘The Hostile’ series are the most unusual they’ve ever read.

Do you have a list of stories for books in the pipeline, having started one (or more) before finishing the other, or do you go with the flow, writing one after the other is finished?

My life has been a series of go-with-the-flow moments. I don’t meticulously plot my fiction books. The only book I plotted was my non-fiction book ‘Living with Postcards.’ My autobiographical ‘Mug’ trilogy was fact, not fiction, so no plot needed to be worked out. My fiction books tend to evolve, with ideas sparking off while I write. Writer’s block has never been a problem for me, so far. I’m often as excited as the reader to discover what’ll happen in a story. Many of the most successful elements in my books come about by chance, through allowing the characters to speak to me. It starts with a general, central idea, but of the characters dictate the direction the story will take, as new ideas develop during the writing. At times, it feels as though the characters are writing the book, not me. I’m merely their portal and mouthpiece. I tend to write one book at a time, to do each one justice and to concentrate my thinking, although I usually have an idea what the next book will be by the time a book is at the editing stage. I have ideas bubbling away for another book of short stories. Some might develop into an entire book.

What is the best part of writing that you like?

There are so many wonderfully satisfying elements involved in being a writer, so it’s hard to single out the one I like best. Every part of the writing and self-publishing process is enjoyable to me, from the initial idea through to writing, editing, designing, publishing, interacting with other authors and readers. I’m one of those weird authors who enjoys editing. I make at least four drafts of each of my books and made eight drafts for one of them. My only regret is not starting writing full-time decades ago, as there aren’t enough hours in a day to perform each element that goes into the process of publishing a book. One of the best parts of writing is when a flash of inspiration sparks in my brain and I head off on an uncharted voyage of discovery. Meet-the-author events and book signings are fun too. I’m giving another talk next week about my life as an author, and particularly about my non-fiction book, ‘Living with Postcards.’ I’m even being paid for giving this talk. Another huge high every author enjoys is receiving a glowing five-star review from a satisfied reader.

You can find all of Joy Mutter’s books here.

I ain’t got time for this S#!&

The last few days I have been sleeping badly. I was worrying too much about the film club. I also drank a glass of coke or (non-decaffeinated) coffee in the evenings, which probably didn’t help. Anyway, last night I did manage to get some sleep. Just before the alarm went off in the morning I was having a very vivid dream. One about a serial killer who gets his comeuppance by a very cool, Bruce Willis-type dude. WTF! I ain’t got time for this S#!&! I have way too many books on my list to write before I can write this super-duper cool, very suspenseful thriller!

Writers’ Corner update 19/01/2017

Check out my Writers’ Corner update 19/01/2017!

Last Friday was Friday the 13th. But Is It As Unlucky As You Think? Find out in an article by Amy Willis. There are a lot of other articles this week in my Writers’ Corner. Like the one about the Insane Weapons the TSA Confiscated in 2016, the one that says that Novels Are Never About What They Are About, the one that gives you 7 Steps to Captivating First Chapters, and more.

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One I had a bit of trouble with reading, but I though was very interesting, was the one titled ‘Why language is not everything that Noam Chomsky said it is,’ by Daniel Everett. It is a long piece, with difficult words. For example, I didn’t know the word recursion. This word is crucial in Everett’s discussion of the language of the Pirahãs, a group of people living in the Amazon. Their language doesn’t have recursion, something Chomsky says is crucial for language. If you have a bit of time you should read it. Not only does it give insight into a rather unknown language, it also shows that if everybody thinks something is right, it doesn’t mean that it is.

Focus on Filming had a favourite this week: Art of the Cut with Thelma Schoonmaker on Silence. She gives us an insight on how she edits her movies. Eye opening.The latest one, The Survey that should scare the shit out of anyone in TV, I got today. I was amazed how many people in the US never heard of Game of Thrones.

I only have one new entry in Health Herald and you may not like it. It tells you to Eat Lentils for Lunch. I must admit the thought doesn’t sound appetising, but apparently it’s very healthy. The other day I made a salad with spinach leaves, feta, cherry tomatoes and tuna. Now that I could eat every day 🙂 .

Cou de Canard

This afternoon we have a meeting with the Meldrum Writers’ Club again. We write short stories (a thousand words or less) with set items that have to feature in the story. Sometimes it is very difficult to weave the items into the story. Keeping the word count to under a thousand is also a good exercise to make your words count.

This week the feature items were: an engineer, with ‘meticulous’ as a character trait,  Paris, duck, and propeller. As we had used the word ‘duck’ before and I had used it in several ways in that particular story (see ‘Hunting’), this time I was so bold as to use the French word, canard, for it. For those of you who have never had the lovely opportunity to go to France, sit in a restaurant in Quartier Latin, and order Cou de Canard; it is the delicacy of ‘Neck of Duck.’ The French have a knack of using any part of an animal and make it a wonderful dish. My husband once had the opportunity to eat hare’s testicles. Whether he did,  I can’t remember…

Anyway, without much further ado I’d like to present you with my little gem (if I may say so myself).

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Cou de Canard

(A meticulous engineer, Paris, a propeller, a duck)

(922 words)

Sophie entered the boutique-type restaurant in Quartier Latin, Paris, as Pierre held the door open for her. She had met Pierre online and, as they were both single, after a few weeks of amicable, digital communication they had agreed to meet in person. Pierre had suggested to have dinner at the little restaurant; neutral territory. Sophie had agreed, although she didn’t know the restaurant. But that was the point.

As she passed Pierre with some difficulty, she wasn’t the slimmest thirty-two-year-old, she gave him a quick smile and looked away a tad too soon. She blushed as she realised this and kept her fingers crossed inside her coat pocket in the hope he hadn’t noticed. Pierre’s physical form didn’t appear to be what she had imagined when she had chatted with him online. In her mind’s eye, he had been abundantly muscled and deadly handsome. Instead, he seemed skinny and was nearly bald. As she was looking down she noticed his large feet. The sides of his shoes were hanging over the end of the soles and were worn.

A waiter interrupted her thoughts as he said, ‘Your coats, please.’

Pierre helped Sophie out of her coat, but when he wanted to hand it to the waiter she took it from him and folded the coat neatly before handing it over. Pierre frowned, but shrugged without saying a word as they followed another waiter to a table. As Pierre moved, Sophie couldn’t help but notice that his butt was big. He was skinny overall, but had a big butt. ‘What a strange body shape,’ she thought.

The waiter pulled out a chair for Sophie and Pierre sat down opposite her.  The waiter asked what they wanted to drink as he handed them the menu. Pierre was given the wine list.

The table had wobbled when they sat down. Sophie took both corners in her hand and, rocking the table, measured how much one of the legs was lifted from the ground.

“Sophie?” Pierre said.

She looked up and saw Pierre nodding towards the waiter.

“Madam, what would you like to drink,” the waiter said again. Sophie had been too obsessed with the wobbly table to notice the first time he asked. She noticed Pierre’s raised eyebrow and upturned corner of his mouth.

“Oh, sorry, yes. Um, what are you having, Pierre?”

“I’m going for a Riesling wine,” he said.

“But that’s a dessert wine,” Sophie exclaimed.

“That may be so, but I fancy one now,” Pierre smiled. It was one of the character traits that Sophie had liked about him when they had chatted online. He didn’t care about what others thought about him. She had a quick glance at the wine list that he had passed to her.

I prefer to have a Pinot Noir, the Domaine du Cros lo Sang del Pais Marcillac, please,” Sophie said as she handed the wine list back to the waiter.

“That sounds delicious, I think I’ll have that one too instead,” Pierre said to the waiter as Sophie handed him the wine list. The waiter left to fulfil their order.

“You know your wines,” Pierre mused.

“It’s a wine from the Aveyron area. Their wines are indeed delicious,” Sophie replied. “Do you have a business card?”

Pierre blinked and for a moment his mouth fell open. “I… didn’t think this was going to be a business meeting,” he said, but did pull his wallet out.

“It’s not, but I gave my last card away this afternoon and haven’t had the time to fill my card holder yet.”

Pierre looked on in wonder as Sophie took his card, folded it double twice, and ducked underneath the table. When she resurfaced again she put both her hands flat on the table.

“There, now it’s not wobbly anymore,” she said with a smile. “I can’t stand wobbly tables.”

Pierre’s eyes had a twinkle that she couldn’t place. She was distracted by a waiter again, who brought them their wines.

“Here’s to engineering, who brought us together,” Pierre said as he held up his glass.

“You’re not an engineer,” Sophie said and hesitated to put her glass against that of Pierre.

“Correct, but that’s not what I said. What I meant was that if you hadn’t been an engineer, I wouldn’t have sent you that email about my plane’s propeller, we wouldn’t have started chatting, and we certainly wouldn’t have been sitting in this cosy restaurant having a lovely glass of wine from the Aveyron area together.”

Sophie dipped her head slightly with a blush and clinked her glass against his before they both took a sip.

“A very nice wine indeed,” Pierre said before he put his glass down.

As Sophie was still too embarrassed about her blunder, she picked up the menu and hid behind it. After a little while of reading in silence, Pierre put down his menu.

“Do you know yet what starter you’re going for?”

Sophie had looked up when Pierre asked his question. She couldn’t help but notice Pierre’s neck. It was long and angled, like that of a cartoon duck, with the sticking out Adam’s apple that bobbed up and down as he spoke.

“Cou de canard,” she murmured.

“Excellent choice! I think I’m going for Foie Gras.”

Pierre looked intensely at Sophie as he said it. She sat staring back at him for a moment. Then they burst out laughing together. The rest of their evening was a very pleasant one, with plenty more wine from the Aveyron area.

Filming in the snow

Yesterday, 14 January 2016, I spent six hours standing in the snow. I was up before the sun was, which is a novelty for me, and actually stood, voluntarily, in the freezing snow for six whole hours. And I liked it! I must be honest, there wasn’t a blizzard going on. We had gorgeous sunshine and blue skies for most of the time. Only one little flurry at one point.

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As the title of the blog gave away already, I was there with Aberdeenshire Film Productions filming a short that we call ‘The Bennachie Climb.’ It’s one of my brain’s creations again (you don’t have to look in my short story section, I’m keeping this little beauty a secret for now). We don’t have a proper name for it yet and I’m actually not sure if it’s going to change. I like the fact that it gives nothing of the plot away.

It was a spur of the moment decision to go up Bennachie as the weather forecast mentioned snow. It wasn’t in the script, but I thought it a great opportunity to enhance the visual. It could have been a blizzard, which would have been quite another experience (and visual). Fortunately the two camera men and the actor were available. I couldn’t have done it without them of course 🙂 .

Filming in the snow is a whole new experience. The snow, which kept on falling steadily, kept the camera men frantically wiping their lenses and fiddling with plastic bags when they weren’t filming. Shooting angles had to be adjusted for the glare of the sun that reflected on the snow’s surface. And the cold, according to one of the camera men, drains the batteries faster. The poor little things must be shivering in their camera bodies to waste their energy so uselessly.

I was amazed at the amount of people who decided to go walking that day. Sometimes it was just too hard to try and get a shot without anybody else in it. We had to ask two guys if they minded being in the movie, but they ended up not being recognisable in the final shot (sorry guys!). Most people were very interested in what we were doing. Somebody actually took a picture of us in action. It was a great feeling to know that people totally unknown to us were supportive of what we were doing. If only we could find somebody who would sponsor us getting better (indoor) locations…

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Writers’ Corner update 11/01/2017

Check out my Writers’ Corner update 11/01/2017!

nietzsche

I thought it was a good idea to start the year with an article full of Nietzche Quotes Tweaked by disgruntled Employees. Apart from it being very funny, it proofs there is a writer in everybody. However, the article with a list of 25 Great Literature Quotes About Writing was the biggest favourite this week. Talking about lists, there is another article, On Writing, in which the author talks about the good and bad things about lists and ends up giving us a list of (general) inspirational quotes. What a better way to start the year?

In Focus on Filming the new Panasonic Lumix GH5 is praised. I am the proud owner of two Lumix cameras (the point and shoot waterproof versions) and am very excited with this new camera coming on the market. Especially as I’m getting fully into the filming business with my film club, Aberdeenshire Film Productions, this year. I have also treated you to an article on The Coen Brothers, because I like their movies so much. Their camera work is something different. Don’t forget to read the How To Raise the Stakes in the Plot article. Well worth your time, for filmmakers and writers (that’s why I’ve also put it in Writers’ Corner; I didn’t want you to miss it).

raising-the-stakes

There are only two new articles in Health Herald. One states that Cloning Will Always Be Impossible, even on a mathematical level. There goes the believability of plenty of sci-fi stories. The other article points out the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, as many an article has done before it. This time it says there is proof that your brain shrinks less on it and it’s not too late to change your eating and drinking habits now. That’s a good enough excuse for me to have another glass of red wine!