Revision

 

OK some of you may have seen the article in the Mail Online this week about me paying my son to revise. I have offered him £7 a day, to do an hour of Maths at the dining table, not in his room.  From the point where he started there was the possibility for him to earn a maximum of £350 over a period of 50 days. There were some interesting responses to it and I really felt like I wanted to talk about my reasons in my own words.

First of all, this is the absolute first time we have ever done anything like this. Mainly because we have never been able to use money as an incentive with our children before, we didn’t have any. We looked into hiring a tutor but its £25-£35 an hour. Instead we opted to pay my son £7 per day, for an hours Maths revision in front of us (to prove he had done it). During his GCSE’s my son assured us he was revising but his results told a different story. He did OK, I wont go into his actual grades but they were definitely disappointing. We felt we should have pushed harder – but weren’t sure how to do it. We had countless conversations on why it was important and how he would only be letting himself down. My son doesn’t respond well to pressure.

When my son joined his school, a local grammar school (there are 4 in our area) they do an entrance test to predict the childs possible grades at the end of the GCSE’s – at every parents evening the teachers commented on how well my son had done at his entry test, one teacher told us it was the highest score in the year – this doesn’t surprise me – he is really clever.  As a result though my son was always being told he wasn’t quite living up to his potential, I think rather than giving him an incentive it made him feel like he wasn’t doing well.

I’ll talk about my son a little. He’s lovely. He does loads around the house, in fact, ask him to do anything and he will do it without having to ask twice. He cleans, he makes all the cups of tea and he’s generally very useful. He goes out of his way to help other people and I’m very proud of who he has become. He never asks for anything and he is always grateful for anything we give him. When it comes to studying though, he kind of slacks off.

I didn’t do so well at school. I went to several different schools in different countries within a few years and I have always struggled with exams, I got my GCSE results by the skin of my teeth, I never revised, I’m not sure i really understood the concept of reading through stuff I already thought I knew. My A’level results were utterly abysmal – I thought that was because of my tumultuous schooling but I see the same attitude in my son, who has had a very consistent school and home life. For those who say education is its own reward- of course it is, but try telling that to a 17 year old – I know that certainly wouldn’t have worked on me.

We didn’t want to wait until after he got his results to figure out he hadn’t done enough revision, there wouldn’t be much point then. Most universities will only accept the first result of an A level, so retaking it if he didn’t get the result he needed wasn’t an option. We were also hoping that after seeing the results of his revision, he might make more of an effort next year when he actually has 3 more A levels to complete. Talking didn’t seem to be working, we had explained over and over again how important it was, it didn’t seem to have any effect. We didn’t want him to feel like he had let himself down after his exams. This was not our first resort, it was our last.

I have heard several people say its a bad thing and that it will make him lazy in the future. Well, no, he’s already lazy when it comes to studying – trying to motivate him with money at the end of the road was never going to work, it had to be something instant.  As for the headmaster Ben Radlett, who said in the article that good results were their own reward – well yes I know that, but this isn’t about results, this is about getting him  to do the work beforehand. “What about when he gets a job? Will he expect to be rewarded?” – um yeah – most people do , its called a salary. I’m pretty sure Ben Radlett doesn’t work for free…

Even with this incentive he still doesn’t revise every day. He’s only revised about 75% of the time. If he misses 3 days in a row then I make sure I mention that he has missed out on £21, that usually gets him going again. Every child is different and this seems to be the thing that has worked for him. I don’t want him to spend his life playing catch up.

We didn’t want to offer him money based on his grades, I thought that would be too much pressure, its never been about grades for us, just doing the best you can do.

 

 

Coming September 21st 2017

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Other Crime Thriller Titles – click for link to Amazon

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Fierce Female Authors

Posted: March 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

Source: Fierce Female Authors

The Great Things: 

My book got published – Yay! And did really well (what?) Sunday Times best seller, #1 in the Kindle charts – I have been encouraging nearly everyone I know to start writing a book. Having found out the secret to getting published and making all your publishing dreams come true is actually working really hard at it for years and years (who knew?) Seriously though, if you think you want to write a book – write the damn book!

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My second book got published! and also is doing well #1 Kindle – it has a super awesome cover. I’m hoping for a less food based cover for book number three as I just want cake whenever I look at the cover for ‘The Secret’ (funny the apple on the cover of the Teacher did not have this affect on me!)

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SO MUCH great TV – Between  Netflix exclusive ‘Stranger Things’, HBO’s ‘The Night Of’ and ‘Westworld’ – which are probably my three top favourites of the year – If you haven’t seen them – do!  Even the DC (CW) offerings of Arrow, Supergirl,  The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow have been good, (although not perfect through my hypercritical eye). As excited as i was for Luke Cage (Marvel) it just didn’t deliver for me for a multitude of reasons, most of all being that it should have been a great deal shorter because it was long and tedious. Some great performances but ultimately very disappointing.

The Night of was just phenomenal though, so so good. I don’t want to say too much about it for fear of spoilers – but John Turturro and Riz Ahmed both give fantastic performances.

I met so many great people, I got invited to go and see Michael Buble play at the Camden roundhouse as a treat from iBooks (he was SO good) – where I also met the lovely Lisa Hall and Louise Jensen. I must admit to avoiding most social gatherings as I hate ‘the outside’ (said in a similar tone to ‘the upside down’ for those of you that have seen Stranger things).

 

I run a tiny writing group locally and that’s pretty much my entire social life. I shall be doing a new one this year as well locally. Anything that gets me out of the house is a bonus, I must keep battling my inner agoraphobic.

I have booked Crimefest & Harrogate – and will be going to Bloody Scotland as well this year so I really need to get over myself!

The not so Great things:

Lets not forget the sleepwalking. Turns out that in the run up to publication I get really stressed and experience some bizarre side effects like doing weird shit in my sleep.  before The Teacher was released I took my new Karin Slaughter paperback book and ripped the first few pages home out and chucked it across the room in my sleep. I woke up in the morning slightly confused but vaguely remembering doing it. (it was a great book by the way – Pretty Girls). The weekend before The Secret was released I moved house. I had previously had some cream velvet curtains made up and they were folded nicely in a bag and in a crate, under another crate. In the morning all my covers were on the floor and I was wrapped in my brand new 7 foot long velvet curtains. Very strange.

I was invited out for drinks in London – to the Groucho club – so I planned on going into London for a few hours before to do some research. I got dressed up in the morning and did my hair, put my best make up on and going out clothes but my friend asked me to stop with her at the surgery and she would drop me off at the train station. I went with her to to docs and then as we were walking back to her car a young policeman kept staring at me, he was on a bike and kept circling back. I imagined I must either look pretty amazing or he knew I who I was (its happened, its a small town) ‘Can I help you?’ I asked  – ‘Whats your name?’ he asked me – ‘Katerina Diamond’ I responded ‘Why?’ – ‘Because you match the description of a lady who has escaped from a secure facility and is a danger to herself and others.’ –  Yeah. That really happened.

 

Whats next? 

Be more organised, be better at admin generally (so so bad at that) Drink more (no really) Read more! I have read 2 books this week and it feels amazing – but its not something I usually give myself time for. Write more – and be more organised about that as well. Work hard and play harder! Blog more!

About this book… Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it… Bridget Reid has a secret, one that could get her killed… If she can escape the man who is keeping her locked in a basement be…

Source: The Secret by Katerina Diamond #BookReview @AvonBooksUK @TheVenomousPen

I like a challenge, I particularly like a challenge when I watch TV. I like to not know everything that’s going to happen next. There have been things I have watched over the years that have truly shocked me, I like to be shocked – up to a point, there also has to be some kind of ‘hope’ at the end though. I really hate that feeling of futility after something really awful happens that there is no way back from. For example the deep fat fryer scene in spooks – that was too much. I literally stopped watching spooks after that – if it had been her hand, I probably could have coped – but her face in a fryer? No! that’s way too much, even for me.  I went back to spooks years after, after the entire show had finished and watched the rest.. I’m glad I did, it had some real moments of brilliance, especially with reference to Richard Armitage’s character and his motivations.

OZ

I go on about OZ a LOT. In terms of shock and awe it delivered in spades from episode to episode right from the very start. The series starts with Straight lawyer Tobias Beecher entering prison after killing a child while drunk driving – Oz Maximum security and being put in the experimental wing ‘EMERALD CITY’ – which – lets face it – isnt the greatest idea. Emerald city is a collection of glass rooms (cells) with slightly special privileges (but not really). When Beecher arrives he is targeted by the aryan Schillinger who warns him about his cell-mate – convincing Tobias to get moved into his cell with him, where he turns him into his ‘prag’ and burns a swastika into his buttock and systematically rapes him and humiliates him, trying to break him. Beechers psychological roller-coaster through the series is something to behold. This is the moment after the moment after he breaks – he fought back and blinded his rapist in the eye – now he is out of solitary…

Every episode has a moral or a story to tell, usually narrated in a semi beatnik/def poetry style.

I held my breath so many times during Oz, turned away many times, too. many of those times were thanks to Chris Meloni’s character Chris Keller – oh he was evil, but beautiful at the same time. This was a weird one for me as I didnt discover OZ until after I had seen many many episodes of Law and Order SVU – where Meloni is a righteous, catholic, alpha male and devoted husband and father. Keller is manipulative and you just never know what he’s going to do next – or what game he’s playing. He is like a walking hormone, too, can literally seduce anyone – evidenced by his manipulation of ‘Sister Pete’, the nun in the show.

There is a moment, when Keller has been working on Beecher for weeks, convincing him to trust him, bringing out feelings in Beecher that he didn’t know he could have for another man. There is a very homoerotic wrestling scene  (at 8 mins in the above video) that is full of tension, as we ‘the audience’ know that he is manipulating Beecher and watching Beecher fall for it is heartbreaking. But this is all just a prelude for whats to come. After Beecher finally admits his love for Keller and breaks his walls down again – then Keller reveals he is just doing it to repay a debt to Beecher’s nemesis the Aryan Schillinger – who he has been friends with for a long time. (8 mins in below video) this was a real *gasp* moment for me.

of course the joke is on Keller, because when Beecher realises his betrayal he is destroyed.  Keller breaks both Beechers arms and legs. After 3 months in the infirmary, terrified and broken he comes out completely cold again – and Keller has had some time to think- he  also realises that he was in love with Beecher and spends the rest of his time in Oz trying to prove his love for him. The love story that is Keller and Beecher is epic, and tragic, and never-ending. Til death do us part -baby!

Oz again actually the moment when poor old Miguel is caught between a rock and a hard place (Again!) He’s just got out of solitary where he literally went mental. His father was in prison, his grandfather was in prison, in solitary for 20 years. Its awful for Miguel and I really felt for his character. But basically the latin gang have told him unless he blinds one of the ‘hacks’ they are going to kill him. So he does it – and they put him in solitary – where he spends most of his time smearing himself in his own excrement.  Just thinking about Miguel makes me sad – his life was only ever going one way. *sniffles*

HANNIBAL 

I watched Hannibal like I watch everything else, in the background while I was writing. It was slow and moody and seemingly quite dull. Then suddenly something happened and I didn’t know what was going on but I knew I needed to find out – Rewind. I watched it again – got a few episodes in and then decided my husband might like it – Rewind again. Starting at the beginning again, in the evening, with the lights out my husband and I started watching the series from the start. I realised what I had been missing was some of the best dialogue I have ever heard, intelligent and witty interactions, also an intricately woven plot. The funny thing about Hannibal is that we all know how it ends (or at least those of us who have seen Manhunter, Red Dragon or The Silence of the lambs) – Psychologist/FBI Agent Will Graham will eventually outsmart the seemingly invincible Lecter. It was an interesting choice putting Mads in the role of Hannibal because of his accent, coupled with the moodiness of the show – sometimes you had to really concentrate to understand… but only at the start.

The real draw of the show for me was an emotionally and psychologically broken Will Graham (not entirely hampered by the fact that he is played by Hugh Dancy – ahem)  And the way he processes crime scenes in order to find the killer. He becomes the killer, sees, thinks and feels what the killer feels. More than that the horror of what is happening is tangible to him. With every case he is drawn deeper and deeper towards a kind of insanity, which he receives therapy for from Doctor Lecter. As time goes on Will becomes increasingly worried that he may be a murderer himself, that he is forgetting things he needs to remember. Its brilliant when it finally does all start making sense, I’ve literally got goosebumps just writing about it.

It was this scene below – in fact this episode that really caught my attention. I still get chills when i think about everything that’s going on here.  In the show they talk about how with fishing you have to lure the fish to you, most other animals you hunt.  Its the moment just after this, when Will takes the fish inside and cuts it open- the blood triggering something else for him that really piqued my interest. Its such a clever show. I dont even want to ruin it for you. Not for the feint hearted though. Its horrific!

Visually this is one of my favourite shows too. Its a work of art. Some very disturbing things happen and yet they don’t feel gruesome. I watched this after I had written my first draft – but you can see why I liked it.

Interestingly the moment in the movie HANNIBAL RISING when we see the birth of Hannibal is one of the most horrible things I remember – If you haven’t seen the movie, look away now – but basically he’s on a farm with his little sister and the soldiers cook and eat her, and feed her to him – which is how the cannibal was born. Something broke inside him and made him justify that with further acts of cannibalism. Oh gosh, that really turned my stomach.

Anyway here’s some gratuitous ‘Will Graham’ going crazy in his underpants footage. Mmmmmmmmm

I havent watched season 3 yet.

JUSTIFIED

I feel like Justified went under the radar a little. Where people raved about Breaking Bad and The Wire I rarely hear anyone mention Justified and for me its one of the best shows on TV (or it was before it finished). Although Timothy Olyphaunt’s performance as Raylan Givens is reminiscent of his role as Sheriff Bullock in the amazing show Deadwood there’s something incredibly cool about Raylan. I do like his ability to read a situation and his cool and collected menace. The other great thing about this show is Walton Goggins, who is a phenomenal actor, but although most people remember his role in The Sheild, he will always be Boyd Crowder the explosives expert and overall ‘bad guy’ of the show to me. The First series was great, with Raylans character pretty much carrying the whole show forward, as although the story was interesting, with some great hooky moments i wasnt totally Gripped. Givens is a Marshall who does something a bit  embarrassing to his district and so they ship him off back to his hometown in a Kentucky backwater.  His strained relationship with his father and his knowledge of the people and area all make for interesting confrontations as most of the characters are corrupt in one way or another.  Season 2 was when it really hit its stride for me, season 2 of Justified was one of the best complete seasons of television I have seen.

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The end of the opening episode of season 2 gave me serious goosebumps and was so cold. The quick run-down is the bad guy of season 2 is a sweet old lady with 4 boys who all peddle drugs and have some anger/intelligence issues. the old lady Mags kills a single father and then takes his daughter in to raise as her own.  The way she kills him is cold , slow and brutal, and the lies she tells after are even more calculated.  There are probably too many moments to list in Justified.  later on in season three there is a scene where a man draws his gun and before he has a chance to fire someone cuts his arm off. it comes as as much of a shock to the viewer as it does to the victim (who wholeheartedly deserves it)

Here are some scenes – mostly of the great dialogue in Justified.

PRIME SUSPECT (SEASON 1)

Anyone who remembers Prime suspect wont need me to explain what was so great about it. I did watch the American remake a few years later but I was not impressed with it.  They missed the point by a LONG shot.  I’ve re-watched the first season many times. In a lot of ways it was way ahead of its time. Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison definitely leant a certain amount of gravitas to the role. It was bleak, it was gritty, it was dark and it tackled the idea of what it means to be a monster. The show really played with our expectations – I know the first time I watched it I thought that the police had it wrong, that they were persecuting George Marlow unfairly and that Tennison’s obsession was affecting her judgement.

The moment when shes interviewing Moyra Henson, the girlfriend (played  by Zoe Wanamaker) and gets her to believe that maybe her boyfriend is lying and then breaks his alibi is brilliant. I found it chilling the way she stuck up for her boyfriend like that, even knowing in her heart that he had done it.  I was Fifteen the first time I saw this and every time I have watched it since its like watching something brilliant and new. The gruesome nature of the crimes was a new thing for a TV show, too. I would go as far as to say the recent trend of Scandinavian Dramas all have a lot in common with Prime suspect. Aside from the great characters, great plot and great dialogue there is a visual feel that corresponds with reality, its something we can relate to, its real, its something that could happen.

SOUTHLAND

Southland was another under the radar show, although this time it was really under the radar. It was cancelled, brought back by fan petition TWICE and then finally ended after season 5. Strange it didn’t do so well because its one of the better police procedurals I have seen in recent years. Again I like a show where I feel like I am being taught some kind of moral lesson. Each episode would follow several characters and some how each of their stories would demonstrate some kind of shared philosophy .

There were several gripping moments to me in Southland, and it really was a character driven show, which I also like. As well as being visually different. It was formulaic but it was blatant about it, and it was poetically formulaic, so I didn’t mind it so much. Filmed like a fly on the wall documentary for the most part, it has a realism to it. Although most of the actors are familiar faces.

One of the police – officer Cooper is hiding his homosexuality at the beginning of the series, but he comes out at some point. His partner and long term friend has major homophobia and serious issues working with him and the gay jokes are aplenty but for the most part, his team are ok with it, its not as bad as he thought. In the final season Cooper and his partner Lucero are investigating a very ordinary regular traffic crime when they are taken by 2 crack-heads and taken back to some ramshackle building in what seems to be the middle of nowhere. They are bound for days, attacked and after a while sexually violated by their captors. The whole double episode where this takes place made me physically sick, it was harrowing for so many reasons. The idea that A gay man – watches helplessly as his partner – who up until recently was very close to him (and knowing full well how he feels about homosexual acts) – is basically raped by two crackheads. Also from the victims point of view, having a close friend watch as you are attacked – and then summarily murdered.  Cooper manages to escape but to say that this ordeal adds to his eventual demise is an understatement.

 

In SUMMARY

I like cop shows, I like the idea of a flawed authority – I like the human side of the law, the side that makes mistakes. how people deal with those mistakes – self recriminations and self loathing that come from making decisions in a position of authority. I could talk about shows like Game of Thrones that are literally made to shock, but in all honesty – because of the ‘fantasy’ aspect it doesnt hit me in the same way. The same with the Walking dead, which I love, possibly one of my favourite current shows. Because of the Zombie element I cant empathise in the same way. Like I said, I like both of those shows.

There is one exception to the fantasy rule.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Remake)

I’m still angry about the way Battlestar Galactica ended. I didn’t sleep because I needed to get to the end and when I did the disappointment in one element of the story was so deep and personal that I figured I must have really loved the show to have been that bothered.

I only got round to watching this last year, and I watched all 5 seasons in a ridiculously short amount of time, I cried, I laughed, i got angry and in places I was blown away by the storytelling. It may all have been some kind of psychosis induced by lack of sleep – but judging by the things I have heard from other people – its not – its actually a good show.

Now I like Sci-Fi – when its done right its excellent. But in all honesty I would prefer a thriller.

There’s a song in the show, it comes and goes in pieces and you almost dont notice its ever-presence through the story. Battlestar Galactica is a space ship that protects the fleet of ships where the remaining inhabitants of earth, the last humans are kept. Its too intricate and involved to get into – in terms of twisty turny stories its got a lot happening. There are humans and there are cylons – robotty things – and then there are special cylons who look just like humans – all the cylons look the same, or so we are lead to believe at the start. in fact they all look like SIX  – her story is intertwined with sex obsessed Gaius Balthar – the scientist who caused the apocalypse – he sees her in his imagination – sometimes she’s real – sometimes she isn’t – its a real headfuck!

The moment when we learn the real meaning of the song in the background I think I literally exclaimed out loud – WHAT THE HELL?! so brilliant – I dont want to spoil it for anyone but the song is all along the watchtower by Jimi Hendrix and there’s a moment when it kicks in and the whole plot of everything that’s gone before falls into place – its incredible! I almost wanted to start again from the beginning and look for all the clues, my mind was totally blown, its a great feeling.

 

Even though this is such a key relationship in the show, most of the time its not even real, its Guyus guilt for practically exterminating the human race.

Starbuck and Apollo – I loved the strength of Starbuck, she was badass, made no apologies for who she was, knew she was flawed and just carried on regardless. Apollo was constantly trying to prove himself to his father and to Starbuck, who started out as his brothers girlfriend back on earth – his brother who died – so she was always kind of off limits. At this point I am going to say that these characters are always at the forefront of my mind when i am writing a love story, or a sex scene. The unresolved nature of their relationship just makes me cross and I think I’m always trying to find that happy ending for them (no pun intended). – Ds Imogen Grey has definitely got a bit of Starbuck in her. (even though I had already finished writing the The Teacher before I watched the show – but in book 2 I definitely would have factored Starbuck into the equation.)

This scene where they fight was so beautiful and romantic – even though they are beating the crap out of each other. they are so angry, so in love, so in hate. resentment, wanting – everything. She married someone else – with no warning very soon after declaring her love for him – so he married someone else to get back at her – years not even talking and then they get in the ring together. Their husband and wife standing ringside and basically watch their own marriages fall to pieces as Starbuck and Apollo connect again. but not for long (damn you BG writers!!!) – unfortunately the scene is no longer available – but its awesome

 

I’ll think of some more and I’ll write another post like this at some point –

Until next time

 

 

 

 

 

 

I LOVE graphic Novels. I used to collect Batman Graphic Novels and I have a real Batman ‘fetish’ its fair to say – although its more of a life long love affair. Aside from Batman Graphic Novels I also love Alan Moore’s Watchmen, which I discovered when I was 13 years old and it literally BLEW MY MIND. Along with The Dark Knight returns it is still one of my favourite Graphic Novels. In terms of Marvel Graphic Novels, I read the fantastic four, The Wolverine origin and THOR, I also used to buy Amazing Spider-man and x-men comics – I watched a LOT of HULK cartoons. But all in all I am definitely not only a DC girl, but a die hard Batman fan –

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Growing up I always saw Iron Man as Marvels answer to Batman. I had seen him in the comics but I didn’t like him. I didn’t like Tony Stark – I thought he was brazen  – and that his ego drove him more than the will to do good. He was a show off and I didn’t much care for that. With Batman he was driven by something much darker – it was an obsession and a need to make things right – Not just justice or revenge – it was atonement – survivors guilt – the only way he could live with himself.

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I’m not going to lie – I had zero interest in any Marvel characters bar Spider-Man and the X-men in terms of comics. Nothing had really grabbed me – it all seemed a little too innocuous and shallow for me. I wanted to feel my hero’s angst, I wanted to struggle along with them. Spider-man being a teenager was always quite vocal about his angst and so I kind of loved him too – plus spidey gives the best banter. Wolverine is also a really complex character. The rest however – was just too – vanilla.  I’m not saying that’s how it was – I’m saying that’s how I perceived it.

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Of all the new Marvel and DC movies coming out the one I was LEAST excited about was Captain America – The First Avenger. Goody two shoes captain America – why would I care about him? Also they cast Chris Evans? Really? After that awful fantastic four movie? (That I watched a lot – because I was hungry for superhero movies – I love superheroes) To be fair to Evans he was the best thing about the fantastic four movie – and I have always liked him. I was excited about Green Lantern – that wasn’t so great. I was excited about Thor – it was good but – didn’t really stand up to repeat watches. I did really enjoy the Christopher Nolan movies – loved them – but still – it wasn’t the definitive batman for me – it was great, I watch the dark knight rises all the time – not perfect though, it wasn’t MY Batman, it most definitely could be expanded on and improved. I’m possibly one of the few people who didn’t spit my dummy out when I heard Ben Affleck was going to play Batman, and I did like his portrayal – I look forward to seeing what else is coming from him.

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Going into Captain America the first Avenger I was blind. I know a lot about a lot of characters but he was someone I had read once and decided wasn’t for me so I had NO IDEA of his origin or storyline or anything. Firstly I was really impressed with the special effects – little Steve Rogers was so cleverly done – I bought it. I loved Peggy Carter and her chemistry with Steve. I LOVED Steve’s innocence and determination to BE GOOD. Also Richard Armitage hello! – the righteousness of Steve Rogers instantly hooked me – its definitely a THING I’m attracted to in a character – to have that absolute certainty that what you are doing is right – well frankly its hot. That’s a very Batman thing – admittedly its also an Iron man thing – but I guess its the motivations behind it. I should add at this point that I do like the Iron man movies – I don’t love them but I do like them – oh and I LOVE the end credits for Iron man 3. (Also all Captain America movies end credits are brilliant – so props to whoever designed those)

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I’m not entirely sure what I saw when I watched the Captain America: The First Avenger – because I think I forgot a lot of the plot. Next came the Winter Soldier – and you know that moment when Steve flips the WS and his mask falls off – and he says Bucky? – WS: Who the hell is Bucky? – I was kind of with him there – WHO THE HELL IS BUCKY? I had pretty much wiped Bucky from my mind. It was explained to me and I still was a bit hazy. I didn’t even recognise it as being the same actor.

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Since watching Civil War I have a Bucky Shrine around my desk  – including a Bobble head Bucky stuck to my monitor. I’m a Goth/Nerd at heart. Moody supervillain with metal arm and emo/angsty from brainwashing ???- hot. I’m now aware the Bucky’s origin is completely different in the comics but I have to say – I’m perfectly happy with the MCU version of events – this is probably more to do with the fact that I didn’t know the origin story before hand … I blow a gasket every time they do Batman wrong.

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Then came Batman Vs Superman  and Civil War – I’m not going to pit the movies against each other – there are plenty of other blogs where you can read that (literally hundreds) – but what I did notice is how similar the characters of Batman and Captain America are. I would say that Captain America is much more like animated Batman (Kevin Conroy) than Ben Affleck’s version – but in case you haven’t seen any of the animated Batman TV shows or movies it doesn’t matter.

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Batman has a really strong moral code – but it doesn’t necessarily match up with the worlds idea of ‘justice’ – he KNOWS what is right and ultimately he trusts very few people outside of himself – not even Superman – not really. (this is obviously explored in BVS) Batman is a contingency planner – he thinks every situation through to its end and works out how to stop the bad shit from happening – every step of the way. (This is why he always wins – essentially he is a massive pessimist and meticulous plotter) – Captain America is the same – he doesn’t trust the government, he’s learnt the hard way that you cant really trust anyone. (In Avengers Assemble he goes and finds the weapons Fury has hidden because he knows he is being lied to)  Of course this all really is the crux of the story in Civil War – he KNOWS what’s right – he knows his own judgement and morality are more reliable than those of ‘men with agendas’ – although slightly different this is why Batman never really joins the justice league – he cant be accountable to anyone but himself. This is not to say that neither of them struggle with themselves. Batman is aware that he’s not that far off being completely mental (he dresses like a bat ffs) and MCU Captain America (much like bats) struggles to fit in with society. The difference is that batman plays the part of being like everyone else through Bruce Wayne – that’s as much his mask as the costume is. Steve Rogers doesn’t get that luxury.

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Also – I don’t buy Iron man’s emotional attachment to Roadie in the movies – There is still an obvious imbalance in their relationship – they are not equals – I don’t believe iron man puts anyone before himself – even when he flew up into that big hole in the sky in New York (his most noble moment by far) it felt as though it was martyrdom and little else. EVEN on signing the Accords – its to alleviate his conscience and get his girlfriend back (selfish!) Batman and Robin – batman is his mentor, his father and his friend, they respect eachother and they trust each other. Robin is the son batman never had – and ultimiately he is the boy Batman never got to be. Dick Grayson grew up to be Nightwing and remained a trusted and respected friend of Batmans. Without spoiling too much for anyone – A death in the family ripped my heart out. The image of Batman carrying Jason Todd’s body out of the debris is as powerful as it gets – apart from that one cover of The Death of Superman of Lois weeping over Supermans broken body which is also heartbreaking. Back to Dick Grayson – everyone remember that moment in Teen titans animated series when Slade Wilson offers to be Robins father – and robin says I ALREADY HAVE A FATHER cue batman music and a flurry of bats (EPIC!!!)

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Cap and Bucky – Civil war really pulled me into their story – more than the previous two – although on rewatching the first 2 I see things I missed the first time around because I know so much more now – Half way through the winter soldier they basically tell you the big spoiler for the massive fight at the end of civil war in that big metal place.

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Their friendship is passionate, its true and pure. Bucky is only able to find his way back because of Steve – and for Steve – the survivors guilt of watching Bucky fall to his death is gone – but replaced with a much bigger guilt of what he let happen to Bucky after that – he ultimately feels responsible for what has happened to his friend – he gave up too soon – should have fought harder. Much like the guilt facing Batman – knowing that Jason Todd was not killed but captured and tortured by the joker and turned into the Arkham Knight – who then comes after Batman – Batman gets through to Jason though and he eventually becomes the Red Hood – a vigilante. Much like – if all goes to plan – Bucky eventually becomes Captain America.

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Cap fights for Bucky – protects him, because of the responsibility he feels for everything his friend went through – he also knows what a good person he is inside because of their relationship growing up – because Bucky would have done the same – because they LOVE each other. Side point – all this give captain america a boyfriend stuff is silly – a friendship that transcends romance is a much rarer thing and therefore more beautiful – I love their relationship and would hate for it to change – although I do find myself perving at some of the fan art depicting them as a couple sometimes.

The biggest difference is that Cap wants friends, he wants to trust people and see the best in them and he would give most people a second chance. He’s an optimistic Batman.

Either way as Characters, I love them both. Marvel finally won me over.

Sorry I have been a little overwhelmed with the whole getting published thingamebob but now I am back to being just whelmed in a regular way – adjusting to life and a new career as a writer.

 

Just write!

I hear so many people tell me they want to write a book one day. Its ALMOST  getting on my nerves how many times I hear it. Either they don’t have the time or they aren’t emotionally or mentally in the right place to write. Here’s the secret to writing a book – you just kind of have to sit down and write it. Then you rewrite it, then you edit it and just keep going until its something you’re vaguely happy with (or you go crazy).

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Be open to change!

Without going into the specifics here, I kind of had a plot mapped out for the next book I wanted to write, I had gathered information, made some vague outlines. Then I watched a TV show and the plot was too similar to what I had planned and so I decided to scrap it (for now). That wasn’t annoying at all!!!!!

If you find yourself in a similar situation dont get dishearted – every story has been told before – you can either tell it from a different perspective or find a new angle – no one can write your story but YOU

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Don’t be afraid of research.

Watch, read, consume ideas, read news etc – its not time wasting, its research and its important – just know when to draw the line and when you are just stalling yourself.

So I’ve had a week to mull it over and have managed on the fly to come up with something else. I have spent that week watching documentaries, reading blogs, asking questions on forums, reading articles and news reports, watching dramas, anything and everything to try and trigger some kind of story in my mind from the initial concept idea.

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Adapt!

Your original idea may evolve and change – adapt to it and don’t see it as some kind of failure. Sometimes its the challenges and overcoming them that make writing fun!

So I had already kind of figured out a main character for the story I originally wanted to write. I managed to mostly transfer him over because all I had was a plan and a character bio. I had to tweek it slightly but it felt easier than starting completely from scratch – even though essentially its a completely different character.

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Outlining?

I really wanted a complete outline before I started – but as with everything I do – I got so into the characters and the story that i wanted to tell that I am FAR too excited to just sit on this and wait for the rest of the plot to come to me. I have a 30% idea and that’s enough for me for now. I think I probably end up planning the story in 4 or 5 stages.

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Just start!

I’ve written fifteen thousand words. that means I have roughly eighty five thousand to go (give or take!) All of that excitement I was talking about before? its been replaced with a crushing and daunting feeling mixed with the excitement of finding my characters and finding out what’s going to happen to them.

Personally I try and work on one project at a time, because I think its good to be immersed in your story.

Do it now!

The truth is there is no good time to start writing – you just have to get on with it – its all a learning process. I am still learning now!

 

 

Here is a long overdue blog post about things that have been happening with me. The unexpected side of being a published author – both positive and negative.

First of all this may seem like I am complaining – I absolutely am not complaining! I have been so happy lately I’m beginning to wonder if I can drag my mind back down to the depths I need to go to in order to finish the second book… I’m sure I will manage!

Getting Lucky

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So I ‘got lucky’ and got published. Suddenly I find myself on a ‘side’ – I didn’t know there were sides! I am very naive when it comes to the politics of these things because all I have done is keep my head down and write. I have faced a little resentment from a couple of people, probably because I seemingly came out of nowhere, because I got lucky and published my first book which then rocketed into the charts and has been doing steadily ever since. Its taken me a while to crack this writing malarkey and I have had my fair share of rejection – but I changed what I was writing and tried to get better every time, if you learn from rejection its not quite so bad! So being jealous or resentful because I am not out marketing myself at every turn, being annoyed that this is some kind of cake walk for me- is rather silly because it was not an easy path – yes the last year has been utterly phenomenal – but it took me a long time to get there. I really haven’t just walked into this, its been my dream for most of my adult life.

Overcoming Shyness

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Getting over my crippling shyness – this has been the biggest obstacle for me. Both in writing and in self promotion I am very secretive and ‘closed’ and so it took me a long time to send off for an agent, it took me a long time to have enough belief in myself to do that. I have had to let it go a little and just trust that other people who know what they are doing believe in me and so I should stop trying to self sabotage and start behaving like an author would (whatever that means!} The anxiety I first felt of how peoples perception of me would change after they had read my book is mostly gone now. I don’t think its something that will ever truly go as its such a private thing. If a little bit of your soul doesn’t go into everything you write then you just end up with a hollow mash of well constructed sentences. I personally think its important to write what’s uncomfortable. Write the dark things because those are the thoughts that people latch onto and identify with.

Getting reviews!

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Reviews! Getting reviews for my book has been both amazing and challenging at times. I have had a lot of 5 star reviews – over 200 now (over 300 4/5*) which I am stunned by. You see I wrote the book that I thought I would enjoy to read, and its nice to see so many other people enjoyed it too. I have around 50 one star reviews – either I’m pretentious or my grammar is so appalling they couldn’t possibly get past it! Some of the other less favourable reviews have mentioned my use of the word saline – instead of tears – my mother also mentioned this to me. Its not something that I would get my knickers in a twist over if I read it in someone else’s work but point taken, I wont use it again! Also my daughter is obsessed with my use of the word wainscotting, because apparently no one knows what that is. I know I should be grateful to even have reviews – and believe me – I am! I have learned to laugh at some of my reviews, especially one who referred to me as Katerina DIEmond (in exactly that way!) and try and take some pointers for the future from others. I am not averse to constructive criticism (as long as I agree with it!). Still hard to read a dismissive review when you have spent literally YEARS working on something. Dont even get me started on reviews with spoilers in them!!! grrrr!

Meeting great People!

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I have met some great people since being published – this is possibly partly due to the fact that I feel I have the right to call myself an author now, instead of muttering that I like to write stories – which people just don’t get or take seriously. Being a published author gives me a feeling of legitimacy. I think generally I have been more open to new friendships. The support I have received from other writers is just brilliant. I have so many questions all the time which must make me seem like I have been living under a rock for my entire life. For the most part I have been quite moved by the support and sense of community I am experiencing. Also the book bloggers (who I didn’t know existed) have been so supportive as well – some have even become friends. As mentioned before there are a couple of people who I sense some deep resentment from but I see that as their issue and not mine as almost everyone else has been great. I have had one person get the hump with me for not promoting their book online but the fact is, I barely like promoting my own book – I certainly don’t want to promote something that I haven’t read. I don’t mind retweeting things that other people ask me to retweet – but I feel newly constructed or written tweets should be FROM me, about things I want to say or feel passionate about! The marketing side of things does my head in a little bit, I am so pleased I am not in charge of that myself. I really admire anyone who has the ability to both write great books and market themselves successfully without being pushy and in your face – that would be my main concern! I absolutely LOATHE clickbait and couldn’t bring myself to post any – even when I repost clickbait I put a synopsis in my post! it just seems so damn dishonest!

Having a great Agent and Publishers.

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I was a total novice and this is where I truly believe I did get lucky. My agent Diane Banks saw something in my book that she liked. My publishers Avon felt the same way. I sent off to a few Agents, and my Agent sent off to a few publishers for me to have landed with the team of people that I did was incredibly good luck on my part. I get warm squishy feelings about all of them (and I am not a warm squishy person). I think this was the best possible outcome for me – on all fronts! I think it shows in both my sales and the great working partnership I feel I have with both my previous editor and my new one. I have heard so many horror stories from other writers about shocking behaviour from both agents and publishers I didn’t realise it could be so bad! I would be utterly USELESS as a self published author, I probably would have sold about 12 books by now, and that’s even less impressive when you consider the size of my family alone. As it stands I have been in the Sunday Times Best Seller list 3 weeks in a row (what??!!) and I was a number one kindle best seller (??!!) I’m still holding into the top 5 on kindle although I feel that’s about to change as some great titles are being released over the next couple of weeks. My book will also start moving internationally soon and that’s just amazing, too.

Being a success!

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Well I always said I was more afraid of success than I was of failure. Its a new feeling but its a nice feeling. The main thing I am noticing is that the hard work has just begun. I had my own time and pace to get my foot through the door but now its there I have more books to write and actual deadlines instead of self imposed ones. I have had so many people ask me when the second book is coming out, its such a great feeling. I am so excited for the next few years of my life. I’m also so grateful to everyone who has been so incredibly nice to me. I was feeling a little fragile on entry into the world of being an author – on publication day I came down with the flu and was in bed for 4 days! intermittently tweeting a gif between naps through my fever.

Anyway – I’m on holiday at the moment so its back to the pool for me!

live long and prosper!

I love cop shows and police procedural shows, from Law and order, to Life on mars. Here are some of my favourites

LAW AND ORDER SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT

Benson and Stabler – I love these two – and I love how in the series we know just enough about their personal life to care about them, without being bogged down in the pointless stuff. its more about their cases and their reactions to them. Special Victims Unit deals with sexual crimes or crimes involving especially vulnerable people. Before watching SVU I felt as though the crimes they were investigating were things that are not readily talked about in society (more so now) and that maybe these stories were gratuitous. BUt upon watching a few episodes I became addicted to it and it was largely because of these characters. Olivia Benson is a strong but gentle woman. Stabler is an angry righteous man. It makes for a strong and loyal partnership. There was some sexual tension there, but in all honesty, it was deeper than that.

CAGNEY AND LACEY

Strong Hard New York women. When I was a kid we watched this and I remember thinking that they were amazing. As a kid I always saw Christine as the pretty one. But they were both just normal attractive women. I struggle with the trend of only having beautiful people on Tv these days, I’m glad that it finally seems to be moving back to having non-perfect people. Some women don’t wear make up, some women don’t wear heels, some women swear or pick their noses or wear their clothes for three days in a row. Women are people, too. I had no idea that sharon gless wasn’t in season 1 – Her joining the show definitely raised its profile. Also the catchy theme tune was added in season 2. The chemistry with these 2 women was brilliant, and also they were plausible cops.

 

THE KILLING

Linden and Holder were a great partnership – I found Linden incredibly dour and with everyone else she was quite irritating but when she was with Holder she was entirely more bearable. I liked the look of holder, i liked his vulnerability and also his shadiness. Joel Kinnaman was brilliant in this role – He probably inspired Imogen more than any other TV cop. I thought he really challenged my perception of what a TV cop was – but he was good inside, and I like that. Their partnership is why i stuck out 4 seasons, I struggled with the first 2 seasons to be honest, it all dragged on a little for me. Once case a season is about as much as I can handle.

THE X FILES

Mulder and Scully were brilliant together. The banter was what made the show stand out. I think watching the x files is a great way to gain insight into a perfect cop buddy partnership if you’re thinking about writing a story with one in.

 

HOMICIDE:LIFE ON THE STREET

Frank Pembleton and Tim Bayliss were such great characters. They fought constantly but they respected each other – and they agreed where it mattered. We never realise until the end just how close they actually are – and its heartbreaking. Frank was so intense and Tim seemed to be so easy going and vulnerable at times but they were like two halves of the same coin. The dialogue and storytelling of Homicide is unmatched by any other show if you ask me.

PSYCH

Shaun and Gus in Psych – although not technically cops – they work in the police as consultants. I loved Psych and I watched it from beginning to end. I don’t know why it worked but it did. Its LIGHT entertainment but with heart. I love their friendship and how Shaun is constantly taking advantage of gus, who ultimately enjoys it. Best friends. Great show.

LIFE ON MARS

Now originally when I watched life on Mars i watched the US version. I really didnt enjoy it, it was dull and lacked personality – and was confusing. A few years later i bit the bullet and started watching the British one – I didnt sleep for a week as i worked my way through both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. I think the appeal was just remembering those times, but only very vaguely as I wasn’t in the seventies for long and I was very young. It was a strange nostalgia because its not a time I would ever want to return to. But it was interesting – especially with Sam as us, from our era, pointing out the more obvious of the things we now think of as bizarre. Great fun, but also very deep in places.

ASHES TO ASHES

What was interesting about this is how the dynamic completely changed when they put a woman in – not just the dynamic but we saw a completely different side to Gene hunt’s character.  While i was devstated at the loss of Sam, I think Alex was brilliant. Their relationship was brimming with sexual tension.

 

There are loads more cop partnerships that are great and i might remind you of them at some other point. These are the ones for now.

When I first started writing it was like a dirty little secret that I couldn’t tell anyone, it felt self indulgent and also a little arrogant. It took me a long time to ‘come out’ and from the moment I started being more open about it, the world opened up to me. Being in a writing group was one of the most productive things I have done. It forced me to write, to explore my writing as public content, as something to be shared and not to be embarrassed about. It also made me confront what I would and would not be comfortable sharing.

If there isn’t a group near you then I urge you to start your own. It may take some time to get off the ground but its a very rewarding experience.

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Take charge

Although its nice to have a real group feel, there should always be someone taking the helm, if your group is open to the public then you don’t know who you could get. Sometimes things can go off topic and you might need to steer the conversation back to the topic at hand. Every ship needs a captain.

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Participants

Who do you want to come to your group? is it for anyone? Is it just for you and some friends? Is there an age restriction? Gender restriction? How many people would you realistically want to accommodate? From my experience, over 4 and under 15 participants is ideal. Small intimate groups are nice but its also nice to get varying viewpoints.  My ideal would be between 8 and 10 members. Also I have an over 18’s policy in my group because of the content of the work.

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Venue

You may decide that you and some friends want to do a writing group together in which case you could easily just take it in turns to have your group in each others houses. Alternatively You could ask around locally for a venue. I asked someone I knew who organises a lot of local events who then recommended a venue, a local pub. I contacted the pub owner who was more than happy to let me use the space. You need to be aware of the fact that people will want privacy when reading out, and also – constant interruptions can be distracting and off-putting. Also check if there is a charge for the venue. If not then support the venue by buying drinks there.

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Time

is it easier to do it in the day or the evening? How long do you want your gathering to be. Start with something manageable then learn from it. I would recommend around 2 hours. Frequency – for a nice casual no pressure group then once a month is good. There is nothing to stop you doing it more or less frequently.

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Content

In the group I attended before and now my own writing group – Flash Fiction is a big part of the content. We had 15-20 minutes to write a short piece on any given topic, then each person would take it in turns to read out what they had written. it sounds daunting but its actually quite a liberating experience. We would then talk about what we and other people had written. Again, think about ages for members if you know your content will be explicit.

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Topics

There are many ways to look for topics. You can pick song lyrics, first sentences from pre- existing books, newspaper articles, a certain genre, a picture as inspiration. a historical figure – the possibilities are literally endless. Its also a good idea to discuss books that are already out there. look at examples of a good sex scene vs a bad one. Look at books with great beginnings and great endings. Books with strong characters, strong writing styles. Look at prize winning books. Compare books on similar themes to see how different they are. Any discussion in this literary context helps to further your understanding of writing books, assuming that’s what you want from the group.

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Do Check ins every few sessions

So flash fiction is fun but sometimes people are already working on stuff, every few sessions its worth asking people if they want to bring stuff in they have already been working on and you can all offer each other advice.

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Homework

You can set homework if you like. It can be something as simple as to bring an object in next time, or to find a newspaper article, or even to write a short piece and send it in beforehand. Or you could ask people to read a couple of passages from books so that you can discuss them next time. You just have to figure out if homework is something that could work for your group or not.

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Future Options

You can discuss where people may want to go with their work. You can talk about Blogs, facebook pages, submitting to magazines and competitions. publishing vs self publishing – it may be an idea to discuss with your group what the options are for publishing vs self publishing. Some of your group may want to pursue a serious writing career and some may not.

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Contact 

You can either set up a mailing list – which you probably should do anyway. When you get new members add their email addresses and then you can keep them up to date with when the next meet up will be and what (if anything) they need to bring with them. Depending on the size you could either set up a facebook group or page. The benefit of a private facebook group is that members could create documents and you could keep a copy of all the flash fiction, and see how people progress. Discuss this with your group and see if its something they would be willing to do. Obviously you can exchange phone numbers and anything else but as organiser then you should have a central location for all of that information.

 

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Just remember that it takes time and its mostly an evolving process. You can try things and change things, its all about what works best for you as a group. There are no rules, you just have to find your way. Good luck!