Archive for the Life… Category

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO CLARKSON By Jeremy Clarkson – Reviewed

Posted in Life..., Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Jeremy Clarkson is probably most famous for being a car journalist on the BBC’s Top Gear. He is a forthright, opinionated, and slightly grumpy, man who is relatively intelligent, well travelled, and yet still an everyman. That’s what comes across most in the collection of his articles for The Sunday Times. The articles are over ten years ago, but are surprisingly relevant to modern Britain: decreasing house prices, recession, job losses, bankers pay, university cuts, riots…

If you’re looking for insight or funny quips that you’ll get a few of those, but for comedy head for a Ben Elton book, and for insights go straight for a Tony Parson’s novel. In isolation these are good articles, and I could imagine myself picking up the paper just to read them, but as a collection there is no added value here.

Clarkson is a sometimes witty, generally correct, columnist. There is some humour, there is some insight, and it was nice to read a book without any need of concentration or brain-interaction.

I’m a big fan of the “adventure/quest” type Top Gear programmes where the three presenters are stuck in the middle of hostile territory and have a series of tasks to complete, rather than the traditional review programme, and having read the book I appreciate more what Hammond and Captain Slow add to Jeremy’s sarcastic grumpiness. Perhaps his articles should be moderated by someone else too.

Good clean, slightly interesting fun, but a beach book or perfect for an airplane as it won’t take too long to read and it won’t tax the brain any. An easy read. Might pick up another more recent book to compare, but might not…

MILLION DOLLAR PORTFOLIO By David and Tom Gardner – Reviewed

Posted in Life..., Personal Finance, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2012 by stanleyriiks

I’ve long been a fan of the Fool.com website and it’s UK equivalent. The fools practice no-sense, common-sense driven, long-term investing. This book is more of the same. Although you could find very similar articles to each chapter on the website, and I have read very similar to most of them, the book sums things up nicely. The style is the same, so if you enjoy the website you’ll enjoy the sensible with a touch of humour narrative.

The book will not make you rich. The sub-title is a much better description of what you get in this book: How to build and grow a panic-proof investment portfolio.

As I said before, fans of the website are not likely to find much new here, the book takes you through the steps of creating a diversified portfolio, helps you to maximise your investment returns and if you follow the instructions and use their methods it would be possible to create a million dollar portfolio if you started off with enough money and invested for long enough. In one scenario the brothers provide it take about 30 years.

Not the most exciting book on investing, this is a good guide for beginners but will hold little interest for experienced investors or those regularly uses of the Motley Fool.

Zombies… Pressure/Opportunity…

Posted in Life..., Morpheus Tales Magazine, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by stanleyriiks

I was recently asked to contribute to an anthology of original dark fiction. Great, you may say, but then I found out who else was going to be in this book. The list was hideously. It sent cold shivers down my spine and made me feel a little nauseous. Two of my favourite writers were on that list, and the rest were pretty damn good too.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing and when things are going well I feel like I belong up there with Stephen King and Clive Barker. But when things are not going so well, I fear anyone will read the dross I come out with.

Massive opportunity. Massive amount of pressure.

I waited for inspiration to strike, I waited and waited as the deadline loomed closer. Slowly but surely the deadline crept up on me and inspiration failed.

Having been a bit rusty in the fiction-writing department, I had thrown out a couple of stories for practice and to try to get a bit of a rhythm going. Managed to knock together a couple of zombie stories, one, at 60,000 words, the longest  I’d written in years.  Editing that down to the 10,000 maximum was too daunting a task, so I thought I’d adapt an old idea I’d had lurking around for a little while.

A futuristic warrior lands on a zombie infested-planet…

The basic concept needed sorting out into a plot with characters…

With the deadline ever closer I had no choice but to start writing, my brain had no more time to let ideas percolate. If things worked out marvellous, if they didn’t… Well, I didn’t want to think about that!

The story was written, twelve thousand words later, weeks worth of writing and I was done. But the story hadn’t turned out how I’d wanted it to. The editing job it needed would be enormous. I could certainly polish it up into something respectable, but editing isn’t exactly my idea of fun and it would take a lot of work.

With the deadline just around the corner I had a decision to make, and virtually no time to make it.

A personal post-apocalyptic tale I had written before I knew about the book had turned out pretty well, I was happy with it, as happy as us sensitive creative types can be that is.  I put it forward to the editor, on the deadline. He snapped my hand off, gave me a nod of affirmation and later emailed me confirmation that the story would be included.

Now I sit and wait, hunched up and trembling with a mixture of excitement, anticipation and fear…

Urban Horror Special Out Now!

Posted in Life..., Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Writing is sometimes a thankless task. Endlessly hunched over a typewriter/piece of paper/keyboard, pouring out your heart, trying desperately to put into words the perfect visions in your head.  Sending it to editors in the hope that one of them will see some spark of brilliance, and feeling the harsh, wounding, agony of every rejection. Why do we do it? The answer is acceptance. The thrill of realising someone else gets what you are trying to say. The feeling that people will be reading your words, that the vision in your head is being transferred, possibly around the world.

My story “Shoot Out” appears in the Morpheus Tales Urban Horror Special Issue, go get a copy now feel and transfer my vision to your head. You’ll enjoy it, I know you will!

The Morpheus Tales Urban Horror Special Issue Edited by Tommy B. Smith is not now!

The 19 page preview is available here:

http://issuu.com/morpheustales/docs/uhspreview

The printed format magazine will be available in two different sizes, the A4 Large Format Edition, and the A5 Compact Edition. Both have the same contents and are available from lulu.com:

Large Format A4 Collector’s Edition

http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/morpheus-tales-urban-horror-special-issue/15830522

Compact A5 Collector’s Edition

http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/morpheus-tales-urban-horror-special-issue-digest-size/15835689

Our full range of Morpheus Tales Magazines is available from lulu here:

http://stores.lulu.com/morpheustales

A Pint of Bloody Fiction – Featuring MY story!

Posted in Life..., Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by stanleyriiks

A couple of months ago I hadn’t written anything for ages. A couple of months, I thought, but when I checked it turned out to be almost a year. When I saw a call for submissions of 200 words by House of Horror for their new anthology A Pint of Bloody Fiction, the urge was irresistible. I whipped up a 200 word story in half an hour, and then spending twice that long editing it!

I sent it in, and the acceptance wasn’t long coming. Why isn’t it always that simple? The grin on my face stayed for over a week; anyone who know what a miserably bugger I normally am can testify this is an extremely rare event.

So my story “The Blade Bites Deep” appears in the collection, alongside some other stuff by some other writers. (Who are actually pretty good too!)

This burst of confidence also unleashed a six week write-fest, where I wrote something every couple of days. About twelve stories were produced in that time, and now the inspiration seems to have taken a backseat I better get to editing and submitting the buggers before my own version of writers block (life in general, grrr!) starts getting in the way again. So wish me luck!

And go get yourself a copy of  A Pint of Bloody Fiction and tell them I sent you!

Within the pages of this book of nightmares you will find horror stories in small doses, just enough to quench your bloody thirst. From an insomniac vampire to a library filled with human skin bound books, this collection will take you on a wild ride of chills and thrills without you even having to leave your seat. With each story being no more than 200 words, this collection is only a fraction of what these writers can do. Forty-Two chilling tales from many talented authors, trust me you will not want to put this book down.

Available now from House of Horror, Lulu.com and coming soon to Amazon.

No Reviews – Clive Barker – Eagerly Awaited

Posted in Life..., Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I’ve been busy the past few weeks reading Clive Barker’s Imajica. Not terrible, just hideously long. Quite a marathon it eventually ended up taking six weeks of my life. Time I’ll never get back! More soon, the review will come eventually.

At the moment I’m working on a couple of reviews for Morpheus Tales Magazine, Wintercraft and The Gemini Factor, will be heading to the pages of the Morpheus Tales Reviews Supplement. Hopefully when the next one comes out in July, fingers crossed!

The book I’ve been waiting for since just after christmas, Soul Stealers By Andy Remic has been delayed! Grr! Angry Robot, the publishers, have delayed the publication until October due to them leaving Harper Collins and hooking up with Ospray Publishing.  I’m really not bothered who the robot people are cosying up with as long as they publish Soul Stealers! And soon!

I’ve never been so excited waiting for a book to come out. Soul Stealers is the second book in the Clockwork Vampire Chronicles, the first novel in the series, Kell’s Legend was definitely the highlight of my reading year. It made me feel like a young boy again! Took me back to reading my first Conan novel at the age of fourteen, which was the start of my love or all things fantasy, horror and SF.

Come on Angry Robot, sort of it! I want Soul Stealers! And I want it now!

Tip of the day: Never anger a critic!