Friday, 30 December 2011

Farewell then, 2011...

Thirty year old government papers published this week reveal that Thatcher's Tory Government were considering drastic measures to cope with civil unrest in 1981.  Just goes to show nothing changes.

And this being the end of a year,  it's only natural to take stock and look forward.  Given that nothing much changes, here are Mystic Sandra's predictions for 2012:

There may be some very cold weather, either in the early months of the year, or towards December.

Books, films and tv programmes about the Mayans will be very popular.

We're all going to get sick to death of hearing about the Mayans.  

We're all going to get sick to death of hearing about the Olympics.

Given it's a leap year, there will be an extra day, probably in February.

More publishers will go under, despite claims from industry insiders that the Kindle is just a fad.

There will be hot weather during the Summer months.

Apple will announce the development of a new computer which is so small it cannot be seen.

 The BBC will commission another fifty series of Doctor Who, including one in which B list celebrities ballroom dance.

Prince Harry will announce his engagement to Lady Gaga.

It will rain a lot in April.

Professor Richard Dawkins will publish another book about how God doesn't exist.

God will retaliate by making a ten part documentary about how Professor Richard Dawkins doesn't exist.

Amazon will invade China and replace all bicycles with Kindles. 

There will be a prevalence of hangovers on the first day of the year.

Whatever 2012 brings, a Very Happy New Year to you all!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

About tomorrow...

I heard a tiny rumourette that tomorrow is some sort of religious festival, not that you'd have much cause to think of spirituality from the rampant spending spree going on.  As I speak it's standing room only on my local High Street, so it looks like no busking carols for me this year.

Instead here's something to give you a warm Christmas cheer:

I wish you all a smashing Christmas!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

It's Tweak Sunday

They say you should have a web presence, and for most people that means a website.  It's great having a website, but it does mean I have to tweak it from time to time.  Gradually you get used to the formatting and the process of tweaking gets less scary.  

Anyway I've given it a tweak or two and added some of my own photographs, so please go take a look if you haven't already. All feedback welcome.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Bad Reviews

Everyone gets them.  If you don't believe me, check out some Amazon customer reviews.  Can you believe that these pairs of reviews are for the same book?

I hated the story and mostly I really hated the characters. I wanted every one of them to die and wished they had done so sooner. And, honestly, I don't think it's very good writing. 
This is an absolute masterpiece, and I feel confident in saying that it is the best book I have ever read. I'm stunned that the average rateing is not five stars. This book is an amazing work. 

I struggled with this book. I had expectations of the greatest novel ever written. What I got was a laboriously worded love story with shallow characters that tested my patience to the limit. 
Anyone who believes in the power of Art, especially Literature, must buy and read this book. I promise it can change your life. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

 I am about a third of the way into it, and literally hundreds of characters have been introduced. NOT ONE of them has done anything interesting, so I am finding it nearly impossible to keep them straight. I am the type that will be more or less satisfied reading the back of a cereal box, but this is BAD. I mean bad. The mystery is dull. The who done it is more like a who cares. 
This is a superb novel and impossible to put down. Utterly stunning. Probably the year's best book.

So what do we learn from this?  That people are different?  That books affect people in different ways?  That reviews are flawed?

Well yes.  But mainly we learn that relying on the praise of others is ultimately futile.  As writers we write for ourselves first and foremost.  Chasing popularity never works and as these reviews show it's an elusive prize.  If we write something we like and feel proud of, anyone else liking it is really just a bonus. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

Bit of a Rag Bag

Sorry, not very focussed this post.  Christmas preoccupations and all that.  But I have a couple of things to mention.

First is to give a plug to this particularly beautiful piece of music: Richard Harvey's Concerto Antico for guitar and small orchestra, soloist John Williams.  Here is part III Cantilena courtesy of Youtube, but it's worth listening to the whole recording if you can.  It's not terribly often a piece of music brings tears to the eyes so this is something special.

Next, if you are looking for an image manipulation programme for your family photos or cover art you could do worse than download GIMP.  I've been playing around with this for the last few weeks and it's great, not least because it's FREE.  Here's a picture I made earlier.  It seems to go quite well with the music.