NaNoWriMo – WINRAR!

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Last year I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month), and the result was Static Push. This year I have been working on the sequel, Genesis Push, and once again I managed (by the skin of my shoelaces) to hit the 50,000 word target. Genesis Push is still a ways off being complete, but it’s a damn sight closer than it was before November. I will keep you updated on progress!

Rich

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Goodreads Giveaway!

Click the link below to enter the Static Push Goodreads giveaway to be in with a chance of winning a signed premium paperback copy of Static Push!

Entries will be accepted until the 8th of November when Goodreads will select a winner from the list of entrants, so please share this around and get your friends involved.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Static Push by Richard Horsley

Static Push

by Richard Horsley

Giveaway ends November 08, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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Book Injection: Ready Player One

This weekend I decided to read a book. My time for reading has been decreasing recently and as such I’ve been reluctant to take a chance on unknown books. Bad, I know, but sometimes you just want to read something you know is going to be great.

So I re-read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

And then I couldn’t put it down. So after topping off the weekend with a two hour bath (I think this is the longest I have ever been in water and I looked like the worlds largest prune when I came out) I finished the whole thing in a weekend.

It’s amazing, it makes you feel amazing. Read it.

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Why the Game of Thrones TV Show is Better than the Books

WARNING: There may be spoilers in this post. I’ll try and keep it to a minimum, but if you’re worried about finding out who dies before you’ve seen it happen then go read one of my other posts instead ūüėČ

So, first off I’m going to get in before fans of the series start shouting “But the books aren’t even called Game of Thrones, they are collectively called ‘A Song of Ice and Fire'”. Yea, I bloody know, but most people know it as Game of Thrones because they haven’t read the books, and frankly, good on them. Because the books kinda suck.

Here’s why.

George RR Martin is an OK author. I’m not saying that as an author myself (because from that point of view he’s kicking my ass from a great height), but I’m saying it as a reader. When I found out that Game of Thrones was coming to TV, a few of my friends who had read the books started screaming “They will ruin it in the TV show!” and since I love a good argument, I decided to get in on the ground level and start reading the books so that I could be irritated right along with them.

Let me say right now that I went into the book series expecting something decent. Not excellent, because going in with high expectations is a dangerous business for my emotions, but keeping them somewhere in the middle, giving me the best chance at potential enjoyment.

What I got was this: A fairly good story with a well rounded bunch of characters… buried underneath a steaming mound of useless description, pointless references and backstory, and an indecisive writer who forgets about characters for a while so decides to kill them off.

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Martin does something that, as a reader, I absolutely hate. He waffles. Now, if you read a lot of fantasy, you might argue that this is something that happens quite a bit in this genre anyway. But come on. Just because Bob next door likes to shag pigs, doesn’t mean you should copy him. Sicko.

Here’s a not-very-verbatim excerpt of something I remember from the books (these aren’t actually characters, I just made them up):

… here was Ser Olodas, his green standard shining clear and bright at the fore of the group. A red ox on a field of green. Behind him rode Ser Bentos, a hedge knight from the southern Perdu region. He had made his name during the siege of Perdu, although he held no lands. The Bentos standard flew lower than most by design, and depicted a purple tower on a field of brown, a historic nod to his knightly heritage.

Behind him, the steward of…

So, here’s the kicker. Does Ser Olodas show up in the book… ever again?¬†Does Ser Bentos make a heroic appearance to save some maiden in distress? No, they bloody don’t. None of them do. There are pages and pages of this, and after you cotton on to what’s happening, the next time you sense it coming you feel like skipping to the next chapter so you don’t waste your time. Why the hell do I need to know what the coat of arms and the standard of some pointless character is? Why do I need the backstory of a knight who is never going to show up again?

I don’t.

And that’s the problem. These books could have been much, much smaller. Getting to the point and keeping the story rolling along nicely, but instead they are jam-packed with pointless waffle. It’s annoying, it’s unnecessary, and it makes the books look larger and arbitrarily more epic¬†from the size and length, when actually you’re really looking at a trumped up medieval Eastenders with swords and dragons. Although I’m¬†not saying that’s a bad thing, but Eastenders doesn’t¬†give a bunch of backstory to a character and then never feature them again. I’m pretty sure, I don’t watch Eastenders…

The show, by contrast, does an excellent job of cutting through the crap left behind by the books, and tidies up a lot of loose ends. In a lot of instances this involves not even bothering to introduce some characters at all (Strong Belwas, Vargo Hoat, Penny, Edric Storm and even Coldhands to name but a few) which seems strange, but it does a great job of preventing the show from becoming confusing and getting bogged down, especially since each season only runs as 10 episodes, you really need to condense the¬†content. I’m sure they used this reasoning when explaining the situation to Martin, and then clapped their hands in joy when he agreed, because they could fix his mistakes.

So here’s the other thing. Killing characters. This can be great, and authors use this all the time as a way to introduce shock value, to shake up the world or maybe for a bunch of other reasons. I have no issue with the books killing off characters. It’s brilliant, exciting, unexpected and keep the reader guessing.

What I absolutely hate is the blithe way this is handled on a few occasions in the book. Balon Greyjoy, a crucially important character at the early stages of the story, is killed off by falling off a bridge in a storm. Now, if that wasn’t mundane enough, the scene isn’t even written in the books, you only find out when character A) tells character B) “Oh, did you hear that tosser Balon Greyjoy fell off a bridge in a storm and died?”… And that’s it! That’s all you get.

WT actual F?

The Hound, another critically important character for a huge portion of the book series, might be dead. For a long time you are never really sure, because someone is riding around the Riverlands wearing the hound helmet. So that should be him, right? Naw, it’s some other dude that found his helmet. The Hound died, somewhere. Not sure where. He’s dead though, it just wasn’t written.

So yet again the writers for the TV show step in. Not really sure what to do about the whole Balon Greyjoy thing, they at least insert a scene in the show that shows him being knocked off the bridge. But the Hound, well he ended up in an epic battle with Brienne, and was then callously left to bleed to death by Arya. This, in a word, was epic, and not just because it was different to the way the books did it. It was better.

Next. Confused characterisation. This happens a few times in the books, but the most obvious is Jon Snow. For the entire time he is at the Wall, before and after he comes Lord Commander, Jon is adamant in his vows to the Nights Watch. Yea, OK, he got himself some tail while he was infiltrating the Wildlings, but he was Jon Bond at that point, so it’s OK. The point is that he has vowed on many occasions to stay firmly out of the affairs of kings and men. Cementing that he wants only to help protect the Wall.

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Then, for no reason whatsoever, he decides to take half of the Watch and go attack Winterfell.

What? I mean, they stab him for it, and rightly so. But the characterisation makes no sense given his backstory and previous sentiment. You get the feeling that Martin just needed a reason for him to be stabbed. But he already had one… the wildlings. Again the show’s writers step in and pick up on that flaw, clerverly removing the attack on Winterfell entirely and using the wildlings as the reason for Snow’s stabbing.

Oh, and one more thing. Who the hell releases a series of consecutive books that take place in chronological order, and then releases two and randomly says “Oh yea, these are meant to be read simultaneously, the events happen alongside eachother.”

Get in the sea.

Now, this isn’t to say the TV show does everything right. The last season did feel a little rushed, although it ended right where it should, leaving everyone with mouths agape and demanding more information. JOONNNN SNOOOWWW.

These are just a few examples of the worst crimes the books commit. There’s an awful lot of content there to pick apart, and so I’m not going to try. If you enjoy great fantasy, and can see past some flawed writing and ill conceived choices, then you will probably still love the books, hell I read them all. But before you go ahead and pick up the books, maybe you should consider watching the show instead.

It’s better.

Rich

EDIT: Something I missed.

Cclarky-Boobs

Yes.

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I killed a tree!

It doesn’t matter how many of us read books on our Kindle / Kobo / phone / TV / microwave, there will always be a place for dead-tree copy. I thought I was firmly cemented in the ebook revolution (I use a Kobo), and I almost never buy hard-copy books any more.

Then today I received this.

SPPaperbackJust in case you were wondering, I had squee. In fact I probably need to italicize that… Squee.¬†

Yea, I think it needed to be bold now. Screw it, you get the idea. I mean, this thing is broken, the cut is too close to the title (despite my sticking rigorously to the sizing, formatting and bleed guidelines) and so it needs to be re-formatted, but hell… It’s MY book. In my hand.

Squee.

Yea, that’s better.

So as you’ve probably guessed, Static Push will very soon be available in Premium Paperback. Notice the Premium back there? I’m not really sure what that means, but I assume it might be gold plated or something. So if you have been waiting to get your hands on Static Push in risk-of-papercut edition, you will soon be able to do so. Once I get the cover right.

Rich

Disclaimer: It totally won’t be gold plated.

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Static Push: Available NOW!

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Well, that’s that then. I’ve only gone and bloody released it.

I want to doll out a massive heartfelt thank you to everyone who was involved in the development of this book, most notably Lee, Rob, my Mum (no, really) and everyone on Twitter and Facebook who has been following it’s progress and offering advice.

Static Push is now available on both Amazon and Kobo as ebooks, but a physical paperback copy is in the works and should be available soon. Go get it now!

Or I might cry.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Static-Push-Book-1-ebook/dp/B013OVNIQE

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/static-push

Rich

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Short Story in Progress: Doll House

While I wait for Static Push to come back from editing, I have decided to try my hand at something a bit different. Doll House is based on a brief by my friend, Lee Hodgson. He provided me with a very short theme, and I could immediately feel the story unfold in my mind. So I started writing:

There is a world of dreamers, drifting through the void of space. The seeds of life, a pre-packaged colony that will take many years to reach its destination. Humans sealed in pods like packaged dolls.

 

But there is one person awake, although he shouldn’t be. One among thousands. Trying to survive, alone, in a place he does not know, with only the mindless walking vat-clones to keep him company.

 

He is four years old. And this is his doll house.

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You can find the work in progress over on my WriteOn profile, where I am adding and editing live (which is a little scary in and of itself). But no guts, no glory, right?

And yes, that is my son, Eli, who happily got dressed up and allowed me to photograph him for the (temporary) cover image. This story is for him, my little space man.

All comments are welcome, and if you have any themes or scenarios you might like to see turned into a short story, let me know!

Rich

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Revisited, rewritten. New samples for all!

A while ago I mentioned on Twitter that I wasn’t happy with the start of Static Push.

This is quite a big thing for any writer to admit, especially since I had previously released sample chapters containing the original content. But it wasn’t right, and after re-visiting, revising, pruning and adding for what felt like the bazillionth time, it just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do.

So, I took drastic action.

I started again from scratch.

I have rewritten the whole intro to Static Push. The characters are the same. The humour is still there. The soul of the story is intact. The team at Dennison are better than ever (of course ūüėČ ).

So, let’s not call this a new beginning. A reboot, revamp. Instead I’m going to take a leaf from Lucas.

Static Push: Platinum HD Remastered Edition

Yea, that works ūüėČ

Get the re-written sample chapters below, and as always, your feedback really matters to me!

Download as Epub Download as PDF

NOTE: Theses samples have been superseded by the released version of the book and may contain issues that were fixed in the final version! Also, wookies. So, y’know. Warn.

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Holy Massive Ticket Prices, Batman

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I used to love going to the movies. I mean, it’s great watching a flick at home, with friends, where it’s OK to laugh and chat while the film unfolds. But sometimes you just want that big-screen experience, right? Sometimes a movie comes out that you’re just so excited about, you simply have to go and see it on a whopping great screen with a large popcorn and a room full of other excited enthusiasts, right?

Wrong. The cinema experience (in the UK at least) is being killed. Or more accurately, it is very slowly committing suicide. Last night I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron, a brilliantly enjoyable action blitz, but I’m not going to review that here. Instead what I’m reviewing is the cinema itself. And here’s what’s wrong:

1) Apparently I bought a platinum plated-ticket forged by the fair hands of a Peruvian forest nymph.

OK, let’s deal with the elephant in the room, first. Myself and my wife walked into the cinema, and asked for two tickets to the 3D showing of the movie, one ice blast (a cup full of cold sugar) and a Coke (basically the same), we also required 3D glasses which come at additional cost. The total expenditure for two tickets and two drinks… ¬£33.98. I mean… What?¬†I nearly swallowed my tongue as my wife handed over her card. The ONLY thing that made this bearable was that the majority of the cost was being covered by a gift voucher we received for Christmas. I could wax on about the sheer number of other items or experiences that ¬£33.98 could net you, but you have a strong enough imagination, so I’ll just leave this here. It was bloody¬†expensive.¬†

But hell, it’s got to be worth it for the cinema experience, right?

2) I’m a VI¬†P.

Cinema seating is staged, this has always been the case. The seats at the back are on a higher elevation to the seats at the front. Well, in this particular screen (and all screens at this cinema) the tapered seating lasts for four rows, before the seats get quite low, and you have to tilt your neck backwards to see the screen. Hey, no problem though, you can just sit in one of these higher tiered seats to get around the issue, right?

No.

These are “VIP” seats. If the regular cost of the movie wasn’t bad enough, each one of these bad boys come at an additional ¬£2 premium. For this, you get additional leg room and a healthy neck. There was nobody at all¬†sat in this premium seating. So, what did that actually mean?

3) A sardine with whiplash.

So because nobody else wanted to stump up for the premium tickets, all of us wanting to watch the movie were crammed into the two rows of seats in front of the VIP section, oh there were more rows ahead of us, but nobody wanted those as they are way too close to the screen. So, out of a whole cinema, everyone watching this movie was crammed in to two rows of seating, with almost every other seat in the house left completely free.

Excellent.

This resulted in people kicking the back of our chairs, annoying loud conversation from several sections of the rows around us, and a cramped experience. Of course, this would have been the case had the cinema been full anyway, but it wasn’t, which just made the entire experience all the more frustrating. We had to have a few words with the people seated around us before they stopped making noise and kicking chairs.

4) Put your god-damned phone away before I feed it to you.

It used to be that people were encouraged (through¬†embarrassing¬†advertisements or otherwise) to turn off their phones long before the actual movie started. Of course, this makes sense, you don’t want to be interrupted by someone’s Frozen ringtone while the Hulk is busy pounding the hell out of something.

But wait… What’s this? There are now “interactive” advertisements in the lead-up to the movie, encouraging viewers to download an app on their smart phone and join in with quizzes and other¬†content just before the feature starts.

What?

Seriously… What?

How the hell do you think that is going to pan out? There were at least three people near me that, once they had extracted their phones from their pockets to join in with the app, never put them away again. And so periodically during the film my eye would be caught and distracted as one or more of them checked their messages, causing the screen to light up and break me away from the immersion of the movie.

Whoever came up with that idea needs to take a long walk off a short cloud.

5) Is it cold in here, or is it just me?

I don’t know if this is a symptom of the nearly empty room, but was was cold. So cold that my wife had to spend the entire movie with my coat draped over her like a blanket. Seriously, turn up the heating when there aren’t enough warm bodies to keep the room at an acceptable temperature!

I’d rather have a parrot.

Cinemas, and in fact the movie industry as a whole, have been blaming piracy for a long time for the decline in big-screen interest, and of course, it is a huge contribution. Some people, no matter what changes were made to the silver screen to make it more attractive, would always pirate the movie, so where is the point in appealing to them?

But I encourage you all to sit back and think. Really, think, about your customers. Not your bottom line, the monthly figures. Don’t run your entertainment like an accountancy, we are not cattle to be herded through showings and ushered out the other door. People go to the cinema for the experience, not the movie. What are you doing to those hard core of people who crave that experience and refuse to pirate movies?

You are punishing them.

You are punishing your most loyal customers by increasing prices to compensate for the wayward ones.

You need to ask yourself some¬†fundamental¬†questions. Why is your main screen only one quarter full on a Saturday night for a showing of the biggest movie of this year? Because it’s too bloody expensive for a poor experience that crams the viewers into a small, cold space and encourages them to use distracting devices to ruin the experience, and then doesn’t police it.

Lower your prices. Not by a small amount, I mean, really lower them to something that will attract attention. Then maybe your screens will be full. But more than that, you need to think about your customers, not your pockets. Because right now, it looks like everything about your planning seems to be forgetting the comfort and enjoyability of the people you are doing this for. If indeed, it is us you are doing anything for at all.

Piracy isn’t killing cinemas. It is causing them to slowly commit suicide.

Rich

2 thoughts on “Holy Massive Ticket Prices, Batman

  1. Ma - n - Pa

    I completely agree with your comments and suicide prognosis. The last film we went to see recently was ‘Gone Girl’. A good film’ however the cinema experience was marred as the cinema was void of people atmosphere. The total (and I did take the prolonged time to actually count ALL of the people) people content was (including myself and your mum AND the usher was 5.

    The confectionery prices were stupid but thankfully we aren’t stupid so we did’t buy anything (yes I may be tight —- but not stupid).

    The cinema was cold so we had to put our coats back on.

    We will probably go again in February (as it will be a cold day before we go back there again!).

  2. Lee Hodgson

    I love and yet hate the cinema.

    I love the big screen and amazing sound.

    I hate other people being in the cinema at the same time as me. I realize that atmosphere is something that can add to the experience but the times when other participants have had a positive impact any given film is far outweighed by the times I am sat behind/next to/in front of talkers/texters/seat kickers/giants with big hats.

    The best film I ever saw at the cinema was Black Hawk Down. Not exactly a block buster, decent film thats worth a watch. What made this film so special to me was due to having my car serviced I was at a loose end in the middle of a weekday during term time. I had the whole of the main screen at the now closed Ipswich Odeon all to myself.

    My most recent experience has not been as good. I try to see the blockbuster films on the big screen, and indeed in iMax if possible (now that is expensive, wow). Last week I found myself with a few free hours on a Friday lunchtime so I took myself off to watch the much anticipated Age of Ultron.

    I purchased my ticket (allocated seating, this means you can choose from a vague seating plan where you want to sit which is not as good as looking at who you might be sitting next to and making a judgement from that), snagged a bag of stale popcorn and a bucket of ice with a dash of brown sugar water, paid my £14 and headed off to the main event.

    I was a bit disappointed to find I had not chosen a seat far from the other patrons, in fact somehow despite my best efforts I was one seat away from another consumer. Hiding my disappointment I politely asked the chap who was to be my neighbour to move his coat so I could take my seat. Once my prized seat was free I settled back into the warm embrace of Cineworlds finest furniture.

    Warm was not what I got, as I struggled to juggle my drink and food into safe places where I could leave them while I sorted out wallet, phone, keys etc I started to get a nasty sinking feeling. In fact it felt like I was sinking into a cold puddle. Some douche had spilt their drink in my seat. Great.

    Mortified I gather my belongings and trek back out to the young lady that tears your ticket on the way in and explain what had happened. She laughed. I. Was. Livid. I said I was glad she thought it was funny, well my mouth said that, my face said something like “you are an evil bitch”, but what was she going to do about it? She almost equally unhelpfully said I could go and sit in another seat and tried to turn away practically dismissing me.

    By now I am shaking with rage, I ask through mostly gritted teeth to speak to a manager. One is provided. This manager is more apologetic but the only thing she can offer me is a refund and some paper towels. I end up in the disable toilet with my clothes under a hand dryer. Film missed, day ruined, thankfully not out of pocket.

    So, like I said, other people spoil the cinema.

    I cannot wait for Virtual Reality technology to hit the consumer market, then I can watch whatever I like (with enough patience) on as big a screen as I like, with perfect sound in whatever setting I want. I can do this laying down in bed naked or sitting in the garden on a sunny day (clothes optional). I wont have to pay extortionate prices for tickets, food or parking. For me it will be cinema heaven and its probably going to happen within the next 12 months.

    I have had some great experiences over the years at the cinema, but I wont miss it one bit when its gone.

    VR is going to kill cinema if they haven’t already done it themselves.

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