Archive for the ‘general stuff’ Category

City of Dreams & Nightmare

Posted: February 6, 2011 in general stuff

As I’m failing to write myself, even to update blogs, I thought I’d finally get my finger out and write the reviews I was supposed to do ages ago.

First up ‘City of Dreams & Nightmare’ by Ian Whates, published by one of my favorite publishers, Angry Robot. I often decide to buy books based on the fact that it’s an Angry Robot book… the books they publish are that good. Anyhow, I did what I very rarely do and read the first chapter of this online from the Angry Robot website. I much prefer proper books to online though I’m becoming more of a convert over time.

After reading chapter one I was hooked on the story of Tom from the City Below, the slums below Thaiburley, the City of One-Hundred Rows and dashed to my local Waterstones to buy a copy. The rest of the book did not disappoint and although it is the first volume of a series it managed to have a satisfying ending of its own.

Thaiburley is a multilayered metropolis with the wealthy and important dwelling in the upper tiers, workers and tradesfolk lower down and the street nicks and lower classes at the very bottom. Tom, a street nick, born and raised in the slums is sent on a mission to the very heights of Thaiburley. He never makes it. On the climb through the dizzying heights of the city rows he witnesses a murder. A murder no one was meant to see. As Tom races back to familiar ground he finds himself pursued by Kite Guards and assassins and at the centre of a plot that goes right to the top of the City of One-Hundred Rows. Finding allies in unlikely places, Tom is confronted by mechanical spiders, brainwashed street nicks and demon hounds and begins to display powers of his own that could well get him killed.

I won’t say too much more on the plot for fear of revealing too much. The world is deftly drawn and compelling and the variety of life held within the city works really well. Tom can sometimes seem a little passive compared to his guide, the very streetwise Kat, but for me that serves to illustrate his complete confusion at being caught in so much turmoil. There is definitely a lot more to come from the series and I’m looking forward to seeing how it progresses.

Highly recommended!


So… I’m at work and bored. I’m feeling a little gloomy to be honest. I’m rifling through my iPod to find something to make me smile when I hit on the perfect thing…  Casee Wilson.

Ok.. technically that was the start of a post I drafted a while ago whilst bored at my desk. Unfortunately I never managed to finish it. However, the lady herself released her debut self-released album on Friday which gives me a perfect opportunity to review it. I’m trying to do more reviews and this is the perfect place to start.

Firstly an introduction. Casee Wilson is a York based singer-songwriter. She plays piano, she sings, she writes her own music. She records in one half of her front room, now known as Tiny Cat Studios. She has a website, two cats and writes about such diverse subjects as string, zombies and catnip. She is also beautiful, engaging and very very good live. She has just released Beggars & Blues which is available through her website, amazon, iTunes and cdBaby.

The album is 11-tracks long, starts with Beggars at the Feast and ends with Midnight Blues bookending the songs in between. I would, however, recommend letting the final track run until the cd stops spinning lest you miss a treat. The tracks flow together taking the listener on a journey from motherly advice and the joys of summer to heartbreak and betrayal via a very strange farm indeed. The mix of upbeat songs to those of more melancholy tone is pretty much perfect, never letting one mood or style dominate the experience. I’m not sure I could pick a favourite track as I have a soft spot for them all. I love the simplicity of Midnight Blues in which Casee harmonises with herself unaccompanied demonstrating just how good a vocalist she is. Sound Advice is all about breaking expectations and being who you want to be despite what other people tell you which resonates particularly with me. On Tim Burton’s Farm calls to mind piroutting cows (you’ll understand when you hear it) with the haunting flute enhancing the gothically magical feel. Did I Tell You and Fade to Grey both speak of broken relationships whilst I Don’t Want You Anymore takes a more positive stance. The music ranges from Tori Amos-esque girl-with-piano style to a more bluesy, sultry feel seamlessly with Casee’s voice equally confident, strong and full of depth no matter what the style. The harmonies are always flawless and I especially like those on False Alarm and Did I Tell You. This is an awesome showcase for Casee’s talent both as a musician and a songwriter and hopefully a sign of more great things to come.

Subduing llamas

Posted: February 21, 2010 in general stuff, writing stuff

Well, the drama llamas have been in residence at chez moi for a while now which has left me feeling subdued even if they are not. I’m struggling to write more lyrics for FAWM and the last one, Bechstein’s Bat, seemed to blur the line between lyrics and poetry… but then I’m probably more of a poet than a lyricist anyhow.

I feel somewhat like I should be drawing on the emotions somehow to produce some great works of literature, or even some teenage-angst bullshit (which at the age of twenty-eight is always a tad depressing) but either the emotions are too close or I just lack the energy to care any more. Of course, no one really needs to hear my woes in written form or otherwise anyway but still, I feel I’m missing a trick.

At least the llamas are going out tonight. Bugger the snow, bugger the cold, we’re taking our llamas for a walk. I just hope they behave themselves.

It’s February… a nice short month which can be made a lot more hectic by participating in February Album Writing Month (FAWM) in which crazy folk try and write and record 14 songs in 28 days. Now, I am no musician. I have two very neglected guitars and a history of murdering both the violin and the clarinet. In my defence though, I didn’t do bad at percussion. Anyway, I digress. I have joined up to do lyric only songs which involves me posting lyrics and hoping that some kind soul will take pity on them and set them to music. So far 3 down, 11 to go. I may post them here individually but for now go here to check them out.

Long time, no speaky

Posted: December 5, 2009 in general stuff, writing stuff

So… all quiet on the norhern front for a while. Between swine flu (twice!), multiple weddings (none my own), getting engaged, toilet training the cats and helping to organise York Pride, I’ve found little time to keep on top of my updates. I am still here though, still writing and still plodding on with my various endeavours.

I’ve decided that rather than posting each piece of writing as a separate page, I’ll have a tag/category with which to find all my work. Be it poetry, short fiction or random prose of an indeterminate nature, it can now be found in the ‘pieces’ category.

I will upload by back catalogue over time so keep checking back and enjoy.

Another month, another brigits_flame assignment which I am again attempting to finish. Last months attempt was scuppered by spilling tea on my netbook’s keyboard and being away in London for the duration of the first week. As such I was stuck in the big smoke with my half finished writing trapped on a computer which wouldn’t let me sign in thanks to a combination of Yorkshire Tea, sugar and milk corrupting my keyboard. Thankfully it is now operational again due to a shiny new replacement keyboard and I am now being much more careful with hot, sweet liquids whilst typing.

Once again though a deadline is looming and I’m filled with a sense of apathy. I like my character, I have a clear image of what she looks like. I like the world I am creating for her. I am struggling  however, with getting the story across. I’m also at the stage of deleting a huge chunk and starting again. I may come back to my other character and I may come back to this world but for now it is seeming too big for what was intended to be a sort of dark fairy story. Far too big. I need to strip back and find what my plan was to begin with. And right soon now as the clock ticks on.

Ok… so I totally failed to keep up with this month’s brigits_flame competition. This was largely through life getting in the way as it so often does. I also find it harder at times to write to a specific prompt. Of course, this is why I sign up to these things, to get me into the habit of being able to write about anything or to take an idea and put some kind of spin on it. The oil and vinegar prompt didn’t really grab me and the idea of writing about relationships is a romantic sense seemed a little cliché. My sole idea was about a married man who wakes up dreaming about having an affair with someone. It later becomes apparent that this someone is a male colleague who is also married and the idea being that in reality this fantasy relationship can’t exist – like oil and vinegar they can’t mix together and the protagonist is content with his dreams. Not as clichéd as it could be but still.

I am still writing though. I have a tentative idea rolling around in my head from Midsummer inspired by the emotions smell can conjure up and this weekend whilst travelling around the country I have been working on a piece that has been rumbling around form ages. I know how it ends and the first draft is almost done. The danger with knowing the ending is that I rush to get there, hence why this is most definitely a first draft. It’s a strange piece in that it’s told from one person’s perspective with very little dialogue. Some it it is addressed to the other main character and as always I’ve got to watch my tenses. I’m terrible for switching tenses during a piece without realising it. Sometimes it is intentional and can work but most of the time it’s down to my lack of proper grammar knowledge. Grammar is something that is taught badly in schools, I think. Certainly when I was there many moons ago and I still agonise over punctuation and tenses as a result. At the end of the day if it sounds good to me I leave it. I’ll be an editor’s nightmare, I’m sure.

I’ll hopefully get some older pieces posted on here. I’m not sure how to go about it. Should I add them as new posts or create a new page for each piece. I shall ponder.