Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Last Mask Covers Uncovered

Ladies and gentlemen, today for delectation and disdain I present the three covers for the mighty epic they call The Last Mask Trilogy -

- Book 1 -

The opening act, with the Harlequin setting the 
performance off to a fine start.

- Book 2 -

A bit of a puzzle develops in book 2 as the question of 
identity takes center stage, a puzzle indeed.

- Book 3 -

The end of the trilogy. As the show develops we deal with power, 
and it looks like someone is about to crack up.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Goat Trading For Fun and Profit

   When you have finished your latest masterpiece ask yourself a question. Who are the most important people to you and that work?

   So you are sitting in the cave, and you have your new tale finished, ready to share. You’ve given you loincloth a fresh wash in the local stream and stoked the fire ready for the show, and now you wait. But while you are waiting you sit and think about this tale and how it will be received. How do you tell if it is a good one? How do you know if your tales will please?

   You look across at the entrance to the cave, and there sits Ugg, a big, ugly brute… your agent. He is charging two goats for entry tonight, but that is all right as you do get eighty percent of all goats received. After every tale he will inform you of the total goats taken, and praise you for a fine tale based on this number, but is that something you can judge your tale by. Ugg is after all only interested in the goats, although the tribal council could never prove some of the more salacious rumours. So as long as he can see your work as being goatworthy, then he will praise it. But this doesn’t tell you how good your tales are, how much people really enjoy them.

   Ugg can only see goats when he takes you on, he is always mindful of his success percentage, he doesn’t really care what your story is about just as long as the people turn up every night to hear the new one. When he tells you it is wonderful he will always have those commercial thoughts in the front of his mind, and how you will affect his reputation in the world of tale telling, because frankly it is the only world he has a reputation left in.

   The person that is of most value, other than that little voice in your head that likes to pop up at the most annoying times, is the one who turns up, sits through your tale, and is willing to hand over a couple of goats to do so. The audience, the reader, the patron of your art is more important than all the Uggs of this world. The audience do not have a commercial interest in your tale. They are not making money from your work, but want to give you the time to tell your story. So when someone sits through your latest masterpiece, their feedback is worth more than any goat trader.

   When someone reads your story, or watches your performance, and then tells you what they think, it should be an unbiased opinion. It should be comments that are not based on commercial values of how you can be exploited. Apart from the occasional tribe member that you may have upset during the weekly cave painting, and whose opinion might have ulterior motives, this feedback should be valued and appreciated above the likes of Ugg’s every day.

   If you want to improve your tales then listen to the people that have given it the time, without financial interest. If you want to be a goat mogul then go find Ugg, there is sure to be a cave nearby with one of his sort inside.

   And finally please remember that if the audience don’t like the tale, there are no refunds, as Ugg does not return goats.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

I Hate Flashbacks

   I have a cunning plan. I really need to get book two of The Last Mask done, but I am short of ideas and time. The book is about one of the characters searching through their memories so I came up with the plan of cutting massive chunks of the first novel and putting them into the second, and then just writing little bits to join together these memory flashbacks. Sounds fair enough, right? It means I can churn out the book in a week, and it is cheap, so that has to be a good thing? The readers won’t mind, will you?

   Don’t be silly. That is a complete cheat to the customer. So why do series like Star Trek and Stargate think it was a valid excuse for putting together an episode when they had run out of ideas and money.

   Just to make it clear - I hate Flashback episodes.

   I just watched “Shades of Grey” the climatic episode of Star Trek the Next Generation series two and it was a flashback episode. Yes the climatic episode of the series was a boring flashback… really? Anyway, this episode dealt with Riker getting an infection, which is only surprising for the fact that with the amount he puts himself about it has taken two whole series for him to get an infection. We are then subjected to a mass of flashbacks from the previous two series. These type of episodes are surely only enjoyable to your pet goldfish with their limited memory.

   If I did what they did with my book then I am sure readers would hate me and probably never buy anything of mine again, but I can’t see why it is an acceptable tool for TV series. Can’t anyone come up with a more creative way of having flashbacks? Can’t they shoot some new, relevant scenes?

   And while talking about flashbacks, Spartacus had a really idiotic one this week also.

   ** Spoiler Warning **

   If you watch Spartacus and haven’t watched this week’s episode skip the next paragraph…

   One character this week believed the love of his life was dead and so was remembering her, cue flashback. The only problem was the flashback had a new actress in the role, so only the dumb would not realise that this meant she wasn’t dead, otherwise why not just use old footage. Okay we knew it was probably a lie that she was dead, but try and be a bit more intelligent TV people, or should I say at least treat us like you think we are intelligent.

   ** End of Spoiler Warning **

   So there you have it, I hate flashback episodes because they are cheap and wasting my time. If I want to see a fondly remembered episode I can go back and watch it on DVD. And rest assured, I won’t be pasting big chunks of the first book of The Last Mask into book two, I think I can be a bit more creative than that.

 Till next time, make it so...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Romantic Comedy

A romantic comedy would probably sum up those rare occasions when I have had someone to possibly enjoy Valentine’s Day with, the emphasis being on ‘possibly’. So I therefore tend to avoid the day and even at one time, when I worked in a shop, booked the day off so I didn’t have to witness the event.

So as this day draws around again my thoughts were drawn to my novel, The Last Mask, and all the love that is in it, and you thought it was all darkness and death didn’t you?

The novel starts off with a bit of unrequited love, adds a bit of brotherly love, and sprinkles the love of family and friends in for good measure, all in the opening act. The rest of the novel goes on to cover such variations as doomed lovers, the love of two clowns for each other, which we will quickly pass over, and a bit of self-love from one particular ego maniac. So much love in all its forms that maybe I should have pitched it as a romance novel, or not…

And there you have it; a novel that at first appears to be filled with a lot to fear actually has a lot of love to give, if you look in the right place. But then again some might say that love is something people fear, so maybe the book is all about fear after all.

I hope those that have a good Valentine’s Day to look forward to enjoy it, and to those who don’t I hope you manage to avoid its horrors. And I leave you with the opening of Act 4 of The Last Mask, a chapter appropriately called - A Romantic Comedy.

Love is but a chain we tie around ourselves, a prison for our souls. So easy to fall into the pit of its embrace, but so hard to climb back out of its oblivion, we believe we are free, free to choose, and free to believe what we see, but that is a lie. Fate’s hand will play us with its tune, and love’s chains will imprison us like a fool, we are but the stuff of life, and it will take us where it will. Returning to a love once lost is a place that no mortal should go, a place full of memories that can never be again, and full of hope that will forever be lost, for within this place lurks a shadow, full of hate and regret. So now a romantic comedy, of dark proportions, awaits our fools on this quest.