I’d forgotten what a great book this is, and the radio adaptation was splendid. This post-apocalyptic tale of plants, the destruction of civilisation and the human spirit is told in a series of episodes. The cast was well-chosen – and I especially liked the lady playing Josella. There is a good deal of suspense and fear. As civilisation rapidly crumbles the hero (Masen) questions everything.
The book – although written in the 1950s this tale is also (as they so often are) a tale for today. Genetically modified plants – the titular Triffids – are bred from an assortment of other plants (and it hints not just plants) and produce oil which surpasses other types of oil. Of course, humans need this oil and merrily breed these plants – which not only are rather aggressive but also mobile. When a comet (is it a comet or something brought about by the Triffids?) brings world blindness to anyone or anything who saw the impressive light show the triffids now have the advantage. They are tough, mobile, poisonous, aggressive, can communicate and are ruthless.
As with many of the sci-fi books written around that time, there is a good deal of classic horror – expect a body-count, and the majority of humans don’t come out so well. Civilisation is only a veneer – and as soon as the comforts and safety of it disappear the fighting, the looting, the backward steps start. Our heroes have to review their moral code. Decent folks who would not, under normal circumstances steal, or cause harm, are now looting, shooting and uprooting.
There are many facets – GM crops (as we would call them today), bio-warfare, the fall of civilisation and a good deal of survival of the fittest. But of course, the human spirit, and brain will find a way to survive.
It’s a great book and a great audio rendition.
It’s sizzling where I live – I am hoping for autumn to arrive quickly lest I melt to goo. But it’s good weather to laze with a book or seven. Smashwords are having a summer sale and I have entered some of my books. Check out the comments below for other books in the sale.
Running July 1-31st.
The Watcher – A Jack the Ripper Tale is free with code SS100
Shattered Mirror – A Poetry Collection is free with code SS100
Tales of Erana: Just One Mistake is free with code SS100
Outside the Walls is free with code SS100
The Light Beyond the Storm Book I is only $1.50 with code SSW50
The Shining Citadel is only $1.75 with code SSW50
The Stolen Tower is only $1.62 with code SSW50
And by my alter ego
My top ten favourites.
Some of these are tricky and have more than one answer, and if you asked me next week the answers might be different. Yes, I am fickle.
- Favourite Book
Count of Monte Christo/Phantom of the Opera/I, The Sun/Lord of the Rings/Dune/War of the Worlds
- Favourite Movie
Dead Poets Society/The Empire Strikes Back/Stardust
- Favourite Colour
- Favourite Animal
- Favourite Food
- Favourite Place
- Favourite Cartoon Character
- Favourite Drink
Earl Grey tea
- Favourite Play/Musical
Phantom of the Opera/Les Miserables
- Favourite Mythological Creature/Entity
British-born Alexandra Butcher (a/k/a A. L. Butcher) is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.
Her short novella Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017.
Social Media links
Amazon Author Page http://amzn.to/2hK33OM
Smashwords Author Page https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ALB123
Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/LightBeyondtheStorm/
Library of Erana Blog http://bit.ly/Blog2iAWL3o
Books2Read newsletter sign up
Spell It Out: The singular story of English Spelling – David Crystal.
Why is there an ‘h’ in ghost? William Caxton, inventor of the printing press and his Flemish employees are to blame: without a dictionary or style guide to hand in fifteenth century Bruges, the typesetters simply spelled it the way it sounded to their foreign ears, and it stuck. Seventy-five per cent of English spelling is regular but twenty-five per cent is complicated, and in Spell It Out our foremost linguistics expert David Crystal extends a helping hand to the confused and curious alike.
He unearths the stories behind the rogue words that confound us and explains why these peculiarities entered the mainstream, in an epic journey taking in sixth-century monks, French and Latin upstarts, the Industrial Revolution and the internet. By learning the history and the principles, Crystal shows how the spellings that break all the rules become easier to get right.
You can tell I’m a logophile (lover of words), as this book really appealed to me. I love the vagaries of English, the whys and wherefores, the ‘really – that’s spelled like that?’ and the etymology of language. This book is a great resource – it covers the history of the English Language, and the ‘rules of spelling’ – many of which get defenestrated at every available opportunity. Crystal explains why.
English is a very confusing language – and I’m a native speaker! Similar sounds – such as ‘ou’ or ‘gh’ can be used in a large variety of words with different pronunciations:
(Spelling in red) coff as in cough; ow as in bough; ruff as in rough; thru as in through; doh as in doughnut.
Thorough, plough, tough, borough etc.
And we have the one everyone knows – I before E except after C… unless … well Wiki has a whole page of them:
There are reasons – from lazy scribes to printers being things look nice, to foreign words being adulterated, to regional differences to text speak. It all makes sense (sort of).
Crystal keeps the book interesting, easy to understand and amusing. He knows his stuff, and it shows. I found it fascinating, and will definitely get the author’s other work. Mr Crystal – you have a new fan.
Recommended for logophiles, writers, and the curious.
FOOD OF THE GODS by Em Dehaney
A perfect corpse floats forever in a watery grave.
A gang member takes a terrifying trip to the seaside.
A deserted cross-channel ferry that serves only the finest Slovakian wines.
Gods and monsters.
Mermaids and witches.
Blood and magic.
Love and death.
From the dark and decadent mind of Em Dehaney come eight tales of seafoam secrets and sweet treats.
Nothing is quite what it seems, but everything is delicious.
This is Food Of The Gods.
Reviews of Food Of The Gods
“…diverse and brilliantly crafted slices of dark fiction…”
“…dark and haunting tales of the horrors of the human condition…’
“Brilliantly written and something to be revisited again and again.”
“I found myself submersed in strange places with fantastic other worldly creatures.”
“Each story is a gem in its own right, when collected together the result is an anthology that any writer would be proud to put their name to.”
Em Dehaney is a mother of two, a writer of fantasy and a drinker of tea. Born in Gravesend, England, her writing is inspired by the history of her home town. She is made of tea, cake, blood and magic. By night she is The Black Nun, editor and whip-cracker at Burdizzo Books. By day you can always find her at http://www.emdehaney.com/ or lurking about on Facebook posting pictures of witches https://www.facebook.com/emdehaney/. You can also follow Em on Twitter @emdehaney
Ninth Annual Read an Ebook Week Sale!
March 4, 2018 – March 10, 2018
There are tons of books in this sale – here are mine! I am sure there will be more to follow from other authors!
Tales of Erana: Just One Mistake FREE with code RAE75
Shattered Mirror – A Poetry Collection FREE with Code RAE75
The Light Beyond the Storm Book I only $1.50 (half price) with code RAE50
The Shining Citadel only $1.75 (half price) with code RAE50
The Stolen Tower only $1.62 (half price) with code RAE50
The Watcher FREE with code RAE25
Poisoned Lives: English Poisoners and their Victims – by Katherine Watson
From Mary Ann Cotton, the Victorian serial murderess, to Dr Crippen, poisoners have attracted a celebrity unmatched by violent killers. Secretly administered, often during a family meal, arsenic (the most commonly-used poison) led to a slow and agonising death, while strychnine (with its characteristic bitter taste) killed very quickly. Poisoned Lives is the first history of the crime to examine poisoning and its consequences as a whole. Unwanted husbands, wives or lovers, illegitimate babies, children killed for the insurance money, relatives, rivals and employers were amongst the many victims of these calculating killers. Difficult to detect before 1800, poison undoubtedly had its heyday in the nineteenth century. In response to many suspected cases, forensic tests were developed that made detection increasingly likely, and the sale of poisons became more tightly controlled. Because of this, twentieth-century poisoning has become a crime largely associated with medical professionals including, most recently, Dr Harold Shipman, the world’s most prolific serial killer.
Many of the true crime books focus solely on the murders themselves, as one would expect. Usually the same twenty or so crimes are discussed and not often in detail. This book is different. Over 500 cases from 19th century to the early 20th century are included, although many as comparisons and not in detail. That said the author does a great job of discussing the ‘whys and wherefores’ of the crimes – the societal aspects, how they changed, the rise of the police force, and the increased awareness of poisoning as a crime. Before the 1900s sanitary conditions amongst the poor were dire, life expectancy short and infant mortality high. Many of the cases discussed, and the situations covered reflect this – people poisoning as to not have another mouth to feed, to get a few pounds from the ‘burial clubs’ which sprang up, ostensibly to help the poor, and the new ‘life insurance’ schemes which abounded. Poisoning is viewed as the most despicable of crimes; usually it is a slow and very painful process, and often the perpetrator is well known to the victim – spouse, parent, servant, nurse/doctor. It’s easy to judge by the modern standards when life expectation is relatively high, health provision freely available (in the UK at least), a social security system, divorce attainable, much less stigma on illegitimacy and very few people are truly desperately poor. Oh and poison is much harder to get. But one must realise that sometimes disposal of an unwanted, violent spouse, was the only way out some people could see. There were simply no viable alternatives.
Watson discusses the changing views and social ideas – the emerging rights of women; ideas pertaining towards mental illness; religious and moral ideology and the rise of the forensic scientist, the role of the coroner and much more. It’s a potted history which changes vastly over time. This, I think, is the most fascinating aspect. There is no sensationalisation of the cases – which sometimes appears in books on true crime – the subjects are dealt with in a sympathetic way. It’s a book of tragedy – lost lives, destroyed lives, desperation and the depths of human misery, but there is also hope. Murder by poison is rare now and more easily diagnosed. And society is not as brutish, or terrifying as once it was for the common person.
Well researched, well argued and highly interesting I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in true crime, 19th Century history, the rise of science and the social reasons for crime.
This is a little cheeky as some of was taken from an old post (2013) – but have I changed my views? The origin post was written not that long after I started self-publishing.
So let’s revisit my old post – Old in RED, new comments in black.
Share your most helpful writing tips and advice. What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started writing?
New writers are given an awful lot of information, much of it contradictory and it is very difficult to know the good advice from the bad. Experience is a great teacher!
Yep – it’s still true there is information overload. There is some great advice, and some lousy advice. Working out which is which can be a challenge. Indie authors, in my experience, support each other, offer advice and suggestions and understand the challenges. Listen to the advice, good and bad. After all if it hasn’t worked for one person that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. The bloody awful advice will become self-apparent. Free advice is always worth taking in. What you choose to do with it, that’s up to you.
Here are my top 6 tips:
1) Keep writing. This is seems to be consistent advice from all the sources I have seen. A single book is great but it is hard to build a fan base with just one title and if readers like your work they may well look out for other articles and stories. I do as a reader. As your writing experience grows you will learn what works and what doesn’t. Write for anthologies, write for your blog or someone else’s or write for research. Yahoo Voices have many interesting blog-type articles and it is a way to build a fan base. Researching for your novel? Great, use that research to help others. There are lots of anthologies looking for submissions (see links below) and some pay, although some don’t. Even the free ones are useful in getting your name out there and are writing practice.
Yahoo Voices no longer exists, but there are thousands of blogs/e-zines and groups who will happily take guest posts. Writing for anthologies – yes, I’d say it was helpful but as you get more experienced then you can pick and choose. The first few I did didn’t pay – and that’s a good way to promote yourself initially – but of course, most authors want paying for their work. Free has its place – don’t get me wrong – but it’s good to be able to pick and choose. There is also the consideration – anthology stories are varied in quality, length and style. Try and read some of the other stories, if that’s possible, or check out the author’s work. I’ve read (and been in) anthos where some of the stories need….more work. Make sure your own entry is good, well presented and not riddled with errors.
Research – yes, yes, yes. Post up on your blog, or share on forums.
2) Have a thick skin, you will need it. There will ALWAYS be someone who doesn’t like your book, will be offended by it, hate the characters or simply not get it. We do not all like the same things, if we did the world would be boring indeed. Bad reviews hurt, but most books have at least one and unless the reviewer has a personal issue with the author (which occasionally happens) then it is one opinion. Reviews are just that – opinions, which can be as varied as the books they discuss.
Still agree with this. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Shit happens. If you don’t want bad reviews – don’t publish. That said they can be helpful. Every writer thinks his or her work is the best thing ever. Usually it’s not (sorry – and I include myself in that). There is always something which doesn’t quite work, or could have been better – but that is generally true of life. And what that is depends on perspective. I like great world and character building, for example. I’ve read books with awesome reviews only to put them aside after three or four chapters because I didn’t give a damn about the characters. It’s a matter of opinion.
No writer likes to be told their book sucks and it can be hard to deal with. One of the best pieces of advice is ‘don’t comment’, or if you feel you must then be polite, thank the reviewer for their comments and move on. Commenting, especially negatively will do far more harm, go and rant to your best friend, yell at the wall, go for a walk and release that is one person’s opinion only. The next reviewer may love the book. Even negative reviews, except the spiteful ones, have useful advice.
Don’t comment on reviews. Really. Not ever. Don’t bitch, tell the reader they are wrong, or slag them off on social media. Just don’t. That will do your brand FAR more damage than a bad review.
It is hard to work out how much store readers put on reviews, many do look and most simply filter out those which either say nothing or the obviously spiteful or overly gushing ones, but in a couple of studies I have done reviews are surprisingly low on the scale. A good cover, a synopsis which pulls in the reader and recommendations from friends seem more important. If the book is selling don’t worry too much.
Agreed – to an extent. Personally, I don’t put that much store by book reviews – but I do write them. I’m odd like that. Partly I write them because I have a terrible memory and it’s a way to remind me of a book, but also because I like talking about books. People review for many, many reasons and in many many ways. All of them are right.
3) Write the book you want to write. Now I am sure other writers might disagree with this tip but not all. Forcing a story to work, editing out important plot ideas or making characters do something they wouldn’t do may well make the story weaker. Write the book YOU want to read. Would you enjoy it? If the answer is yes then go with it. A forced plot will show itself to be just that. It may depend on whether you are intending to self-publish or whether you are intending to submit to a publishing house of course and whether you intend to get an editor.
I’d rephrase this as write the book you want to READ.
4) Write the best book you can. No book is perfect. Even bestsellers have typos which slip through, weak plots or naff characters. However, if you are an indie the threshold seems to be higher…there are plenty of posts and threads berating indie self-published books as being substandard. In some cases this is true, we have all seen them but there are very many books which are great, yes some may be a little rough around the edges but the good stories and talent are out there. There are plenty of traditionally published books which are awful. That said releasing a book full of typos, terrible grammar and weak plot/characters is not advisable. Spellcheckers are useful but invest in a dictionary, a thesaurus and a writing guide. If you can find beta readers or critique groups then do so.
If you can afford an editor, then get one. Ask around, there are various authors who edit, or know them. I found a couple of free/cheap online writing courses. Write, write, write.
If you decide to self-edit then put the manuscript aside for a while and write (or read) something new. You will see the work with fresher eyes. I know from experience I see what I think is there not what IS there. If you can afford an editor then it is advisable to consider it, but there are great books which have been self-edited. If you choose this route be thorough, it may take several passes through. Although earlier I said write the book YOU want you do need to be strict when editing. It is easy to get carried away and go off on a tangent. Does the scene add to the story/characterisation/world-building? No – then lose it.
5) Research and plausibility. This is rather dependent on genre of course but willing suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Fantasy gives a lot of scope, especially magic but it still needs to be consistent. Research gives the writer credibility, if you say something works which we KNOW doesn’t work in that way then at the least back it up in the story with some plausibility, or better still find something which people know does work that way. Gravity is gravity. Research medieval battle, weapons and armour, field medicine, herb-lore and such like if you are planning a fight. Movie fight scenes look great visually but aren’t really that accurate. What damage DOES a long sword do? What IS the range of a longbow. You needn’t go into too much detail in the book, but knowing if your archer can hit that bad-guy lurking in the Dark-lord’s tower is helpful. Books can educate, and encourage people to research for themselves, especially if set in a certain time period but accuracy is the key. Of course, many readers won’t go on to research or have any interest in the origins of the longbow, the war horse but some might. Besides research is great, it is amazing what you can discover!
Yep, pretty much. I spent a while looking up ancient Greek curses the other day, and I’ve researched flora and fauna, weaponry and armour, the potential airworthiness of dragons, whether salamandars are edible, poisons and herblore, giantism and all sorts of other things.
6) READ THE DAMN MANUAL! Really I mean it. Spend a bit of time not only reading writing guides but the FAQ of KDP, Smashwords, Lulu or wherever it is you choose to publish. It will make life a lot easier. There are several free books available – ‘Publish your work on Kindle’, ‘How to Publish on Smashwords’ for example. Most of the sites have extensive guidelines and forums. That is another thing most people have struggled with whatever it is you are struggling with so search the forums for answers. You are now a business person as well as a writer and it helps to know what to do.
What do I wish I had known at the beginning? Marketing is HARD. Where is the line between being a spammy needy author and promoting in such a way that people will check out your books and not be annoyed? Well that depends on who you ask…some people hate any mention of the product, some don’t mind a small amount and some say as much as you can do is the way to go. If I find the right level I will let you know.
Princess of the Light Blog
*Name: JD Kelly
*Tell us a bit about yourself: This is always a tough question to answer. I am a full-time voice actor, however, I’m also the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for a rock and blues band, as well as well as writing and recording my own solo music.
When I’m not using my voice for singing or acting, I try to share as much as possible on my YouTube channel, where I play Video Games and go to conventions across the country. See my answer to the ‘silly fact’ question below for one of my achievements!
Having my own YouTube channel also gives me the opportunity to film and edit video, as well as photography. I love meeting people in cosplay at conventions to create montage videos, I’ve also filmed music videos for bands and solo artists too.
One of my more recent interests is running, I’d never considered myself a runner before but now I’ve completed two half marathons (one was at Disneyland Paris) I think it’s safe to call myself a runner. In all honesty, I use it as a great way to get out into the countryside, a change from my recording studio!
How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Before becoming a full-time voice actor, I worked in the industry part-time working on radio productions and audio plays. A friend of mine actually runs a production company so after working with them on a couple of small projects and really enjoying it I discovered ACX/Audible. I started to complete short projects in my spare time and immediately loved it, I quickly realised I wanted this to be my full-time career.
Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I really enjoyed ‘Norse Mythology by Matt Clayton’ it was fun finding out about the myths and legends. ‘Summary of “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor’ was great too as Shawn Achors TED Talk was a huge influence on me, his book on positive psychology is fascinating!
But I am really looking forward to the next chapter of ‘The Fall Of Centuria by James A. Harris’ it was great to do the first book in this fantasy series!
Do you have a preferred genre? Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I love narrating Fantasy novels, it’s a genre I read often. Sci-Fi is great too but I guess because the first book I really got into was The Hobbit, fantasy novels have kind of stuck with me.
I don’t produce erotic fiction, I don’t mind some raunchy romance tales but, when it gets too explicit, I can’t keep a straight face.
What are you working on at present/Just finished? I’m currently working on Alice In Wonderland and the third book in a series called 101 SNES Facts!
I have just completed Cubby and the Beanstalk an adorable kids book! (see links below)
*Tell us about your process for narrating? (Be as elaborate as you like.) I’m very lucky that I have a recording studio set up home so it makes it really easy for me to get stuck into a project. The process begins with my audition, I look for roles that interest me, books about a subject I’m interested in and other projects in genres I’ve perhaps not worked in before, I love to challenge myself.
The audition is usually a few lines or the first 5 minutes of a longer project – this is usually enough to give me some insight into the writing style so I can adapt my tone as needed. I sometimes record a couple of versions so the end producer or author has some choice.
Once hired, I then like to get some direction from the client, writers often have a tone of voice in mind for a character and it’s important to me that I stay true to that. This is also a great time to confirm any unusual pronunciations or dialects – which happens quite often in fantasy books!
Once I’ve recorded everything, I then use various programmes to edit my takes and upload them as a final audio file.
What aspects do you find most enjoyable? The thing I find most enjoyable is becoming the character, it keeps my job diverse and interesting. One day I can be playing the role of a Military Commander, and the next a Welsh Polar Bear cub! I enjoy portraying these different characters, knowing that the end listener will use this to help paint the images in their mind while they listen to the books.
Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? This really depends on the project and the length of time involved. Royalty shares mean I get paid after the work is completed, when the project makes money. This can work well for shorter projects where I can complete the work fairly quickly, but for longer projects, I do charge a ‘per finished hour’ rate.
Do you listen to audiobooks? Sometimes for non-fiction I’ll listen to an audiobook, but I can’t quit the written word when it comes to fiction. I suppose I like to hear the voices in my head using my imagination.
*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I think it is a storytelling media that will continue to become more popular as time goes on.
However, do I think that physical books (Digital too) will become extinct? Not really, I think we will find some kind of equilibrium.
Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? With media/work taking up so much of people’s time these days, and people looking for ways to continue learning and being told stories I think it allows people escapism and learning on the move. During travel, in the bath and at night before bed seem to be good moments for most people.
Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? The first audiobook I owned was The Hobbit, I had it on cassette tape when I was about 8 years old, I remember getting it when I was living in America and I listened to it countless times. I’m not sure where the cassette is now, however, I recently went on holiday to stay in some hobbit huts in the UK and downloaded The Hobbit on iTunes – listening to it while sitting next to the fire brought back some great memories from my childhood.
If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? I am not an author…yet. But I think in the future it would depend on the project, and if my voice would be suitable. I hope that I have enough humility to keep perspective and make a good casting call on whether my voice is right or not.
Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) Oh definitely, it’s a system that has allowed me to forge a career out of a hobby!
Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Only one I can think of, the script I had received was not that well suited to audio production, so I just did the best I could with it. It is extremely rare that this happens but sometimes you just have to make the best of a script you are given.
Each difficult project you get teaches you something new, lets you know what your strengths and weaknesses are and allows you to get better!
Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have held a Guiness World Record for the Longest Marathon Time Playing Minecraft, I live-streamed it on my YouTube Channel raising over £2500 for Cancer Research UK!
Where can we learn more about you?
Social Media links:
Cubby and the Beanstalk is available at the following retailers.
Barnes & Noble:
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Cubby-Beanstalk-Victoria-Zigler/1512360104/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Cubby-Beanstalk-Victoria-Zigler/1512360104
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Cubby-Beanstalk-Victoria-Zigler/1512360104/
The Book Depository:
Cover art atatched.