Sunday, 23 December 2012

Theatre Review: The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre, London


I was very excited about seeing The Bodyguard on stage in London; I went to a matinee performance of this show. Frank Farmer is played by Lloyd Owen who I had previously seen on TV and also in Closer at the Lyric back in the late 90s. It took me a while to get used to hearing him speak with an American accent but he played the reluctant, slightly awkward hero to perfection (and looked very gorgeous, especially in his dark blue suit!).

Gloria Onitiri, the alternate female lead was wonderful in the role of Rachel Marron, and the chemistry between the two leads was good.

Debbie Kurup who plays Nicki Marron, Rachels long-suffering sister sent shivers down my spine every time she sang. And Mark Letheren who plays the stalker in the show does so with such menace; there is one scene when he is alone on the stage and I was on the edge of my seat; I would go back to see this show for that scene alone.

Another highlight for me was hearing the sisters sing Saving All My Love For You.

The set was good with an interesting blend of video in the mix which allowed the action to take place in more locations. The costumes, especially for Rachel Marron, were very eye-catching, just as they should be for her character.

The show doesn't follow the movie to the letter, but it is well adapted and I would recommend it to anyone who likes songs with strong lyrics, gorgeous lead characters, sexy but very evil baddies, or simply a show you can sit and watch to escape from reality for a couple of hours.

Star rating: 4.5 out of 5. I want to see it again and I think it would be a 5 the second time.
(I saw a preview show in November and there were some minor sound glitches but I expect these have been ironed out by now.)

Currently booking to April 2013 (Click here to go to the website.)

Seating tip: I called about tickets a few days before I saw The Bodyguard as the website said the performance was sold out but to call for availability, and I got seat B5 in the Dress Circle which is supposedly restricted viewing but if you are 5 ft 9 or taller the safety rail doesn't get in the way anyway (I'm 5 ft 10 and I had a brilliant view). From talking to the person next to me, I discovered I got a bit of a bargain with this seat.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Deck The Halls International Launch

It gives me great pleasure to say that I have a story in Deck The Halls published by eMergent Publishing, and launching worldwide today.

Each of the stories was written to a prompt - a line from the Christmas carol Deck The Halls. I was given Tis the Season to be Jolly and from the deepest depths of my mind came a sci fi story. I don't usually write sci fi so I'd be interested to know what you think of it if you read it.

I am very proud to be published alongside some very talented authors. Many of these people I am also lucky enough to be able to consider friends.

This book would make a fantastic Christmas present for anyone who likes short stories. 




Buy a copy:
 Directly from eMergent Publishing here.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Touched Rowena Specht-Whyte
Drench the School Benjamin Solah
Coming Home Rebecca Dobbie
While You Were Out Sam Adamson
Twenty-Five Rebecca Emin
A Jolly Pair Christopher Chartrand
Gays and Commies Graham Storrs
A Better Fit Jen Brubacher
Salvation Nicole R Murphy
A Troll for Christmas Jo Hart
Modraniht Kate Sherrod
Bosch’s Book of Trolls Susan May James
‘Til Death Do Us Part Emma Kerry
High Holidays Dale Challener Roe
The Headless Shadow Jonathan Crossfield
End of a Tradition Paul Servini
Weatherboy Nik Perring
Not a Whisper Lily Mulholland
Lords of the Dance Janette Dalgliesh
Through Frosted Glass Laura Meyer
Midsummer’s Eve Stacey Larner
Yuletide Treasure Rob Diaz II
Broken Angel Jodi Cleghorn
A Golden Treasure Chia Evers
Fast Away Jim Bronyaur
Apprentices to Time Icy Sedgwick
Unfolding Alison Wells
Egg-Ceptional PJ Kaiser
Hail the New Trevor Belshaw
Perfect Light Dan Powell
Softly Sing the Stars Steve Cameron
Through Wind and Weather David McDonald



Sunday, 18 November 2012

Theatre Review: The Upstairs Room at the Kings Head Theatre, Islington

On Saturday, I went to the King's Head Theatre in Islington to see The Upstairs Room. The venue is a small theatre at the back of a pub, and perfect for this play. The set and lighting design worked beautifully, giving the impression that you were seated in a messy attic room right from the start.

This show has a cast of just four actors, the role of Gordon played to perfection by Anthony Cozens, just as it was when the show ran in Oxford. The rest of the cast were captivating with Liza Callinicos adding glamour as Stella, and Bret Jones adding a hint of mystery as he played the Manager in a quirky and amusing way. Lucy Wray (Iris) gave a refreshing injection of energetic humour to the latter part of the show, just when it was needed in fact.

Having seen The Upstairs Room twice now, I can say the London show was much improved on the version I saw in Oxford but it was great to see how it has developed and what a fresh set, and clearly loads of work, can do for a play.

I don't know if it's just me but I do find the play itself quite weird, it's certainly not for theatre-goers that like an easy show to wash over them and a lot of glitz and glamour. However it is thought-provoking and the next morning I realised something that I hadn't during the show, which is always a good thing.

And at the end of the show I was introduced to the leading actor, Anthony Cozens, which was a highlight, it has to be said. Lucky me!

Star rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars but catch it while you can because the actors and set are five star.

The Upstairs Room is showing until 8th December 2012.
The programme includes the entire script for the play, and are sold in the theatre and on Amazon.

Follow my Entertainment list on Twitter, which includes some of the cast and crew from this show. 


In the interests of full disclosure: I went to see this play because the director is a friend of mine. However, no bias was used during the writing of this review.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Flash Fiction: You Light Up The Sky




YOU LIGHT UP THE SKY


Sometimes I sit and think of you, my periodic visitor; my temporary blinding light.

The anticipation of your visit is reminiscent of lighting the blue touch paper of a firework, then moving back to wait, wondering if anything will happen.

As the bell rings, the flame has caught. A whoosh inside me as I open the door and see your eyes dancing with mine from under your thick brown fringe.

I put the kettle on. We talk, and all around me I see stars. Your nearness evokes a spinning sensation in my head, like a Catherine wheel, whirring out of control.

Those micro-seconds when you hold me, the world lights up around me in a blast of starlight; momentarily beautiful.

But then you leave.

Darkness. Chilling air and a sense of loss.

The moment is over. It was never mine to begin with.





This flash story is taken from my collection A Knowing Look and Other Stories.



Theatre Review: Hot Mikado at the Landor Theatre

My second show on Saturday was Hot Mikado at the Landor Theatre, another new venue to me, luckily my theatre buddy had been there before otherwise I would have missed out on this show altogether. Sadly we saw the last show of the run, because it was definitely one I would have gone back to see again (my friend did just that).

The venue has just three rows of seats and the seats were not numbered so there was a scramble to be in the best positions. The stage area was quite tiny and I honestly wondered how a show could even happen in such a space... which is probably why it was so mind blowing.  There were three people in the band, yet they played so many different instruments it felt like there was an entire orchestra there. And the cast were not wearing microphones but their voices were amazing, and they were almost in touching distance. It was a wonderful experience to feel so close to the action and see all the facial expressions.

I haven't seen this show before but it was easy to follow, there is a good amount of humour in it but it was also very lively with loads of energetic dancing with almost all the cast dancing at the same time (how on earth they all fitted in that space and didn't crash into each other is a mystery to me).

As always there are people who stand out, and in this case the roles of Nanki-Poo (Mark Daley) and Yum-Yum (Victoria Farley) were well cast. The others who stood out for me were Mandi Symonds as Katisha and Ian Mowat as Ko-Ko who were fantastic, particularly when they were on stage together during the second half.  I also was surprised when Mark Gillon sang as his voice was amazing - I wish he had more of a solo actually.  Nathaniel Morrison played Pooh-Bah to perfection with great comic timing (and an amazing smile!) and was paired often with the very stunning Lucyelle Cliffe as Pitti-Sing whose voice reached me even when the whole cast was on stage.

All in all the show was energetic, with a wonderful cast, great music, and I am so glad I had the chance to see it.


Star rating: 5 out of 5 stars. I wish I could see it again!


Follow my Entertainment list on Twitter, which includes some of the cast of this show. 



Sunday, 4 November 2012

Theatre Review: Victor/Victoria Southwark Playhouse

Yesterday I went to the matinee performance of Victor/Victoria at the Southwark Playhouse. My first impressions of the venue - well it's amazing! If a friend of mine hadn't known about it I'd never have found the place and it really is an interesting venue to see a show, basically in a converted tunnel/vault, but you can still see all the brickwork so it's an amazing space.

This show on first impressions feels like a romp through the world of sequined cabaret shows in gay Paris, and actually that is what it is but once you dig deeper and see the message of how a woman had to pretend to be a man in drag to be able to perform in certain places, it becomes a stronger plot, with the songs If I Were A Man and Almost a Love Song proving particularly poignant.

The soundtrack was catchy, and performed wonderfully, especially by Anna Francolini in the role of Victoria. The choreography was incredible given the small space the actors had to dance in, it felt like they were on a much larger stage and every member of the cast had a great stage presence (and I have to be honest there was a ridulous amount of gorgeousness in the cast).

For me though, the star of the show was Richard Dempsey as Toddy who played the role to perfection; camp, sympathetic and humorous, and the man has legs that a female supermodel would kill for. He's definitely one to watch.


Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars.  Will brighten up the dreariest autumn day.



Follow my Entertainment list on Twitter, which includes some of the cast of this show.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Mindful Writing Day 2012

Today is the first ever Mindful Writing Day which is taking place online. Writers all over the world are paying attention to detail and writing a "Small Stone", and some are submitting it to the blog where this all started, Writing Our Way Home.

To celebrate Mindful Writing Day, A Blackbird Sings is free today for Kindle. One of my own small stones is included in this collection. If you enjoy poetry or micro stories, you will most likely enjoy this book.


FREE for Kindle today

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Friday Flash: Spin



This story features some of my favourite characters (of my own) of all time, from my short story A Rocky Road, which is published by Ether Books.


Spin

It was one day in Spring when, by some miracle, the children were playing harmoniously. She sat on the park bench and smiled to herself, wondering where he was, what he was doing, if he was with someone.

Of course he’s with someone she chastised herself. A man like that would never be lonely.

She watched the roundabout spin, fighting the urge to rush and grab the rail to slow it down. They have to learn by their mistakes. And as that thought crossed her synapses, Thomas slipped and fell, his cries piercing her to the core. She ran and almost tripped; steadying herself as she neared her goal.

“Come on, Thomas, you’ll be okay,” she soothed, kissing his palm. And magically that kiss healed everything. He leapt back on the equipment before she’d finished wiping the snotty tears from his face.

Returning slowly to the bench, she wished her own mother could be there to kiss her heart and heal it that way. She thought of him again, probably on the other side of the planet, playing arenas. And there she was; a single parent of two, her husband in Barbados with his new girlfriend; his former secretary, even though he’d always maintained he was never one for cliché.

She closed her eyes and began to hum a guitar riff… the one she’d heard as she stared at him that night as he owned the stage. Five years had passed yet it felt like seconds. She opened her eyes, took out her purse and removed a scrap of paper, so worn it felt like material.

Don’t be stupid, he’d have changed his phone number by now, she thought angrily. She tucked that piece of paper back inside her wallet as if it was a baby scan image.

“Thomas! Natalie! Time for hot chocolate!” she yelled, and as her children squealed in delight she gathered them up in her arms, span them around, and then placed them back on the grass. Grabbing each of them by a hand, she led them in the direction of the café.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Guest Blog: Mariam Kobras

It gives me great pleasure today to host a lovely writer, Mariam Kobras, as she celebrates the launch of her book, Under The Same Sun.  So without further ado, I will hand over to Mariam.


Mariam Kobras
The Last Thing On My Mind 

What was that again?


Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking that all an author does is write books and then sits back and watches the money roll in!

So this is how it goes. I’m sitting here, trying to think of original, witty and moderately intelligent things to say about Under the Same Sun, and in pops the publisher.
“You can’t use that title for the book you’re just writing,” they say.
What?
I try to come out of the muddle I’m in, caught somewhere between the launch, the blog hop, and the writing of a new book.
“You can’t use Lavender Lemonade. It’s a bit  misleading. You’ll need to think of something else!”
Right. Like I’m sitting here at my desk, and brilliant titles just pop out of my head like soap  bubbles. Like I need a new distraction right now.
La di da! A new title, and pronto, since I’ve been blasting the fact that I’m working on something new all over the internet.
I’m for something with “winter” in it, but my favorite beta-reader tells me no, everything with “winter” in it sounds like the title of a decorating magazine.
Gosh, I really don’t need this right now. How to come up with a new title?

As if this isn’t enough, the publisher announces they want to release the third book of the trilogy in fall 2013.
Uh, I might be dead by then? That’s so far in the future I can’t even comprehend it. That’s so far in the future, who knows if the world will still be around?
It’s so far in the future that I’m sure I’ll have to reread it, just to remember what I wrote.  .

I tell them that I can’t wait that long. I’m too old for that kind of planning, and I really wanted to make enough money from the writing to be able to get in and out of the Porsche I want to buy with my royalties. After having renovated and redecorated the house, taken the family on a trip around the world and having hiring a housekeeper.
Oh wait—didn’t I say I wanted to move? Right. So after having tossed all the old crap out of this place and finding a pretty house with a porch somewhere in New England. Right.
Surprisingly, they don’t break out into hysterical laughter at this argument of mine. They just shake their head with an amused smirk on their face and say, we’ll see.

Seconds later, someone asks me to summarize Under the Same Sun in one tweet.
OY!
I don’t think so.

Authors are really lousy at summarizing their own books, I think. What to pick, what’s important, what’s  not?

I mean, I could go on and on about that lovely part of Under the Same Sun where Jon and Naomi go to Italy to meet Naomi’s maternal family.
It’s late summer, the heat has abated, and there’s the azure Mediterranean, The green mountain slopes, the steep hills that drop into the ocean. The family, living in a wonderful old house amid cedar groves and olive trees, welcome them with open arms.
Jon, who until then always thought Naomi was unique, sees her cousins—and they all look like her. For him, it’s almost visual overkill.
He gets introduced to Naomi’s male cousin Ferro, a talented painter who is working on murals in a pilgrimage chapel.
They spend a few wonderful, dreamy weeks in that lovely setting before they have to return to New York and stark reality.

And I’m not going to tell you what happens next, because you are of course supposed to buy the book (and the first one, The Distant Shore, too!) if I’m ever going to get my Porsche.

But just so you know,  the last book in the the Stone Trilogy: Song Of The Storm, will pick off right where Under The Same Sun ends.

And now I’m going to have lunch and then get back to writing of the now (thanks to my publisher) untitled book four.


This was the fifth stop in Mariam’s Blog Hop celebrating the launch of her latest book, Under the Same Sun (Book II in the Stone Trilogy) which hit the Amazon.com bestseller list on its first day on sale!

There’s only a few left, so order yours soon and while you’re waiting you can go to our blog and click the link to read the first two chapters for free. Before you leave, you will want to write a comment below about this blog post for a chance to win one of three copies of Under the Same Sun (plus some pretty gosh, darn, yummy chocolate)! You can get additional chances by following Mariam at every stop on her hop and leaving comments after each post. And hey, while you’re here, why not follow this blog. You won’t regret it.

On Monday, 10/22, Mariam will be visiting Nita Beshear’s blog, where Nita will be reviewing Under the Same Sun. Join us there!

Check our blog for the full calendar and more details!


  
Buy from Amazon.com


 
 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Fridayflash: The Healing

You had no idea how broken I was. Like a butterfly touched on the wing, my fate was determined.

But you appeared, and with a few words, relit a flame long since extinguished. A wink, and my heart fluttered to life again.

As I left, I felt your eyes boring into my shoulder. I turned, and for a fleeting second you looked so deeply sad. Almost instantly, you smiled and mouthed, "goodbye".

And then I knew.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Theatre Review: The Doctor's Dilemma at Lyttelton Theatre (The National Theatre) London

On arrival at The National and entering the Lyttelton Theatre, I was pleased to see that all seats offered a good view. My seat was in row S of the stalls and I could see perfectly clearly from there.

The opening scene was in a doctor's office and the play starts with humour in the shape of Emmy (Maggie McCarthy) the doctor's housekeeper who was my favourite secondary character.

The dilemma as implied in the title of The Doctor's Dilemma by Bernard Shaw is whether Sir Colenso Ridgeon (Aden Gillett) should use his new discovery of a treatment of consumption to treat an honourable doctor, or a talented younger artist. Quite a dilemma indeed, without the added factor of the artist's beautiful wife who all of the older/elderly doctors seemed to take a shine to in a comical yet perfectly typical fashion.

The four main doctor characters were brilliant together and they played the comedy in the situation with effect. My favourite of the four was Robert Portal whose character Mr Cutler Walpole was obsessed with surgery being the way to cure people of 'blood poisoning' and provided many laughs.

I found the set incredibly surprising as I had wrongly assumed the set as it was on opening would remain for the whole play.  I was very impressed with it, but my favourite location was the artist's studio where the action began in the second half.

The view from my seat
Although I enjoyed the first half, I felt the second half was superior. The chemistry between the artist Louse Debedat (Tom Burke) and his wife (Genevieve O'Reilly) was fabulous, and they switched between comedy, heated discussion and heartbreak with effortless skill. There was also a lot of passion between them, in a very subtle way, but you could not fail to notice it.

My programme
I don't want to give any of the plot away but I thoroughly enjoyed this show, I thought the cast were incredible, the set amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys intelligent comedy.

The only thing about the theatre was the seat left me with a numb backside by the end of the show (run time 2 hours 40 minutes including interval) and the typical lack of adequate toilet facilities for the ladies. But theatre wouldn't be the same without a queue for the ladies, would it?

Bravo!


Find out more at the official website, which includes a great teaser video.

Follow my Entertainment list on Twitter.



In the interests of full disclosure: I was invited to watch The Doctor's Dilemma in exchange for an honest review of the show.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Theatre Review: Les Miserables at Queen's Theatre London



On Saturday 21st July I went to the evening show of Les Misérables at Queen's Theatre in London. This was the third time I've seen this show, and the first time I've seen it since it moved from The Palace Theatre to Queen's in 2004.

I have to say of the three times I have watched Les Misérables, this was my favourite. The cast were amazing, with particularly outstanding vocal performances by Tam Mutu as Javert and Danielle Hope as Eponine.  Sierra Boggess played Fantine beautifully and broke my heart at least three times.

There is a great mixture of drama, humour, romance and action in this show. In fact it's non stop action with the revolving stage ensuring that the cast never stop moving as they go from one scene to the next seemingly effortlessly.

I had bought "restricted view" tickets which were in the front row. I would highly recommend these seats for anyone over the height of 5 foot 7ish because they were amazing seats. Especially when the cast were on the edge of the stage bellowing at us and almost close enough to touch. The only restriction would be for a shorter person who would not have seen all of the action near the floor.





Find out more on the official Les Mis website

Follow my Entertainment list on Twitter which includes some of the cast.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

My Dark Horse - An Unexpected Tale

Last year, I heard quite a bit about self-publishing and I was wondering if I could publish my second novel myself. Like all new things, I didn't feel very confident in my abilities to begin with, and that coupled with wishing I had all my favourite short stories in one place led me to the conclusion that I should have a "test drive" at self-publishing a story collection before I decided whether to publish a novel in that way.

I blogged about the processes I went through in detail (click here to see the posts) and as time went on I was pleased that I'd have a nice little book for my Mum, sister and maybe a couple of friends to have for Christmas.

It never occurred to me that this little project of mine would lead to sales. That thought didn't hit my radar until I had struggled my way through my first Kindle formatting and upload session and felt so chuffed with myself that I told my Facebook friends. And within ten minutes 14 of those people had bought a copy, inducing a mad panic as I hadn't even checked it through myself.

Since then, A Knowing Look and Other Stories has steadily sold across all formats.

I am so proud of this collection now. What started as a "test drive" has turned into a book I am incredibly happy to think about, not least because of the reviews it has received on Goodreads, Amazon and elsewhere.

I made a decision a couple of months ago to upgrade my paperback distribution to enable people to buy it from all online retailers as well as via "proper" bookshops out in the real world. That distribution is now complete.





And all good bookshops 


This book is included in my ebook Summer Special; reduced price applies until 4 September. 

Thanks, as always for reading.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Twenty Five - A sci fi short story





Today sees the Australian launch of a new Literary Mix Tapes compilation, Deck The Halls as our friends there celebrate 'Christmas in July'. Any excuse for a celebration, eh?


For 24 hours only, some of the stories from the book are being featured on the Literary Mix Tapes blog. You can find my sci fi story, Twenty Five by clicking on this link. Sci fi is new to me, but when I was given my prompt 'Tis The Season To Be Jolly' this story formed itself in my head.

The UK/US/ROW launch of Deck The Halls will be in November 2012.


Friday, 6 July 2012

Friday Flash: Hope

Today I'm reusing this 41 word piece for my #fridayflash. This was published on Stephanie Butland's blog this week.


"How can it be everlasting?" they whisper in awe.
Sometimes hiding,
only to resurface; a reaction
to a flicker of sunlight;
the sound of a baby’s cry;
a crash of a wave or glimpse of a thriving blossom.
Mankind’s constant: hope.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Book Winner, giveaways and A Quick Update on Me

Many congratulations to Dan Holloway who has won a copy of Housewife with a Half-Life in the giveaway by A.B. Wells!

I am delighted to say I have a few more author interviews and giveaways scheduled in the future, including the one already running with Laura Wilkinson for a paperback copy of her fabulous book BloodMining, so do keep an eye on my blog if you like giveaways.

I would also like to thank everyone for the enormous response to my post What The Funk? on here as well as via email, Twitter and Facebook. It's great to know you are not alone when you feel like that.

I'm pleased to say I have been spending more time away from my computer (I still feel slightly allergic to it so I'm limiting my time online) and I've been doing quite a lot of exercise (I know!!) and even more reading. It's felt like a holiday but the beauty of it is, the time away from my computer is giving me lots of ideas for blog posts that may be of interest to other writers, as well as readers, and also I now have a fully formed sequel to When Dreams Come True in my head and have already been in discussions about a cover, which I am really excited about.

Thanks as always for reading, and even more so for being there. It's amazing to know that people can be so supportive, even when (in some cases) you've never actually met them in real life.

One of these people is author Emma Williams, who has actually written a response to my post. Her guest blog will be posted tomorrow so please do come back and give it a read.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

What The Funk?


I usually don't post anything unless I'm capable of being all happy and jolly, even if sometimes, quite honestly it is an act. This is an exception to that rule, and I'm posting it in the interest of honesty, because I have a feeling we all have times like this.


I know some of you will read this and think, what do you have to be fed up about, you silly cow? Well, that just shows how good I am act keeping up the happy show the whole time  ;o)

I'm really happy about my multiple publications in anthologies. I'm pleased to have a short story collection and two novels published. I'm delighted when someone gets in touch to say a story they have read (of mine) has touched them in some way.

But at the moment, when I go near my computer, I feel fed up. I don't feel like writing, I'm behind on all my emails and social networking stuff, and I haven't written anything new (novel -wise) for quite some time now. The most important thing is though, I am sick to the back teeth of all the marketing and pushing and promo stuff. I am boring myself going on about my own books all over the place and finding it ridiculous how I feel like having a party when I sell one book a fortnight. Or worse. I don't feel like a writer at the moment, I feel like some sort of marketing assistant who is doing a really rubbish job.

I think what I need, is a proper break from it all. So I am going to step back from the computer and (apart from emails), give everything else a bit of a break. I don't know how long for, possibly even only a matter of days, but I feel like I need to go somewhere and hopefully find my happy face again.

See you soon, and thanks, as always, for reading.