Why ‘Insurgent’ is, unsurprisingly, utter crap – movie review

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I should not have watched Insurgent, movie two in the Divergent series. I knew it, I know it, but still I watched it. Blame the fact that movie 1, Divergent, while quite ridiculous , drawn-out and annoying for so many reasons, actually has a romance inside it that really appealed to my wife. ‘Maybe it’s not so bad?’ I wondered. It’s true that the lead character, Tris, is way better than Bella in Twilight, while also being more proactive than Katniss in Hunger Games. Those are good things. That it ripped off Harry Potter’s sorting hat and houses for its …

A future without teachers…?

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Last night I went to a panel discussion at Regent’s University titled ‘The Future of English’ featuring several luminaries (the ‘great men’) of the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) world. TEFL is my day job. David Graddol was there, who inspired my MA thesis. He writes about the megatrends of the world, like demographics, economics, military, culture and so on, and how they affect the role of English in the future. For example- if China became the dominant cultural outputter (surpassing Hollywood in amount and quality, perhaps), then will we all be more likely to learn Chinese? Of …

That breakeven point I was talking about…

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The stats from Amazon are in and I can finally represent, in hard-data graph form, the beautiful surfacing of my books net earnings- up from the depths of debt and into the dizzying clear sky of profit. It has been a long time coming (two years self-publishing now) and there was never any certainty I’d get even this far. It is a great positive milestone, of which I hope there will be many more. The green line is cumulative total revenue (not total profit as the key says), the orange line is cumulative total costs, and the blue bars are …

The Walking Dead S6 E01 ‘First Time Again’ Strategy Fail

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Count the number of tiny bandages on Rick’s face. Go on count them. 5? 4? 3? When it gets down to 1 he’s basically recharged and it’s clobbering time, like an Energizer bunny. Ah I love the Walking Dead. Zombies, Rick Grimes, murderin’, gore, zombie conga, it just gets no better. I love the episodes that open with a time jump and I’m left wondering- wait, is this episode one? I love use of black and white. I love zombie cattle drives, and uncomfortable looks between Rick and the woman whose husband he executed, and diggin’ graves, and brain stabbing, …

London Indie Writers exists!

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So after years of thinking about it and months of gathering information on what such a group might actually do, I’ve finally made my own writer’s group on Meetup.com called London Indie Writers. http://www.meetup.com/London-Indie-Writers/ So far it has two other members: they’re both ladies, one writes romance with a high level of success, and the other writes ‘cli-fi’, or climate fiction, or science fiction about climate change. Both of them pass the group requirement of one book out with at least reviews. I’m looking forward to meeting them and talking shop. Why make this group? Because there’s strength in numbers. …

Sorry the site was down!

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My site was down the last few days- nobody knows why, not me, not my hosting service, nobody- so apologies about that if you were checking in and getting rebuffed. I spent a few days fixing it, with a lot of trial-and-error installing, deleting, reinstalling, moving around, password changing, syncing and other stuff later, and now it is back- with only a few of the more recent posts (and comments- sorry!) missing. Was it the 4000 comments piled up in the spam queue? Was it a hacker collaborative angered by my opinions about The Martian? Was it the fault of …

How ‘The Name of the Wind’ blows Robert Jordan away – book review

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Take the story structure and wizarding world of Harry Potter, add the main character and creative problem-solving skills from Ender’s Game, then stir liberally with a generous helping of ‘epic’ from The Wheel of Time, and you’ll come up with Patrick Rothfuss’ 2007 debut fantasy novel ‘The Name of the Wind’. It tells the story of Kvothe, ‘the most interesting man in the world’ as I saw him described in an amazon review, telling the story of his life in a pub. Yes, really- the whole story is backstory. It’s a guy in a pub telling a story. For that …

Bible and Holly Lolly

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We bought a Bible! Actually I should say we donated for a Bible, as it was offered to us for free when we went to church again today. Church AGAIN?! Yes church again, but not the brainwashing rock-out of the family service we went to last time, instead back to the regular solemnity of a proper service. Now that the structure of these things is familiar to us, I start to wonder how the vicar manages to do all the repetitive readings he has to do and not go a bit mad with it. “We have to do this every …

Kingkiller & Holly Lolly

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I just finished book 2 of the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss- proper review forthcoming- and now I need something similar to read. All I want is more Kvothe! There is none though, the third book in the trilogy has been expected for at least 4 years, and still no sign of it coming. What is Rothfuss playing at? Whatever. But, three cheers for reading!! Other news We had Theodora come round today to design our garden. It’s gonna have red leaf trees from Japan, nice wide borders, and a ton of interesting plants. She trimmed our holly bush to …

Kindle Publishers Meetup Group

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Last night I went to Canteen in Spitalfields market to join the Kindle Publishers Meetup group, hoping for a good discussion about self-publishing and book marketing with fellow authors. To some extent I got it, from a very friendly and welcoming bunch, with a very friendly and cheerful leader, Sharif. The discussion was maybe not all I’d hoped for- though that is no real fault of anyone involved- we’re simply at different levels in the process. I am by no means a black belt in self-pub, but I’m on the belt system. Most of the people last night had yet …