Well I finally got around to redoing my Creative Covers site.
I’m no website coder (but can do layouts!) so I used Squarespace to make it. I think it looks much cleaner than it did before!
So if you know anyone who wants a book cover creating send them my way! 😀
This morning whilst getting ready for work I watched a great new episode of the ‘Spirit Science’ series. For those who don’t know about this, it’s a wonderful animated series (the website actually has tons more to it) created by Jordan David and starring a character called Patchman, delving into all things spiritual.
The website is here. http://www.thespiritscience.net
Now today’s episode was all about waves and cycles and theorised that all things, whether natural or man made, work in cycles. It went on to explain that within out own lives good times can cycle into bad times before spurning on into more good times, and that this is a natural way etc etc. And that by pushing away and resisting the bad times we can actually harm our own natural cycle and denying further better times in the future.
This is actually quite relevant in my own life at the moment. Now rather than risk losing my job by talking about my place of employment, let’s just say a few things have changed in my day to day job, resulting in less income – quite a substantial amount.
Now rather than bitch and moan about these things, I’ve decided to embrace this downturn and turn it into something positive. Because of these changes I now have more free time on my hands. So as well as being able to get more of my own personal work completed, I’ve decided to put together a fresh list of goals which I’ve named ‘Operation Conrad’ (after Charles Conrad who wrote The Richest Man in Babylon – an awesome book everyone should read!) in order to get fresh freelance work. This includes things like signing up to many online portfolio sites, cleaning up my book cover design website, and strengthening my online presence.
I’ve got into the idea that the recent changes in my life are a well needed kick up the ass from the universe. And that like Spirit Science says – this will lead on to much better things.
I think we all go through difficult times in our lives, and that we should not only allow them into our lives, but embrace them. They help us to take a step back and assess our situation. Then by correcting the course we’re on, we can make much better progress in our lives.
The bottom line is that without bad or difficult times, we can never truly appreciate the good times. Everything happens for a reason, and we are constantly receiving symbols and messages in which direction to go – whether through the Universe, God, a higher power – whatever you want to call it.
Just keep on your feet, keep running and smash through any walls that come your way, laughing, roaring and gritting your teeth along the way.
Never give up.
Can you remember that old episode of Red Dwarf called ‘Better Than Life’? The one where where the crew acquire the computer game that promises a dream interactive life? Well if you can’t, the crew get plugged into the game ‘Matrix’ style and begin experiencing a world where their deepest desires and dreams are fulfilled.
Whilst Lister and Cat go around living like kings, eating cavier-covered vindaloo, having a mermaid for a girlfriend, and playing endless golf, Rimmer uses this new experience to imagine himself a life as he’s always wanted – being a top Admiral. But then things go wrong, Rimmer’s mind cannot accept the fact he’s happy, and suddenly imagines himself in complete misery and depression, spiralling worse and worse, out of control.
Bizarrely only years later, I realise just how true to actual life that episode was! Ok maybe not the mermaid girlfriend part, but the part where we create our own misery or happiness. And like Rimmer, many people cannot accept that they can, or deserve to be happy. They sabotage their own lives and blame other people and their environment for their unhappiness. But in truth there’s no winning lucky hand to dealt at birth that will gurantee a perfect life. There are so many tales of rags to riches (and indeed riches to rags!) that show anything is possible. Whatever we want in life we can have, all it takes is a firm belief it can be ours, the acceptance that we deserve it, and the desire to chase it down no matter what. Too many people get knocked down once and stay down. But a quick look at successful people will reveal most didn’t have an easy ride. People like Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs struggled more than you’d think – but their determination won out in the end.
An awesome book on this is Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’ – a very old book that’s pretty much the holy grail of success literature. Even better – it’s in the public domain so it can be downloaded free!
But of course, life does throw some obstacles and changes in our lives, temporarily dragging us into unhappiness. It’s inevitable and rather than make things difficult for us, it provides fresh challenges, new opportunities and experiences for us – keeping life interesting, no matter how traumatic or upsetting they may be.
Most people close in my life are aware that me and my girfriend Wendy broke up a few months ago. We simply ended up living as friends. But rather than see it as a time of drama and pain, I’m proud we were able to discuss it properly and accept that things had changed between us. We live now as flat mates, happy in each other’s company and friendship. I think people find this very strange and weird – as it’s not the norm. But if the norm is to hate each other, never speak, and create divisions in all our friendships, then I’m happy to be weird! Life’s too short to waste time creating dramas that have no positive impact on our future lives. Life is meant to be loved, so let go of anger, forgive those who hurt us (they only hurt themselves in the long run), smile, laugh, be pleased to meet everyone you come across, and roll with the punches.
Take a look at life, hold your head high, look it straight in the eye, and say with a smile, “Bring it on, whatever you throw at me, I can take it!”
The post might earn me some grief but I don’t care. Bring it on. 😀 It’s my beliefs so like it or lump it.
It’s now a decade this year since I graduated from uni and decided that animation wasn’t for me, believing that a life of writing and illustrating was. I feel that whilst I could have probably moved further in this calling by now, I’m still proud of myself for sticking with it and pushing forward. But maybe I wonder if I could have done any better.
Over the years I’ve read many, many books on personal development, philosophy, and a few on meta physics and quantum physics. Now I’m not claiming to be an expert! Far from it! But after a while you tend to read things that click into place for you and just feel right. So here’s my views.
I think the majority of us are constantly looking for way to improve our lives and live in hope of a better future, whilst being fully focused on the negative aspects we’re living through. We’re all wondering how long it will take to get to our dream life.
Yet most of us aren’t aware that our dream life already exists. And that another ‘us’ is living it. With each choice and decision we make in life, a fork in the road appears, we divide, and one of you moves down one path, and another moves down the other.
These decisions happen constantly, big and small, from deciding where in the world to live, right down to where our eyes move at any particular time. These parrallel lives move onwards almost independent of each other splitting off into further decisions each certain they are the only true one. But how does this help us create our perfect life? After all, we can’t forsee each decision and where it will take us.
Let’s make an example. We’ll call him Smithy! Now Smithy is sixteen years old. He’s finished school and is deciding where to go in life. Should he go to college? Go straight in to work? Or just become a homeless hobo? Straight away there are decisions taking place. One of these Smithys decides he wants to go to college. The life splits and this Smithy (we’ll call him Smithy 1) goes on believing he is the true Smithy. Smithy 2 who gets a job and goes straight into work believes he is the true Smithy also, as does the third hobo Smithy 3.
So life goes on and Smithy 1 goes to college, then university, gets a high paid job, eventually building his own company and living in luxury.
Smithy 2 works in low paid jobs in the rest of his life, struglling to get through each day.
Smithy 3 becomes part of the dregs of society.
But it doesn’t end there. Further decisions down each path alters the futures of each Smithy, drastically changing each. Smithy 1 at some points decides to take a huge risk, splitting off into Smithy 1.2. Smithy 1.2 loses everything and becomes on a par with Smithy 3 – living in the gutter.
Smithy 2 decides to take a job abroad, splitting into Smithy 2.2 and gets spotted by a talent scout – eventually becoming a A-star actor.
Smithy 3 takes a different route on his daily journey through the slums and divides into Smithy 3.2. He finds a discarded lottery ticket and bingo! He’s up where Smithy 1 was!
Now imagine if these decisions happen all the time, every single second, altering and dividing our lives into an unlimited amount of Smithys, split futher by the decisions of every one else on the planet. It’s truly mind-bending. But gives us hope that things can improve if we allow them to.
And we do that by be aware and living in the now. Buddha says “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” As well as “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”
So by this thinking if we concentrate on now, and be open to a better life, then we automatically allow our subconcious to be aware of signs, opportunities and people that will help us get there. For example if you go through life believing all men (or women) are horrible, then your mind will automatically ignore the nice men (or women), making them almost invisible to you whilst attracting you to only the badboys (or bad girls). Once you start believing that things can be different, the enormous amount of changes taking place every single second will propel your life in the correct direction. Through this way you can acquire the dream parrallel life, rather than settling for a mundane one.
Being aware will also tune you into your other parallel lives, gaining knowledge of how they got to that dream life.
By this way of thinking we should also be respectful of everyone we meet, regardless of their appearance, status, or beliefs. Because you can be certain in another life you have both switched roles based on the descisions you have both made. The prince becomes the pauper.
I wonder how Animation Ken got on? He could be writing this exact post on a private beach wondering how Writer Ken got on.
One thing is certain, I won’t stop until I’m sat in the same place he is.
So keep smiling, be happy, and live in the belief that there are billion of you, experiencing life in every way possible.
You can follow any path you set your mind to. 🙂
Just allow it. 🙂
Well it’s certainly been a while since I updated my blog so I guess I best put in a final post before the end of the year!
Firstly, my lack of posts is not due to laziness, or forgetfulness. In fact there have been many points in my life that I’ve desired to record here during the past few months but have simply been unable to due to a lack of time. I’m not annoyed though as I welcome the work that has kept me busy.
The past year has had it’s fair share of ups and downs, sadly beginning with yet another family funeral, followed by another near the end. But they will not be forgotten by any means. x
Aside from the sad times, there has also been good ones. Not only have I become a published author twice, I’ve also made plenty of friends and contacts within the publishing world, opening up many doors and avenues into future ventures. There have been weddings, births, holidays, and good times with amazing friends. I’m happy and grateful to have spent these times with my amazing girlfriend Wendy who also works hard to pursue her own dreams.
Which brings me to the point of next year. Gratefully the world did not end on the 21st of this month, but amazing things did happen on that day. Thousands of people gathered around temples across the globe, ushering in a spiritual union that transcended individual religions. Many have spoken about this time being a positive turning point in humanity’s history, that peace and harmony will begin to wash over the minds of every single purpose on Earth. I think you can already see these changes happening. Simply by the amount of positive quotes and verses placed on social networks, and the number of people talking of joy and abundance. Of course, many will say I’m simply being ridiculous, but it’s definitely something I’ve noticed recently.
Do I believe though that mankind is entering a more positive change in it’s evolution? Maybe. But of course it wouldn’t just happen overnight. I feel people will only be happy if they want to be happy. They will only live in peace and harmony if they believe peace and harmony exists. As I’ve moaned about before, I believe soaps such as Eastenders and Coronation Street damage the perceptions of living more than anything else. Viewers subject themselves to 30min of poverty, misery, and dysfunctional relationships every evening, ramming home this belief that life is just one huge struggle, and that it is ok to treat others with contempt and selfishness. And if these programs really do do this kind of damage, imagine what kind of suffering daily viewings of Jeremy Kyle brings! So my solution to begin healing Britain is take these programs off and replace them with repeats of Father Ted and Friends. 😉
Now as the New Year approaches, many people will begin writing out their New Year’s Resolutions. If you’ve ever made one you’ll know that they rarely work. Putting that much pressure on yourself is doomed to failure as we constantly think about them, discuss them with other people and weaken them, inevitably returning back to our comfortable way of doing things.
This is why if you want to make changes in your life, I suggest simply making them now. If you want to get in shape, go for a new profession, want to find a new relationship, find new ways to make money, or indeed write a book, then you shouldn’t wait until the start of a new year to begin these things. You should make a firm commitment to start them right now and imagine how you’ll feel when you’re fit and healthy, when you’re in your dream job, when you’re with the partner of your dreams, when you’ve got the healthy bank account you wanted, when you’re holding the hardback version of your book, and really feel it. Because it is that emotion you’ll feel that will fire you up into going for what you want. Then any objects in your way will seem to magically move out of the way. And their strength will remain if you keep them yourself.
In to sum up – it’s not the seemingly mythical turning of the calendar that will help you in changing your life for the better, not is the enticing dates mentioned by ancient civilizations on big stone tablets.
It is your own desires and beliefs that ultimately create your world.
Which leads to the two golden rules of living in happiness – no matter what pain and suffering you see in the world around you, whether in the news or in fiction, you must believe the world is inherently a good place, where beautiful things and great dreams come true, and that we all have the potential to live gloriously, without pain or misery. And of course – never ever giving up on pursuing what you want in life, no matter how many times you get knocked down. Shoot a thousand arrows at a target and one will eventually hit the bullseye.
Go for it now.
And never give up.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve managed to become good friends with a number of excellent authors I met on Authonomy. From this network I was greatly honoured to be ask to contribute a short story to a Steampunk Anthology called ‘Strange Tales From The Scriptorian Vaults’, as well as design the cover. 🙂
All profits from the book go directly to charity – namely First Story (www.firststory.org.uk) – a small UK based charity that promotes literacy and creativity in schools situated in deprived areas.
Here’s what they had to say about the book:
“First Story is passionate about celebrating the art of storytelling. We are delighted to be associated with the nine talented writers who have shared their stories in the first publication from Kristell Ink, Strange Tales from the Scriptorian Vaults. We would like to thank them for their generosity in selecting us as their charity, which will enable a new generation of young writers to tell their stories. We wish them every success on the publication of their book.”
Here’s the book description from Amazon.
When the newly-promoted Sergeant Crystal Lewis and her military team loop to a parallel world, they discover a London very different to those their agency has investigated elsewhere. Steam powered ships fill the sky, metal creatures scurry through the streets, and the Great Library is now nothing more than a burnt out shell; the history, knowledge and literature of the world has been destroyed. Crystal’s investigations discover the records of the Scriptorians: elite explorers, scientists and chroniclers, chosen for their wordsmith abilities, their tenacious belief in uncovering the truth, their passion for the bizarre and baffling. There is some evidence that these mysterious adventurers, fighters and writers also discovered the technology to loop and visit other parallel worlds. Here are some of their tales…
Zoë Harris offers us a vision of feminism taken to extremes, while Ken Dawson has the epitome of the pushy parent at the heart of his story; Jake Finlay’s and Ross Kitson’s stories are concerned with moral dilemmas in research and medicine and both consider the nature of immortality; Steven J. Guscott gives a novel twist to the Frankenstein story; David Muir’s central character is an apparently immortal warrior; on lighter note, Paul Freeman gives us a hero easily swayed by a pretty face and adventure, and Robert Peett shows a world of strange invasions, infections and mutations, and at the end, Sammy H.K Smith shows how it all began with the daring Lady Pippa Raven – the first true Scriptorian.
Here is the Amazon link to the kindle version. Paperback copies to come soon!
It’s only a few quid that goes directly to charity, so please buy it 😀
It had occured to me a while ago that I should combine my job and hobbies to start a small sideline business.
I’ve now been a Graphic Designer for nine years, and during this time I’ve designed the odd book cover for various people. After learning a bit about the book industry I’ve come to learn a few things about how covers should look.
So why not start a small business providing quality yet affordable book cover designs.
All covers start from £100. 🙂
Like last year my friends Flick and Natasha are hosting a Halloween party. Seriously, these two and their friends are like the female versions of ‘Van Wilder’.
Here’s the artwork I did for their invites this year, based on their costumes from last year 🙂
Even though the second book of Tapestry of Fates ‘Spirit’s Pain’ is now getting scrubbed down and illustrated, it will still take time until all nineteen images (twenty if you count the cover) are complete.
So until then I’ve decided to post the ‘Untold Chapters’ that were solely for personal entertainment. Since most of the characters are based on friends and family, I gave them each a personal chapter, detailing more about their history and further enriching the Tapestry of Fates universe. They are very raw, unedited and quite old, so don’t expect any great masterpeices of fiction. But they are also very meanigful to me.
I’m sure the people who they’re based on won’t mind me posting them.
The first one to be posted is Special Agent Holly Balfour’s chapter – ‘Sacrifices’.
Holly is a good friend I met years through a love of Art, Final Fantasy, and Mini Kievs. 🙂
The chapter can be downloaded here – S.A. Holly Balfour ‘Sacrifices’
Today Amazon.co.uk has reported that they have sold more copies of E.L. James’ astoundingly erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey than the entire library of Harry Potter books combined, making her their best-selling author ever.
No whilst I may screw my face up at the very notion of the book (to me it’s simply the premise to a porn movie), you can’t help but applaud James on managing to break open the barrier between traditionally published and self-published books. In fact she’s blown it wide open. Most critics will turn their nose up at any self-published book, deeming it inferior to one that has taken its journey through a well-established publisher. But does that mean it isn’t what the general public want to read?
To me the world of novel-writing has taken a bizarre turn in the past decade. Whilst it has always been difficult to get published, even more so now with the world’s economy, publishers have always looked upon each submission with such enormous criticism that they could only read the first page of an author’s prized work before uttering ‘Meh!’ and casting it into a rapidly filling bin.
Now this could dash the dreams of the less-determined writer, but the invention of e-books and e-book readers has allowed rejected authors a fresh chance to show their literature to the world. Of course this has its downsides – the market has become rapidly pumped full of stories that look like the reluctantly penned homework of a ten year old. And not only this, but the choice of books on sites like e-bay has become so vast that each author once again has little chance of getting their work to an audience.
It’s almost like being in a stadium filled to the brim with people all singing as loud as they can, in the hope somebody will recognise their talent above the rest.
So how did E.L. James manage to do so well?
Well since the book began as fan fiction for Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, it already recieved a bit of attention. It’s overly erotic themes received a few raised eyebrows on the site she posted it, and thus it was removed.
She placed the book on her own blog before again removing it to sell it in e-book and print-on-demand paperback versions.
Then through the use of blogs and word-of-mouth she managed to get the message out. And suddenly the demand poured in.
For the rest of us authors though, with books that are tamer and less scandalous, trying to follow in James’ isn’t quite as easy. Even for those with novels of similar tones, the road to success may have been built, but it’s now crammed with traffic as copycat novels spring up.
I guess there’s no true way to find the big break. But I do feel there are things you can do to help. We’ve all heard the saying – ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know.’ I feel there is no truer statement. Which is why it pays to be polite and respectful. Whilst working as a barman years ago, I did my best to be friendly to every single person I served, no matter how disrespectful they were to me. I can truly say that this paid off. Not only did it lead me to my friend and business partner Bev, and my girlfriend Wendy, but it has also brought numerous friends and acquaitences in all professions on whom I can call on for help.
Stopping to help someone get their car started? Who knows if that person is an artist who will design you a book cover in the future?
Helping an old lady with her shopping? Who knows if that lady’s daughter is a marketing consultant that could be a great contact in the future?
Which is why I feel a true, genuine and decent etiquette must always be employed both online and offline. There should be no ego-strutting, no borderline narcissistic personality disorders, and certainly no angry retaliation when somebody takes the time to critique your work. After all, we are all trying to sell our work to ‘people’. Why shouldn’t we treat ‘people’ with decency in order to encourage help and sales.
I’ve just finished Richard Branson’s autobiography and one incident has stuck with me.
When Branson was in his twenties and struggling to build Virgin Records as a successful record company, he found he could escape certain taxes by falsely declaring purchased records were to be sold abroad. So with filled vans he would take records to Calais, get a stamp to show the stock was being transported abroad, then turn around and sell them in England. Of course authorities soon caught on to this, and in the dead of the night Branson recieved a telephone call from an unknown man who tipped him off about a coming raid on Branson’s shops and warehouses, telling him to shine a blacklight over all his records and hide the ones marked ‘A’. When asked why the man was helping him, he solemnly replied that Branson had spent hours preventing one of his friends from committing suicide years early when the future billionaire manned a phoneline helping troubled teenagers.
Whilst of course I don’t advocate evading tax, this story just goes to show that good deeds can and do eventually catch up with you. Who knows, the next time you retrieve a lost wallet for someone, it could be a very grateful Stephen King. 🙂
Ok I know I’ve been slacking with my posts here. This will be sorted soon and I’ll be rambling about ‘stuff’ again soon!
Until then here’s the first poster for part two of Tapestry of Fates – Spirit’s Pain.
Part 1 – Spirit’s Destiny is still available through Amazon 🙂
Sat in the back of a packed car at 2am I glare out of the window at the deserted village streets as they solemnly fly by. Our vehicle frantically tails another car heading towards ‘the club’, or so I’m told. What started as a lively evening wedding party has somehow turned into a frantic chase to retrieve a stolen bride.
This might sound like something straight out of a Liam Neeson movie, but it is in fact a Hungarian tradition in where the said bride is rushed away from the ceremony, prompting the men to get her back. For what reason, or how this tradition came about I’ve no idea. All I know is that the car I’m turns a corner and arrives at something I can only describe as Creamfields. A few thousand people surround a few festival tents from which various booming sounds echo from. We quickly enter the tent, with the groom leading the way and find the bride amid a resounding show of applause. Even a man with a broadcast size camcorder films the reunion. I’m clapping at the merryment, despite being slightly confused as to why this has actually happened.
Last year me and Wendy were lucky enough to be invited by our friends Sarah and Krisztian to stay with Krisztian’s family in Hungary. As I’ve said in my previous post, until then I’d had little desire or need to visit any of the Eastern Bloc countries (except for a holiday in Bulgaria) and since then I feel now I’ve been quite ignorant and naive of such places. Hungary is a beautiful, lush country, stepped in old ways, and I can thoroughly reccomend visiting, especially its capital Budapest and gigantic lake (biggest in Europe) Balaton.
Whilst we were there last November, we were invited to attend the wedding of Krisztian’s sister Zsuzsi and her fiance Gabor last month. Their family are one of the most friendliest and most welcoming that I’ve ever known and I’m grateful for not only their generosity and hospitality, but for the opportunity to see a proper traditional European wedding.
From the stunning outdoor church, to the lengthy and intriguing ceremony. From partying until 5am, to waking up about four hours to carry on another full day with the festivities. From taking part in the money dance with the bride, to continuing to dance the night away to a traditional Hungarian band (beats the usual medley of Whigfield’s Saturday Night and the Time Warp).
So to all the Somogyi family, and the awesome bride and groom Zsuzsi and Gabor, thanks for a fabulous time, and can’t wait to see you all again. 🙂
You do your country proud.
Well last week, the time finally arrived! The long awaited delivery of the paperback versions of Spirit’s Destiny finally arrived, only a meagre six months late! It would be fair to say I had my doubts if they would ever turn up! Anyone who has had dealings with large corporations in foreign speaking countries will no doubt understand the difficulties in getting clear cut answers to important questions such as, ‘When?’ and ‘How much?’
Replies to both questions in the past few months have been vague, grossely incorrect or downright misleading. Having played this game a few years earlier with our children’s book ‘Island of Ice’, we thought we’d got this sussed out, but in our anticipation of the same problems cropping up, we failed to see the huge wet kipper of new problems we got slapped in the face with. And each company involved in the production and transportation of these books tried everything they could in vain to squeeze every last quid from us. From replies from the printers such as – ‘What you mean you expected the huge ‘transportation bill’ (£250+) to be for the entire journey to England? That’s just what we charge to take the cargo to the docks.’ To the Haulage company scoffing ‘Yea, that European number you gave us – we didn’t get chance to put it through on Friday. As it’s Monday we’re charging you three days storage charge. That’s £100 on top of the £500 fee please.’
We received a breakdown from the haulage company for why they were pulling our pants down so violently only to get an email with around a dozen abbreviated items. A bit of digging indicted some of these were for anti-piracy insurance, and one ridiculous £80 charge for ‘The passing of documents’.
Anyway after flipping every last copper we had their way, the books finally arrived and I’m happy to say they’re all perfect. Now they are about to be put on Amazon, and sent to a few reviewers worldwide.
Also bookmarks are to be made up now.
So happy things have finally been sorted.
As I’ve previously mentioned before, Authonomy.com is a site where you can upload your book to receive critique,, meet fellow aspiring authors and read the work of others – all for free. All seems to add up to a great deal on signing up, but the second you announce you’re a part of the community, floods of requests from people asking you read their book instantly flood your mailbox. It can be quite overwhelming as you realise the selfishness of humanity has no limits.
I made a vague promise to read some of these books and actually did look at a couple. But then a message came in from one lady giving critique on my own work, without any initial request to read her own. After the barrage of ‘Read my book! Read my book! You’ll love it! You’ll love it!‘ I was quite touched and humbled that someone had taken the time to read my own stuff first.
Thus I was more inclined to read her work straight away. And it was a good decision! Her work has literally blown me away and I continue to plough through the mammoth (in both size and quality) novel she had penned.
Since then small exchanges of work has taken place, including me asking her opinion on Spirit’s Destiny. Not only did she give me her opinion, but she wrote a full review for her blog, even asking me a few questions for it!
So bless you Sam! Joining Authonomy was one of my better decisions this year! 🙂
Make sure you follow this girl too, for from the quality of her own work I can see her name in bright lights very soon!
The start of all the new work.
New kids book stuff coming soon too 🙂
Long ago, when I was a nipper living in Leeds, the only way I knew how to contact my best friend Stephen was to run across the road and knock on his door and ask if he was coming out to play. It seemed so simple looking back now.
I wonder how different my life would have been if I had grown up with the blanket of social networking that dominates today’s youth. In many ways I’m grateful that my childhood was unaware of such inventions. The practice of door knocking was as common as climbing trees and going out on ‘Goonies’ style adventures.
These days though social networks appear to put huge amounts of pressure on today’s youth. Whilst the inevitable onslaught of cyber bullying is plain to see, I don’t think people like Mr Zuckerberg quite forsaw the impact social networking would have on our lives – positve and negative. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of sites like Facebook; they’ve allowed me to contact friends I’ve not heard from in over twenty years, and allow me to get closer to family members who I can’t see often enough. One example of this is how I got to know my amazing late Uncle Mark. Although he passed away sadly last year, I was grateful that I got to speak to him more through Facebook in one year than I had during my entire life.
But there is also the bad side to social networking. People can see where you are, where you’ve been, and what you’ve been doing. If you’re a slave to the social network, then your entire life is up for scrutiny. And there in lies the rub. Just one badly worded status, one picture with a certain person, one ‘check-in’ at the wrong place, can spell trouble in your circles. And this follows on to the fabled act of ‘unfriending’ which can cause wars amongst groups. Let’s face it, deleting a person from your friend’s list speaks volumes, whatever the reasons. It silently tells somebody that you no longer care about them enough to have them in your life. Of course this may not be the case at all, but human nature is one that usually imagines the worst. And depending on the individual’s disposition, they can either become hurt, resentful, unmoved, or just plain pissed off.
Personally I don’t see why anyone would feel they have to delete anyone without a proper reason. ‘Cleaning up’ your friends list is not a valid reason. You can easily hide people without causing anamosity so why cause drama?
If you don’t speak to these people anymore, so what? I have plenty of friends I don’t speak to much, that’s the way life is. Friends come and go, they drift in and out, but we never forget them. If a person speaks to me after years and years I’ll still be their friend, no matter what. I don’t see why we need to devote huge amounts of time to message everyone we know just to prove that we’re still mates. It’s like juggling with a few hundreds balls, it’s just not possible.
Having a considerate approach to social media begins to make friendships almost business like. Watching somebody constantly put negative statuses about their life puts a label on them. They may be just using social media to vocalise some stress but if that’s all you see of that person, you can’t help but get a solid opinion of that person.
I can’t help but wonder how social media will evolve in the future, shaping our friendships and lives. We complain that the government wants too much information about us, but we will freely give it away more and more through social networking. Our peers will also know everything about us, down what cereal we ate for breakfast (if you don’t announce that already). Reviews of individuals could become the norm – it already happens in Twitter – ‘Add this person, they’re really funny!’
For now though, I’m grateful that Facebook came about when I was in my twenties – probably the best age for it.
I’m also grateful that I can check up on my old pal Stephen, living happily in Australia. Even though we rarely speak, I still consider him one of my longest serving best friends, and one day I’ll go knock on his door and see if he’s coming out to play (at the pub).
Ok I’ll admit, my beloved Tapestry of Fates does have elements in it which pay a slight resemblance to a movie about a time-travelling robot sent to kill the mother of a certain John Conner. Whilst I see the similarities, I can honestly say The Terminator was not the main influence, nor was any movie for that matter.
As a youngster I was besotted with my beloved Sega Megadrive; and it probably paved the road to my future imagination. Games like Gunstar Heroes, Alien Soldier, Landstalker, Splatterhouse 2 and many others have helped build the internal foundations of my mind.
One game particularly has stood out more than others. Already a huge fan of ‘shoot em ups’ or ‘shmups’, I remember being blown away by the game ‘Thunderforce IV’ (or ‘Lightening Force as it’s sometimes known). It’s cool slick graphics, blazing speed, mass of weapons, stupendously big bosses and fantastic music and sound effects so bassy that you could feel them at the back of your head all added to a game which still stands as legendary (I’m not a huge fan of more recent ‘bullet-hell’ shmups, although I adore Ikaruga).
One part of it though captured my imagination more than others. After an epic battle with the final boss, and the hero jets away in his battered craft, we are shown an epilogue that included an image of the pilot hugging his beloved. That single image managed to drive home a piece of humanity and emotion into the game, making you believe that after ten levels of sheer hell, the pilot was so grateful to be back. I wish the game makers – Technosoft had included some sort of storyline surrounding this couple, as it would have charged the game even more.
It’s this reason why Tapestry of Fates exists.
It is why a lone student girl becomes the only human being able to pilot a legendary fighter ship against an enemy who’s spent the past five thousand building up enough forces to decimate her.
It is why this ship sits on almost every piece of artwork I’ve made on the books.
I’ve tried to do what I wanted Technosoft to do – make a fully fledged story based around a single person sent against hordes and legions of enemies, and be expected to win.
Maybe I’m wrong but I think I can honestly say that Ella Bland is the first Shmup Novel Protagonist.
A homage to the above picture I did for uni can be viewed here.