Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Love a Happy Knockout

A quick Hi to anyone coming to my blog from Love a Happy Ending. com who are featuring "Knockout" today. 

If you are trying to answer the question to have a go at winning a copy of "Knockout" here are a couple of clues. Recently I had to go to a hospital with my sick knee. By chance I saw an anagram of the answer on one of those notice boards that convince you that you have about ten diseases. It read "No More TB".

Alternately you can look up my Kreativ Blogger Award post and learn a few other secrets as well. 

Answers by e-mail please to emmacalin @ hotmail . com

The draw will be on 5th August. Good luck.

Emma thinx: Luck is a cat. Love is a dog. Both can bite.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Для всех моих друзей в России

OK - I'm showing off again. I bet no one thought I was fluent in Russian - well Google translation is as close as I can get. The title line should translate as "For all my friends in Russia". I do not know who they are but there are hundreds of them logging on to my blog and I have no idea why Comrades. So dear Russians - I love you all and special love will go to any one adding a comment from Russia. 

Reach for the skies
I am on holiday so I am writing this blog on my terrasse. In fact I find myself sitting idly on my terrasse more and more. As the sun dries my skin I will soon look like a remake of Terrassic Park. And yes- there are real lizards in the dry stone wall. As temperatures zoom towards the melting point of foie gras I'm just gonna post a few photos from around the gorgeous undiscovered town of Saint Savinien Sur Charente. I cannot believe my good fortune at living here. Of course, les tournesols are grown as a commercial crop - it does not seem possible that they turn out millions of Van Gogh masterpieces just so that you can fry a perfect frite to go with your moules. But they do. 

If I had ever doubted that this place is in fact paradise, I must confess to a moment of religious experience a couple of days ago. I had put some left over chocolate sauce in the fridge and someone had seen it and dipped in a finger. The following morning the sauce had set, revealing the true nature of the Universe - Love and Chocolate. Just at that moment the church bells started to ring and a cockerel crowed while a neighbour's dog howled at the bells. All of Nature gelled as one. Not since I was a teenager and saw the face of Marc Bolan in a cloud had I felt this close to The Infinite.И так до свидания моих русских читателей.

Emma thinx:  Man cultivates. Nature culminates.  

Friday, 20 July 2012

My Coffee Time Treat

There's no treat I like better than a real man. A short while ago I sat down with my coffee and the audio track of  Stephen Woodfin's short story "The Promiscuity Defense". It was like being a girl again when my mother told us all to SHUT UP when the morning short story came on the radio. And what a treat it was!

Stories happen somewhere. People have accents and attitudes in their voices. These days there are writers who are writing about their real lives in real places. It is truly a joy to me. When I first read a story by Bert Carson about helicopter action in Vietnam I knew that this was a real new wave of literature. After years of life and making a living in the jingle jangle world, writers are now telling you what it was like out there, down there, in there and in their heads. Stephen Woodfin is an attorney. His is the inside story.

"The Promiscuity Defense" is an account of an allegation of sexual misconduct. I will not say more than that because you are going to read it for yourselves. The audio is spoken by the author. The voice is calm - unsurprised by human foibles. The accent (for a Franco-Brit) nails the story to Texas USA. The style conveys a certain world weariness of the law professional who has seen it all before and is letting you see his cynicism and doubts. This is the beauty of the audio - you know what the guy is saying. Somewhere in an office with a pile of legal files, there is a cigarette burning in an ashtray and a cold black coffee on a window ledge. At one point the lawyer makes an aside about "Ex alcoholic judges". In that one little phrase you see a hidden world. The slurry of untruth and legal manipulation seep into the pure stream of justice. You get this in the writing and you get it in the audio. It's so God damn real.

I am yet to read the whole collection, but I'm on the case. If you want a great coffee time story, here are the links:

Amazon USA

Amazon UK 

Emma thinx: Listen to your imagination.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Chosen

Short story including free audio book
My body aches. Yesterday I was a surf bunny. Today I feel like a sandblasted rodent casserole. Of course, I am home in France. Already a few glasses of smooth Bordeaux wine have loosened my tensions and this wicked world seems a long way away. The sun drenched brochure busting beaches of the Ile d' Oleron are too close to ignore. Yesterday I set out with my body board and came back with a boarded up body. Something has happened in the last 25 years - but at least a lot more of me floats nicely.

Surf bunny
This preamble on my luxurious hedonism brings me to the real subject of this blog. We all have dreams of the good life one day. Wealth, worldly success and status could be ours one day. For many folk of my latter end boomer generation, there were levers there to be pulled. Most of my contemporaries obtained jobs and careers with quite modest educational qualifications. Company pensions were generous and you could expect to bring up kids in a decent dwelling. Things are far tougher now - just reflect for a minute on the long term impact of  50%  youth unemployment in Greece and Spain. My own life has been fairly much working class - but there was work and an income to be gained.  

One of the paradoxical comedy clichés of our time is the aspirational no-hoper. The hapless home mechanics and D.I.Y. enthusiasts provide a wealth of sit-com fodder. The little guy who dreams of getting to be Mr BIG, the ugly guy who tries to date Miss World are far more than comic stereotypes. There are thousands and thousands of them. I think I might be one in my own little way. A while ago I was waiting for a party at a horse race meeting and I was chatting to a few other drivers about the lives they had led. A chatty Londoner explained to me that although he was a humble figure, he had once been wealthy and that it was only a matter of time until he was up there again. He told me a bizarre love story. I don't think he guessed that I would write it down as "The Chosen". 

I love short stories. As a kid I used to listen to them on the radio. Typically a story would last for 15 minutes. To me, this is how the narrative must have been before literacy. Folk would tell a story of a real event or a handed down traditional tale. The listeners would stretch their imaginations to visualise the characters. My idea of a magic mammoth may not be yours! (As a child I hated picture books that stole my own images).  I have always written short stories and I believe in them as a pure form of the tale. The possibility of adding audio now gives authors the chance to go back to the true roots of fiction - the out loud story. The novel is a new experiment by comparison. The continuing success of "Sub Prime" with audio has encouraged me to add a free audio track to "The Chosen". So great is my belief in the audio story that I release stories as "singles" in the way that the old 45 records were sold. If you look at the way that music is purchased on iTunes it is clear that punters are keen to pay a few pence for just a single track from an album rather than buy the whole deal. Stephen Woodfin's blog provides an interesting discussion on this topic.

Oscar Sparrow
"The Chosen" is narrated by my best mate,  the poet Oscar Sparrow. (He is used to reading in front of people and not getting paid). The story was written specifically for audio with the emphasis on dialogue between two characters. In order to differentiate between them I gave them very different accents. Since I do not like strong accents in written text, I have used plain English for the characters. The audio is accented and essentially is a different form of the story. If you get it, please let me know how it works for you.

Links for The Chosen:

Emma thinx: Length matters, keep it in your shorts.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

My Starter Starz

Winners have no mercy 
Recently I found myself being a sweet old grandma playing pooh sticks with my (step) grand son. If I had realised that he could not swim I would never have thrown him in in the river.(Well, he is 17). Luckily he was saved by some Amazon trolls who lived under the bridge. From now on I'm sticking to twigs.

This incident gave me the impetus to embark on my "Pass The Book" campaign. It is a simple enough idea. I give a reader a book, they read it, comment upon it if they wish and then pass it on. 

Starter Star Super Nurse Kate
Readers are encouraged to send in photos of themselves with the book and prizes will be given for the most unusual locations. Once the book sets out, no one knows where it will go. The great river of literature will sweep them on to the foaming passionate seas of Romance. On the other hand, it might get left on the bus and tossed in the bin. Other copies might find their way to the libraries of wealth soaked Oiligarchs, Princes or the give-away bins outside junk shops. The great thing is that anyone can see the track of the text by logging on to Pass the book Hall of Fame. You can see where your book has been and also where it ended up after you. 

Starter Star (Education Angel) Maid Marian
There is a copy for a blog reader anywhere in the world. If you would like to be a Starter Star, leave a comment indicating your interest on this post. A random reader will be selected on 5th August. The winner will receive their copy by snail mail.

I must give credit to Debra Hamel and Gypsi Phillips for coming up with the Pass The Book idea.

I know there are drought sufferers out there. If only I could send you some rain I would. All the same, Great Britain has resumed its normal summer pattern. We did not win Wimbledon or the British Grand Prix. It is ennobling to live in a land of tradition. Bradley Wiggins is leading the Tour de France....

Emma thinx: Golfer's Nirvana - a whole in one. 

Saturday, 7 July 2012


Water Garden
In just a few days I will be home in France. Oh please my dear sweet Aeolus - please let me see the sun just once more. I hope I have lit (lighted) my incense stick to the right deity. According to my book on Greek Myths (otherwise known as a creative accountant's guide to Euro membership), dear old Aeolus controlled the winds. It's not that I'm educated, I looked him up in a book. Yes! a book. I did not even give Google a chance.

And so it rains and rains. Serena Williams dodged the deluge to win at Wimbledon, the F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone is a quagmire of mud. I took a photo of a bead of water on the leaf of a plant. Look how it has form and shape. I know two things of this world. It is beautiful and it is not what we think it is at first second or third sight.

All this semi religious pondering has an origin of course. Today I have finished reading Stephen Woodfin's novel, "The Next Best Hope". I have posted a thoroughly merited 5 star review. It's a good pacey read looking at the course of a fundamentalist rebellion in the USA. You kinda feel it could happen anywhere, with any kind of belief or religion. If you like action laced with insight into politics, greed and the human quest for what is right you will love this book. Here is the review:
As an Anglo-Franco the first thing that engaged me in this book was just how American it is. The characters' names, the distances they drive, the names of places and the cultural references all work together to hold the reader authentically in the action. It's one of those books where you know the make of the gun and the type of car that a character is using. Perhaps these are technical points but to me it makes it real. More important really is the broad philosophical theme that directs the course of the story. The enemy is not religion per se, but fundamentalism. When tracts or texts allow for violence to enforce any concept, civilisation has to take note and stand up. The scenario is disturbingly plausible. Fundamentalists seek to seize power by armed rebellion against the state. I will not say any more than that because you will want to read it for yourself. The writer adopts an all seeing viewpoint, allowing many characters and threads to intersect, tangle, unravel and conflict. The result is a powerful story which you always feel could be happening outside your window. Characters are drawn from the well of life, politics and ambition. Everyone knows characters like these or has seen them in history. This is the second book in the author's "Revelation Trilogy". I'm waiting for the third - and keeping my eye on CNN - just in case.
Oh - by the way - it's still raining.

Emma Thinx: Cometh the hour - Cometh the book.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Letting It All Hang Out.

Free Fall Again
Just as I was beginning to enjoy my sensation of free fall into sales invisibility, the strap of my purple leopard skin bra snagged on a branch sticking out from the canyon wall. It will not transform my bank imbalance but my mood is much lifted by a very unexpected event. I'm hoping that the bra strap will hold up for a while while I take in the view. I can't say that I feel secure - but hey - nothing lasts for ever - not even the surreal. (I chose the colour to match my prose). 

It is that Insecure Wednesday deja voodoo once again.
Janis Ian knew nothing about being not selected at 17. In the girl's games line up I was pre-selected to carry the bag of bats, balls, pads and sticks. I was OK with boys because I selected them and did not offer a choice.

 Imagine my joy a couple of days ago when "Knockout" received a gold medal as a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review list of Best Indie Books of 2012. At the helm of this publication is the redoubtable, prolific, gritty street fighting figure of Jeff Bennington.  All previous setbacks are set at nought. From here the view is fantastic. 

All the same, a few insecurities remain. I'm 82% through Stephen Woodfin's epic novel "Next Best Hope".  This is scary stuff - not just because it's a great book, but because it might be true one day. I do wish I read more quickly. I am gonna do a review - I really am.

Emma thinx: There are winners, losers and gravity.