Monday 29 October 2012

Guest post: Quirky audio books lampoon social issues, by Adele Park

A very warm welcome to Adele Park, who's here to write about her very original Quirky Audio Book series.

I have a quirky sense of humor.  So much so that I lather the quirk on every audio book I produce.  Writing on the fringes has its benefits:  no one expects me to be normal.  I see it as an opportunity to unleash a litany of snarky comments on social issues.  The sell lines for both my audio books put a fine point on this: When radio and polygamy collideJitters - A Quirky Little Audio Book and When marijuana and reality TV collideYikes! Another Quirky Audio Book. Those who aren't amused by stuff like pot and polygamy might want to look elsewhere.

Being free to roam about the cabin of craziness has led to the genesis of some pretty wacky characters.  I like to place them in a secluded spot called Navel and see what happens.
Navel is more of a state of mind than a physical location.  It is a cosmic portal which opens to those in need, starting with Joseph Stratton, the kindly polygamist who founded Navel in 1957.  Stratton, along with a gaggle of pubescent wives, was fleeing his religious brethren in Salt Lake City when he stumbled into the wild orange groves of Pitt County.

Jitters and Yikes! both feature full casts of actors who advance the plot using first person narratives.  Most of the characters are supreme narcissists who give lopsided accounts of what is happening.  It's up to the listener to decide what is true.

Having wandered off the literary reserve, I also take advantage of the chance to experiment with different forms of narration.  From a writing perspective, narration is a convenient way to string together an array of random ideas.  In the Quirky Audio Book Series, it also serves as the voice for the town of Navel.

In Jitters - A Quirky Little Audio Book, the story centers on a shock jock named Nancy Neptune who unwittingly finds herself working at a radio station in Navel.  In keeping with the radio theme, Jitters is narrated through a series of newscasts.  Yikes! Another Quirky Audio Book offers a more conventional form of narration through a succession of pieces called Examine Our Navel.  The protagonist in Yikes! is a marijuana enthusiast named Blue McKenna.

Using satire, I explore issues ranging from gay rights to freedom of religion.  By exploiting the absurd, I try to illustrate the effect certain attitudes and acts of discrimination have on society.  But mostly, I'm just going for the grins and giggles.

You can find out more about Adele, including where to buy the audio books, at the Yikes! website and on her blog.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Halloween: An eerie classic by Mark Twain

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Since Halloween is upon us, I thought I'd share one of my favourite spooky stories A Ghost Story by Mark Twain.

I love this tale for many reasons, but especially because of the sharp and unexpected ending. You're in for a treat... and maybe a trick (tada)!

Friday 26 October 2012

Filmmaking with the Raindance Film Festival

On September 15th I attended the Saturday Film School in London, hosted by Raindance Film Festival. I'd been planning on going for a year, ever since I found a discount off the price via Groupon (£39 instead of £119; a pretty sweet deal!)

During the day, there were four different tutorials. The first was about screenwriting, which is something I've been interested in for a short while. I love watching films and thinking about how someone has created a scene on paper, and then how an actor and director might interpret it.

The tutors were excellent, well established industry people, and had some fantastic tips. The main speaker was Elliot Grove, who is the founder of Raindance. He first told us some of his personal history: growing up in a Canadian Amish family who tried to make him believe that talking pictures were the devil (!), how that led to him falling in love with film, his decision to move to the UK, and then founding the festival.

After that, Elliot talked us through the basics of screenwriting. Here are some interesting bits I wrote down:
  • Writers love to procrastinate (definitely me!)
  • Screenplays should be very easy to read. If your screenplay is complicated, you're doing something wrong.
  • The best way to learn is to read as many scripts as you can get your hands on.
  • Copying directly from one screenplay is called plagiarism, but copying from two is called good research (not sure how far this is true, but it made me chuckle!)
After the screenwriting session there was a short break, during which I was bribed into forking out £50 for Raindance membership! Okay, so I wasn't exactly bribed. They just made an announcement that instead of the usual price of £1000, membership was put down to £50. Then, the rascals threw in a massive messenger bag (I'm a sucker for bags), and a data CD with about 50 screenplays on it! They also included a production paperwork data CD, but I didn't have much interest in that. Still, since the whole thing was worth nearly £1,100 altogether, how could I turn it down? Exactly.

So even though everything was pretty interesting and entertaining, my favourite part of the day was when director Patrick Tucker took the stage to give us a tutorial on acting and directing. I don't really have any ambition to do either, but it's intriguing to see how these are put together. Patrick's energy was also very infectious; he led the tutorial with a massive amount of humour while still teaching us useful insights. Many times he asked for volunteers to come up on stage to aid various demonstrations (but I will admit that I ducked down in my seat each time so I wouldn't get chosen!)

Other subjects were covered, for example how to break into the industry, and the legal aspects of filmmaking. We were also shown a few short films which were intended to demonstrate just how easy it can be to make one ourselves – as long as you have access to a camera (even just on a mobile phone), you can make a film that people will enjoy.

If you want to learn more about the Saturday Film School, including future dates and timetables, click here. I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in filmmaking – the course makes it sound so simple! Well, simpler than you would normally be led to believe. I enjoyed it so much that I'm thinking of going back for a second dose!

Thursday 18 October 2012

An excerpt from Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista

It's my pleasure to present an excerpt from Extraordinary Rendition, a high-octane legal thriller written by attorney and television personality, Paul Batista. It's currently available for purchase at Barnes and Noble,, and for pre-order on

First, here's the blurb:

When Ali Hussein—suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda—is finally transported from Gitmo to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, pre-eminent lawyer and the son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers as counsel. On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through Rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights.

Hussein’s intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of—or the unabated funding of—the world’s most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other. And, it puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both.

Pulled irresistibly by forces he can and cannot see, Johnson enters a lethal maze of espionage, manipulation, legal traps and murder. And when his life, his love, and his acclaimed principles are on the line, Johnson may have one gambit left that can save them all; a play that even his confidants could not have anticipated. He must become the hunter among hunters in the deadliest game.

Written by no-holds-barred-attorney Paul Batista, Extraordinary Rendition excels not only as an action thriller, but as a sophisticated legal procedural as well; tearing the curtains away from the nation’s most controversial issues.

Provocative. Smart. Heart-pounding. A legal thriller of the highest order. 

Like what you've read so far?

Friday 5 October 2012

Just checking in

I've finally finished the job! Woohoo! Though things aren't showing signs of slowing down just yet – September was much more eventful than I thought it would be. Plus, my university creative writing module has just started, and I'm going to spend this weekend getting myself completely settled into that. So, it looks like I won't have much time to read until next week at the earliest (though I'm sure I'll fit it in somewhere!)

I'm hoping that, once I've got into a routine, I'll have much more time to blog. I may even have time to start accepting books to review again! Needless to say, I'm looking forward to getting back into the regular ol' swing of things around here.