A Bookshelf for creative writers

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Once upon a time…

Writing and Narrating to encourage and inspire

Storytelling comes in many forms. Writing a book is only one way to do it. As a child I was a passionate scout and had many a wonderful evening sat around swapping stories and anecdotes with other troop members. Told in the right way to the accompanying crackle and flare of the camp fire even the most mundane story can take on magical qualities. It really isn't what you tell, it's how you tell it.

The options for how to tell a story are boundless. The choices of media, medium and even location are mind blowing. The important thing is that you are convincing at it. Convincing means 'able to convince others to suspend their disbelief'. If you are stiff and awkward in telling the story then the audience won't be able to relax and let you lead them. They are going to keep tripping up on your tale and asking themselves all sorts of questions. They might even start asking them out loud. You really must avoid that!

With this in mind we have tried to include some different kinds of story telling. Along side some book projects that employ the traditional 'written word' we also have projects that use other media. Amongst these are our own experiments with the spoken word and other short films using computer generated graphics and animation. We hope these inspire you to find your own story telling 'voice'. If it does we would love to hear from you about your own storytelling story.

Furthermore, it is worth pointing out that we haven't confined storytelling to just the story telling section. The techniques of story telling can be used to convey messages and information very effectively whatever the subject matter. You'll also find stories in all the other sections of the site so it pays to cruise around to find your muse. Going forward we shall keep adding different storytelling projects to maximise the inspirational effect.

On the other hand, of course, you may simply be in the market to be TOLD a good story. In this case we recommend you throw caution to the wind and try a little (or even a lot) of every single project we have to offer. Think of it like a bag of sweets. Every time you dip in you are going to find another treat. Obviously, if the first bag leaves you in the mood for more then you can come back for another serving as often as you want and unlike a bag of sweets we are 100% sugar and fat free.

Finally, we would like to remind you that by subscribing to the newsletter you can get to try the very latest delicacies before they become available on the website.

Orb

The Orb Space Opera

A self publishing writer's adventures in space, time and beyond

I've had the idea of writing a book on my mind for a long time. I've played around with several ideas but most just didn't stick. Orb is one of the ones that did. It is a vast panoramic Sc-Fi / Fantasy space opera spanning space, time and much more.

I've been mulling it over in my mind for decades, convincing myself how great the idea was. It was clearly fabulous! Too fabulous. In my head, it was so fabulous that I simply couldn't put pen to paper. What if, once exposed to the harsh light of critical review, it wasn't fabulous any more? I remained at this impasse for decades.

I have now, at long last, 'bitten the bullet'. It's my baby and I fear for its future, but it has been gestating long enough. It is time to cut the apron strings, time to push it out of the nest and see what happens. It is either going to fly or fall and it is going to be YOU that decides which. I hope you will prove to be the wind beneath its wings that lifts it up rather than the burst of a down draft that grinds it into the pavement.

On the Orb project site I shall be showcasing the writing itself and also talking about the background to the project. I find the story of my inspiration, and what it has lead to, just as entertaining as the story itself. To get your mouth watering for more, there are going to be tasty snippets from all the books in the Orb series. Furthermore, if you subscribe to the newsletter I shall keep you up to date about developments AND send you a FIVE THOUSAND word sampler from one of the books in the series for FREE.

3D Animation

3D Animation

The art of the full and empty

Digital art is a beautiful self-contradiction. For millennia Art has been celebrated as the pinnacle of human expression. Works of literature, music, fine art and all the other forms were considered the best demonstration of what makes humanity so unique, so great, so much better than everything else in creation. Mere animals could not appreciate it and machines could not duplicate it. Artistic creation was all about passion, inspiration and struggle. Wonderful! Incomparable! Divine?

And then, just when everybody was agreed on the philosophical significance of human art, humans did what humans do best, they proved themselves wrong. They built devices that, despite being machines of cold logical precision, were capable of autonomous thought and action. At first these computers were incapable of art, but this wasn't their fault. We simply hadn't taught them what art was.

That's not true any more. Ever since Allan Turin created his first first electro-mechanical computational device during the second world war, we have been keeping ourselves very busy proving ourselves wrong. Not only are modern computers more powerful than ever before, they are also more capable. They can learn, they can think, they can even beat a Chess Grand Master. What next? The conquest of art? It is not so far fetched. Software can already understand WHY we like popular music better than the composers themselves do. How long until it starts writing hits by itself? What then? Are the chart lists going to be decided by how many songs computers have downloaded for their own pleasure?

No, this war of digital escalation cannot go on. We must learn to live as partners, not as antagonists. This is where digital art, and especially 3D Animation, can serve to lead the way. It is not about humans desperately fighting to prove their superiority, nor about computers supplanting us. It is about working together in harmony to create something artful. A cybernetic human-machine artist where each is just an extension of the other. The Future Today!

Hmm, yeh, well, maybe not. But it is still a great way to create short films that are cheap to make and fun to watch. Maybe that's the better reason after all. Visit the 3D anmation project to find out why digital is the new black.

Narration

Storytelling by word of mouth

Episodes and episodes of narration

I grew up in an environment where reading out loud was common. My siblings and I were often treated to my father reading out loud from everything from Lewis Carol to Gerald Durrell. Reading out loud for others seemed natural and right. Then a couple of years ago I bought a copy of 'Paradise Lost' by John Milton. Before starting this epic poem proper, I read through the editorial preface and was confronted with a novel idea. The reader them self might appreciate this work more if they read it out loud. There didn't have to be anyone else there to listen. It should be read out loud TO ones self FOR ones self. It felt odd at first and then it suddenly came into focus. I was truly amazed at the effect. It was no longer a merely intellectual act of READING the pages, it became a physical act of BEING the words. By reading out loud you not only involve your whole body but engage all your senses. Paradise Lost was suddenly a visceral experience. That's a powerful thing if you're not prepared for it.

I tried other books and it worked equally well. That's not to say that the results were the same every time. Each book is unique and reading it out loud changes the perception of it in different ways. Each suggests its own ambience. Ever ready to push the limits as I am, I extended the experiment. Now it wasn't just about reading different books out loud, it was about reading them in different places!

This was the birth of my narration project. Different books, divided into short episodes. The reading of each episode set in a different location. No two locations the same.

After a while I decided I wanted to record myself and started the filming branch of the project. Now, I was not only the narrator but also producer, screen writer, director, actor, rigger, camera man, sound man, wardrobe department, security services, logistics, catering service and (as I have always thought of myself) best boy! A veritable one man on location film studio. Next there came digital video and audio editing and compositing.

Finally, I couldn't resist the temptation of publishing and marketing and started uploading to my tailor made channels on good'ol Youtube. Apart from learning how ridiculously difficult it is to try and do everything by yourself, I have had lots of fun and experienced some great stories in some unique locations. Take a stroll with me through my every changing outdoor library.

Burger'n'Fries

Burger'n'Fries

A mouthful of life right on your plate

The title of this project was inspired by the book series 'Chicken Soup for the XXX Soul'. They are incredibly successful and I have tried to read one or two. I didn't manage to finish any of them. After a while I realised what the problem was. I don't need curing of the 'ailments of life' but rather need something hearty and full of the flavour of the every day. I tried various autobiographies and, though a few were quite good, many just fell flat. This inspired me to write this account of my own life. It isn't about comfort food for a soul sickening in the modern world. Quite the opposite, this is a meal to sink your teeth into when you have a ravenous appetite for life.

Over the years I have built up a long chain of memories. Each is linked to a particular event, moment or adventure in my life. Some are successes some are failures, but I look on them all in a singularly positive light. As the saying goes 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger' and I have done my best to learn and grow from them. I have re-visited these memories privately again and again. At first I did this to keep them fresh and strengthen their educational value. Nonetheless, I have also incorporated them into my public image. I have found that other people enjoy hearing them, or at least they enjoy me telling them, and so they have become a standard stock of my banter at everything from family reunions through cocktail parties to business meetings.

People keep telling me to write a book. A book that's all these little snippets of my life collected in one place. The Burger'n'Fries project is my response. Come with me on the adventure of my life.

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