Of Musings and Wonderings

{February 20, 2014}   Saga, Volume One [Graphic Novels]

saga“Am I shitting? It feels like I’m shitting.”

Authors spend ages thinking over the perfect opening lines, the perfect way to grab a reader and plunge them into a story. Saga does that brilliantly, with the first piece of dialogue (above) and the narration on the first page of the novel (This is how an idea becomes real). And, as we all know, the first thing a reader reads (and sees, in the case of graphic novels) is crucial.

Saga tells the story of Marko and Alana, soldiers from opposite sides, fighting in a never-ending war. Their attempts to escape the war backfire when they are tracked down, and they must run to save themselves, their love, and the life of their new-born child, the narrator of the story.

saga2As with Hit-Girl, the art in Saga is beautiful. Unlike Hit-Girl, the art here needs to do a lot more. Rather than just tell the story of the characters, the art also has to create whole new worlds, has to make us fully believe in the strange terrains and landscapes these characters travel across. And the appearance of the characters themselves has to say a lot, with the two main characters having more than just different home planets and lives separating them. They are also separated by their very appearance, Marko with his horns and Alana with her wings. But these aren’t the only two species inhabiting the worlds of the graphic novel. We also see human-like characters with TVs for heads, monkey-like men, and drifting lost souls. It’s clear that a hell of a lot of work has gone into the world building of this, and it pays off nicely.

As for the main characters, well, Marko and Alana are very human. They’re relatable, they bounce off each other and at times, have you wondering why the hell they’re together. There are moments when it’s clear to see the love they have for each other, and moments when they butt heads so spectacularly that it makes you question how they ended up together. But…it makes the relationship itself feel more real. After all, don’t we all know a couple that seem to click and compliment each other brilliantly one day, and the next just seem to act like children about something? But they’re the kind of couple that doesn’t take it too far, and are there to support the other one when it’s needed.

Marko and Alana are a lot like that, and little things about their relationship become more clear as we find out how, exactly, they met.

saga-no-killingAs well as the two main characters, there’s a whole host of supporting characters that are, basically, very strong. We get almost behind the scenes glimpses at those who had hired to track down the two runaways, and although at first the bounty hunters come across as right dick heads, but like Alana and Marko we’re treated to further glimpses into their pasts, and see more human-like, decent sides to them. There are characters that make you want to slap them, and there are characters that make you want to slap them then hug them then wish everything would just turn out all right for everyone, damn it.

Saga, the story of a love forged during a never-ending war, is a brilliant read. It really tugs you into the world, makes you feel for the characters involved – no matter what side they’re on – and leaves you, as all good novels, graphic novels, etc, should, wanting a hell of a lot more. Definitely worth checking out.


the reporter and the girlThe Reporter and the Girl (Minus The Super Man) is the story of Sabrien Collins and Jon Sudbury, two people who couldn’t be more different, who find each other through an online dating site, making sparks fly from the moment they talk.

It’s not a love story. There’s no fluffy, light-hearted romance here. Instead, it’s more like watching trains crash, one you can see from miles away that you have no power to stop. Just got to stand there and watch two trains come hurtling towards each other, unable to stop.

The writing is interesting in itself. A little bit difficult, at first, but easy enough to get into after a few pages. It’s a little jumpy, flicking between one scene and the next, but it works to add to the overall feel of this book, and in a way it makes it feel more realistic, as communication is mixed and misunderstood, as the characters try to come to terms with each other and understand where the other is coming from, while both remaining fixed in their own view of the world.

And these are not likable characters. Okay, you feel for them. You want to see them happy and yet there are many times where I, anyway, felt like banging their heads together. And it’s brilliant! It doesn’t feel like reading a fictional book. It feels like reading a very true story of two people who just don’t click. Right from the moment they meet, it feels like seeing a good friend get involved with someone so totally not right for them. You know it’s going to end badly, but they really don’t, and it spirals out of control until there’s absolutely nothing you or anyone can do for either party.

At times, Sabrien feels a little arrogant, a little too much above herself and like she thinks she’s better than others, especially Jon. And Jon is at times ignorant and selfish, unclear, unable to say what he really means. Actually, that last part works for both of them. Neither seems able to just say what they need to, and they feel like they hide behind masks of what they think the other will want, at least for a while.

And yet, like I said, you do feel for them. They’re not bad people, they’re just like the rest of us. There are moments when I cheered Sabrien on, times where I wanted to cry for her, and times when I just wanted to hug her. And their flaws just add to both characters. It works brilliantly.

Everyone who has persisted in a relationship despite all logic and reason will relate to this book. Actually, scrap that. Everyone who has been in a relationship that has failed – whether it was magical and wonderful or doomed to fail from the start – will relate. Romances in books can sometimes feel fake, or forced, without all the small parts that make up a relationship or its demise. But this isn’t like that. It builds up what these characters have, even if it happens fast, and lets us, as readers, see exactly why these characters are together and why they fail, why they clash so badly. What I’m trying to say is that Sabrien and Jon feel oh so real.



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Pre-order the e-book: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/369918

Release Date: November 26th

{June 29, 2013}   Play The Game – A WIP

So for a long while I’ve been working on my novella Play The Game. It was after a night out at University, when I found out about Kindle’s self-publishing. And found out that actually, it could be a really good idea. It was a drunken conversation with a very cute guy that clued me into it, and suddenly I thought “That’s what I should do.” I have a lot of projects on the go that I’d like to see published. A couple that I’ve submitted. But I knew, if I was going to self-publish anything, it should be Play The Game. Mainly because it wasn’t a full length novel, so I could work on it quickly. Or so I thought. To me, it was also something I wanted to get out there, as much as the others I’d tried to have traditionally published. And then I started looking into self-publishing, and following blogs of people who had done it, and tried to get it done and it’s taken almost a year to get to this stage where I’m not actually near doing it. But that’s okay. Because I’ve learnt a lot in the last year. It was never something I wanted to do half-arsed. I knew I needed a good cover, and I knew I wanted the novella to be as polished as possible.

In the last year, Play The Game has gone through many changes. A few weeks ago, a fellow blogger read over it for me and gave me some great feedback. Not only did it make me see some of the plot points that were wrong with the novel, but it made me sit back and really think about what I wanted in there. The main character needed more, the supporting characters needed a bit more back story to them. So, instead of just hinting about the reason Robyn’s father left, I used her grandmother – who only has one or two scenes in the original – to state Don’t underestimate the fear of what we might grow into” when she tells Robyn about her own past.

The novella had a sequel, which explores Robyn’s relationship with her ex as well as the main love interest in Play The Game, and I realised that I needed to show, in the first, more of the impact that Nate has on her. So I added in a completely new first chapter. I’ve added in extra scenes, drew on more what I wanted the novella to really say, and so far I’m not even halfway through the rewrite.

I haven’t talked about it much. Enough, even, seeing as the whole reason I started a blog was to try to promote the novella when I actually got it out there. So, after a few drinks, I’ve decided just to put up the first chapter of the current draft of the novella for you lovely readers to check out. Please, if you have any thoughts about it, leave a comment. I’d love to know what you think. Importantly, if this was available for you to buy, would you want to read on? Would you want to part with cash to find out what happens next?

And yes, the title is taken from the awesome Queen song of the same name. The sequel is currently titled Somebody To Love.

Play  The Game
Chapter One

The day slipped by, mostly unnoticed by Robyn. When she finally dragged herself out of bed, the weak November sunshine was trying hard to cling to the world. Her throat felt raw, dry, and her head was thumping. She could barely remember a thing about the night before, just the girls buying her drink after drink, dancing with them and stumbling quickly away from the couple of creeps who had tried to dance with her from behind.

She glanced at the planner on the wall. Classes highlighted in blue, shifts in yellow. At the end of the semester was a big red mark, and her chest tightened whenever she looked at it.

Robyn pulled open the curtains, covering the window beside her bookshelf. Snow was already starting, flakes drifting down slowly on the unremarkable street in the unremarkable area of London. There weren’t many cars outside. The street was dominated by students, a breed who could not afford to run a car even if they could afford to buy one. She was one of the lucky few. Since she was sixteen she had worked, part-time shifts in shops and bars once she was old enough, moving to working in a call centre once she came to University. Her savings had given her enough money for the second-hand red mini parked right outside the house.

Ducking away from the window, she began to get dressed, glancing at her bookshelf as she tried to judge if she had anything left to read before the end of the semester.

It had been two weeks since she had walked away from Nate’s, tears streaming down her face and her chest in so much pain she thought it would never heal. Once the tears had stopped, she had thrown herself into work and studying, making a huge dent in her to read pile. But even the worlds contained in the novels couldn’t alleviate all of the pain.

Robyn took a deep breath, glancing in the mirror as she brushed her hair and pulled it back, tying it with a thin black band. She frowned at her reflection, taking note of the dull green eyes and pale skin. Her dark brown hair, when let down, would fall straight to her shoulders, and sometimes she thought she would kill for Tina’s black curls.

She wasn’t going anywhere, so she grabbed her most comfortable clothes. When she left her room, it was in a pair of joggers and an old, baggy Green Day t-shirt.

The girls looked startled as she stepped into the living room/kitchen. The smell of spicy chicken filled her nostrils, and she inhaled deeply, smiling at Bobbie standing at the stove.

“Smells great.”
Bobbie smiled. “There’s enough for you, if you want some.”
“Great. Thanks.” Robyn nodded eagerly, stepping into the room and joining Tina and Lucy on the sofa. They had their eyes fixed on the television, watching some program about the Antarctic and Arctic. The documentary kept switching between the two. Robyn soon found herself transfixed on the giant expanses of white they were showing, drawn in by the idea of complete solitude contained in the two.

Lucy glanced at her. “How you feeling?”
“All right.” She shrugged. “A bit rough. You?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Lucy smiled at her, though it was hesitant and slightly strained. Concern danced in her hazel eyes, as she studied Robyn.

Finally, Robyn relented. “If you’re asking in general if I’m fine, I think I’m getting better.”
Tina leant forward. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. It still…hurts. And she hasn’t been in my classes for the last couple of weeks, and I keep dreading the day she comes back but…” She sighed. “I’m going to have to face it eventually, aren’t I?”
Lucy reached out, squeezing her hand.

They were the only people Robyn could open up to, could really talk to, but even they didn’t know anything. They knew some of the key facts, and they knew enough to know who ‘she’ was without Robyn having to mention the girl’s name.

“It’ll be okay,” Lucy said, smiling brightly. “And if you need us to find her house and kick the crap out of her…”

Robyn laughed. She was sure they had offered the same thing many times over the past two weeks. “No. It’s okay, really.” Because the girl wasn’t the root cause. “She’s not worth it.”

“Neither is he,” Tina chirped up. “Really. Once you get back from Christmas, we’re going to have an awesome semester, aren’t we?”

“Sure.” She nodded, perhaps a little too eagerly. “We should go to Thorpe Park when it opens, or something.”

“Oh, hell yeah!” Bobbie cried. “Good shout.”

“And you’re coming back for my birthday, right?” Lucy asked, sliding just slightly closer to Robyn.

Robyn nodded. “Of course I am. Nothing like spending New Year’s Eve in London, right?”

Lucy grinned, as Bobbie pulled the pan off the stove and called to them over her shoulder.

“Come on, girls, dinner’s ready.”

She had met Nate her very first day of University. He had been the tall, good-looking blond showing her to her new room. He had appeared a few nights later as she was walking home, and had, essentially, rescued her from a situation she never really thought would happen to her, even with the warnings thrown around campus.

But the way she met him was vastly different. Nate had been what the girls termed a ‘pretty boy’, even with his scars. The guy she met in Cardiff, on the other hand, was nothing like the constantly clean-shaven, slightly metro ex-boyfriend. He was tall like Nate, but with brown stubble and dark brown hair that constantly fell into his eyes. He looked like he took care of his appearance just as much as he had to, no more, no less.

He approached her when she’d darted out for a cigarette, the few girls she kept in touch with from school still inside. They had drifted apart, no longer shared secrets or talked for hours on end. But they were a good group, and she liked going out with them.

“Got a light?” he asked, holding up a long, thin, completely white cigarette.

Menthol. Robyn liked them sometimes, liked the way they made her mouth feel like she’d just brushed her teeth, but couldn’t smoke a whole pack.

“Sure.” She dug the silver Zippo out of her pocket, holding it out towards him. He brushed the hair from his eyes and smiled.

It was a nice smile, kind, showing just the right amount of teeth. “Thanks.” He lit up, handed the cigarette back and inhaled.

After the first drag, he began to cough. She laughed.

“Do you usually smoke?” she asked, watching him carefully. His eyes were a deep, dark blue, and Robyn didn’t mind staring into them.

His smile was sheepish. “Nah. I just…wanted an excuse to talk to you.”
They’d ended up talking for a while, swapping numbers and going their separate ways. Every time they passed each other, they smiled, and when the last song came in on her found her, grabbing her hand and leading her to the dance floor.

“Come back to mine?” he whispered, lips close to her ear, one hand on her waist. She’d agreed, glad for the chance of one night where she could push thoughts of Nate and her brother to the very back of her mind.

{May 16, 2013}   Once Upon A Time

41Ts5b90YyL__SX500_It’s that time of the year again.

The time of year when all my favourite shows just stop. Of course, Game of Thrones is still on, True Blood is coming (soon, I hope) but there’s no more Glee, Supernatural, Doctor Who or Once Upon A Time. Which makes me sad.

But at least it means I get a couple of blog posts out of the ends of my favourite series, so today – because I watched the last episode last night – I’m going to talk about Once Upon A Time.

For those that don’t know, Once Upon A Time is set in the town of Storybrooke. The people who live there have been cursed – the first series shows how they got thrown from the Enchanted Forest into the real world, losing their memories and living fake lives. The second series (big spoilers from this point on) shows what happens when that curse is broken.

The second series introduced a lot of new characters outside of the main core. There’s Sleeping Beauty, Mulan and Hook, for starters. We see giants and wraiths and more of the worlds outside of the Enchanted Forest, including the world where Dr Frankenstein (very cleverly Dr Whale, in the ‘real’ world) is from, and glimpsing Neverland. The first half of the series sees Emma and Snow White trapped in the Enchanted Forest, trying to stop the Evil Queen’s mother from getting into the real world. Of course she follows them through, along with Hook (the sexiest reincarnation of Hook ever. Not that it’s hard. But he’s pretty awesome), bringing Tiny the giant. She seems like the big bad threat of this series, with even ‘The Dark One’ Rumple/Gold scared of her and what she could do.

Until we meet (drum roll please) Tamara and Greg. After big bad threat Cora is taken care of, it emerges that Tamara and Greg are in Storybrooke to destroy magic.

Evil Mother and Considerably Less Evil 'Evil Queen' Daughter

Evil Mother and Considerably Less Evil ‘Evil Queen’ Daughter

Are you following?

See, I love this show. I loved this series. But it felt…I don’t know. Jammed. Like you could barely move for everything being thrown out there. I had to keep reminding myself that this character or that had been introduced this series, not the last one. I had to keep reminding myself that something that felt like it should have been separate, happened only a few episodes before. There was a lot to take in on this one. A lot to keep remembering. But, surprisingly, it all tied together.

It worked. Jumping back and forth between the different characters worked, because they were all linked. Even if it didn’t seem it on the surface, even if it was hard to see why we were seeing Cora’s back story in one episode, or focusing on Tiny in another until the end of said episode, once you step back, you can see the threads and webs that bind these characters together.

Hint; it’s family.

And these people have some of the most complicated family trees in the history of family trees.

The good side of the family tree.

The good side of the family tree.

Each of the main characters seem bound by something more than coming from the same land. They are blood, and loyal, and will go to lengths to protect those they care for. They act for each other. Emma goes from being a woman determined not to have connections, to not love, to doing anything she can to protect her son Henry. Snow/Mary Margaret and Charming/David are determined to look out for daughter Emma, and even Mr Gold shows a softer side when it comes to family.

But it’s not just blood that matters. Instead, Once Upon A Time also shows the bonds that can be forged when two people are not related. Regina has no blood link to her adopted son, but she tries to fight her urge for power to protect him, and she will do anything she can for him (although sometimes she goes about this in the complete wrong way). The end of series two shows how much Hook cares for Baelfire, the son of the woman he loved and the son of his greatest enemy.

More of this guy, please?

More of this guy, please?

I love the way the story brings these characters together and apart, the way it flicks between different lands but remains smooth and coherent. Although to be fair, Emma’s love interests appear and disappear like flies. (Although turning one into a little boy is a…err…unique way of getting rid of one to make room for another…) Still, the cast is tight, and each actor feels like they fit their roles perfectly.

Plus, well, there’s the Disney element to it all.

People moan a lot about Disney, but I watched their films constantly as a kid, cried because I couldn’t dance with the Dwarves in Disneyland, and cheered up immensely when we found Snow White and Dopey nearby. (My favourite dwarf, by the way.) Disney is my childhood, and I turned out okay. The interesting thing about Once Upon A Time is the way it takes these princess characters – passive women who are always being rescued by the prince – and turn them into kick ass women who don’t need the men, but have them anyway. And yes, it is linked to Disney, as ABC is owned by that childhood staple. Which means, brilliantly, they can incorporate Disney references. The dwarves have the familiar names we know and love, and more than one the cast are seen in some of the iconic clothes worn by their cartoon counterparts. It adds a really nice touch to the show, especially when characters start whistling songs from those movies.

If you haven’t so already, I would definitely suggest checking it out. Like, now. You’re really missing out if you don’t.cast-promotional-photo-jennifer-morrison-as-emma-swan-once-upon-a-time-25200053-446-595

So, I got tagged by A.J Race to participate in this, for which I’m hugely thankful. See, I’m on the verge of finishing Play The Game, my current main work-in-progress, and have sort of been looking for an excuse to talk about it. As soon as it’s finished, I’m going to be looking out for people to read over it and give me some feedback. (If you like the sound of it, just drop me an e-mail at gracebunting@hotmail.co.uk) Anyway, rather than tag people, I’m just going to leave this as an open thing. Just drop me a comment, so I can at least check yours out. (And if you haven’t already, go check out A.J Race’s blog. It’s good.)

What is your working title of your book? Play The Game. Working title but I think at this point, it’s pretty much set in stone.

Where did the idea come from for the book? Heh…what a story. Okay, so first semester at University, I came home for a weekend, met this guy, really cute, and headed back to Uni. Nothing happened. (As a side-note, I was six hours away) A few weeks later, I met another guy. Very different. Again, nothing happened. Apart from a few texts with both of them. (And an interesting train journey home for a friend’s birthday. I’d planned to meet up with Guy #1 after not hearing from Guy #2, only to have Guy #2 text me when I was on the train to see what I was doing that night. Never saw either of them again after that.) My brain tends to take situations like that and go, yeah, but what if this happened…or if it happened to a girl, and she totally fell in love with the guy-at-University but then he hurt her and she goes home but she has to go back! It basically goes off on tangents. The actual story became so much more than that, but that’s where the idea came from.

What genre does your book fall under? Romance. But when it was on Fictionpress, I had a few people comment that it didn’t feel like a ‘typical’ romance. Which makes me very happy. It’s not chick-lit, or erotica, or anything like that. Okay, it’s only ‘romance’ because that’s the easiest thing to put it under. Could be ‘drama’, too, but to me it’s just the story of a girl.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I’m not good with actors/actresses, especially as the characters are in their early twenties, so no Jensen Ackles. And they’re British. Sooo no Americans. (Makes it more difficult as almost everything I watch is American. And, again, no Jensen. But one day, Jensen, you WILL be in a movie version of one of my books. Hopefully.) Err I’ll be back after Googling young British Actors. Hang on. Okay, Nicholas Hoult as Nate, even though he’s barely in Play The Game. And because I don’t want him to be typically drop dead gorgeous, Colin Morgan as Harrison. Mainly because I saw a picture of him with a beard and was like “Hell yeah!” Robyn is the most difficult. She should have a bit of an edge to her, and be pretty but not in the typical stunning actress way. Okay, have an unknown as Robyn. I prefer it that way.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Christmas holidays were supposed to be about having fun, but for Robyn it means trying to get over one guy, failing in not falling for another and trying to keep her family together.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self-published, via Kindle, because I can’t currently afford to self-publish any other way and I want to get something out there. So, yeah, coming soon to Kindle!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I really have no idea. Not that long, I don’t think. It was only around 20,000 words at the time, maybe a lot less. But it’s taken me six months to finish this edit of it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Another one that’s really hard to answer. Like I said above, it’s not a typical romance, and I don’t think I’ve read anything it could be compared to. (Not to say there isn’t books out there like it. I just haven’t come across them.)

Who or what inspired you to write this book? I will happily admit than whenever I write something vaguely romancy (or with a male protagonist), it’s been the men in my life who usually spark of ideas. My dad and brothers are polar opposites to the dad and big brother in the book, but there are some moments where aspects of them could shine through. And it means I could take what my dad and brothers are really, really not, and create two men who just don’t know how to be the people they should be. And yeah, there are aspects of different guys I met in my Gap Year in both Harrison and Nate, although not a lot from any one person. Plus, well, a lot of it is more the experience than anything else, no matter who was there during that experience.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Most female romance leads seem, to me, to be career women or teenagers. Robyn isn’t. She’s a young woman struggling to find her place in the world, coping with the difficultly of feeling like she’s leaving behind something important in going back to London. And it’s not just Harrison. She’s seen her family fall apart and she’s trying not to let that happen again. Basically…it’s not just fluffy boy-meets-girl. It’s more girl-meets-boy-while-family-shit-kicks-off.

So, there we go. What do you think?

et cetera