The Must See Tech Trends for 2018 — j-tech copy services

My friend Jay Tomkinson has just launched his freelance writing business J-Tech Copy Services.
Here’s his  post on the latest developments in technology.  All of the new developments in robotics and AI are exciting-as long as we don’t have the machines turning on us! As George Orwell’s ‘1984’ predicted CCTV & Big Brother (gods save us! ), Stephen King’s ‘Trucks’ (on which ‘Maximum Overdrive’ movie is based) and Isaac Asimov’s ‘I, Robot’ might end up predictors of the next technological advances.  Fascinating stuff!

He writes professional web copy, business articles and social media content too.

It Is Fair to Say… That much happened in the world of tech during 2017, and that gives us plenty to look forward to in the coming year. Here are some of the highlights. 1. Robotics Many of you will have seen the developments made in robotics, including Sophia, the worlds first robot citizen. In […]

via The Must See Tech Trends for 2018 — j-tech copy services


BOOK REVIEW-Dead Ice-Laurell K. Hamilton

Dead Ice (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #24)Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dead Ice has what I love best about Hamitlon’s Anita Blake books-action zombies, vampires and were-animals, and suspense and thrills- both horrifying and titillating.

I am thrilled that Hamilton is back firing all guns in this installment of the Anita Blake series after the novella Jason, which seemed a placeholder. However, I did skim read parts which I felt over explained domestic/ bedroom arrangements. The sex-politics are getting overcomplicated. I understand that Hamilton wants to give all of her readers a fix of who they fancy, but I’m having trouble keeping up with the who’s-who of Anita’s lovers. Perhaps I’m being selfish, as I’m all-over Jean Claude.

I enjoyed the crime investigation and supernatural elements… It will be exciting to see where Hamilton goes from here..
(view spoiler)

It will be exciting to see where Hamilton goes from here, exploring Anita’s new powers. The twist on the the zombie trope was fun and scary. Though I was happy how the relationships panned out.

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BOOK REVIEW-The Secret King-First Contact-Dawn Chapman

The Secret King - First ContactThe Secret King – First Contact by Dawn Chapman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the first book of The Secret King Trilogy, I was excited to find out what happened to Kendro and his people. I was not disappointed. This sequel has even more explosive action, political intrigue, romance, and betrayal.
As the Aonise make first contact with the humans that inhabit the planet earth, which they hope to make their new home, we are introduced to a host of new, human characters some friendly, some not so accepting of the new refugees. Kendro and his people strive to establish a base on the new world, helped by some familiar allies and new friends, while continuing to negotiate their own society’s conflicts and their personal lives. Most of the Aonise want to make friends with the human residents, and build bridges with those who want them to leave. Some have a much different, darker agenda.
While this space opera has the fantastic elements of aliens with strange powers, and futuristic technology, the tensions and bonds between the two species are believable and realistic, and the characters are well rounded and empathetic.
I especially liked the interrelationships between human and Aonise characters, which highlighted the similarities and differences between the two species.
I was happy that some of my favourite characters got to explore and thrive in this new world, discovering new friends and strange customs (having a pint). There were also heartbreaking moments which left me shocked. The ending was bitter sweet but satisfying. Now need to know what happens next!

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Hailing from the flat lands of the East Anglian fens, and being a fan of all things dark and heavy when it comes to music, I was excited to check out this Polish band Seven Main Sins, now based in my home county of Cambridgeshire.

Returning in 2012 from a 6 year hiatus since the release of their 2005 demo, their sound and song writing has developed into what they like to term Dark Metal. The band describe their sound as circling between black and death metal.

Their latest offerings combine the heaviness of death metal, and the gloomy atmospherics of black metal. The song writing has switched to English language, which is very fluent and fits well into the heavy but complex music.

Tracks such as Evocation’ , cut the female vocals, and focus on a more brutal sound. Though still keeping the melodic elements of their earlier work. Military style drum beats, switch and meld with monstrous deep growling vocals. While ‘Cemetery of accursed souls’ from upcoming album ‘In the Shadow of Death’ has a catchy dirge-like groove, interwoven with a doom-laden baseline, and technical guitar playing. The high production quality is more in keeping with the polished offerings of Dimmu Borgir  and Satyricon, than the grittier sound of Bathory.

Earlier work, from their first release “Demo A.D. 2005”, which was well received both on the internet and independent zines, is more symphonic. In ‘Kamienna tablica’ sweeping piano & string sections writhe through machine-gun drumming, and rumbling bass. Songs such as ‘Anoil Swiatla’ juxtapose classical female vocals with demonic growling, reminiscent of Dimmu Borgir, or Cradle of Filth. The polish lyrics adding to the ethereal, dark atmosphere.

I’m happy to report, that after playing several concerts with big names in polish metal music (Christ Agony, Turbofor their demo in 2005-2006, Seven Main Sins are now back on the live scene. Recently performing at Metal to the Masses in E.B.G.B.S – Liverpool, and Sempiternal Festival, and with possibly of a set at 2018 Heavy Scotland Festival .

With Seven Main Sins’ new full length album “In The Shadow Of Death”, (scheduled release late autumn 2017) also imminent, I look forward to hearing more, and perhaps catching them live if I’m down their way or if they stumble anywhere near Lancashire.

Whether you love the brutality of Autopsy, the grooves of Bolt Thrower, or the high orchestral bombast of Dimmu Borgir, you should definitely give this upcoming band a listen.


BOOK REVIEW-Soul Catcher-Rowanne S. Carberry

The Soul CatcherThe Soul Catcher by Rowanne Carberry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An enjoyable read. Being a fan of supernatural crime stories, and kick-ass female protagonists, I loved the premise of this novel.
The reader is plunged straight into Jemma’s world, sharing her confusion and fear as events unfold.
Scenes of torture and carnage are described in gruesome, but not gratuitous detail. The villains were terrifyingly believable.
While I empathised with the main character, seeing the horrors that that she is forced to witness, I felt I would have liked to have had more backstory to know her better. I like Jemma is vulnerable and upset through many of the scenes, but does harden and begin to embrace her role as the story progresses.
While the chemistry between Jemma and her love interest felt exciting and believable, it did seem progress quite rapidly.
I want to read more of her exploits, and see how she adapts to her new role. Also it would be lovely to read more about the rest of the supernatural team, and her relationships with them.

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For some time I had been wanting to have a coaching session with E J Runyon at Bridge to Story. One of my writing buddies had been coached by EJ while writing her debut novel, and told me how much the coaching had helped develop her work. I checked out the Bridge to Story website, and tried out a few of the writing exercises, which I found helpful.

Me being me, I kept dithering about it. I either didn’t have funds, or I’d get worried about having my work dissected and judged. Plus the added anxiety of having to Skype. I hate having my photo taken, or speaking on the phone. Having face to face video chat with another human being is a whole other level of awkward.

Then I was lucky enough to win a free coaching session. I took the opportunity to give it a go, hoping I would get a cure for my editing phobia, and improve my writing.

When it comes to writing, I love the adrenalin rush of the first draft. The process of extracting a story out of my brain and onto the page is exciting. The story seems to gain a life of it’s own, no matter how intricately I have planned and plotted. There’s always something new that comes out when I type or write the words onto the blank screen or page.

Where I falter is the editing process after. I reread my work and am overwhelmed by the huge task of extracting my story from the pile of cliché, rambling narrative passages, clunky dialogue and other myriad of bad writing.

I felt confident that I would get the best advice, having read my writing-buddy’s novel The Secret King: Lethao, DK Cassidy’s short story collection Spilt Milk edited by EJ, and EJ’s own novel A House of Light and Stone , all of which I loved. Spanning a broad range of genres from literary fiction, magical realism, to sci fi/ space opera.

20750611_296415600766290_1673828969_nWith a pain not unlike extracting a rotten tooth. I pulled an old word.doc of a short story I’d written for an Open University Creative Writing course some eons ago, and a god-awful first draft from NaNoWriMo  2017 from my files. Feeling sorry to inflict the jumbled mess of words upon my poor coach for the hour.

I was relieved that Skype was just a voice call (saves on bandwidth), with text doc displayed in chat window, so I could see the editing work as we progressed.

EJ was so warm and approachable, putting me at ease immediately. It was lovely to finally put a voice to the person. Her passion for writing and helping others to create beautiful words shines through.

Discussing my first draft, and writing process with EJ, she immediately identified the main issues I was having. Working through a section of my work, she guided me through the edit step by step. I felt that I was given tools to hone my writing, and practical advice on how to approach editing tailored to my personal needs.

Bridge to Story has an art for extracting the essence of the work, to allow the author’s voice sing out from the page, rather than imposing her own style, or a prescriptive formula.

After studying creative writing in an academic environment, the Bridge to Story approach was refreshing. I now am feeling confident that I can chisel something worthwhile out of the detritus of my pile of first drafts, some of which I have been meaning to edit for near on a decade. I feel excited to start editing.