Sunday, 11 December 2016

Monthly Round-Up (Reviews, articles and more) - December 2016

Happy Holidays everyone!

Now, I'm introducing a new running feature on this blog: a monthly update on all my reviews, articles and other tidbits that aren't my creative projects. This will help ensure a regularity of content, as well as an easy list to access for finding certain works.

As always, you can also keep up with my Official Facebook, for even more news and updates as they happen relating to projects:

So, onto my newest pieces and reviews. First off, I've started reviewing novels on Blasting News UK. Specifically, Sherlock Holmes books. First, the South African tale of diamonds and murder, 'Murder at Sorrow's Crown':

Next, an American tale involving a Holmes imposter in 'The Counterfeit Detective':

And finally, Sherlock and Tarzan meet in the very jokey 'The Peerless Peer' from sci-fi legend Philip Jose Farmer:

Now, for a new first, I do a trailer reaction and review for 'Spider-Man Homecoming':

Over on ThirdActFilm, I review the 2001 thriller 'The Pledge', starring Jack Nicholson:

An article on The Sweatbox, a documentary about Sting and the troubled production of Disney's 'The Emperor's New Groove':

An article on Doctor Who's future under Chris Chibnall, in light of recent news:

And lastly, I review the 1998 thriller spoof 'Wrongfully Accused', starring Leslie Nielsen:

Also, be sure to check out the ongoing journey of my own animated series, Agents In Odd (nay Very Strange Things), here:

It's been a long and trying year, but I'm always looking ahead and building myself up. Enjoy and, once again, have a very, very Happy Christmas.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Doctor Strange - My first Film Review published by a News Outlet (13/11/16)

So recently, I joined up with international news website Blasting News as an article/content writer. While I am not their official film critic, they do allow for reviews to be published. Taking the initiative, I decided to review Marvel's latest effort, the mind bending fantasy Doctor Strange (co-written, ironically, by one of my influences, C. Robert Cargill of fame).

It tighter and leaner than what many will be used, in contrast to my Youtube and ThirdAct material, but I feel confident in what I produced:

Monday, 7 November 2016

My Novel (Curse Of The Ptolomies): Second Draft underway (7/11/16)

Apologies for the lack of consistent updates. I will be bringing a more regular feature to this channel very soon.

Now, as you'll recall from last time, I mentioned that I had finished first draft work on a children´s adventure novel, then simply titled Joel. Now titled Curse of The Ptolomies, it's a love letter to old school European adventure stories, centering on a young errand boy's quest to find an ancient weapon and save Victorian London. I´ve been steadily working on the second draft since last week, beefing up chapters and increasing the detail level.

Taking my time, to ensure a well rounded draft, my aim is to have it complete within a month. Curse of The Ptolomies should have most preliminary work done before 2016 is out. Hopefully after Xmas, I'll get the third started.Possible target for a completed novel is still for mid to late 2017, but I never like to give absolute guarantees.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Adventure Novel: First Draft complete (26/9/16)

As you may recall from last time, I mentioned that during my summer break, I had begun work on a children´s adventure novel, then simply titled Joel. It is a love letter to old school European adventure storytelling, in the tradition of Herge. I´ve been steadily working on it since then, and am glad to say, the first draft has been cranked out.

For the first time in a good while, my aim to have a workable draft within a month has been met, and I am very chuffed. Naturally, it's rough and rife with all sorts of potential improvements, as well as the slightly longer title of Curse of The Ptolomies. I aim to get more work on it done before 2016 is out, hopefully circa Xmas once a few more things are cleared off my plate.

As said last time, as it progresses and evolves, I'll keep on posting up updates. Sufficed to say, this has been one of the freer and more enjoyable writing experiences I've had in many moons. It was really a chance to let my inner child out and have fun. Possible target for a completed novel should be mid to late 2017, as of this writing and with all digits crossed.

Monday, 12 September 2016

A Book And A Plan (12/9/16)

Well, back now from a much needed adjournment to Spain and ready for new writing challenges. So, what to expect for the remainder of 2016?

As mentioned before, more content will be coming on, so be sure to check there every week for a new review or editorial. Also, new work will start on Very Strange Things before long, so that should be very exciting and refreshing, and, to add to a growing list, now I´ll be attempting my first novel. I've even got my dear friend Luke Ceranic to whip up some concept art for the titular character, as you can see below:

A children´s adventure tale, at this point just very simply titled Joel, that is a love letter to old school European adventure storytelling, in the tradition of the likes of Verne and Doyle through to Herge and Edgar P. Jacobs. I´ve been steadily working on it since the last days of the trip, and aim to have a workable draft within a month, maybe less. Naturally, as it progresses and evolves, I'll post up updates. Target for a complete novel should be mid 2017, as of this time.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Follow my Official Facebook Page! (26/8/16)

So, this is something I've been planning for a while and finally, I just said screw it and did it: I now have an official page on FB, which covers all updates on my professional work and projects. This includes new film reviews (I`m now with, and am working on joining some more places) as well as all my creative writing (books, plays, scripts).

If you like my film stuff on Youtube or Deviantart (as either MOVIE-Nut or ScreenCritique), give the page a like and follow me! It also means if you´d ever like to ask me questions, well, now you can on there.

Well? Still waiting?



Sunday, 14 August 2016

I am now a writer with ThirdActFilm (15/8/16)

Hope everyone is doing well and naturally, my apologies for a lack of more consistent updates, but well, life catches up with the best of us. Just wanted to mention that I´m now, in more step towards turning my hobby into a more active field of legitimate employment, a writer/critic with movie website ThirdActFilm.

Check out the links below for my first published articles on the site: First, I discuss possibly Ridley Scott´s most head-scratching movie. And yes, that includes Exodus and the many cuts of Blade Runner.

And then, I review one of Bill Murray's earliest dramatic efforts, 1984´s The Razor´s Edge.

Friday, 29 July 2016

The Future of My Youtube Channel and other online output (29/7/16)

A little late on this one, but it's still important all the same for those who have followed me online and regularly watched or read my material.

Video below explains all.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Doctor Who: Time Shadows - An interview with me (17/7/16)

Thanks to all those who have bought a copy of Time Shadows. I'm very proud of the hard work put into it and hope you are enjoying reading it as much as I and the everyone else enjoyed writing it.

Recently, the guys at Pseudoscopic did interviews with their writers. Here's mine:

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Doctor Who: Time Shadows - Charity Anthology On Sale Now! (14/6/16)

After several months of hard work, delays and personal to-dos, Time Shadows, the unofficial, unauthorized Doctor Who short-story anthology for the benefit of the Enable Community Foundation, is now available for order! Enjoy a collection of 25 fun, dark or wild tales with all twelve Doctors, from a variety of veteran and new authors to the franchise (including Daleks' mainstay John Peel and myself, Abel Diaz), all connected by an over arcing story giving the anthology its name, starring Twelve and Clara. It also comes with a foreword from Gary Russell, an accomplished Who author (Scales of Injustice, Divided Loyalties)and script editor during the Davies era.

My own story is a fun little sci-fi western called Iron Joe, starring temperamental old Six and his steadfast American companion, Peri. Naturally I won't spoil much, just give you the little blurb:
The Sixth Doctor and Peri are aboard the recently inaugurated Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. However, the train is soon assailed by bandits, including one whose legend has spread all over the west. An unstoppable man of metal known only as “Iron Joe”.

Get your copy here and support a really good cause for the physically impaired and disabled. Every penny counts and we are beyond grateful for it and the lives you help make a difference to:

Thanks again and hope you enjoy our collective labour's fruits,



Monday, 6 June 2016

State of affairs - real life and Time Shadows (6/6/16)

So, been a while since the last post. Not much to report I'm afraid, both due to my actual job eating up a lot of time lately, thus limiting my writing capacity, and that there are a few things cooking that I don't want to disclose until more finalized so I don't, for lack of a better term, jinx myself and make false promises.

The big thing, in fact the main thing, I will say is... this is almost at hand...

God I'm pumped!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

What I'm up to: Musicals, shorts and a novel or two (1/5/16)

Well well, been a while since I gave an update on my actual projects. Well, I've got some fun goodies for you!

First up, Peter Grey threw up an online call for a book writer for his new comedy musical production, based on a yet undisclosed novel. To apply, one has to send a short bio along with a sketch they written. My sketch is oh so uniquely and creatively titled The Butcher's Sketch and well, plays out that seemingly mundane scenario with a few fun little twists.

Now, following on from The Cannibal's Culinary Guidebook, I've decided to throw out another outline, one for a Holmes novel no less, to Thebes Publishing. It's called The Atlantean Conundrum, and this is the basic jist:

Spring, 1890: An incredible archaeological find is exhibited at the British Museum: a mysterious tome with unknown writing, found in what some speculate is Plato’s tomb near Athens. At the same time, a young woman is found murdered near the Thames, strange markings riddling her arms and no means of identification. Indeed, according to Holmes, she doesn’t even appear to be familiar with most modern norms of dress or behaviour. What seems like random crimes turn into a race for that most famous of lost cities, as Holmes battles those who'd kill to find it, and those who'd kill to keep it secret.

Third, I've written a new short film script, for submission, The ArtsEd Drama School in London,  based on the legend of Faustus. The piece is called Sign Here. I managed to get in on time before the deadline of April 30th, although now that's moot as they extended the deadline into May. The upside is that it gives me more more time to work on the second short that would've been submitted alongside Sign Here, called Been There, about a young man who invents time travel to correct something that haunts him.

And well, there you have it. As always, many thanks for your continued support on my different platforms. Also, be sure to check out the ongoing journey of my own animated series, Very Strange Things, here (fun ahead!):

Friday, 22 April 2016

Writing For Musicals - A Workshop By A.C. Smith (17/4/16)

So on Sunday, finding not much of anything to occupy myself with, decided to attend a workshop dedicated to the craft of book and lyric writing at the Theatre Delicatessen in Farringdon. The session was taught by theatre veteran A.C. (Ali) Smith, who has worked on a number of shows with hr biggest credit being a co-book writer on the West End production of the hit comedy musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, based on the much loved Frank Oz film.

The workshop was broken in two halves: first half was on the book/libretto, which is the backbone of the show that ties the songs together in a narrative. A book writer differs from a playwright, despite both working on the stage, in that musicals are a collaborative effort over the singular vision of a normal play, and thus a writer has to be conscious of far more elements and people than they would if they were writing a regular piece. It can also be a thankless job, as most praise for musicals tend to go on the songs and performances moreso than the libretto (shows like CATS and We Will Rock You have often had their narratives questioned, yet are still very popular because of the music.). The upside is that it encourages a writer to be much tighter in their plotting and pacing, getting from song to song while creating stakes and a journey worth going on with our characters (usually one or two, as multiple characters tend to lean towards revues).

An effective book, Smith explained, was divided into two main lists: the 'keys' and the 'stages', both self explanatory. Five keys in fact:
  1. Vivid, charismatic characters worth following. Who are they and what do they want?
  2. Tighter plotting.
  3. Dramatic action with weight and purpose. Songs play an important role here, propelling narrative and characters forward.
  4. Imaginative world building, transporting an audience.
  5. Elements of comedy and drama/light and shadow to create balance.
And then three stages. Again, very obvious:
  1. Outline
  2. Expand
  3. Condense
Naturally, all this is well and good, but what do you do when you don't have songs? Not to worry, as you can have dialogue placeholders that convey whatever the final song is meant to, and again, revisions can and will smooth this out. Jukebox musicals (Rock of Ages, Jersey Boys) are not far off from that, albeit there you have to weave in and justify existing songs in the show.

Structures can vary, though the standard (from a writer's perspective), are a three (covered this one many times before in the blog, so I won't reiterate) and a five act (i.e., something like tragedy, where the first two setup our lead, his/her wants and how he 'gets' what he/she wants, while the last three show his fall). But wait, you say, most musicals are played in two! That's more for commercial reasons instead of narrative ones, and just means you may get a break at the end of 'Act One' i.e. act two in a three, or act two/three in a five, depending on your story.

The second half was devoted to lyrics which, believe it or not, don't necessarily require you to be a musician nor are they poetry with music. Lyrics are something that can be very infuriating at first, but as you get used to them and find your voice and style, they can become a second nature, and coupled with the many different types of 'texture' and 'flavours' words can have, there really is no wrong answer other than keeping it true to the character who is singing it (you wouldn't have a comedy relief singing something really profound and complicated) and not to cheat/go overboard with rhyming. It is important not to confuse rhyming with what is called 'Identity' i.e. Shaped/Shape, Fuse/Confused, where the words almost but do not sound similar. You can also create connections with vowels and even just the melodies of a song.

As with books, Smith outlined six rules of lyrics:
  1. Character first: it has to fit them, as stated above.
  2. Hook/motif: What is the heart of the song/unites it, and what makes it catchy?
  3. Structure: How does its shape affect its meaning? A standard formula goes A, A, B, A, which translates to Introduction, Expansion, Contrast and Return.
  4. Rhyme: Usually, second and fourth line. Good to consult rhyming dictionaries and thesauruses if ever in trouble.
  5. Scansion: words set the way one would speak them so as to flow better in song.
  6. Singability: don't give a singer an impossible chore to sing. Simplicity is key, and complexity must be used sparingly and for a purpose.
To demonstrate this, Smith played us a song from one of her own projects: My Secret Love, which tells of Queen Elizabeth I and her worries for her lover, Lord Dudley. Listen to the track and read the lyrics at the official page here. It takes on a folk song-ish dimension in its stylings, and Smith was very determined to keep the language as period authentic as possible to create an authenticity that fit both the era and the character. The AABA method is present here, though the instrumental serves as the Contrast here, and the hook here is the repeated use of 'secrets'.

And with that, our time sadly drew to a close. I must say, this was rather fun and a most welcome change of pace! Great atmosphere, friendly people and plenty of helpful tips. The fact is, I have loved musicals all of my life, from the Disney Renaissance gems like Aladdin and Lion King, to many beloved screen and stage classics like Singin' In The Rain  and Victor Victoria. I just love the ability of music, especially musical theatre, to inform, inspire and of course, create laughter. I enjoy the sight of a smiling audience, engrossed in whatever my work happens to be, and I had long been interested into expanding int musicals. I even tried to make my last University short film a musical! I felt the workshop was thorough and most helpful, though I lament we didn't get to do exercises in lyric writing as I would've liked to try and out what we had learnt to use. Oh well.

Friday, 1 April 2016

New stage play, 'Cull', doing the rounds (1/4/2016)

So a few days back I mentioned I was going to begin work on a comic play called Interviews. However, I found I was unable to really get a good hook going for the narrative, so instead I put it on the backburner and chose to focus on an idea I've had for, actually, a number of ideas and even toyed with doing as a short film at one point. This new work is entitled Cull.

Cull is set in a dystopian near future Britain, where overpopulation and resource scarcity has reached crisis point, and so the question arises: to save the country, would its leader kill its people? Four people at the height of government debate over the merits of such a dark notion.

So now begins the round of sending out to suitable competitions and theatre companies. Break a leg or twenty!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Cannibal Novel in the works, plus new stage play and Who (24/3/2016)

So, a few fun little tidbits for you (and well, Happy Easter).

First, my submission for Time Shadows, the Doctor Who charity anthology, is now all squared off and ready to go. Be sure to visit the official website for more details. Expect it to materialize this May.

Second, I have just written an outline for a comic horror novel that I submitted to indie published Thebes Publishing (you may recall them from the aborted Sherlock Holmes short story last summer). It's entitled The Cannibal's Culinary Guide, and it's basically if you took a Rick Stein or other foodie travelogue, but had it presented by Hannibal Lecter. I've had a great love for the darker end of satire and the surreal, so this may be my chance to have a go.

And last but not least, I am now working on a new stage play titled Interviews, dealing with, well, just that.A young man goes for a series of interviews, only to face a series of hurdles and strange questions.

Friday, 11 March 2016

New short film screenplay cooking for NFS (11/3/2016)

So, another month, another new screenplay opportunity. This time, from the Northern Film School, who are looking for short, 3 minute screenplays for their students to produce next year.

So, ever the opportunist, In decided to throw my hat in the ring with a short piece entitled Have A Chat. Can't say much for now, other than it's a father and son story. Well, fingers crossed and break a leg or nine.

Well, for this and a few other things I have up my sleeve. Stay tuned...

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Little Visitor - My University short script, now available (6/3/2016)

So after a year since the big day, you can finally view the piece of writing that was my final Opus at Middlesex, the fantasy family drama Little Visitor. Huge thanks to James Charlton and David Cottis, my then tutors, for having faith in my skills and being there to provide help and feedback.

Read it here:
And naturally, if you can, comments and feedback are massively appreciated. Sharing helps too!

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Remembering Keith Matthews - Support His Works (27/2/16)

Now normally I don't do plugs or tell my followers or the average punter online to do this or buy that, but this is something very special and something very close to me that I feel the need to share it with anyone who will listen, and who wants to laugh.

For those who don't follow me or my special animation blog, Very Strange Things: Journey of An Animated Series, Keith Matthews was the manager of the Oxfam charity bookstore I work at, and was a vastly talented actor, musician, theatre director, and writer in various mediums. He performed in many shows over 45 years, as well as being an expert on the UK radio game show Just a Minute (on which he contributed to two published books as a consultant with his almost encyclopedic knowledge). In the midst of all this and acting as a carer for his frail mother, he found the time to write a ridiculously large number of plays, poems, short stories and novel length works. He was a friendly, welcoming and trusting man who always had your back and would help you anyway he can. Be it practical advice or even cracking a joke, Keith could work wonders and even meeting the likes of Peter O'Toole, Kenneth Williams and Paul Merton didn't go to his head.

Sadly, Keith passed away at the still youthful and lively age of 55 in June of last year. It was a shock to all of us, me not just because he had been assisting my animation project by directing an audio adaptation of the pilot for use as an animatic track, but because he and I had been discussing our own projects and my anxieties over the future, now that I had left University. He had just finished helping out on the most recent Just A Minute book, and his spirits were never higher. As his coffin passed into the incinerator, accompanied to the tune of Somewhere Over The Rainbow from his favourite film, I thought that was the end of it. Keith's amazing talents and gifts would be remembered by a select few, but ultimately be forgotten to history.

But then, life had other plans: during the twilight of last year, his close friend and fellow thespian Richard Taylor managed to compile Keith's various manuscripts and through Amazon's CreateSpace, finally got Keith's life works published in a series of volumes. Click on the link to go to the special Amazon UK page which lists the following:
  • Poems, Stories and Song Lyrics: A collection of just that, including the very touching Real Life Dreams, which was read at his funeral.
  • Fiction and Fact: 11 Short Stories and Novelettes: another self-explanatory collection, offering a mixtures of thinkers, shockers and knee slappers.
  • All Three Volumes of S.O.S (Save Our Souls): Probably Keith's pride and joy, S.O.S is a semi-autobiographical sitcom series of plays that tells of the hijinks at a charity store. He had performed it before, many years back with a full cast at the Oxfam, and had even gotten talking to a producer at BBC Radio (3, if memory serves) about going one step further. Needlessly to say, the audience lapped it up and Keith took great pleasure in the series' power to make them laugh.
All five are available on paperback and kindle, each for under £5, well below what similar books would sell normally. If you can spare the change for even one of them, please do so. Keith had a unique gift in life, and now even after he's gone, I hope he will continue to bring joy into the lives of others for years to come. It's how he lived, and it's how he would've liked to be remembered.

- Abel Diaz,
writer and friend.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Young Harts Festival 2016 - Stage Play submission (14/2/16)

So today I threw my hat into the contest ring yet again by submitting my little ten minute play Child's Dawn (formerly Child of Dawn) for the Young Harts Writing Festival 2016. Read up more here:

So yeah, a fun little opportunity to debut what it the second play I've ever written (following on from the still cooking Master Heist) and the rewards are mighty appealing.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

When I tried to make a Musical... (31/1/16)

So after a year of near constant procrastination, I finally decided to talk about an aborted project of mine that would've been my third year University dissertation at Middlesex.

And just for good measure, also discussed some Youtube work too:

Sunday, 17 January 2016

'Iron Joe' update, more play drafts (17/1/16)

So finally cranked out another draft of my short story for the Doctor Who anthology, Time Shadows. Did some major dialogue and prose polishing, and big thanks to my editors for being so supportive and understanding.

Now on a more substantial end, I am finishing up the third draft of a now much more expanded Master Heist as well as the first draft of a new fantasy period play titled Child of Dawn. Set in Germany in the run up to WW2, a small boy is out to enjoy some fishing in the woods only to stumble across a strange little girl, lost out there.

With any stroke of luck, both should be ready for contest submissions by month's end. Or because it's the theatre I should say 'break a leg', right?

Monday, 4 January 2016

Sherlock Holmes and The Resurrection Men, and more (4/1/2016)

And so I open 2016 with an entry from 2015. Here, after months of left turns and delays, is my own effort at a Sherlock tale, uploaded on Deviantart for your enjoyment:

And well, in non-DA news, I'm hard at work on a new draft of Iron Joe for Time Shadows. Should been shortly, and then off it goes for evaluation. With any bit of luck, the book should be on track for its spring 2016 release date.

With any luck, you'll be getting more juicy tidbits in the coming weeks. I have a few things on the boil...