Robert Rankin

Before You Say You Suck

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Before I started writing I read all the time. Not having a book to read filled me with dread. I’ve been known to read the backs of cereal containers, toilet paper blurbs – anything. My writing trip started very recently, but it really is all encompassing now. I live and breathe my book worlds. Just lately there have been all sorts of troubles with fake, nasty, and jealousy induced reviews popping up. This really pains me. If you look at my reviewer profile you’ll notice that I only ever give five star reviews. This doesn’t mean that I’m a sycophant. If I think a book is worth less than five stars I don’t leave a review at all. I just really, truly believe that as a writer – and a newbie writer at that – it’s really not my place to trash and burn any other scribblers efforts at all.

I take more notice of a book review written by someone who has never so much as scribbled an essay than an award riddled author. I’ve been a reader all my life, and I have hero writer guys who I would defend to the death, regardless of typos, weird characters, or outrageous plots. Hello Robert Rankin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you are an indie author – and not Stephen King – be careful who you trash. Not purely for the possibility that the guy – or girl – who you rain turds on might have a staunch following and squish you like a bug on the old world wide web, but because it’s just not cool.

It’s really true. Everyone’s a critic now, but think before you leap into the fray as a writer. You know how hard it is to pen a book, and you know how painful it is to be told that you suck. Think before you head under the four star train smash. Sometimes it’s kinder to just shut up.


Book Worlds

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Reading has to be one of the best stress relievers there are. I haven’t had much time to read for pleasure lately, but after finishing up a couple of projects by the end of next week, I intend to make some. Reading a lovely review of one of my favourite historical writers today (Philippa Gregory – born in Kenya by the way – another notch in our African belt of great ones) brought on a terrible urge to grab one of her books, curl up somewhere comfy, and get reading.

Books take you away from everyday life to other worlds, times, and places. Movies are good, but with a book, you translate the script into what you see with your mind’s eye. I’m sure that every reader sees the world in a book differently to the way the author visualised it.

I read Stephen King’s, The Shining before I saw the movie, and my visuals of those spooks had been a lot scarier than depicted on the big screen.

Reading isn’t only entertainment, it’s creativity. I don’t know if Anne McCaffrey’s Pern dragon series (the best dragon books ever written in my opinion) were ever turned into movies, but if they were, I don’t want to see them. The cover art was more than enough to start me off, and Pern and its dragonriders have very distinct lives in my mind. I don’t want to change that.

Apart from zooming off to distant planets, or times long gone, sometimes when real life gets a bit tedious or generally not much fun, I’ve headed off to the worlds of my favourite funny guys. Not many of my friends love Terry Pratchett quite as much as I do, but his Discworld series has to be one of the cleverest, funniest ever written. It’s not just the humour, which has had me in half an hour, jaw aching, unstoppable laughathons, it’s the sweet little digs at everyone and everything on this planet. These are not children’s books at all by the way – this author can wield sexual innuendo better than most.

Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy series is another pick me up go to place,

as are all of Robert Rankin’s brilliant books,

but I have to say that the funniest books I’ve ever read have been by Tom Sharpe. Definitely not for under eighteens, but as far as I’m concerned, his books are some of the rudest, most hilarious ever written.

So… If you are not having the best day ever, and things all just seem a little too much, whether it’s tedious relatives having partaken of too much gin after the Easter Sunday lunch, or life just getting you down in general, I suggest you zoom on over to Amazon, or your book supplier of choice, and find a lovely little place elsewhere to spend the rest of your day. Also, find some lovely friends, readers, bloggers, and authors on Google+ – I’d love to see you there. And as a P.S. – any of my African friends (or friends from anywhere really), who might have trouble buying books online, give me a shout, and I will be more than happy to send you any of my scribbles that you might want to read for free.

Till next time friends. xxx


How Do I Love Thee

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I wonder if Kathy Reichs still does such prosaic things as washing dishes. I’m sure Stephen King doesn’t mow the lawn. Robert Rankin’s capable of anything I imagine. He’d more than likely happily wash a pile of greasy pans wearing only a rubber apron and a pink floral shower cap. That’s one of the reasons that I’m so partial to him as a person as well as respecting him greatly as the author of some of the craziest books I’ve ever read. I certainly have to do an inordinate amount of prosaic things though. Just lately it’s been zooming around trying to save things from water damage, and drying out soggy corners to prevent mould. The biblical proportions of rain we’re having has uncovered quite a few leaky bits in the roof. So once again the dream of a romantic corner in an attic somewhere creating fantastical tales takes a back seat to manual labour. I’ve pretty much given up on apologising for always being late for everything too. Anyone who knows the sorts of things that come my way would probably be more surprised if I wasn’t late.

I’m getting African Me & Satellite TV ready for publication on the 31st March. My hero’s diaries need to be filled out with a few poems. That’s just the kind of guy he is. Even though I love poetry, and actually furtively stalk quite a few modern poets, unbeknownst to themselves of course, I’ve never actually had a proper try at writing any. When that sort of thing was happening at high school I was a lot more interested in a gorgeous rugby playing, two legged, poem called Michael, if I recall correctly. It’s a miracle that I passed English at all. So, just as soon as I’ve washed the dishes, fed the feathered horde, bleached a couple of suspiciously mouldy looking walls, and caught up with my beloved social networking, I’ll dig out my mauve beret, find a suitably stubby pencil somewhere, and see if I can wax poetic on the bench near the birdbath under the coffee tree. I’m doubtful of a satisfactory outcome though, so I’ll probably just tiptoe around the web as well, and see if any of my favourite poets would be gracious enough to give me some tips. Much as I love them, some poets carry an air of brooding danger about them, and can seem a little intimidating to us mere mortals. Whether this is cultivated or something particular to the general genetic make-ups of bards I don’t know, but I’ll take care nevertheless. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite poems to be getting on with, and another famous writing, which, whether poem or not, is one of the most beautiful things you could ever read, and an awesome credo to try and live your life by.

Till next time friends. xxx

How Do I Love Thee?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight.
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use, in my old griefs,and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.


Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.