Bad Relationship

It seems so long ago but once we were in a happy relationship with Movie Live Maker. Ok Movie Maker, it wasn’t all good and maybe time apart and nostalgia has made us forget the problems we had with you. Like how you’d freeze when we touched you. How even the simplest commands would lead you to have a complete meltdown. Looking back, the signs you were unstable were there from the beginning. But we were naive. Inexperienced. You were our first (editing software). Everything was new, thrilling. The rush that we’d found something we could understand was overwhelming. At first we got on so well. Whatever we wanted, you did. But then the doubts started creeping in. You weren’t as quick as you used to be. You wouldn’t open up for us like you used to. As we got more experienced, we realised you weren’t everything we thought you were. In fact, you weren’t as clever or brilliant as we thought you were. You were actually pretty simple. Limited. As we grew in confidence, we realised you were just holding us back. Stopping us from reaching our potential. We could be so much more with something else. Software who met our needs and gave us what we wanted.

Then we met Power Director 10. It was flash, experienced, everyone who’d ever had it loved it. At first we were nervous. Movie Maker, you were the only one we’d been with and well, that ended badly. We were scarred. Afraid to try something new. But gradually Power Director won our trust. It showed us what it could do. Best all it, it didn’t freeze when we touched it. It understood our impatience and love for speed and instead of forcing us to slow down, it embraced it. Finally we could achieve so many new things with something better. It was fantastic. We were swept up in the thrill of having something that responded to our commands, that listened to us, that did everything we asked of it. Finally we found something that DESERVED our attention. Everyone commented how much BETTER Power Director was for us. How they’d noticed the change. We wasted hours on you. We put you out of our heads. We couldn’t even bring ourselves to mention your name because saying it brought the bad memories flooding back.

Until now. We don’t want to admit it but the doubt are creeping in. While Power Director is better than you in every way and we’re happy with it, it’s just…it’s too clever for it’s own good. Sure it can do fancy transitions and its effects leave us breathless but it has a real problem with the simple things, like captions. Text. It leaves massive spaces in between the lines and frankly when faced with any kind of text it just can’t perform. That’s where you used to shine. You understood our love for words. You nurtured it, let us put the text where we wanted and didn’t leave huge spaces in between the lines.

We know the break up was bitter. We regret the way we slagged you off to all our friends online, badmouthed you to anyone who would listen and flaunted our relationship with Power Director in your face. But you hurt us so badly. We’re not naive any more. We now appreciate your simplicity. Yes you froze but maybe we weren’t patient enough. Maybe our inexperience was part of the problem.

Will you take us back?

Here’s something we wrote, just to express how we feel.

It’s all coming back to us now (Celine Dion)

There were nights when the task was complex
That the programme froze in place
If we tried to direct it
to something complicated.

There were days when you were so slow
That our projects turned to dust
And we just knew our time was
ending forever

We bought Power Director in the instant that we left
And we can’t remember where or when or how
And we deleted every project you and us had ever made

But when we want text like this
And you do it like that
We just have to admit
That it’s all coming back to us
When we want simple like this
And you’re simple like that
It’s so hard to believe but
It’s all coming back to us
(It’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to us now)

There were moments of good
And there were flashes of light
We said we’d never use you again
But now you seem so right
There were nights of endless cursing
It was more than our computer allowed!
Movie Maker!

If we load you like this
And you perform just like that
Our work was lost long ago
But it’s all coming back to us
If you do captions like this
And do transitions like that
You were dead long ago
But it’s all coming back to us
You’re so hard to resist
And it’s all coming back to us
We can barely recall
But it’s all coming back to us now

There were those empty threats and hollow lies
And whenever you tried to close down
We just cursed you even worse
And so much deeper

There were projects that just went on for days
When alone at last we’d count up all the slides
That were lost to us forever

But you were history with the arrival of new software
And we made ourselves get good with it somehow
And we never wasted any of our time on you since then

But when we want text like this
And you do it like that
We just have to admit
That it’s all coming back to us
When we want simple like this
And you’re simple like that
It’s so hard to believe but
It’s all coming back to us
(It’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to us now)

There were moments of good
And there were flashes of light
We said we’d never use you again
But now you seem so right
There were nights of endless cursing
It was more than our computer allowed!
Movie Maker!

If we load you like this
And you perform just like that
You were gone with the wind
But it’s all coming back to us
When you see me like this
And when we see you like that
Then we see what we want to see
All coming back to us
The text and the fantasies
All coming back to us
We can barely recall
But it’s all coming back to us now

If you forgive us all this
If we forgive you all that
We forgive and forget
And it’s all coming back to us
When you see us like this
And when we see you like that
We see just what we want to see
All coming back to us
The text and the book trailer
All coming back to us
We can barely recall but it’s all coming back to us now

No photos please!

If we ever reported on a Calamityville Horror episode that didn’t go horribly wrong, the universe might curl up and die. We screw up so you can live. Friday night we conducted an emergency investigation at our sister’s house. When we left, the K2 started going crazy in their kitchen. It hasn’t responded there since. Ryan was supposed to join us but he fell asleep so was late arriving at our house. We went alone. And nothing went wrong. He’s clearly the catalyst for disaster.

On Saturday we headed out to film episode 8. We made shortbread dinosaurs, which if we’re honest, our excitement levels about the trip & the biscuits were equal. We’d been talking to someone from Powis Castle on Twitter and they were thrilled we were going, except that person wasn’t working on Saturday. Saturday was cold and we set off for the two and half hour trip. Remarkably, we didn’t get lost. Angels fell to their knees and wept in surprise. As soon as we spied the castle, our excitement levels went into overdrive. It towered above the peasants like a stone vision of beauty. We nearly cried at the £12 entry fee though. That included the castle, museum and gardens but we’ve never paid that much for a location. Choking back our tears, we headed inside.

Only to discover you weren’t allowed to photograph anything. Or film anything. Or touch anything. Or wear high heels. Or have your phone switched on. Or wear bags. Dust causes damage as well, apparently. So no dropping skin. Surprised there wasn’t a ‘don’t breathe on anything’ sign. Every single object had signs telling you not to touch. Apparently Lord Powis owns the copyright to every object. Now it’s been a few years since we studied Law but we’re pretty sure you can’t copyright belongings. They reckoned bags would knock objects over. But since every room was roped off, barring you from entering, the danger of knocking something over was minimal. Actually, impossible. And apparently phones interfered with the alarm system. Think this is something Mythbusters would like to test out. Oh and there was an obscene amount of National Trust volunteers standing in every corridor and room in stony silence making sure the peasants behaved themselves. They reckoned one visitor season causes as much damage as 25 years of family life. Here’s a suggestion – don’t open the castle up and take an extortionate amount of money from people to go and admire how wealthy you are if your objects are photosensitive. In fact, why not dig a big hole and bury the castle to protect it from the environment. No wait, soil probably causes damage.

Rant over. It is absolutely beautiful and worth a visit. Just not worth £12. We suggest you pay for the castle then stand at the windows and stare down at the gardens. So episode 8 was in serious jeopardy. Once again we phoned our mum for an emergency back up location. Now she did warn us to always have a Plan B but in our defence, we didn’t read anything about the strict rules of the castle before going. She found us Shrewsbury castle, which was 20 mins away and haunted by Jack, who’s a cross between Blue Beard and Ted Bundy. Time was running short. Then the road we wanted was closed so by the time we reached Shrewsbury, the castle was closed. Thoroughly pissed off, we came home.

So on Sunday we set out to Castell Coch, which is about 10 minutes from us. It’s haunted by Dame Griffiths, whose son fell into a bottomless pit of water and was never found, and a treasure seeking Knight. We took Radar, one of our Renault 4s. He attracted more attention than the castle did! Castell Coch is a proper fairytale castle, high up on jagged cliffs known as Devil’s Drop. It’s a popular suicide site. That kinda ruins the fairytale image, but then this isn’t a Disney film. The scariest thing we encountered was the tuna and pasta salad Ryan insisted on bringing. Puke in a Pot we call it. The K2 was silent throughout but we had fun arguing over who was having Lady Bute’s bedroom when we seize the castle (us) and pretending to be spies as we sneaked around the roof holding imaginary guns and stalking visitors. Yes this did happen. We have video evidence. We then investigated the grounds to find this bottomless pool of water. Didn’t find it. We did however find a rope swing someone had made and had so much fun on it, then when some kids showed up, we made them wait their turn.

Watch the episode here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pi-oWypn4qk

Market Place

As Gunning Down Romance was three months old on Monday, we thought we’d blog about marketing and what we’ve found helps. To be blunt – nothing. So far the only people who’ve bought it are some of our friends on Facebook and Twitter, and a couple members of our family. Ok, our mum, sister and we think our uncle, but he’s staying quiet about it. Whilst 41 copies in three months isn’t bad for newly self-published writers, as GDR is priced at 99c, we only get the 35% royalty rate from Amazon – a point we vehemently disagree with but can’t do anything about. We wrote and formatted the book, why the hell should they get the bigger profit for doing sod all? But that’s a rant for another time.

So far we’ve done the usual promotion on Facebook and Twitter, posting buy links and links to the book trailer, but we haven’t earned back the £16 we spent on images for that trailer. We’ve been guest bloggers and even featured in a couple of magazines, yet haven’t sold a single copy from these. We’ve put up posters, sent out bookmarks around the world and even done two giveaways. A grand total of three people entered the second giveaway and one had already bought it, so we’re giving copies to her to pass along.

So far, what we’ve done, hasn’t worked. But saying that, there’s one marketing ploy that seems to be gaining favour with authors, that we will NEVER do – spamming. We hear about it all the time. Someone follows you, so out of courtesy or because they seem interesting, you follow them back. What do they do IMMEDIATELY? Send you a message, telling you to buy their book. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! We find this unbelievably rude and a major turn-off. They’re just as bad as cold callers and those pushy salesmen who leave a bad taste in your mouth. We’re not the only ones who feel this way, yet these authors don’t seem to understand the concept of decency.

Another version of this is the automated spam messages that clog your Twitter timeline like blocked arteries. Non-stop automated messages telling you to buy their book, it’s amazing, automated links to reviews that say how marvellous their book is. We will NOT buy from robots! Telling us to buy your book isn’t an incentive. We refuse to buy from them out of principle. We’ve also unfollowed people who do that.

Saying that, we have bought books from authors we follow. Why? Because we like them. Because they write tweets themselves, they don’t set a machine to do it. They interact with us. We’ve got to know them and like them and because of this, we’ve bought their books. In return, they’ve bought ours.

As writers, you’re told to build your brand, market yourself, get your name out there. Maybe we suck at that. But we’d rather get one or two sales a month from people we like than five from people we’ve strong armed into buying it. So you made a sale? Impressive. But will they read it? Review it? Probably not. They might’ve bought it just to shut you the hell up. Personally gags work better. So maybe these pushy people can be forgiven for their aggressive sales technique, after all, it’s what you’re told to do. But they seem to have forgotten something – Twitter is a SOCIAL media network. Social means interaction. It’s not a salesroom. If all they want to do is sell, sell, sell then go work for a car showroom. And stay the hell away from Twitter.

The best things in life are free

We’ll let you be the judge of that. Next week will be Gunning Down Romance’s three month anniversary. So we’re giving away some free copies on our Facebook fan club https://www.facebook.com/pages/CL-Raven-Fanclub/117592995008142 and the Gunning Down Romance fan page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gunning-Down-Romance/234554763292573 but we know that not everyone is on Facebook, so here’s how you win one.

Competition 1 – In Kiss of Death, Jaimie goes to extreme lengths to get what she wants (the perfect man). Have you ever gone to extreme lengths to get what you want?

Competition 2 – In ‘Til Death us do Part, mannequins feature heavily. So we want stories of things that have happened to you involving mannequins OR photos of you posing with mannequins. The funnier the better. But please don’t break the mannequins, we can’t afford to pay for breakages.

Competition 3 – In The Black Kiss, D exacts a gory revenge on guys who cheat on their girlfriends. Have you ever taken revenge and was it worth it?

So comment to enter, or like the fan pages and enter that way. Deadline is the 13th of May for the winner to be announced on the 14th.

Mansion Family

Yesterday we went to Woodchester Mansion in Gloucestershire for the next episode of C.A.T.S Calamityville Horror. It was a fun day filled with getting lost, Ryan falling over numerous times, a possible spectral sighting, illness and casual nudity in a services car park.

That got your attention didn’t it? 😀 Ryan wanted to take his car and decided to wash some bird’s muck off her. Then, seeing the clean patch he’d created, he gave her a full wash, only for her to become covered in flies when we reached Woodchester. How we laughed. He also kept driving the wrong way, going right when we told him to go left etc and bought yoghurts with him for the trip, forgetting to bring a spoon to eat them with. Then his Sat Nav kept getting us lost.

Haunted sightings of Woodchester include a headless horseman, believed to be Sir Rupert de Lansigny who murdered his cousin and inherited Spring Park, where Woodchester Mansion currently stands; a floating coffin above a lake, believed to belong to a friar who committed suicide; a rider in Civil War clothing and possibly ghosts of other people who were murdered or died accidentally there. A servant girl was murdered there, as was a builder, around 1840. It was mysteriously abandoned during construction in 1868. There were 6 accidental deaths and 1 murder during its construction. A black dog has reputedly been seen inside, coinciding with the deaths of people closely associated with the building. The only dog we saw was an old mongrel called Woody who belonged to one of the workers and loved us giving him a cuddle. There was absolutely no phone signal around the mansion, the park surrounding it or even in the car park, which was a mile away, so if we’d been faced with murderous ghosts, we wouldn’t have been able to phone the Ghostbusters for assistance.

When we finally arrived at the mansion, we were setting up to film an introduction piece. Cat, who was side on to the mansion, saw someone pass by the second floor window, immediately assumed it was a tourist and joked to Ryan and Lynx about seeing someone, hoping to freak them out. It wasn’t until we got home and viewed the footage that we realised there is NO floor by that window. You enter the mansion and look straight up to the roof. It could’ve been a trick of the light, the way we often see things out the corner of our eyes. No-one else saw it and the camera wasn’t trained on that window. Being non believers, we’ll keep trying to find ways to explain what she saw. Maybe it was a case of too much Red Bull.

The mansion is stunning. It will look better when we take it over  and turn it into Casa Raven. But we’ll keep quiet about that for now, so they don’t suspect anything when we show up with a ramraiding party. The K2 meter didn’t respond at all through the mansion, though Lynx did become very ill in the chapel. She has a nasty cold and it was probably the dust, as most of the wood inside looks new, but she was struck by a coughing fit that got worse as we climbed up to a platform overlooking the chapel, leaving her unable to breathe. Once we left the chapel she recovered. We ducked into a little nook and waited for Ryan so we could jump out and frighten him. We waited. And waited. And waited. We accidentally frightened a teenage girl and when Ryan finally did show up, he wasn’t scared when we leapt out at him. We were gutted. His girly shrieks echoing through the mansion would’ve been immensely enjoyable.

The best bit of the entire trip was when Ryan handed his beloved iPhone and Steadicam to Lynx to film while he did a speech at the top of the cellar stairs. He pressed the record button, walked into the shot all professional, turned, and fell down the stairs. Our laughter probably frightened off tourists. He only fell down two steps but it was a classic Ryan moment that is forever immortalised on film. In the cellar itself, he freaked out when something touched his face. We attributed it to a cobweb and scanned him with the K2. There was nothing. So this was en episode that truly lived up to its name of Calamityville, though sadly, not the Horror part.

Watch the epsiode here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciSYtKMzsVY

Dead on Demand

Today we’re handing over Ravens Retreat keys to Sean and Dan Campbell, the amazing duo behind 90 Days Novel. So you can expect a a professional, coherent, knowledgeable post for a change. We’re very excited to have them here. Not only because we’re big fans of their challenge, but they are also our first male guests, proving how brave they are to step inside this gloomy realm. So we’ll leave you to get to know them while we choose which Monopoly to play and try to figure out how to out-cheat a barrister.

Hello all!

We’re delighted to be joining the gorgeous CL Raven twins for a blog post today.

We’re Dan and Sean, the writing siblings behind 90daysnovel.com

Our challenge was to write, edit, proof, format and publish a novel within 90 days. We even wanted to market it, and get cover design done in that period.

It’s been a really tough challenge – neither of us has written so much as a postcard before. As a lawyer and a chef, our talents are most decidedly not of the literary kind.

Despite being obvious underdogs we have actually written a whole book – 80,000 words total. It’s called Dead on Demand.

In ‘Dead or Demand’ our main character Edwin Murphy is a self made man who is experiencing some major difficulties. His wife Eleanor is leaving him, and is planning on taking their only child abroad leaving Edwin penniless and alone in London. In a desperate bid to regain his former lifestyle he decides that she must die. With her out of the picture he would regain his home, his daughter and not have to worry about his finances.

The problem is, Edwin isn’t a macho man. He’s never killed anyone before, and probably couldn’t if he tried.  So he devises a plan to swap murders with someone else. He’ll agree to kill their victim if they agree to kill his. The story follows Edwin as he tries to go through with his plan, and the events that unfold as a result. There may not be a perfect crime, but reasonable doubt isn’t out of his reach.

Our story is, we hope, quite original. Criminals adapt well, and Edwin is very adaptive. The story sees him try to get away with killing his wife in order to a) claim on the inheritance, b) get custody of his daughter and c) not get cleaned out in a messy divorce. Edwin runs into a number of obstacles along the way, and the book explores the motives for murder, as well as the more practical elements of being a criminal (Disclaimer, don’t try this at home!).

Before we ramble on too long, I’d like to leave you with a small excerpt and a peak at our cover image. We’ll be on Amazon shortly, so keep up with us via twitter @90daysnovel, facebook or via our blog.

With suspicion clouding her judgement, it was often hard to be sufficiently empathetic.

The news clearly came as a shock. Mrs Sugden just sat there, silent. A tear rolled down her cheek.

It was her sister who broke the silence.

“How did Peter die?”

Hayley paused. It was an odd situation. She had dealt with murder victims, accidental deaths and even cot deaths in the past. Death by self defence was not in her repertoire of expertise.

“He drowned in the river Thames. I’m ever so sorry.” It was the truth. The widow didn’t need to know the specifics of how he ended up in the river.

Thanks again to the awesome CL Raven twins for having us. It’s fantastic seeing how successful sibling co-authors can be.

See you soon,

Dan and Sean

Music Maestros


We’ve been set this challenge by our fellow members of The Society of Awesomness #TSOA Anya Breton and Ryan Burt. This simple-sounding challenge has nearly reduced us to tears of frustration. Not because we didn’t get the selection we hoped for, but after 2 years of owning our MP3 Players, we realised we didn’t know how to put them on to shuffle. We had to fetch the manual. This is both tragic and far more shameful than any song that might appear in our list. We have to shuffle twice, because the challenge is for 20 and ours only lets us do 13. So here goes.

1. ‘The Pretender’ – Foo Fighters

2. ‘Toy Soldiers’ – Martika

3. ‘Save You’ – Simple Plan

4. ‘A Thousand Words’ – Savage Garden

5. ‘Muscle Museum’ – Muse

6. ‘Do Da Da’ – Green Day

7. ‘Peacemaker’ – Green Day

8. ‘Some day the fire’ – Funeral for a Friend

9. ‘Smooth Criminal’ – Michael Jackson

10. ‘Last night on earth’ – Green Day

11. ‘Queen of New Orleans’ – Jon Bon Jovi

12. ‘Waste’ – Seether

13. ‘WAMS’ – Fall Out Boy

14. ‘Born to be Wild’ – Steppenwolf

15. ‘Glory Days’ – Bruce Springsteen

16. ‘Betty Davis Eyes’ – Kim Cairns

17. ‘Eyes without a Face’ – Billy Idol

18. ‘In Your Room’ – The Bangles

19. ‘I Alone’ – Live

20. ‘Last Ride In’ – Green Day

No My Chemical Romance? No We Are the Arsenal? *Sobbing*