Sunday, 24 June 2012

A big thumbs-up from Chick Lit Plus!

The Drought gets a big thumbs-up from Chick Lit Plus!
The Drought has often been called 'chick-lit for men' so it was great to see a positive book review from the girls over at Chick Lit Plus this week. Check out the review here on the official site or read the full review below...

The Drought by Steven Scaffardi
The Drought by Steven Scaffardi follows Dan Hilles post break-up with long term girlfriend, Stacey. Dan is a pretty average guy – he has a normal job, a regular group of friends, and typical male hang-ups. But, it isn’t until after his break up with Stacey that he realizes just how “average” he is. Dan has been out of the dating game for quite sometime, and although he tries to hop right back in, things aren’t quite as easy as he once imagined. The lack of dating leads to Dan experiencing a “drought” … and I’m not referring to a lack of rain. Yes, he has gone quite sometime without having sex. His closest pals rally together and try their best to help out their friend – but it seems like Dan isn’t willing to help himself and can’t really seem to catch a break. Luckily for Dan, he has Kelly to confide in, and after confessing his woes, she begins to teach him just what makes a woman tick. Is Kelly the answer to his prayers? Will the “drought” ever end?

Here at Chick Lit Plus, we occasionally get requests from authors promoting their newest “Lad Lit” novels. Being a female, I sometimes have difficulty relating to the main characters, but not with this one. Steven Scaffardi’s first novel is absolutely hilarious and will leave every reader, male or female, laughing out loud. I found the characters very relatable and know several friends who have found themselves in very similar situations - albeit not as funny as Dan’s particular story. The Drought is well written and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book that actually brings the laughs.

4/5 stars

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Lad Lit Book Reviews: The Ghost by Robert Harris

Books For Men Book Reviews! The Ghost by Robert Harris
I can’t help but think I should have enjoyed this book more than I did. Don’t get me wrong – it was a good read, but there were one or two things that hold me back from giving this higher praise than I’m about to.

What I’m about to reveal is a bit of a spoiler. It won’t necessarily ruin you reading the book, but I need to reveal it in order to explain my... discomfort whilst reading this book. So here we go...

For some reason the name of the fictional narrator of The Ghost is never revealed, so let’s just call him Bob. When Bob – a professional ghostwriter – is asked to step in to finish writing the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang, he jumps at the chance and jets off to the American resort of Martha's Vineyard.

Lang – who is clearly based on ex-PM Tony Blair (Harris even wrote Blair’s memoirs) – is having a bit of a hard time as he is accused of war crimes. On top of all this, Lang's original ghostwriter has mysteriously died so he is not exactly the happiest of bunnies. In amongst all this we meet Lang’s wife, Ruth. Immediately the face of Cherie Blair sprung to mind, which is not something anyone should have to go through.

So here comes the spoiler – Bob ends up sleeping with Ruth/Cherie, which means that midway through the book I had to endure the image of Cherie Blair bumping uglies. And the fact that when reading a book you put yourself into the shoes of the main character meant that image was of me bumping uglies with Ruth/Cherie.

Now can you see my problem?!

Okay, so this is a piss-poor excuse to give for not giving the book a better review, especially when I actually thought it was fairly decent at the end of the day, so I’ll try to put that sorry incident to one side. On the whole this is a pretty decent read. There are some nice twists and turns, but on the whole I found some parts to be quite slow. And the fact we are basically dealing with a couple like the Blairs who are not about to win any popularity contests anytime soon, doesn’t exactly help you endear to them either.

In terms of the plot, Bob starts to grow suspicious of the death of his predecessor, especially when he finds himself surrounded by a few unsavoury yet very powerful people. But try as he might, Bob can’t walk away and as he delves deeper into the mystery, things begin to unravel that will bring him closer to the truth and danger.

Advice for Indie Authors: You do judge a book by its cover part 2!

Last year I published a blog called You do judge a book by its cover! where I discussed the importance of a good front cover for your novel. One year on I decided to dig out all the nearly covers that didn't quite make the grade for my debut comedy book The Drought

I thought it might be nice to share these, all wonderfully designed by Jacqueline Abromeit at Pen Press, and feel free to leave your feedback as to which one was your favourite...

The Drought by Steve Scaffardi, lad lit, chick lit, funny book, men lit, dick lit, chick lit for men, funny book, books for men,
1. This was all a bit too James Bond for me
and I was never too sure about the plaster!
The Drought by Steve Scaffardi, lad lit, chick lit, funny book, men lit, dick lit, chick lit for men, funny book, books for men,
2. I liked the desert idea so asked to have
a guy running towards the woman...

The Drought by Steve Scaffardi, lad lit, chick lit, funny book, men lit, dick lit, chick lit for men, funny book, books for men,
3. Jacqueline wanted to try and brighten
the cover up so she came up with this...
The Drought by Steve Scaffardi, lad lit, chick lit, funny book, men lit, dick lit, chick lit for men, funny book, books for men,
4. But we decided to tone it down a bit and
tried the cover with a different woman
The Drought by Steve Scaffardi, lad lit, chick lit, funny book, men lit, dick lit, chick lit for men, funny book, books for men,
5. I'm not too sure what we were thinking
with this one! Running out of ideas maybe!
The Drought by Steve Scaffardi, lad lit, chick lit, funny book, men lit, dick lit, chick lit for men, funny book, books for men,
6. So we went back to the original design
and included all our favourite bits

Looking back over all the covers again, I still think I got it right. I remember how excited I was when I saw the design for the first cover, but I think that was because seeing the front cover for your own book starts to bring everything to life a bit more.

But I spoke to friends and on there advice agreed that the design didn't quite capture the tone of the story - it looked a bit like a thriller (minus the heart-shaped plaster of course!). The idea of having a man run towards the image or 'mirage' of a woman in the desert worked, and also looked quite comical.

We also added in some praise The Drought had been given by TV presenters Ortis Deley and Angellica Bell, and the 'Mike Gayle' quote on the front worked really well as it immediately told the reader that my book was in the lad lit or chick lit category.

Now over to you - what is your favourite cover?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Ramblings of a 30-something man... How a phone can make you feel your age!

Ramblings of a 30-something man... How a phone can make you feel your age!
In six months I turn 35. But I'm comfortable with it. I like to think I'm one of those young 30-somethings. I keep myself active, still find time to hang out with the lads, and everyone is always telling me I could easily pass for 28 or 29. I guess all that moisturising has paid off (just don't tell my dad about that - he wouldn't understand). So reaching my mid-30s is not a problem for me. 

That is until I got myself a new phone. Not having quite mastered how to transfer all my numbers across to a new phone at the click of a button, I set about the task of manually inputting in all my numbers.

"Who is Andy Pitman?" my girlfriend asks, scanning through my contacts book as I start the laborious task of switching numbers.

"Oh Andy, he is a top guy! He can sink a pint quicker than any man I've ever met," I boldly gush to her. "We called him Andy Pintman!"

"How come I have never met him?" she asks. A fair question which I don't really have the answer to until it dawns on me that I haven't seen or spoken to Andy for total duration of our relationship - that's six years!

Oh well, friends come and go. That's how the world works. One less number I need to clog up my phone book, and there is always Facebook if I ever fancy seeing the amazing four-second pint chug again. On to the next name.

"Brian Temple," she says, looking at me for my response.

"That's Bri-boy, the big BT!" I say it like that is meant to mean anything to her. "He used to blag us into all the best clubs and could sweet talk any group of girls into having a drink with us!" And with that my girlfriend gives me that same disapproving look I've seen before to signal I'd do well to refrain from saying anything else.

Not that she has anything to worry about of course. The last time I saw Bri-boy was when we were at university.

Wait a minute, that was nearly 15 years ago! "Okay, we can probably delete that one I tell her."

The more names we go through, the more I start to realise that my social pool is shrinking by the second. People who used to be so prominent in my life in those crazy days when I was a bar-hopping party fiend are now nothing more than mere acquaintances at best! 

"I don't think you have seen Paul since you changed jobs, and this number for Simon doesn't even have the correct amount of digits," my girlfriend informs me as I continue to confine my once trusted party contacts to oblivion. "And do you really need your ex-girlfriends number?" she says in a tone which is clear that she is telling me, and not asking me.

By the end of it all my party people contacts are now outnumbered by takeaways and "important contacts" such as the vet. "What has happened to me?" I say rhetorically, but luckily my girlfriend is on hand to answer.

"You're just getting older babe," she says tenderly rubbing her hands through my hair. "The days of you going out all weekend are over. It happens to the best of us. You don't want to be that old guy in the club do you?"

How dare she! Old guy in the club? "Hey, I'm not one of those boring guys who hit their 30s and life starts winding down," I inform her with authority. "I can still party with the best of them! I am not too old to get down in the club I'll have you know!"

"Fine, why don't you give Andy Pintman or the Big BT a call then and see what they're up to tonight?" she sarcastically asks me in response to my rather immature display. 

I slump back into the armchair with my arms folded, before I sheepishly answer: "Because I want to stay in and see who gets through on X-Factor tonight."

Monday, 11 June 2012

Irish fans sing Home & Away - the best football song ever?

Irish fans sing Home & Away - the best football song ever?
Football fans sometimes get a bit of a bad press about the things they chant from the terraces, but few can deny the genius spare of the moment and impromptu songs that some fans are able to think up on the spot.

I can remember one particular trip to Loftus Road back in the 90s and listening the QPR faithful passionately belt out the lyrics Who needs Cantona, when we've got Devon White. The fact you are probably scratching your head trying to remember who the hell Devon White is speaks volumes.

From the re-workings of  Artful Dodger and Craig David's single “Re-Rewind” to create Van Per-sie, when the girl says 'no', molest her to Celtic fans chanting There's only two Andy Gorams at reference to the Rangers keeper being diagnosed as a schizophrenic, football fans have always been quick off the pulse when it comes to sing-a-long banter.

But this week at Euro 2012 when Ireland fans launched into a rendition of the Home & Away theme tune to drown out Croatia fans singing their own footy song on a Poznan tram, surely has to take some beating.

There isn't really much else for me to say other than enjoy...

Friday, 8 June 2012

Back with a bang baby!

Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #53
A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in performing stand-up comedy at a charity event she was running for the media company IPC.

I wasn't too sure. I had only performed one gig this year, and that was the semi final of the Next Big Thing comedy competition, which didn't exactly go great! I was happy that my evening's no longer revolved around going to a dingy little pub somewhere in the arse-end of London to perform in front of five people, who either didn't care what I was saying or were too drunk to notice.

I left those crazy nights behind me. I made my decision to take a break from stand-up comedy, and by God I was going to stand by it. Nothing could change my mind.

Then she happened to mention that IPC published Nuts magazine and that a couple of the glamour models that had appeared spread-eagled in the mag were going to be making an appearance.

Well, perhaps I shouldn't be too hasty...!

And I am bloody glad I decided to come out of 'retirement' for the evening! Not because of the scantily-clad babes that made an appearance (they were actually fully-clothed - what a liberty! Plus they didn't even give me a second look - must be lesbians...).

Steven Scaffardi, The Drought, Stand Up Comedy, Stand Up Comedian, Comedian, Comedy, Lad Lit, Chick lit for men, funny books,

I was pleased I turned up because it was probably the best night I have ever had up on the comedy stage. My set went down a storm (they had no idea I hadn't written any new material in over six months!), and there was a huge audience - all laughing (which is always a bonus...). You just can't beat that feeling of a room full of people laughing at you - unless of course its because you're trousers have fallen down and they are laughing at your little problem. That is never a nice feeling... not that I'm talking from experience or anything!

All the comedians on the night were top notch - from the compere Toby Brown to the headline act Rob Beckett, and it was all in the name of charity of course! Which is nice... :)

Maybe I won't leave it as long next time...

... Then again I do quite like sitting around in my pants doing nowt each evening. Each to their own!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Promo Trailer for The Drought: Perfecting the First Date!

Perfecting the First Date!
Stand-up comedian Steven Scaffardi offers his wise words of wisdom on what makes the perfect first with the girls. And to back up his theories, he got a few girls to explain what they think a guy should do (or shouldn't do) on that all important first date. For more laddish fun about a guys point of view on relationships, check out Scaffardi's hilarious debut novel, The Drought! Available now at Amazon and all good bookshops.