Saturday, 14 October 2017

Highs and Lows

Sunset over the Med at Pefkos.

Stuart Aken has a habit that might be a sensible option for most people. Every year, he takes a break from all things digital. This means he retreats from email, the internet and even the mobile phone. Horror of horrors! No online activity? None? At all?
His theory, and experience, is that such a break refreshes both mind and spirit by removing him from the constant demands of connectivity. Often, he plans this break to coincide with an annual holiday. The only digital activity he pursues is reading books on his Kindle, usually whilst relaxing under the sun by the pool in whatever resort he’s visiting.
This year, he flew to Pefkos on the Greek island of Rhodes. The weather’s still very warm there at the end of September and beginning of October. And the period coincided with a wedding anniversary, which, as an old romantic, he enjoyed celebrating with his wife, Valerie.
Usually, the return brings frantic activity to catch up with all that’s happened during his absence. This year, however, events conspired to interrupt that process. Both holidaymakers caught chest infections on the flight from the UK and spent much of the two weeks overseas coughing and spluttering. Being hardy northerners, this made little difference to their enjoyment, merely making their ascents to various walking destinations a little more breathless than usual. Unfortunately, Stuart also developed a rather nasty eye infection that necessitated a visit to the local pharmacist, who prescribed drops and an eye patch. On return to UK, a visit to the local GP resulted in an appointment at the nearby city hospital Eye Clinic and the need for a less concentrated approach to the return to the screens.
So, the reviews, reports, email responses, Tweets, and Facebook announcement will necessarily be delayed and spread out to aid recovery. He says he’ll have to spend short periods online followed by similar times with eyes shut.
However, as a general rule, the absence from the digital world is a welcome break. It provides a chance to concentrate on issues of the moment, and to immerse body and mind in the activities of now rather than endure the constant interruptions and distractions our online presence overwhelmingly impose.

So, think about taking such a break: risk severing your constant availability to all and sundry, and enjoy some relaxed and spiritually refreshing ‘me’ time away from the demands of others. It might even allow some sanity back into your life.
Meantime, he'll be adding a few items to his blog over the coming few days.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Writer’s alter-ego jumps into the future

Melodie Trudeaux (who is the alter-ego of Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb) has taken a step sideways from children’s fantasy and published her first Sci-Fi short – the story of humankind’s route to a Utopian future – as told by a journalist seeking his first big break.

The story, The 93-E Contradiction, is available as an ebook and will soon be available as an audio short.

Read more about Melodie on her blog

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The deadline: sword of Damocles or writer's salvation?

I'm a self-confessed last-minuter. Homework, exam revision, holiday packing, you name it. And my displacement activities are beyond ingenious.

Therefore, I work best under pressure: give me a deadline, and I'm on it. So writing a regular newspaper column has been an education. Over the last three years, I have contributed thirty-six dog articles, plus a short story, to our local community newspaper. 

Having blagged my way into Issue 1, I've been lucky enough, thanks to an accommodating editor, to have carte-blanche over length, content and accompanying photographs. Writing about your lifelong passion, though, can be self-indulgent. Thus I began with a burning desire to pour it all out, relevant or not, spread the word and Inform my readership. Those early articles were too long, too detailed, often wandering off-topic. I was precious about trivia, but quickly learned to temper my enthusiasm, fine-tune and cut to the bone. It's surprising how spreading your material thinner, enables you to re-shape and re-use it, shake it up, change the perspective and think outside the box, so that each piece, although shorter, is fresher and sharper, hopefully hitting the right spot with readers. (And this being a small town, I get plenty of feedback!)

A monthly column, you're thinking? Doesn't sound too arduous. Except that the combination of pantser and perfectionist produces its own kind of stress: that looming deadline focusses the mind. Although my overall theme is that of Dogs, every piece is a new challenge, a fresh voice, which must, nevertheless, harmonise with the whole composition. I have written on many topics from the serious to the scatalogical, thoroughly enjoying the process of construction.

I'm not paid for my efforts, but the skills and experience I've gained have been invaluable. I couldn't have achieved them without, you guessed it, those Deadlines. And I haven't missed one yet!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Yes, it's time for the C word! And a cover reveal.

The first draft of 2017's Georgia Pattison Christmas adventure is done. And, better still, the cover is also done.

This year Georgia is asked to sing for the Carol Concert of a small church in the heart of the Malvern Hills. Elgar Country.

Elgar knew every inch of the Malverns and on his sturdy bicycle, Mr Phoebus, was regularly seen riding the highways and byways. He got his inspiration from the countryside and once told a friend that if they were ever walking the hills and heard someone whistling the theme from his 'Cello Concerto that they should not worry, it would only be him.

Georgia's latest adventure features stolen artefacts and an international smuggling ring. Oh, and murder! As usual, it is up to our intrepid and somewhat stroppy heroine to sort through the mess and help DCI Hamilton to the correct solution.

I have more edits to do, of course, but The Bleak Midwinter will be available from all Amazon outlets just before Christmas.

You can read more about April Taylor here:

Saturday, 9 September 2017

#Interview + Thoughts On Using #InstaFreebie

Linda Acaster is interviewed on the Fantasy & Magic website focusing on her Torc of Moonlight trilogy: Why Fantasy? Who were her influencers? and lots of other pertinent questions.

On her own website she also ruminates on access to InstaFreebie's new Group Giveaway for subscribing authors. Full novels, or samples? It may depend...

Friday, 1 September 2017

Book Launches at #FantastiCon

It's that time of year again. 2nd-3rd September Fantasticon will be at the Hull Guildhall. Three members of Hornsea Writers will be launching their paperbacks, so if you want signed copies, download your tickets now.

Stuart Aken's War Over Dust is the second in his 'Generation Mars' series.

Two communities, one a democratic technical Utopia, the other an elitist commercial ghetto, compete to rule the future of mankind on Mars, long cut off from Earth. Which will prevail when violence overcomes diplomacy?

Can two people come together to re-assert the founding philosophy, or might there be a third way?


Penny Grubb's Syrup Trap City is the 6th in her Crime Mystery series set in and around Hull and focusing on private investigator Annie Raymond.

Annie is undercover on a routine job in the hospitality industry - except no job is ever routine.  The restaurant is being fleeced, certainly, but is that a cover for something far more sinister?

When she's betrayed, is it by someone far closer to home?

Linda Acaster's Pilgrims Of The Pool is the final in her 'Torc of Moonlight' trilogy of contemporary time-spanning Fantasies centring on the re-emergence of a Celtic water goddess.

Has Nick Blaketon calculated the lunar cycle correctly, or is that for another to determine?

Book 1 is set in Hull and links into a Celtic past. Book 2 is set in York where the pattern of Roman Eboracum lies beneath every street and house. Book 3 is set in Durham and concerns Mediaeval politics and pilgrimages while contemporary worries focus on hydraulic fracturing.

Join us in Hull at FantastiCon There are a number of authors attending and book launches on every side. Or try out the virtual reality. Or have a laugh over the retro board games. Or man a spacecraft. Or listen to the speakers and the musicians. As the organisers say, it's a doing Con, and there's plenty to do.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Paperback launch: DOGSBODY is out there!


It's been a long time coming, but here, at last, is volume 1 in the Georgie Crane comi-crime trilogy!
It's been around in Kindle format for a while, but some say there's nothing quite like a paperback.
And mine is available from:

Where do you stand on the print or digital reading debate? To my mind, there's room both. A  small Kindle is perfect for minimal packing, long journeys or overnight stays, and for lazing in hot sunshine, the anti-glare screen is just the job. It's usually all I take, because there, at my fingertips, are dozens of books of mixed genres ready to dip in and out of at will. But don't do as I once did and forget your charger, or you're stuffed, unless you're (a) close to a digital supplies outlet or (b) handy for a bookshop and (c) fluent in the local language.

This year, though, I also took along a paperback part-read, but so enthralling I couldn't bear to leave it at home. By the time I reached the epilogue, the masterpiece was soggy, yellowed and so smeared with sun-tan lotion as to be indecipherable. So the Husband didn't get to read that one!

I'd like to think that books will always be with us. It's that glimpse of an imagined world behind the cover, the smell of paper, the crispness of turned pages, that comforting bulk of other worlds in your hand.

If you like crime, humour, dogs, or all three, please enjoy. And for news and updates, feel free to visit my blog at: 

Friday, 18 August 2017

War Over Dust: #SciFi out as eBook

The second book in Stuart Aken’s Generation Mars series, War Over Dust, is now available for Kindle. The paperback version is due to launch at Fantasticon 2017 in Hull on 2nd September, where the author will be on hand to sign copies.
What’s it about?
The community at Marion live in eternal peace, harmony and justice under an atheistic democratic system clandestinely controlled by Artificial Intelligence. Their opposite Martian community, Marzero, is a commercially driven patriarchal ghetto ruled by the Elite, whose only concerns are personal gratification and profit. When brilliant but innocent Daisa leaves Marion to study a new phenomenon in Marzero, she precipitates a series of events with dangerous potential. Her subject, Gabriel, the Prophet of the People, believes he is the voice of God. They meet under the shadow of the Machiavellian Stefan and embark on a love affair that will test them to their limits. When injustice lands Daisa in danger of execution, will her community be able to extract her without bringing vengeance and war down from the envious city? Which colony will succeed in the ensuing battle for a better future for humanity on Mars?
You can catch up on the way this book was written by visiting Stuart Aken’s website via this link.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Murder Most Foul

     Readers have an insatiable appetite for murder mysteries – safely confined within the pages of a book. Mass education in Victorian days provided a growing audience for penny dreadfuls and nowadays there are authors and publishers who cater for every taste. Modern readers have a choice between forensic skills, courtroom clashes, drug dealing or gossipy villages. The central character may be a jaded professional, or an amateur sleuth whose insider knowledge solves the case. In recent years, there has also been a vogue for mediaeval investigators in the guise of scribes, monks or crowners (coroners).
     My own taste runs to escapist cosy crime, since the newspapers contain a surfeit of real-life suffering. Over My Dead Body, an American website which offers a lively selection of murder in every genre, has just published another of my crime shorts: Verdict by Madeleine McDonald.
     To read Verdict, visit

Saturday, 5 August 2017

A perception of fiction writers

Sounds like a collective noun, doesn’t it? Many people often voice their perceptions of us scribblers. 

Most prevalent is that we are all millionaires. The blunt truth is well over 90% of us, whose sole occupation is writing, don’t pay tax because we don’t earn enough. Most writers have a day-job and fit their writing around that because they need to pay for luxuries like food and rent. I once added up what I have had to spend in order to write. Currently, and taking into account all my earnings from writing, my ‘business’ owes me over £7000. That includes computers, research trips, membership of writing organisations, buying books and the rest.

Another perception is that we lie around - usually by swimming pools in the sun  - fabricating stories from the aether without any preparation at all. I will state categorically that ALL writers need to do research and some, historical writers for example, possibly a great deal more than most. We have to, otherwise we would not know how to create the world in which our books are set and make it accurate. I know a science fiction writer who spent months reading all manner of papers and books in order to write his book set on another planet and his main problem was that the science is being updated almost daily. Crime writers need to know the current state of police procedure. Historical novelists need to know what people ate, how they dressed etc. for the period in which their books are set. So, by no means is the business of writing merely sitting and spinning yarns with no prior research.

Later this month, I will start writing the first of a new series set in the time of the Wars of the Roses. On my blog this week, I have given a few insights into how this series started in my head and where I am in the preparation process. Click the link below and have a read. You never know, it might just change your perception of what we do, how hard we work and how little is our reward. But then, virtually every writer will tell you that their need to write is compelling and the rewards are much bigger than just money.

Part of the preparation of course, is choosing titles and characters. And playing about with concepts for book covers. At this moment, my new hero is called Gethyn Wilde and the recurring symbol will encapsulate the Wars of the Roses:

The initial recurring symbol for the Gethyn Wilde Chronicles

You can read the blog here: 

You can read more about April Taylor here: