Saturday, 16 December 2017

Writers in Residence to Exhibition Participants

Members showing the laminates
Back in the summer Hornsea Writers participated in the town’s weekend Carnival as part of its new ‘culture’ venture. We took a table in the Artists in Residence marquee, alongside the town’s Art Society and the Photography Club, showcasing our work and explaining how-to… to young and old alike. 

Part of our remit was to roam the site soaking up the atmosphere and allowing ideas to germinate for a joint exhibition of work later in the year. It was a fun, if tiring couple of days.

The month-long Celebrate Hornsea exhibition is currently being staged at a gallery in the Bowls Club where we hold our weekly meetings. That’s the beauty of a small town; venues have multiple uses. Viewable art - paintings and photographs - are displayed on the walls as usual, but readable art needs to be at a correct height and distance for each individual viewer. Mmm…

Have laminator, can exhibit.

The Bowls Club has a cafe; there is a display stand available; we have a laminator. Editing work to fit onto two A4 sides and using our Hornsea Writers banner as branding, it became an ideal way to showcase our talents and for users of the venue to relax with a read and a cuppa. We are very pleased with how it looks and the way it’s been received. Needless to say, there are handy publicity postcards on hand, and each laminate is printed with the writer’s website details.

Perhaps you or your group could do something similar?

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Launch: "Torc of Moonlight" Trilogy Boxed Set

There's nothing quite like a digital boxed set to wrap up a series, or in Linda Acaster's case, a trilogy. 

'It feels a bit like the icing on the cake,' she says. 'Long-awaited icing, I grant you, but all the sweeter for it.'

The original idea came while she was writing weekend walks for regional newspaper, The Yorkshire Post. A lot of her stomping ground was in and around the North York Moors - a place of sweeping vistas, Iron Age hillforts, Roman marching camps and stone fortresses. And an awful lot of springs named Lady Well according to the Ordnance Survey maps she used.

From research it soon became clear that the Lady - or Ladies - in question were linked strongly with Pagan beliefs, only becoming an amalgamated, unnamed female entity when locals conflated them during the early Christian period with another powerful female icon, the Virgin Mary. 'However, it's interesting,' says Linda, 'that hardly any took her name directly. Perhaps the local people wanted to keep their waters separate.'

Linda uses the constant flow of the water to link the past with the present in all three novels, choosing for each a university city on the outskirts of the North York Moors and a different historical focus period.

Book 1: Torc of Moonlight - Hull : Celtic
Book 2: The Bull At The Gate - York : Roman
Book 3: Pilgrims Of The Pool - Durham : Mediaeval

Why university cities? Ah, that becomes clear at the end of the trilogy.

For more about Britain's Pagan water goddesses, including an image of silver votive plaques mentioned in Book 2: The Bull At The Gate, check out the post on her blog: White Ladies and Green Teeth.

For more information about the books visit her Website page
Individual titles are available as ebook and paperback.
The Trilogy boxed set is only available as an ebook from:

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Ideal Christmas gifts



If you're still wondering what to buy for the last few people on your Christmas list, why not go online or visit your local bookstore and browse paperback anthologies. A selection of short pieces makes a great gift, something to dip into and savour long after the wrapping paper has gone in the bin. Unlike novels, anthologies offer a variety of viewpoints to surprise and satisfy the reader. Whatever a person's interests, there will be a collection to match. For example, as a writer, I have contributed this year to anthologies about cats, railways and do-it yourself. 



Go treat yourself.
Madeleine McDonald.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Planning your book. Pantser or Planner?

There is a debate among writers about planning vs. pantsing. Some are complete pantsers and sit down without an idea in their heads, put fingers to keyboard and crack on. Others plan every aspect of the characters, the setting, the plot points, the points of tension and relaxation before they ever think to put fingers on the keyboard.

Most of us are somewhere in the middle. If we are writing a series, then we know our characters and what they will or won’t do in a given situation. I have always been a mixture of the two and, being a crime writer, have to have some idea of the who, what, where and how before I begin to write. Using motoring imagery, I may know the story begins in Birmingham and will end in Norwich, but apart from deciding it has to go through Peterborough, the story could take many different roads.

When I decided I wanted to begin a new historical crime series set in the Wars of the Roses, I decided to change my usual method of feeling my way through the book. I decided to research the different methods of planning books and see if I couldn’t write a better, more balanced book, more quickly.

The number of books on planning/outlining is staggering. Some will give authors distinct points to aim for - say by X%, the inciting event has to have happened and by Y%, your protagonist must be suffering severe setbacks and drawing on his/her character strengths to see a new way forward. Some are less stringent, saying the author needs to plan for this, that and the other to happen in that order to create a tense, conflict-driven story that will keep the reader turning the pages. Mindmaps also came into the mix and brainstorming. Many books have worksheets or companion workbooks.

The research was interesting and thought-provoking and I took weeks making sure I understood what all the authors were saying. Then I began. I knew where the end of the book was. I knew the inciting incident. I knew my characters. I put the plan together based on a 90k book. I had my book map. 

How did it pan out? At first, very well. I motored mightily, ending up with 32k words in less than 3 weeks. Now I know for some this is a pathetic number of words for 21 days and for others something they think they could never attain. And then, at 32k, everything went pear-shaped. 

Why? Several reasons. I was concentrating on quantity not quality. I felt I was on a treadmill and getting to the desk each morning became a chore and not a pleasure. The story was flowing, sort of, but it wasn’t flowing to my rhythm, but to someone else’s. Someone who knew nothing about my writing process or how I think. And that is because in my writing process, as I am writing and getting involved in the story itself, I always come to several points where I realise ah, if I do this now, it will mean he can do that and then she will be forced to do x, y and z.  And that alone, for me, makes the story so much stronger, but I cannot reach that ah point unless I am actually writing the story.

 The most surprising thing, though, was that I discovered I already knew where my highs and lows needed to be without someone else telling me. In other words, I was trying to squeeze my size 20 frame into a size 14 dress and it didn’t fit. That last discovery was both comforting and a wake-up call. 

I stopped looking at the word count. I started at the beginning and read the book through. And I could see where it needed more work, different scenes, a more creative approach, creative being the operative word. I had been so focussed on get here by this point that I had forgotten the story itself. So I went back and changed it, not massively which was what I feared I would have to do, but enough to break the focus on words alone. Of course, that may change when I come to edit it.


I am now at 50k and the story will get there when it gets there. I understand I have an internal instinct developed over the last dozen books I’ve written to know when I must ramp up the tension and conflict and when I can lie back on it. I have learned to trust myself. For this reason alone, the research was worth it. I am now confident I can write a book. Not in three weeks or four weeks, but in the time the book needs. Because the book is the most important thing and the book has to be right.

You can read more about April Taylor here:



Saturday, 18 November 2017

How to be a Fantastic Writer


How to be a Fantastic Writer is the expanded second edition of The Writers’ Toolkit that is the book recommended for authors and would-be authors of commercial fiction by the editorial team at Fantastic Books Publishing.  



The book is co-authored by Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb, and English Language specialist and forensic linguist, Danuta Reah, both of whom – coincidentally – write crime novels.

How to be a Fantastic Writer is available HERE 



Saturday, 4 November 2017

Hornsea Writers welcome three new members

The Hornsea Writers have welcomed three new members this year, Elaine Hemingway, Joy Gelsthorpe and Shellie Horst.

Elaine has a long and varied writing CV and is currently working on an epic Midrashim – CLICK HERE to learn more.



Joy is writing a series of four books based on extensive research that began with parish records and touched on a treasure trove of 18th century folklore – CLICK HERE to learn more.




Shellie brought Skiffy amongst other things to Hornsea Writers, but she draws the line at Grimdark – CLICK HERE to learn more.



Saturday, 28 October 2017

WRITING IN REVERSE


You know that feeling...literary euphoria, imaginative overdrive, the creative high? The novel’s going well. You’ve nailed the attention-grabbing beginning, the hilarious/haunting/happy ending, and you know exactly where the story’s going. 

Your characters are, ahem, staying in character, stepping into the limelight at the right moments, talking amongst themselves off-page when not required. There have been no outlandish departures or ludicrous story-lines.  

You’ve done the research, the foot-slogging, the fieldwork, printed out photos of celebs,  lookalikes or random stock-image models (your characters made flesh) created elaborate plot-plans, written character back-stories, drawn maps of imaginary locations. The plotlines are flowing like bourbon over ice. Your carefully-seeded devices are germinating, buried deep in the rich mulch of your (yeah, right) best-selling prose. You, the writer, are in complete control.

Until.... hang on! What just happened? Where did it all go wrong? When, and why, did I insert that passage/introduce the random character/meander off down that track/completely lose the plot? HELP! I’ve ascended my soapbox/ moved into lecturing-bore mode  and, worst of all, turned into author intruding!
 
The whole thing now reads badly, it’s lost focus and cohesion, the characters are in rebellion and the wheels have dropped off. Does this situation call for (gasp) the dreaded re-write? Yet what else is there?

Okay, there is one other option: my version of have-you-tried-switching-it-off-and-on-again?
So here goes.  

Start with that great ending, and go backwards. Re-trace your steps, or rather, words. That last line, paragraph. epilogue even, ties it all together, sums up what you’ve tried to convey, and,  if you’ve got  that right, what went before should read well. Have you captured that lingering sense of...whatever? The feeling, the after-taste?  The leaving your readers wanting more? 

If (a) then yes, great. But if (b) then try reading and then writing, in reverse. Chapter by chapter. Until somewhere you will come upon the weakest link, the blind spot. The bits in the middle that moved sideways, diminished your central plot, derailed the narrative. And trust me, once you’ve put on your backwards-goggles, the holes will be blindingly obvious. 

Try it and see. Sometimes, backwards means forwards.

Karen Wolfe

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A life full of music

I come from a musical family. My great-grandmother often held impromptu soirées at which her brothers would sing the latest music hall songs. One brother dressed up as a very creditable woman and would sing comic duets with another brother. My  grandmother, with whom I share a birthday, was equally talented. As a child, I could sing to her any song we learned at school. She would take it down in tonic sol-fah (think do-re-me from Sound of Music), then sit at the piano and play it in perfect four-part harmony. Her favourite key was D flat major – which uses all the black keys, aaagh! My mother played piano, my three brothers played brass instruments and my father played percussion. I play piano (badly) and flute (even more badly) and guitar (when I am drunk and don’t think it will break my nails!).

But most of all my life has been spent singing, starting in school choirs and going on to bigger things. My most treasured memories are of singing in the Three Choirs Festival, a yearly event which swings between the English cities of Worcester, Gloucester and Hereford. For one glorious week in late summer, the members of the choir mix with world renowned soloists. I remember standing in the lunch queue next to Sir Charles Groves who looked just like Father Christmas but had a very acerbic tongue if anyone annoyed him. I’ve shared the platform with luminaries like Dame Janet Baker and the late Elizabeth Harwood. I’ve eaten lunch with the members of the Medici Quartet and sung in front of Prince Charles and the late Queen Mother at the Royal Albert Hall several times.

When I moved to Yorkshire, I sang as a soloist with local choral societies and joined a small, mostly acapella, group with only 8 members initially. We thought nothing of singing Lotti’s Crucifixus, set in 8 parts. I entered music festivals and was delighted to have my voice described as quintessential silver Handelian by the judge. I imagine myself at the age of 93, like Gran, in my wheelchair, trying for the top A’s in Messiah. 

My mum introduced me to crime fiction to which I became instantly addicted. The history bug hit me when I was 14 and has never left. When I knew I wanted to write, the obvious genre for me was crime, but I couldn’t choose between historical or contemporary, so chose to write both. Harlequin published my crime fantasy series The Tudor Enigma (Court of Conspiracy, Taste of Treason & Mantle of Malice) in 2014/15. 

Then I turned to my contemporary detective who, unsurprisingly, is an early-music soprano. I called on my own experiences as a semi-professional singer to add meat to the plot. The Georgia Pattison mysteries now number two novellas, (soon to be three) and two full-length mysteries. I am sure you won’t be surprised to know that the first,  Dearly Ransomed Soul deals with murder and music at the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester. All the titles in the Georgia Pattison series are musical quotes, the second being Laid In Earth and the third will be either Say Goodbye Now or Weep No More.  This depends on how her love life goes!


Georgia is a true opera diva, capable of holding her own in the world of classical music but insecure and craving affection. She tends to go headlong into situations without thinking things through, using her verve and waspish wit to get her out of trouble. But sometimes it gets her into trouble, as you will discover in her Christmas adventure, The Bleak Midwinter out in December. I have also gone back to my love of history and the first in the series Loyalty in Conflict will be out by the end of 2017.


You can read more about April Taylor here:

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