Friday, 24 March 2017

First Draft Completed. What Next?

Martian surface, courtesy NASA

How do you respond to your completion of a first draft of your novel? And what do you do next? Stuart Aken has been working on the second book in his Generation Mars series since 9th January and completed the first draft on 20th March with 112,061 words. He was, unsurprisingly, delighted to have reached this milestone in the creation of the story.
But, of course, this isn’t so much the end of the process as the beginning of the conversion of the raw story into a readable, publishable book. In his post on his website, he details the next stages and describes the path he expects to tread on the way to that final version of his story. With much research still to do, some considerable re-reading and a programme of known changes to make, it looks as though he’ll be busy with this project for some time to come.
The first book in the series, Blood Red Dust, has earned some high praise from reviewers, so he has a lot to live up to in this follow-up book!

So, what’s your working method and how do you approach the journey from that first draft to the finished product?

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Food for Thought

As writers, we spend a lot of time thinking about the words we write, but are we *really* thinking the right things at the right level?

Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb, takes a look at something that F Scott Fitzgerald once said about why writers write:

“You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say”

and asks as she unravels it, if Fitzgerald is on to something that all writers ought to bear in mind.

Putting it more pragmatically (and less poetically) she suggests that if you can't sum up your novel in a sentence, then you might not be clear enough about what you are trying to write.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

"Stepping" into Editing a Novel

It must be spring. Four members of Hornsea Writers are in various stages of finishing a novel. You'll be hearing about each of them in the coming weeks.

Linda Acaster has just added "The End" to Pilgrims of the Pool, the third novel in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy. But has she?

As she states on her own blog it's the draft that's finished, not the novel. A whole new side to the creative work now begins - the editing. 

If you think that entails a quick flick through with a blue pencil and an eagle-eye for spelling mistakes, you are seriously underestimating the process. On her blog Linda begins a series discussing what is involved; the opener lists the steps.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Question: Why?

Over the past few weeks, Stuart Aken has been posing a number of questions on his website. These are not writing related but offer a change of subject and direction for both the writer and visitors to the site.
The issue here is whether these act as a distraction from the main purpose of a writer’s blog or whether they bring in new readers due to the variety of subjects raised. It’s early days yet, and no conclusion is possible. However, Stuart is persevering with the experiment, if for no other reason than it allows him to draw in opinion on subjects of interest.
Interestingly, comments are invited for these discussion topics and response rates have been quite varied. What is possibly a little frustrating from a blogging point of view is the way that responders make comments on other social media rather than on the post itself. So, for example, the latest question in the series related to religion. He posted a link to the blog post on his author page on Facebook. This was picked up by his publisher, who shared it on his own FB page. The blog post picked up 27 comments from a potential readership of 18,000, but the post on Facebook generated over 100 comments from a recorded readership of 329. This may be an intriguing insight into the motivation around commenting. Perhaps those who commented via FB hoped and intended that their friends would see and respond to their comments, whereas those who made their comments on the blog were content to have only the specific followers of the blog notice their remarks. Who knows? One thing has become clear, however; the nature of the questions has actually increased the numbers following the blog.
Stuart will continue this occasional activity to encourage discussion of topics both trivial and serious. So far, there have been just 3 such questions posed, under the generic title of ‘I’d Like to Know: Why?’.
The list runs as follows: #1 Why Make it Hard for thePostman? #2 Why Do They Keep Terminal Sufferers Alive? #3 Why Are We Requiredto Respect Religion? Click on the titles to reach the appropriate posts.

What’s next? Well, you’ll have to follow the blog by clicking here to discover that, as Stuart produces these items on impulse, rather than in a planned manner.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Steaming to Victory with Hornsea Writers – join us at Fimber Halt 30th April

When the long list for the Yorkshire Wolds Railway short story competition came out back in January, no fewer than three Hornsea Writers were included.

All entries on the long list in all of Fantastic Books’ competitions are considered for inclusion in the subsequent anthology, so it already looked like we would figure prominently. But add to that another group member being invited to contribute as one of the professional writers, and it’s starting to look like a takeover.

The shortlist that has just been published, and two Hornsea Writers are there amongst the six finalists.

The winners will be announced at a prize-giving at the railway site on April 30th where the prizes will be presented by Mark Blakeston, Mayor of Driffield, and Lord Faulkner of Worcester, President of the Heritage Railway Association.

The site at Fimber Halt rests in the heart of the beautiful Yorkshire Wolds. Please put the date in your diary and come and join us on the 30th April. The site is open from 11 am to 5 pm. The prize-giving starts at 1.30 pm.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

A Picture Paints...

The book marketing enterprise that is the baggage carried by every author takes up almost as much thinking time as the actual writing of the novels. The job can, of course, be handed to a PR company, but the ratio of return v cost can be disappointing – and it certainly does cost.

Most authors don’t have the luxury of choice and have to go it alone. Sourcing free images, and what to do with those images, helps when the learning curve feels steep.

Following on from April Taylor’s post on making promotional videos, on her own website Linda Acaster talks about where to source free images. Do check the post's comments section for a substantial subsidiary list added by member Stuart Aken.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Dreaded M word

Marketing. (Pause). I can hear the indrawn breaths from here!

Unfortunately for those of us, and I include me in this, who like writing and just want to crack on with the next book, the M word is now a fact of writing life. Remember Mrs Thatcher and TINA, There Is No Alternative? Well, my writing friends, there truly isn't. Unless, of course, you can afford to make the situation go away and pay somebody else to do it! Which few of us can.

What can we do? My great writing buddy, Seumas Gallacher - who wrote the great little e-book 

Self-Publishing Steps To Successful Sales - makes play of the difference between marketing your books and marketing yourself. 

The first can get terminally boring if all your FaceBook and Twitter feeds amount to please buy my book. However, we still have to do some marketing on our books. I found, initially through the displacement therapy of playing instead of writing, that promo videos are a good way to be just that bit different.

Videos? (Another indrawn breath). Yes, and they are not that difficult if you approach the exercise in the right way and decide to have a bit of fun. So, next time your Main Character isn't behaving as you would like, why not take an hour out and begin to explore making your own promo video for the book you are writing. 

To see how I make my promotional videos, go to:

You can read more about April Taylor here:

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Visibility: Author Interviews

As any author will know, visibility is the biggest mountain to climb. We have our websites, some authors contribute to a group blog – as do members of Hornsea Writers – but drawing people in to view on a regular basis can prove difficult. What is required is interesting content.  

The mismatch here is that it can take a year or more to write a novel, and there are only so many research niches to draw on for subject matter. How best to ring the changes?

Offering author interviews on a regular basis can be a win-win opportunity. The host site has regular new content, participants can chat about their latest work, and when both highlight the post among their social media contacts, new readers are drawn to each.

In the past few weeks several members of Hornsea Writers have participated in author interviews:
  • Stuart Aken reveals secrets of his writing craft to
  • Linda Acaster chats about her myth and mayhem writing to Library of Erana
  • April Taylor talks about her inheritance books to Rhoda Baxter

Go take a look. Perhaps your writing, or your blog, could benefit from something similar. In the spirit of giving our Visibility windows a spring clean, it’s an idea to consider.

Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures via under CC0 Licence 

Saturday, 28 January 2017

...promises to keep...

Boris Johnson said - It is easy to make promises - it is hard work to keep them

My Sherlock Holmes pastiche Sherlock Holmes & The Oakwood Grange Affair has just been published in e-book format on Amazon.

Why did I write it? To keep a promise made 40 years ago this year to one of my tutors. Why did she ask me to make this promise? Because I chose the difference in language and metaphor between the Holmes stories before his supposed demise in the Reichenbach falls and those after his ‘resurrection’. Comparison in language and metaphor etc. is not new in literary/academic circles. What startled all the course tutors was the fact that I chose the Holmes canon as a vehicle for the study.

Did I choose these stories as a backlash against academic snobbery and the regard of popular fiction, my definition of which is that many people read it, as something beneath contempt? No, not a bit. I had two dissertations to write, one on librarianship and the other on English Literature. I wanted to make one of them a thoroughly enjoyable exercise. And it was.

To read more, go to my blog and get the full story…
You can buy Sherlock Holmes & The Oakwood Grange Affair here: -

You can read more about April Taylor here: