Saturday, 17 February 2018

No, it’s not just a matter of time

There are topics that almost all writers report being told or asked; ‘Where do the ideas come from?’ and ‘I’m going to write a book when I get the time,’ to name just two.

There’s an assumption behind there that all it needs is time, and the hard part will be getting the idea in the first place. Not so. The ideas are there for the taking (but that would be another blog*).

As to having the time… how many jobs do you know where time is the only issue? What about interruptions, crises that pull arrangements off course…? Time management theory these days advises people to build in the unexpected so that they don’t spend every waking hour generating frustration because their day did not work out to a schedule that looked so good on paper.

Writing, as so many other activities, can be derailed by a whole host of things, some predictable, some not. For instance, how many people would list a love affair between two electronic devices as an concern? 

*basically, the ideas shop.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Romance - All Hearts & Flowers? Not here!

Not long to go now. Bought your heart-laden greetings card? Eyeing which bouquet of red roses you can afford? Which bottle of sparkling to proffer?

Saint Valentine’s Day certainly gathers to itself all the cliches, but surprisingly enough Romance novels don’t. They never truly did, despite the epithet. Take a look at the selection written by members: not a hearts and flowers Romance among them.

Madeleine McDonald’s A Shackled Inheritance centres on betrayal, hypocrisy, and the evils of slavery. Stuart Aken’s Breaking Faith explores exploitation and control in and around the world of glamour photography, while Linda Acaster’s Beneath The Shining Mountains leads the reader into a nomadic life so different to our own, romanticised by television and derided by history.

Yet what all three authors bring is an exploration of human relationships – the aspect that fuels just about every fictional story ever produced. Even Watership Down wasn’t truly about rabbits.

So let's have a little truly satisfying Romance this week, shall we? Ah, why not.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Staying Sane While Writing

If you want to write...where better than a writing group? Most of the authors I know don't like rocking the boat. They have a routine, it works. They don't like meeting new people. They don't have the time.  I had all of these concerns as a new member of Hornsea Writers. For me stepping out of my comfort zone was necessary to see things from a different angle.
But it has been worth it. 

New writers and old think that groups are not for them. Some believe their work isn't ready, or the group might be clique-rich, not their genre. But, as I have (re) learned since joining Hornsea Writers, there are some vital reasons to get out and meet people, and it's not all about words on the page.

Shellie Horst

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Local publisher takes a shine to Hornsea Writers

Local publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing, published its first short story anthology in 2012. It was called Fusion and one of the Hornsea Writers, Stuart Aken, was invited to contribute.

Since then, Fantastic Books has published six short story collections and four of them feature stories from the Hornsea Writers. Stuart Aken was again invited to contribute in 2015 to Synthesis.

Horror followed a year later with the 666 anthology in which Stuart was joined by Linda Acaster as an invited contributor. The collection also included a story from Penny Grubb.

The most recent collection, a railway anthology, Dreaming of Steam, showcased four Hornsea Writers; Penny Grubb was invited to contribute and stories from Elaine Hemingway, Madeleine McDonald and April Taylor were included.

Fantastic Books’ current competition, Fire and Ice, closes at the end of February. If you feel up to producing a short tale that touches on dark, twisted and dystopian, why not follow this link and have a go. Fireand Ice Entries must be in by the end of February.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Fiction might be fiction but it still has to work

I have written non-fiction (articles, textbooks, reports etc) as well as fiction and if I put an error in a textbook it could affect generations of students. But fiction writers too have to get it right. 

Years ago, I was fascinated by Roman history. I not only ploughed through Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (an abridged version), I soaked up fiction set in those times. I mention it here for the memory of hurling one particular book out with the rubbish. 

Its irredeemable sin? Two characters were conversing in the bath house and one of them said, ‘Pass the soap.’ For all that the first known use of soap precedes the Romans by a long way, they did not use it in their baths. 

That one brief comment ruined the whole book for me. How could I trust it to be a credible account of ancient Rome if the author didn’t even know the basics?

It comes down to research, and I have corralled a few facts, some cartoons, and a reference or two over on my blog in pursuit of further clarity on what is a vital and often neglected component of everyday life. Please call in and join the discussion:

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Guest Posts.

Writers, especially when they blog, or run their own website, are occasionally invited to place guest posts on sites run by other bloggers. It's a fine way of spreading the word.
Recently, Stuart Aken received two such invitations. One of the sites deals in something dear to his heart: the beauty of the world around us. He decided to produce a post about his home area, the Forest of Dean, using his own photographs to illustrate his love for this small gem of English countryside by journaling a year in the forest. You can find that post here. As is so often the case with such posts, it's generated a good deal of interest and comment.
The second invitation involved an author interview. Glen Donaldson is an Australian reader/writer who enjoys presenting posts very much in his own humorous style. Stuart tried to match his answers to the tone of the questions and the interviewer's blog. The subject was his Generation Mars series of novels and you can visit the post here.
If you'd like to see more of Stuart Aken's photography or writing, please visit his website here.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Lessons Learned and Resolutions Made

The Christmas cards are down, the trimmings dusted and packed away. After a mad twelve days of Festive conviviality surely follows a period of introspection and a serious redrafting of The Plan for 2018. A few members of Hornsea Writers share their thoughts before staggering back into the fray:

Joy Gelsthorpe
I've learnt even more this year how useful it is to read work out loud.  It's not just the invaluable input from the group that ensues from the readings but reading my work aloud, even to myself, pushes me into neater expressions and avoidance of repetition. I'm now reducing my use of adverbs and am trying to use more powerful verbs instead.  As I keep re-drafting Book One of the quartet, I'm hoping to hear some good news from a publisher as its editor re-reads the first two chapters (fingers crossed).

Karen Wolfe:
I’ve had an editing epiphany. A revelation about the importance of word by word, line by line, paragraph by nit-pickingly punctuated paragraph, editing. Like a re-vamped room, first-draft prose is transformed by a good old tidy up. And like that room, hidden corners assume new dimensions. 

Penny Grubb:
Completing the 2nd edition of my joint-authored ‘how to’ for writers of commercial fiction made me revisit a whole range of authors from Stephen King to James Herriot; Charles Dickens to Kurt Vonnegut,  reminding me how the works of others can revitalise the writer within. It also reminded me of some very useful tools for getting the next book underway.

April Taylor:
I have learned that I cannot write four full-length books a year, though I managed three and one short. Neither can I plan a book to the nth degree because I end up in a writing cul-de-sac. But, the exercise of trying the planning route has emphasised what I already know: where to schedule the highs and lows to make a balanced book.

In 2018, the plan is to write the next Georgia Pattison full-length, Say Goodbye Now, as well as the first in the Gethyn Rees ‘Wars of the Roses’ series, Loyalty in Conflict, and a Georgia Christmas story. However, I shall not be glued to my desk and will explore developing into a human being rather than a human doing.

Stuart Aken
It's been a busy year. A false start with Book 3 of the 'Generation Mars' series delayed progress, but all is now going well. Writing a novel each year has meant the shorter works have been neglected. So, once the current WIP is with the publisher, I'll be concentrating on short stories. I'll be enjoying life in the year of my 70th birthday, too!

Lessons learned? Plans that look solid on paper have a tendency to destabilise during the act of writing, especially across a series. But there is no such thing as a cul-de-sac, only a Plan B. With the multi-faceted 'Torc Of Moonlight' trilogy now out into the world, I'm looking forward to immersing myself in shorter works, different genres, and a first-person viewpoint. I shall be writing fiction somewhat less complex, and giving myself time to smell the flowers.

We hope you've enjoyed this quick waltz through members' priorities and eye-openers. Follow The Blog By Email - see the box at the bottom of this page - to have our weekly posts slot quietly into your Inbox.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Thanks for the Reads and Happy New Year!

We hope you've enjoyed your Year, reading our and other writers' works. We trust you've found some useful advice and interesting snippets from our combined posts.

It's been a productive time for members, completing novels and short stories, trying out new processes and software, and getting to grips with that elusive work-life balance we all need to be able to carry on creative projects.

With the last of the festive drink in our hands, we wish one and all 

A Healthy and Happy 
New Year!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Singing Your Way To Murder

It began with 'Messiah'. It ended with Murder.

Well, it's bound to if April Taylor has anything to do with it. 

Just in time for kicking back and relaxing after the festive fray, April has launched a Christmas short story starring her early music soprano, Georgia Pattison.

The recital at Oxford Cathedral goes well, and there's much glad-handing and smiles as members of the audience mingle with the singers. It's not until Georgia is safely home that the niggle starts, and grows, and becomes an obsession. 

Something is wrong. And no one will take her seriously. Will you?

The Shepherd's Farewell is 99p / 99c or free with Kindle Unlimited.

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?