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:

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Artists under canvas

In the year that Hull became the UK City of Culture, Hornsea’s annual Carnival launched an Artists in Residence initiative. The creatives’ marquee saw demonstrations, exhibitions and a wide variety of work from several groups, notably the Hornsea Art Society, the Hornsea Photographers’ Group and of course, the Hornsea Writers.

A very sociable weekend was had by all, and the Carnival experience will be re-lived later in the year by an Autumn exhibition, again complementing Hull’s cultural agenda. We will post the exact details where and when as soon as we know it.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Book Launch: ‘Pilgrims of the Pool’- Bk3

Linda Acaster has launched the final novel in her Torc of Moonlight trilogy of contemporary time-spanning thrillers. Set in university cities ringing the North York Moors it follows the resurrection of a Celtic water deity.

Too far-fetched to be taken seriously? Not a bit of it. Yorkshire has more named pre-Christian springs still in existence than anywhere in Britain. Most are cited on maps as 'Lady Well', and some carry tiny offerings tied into nearby foliage. After all, how many reading this have never tossed a coin into water for ‘good luck’? Who are you expecting to grant it?

Books 1 and 2 are set in Hull (Celtic) and York (Roman). Book 3 follows Nick Blaketon as he leaves Durham to free Alice from the Celtic deity holding her prisoner at the Pool. His route echoes that of pilgrims 900 years before who are seeking a fabled spring where an angel-woman cures all ills.

Alice is overjoyed to be reunited with Nick, but she is not the Alice he remembers. As is the land, she is transforming. His life has changed, too, and he feels caught between betrayals.

When Alice’s presence at the Pool is jeopardised by a hydraulic fracturing operation and the conservationists opposing it, Nick cannot walk away. But do the pilgrims pose a greater threat? What knowledge, handed down the generations, are the current landowners hiding?

As Time intersects, has Nick faith enough to change events in a mediaeval past of hallowed saints and conjured demons, or has Alice’s power to heal initiated her own demise?

Amazon ¦ iBooks ¦ Kobo ¦ Nook ¦ Smashwords

A print edition will follow
The ebook edition of Book 1: Torc of Moonlight, is currently on offer at 99p/99c.
For more information, check out the trilogy’s website page

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Ruffling the publisher’s feathers

Question: what is one thing that publishers hate?
Answer: an author who wants a manuscript back to make changes at a late stage in its production.
But surely Hornsea Writers have enough experience of the process not to pull a trick like that. You might think so, but there are times when circumstances dictate events and there’s only one thing to do. When Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb, wrote Syrup Trap City (published August 2017) set in Hull in its City of Culture year, she not only demanded the manuscript back out of production at the last minute, she’d planned the action in advance.

Click HERE to read more about the iconic feature that disturbed this book’s production, and a surprisingly shrinking set of options that almost derailed the whole plan. 

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Editing After Submission: a Taste of The Work

We all edit our own work, striving for that impossible dream: perfection. For the self-published, it’s a rather unfortunate fact that the author’s edit is the only one performed. This is a shame and causes the publication of many good books that are seriously flawed. Freelance editors can be expensive, but any writer worthy of the name will employ such an experienced examiner to ensure the work is as good as it can be: we owe that much to our readers.
For those who are published, whether by mainstream or independent publishing houses, our own edit is only the start of the finishing process. We submit what we hope is the best piece we can produce, knowing as we send it off there will be faults, suggested improvements, and some culling of our darlings. A writer is usually too close to the creation to view it in a truly objective light.
Last week, I completed the final work on my latest novel. War Over Dust, book 2 of the Generation Mars series, is due to be launched on 2nd September at Fantasticon, a fantasy/scifi/gaming convention held in the UK City of Culture 2017, Hull.
I’d spent much of the winter actually creating the book. Then began my own edit. This, in itself, is a fairly thorough process, involving a line by line check for errors, a read through aloud from a printed version (the eye misses too much when reading from the screen), comments from a beta reader, and feeding each chapter through an online editing suite. I use; others are available. That whole procedure takes a few weeks. Only then do I send the piece off to the publisher.
Dan Grubb, owner of FantasticBooks Publishing, employs a team of dedicated editors (rumour suggests he has them chained to desks in the dank basement of his rural headquarters; so isolated is the place that their moans and groans of distress go unheard by anyone who might feel inclined to rescue them!).
By return email, I received the first suggestions in the form of a couple of dozen minor alterations, which I passed back the next day. There followed an emailed document, 8 pages long, detailing suggested content changes (this sounds a lot, but many of the comprehensive comments required only a sentence or two to fix). Also, in the same email, was the full MS marked with Word Tracking comments, deletions, additions, queries and suggestions; the line edit.
I spent around four days, working between ten and twelve hours each day, addressing these. Again, it sounds as though a lot of errors were discovered, but, in practice, most were stylistic or typos, with a few easily addressed queries, some minor alterations, and a few inconsistencies that required the odd change in a number of chapters (often no more than a word or two). This is work that requires intense concentration coupled to an ability to expunge the previous version of the book from your memory in order to approach the task with an open mind.
So, there you have it. The writing of a book is more than simply allowing that inner artist to express your thoughts. It requires a degree of discipline and the help of eagle-eyed analysts to transform that basic word count into something that can be enjoyed by booklovers whilst giving those readers the respect they deserve.
The cover is now also complete and the book was with the typesetters when I last enquired as to progress.
I’ll do a full reveal of that excellent cover in the not too distant future. For now, the picture at the head of this post is a taster.

You can follow the editing process in more detail by visiting my website here and searching for ‘Progress on the WIP: SciFi in the Making.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Comi-Crime ... Humour With Hard Edges

Have I invented a new genre? A sub-genre? Possibly.

The Georgie Crane trilogy comes under the umbrella of what has long been known as 'cosy crime.'
Now doesn't that sound nice? Safe? Arms-length, off-page murder, mentioned in passing, casually, or even in jest. In short, suffering-free slaughter, painless passing, and ALL WITHOUT BLOODSHED!

Which seems all wrong to me. Dressing up death somehow diminishes a life lost, even if it is a fictitious one. There's plenty of darkness in the world, and that should be acknowledged. But bubbling up from the shadows, there is also humour; humanity's saving grace.

Therefore I'm more than happy for comedy to sit alongside tragedy, maybe sharing a pint or a glass of wine over opposing in Comi-Crime.

'Dogsbody' is available from Amazon in e-book format and, coming soon, in paperback..

Read more about Karen Wolfe 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

A Tortuous Route to Publication

Anyone who uses Facebook will be familiar with its random ‘memories’ – posts from years ago that pop up at the press of the login button. I’ve seen many a tight-lipped rant from someone who has been inappropriately shown a memento of a long-gone relationship or something else that didn’t warrant an unexpected reminder. The ‘memories’ it presents to me tend to be strangely random. Maybe random is how I am on Facebook. But this morning for once I was shown something substantive. A link to a guest blog on the Writers’ Workshop from five years ago, detailing my tortuous route to publication – many lessons learnt along the way and a story of which I’m always happy to be reminded.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Beverley Folk Festival

It’s the Beverley Folk Festival this weekend. Saturday and Sunday. Beverley racecourse. A veritable cornucopia of delights in the creative arts, and I’m including food in the creative arts on this occasion because the food is exquisite.

As well as the concerts and big name bands, they have a children’s marquee, an arts and crafts centre and on Sunday a literature strand: Words on the Westwood where you will find at least one Hornsea Writer and many more local authors and publishers talking about their work.

This year, the organisers have created a Festival taster ticket for just £3 which allows entry to everything except the headline concerts. If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

So many little time!

I began 2017 with the determination to publish four books by Christmas, plus a seasonal short for my soprano detective, Georgia Pattison. To make life more difficult, I also decided I wanted to take the summer months off. In order to do this, I knew I had to get three of them out before the much anticipated holiday in Rhodes. And I did. Just.

If I say it has been an experience I do not want to repeat, that may be too dogmatic. Perhaps that should be amended to I need to plan more effectively if I do this again. Why did I think it wouldn't be such a horror? Because I knew the second full-length Georgia Laid In Earth was already written and just (just!!) needed editing, ditto the revamped Sherlock Holmes & The Oakwood Grange Affair. 

I also had 55,000 words of a standalone crime thriller already in the bag - raw, yes, but there. The objective looked achievable. Until I came to actually work on The Angel Killer. And that is where the trouble really began.
To read more go to:

During the process of turning The Angel Killer into something that could be published, I seriously thought about having a cardboard cutout of me put in the sitting room downstairs so that my husband would remember what I looked like. It didn't matter what the weather was, I was in the office gazing at the screen, concentrating to an insane degree and exercising my fingers on the keyboard.

So now I am enjoying my summer break. I intend to begin work again in September and between then and Christmas write the Georgia short The Bleak Midwinter and the first of the Gethin Wilde Chronicles, working title Caught Between Loyalties. I shall spend the next couple of months enjoying the house and garden, playing with the dog, going out for days and generally doing what normal people do!!

You can read more about April Taylor here: