Sunday, 9 December 2018

Torc Of Moonlight Trilogy - Christmas Special Price

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat... 

Seasonal promotions are hitting all the digital stores, including Linda Acaster's Torc of Moonlight Trilogy boxed set. For a very limited period this 900+ page fantasy romance is a mere £2.99 / €2.99 / $2.99 or equivalent. Grab it while you can.

The over-arcing story follows Nick and Alice through three books and nine years as they grapple with the realisation that Celtic folklore is based very much on living fact. How did she come up with the storyline?

'I tripped over it, or should I say I kept tripping over it, as I undertook various walks along ancient byways in my home county of Yorkshire. History might be buried, but it's not always dead. 

'Clean water plays a huge part in our lives. Today it's chemically scrubbed and piped into our homes; in Victorian times the village pump helped to keep clean water from the local spring; before the mechanical pump the spring itself would be surrounded by a stone well-head to help retain the purity of its water with its run-off allowed to pool in the ubiquitous village pond. It is here The White Lady, protector of the water, is found within "folklore" in the county histories written by country gentlemen. 

'The White Lady was no mere ghostly form in previous centuries, but she was always female. The traditional Well-Dressing festivals of Derbyshire, rich in Christian symbolism, are an attempt to conflate and thus suppress the belief. The same was attempted in the medieval period where stone churches dedicated to All Saints or All Souls were built close to springs venerated at the end of the farming calendar - the Celtic year-end festival of Samhain demonised by Christian teaching into All Hallows. Despite now being a largely secular country, we don't let go. Halloween is now the most commercialised "festival" next to Christmas.'

For readers of Barbara Erskine, Robert Holdstock, and Phil Rickman, the Torc of Moonlight Trilogy is on offer for a limited time only:

Amazon   ¦  Kobo   ¦   iBooks   ¦   Nook   ¦   All formats


Catch up with Linda Acaster via her Website, Facebook, or Twitter where she'd appreciate an RT of her pinned Tweet.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Writing contemporary crime in a fast-changing world


Giving talks is part and parcel of being a writer and is something that all Hornsea Writer members do from time to time, but it isn’t – or certainly shouldn’t be – just a matter of pulling a previously made talk out of the cupboard and taking it along for an airing. 



Read Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb’s view on this in relation to a recent talk she gave to the Hornsea U3A. See more HERE

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Medieval CSI anyone?

Nowadays, we are used to watching crime shows on the television and witnessing up-to-date forensic techinques. Invaluable though these programmes are for the modern crime writer, how does the writer of historical crime help his medieval investigator find the killer? 

The biggest weapon in the medieval investigator’s armoury is the ignorance of the killer. He won’t realise the marks left by his feet or hands reveal his identity. That said, the detective must use his five senses much more than modern-day detectives. Our detective might see blood on someone’s clothes although they won’t be able to tell if it is human or animal, but, unless he is a butcher or flesher, that blood is a pointer towards further investigation. Or perhaps he finds a torn piece of leather, or sees a stain that shouldn’t be there.

However, it is in the less-used senses that the medieval detective must find most of his answers. The smell of someone’s breath or an odour emanating from a suspect’s/victim’s clothes, or the last dish eaten by the victim, tasting the dregs left in a beaker, or touching the body to try and calculate how long the victim has been dead. The senses must be used together, so the appearance of a body, along with how cold/warm it is, the state of blood found on or near the body and other odours coming from the victim, will add to the investigator’s knowledge of the circumstances of the crime.

When it comes to transport, we now have databases of wheel-patterns and vehicle characteristics, including the fibres from vehicle carpets. But how about when all you have are horses, wheeled carriages/carts, and people walking? Do any footprints look strange? Is there the mark of a split sole or that the sole of one shoe appears more worn down than the other indicating the killer walks with a certain gaitSize of footprints is key. If the investigator can find a shoe that fits the imprint Again, the medieval killer probably won’t have the faintest idea his footprints left at the scene are shouting his name to the detective.

Horses and their gait may also help the detective deduce what happened at the crime scene. Was the horse walking, trotting, cantering or at a full gallop? Do the horseshoes have any unique markings on them? Where did that loaded cart go? We can tell it was loaded because of the depth of the wheel ruts and if one wheel was a bit loose, that, too, will showThe distance between wheels will tell our detective whether it was a common cart or a carriage. carriage means the detective has to tread carefully because someone of high status is in the frame.

Due 2019
Many writers make their detectives apothecaries or healers because plants were – and still are – very important in crime detection. Nowadays, analysis of plants in tyre treads can tell investigators where a vehicle has been and lead the detective to the dump site. This was key in the 2005 murder of Joanne Nelson in Hull when analysis proved that the combination of plants in the suspect’s tyre treads pointed to only three places. Writers of medieval crime will often use the discovery of a plant near the scene of the crime, but the plant does not grow there. Finding where the plant does grow is a key indicator of where the killer has been and a lead to his identity.

Occupations in medieval times were much more physical than many are now and the detective will be on the lookout for pointers to a suspect’s job. Have the victim’s clothes any trace evidence? Sawdust, ink, stone dust, marks from what look like fingernails? These might point to a carpenter, a clerk, a mason or even a lute player. And, when questioning a suspect, the detective will look closely at their hands. Are there any defensive wounds from say, the victim trying to wrench the strangler’s hands away?

So writers of historical crime have to be a little more imaginative in their CSI clues, but that all adds to the fun.

You can read more about April Taylor here:

Saturday, 10 November 2018

The Joys of Re-reading


I’ve always been an avid re-reader, but it occurred to me how much more re-reading is possible now than it was when I first went back to revisit a William story and discovered the joys of adventuring through the same territory – discovering things I’d never noticed before, things I’d forgotten.

These days with so much available online at the click of a button, it’s not just books that are easy re-read candidates, but stories, articles, letters, random accounts of odd experiences; things that would rarely have been contenders for re-reading. And of course ‘Joys’ is not always the word. When a lot of time has passed, things can appear in very different lights. Attitudes change, cultures change, the written word dates along with everything else. Re-reading can be a salutary experience full of more surprises than seem possible.

My latest re-reading venture (other than my well-thumbed stack of favourite books) was this series of interviews I did some years ago with a diverse group of SciFi authors. 



Friday, 2 November 2018

#SFF at Waterstones Hull, 10 November

Among her many talents, member Shelli Horst runs Humber SFF, a group which brings speculative fiction authors to Hull, 2017's City of Culture. 

This time she's blagged her way into Waterstones bookshop to host a triple author event:

Daniel Godfrey, published by Titan, writes near-future SF, so near-future it's difficult to stop the hair rising on the nape of your neck. 

Ren Warom, published by Tor, Apex and Fox Spirit, writes in the dystopian world of cyber-punk, among other sub-genres.

RJ Barker, published by Orbit, leads readers into the grimdark epic fantasy world of assassins and magic.

The event on Saturday 10th November is free, but seating is limited. Book your place HERE.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

‘Beta’ the Devil You Know

I love the excitement of a good book on its first read, but I’m an inveterate re-reader. It’s so much safer at the end of a long day to settle down with a reliable favourite; either a book I know or one by an author on my ‘authors worth reading’ list. With no external stimulus, I might never read another new book. Recognising this trait in myself, I tried joining reading clubs, but they never worked out. I swayed between cherry picking and forcing myself to keep up, and eventually after ploughing through a couple of books that didn’t spark my interest at all I gave up.

Then a few years ago, I found the answer. I began beta reading new books for a publisher with an eclectic list. The variety has been amazing. Have I enjoyed them all? No, but I count the real turkeys on the fingers of one hand, and I’ve encountered some amazing new authors.

From last year’s new offerings here are two books I’d never have found otherwise. They’re as different from each other as the proverbial chalk and cheddar but have added two new names to my ‘authors worth reading’ list.

Mary Brown’s I Used to Be is a debut novel from an author in her 80s. She got the idea for it whilst listening to William Golding at Reading Literature Festival several decades ago. My review is HERE.

Walt Pilcher’s Everybody Shrugged is a clever (and very funny) parody on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged – well, that’s the way I saw it. Rand does not get a mention. My review is HERE.

Left to my own devices I would not have picked up either book. Thank heavens for beta reading!

Friday, 19 October 2018

#Sci-Fi on the Humber - World-Building Workshop

Being a writer isn't all starving in damp garrets hunched over hot laptops. Often we are asked to cascade our skills by leading writing workshops. One of the group's newer members is doing just that on 27 October at The Ropewalk, Barton on Humber. Now is the time to grab the final few tickets.

Shellie Horst is a writer of short and long fiction within the Fantasy, Steampunk and Science Fiction subgenres of Speculative Fiction, contributes to online magazine, SFFWorld, and has written for The Bookseller. She runs HumberSFF, and is to be seen on panels during the wider community's conferences.

The workshop will focus on world-building environmental surroundings for characters to interact with by re-imagining the Ropewalk building in various guises. The techniques used will be transferable to any genre, a skill needed for all characters, past, present and future. 

Further Information: Fathom Writers

Booking is essential: 
Phone: 01652 660380

Saturday, 13 October 2018

How to write your novel...or not!

Phil Collins sang about not being able to hurry love. You can’t hurry plots, either. Well, that’s not strictly true. You might be able to put a plot together in three minutes flat, but fleshing out your characters, their interaction and how they affect the overall story will take longer. Sometimes much longer. Some how-to-write-your-novel books make this process seem quick and easy, but that isn't the whole story (pun intended).

There are hundreds of books about how to plot your novel, together with timelines on character arcs and the like. I have never liked the by X%, your character should be doing this and your story should be at this point approach because it seems too mechanical to me. Flowing water is not a ten second soundbite repeated ad infinitum. However, because I was interested in the concept, having never done it, I did attempt to write by formula and ended up being unable to enjoy my writing for a year or write anything I felt could be read by anybody else. 

 
It’s a confidence thing and very few authors - by which I mean 95% of us - have so little confidence in their writing that they will try something new just in case it throws up a different approach that they like. Such open-mindedness is healthy, but what it highlighted for me was that I knew, either by practise or instinct, that my method of writing worked best for me.

While I do accept that there has to be structure to the book you are writing, I also believe that sticking rigidly to a you must do this by this time approach might teach you a lot about how to put x thousand words a day on paper/keyboard but you may also end up with a confused, bloated, perhaps stilted book that has no flow or logic to it.

So, what do I advise? There are so many ‘how-to’ books on writing out there that lead this cynical writer to believe that some do and others teach. That said, many how-to authors write fiction as well, so my first advice would be to read the reviews of those books and then download a couple and judge for yourself. I am assuming (dangerous) that these authors write their fiction using the guidelines they champion in their how-to books. If so, check that out while you are reading the book. Does it grab you? Are the characters fully formed, true to themselves or generic and shallow? Does the progress of the action seem forced or, in the down chapters (can’t have ups without downs), are you bored?

Then read a book you truly enjoy - it might easily be one written by a how-to author. I am thinking Stephen King here. How does that author hit the highs and lows? And, most important, even vital, is the rule that if you don’t agree with what they say, it does not mean they are right and you are wrong. I am again thinking Stephen King and his rule about adverbs. Chips/fries can be very bland without a sprinkling of salt. 


I have always put my instinctual approach to writing down to the fact I am musical and know a lot about structures of symphonies and the like, having studied the subject since I was a child. The great Edward Elgar taught himself to write symphonies by copying a Beethoven symphony structure, down to the number of bars and how each theme was developed. It worked for him. Deconstructing a book you admire might work for you.


You can read more about April Taylor here:

 
 

Saturday, 6 October 2018

The Self Destructive Urge to Tell the Tale

The writer Maya Angelou talks about the compulsion to tell the tale. It’s something that most writers will relate to. But there is a downside …

Would you swap your life’s fabric for a five minute opportunity? Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb explores the issue HERE.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

The Anatomy of a Book Cover

There's no keeping a good woman down, and across on her blog Linda Acaster has been writing about the more esoteric elments to consider when constructing a DIY cover: How A Book Cover Does Its Job


Finding suitable images is the least of it. But there are plenty of tips and links to help, and no need to own image manipulation software, expensive or otherwise.