Friday, 12 February 2021

Madeleine McDonald – Plundering life for literary inspiration

Madeleine McDonald is a writer with a varied portfolio. For many years she was a newspaper columnist contributing regularly to the Family Matters column of the Yorkshire Post.  Her publications include numerous articles, essays and short stories. One of her early radio stories was translated into Mandarin Chinese and broadcast on the BBC World Service. She has also enjoyed competition success, having been a finalist in both The Art of Love poetry competition 2005, judged by Andrew Motion, and the Roswell Award for Science Fiction 2017.

Madeleine is also a novelist, having written both historical and contemporary romances with exotic settings drawn from her own travels.

Her years working as a freelance translator, precis-writer and editor for various United Nations organisations taught her valuable lessons about writing as a discipline. Translation required absolute accuracy, while respecting the style of the original; precis-writing separated the wheat from the chaff; editing meant being mindful of the sensibilities of people writing in a foreign tongue, while tweaking a text to make it readable. The diversity of people she met and her years of travel lie at the heart of much of her writing, lending authenticity to her stories.

She says of Enchantment in Morocco that it was the colour and contrast of the land where Africa meets Europe that she saw would provide a captivating setting for a traditional romance story. The scenes in remote Moroccan villages draw on her travels round North Africa by bus, the need for access to the Atlantic coast for a plotline involving smuggling determining the book’s exact location.


The Rescued Heart, a second-chance romance set against the Basel Art Fair, draws the reader both into everyday Swiss life and the business side of modern art. A chance meeting with an impecunious young artist shatters a widow’s isolation and forces her to confront life again.


Moving both closer to home (her native Scotland) and half way across the world (to the Caribbean) A Shackled Inheritance was inspired by a 200-year-old will in which a Scottish slave owner left his sugar plantation, and slaves, to his natural mixed-race daughter. Madeleine’s research in Jamaica’s online archives led her into the shadow world of the ‘free coloureds’ or free mixed-race community, one legacy of slavery that mainland Britain preferred to ignore.

Articles and short fiction under Madeleine’s by-line have appeared in anthologies and magazines across the globe, including Connecting Nothing With Something - A Coastal Anthology, Verbatim, She's the One, Thresholds, Flash Bang Mysteries, Journal of Compressed Creative ArtsWriters' Forum, and Mslexia.

During the 2020 pandemic, Madeleine has concentrated on fiction editing and short stories for radio, and also published a sonnet which followed the traditional Shakespearean rhythm.

See more of Madeleine’s publications HERE.


Friday, 5 February 2021

So you want to write a crime novel Part 2: First Thoughts

 The first thoughts about any new writing project are the most enjoyable. This is where the only limit is your imagination. So give yourself the time and space to let your mind wander down untrodden paths. You need that time to allow your subconscious to fit your disjointed thoughts into some kind of cohesive jigsaw that will form the basis of your story.

With a crime story, there are restraints that other genres do not have. For example, the time in which you set your story will affect what technology is/was/wasn't available. Even a novel set in the 1980s would not have mobile phones unless your detective was happy to carry a brick around with him that took all night to charge and which only had a two-hour battery life. 

Who is your main character? Police officer, amateur sleuth, man, woman, dog? What makes them different? My own sleuth, Georgia Pattison is an early-music soprano. What about your setting? The seaside? A distant planet far, far away? Roman Britain? All will affect how and what you write. Similarly the method of murder you choose will be key. I have never chosen to have a victim with a gunshot wound because the world of ballistics moves forward so quickly. Ditto forensic techniques. Of course, if you set your novel in the future, you can make up your own technology.

The clues you present to the reader must also fit the time in which the novel is set. This is where the golden age of detective fiction was so powerful because the limits of technological knowledge were so limited, authors had to use other ways to present their clues amid a welter of red herrings. Freeman Wills Crofts relied heavily on train timetables. Dorothy L Sayers liked unusual methods of killing her victims.

Writing a crime novel is like putting a jigsaw together and then throwing the pieces up in the air and letting your readers try to put it together without a picture to guide them. I find it immense fun and you might, too. If so, you will find my blog on First Thoughts HERE

 You can read more about me here:

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Friday, 29 January 2021

Crime novel Boxed In by a pandemic?

A sudden pandemic causes problems great and small; one of the lesser being the jar to continuity of a contemporary series of crime novels. Author Penny Grubb mentions this on her blog as she announces the launch of her latest novel, Boxed In.

The book is available in paperback. The ebook can be pre-ordered for delivery on the official launch date.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Rick Sumner – a writer with a social conscience

Prolific author Rick Sumner has published articles, short stories and verse over many years. Appropriately for someone who has worked as a coal miner, it is the rich seam of his own life experience that he has mined to inform his writing. His stories have the ring of authenticity and often come with an unexpected twist, but he doesn’t stay down the mine, or even stick to terra firma; his science fiction soars beyond the stars and his horror stories venture into the paranormal.

In the 1980s, Rick wrote an anthology called Kilby Welfare to raise funds for a mine workers’ charity.

The stories were set in a mythical pit village in Northern England and the book was recorded as an audio-cassette by Paul Copley and Tony Capstick.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of Rick’s charitable work. Helping others has been a part of his life. His varied career included spending time as an inner-city community worker.

From being a coalminer, Rick went to sea, saying that it was life aboard the trawlers that cleared the coal dust from his lungs. His time as a trawlerman engendered a lifelong love of the sea and a keen appreciation of the key role played by the RNLI. When his local coastguard station was lost in the 1990s, Rick was one of a band of volunteers who raised the funds to found and run Hornsea Inshore Rescue, whose lifeboat has since saved many lives.

Rick’s Rescue Rhymes, an illustrated collection of humorous limericks and verse has been on sale at the new boathouse since it opened in 1994, and continues to raise funds.

The North Sea played a significant role in Rick’s life, and fittingly now provides him with an ever-changing view from the windows of the East Yorkshire house where he enjoys his retirement.

Friday, 8 January 2021

So you want to write a crime novel: Part 1 - Considerations.

 It's 2021 and thank heavens we have left 2020 behind. I will begin by wishing you all a healthy, happy and safe New Year.

New Year - it's the "new" bit that had me thinking. We all make new decisions at the beginning of a new year. And, at the beginning of this one, I have decided to write a series of posts on the different aspects of crime writing.

J is for January. It is also for "Jumping-off Point", so this series begins with an overview of what constitutes a crime novel, what differentiates each type and what they have in common. Crime is a specific genre, but within it there is a lot of room for manoeuvre. What is different when you write a crime novel? What must you take into account? 

Over the next 12 months, I will cover research, characters, settings, seeding clues and red herrings, suspense and conflict, different ways to write the book, pulling a scene together and cliffhangers. 

What do you do if your character suddenly goes off on a tangent? (Mine always do). I will also include a post of how to focus if you are feeling lost and how you can get back on track.

I'm game if you are. You can read my first post HERE:

You can read more about April Taylor here:

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Friday, 1 January 2021

Forward Thinking 2021


Yes, Happy New Year from Hornsea Writers. 

If you’ve just emerged bleary-eyed from what passed for the Covid-baked New Year’s celebrations, don’t despair. As we speak, members are girding their loins – or at least donning woolly hats and thick sweaters – to bring you interesting content throughout the coming year.

For a start we have not one, but two monthly series. And we have book launches!

Penny Grubb’s Boxed In, the latest in her Annie Raymond PI Mystery series, hits the shelves in late February. You’ll never look at a container lorry the same again.

Also before Spring, April Taylor wraps up her long-running Cosy Crime series starring that acerbic early music singer Georgia Pattison with Who Wants To Live Forever. Might there finally be a wedding? Certainly there’ll be a dead body.

Horse of the Same Colour, follow-up to Melodie Trudeaux’s debut children’s comic romp Horse of a Different Colour, launches in the summer. There’s already a lot of information about it on her website and, shush – unicorns!

Sometime “back-end”, as we say in these parts, Joy Stonehouse will be launching the third in her 18th century East Yorkshire Reighton series based on genealogical accounts, Whisper to the Bees.

And this is a mere scattering to whet your reading appetite. To kick off, come the series. Mid-month will be member profiles shining a somewhat different light on what makes this group of writers tick.

Next Friday April Taylor will start her series Aspects of Crime Writing, continuing it on the first Friday of the month. And who’s going to remember that? It’s much easier to pop your e-address in the box top left and have posts arrive direct in your Inbox.

See you next Friday!

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Wishing Our Readers Festive Cheer

No one can deny it has been an odd year, and members of Hornsea Writers have fared no differently. But life – and Christmas – is what we make of it.

So join us this Festive Season in offering a smile and happy greeting to not just our friends but passers-by, especially those walking alone. A little Christmas kindness costs nothing yet gladdens each participant’s heart. 
Maybe we should make it our New Year’s Resolution. Think of the joy we could spread.

From all at Hornsea Writers 
have a very
 Merry Christmas

Friday, 18 December 2020

A Chance to Meet Fellow Authors



Bridge House



Bridge House Publishing, a small independent publisher specialising in anthologies, has always organised get-togethers for its authors.

Face to face meetings now being impossible, it recently invited contributors to the Transformations anthology to a Zoom meeting. Instead of getting to know each other over sandwiches in a pub, we raised a glass at home to the book's success. The camera allowed us to put faces to names. After exchanging snippets of news, we tested our wits in a literary quiz and listened to some authors reading their work. A welcome initiative in these strange times.

Transformations is available in paperback from Amazon. 

Madeleine McDonald

Friday, 11 December 2020

NaNoWriMo - how was it for you?

 The National November Writing Month descended again. Last time I turned around, it was March, so how come it was suddenly November?

My writing activity has not been stellar in this year of lockdowns. I think many writers have suffered this malaise. Initially, we all probably thought we would be able to sit down and devote the time we were normally out and about to writing. But it hasn't turned out like that.

And that's where NaNoWriMo has been a godsend for me. I thought at one point about giving up writing completely, but, again, like many other writers, it isn't only habit that sends us to our desk and keyboard, it is an internal need to tell the stories that teem in our heads. Every day away from my desk is a day when I feel I am not doing my job, leaving me with a melancholy regret. But I had lost my mojo.

I decided to do NaNoWriMo to regain that discipline of sitting down every day and banging out words. Because that is what NaNo is all about. Banging out the words, taking yourself on a white-hot ride and not worrying if you have just used the correct word. You've used the word that will probably be changed when you edit, but you've said what you wanted to say quickly. NaNo is about speed.

I managed just over 60,000 words by 30th November, writing two-thirds of the latest Georgia Pattison mystery Who Wants To Live Forever. And if you want to know a bit more about Georgia's latest adventure, you can read about it on my blog -


You can read more about April Taylor here:

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Monday, 28 September 2020

Virtual HumberSFF #7 – The Social On Your Sofa

Hornsea Writers member Shellie Horst not only writes and reviews Speculative Fiction but organises HumberSFF. Under its umbrella she facilitates its twice yearly “Socials” – free mini Litfests – inviting authors from around the country to visit the Humber region to talk about and read from their work.

This being Covid year, face-to-face events are no longer an option. Not to be daunted, Shellie organised HumberSFF’s first Virtual Social via Google Meet. Participants and attendees alike sat in their own comfy chairs, grabbed a beverage of choice, and for nigh on three hours enjoyed a series of readings, Q&A sessions, and hearing the inspiration and working practices of the four authors. If you weren’t there you missed a treat, and much inspiration.

Keith W Dickinson brings his love of Steampunk and Crime together with a wry sense of humour in Dexter & Sinister: Detecting Agents. A liking for mechanical cats is not obligatory.

Shona Kinsella writes both Fantasy and Science Fantasy. Her current work, a novella The Flame and the Flood will soon be followed by a reissue of her Fantasy trilogy The Vessel of Kaladene.

Joe Hakim is a performance poet, a broadcaster, a writer in residence. His Science Fiction/Horror novel The Community is set firmly in Hull.

Tim Major is a prolific writer of works that cover the full gamut of Speculative Fiction. Hope Island leans towards Supernatural Mystery. Beware of singing caves.

As ever with HumberSFF’s Socials, there was a free book raffle. Four lucky attendees are currently awaiting delivery of their chosen titles, ably facilitated by the independent bookshops who stepped up to help out:

JE Books of Hull  :  The Portal Bookshop, York  :  The Rabbit Hole, Brigg

Thanks to everyone who contributed. HumberSFF’s Socials are not recorded. You have to be there, virtual or not, so Follow the Website to receive notification of the next.