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.

Friday, 18 September 2020

When "How to" becomes "How NOT to"


All writers know that the more they write, the more they will improve. But sometimes this quest for perfection can prove to be a trap. Let me tell you my experience.

I have around 14 titles in the virtual world, but, like most writers, I am always looking to improve how and what I write. But sometimes, the quest to achieve this can stop you in your tracks. By which, I mean “how to write your book” books/articles/blogs/courses and the like.

After I had written 10 or so books and novellas, I wanted to try and refine my writing process. And so I began what has been a two-year journey to find that perfect method, and believe me there are thousands of self-help books etc. out there. This begs the question as to why there are so many. I am afraid to say that my cynical answer is that the authors of these books will probably earn far more from their self-help books than they do from their own creative writing because these books feed a need in authors to improve, but they also feed our inbuilt insecurity in our own abilities. I know that I could quite easily teach a 10-week writing course for students at my local college. And I also know that if I did so, I would earn so much more from that than I do from my crime books. 

The sad truth is, that after two years of searching for perfection, my writing has dwindled to a struggling nothing. Some days every word is like wading through treacle. It seems the more articles/books I read and try to incorporate into my writing process, the deeper the quicksand becomes. I have now called a halt to reading all these “improvement” books. And do you know why? Because I know how I write my books. I know what my process is, what works best for me.

After much deliberation, I've decided I must reacquaint myself with the way I used to write in order to be able to keep on writing – find again that wonderful joy in my craft I seem to have lost. I do not decry any self-help books and articles. And I think, even for the seasoned writer I now realise I am, they can prove useful for the odd nugget of information. But for me, they made me question my own ability to write and that is what has stopped me writing. 

I must find my old inventiveness, the one that isn’t lashed to a someone else's structure, but a structure that works for me. The problem writers have is that people can tell you but you can write until they are blue in the face. This is the same for many professions but especially the creative ones and, having been a serious singer for most of my life, I can tell you we creatives are all insecure creatures who don’t believe we can do anything well.

I have decided I am neither a plotter nor a pantser but a hybrid. Instinctively, I start with what-if? Then I find my characters and get to know who they are. I put them into my what-if situation. I already know what the end will be. In fact, after writing four or five chapters, my default was to write the last chapter. I will go back to that.

What happens between those five chapters and the end is, as I have often said, like a roadmap. I want to get from London to Edinburgh, but my characters decide which route I will take. I also use index cards to denote the towns – i.e. significant events - I must drive through in order to reach Edinburgh.

My objective is to publish three titles by Christmas 2020. Long Shadows is written and in process of being edited. Loyalty in Conflict has been messed about with so much in the past two years that I am now at the stage where I have ripped it apart and am rewriting huge tranches of it. The third will be the farewell George Pattison Mystery, where she marries her beloved Sir Edward Broome, but of course, there’s just the little matter of a murder along the way.

Next year I intend to start a new crime series set around the northern UK town of Guisborough. It will be crime with a paranormal element. It will also be very interesting to see how fast I write it going back to my method. Watch this space.


You can read more about April Taylor here:

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Friday, 4 September 2020

Making the Most of a Windswept Book Launch

It was the August Bank Holiday weekend in the coastal town of Hornsea. After the long Covid-19 lockdown the town was open for business, visitors were streaming in, and Saturday was the date of the Artists’ Fair in the garden behind The Townhouse gift shop. 

It was also the launch for Book 2 in my Yorkshire historical series, The Story of Reighton: New Arrivals. What could possibly go wrong?

As can be seen from the photograph below there is no accounting for the British weather. Sun-tops were out; big jumpers and wet weather gear was in. 

I was sharing an open-sided tent with a photographer and a young couple selling slate and glass art. Before we’d officially started, the photographer and I each had to grasp a tent pole to stop them flying out of their sockets in the strong gusts of wind. This was a recipe for disaster. Guy-ropes were being shaken free of their pins. And then it started raining, the spray covering our wares.

Desperate measures were needed. So, trying not to stand on any flowers in the nearby border, I climbed through the shrubs, guy-ropes in hand, to find something a little more secure to fasten them to.  A nearby tree seemed sturdy enough, but throughout the afternoon I still kept a hand on a shuddering tent pole, just in case, and only dare let go to sign copies of my novel.

Me in red making the most of it

Did the weather keep people away? To my astonishment, no. And much to my surprise I sold 20 copies. The day was well worth the effort and it was great to meet and chat with readers.

Joy Stonehouse

Book 1: Witch-bottles and Windlestraws (A Story of Reighton, Yorkshire 1703 to 1709)
Book 2: New Arrivals in Reighton (A Story of Reighton, Yorkshire 1709 to 1714)

Friday, 28 August 2020

Short stories for radio


Covid-19 has seen radio listening increase. Whether they are decorating the dining room, sewing on buttons, or simply washing up, people have rediscovered the joy of radio. Unlike the hypnotic flickering of a television screen, radio makes for interesting company, whatever the task.

Covid-19 has also opened up opportunities for radio writers. BBC Radio Leeds has an on-going call for short stories suitable for a mid-morning audience. Two of my stories, Tickety Boo and The Marriage of True Minds, were recently broadcast on Radio Leeds, and were posted on the catch-up site BBC Sounds.

Both pieces had been published before, but needed tweaking for radio, since hearing words is not the same as reading them. 

Make yourself a cup of tea, click on the links below, and enjoy.

Madeleine McDonald