Sunday, 20 October 2019

Feeding the Creative Soul - LitFests

LitFests are ostensibly for readers, but writers are readers too. We just view information from a different slant, which comes in handy when the creative well is coughing up an intermittent flow.

The 2019 Festival of Words brought a multitude of writers to libraries around the East Riding of Yorkshire, some well known, others trying to carve themselves a household name. It is this latter group which often proves the more rewarding. For a start, they tend not to be swamped by adoring fans, and they remember how it was to struggle and are therefore more open to answering a question or having a quick chat.

As with all enterprises, to gain the most from a LitFest go prepared. Make time to read one of the authors’ previous works. This in itself can spark our own writing: the pacing used in a passage of description, the way a confrontation is handled. It also widens our pool of genres and sub-genres.

Discussion panels on a fixed subject can prove eye-opening, as happened during the Gothic Thrillers event. Not only did I leave with new authors to read, but with a marketing angle I hadn’t previously considered.


Linda Acaster

Saturday, 21 September 2019

What to do first. Sometimes a problem for a writer

Some people reading this will laugh, because - hey - we're writers, aren't we? Organised to within an inch of a plot and we work through each book in an orderly fashion, right?

Wrong. Absolutely wrong.

Some people write in several genres and have to change their mindset for each. For someone like me, who writes crime because it is my first love, it is nice to swing the changes occasionally. So, at the moment, in between sorting out our new house, I am (allegedly) re-writing the first in my historical crime series, the Gideon Rooke Chronicles, Loyalty in Conflict. However, I also have a contemporary detective, Georgia Pattison, an early-music soprano. She is currently standing in front of me, hands on hips and with her foot tapping in impatience because I have not yet started her Christmas adventure and time is running short. I have the new title, While Shepherds Watched and, that's about all.

And let us not forget the standalones. The Angel Killer was my first and I have a third of another written, set in 1953, involving an ex-SOE operative. I dare not even start on Sherlock Holmes. Yes, there, too, I have another two plots involving cases mentioned by Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Why? Because, for me, a constant diet of the same thing leads to mental stagnation, rather like a real diet can sometimes lead to frustration because your body becomes used to what you eat all the time and decides not to lose weight.

If you would like to read the blog, click here: https://authorapriltaylor.blogspot.com

To find out more about me and my books:  Twitter  Amazon UK  Amazon USA YouTube

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Hornsea Writers at FantastiCon 2019


This year’s fantasy, sci-fi and gaming convention featured the works of several Hornsea Writers. 

Author Stuart Aken’s fantasy and sci-fi trilogies were on offer, as were Penny Grubb’s crime novels. Popular at the Fantastic Books Store were also the charity anthologies, several of which feature stories by Stuart, Penny, Linda Acaster, Madeleine McDonald, April Taylor and Elaine Hemingway, notably Dreaming of Steam, 666, The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing and The Forge: Fire and Ice.



For more detail see the illustrated account on Stuart’s blog.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Distaff The All Female Science Fiction Anthology

While some of the Hornsea Writer’s Group were making the most of Fantasticon over in Cleethorpes, I’d caught the ferry to the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin to celebrate the publication of Distaff: A Science Fiction Anthology by Female Authors.  

Much of Science Fiction is written by women. Yet, despite advances in recent years, the market is still male dominated. Rosie Oliver, the award nominated editor of Distaff, brought together all new tales for Distaff. As well as featuring only female authors, the collection has been edited and designed by women.

The title of the anthology is taken from the name given to the staff used to wind wool about for spinning before the invention of the spinning wheel. The word then became associated with general women's work. My contribution, My Little Mecha, is one of the nine short stories to feature in the anthology. I also designed the cover. You can read more about that here.

Distaff is already receiving excellent reviews. You can read more about Distaff, the Belfast launch (including Holly Blue of Dorset’s outstanding book launch nibbles) and the reviews here.

Copies of Distaff Ebook and Paperback are displayed beside text announcing OUT NOW, and Available At Amazon.

Shellie Horst writes science fiction and fantasy. You can follow her on Twitter @millymollymo and find out more on her website www.millymollymo.com  

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Writer's Growth

It's National Writing Day on 26th June. A day of inspiring events across the country, and plenty of support via social media for new writers.

I’m the newest member of Hornsea Writers (and I suspect the youngest but shhh, don’t tell the others.) They know the ‘ropes’ of this gig, and we all agree that writing is a never-ending learning curve. Writing is peppered with ambitions, dreams and plenty of naysayers to frustrate you along the way. Knowing where you are, where you’re going and what you’re trying to achieve is important if you’re goal orientated. It’s fair to say there’s a goal for any writer: The End.

Re-attending the biannual Newcastle Writing Conference this year reinforced just how much I had grown since I started out on this path. The last time I attended was 2013, I was working on a manuscript and 3 years into a 6 year degree. Bah-ha shiny hopeful me, looking for opportunities, eager to learn and thought I had it all in the bag.

Stop laughing.

Six years after my first visit to Newcastle Writing Conference, the manuscript is complete and another in the final stages. I’ve several stories out in the world. I know there’ll be more. I’m still eager (does that ever go away?) but I’m wiser. I’m aware that I’ll never know it all, yet I’m more confident in my abilities and my strengths.

The Writing Conference had changed too. Gone were the studious tones of Newcastle University. In their place was the professional, creative warmth of hope and positivity. Inspiration mixed with empowerment all day.

Tony Walsh really kicked things off with a passionate performance of poetry that inspired everyone in the room. Other writers discovered how to deal with promotion, or the importance of small presses. I was reminded of things I knew but had lost in the mass of things to do. Some gained their first positive comments or full requests and I shared their stunned joy.

These events can be overwhelming for some people. Social anxiety gets the best of us. That little demon that screeches outrage ‘How dare you believe in yourself.’ gets in the way a lot too. Finding the time, finding the money, finding someone to look after the commitments you have the ‘audacity’ to abandon while you indulge in this little dream. Yes. I’m very good at finding excuses too.
Excuses don’t write anything.

What struck me most was how I could see how I’d developed as an author. I knew why I was there and why I love running the Welcome Event at Edge-Lit as well as the irregular Humber SFF meets: To enable others.

So...are we there yet? No. Yes. Maybe. What do you mean by ‘there’? My ‘there’ was to gain knowledge – so yes.

What did I come away with this time? Clarity, a plan. One that started with my week at a grant funded Arvon retreat, but needed more thought. I didn’t go with impossible expectations. I know where I want to be. The conference gave me the connections, tools and more importantly for me right now the thinking space to figure it out. Hornsea Writers Group plays a part in that thinking space too. It was one of the pieces I needed to achieve a goal. Now it’s all about doing the work. More on that soon…

My advice for anyone on this journey?
Know the place you want to reach. Tailor your time to help you get there. Research and reach out. There will always be rejections to spoil things, so make time for fun too.

Get involved with National Writing Day on the 26th June. Go to a local event. Oh. Don’t forget to write. It doesn’t work without words.

Shellie


Shellie Horst writes science fiction and fantasy. You can follow her on Twitter @millymollymo and find out more on her website www.millymollymo.com

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Finding Story Ideas


Authors are regularly asked about where they get their ideas from. I've heard fans ask it many times at Humber SFF. The answer is more often than not an complex tale that comes back to "I was doing something other than writing."

Many writing workshops and guides offer grids or photographs to get your creativity flowing, but writers looking for story prompts will find plenty on a visit Ferens Art Gallery in Hull to explore the Is This Planet Earth? exhibition, open until July 28th.

The speculative fiction genres are often misunderstood, but there is nothing to fear in the fabulous art curated by Angela Kingston. Stop for refreshments in the cafe while you're there.


The Future Fire published my review of Is This Planet Earth? and you can read it here. Or experience the exhibition in person for free at Ferens Gallery. 

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Under a June Sun


Although the writers in this group blog about life, the universe and everything under the sun, a glance back to June two years ago shows four of them passing on tips both practical and philosophical for better living and crisper writing.

Stuart Aken takes a sideways look at English words and their many nuances. In this particular blog he appropriately explores the word ‘ambiguous’. Click here to read more.

Penny Grubb, in a prescient article (given the recent axing of a human bear-baiting TV programme) unpacks a quote from a famous writer and finds more than meets the eye. Click here to read more.

Linda Acaster reaching the climax of a marathon writing expedition as she writes ‘the end’ on her Torc of Moonlight trilogy, explores the many facets of editing. Click here to read more.

April Taylor takes herself to task as exhaustion sees her sleep for a significant proportion of a much anticipated holiday. Click here to read more.



Saturday, 20 April 2019

Revisiting earlier books


I find it a salutary experience to reread a book that I wrote and published years ago. Things that I would now write differently leap off the page: a sag in this part of the plot, a clumsy bit of speech here, something that would be better reordered there; things I’ve never worried about unduly because there’s nothing to be done.

Or so I thought...

Then plans were proposed to reissue my first three novels as a trilogy in a single book. I wasn’t given much time to tinker, but I immediately got out the toolkit and raised the bonnet to spruce up all three. It was a satisfying experience though oddly like going back in time.



It’s due out later this year.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Writing fiction: the long and the short of it


Explore the nuts and bolts behind the (hopefully) smooth finished product that is the published novel or short story
  • by delving into the mind of the short story writer, analysed in this book by Hornsea Writer, Linda Acaster:




  • or by lifting the bonnet (or the hood – depending which side of the Atlantic you are) on the full-length commercial novel and seeing how the component pieces fit together in this book co-authored by Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb:



How to be a Fantastic Writer

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Meet more than writers at this holiday extravaganza


The annual extravaganza that is FantastiCon is scheduled for the full weekend of the 17th and 18th August in Cleethorpes at the space-age leisure centre. The focus is on a weekend packed with family activities around games, virtual reality, NERF wars, drone racing, a Mariokart tournament, an aqua assault course... and some Hornsea Writers too.



The event is used as a launch pad for new publications and previous years have seen the launch of sci-fi trilogies from Stuart Aken, crime drama from Penny Grubb and charity anthologies that have included several group members including Elaine Hemingway, Madeleine McDonald, April Taylor and Penny Grubb who all appeared in Dreaming of Steam; Linda Acaster and Stuart Aken in horror anthology 666; Stuart Aken was also invited to contribute to the fantasy and sci-fi collections, Fusion and Synthesis. Penny Grubb was featured in The Dummies’Guide to Serial Killing that was launched last year.

Several Hornsea Writers are regulars at FantastiCon. If you come along and can find a moment between activities and games, please drop by the bookstore and say hello.