Friday, 17 January 2020

Looking back over beginnings

It is exciting to launch a new book. There are a lot of different ways to do it ... and it doesn't always go to plan.

In this post on interviews, Linda Acaster riffs with some of the writing greats whilst launching book 2 of her Torc of Moonlight trilogy; and Stuart Aken is interviewed for an online launch for book 1 in his fantasy trilogy, A Seared Sky.

Launch parties might be physical events with champagne corks popping, but these days are more likely to be online. Stuart launched his trilogy with a Facebook event and Linda launched hers with a blog tour.

Science fiction and fantasy author, Shellie Horst, went to the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin to launch Distaff: A ScienceFiction Anthology by Female Authors. In this article she talks about women science fiction authors.

But not all book launches go to plan…

A mix-up over delivery saw Joy Stonehouse launching Witch-Bottles and Windlestraws without any books. Writers are creative, it’s what they do. Read this post to see how she handled the bookless book launch.

There are several new launches in the pipeline. Sign up (top left, just under the Welcome message) for advance notice of Hornsea Writers’ 2020 books.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Busted! Penny Grubb’s Life of Crime

Over the festive period, a local newspaper outed me for my new criminal tendencies. Noting my recent retirement from my job as a lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Hull University, the article says, “Penny Grubb has decided to turn her retirement to a life of crime.”

Not that the local area need be concerned; I don’t have the energy for traditional bank jobs these days, nor the skills for the modern online equivalent, but yes, I do intend to devote some time to the pursuit of crime – in particular the completion of my eighth crime novel which I hope to see released on the world before the end of the year.

The first 3 books in the Annie Raymond mystery series have been rerelease as a trilogy, Falling Into Crime.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Hone Writing Skills Via Entering Competitions

There's nothing like setting ourselves targets - New Year's Resolutions or not - and the continued honing of our writing skills should be a priority. 

One of the easiest methods is to write outside of our comfort zones. It truly makes us think about sentence structure, characterisation, and speech patterns other than those used as a norm.

However, writers are often strapped for time, and so writing as an exercise can too easily be pushed down the workaday list of priorities. 

Writing specifically for competitions circumvents this by offering a targeted set of constraints: market, wordcount, theme, deadline. Writers merely need to add the creative spark.

Across on his blog, member Stuart Aken runs a massive Resources page which includes a link to a substantial Creative Writing Contests Table, updated on a regular basis. Even better, many are free to enter; all offer prizes.

So what's stopping you?

If you've come to this post by chance and for ease would like more from Hornsea Writers delivered direct to your Inbox, add your e-address to the box at the top of the column. We promise you won't be inundated with daily emails.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy New Year!

As we embrace a New Year, let us be grateful for what we have, for the people who bring encouragement and smiles into our lives, and for the promise of what might be achieved if we put our minds to a goal. As Charles Dickens wrote:
No one is useless in this world 
who lightens the burdens of another.
We think that an excellent goal for 2020.
With many thanks to our readers on whichever continent you reside. May you all live a happy and healthy year ahead.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Golden memories can bring inspiration

When a writer gets that first inspiration for a book, it either manifests as a plot point – a what if? – situation or a character who has something to say.

For me, early music soprano, Georgia Pattison was born out of my memories of singing with Worcester Festival Choral Society in the 70s and early 80s, a time I regard as golden.

It was a time when, as a member of the chorus and in Three Choirs Festivals, I mixed with household names like Paul Tortelier, Sir Charles Groves, Janet Baker and Lennox Berkeley. I sang in the 1981 Three Choirs Festival, when 5 months pregnant. To the whole of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the ‘bump’ became Earnshaw because my husband was a Yorkshireman.
How’s Earnshaw today?’
‘He wasn’t keen on the trumpets in the Berlioz, but apart from that…
We will gloss over the fact that ‘he’ turned out to be ‘she’.

From those memories, the Georgia Pattison Mysteries came into being. It has become something of a fashion for writers to write an annual Christmas novella or short story for their series character and it is popular with readers.

So it isn’t surprising that my contemporary detective, early-music soprano, Georgia Pattison is once more making a festive appearance. This year, she is thrown into the midst of a school nativity play, with all its joys and disasters. As you might guess, she discovers that peace and goodwill to all men does not apply to murderers.

If you would like to read more about this year’s Christmas novella, While Shepherds Watched, click here:

You can buy While Shepherds Watched here :

You can find out more about April Taylor and her books here:

You can contact April Taylor:

Saturday, 7 December 2019

The Bookless Book Launch

All was planned. What could be better than to launch my first book in the village where the novel is set? A table was booked at the local pre-Christmas Craft Fair and flyers printed ready to hand out. The only problem – my books did not arrive in time from the printers.

Downhearted? Yes, but I attended the Fair anyway, only to arrive in torrential rain. Even the local dogs did not want a walk. I was shown to my table – a small one tucked in the far corner. Oh dear. I dripped my way across and there I waited for the Fair to open, my two proof copies on display looking as sad as I felt.

The event was a slow starter. A lot of folk came only for a morning coffee and a chat with friends. Many overlooked my table altogether, moving swiftly between the more colourful stalls. A few were enticed by the front cover and the title Witch-bottles and Windlestraws. I persevered. 

‘Do you like historical novels?’ I asked as they passed by. If they answered ‘yes’, then I would add, ‘Well – this one is set here, in Reighton, in the early 1700s.’ Then they were hooked. I took orders for ten books and, very trustingly, the purchasers paid in advance. All was not lost.

I did deliver the books a couple of weeks later and so met the buyers twice as they asked for their copies to be signed. Now I have good contacts in the village and they are helping with my research for the next novel in the series. 

The moral of this tale? No books, no problem!

Joy Stonehouse

Copies of Witch-bottles and Windlestraws are available as a paperback or ebook from Amazon.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Going backwards to come forwards

We are constantly told we must keep moving forwards. The word I wanted to use in that first sentence was relentlessly because it seems that some people see nothing good about looking back and are completely focussed on surging ahead.

But looking back is not the same as wanting to turn back time, which can indeed be harmful, especially to the emotions. In other words, it is sometimes beneficial to look back to see how far you have come or to judge how far you still have to travel. Or to assess if the way you did something then still has any relevance to how you do that thing now.

Two weeds recently flew into the garden of my life. The first is a sudden increase in pain from arthritis, especially in my hands. One thumb, in particular, will probably need surgery in the not too distant future. The other weed is that, for the past two years, my writing had almost stalled and died.

When things like these happen, you begin to reassess what you do and how you do it. The arthritis I can do nothing about except go through what the medics advise and see how it all turns out. The writing, though, that I could sort out, but first I had to work out what my problems were and how to address them.

I love writing. I love telling stories and I was not and am not prepared to let anything stop that unless it is beyond my control. Besides which, I had a full-length book and the Georgia Pattison Christmas novella, While Shepherds Watched, to get written and launched before Christmas, so something major had to happen.

If you want to find out what I decided, read my blog. You can find it here:

You can read more about April Taylor here:

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Book Launch: 'Witch-bottles and Windlestraws' by Joy Stonehouse

When I started to delve into my family's history I never envisaged the ensuing research would lead to a book, or four. The first launches today.

Witch-bottles and Windlestraws brings to life the inhabitants of Reighton in Filey Bay, 1703-1709. Parish records revealed a close-knit community of large families - the vicar lived in a small vicarage with his wife, son and eight daughters. Researching further, I found an abundance of material for an imaginative reconstruction. How could I not commit it to paper?

The book - fictionalised fact - focuses on the Jordan family of yeoman farmers, and I chose the period because they were one of the dominant families at that time. They were also ancestors of mine on my mother's side, and I soon became totally absorbed in piecing together their lives.

The book opens in November 1703 when The Great Storm is set to hit. The people of Reighton have a wedding to celebrate, and are unaware of the impending devastation that will affect their lives. Courtships, betrayal, unrequited love and an inexplicable death are woven into a tapestry of early 18th Century life and customs, and the ever-challenging weather. 

Available as a paperback and Kindle ebook

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Feeding the Creative Soul – but not with Stars!

In a previous post I said I would return to the star system beloved of review sites. Online review sites almost always insist on every book being categorised in the range of 5* (best book in the world) to 1* (worst book in the world).

I have a problem with that. If I was to put my mind to a genuine categorisation of every book I read, then on the whole each would be different. If compelled to stick with 1 to 5, then I want to be able to give stars for lots of different reasons: how good a read was it, how involved did I become, was the characterisation believable, was I lost in the fictional world, did the facts stand up, was the background research meticulous and objective, how was the opening page, did it grab me from the first sentence… I could go on. And what a waste of time!

I also have a problem with allocating stars to a book that did nothing for me. Do I say ‘Bored rigid from start to finish. 1*’? That doesn’t seem fair if what bored me was that it was a historical novel and I wasn’t in the mood for a historical novel because I’d just finished a sci-fi book. If I knew the period well and could say, ‘Bored rigid by anachronisms and lack of research,’ or if it was non-fiction and I could say, ‘Bored by lack of accuracy and out of date research,’ that wouldn’t be so bad. At least those are valid objective reasons.

But who am I to put off other readers with my 1* when it’s based on a subjective judgement?

The other thing I won’t do is review a book I haven’t read, and that takes care of the examples above because I wouldn’t have finished a single one of those books. Why would I be ‘bored rigid from start to finish’ of any book? I don’t go out of my way to seek out boring experiences.

Despite all this, I still rather treasure an early review that appeared on Like False Money, which is now published as part of the Falling into Crime trilogy.

“Really enjoyed the book but it came badly packaged – 2*” 

I review books that I have enjoyed and with very few exceptions, I give them all their stars because I rarely have an objective reason not to.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Feeding the Creative Soul – Book Reviews

Writers need reviews; they need feedback from readers, they want word about their books to spread and what better way than by word of mouth via a review? 

But of course writers are readers too. Reading feeds creativity and so does reviewing. There’s something about thinking in depth about a good book that can spark ideas almost from nowhere. Many of the best reviewers are also successful and prolific writers. Indeed, writers more than most should be conscientious about reviewing what they read.

As a writer I know that all too well. Do I live by it? I’d love to say an unequivocal yes, but I can’t. One reason is time. If I’m going to review a book, I want to write something about it, not just tick a random number of stars*. I tend to ‘stack’ my reviews, save them up until I get into a proper review mood and then catch up the backlog. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I leave it just a bit too long and as I sit down to put pen to paper I realise that I don’t remember enough about the book to say anything coherent, so it has to return to my read-again pile and hope that I’ll catch it next time round.

I’m just in the middle of a bit of a review frenzy at present. Not expecting to clear the entire backlog, but HERE is a recent one.

*more on the tiresome star system in a later post.