Saturday 30 May 2015

Beta Readers in Action

Hornsea Writers exists as a support group for professional authors and its main function during weekly meetings is to act as a group of Beta listeners. Members read aloud work-in-progress, usually a chapter or so, and constructive criticism – colloquially referred to as shredding – is offered. And yes, we do go into the minutiae of how a sentence is constructed, and no, trite responses such as that’s nice, never cross our lips. Visitors have been known to visibly quail.

While beta-reading on the hoof works well, a typescript also needs to be beta-read as a single entity. Usually a completed work comes around individually, but planets have aligned and at Hornsea Writers it is currently Beta-Reading Month.

Stuart Aken kicked it off with his health memoir M.E. and me  – check his blog via the link for full details. Fast on its heels Penny Grubb offered up a crime novel, April Taylor a crime novella, and Madeleine McDonald a historical novel. Never has MSWord’s ‘comments’ facility seen so much action.

However, we are not our only beta readers. Most members have outside contacts who bring their own skills to a text. Collating the various comments is where the true polishing of a work lies.

Friday 22 May 2015

Why it is important to remember.

Be that a war 70 years ago or further back.

19th May marked the 479th anniversary of the execution of Anne Boleyn. On that day in 1536, courageous and proud to the last, she stood before her enemies on the scaffold on Tower Green, pledged her love for Henry VIII and commended her soul to God.

As writers of fiction, our constant, and probably favourite, game is “what-if?” What if Anne had not lost the two boys she miscarried? What-if Henry had continued to love her? What if she had outlived him?

These were the questions I played with when writing The Tudor Enigma series. I also added a dash of magic to the mix because Anne had frequently been accused of being a witch. What-if she were? But I didn’t want her to be a wicked witch, because, in truth, she was not a wicked person, but one who was deeply religious and looked after those for whom she was responsible. If you want to know how this worked out in my books, go to .

Anne was rare in a world ruled – some would say still ruled – by men. Furthermore, men who found women to be convenient scapegoats for any reverses. For me she stands with two other queens, Edward II’s wife, Isabella of France and Henry II’s wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. All three had strong logical minds. All three fought for what they wanted. All three suffered, although only Anne paid with her life. Each time I go to the Tower of London, I stand for a few moments at the place where she was executed – in front of the Wellington Barracks and not where the guards would have you believe – and say a prayer for her soul.

You can find out more about April Taylor here:

Website & Blog

Saturday 16 May 2015

New Cover for 'The Paintings'

Linda Acaster's supernatural mystery, The Paintings, is sporting its new cover.

Across on her website she discusses the merits of using a temporary cover from Fiverr, the $5 marketplace for creatives, while waiting for a slot with her professional cover designer Art by Karri.

Join her to discover which cover you prefer.

Saturday 9 May 2015

Crime on the rails

Hornsea is not an area well-served by trains, though go back a few decades and things were very different. It had its own station bringing holidaymakers aplenty.

This lack of rail track doesn’t keep trains out of Hornsea writers’ books. The First Hull Trains company, running services between Hull and London, recently shared a Facebook post about the Annie Raymond mysteries – a series of private investigator / police procedural thrillers that began life on board a train.

The first book in the series sees Annie arrive on one of their trains. She comes to the city reluctantly and without expectations, simply hoping to make the best of things, but mirroring the deceptively calm sheen on the Humber estuary on a summer day, she finds treacherous currents just below the surface ready to suck her under and never let her go.

It takes two whole books before Annie leaves the area, and when she does, it’s on with the backpack and on to a train again. When she makes another visit in a later book, a more prosperous Annie comes by car – but even more reluctantly this time because now she knows what to expect.

It's interesting to see these things pop up - like the Annie books on Hull Trains' Facebook page. Has anyone else examples of their books cropping up in unexpected places?

Monday 4 May 2015

Announcing a New Edition

Some of you will have read my science fiction novella, The Methuselah Strain, but many of you have yet to try it. My publisher, Dan Grubb of Fantastic Books Publishing, read the book and was so impressed that he wanted to publish the book himself. We had a brief discussion and I added a new section, which gives a little more backstory to the female protagonist, Luce. Dan organised a lovely new professionally designed cover and added some nice touches to the interior design. And, before you could say 'Azimov!' the book was published.
At present, it's available in digital form only and you can obtain a copy by clicking this link. It's our intention to publish in print form shortly. Watch this space, those of you who prefer paper to screen.

Saturday 2 May 2015

Writers on writing – part 2

Hornsea Writer Stuart Aken with novelists JRR Tolkein, Isaac Asimov and Michael Moorcock share their thoughts on writing.

Meanwhile, Hornsea Writer Penny Grubb travels into the murkyworld of street crime and copyright theft.