Saturday, 10 November 2018

The Joys of Re-reading


I’ve always been an avid re-reader, but it occurred to me how much more re-reading is possible now than it was when I first went back to revisit a William story and discovered the joys of adventuring through the same territory – discovering things I’d never noticed before, things I’d forgotten.

These days with so much available online at the click of a button, it’s not just books that are easy re-read candidates, but stories, articles, letters, random accounts of odd experiences; things that would rarely have been contenders for re-reading. And of course ‘Joys’ is not always the word. When a lot of time has passed, things can appear in very different lights. Attitudes change, cultures change, the written word dates along with everything else. Re-reading can be a salutary experience full of more surprises than seem possible.

My latest re-reading venture (other than my well-thumbed stack of favourite books) was this series of interviews I did some years ago with a diverse group of SciFi authors. 



Friday, 2 November 2018

#SFF at Waterstones Hull, 10 November

Among her many talents, member Shelli Horst runs Humber SFF, a group which brings speculative fiction authors to Hull, 2017's City of Culture. 

This time she's blagged her way into Waterstones bookshop to host a triple author event:

Daniel Godfrey, published by Titan, writes near-future SF, so near-future it's difficult to stop the hair rising on the nape of your neck. 

Ren Warom, published by Tor, Apex and Fox Spirit, writes in the dystopian world of cyber-punk, among other sub-genres.

RJ Barker, published by Orbit, leads readers into the grimdark epic fantasy world of assassins and magic.

The event on Saturday 10th November is free, but seating is limited. Book your place HERE.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

‘Beta’ the Devil You Know

I love the excitement of a good book on its first read, but I’m an inveterate re-reader. It’s so much safer at the end of a long day to settle down with a reliable favourite; either a book I know or one by an author on my ‘authors worth reading’ list. With no external stimulus, I might never read another new book. Recognising this trait in myself, I tried joining reading clubs, but they never worked out. I swayed between cherry picking and forcing myself to keep up, and eventually after ploughing through a couple of books that didn’t spark my interest at all I gave up.

Then a few years ago, I found the answer. I began beta reading new books for a publisher with an eclectic list. The variety has been amazing. Have I enjoyed them all? No, but I count the real turkeys on the fingers of one hand, and I’ve encountered some amazing new authors.

From last year’s new offerings here are two books I’d never have found otherwise. They’re as different from each other as the proverbial chalk and cheddar but have added two new names to my ‘authors worth reading’ list.

Mary Brown’s I Used to Be is a debut novel from an author in her 80s. She got the idea for it whilst listening to William Golding at Reading Literature Festival several decades ago. My review is HERE.

Walt Pilcher’s Everybody Shrugged is a clever (and very funny) parody on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged – well, that’s the way I saw it. Rand does not get a mention. My review is HERE.

Left to my own devices I would not have picked up either book. Thank heavens for beta reading!

Friday, 19 October 2018

#Sci-Fi on the Humber - World-Building Workshop

Being a writer isn't all starving in damp garrets hunched over hot laptops. Often we are asked to cascade our skills by leading writing workshops. One of the group's newer members is doing just that on 27 October at The Ropewalk, Barton on Humber. Now is the time to grab the final few tickets.

Shellie Horst is a writer of short and long fiction within the Fantasy, Steampunk and Science Fiction subgenres of Speculative Fiction, contributes to online magazine, SFFWorld, and has written for The Bookseller. She runs HumberSFF, and is to be seen on panels during the wider community's conferences.

The workshop will focus on world-building environmental surroundings for characters to interact with by re-imagining the Ropewalk building in various guises. The techniques used will be transferable to any genre, a skill needed for all characters, past, present and future. 

Further Information: Fathom Writers

Booking is essential: 
Phone: 01652 660380

Saturday, 13 October 2018

How to write your novel...or not!

Phil Collins sang about not being able to hurry love. You can’t hurry plots, either. Well, that’s not strictly true. You might be able to put a plot together in three minutes flat, but fleshing out your characters, their interaction and how they affect the overall story will take longer. Sometimes much longer. Some how-to-write-your-novel books make this process seem quick and easy, but that isn't the whole story (pun intended).

There are hundreds of books about how to plot your novel, together with timelines on character arcs and the like. I have never liked the by X%, your character should be doing this and your story should be at this point approach because it seems too mechanical to me. Flowing water is not a ten second soundbite repeated ad infinitum. However, because I was interested in the concept, having never done it, I did attempt to write by formula and ended up being unable to enjoy my writing for a year or write anything I felt could be read by anybody else. 

 
It’s a confidence thing and very few authors - by which I mean 95% of us - have so little confidence in their writing that they will try something new just in case it throws up a different approach that they like. Such open-mindedness is healthy, but what it highlighted for me was that I knew, either by practise or instinct, that my method of writing worked best for me.

While I do accept that there has to be structure to the book you are writing, I also believe that sticking rigidly to a you must do this by this time approach might teach you a lot about how to put x thousand words a day on paper/keyboard but you may also end up with a confused, bloated, perhaps stilted book that has no flow or logic to it.

So, what do I advise? There are so many ‘how-to’ books on writing out there that lead this cynical writer to believe that some do and others teach. That said, many how-to authors write fiction as well, so my first advice would be to read the reviews of those books and then download a couple and judge for yourself. I am assuming (dangerous) that these authors write their fiction using the guidelines they champion in their how-to books. If so, check that out while you are reading the book. Does it grab you? Are the characters fully formed, true to themselves or generic and shallow? Does the progress of the action seem forced or, in the down chapters (can’t have ups without downs), are you bored?

Then read a book you truly enjoy - it might easily be one written by a how-to author. I am thinking Stephen King here. How does that author hit the highs and lows? And, most important, even vital, is the rule that if you don’t agree with what they say, it does not mean they are right and you are wrong. I am again thinking Stephen King and his rule about adverbs. Chips/fries can be very bland without a sprinkling of salt. 


I have always put my instinctual approach to writing down to the fact I am musical and know a lot about structures of symphonies and the like, having studied the subject since I was a child. The great Edward Elgar taught himself to write symphonies by copying a Beethoven symphony structure, down to the number of bars and how each theme was developed. It worked for him. Deconstructing a book you admire might work for you.


You can read more about April Taylor here:

 
 

Saturday, 6 October 2018

The Self Destructive Urge to Tell the Tale

The writer Maya Angelou talks about the compulsion to tell the tale. It’s something that most writers will relate to. But there is a downside …

Would you swap your life’s fabric for a five minute opportunity? Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb explores the issue HERE.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

The Anatomy of a Book Cover

There's no keeping a good woman down, and across on her blog Linda Acaster has been writing about the more esoteric elments to consider when constructing a DIY cover: How A Book Cover Does Its Job


Finding suitable images is the least of it. But there are plenty of tips and links to help, and no need to own image manipulation software, expensive or otherwise.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

New Cover: Scent of the Böggel-Mann

Linda Acaster is revealing a new cover for her stand-alone short, Scent of the Böggel-Mann.

The blurb has been updated, too:
Some lots are best left in the auction room.
Elaine haunts auctions held in crumbling country mansions, dreaming of a find to make her and Gary rich. A plain wooden shipping trunk has no key to its iron-banded locks but is far heavier than it should be. What might it contain?

Some lots are best left in the auction room.

Mainstream publishers regularly change the covers of their titles: to re-brand the author, or a series, or to edge a title further into its genre ‘look’. Scent of the Böggel-Mann is aligned with the Horror genre, something readers should pick up in a single glance. It could hardly be Chicklit, could it? And it would make a very odd cover for a Crime/Mystery novel.

This is how covers work. They act as fast tags to the type of story to be found within. With a book cover, 'a picture paints a thousand words' has never been more true. 
The title is on wide distribution at an entry level price of 99p/99c, available from Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, and Smashwords for all formats.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Reading and Writing Historicals

What are you reading?

Lately, Linda Acaster has been reading "faction". This is the art of fictionalising recorded facts about real people, usually now dead, to give an insight into their life and times, written in such a way as to challenge the reader to discern the fact from the fiction. 

It's not a sub-genre of the historical novel that she's normally drawn to. As she maintains in her blogpost, no matter the amount of research undertaken, no writer is going to get all the details correct.

But does it matter? And why the sudden interest? Check out her blogpost to see if you agree.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Launching the Last Book in a Trilogy.


For the past three years, Hornsea Writers member, Stuart Aken, has written a novel each year for his Generation Mars series. The words ‘science fiction’ may put off some potential readers, but the series is much more about relationships and human potential; there’s even some romance in there. This year, he’s finished the trilogy with ‘Return to Dust’. 

The series follows the lives, trials and triumphs of a group of selected individuals, initially called the Chosen, sent to Mars to begin a human breeding programme in the hope of preventing the specie’s extinction on Earth due to catastrophic climate change. Scientific advances, and those in the technology that follows such progress, ensure they have success in their prime purpose. But it comes at significant cost and involves many battles.

There’s social struggle here, the consequences of greed and selfishness, the injustices of gender and wealth inequality, and the rewards of truth and compassion. The first two books, Blood Red Dust and War Over Dust, are based mostly on the red planet and deal with the setting up of a colony in difficult circumstances, the expansion such opportunities inevitably provide for the wealthy and commercially acquisitive, and the conflicts that inevitably occur when the profit motive envies the idealists. This final book looks at the threat of overreliance on technology and sees the settlers returning to an Earth much changed but at least habitable. Here they face new challenges and must deal with an enemy powerful enough to threaten the existence of all life in the solar system, and maybe the entire universe; an enemy they’ve unwittingly created.

Return to Dust’ is due to be launched in both digital and paperback versions at the science fiction, fantasy and gaming convention, Fantasticon 2018, in Cleethorpes, on 1st and 2nd of September. Stuart Aken will be there, helping on the bookstore and signing copies of the new book. He’ll also take part in a couple of on stage discussion groups relating to writing and the creation of fictive worlds. Why not pop along and join in the fun? You can get tickets here, or just come on the day and pay on the door. As Stuart would say, ‘Enjoy!’

For more information on the series, and the author’s other work, visit his website, here.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

The Dummies’ Guide to WHAT!?!

For all that the Hornsea Writers number several crime writers and several How-To guide writers amongst their number, this is one title that no-one would have predicted.

That said, it is not a Hornsea Writers’ publication as such, but a member of the group, Penny Grubb, was asked to write the Foreword for this collection. As she says, she hesitated before accepting the task, afraid that an anthology devoted to female strength might be more of a worthy collection than a good read. But that concern soon evaporated. Forget worthy, and hold onto your hats. This is a collection that packs a punch from page 1.






Available now but not officially launched until the FantastiCon extravaganza in September, The Dummies Guide to Serial Killing and Other Fantastic Female Fables introduces several new authors alongside some seasoned professionals.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

For the historical novelist, primary sources are always a bit like finding your way through a maze. We are, in effect, looking back and reading what we would reasonably expect to be accurate. But, of course, this isn’t always the case. The old adage says that history is written by the winners and, for the most part it is, even today. Just look at the non-reporting of some events such as demonstrations and especially the number of protesters, against the policies of a sitting government.

When it comes to the mediaeval period, primary sources are not abundant. In the first of the new Gideon Rooke series, Loyalty in Conflict, I am writing about the events in March 1470 surrounding the most obscure of the battles in the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Empingham, sometimes called the Battle of Losecote Field. Despite spending almost a year researching this book (and being side-tracked quite a lot) it was only recently I found out the battle allegedly lasted a mere 45 minutes with Edward IV overcoming the Lincolnshire rebels led by Sir Robert Welles. This despite the king having less than 8,000 people in his army whereas Welles was leading a force of just under 15,000.

It is at times like these that reading the various sources, primary and otherwise can lead to utter confusion. More than one source says only Sir Richard Welles (Robert’s father) was beheaded whilst kneeling between the two armies, so that Robert could see Edward IV meant business. However, in the contemporary account Chronicle of the Rebellion in Lincolnshire 1470 edited in 1847 by John Gough Nichols, it clearly states that Sir Richard Welles and Sir Thomas Dymoke were both executed whilst kneeling between the two armies. Other accounts have Dymoke being executed in Stamford, but they are not written by the man on the spot at the time.

So I will go with this unnamed chronicler, who, although he is unashamedly on the king’s side and calls Edward’s traitorous brother that weak and worthless prince, George, Duke of Clarence, was there at the time. His account also tells of a servant of the worthless Duke of Clarence being found dead on the battlefield with a convenient casket of letters confirming the treachery of Clarence and the Earl of Warwick (usually known as Warwick the Kingmaker). What a convenient find.

More recent accounts throw doubt on whether the casket of letters ever existed at all and assert that it was propaganda for Edward to prove the treason of his brother and his cousin. And in the intervening 548 years, we have only to think of the Hitler Diaries, the casket letters of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the diamond necklace letter to Marie Antoinette, to know that this kind of propaganda still prevails.

The dilemma of trying to wade through thousands of words to get to the truth may at first glance be a cause of difficulty to the writer who wants to keep the history as true as possible, but it also provides that lifeblood called what-if? This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of planning a novel. The oooh moment: if he does that, I can make X do this. And, if you can cite a source that confirms your assertion, so much the better because it might just have happened the way your novel plan wants it to have happened. If it doesn’t, the answer to critics is But it’s fiction.

So, gentle reader, if I decide to accept one account and not another, you will have to accept that if my fiction meets your fact, my fiction will win.
 
April Taylor


You can find out more about April Taylor here: Twitter  Amazon UK  Amazon USA

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Holiday or Research? Down into Grime's Graves

 
Holidays. Some people laze on sun-drenched beaches. Linda Acaster ventures down Neolithic flint mines. 

Collect your hard hat and join her and hubby as they fight their way through Thetford Forest, Norfolk, to descend 30 feet into Grime's Graves - or at least "Pit 1" to view the narrow galleries where black flint was prised free with the aid of antler picks. And a lot of sweat.


Saturday, 19 May 2018

Early Summer eBook Promotions

Kindle image from Free-Photos ex Pixabay.com under CC0 Licence
The sun is out, the sky is blue(ish), so drag out the lounger, settle yourself in a sheltered spot, and read.

What? Run out of ebooks? How could you?!

Today on Linda Acaster's blog is just the place to stock up your Kindle, and each title is only 99p / 99c. 

No, not just her own, but a whole field of Romance in all its sub-genres, and so much Fantasy & Science Fiction you'll need a whip and a chair to keep it all at bay. 

Why bother? Just buy a few, reach for a long, cool drink, and turn off the phone for the weekend. You know you'll feel better.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Pointers from #History

Life-size Terracotta Warrior and horse, Qin Dynasty, 200+ BC
Writers usually research history to gain an insight into a particular period because they are writing a novel set in that period. 

Yet this is a narrow view of history, especially when considered within the context of contemporary fiction. History repeats. Not only does it always repeat, like a virus history repeats with a slight mutation.

Writing about the future using a lens from the past creates firm foundations. Rulers may start intending to provide a better life for their followers, but the ends tend to start justifying the means; power corrupts and nay-sayers are replaced by yea-sayers. Leaders who start believing their own hype soon become despots.

Excavated Roman funerary plaque beside how it would have appeared.
Speculative Fiction sub-genres, particularly of Fantasy and Science Fiction, are fertile soils in which to sow the seeds. But where to locate the seeds?

Cultural exhibitions can be a source, as Linda Acaster recently found visiting Chester to view its Roman funerary plaques and excavated amphitheatre. But the further from a writer’s own cultural background and writing the more likely images or snippets of information will fire the imagination, as she found visiting Liverpool to attend an exhibition on “China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors”.

Writers who concentrate only on the period and the people they are writing about can seriously limit their horizons.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

#WritersResources : Competitions, Names, Websites

Member Stuart Aken, author of many a title including the Epic Fantasy trilogy A Seared Sky and Sci-Fi Mars trilogy, keeps a mean website worth a look.

Included in his Resources page is an on-going and continually updated Competitions page, a list of First Names from around the world (10k+), and a selection of websites of interest to writers and to readers.

Let there be no calls for inspiration!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Farscape, FantastiCon and Hornsea Writers



There is usually good representation from Hornsea Writers at the annual sci-fi convention, FantastiCon, and we hope that this year will be no exception. But as yet there is no insider knowledge on whether any Hornsea Writer has a book to launch there. The usual suspect would be Stuart Aken who has launched both his Seared Sky trilogy and the start of his Mars series at the event over the past few years. I guess we’ll have to wait for further announcements.

All being well, the cast of Farscape will be shipped over from Los Angeles not only to take part in the convention but for Gigi Edgley and her brother to perform the final event of their Wanderland World Tour at the live music evening on Saturday night.

FantastiCon this year will be held in Cleethorpes at the futuristic leisure centre on the first weekend in September: 1st and 2nd. Tickets are now on sale via Kickstarter. CLICK HERE for further information on the event and the venue. 


Saturday, 31 March 2018

Research: Mapping Our Way To Understanding

Mappa Mundi, c1300, from Hereford Cathedral
Linda Acaster is fascinated by maps, particularly the Ordnance Survey maps of the United Kingdom. 

By the use of very simple icons each map accurately places every milepost, lighthouse, and electricity pylon; distinguishs between pits of gravel, sand, landfill and quarry; delineates contour lines and vegetation types, and also manages to classify archaeological and historical remains in the landscape.

So what did people do before the first of these maps were commissioned in the late 18th century? 

Can an Early Medieval (Dark Age) "map" still be used today? 

Linda answers these and other questions on her blog HERE. Go visit!

Mappa Mundi image reproduced via Creative Commons licensing.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

An insight into the lives of...

I’ve been lucky enough to interview some fascinating writers over the years. Counting back I find that five of them are fellow Hornsea Writers.


Click on their names for some surprising insights into the writing and lives of:












Saturday, 17 March 2018

Sharing the research


One of the most captivating areas of fiction writing is the research. Many writers will tell you that they get so engrossed it becomes a real wrench to close the research file and get on with writing the actual book.

An upside to this, for both writers and readers, is that all that background provides more topics for short pieces that can be shared. And some fascinating facts emerge in all sorts of areas.

Ever wondered how people got natural light into their houses pre 17th century, without letting in the cold and everything else that can climb through an opening in a wall? Check out Linda Acaster’s blog Glazing Without Glass

Interested in quirky facts about horses? Try out Melanie Trudeaux’s blog for snippets on A Horse’sTeeth or find out what horses see out of those huge eyes in Seeing the right colour




Saturday, 10 March 2018

For Students Struggling with Dissertations.

“Cutting Through The Academic Crap: An Informal Guide to Writing Your Dissertation”

Why did I feel the need to write this short, no nonsense guide for students? Read on.

There used to be a joke, which turned about to be the truth regarding an EU directive about cucumbers. It amounted to a terrifying number of words when compared to the American Bill of Rights. Scary when you consider that the first deals with a salad vegetable and the second the rights of a nation’s individuals.

My mother’s generation always believed in the value of long-winded pomposity over short, clear and to the point writing. These people still exist and a lot are in academia.

I wrote this short, clear guide because so many students - intelligent, articulate students - get either no clear instructions about what they need to write the dissertation or conflicting information.

The incredibly intelligent and talented son of a friend was working himself into a nervous breakdown over his dissertation. Had he been given guidance by his tutors? Yes, but they kept changing their minds. The saddest thing was that he knew exactly what he wanted to say, but nobody had told him in plain uncomplicated language how to say it. Worse, they hadn’t even hinted at how much knowledge of how to manipulate the word processing software he would need. We spent a weekend sorting his notes and, using my guidance, he wrote his dissertation. He came out of university with a first-class honours degree.

Cutting Through the Academic Crap covers not just how to put a dissertation together, but how to organise your notes, how to use your time effectively, how to manipulate Word and what to do if it all goes wrong. If this guide saves just one student from the hell my friend went through, I shall be delighted.

April Taylor. Cutting Through the Academic Crap. 


You can learn more about April Taylor here:

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Fiction Fired From Experience

From a Native American re-enactor
Does it help a writer to experience elements used in their novels?

Well, yes, obviously, but let's not get too carried away. Stuart Aken didn't actually travel to Mars before writing his SF novels, and Penny Grubb doesn't go around murdering people for her Crime fiction, though she does walk the mean streets of Hull and the other environments used for her settings.

Past lives, however, do figure large. April Taylor mines hers as a professional singer, as does Karen Wolfe as a dog training organiser. Interesting that both these careers have led to writing Cosy, or not-so-Cosy Crime.

Linda Acaster is a believer in hands-on research; her previous life included being a Native American re-enactor which led to her Beneath The Shining Mountains historical, and indirectly back to Dark Age Britain for her Torc of Moonlight trilogy. Getting close up and personal with her research is something she regularly blogs about. 

Catch her recent posts on a visit to the Jorvik Viking Festival, and Medieval Glazing using both horn and oiled linen.

YouTube is a mine of useful information for any novelist, as was proven during the UK's recent 'Beast of the East' weather episode which not only kicked off a good range of story ideas but led Linda to a video exploring the much worse mirror storm The Great Freeze of 1963. Despite the event not even being a lifetime ago, the lack of skyscrapers, the use of steam trains, the transport links, and people's mode of dress makes it seem almost a dystopian age, a far cry from the emerging youth culture of the Swinging Sixties that history usually highlights. 

And there's an entire novel in that observation alone.

Friday, 23 February 2018

The Joy of Guest Posting



Recently, one of the Hornsea Writers group has been active on other people’s blogs. Writers are sometimes invited to produce posts for other bloggers and it’s usually a positive experience. Such pieces can be anything from straight promotional opportunities through items on the techniques of writing to interviews providing more information about the writing life.
Stuart Aken writes a monthly column for an online magazine, has been interviewed twice recently, and was invited to post a guest piece about his local area on another site. Now he features in an online broadcast about his experience of ME/CFS that prompted him to write a memoir with advice for others.


Saturday, 17 February 2018

No, it’s not just a matter of time

There are topics that almost all writers report being told or asked; ‘Where do the ideas come from?’ and ‘I’m going to write a book when I get the time,’ to name just two.

There’s an assumption behind there that all it needs is time, and the hard part will be getting the idea in the first place. Not so. The ideas are there for the taking (but that would be another blog*).



As to having the time… how many jobs do you know where time is the only issue? What about interruptions, crises that pull arrangements off course…? Time management theory these days advises people to build in the unexpected so that they don’t spend every waking hour generating frustration because their day did not work out to a schedule that looked so good on paper.

Writing, as so many other activities, can be derailed by a whole host of things, some predictable, some not. For instance, how many people would list a love affair between two electronic devices as an concern? 


*basically, the ideas shop.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Romance - All Hearts & Flowers? Not here!

Not long to go now. Bought your heart-laden greetings card? Eyeing which bouquet of red roses you can afford? Which bottle of sparkling to proffer?

Saint Valentine’s Day certainly gathers to itself all the cliches, but surprisingly enough Romance novels don’t. They never truly did, despite the epithet. Take a look at the selection written by members: not a hearts and flowers Romance among them.

Madeleine McDonald’s A Shackled Inheritance centres on betrayal, hypocrisy, and the evils of slavery. Stuart Aken’s Breaking Faith explores exploitation and control in and around the world of glamour photography, while Linda Acaster’s Beneath The Shining Mountains leads the reader into a nomadic life so different to our own, romanticised by television and derided by history.



Yet what all three authors bring is an exploration of human relationships – the aspect that fuels just about every fictional story ever produced. Even Watership Down wasn’t truly about rabbits.

So let's have a little truly satisfying Romance this week, shall we? Ah, why not.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Staying Sane While Writing

If you want to write...where better than a writing group? Most of the authors I know don't like rocking the boat. They have a routine, it works. They don't like meeting new people. They don't have the time.  I had all of these concerns as a new member of Hornsea Writers. For me stepping out of my comfort zone was necessary to see things from a different angle.
But it has been worth it. 

New writers and old think that groups are not for them. Some believe their work isn't ready, or the group might be clique-rich, not their genre. But, as I have (re) learned since joining Hornsea Writers, there are some vital reasons to get out and meet people, and it's not all about words on the page.

Shellie Horst


Saturday, 27 January 2018

Local publisher takes a shine to Hornsea Writers

Local publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing, published its first short story anthology in 2012. It was called Fusion and one of the Hornsea Writers, Stuart Aken, was invited to contribute.



Since then, Fantastic Books has published six short story collections and four of them feature stories from the Hornsea Writers. Stuart Aken was again invited to contribute in 2015 to Synthesis.



Horror followed a year later with the 666 anthology in which Stuart was joined by Linda Acaster as an invited contributor. The collection also included a story from Penny Grubb.




The most recent collection, a railway anthology, Dreaming of Steam, showcased four Hornsea Writers; Penny Grubb was invited to contribute and stories from Elaine Hemingway, Madeleine McDonald and April Taylor were included.


Fantastic Books’ current competition, Fire and Ice, closes at the end of February. If you feel up to producing a short tale that touches on dark, twisted and dystopian, why not follow this link and have a go. Fireand Ice Entries must be in by the end of February.


Saturday, 20 January 2018

Fiction might be fiction but it still has to work

I have written non-fiction (articles, textbooks, reports etc) as well as fiction and if I put an error in a textbook it could affect generations of students. But fiction writers too have to get it right. 

Years ago, I was fascinated by Roman history. I not only ploughed through Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (an abridged version), I soaked up fiction set in those times. I mention it here for the memory of hurling one particular book out with the rubbish. 



Its irredeemable sin? Two characters were conversing in the bath house and one of them said, ‘Pass the soap.’ For all that the first known use of soap precedes the Romans by a long way, they did not use it in their baths. 

That one brief comment ruined the whole book for me. How could I trust it to be a credible account of ancient Rome if the author didn’t even know the basics?


It comes down to research, and I have corralled a few facts, some cartoons, and a reference or two over on my blog in pursuit of further clarity on what is a vital and often neglected component of everyday life. Please call in and join the discussion:

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Guest Posts.



Writers, especially when they blog, or run their own website, are occasionally invited to place guest posts on sites run by other bloggers. It's a fine way of spreading the word.
Recently, Stuart Aken received two such invitations. One of the sites deals in something dear to his heart: the beauty of the world around us. He decided to produce a post about his home area, the Forest of Dean, using his own photographs to illustrate his love for this small gem of English countryside by journaling a year in the forest. You can find that post here. As is so often the case with such posts, it's generated a good deal of interest and comment.
The second invitation involved an author interview. Glen Donaldson is an Australian reader/writer who enjoys presenting posts very much in his own humorous style. Stuart tried to match his answers to the tone of the questions and the interviewer's blog. The subject was his Generation Mars series of novels and you can visit the post here.
If you'd like to see more of Stuart Aken's photography or writing, please visit his website here.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Lessons Learned and Resolutions Made

The Christmas cards are down, the trimmings dusted and packed away. After a mad twelve days of Festive conviviality surely follows a period of introspection and a serious redrafting of The Plan for 2018. A few members of Hornsea Writers share their thoughts before staggering back into the fray:

Joy Gelsthorpe
:
I've learnt even more this year how useful it is to read work out loud.  It's not just the invaluable input from the group that ensues from the readings but reading my work aloud, even to myself, pushes me into neater expressions and avoidance of repetition. I'm now reducing my use of adverbs and am trying to use more powerful verbs instead.  As I keep re-drafting Book One of the quartet, I'm hoping to hear some good news from a publisher as its editor re-reads the first two chapters (fingers crossed).

Karen Wolfe:
I’ve had an editing epiphany. A revelation about the importance of word by word, line by line, paragraph by nit-pickingly punctuated paragraph, editing. Like a re-vamped room, first-draft prose is transformed by a good old tidy up. And like that room, hidden corners assume new dimensions. 

Penny Grubb:
Completing the 2nd edition of my joint-authored ‘how to’ for writers of commercial fiction made me revisit a whole range of authors from Stephen King to James Herriot; Charles Dickens to Kurt Vonnegut,  reminding me how the works of others can revitalise the writer within. It also reminded me of some very useful tools for getting the next book underway. http://getbook.at/FantasticWriter

April Taylor:
I have learned that I cannot write four full-length books a year, though I managed three and one short. Neither can I plan a book to the nth degree because I end up in a writing cul-de-sac. But, the exercise of trying the planning route has emphasised what I already know: where to schedule the highs and lows to make a balanced book.

In 2018, the plan is to write the next Georgia Pattison full-length, Say Goodbye Now, as well as the first in the Gethyn Rees ‘Wars of the Roses’ series, Loyalty in Conflict, and a Georgia Christmas story. However, I shall not be glued to my desk and will explore developing into a human being rather than a human doing.

Stuart Aken
:
It's been a busy year. A false start with Book 3 of the 'Generation Mars' series delayed progress, but all is now going well. Writing a novel each year has meant the shorter works have been neglected. So, once the current WIP is with the publisher, I'll be concentrating on short stories. I'll be enjoying life in the year of my 70th birthday, too!

Lessons learned? Plans that look solid on paper have a tendency to destabilise during the act of writing, especially across a series. But there is no such thing as a cul-de-sac, only a Plan B. With the multi-faceted 'Torc Of Moonlight' trilogy now out into the world, I'm looking forward to immersing myself in shorter works, different genres, and a first-person viewpoint. I shall be writing fiction somewhat less complex, and giving myself time to smell the flowers.


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