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.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/collection:p089p9hw/p08ng5tf

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/collection:p089p9hw/p08kzk45

Madeleine McDonald

Friday, 21 August 2020

Do you have the Audacity to accept the Audio Challenge?

Screen shot of 'Scent of the Boggel-Mann' reading

It was supposed to be a video, not audio, of me reading an excerpt from one of my stories, but when I ran back the test piece… Well, it could have frightened the horses. Or at least created the sort of social media sensation no one in their right mind wants hounding them to the grave.

I’d been asked to provide a five minute videoed reading as one of the fillers for this year’s virtual FantastiCon. Time was running out. What could I do except regret that I wouldn’t be contributing?

My email had hardly been Sent when the response came in: they’d accept audio. Oh dear… or words to that effect. If I tried to back out a second time I’d never be asked again. There are times when a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do, and this was one of them.

A while ago I’d read up about Audacity, a free. open source, cross-platform audio software package, but I’d looked no further than its rave reviews. I refound its page, took a breath, and hit Download.

What occurred during that single afternoon you can read about HERE. What it opened up was a whole new world of opportunity. When all you need is a little audacity, never be afraid of taking up a challenge.

Just not video.

Linda Acaster

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Hornsea Writers showcased at virtual event

At this time of year, several Hornsea Writers would usually be heading for Fantastic Books Publishing's FantastiCon convention. The pandemic has put paid to a physical gathering, but there will be a virtual event on 15th and 16th August where six new books will be launched.

Although no Hornsea Writer members have books launched at this event, their work will be showcased, so please call in and expect to hear from Linda Acaster, Stuart Aken, Penny Grubb, Shellie Horst and maybe more.

The virtual FantastiCon schedule is HERE.

The event will be streamed on Twtich TV HERE.

For mini reviews on each of FantastiCon 2020's launch books, click HERE.


Friday, 31 July 2020

Republishing with Kindle Direct Publishing


The rights to my second romance novel, The Rescued Heart, reverted to me in 2018. Lockdown gave me the opportunity to revisit the manuscript and republish the book on Kindle.




The text is a little shorter and – hurrah! – certain American expressions have vanished. My first publisher was American, and their editor changed words and phrases here and there, on the grounds that ‘our readers won’t understand that’. Fair enough, she was doing her job and I couldn’t argue.

Her work was followed by that of an American copyeditor who raked over my punctuation and spat it out again. American publishers have a particular horror of what they call a comma splice. Back then, I had to look up the definition of this sin against grammar, and found that my natural writing style was peppered with them. I’m in good company, as many well-known British authors adopt a more informal style, and comma splices have wormed their way back into my rewrite. 

   

The original cover art belonged to my American publisher, so a striking new cover had to be designed, the expanse of blue sky above the city of Basel reflecting the uplifting feel of a second chance romance.

The Rescued Heart is available from Amazon: UK and USA.

Madeleine McDonald is also the author of contemporary romance Enchantment in Morocco and historical romance A Shackled Inheritance, as well as contributions in numerous anthologies around the world.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Diversions from writing: the humble cucumber

There’s never a shortage of diversions for a writer in the process of writing a book, and so avidly will the writer grasp at the diversion, you’d be forgiven for thinking that writing was their most hated pastime ever. It’s not … and yet … anything but getting words on the page is so often the order of the day.
For example, cucumbers:


What’s to be done when the garden produces a dozen large cucumbers? There’s a limit to how many tons of salad one family can eat, but there's always a writer on hand with the answer. Delia to the rescue. Her cucumber soup was not only delicious, it hoovered up the surplus spring onions too. 
Few words written but no cucumbers wasted.

Friday, 17 July 2020

Hitting the Target

Translators are often asked to change a single sentence or paragraph in a finished document. No problem in the digital age. However, when I started work, documents were typed on stencils, and reproduced on a hand-turned duplicator. Corrections were inserted by painting a layer of red correcting fluid onto the stencil, waiting for it to dry, then retyping over the red varnish. I sometimes performed mental gymnastics fitting a new translation into the available space. As well as being accurate, it had to be neither too long, nor too short.


In a way, this was good training for entering flash fiction competitions with a given word count. Nowadays I relish the challenge of producing 53 words exactly, 81 words exactly, 100 including the title, or some other target.

My way of working is to write long, then cut back, checking the word count each time I delete or rephrase. My reward is to save the document with a smirk of triumph. Done it again.

Madeleine McDonald.

Friday, 10 July 2020

If you can't say something nice ... become an editor

You will have heard the old adage: if you can't say something nice, say nothing at all. 

It can create a real conflict for an editor, because what use is a critique if it doesn't point out the shortcomings in a piece? Not that critiques can't go to the nice side - it's good to point out what works as well as what doesn't. However, the real value of a good critique is in pointing out the errors, the rough edges and the bits that don't work, so an editor will concentrate on the not-so-nice side.



It's hard to over-estimate the value of a good constructive critique, which is why Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb, a judge in the recent Write2Ride creative writing competition, put together a short article pointing out some of the things that entrants might have done better.

'People don't always appreciate constructive criticism,' she says. 'Especially when they are just starting out, but this is the route to becoming a better writer. Doing a generalised feedback piece like this one allowed us to highlight errors without singling anyone out.'

CLICK HERE for the full article on why some people won and others didn't. 

Friday, 3 July 2020

Free LitFests from the comfort of your armchair

Covid-19 may have curtailed travelling and cancelled face-to-face events, but it has opened a plethora of online talks, lectures, and instructive how-to demonstrations, most available on YouTube.

For the writer and the reader the Society of Authors has run a series of Afternoon Tea With… as well as useful talks on marketing for writers. Lockdown Litfest is currently showcasing talks with authors, and York Festival of Ideas took its annual festival online with talks on a wide range of subjects. All of these and many more are free to view. Others, Jericho Writers, being one, are paid events.

It was while trawling the site of York Festival of Ideas, that Linda Acaster came across a talk by writer Edoardo Albert and York archaeologist Paul Gething: Warrior: A Life of War in Anglo-Saxon Britain centreing on a cemetery dig just outside the walls of  Bamburgh Castle. It turned out to be so entertaining that she is currently devouring the book.

Friday, 19 June 2020

The slash and burn stage of editing

I’ve written enough over the years that even when a novel is just an embryo idea, I know how long the finished book will be.

My idea for Boxed In, due out later in the year, was always a book of under 100,000 words, so when the first draft came in at 140,000, the serious editing hat had to come out.


The editing journey was a slash-and-burn fest – CLICK HERE for some more detail on nuances, twists and the ghost of a children’s book.

The end result of the initial charge through all 140k words, wielding the newly sharpened editing pen, was an uncannily accurate match to my original prediction – a book of exactly 99,999 words.

Boxed In is the latest book in Penny Grubb's Annie Raymond series, following on from Falling into Crime, Where There’s Smoke, Buried Deep and Syrup Trap City.


Friday, 12 June 2020

Guest Blogging – how to help you and your host

Header image from the post on Sharon Booth's website
It used to be that a book had to be seen 5 times before it lodged in a reader’s mind. According to a Society of Authors presentation this week, that number is now 22.  Yes, we can all point to social media, but most of its impact is both short and transitory.

Blogging has more depth, each post a dedicated URL, and that URL can be highlighted via social media months after the post has gone live. This is why blog tours are arranged for launching titles, not just to give an initial boost but to provide content for future promotion. Yet guest posts don’t have to be reserved for new titles.

Hornsea Writers member Linda Acaster has accepted a guest spot on Sharon Booth’s website. Both write Romance, but Sharon writes Contemporary RomComs and Linda writes Historical Drama so their readers don’t necessarily overlap.

‘I knew I’d need to be light-hearted in my approach, both to appeal to Sharon’s readership and to fit with the tone of her blog,’ Linda says. ‘Beneath The Shining Mountains is set among Native North Americans of the early 19th century so I also wanted to convey more detailed information, in this case about their decoration techniques.’
Moccasins with porcupine quill decoration 1882

The answer was to write an associate post on her own blog, linking in to Sharon’s and linking Sharon’s into hers.

‘I approached Sharon first, obviously, and she thought it an excellent idea.’ It also meant that both websites get extra links which help in search engines searches.

A win-win.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Adventures using dictation - April Taylor on talking to herself.

As some people will know, I have arthritis in my hands. This means I can no longer write 3000 words in one sitting as I used to. It has, as you can imagine, had a significant effect on my writing life and my productivity.

Basically, I decided to switch from Apple to Windows, purely so that I could use Dragon Naturally Speaking. Since I took this decision at the beginning of the year, my writing life has been...let's say up and down!

I had used the integral dictation software in Word, Google docs etc. and some free and very cheap software packages. My experience was less than stellar and not good for my blood pressure. They may be fine for general emails, but writing an entire book. Certainly not. The decision to change took a long time and I was very conflicted by how much it was going to cost. But the time came when it was almost change or stop altogether. That was not viable.

I made the change. Yes, it has been a tad bumpy at times, especially because I write historical crime, which has a whole different vocabulary, even as far as names of characters. And, now, of course, I can dictate on the move and Dragon transcribes my recordings. The landscape in which I now live has inspired the new series I am writing and when you see one photo of it, you will understand why. The freedom to stand in the midst of it and dictate what I see, hear etc. has brought a new dimension to my writing.

You can read about my journey so far here: https://authorapriltaylor.blogspot.com/2020/06/to-dictate-or-not-to-dictate-that-is.html


You can read more about April Taylor here:

Friday, 8 May 2020

What did you write during the Lockdown, Mummy?

Courtesy Steve Bidmead via Pixabay
As Covid-19 races around the world, and the word Pandemic brings more than a touch of historical meaning to our doors, daily life has changed.

The UK’s version of Lockdown began 23 March, bringing with it initial food shortages due to panic-buying. But this soon gave way to a resurrection of the type of ‘Wartime Spirit’ the vast majority of the population has never experienced. People speak to one another in the street, if socially distanced, and everyone now knows their neighbours through the Thursday evening Clap for Carers.

Being in Lockdown was expected to prove a boon for members of Hornsea Writers. With no outside appointments shouldering into our writing time, words were going to flood from our fingers. It isn’t quite working out like that.

There seems to be a lot of long-postponed DIY being undertaken, but at least Madeleine McDonald emailed her publisher the typescript of her Romance before taking up a brush to paint the skirting boards. Linda Acaster hasn’t that excuse, leaving a Crime novelette and a Western to their own devices while she embarks on the sort of spring cleaning even her grandmother fought shy of.

In April Taylor’s household a sewing machine has taken prominence, no matter the two Historicals in various stages of editing, and the research for another begging to be started. The new office curtains look good though, and clothing destined for a charity shop have been given a new lease of life with some judicial cut and paste-- sorry, cut and sew.

Some of us, of course, don’t have excuses as much as priorities. All hope of writing fiction migrates to a Lost World when home schooling collides with home working and being the shopper for vulnerable relatives. Even living in a three-generational household doesn’t necessarily help. Penny Grubb caught herself making up the spare bed rather than tackle the current Crime novel, though she couldn't quite work out who she was expecting to stay.

And what is this need to bake? Throughout the country flour is a mere ghost on supermarket shelves, whereas there’s plenty of ready-made cakes and bread to be bought. Gardening has a definite pull on us all, perhaps to put a bit of space between us and those we live with, now on a 24 hour basis. Stuart Aken has retreated to his office space, not to tackle his latest Science Fiction epic but to immerse himself in learning new photographic software. He didn’t mention whether he was also baking bread, though we all agree there's something comforting about its smell.

At least one of us has got her act together on this 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe. Annie Wilkinson has already done her bit, and can sit with her tea and scones, surrounded by bunting. Enjoy your own.


Available in pbk, ebk and audio

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Creative writing advice out of a lockdown project


Helping out with a creative writing competition can mean many things from judging to helping out with the logistics, to donating prizes. 



This #WriteToRide competition aimed to give young riders something to do during the pandemic lockdown, and it involved developing 7 Top Tips for short story writers. They are equine-flavoured and aimed largely at schoolchildren but some are relevant across the board, for example:




and some can easily be adapted to suit most creative writing projects, for example:


and some are clearly tailored to a school or college audience, though I hope still with useful advice:


and some are simply fun ways of showing writing techniques in action, including from the late great James Herriot:




Friday, 10 April 2020

Every Breath I Take




Buglight Theatre, a small but innovative troupe, devised a clever way to give people a smile while under house arrest.

Send us your mini-monologues!

As it happened, I had just had new hearing aids fitted and been amazed by the assault of sounds I had not heard properly for years. Birdsong poured from every tree. At the same time every breath I took whooshed in my ears, And so the idea for my monologue was born.

Sting’s song with the chorus Every breath you take has a distinct rhythm of da-da-dah-da-da. I paced the house, hearing the gunfire crack of hundred year-old floorboards creaking, and tried to put words to Sting’s tune. Not easy. Anyone can string five words together, but I needed couplets of five words that made sense and fitted a da-da-dah-da-da pattern.

Buglight paired me with the actor Pam Hilton, who did a splendid job. You can hear the result at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYzl2SYEqYA

Madeleine McDonald

Friday, 27 March 2020

Free Reads for #Covid-19 Isolation

How life can change in less than a month. Here at Hornsea Writers everyone is so far so good, and we hope all our readers are enjoying similar health.

Like other countries in Europe, in the UK we are getting used to life under lockdown: home-schooling, creating new routines, staying two metres apart while outside. But it still means an awful lot of time within our own four walls, and 24-hour television soon palls.

Reading has always been The Great Escape, and Hornsea Writers has some great free reads they want to share. Many people subscribe to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and here are a few offerings. Links go to the author’s Amazon page unless stated:

CRIME

Penny Grubb, winner of a Crime Writers’ Association Dagger, offers two sometimes overlapping series: the DS Martyn Webber Mysteries and the Annie Raymond PI Mysteries, both set firmly in the realities of modern UK policing. The first three Annie Raymond books are available as a trilogy under the title Falling Into Crime.

April Taylor writes Cosy Crime with a touch of acerbic wit in her Georgia Pattison Mysteries. Georgia is an early-music singer, so giving recitals in cathedrals and the mansions of the aristocracy are her bread and butter. Alas, there always seems to be a body involved. For music lovers all the Georgia Pattison books have links to the music mentioned. She has written a somewhat darker, psychic Crime, The Angel Killer, with a lead character who does not embrace his “gift”, plus a Sherlock Holmes pastiche and a collection of short fiction.

ROMANCE


Madeleine McDonald writes long and short fiction. Her Enchantment In Morocco is a heart-warming story of East meets West and the constraints and acceptance of traditions and modernity. Enjoy life in a sun-baked village where lemon trees overhang white-washed walls and olive groves offer shade to working donkeys.

Linda Acaster writes mythic fantasy and chillers, but also has two historical romances in Kindle Unlimited. There is the ‘sweet’ Mediaeval Hostage of the Heart set in 1066 on the English-Welsh borderlands, full of intrigue and derring-do, and the ‘sensual’ Native American Beneath The Shining Mountains set in a time when European encroachment was mere rumour.

SCIENCE FICTION



Shellie Horst was one of the principal movers behind Distaff, an anthology of eclectic stories from women writers. It has been very well received, not least for the cover art which Shellie created. Anthologies and collections are always good for readers short of time, enabling them to dip in and out. Be sure to read My Little Mecha which Shellie wrote, especially if you are currently home-schooling.

The SMASHWORDS Authors Give Back Scheme
It isn't just on Amazon where free reads are available. Smashwords is hosting a collaboration with many of its authors to help readers cope with the Covid-19 isolation.

Stuart Aken has all six of his titles listed on the site downloadable for free until 19th April. Scroll down his Profile page for direct links. There’s a choice of erotic romance, heart-warming romance, speculative fiction, humour, dark crime, and for those with a family member suffering from ME/Chronic Fatigue, his own ten-year experiences complete with helpful information.


All authors have other titles available, on Amazon and other retail sites, for prices as low as 99p/99c, not listed here. Check the links to individual authorpages below the header.

We wish our readers many hours of immersive reading as a much needed diversion from the  sombre reality of current day-to-day life.

Stay safe. Keep your distance from others, and wash your hands. It’s the least we can do to alleviate the pressure on our health services, no matter where in the world we live.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Fatigue? Burnout? Worse?

The Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck
controlling our metabolism.
Late winter is the time many of us feel the year's grind taking its toll. We're tired; we have trouble focusing; the words won't flow as they used to.

And why not? Many writers have full-time employment to contend with, and a family life to maintain, alongside their passion. Yet there is always that lingering worry... am I approaching burnout? The tendency is to rationalise  symptoms and wait for an improvement.

Hornsea Writers member Linda Acaster did just that - and awoke one morning in 2018 to find a lump on her neck. 1 in 20 people suffer from a Thyroid disorder. Even when you think you're doing everything right, it may all go horribly wrong.

Finally fighting her way back to health, she's written a series of five posts to share her experiences and pass on what she's learned. "If I can make one person stop and think, it'll have been worthwhile."

Catch her posts at LindaAcaster.com and choose the numbered posts from the right-hand column.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Charity anthology for Australia




Anthologies, especially those that appear in print, can take up to a year from submissions to publication. Not in this case, thanks to a remarkable team effort by authors and other staff at my American publisher.

On 14 February The Wild Rose Press launches the first of three e-book and print anthologies, Australia Burns, with all profits donated to the Australian Red Cross to help rebuild lives and livelihoods destroyed by terrifying bush fires. Despite recent rains, the fires still burn.

The initial suggestion came from an Australian author, at the beginning of January, and the response was huge. Everyone wanted to do their bit. Forty-eight authors offered stories, enough in the end to fill three volumes. Editors, formatters, video trailer makers and marketing staff offered their time.

Despite being rushed out in record time, all work has been done to a professional standard. My story, A Solicitous Wife, first published in the UK, was nonetheless edited to conform to the rules of American grammar, which insist on inserting commas before the words and or but. Never quibble with an editor, especially in a good cause.

The Wild Rose Press is a romance publisher, but Australia Burns, Sending Australia Some Love, contains a mix of romance, suspense, and mystery. Volume One can be ordered as an e-book at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0848W2HQT, or in print at http://bit.ly/AUSBURNS1.
.

Madeleine McDonald

Friday, 24 January 2020

A Conference for the Indie Author

While there are plenty of events for authors published by traditional methods, finding a conference outside of London that focuses entirely on the needs of an indie author is difficult.


May 30th sees the first Indie Fire arrive at the Kirkgate Centre in Shipley. This is a writer’s conference aimed at all things indie...and speculative. Included in the ticket price are a day’s worth or writing workshops, discussion panels and a book market. 

Hornsea Writer Shellie Horst will be running a workshop on how to get the most from your book cover artist, as well as appearing on a panel about Author Mindsets.

There’s also the chance to catch a live broadcast of The Great Western Woods Podcast to inspire your world building and wordcount!

The schedule is already live and tickets are currently only £20.00. So if you’re considering going down the self publishing route with your Fantasy YA, that hard Science Fiction, or a splendid Steampunk novel, this is an ideal chance for you to come and learn from those who have been making it work for them. You can see more on their website: https://www.subscribepage.com/indiefire


Shellie Horst is the author of several science fiction and fantasy short stories and also reviews for SFFWorld & The Future Fire. Her story, My Little Mecha has been nominated for a BSFA Award as has her cover art for Distaff. You can follow her on Twitter @millymollymo and find out more on her website www.millymollymo.com  

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?


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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.