Review – Northman

A lovely and honest review of ‘Northman’ by Christine (@YoungByrhtnoth). Bucked me up no end. I thought it had sunk without trace!


“843 AD. A Viking raid on an Anglo-Saxon village in England sets into motion a train of events that results, 1200 years later, in the release of an eternal evil into the lives of two unsuspecting and damaged people: archaeologist Kate and ‘B’ movie film director, Michael.” 

Sounds a bit like last week’s blog post? It’s not, but there is a link. Having written a review of a book combining Anglo-Saxon and humour, why not continue the “Anglo-Saxon and …” theme? I decided on Horror – I fancied a bit of gore. I don’t know where I came across this book, Northman, by J D Hughes. It might have popped up in one of Amazon’s lists of recommended books. The description continues:
Then, their descent into absolute terror begins. Ultimate conflict. Ultimate sacrifice. But more is at stake than their lives, or their love. Are you ready for terror?…

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The End of the Affair: How I Fell In and Out of Love with Social Media

A friend of mine recently developed an interest in transhumanism, the belief that the human condition will, in the future, be enhanced and transformed by the appliance of science. As a matter of course, then, I am regularly told all about the future that awaits us, a future that is either a dream or nightmare depending on your point of view: evolution as a directed and willed progression, rather than a series of random but useful mutations; bionic limbs and implants; artificial intelligence and superintelligence. I listen carefully, and on many levels am attracted by the idea. Who wouldn’t want to have a brain that encompassed both the imaginative and innovative capabilities of the human mind and the memory, speed and efficiency of a computer? Who would say no to having what are, in effect, superpowers?

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It’s Not Always Possible to Be Happy, and that’s OK


“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” Robert Frost

The first house I owned was built in 1760, located on what is today the edge of the Quabbin Reservoir. As someone who had never lived in a home built before World War II, I was enchanted by all the colonial details: the 12-over-12 windows, the enormous block of local rough-hewn granite that sat above the fireplace (rumored to have taken six men to carry and install). I marveled, too, at the wainscoting in the living room—single boards measuring 3’ x 16’—made from King’s Pines, the oldest, tallest New England white pines reserved exclusively for ships’ masts by the Crown in 1691, but frequently nicked by local colonists for their own building purposes.

Discovering the history behind my new home made me curious about the history of the community. Who were these people…

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NORTHMAN Trailer – Finally!

Over four years after the first edition of Northman was published I have given in and made  a trailer. It cost next to nothing apart from a little time and could have been better with an actual budget and a few actors, but it is what it is and as such I quite like it.

Strangely, when I look back at the edit some of it was actually done in 2013 on an incredibly slow and ancient Mac, so I must have lost faith somewhere in the process, or in the geriatric Mac. I remember going to a Viking re-enactment and talking to a very nice Norse berserker who gave me his card and said he offered financial services for authors. I told him that very few authors made any money so he might accumulate more untaxed income as a berserker. Incidentally, I can endorse the TV show, Vikings, written by Michael Hirst, which in my opinion is as historically accurate as a TV drama about Norsemen could be. The acting is exemplary, particularly from Katheryn Winnick and Travis Fimmel: Lagertha and Ragnar in the show.

Anyway, as always, I welcome any opinions, brickbats, bouquets or abuse, short of stalking or publicly burning copies. If, by some quirk of reality, you do like it, maybe you might give it a ‘like’ on YouTube. I have no idea if doing so means anything at all…

To those of you who have made a book trailer, perhaps you would let me know if yours had any effect on sales or visibility. I’m not convinced, but you may think differently and as  I contemplate doing a trailer for And Soon The Song, you might save me a lot of energy that I could  have put into not writing.

ps If you want to see it full screen, just click the YouTube icon after pressing the red Play button.


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When The Writing Goes Away…

A blog post by my friend, author Mari Biella, in which she spoke of her current inability to write and the feeling of loss that accompanies this unpleasant and temporary bedfellow, prompted me to re-examine my writing – or lack of it over the last two years. I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t doing any because I didn’t want to.256px-Gustave_Courbet_auto-retrato

After two novels, in one of which I went to dark places that I would rather have avoided, I knew on an unconscious level that I did not want to revisit any of those places. True, there are characters in that particular book I love, none of them human, but the book is all too raw and despite my best attempts to avoid exploitation I don’t think I succeeded. I am better pleased with my first novel, but even it has edges that, like paper, cut secretly and silently.

So, where to? The horror genre is not for me and although I will continue to write short stories in which horror might intrude from time to time – as it does in real life – my last novel was my last horror novel. I see there is another J.D. Hughes on Amazon now, writing Erotica, so that avenue is closed, for which I will thank my daemons!

I think the death of my mother a few months ago was a great influence on my decision. mum-at-wedding2She was the gentlest and most harmless soul who ever walked the earth, a Yorkshire woman through and through with the characteristic ‘say nowt and get on wi’ it’ attitude of her class and generation that made England resilient to successive waves of would be invaders. I was raised in a Yorkshire mining town, so acquired a little by osmosis. It was a stoic resilience exploited by the rich and powerful to ensure the trenches were full of dead, but it was nevertheless an honest and somehow innocent thing that ignored its usage and concentrated instead on its truth.

We were close and her death affected me in many ways beyond explanation, but on a banal level it confirmed what I had known for some time: do no harm, tread lightly and life is short so  we have to fill it with some kind of joy to celebrate the gift. I find myself vague about what I mean by that, but I’m sure it is not the portrayal of the worst elements of humanity in vivid form that enables joy. There is sufficient of that horror every day on our TV screens and although occasionally there is a diamond of light in long form horror fiction, it is, to me now, mostly a gleeful wallowing in darkness and misery.

Those who have read my stories will know that I love history, particularly English history so that might be an avenue I could pursue… but I probably won’t, because it is a relating of past events and I am more interested in the future.

Thriller? Today’s thrillers are visceral and many succeed because of that element, so there is little difference between it and horror, although there are several writers I admire who keep the bloodletting to a minimum with great skill and compassion, yet still manage to weave a compelling and sometimes memorable tale.

I ran through the genres last night and came up with nothing. I considered ‘Literature’, but I have no idea what it is. A beta reader for whom I have much respect said to me once: ‘I love your writing, but it’s way too complicated. Most readers want a story that goes from A to Z with an occasional backtrack into F or P, but not an alphabet jigsaw.’ She did go on to say that all the pieces fitted, but it demanded too much from the reader.

I agree. I get carried away. Mea culpa. I used to like layer cake, too.

I now have a new companion.img_20161107_152048 He came from my Mum’s house (she collected them)  and now has pride of place at my writing desk. He is a simple bear and unsurprisingly his name is Ted. I tried to call him Marcus, after Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, but he refused to take heed when addressed as such, so Ted it is. I have started talking to him, so predictions by one of my more irascible neighbours about my descent into senility are probably not unfounded. It is interesting that he rarely agrees with me, so I have to assume that he is my alter ego, my Id, my subconscious, whatever you want call it, but I asked the question, ‘What should I write?’

It was a stuffed bear moment. His barely visible eyes gleamed a little and I swear his shoulders shook momentarily, but that might have been the whisky – he’s a terrible drinker. His lips didn’t move, since he has an absence of them, but I’m sure I caught a whispered: ‘Whatever you like.’

So that is what I will write. Whatever I like. ‘Like’ is the operative word here. That will be different on different days and will no doubt end up as a terrible mish-mash of genres with abysmally crafted prose and obtuse humour funny to no-one except me and perhaps Ted, after a glass or two.

But I’ve started on it.












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Lost for Words

Some years ago, I published a book, Loving Imogen, in which one of the characters, a photographer, says this:

“A photographer is by virtue of what he does, and these days I really manage to do very little at all.”

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Self-publishing and the snobbery issue

Alison Williams Writing


I work with all different types of authors, those who are hoping to secure a publishing deal, those who are chasing the self-publishing dream and even a couple who have gone on to secure a deal with one of the big five (or six, or whatever it is). Some of these writers are brilliant, some are really talented, some are steady, dependable story tellers who can spin a good yarn, some aren’t that great, some have accepted help and advice and have improved in leaps and bounds, a few I have advised to go right back to the drawing board and there have been a handful who I have had to advise that writing is perhaps not the path for them (this is at the sample edit stage – I never take a penny from authors in this situation).

You might be surprised to know that most of the authors…

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