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

amyhenrybooks

“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

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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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HOW TO SPEND THREE YEARS PUBLISHING A PAPERBACK

Source: HOW TO SPEND THREE YEARS PUBLISHING A PAPERBACK

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HOW TO SPEND THREE YEARS PUBLISHING A PAPERBACK

 

Happy New Year to all of you and thanks for your support over last year, particularly those friends who reviewed one of my stories!

It seems to be years since I blogged and years since I commented on anyone’s blog. It’s not, but I have an excuse for my unsocial tardiness. WordPress insists on  changing my settings with the effect that I cannot receive any of your blog notifications, so I apologise for not commenting on those posts I did not get. I will rectify it, or close this blog and start a new one.

256px-Gustave_Courbet_auto-retratoI won’t go on at length since I know you will still be working off the Christmas turkey and other accumulated toxins from mistakes made at parties or, bored witless, during lost hours in front of the box.

Northman is now a paperback. It took me an inordinately long time to make it so and the journey was fraught with much hair pulling – although my family, neighbours and total strangers didn’t seem to mind losing so much hair, or grasping at impossible kitchen utensils, summer fail 4so I guess they understand the creative process. Said process, is, I think, an exercise in self-gratification since I doubt I will sell any actual books. Even if I do – at a price of $11.99/ £9.99 – I will only make a few pence per copy; the rest goes to Createspace/Amazon.  Financially, it does not make any sense, but it does feel good to have a box full of Northmen and be able to flip, sniff and fondle the actual pages. All is vanity…

_JDH5747TwitThe only other advantages I can see is that my local libraries have bought copies, a few literary reviewers have taken a book (they wouldn’t look at an ebook) and soon Thorkild and his Vikings will be marauding in many local bookshops, too. Small fish, small pond is my mantra for 2016. I might even give all ‘profits’ to local charities.

So, if you are considering going paper and you have the time, patience, energy and sheer persistence, do it. I have a book on my bookshelf alphabetically – if not creatively –  equal to Hemingway and my children now consider me an author!

Despite my previous comments, it is relatively easy to use the Createspace template for anyone of average intelligence… that may be why I found it especially difficult.

So, if you want any advice about this massive money making opportunity (for Createspace and Amazon), let me know and I will try to help you.

Twitter Northman WebOf Time

I hope all of my writer friends have a creatively and financially humungous 2016, sell millions of books from their Caribbean beach houses and all of my reader friends find perfect reads all year long!

ps The Northman paperback is not yet live on Amazon, but is live on the Createspace link. https://www.createspace.com/4142282

 

 

 

 

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