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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FREE FOR HALLOWEEN – AND SOON THE SONG – 29-31st Oct!

“Explosive, high impact. Lots of horror, alternative realities, evil entities and battles to overcome evil – fabulous!” Amazon Review

   Twitter ASTS 2

It’s that time again: All Hallows’ or Halloween and the house spirits in my 17th century hovel are telling me to set a novel free. A novel in a hovel, eh? One such spirit was a marketing agent in a past life and says the book has to be my second novel, AND SOON THE SONG. Its seasonal time frame is apt, it’s set in deepest, darkest Derbyshire (besides New York, the 12th & 17th centuries, and the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia) and contains many evils, both human and decidedly un or in-human. Hopefully, these relentless evils are counteracted by goodness, not an easy state for flawed humans to achieve without violence and sacrifice, but it’s wot we got, guv’nor.

360px-Jack-o'-Lantern_2003-10-31Like many Christian festivals, All Hallows’ was purloined from a previous Celtic festival: that of Samhain. It is intended to be a remembrance of the dead in the Christian festival, specifically the good old Hallows’, or Saints. Samhain, in contrast, is to mark the close of summer, the end of harvest time and the beginning of the dark days of winter. The old gods are propitiated in order to ensure survival through winter, necessary without the benefits of central heating or Tesco.

I’d love it if lots of you who haven’t done so download SONG. Reviews are very welcome, of course, since it only has eight to date. If you have a problem with the Amazon download let me know and I’ll try to get you another format. It won’t be available as a paperback until next year. Thank you also to the wonderful folks who have already left a review. You are stars and I truly appreciate it.

SONG came about as the result of a visit to an English country house some years ago mentioned in another thread on here. ASTS.jpg mediumMy visit was a bit odd to say the least, but all true. The character of mad, bad and dead Elyssia is based on a portrait, hanging in the main gallery of the house, of a strikingly beautiful, green-eyed woman. Years later, when I returned to the house, the painting was gone and I was informed that there had never been such a painting at any time during the long history of the house.

SONG sprang from that experience, one I could not, and still cannot, explain. There is more, but you would not believe it. I’m not sure I do.

There are ghosts, Crusaders, The English Civil War, two fractured people, a crazy New York gang member, a slightly mad nanny, an equally bananas butler and a trio of Japanese Tosers driven by their own incorruptible instincts. (Love the dogs – must have been one in a previous existence). The novel is set over 900 years and in two countries – England and America.

Hero Toser, Chan. My personal favourite.

Hero Toser, Chan. My personal favourite.

There is violence of all varieties, a forbidden love that breaks the bounds of ‘decency’, and behind it all looms the massive presence of Hearthstone Hall. As one reviewer, my friend and fellow author Mari Biella, says, “Hearthstone is a character in its own right…” and she has it, precisely.

Anyway, less flagellation of the deceased equine, if you have time, download it. If you do not, then I would appreciate any reblogs or mentions to friends, family, complete strangers, your dog, cat…. If none of the above, then the old gods, Chan and my house spirits have your address…

1024px-Halloween-witch.svgI shall, of course, be dancing naked – except for sturdy brogues and a woolly balaclava – around nearby standing stones on the feast of Samhain, but only if the weather is pleasant and nobody else from the Derbyshire Tap Dancing & Inappropriate Public Nudity club turns up.

Link: http://bookShow.me/B00ISTXV38

More Amazon Reviews:

“There is evil here, and it is really frightening.”

“All the characters have flaws; some benign, some crazy, some indescribable, this really is your worst-ever nightmare.”

“Thoroughly recommend this book of terror; DO NOT read before bed though, pick an afternoon.”

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Staying Sane in a Crazy (Self-Publishing) World

This a good post describing the daily struggle to get words onto paper, or electrons onto the ether, or whatever… since I haven’t written a blog post in a long time, it makes me look good, as if I were actually awake.

ps. I haven’t read the author’s writing guides, so cannot comment on them.

David Gaughran

IASG2 and FLOMHow do you keep yourself from going crazy? It probably helps if you are reasonably well-balanced in the first place, but, for the rest of you, I have some advice today from Susan Kaye Quinn.

As many of you will know, Susan is the author of the bestselling Mindjack series, and lots of other books too, including the highly regarded Indie Author Survival Guide – the second edition of which has just been released.

She’s also releasing a companion book for more experienced authors in mid-July which has the intriguing title of For Love Or Money: Crafting An Indie Author Career and it’s available now for pre-order.

Here’s Susan on how to stay sane in a crazy (self-publishing) world.

Susan Kaye Quinn:

I fight a war every day.

My adversaries are distraction, fatigue, and the demands of ordinary life. They include things I love (my husband and children) and…

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