Authors' Chat

Choice of Genre by Malcolm Noble

The blurb says that I have written fifteen mystery novels set in the south of England from the 1920s to the 1960s.  However, my recent work has focused on the earlier part of the period.  It is the 1920s and 30s where I feel most at home.  I was born in 1951 My choice of detective fiction (and I am quite picky about the boundary between detective stories and the crime novel) was inevitable.  John Creasey's Hammer the Toff was the first adult book that I read (when the village librarian allowed me to borrow the book with my pink 'Junior Reader' ticket).  Since then, buying, selling, reading and writing detective novels has been an important part of my life.  Most of all, I like talking about them. When, last month, a customer was browsing around my bookshop, we realised that we were detection enthusiasts and talked, for far too long, about the good and bad in the genre.  Through that discussion, with surprising little disagreement, we moved towards defining what made a truly satisfying detective novel.  We realised that readers who come to the genre in retrospect - like us - are probably more critical than those who had…

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Lizzy’s Summer Recipe: Rice Risi-Pisi

I first came across this delicious summer dish on a camping holiday with our local church group, as a teenager, which took us to the former Yugoslavia. I have made it ever since. Recipe for 3-4 persons ½ Large Cucumber - Peeled and sliced ½ Large Onion                     - Sliced ½ Large Red Pepper           - Sliced ½ Large Green Pepper       - Sliced 4 Tomatoes                          - Sliced 200g of brown Rice 2 cans of Tuna Chunks 160g net weight 3 Serving Spoons of Olive Oil 2 Serving Spoon of Vinegar ½ a teaspoon of grainy mustard Pinch of sugar Salt Pepper Mixed herbs Squeeze of a lemon   Salad a) Mix the Oil, Vinegar, Mustard, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, b) Add the prepared Salad ingredients c) Lift and mix carefully d) Drain the opened tins of Tuna e) Add the tuna f) Rinse the tuna tins with a tiny bit of water and pour over the tuna now in the dish. This will dilute the Oil/Vinegar mix and add extra moisture. g) Lift and mix carefully Squeeze the Lemon liberally over the mixture. Cover the salad with Clingfilm and store in a cool place. Rice Boil the rice in the usual manner. Place…

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First Impressions… By Helen Hollick

Covers. It never ceases to amaze me how bad some indie-published covers can be. As Managing Editor of the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews I see a lot of indie historical fiction – all UK published books initially come through my postbox (and some US ones as well) before being sent out to my UK review team. That first look at a book as it comes out of its packaging can have such an enormous influence on that vitally important first impression – and can even influence the difference between accepting a novel for review or rejecting it. A good cover – usually professionally designed and produced, can create immediate interest; “Oh, this looks good!”  Alternatively, some are ­– I hate to say this, because most authors put a lot of time, trouble and effort into self-publishing their books, but it has to be said – some covers are absolutely awful. Yes, your family member may be good at art, but this person is not a graphics designer. The result will look amateurish, and if the cover gives the impression of not being top-quality professional, then it will be assumed that the text inside is not up to par either.…

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My Classy Women by J.F. Ridgley

I never thought about my first published book like this, but in a way, it is my own vow of revenge… against all the rejections I got over the years. Yes. I can honestly tell you, these little letters/emails from editors and agents are like the water-drip torture. It tears at your soul. Now not all rejections were harsh or rude. Many were very pleasant as tofu is mild. But some were just plain impolite. They ask for a submission but explain that if you don’t hear from us, consider it rejected. You don’t know if they even got your query.  Now, I don’t know if editors or agents still do this still. But I feel this should be outlawed. So I came to a breaking point and considered quitting writing. Just give up this brain fart. Who was I to think I could write anyway? Weeding gardens is easier. Cleaning bathroom etc. Well I didn’t want to.   To thwart that, I attended an RWA conference with full intentions getting recharged, finding out what I was doing wrong, and figuring out now NOT TO QUIT. As RWA conferences are, they had lots for me. Lots, And other writers who…

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My Tale (Tail) of Two Desks by PJ LaRue

My desk at work and my desk at home are opposites. One might think the nature of my job is the cause, but it isn't. I am an organized thinker, numbers person and CPA under my real name by day and a writer under my pen name by night and on the weekends. Although artistic people are sometimes categorized as disorganized, the neatly organized desk is my writing desk, while my office at work is hidden beneath a mountain of paper. Occasionally, my propensity for neatness wins and my office takes on a semi-clean appearance with stacks of papers organized by tasks at hand. Other days, there is no hope, with papers strewn across the desk, credenza and meeting table, today's latest crisis on top of yesterday's unfinished assignment. Please join me in my tale (tail) of two desks to discover why my work space at home is always organized and often paper free. It all started a little over a year ago when we adopted our kittens Shelby and Riley at the local animal shelter. Shelby should have been named Shelby Don’t, because we exclaim that phrase throughout the day. Many people converse with their pets, and I am…

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LIVING IN SUMMER, WRITING ABOUT WINTER by Gill-Marie Stewart

My current YA novel, No More Lies, was inspired by a trip to the Cairngorm National Park in the Scottish Highlands in winter 2015. I began writing it in winter 2016, when we had actually moved to this area. Perfect, I thought, I have my setting at my fingertips. And then we happened to see a house we fell in love with, miles away on the west coast. So instead of being able to concentrate on the writing I had to think about moving (second time in 12 months!) and suddenly it was spring and I still hadn’t finished No More Lies. And now it’s nearly summer, and I’m loving the sunshine and the heat (yes even here in Scotland – first barbecue last week) but am still putting the final touches to that novel set in the depths of a very snowy winter. So - how do I do it? How do I take myself out of the lush green of the present and back into the stark black and white of my story? Obviously as writers we are constantly creating a world which is not the one we are currently living in, but I do feel that with…

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Childhood Memories and Rainy Days

By J F Ridgley-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree  Funny how certain days linger in your memory forever.  Stephanie suggested a topic for the indiebrag blog…“Try to recreate a day of reading from your childhood or teen years and write about it,” she asked. And a cherished memory sprang to life the instant I read her prompt. Freeimages.com Niles N Kristensen It began on a cloudy, rainy days, all gray, drippy, and cold. My family and I lived on a busy, city street where, on this day, cars, trucks and buses hurried by, spraying large puddles of water onto the sidewalks.  Our house was a simple one, barely more than a two bedroom ranch with a front porch, which is where this memory  began. On that porch swing. As a young girl no more than ten, I loved that swing on any day. It swung my dolls to sleep, thrilled me and my friends when we banged it against the house as we laughed together on a hot summer day. But this was spring and raining, not storming. Just a steady downpour flowed from the thick gray clouds, watering  spring flowers, turning winter yards to a lush green, and kept everyone inside. Everyone except…

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Covers in Color by Holly Bush

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree! When I began self-publishing my historical romances back in 2011, I did not have a clear vision of the sales ocean I was dipping my toe in, and even with some significant marketing background, I did not have the experience or understand the particulars about product placement in the book biz. I scanned the Amazon and Barnes & Noble book site pages for hours and hours, recording and cataloging what covers drew my eye. I had virtually no budget, as I’d not sold any books at that point, for models or photos or the software to design a cover and in 2011 there were few, if any, sources for pre-made book covers. Romancing Olive’s original black and white cover was put together by my daughter using borrowed software and a $10 photo. The second black and white cover for Train Station Bride and the third, Reconstructing Jackson, were also done in much the same way. At the time I was not convinced I could compete with the gorgeous color covers coming out of New York, so I decided to go the opposite direction and be the black, tan, and gray, amongst the violet, chartreuse, rose, and periwinkle.…

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So, you want to write a novel?

By Helen Hollick B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Don’t we all? Well, I assume most visitors glancing through this article are keen to write, hence reading this in the first place. (Although, of course, I might be jumping to conclusions – some of you are also readers.) There’s a saying ‘write what you know about’. It is, sort of, useful guide but if you want to write historical fiction – well I don’t know many people who were actually there in Roman, Medieval, Tudor or the American Civil War eras. Not in person, so it isn’t easy to know how people lived, loved, fought and died in these centuries. Which is where research comes in. From academic books, from history magazines, from quality documentaries on T, and from the Internet. (Good old Wikipedia and Google Search!)  All are useful sources for information, but beware. Not all internet sources are accurate. I once queried some ‘facts’ used in a historical novel, tactfully implying that they were not correct. The author emailed me back, most indignant, claiming she had looked at several sources on the ‘Net. It was a fairly obscure subject so I took a look. Indeed, there were several articles, but on…

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