Authors' Chat

And then, there is the Research…

Imagine we have no computers, no Internet access, no search engines. Yes, imagine it was like the good old days. And just imagine how much paper we would be wasting using the old method - remember them? Typewriters! Painstakingly typing word after word using our well-practiced, two finger method. And sheet after sheet of perfectly good paper ending up in the writer’s waste bin. Would the writing revolution ever have happened? Writing is no longer for the privileged few. Yes, even I have taken pen to paper, well, metaphorically speaking. A new found freedom being taken up by an army of hopefuls. Some with astonishing results. The new era - indie publishing. Literally, hundreds of thousands of new novels are published each year. Even this little fact I had looked up on the internet. And we found a new way helping to protect our cherished rain forest - the e-book. After a slow beginning, (Amazon’s first Kindle appeared in 2007), there has been an explosion of e-books. But was it a ´Chicken or Egg´ situation? Did the e-book appear before the e-reader, surely not? I discovered that the Rocket e-book and Soft-book Reader was launched in 1998. There you have…

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Sometimes It Is OK To BRAG By Helen Hollick

Well, it is if you are an author and you have been awarded a coveted Indie BRAG medallion, which is an approval mark of a darn good read. I have the honour of being ‘in’ on Indie BRAG from its earliest conception by CEO Geri Clouston, who ran the idea past me in those early days when it was no more than an embryonic idea. Why me? For several years I was UK Editor, and now I am Managing Editor, of the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews, so naturally I had an interest in sorting the good indie novels from the not-so-good. (Sad to say too many of them are the latter.) The good ones, unfortunately, are still often lumped with the ‘oh it’s indie, it can’t be worth reading’ nonsense that a few people in the literary world persist in trundling out. Indie BRAG (and HNS Indie) is determined to prove these nay-sayers wrong by showing just how fantastic some indie fiction can be. From little acorns big oak trees grow – and Indie BRAG is fast growing a respected image for shouting out about Good Reads. Maybe word needs spreading a bit more here in the UK, but…

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The Pitfalls of Capturing the Seasons in the Age of Diversity

Diversity has everyone wrapped up in knots these days, whether it’s the people fighting to find representation, or the privileged trying to find ways to make sure their stories are inclusive. If you aren’t on the diversity train, I would argue that you should be for a number of reasons, but that’s another post for another day. Long story short: understanding and incorporating diversity into your works makes you a better writer, and a better person. Now, I am not an authority on the subject of diversity, I’m in the trenches right along with everyone else trying to figure out how to navigate this space so my stories can be accessible to everyone. Along the way, I’ve noticed a lot of people struggling to get a foothold on where to start, or tripping over assumptions that slip into their writing and undo all of their hard work. Because at the end of the day, for those of us who fall into the “privileged” category, or the “Euro-centric” category, or whatever you want to call it, it all comes down to checking assumptions. Our lives are rife with assumptions, be it the way we understand polite conversation, food, technology, the list…

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Alison Ripley Cubitt-Recreating a Day of Reading From My Childhood

It's a weekend morning in late autumn or winter, on one of those days when Tawhiri (the Maori god of weather) was angry. I could tell he was angry, by the steady drumming of raindrops as they thudded down on the tin roof. In a month's time, I'll be nine years old. We're living in a rented house at the beach in South Island New Zealand, in a new country, now our family's home. And it's as idyllic as it sounds. Except when it's raining, you can't play in the sand. I snuggle under the blankets - in no hurry to get up. What I don't realise then is that the luxury of lying in bed on a rainy weekend day will be short-lived. Because when I turn nine, I will finally get the pony I've always wanted. But he comes with conditions. With ownership comes responsibility. And that includes getting out of bed on a wet morning to look after him. But all of this is in the future. Today it's about the novel I'm reading, which is Heidi by Johanna Spyri. The story of the little orphan girl sent away by her aunt to live in the Swiss…

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Inge H. Borg – My Summer Reading List

It seems to be hotter than usual for this time of year in the American South; just perfect to engage in a writer’s oft ignored other necessary activity. No, not editing, rewriting, or peddling my own titles on social media. If anything, I should be checking out those supposedly helpful titles on how better to promote one’s own books, or submit them to sites proclaiming to reach masses and masses of book-buyers—for a fee, of course. But...I am not. Instead, I am allowing myself some “time out,” and to wallow in the guilty pleasure I engaged in since I learned the alphabet: Reading. A couple of months ago, I drew up a plan for the summer. A few books, I already finished but want to share with you; while I am in the middle of a couple more, with others still on my Want-to-Read list. Just Finished (My Reviews are posted on Amazon. You can also find some on my blog Aurelia * (Book IV of the Roma Nova series) - Alison Morton (Interesting premise) The Sublest Soul * - Virginia Cox (Deliciously Machiavellian subtleties) Sirocco: A French Girl comes of Age in War-Torn Algeria - Daniella A. Dahl (A…

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The art of description – better too little than too much!

By Anna Belfrage  Whenever summer comes around, chances are I’ll be slouching in the shade reading a Lee Child novel. There is something very comforting about reading his books. Jack Reacher always survives, is always on the side of good, and the pace is fast and gripping. It is also a relief to read something outside my own genre, as the reading experience becomes more relaxed when I don’t go “Ooooo, that was an elegant insertion of historical detail” or “OMG: I wish I had written that!” or “That can’t be right, can it? A match in the 18th century?” (turns out it was – sort of). So I read Lee Child to relax – except I don’t, because Mr Child is an expert at succinct descriptions, a few word sufficing to paint a person, a location, a situation, and I read and reread, because seriously, to describe your characters is an art. As a writer, I have a very clear picture of what my protagonists look like – but the moment I turn them over to the public in a published book, I’m also inviting the readers to form their own images, and to do so I must describe…

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My Writing Space by Malcolm Noble

Here it is,  My writing space.  The desk in the corner of our tiny bookshop tucked away in the middle of England.  It's cramped, usually more cluttered than this and very vulnerable to interruptions.  But, hey, it's nice when readers pop in and catch me at work on my latest tale of crime and confusion. While I do put pen paper in the shop, the creative stuff has to happen outside for me,  (Rainy days are no good)  I compose most of the book in the little courtyard outside.  I like to learn about 650 words so that I can recite them cleanly,  Then, I'm indoors scribbling it down, in longhand, before I forget it. For more details about how I work, you may want to sneak at look at this video: YouTube B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree  Other posts my Malcolm: Lessons Learned from Radio, Christine’s Note of Life with a Mystery Writer, Talking to people is all you need to do, and Choice of Genre. 

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Freddy the Pig: My Childhood Friend by Dave Riese

Growing up in Arlington, Massachusetts during the 1950s, I was fortunate to have a large children’s library in the center of town. On Saturdays, my parents drove my sister and me to the library for story hour. I cannot remember if I was introduced to Freddy in a story on one of those Saturdays or if I found his books on the shelf and decided to take one home with me. I was seven years old. The Freddy the Pig books became my favorite series during my grammar school years. I read some Hardy Boys books, some Nancy Drew, and a few Bobbsey Twins, but they did not capture my imagination the way Freddy and his friends did. The first book I read was Freddy the Detective. Freddy is a fan of Sherlock Holmes (of whom I knew nothing at that age) and when a toy train goes missing, he takes on the job of solving the crime with Jinx the Cat. The books are filled with dozens of anthropomorphic barnyard citizens – Mrs. Wiggins the cow, Charles the rooster, Simon the rat, and many others – who help (or hinder) Freddy’s activities. Each chapter begins with a pen-and-ink drawing.…

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Not Just an Ordinary Day by Carrie Beckort

When I looked through the list of blog topics for the summer, the option “Create a day for yourself and recap it.” jumped out at me. Even though I’m home full-time, I don’t often make the time to do something fun for me. Not counting my 6-day-a-week workouts, I have a handful of regular activities that I do once a month.  I love that they provide me with something to look forward to each month, but I know I need to plan more time to do different things and/or pamper myself. I immediately knew when I would create this day for myself. My husband and daughter take a trip to King’s Island each year in early July, and I knew that would be the perfect time. That just left me with figuring out what to do . . . I started brainstorming, and several ideas came to mind. Visions of movie marathons, non-stop reading, manis and pedis all danced in my mind. The idea was that I would keep busy, all day, for the purpose of this blog post and one other very important reason. You see, I have Binge Eating Disorder (BED). It has been a very long and…

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The Thing About Titles By Helen Hollick

I’ve found that, sometimes, deciding on a title for your story can be harder than writing the whole thing. When my first novel was accepted by William Heinemann for publication, way back in 1993, I had called it The Kingmaking. It was about a man who became a king (King Arthur in fact) so it seemed suitable. We went through the long process of editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover design, etc then a few days before preparing to go to print I was told, ‘We’re not keen on the title. Can you think of something else?’ I couldn’t. ‘Can you think of anything?’ says I. They couldn’t. The Kingmaking it remains to this day. Counter that with my UK published Harold the King and A Hollow Crown. Both books (a duo about the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings) were acquired by a US publisher who decided to change the titles. A Hollow Crown became The Forever Queen (which, I confess, I prefer) but Harold became I Am The Chosen King. Why? Because the publisher said ‘No one will know who Harold is.’ Fair enough – but does ‘I Am The Chosen King’ leave the reader…

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