Monday, 29 December 2008

Is the publishing industry dead?

Tell Me A Story 

The Prospects.
The condition of the publishing industry seems to be dire. It’s said publishers are laying-off staff. Bookstores are reported to be having a hard time, and closures are everywhere.

Traditionally, recession has barely affected book sales - people have sought escape from reality within the written word .... but this time it is different.

Publishing industry dead?
Readers, authors, those in self publishing, those of us who’re actually concerned with the business, have to be the ones to come up with new and different ways to get our work in the hands of readers.

Imagine what would happen if every publisher in the world went out of business. What would happen if every bookstore died?

Will it be lamentable that publishers go out of business? Perhaps - or perhaps this is an opportunity for something really ground-breaking.

Innovation is coming from the hands of authors themselves, after all, isn’t that what authors are – creative? We are already seeing an exhilaration the book business has not seen for years.

Okay, I admit it, I'm sanguine, I know I always think of my cup as half-full, not half-empty. But new know-how has come along, and is already changing the economics of books. There are ebooks, print-on-demand, the web, and perhaps more to come that we don’t yet know about.

A different paradigm
Readers are still there, maybe fewer, but no less passionate. Authors are certainly there - I’ve never seen so many new writers struggling to get a foot in the market. If the soothsayers are right, whatever paradigm these conglomerate corporations were working hasn't worked very well, so a new concept can hardly be worse.

As I see it, it's up to us – the ones who care about books -- to fathom what the book business needs be like in the next few years. The answer might just lie with us.

My publisher went to the wall a while ago. I now publish my work solely as ebooks and sell many times more than I ever did traditionally. It seems that many more traditionally published authors are volunteering to go ebook as well.

There could be electrifying times ahead!!!

End of post - Is the publishing industry dead?

Saturday, 27 December 2008

An interview with Norwegian singer, Nina Klokset - continued

    Nina Klokset Returns
  • Welcome back Nina. Hope you had a good Christmas.

  • Nina, do you have a 'real' job other than writing / singing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you've had in your life?
Hi AJ, I'm searching for jobs at the moment, I want to work with youth, I like challenges, so I want to work with kids that have fallen of the track, the kids that to some might seem like a hopeless case. In my eyes, they are often misunderstood, and need to be handled the right way. They need a helping hand, a smile, someone who will take time and listen to them, and someone with a bit of life experience, that can help them understand, that if you hang in there, better times will come along.

I want them to know someone cares for them, and wants the best for them, that they can do whatever they set their mind on. Being a teenager is not always easy, and if you also have a lot to struggle with in your personal life, at school and so on, it is even harder.

I can't save the world, but I can do my part, and maybe help one kid understand just how special he is... I'm educated in working with children and youth, and my wish is to use my own experiences in helping kids who struggle. I am a living proof, that you can overcome those obstacles, the challenges that are in front of you. I want to be that person who at least can help them get a glimpse of hope in a world that to them seems dark and hopeless.

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  • Fine sentiments indeed. Have you always wanted to be a singer / writer?
Well, I have always been singing and writing, yet I didn’t write songs until recently.

I remember at 16, listening to Mariah Carey`s Christmas CD, and that very moment, I decided that one day, I would sing. Not sound like her of course, I've always been very aware that trying to sound like somebody else is not a good thing. I have my voice, and she has hers. But I wanted to be just as good as her. I wanted to reach the highest notes; I wanted to reach the deepest ones.

Today, am able to do that. It takes practice and practice, and of course, the right use of correct techniques, but once you manage it, you are so much freer in using your voice in the way you wish. I believe in finding your own sound, and that requires a lot of work.

I love playing with different techniques, yet I believe that in most cases, less is more. That is why I for an example prefer listening to the `old` Mariah Carey. I like artists who use a lot of ornaments, and vibrato, and other techniques in their singing as long, as they don’t do it on every song...Then it can easily look like a bad play with expensive costumes.... Big costumes little soul....

  • Nina, I couldn't agree with you more. It's one of the things I preach about writing as well. Tell us a little bit about your song/s. What are their titles; which is your favourite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about.
My songs are like my children. When they are mature enough, they leave home, yet they will always be in my heart. I hope people will be able to recognise themselves in some of my songs.

My first song was 'Angels Without Wings'. That song, is dedicated to all the people who have been there for me, the people who made my day brighter with a smile, the people who never stopped believing in me, the people who gave me a helping hand when I needed the, the most.... the people who have taught me so much about life, about myself. That song is for them.

I have also written a song called 'Grey roof blues'. It was inspired by one of those trivial things that happen. I was at a friends place, she was going to set up a party tent at her veranda, she wanted the one that was dark blue, and then as she was going to put it up, it turned out to be grey. I got so inspired I wrote the song. It is about the grey days in life, when you wake up, and look out the window, and the sky’s grey and you feel like uhh! As I said, trivial things often give me inspiration to write songs!

  • Have you ever won any singing / songwriter awards? If so, what?

No, but I would like to attend a song writing competition. Singing competitions such as American Idol, are not my thing. It might work for others, and that is a good thing if that is what you want to do, but for me, it’s not something I would even consider. One of my vocal coaches asked me if I was going to attend the Norwegian Idol competition. I told her, it isn’t my thing, since I’m more into getting my own music out there, with my own style and sound.

  • To be honest, I don't blame you.... Nina, just what is it that inspires you to write?
Life is a big inspiration. I get inspiration from what’s going on in the world, good and bad. I get upset, watching the news. I feel so small and helpless when I see all the tragic things going on. It inspires me to write. But, somehow, I just can’t stop believing in the good in people... I believe that the day you do that, there is definitely no hope. I am all about a positive attitude, and in helping people finding their own potential, help them see just how unique, and special they are - I think focus should be on bringing out the best in people.
  • What thing are you most proud of in your life?
Well.... That I have come as far as I have in life. That I have proved to myself that no matter how many obstacles, no matter how big the challenges may be, you can make it. And I did. I am proud to say, that I have overcome challenges, and that I have grown as a person, and have become a strong woman who knows what she wants in life, and not afraid to speak out her opinions. - That I am proud of.

  • Hey, let's get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your songs and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

Well, I hope they will say that my songs have moved them in some way, that there is some kind of recognition in my music, that it can help people open up their eyes and think. I hope that they will say that I am in constant development, both artistically, and personally, that my songs are the kind of songs that will always be out there.

  • Okay, Nina, bring us into your home now. Set the scene for us when you are writing, what does it look like?
I am a woman of the night.... I love the darkness, the silent city and the stars...I get very inspired after 10 O` clock at night.
I do write during daytime as well, I always keep my moleskin and my pen in my pocket, since I tend to get inspired by all kinds of things wherever I go. I write by hand, and then I write everything on my laptop afterwards. I can write in a crowded place, I don't mind people talking, cars passing by or dogs barking outside. I am so into my thing, into writing, I'm completely in my own world, so noise is no problem.
When I’m at home writing, I do prefer to have some background music. It can be anything from Heavy metal to Britney Spears, to rap, to Erykah Badu... Lightning must be good enough for me to see what I’m writing, but no bright lights. I love scented candlelight.... I usually sit in my living room, in my sofa writing, or at my kitchen table, which also is in one part of my living room.

  • And is there anyone you'd like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?
Well, there are so many inspiring people out there, my family and friends ...Olav, my music companion, he has been very supportive of me, and I have a lot to thank him for. He has a big heart, and is a very talented musician. I have learned a lot from him. But to be honest, the first person that really inspired me to write songs is my boyfriend. He writes a lot himself, and his words are magical. He has a way with words that I love; I feel that even though he writes differently to me, we do have a similar writing style.

  • Nina, is there any lesson or moral you hope your songs might reveal to those who listen?
Yes....Never give up. Believe in yourself. Never be afraid to give a smile to a stranger, he might even become a friend one day. Keep dreaming, and work hard to make your dreams come true, then one day, they will - And always stay humble.

  • Okay, thanks for that. Nina, is there anything else you want readers to know, such as information on where to find your songs, any blogs you may have, or how we can learn more about you and writing.
Thanks AJ. I'll have a website in early 2009, and I’ll be out on Myspace and Last FM. I’ll keep you updated on that one, and let you know as soon as I have all the information on where to find my music.
I'm just a girl who wants to make music, and through my music contribute to a better world. - We can all make a small change, that means a lot to others...
  • I love street fashion; baggy jeans and hoodies, sneakers and hip hop....
    I love pretty dresses as well, and high heels...
    I love dancing, theatre, painting and drawing
    I love animals...cats, dogs, horses...and I kind of like snakes as well.
    I love hanging with my buddies
    I love being with my girlfriends
    I think that it is kind of cute at times, how angry some rappers and hip hoppers sound.... well, they might be angry as well, and often with a good reason, yet I can’t help smiling sometimes.... but I love rap though.
    I think it is one of the coolest forms of music, and I have a lot of respect for those who can rap well. I like Eminem, he’s cute when he puts up his angry face... hope I did not insult him with that comment, if he should ever read this. That was not my intention anyway. And I would love to collaborate with some one from the rap/hip hop industry!
    - I have a passion for fashion, but I’m no slave to it....
    - I would love to have a pair of lilac Dr.Martens again...
    - I like donuts, covered in chocolate, sprinkled with nuts.... mmm....
    - I would like to meet Tom Jones, simply because he is so darn cool! :)
    - I eat very little meat. I love vegetarian food; a lot of my friends are vegetarians.
    - I love drums, and I’m getting a drum-pad, to practice playing the drums.
    - I am addicted to bubblegum.
    - I do not eat mushrooms.... they’re mushy!
    - I love the grunge style! Not that I could ever dress all grunge, but a hint of grunge is kind of cool, I think!
    - I would love to meet Jamie Oliver, and have him showing me how to make some cool dishes, cause he makes cooking look fun, and easy!
    - I love vacuum cleaning; the sound of the vacuum cleaner is like therapy.... like a mantra...huuuuummmm...
    - I’m a goofball....
    - At times, I think too much...
    - I love sitting in cafés, with a ton of books, my notebook, and a cup of coffee...
    - I laugh a lot
    - I smile a lot
    - I cry easily
    - I get sad when I see people in pain
    - I get sad when I see animals being treated in a bad way...
    - I love pizza
    - I love chocolate
    - I love Horseback riding
    - I’m a tomboy at times
    - I love doing typical girly stuff, such as shop, watch chick flicks, have my nails done, and just enjoy being a girl.
    - I suck at painting nails...I’ll stick to painting pictures, canvas works better for me!
    - I love old houses, architecture, and interior design.
    - I love the `Lion King`!!! Seen it a bunch of times:)

    - I’m me. 100%. And quite happy with that.

Nina Klokset, singer, songwriter thank you for taking the time for this interview. I wish you well. May the New Year shower you with success.
If you have any questions for Nina, or would like to know more about her, please contact me and I'll pass it on.

  • Next post on Tell Me a Story - Nina.

Looking for a good read? Try:-

Past Sins - Contemporary fiction

End of post - An interview with Norwegian singer, Nina Klokset - continued

Thursday, 25 December 2008





I hope all your dreams come true. I wish all of you happiness and joy. May the New Year bring each of you what you desire most, and may you find peace.


Tuesday, 23 December 2008

An interview with Nina Klokset, singer and songwriter

Nina Klokset

  • One of my online friends is beautiful Norwegian singer / songwriter Nina Klokset.
  • I asked Nina if she would do me the honour of appearing on my blog and she agreed to visit us. I'm taking the unusual step of spreading the interview over two blog posts. I thought we might first take a look at what makes Nina who she is.
  • Nina, can you tell us a little about yourself, what makes you tick?
Hi AJ, I am an old soul in a young body, at least so I believe. - I believe that the biggest source of inspiration is life itself. And there is so much out there to collect inspiration from. It can be anything from a smile from a stranger, a beautiful painting, a trivial thing, to something that has touched my heart and soul in a deep and moving way.
I am an observer of life, I love watching people passing me by, imagining what their lives are like. I have always been like that, and my grandma, she told me when I was a kid, to observe what was going on around me. Like when she and I were in the city, waiting for the bus, she would tell me to look at the people waiting for the bus, and imagine who they were, where they were going to, and so on.
Positive attitude
My grandma was a very wise and beautiful woman, who taught me a lot about life. I was brought up to believe in having a positive attitude towards life in general. I’m not saying that it always is easy, but again, it is a matter of choice to me.
When I wake up in the morning, I decide to smile, and if sometime I don’t feel like smiling, I will go inside myself and try to figure out why I don’t feel like smiling. Accepting all your feelings is a good thing, - only that way you can smile for real. So hiding your true feelings is not what I mean by deciding to smile. What I am trying to say, is that you cannot always see what’s coming up next, - but you have a choice of how you choose handle it. So when the day seems grey, try to be the sunshine you wish to see, and things will eventually seem a bit lighter and brighter.
Stronger and wiser
I have a lot of life experience, and that I have learned from it. I believe that learning is a matter of choice, and I have chosen to learn from my experiences. That has made me grow as person, and made me stronger and wiser. Yet, there is so much more to learn.... And that is what makes life interesting.
My music reflects that. It is a reflection of what I have been through, and who I am. It is a small piece of me put down on a sheet of paper, in a melody, in a beat....

And those words, that melody, that beat, I want to share with the world.
Nothing makes me happier than to be able to put a smile on peoples face. If I can contribute with that through my music, and through positive actions, I have reached my goal as an artist.
- That is all I want.
  • And just what compelled you to write your first song?
I said earlier that I like challenges, and that is the short answer.
I have been writing poems since I was a kid, and this particular summer, I decided to write a song instead. I had `Sammy Chan’s rhyming dictionary` in front of me, a blank sheet of paper and a pen. I tried and I tried, and I just couldn’t do it.

I thought for a brief second, that maybe song writing wasn’t for me. Thought I should stick with writing poems. Then, as I was on vacation a few weeks in the east coast of Norway, I decided to give it another shot. Then the magic happened.

As I sat down to write my song, the words came as easily as ever. I was thrilled. I kept writing 24/7. And I have done that ever since that day.
Yes, I do lack some sleep at times, and yes, I do sometimes have to call my parents, and tell them I will be late for dinner, 'cause I am in the middle of writing another song.... But they understand; they have seen how much it means to me, and that I am getting so much positive things out of it. It is good to have their support; it means the world to me.
  • So can you tell us a little bit about your songs, Nina.
AJ, my songs are like my children. When they are mature enough, they leave home, yet they will always be in my heart.
Never stop believing
I hope people will be able to recognise themselves in some of my songs. The first song on the demo is called 'Angels without wings'. The song is dedicated to all the people who have been there for me, the people who have made my day brighter with a smile, the people who never stopped believing in me, even when I did not believe in myself, the people who gave me a helping hand when I needed the, the most.... the people who have taught me so much about life, about myself. That song is for them.

I have also written a song called 'Grey Roof Blues', which is a, yeah, you guessed it right, a blues song. It was inspired by one of those trivial things that happen. I was at a friends place, she was going to set up a party tent at her veranda, she wanted the one that was dark blue, and then as she was going to put it up, it turned out to be grey. I got so inspired by it, so I wrote a song called Grey Roof Blues. It is about the grey days in life, when you wake up, and look out the window, and the sky’s grey and you feel like uhh! As I said, trivial things often give me inspiration to write songs!
  • What about your family? Has your family been supportive of your singing / writing?
I am an only child; I grew up with my mum and dad, in a small city called Fredrikstad. My mum and dad are the best, they are very supportive of my singing and writing, and having their support means everything.

My dad is helping me with a lot of practical things around the music, and my mum is my cheerleader.
Typical family
I don’t have any kids, maybe I will one day, I mean I’d love to have kiddies running around in my garden - if I ever get a garden. Even though I know I will never fit into the typical family picture in many ways, I strongly believe in having good values, sticking together, and work as a team.
I am blessed with a wonderful boyfriend, and he means the world to me. Being able to share things with him is just amazing. He is one of the wisest, most intelligent and warm-hearted people I know, and he is very supportive of my work as an artist. He is my best friend, and I love him so much. - He’s simply the best
  • .......Thanks for sharing this with us, Nina. We'll speak later.
  • The rest of the interview with the delightful Nina will be in my next blog post. In the meantime, if you have any questions you'd like Nina to answer, email them to me, and I'll forward them.
End of post - interview with Nina Klokset, singer and songwriter.

Looking for a good read? Try:-

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Without Reproach - out of stock - why?

Out of stock.

I'm hacked off. Without Reproach is listed as 'Temporarily Out Of Stock' on both Amazon USA and Amazon Canada. Just what the hell is going on? Why is it out of stock?

It's bad enough trying to get our names out there, but when the damn stores are 'Out of stock' it really riles. Someone has obviously tried to purchase my novel but the last one has gone.

I've been doing my bit, trying to drum up publicity by making the first chapter free (click on on my Website here to read it).... so when things like this happen I get wound up.

Most writers get scraps

95% of novelists struggle to get a foot in the market place. 5% of writers cream off 95% of the earnings. The rest of us get scraps.

When the damn stores run out, it makes it even worse. How can we become 'known' if our books aren't there to buy? If they'd stop pandering to the likes of Stephenie Meyers, and allow a few others to get a look in, things might be different.

For heaven's sake - how do people know whether they like a thing until they try - and how can they try if the damn books aren't there.

Come on Mr. Amazon, give us a chance - get your finger out - stock the books....

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - Without Reproach - out of stock - why?


Saturday, 20 December 2008

David Bowman and his rejection slips

An acquired skill .

All writers collect rejection slips - its par for the course. I could have papered a wall with mine before I had my first story accepted. No one is born understanding how to produce piece of work that others pay to read. Writing to publication standard is a skill that has to be acquired. In acquiring that skill, there is pain.

David Bowman .

We all have our own way of dealing with it. Some writers never get over it and give up, some shrug it off. Novelist, David Bowman, must be quite unique in the way he finally expunged his demons.

David was apparently cleaning out a drawer when he stumbled upon some old rejection letters from agents and editors about his first novel, ‘Let the Dog Drive’ (1993).


Some of the letters were nasty,” Bowman said in an interview. He went on to say that he scooped them up, tucked them between the pages of a first edition of the book and sold the injurious collection to the Strand, New York City’s famous used-book store. “It was very liberating,” Bowman said. “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Way to go man….

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - David Bowman and his rejection slips.

Hot Spanish days and cold Spanish nights

Hot Spanish days.
At last the Costa Blanca winter days have shrugged off the damp coldness we've been suffering of late. We're having sun and feeling warmer and better for it. Nights turn cold, but at least at lunchtimes we're sitting in the courtyard - sipping coffee laced with brandy - makes me feel good just at the thought.....
. .

I built the courtyard last year and already it's lush and overgrown - thanks to too much rain but plenty of warm days. The Costa Blanca has had more rain this year than in all the nine years since we've been here - we were in drought for a while.

Cold Spanish Nights

You might not consider it very green. But I love my high-efficiency, glass-fronted log burner. It makes cold Spanish nights bearable. The price of gas for central heating is now 50 Euros a bottle, and in cold weather we can get through a bottle in 5 days - 10 Euros a day - not much fun.

Wood is much cheaper - and I can suppliment it from the campo - much more fun.... And before you start moaning about smoke damaging the environment - at least it's a renewable form of energy....

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - Hot Spanish days and cold Spanish nights

Friday, 19 December 2008

Party time on the Costa Blanca

A fantastic Party

In case you're thinking what a strange and twisted person I am, maybe now you'll see why. With my very own Little Devil, how could I be different. My wife Val - I love her to death.

- A fantastic party, thanks Jack and Kath Chambers for all the time and effort. Thanks also to our friend, retired international model, Micheline De Marsac, for taking the photo and emailing it to us.

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - Party time on the Costa Blanca


JK Rowling, Beedle the Bard and Charity

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
JK Rowling's new book, "The Tales of Beedle the Bard", has become the fastest selling title of the year – and incredibly, the proceeds from the book are being donated to charity.
A fantastic gesture.

The book is doing so well that more than 2.6 million copies have been sold in less than two weeks.

Wow! As a writer struggling to get my name in the public’s eye, I can’t get my head around figures like that. It's a fantastic gesture.

Since it’s release on December 4, "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" also became the top selling book of 2008 on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the USA Today and Daily Telegraph charts and raising 4.2 million pounds ($6.5 million) for charity – a mind boggling amount.
JK Rowling
I can only applaud her - JK Rowling, you’ve shot up in my estimation.
Rowling, who is now the world's richest author, originally hand-wrote and illustrated seven copies of Beedle the Bard, six of which she gave away as gifts and one which she sold at auction in 2007, fetching $4 million for aid organizations.
Earnings from the book, which has an international print run of eight million copies, will go to the Children's High Level Group (CHLG), a charity for vulnerable children in Eastern Europe co-founded by JK Rowling.
JK - I raise my hat to you.

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing
End of post - JK Rowling, Beedle the Bard and Charity

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Twilight fever strikes again?

Is Twilight fever about to hit us again?

Stephenie Meyer, author of the very fashionable vampire series, "Twilight," is desperately trying to set fan’s minds at rest over the sequel film, 'New Moon'. She assures fans that it is in a safe pair of hands with the film's new director.

The author dealt with concerned fans on her website on Monday, urging them to put their trust in the director, Chris Weitz.

"I'm excited to work with Chris and I think he brings a lot to the table," Stephanie wrote on her website. "I'm really looking forward to seeing his vision for 'New Moon.'"

Not faithful

The fear of many fans is that under new direction the screen adaptation of the sequel would not stay faithful to the story line, and that the second film would be entirely different to the hugely profitable 'Twilight.'

Meyers was adamant it would. "He is also very aware of you, the fans, and wants to keep you all extremely happy," she said. "Torches and pitchforks are not going to be necessary."

After the debacle over her latest book – where some fans demanded their money back - and the fuss over her so-called stolen manuscript, the last thing Ms. Meyer wants is for the film version to fall flat ….

It takes little for disappointed fans to turn elsewhere….

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - Twilight fever strikes again


Review - The Handmaid and the Carpenter, Elizabeth Berg

A new view on Nativity

The best selling author, Elizabeth Berg, uses her emotional words to lure us into the lives of Mary and Joseph. Berg overhauls the customary Nativity story by examining a very human couple, struggling with their faith in each other, and in God.

When all is said and done, how many people would believe their wife if faced with the same shocking news.

Jumbled sentiments

Berg's work creates an awareness of a far off place and time, yet keeps the couple's jumbled sentiments bang up to date.

This is a tale of devotion in many ways. It’s not easy for Joseph and Mary to come to terms with her pregnancy with only her own faith and a few confused dreams as guidance. Joseph fights with his religious values, as well as his trust in Mary's word, yet stay close to her.

Berg's story is a confidential vision of love, and utterly human flaws and challenges readers to think.

A story worth reading.

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - The Handmaid and the Carpenter, Elizabeth Berg

Monday, 15 December 2008

The accidental Author

Success story

Wow! There’s hope for us yet.

As far as the book world is concerned, one of the most surprising triumphs this year comes from William P. Young. He penned a tale about a man who confronts his demons while holed up for the weekend in a ramshackle cabin in the woods with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

The Shack, William P. Young's first novel, has sold in excess of 4.4 million copies in 24 different countries, after being spurned by 26 publishers. A lesson to be learned by those who fill their study walls with rejection slips. It CAN happen - just keep plugging away and it might be you next time.

Accidental Author

"I'm not a real author. I'm an accidental one at best," he says. "I've always written as gifts for friends or family, whether it's poetry or songs or short stories or whatever. My wife, said, `Someday I'd like you to write something as a gift for a kids.' She later told me that she was thinking of four to six pages."

Young was born in Canada but moved with his missionary parents to remote New Guinea when he was 10 months old.

William’s success is like a fairy-tale come true. It’s the sort of thing we all dream of …. It never happens …. Yet it has.

Good luck to him.... I just wish a little of it would drip in my direction.

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - The accidental Author

Sunday, 14 December 2008

To write, or not to write. That is the question.

Tell Me A Story

Incestuous relationships

Hi AJ, I’m looking for a bit of advice. I want to write a book. I know incestuous relationships are wrong, but will it be acceptable to write a story about it? I love creative writing. I want to write about a girl being in love with someone in the close family, but would the issue be too contentious - too emotive? I have an idea and wonder whether to continue and write it through, or should I just drop the whole thing before I get too far.
No such thing as normal
Hello André, glad you stopped by. Of course it'll be okay. It sounds as if it might be a good story line …. and there’s no such thing as 'normal'.
What I will say though, is that with this sort of issue make sure your creative writing is poignant. Be really emotive, wrench a few heartstrings and you'll be just fine. Go for it.
What you mustn't do is include the incestuous relationships just for the sake of shock. As long as it's sensitive then there's no problem. Make it natural, bring in the 'ah' factor, and your story could just be a winner.


End of post - To write, or not to write. That is the question.

A wasted day - the blight of Internet websites....

I wasted hours yesterday.

Digital voice recorder

I'm on the lookout for a camera - I'm probably the last person in the Western World to have a digital camera, so I started looking for one on the internet. I also want a digital voice recorder to help with writing - thought it was a good idea to look for one at the same time.


I found a Sony camera and an Olympus recorder that would suit just fine - so far, so good. The next step was to order - always a bit dodgy - I wish websites were user-friendly. It annoys me when I have to prat about finding what I'm after. Why aren't they easy to navigate???

In my past life I designed digital control systems for a cement manufacturer, and it didn't matter how complex the underlying system was - if it wasn't absolutely simple to operate, I had a bollocking from the lads on the control desk....

I think someone should give website designers a bollocking.... Why are most of them so complicated?

At any rate, this was where I hit a MASSIVE stumbling block. After negotiating through the spiral of websites, not ONE of the British or American sites would mail the stuff to Spain - WHY NOT?

In the the past, I've had all sorts of goodies delivered from several different sites both in Britain and America, so why not these? I was absolutely pissed off in the end... Just what is it with these sites that stops them mailing a simple little camera and recorder to Spain? Does ANYONE know?

Emphasis on customer

One site in particular, angered me. It has outlets in numerous countries all over Europe, so you'd think this would be the one.... Not so. When it came time to press the accept button, it threw a wobbly and came up what was fast becoming a familiar sign - 'cannot deliver to this geographical location' .... WHY?

When I clicked on a little flag at the bottom of the page it sent me to their Spanish outlet site - with the same goodies - but it was written in Spanish - no translation - my Spanish is shit. WHY couldn't they have simply transferred the order, why put the emphasis on the customer.

They piss me off. What's happened to 'The customer is King', bit? Shouldn't they be trying to help customers, not put them off....

  • Next post on Tell Me a Story - A disappointing day.

    End of post - A wasted day - the blight of Internet websites


Saturday, 13 December 2008

A disappointing day

Not a pick to choose.

What a disappointing day yesterday was.

We travelled all the way to the Carrefour Hypermarket on the N332 on the outskirts of Benidorm to see if they had anything I fancied for Christmas - there wasn't a damn scoot. I hate that, you put yourself out - look forward to picking and choosing then there ain't a pick to choose.

Roundabout mad

It didn't end there. After I finally gave up on a Christmas gift, we decided to visit a restaurant we knew in La Nucia - which wasn't exactly close by. We had to worm our way to the 'Nucia Park Restaurant' through the traffic - not an easy task considering the Spanish have gone crazy since they discovered roundabouts. We negotiated seven or eight on what was previously a straight road - in fact I'm advised there are eleven in total, it's a good thing we didn't go the whole hog.


When we arrived the staff were very welcoming, we were the first it seemed. We seated ourselves on the glazed balcony overlooking the sierras, soft music in the background, friendly waiters hovering.... but they had a scrawking radio on in the bar area - keeping the staff happily informed of local news and events I presume - it jarred somewhat with the music.... scrawk in one ear, soft music in the other... when will they learn to keep the customer satisfied, not themselves?

We were handed the carte and found the price had jumped from 12 euros per head to 16 euros. Okay.... things have to go up.... but it was quite a hike since last time, especially considering we have much less in our pockets with the exchange rate being so bad. I wasn't about to quibble though, it's a nice place, nice spot, so let's have a nice lunch.

Value for money

Except when it came it was quite.... ordinary. I can't say it was bad. It was edible, it was hot, it was served with good-grace.... but it wasn't worth the money.... it certainly wasn't worth an increase.... and we used to enjoy it there.... a pleasant place, full of customers.

That's the problem. There are so many eating houses to choose from - so many giving good value for money, why go to one that doesn't.

I guess that explains why we were the first guests... everyone else already knew....

Ah well.... you only get bitten once. Scrub the 'Nucia Park Restaurant' from list, another one bites the dust.

End of post - A disappointing day

Friday, 12 December 2008

Celebrities campaign to boost book sales

This is music to my ears. Jon Stewart, Barbara Walters and several other celebrities have started encouraging people to purchase books during the holiday season.

"Books make great gifts because they're an amazing way to kill time while your Web site is buffering," Stewart joked during a two-minute video promotion,, organized by the Association of American Publishers to boost books.

All credit to them. I wish there was more support. Let’s make it a world campaign… Let’s sell books.

End of post - Celebrities campaign to boost book sales

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Joan Barfoot to read from her book, 'Exit Lines'

Joan Barfoot.

Prize-winning London author Joan Barfoot is to be the highlight of an evening of reading and music at the St. Thomas Public Library tonight.

The program, which is FREE, is called Winter Lights. It will embrace singing, mulled cider and other seasonal nibbles to get the audience in the holiday spirit.

"What better way to chase away the dark of the weather outside than with Winter Lights," said Paul Blower, head of adult services at the library.

Exit Lines

Joan Barfoot will read from her latest novel, Exit Lines, which was published earlier this year.

End of post - Joan Barfoot to read from her book, 'Exit Lines'

Friday, 5 December 2008

How many time do authors rewrite manuscripts

Tell Me a Story - anwers.

Hi, AJ. I’ve heard that most authors rewrite their manuscripts before getting published. But just how many times does an author rewrite a manuscript to get it to the point where they are pleased with it?

Hi, Jonathan, nice to hear from you. The thing is, it isn’t often an author simply dives in to rewrite the whole thing, well at least none I know, does.
Most authors make adjustments here and there which over time could build into major changes. Just occasionally they scrub out whole passages and redo them. If an author doesn't like the way a section sounds, or like the way the story has developed they simply have to tweak.
'Without Reproach' was re-written several times - I lost count. I even rewrote the first three pages on the VERY morning I was to hand the manuscript over. As you can imagine, it drove me into panic. The publisher’s editor was very good though and not only allowed me to do tiny adjustments whilst it was in the editing stage, but to change the way it ended just before the editing was complete.
However, when the book hit the market, I wished I wished I'd done it all differently.
Like most creative people, I don't think authors are ever satisfied.

Looking for a good read? Try:-

Past Sins - Contemporary fiction

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Jk Rowling, a rare original edition

Extreme Popularity
It’s strange to think that an author with so few writing years behind her can be thought of as having ‘rare and original’ work accredited to her, but JK Rowling has achieved such a status. I suppose it’s a measure of her extreme popularity.

An original edition of JK Rowling's latest book is going on display at the New York Public Library, just as the book is being released around the world.

"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" is a compilation of five stories that's alluded to in the last book in the "Harry Potter" series. It is due to be published today.

JK Rowling initially created and illustrated seven copies of the book. They were intended as gifts. She presented one to Arthur Levine at Scholastic, which published the American edition of her books. It's Levine's copy that is on display at the library from Thursday until January fourth.

Does anyone want a rare and original edition of my book just in case????

End of post - JK Rowling, The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Monday, 1 December 2008

The economic downturn and books

Hello AJ, a question if I may. Some friends are anxious about the economic downturn we’re facing. What do you think it mean in terms of selling books, or getting published? Are we condemned?

  • Hi Andrea, I'm no economic expert, no-one can know beforehand but let's be realistic. Do people really stop reading because of lack of money? They might cut back on some luxuries, but reading…. people still read. I know I do. Don't you?

  • I suppose there'll be restraints and it might be that advances on royalties reflect a certain fear, but historically, books tend to do well during downturns in the economy. Maybe it's because people need extra release from the reality of a depressed state of life, but books still change hands.
  • Publishers will still need to publish new stuff. The industry is not condemned, we authors are not damned. If you dream of being published, don’t give up on it.
  • Next post on Tell Me a Story - Fuel.
  • My other blog - Bedlam.
End of post - The economic downturn and books

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Fuel wonderful fuel

We have wood!

We have wondeful fuel and now we can be warm. A metric tonne of assorted wood arrived and now I'm shifting as much as I can into the wood store before it rains. The rest will have to remain under tarpaulin until I can get to it.

Mind you, the weather is better here than some places in Spain. Apparently the dreaded white stuff has been lurking. We sometimes see it on the mountain peaks that surround us, but for some reason other places have it this time.... Let them keep it.

Walking the streets.

We're supposed to be travelling to Benidorm tomorrow to find a birthday present for a friend who'll be hitting a rather big one in a few days. I just hope it doesn't chuck it down with rain (or worse) whilst we're traipsing around the streets.

I don't think I'll be sitting on the sea-front with a café-con-leché and brandy, watching the world go by this time - maybe tucked away somewhere warm, deep inside....


End of post - Fule wonder fuel.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Spain can be damn cold

With a bit of luck the fuel for the wood-burner will arrive this morning. If it doesn't it won't be long before we feel the cold.

Gas now cost 50euros for a large bottle for central heating and we use a bottle every five days when it's cold - very expensive.

I've managed to cut up some dead-wood from the surrounding area, so it's supplimented the heating bill somewhat, but we've had to succumb and place an order because I can't keep pace - we're using wood a lot faster than we hoped - the weather has turned into a damp cold that gets into your bones.

For those who think Spain is wonderfully warm all year around - forget it. Winters can be cold and houses aren't insulated like the civilized world. You can't get into the concrete roofspace to lay insulation - so when it's cold -its damn cold.

The wood should have arrived yesterday, but wouldn't you know, rain came down in buckets and it couldn't be delivered because it was soaking wet. I just hope it's dried sufficiently overnight.

It's windy (and perishing) this morning so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be here soon.

End of post - Spain can be damn cold

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Writing is lonely

Thanks to a very considerate wife, I'm able to devote a few hours each day to writing.

Yet, hours spent alone at my computer usually propagate emotions of self-reproach - remorse for not spending time with her - guilt for not building yet another wall, shame for not painting the villa that I know she wants painting. Maybe this anxiety is widespread among writers. It would be terrible to be the only person who feels like this…. but I need my own space, I WANT to write, if I don't find time to write, I feel deprived. We should all be able to do the things WE want at some time during the day. After all, what are we here for, to everything that others want and nothing for ourselves?

So, fellow authors, let's raise a glass or two to wives who understand that writing is necessary to us, and on occasions even makes us better…. in some way.

But I still feel guilty about those damn walls.

End of post - Writing is lonely

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A holiday poem

Tell Me a Story

Asked to write a poem
As an exercise at my local writer's circle we were asked to write a poem. I've never thought of myself as a poet, so it was good to be pushed into an area that I wasn't comfortable with. I based the poem on life experience.
A number of years ago, we booked a holiday in an area of Turkey that was newly opened to tourism. I was devastated with my first sight of the resort. I thought it looked like a third-world bombsite.
The next day, however, we saw it in a completely different light; quaint, original, and unspoilt. From then on we thoroughly loved the place. I decided to write this poem as an expression of those thoughts.
A Turkish Holiday
Exhilaration and trepidation, then on first sight, demoralization,
Waited months and built up hopes,
Wanted sun, not skiing slopes,
Wanted warmth from land, from hands,
Hoped and dreamed of stretched out sands,

But hopes are dashed, as reality clashed, with the brochure’s hash.

Relaxation brings revitalization, and no longer tired, a realization,
That eyes are fresh under warming sun,
Not tired from travel, not devoid of fun,
And poolside seats and a friendly face,
And an eager charm, make a saving grace.
Now hopes are raised, are more in phase, with the brochure’s phrase.

Exhilaration and animation, days of bliss and exploration,
Found new friends and found new ground,
And loved each day, and can’t understand,
Just why I thought, that I had bought,
A week of hell in tired old shorts.
First impressions were false perceptions of the brochure’s conceptions.

Happy Holiday!
Hope you liked my little poem .... well more of a ditty I suppose. I enjoyed doing it. I might try more at a later date.
End of post - A holiday poem

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Without Reproach - First Three chapters FREE

Tell Me A Story 

Romantic Suspense - Free

Loads of you have been asking me to present the first chapter of my romantic suspense novel, Without Reproach, so you can see what it's about. I suppose it's no different than browsing through a book before you buy.

I have to admit I was a bit hesitant about it - but I bow to your wishes - after all, I don't suppose I'd ever buy a book without skimming a few pages.. So, you asked for it - I've made it available.

If you go to Scribd you can read THREE CHAPTERS - all quite free and easy. Please do it and let me know what you think.

End of post - Without Reproach - First three chapters FREE.

Monday, 24 November 2008

When to submit your manuscript

Tell me a Story

I'm always telling newbie writers to edit, edit, and edit again. Too many writers submit their stories in the full flood of passion - believing their words to be magical.

Submit your manuscript

The moment of high-passion is the wrong time to submit your precious manuscript, you should put it away for a period of time - a couple of months if possible, then read through it again with fresh eyes. It's surprising how those magical words suddenly appear rather timid and powerless.

It's not the time to throw the manuscript away though. It isn't the moment to discover you can't write worth a jot. It's a moment of revelation. You have become a writer. You now see your mistakes. You perceive the error of your words. It's a time to rejoice because you've seen the light. Now is the time to edit the damn thing until it shines.

Be your own Critic

Self-analysis is the state writers should strive for. Become your own worst critic, and you'll not go far wrong. Search for those awkward passages, for the dreaded 'purple prose' and dump them.

You MUST hone your work, you must edit and edit… but when is the right time to stop all this polishing. I can’t answer that. I just know there’s a time when I say, enough is enough and send the damn thing off. I always want to change it afterwards, mind….

To put it in context, I came across a pearl of wisdom today and I simply have to share it….

  • “When one tries TOO hard to seek perfection, the most apparent thing is the blemish.”
So polish it until it shines - but there's a point when it can't gleam any brighter... the trick is knowing when....
End of the post - When to submit your manucript

Friday, 21 November 2008

BookSwim, a novel idea

Here’s a new idea.


Readers take note! BookSwim is an online rental and delivery service for books. If you’re too pushed to go to the library, this is a fascinating option, which delivers books-for-rent right to your doorstep.

No late fees.

Here’s how it operates: Readers order books online from BookSwim and receive them through the mail. They can choose between options that would allow them to receive from three to 11 books at a time. These books can be kept for as long as the reader likes with no late fees.

When finished with at least a couple of books, the reader returns them to BookSwim in a pre-paid return bag that comes with every shipment.

Readers who enjoy their books and don’t want to part with them have the option to purchase.

Unfortunately, it’s only available in the US at the moment – but who knows…

End of post - BookSwim, a novel idea

Amanda Morgan, The Lights of Home

A resident of Sandy, Oregon, Ms. Amanda Morgan has had her novel, The Lights of Home, accepted and published by OakTara of Virginia.

Amanda Morgan’s story is of an archaeologist who inherits a bed and breakfast in north-central Washington, and her experiences in this new neighbourhood.

Morgan thanks her late father for stimulating her with tales of life in Washington. It seems it's almost a family business, because her sister, Lynne Wenick, designed the book jacket for Amanda - well done all!
Degree in archaeology
Morgan, like her main protagonist, was an archaeologist. She received a degree in anthropology from the University of Oregon and a master's in archaeology from the University of Sheffield in England.

Morgan is working on a prequel to her novel.
End of the post - Amanda Morgan, The Lights of Home

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Mark Tucker, "The Chair"

Three novels
A 52-year-old native of Brazil, Dr. Mark Tucker has written three novels, one of which was a romance-comedy and another plotted around a detective, however, until now, none of them have been published.
Tucker's novel, The Chair, has recently been accepted and published by Tate Publishing And Enterprises LLC.
Thirteen years
He said the writing for The Chair came quite easily. However, it sat gathering dust for 13 years before he took the plunge to try to get it published.
Mark was born in Brazil in 1956 and graduated from Brazil High School in 1974 and attended Brigham Young University before going to Indiana State University, earning a bachelor's degree in biology.
While at ISU, Tucker said his passion for writing scratched and clawed its way to the surface. He said he was inspired to write after putting together a paper for a psychology class at the school.
He earned his masters degree in biochemistry and his Doctorate in pharmacology.
In 2003, he retired from the medical field to focus on his writing career.
Good on you Mark. Way to go!
End of post - Mark Tucker, "The Chair"

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Will publishers accept a book submission by email

Hello, AJ, I love your blogs. If you post this I shall know it’s for real.

Publish a book.

My question is this. I need to find a publisher to publish my book.
It’s somewhere about 10 to 13 chapter and I think it’s ready (I’ve followed your advice in your other posts). Now I would like to find a publisher that I could just send the book to by e-mail. Does this ever happen, or do you have to go and meet them and talk about it? If you have any ideas or know of a publisher that would want to publish a fiction adventure book, please, please, let me know!

  • Email, snail-mail
  • Hi, Clara. In general my submission letters have always been by email. However, my last publisher wanted two hard copies and a disc copy after acceptance. I was lucky enough to live not too far from the publishing house and was able to hand it over personally, but if you don’t want to do that, what’s wrong with snail-mail? Some of my short stories went by snail-mail, it just takes a little longer that’s all.

  • When it came to editing the actual book, it was done entirely by email. The editor would send me a query about a certain part, and I would either alter or discuss what needed to be done. The chapters flew back and forth over the ether until they were dizzy.
    I'd suggest that most publishers would be similar. For a list of publishers try or similar, and after choosing, ask their permission.
  • Next post on Tell Me a Stort - Azincourt.
  • Related posts
End of, Will publishers accept a book submission by email

Looking for a good read? Try:-

Past Sins - Contemporary fiction

Monday, 17 November 2008

Book Review, Azincourt.

Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell.
In his latest book, Cornwell focuses interest on Henry V's almost unbelievable triumph over the French.
It must have been quite a quandary for him, deciding how to turn such a well-known story into something new and exhilarating.
Thankfully, Cornwell is a master of words.
The novel concentrates on individuals instead of the history-book version we’ve probably had stuffed down our throats. This creates impact and believability.
Ordinary medieval men and women
The tale follows Nick Hook, an English longbow man, and successfully places the victory at Agincourt into social perspective. We take a peep behind the lives of ordinary medieval men and women, at their faith, and the battle between the heretical Lollard beliefs and the Church.
Corwell weaves all of these convincingly into the fabric of the story. Taking his past performance into account, it will come as no surprise that the battle scenes are strongly and persuasively portrayed.
All in all this is a masterpiece well worth the read.
End of - Book Review, Azincourt.

Holiday is over.

Well that's it for a while -end of holiday -back to reality.

We've just had a few days off and zipped over to Benidorm - full board, 4 star hotel - a snip at this time of the year - nice. We live about 45 minutes away, so it wasn't exactly a hard days travel - and it made a real change to be pampered.

We took in a few shows, saw an amazing firework display, sipped coffee and brandy a few mornings on the trot -and did a spot of people watching. Great stuff.

Sorry if you've missed my posts, but it doesn't do to let the world know you're not going to be home, not everyone is scrupulous....

End of - Holiday is over.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Lindsey Mackie, début novel

Début novel

A mother-of-two will be pushing the boat out next week when her début novel is published . There will probably be one heck of a get-together at Gerrards Cross Church of England Primary School where she's planning a celebration .... and so she should.

Set in 2050

Lindsey Mackie, of Windsor Road, Gerrards Cross, spent three years following her lines of investigation and writing 'ASO', a novel set in 2050, when climate change and a scarcity of food and resources has totally changed the way society behaves.
'ASO', published by Trubidor, is obtainable from the Gerrards Cross bookshop, Packhorse Road, where Mrs Mackie will be signing copies on December.
Good luck, Lindsey Mackie. I wish you well. JK Rowling felt just the same with her first book …. And look at her now.

End of - Lindsey Mackie, début novel

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A book for the New Year

Books are always exciting.

If you're thinking of purchasing a book for the New Year and don't know where to turn for a new author, may I tentatively suggest you look at the first chapter of Without Reproach FREE here on MY WEB before going elsewhere.

Don't be disappointed for the New Year

I know it's a bit cheeky suggesting it, but unless you look you'll never know - and IF you're interested, please bear in mind that Amazon has already run out of my book once. Please don't leave it too late and be disppointed ....

  1. Next post on Tell Me a Story - Qualifications
  2. My other blog - Bedlam

End of post - A Book For the New Year