Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A look at Roy Gough and his work

Links on Tell Me a Story


I’d like to introduce you to the work of a new friend of mine, Roy Gough. I met him a few months ago when he came to one of my book signing sessions. We’ve been in contact several times since. He’s yet another author who lives on the Costa Blanca, Spain. The area seems to attract writers. Maybe it’s the water!

Roy was born in the Marches area at Leominster in Herefordshire where he lived until the age of sixteen.
Starting his professional career as a cadet in the Metropolitan Police in 1953, Roy went on to serve in the Military Police, the Metropolitan Police, then on to the Surrey Constabulary and finally the Bedfordshire Police.

Within these Forces, he gained experience in all departments including the Thames River Police, Traffic Department, CID, Internal Police Investigations and Management Consultancy, before retiring as a senior superintendent in 1986.

Roy now lives on the Costa Blanca in Spain. For more information on his book and other writings, visit

Emissary To The Gods

Shortly to be published by Libros International, this historical action novel describes the struggle by the Celts of Western Britain to survive Roman repression and links ‘Caratacus’ and ‘The Fox’ to this early crusade. Caratacus was the greatest of Celtic war-leaders, while The Fox was a high ranking Druid Priest who shared the same period in history and was sacrificed to the gods to beg them to stop the ethnic cleansing of Wales, the Marches and the Druid Order.

Fascinated by forts and people.

A Celt himself, Roy was born in the Marches area at Leominster in Herefordshire where he lived until the age of sixteen. As a boy he frequently wandered the hills surrounding this small market town and soon became aware of the necklace of earthwork forts around it. Fascinated by these forts and the people who lived in them so many years before, he eventually terminated his professional career in law enforcement and devoted himself to unraveling their secrets.

Cloak of mystery.

Describing himself as 'a student of Celtic history', Roy is the first to admit that the cloak of mystery that enveloped the early Celts has not been easy to unravel. Extensive police investigative experience, a natural ability to interpret obscure facts and participation in local historical and archaeological associations has, however, helped him in his work.

Although he initially intended to write a straightforward account of how the early Celts lived and survived Roman oppression, ‘fate’ continually forced the name of the greatest of Celtic war leaders upon him. This was ‘Caratacus’, who was even lauded in the song of Roy’s old school, Leominster Grammar.

Bannock bread

Whilst switching his concentration to Caratacus, fate again took a hand. In 1984, the perfectly preserved body of a man was found in a peat bog at Lindlow Moss near Manchester Airport, apparently killed around AD62 in a Druidic sacrificial way. A specially marked piece of bannock bread found in his stomach was believed to have been a lottery ticket that won him the honour of being sacrificed to the gods, while a fox fur armband worn by him suggested that he was a Celtic aristocrat known as The Fox. As his death coincided with the end of the blackest year in early British Celtic history, it is likely that he was dispatched to the gods to beg them to stop the Romans annihilating the British Celts.

Spiritual guide and adviser

With both Caratacus and The Fox living through the turbulent years of the Roman invasion of their lands they would have been well known to each other. In his story, Roy not only suggested a friendship between them, but placed The Fox in the position of spiritual guide and adviser to the great war-lord. As well as describing the pride and ecstasy of their personal lives and loves, the book also provides a window through which the horrors of Roman repression are witnessed.

  • Roy, I hope loads of people give your story a read when it finally hits the market. It's a frustrating time waiting for your work to appear in print. Your book certainly does the business for me. I look forward to the publication date.

  • Next post, Allie Boniface.
  • Bedlam.
  • .

Monday, 29 September 2008

An interview with author, Allie Boniface

Links on Tell Me a Story


  • I’d love you to meet my friend, Allie Boniface, a lovely lady. Allie is a teacher, aficionado of words, and as you’d probably expect because I’ve invited her on this site, an author...

    Allie, how long have you been a writer?

Hi, Anthony, I suppose in one respect I have always been a writer. I would jot down poetry and short stories as early as elementary school, and though I dabbled in writing longer works in and after college, I trace my serious endeavours to become a writer to the tragedy of September 11th. After that, I realized that if I wanted to achieve my dream of publishing a book, I couldn’t put it off any longer. So I guess I would say I’ve been a writer pursuing publication for about 7 years.

  • And how many books have you written?

I’ve published three (One Night in Boston, One Night in Memphis, and Lost in Paradise). I’ve written a fourth, Summer’s Song, which is currently with my editor, and am in the process of revising my fifth, One Night in Napa.

  • That’s great, Allie. What sort of readers would you expect to be looking for your work, men, women or children?

My books fall somewhere between the genres of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. They feature love stories, and are set in the here and now, but they don’t really follow the romance formula that many readers expect.

  • So, what prompted you to write your latest books?

Mostly, they explore human relationships and focus on strong women trying to figure out how they fit into the world. A recent review for One Night in Memphis commented, “From the first meeting to the last page, the reader savours each word, touch, and kiss. Ms. Boniface has a special voice, unique in the world of romance novels. She allows the hero and heroine to talk, become acquainted, and care for each other before sexual contact. It is a rare thing to feel delicious tension through simple dialogue and narration.”

That made me happy!

  • Quite right too! It’s not often authors have a pat on the head. So where are your books available from, Allie? Where should readers turn to buy them?

My “One Night...” books were published with a small press, Samhain Publishing, and are available at any online bookstore (Borders, Barnes and Noble, Amazon) and also Samhain’s own online bookstore

  • Finally, would you like to give us an idea of what your latest published book is about?

Sure! One Night in Memphis is the story of Ethan and Dakota, who meet in downtown Memphis after Dakota hops a plane to visit her best friend and Ethan ventures onto the social scene for the first time in almost a year. The entire story takes place over a single day and night (24 hours in 24 chapters) and involves Dakota’s crazy ex-boyfriend, a car chase, cool piano music, and Beale Street blues clubs. And love, of course! If you’d like to read an excerpt, you can visit my website

  • Allie thanks so much! I wish you all the best. Allie Boniface will be appearing on October 24-25th: at New Jersey Romance Writers' Conference, Woodbridge NJ. Go along and give her some support.

End of post on Tell Me a Story - An interview with author, Allie Boniface


Sunday, 28 September 2008

Marciano Bemelmans and Madeline.

Links on Tell Me a Story


I hate writers cashing in on someone else's success.

Steve Vander Ark, the infamous author jumped on the JK Rowling bandwagon and published the book “Harry Potter Lexicon” – but lost a court case to put it into print, thank goodness.

Now it’s the turn of Marciano Bemelmans. He’s chosen to write books about ‘Madeline’.

His grandfather, Ludwig Bemelmans originally created the character, ‘Madeline’, and subsequently wrote a very successful series of books. His grandson is intent on scheming a way to tap into that success. Talk about jumping the queue for publicity!

Could Marciano not write his own best seller?

I know I’m cynical, but isn’t he able to hack it? Publisher's Weekly was really downbeat saying, "Awkward syntax and forced rhymes abound. The joy and brio of the original books go missing."

I've checked on Amazon and his previous work doesn't seem too popular. Does he think this to be a new route to fame and fortune? Isn’t it stretching nepotism a little too far though?

Okay, I'm plainly envious, in fact green to the gills with it .... I wish I had a 'name' to give me a leg up. It pisses me off.

Next post, Obama and McCain.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Barack Obama, John McCain, an unholy alliance!

Links on Tell Me a Story


A Comic Pair.

Only a few short weeks to go to THE Election Day, and IDW Publishing's keenly awaited comic book biographies of John McCain and Barack Obama will crash into bookstores.
Sarah Palin's will be next.

Both books are due to be released on October 8 and both will be accessible on cell phones.

The authors,

Andy Helfer and Jeff Mariotte, will be available to sign copies of the graphic novels at bookshops in New York, Los Angeles and Orange County between October 8th –10th.

Collector's Items.

The books are apparently already threatening to become collector's items, but the good news is the books can be pre-ordered at http://www.presidentialcomics.com/.

PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL: BARACK OBAMA (Author: Jeff Mariotte/Artist: Tom Morgan)
PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL: JOHN MCCAIN (Author: Andy Helfer/Artist: Stephen Thompson)

I wish you good reading! ! !

Next post, Characterization.
My other blog,


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

More on characters

Tell Me a Story - advice
"AJ can you help, please. I'm trying to come to terms with characterization. Is there any advice you can offer?"

Hi Sarah, thanks for the email. Here's a summary of things you should keep in mind. Hope it helps.

Characters are extremely important to your story and you must get them right.
  1. A good approach is to cut out magazine pictures of people who suit your characters. I pin mine above my desk so I never forget who they are and what they look like. Don't tell people who they might look like - use your own descriptive powers.
  2. Spend time developing a complete dossier of all physical traits, mental traits, education, backgrounds, friends and family, for each of your main characters before you start to write. Know what music they like, what food, what drink, what taste in clothes, what makes them laugh, smile, and cry.
  3. You must know everything about your characters to understand how they're going to react in a given situation.
  4. To capture reader’s attention, it is essential your people seem like real people.
  5. In a novel, ‘real’ is not tantamount to run of the mill. We're all run of the mill. Run of the mill is boring. However, bear in mind the most mundane person can turn out to be exceptional under pressure.
  6. Your readers should always empathize with your main characters.
  7. You should always empathize with your main characters.
  8. Proceedings influence people. Your people must develop with the story, they should be different at the end than the beginning, they must have ‘grown’ in some way.
  9. Don’t allow any protagonist to behave out of character just to fit in with the plot. Nothing should be contrived.
  10. You must illustrate all attributes of your main people, including, aptitude, looks, strengths, intellect, and emotional qualities - by showing not telling.
  11. Quirky characteristics can help distinguish a character, but keep it low key or it will seem out of place.
  12. Create unforgettable characters, so when your reader reaches the end of your novel they’ll be anxious about what happens to them.
Do all this, and your story will be well on its way to being a success.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

David Wroblewski and the Oprah Winfrey show

Links on Tell Me a Story


David Wroblewski, new writer on the block, has hit the roll-over prize of literary fiction. I wish him all the best, green with envy though I am.

The dream-of-a-lifetime has happened for him. Oprah Winfrey has selected his debut novel, "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle," as her latest book-club choice, which means of course it has the prospect for sales of hundreds of thousands of copies.

Barnes & Noble had already selected the novel as a "Fall 2008 Discover New Writers" title, and it has had critical tributes in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and from author Stephen King.
What an incredible happening. I'll bet he thinks he's won the biggest lottery of all time. He's now made forever. Wow! I'll raise my glass to him tonight. Cheers, David. (I wonder if he'll do a blog on me).
Next post, Book signing.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Bookworld España and Without Reproach

Links on Tell Me a Story


I can’t tell you how excited I am!

Bookworld España, the leading English bookshop chain in Spain, with stores throughout the Costas, has begun stocking my novel.

Without Reproach is on the shelves for all holidaymakers to see, in fact, on Saturday, in one of their stores, copies formed part of the window dressing.

So, anyone on holiday in Spain, here's your chance to see if you’re interested in my work. Browse it, smell it, feel it. See if it tickles your fancy, and if it does, lie around the pool or spread out on the beach and give it a holiday read.

Thank you Bookworld.

My next post, Jim Murdoch.
My other blog, Bedlam.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Former cleaner wins literary award.

Links on Tell Me a Story


A former cleaner has beaten legendary power authors, Thomas Keneally and David Malouf, to win the Rudd award for fiction.

Propelled from cleaner to award winning author in one swoop; wow! A hell of an achievement!

Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, decided to establish the prize to commemorate Australian writing. It’s the country's highest paying prize for novels, giving a tax-free cheque of A$100,000 (£44,000).

Rudd selected the frontrunners from a shortlist of seven titles, with help from the panel of judges.
The novel has been praised for its "command of engrossing plot" and its "ethical seriousness", and assures Conte's position as the new voice in Australian fiction.

Conte, 42, funded his writing by working as a barman, life model, taxi driver, public servant and book reviewer, as well being a cleaner in Brussels and a waiter in Cornwall whilst travelling around Europe.

So people, there's hope out there yet. A real life, rags-to-riches tale. It gladdens my heart!

My next post, characters.
My other blog, Bedlam.

An interview with author, Jim Murdoch

Links on Tell Me a Story


  • I’ve not met Jim Murdoch in the flesh, yet I feel I know him well. It isn’t often you come across real characters in the blogoshere, but this is one genuine Scottish character that makes you sit up. You can almost feel the abrasion in his writing. He comes across as a man of intense emotion and deep thought.

    Jim, you write both poetry and novels. What is your favourite medium?

I do Anthony, I also write short stories and plays. I don't honestly have a favourite medium anymore. When I was seventeen I thought of myself as a poet and so I stayed with what I knew. What I found was that I was having ideas that were too big to be expressed in the kind of poems I was inclined to write. The answer was simply to allow the text to dictate its own form. A few weeks ago, for example, I sat down and wrote only my second piece of flash fiction totally in dialogue. The conversation provided the context and there was no need for anything more.

  • Do you find the two writing forms interfere or compliment?

Without a doubt they compliment each other. I think of myself though as a poet who happens to work in other forms. This is not to get all snooty and suggest that poetry is the highest expression of all written styles but it is where I come from. Poetry taught me compression, how to say a lot in a few words. I cannot say in all honesty that I bring anything from prose back into my poetry however.

  • You’ve already completed four novels. Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for your latest book?

If by "latest" you mean the one I'm working on at the moment it was an amalgam of a number of things. I had just read The Body Artist by Don DeLillo and Shadow Child by P. F. Thomese, both of which deal with the loss of a loved one; in the latter book this is an infant and in the former a partner. These books highlighted the fact that I had not dealt fully with the death of my parents. The third thing that came into the mix was the flat my wife and I are living in at the moment. I started looking at all the things we have and wondering what my daughter would make of them once we weren't here. What she will be left with when I die is a puzzle to unravel and all these things lying around the flat are the clues. What she will make of them, who knows. She also will have been left; she will be one of the clues. The working title for the book is, predictable enough, Left.

  • Let’s talk about your routine. Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
I have never been able to work with an outline, Anthony. I place a character in a situation and 'watch' what happens. Events aren't nearly as interesting to me as people. Many of my short stories for example are monologues and no reference is ever made to where the narrator is when they're talking. Intelligent readers are very good at filling in the blanks.
  • A good point to make, Jim. I’ve said time and again that what you DON’T say, says more than what you DO say. Do you know the end of the story before you start to write?

Only once, with Milligan and Murphy, my fourth novel. After I had completed the first chapter it was inevitable where the two protagonists would end up and so I sat down and wrote the final chapter there and then. Then I had to work out how to get them there. The details really weren't especially important, who they saw and what they did on the way, but this was very much the exception. I hate to read a story where the structure is as obvious as the piping outside the Pompidou Centre. Also, all my work is character driven. As far I'm concerned a book doesn't need a plot but without a point the whole thing is…well, pointless.

  • Do you have a process for developing your characters?
As they respond to the situations I place them in their personalities develop naturally. With Milligan and Murphy one had to be the dominant and one subordinate. It didn't matter but as I gave them lines to speak how they responded in one situation dictated how they would react in later situations so, although Milligan is subordinate (and the younger of the two), he also became the more adversarial.

The problem with my current project is that I found myself making the daughter character into my own daughter and commenting on our relationship so I scrapped everything and began again with an older woman. Then I found a third person narrative was keeping the woman's personality at a distance so I began again writing in the first person. Getting the voice right is paramount. This is actually the very opposite of what John Irving did with his last novel which began life in the first person and which he later rewrote in the third because it was too personal.

  • It’s said authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?

Every word I write comes through me and so they're all tinged with me. That is inevitable. In a recent review of my first novel, the Irish playwright Ken Armstrong made a very astute observation: after reading my blog for several months he'd got used to my personality and he observed that I was both protagonist and antagonist and, of course, he's right. We are all a mishmash of different characteristics that it's not hard to isolate some of them to make a character. What I did with the hero was go back to a certain point in my life and wonder what would have happened if, from that point on, I'd made all the wrong choices, where would I have ended up? He's a caricature every bit as much as the character of Truth is.

  • You are, of course, talking here about your novel Living with the Truth which was published in May. Would you like to give us a brief summary?

The premise of the book is very simple: what would you do if you had a chance to spend a day with the personification of truth? What would you want to know? What wouldn't you want to know? Then what I do is take a man who doesn't want to know anything, who has carefully avoided knowing things and have Truth knock at his door. In the blurb I call him the least likely person to be the hero of anyone's novel but what strikes me listening to readers' comments is how willing they all have been to overlook his flaws. I never wrote him to be a very nice man and yet, and maybe it's a British thing, we always root for the underdog.

  • What is your most favourite part of your new book?

I suppose the right answer here is: how does one pick? But I have. I don't know if it's my favourite part of the book but it expresses well the kind of banter that goes on between Jonathan and Truth.

If I can set the scene: the two of them are in a café and Truth has said grace. Jonathan realises that this means there must be a God, and so he asks…

“What’s He like?”
“Hmm?” responded Truth, who was in the process of dribbling lemon juice into some neat little cuts he’d made in his fish, “Who?”
“God, of course!”
“Oh, Him.” He was deliberating which chip to impale upon his fork; now really wasn’t the time for isagogics or theosophy. It was hard enough simply spelling them, let alone doing them, not that there was anything simple about spelling them. “Well, let’s see: his full name is Ubiquitous Eternity God, he’s a sixty-two year old unemployed song-writer living in California in a single room in The Brazil Hotel (it sounds grander than it really is), he’s got a fondness for Budweisers, massage parlours and walking out in front of oncoming traffic and stopping it with a wave of his hand while he crosses the road.”
“No, He’s not.”
“Oh, yes He is.” This was in danger of turning into a panto.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Suit yourself, but it definitely says ‘God’ on his bus pass.”
“God—‘Our Father who art in heaven,’ the creator of heaven and Earth in six days—gets the bus?”
“Oh, you mean that Gawd!”
“You knew full well I meant that Him.”
“You need a Saint Bernard to find your sense of humour.”
Jonathan let that pass: “Well?”
“He’s a bit like the picture of Him in the Sistine Chapel. Only older.”
“No, I don’t mean what does He look like. What’s He like?”
“Oh, you know, loving and wise and merciful and powerful and that sort of thing. Good fish this isn’t it?”

  • Jim, that's a very amusing passage. You actually finished Living with the Truth ten years ago and yet it's only now appearing in print: how come?

Long story. Short answer: I let my job get in the way. I was working myself into the ground – in fact I did (twice) – and I had no time for anything. I wrote in the cracks and that was it. Two years ago I had the mother and father of a breakdown and decided that the time had come to draw a line in the sand.

  • Sorry to hear that, Jim. What struggles have you had on the road to first being published?

That's the thing. In the past ten years there has been one hell of a change in the publishing world. Getting a deal with a publisher is simply not what it once was, though, when you read about the difficulties encountered by many of the authors of old, I'm not sure that it ever was what it once was. As you yourself realise the marketing support that comes with a book deal is nothing to write home about; the burden falls squarely on the author's shoulders. I had a decision to make and I chose to opt for self-publishing. For a lot of others reasons too.

  • What has been the best part about being published?

Maybe it's just me but I didn't get terribly excited about it. I don't think that's that unusual. Once Woody Allen has finished with his film then he's finished with it. The end result is not the point. The creative process is the point. In many respects I think about what I've written as what gets discarded when I'm done working out the issues that are central to the piece. I'm done with it. It doesn't interest me anymore. Okay, I'm exaggerating for effect but, no, I wasn't especially excited to hold my book in my hand. That said, it was a nice book to hold – lovely cover.

  • What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?

If I was to answer that then I'd ruin the book for them. Suffice to say the responses I've had, although varied, have all got the point. One was downright angry with me – "How dare you!" she said – and another ended up in tears, one was puzzled and another confused and every single one of those responses was a natural and personal and appropriate reaction to what happens in the book.

  • I understand. One or two readers have asked why I ended Without Reproach the way I did, but we tell the tale we want, that's why we're authors. Tell me, Jim, which authors' work inspires you?

The problem with answering a question like that is that people will automatically either look for evidence of those writers in your work and I'm not sure I live up to my heroes. An appreciation of Samuel Beckett wouldn't hurt when reading my third novel but the first two owe more of a debt of gratitude to Keith Waterhouse's Billy Liar and there's definitively a touch of Spike Milligan to the fourth. The fifth? We'll have to see. As for poets, Larkin without a doubt and also the American William Carlos Williams.

  • Do you have a website for readers to go to if they want to know more?

If they go to my website they can read an extract from the book and there are links to about a dozen online reviews – all positive I hasten to add. I do run a literary blog, The Truth About Lies, where I often write essays about my writing and provide links to sites where you can read my poems and stories.

The publisher's website is the best place to go (and probably the cheapest overall) but the book is listed on Amazon and a few of the usual suspects.

  • Characters, writers and success.

    Tell Me a Story - advice

    Characters are most successful when we, as writers, equate with them.

    Book Characters

    When we identify with characters in books, when we take pleasure in their friendship, the characters become real to us.

    Psychologist claim characters are a prognosis of some component of a writer's persona. Maybe so, maybe not; whatever, this doesn’t have to signify that your written character is a portrayal of you – although this can happen, what it means is that you write as if they are actual people.


    When creating our stories, we are perhaps inclined to be performers as well as writers. When we create a character, we psychologically recreate the role, and in order to write successfully, we see ourselves being that character; we verbalize the figure, we act out the role in our mind. If we can't do it, we don't write with authority.

    Even though we probably refute that our protagonist mirrors us, they are perhaps the persona we would be if we dressed in their cloak - even the dark characters. Buried deep in most of us is a dark side, when we write, we allow that side to bubble to the surface.

    By whatever means, in order to be successful as writers we need to breathe soul into our fantasies - and only by doing so, will our imaginings become someone else's reality.

    Monday, 15 September 2008

    Publishers and books for children

    Links on Tell Me a Story


    Hi, Anthony, can you tell if it’s true that a lot of publishers are no longer looking for new authors? I’m writing a book for children, and I’ve been told that a number of personalities are writing children’s stuff, so now it’s nigh on impossible to get a foot in the door. I’ve also been told publishers aren’t even looking for new authors. Is this true?

    • Hello, Susan, I'm afraid to a limited extent it’s true, especially as far as books for children is concerned. You have to remember, publishers are there primarily to make money. If they make money, you might get a few crumbs, you might even get to be famous, but a publisher’s mandate is financial.

    • It's also true that a publisher will take on a celebrity whilst rejecting talented, new writers. The subject pisses me off – I’ve ranted about it several times on my other blog, Bedlam. If you're serious though, and if your work is good, it shouldn’t put you off. You know the saying, “What do you call a writer who won’t give up – published.”

    • Someday, somewhere, you'll get accepted and all will be forgotten .... well almost.

    • Keep writing, and keep dreaming. Don’t forget, JK Rowling was a new author just a few years ago. Publishers are ALWAYS looking for books they can sell, but most books submitted to publishers aren't what they're looking for. Either the writer isn’t skilled at their craft or the plot is too recognizable.

    • The more prestigious the publishing house, the more famous the existing authors, the higher the standard and the harder it is to get in. But they DO still take people on.

    • Posted by Anthony James Barnett - author of Without Reproach
    • Next post, Are authors recluses.
    • My other blog, Bedlam.
    • Related posts - Publication

    Sunday, 14 September 2008

    Are authors recluses?

    Tell Me a Story

    AJ, are a lot of authors recluses, such as not giving interviews or book signing? 
    Well, Sandra, I know of some that are partial recluses, though not to the point of refusing to sign books. Some of my writer friends are extroverts. I'm guess I'm somewhere in the centre. I'm actually quite shy. I tend to edge to the back when there's a crowd. When I'm centre stage, I don't feel comfortable, but I have done it. 

    I've already had a book signings and radio interviews. I was very anxious, but I guess I got through one way or another.

    One of my author friends is just the opposite. She was a teacher, and is quite comfortable in front of people, in fact I think she enjoys centre stage, so there can be no generalization.

    Maybe more tend to be comfortable with their own company, because it is rather a lonely business.

    Next post, interview.


    Thursday, 11 September 2008

    An interview with author, Linda Jones.

    Links on Tell Me a Story


    • Linda Jones, 40, director of the Midlands agency, Passionate Media, is an author and journalist and co-editor of the freelance writing blog, www.freelancewritingtips.com – here she shares news of her books and tells how a ‘dream’ to publish fiction may never be accomplished!

      Hi Linda, how long have you been a writer?

    Hello Anthony. I've been a journalist for 19 years. I trained with the Express & Star, Wolverhampton and have worked as a reporter, feature writer, columnist, sub, news editor and editor, in the UK and Russia. My journalistic work is outlined at http://www.lindajoneswork.com/

    • So how many books have you written?

    I've written two books - one is the (very modestly titled!) Greatest Freelance Writing Tips in the World, and the other is Divorce and Separation, The Essential Guide.

    • Something most of us need or needed guidance on. What prompted you to write your latest books?

    The freelance writing tips book came about because I was passionate about passing on realistic advice about what works and what doesn't when building a freelance career.

    I've been able to progress from being a lone freelancer in my bedroom at home, to building an agency working on copy for a variety of customers - from editors on national newspapers and magazines - to businesses and charities.

    Along the way, I have been asked for lots of advice from other writers and I have mentored young journalists, I knew there was a book in there!

    Feedback about the book has been amazing. It's aimed at people who want to make a living writing non-fiction, rather than a 'hobby' writer or one who is happy to write 'for exposure' - and it's certainly not a guide to writing. The title comes from the rest of the series, but in my introduction to the book, I say the tips are 'the best in the world' because they worked for me!

    • First hand knowledge is always the best. So what about your other book?

    Divorce and Separation, the Essential Guide was commissioned after I pitched three parenting subjects to the publisher.

    I write a lot about various aspects of parenting, as the mum of twins, for various magazines. As a journalist, it's also my job to follow the news and I was growing very tired of reports that said the children of parents who'd parted seemed to be responsible for all of society's ills! When I thought of the love and security my friends who happen to be divorced or separated were still providing, I knew these doom and gloom-laden reports were way off the mark and I wanted to write a book that helped loving parents understand that divorce or separation doesn't have to be the defining moment in a child's development.

    I am most proud of the testimonies in the book from parents who have 'been there and done that' themselves – proving that going your separate ways doesn't have to be the end of the world.

    I hope that for aspiring writers, my experience with this book shows the old adage 'write what you know' isn't always true- interviewers have been a bit baffled that I am neither separated nor divorced - in fact I'm not even married yet - but that's another story!

    • Linda, what struggles have you had on the road to being published? It not often an easy road.

    I’ve had six book proposals accepted in the last three years – yes really. Four were ditched at various stages - that was a bit painful! I’ve discovered that the 'answer' to the 'dream' of being published isn't writing the book - it's getting it read and even the biggest publishers can't always manage that, can they?

    • Too true! What has been the best part about being published?

    Anthony, for someone who is already a working journalist, it is very useful to have some books under your belt - to show editors that you have a specialism that you know enough about or care deeply about, and this in itself can provide the hook for other features.

    • Where are your books available from?

    You can buy or order both books in major UK bookshops, as well as from a variety of online sources, including Amazon of course, or direct form the publishers. With both books, I have set up my own blog, and through an Amazon Associates scheme, get a (little tiny) bit paid directly into my bank account if people click through from the 'buy here' links.

    The freelance writing blog is at http://www.freelancewritingtips.com/ and the divorce blog is at http://www.essentialdivorceguide.com/ With each site, I endeavour to update regularly, with news, features, hints and tips. I have a freelance writing tips Facebook group and I send members updates of writing opportunities when I can as well as letting them know any about any snippets of news, media appearances or reviews. The aim is to promote 'word of mouth' about the book and help readers feel they are getting something of genuine value - the blog is carrying on where the book has left off!

    • And have you any other work in the pipeline?

    Like many writers of non-fiction, I have also tapped away at some short stories. I know that this isn't an area that is particularly popular with publishers and there is one story that I would love to develop into a fully-fledged novel - but I'm a mum too and somehow I haven't found time to follow that dream as far as I would like. At work, I'm also a trainer in non-fiction writing skills, and it is very difficult to contemplate taking time away from such fought-for work to be more creative!

    • Linda Jones, thank you for sharing this moment with us. I know just how busy your schedule is.

    Next post, book signing, Ondara.

    My other blog, Bedlam.

    Monday, 8 September 2008

    Book Signing, Ondara

    Links on Tell Me a Story


    I just want to let everyone know about a forthcoming book signing event, on 20th September 2008.

    Sixteen authors, including yours truly, will be signing books at 'Bookworld España' in the new shopping centre at Ondara, Costa Blanca, Spain.

    Yes Sixteen authors! If you don't fancy the idea of one, there's always another. Out of sixteen authors, you're bound to find one whose book will suit you down to the ground, and you can have it signed anyway you wish by your favourite author...

    My slot will be 11:30 until 12:00. Don't forget, 20th September.

    So if you're in the area, visiting, holidaying, or just plain old living, please pop along. I'd love to meet you.

    Next post, editors.
    My other blog, Bedlam.

    Editors maketh the writer

    I’m privileged to know and be in touch with lots of writers. I’m captivated by how they write, how they fashion their stories and characters, how they organize and research information for their novels. One thing that comes from this is that editing is a very touchy subject.

    Writers have said repeatedly, that going back to correct the little things in their writing is an unremitting and thankless task. The thing is, our text is never as good as we want. We constantly seek perfection, we twiddle, we cut, we polish. But only when we get to the editorial stage with the publisher does the real novel start to shape up.

    You think your manuscript to be perfect? Think again!

    When a professional editor starts putting your manuscript into a logical sequence, and starts helping with character or story development, your story starts to read like a real book.
    If you’ve never worked with a true professional, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Editors help writers establish their voice and improve their writing. A good editor is worth their weight in gold.
    Be nice to your editor. She might just make you look like a proper writer!

    Saturday, 6 September 2008

    Editing and the wannerbie writer

    No sooner has a writer put the finishing touch to their work, the pregnancy period over, the birth a spectacle of awe, than the whole euphoria starts slipping away.

    They must now strive to lift it to a higher level. The editing must start, but as a wannerbie, most writers’ potential is obscured by awe of the process of writing. They’re overwhelmed by their own creation.

    The manuscript they’ve produced, seems an exquisite mix of thought and disclosure. Afraid of damaging this splendid prose, the wannerbie nudges at words and twiddles with punctuation, without considering changing a single expression – which is why they remain, unpublished.

    With experience, comes an understanding of their deficiency. The wannerbie gradually becomes aware that their work falls short of perfection. They realize writing is not simply the process of organizing fine words onto paper, but the practice of raising ideas to an interesting and readable level.

    This is the bottom line of all artists’ dreams, the camouflaging of their muse. Simplicity is the key to success. The age of capricious words is over; flowery shit is out. Be down to earth, talk in simple terms and you just might get on the right track.

    Successful writers dump restrictive ideas of editing, they apply themselves to cutting.

    The very enchantment of successful books comes about because of an attempt to rise towards a higher point. No good writer is ever satisfied. This struggle breathes life into their work.

    Cut, cut, and cut again – and you might just make it.

    My next post, the opening.

    To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
    20 Things You Should Know About How To Format A Book
    Mastering Conflict In Your Story Characters

    Friday, 5 September 2008

    The opening of a book -

    In the opening of your novel, you should let readers know just who the main characters are, or at least foretell of them.

    Show the protagonists under some kind of tension. Let it be known there's a problem that needs resolving. It can be internal conflict, external conflict or conflict of man against nature, or any combination of them, but there must be conflict. Without conflict or there is no story. A novel is not a random series of events that happen to be of interest to the writer. There has to be form and reason.

    Let the reader know in whom they should invest their empathy. Whose side are they on? The bad character can be congenial but set on a course we must frown on.

    Let it be known what is at stake. Editors and readers want to know this from the outset. What does the main character stand to gain or lose? What will be the result if the protagonist wins?

    Confirm the setting; where and when does the story takes place?

    Link the beginning to the end. Let the problem that starts the story not be resolved until the final few pages. There can be numerous minor problems between, but the starting problem must be the major conflict, and the only conflict that threads its way throughout the whole story.

    And finally, you must set the tone of the story at the beginning, sombre or animated, amusing or heart-rending, let the reader be in no doubt what sort of story they are about to enjoy.

    Next post is about my podcast.

    To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
    20 Things You Should Know About How To Format A Book
    Mastering Conflict In Your Story Characters

    Podcast, here I come.

    At last technology has caught up with me. I was the last person in the world to succumb to broadband, the last person in the world to have a mobile (still don't know how to use the damn thing), now I've made it into the audio world of podcast.

    I've made my blog available on podcast. You can can catch it on your computer direct from the post, OR subscibe in the left-hand column - and listen to it on your very own iPod as you meander your way around the world. JUst think, going about your business listening to my ramblings!!!

    I've also made my RSS available as a full blogpost because of the podcast. I apologize if some of the earlier blogs are shortened versions, but from now on, all new posts should be complete broadcasts.

    Hope it makes your life easier and my blog more enjoyable.

    Next post is about synopsis

    To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
    20 Things You Should Know About How To Format A Book
    Mastering Conflict In Your Story Characters

    Wednesday, 3 September 2008

    How to present a Story Synopsis

    Tell Me a Story

    A synopsis is important
    A synopsis could be the most important thing you ever write. Get it wrong and your book might never see the light of day. Make it stand out, make it interesting, and you might well be on the way to becoming a published writer.

    A story synopsis can take on many shapes; it has no definite arrangement, but like the manuscript, should be double line-spaced and clearly printed.
    The chief component of the synopsis, and sometimes the only element, is a short narrative of the story, and SHOULD:-
    • Always be written in present tense.
    • Name and describe all major protagonists.
    • Sum up key events in the novel.
    • Specify the book’s point of view:
    • Contain virtually no dialogue:

    A background piece might occasionally lead the synopsis itself, but only if the story's framework necessitates explanation, (where the plot may hinge on unfamiliar story elements such as in sci-fi or fantasy).
    Try to keep the synopsis to just a couple of pages. After all, you're trying to entice the editor by presenting a brief sample. The last thing you want, is to bore your tired and weary editor into slinging the synopsis into the bin.

    A Love Story

    Heartwarming Stories

    Tuesday, 2 September 2008

    Why do we read?

    From: Mellow my Rome

    Subject: Why?

    Message: I would like to gain your perspective on the follow topic. Why should we read books if it is only a one dimensional thought? Thank you!

    Well to start with, Mellow-my-Rome, I’d like to say when you’re asking questions, please use your own name, and a little more consideration.

    My name is Anthony, and I like people to call me either that or Tony. I find your query a little abrupt. When you're asking for assistance, try using diplomacy or you might not get answers.

    I also have to say it seems rather like you’re asking me to answer your homework question. This isn’t the type of query normally asked on my blog. However, that said, I will attempt to put across my ideas.

    In my opinion, to say books are one-dimensional, is taking a rather simplistic approach. It smacks of psycho-babble. Who says books are one-dimensional? With what authority do you claim it?

    The act of reading is a dynamic process that stimulates all senses.

    • Provocative descriptions inspire sexual desires, conjure up sounds, bring back memories of smell, and create vivid pictures in the mind.
    • We cry, smile and laugh with a good story – how can that be attributed to the one-dimensional hypothesis?
    • There is no question of, ‘Why should we read books’. We read books because we choose to.
    • Reading is an enjoyable pastime. No one forces us to read (except perhaps, in an educational environment).
    • We read books for relaxation and pleasure. We choose to lose ourselves in the beauty of well-written books, where the story, in our minds, becomes a perfect translation of events.
    • Reading is the diametric opposite of a film, where viewers share the director's translation of events - which can never be as perfect as the one in YOUR mind. A book has as many interpretations as there are readers, each creating their own perfect scenario.
    • If you believe there needs to be a reason for you to not read, then don’t.

    To sum it up Mellow-my-Rome, I’m not here to persuade you to read. I have no interest one way or another in the way you pass your time. It will simply be your loss if you choose not to.

    To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
    20 Things You Should Know About How To Format A Book
    Mastering Conflict In Your Story Characters

    Monday, 1 September 2008

    An interview with author, Sela Carsen

    • Sela Carsen is just your ordinary, average, everyday stay at home mom.
      Really. Ignore the two Monkey Children. And the disaster area she calls home. And the Darn-Near Perfect Husband who patiently puts up with the chaos. Did she mention the Boxer?
      If you see her talking to herself while she’s going down the produce aisle at the grocery store with her travel mug of coffee welded to her hand, well, doesn’t everyone do that?
      Fueled by the caffeine-induced jitters, she writes comic romances featuring smart, funny, mostly alive, occasionally dead (and undead), and not always entirely human characters. Her writing runs the gamut from paranormal to historical, and from sweet to steamy, with several rabbit trails in between.
      She currently resides in Dante’s Seventh Circle , also known as Midwestern Suburbia.

      Hello, Sela, would you like to share with us how you came up with the idea for your latest book?

    Hi, Anthony, I started writing CAROLINA WOLF about five years ago when we were getting ready to leave England and return home to the US. My husband was in the US Air Force and we’d been fortunate enough to get a tour at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. I loved it there, but our time was up. We were on our way to South Carolina for his last assignment before retirement. As we researched the area we were going to, I realized that there was a huge swamp nearby – a national park, actually. The Congaree National Park is North America’s largest old-growth floodplain forest.

    I looked on the map again and realized that there was a small town that conjoined the area and started thinking.

    Essentially, I started with the setting, then the characters came with it.

    • And what about planning? Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?

    I’m a “pantser,” short for “I write by the seat of my pants.” I just start writing and see what happens. I’ve tried plotting a few times, but it’s never worked out. It sucks all the fun out of writing for me.

    • Some people like to know where they’re heading when they write. Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?

    Well …. My husband once asked me that. I said, “Yes. They all end with ‘And they lived happily ever after.’” *gg*

    • So do you have a process for developing your characters?

    No, I’m afraid not. Boy, I should never write a “how-to” book, eh? They develop on the page as I write. Sometimes they absolutely crack me up, sometimes I try to steer them down a road I think is the right one and they quit on me altogether. I always think that you can plan all you like, but you never really know what someone is going to do in any given situation until they’re actually in it. You can assume, but sometimes you’re wrong.

    • Sela, some people say that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?

    I tend to write very “everyman” heroines and thus far, they’ve all been Southern. I am a Southern woman, I understand Southern women. Someone once told me that as a Northeasterner, she found it offensive when people called her “ma’am” or opened doors for her. I realized then that I couldn’t ever write an authentic character from that part of the country because I genuinely didn’t understand that attitude or its roots.

    • What’s your favorite part about this book?

    Anthony, I love the way my heroine grows. At the beginning, she’s very ordinary. She even considers herself boring. Through the story, she comes into herself as a whole woman. It was a really fun theme to play with.

    • If you’re enjoying it, Sela, you’re definitely onto a winner. So would you like to give us a brief summary of the book?

    Debra Henry is boring. And she’s okay with that. Really. It’s not as if the teensy amount of witchcraft she inherited is worth much. So what’s up with the werewolves that start crawling out of the woods, er, swamps? When one werewolf saves her from an outcast of his kind, she takes him home to patch him up, but healing him awakens the magic that sleeps in her blood. Suddenly, Debra’s not quite as boring as she thought.

    Maddox Moreau likes being the BWIS – the Big Wolf In the Swamp. By day, he’s a wildlife management specialist at the Congaree National Park in South Carolina. By night, he enjoys howling it up with different women. At least until he meets the one woman who can share his soul. Rescuing her seals his fate, but only if he can also protect her from the rogue werewolf with a nasty stalker streak.

    Unpredictable magic and rampant werewolves liven up the swamp in CAROLINA WOLF.

    • When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?

    I wrote this one as a response to a call for submission. My publisher, Samhain, was looking for stories to put into an anthology called TICKLE MY FANTASY. They wanted all paranormal romantic comedies. I had written the first few scenes way back when, but never finished it. I realized I had the beginnings of the perfect story sitting in my hard drive and I just went from there.

    • So what struggles have you had on the road to being published?

    I’ve always had the hardest time with promotion. It’s difficult for me to put myself out there and say “Buy my book!”

    • Tell me about it. I absolutely hate promotion, it’s just something we have to put up with though, I’m afraid. What about the best part about being published?

    It’s just incredibly fun to hang out with authors. There’s a camaraderie there that is difficult to understand until you’ve had the experiences of contracts and covers and promotion. We still deal with all the things that all writers do: recalcitrant characters, building themes, getting the words down, but there’s a sense that there’s a concrete goal at the end. It’s almost a relief in some ways.

    • What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?

    That they had fun. That they smiled. That there’s a core of strength in women that they alone can tap. And that they can enjoy the journey of finding that strength and finding love.

    • And do you have plans to write another book?

    It’s already in the works. I’m writing a tie-in story to my first novella, NOT QUITE DEAD. One of the secondary characters really deserved his own happily ever after. After that, I want to get back to my sole historical and revise it, then I can finally start the novel I’ve been playing around with for a while.

    • Okay Sela, let’s get down to the plug. Where can readers find a copy of your book?

    CAROLINA WOLF will be on sale through Bookstore and More in February 2009. In the meantime, you can find my other stories, NOT QUITE DEAD and HEART OF THE SEA at My Bookstore and More, as well as other e-book sellers. HEART OF THE SEA is also available in Kindle at Amazon.com.

    • Do you have a website for readers to go to?

    Absolutely! You can find me at http://www.selacarsen.com/ I blog on a semi-regular basis, too, so click on the blog button

    • Sela Carsen, Thank you for sharing this moment with us. Good luck with the sales …. And promotion.
    1. Next post
    To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
    20 Things You Should Know About How To Format A Book
    Mastering Conflict In Your Story Characters

    The people and rssHugger

    At last it is here, rssHugger, a website to help bloggers publicize their blogs, whilst helping people find blogs subjects they’re interested in.

    Through the internet, rssHugger is trying to bring blog writers and blog readers together. Each blog is manually checked, so it seems rssHugger will be the first ever, spam free rss directory for bloggers.
    There’s nothing like people power.

    To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
    20 Things You Should Know About How To Format A Book
    Mastering Conflict In Your Story Characters