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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Author Spotlight no.45 – Mia Johansson

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-fifth, is of Mia Johansson.

Mia Johansson is a civil engineer living in Sweden, author of the fiction novel “Unfinished discussion about God – The diary of a time traveller” expected to be published 2012, and a variety of short stories. She is an occasional photographer interested in the architecture of old and modern cities, street life, a good cup of coffee and jazz. I have recently joined Google+ (late to the party, I know) and Mia is already there; you can view her stunningly attractive albums here. You can read two of Mia’s short stories (which was/will be also podcasted) on the Flash Fiction Fridays page (‘On the Bridge’ and ‘The Jazz and the Blues‘).

And now from the author herself:

…how I became a writer?  Well…

I really don’t know… If I am a writer at all. I did write some pages, some thoughts. But does it make me a writer?

I never thought or wished or even dreamed to be a writer. It just happened.

One day, two years ago, I said to myself: “I will write a book” and the next day I started to write. I had an idea about what I wanted to write but I had no idea at all about how to write a book. Rules and stuff like that you know, about writing, not that I am that kind of person that follows the rules in general either.

I lost the text three times somewhere in the outer space, the virtual one, meaning my laptop so I had to remake the story three times. Or was it four? And I re-read it kind of “thousand” times each time becoming something else (lol! wonder how it will look in the end).  It took me two years to finish the material for the “Unfinished discussion about God – The diary of a time traveler”.

Almost the same time I finished the text for the book, the chance to take a writing class occurred so I took it.  And as in my book’s story, so even in reality, my reality, everything went the other way round.  How? Why? Maybe it’s time to re-read my story. Again!

And so I became a writer.

Thank you so much Mia, and I look forward to reading more of your writing. 🙂

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with novelist and short story author Kimberly Todd Wade – the two hundred and thirty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords.

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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in ebooks, interview, novels, short stories, writing

 

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Flash Fiction Friday 015: ‘That Old Feeling’ by JD Mader

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the fifteenth piece of flash fiction in this new weekly series. This week’s piece is a 548-worder entitled ‘That Old Feeling’ by J D Mader.

That Old Feeling

Joe sat on the tired bench and watched the pigeons scuttle and peck, forging their way through the crowds of tourists.  His sunglasses, dark black, covered two eyes that had not “seen” for almost twenty years.  Since the accident.  But it did not lessen his ability to see the pigeons work their magic.  At times, he thought he could see more clearly now than he had ever been able to before.

The accident was one of those things.  One of those things you beat yourself up about until you’re on the ropes, until it doesn’t make sense anymore…until you have to forgive yourself.  Fireworks.  A dumb prank.  But it had cost him.

Ally had been so beautiful.  It made him do stupid things.  Jump over fire pits that spat embers into the night sky.  Write songs that never landed right.  Songs he was always convinced were brilliant.  He liked to practice and practice, imagining her reverent face…the love radiating from her smile.  The reality, a kind of awkward silence.  A thank you…the kind you give when you get a sweater you don’t like.  Well, it always made him up the ante.  And then it took his eyes.  And he grew up and she married and moved away, but, by god, he could still see her face, too.  As clear as if it was in front of him.  For years, it made him angry to think of her.  These days, it just made him sigh.

There was no one to impress, now.  He spent his days sitting in the sun, drinking in the noises of the tourists and the cries of the gulls.  The seals.  He often chuckled at how similar they sounded.  He could see himself, too.  The old blind man chuckling to himself.  He wondered if he looked the way he did in his mind.  He wondered if he was kinder or more harsh in his assessment of what the years had done.  He wondered what that said about him.  And he realized it did not matter.

Losing his eyes had taught him that…the most important lesson of all.  There was not a lot that did matter. There was sleep, a good meal, friendship and love.  It taught him that the things he focused on were not the important things.  Perhaps blindness had made him a better person.  Closing his eyes had opened other parts of him.

He did see her face this day.  And he felt those old urges.  To prove he could run the fastest, drink the most, be the…best, most daring…something.  Perhaps that was what propelled him forward.

Witnesses told the police the basics.  The old blind man…the one who always sat on that bench…out of nowhere – over the railing and seconds later screaming and flailing in the icy waters of the bay.  They did not realize that the screams were screams of joy, dredged from deep within him, tainted with years of…well, life.  They did not try to speculate about the smile, and he did not feel the need to explain.  They took him home.  And the next day, he was back at his spot, listening to the pigeons and children scuttle about.  Nothing had changed.  He felt younger.  Fresh.  He wanted to ask if he looked younger. But it didn’t matter.

I asked JD what prompted this piece and he said…

The inspiration for this story was lethargy.  I thought, “I haven’t written anything today”.  So, I started with an image and the story came.  I suppose I was probably reminiscing about something.  Reflecting on San Francisco since we have just moved east a bit, perhaps.  Not a very good answer, I know.  A lot of times the inspiration for my stories is, ‘you better get off your lazy butt and write something’.

A great answer! Thank you (again) JD. 🙂

J D Mader is a teacher and writer / musician based in San Francisco.  He has been fortunate enough to encounter many giving and inspiring people in his life.  He hopes to repay the debt.  And to make enough money with his writing to buy a house. You can help him buy a brick (although I think the eBook is actually cheaper!) by checking out his debut novel ‘Joe Café’ and there will be more soon. He’s done a lot for my blog so probably the easiest way is to read them all is via the ‘Contributors‘ page… just scroll down to the Js (although not too quickly in case there are some other authors you like the sound of :)). 

If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with author Shah Husain – the two hundred and thirty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in ebooks, novels, short stories, writing

 

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Guest post: ‘Marketability – do you have enough to make a self-published book sell?’ by Bill Munro

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of marketing is brought to you by author and publisher Bill Munro.

Marketability – do you have enough to make a self-published book sell?

Are you a marketable author? Will it be your name on the cover that makes someone take your book to the checkout? Or is poor or non-existent marketability a factor in your failure to secure a publishing deal? If you can’t get your book published, then self-publishing is a great temptation. But will your self-published book fail to sell because you are unknown in your genre? Can the public expect your work to be worth paying for?

Marketability is arguably the most important commercial criterion that a publisher looks for in an author. To understand why it is so vital, we must look at the book trade from the buyers’ end. The retail customer relies on the retailer to offer well-written, well-packaged books. In turn, the retailer relies on the expertise of the publisher to supply those quality books. The author’s name is of great importance in promising quality content. The bookseller will trust a known author, whether front- or mid-list fiction writer, authoritative non-fiction author or celebrity. But with unknown authors, a retailer trusts the publisher’s judgement that the work is worthy of investment, and therefore saleable: a publisher would not (or ought not to!) produce the book if it were not. Thus, to gain credibility with the bookseller and the book-buying public, you as an unpublished author must prove you are a good enough writer, both creatively and technically, can analyse your subject effectively and are capable of writing in a style that is right for your genre.

Against the resources of a traditional publisher, the self-published author will never be on a level playing field when it comes to marketing, but if you are considering self-publishing and want the effort to succeed, you should have those aforementioned writing skills, but you must gain some level of profile in the marketplace. This might be through blogging, magazine articles, competition success, your reputation as an expert in your non-fiction field or whatever it takes to get yourself a name amongst the book-buying public. Without it, your books may end up as expensive dust-gatherers.

Quality content and a sound reputation with the public are key ingredients in a successful book. Continue to improve the quality of your work, create something new and original for the market and keep building an audience by any method you can and you will improve your marketability and bookselling success through self-publishing. You will also greatly improve your chances of securing a traditional publishing deal.

As someone embarking on a freelance career, it’s perfect timing, thank you so much, Bill!

Bill Munro is the author of nine books in the motoring and military vehicle history categories, all published by traditional publishers. After successfully self-publishing a further book through his own publishing company, Earlswood Press, he took on a second author.

He has now signed up another and is moving the company from a part-time operation to a full-time one, as well as continuing to write and publish more of his own books. You can find him at www.billmunro.co.uk and http://cabdriverhistory.blogspot.com, and email him. Earlswood’s ebooks are available via Smashwords.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say, “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with fantasy, magic realism and satire author Malcolm R Campbell – the two hundred and thirty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in articles, ebooks, non-fiction, novels, writing

 

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Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘red pen session’ no.9

** Please note that I no longer run red pen episodes but do offer critique (first 1,000 words free) via https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/editing-and-critique.** 

This week’s podcast was released yesterday, Wednesday 28th December, the ninth of my episodes dedicated to reading a short story or self-contained novel extract (with synopsis) and then talking about it afterwards.

I run a fortnightly critique group as well as critiquing other authors’ writing which I really enjoy so I thought I’d create podcast episodes doing this. Please remember that it’s only one person’s (my) opinion and you, and the author concerned, are welcome to disagree with my interpretation – I will never be mean for the sake of it, but hope that I’m firm but fair. I also type the critique as I’m reading the story for the first time so by listening to the episode you will have had the advantage of hearing the story in full before hearing my feedback.

Regardless of what genre you write I hope that this helps you think about the way your stories are constructed and that you have enjoyed hearing another author’s work, the copyright of which remains with them.

This episode’s was an extract, from London-based Danny Kemp’s second novel, entitled ‘The Desolate Garden’. I read a short synopsis, the extract, critiqued it and concluded with:

The way this piece is written it’s easy to connect with our protagonist and we can feel sorry for how he feels for his father, although given the insight into his father I can see why.

It’s a very well-written extract with a good mixture of long and short sentences, keeping the narrative drive and providing the action is subsequently forthcoming, I can see it fitting the murder mystery genre and it be of appeal to readers of that genre.

Stories, whether short stories or novels, should start with the action and Danny also sent me the beginning of Chapter which does have action and the story progresses quickly so the extract I read today certainly avoids the dreaded early ‘info dump’. The beginning of a story is called the ‘hook’ and needs to hook in the reader, and although this isn’t the beginning I certainly would want to read on, so a success in my opinion.”

Danny Kemp is a 62-year-old man, but just change the numbers around to find his real personality. He is quick witted with a devilish sense of humour, socially interacting well across all generations. His writing comes from years of diverse experiences encompassing the Metropolitan Police and the Licensed Taxi trade in the Capital. His interests now are divided between his work, his family, especially his three grandchildren, and his new-found ardor of writing.

His second novel, The Desolate Garden, followed on quickly from his first, Look Both Ways Then Look Behind and a third Mitzy Collins is almost complete. It is the first to be published in what he hopes to be the beginning of a new career. He is a member of The International Thrillers Writers.

He says he came into writing literally by accident, or, more correctly as a victim of one. He was stationary in his London Black Cab, one sunny November morning five years ago, when a van crashed into him, effectively putting him out of work for three years. He had time on his hands and his imagination filled the void left empty from his normal days. The enjoyment he derived from the first story he wrote spread into every crevice of his mind and filled those worrying days, so much so that he fell in love with it, and does not want it to end. Me neither, Danny. 🙂

You can find out more about Danny and his writing at http://www-thedesolategarden-com.co.uk.

If you have any feedback on this episode or any other podcasts or aspects of my website or blog, I’d be delighted to hear from you – my email address is morgen@morgenbailey.com.

And if you’re feeling brave enough to email me a short story (preferred) or novel extract (with a brief synopsis please) of no more than 1,000-word for these red pen sessions then feel free. I suggest you listen to at least one of the red pen episodes to get an idea of what happens.

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast is available via iTunes, Google’s Feedburner, Podbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe). Episodes include hints & tips (currently episode no.44) and author audio interviews – see this blog’s podcast page for more information.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in novels, podcast, tips, writing

 

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