Author Spotlight no.146 – historical novelist Freda Lightfoot

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and forty-sixth, is of historical novelist and interviewee Freda Lightfoot.

FredaBorn in Lancashire, Freda Lightfoot has been a teacher, bookseller and in a mad moment, a smallholder on the freezing fells of the Lake District where she tried her hand at the ‘good life’, kept sheep and hens, various orphaned cats and dogs, built drystone walls, planted a small wood and even learned how to make jam. She has now given up her thermals to build a house in an olive grove in Spain, where she produces her own olive oil and sits in the sun. She has published 39 novels including many bestselling family sagas and historical novels.

And now from the author herself:

What inspires a story for me? I write historical fiction so I’m always looking for some major historical event to use as a hook. When visiting San Francisco on holiday, I did as all writers do, not only soaked up the atmosphere of the place, but set about learning as much as I could about its history.

The earthquake of 1906 struck San Francisco and surrounding towns over a distance of almost three hundred miles on the coast of California at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, 1906. The tremors were felt as far north as Oregon and as far south as Los Angeles. Due to the San Andreas fault, and the Hayward and San Jacinto faults, San Francisco had always been prone to earthquakes. The city suffered countless tremors each year as the plates constantly shifted against each other and stress built up, and still does. But nothing of this magnitude had been experienced for almost half a century before 1906. And strict codes on construction had been put into place. Sadly it wasn’t enough to save them. Even more devastating than the earthquake itself was the fire that followed which ruptured gas mains, destroyed approximately 25,000 buildings, and 3,000 lives were lost.

The PromiseI, of course, was most interested in how such a cataclysmic event could affect the inhabitants. What might you do, how might it change your life, when your world is collapsing all around you? It was with this question in mind that I began to devise some characters and plan The Promise.

As I enjoy dual-time stories myself, I set this one partly in San Francisco at the time of the quake, and partly in England some 50 years later. Chrissie Kemp is puzzled that her mother’s maiden name on her marriage certificate is not the one she expected to find. Can it have anything to do with the family feud, and the reason she has never met her grandmother? She travels to the Lake District to meet Georgia Briscoe for the first time, only to discover a shocking family secret. As the truth gradually unfolds, the passion, emotion and astounding love that blossomed in San Francisco years earlier is finally revealed, with devastating consequences.

Writing this kind of story is quite challenging as you need to keep the reader sufficiently interested in the characters and story-lines from both time periods without losing the thread of either. If the reader becomes confused she will put the book down and never pick it up again. But as the writer, I confess that I never know all the answers, not even the ending, until I’ve written the book. I know some highs and lows of the journey, but not every turn in the road. As I write I’m continually asking myself questions, digging deeper, thinking of new twists, till finally I come up with what I believe is a good one for the ending. Once I knew where I was going with The Promise, I then rewrote and revised entire chunks of the story, putting in fresh clues, taking out those which were no longer needed, all the while making certain that the ending was logical, and hopefully a surprise.

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You can find more about Freda and her writing via her website http://www.fredalightfoot.co.uk. The Promise is published by Allison & Busby. Paperback: £5.99 Ebook – £4.79: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Promise-ebook/dp/B006WB7LQW.

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The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with multi-genre novelist Jan Tilley – the five hundred and eighty-seventh 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.

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.

For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.

As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words). Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (up to 3,000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Rejections Slips and other Ciphers by Melodie Campbell

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of rejections, is brought to you by short story, humour author and novelist and interviewee Melodie Campbell.

“Much as I love history sex and violence…” Rejection Slips and other Ciphers

All writers share one experience in common:  Rejection.  Yes, that single three-syllable word can pack more punch than a swat team of grammarians in a first year college class.  I’ve known grown novelists crushed by the impact of a lone one-page letter in a returned SASE.  (You can tell by the thickness of the envelope that it ain’t holdin’ no contract.)  In New York, it is rumored that spurned essayists have been seen to (gasp) forgo imported and guzzle down domestic in their haste to heal the pain.

Rejection is the hurtin’, cheatin’ country song of the writer’s world.

We all know that tune.   Usually sung off-key, by editors who can’t do what we authors do, but have the power to keep us out of print.

Rejection slips serve only one useful purpose as far as I can tell: they prove to Revenue Canada and the IRA that we are indeed working writers and deserve all those measly tax deductions.

But wait – is there more?

In case you missed it, there is a hierarchy of rejection slips!  If you write for a living, or merely for the loving, you will undoubtedly have a collection that cries out for classification.

Keep them. Treasure them.  Devote a drawer to them.  (Better still, a steamer trunk.)  Make your own list of rejection translations and get to know the lingo.

Here’s my list, to get you started:

  1. “…unfortunately, it does not meet our requirements at this time.” This means No.  Allow yourself ten minutes to rant, and then try another market.
  2. “…does not meet our current needs, but we would welcome seeing more of your work.” Hey – you’ve reached them!  Maybe they can’t use this piece, but they like your style.  Send more.  Persist.  Be relentless.  That’s how I first got into Star Magazine.  I wore them down.
  3. “….if you would consider revising, I would happily have another read of it.” Go, go, go!  Whenever an editor gives direct encouragement, run with it.  Act immediately.  Revise and re-mail.  Invite her to dinner.  Walk his dog.  Do what you have to.  But don’t lose his interest.

I cherish personal replies from editors, not only for the time they take to write, but also for the hidden messages within.  Some are priceless.  Here are a few gems from my personal file (er…trunk):

“…not for us, but I think the ‘Idler’ uses satire.” That’s right, pass it off to the competition and hope it sinks ‘em.  The ultimate publisher power play.

“…we found your novel an interesting and compelling work, however…” Shucks.  I should have known they don’t publish ‘interesting and compelling’ works.

And my own personal favorite: “…much as I like history, sex and violence…” Well, gee, that’s interesting.  But exactly how does this relate to my returned manuscript? By the way, what are you doing Saturday night?

That was great, thank you, Melodie!

Melodie Campbell has over 200 publications, 6 awards, and was a finalist for the 2012 Derringer and Arthur Ellis awards.

She is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.

Library Journal says this about Melodie`s third novel, The Goddaughter (Orca Books)

“Campbell`s crime caper is just right for Janet Evanovich fans.  Wacky family connections and snappy dialogue make it impossible not to laugh.”

I then invited Melodie to provide an excerpt from The Goddaughter: We got through the border with no problem at all.  Of course, it’s much easier getting through borders without a semi-frozen dead body pretending to be asleep in the back seat.

You can buy The Goddaughter: Amazon.uk and Amazon.com.

And A Purse to Die For: Amazon.uk and Amazon.com.

Follow Melodie’s comic blog at http://funnygirlmelodie.blogspot.com and visit her website www.melodiecampbell.com.

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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 novelist Ginny Atkinson – the five hundred and sixty-fifth 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.

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog you can now donate and receive a free eBook.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Flash Fiction Friday 062: The Confidant by Rodica Mihalis

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the sixty-second piece in this series. This week’s is a 995-worder by memoirist and interviewee Rodica Mihalis.

The Confidant

Too much noise, too hot, too many people! I swallowed and felt the narrowness of my throat choking me. I breathed in deeply. I shouldn’t have trusted him; I should have known he’d stand me up again!

I lined up in the buffet line. Philadelphia Main Line parties were always lavish. At least I’ll get dinner out of it, I thought.

A woman’s excited laughter made me turn.

“Look at these deserts!” she said. “How I wish I could dig in and not care!”

I sized her up: She definitely had that envied “something” called sex appeal. A man would never stand her up! She wore an off-the shoulder white top and tight black pants contouring her well preserved buttocks. A crown of blonde hair surrounded her Barbie-like face. Her eyes were sad, in conflict with her smile. She could have been twenty-five or thirty-five. She belonged to that envied category of ageless.

She continued to talk about diets and how they don’t work. I kept nodding. When our turn arrived, we helped ourselves to mostly vegetables and fruits.

I walked slowly and sat by the pool. She followed me and sat on the same bench, very close to me.

I was sweaty. I couldn’t breathe.She was invading my space!

I must find an excuse and leave…I thought, but suddenly heard Barbie’s clear voice announcing out of nowhere:

“I am in love with a married man who is twenty years older than me!”

She looked me straight in the eyes and continued:

“… and what’s even more painful, his wife is my best friend. She tells me all about her affairs with other men. Last week, I’ve had it with her! I told her about her husband and me! She didn’t even care, she said, who was she to judge!!!”

I came closer to Barbie, so strangers won’t overhear such intimate details.

Barbie licked her lips and sipped her wine:

“I’ve never been in love in such a romantic way. He sends me roses every day and calls me every night. I told him we are having a love affair, but I cannot be his mistress!”

She paused and looked at me intently.

My heart was racing. She continues:

“We didn’t actually have sex,” she explained and whispered in my ear:

“…but how do you define a love affair? Tell me, how?”

I smelled the sweetness of her perfume and felt the warmth of her breath on my cheek. Why did she pick me as a confidant? She really needs a shrink!

“Well,” I said aloud, “this is a personal definition but I believe a love affair starts when one’s mind functions on two levels at once. No matter what one does, there is a constant thought of one’s lover. An obsession. A love affair means that two people are in love, not necessarily that they have sex!” I concluded.

“Then I am right! We are having a love affair,” she said triumphantly and squashed me to her generous bosoms.

We continued to talk about him for a while and her eyes became misty, her voice excited. She glowed!

She is definitely in love, I thought with envy. How long since I felt for someone? Have I ever felt so deeply? Am I ever going to experience such passion? I bit my lip.

“He invited me for a two-day trip to D.C. Do you think I should go?”

“Would you like to go?” I asked Barbie.

“Of course I would but what do I do with the sex? I guess we could have separate bedrooms…”

She stopped. Tears rolled down her doll-like face.

Poor thing, I thought, now what? I hate tears!

“Here, use my tissues,” I said.

“I know he is no good for me. I know he’d never leave her. Even now, if he is half an hour late to go home, he panics. He is so German! I told him we should stop seeing each other, but I think of him all the time. All the time! It’s going to be so hard.”

“Sleep with him,” I suggested. “It will release the tension. What if he isn’t even capable of having sex with you? You said he is much older. If you don’t try, you’d never know for sure.”

The Barbie smiled, leaned towards me and whispered:

“But I don’t want to know for sure, it will spoil the romance! This is the most important part of our relationship. I have never loved so innocently!”

Suddenly, without notice, Barbie turned around and before I could speak she disappears.

For a second I thought I should run after her, tell her my name, get hers, but on second thought, it was better that way. Perhaps knowing would spoil the charm of this most intimate conversation with a stranger.

In the months that followed I thought of Barbie. I regretted not running after her. She seemed so emotionally frail… and I didn’t care enough!

A year went by and I went to New York to see a play on Broadway. The lead was an actress whose talent earned good reviews from the toughest critics.

I took my seat. The stage was dark at first. Then slowly a spotlight followed the silhouette of the actress. She came closer and closer, to the front of the stage, until the silhouette became Barbie! Barbie in the spotlight in the middle of the stage!

It can’t be! I thought, searching for my glasses.

Her curly blonde hair, her desperately sad eyes, her size DD bosoms. It was Barbie alright! She scanned the audience in silence and finally focused on a woman in the front row:

“I am in love with a married man who is twenty years older than me!”

Barbie stopped and examined the crowd, then focused back on the woman in the front row:

“…and what’s even more painful, his wife is my best friend!”

I asked Rodica what prompted this piece and she said…

It was performed in 2005 in Philadelphia at InterAct Theatre as part of a series called WritingAloud. The story is composite of characters I met and social situations I encountered while a social butterfly on the Philadelphia Main Line.

And wonderful characters they were. 🙂 Thank you Rodica.

Rodica is the single mother of two adult daughters, and currently lives in Central Pennsylvania with her three rescued dogs and an African Grey parrot.

She holds a B.A. in English and Romanian from the University of Bucharest. She has worked as a translator and executive assistant at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest before defecting from Romania in 1981.

In the U.S. she showed her entrepreneurial spirit by owning several businesses, including Rodica’s Natural Therapies in Wyncote, PA.

As challenges continue in her personal life, she is currently finishing her Master’s in Counselling and Clinical Psychology, and hopes to graduate by the end of 2012. Her work focus is on Grief and Loss.

Rodica’s websites are:

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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 travel writer Margaret Piton – the five hundred and sixty-first 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.

.

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Post-weekend Poetry 048: A Rainy Afternoon in London by Rose Mary Boehm

Welcome to Post-weekend Poetry and the forty-eighth poem in this series. This week’s piece is by literary author, poet and interviewee Rose Mary Boehm.

A Rainy Afternoon in London

Heavy water runs down the flanks of
the horses on the merry-go-round.
The aquarium is warm and dark.
-Grandma, come. Fish.

The butterfly house
is rainforest hot. And humid.
Soft wings burr past my face.
A huge blue morpho parks on the baby’s
sleeve. Shivers.  She purses her lips
in concentration and speaks with it
eye to eye.

The notice says that the big animals
are in a safari park somewhere
in Somerset. This zoo is now too small
for twenty-first century consciences.

Some dromedaries, looking uncared-for
and unutterably bored, hang out
in the old elephant house.
The moat is wide
and deep.

There are some sheep in the baby zoo. And rabbits.
-Grandma, wassthat?
-Guineapigs.
They eat them in Peru.

Thank you, Rose.

A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm now lives with her second husband in Lima, Peru. Only after 20 years immersed in the English language did she attempt to write in her new ‘mother’ tongue.

She travelled extensively, made a career in advertising, worked as a copywriter, founded her own business(es), married her first husband and had two children, had a one-woman show of her drawings in London, UK, then moved to Madrid, Spain, where she finally retired from the corporate world, moved to Peru, and now dedicates her life to writing.

Her two novels, COMING UP FOR AIR and THE TELLING, have been published in the UK in 2010 and 2011 respectively, as well as her first collection of poetry, TANGENTS.  She won a few prizes for poetry and photography, and three of her latest poems will appear in US poetry reviews in end-of year and Spring editions. You can find out more about her from her blog http://www.coming-up-for-air.com.

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If you’d like to submit your poem (40 lines max) for consideration for Post-weekend Poetry take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with non-fiction author Joy Vassal – the five hundred and fifty-seventh 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.

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Book Talks (& giveaway) by Terri Morgan

Sunday nights are double-dose guest blog posts and the first of tonight’s duo, ‘writing is ageless’ by J Griffith Mitchell, has already gone live. Tonight’s second guest blog post, on the topic of live events, is brought to you by multi-genre author and interviewee Terri Morgan. See below for details of the giveaway.

Book talks

I think one of the reasons I became a writer was because I’m much more comfortable writing about things than talking about them. I can hold my own in conversations with friends, colleagues, even small groups of unfamiliar people, but the thought of speaking before a group of strangers had never appealed to me. Writing, for me, is an ideal way to communicate with multiple people because it allows me time to organize my thoughts, express them, and then polish my message before sharing it with others. It’s a strategy that has served me well during my career as a freelance journalist, and I saw no reason to change it even after I published my first novel.

Never say never. I quickly discovered that if I wanted to get the word out about my book, Playing the Genetic Lottery, I had to do a lot more than just tell my friends and brag about my accomplishment on Facebook. Still, when a friend of a friend suggested I talk about my novel at her local service club, I was apprehensive. Despite my concerns, I agreed to be the guest speaker at one of the club’s weekly lunch meetings, especially after she told me I could bring books with me to sell.

I had two weeks to prepare for my public speaking debut, and enlisted the help of friends to craft a speech. Then I rehearsed my talk and practiced reading the prologue of my book aloud. Finally the big day arrived, and I nervously made my way to the podium and faced 45 members of the local Rotary Club. A funny thing happened mid-way through my talk. The butterflies faded, and I started to enjoy myself. By the time my talk was over, I couldn’t wait to do another one.

I sent e-mails to a dozen or more local service clubs, offering my services as a speaker and followed up with phone calls. I found that many service clubs are looking for speakers, and that people are very interested in meeting a local author, especially one who is eager to talk about their book. When I make the arrangements to talk, I ask the facilitator about their club and its members. That helps me to tailor my talks to each different audience. Some groups are more interested in hearing about how I came to write my novel, which is a fictional memoir-style tale of a strong and resilient woman who grew up with two schizophrenic parents. Some groups are more interested in finding out about self publishing; others want me to talk about mental illness. I keep my talks short. I speak for about five minutes, read from the prologue of my novel, then talk for another five minutes or so. Then I open up the presentation for questions. Most of the time, the question and answer period goes on much longer than my talk and reading. At the end I thank the group for hosting my talk, and mention that I’d be happy to sign copies for anyone who wants to purchase one.

After my first talk, I’ve settled on a strategy that helps make my talks more successful. I try to arrive at each meeting at least 15 minutes before the official start to introduce myself to the facilitator and to get set up. I had a 2-foot by 3-foot poster made of the book cover,  and display it on an easel as a visual aid. I bring at least a dozen books, and arrange them on a table, along with my promotional postcards and fliers listing resources people can use to find out more about mental illness. I keep another box of books in the trunk of my car, just in case there are a lot of people who want to buy a copy. I bring a cash box loaded with one dollar bills and quarters so I can make change for people, (my book, with tax, sells for $16.25) and I bring several pens for signing books. I also bring a small notebook, to jot down phone numbers, websites, names and tips and suggestions from the audience. Most importantly, I bring a friend, both for moral support, and to handle book sales after my talk so I can concentrate on signing books and talking to readers.

So far, my sales have not been overwhelming, but I have sold copies at each appearance, and consider each talk as another way to reach future readers. A lot of books are marketed by word-of-mouth, and I know each book buyer will tell other readers about my book, and that many others in the audience will tell people about my presentation. Best of all, I’ve discovered it’s very enjoyable to meet new people, talk about my book, and answer (or try to anyway) any questions that people have.

Thank you, Terri!

Terri Morgan is the author of nine books. Playing the Genetic Lottery is her first novel. It is available as an e-book for $4.99 and a paperback for $14.99 through her website: http://terrimorgan.net, amazon.com, Smashwords, and through selected bookstores in California and the UK.

Terri has also kindly offered a free Smashwords download of Playing the Genetic Lottery to everyone who leaves a comment (below) regarding her blog post, in the forthcoming week (up to / including Saturday 24th November). Within your comment please confirm you are happy for me to forward your email address to Terri… thank you!

Related articles:

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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. See Guest blogs for the guidelines.

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com **

Cover montage 2You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, various short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.

For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.

As I post a spotlight or interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.

I welcome items for critique directly (see Editing & Critique) or for posting on the online writing groups listed below:

Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group

We look forward to reading your comments.

Guest post: Should I Self-Publish? by Sheron McCartha

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of self-publishing is brought to you by sci-fi time-travel adventure author and interviewee Sheron McCartha.

Should I Self-Publish?

So you’re thinking about self-publishing? Right? You just read that list of those authors who have made more than a million sales at Amazon.

You know that most likely it won’t be you…but why put up obstacles? Who really knows? I would settle for just a nice living from my writing. I would love to do what I am passionate about and have fun every day…well almost every day.

Still, you run into them, you know, the writers who angst about not getting a response from their 200 query letters and can’t imagine not formatting and sending in a killer synopsis, and first three chapters all doubled spaced in Times Roman font. All following big publishing rules for submission. And then waiting forever.

Or, the person who mumbles, “Oh you’re self-published? I heard that authors that self-publish write terrible books.” …as if they had statistics and accurate knowledge that would validate such a conclusion. As if there has never been any poorly written books put out by legacy publishers. As if.

Millions of readers say otherwise. Millions of readers are reading ebooks and ordering paperbacks. I doubt they check who is publishing the book they read. Does a publisher’s name influence your choice? Is that how books are bought? I don’t think so.

You’ve heard the naysayers who cling to the old ways like a drowning man onto a plank of wood in a tossing storm.

So why should you self publish?

  1. Times are tight and publishers are even tighter. It’s getting hard to get in with any fiction unless you’re Amanda Hockings with a million books sold already and a fan base, or Steve Jobs, and he’s dead. Reality check time. Big publishing houses have missed the boat sometimes on figuring out blockbuster hits. Scholastic picked up Harry Potter for crying out loud after big publishing houses turned it down.
  2. You’ve tried for ten years to publish and you know you have a book that people will like. Get it out there. Let the readers decide rather than a few gatekeepers who often choose at a given moment and then never reconsider their decision. No second chances in that game. And the rejection may be not because it wasn’t good, but just because they accepted a similar one last week and that slot is now filled.
  3. People ask me if I’m making money. I answer, “More than gathering dust on the shelf” that made me $0. What have you got to lose? Just be wary of the scams. Yes, another blog for another day, but so far all revenues have covered any expenses. So it can be done, but it does take work.
  4. Maybe you are retired, currently unemployed, or have time on your hands. Or have room for a part time side job. I worked full time for years and wrote on the side. Then, they closed down the art gallery where I worked and the economy was terrible. Finding a new job where I wanted to work wasn’t easy. Okay, I was picky. Now, instead of depression and feeling useless, I’m learning exciting new skills and getting paid for the experience. My life has purpose and I’m having fun. There is a psychological side to it—a sense of purpose…a sense of accomplishment.
  5. You are your own boss and set your own schedule. You decide on the cover, what your write, how you price it and no one else tells you what to do.  I don’t have big gas bills and I have a short commute. No stop lights. Plenty of coffee in the morning.
  6. You have exciting conversations at parties about your book and you give speeches and show what you have written. Long lost college roommates e-mail you and tell you how much they liked your work. You amaze your mother who is astounded that her own child has written a novel, or two, or more.
  7. You love to write and your dream is to see you book in hand. Now. Facts: It takes a long time to get published. It took eighteen months to get Baen books to ask for my entire manuscript after countless other queries to other publishers and then a year after that they said, “No thanks”. I wasted two years because they said, “No simultaneous submissions.” They make up all these rules and like sheep, wannabe authors follow them afraid to rock the boat or ruin their chances. Even if you were accepted right this second, acceptance in hand today, it takes a year or more to hit the shelf. Most likely two. Will those shelves be there in two years?
  8. What is everyone getting for Christmas? Most likely a Kindle Fire, an Ipad2, a Nook, or an iphone. Why am I a self-published, Indie author? It just makes sense for me in my place and at this time. Why not? Why wait any longer?
  9. And if you are successful, didn’t a big publishing house offer Amanda Hockings an amazing contract? You can put both oars in the water if you want. You can do both and no one will arrest you. Ask Dean Wesley Smith about that. It isn’t an “either, or” situation.

If you’re smart about it, you have nothing to lose. Hey! Don’t these babies look great and fun to read? Why don’t you try one? An ebook is $2.99-$3.99. Less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Think about it.

I do… on my iPad2. 🙂 Thank you, Sheron!

Science fiction has been a passion of mine for many years. I graduated from the University of Florida with a Masters degree in Education specializing in language, speech and journalism. I taught creative writing and literature for eight years at the high school level.

One night while riding home from a weekend vacation, I passed a billboard with the name Penryn on it. Out of boredom I began to create a story. Out of that one name, a whole world and generations of exotic characters and places developed.

Over the next few years, I held day jobs as banker, stockbroker and art gallery manager while still writing. My husband and I moved all over the United States from Miami, Florida to Portland, Oregon where we now live. I have a beautiful twenty-six year old daughter who is now buying her first home. I have published four science fiction time travel/adventure novels in this universe and have four more to be polished and edited for the series.

Currently: Caught In Time: a romance time/travel story in Medieval Alysia

A Dangerous Talent for Time: A time travel/adventure a generation later.

Cosmic Entanglement: An alien probe crashes on a twentieth century Alysia opening up a space race. Mystery and romance.

Past the Event Horizon: Space adventure and first contact thriller

Space Song: coming early 2013

***All are available on Amazon, both paperback and ebook. The first few also via Smashwords, ibookstore, Nook, Sony and other ebooks.

Blog on great science fiction/fantasy reads: http://www.scifibookreview.com

Twitter: Sheronwriting

Facebook: Sheron Wood McCartha

You can find Sheron’s books at http://Amazon.com/author/sheronmccrtha.  Also at Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Smashwords multiplatform formats including Kindle.

Caught In Time: an exciting time travel adventure about Rowyna Grae, a clone who goes back in time a thousand years to her medieval past in order to save the future, not to change it. But does.

A Dangerous Talent for Time: What if you could control events and change time? What if you were that future and whoever was changing time, changed your now? What would you do to stop him or her?

Also at Amazon, Smashwords, Kindle, Apple ibookstore, Kobo, B&N.

Cosmic Entanglement: An alien probe crash lands on the planet Alysia.  What do they do? Outer space is no longer safe. Amazon, both digital and paperback.

Her Blog is at www.scifibookreview.com to discuss all things in science fiction and fantasy, and http://www.AlysianUniverse.com for further information on her books and the world of Alysia.

***

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 children’s / YA author Gigi Sedlmayer – the five hundred and eleventh 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 sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Flash Fiction Friday 050: Family History by WH Johnson

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the fiftieth piece in this series. This week’s is a 996-worder (to be read / imagined in an Geordie accent) by octogenarian memoirist, non-fiction and fiction author, and interviewee WH ‘Johnnie’ Johnson.

Family History

The flames on Mrs Elstob’s chest always got the blame for what happened. At least as far as Dad was concerned. But he never had a good word to say for her or for her Norman who hadn’t worked since 1928. Whenever Norman complained his leg was giving him gyp, Dad used to say to Mam, “Well, it never lets’m down at openin’ time. He’s at the pub every night at six, leg or no leg.”

But Mam was different. She always saw the good side of people, always wanted to help.

“I’ve never slept a wink all night, hinny,” Mrs Elstob used to tell her. “It’s the flames on me chest.”

And Mam would say, “Oh dear, can I get you somethin’ for it?”

“I can scarcely breathe, missus. There’s no betterness for the flames,” Mrs Elstob would tell her. “Unless you’ve gorra bowl of soup or summick you could let us have.” And then she’d go back into the house, put her head under a towel and snoke up the fumes of Friar’s Balsam.

Not that I knew much about how much the Elstobs scrounged off Mam. I don’t know how she could afford to give anything away. What I do know is that she never let on to Dad. But for me there were more important things in life.

Especially that Wednesday morning in the last week of August when, hard up as they were, Mam and Dad gave me a bike for me birthday. They’d been saving up for it. It wasn’t new but it was beautiful. I rode it every possible minute. On the Friday morning I was still wobbling about. Then, as if by magic, I mastered it. On the Saturday I was riding with no hands. Course, our Maureen was out in the back lane, spying on me.

“I’ll tell if you don’t use both hands,” she kept saying.

At about half-past ten on the Sunday morning, she was there again.

“You’ll have an accident on that bicycle,” she said in her best Convent School voice. “Anyway, you have to be back here in twenty minutes.”

“Why?”

“Dad says. He wants you back. Anyway, it should be obvious why.”

It wasn’t obvious to me.

About ten to eleven when I was leaning me bike on the back lane wall, the Elstobs came out of their back door.

“The batteries’ve gone on the wireless,” Norman said. “We’re gannin’ over to listen to yours.”

Then he saw the bike. He hadn’t seen it before but now he was giving it the once-over, inspecting every part like an expert.

Finally he stood up.

“By, lad,” he said, “wonderful, eh?”

Then Mrs Elstob inspected it.

“Ee, it’s lovely, pet,” she said.

Just then, Mam came out into the lane.

“We’re just lookin’ at the bike here,” Norman said. “By, worra lucky bairn.”

Mam blushed with pleasure and then Mrs Elstob cut in.

“Can he gan a message for us?”

Mam hesitated.

“It’ll only take’m a minute on the bike,” Norman said. “Just up to Hardin’s.”

“Aye, Mam,” I said. “It’ll not take a minute.”

“Worra good bairn,” Mrs Elstob said, pushing a coin into me hand. “Just a bottle of Friar’s Boslum, pet.”

She turned to Mam. “Me chest’s somethin’ awful, hinny.”

“And five Woodbines. And a bottle of Newcastle Brown.” Norman was rubbing his hip. Obviously it was giving him gyp.

“Make sharp, then,” Mam said.

Up at the corner shop I was the only customer. But old Harding only went one speed. He rummaged round in a tangle of skipping ropes, bundles of firewood, kippers and bottles of Tizer.

“Friars what?

“Boslum.”

He sniffed.

“Who’s it for?”

I told him.

“Hm.”

At last he found it.

“And five Woods, please.”

“Who for?”

I told him.

He sniffed again but he gave me the tabs.

“I divn’t sell beer to bairns,” he said. But I got it all the same.

Shortly after eleven o’clock I was home.

It was quiet in the kitchen. Dad sat scowling at the wireless. Our Maureen was staring at the wall. Mam said nothing, just handed the things to the Elstobs.

“Very kind,” Mrs Elstob said.

“Much appreciated,” Norman said.

Then suddenly Dad stood up.

“Hold on,” he said. “Just hold on now.”

You could tell he was angry.

“Now, then,” Mam began to say.

“You an’ all, missus,” he said. “Just be quiet.”

I’d never before heard him speak so sharply to her.

“Now,” he shouted, pointing at the Elstobs. “Get out of this house. I’m sick of your hangin’ about here. I don’t want you in here again. ”

And the Elstobs just turned and went out with not one word.

Dad followed them to the top of the stairs.

“Bugger off,” he shouted after them. “And divn’t come back.”

You could’ve heard him in Jarrow.

“The boy should have been here,” he yelled after them, louder than ever. “Thanks to you two, he wasn’t.”

He came in and went to the window, looking down into the backyard. I’d never seen him so angry.

“He should have been here,” he said again.

And I should have been there. Yes, I should. I should have been there with Mam and Dad and Maureen. To hear Chamberlain. At eleven o’clock. Hear him say the words “… and consequently, this country is now at war with Germany…”

Dad wanted me there. He hadn’t said anything beforehand to his eleven-year-old son. But he wanted him there. On that great, terrible occasion. To hear it. To feel history happening.

And that boy would have been there if it hadn’t been for the flames on Mrs Elstob’s chest and Norman’s beer and baccy.

“And that bike,” Mam used to say later. “That was you. If he hadn’t had that bike…”

Ever after Mam still defended the Elstobs though they never came to the house again. Dad, of course, never wavered and never forgave them.

Nobody ever thought of blaming Adolf Hitler.

I asked Johnnie what prompted this piece and he said…

I had sensible, loving parents – not the sensible, loving ones in the story, by the way – who made what I consider to be a major error on the day war broke out. I was eleven years old and out on my bike that Sunday morning and they didn’t call me in to hear the broadcast. I cannot understand it and have always had some sense of resentment that I missed that important historical moment. I can’t work out why this happened: did they think I was too young to understand? Was my father who served in France from 1916 to 1918 somehow unwilling in a curious sense to draw me into this war? Anyway, when I got in they told me that we were at war and then, just at that dramatic moment, the air-raid sirens started wailing. I think that everyone must have thought that the Germans were pretty quick off the mark.

And by the way, I was an only child. Our Maureen is purely imaginary.

I loved it, thank you! 🙂

Johnnie Johnson has been retired since 1988 since which time he has written 25 books including two novels. Most were traditionally published, others, such as the recently published e-travelogue, A VIRGIN IN THE PHILIPPINES, have been self-published. His website is www.johnniejohnson.co.uk.

Johnnie, because he has the original accent, has kindly agreed to record his story for this podcast which will be released on Sunday 2nd December.

***

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 mystery writer and publishing interviewee Patricia Rockwell – the four hundred and seventy-ninth 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 sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.