Tag Archives: literature

New Book Release: Redemption, the Northing Trilogy, Book 2

Redemption CoverAnnouncing the release of my second book, Redemption!  At the moment both books are available on Kindle, and coming soon in paperback.  If you enjoy 18th century fiction a la Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer, I think you’ll love these two books!  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing them; before writing the third book in this series, however, I’ll be finishing two other manuscripts, in vastly different genres.  So keep your eye out for more news!

The reason for the brief interlude between the releases of The Price of Freedom and Redemption is that the second was nearly complete when I released the first one; POF had been done for a few months by the time I actually had time to sit down and go through the publication process for the first time properly; don’t think either book was rushed, as I’m meticulous with the nuts and bolts, and I would like to think quality, though that is up to the reader to assess, not me!

To read a snippet of the book and find out more, please check out my “Publications” page, and let me know what you think – I’d love to hear from you!

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New Book Release: The Price of Freedom

POF1 - Amazon Optimal Pixel

The Price of Freedom
Now available on Amazon

At last, I can announce it!  My first published book, pre-Regency fiction called “The Price of Freedom” is out!  Available on Amazon worldwide, and ready to read and enjoy in the Kindle e-book format!

It’s been a long process, and one fraught with delays, hiccups, a lot of homework, and the unsexy side of writing.  It’s my first baby – the story that started me writing several years ago, and has been the friend I honed my writing chops on.  It’s hard to let go of that baby and let the wider world into its life, and allow it to take on a life of its own, but so it is.

As you know, self-published books are dependent on word-of mouth marketing.  I would really appreciate your help!  If anyone would like to interview me, review the book, and / or write a great review on Amazon, that would be amazing!  If you know anyone remotely interested in literary fiction, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer (my style has been compared to both of those writers by editors & other writers), historical fiction, Regency or Pre-Regency era, please pass the word on to them!

Here’s a review, from Sue Moorcroft (Author, tutor):

“She was tall and willowy, and had a way of coming into a room like a welcomed summer breeze, drawing all eyes to herself.” – What a great description! It’s the kind of thing I wish I’d written. It really conjures up an image for the reader.

“…his death at such a ripe old age could not conveniently be avoided I suppose…” – A great snippet of dialogue. It’s exactly this kind of sly humour, that Jane Austen did so well, that earns for Regency fiction the tag, ‘comedy of manners’.

So… pass the word, download the book, grap a cuppa and curl up for a good read!

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All About Perspective

So much is exhibited to the eye that nothing is left to the imagination.  It sometimes seems almost possible that the modern world might be choked by its own riches, and human faculty dwindle away amid the million inventions that have been introduced to render its exercise unnecessary.  The articles in the quarterlies extend to thirty or more pages, but thirty pages is now too much. So we witness a further condensing process and, we have the fortnightly and the Contemporary which reduce thirty pages to fifteen pages so that you may read a larger number of articles in a shorter time and in a shorter form.  As if this last condensing process were not enough the condensed articles of these periodicals are further condensed by the daily papers, which will give you a summary of the summary of all that has been written about everything.  Those who are dipping into so many subjects and gathering information in a summary and superficial form lose the habit of settling down to great works.  Ephemeral literature is driving out the great classics of the present and the past… hurried reading can never be good reading.” – G.J. Goschen, First Annual Address to the Students, Toynbee Hall, London, 1894

1894.  We tend to think of such times as “the good old days,” when life was slow and time was taken to read, contemplate, and discuss topics at great length.  Compared to now of course, they did; but the time in which we live now will look slow to future generations.  We tend to think that women today tend to be more scantily dressed than 50 years ago, and it’s true; but 100 years ago they thought exactly the same thing of their own time.

Future generations will think it quaint that we had things called “CDs” or “DVDs” (that looked exactly the same but the playing devices were incompatible with one another!) that were physical discs you actually have to put into a machine to hear music or watch a film; or telephones that actually needed electricity, or computers that needed an internet cable, or batteries that needed changing.  Our miniscule cell phones will look as bulky and clumsy to them as ‘80s films’ cell phones do to us now.  Magazine ads from the late ‘60s were more wordy than some full-length newspaper articles today.  Ads today don’t even use words – they have to grab you with an image because you’ve just sped past in your car, on your bike, or in a tram or bus or train.

First passenger railway 1830, Liverpool & Manchester Railway.  Source - Wikipedia

First passenger railway 1830, Liverpool & Manchester Railway

Literature is changing too.  When was the last time you read a tome?  Do you like to enjoy slow reading, like fine cuisine, or do you prefer to read a book in a weekend, and if it will take much longer you’re not as interested?

“With the advent of cheap newspapers and superior means of locomotion… the dreamy quiet old days are over… for men now live and think and work at express speed.  They have their Mercury or Post laid on their breakfast table in the early morning, and if they are too hurried to snatch from it the news during that meal, they carry it off, to be sulkily read as they travel… leaving them no time to talk with the friend who may share the compartment with them… the hurry and bustle of modern life… lacks the quiet and repose of the period when our forefathers, they day’s work done, took their ease…” – William Smith, Morley:  Ancient and Modern, 1886

It’s all about perspective.  So the next time you get impatient, stop and think about those past generations who felt intimidated by the speed of a steam locomotive, and instead be grateful you’re stuck in traffic.

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Musings on the Unsexy Side of Writing

WordItOut-Word-cloud-223251When someone discovers the avenue of writing as a way of expressing their creativity, I can guarantee you they don’t think, “Gee, I can’t wait to get to all those technical details it will take to launch a book!”  That technical nitty-gritty is what the Swiss would call the “unsexy” side of writing.  If you’re a writer, and you’re anything like me, it’s the last thing you want to spend your time doing – I’d much rather be working on the next manuscript than tackling things like blurbs, bios, and summaries, all in various lengths.  I’d rather not have to tackle the issues of pricing, cover art decisions, marketing (most writers enjoy the isolation it takes to be a good writer and concentrate on their craft – we are not born me-salesmen!), networking and promotion.  But that’s the phase I find myself in right now.  And perhaps my situation is a bit more challenging because I am an English-language writer living in an area of a country that speaks an unwritten language:  I live in the Swiss-German speaking area of Switzerland.  There are a variety of dialects here, none of which have an official written structure or spelling (it is usually spelled phonetically, which varies according to the dialect).  High-German is the language of the newspapers and magazines and television (for the most part), but it’s not the language you hear on the streets.  And I certainly don’t have a local writer’s group from which to draw inspiration or encouragement.  I can’t just zip down to the local bookshop and see which publishers are interested in which topics.  It’s just me, myself and moi when it comes to getting it done.

And if you’re anything like me, you’ve got several irons in the fire at any given time:  At the moment I have no less than six novels at various stages of completion.  The second novel of a trilogy is on next, but will soon get put on hold as I travel to Norway for historical research this summer, for another novel in the making.  Focusing on one project at a time is the most efficient way to work; but sometimes it’s not possible.  I actually like the variety, from 18th century fiction, to 8th and 21st century fantasy fiction, contemporary fiction, science fiction… I’ve got my fingers in a lot of pies.  For me the key is self-discipline; setting goals, priorities, and daily schedules so that I can reach those goals one step at a time, all the while not letting any of that quench my creativity.  It would be great to have a support network of writers with whom I could bounce ideas around, or glean encouragment from, or be inspired by.  But life is where it is, so I’ll take the encouragement in any form it comes.  And I’ll slog my way through the unsexy side of the craft, and maybe even learn to enjoy it along the way!

 

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Thoughts on Writing from a Reader’s Perspective

Card - InsomniaFor me, reading a book is about escaping to a new world, diving into that world through the medium of the senses that are stimulated by well-chosen words, precision instruments that play a symphony of emotions, smells, sights, sounds, touches, tastes, balance and harmony.  I’ve never really appreciated books that are written with gratuitous scenes of violence or sex; sometimes it seems to me (as a reader) that writers throw in scenes willy-nilly to spice things up or to patch over the fact that they haven’t researched and developed their characters thoroughly, or because they run out of plot ideas and just spin their wheels.  Such scenes grate against my senses just as much as random punctuation or bad spelling does.  If such elements are not organic, logical, and a natural development of the plot, they do not belong there.  Period.  It’s an insult to my intelligence and a brazen demand on my “believability credits” that is frankly not the author’s to demand… those credits are something that I as a reader give gladly to a good writer, but a writer has to earn them, and has no right to demand that I suspend disbelief to dive into their story when they haven’t bothered to make it believable.  The writer’s job is to earn those credits through good writing, good writing, and good writing, i.e. plot, character development, grammar, syntax, orthography, and structure.

Don’t misunderstand me:  There are times when the darker scenes are organic; they are necessary to portray the character, or are a natural outflow of the character’s flaws or decision process, or lack of positive input earlier on in life.  Sexual scenes can be sexy without being vulgar, sensual without being slutty.  Sometimes I read books that deal with such issues, but more as a writer than a reader, to see how they are structured.  I read part of a book recently (I gave up quite early, which not a good sign for the writer) where the author had seemingly tried to cram as many vulgar terms as they could into one chapter, or one page, or one dialogue.  It got so ridiculous that I started reading as an editor, slicing out entire passages to improve the script.  As far as I’m concerned, there’s not really a point in publishing something that will likely offend half your demographic sector away from buying a second book.

Give me something to read that’s intelligent, entertaining, witty, smart, deep, and that I can come away from the experience wanting more – not just another book with those characters, but that I come away having learned something about myself or the world around me, having been positively changed, encouraged, enlightened or satisfied.

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Cover Art, Cover Art, Where Art Thou

For those of us who are writers, you know what I mean when I say that we’d MUCH rather spend our time writing, creating, moulding, researching characters and plots, and basically ANYTHING else than the dusty technical nuts & bolts of publication.  With the hurdles one has to leap in the publishing world, it’s no wonder that e-books are becoming THE path of choice.  I spent those required months writing cover letters, creating packages to agents, etc. only to get those letters back that said, “Great ideas!  We loved it!  But…” when they already have clients in that genre, they’re not about to take on competition for them…  So like many others, I’ve chosen the route of Kindle.  I’ve got one book ready to go, and another first draft just completed, as well as no less than 5 other projects at various stages of completion.  A meeting with an artist proved fruitless to my purpose; he knows art, but not all the aspects of doing cover art.  I’ve worked with graphic artists for album covers and artwork, but I’m not prepared to invest several thousand at a time when I’ve got dozens in my future… so…

That’s where www.Fiverr.com comes in!  For a fiver, you can find just about any service you can think of, from fake testimonials, to placebo-effect health talks, to business advertising on the back of a Harley, to language lessons over Skype,  to cover art for e-books.  If you find yourself swimming in the Maelstrom of publishing, check it out.

But a word to the wise:  You get what you pay for.  Take it as a springboard, an idea; but take it and own it yourself.  Take the time to invest your energy in learning all you can about each step of the publishing, editing, and artistic processes.  Also, such offers only cover e-book cover art; they are lower in pixel than will be required for a paperback cover, so it’s worth looking into a solution that covers both formats.

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