Sunday, 22 April 2018

The Power of the Short Story: Ali Bacon gets involved

Launching 'In the Blink of an Eye'

In a very busy week (book launch, book launch!) I found myself a last-minute stand-in for one of a a series of talks called Desert Island Books in which the theme was The Power of the Short Story. I jumped at the chance to contribute (isn't my novel at least in part a series of short stories?) then wondered if, as a somewhat reluctant short story reader, I was the right person for the job. 

In fact the discussion was a good humoured affair - organised by the Friends of Redland Library in Bristol - with a very well-informed audience who posed some acute questions. I'm now cross with myself for not taking notes, but here are the topics I recall took  up most of our time.





Does the short story form give freedom or impose restrictions on the writer?

It was generally agreed that the short form at least brings freedom from the weight (physical and mental!) of a novel-in progress. Otherwise it was left to  Pete Sutton to suggest that just as poetic form (sonnet, villanelle etc)  grants a kind of freedom, the same could be said of the restrictions of word-count implied by a short story.  

I understood where he was coming from, although it occurred to me later that for me to concentrate on a single episode or character also granted freedom from considering a wider and more complex story arc - yes, a plot! Which was probably how I came to write In the Blink of an Eye in the way I did. The wider story was in my head, but I resisted the desire to think about it while dealing with the immediate concern of the 'short story' or chapter I was working on. In retrospect I think this was a good thing, even if it began as an escape route - a virtue of necessity!   


How has the short story developed in recent times?

New ways of presenting short stories
I think the factor of length was mentioned - the trend towards shorter forms which are readable on a commute, flash fiction, and even story tweets. Also the proliferation of media outlets - audio, podcast and short story vending machines! 

I thought it worth considering that short story styles mirror fiction writing generally, e.g.  the modern preference for 'close' view points rather than the omniscient narrators of previous eras. Which brought us to the next question.. 

What are the origins of the short story as we think of it?

Here was an excellent opportunity for us all to show off a bit with mutterings of Homer, Chaucer, Arabian Nights oral tradition etc etc until an audience member brought us to heel with a reminder of the antecedents of the literary short story which we agreed began in the nineteenth century. Serialisations were also mentioned - from Dickens to women's magazines today. 

The future of the short story

I'm not sure this was addressed as a separate question, but as well as developments mentioned above, Jonathan Pinnock talked about the relative increase in short story publishing via small presses and also the trend to use short stories as the basis for a novel. Here I was a bit too excited at being held up as an example to notice who else came up, but I know I've referred to Ali Smith and Donal Ryan in this context before, to which I would add Kent Harulf's stunning Benediction. 


Here are some of the other books and authors who featured in our Desert Island choices - with apologies for the lack of detail. (It has been a long week!) 
Jonathan Pinnock - Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges, The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies.
Pete Sutton - The Weird Compendium edited by & J
Ali Bacon (me) - Sandlands by Rosy Thornton
Bertel Martin (http://www.citychameleon.co.uk/) Collected Stories of Aldous Huxley
Louise Gethin - stories by Roald Dahl

Thanks to my fellow panel members for their erudite and entertaining company and of course to  the Friends of Redland Library for the opportunity to meet and talk - and for the reminder of the huge part libraries play in our lives. 


Ali Bacon's In the Blink of an Eye, is a novel in ten voices and nineteen stories , inspired by the work of early photographers Hill and  Adamson.
'Brings colour and texture to a story only told before in black and white.' (Roger Watson, Curator, Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock, Wiltshire)

'Written with insight and passion, I couldn't put it down.' (Rob Douglas, 21st century calotypist)

Available in paperback from Linen Press and on Kindle

Saturday, 21 April 2018

How to get a publishing contract: Then and Now - Katherine Roberts

Author launch - Then (take one)
I started publishing book-length fiction in 1999, about ten years before Amazon opened their Kindle Direct Publishing platform and made it possible for authors to publish themselves without first winning the lottery. In other words, there was only one route to market, and it relied on an editor saying "yes". My first book Song Quest did the rounds, agented by me out of necessity, and eventually came out with a small UK publisher in the traditional way: hardcover first with a modest print run of about 1,000 copies (which sold out), and then paperback with a slightly larger print run that probably would have done quite well in the shops, since by then my book had won the Branford Boase Award given to a debut author and their editor for an outstanding book for young readers, on the strength of which I had been taken on by a top London agent keen to develop my career. Unfortunately, though, Element Books went into receivership a few weeks after the ceremony and pulped all the copies, so we never did find out how well.

Song Quest - first edition hardcover
(Element 1999)

Author launch - Then (take two)
After a year or so of contract-wrangling, which I left up to my agent (one of the big publishers HarperCollins was taking over Element's "mind, body and spirit" list, but my book was a fiction title, and my editor at Element had decided to set up his own publishing company The Chicken House and wanted to take on Song Quest himself), I signed a second contract for Song Quest and two sequels with The Chicken House. This turned into a brilliant experience. My editor Barry Cunningham had previously worked at Bloomsbury, where he'd commissioned the first Harry Potter title, so he knew what he was doing. So did my agent. A deal with Scholastic US for the American rights swiftly followed, and what was by now an epic fantasy trilogy for teenagers came out with lovely new covers on both sides of the Atlantic... you can see all the editions on my website.

By this time, because an excited debut author obviously does not sit around twiddling her thumbs while contracts are being wrangled, Chicken House and Scholastic US had already published my second novel Spellfall (an unrelated parallel world fantasy), which they launched in style at the American Library Association conference in San Francisco in 2000. Spellfall became my debut book in America, outselling Song Quest and making my world a bit smaller when I was invited 'over the pond' at Scholastic's expense to stay at the historic St Francis Hotel, in return for doing a five-minute reading at a banquet that I could not eat very much of due to a serious case of jet lag. An author must put up with these things when she goes international.

Spellfall - my debut title in America
(Scholastic 2000)

Author launch - Then (take three)
More contracts quickly followed, including a seven-book historical fantasy series signed with HarperCollins, on the strength of a one-page proposal and winning the Branford Boase Award (told you my agent knew what she was doing). This became the Seven Fabulous Wonders series, which found its way into 12 languages across the world, making me a debut author in places as far flung as Korea, as well as the financially important German market. I got to see my name in strange formats, such as Katerina Robertsova. I couldn't even read my name in Japanese, nor the beautiful Japanese hardcover edition, which had intricate fold-out maps in the front and opened backwards - eat your heart out, Game of Thrones!

The Babylon Game - my debut novel in Japan

The beginning at the back, with fold out maps.

Then my lovely agent died. In the same month, my marriage broke up and I had to move out of my lovely writing room in our 17th century cottage with its spiritual round window, which I'd decorated with glass paint when we moved in, and which looked out across a field of horses. Fortunately, I had just finished writing my epic historical novel for Chicken House about Alexander the Great told from the horse's mouth I am the Great Horse, although this book still had not been published, mainly (I gather) due to lack of support for the proposed hardcover edition by Waterstones. By now it was 2006, and the publishing industry was already changing. My publisher had to do some serious wrangling to agree a suitable format that the shops would stock in quantity, which delayed its publication. However, the book came out in the US in hardcover on schedule, and in paperback here in the UK the following spring with a beautiful colour map by artist Brian Sanders (once destined for a fold-out similar to the Japanese edition of The Babylon Game) printed on the inside of the cover.

I am the Great Horse
(Scholastic US first edition hardcover, 2006)

Meanwhile, because an author without an agent cannot afford to sit around twiddling her thumbs while bookselling deals are being wrangled, I started writing another book - this one about Genghis Khan.

Author launch  - Now (take one)
Ten years later and, despite my best efforts, my book about Genghis Khan still had not found a publisher. By then, I did not have the heart to bother agents with it - or with anything else I was writing at the time, for that matter. My older titles were dropping out of print at the speed of light, I had very little money coming in, and felt as if my publishing career and was over. I contemplated burning all my half-written manuscripts. I recycled a lot of the paper and gave away spare copies of my books to charity shops. But by this time I was writing on a computer, and all those pesky unpublished and unfinished writing projects were still lurking on its hard disk, clamouring at me every time I logged on like attention-starved children: "Write ME - no, write ME, ME, ME!"

An author, even an author who has lost her agent and her favourite writing room, cannot ignore her children. So I took the most commercial (in my opinion) half-written project of that time - a series of books about King Arthur's fictional daughter - and thrashed it mercilessly into shape. Then I sent it, agented once again by me out of necessity, to a publisher I'd heard was looking for fiction for 9-11 year olds. Thankfully, that publisher - Templar Books - took the entire series and paid me an advance I could live off (just) while I finished the books. There were four titles altogether, published as The Pendragon Legacy between 2012 and 2014 with beautiful covers by talented New York artist Scott Altmann.


The first two books sold to Hachette, and La Fille du Roi Arthur: L'epee de Lumiere became my debut title in France. Sadly, however, Templar got swallowed up by Bonnier shortly afterwards, who cancelled Templar's fiction list and laid off the entire fiction team, so the series had to fend mostly for itself after that.

French edition of Sword of Light
my debut title in France

By this time, because an author without publishing contracts cannot afford to sit around twiddling her thumbs while her books go out of print, I had rescued and republished most of my previous titles as ebooks. Also, following various comments by editors and other readers, I'd pretty much edited my Genghis Khan story to death over the years. It seemed a small step for an author (if a giant step for the publishing industry) to format the story as three ebook novellas and publish them direct to Amazon for Kindle... my first true indie project! A little embarrassed to be publishing myself, I brought the ebooks out quietly under my middle initial 'Katherine A Roberts', mainly because the story contained elements unsuitable for my nine-year-old fans of the Pendragon Legacy (which was - and is technically - still in print).


The Legend of Genghis Khan, my debut indie project
(these covers were inspired by portraits of Genghis Khan's family).

Author launch - Now (take two)
The Kindle novellas found a few readers and picked up some nice reviews, plus one troll who gave the first book one star for being very similar to Conn Iggulden's series about Genghis Khan (which is actually a back-handed compliment, even though my treatment of the history is quite different). But something made me hold back from publishing the epub and paperback versions, even though I had by then discovered the joys of print on demand with Createspace for my out-of-print titles. I still had a glimmer of ambition to see The Legend of Genghis Khan in the shops, which does not happen with a print on demand title. So I sent the ebooks to a small independent publisher The Greystones Press, who had recently set up to publish historical YA fiction ignored by the bigger publishers, and signed a contract for a new edition of the story combining all three novellas into one volume, which was launched earlier this month under the title Bone Music. Those who were at the Facebook party enjoyed fermented mare's milk and marmot steaks, among other Mongolian delicacies... feasting virtually with Genghis Khan was surprisingly quite fun!

Bone Music
my debut YA title
(Greystones Press 2018)

The paperback edition had a tiny print run, even smaller than the original hardback run of Song Quest by Element Books back in 1999 when I was still an untried debut, but there's always the possibility of reprinting. The lovely part of working with a publisher is that half the work - cover design, formatting, editing, proof-reading, publicity - is done for you, and the paperback will be in some (the best!) UK bookshops... if it's not in your local shop, you should be able to order it from them. Here's the magic number: ISBN 978-1911122210.

And that, my friends, is how an author continues to publish through changes in fame, fortune, and technology. One thing remains constant. Books don't write themselves, and an author these days no longer has any excuse to sit around twiddling her thumbs while publishing deals are being wrangled.

***
Find out more about Katherine Roberts and her books on her website

And if you've still got 5 minutes, here is Katherine reading part of Borta's story from Bone Music.



Friday, 20 April 2018

So by Sandra Horn


So. I hope you’ll notice how on-trend this is. It is the latest thing, to begin a statement or an answer with ‘So.’ It’s peculiar, but with any luck it will supersede the idiotic ‘like’, which Alexander Armstrong twitted so nicely in a sketch set in (I think) 18th century: ‘I fear the speech of the young has fallen off sadly of late; I can remember when they would commonly use as many as six similes in a single sentence: I was like, and he was like, then we were like...’ etc.  I can’t remember the exact words so this is an approximation. 

Why bother about these things at all, I hear you ask. Because I’m at a loose end, that’s why. Bad case of the dreaded Writer’s Block. Too much time on my hands in which to nitpick and grump. The garden has been too sodden to do anything much. I’ve tried taking up knitting and I’m very proud of the sweater shown here, made of leftover yarns and bits and pieces. Not as proud as I would be if I didn’t know about all the mistakes, but the overall effect isn’t bad.  I’ve just finished it, in time for the weather to warm up.



It has occurred to me that perhaps the knitting has prolonged the Block. It’s all spatial and demands a lot of concentration. My spatial abilities don’t bear thinking about, so maybe I’ve shut down my word-making brain because I’ve been battling so hard with them there’s been no room for anything else.

Alternatively, having recently got to not-quite-the-end of the 52 poems challenge, perhaps I’ve just run out of steam.  I got as far as poem 47, Learning Your Lesson and I wrote about learning to knit, sitting on my Great-grandmother’s knee; in, round, through, JUMP him off! And she would bounce me up and the stitch off.  It was delightful and I was quite pleased with the poem, but the next one, macaronic verse, finished me. It is, in case you haven’t come across it, a form in which ‘two languages co-exist, often in alternating form, so that one implicitly comments on the other.’ I couldn’t hack it in Italian and English, so went back to schoolgirl French and English, but all I could come up with was a sorry little 4-line jingle. Depressing. After that, I couldn’t face the last four themes: 49, Everything is Illuminated, 50, Pulling Punches, 51 Year of the Goat and 52, A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning. They are an absolute gift, or would be if my brain hadn’t seized up.
I still hope to complete all 52 sometime. It’s been a stimulating and illuminating exercise and to some extent, it did what I’d hoped: it immersed me in poetry. There was always something to read, often new to me, as part of the exercise, and on most days of every week I was thinking about the task. It also produced extra poems not on the to-do list and enabled me to confront and write about some deeply personal things I hadn’t been able to deal with up to then.  That was a surprise.
As I went on through the tasks, I added some things I’d already written which seemed to be relevant to that week’s theme. I’ve ended up with a folder of about 70. 



I know some of them are bad or very bad, some need more work, and some are not for public consumption, they just filled a need, but I’m hoping that in amongst the dross there may be some twinkling nuggets. I’m pleased with some of them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The next step will be to subject them to members of my Writers’ Group for some critical feedback (or do I mean subject the writers to the poems?). So. We’ll see.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Stereotypical by Jan Edwards


Stock images are something we are used to. Images from magazines and advertising hoardings have been presenting us with images of this and that for centuries.
The representations in art are a subject all of their own and their roots stretch back as far as the first paintings etched into a cave wall. Yet the word ‘Symbolism’ was first coined in 1886 by the writers Gustave Kahn and Jean Moréas, and is something much discussed in the arts.
In recent times, however, symbolism is often misused where ‘Stereotype’-  a word first adopted in the printing trade in around 1798 by Firmin Didot to describe a printing plate that duplicated any image - would be more accurate. 
Symbolism and stereotypes often appear to be interchangeable in advertising and have taken on a whole new level in the printed word. Something we need to be aware of as writers.
In simple terms, take cats for example. Even before the internet full of clips showing feline antics with boxes, we have been fed images of cats curled up in any receptacle they can find.  And the commonly held fallacy is that if you put a box down a cat cannot resist the temptation to dive into it. There are several children’s books that promote this myth. My Cat Likes to Hide In Boxes by Eve Sutton and Cat in a Box by Jo Williamson to name just two. 
Yet I have three cats, all of whom ignore and refuse to conform to that stereotype. (I tell myself this is because they are cats; which is a stereotype in itself.)
How often do we hear that old saw of ‘judging a book by its cover’? The skull for horror, gun for crime, pink for romance etc. Yes the symbolism is a very handy tool but when does it become a stereotype? Or, dare I say it, cliché?
Covers aside, that use of stereotype often creeps into the writing itself with shorthand descriptions such as; ‘she was mumsy’ or ‘he had a military bearing’.  Obviously there are books and films that are all about turning those precise images on their heads. In Shirley Valentine   by Willy Russell a middle-aged couple book a holiday on a Greek island,  but when the husband decides against it Shirley throws aside expectations of a wife and travels alone; finding personal fulfilment in the process. Conversely Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford portrays a man struggling to maintain his image as ‘lord of the manor’ before the Great War, a life that is subsequently changed despite all he can do; symbolic of how the Great War changed the entire world.
Symbolism is rife in both, and also stereotypes in the ‘mumsy’ Shirley Valentine and ‘traditionalist’ Christopher Tietjens. In both cases the stereotyping is a part of that symbolism as they undergo metamorphosis against their own expectations.
In many books, however, the use of stereotypes veers dangerously into cliché. Do all builders ‘whistle merrily’? Do all young women drink Chardonnay and obsess about shoes?
I am rambling a little as my mind leaps from one aspect to another but my point (and there is one – honestly) is that it is so easy to sketch out a character and their actions in simplistic terms in order to portray something we view as important; and so much harder to fill our pages with well-observed people in realistic settings within original plots.
There are times when I know I have been guilty of using the odd stereotype. It’s almost unavoidable when I am writing in the well-trodden path of Golden Era Crime. Readers have expectations and they are the final judges when all is said and done, yet originality is still something to strive for. I can only try.
***
Jan's crime novel Winter Downs : Bunch Courtney Investigates  is available in paper and kindle formats. In Her Defence : Bunch Courtney #2 is scheduled for an autumn release.
Jan Edwards can be found on:
Twitter: @jancoledwards

Other Jan Edwards titles in print (all available in print and eformats) Fables and Fabrications;  Sussex Tales;  Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Judge A Book by its Cover -- J. D. Peterson

While perusing the hallowed website of Amazon for an Edith Wharton book; ”The Age of Innocence”, I’m struck by how many different versions of the novel have been published. Some are revised additions, some have footnotes, but most all present different covers. I find it interesting that traditional publishers frequently change the covers on publications.
This fact is not lost on me  – or you, I’m sure. We’re taught to ‘not judge a book by its cover’, but clearly when it comes to book marketing that is exactly what we do. Myself included. None know that fact better than the indie author, struggling to get noticed in a sea of novels.
So, taking a note from traditional publishers, I gave serious consideration to the idea of new cover art to accompany a re-launch for the AMERICAN GILT novel trilogy. That is not to say I don’t like the original covers – I do. Very much. My graphic designer went for a timeless, classy look, and I think we succeeded in achieving that goal. All three covers work great together with the use of historical photographs. But, the bottom line is… well, the bottom line. Sales are in a slump, although those that have read book one, go on to read all three books, sometimes in as little as a week’s time. (Getting fans of the novels to leave a review is quite another topic.)


After much pondering and debate, I decided to move ahead with new covers designs. Part of me feels as though I’m abandoning some aspect of the original publication. A visit to Amazon reminds me that traditional publishers have no problem putting out new versions of books – and if it’s good enough for them, then it is good enough for me!

Referencing the idiom "every picture tells a story", Cambridge dictionary  says it is "said when what has really happened in a situation is clear because of the way that someone or something looks."
Once again I am reminded that in our world, looks are everything! The goal is to catch the eye of new, prospective readers (who are most probably looking at a tiny thumbnail version of the cover.) I have been working for several months going through photos and rewriting the cover text. In spite of the countless times I have rewritten the text, I never seem to be satisfied with the final draft! The project is challenging because it is a trilogy – so artwork, photos, text etc. must be done three times, while remaining cohesive and, most of all, enticing. My small team of trusted helpers are great sounding-boards for ideas and opinions, yet I am consistently second-guessing decisions.

The new covers are shaping up, but not without some original angst regarding the process. Stock photos felt like they were ‘cheapening’ a project I had worked long and hard to complete. I had to stop the designer’s work for over a month to reassess my ‘vision’. I’m glad I did because now the project is going much better. 
And now – I’m getting excited!
With the experience I gained through the work of the original publication, I’m now making plans for various promotions to re-launch the trilogy. All of this while working on a new novel. (It seems we authors are great at juggling multiple projects at one time!) 

Hopefully, the re-launch will be ready in a month. The initial response to those involved in the project has been very positive. As I work to complete the cover for book two, I look forward to gaining new notice for a true story from the past. And we shall once again reaffirm that readers do indeed judge a book by its cover!



J.D. Peterson













Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Fire and Water, by Elizabeth Kay

On my way out today I saw the aftermath of a horrific road accident. It was probably the worst I’ve ever seen on that stretch of road – two vehicles on their sides, one still burning. There were several police cars and one ambulance in attendance, and the road behind the incident was now closed. As I continued on past I realised the traffic was at a standstill for several miles. But the most distressing part was that, although it was a three lane carriageway, there was no hard shoulder. Two fire engines and another two ambulances were trying to work their way through the stationary cars, but were making no progress. It was a very upsetting scenario. And I couldn’t help myself, I mentally filed the details for future use.
            We see fictionalised disasters all the time on the screen these days. But the information for the writer doesn’t come out of thin air – either it’s researched, rather than experienced, or it really is experience. One of the questions I was asked on MA course, many years ago, was what are you not prepared to write about? And the answer was – and still is – very little. It’s only the events that directly impact the lives of people I know that remain out of bounds. The impersonal ones, the ones seen through the windscreen of my car, are the ones with which I can achieve an effect because I’m not emotionally involved with the outcome, and can observe as objectively as possible. If it had been a narrow country lane and I’d been the only one around to get out and help it might have been a different story, so to speak.

            Many years ago my daughter used to light scented candles in her bedroom. I did regard this as potentially dangerous, and asked her to make sure they were in a safe place. She didn’t, and some paperwork caught fire. This rapidly spread to other things on her desk, including her printer, and although we were able to put the fire out very quickly the effects were far more widespread than I expected. The door to the hall had been open, and the hall needed completely redecorating. So what did I do afterwards? Wrote it all down, and used it in a book. I would never have remembered the details three years later, when I decided I needed a house fire in a plot. I extrapolated, of course, and made the event far more severe than it actually was, but it gave me a clue as to what it must actually be like to be in a burning house. This is what I wrote:

The speed with which the thick black smoke was filling the room was terrifying; the flames looked very bright against it, too yellow, cartoon yellow. I pulled my scarf across my face, but I had neither the time nor the wherewithal to do the same for Angela. There was a smell of burnt plastic, sickening, horrible; the computer seemed to be deliquescing, strands of it were dripping over the edge of the desk like melted cheese and sticking to anything they touched, and the keyboard was turning into rows of yellowing molars. Even the wallpaper was burning now, curling up the wall and flaking off in shreds. We reached the door. It was still open, which was just as well; the door-frame was warping in the heat, and when I tried to kick it open a bit further it refused to budge. The dog squeezed through first, then the two of us followed, single-file, coughing like chain-smokers. I felt for the light-switch and, miraculously, the light came on.
There were flakes of smut within the smoke, but there wasn’t nearly as much of it in the hall as there had been in the sitting room. The stuff had a granular consistency, not the smooth dark smog I’d have expected, and curling slivers of charred paper wafted down the hall like evil fairies. The hall ceiling already had feathery patterns of soot all the way along it, and a spider’s web over the front door was picked out in black, the absolute opposite of  what the frost outside would have done to it. I tried to open the front door, but it wasn’t going to cooperate. My eyes were streaming with tears, my chest was tight...

My geography teacher at school taught us about wadis, and said that unsuspecting campers got swept away in the middle of the night. On a trip to Morocco, with a guide who should have known better, we did precisely that. We watched an electrical storm in the Atlas Mountains, and failed to put two and two together as the rain has to go somewhere… I used this in Back to the Divide.

It was Felix who woke first. It took a moment or two to register what was happening, as he was still half-asleep and he was vaguely aware of a warm dampness. His first thought was that he’d had an embarrassing accident, which was something he hadn’t done since he’d been cured of his illness. Then he realised that there was far too much water for that; it had reached blood-temperature because it had picked up heat on its long journey from the mountains. The wadi was flooding, and the river was getting deeper with a frightening rapidity…
Then everything seemed to happen very quickly. It wasn’t a sudden wall of water, like a tidal wave, but it was much faster than a tide coming in, and it was carrying twigs and branches that knocked against him as he stood up.
“What is it?” gasped Betony, now also on her feet.
“The river!” yelled Felix. “We’ve got to get out!”
The side of the wadi was quite steep. By the time they reached it the water was up to their waists and it was getting hard to make any progress, especially with the rucksacks on their backs… The deeper the water got, the faster it seemed to flow. Felix got a toehold on the bank, climbed up a little way, and stretched his hand down to Betony. Hauling her out was harder work than he’d have thought possible – every muscle seemed stretched to breaking point, and both their hands were slick with mud. He could see her face in the moonlight, twisted with effort, and for a while there was just pain and panting and slipperiness. Then she was out, and the two of them scrambled up the bank on their hands and knees and out of danger… The river was in full spate now, and it wasn’t just carrying twigs and branches any longer – whole tree trunks were tumbling along, catching on promontories, and freeing themselves again.

I remember watching the Japanese tsunami on television, and being appalled at the damage water can do. Fire or water? If you’re lucky you can put out a fire, but you can’t stop a wall of water.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Write to Music, By Wendy H. Jones


For many years I worked in education as a lecturer in both nursing and teacher training. During this time I was fortunate to undertake training in NLP. This, amongst other things, opened me to the possibility of using music in different ways. 

What, I can hear you ask, has this got to do with writing? The answer is this, many studies have shown that music can have a profound effect on the brain. This can aid learning, alter mood and, in the case of the writer, provide the optimum state for writing. 

Think about your own music choices and how you feel when listening to them. Would you use stirring music for a romantic meal or romantic music to keep you awake on a long journey? 

So, back to writing. Music can be used to get you into the right state of mind for writing. I am currently using songs from the movie ‘The Greatest Showman’. This gets me pumped up and ready to take on the world. This is especially pertinent when writing fast paced crime books. 

Do you use music to help you write? If so it would be great if you could share in the comments how you do so. If not, why not give it a try today. 




About the Author

Wendy H Jones, President of the Scottish Association of Writers, is the Amazon Number 1 best-selling author of the award winning DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. Her first Young Adult Mystery, The Dagger’s Curse was a finalist in the Woman Alive Readers Choice Award. She is also an international public speaker, and runs conferences and workshops on writing, motivation and marketing. Wendy is the founder of Crime at the Castle, Scotland’s newest Crime Festival. She is also the editor of a Lent Book, published by the Association of Christian Writers.

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