The moon as inspiration

I was stuck editing the second book in the series ‘The Song of Forgetfulness’. I didn’t know how to start a particular chapter.

I wandered around the house- didn’t take long, small house- and looked out of the bedroom window. Clouds parted in the star free night sky, and there was the moon looking down at me as if to say, “Oh, get on with it.”

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Then I took a photo of it. Thanks moon.

 

You can take a look at an exclusive excerpt from the as yet unreleased second book in the series, ‘The song of Forgetfulness on my Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/thesongofforgetfulness

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Creative use of language in novels.

Nadsat, Newspeak and Bubchat

 

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I have been reading mostly science fiction books lately, and I have begun to question why a lot of writers choose not to modify the language they use to create a sense of another time and place. It seems that in the future, vocabulary will remain the same and people will talk to each other exactly the way they do now. Which doesn’t really make sense, does it? The spoken and written word has changed over the years, and most authors have reflected this in their works: from Shakespeare to Bronte, Dickens to Faulkner, and James Joyce to Irvine Welsh.

I overheard a conversation between three teenage girls. I texted a snippet of what they were saying to my friend, who has a fifteen year old, and she said that they were talking about a boy that two of them found attractive, but one of them didn’t.

Girl 1:  Yo, see Jay? He gone all tank, well yoked.

Girl 2:  Yeah, he fully gassed narmean?

Girl 3:  Nah, you dutty fam. He’s well piff.

Girl 1: Nah, he FAF.

Girl 3:  Wa, you beefin’ me?

Girl 1:  Wa, you seriously say he butters?

So, if young people talk like this today, wouldn’t it make sense that hundreds of years in the future, people would be conversing with words that are different from the ones we use now?

In his novel, Nineteen eighty-four, George Orwell introduced words and phrases that were not familiar to readers of that era, to create a futuristic realm where language is used as a weapon to subjugate the masses: duckspeak, thoughtcrime, bellyfeel, doublethink, and speakwrite. Would it have been such a powerful read if the author had not employed the use of such evocative words? Who can forget ‘Newspeak’, or ‘Big Brother’?

In A Clockwork Orange, the use of slang is vital to the narrative to give credibility to this dystopian future. Alex speaks ‘nadsat’ a language that sets him and his friends

apart from the rest of society.

“These grahzny sodding veshches that come out of

my gulliver and my plott,” I said, “that’s what it is.”

“Quaint,” said Dr. Brodsky, like smiling, “the dialect of the tribe. “

So, bearing this in mind, when I came to write my Sci-Fi/Dystopian series The Song of Forgetfulness, I made sure that I used words that were appropriate for the world I was creating. Since it is written from the viewpoint of a seventeen- year -old, Adara, in the first person, it was imperative that her voice rang true in order for the characters to maintain credibility in this vision of the future. I created ‘Bubchat’.

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“I showed respect and bowed, then turned toward the not-right teen. He gave me a tiny smile, and for reasons I know not, I took his hand and said, “Show me where you splosh.” His face went redder than a bub about to plop and everyone, including me, let out a merry guffaw. I hadn’t meant to use such a nursery word, but when I looked at his soft brown eyes and slender arms I went all mumsly. Not like me at all. I began to wonder if the ‘dults had palmed a soother into my stew.”

You can view all of my books on my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Nicola-McDonagh/e/B00D4NAH0S/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

I went to Lewis Carol for inspiration. I remembered I had a favourite poem from my childhood, The Jabberwoky, from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found. It is a delight in the creative use of vocabulary. The language is rich and full of evocative words that create a unique setting where his story unfolds.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!”

Science fiction and fantasy are the ideal genres for authors to invent new languages and different ways of speaking. To shake off the confines of correct word usage and play around with narrative form. But not everyone warms to such experimentation, and critics often chastise authors for breaking the rules of grammar that ‘The Elements of Style’, by Strunk and White, have branded into the English language. There is a good anti Elements of Style essay by Geoffrey A Pullmen called, ‘50 Years of stupid Grammar’. It will make you think twice before reaching for the Spelling and grammar tool on your computer. http://chronicle.com/article/50-Years-of-Stupid-Grammar/25497

So, all you authors out there don’t be put off experimenting with vocabulary. Let your imagination fly and write from your heart, not your head. (Then go back and edit it.)

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Want to know more about me and my books? Go to my website and have a look around.

http://www.oddlybooks.com

Sign up to my newsletter and get a free download of Changeling Fog – a short story from The Song of Forgetfulness series:

http://eepurl.com/buH8qH

 

Macro Photography without using a tripod

My garden is overgrown. I like it that way. It attracts insects and birds and other creatures. I enjoy wading through the tall grass, plucking seedpods and flies from my arms and legs as I search for an interesting creature to photograph.

This year, the bee population has increased.
Hooray!
Last year there were hardly any.

On Sunday I counted eight different kinds of bees and managed to photograph about four using a macro lens. Because the flora is so wild and sprawling, using a tripod for stability is out of the question. So I have to take all my pictures hand-held. Another reason I don’t use the regular kind of tripod is that I find them too awkward to use when attempting to follow the speedy wing changes of bees and other flying insects. By the time I’ve set the thing up, the flying beastie has flown. Okay most of the pictures are a little shaky, but I do get some pretty good results.

The trick to being a good human tripod is to centre yourself. By that I mean, spread your feet to hip distance and slightly bend your knees. You should be balanced and stable. Next, try not to lean forward too quickly as this aggravates camera shake.  Breathe slowly and don’t hunch your shoulders as this causes the wobbles and a stiff neck! And finally, move the camera forward to focus rather than twisting the focus ring as that definitely adds to camera shake and out of focus images. You may look a little weird, but the results you get will be worth it

For more images of macro and beyond, visit: http://www.tracerlight.co.uk

 

 

Goodreads Offers Kindle EBooks Giveaways-At A Price

Something all published authors need to know about Giveaways.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Goodreads logo | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookSince March 2016, Amazon has been offering both print and e-book giveaways. Goodreads, however, has only been allowing giveaways of print copies. As my author friend, Elle Boca, notified me the other day, this will no longer be the case.

Goodreads will be introducing its new Goodreads Giveaways program on January 9, 2018. It includes two packages, Standard and Premium. And for the first time, Kindle Direct Publishing authors can run giveaways for Kindle ebooks—a feature previously only available to traditional publishers. The new program, which replaces the current Giveaways program, will initially be for giveaways open to U.S. residents.

However, there is a catch: whereas the old giveaways were free, the new ones come at a steep price that starts at over $100. Specifically, from January 9, 2018, you can choose from the following two packages:

Standard Giveaway

(available in your choice of print book or…

View original post 259 more words

Short Story Anthology Launch

Here is a blog post about short story writer Paul Toolan. I was drawn to his anthology because of the subject matter, ageing and dementia. We all grow old and with it subjected to illnesses and lapses in memory. Paul uses these themes to conjure up twelve tales to tackle this often sensitive subject.

Please read on and learn some great insight into how the author gets his inspiration.

The characters in this collection are looking back into the half-shaded landscapes of memory. (5)

‘Where do your stories come from?’

 If only I received royalties every time a reader asks me this!

Here, there and everywhere is the true but unhelpful answer. In ‘A View from Memory Hill’, there’s a story called Old Man, Young Pub that was triggered by seeing…an old man in a young pub!

I was at the Brighton Festival [Brighton, England – I used to live there] with old friends/fellow retirees. We dropped in to a wonderful, low-ceilinged pub called The Basketmakers, whose decor has barely been touched since it opened. I remember thinking we were the oldest people there, among many young and lively folk, some dressed in the trendiest fashion, some so far ahead they were next year.

It was a hot day, but as I looked around I spotted an old gentleman in a tweed jacket and tie, standing at the bar, quietly sipping his pint. All around him, bright young things were loud and full of energy. They squatted on bar stools, but no-one offered a seat to the old guy, and his legs could have used one. I wondered about his silent thoughts.

His anonymity, mine too, amongst this colourful crowd threw up a name: Smith. With the conscious germ of a story now in my head, I called him Frank Smith in hope he would eventually be frank enough to tell some sort of tale. I never spoke to this old man, but later when I sat at my keyboard, I spoke to Frank Smith, or he to me. I really don’t know which came first.

What I had was a character and a setting. No plot, no events, no history. Yet. But Frank Smith travelled with me, later in the Arts Festival, to a shabby-chic little theatre where, on hard seats, we watched a trio of skilled actors on a bare, dark stage. Magically, they brought to life some of Damon Runyan’s New York Prohibition stories.

Shortly after, inside that inexplicable swirl called a writer’s head, two separate experiences merged. Frank Smith went to his local pub; and he went to see a play. To keep the story structure tight, I made the theatre a blacked-out room at his pub, and had him go out of sheer boredom. Frank would have liked the Damon Runyan stories, but there’s insufficient conflict in what characters enjoy. I needed to change the play, to find one that Frank Smith liked less, that triggered something of his history, his demons or regrets.

On my bookshelves I have ‘Samuel Beckett: The Complete Dramatic Works’. I browsed through it. ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’ seemed ideal. It featured an old man’s memories, recalled with the aid of an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. Krapp is a drinker too, which resonated with Frank. While flicking through, I revisited ‘Rockaby’, a short Beckett play featuring an old woman in a rocking chair, remembering her past. Within moments, Frank Smith had a wife.

A day or two later, I named her Lucy. Then killed her off. The story would have become a novel if I hadn’t, and I wanted to balance Frank’s ageing memories – of Lucy and others – with voices of youth. So along came the young woman who ushers the audience to their seats in ‘the long thin dark theatre’ where Krapp’s Last Tape is performed. Her surprise that Frank turned up at all, among so many young people, releases the demons that rumbled as Frank watched the play. Short stories need a moment of realisation or change, and the clash between her enthusiasm for the play’s use of the past and Frank’s disturbed memories provided this.

‘We’ve all been something,’ was all he managed to say. ‘Known someone.’

The story might have ended there, but because the theme of age and youth was well-established I felt more could be done. I went back to the keyboard and jiggled the plot, making Frank inadvertently upset the ‘woman in black’, so her young hopes and dreams could quietly confront his regrets.

“In the half-dark, she looked squarely at him, black T-shirt and jeans appraising jacket and tie. A slight twitch flickered her lips. He thought there might be tears.

‘We all have dreams,’ she said, in the quietest voice he’d ever heard. ‘I’d rather dream than drift, any day.’ She pressed her lips together to control the twitch, but it continued. ‘What’s wrong with having dreams?’ she asked.”

This exchange then allowed a more positive development in Frank, making for a more satisfying conclusion [in my view, anyway, but I’d love to hear yours too].

So, a chance observation in a pub, a visit to a play, a book on a shelf, some musings and experiments at the keyboard – and before too long there’s a character’s voice, a felt situation, and a set of realisations. If it was as easy as I’ve made it sound…

I drop in to a pub maybe once week. I’m wondering if I should go more often. Pubs are full of people, and where there are people, there are stories.

a view from memory hill

You can find A View from the Memory Hill here:  smarturl.it/avwm

 

Paul Toolan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WANT SOME FREE SCARY BOOKS FOR HALLOWEEN?

What makes your flesh crawl?

Spiders?

sacophage-2

flies?

sarcophage bee

Creepy crawlies?

bug 1

If you enjoy a good scare then this Scare-alicious collection of YA tales will give you the chills. As the spooky season approaches wouldn’t it be gruesomely fun to have some creepy reads? If you like horror, eerie, sinister and strange, then this selection of books and stories are for you. Plus they are all FREE!!!

You will have to sign up to the author’s newsletter to get them, but hey, would that be so bad? Who knows you may just find a new author to follow.

My novelette Changeling Fog part of The Song of Forgetfulness Sci-fi/dystopian series, is there for you to enjoy.

So, why not click on the  link below to get your gnarled fingers on some truly spine-tingling reads.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/scarealiciousya

Scare-alicious YA banner

If you want more strange and  weird stories, check out my anthologies:

Glimmer: myBook.to/Glimmer

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Crow Bones:  myBook.to/CrowBones

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Happy Halloween!!

Amazon’s Hall of Spinning Knives

Indie authors beware!

David Gaughran

Phoenix Sullivan is well-known in the indie community – I’ve known her myself since 2009 or 2010 and consider her a close friend.

Aside from being exceptionally generous with her time and knowledge, tirelessly sharing her insights on marketing and algorithms, Phoenix is also well known as a vocal campaigner against scammers and cheaters – particularly on the current big issues of book stuffing and clickfarming.

And now she is being targeted.

Phoenix made a box set free for a few days at the very start of October, advertising on Freebooksy, KND/BookGorilla, and Digital Book Today – all legitimate sites – and there was no other promotion involved with this title. No BookBub CPM ads, no Facebook campaign, no tweets, no newsletter swaps, no mailing lists.

On the third day of her free run, Phoenix’s box set was rank-stripped by Amazon, a punishment normally reserved for those who have used…

View original post 1,566 more words

Creative use of language in novels.

A Slight update to this blog from a few years ago.

Nikki McDonagh - author and photographer

Nadsat, Newspeak and Bubchat

 

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I have been reading mostly science fiction books lately, and I have begun to question why a lot of writers choose not to modify the language they use to create a sense of another time and place. It seems that in the future, vocabulary will remain the same and people will talk to each other exactly the way they do now. Which doesn’t really make sense, does it? The spoken and written word has changed over the years, and most authors have reflected this in their works: from Shakespeare to Bronte, Dickens to Faulkner, and James Joyce to Irvine Welsh.

I overheard a conversation between three teenage girls. I texted a snippet of what they were saying to my friend, who has a fifteen year old, and she said that they were talking about a boy that two of them found attractive, but one of…

View original post 685 more words

Is Cli-fi the new, hot genre?

Hey everyone, there’s a new, exciting genre in town – Cli-fi.  Or – Climate change novels.

It seems I’ve been putting my Song of Forgetfulness Sci-fi/Dystopian series in the wrong category.

According to an article in The Guardian, the genre has been around for some time, possibly as early as 2003 with Margaret Atwood’s  The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake. 

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Also, Ian McEwan’s novel Solar, is cli-fiso clearly not that new. You can read the full article here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/31/global-warning-rise-cli-fi

Having looked up some Cli-fi, I think the genre is a little vague and saturated by all sorts of dystopian, sc-fi, YA, romance…in short, a lot of authors seem to be using the term quite loosely. Which is a good thing, especially with a sub genre that isn’t too well known. Perhaps now is the time to promote this category to raise awareness of global warming and the fragility of our beautiful planet.

cli-fi

Until I read about Cli-fi in a post by Lisa Rowan, I’d never heard of it. Stupid me!  I mean all of my books in The Song Forgetfulness series deal with climate change and the effects it has on future generations as they struggle to survive in a hostile world. As well as a host of other things too numerous to mention here. Kind of exactly the definition of this ‘new’ genre.  Well, now I know.

You can read Lisa’s article here:  https://thewritelife.com/climate-fiction/?utm_source=The+Write+Life&utm_campaign=48836be01b-main_list_11_6_13_11_5_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ae07a22b59-48836be01b-106451265&mc_cid=48836be01b&mc_eid=126bf35b6a

Right, I ‘m off to Amazon to change my subheading and a category or two.

 If you want to have a look at my work and decide if it is indeed – Cli-fi – check out my new release – The Chronicles of Mayer, prologue to the series mentioned above.

http://myBook.to/ChroniclesMayer

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Let’s start reading more Cli-fi folks!

Wishing you all a safe day, especially those people having to deal with Hurricane Harvey.

Can cats and chickens become friends – part two.

In my previous post, you can see it here:

https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/…/can-cats-and-chick…/

I talked about my cat Kimi and how she has bonded with our new hens.

kimi hen 4

I also mentioned that the chickens are kept away from our other cats, who aren’t as easy going as Kimi. Well, one of our feline friends got sight of our poultry for the first time and had a rather strange reaction.

storm yawn sideways

Mind you, if I were the size of Storm, the cat above, I would be a little frightened by these rather large birds with their massive feet and intense gaze.

gabriel

xena

Just as well they have separate gardens to hang out in. Calypso and her brother, Rasky, have a more relaxed approached to these big birds.

Calypso 1Rasky copy

On another note, my bee garden is a success. It looks so pretty and is attracting all kinds of bees and other fertilising insects. It is also kept well away from the marauding chickens.

cornflower-bee

bee garden 2

bee garden

Buck-buckaww folks!