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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Release!!

The Chronicles of Mayer – out 17th August!!

It has taken me a lot longer than I anticipated to finish my prequel to The Song of Forgetfulness Sci-Fi-fi/dystopian Series. Since this story takes place during an apocalypse, I found it difficult to actualise what it would be like to be in the middle of an environmental disaster. So, I had to do a lot of extra research into extreme weather conditions, where flooding would take place in Britain, tactical survival skills so that I would be able to write about a group of people trying to build a home for themselves in a hostile new world. Plus, there was a ton of research to do regarding genetic engineering techniques, what kind of viruses would mutate, specialist knives, how to make mud kilns, what you can and cannot eat whilst foraging, homemade toothpaste, soap, tea from pine needles…the list is endless. However, I learned a lot and might just make it if I get lost camping in the woods.

But I did it!

Here is The Chronicles of Mayer: Click on the link below to get your copy at a reduced price of 99c. This will increase to $2.99 on Saturday 20th August, so be quick, either pre-order today, or grab a copy Thursday/Friday.

Universal link to Amazon: myBook.to/ChroniclesMayer

Universal link to other online retailers: https://www.books2read.com/u/3L9Gx1

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For those of you who have purchased Parts 1 & 2, Beginnings, the Complete Chronicles of Mayer has a lot to offer. Not only is it much longer, but I have rewritten the first half to give a clearer insight into why Adara is there and added more physical descriptions of character and place. This new edition will replace the old one which is no longer for sale.

I’m busy editing the next story in the History of NotSoGreatBritAlbion: The Mimeo Sector. So, that will be published soon! (I hope)

Here is a universal link to my Amazon page where you can find all of my books.

Author.to/BooksonAmazon

60 FREE Sci-fi stories up for grabs!!

From 24th July to 5th August you can pick up sixty Sci-fi/dystopian stories on Bookfunnel for FREE! You will have to opt-in to the authors Newsletter, but that’s the way it is these days.

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Click on the link to go to the page and grab yourself some FREE Reads:

https://books.bookfunnel.com/sciencefiction/2mg7f1qwpv

A section of my apocalyptic story –  The Chronicles of Mayer – is part of this promotion. The full version, which is a prequel to The Song of Forgetfulness series is out soon! So watch out for news of its release.

A story of survival and courage in a devastated world.

 “…a unique plot that caught me from the very beginning”

When mother nature turns against mankind in the latter stages of the 21st century sending hurricanes, earthquakes, and deadly viruses to wipe out the human race, a handful of survivors struggle to stay alive as rising waters threaten to engulf most of Europe.

Book 1 in The Song of Forgetfulness series Whisper Gatherers – is on offer at only 99c until the end of the month: myBook.to/WhisperGatherers

Want to know more about my books? Just go to my Amazon page:

Author.to/BooksonAmazon

Hope you enjoy the stories!

 

Free and Discount Sci-fi and Fantasy books!

If you enjoy all types of science fiction/dystopian/fantasy/steampunk and pretty much any kind of speculative fiction with space ships, aliens, beings with super powers etc, then this fabulous promotion run by Patty Jenson, is for you.

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There is  plethora of ebooks either free or discounted for you choose from so why not treat yourself? 

Click on the link below to get your AWESOME books:

http://pattyjansen.com/promo/

Sci-fi/Dystopian Bargain Books!

1 HAPPY EASTER

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter. To celebrate I have made all of the books in The Song of Forgetfulness sci-fi/dystopian/action adventure series 99 cents! (Or equivalent depending on where you live in the world.)

So, if you enjoy reading  books that are different, have a strong storyline with offbeat characters, and quirky language, then these novels are for you.

You can purchase the books on Amazon and other online retail sellers. Just click on the links below:

 

“If you like action, and science fiction then you’ll appreciate one of the first books EVER that gives you high powered adrenalin with chilling revelations of utter suspense!”

“I loved the unique language, and both the style and the voice of the book reminded me of Patrick Ness’ Walking Chaos Trilogy.”

“A Silence Heard was action oriented and perilous! I was definitely on the edge of my seat as I read, waiting to find out what happened next!”

“This story was much more than I expected it to be. It has a unique plot that caught me from the very beginning. I really enjoyed the interplay between characters.”

What if your last day at school turned out to be your first day as a rebel warrior?

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Universal Links:

Amazon:

Whisper Gatherers:           getBook.at/book1of4

Echoes from the Lost Ones:    getBook.at/book2of4

A Silence Heard:      getBook.at/book3of4

The Chronicles of Mayer:    getBook.at/book4of4

Other online retailers:

Whisper Gatherers:     https://www.books2read.com/u/b5O7Rk

Echoes from the Lost Ones:     https://www.books2read.com/u/47kz1g

A Silence Heard: https://www.books2read.com/u/bzpW8n

The Chronicles of Mayer: https://www.books2read.com/u/brg9Oe

If you want any further information about the books in the series go to:

http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com

Do we give readers what marketers say they want, or what we want to write?

Over the past year or so I have paid for a number of marketing courses to help me sell my books. Unfortunately, when I signed up I didn’t realise that when they promised that I would sell tons of books if I followed their plan, that the books they were talking about wouldn’t be mine.

What do you mean? I hear you say.

Well, I mean, that these courses are designed to help you sell books that sell, which may not necessarily be your books. They cater for genre pulp fiction or non-fiction self-help type books. If you don’t write stuff like that, then from my experience, you won’t sell that many books. If you  follow the training in all of these authorpreneurral type courses where a few writers make millions out of selling novella style crime/mystery/whodunnit stories, then you will succeed. Especially if you are prepared to give most of your books away. Literature in general is suffering because of this influx of junk food style prose, in my opinion.

Readers don’t always want safe, they want different. Give it to them – please!

I don’t want to write like everyone else.

My motivation for writing does not come from the desire to make money, it comes from the desire to write for the thrill, the fun, the wonder of the written word. I am passionate about my writing. I laugh, cry, hurt when I write. I feel exhausted sometimes after I have spent a few hours struggling with sentences that won’t work, or characters that say things like, ‘Paul, we’ve done it!’ Ah! Done what? Now I have to figure out what they’ve done. It’s called imagination and you won’t find that in any course.

So, writers, not authors, writers – write from the heart, the gut, the soul – not from the bank account.

red-tulip

Here is a wonderful poem by Charles Bukowski which sums up my rant beautifully.

So You Want To Be A Writer

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

 

If you would like to know more about my work, please visit my website  Oddly Books:

http://www.oddlybooks.com

 

Dare to be Different

Today I would like to show you the new covers for my sci-fi/dystopian action adventure series – The Song of Forgetfulness.

It has been a challenge to find the right design and I have gone through many covers none of which made me happy. These ones do. I’ve had some excellent feedback from people and have taken on board their comments to tweak my design.

But – it would seem there are some sci-fi writers out there who think my fonts aren’t suitable and should be more like the ones that they use. I took a look at their covers and thought, ‘No, thank you. My books aren’t anything like your books. So why would I want them to look like yours?’

Yes, I understand that I need to make the covers suggest my genre, but I will not create a book cover that does not reflect the content. The Song of Forgetfulness series of novels is a little bit different. I think that is a good thing.

I do dare to be different.

Will readers like that?

Yes, judging by the positive reviews I get.

So, I will continue to write the way I want to and be true to my art, instead of churning out generic narratives that could be written by anybody.

Rant over.

Will I sell a load of books?

Perhaps, if I get the marketing right.

Learn more about the series here:

http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com

Or go to:

http://www.oddlybooks.com