Light and writing – part one – Inspiration

Let there be light. Why? Because without it nearly all life on this planet would cease to exist. It heats, illuminates, nourishes and gives life. It also inspires works of art. As a writer, I can use light in many forms, natural, supernatural and artificial to enhance my narrative. As a photographer, well, I wouldn’t be able to take photographs without it.

In this series about light, I will be dealing with the many forms it takes. From the glowing backsides of fireflies to the many ways human beings have found to illuminate the darkness.

Nature is amazing. We humans are, for the most part, in awe of it and have been ever since we crawled out of the primal ooze. Nothing stirs the soul quite so much as a beautiful sunset, a sunrise, a mass of twinkling stars, or the constant glow of the moon.

purple sunsetThe sun gives us light and warmth, stars make us wonder about far off worlds, the moon illuminates our darkness with its wide-eyed face looking down on us like a distant mother watching her children. No wonder creative minds have used light as inspiration.

super moon

Many writers have used light to express happiness, love, hope, expectation and joy. Just listen to some songs, the word ‘light’ comes up quite often. ‘Light my fire‘ The Doors. ‘You lIght up My Life’ Debbie Boone. ‘Ray of Light’ Madonna. ‘Shadows and Light‘ Joni Mitchel, to name but a few. The same is true of literature: ‘Northern Lights‘ PhillipPullman. ‘The Light that Failed’ Rudjard Kipling. ‘Where the Light Last and other stories‘ Agatha Christie.

In my short story Glimmer, the protagonist, a young man resisting the drugs he is given to keep him ‘sane’, retreats into his own world and listens  for the voices that come from the stars.

The world will not end because I close my eyes. The sun will still shine, so too the stars. Yet the darkness behind my drooped lids tells me otherwise. I see a macrocosm made up of swirling silhouettes and geometric shapes that aren’t strange to me at all. This is where I live now, in x-ray blackness. There is peace in this non-colour.”

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H89AN1M

Watch out for Part two in the series: Religion and Light.

For more information about my work please visit my website: 

www.oddlybooks

Do you have a special place to write?

As I was typing away on my new project yesterday, it occurred to me that I need certain requirements to enable me to think, create and write. Not much to be honest, but I do have  my special place to help me channel my inspiration. I have a comfy chair with cushions, gentle lighting from the beautiful leaded light windows my husband, Martin made and my shelf of reference books ready to hand. When all that is in place I can happily delve into my fantasy world for hours.

Here is a photo of my ‘workstation’.

nikkis-workstation

Do any other authors out there have their special writing places? If so, I’d love to hear from you. If you have a picture, that would be even better.

I am currently working on a series of stories to complement my Sci-fi/Dystopian/Action Adventure books The Song of Forgetfulness.

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The idea came from several readers who contacted me after reading the books wanting to know more about the history of the world I have created. So, I thought, okay, why not?

Can of worms!

I needed to do a lot of research to make my history credible. So it has taken longer than I anticipated to write this prequel of sorts. In fact, I’m nowhere near done, but I have finished the first part, so that’s something.

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Here is a snippet from part two of The Chronicles of Mayer – out soon!

One weatherless night when quietness surrounded us and I lay snuggled against Paul, a sound awoke me. I thought at first it was just more thunder. But the thumping, rumbling noise was not coming from the sky. It was not the air echoing off a lightning bolt, but the thudding of many feet in unison. I rolled away from Paul’s sleep-twitching body and sat up. Glancing at the wet earth I noticed a puddle ripple. The cows called out. Paul stirred and Arjuna knelt beside me.

‘I was foraging for mushrooms and saw tiny lights. I climbed the branches of a tree and as the dark sky brightened to herald a new day, I saw them. Soldiers.’

‘How many.’ Fully awake, Paul stood. ‘Do they carry weapons?’

‘Guns. Some drag carts. They are coming this way.’

I rubbed my sleep-encrusted eyes. ‘That does not make sense. To travel towards the flooding? Why?

A single gunshot ricocheted through the forest. All that were in slumber jumped to their feet. Cries of puzzlement were met with a loud honking as if a nest of geese had been disturbed. Then a voice, deep and full of authority boomed out. ‘Stay perfectly still and you will not be harmed.’

If you would like more information about my books please do visit my website – Oddly Books.

www.oddlybooks.com

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Could this actually happen? Meet Political Dystopian author T.T. Michael

Today I would like to introduce T.T. Michael the author of  Fire War a Dystopian Political Thriller series. Set in the not so distant future, 2070’s, these books deal with terrorism, political intrigue, loyalty, ethics, freedom and so much more!

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So, take it away T.T. Michael

me

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a finance manager for a Toyota dealer in Illinois. I am also the writer of the Fire War Trilogy. 3 books that use today’s issues but it is set in the not too distant future.

What is your book about?

Fire War shows a future that could very well happen if we let it. What would you give up for total security? In my books the USA, Canada, and Mexico join together to make the United Continental States of America or U.C.S.A. They shut down the borders and bring all troops back to let the rest of the world fend for themselves.

 Why did you choose to write your book?

I’ve heard so many people suggest we build a wall between USA and Mexico so I took it a little further than that. I wrote it because I wanted to show a “Be careful what you wish for.” Scenario.

Who or what was the inspiration behind it?

My inspiration is our world today. The people, the governments, and all the terrorist attacks lately.

What kind of research did you?

I didn’t need to do research because really this is 100% fiction. (I hope so anyway). I just watch the world and see what’s happening.

What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?

Time. I work a lot of hours sometimes as much as 60-70 hours a week and to find time to write one book was challenging enough but I wrote 3 inside one year. I was that passionate about this story!

What was the best part of writing your book?

I loved watching the story unfold. I started out with outlines but by the time I was done with the first chapters the story took on a life of its own and practically wrote itself.

What, if anything, have you learned from writing your book?

I learned a lot about people and what they think about current events. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they see this future as a real possibility and they’re scared!

Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to self-publish?

Write what you love. Write it for you because if you write for an audience you’ll never find one. If you write what you think and what you love, you’ll always be successful.

Do you have a favourite author? If so, what is it about their work that you like?

I love the Harry Potter books and the Hunger Games books. Those books created their own worlds that the main characters lived in. I would like to think that I did the same with my main character.

What are your future writing plans?

I am currently writing a TV treatment for the Fire War books. I’ve gotten interest from a producer in Hollywood that wants to make this a TV show and we are currently working together on putting that into motion.

Thank you T.T. Michael. If you want to know more about the author and his books please visit his website www.firewarbooks.com and/or go to the review sites listed below:

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/tt-michael/fire-war/

https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/fire-war/

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/fire-war

Fire War 09

 You can purchase the Fire War trilogy below:

Amazon: 

https://www.amazon.com/Fire-War-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B015GDR6E8

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fire-war-t-t-michael/1122744006?ean=2940157847494

 

Audio Book:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Fire-War-Audiobook/B018ERWWHY/ref=a_search_c4_1_7_srTtl?qid=1470155401&sr=1-7

 

Suffolk Author Spotlight – Ann Elliot

Today I would like to welcome fellow Suffolk author Ann Elliot. She is going to be selling her book – Too Many Tenors – on Amazon for only £0.99 $0.99 from 10th August!!!

Here is Ann’s writing career to date:

Previous publications with Wensum Wordsmiths: Mischief and Mayhem Norwich 1798 (1998) and Time and Time Again (2000). For many years I edited the Eastern Early Music Forum Newsletter and contributed concert reviews for the East Anglian Daily Times. In 2009, I was in the top 5 of This Morning ITV’s short story competition, and was awarded a silver salver ‘for achievement’ at the Winchester Writers’ Conference. My first novel, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, is as yet unpublished.

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Who are you and what do you do? 

My name is Ann Elliott – a good literary name. I have a degree in English, a diploma in recorder playing, a teaching background. I have rental income, so can afford to stay at home to be creative. My interests are musical and literary and I enjoy wild life and walking.

 What is your book about?

 ‘Too Many Tenors’ is about conflicting personal and professional rivalries within the closed circles of a cathedral choir and a chamber choir.

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Musical rivalry, elopements, swapping of partners and defections undermine the stability of St Cecilia Singers. Alison, anticipating perfect marriage, is blind to her husband’s inadequacies and roving eye. Rick is the arch-perpetrator of most of these sins against greater good of the community and his wife – he elopes with a fat soprano when she announces her pregnancy. Hitherto she had blamed Yarchester Cathedral choir’s regime for their deteriorating relationship. Conductor Gray leaves both choirs to preserve his marriage, bequeathing ‘Singers’ to Rick.  Rick and Singers fall apart. Two ladies later, Alison realises she’s more traumatised by her friend’s betrayal than her husband’s desertion, and accepts her marriage is over. With disruptive influences purged, a new conductor restores harmony to Singers, though Alison is not fully able to move on till reminiscences at a choir reunion finally puts her guilt to rest and allow her to put the past into proportion.

Why did you choose to write your book?

 I have always been involved in choral singing – the book has some autobiographical elements – and  I wanted to write about the knock on effects of relationship tangles on the greater good of the community.

Over the years I have written many short stories, and decided to publish them as a group. Some are new, some updated, some historical.

Who or what was the inspiration behind it?

Personal experience. Fascination with the every day stories of small townsfolk.

What kind of research did you?

As it is set in in the late 60s onward, I had to check every detail of contemporary and cathedral life to make it authentic, and also pop in a few ‘historical’ reference to maintain the sense of period.

I had to research as above for stories set some time ago, and also Suffolk dialect for a few of the stories.

What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?

   Time management.

What was the best part of writing your book?

Writing in full swing, with no distractions

What, if anything, have you learned from writing your book?

The need to revise, cut, re-evaluate, structure, and persist.

Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to self-publish?

Don’t give up, get on with it, don’t procrastinate

Do you have a favourite author? If so, what is it about their work that you like?

Jane Austen. Portrayal of human nature on small canvass, with humour and pragmatism . She wrote QUOTE MINIATURE

What are your future writing plans?

To finish and publish short stories ASAP

 ‘That’s Little Baddenham – Everyday tales of a small market town’  is nearing completion. It is a collection of short stories, contemporary and older, all connected to a small country town very like Framlingham.

Then resume Those Pollok Girls, a family saga begun on UEA ‘Constructing a Novel ‘course.  (2012) This is based loosely on my family history, and I have just been researching in Shetland – a big boost to getting on with it.

I also have another unpublished novel, A Woolf in Sheep’s Clothing, that I may revise/prepare for publication. This book is about the symbiotic and destructive love-hate relationship between a mother and a son, who struggles to free himself from the maternal web.I would describe it as Barbara Vine Meets Joanna Trollope.

Thank you Ann. If you want to know more about Ann and her work you can go to her website: http://anntelliott.wix.com/toomanytenors

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You can Purchase Too Many Tenors here:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Too-Many-Tenors-Ann-Elliott-ebook/dp/B00G9YXWOM

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Too-Many-Tenors-Ann-Elliott-ebook/dp/B00G9YXWOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debut Author Spotlight – Julie Lovett

To continue my series of blogs on new authors living in Suffolk, I am delighted to introduce Julie Lovett and her debut novel The Prophet and the Time Traveller. 

Welcome Julie.

Julie

What is your book about? 

It’s a humorous novel about relationships between siblings, lovers and friends, set against a dystopian backdrop.

The prophet book cover

 Why did you choose to write your book?

I started writing my book as a comment on farming methods, the futility of war and so on. However, it quickly transformed into a more balanced and readable story.

 Who or what was the inspiration behind it?

The main characters are identical twins, as are my brothers. However, my brothers are not failed scientists, they have never time travelled (except slowly forward like the rest of us) and they are usually far more sensible than the characters in my story. However, I think they will appreciate my joke.

 What kind of research did you do?

I didn’t research specifically for this book, but I did bring fifty years of life experience, an enquiring mind and a good imagination to it.

 What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?

My biggest challenge came when I finished the main draft and went back through the book looking for areas that I felt could benefit from expansion or clarification.  I discovered that my writing style had developed immensely by then and it was difficult to insert new material into the early chapters in a seamless way.

 What was the best part of writing your book?

I enjoyed letting my imagination go into freefall, indulging in descriptions that would seem superfluous in normal life and having an appropriate outlet for my sense of humour.

 Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to self-publish?

I would advise other new authors to enjoy the experience and get lots of feedback on your work prior to publishing, if you can.

 What are your future writing plans?

 I am currently writing a children’s story about a young wizard who believes he can only conjure up nettle soup, a bitter sweet story about a ghostly mother who interferes with her daughter’s love life and a collection of short stories and poems.

Thank you Julie for letting us know about your debut novel.

You can learn more about Julie by visiting her website:

https://julielovett.wordpress.com/

You can purchase her book on Amazon.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Prophet-Time-Traveller-Julie-Lovett-ebook/dp/B01IO7F4AG/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prophet-Time-Traveller-Julie-Lovett-ebook/dp/B01HDT05ZA

The prophet book cover

 

 

 

Spotlighting new authors in Suffolk

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be featuring some authors that live in Suffolk, UK. Since I moved to this lovely part of the world over ten years ago I have met and taught a number of writers and have been impressed with the quality of their work.

So, I think it would be a good idea to give them a large shout-out and hopefully get some interest in their work.

From true crime to philosophical humour, there should be a genre to suit the taste of most readers.

Starting tomorrow!

Watch out for Peter Scott and his first novel – Pimple 

PETER1

I’ll also be re-blogging an earlier post about another East Anglian non-fiction author Kim Forester and her true crime book – Inside Broadmoor.

Inside Broadmoor Book Cover

Plus, an extra big plug for BigSky Writers, a group of local scribblers I belong to. We are due to publish our third anthology of short stories and poems in October. (Hopefully!)

BIG SKY FINAL COVER VERSION JPEG

You can purchase the first anthology – Beneath a Big Sky on Amazon.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Big-Sky-supernatural-suspense-ebook/dp/B00UC9W3JA?

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beneath-Big-Sky-supernatural-suspense-ebook/dp/B00UC9W3JA

Author Spotlight – Part two – Kim Forester

Here is part two of my author spotlight on Kim Forester who’s independently published non-fiction book Inside Broadmoor (Secrets of the Criminally Insane – Revealed by the Chief Attendant)  about inmates at Broadmoor Prison in the last half of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century, has recently been released. Based on the journals kept by her Great Great Grandfather Charles Bishop Coleman who worked at Broadmoor Prison, it is a truly fascinating account of the plight of inmates interred. Including a section about a prisoner who many believed to be the real Jack the Ripper.

Kim harket

You can read part one of the interview here: https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/author-spotlight-kim-forester/

Inside Broadmoor Book Cover

I asked Kim what was the best part of writing your book?

The part I enjoyed the most was the research itself. The amateur detective in me enjoyed collating the facts of what happened in each case, bringing them all together and then trying to convey them in a way that was clear, concise and dispassionate. With such evocative events, I did not want my own emotions to cloud the book. Taking a look into the lives of others is always fascinating and often surprising. Everyone has a story, no person is truly alike despite superficial similarities and we all face the same challenges, temptations, and joys. How we deal with those is what gives us the outcome to each story.

What, if anything, have you learned from writing your book?

How lucky I am.
I have a fantastic and loving immediate and extended family; I’ve always been in work and I have a great job and colleagues now; I enjoy good health; I’ve benefitted from an excellent education and I have wonderful friends. I’m generally a positive person and I have been fortunate to have the life and opportunities I have enjoyed so far. The chance to travel and meet so many different people has broadened my outlook and given me empathy towards others. I’m not superhuman, of course, I have my moments, but in the grand scheme of things I really have nothing to moan about and if I had to choose a trait I like best in myself and in others, it would be kindness – the world is cruel enough without unnecessarily hurting those around us.

Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to write non-fiction?

I don’t really think I am qualified to offer advice, but I can offer encouragement – if you want to do something then have a go. You lose nothing in the trying. I originally wrote my book in a completely different format, which didn’t work, but I learned something from that experience and I simply had another crack at it – hopefully more successfully this time. I use a couple of pertinent quotes in my book and I’ll finish my answer here with one of my own favourite quotes from the late Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin….”You are the one who can stretch your own horizon.”

Do you have a favourite author? If so, what is it about their work that you like?

I would struggle to choose just one author. From a small child, I have been an avid reader and enjoy many different genres. I have a deep interest in history, both fiction, and non-fiction and am particularly fascinated by early Welsh history and the Plantagenet era from King Henry II through to Richard III. A few years ago I found American writer Sharon Kay Penman and eagerly anticipate each new release – she writes extremely good novels about the era in which I am most interested. From the classics my favourite book would have to be non-fiction ‘Goodbye to All That’, the autobiography of Robert Graves, a deeply moving book and less well known than ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’. More recently I have discovered ‘Indie’ writer Nathan Dylan Goodwin and his genealogical detective stories about Morton Farrier, which I think are getting better and better as the series moves on. However, the story I find completely unforgettable is ‘The House on the Strand’ by Daphne du Maurier. One of her later books, it is an imaginative mix of mental time-travel, murder, addiction, and temptation – the open ending of the tale is haunting, leaving you to reach your own conclusions.

Do you plan to write more non-fiction, or perhaps, fiction?

I am keeping an open mind on further writing. I am tempted. I would like to have a go at something (maybe something different) in the future, but time is the enemy. Charles wrote over 700 entries in his diaries and I may decide to explore more of those. I took his documents along to the Antiques Roadshow at Audley End House in Saffron Walden recently and their expert considered them a ‘find’, so they were filmed and if I don’t end up on the cutting room floor, I hope you may get to see some of his items for yourself in the forthcoming series in the autumn.

Inside Broadmoor Book Cover

I hope you found Kim’s interview interesting. If you did, you might like to know more and also grab a copy of her book at the contact links below.

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/Kim-Forester-246195889102951/

Website:     http://www.insidebroadmoor.com

Amazon:

UK                 http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1530786428

US                 https://amzn.com/B01F0AY97O

AU                 http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01F0AY97O

Is it really okay to write in the present tense?

 

Tenses, past and present are a vital part of any narrative. Some say you should never write in the present tense as it is a sign of amateurishness. Say that to Hilary Mantel, Charles Dickens and Ian McEwan.

Still, there  are many who dislike the use of present tense. Philip Pullman is one such author who frowns upon it because of its limitations, in his opinion.

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‘I want all the young present-tense storytellers (the old ones have won prizes and are incorrigible) to allow themselves to stand back and show me a wider temporal perspective. I want them to feel able to say what happened, what usually happened, what sometimes happened, what had happened before something else happened, what might happen later, what actually did happen later, and so on: to use the full range of English tenses.’

You can read the full article here:

http://www.theguardian.com/global/2010/sep/18/philip-pullman-author-present-tense

I have to say that on the whole I agree with him. Personally, I’m not a fan of novels in the present tense, without some past tense in the form of flashbacks or memories. That being said, I believe the present tense can be used well for short story writing. I then thought, oh no, present tense!

A horrible memory came back to me. A creative writing tutor once shamed me in front of the entire class when I submitted a present tense short story, written in the first person, by saying, ‘Never write in the present tense. Only amateurs and bad writers do that. Don’t write in the first person either, that shows a lack of imagination and arrogance. Let’s face it, no-one wants to listen to your voice, you are nobody.’ His words hurt and I vowed to never write in the first person or the present tense again.

 

Until a year later after gaining a Creative Writing Diploma and winning a short story completion with a piece written in the first person present tense.

Glimmer

 ‘The world will not end because I close my eyes. The sun will still shine, so too the stars. Yet the darkness behind my drooped lids tells me otherwise. I see a macrocosm made up of swirling silhouettes and geometric shapes that aren’t strange to me at all. This is where I live now, in x-ray blackness. There is peace in this non-colour. A stillness that demands quiet.’

This story is now part of my anthology – Glimmer and other stories – and is getting some brilliant 5* reviews.

‘A stunning collection of highly original short stories, written with verve and style. They do not glimmer they sparkle!’

‘Glimmer and other stories’ is a miniature treasure chest of jewels. I absolutely loved these short stories. As I was reading, I fell into a trance of adjectival excess… they were mesmerising, masterful, original, eloquent, lyrical, clever…’

 http://amzn.to/239YbRG

glimmer front red 2

With Mr. Pullman’s article fresh in my mind, I decided to write another short story in the present tense, with past tense mixed in. Then I thought, oh, does it work? Why not write the whole thing in the past tense and be done with it? No one will criticise me and…well, I did and I didn’t like it as much. The tone and narrative voice works better in the present tense, for me, anyway.

What do you think?

Below are two short extracts from the beginning of the story The Shivering Oak. Inspiration for the story came from a painting by Marc Chagall.marc-chagall-autumn-in-the-village

Present tense:

Coward.

To conceal yourself up a tree like a rat.

I do not hide. I am here for all to see. Lounging larger than the low roof I recline upon.

At least, that’s how it seems to me as I raise my chin to the sky and let the sun kiss it. Yes, even the heavens are on my side.

I will wait.

I do not grow tired or hungry. I am nourished by the warm May winds that gently stroke my bare arms and lips, which are red. I painted them the colour of blood. But, now that I glance at my reflection in the darkened window of the building opposite, I think they resemble the hue of the roses on my dress. Or perhaps they are nearer the shade of the berries on the bush growing below your dangling feet. I notice the soles of your shoes are worn. Is that a toe, that pink protuberance sticking out from the emerging hole? The twitching thing is making Genghis yank at his leash.

I sit up to get a better look. You struggle to maintain position on the creaking branch. One hand wrapped around the frail wood, the other clutching onto your fiddle. The same violin you used to seduce me at the Christmas concert.

The village hall was crammed that night with the young, old, and those in between. Forced to stand at the back, I peered over the shoulders of the tall men. I didn’t mind, though. It was good to be in the world again after all those years cooped up with dad.

Past Tense:

Coward

Concealing yourself up that tree like a rat.

I did not hide. I was there for all to see. Lounging larger than the roof I reclined upon.

At least, that’s how it seemed to me when I raised my chin to the sky and let the sun kiss it.

Yes, even the heavens were on my side.

I waited

I did not grow tired or hungry. I was nourished by the warm May winds that gently stroked my bare arms and legs, which were red. I painted them the colour of blood. But, when I glanced at my reflection in the darkened window of the building opposite, I thought they resembled the hue of the roses on the dress I wore. Or perhaps, they were nearer the shade of the berries on the bush that grew below your dangling feet. I noticed that the soles of your shoes were worn. Was that a toe, that pink protuberance that stuck out from the hole? The thing that twitched and made Genghis yank at his lease.

I sat up to get a better look. You struggled to maintain your position on the creaking branch. You had one hand wrapped around the frail wood, whilst the other clutched onto your fiddle. The same violin you used to seduce me last Christmas at the village concert.

Thank you for reading. Any comments about which tense works better for you, would be very much appreciated.

Glimmer and other stories will be on a Kindle Countdown deal from 6th June. So, if you want a copy at a bargain price, just head over to Amazon.

 UK: http://amzn.to/1n6Hqpu

US:  http://amzn.to/239YbRG

 

 

How should I publish my middle-grade novel?

I finished writing my middle-grade action adventure novel set in London and Duat – the land of the dead in ancient Egyptian religion. The title so far is Cleo Dalby and the curse of the Chaos Mummies. It had several other titles, but this one seems to suit the tone and genre of the book.

anubis_balance

It has been beta tested, edited quite a bit. Beta read again, edited again and again and again… I think it is ready to be let out into the big, wide world.

So, what do I next?

Should I try traditional publishing, agent etc? Or, should I self-publish?

I know the pros and cons of both kinds of publishing having been published by a small publishing house and self-published. Both have their good points and bad. I have heard that it is very difficult to sell children’s or middle-grade books if you self-publish. I don’t know how true that is, but I have heard it said by quite a few authors.

Now that I am a self-published author, I like it. I have control over all aspects of marketing and editorial decisions. A thing I did not have when under contract. I am inclined towards self-publishing this book for those reasons.

However, I may just send it out to a few well-chosen agents that have enough authority and respect within the publishing world, to possibly get me signed to a major publishing house. Why? Because I am unsure of how my book will sell. Most books written for children under the age of fourteen are bought by parents for their children. After speaking to a lot of parents, they said they hardly ever, if ever, bought a book by a self-published author. This may not be true of every adult who buys books for young people.

Am I talking myself into traditional publishing here?

I’m somewhat confused.

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Any thoughts, comments, suggestions, and advice would be gratefully received.

I have posted an extract from the book.

No cover as yet. This will have to do.

2012-09-18 at 10-05-20 (1)

 

Cleo Dalby and the Curse of the Chaos Mummies

 If you were twelve-years-old and possessed by evil, what would you do?

Curses, chaos, mummies, gods and the fight to save mankind.

Chapter 1

We Are Not Alone

Darkness pushed against Cleo Dalby’s arms and legs as she struggled to make her way through the narrow chamber. Hands outstretched before her, she slid her feet forward, straining to hear something, anything. But every sound, even the skid-slap of her sandals on the stone floor, became lost in the gloom. On Cleo walked slow and tentative, deeper into the world of corpses.

A sigh, long and weary-filled drifted towards her. It seemed to gather friends as it neared, and soon the sad laments of dozens of disembodied voices surrounded her. The moans continued, drifting in and out of her ears like tired moths trapped inside a lampshade. She tried to struggle on, but the wails tugged at her ankles, forcing her to stop and listen to the muffled chatter that swirled and scuttled inside her head.

“We, the dead, abide here. Quietly resting, hands on chest, faces tilted up to catch a ray of sunlight.”

“A futile gesture. For this far below the ground, there is only blackness and the weight of stone.”

“We, the dead, lie still, poised in readiness for our resurrection.”

“What a wait we’ve had. So many years spent lying in a state of half-remembered promises and expectations, grown dull with the passing of each century.”

“We, the dead, no longer know who we are. Memories fade and melt into our hollow skulls.”

“We, the dead, sometimes whisper to each other.”

“Husks of words from dried up lips that stick to the cold walls, waiting for the living to listen.”

Cleo touched the limestone with her fingertips and thought she heard a murmuring of souls.

“We, the dead, can feel a presence.”

A breath of ancient brushed past her cheek. She shivered and rubbed her naked arms. The chill slapped onto her legs and spread upwards leaving pimples of stiff-haired unease on her sunburnt flesh. She gulped and said into the blackness, “Hello? Is anyone there? My name is Cleo.”

“Found out!”

“Not Yet.”

“No.”

The voices ceased.

She called again, but no answer came. There was a smell of rot so strong that Cleo nearly vomited. It disappeared and she felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She stood tall, shrugged, and said, “The dark is just an absence of light,” then shook the torch that was gripped in her hand. “Stupid, froggin’ thing. Work.” She patted it against her palm. “Work.” Something touched her shoulder and Cleo jumped.

You can read a longer extract on my website under the heading Cleo Dalby:

http://www.nicolamcdonagh.com

 

 

 

 

Does changing your book cover help sales?

I have heard many authors say that your book cover is what sells your book. True, to a certain extent. The cover has to reflect the content in some way and be the branding image for your books, especially if they are a series.

These were my book covers after I changed them when my publisher closed down. I was in  a rush to get them out so as to keep my reviews. The one that really stood out for me was A Silence Heard.

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Now, I really don’t like most of the book covers I see. However, I do realise why in some genres, the images are the way they are, to attract a specific fan base. That would mean for example, that these days a YA Dystopian covers will almost always look something like this.

510FKrsZfwL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ Yeuk, as far as I’m concerned, but I am not the target reader.

Dystopian with a strong female protagonist, such as Divergent by Veronica Roth, and The hunger Games Suzanne Collins, also my genre for The song of Forgetfulness series, take a more abstract approach to their cover design. They sell a lot of books.

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After delving into the some of these books, the content is pretty much the same, so yeah, the covers reflect that.

I have noticed recently in the Dystopian genre a huge trend  in favour of the fantasy style covers with images of pretty girls on them. They all look like romance books to me.Yet they are listed as Dystopian.

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My problem is that my story is different, my narrative style is very different. If I were to choose a cover similar to the ones above, then the reader would be disappointed with the content, perhaps. At least, it would not be what they expected. That is if they bought the book solely on the merit of the cover.

With that in mind I decided to choose  covers that were very different in style from those in the same genre, yet reflected the content in some way. I want to attract readers who will like my quirky style of writing by using a cover design that would stand out from the others.

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In the words of the late, great Umberto Eco. “Eco discussed his approach to writing in an interview at a Guardian Live event in London in 2015. “I don’t know what the reader expects,” he said.

“I think that Barbara Cartland writes what the readers expect. I think an author should write what the reader does not expect. The problem is not to ask what they need, but to change them … to produce the kind of reader you want for each story.”

I have been told by a few authors that I am wrong to do this and that I should get a cover like one of  these.

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Will I sell more books if I use a design like the ones above?

I’ll never know because I will never have a cover like that.

I want to stand out.

Have I ruined my chance at selling my books because I dare to be different?

I took a chance with the narrative style of my book and it worked, so why not the covers?

To my delight, I have gotten some excellent reviews often praising my slang-based language. Echoes from the Lost Ones was even used as the basis for a graduate thesis by Mattia D’agostina. You can read the blog post here: https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/translation-can-it-work-for-every-book/

So, I think I’ll see how these new covers work when I start to re-market my books.

What do you think?

Am I right?

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You can purchase any of the books from The Song of Forgetfulness series on Amazon:

US: http://amzn.to/1TlwaBP

UK: http://amzn.to/1O01bZ1

For more information about The Song of Forgetfulness series, please go to the website: http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com/