Breaking news

My novel, Once Removed, has been given a brand new cover in preparation for its release on 21st September in paperback!

The blurb has also been tweaked:

Suspecting self-harm, newly qualified teacher, Abriella Garside, risks everything for a troubled pupil. An incident with a craft knife and unexplained injuries are not enough to secure help for the girl. Unsure whether Beth is being bullied or has problems at home, Abby tries to win her trust and the two begin a friendship. But has the teacher gone too far?
In the midst of Abby’s own complicated life, Beth disappears. Rumour and suspicion ignite, fanned into an inferno with Abby at its heart.
Two lives hang in the balance.

Reviews:

“A gut wrenching story which got into my heart!”

5*, A Book and A Review

“A very moving, emotional book… carefully handled”

4.5*, The Little Reader Library

“A well-written, fast-paced novel that sensitively and accurately handled some strong, emotional themes”

4*, CookieDemon (Goodreads)

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Alert for Writers

English: Millenium Gardens at University of No...

The National Association of Writers’ Groups is holding its yearly Festival of Writing at Nottingham University from 31st. August to 2nd. September. There are workshops by excellent tutors, talks by authors, fun and celebration of the art of writing in a very friendly atmosphere.

A free workshop; a barbeque; a booked workshop followed by professional entertainment from performance poet Mark Gwynne Jones on Friday will be an exciting start to a memorable weekend. Mark recently performed at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. The weekend includes four choices from sixteen workshops to hone your writing skills; fun sessions; discussion panels and much, much more, including our Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening, during which the 2012 Writing Competition Winners will be announced.

For more information about the Festival and the benefits of joining NAWG, visit the website or upload the brochure

There is still some availability, but please be quick if you want to be part of this year’s Festival. If you cannot join in this year there are competitions, a Writers’ Retreat and another Festival next year in a new venue, yet to be decided. Visit the NAWG Website and see what’s on offer.

 Come for the whole weekend or a single workshop.

£230 for Nawg members, £250 non-members, for 2 nights full-board and 4 taught workshops.

For continuously updated details go to: www.nawg.co.uk where you may download a brochure and booking form and pay by PayPal. Or, contact the Festival Booking Administrator: Anne Steward. casualwriter@hotmail.com – Tel: 01484 769930

Trevor “Two Hats” tips; writing humour for children and adults

Trevor Belshaw is a fellow author at Crooked Cat Publishing. His adult novel, Tracey’s Hot Mail, had me giggling out loud. Released as an eBook in January 2012, Crooked Cat Publishing is bringing it out in paperback on August 24th.

 Trevor, what was the inspiration for Tracey’s Hot Mail?

Tracy the character is a mixture of seven young women I sat behind on different buses over a three day period when my car was in for repair. The girls could have won gold for gossiping at the Olympics. They shared secrets about themselves, their bosses and their work colleagues as well as friends and relatives. They didn’t have the slightest concern about being overheard. The experience gave me a real insight into the world of 19-23 year old females. All of the girls were obsessed with fashion; one or two held grudges against workmates, two or three held grudges against their best friends and all of them hated their boss. I really couldn’t let this rich seam of gossip go to waste and by the weekend Tracy was born. She first appeared on a new writer’s site called, ‘Writelink,’ that I belonged to at the time. The first, Hi Emma email went down so well that by the following week I had written two more. The rest was written over the next ten months. When I was first asked who Tracy was, I replied with the following quote. I still think it sums her up perfectly.

Tracy is every girl on the bus, every girl who has a boss, every girl who works in an office. She’s the girl on the end of every lousy chat-up line. She’s the girl that older men fancy, the girl that has opinions on everything and everyone; even if those opinions are based solely on second or third hand information.

Do you have any advice for author’s trying to write humour?

I have heard a lot of writers say that they find it difficult to write humour. While I can’t say with any honesty that I find it easy, I don’t find it particularly difficult either. My first piece of advice would be, don’t force it. Make sure the setting is right and the main protagonists remain in character. The way the scene is set up is just as important as the punch line, if the reader doesn’t feel part of the set-up; they almost certainly won’t get the joke.

Humour can be gentle, brash, dry, or so off the wall that only a few people get it. While I do believe that anyone can write humour, it does have to be done properly. Just as in stand up or situation comedy, the timing has to be right. Personally I like to let my imagination go wild and see how far a situation can be pushed before it falls off the edge before I scale it back make it a little more believable. Another trick to utilise is the element of surprise. The laugh at the end of a sequence of events is always funnier if it is unexpected.

In my (still unfinished) web serial, The Westwich Writer’s Club, I set up a situation where a computer repair man and wannabe writer, Stephen, is called out to the home of the chairperson of his local writer’s group to help her with a computer problem. Margot, the chair, is a little drunk and the situation soon turns away from the faulty computer towards Margot’s silicon enhanced breasts and an Elk’s head with a missing glass eye. http://thewestwichwritersclub.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/chapter-5-part-1.html

Everyone encounters humorous situations in their daily lives whether it’s at the shops, at work, listening to the kids. Take it in, think about where that situation could lead if it was allowed to continue, and take it from there.

Trevor has also written a number of books for children, under the name Trevor Forest. Do you find it difficult to write for two different markets?

I don’t find it difficult, personally speaking. I have two hats for writing and I always make sure I’m wearing the right one when I start. I have to get into the zone or it doesn’t work. When I write for kids I try to put myself in their place. I try to remember what excited me when I was ten. What I laughed at. What I found scary. What sort of adventure I used to imagine myself being caught up in. A writer has to get into that mind-set when they write for kids. Many people think writing for children is easier somehow. I always seem to get the same responses when people find out I write kids’ books.

‘That’s nice, are you going to write a proper book one day?’

‘Do you really? I’m going to write one when I have the time.’

For some reason, the consensus seems to be that writing for children is easier than writing for adults and that everyone has the next Harry Potter inside them.

My advice is, get rid of that thought. Kids’ books may sometimes be shorter, and the author can usually get away without laying out a massively complicated plot, but the writer will need to be just as adept at the craft as a writer of adult murder stories.

Children can spot when they are being spoken down to and you have to lure them into your newly created world from the first sentence or they won’t join you in it. Also remember, dialogue is just as important as storyline. Listen to how kids talk. They don’t see things the way adults do. Adults are the enemy in a way and kids don’t want to be like us. When children say they want to be a doctor when they grow up, they aren’t thinking about sitting in a stuffy surgery, dispensing prescriptions all day every day. They will see themselves finding miracle cures for incurable diseases. They’ll perform an emergency operation on a kitchen table; they want excitement, not conformity.

So the advice is, never dumb down and never preach. Kids hate that more than anything. Don’t try to come across as though you are one of them either. They know you aren’t, they know you are an adult. They don’t want you as a friend; they just want to be part of your adventure. It’s a fine balance but with a bit of practice you’ll find the right tone.

For me, adult writing comes second. I do enjoy it but time restraints due to work commitments mean that I have to ration my writing time and because I enjoy children’s writing more, I tend to give that priority.

When writing for adults I try to make the characters, believable and down to earth but I always give the main protagonist a little bit of quirkiness, just a little bit of something to set them apart from the crowd. I use a lot of dialogue to drive the book along and I’ll push a situation to the limit to wring the last bit of humour out of it. Not all of my characters are human, or even alive. I had great fun writing my other (still unfinished) web serial, The Diary of an Aspiring Adulteress, and introduced a plastic mermaid, in a fishpond, as a sounding board for the main character’s thoughts. http://aspiringadulteressdiary.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/4th-march-2011-introduction.html

Many of the rave reviews for these books mention your wicked sense of humour. Is writing humour for children in any way a similar process as for adults?

I find them very similar. As I mentioned previously I have a massive sense of the ridiculous and you don’t have to be an adult to ‘get’ that. My humour is inspired by Tommy Cooper, Monty Python, Benny Hill, Spike Milligan and Billy Connolly. I adored the madness of the TV show The League of Gentlemen. The show is a fabulous mix of sketch, sitcom, horror and rural life. Anything can, and does, happen.

When I’m writing, I tend to let my imagination run riot and just go with the flow. If a scene isn’t working I don’t agonise over it for weeks. For me, humour has to be instantaneous, it’s either funny or it isn’t. If something doesn’t work, it gets cut pretty quickly and I try a different scenario, even if something has to happen to keep the plot alive.

I’ve written a non-fiction memoir, A Life Less Lost, as well as a novel, Once Removed, both under the same pen name. Why did you use different names for your adult and children’s books?

Mainly because of the adult nature of Tracy’s Hot Mail, The Diary of an Aspiring Adulteress and The Westwich Writer’s Club. I don’t feel I can allow children’s books to be sold alongside the adult themed stories.

I really don’t want kids to pick up a copy of Tracy’s Hot Mail and think they’re going to get a dollop of Magic Molly or Stanley Stickle. Trevor Belshaw and Trevor Forest write for completely different markets. They have to be seen as different people.

You wrote a very funny extra short story about Tracey and the Jubilee, which you offered for free. Do you think it stimulated sales for Tracey’s Hot Mail?

I’d like to think so. I wrote it at a time when people were busy doing Jubilee things and it did get a very good reaction. It was written to give people who were unaware of Tracy, a glimpse into the character. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. I’m thinking of doing another one for the end of the Olympics.

The sequel to Tracy’s Hot Mail, Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail, is partly written and will hopefully surface before too long. It will tell the story of what happens to Tracy after she is made redundant from her little job in the office.

Thanks for having me, Kim. I hope your readers find something of interest in this.

Tracy’s Hot Mail is published by Crooked Cat Publishing http://www.crookedcatbooks.com The book is available on Kindle http://amzn.to/M9ajwI  and for all other e-Readers like the Nook, iPad etc. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/123781

More information can be found on Trevor’s blog; http://www.trevorbelshaw.com/blog  and his Trevor Forest website can be found at http://www.trevorforest.com All his children’s books have been published in Kindle format and all will be available in paperback by the end of August 2012. All of Trevor Forest’s books can be purchased from this link. http://amzn.to/LS479X

All Trevor Forest books are available on the Kindle. http://amzn.to/IYMC6d
Stanley Stickle Hates Homework. The new book from Trevor Forest.https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006NM2750 Peggy Larkin’s War, Abigail Pink’s Angel, Magic Molly and Faylinn Frost and the Snow Fairies available in paperback and eBook at my book store. http://bit.ly/fWVFKt

Short stories available at http://www.etherbooks.com via Iphone app.

Crooked {Cat} News!

Crooked {Cat} is an independent publishing company based in the UK. A young company, they are full of fire and determination, working tirelessly to find the best in new writing and devoting time and expertise to polishing and presenting their books to the world. Originally producing e-books only, they are now branching out into paperbacks, too.

Crooked {Cat} Publishing have a new site called Crooked Cat Books. The normal ‘publishing’ one is where you’ll find details of authors, their blog, and submission guidelines (so is aimed more at writers), http://crookedcatpublishing.com/. The new ‘books’ one is aimed at readers and reviewers, and other interested people. Of course, along the way, the two will, no doubt, mix a little and each has a link to the other.

The address for the new bookshop is:  http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/

Folks can:

* Buy ebooks direct from the site in multi-e-formats

* Collect reward points for each purchase, and put these towards the purchase of a future ebook

* Review and rate books

* Add books to a wishlist and return to the list later

* Buy and send gift vouchers

* View ‘Specials’ – reduced, promotional, collected or otherwise timely items

* Share through social media channels links to their favourite book

* Sign up to Crooked Cat affiliates, which gives them a code-link. When people click through and buy through this link, the affiliate will get a percentage of sales

* View extra downloadable stuff that they won’t see elsewhere – photos, audio, video and other cool bits and pieces

* Other brilliant stuff that you’ll have to wait for…

They would love you to sign up, interact, leave reviews and rate things.

Once Removed and lots of other great reads, across a range of genres, can be purchased at reasonable prices so it’s well worth having a look.

 

Sculpting butter in the sun or what is poetry?

Poetry is an...

Photo credit: liber(the poet)

Looking for a definition of poetry, Wikipedia explains that virtually anything goes and poetry probably predates literacy because oral traditions used poetic forms to aid memorization and transmission.

Is it possible that it’s this very capturing-smoke-in-a-sieve vagueness about poetry that makes most people afraid of it? After all, how do we know if we’ve done it “right”?

The essence of a good poem, like music, dance or visual arts, is its ability to speak directly into our hearts beyond the confines of the actual words.

As an infant teacher, I loved “teaching” the children to write poetry, using ideas from The Poetry Society website http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/homepage/. In the spirit of writing for a purpose, I often asked the children to write poems for their mums to include in their Mothers’ Day cards. Although they were only 6 or 7 years old, their poems were very personal and cherished by their mums. One summer, tragedy struck the family of one of my pupils. At the little girl’s funeral, her brother’s Mothers’ Day poem was read out. It was such a simple and perfect expression of love.

Robert Frost, Dartmouth 1896.

Robert Frost

Recently, I was asked to give a talk on “How to Cope With a Death in the Family”, a very daunting task. Three poems, Home Burial by Robert Frost,

Do not stand at my grave and weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye and She is Gone by an anonymous author, along with excerpts from my memoir, A Life Less Lost, gave me the framework.

I have written poetry for myself since I was a child. Because I mainly read novels that form is what I’m most comfortable working in. But a few of my poems have been published and when my son and future daughter-in-law asked me to write a poem for their wedding, I was thrilled and terrified. Currently, I’m working on a poem as a gift for my dad’s 80th birthday.

So don’t be afraid. Let the fact that there isn’t a right way to do it free you to have-a-go. And if you do, you might be interested in this message from Michael Stewart on behalf of the Grist Poetry Anthology:

As an antidote to Olympic fever, we at Grist are running a free poetry comp for the duration of the games. There will be cash prizes for gold, silver and bronze winners. Full info here: http://headspam.posterous.com/the-grist-100-meter-sprint

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