So Long, Farewell…

OR cover 3I offer a fond goodbye, as I step out of my “author” persona to concentrate on something new and sincere wishes for all my writing friends, as you persevere in the art.

I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to stretch my creative wings, to study the craft and share my words with a wider audience. I’ve had a novel, memoir, short stories, poems and articles published, won a few prizes, had great reviews and thoroughly enjoyed co-writing two radio plays, as well as meeting loads and loads of kindred spirits.

Crooked Cat Publishing and my fellow authors have done their best to help me master social media, effective marketing and promotion skills but I always seem to be running to catch up. After thousands of hours, I’ve finally lost heart. I’m sorry sales haven’t been better for my publisher’s sake, despite their investment in time and money (including 3 different, brilliant covers).

If I’m honest, I’ll be a bit relieved to be able to spend my time reading novels instead of promoting them, when Once Removed comes to the end of her contract with Crooked Cat in February. There are just a few more weeks to purchase a copy.

Best wishes to you all and thank you for your support.

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“Grit Lit” ~ Ah-ha!

On an Arte Umbria writing course in Italy I heard the term “Grit Lit” for the first time and had an ah-ha moment.

Deciding what genre a book belongs in can be quite hard and reminds me of the 60’s song Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds. There was a lot of squeezing involved to get them to “all look just the same”. Once Removed never seemed an easy fit with any of the usual categories but grit lit sounds glove-like. It makes me think of ‘gritty northern’ dramas, stories of real people surviving tough situations in no-nonsense OR cover 3ways and coming out the other side stronger.

Once Removed’s new cover is a much better fit, too. Of course self-harm is a dark subject but this book is so much more than that. There’s colour and caring, risk and romance, daring and disaster.

A gift

Deep down in my secret self I wanted my books, or someone else at least, to sell

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One of the “classrooms” at Arte Umbria

themselves. Like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, I love to sink, undisturbed, into the depths of my work in progress. I do not like to talk about or sell myself or my books.

 

My first book, A Life Less Lost, came out in paperback. I was just beginning to give successful talks without having to lie in a darkened room for hours afterwards, when my second book, Once Removed, came out as an ebook. Being slow to grasp a whole new set of promotional skills, impacted on sales and self-confidence. Several false starts on the next book left me paralysed by doubt in my ability to write. And why would I want to, if it meant I had to face the marketing challenges that came with completion?

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Mealtimes on the terrace

I tried to fill the void with other things but the ache wouldn’t stop howling. Then as a very special birthday present (for one of those with a zero in it) I was given the chance of a writing holiday in Italy! WOW, I know, I couldn’t believe it.

Arte Umbria, about half an hour from Perugia, up in the hills provided an exquisite venue, Sue Moorcroft provided the tuition and the other members of the course gave endless encouragement and fun. The result? I’m writing again! Full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm. Watch this space…

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Thank you everyone!

Revolution Inspiration

I’m delighted to welcome my friend, TE Taylor, author of two brilliant books, Zeus of Ithome and T E TaylorRevolution Day.

Hi Kimm, it’s a great pleasure to visit your blog today. I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about what inspired me to write my latest novel, Revolution Day.

I’d had in my head for some time a vague idea of writing a novel about an old man who has had great power but is starting to lose his grip. Originally I envisaged him as a king, with flowing robes and long white hair, but the idea never really got any further and I thought that, like most ideas, it would never come to anything.

Muammar_al-Gaddafi_at_the_AU_summitThen, in 2011 and 2012 a string of autocratic leaders fell one after the other during the ‘Arab Spring’, beginning with Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and including such notorious figures as Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi, who had once seemed unassailable. It occurred to me that my old man losing his grip on power could be a dictator instead of a king, giving my vague idea a context and making it relevant to the present day.

Augusto_Pinochet  Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional.

Augusto_Pinochet Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional.

One idea quickly led to another, and another. I was interested not so much in the specific context of the Arab Spring, but in the timeless issues it raises about the effects of power and its ultimate fragility. Other dictators, such as Pinochet and Ceaucescu, also came to mind. My dictator would not be based upon any particular individual. I would avoid the stereotypes: he would not be a monster or brutal strongman but an ordinary person, initially idealistic and genuinely wanting to do good, but forced by circumstances to compromise on his ideals and gradually desensitised to repression as he clings on to power in the delusion that he alone can be trusted to wield it.

As the ideas started to coalesce, I realised I needed a way to give the long view of my dictator’s rise to power and his descent into autocracy as well as telling a real-time story in the present day. I decided that his estranged wife would be writing a memoir, which could be interleaved with the main narrative. Perhaps she could be a former colleague too, with an insider’s understanding of the regime? That suggested Latin America (with its long history of dictators) rather than the middle east. And I needed an antagonist – someone with a more straightforward desire for power unencumbered by idealism. Another colleague, who resents the dictator’s pre-eminence and is eager to exploit his weakness. Not strong enough simply to seize power by force, he will have to pursue it by more devious means, manipulating the perceptions of the dictator and those around him to undermine his position. Thus my central characters, Carlos, Juanita and Manuel, were born.
Revolution DayOne day, during a writing exercise at Holmfirth Writers Group, I wrote what would become the opening scene of Revolution Day, and simply carried on from there. The rest is – well, not history, exactly, but undoubtedly inspired by it, however indirectly.

Revolution Day can be purchased from Amazon by following this link : Revolution Day 

Or from Smashwords via this link: Revolution Day smash words

Passion and Conviction

Like buses, no posts for months then two come along at once…

Jeff2014Jeff Gardiner is the UK author of three novels, a collection of short stories and a work of non-fiction. Many of his short stories have appeared in anthologies, magazines and websites. He’s also recently signed a three book contract with Accent Press for his ‘Gaia’ YA trilogy, which begins with Pica, a novel of transformation and ancient magic. Today he tells us about the need for passion and conviction in the search for that elusive goal of publication.

The first novel I wrote was ‘Treading On Dreams’, but it wasn’t the first one published. I had to go through the dreaded rejections and yet keep faith in my treasured work of art. My second novel ‘Myopia’ found a home sooner than ‘Treading On Dreams’, and I was even completing a third novel, ‘Igboland’ before my first was finally accepted. Don’t give up on those early manuscripts. They may well need polishing every now and then, but if you believed in them once, then give them another chance.

JGCovers

Submitting novels and stories to editors is a difficult game. It’s never entirely clear what they’re looking for, and you have to have the courage in your convictions, unless you’re happy to compromise and write the book you think they want, rather than the one you feel personally passionate about.

I feel very passionate about all my novels. ‘Treading On Dreams’ is the story of a sensitive man called Donny who becomes Treading on Dreams by Jeff Gardiner - 500obsessed with a young lady he shares a house with, but is hit by the debilitating sledgehammer of unrequited love. It is not autobiographical and Donny is certainly not me, but there are aspects of me in Donny: who hasn’t suffered the woes of loving someone who is either taken or uninterested?

‘Myopia’ is about Jerry, a teenager, who’s short-sighted and bullied. He invents some intriguing and certainly non-violent methods of challenging his bully to change his ways. I wasn’t particularly bullied as a child, but as a school teacher I’ve seen the traumatic effects that bullying can have. This is my response to those selfish, thoughtless individuals who make everyone else’s life a misery.

Ironically, ‘Igboland’ is my most personal book, even though it’s narrated in first person by a woman. Set in Nigeria during the 1960s Biafran War, it follows Lydia who is married to a Methodist minister posted out in a West African bush village. I was born in Nigeria, but came back to the UK as a young child, so Nigeria has a sentimental place in my heart and soul. ‘Igboland’ is a paean to my spiritual home.

My advice is that you should write the book that is forcing its way out of you. Don’t begin a novel unless it’s about something that every fibre within you is desperate to express. It should be bursting from you, because writing is a kind of obsession. Just as Donny’s obsession brings him tears, laughter and much anxiety, so does writing a novel. A novel should be something that challenges and provokes, like Jerry’s actions towards his tormentors. The most powerful novels are personal. When I read novels, I want to get a sense of the author’s or character’s different perspective on life; of what they have learned during life’s tough struggle; and to have my own beliefs and assumptions challenged.

Many people say they have a book in them, but not all of them write it. If you have a story inside you which feels ready to burst for freedom then give it a go. Like anything in life, the experiences that are challenging and which become obsessive are the ones that are life-changing, and believe me – writing a novel will be all those things. But once writing gets its grip on you, it’s impossible to stop.

For more information, please visit Jeff’s website at www.jeffgardiner.com and his blog: http://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/

“Reading is a form of escapism, and in Gardiner’s fiction, we escape to places we’d never imagine journeying to.” (A.J. Kirby, ‘The New Short Review’)

Links:

Treading On Dreams: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Gardiner_Jeff/treading-on-dreams.htm

Igboland: http://www.jeffgardiner.com/igboland.htm

Myopia: http://www.jeffgardiner.com/myopia.htm

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeffGardiner1

 

“My Lovely Blog” Hop

hibernationThanks to my friend and fellow author, Christina (https://funnylass.wordpress.com/…/…/12/everything-is-lovely/), and this blog hop thingy, I’m finally getting round to my first Nuts and Crisps post of 2015! All being well I should have a post from another fellow author, Jeff Gardiner, on Wednesday. Looks like I’ve surfaced from deep hibernation at last.

So, the first memory that comes to mind was searching for my beloved grandfather. I was four and had just been told he’d died. I looked under furniture, in cupboards, everywhere for him. That sense of confusion and loss left a hefty imprint. Nowadays parents have some very good books to help young children with bereavement.

Books are one of my passions. In second grade (age 7), I was one of the Scott of the Antarcticoldest children in the class, often bored and given to disruptive behaviour. In desperation, my teacher began to give me books with the instruction to go read them and write book reports ~ genius. The first one was about Scott of the Antarctic and I never looked back.

The library was too far away for me to get to as a child, likewise I can’t remember any bookshops, but I was given a children’s classic book collection for Christmas one year and never remember being short of something to read. Both my parents worked and we were encouraged to be as independent as possible. I spent most of my youth outside on my bike, climbing trees, playing team games and that kind of thing but there was plenty of time to read on long car journeys.

Holmfirth libraryWhen I was a young wife in a remote village, the mobile library was a lifeline. I took my children from infancy to their local library every week and now take my granddaughter. Quality books can be expensive but libraries enable access to an endless supply and the freedom for children to choose the stories they want to hear. Now, apart from the books, films, music and computers on offer, my library also provide a venue for my writers’ group. I guess you can tell I’m a big fan and pretty outraged that these essential places are under threat.

How dull life would be if there weren’t always new things to learn. My grandma clip artcurrent course of study is grandparenting ~ learning to slow down and observe life alongside a toddler, keeping in my daughter-in-law’s good books and how to help grown-up children without interfering.

Writing… hmmm. I’ve written two books, published one myself called A Life Less Lost and had the other, Once Removed, published by the marvellous Crooked Cat team. I’ve won a few local competitions with short stories and I write for my church magazine and my other blog, Biblically Blogging. Currently trying to build enough confidence to work on several ideas for children’s books.

cover LLL

A few Crooked Cats have agreed to follow on from me; Scott Perkins, www.pagestotype.com, who has an exciting new book, Howard Carter Saves the World, coming out this week, Yvonne Marjot, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, author of the brilliant Calgary Chessman and the delightful Ailsa Abraham, The Bingergread Cottage, author of Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum. I hope you’ll visit them later in the week, when they offer a tiny peek into their “Lovely Blogs”.

On Emigration from Britain

IMG_0569-20%Author Miriam Drori offers this post for us today ~

This is where I get to argue, with tongue only partly in cheek, that we Brits have a harder time than others when having to acclimatise to a new country. Me – Brit? Well yes, once a Brit always a Brit. That’s what I say. And that’s what non-Brits say to me. I’m seen as more of a Brit when away from my country of birth then I ever was in it.

Not that they call me “Britit” you understand. “Anglia – English” is what they say. I’ve given up trying to explain that there’s more to Britain than England. The whole concept of several countries in one is apparently too hard for them to internalise. I wonder if the Scots are about to make that easier for them.

This place isn’t mentioned in the novel, but it’s a place Mark will have visited. The Ministry of Absorption helps new immigrants to become absorbed into Israeli society, although we never stop being labelled as British, American, Russian, Ethiopian, French….

This place isn’t mentioned in the novel, but it’s a place Mark will have visited. The Ministry of Absorption helps new immigrants to become absorbed into Israeli society, although we never stop being labelled as British, American, Russian, Ethiopian, French….

Some of the problems get harder with time, not easier. Foods you miss. Like Marmite, gooseberries and salt ’n’ vinegar crisps. OK, we can buy Marmite, but it’s so expensive it’s not worth it. There are lots of delicious fruits here, but not gooseberries. As for salt ’n’ vinegar crisps, any self-respecting native-born Israeli would turn up their nose at that. Except for my children. Brought them up proper, we ’ave.

Then there’s the weather. Instead of complaining about constant rain, here we complain about the heat. Still, complaint is complaint, so it’s not so hard to get used to this change.

Learning a new language is particularly hard for us Brits. We’ve never understood why not everyone talks our own rich but thoroughly illogical tongue. After all, it’s the only natural one. Every other language has to be learned.

The hardest thing for me has been getting them to realise that Brits come in all shapes, sizes and types. Because I fit their view of the British, I’ve found it hard to persuade them that some of us are loud or rude or noticeably outgoing. “You’re so British,” they tell me.

NeitherHereNorThereCoverFunnily enough, or perhaps not, Mark, hero of my romance Neither Here Nor There, shares this last problem. His French roommate in particular teases him for his Britishness:

“Oh you British.” Claude had wrung his hands in mock despair. “You are so… so… réservé.”

Mark doesn’t think that’s a true representation at all, but he has no way of shaking it off, being a bit reserved himself.

As the story progresses, Mark will need to become strong. He has to contend with much more than his own immigration. He is falling in love with Esty, who is going through a much bigger life change.

Bio

Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London, and now lives in Jerusalem where her daughter has left her to hold the female fort against three males.

Following careers as a computer programmer and a technical writer, Miriam has been writing creatively for the past ten years and has had short stories published online and in anthologies. Neither Here Nor There, published on 17 June 2014, is her first published novel.

Miriam began writing in order to raise awareness of social anxiety. Since then the scope of her writing has widened, but she hasn’t lost sight of her original goal.

Links

Miriam’s website: http://miriamdrori.com/

Neither Here Nor There is available from:

Crooked Cat Books

Amazon

Smashwords

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