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.

Contemporary Freedom

ccnancyjardineToday my friend and fellow Crooked Cat author Nancy Jardine talks about genre in relation to her writing. I’m not entirely sure I agree with everything she’s said so look forward to your comments.

Hello Kim, thank you for inviting me to return to your blog. It’s lovely to pop back to see you.

Some authors quickly find their writing niche and stick with it. It may be that they feel more comfortable with writing political thrillers and that’s the only genre they keep writing in. Or, they only write gritty police procedural novels. Or, maybe they only write historical romances. Many of them are highly successful and their readers are content because they know what to expect from those authors—readers who only want the predictable.

It’s a sad fact of life that other authors who want to challenge readers, or who want to encourage them to appreciate something different in genre or across genres, find their work doesn’t sell well.

The truly mercenary author, I think, finds what genre or ‘fad’ is selling and rides along the crest of that wave—whether or not they enjoy what they’re creating.

I’m still a bit ambivalent regarding my genre comfort zone and I can’t bring myself to be one of those ‘one eye on the profits only’ mercenary type of author.

I love writing my historically based adventures but I’ve also found that writing my contemporary mysteries has given me a sense of freedom. The freedom is directly related to the fact that I don’t need to do so much research since I’m more familiar with the contemporary life my characters might have, or if their lifestyle is quite fanciful, I can find examples of sufficient similar celebrity lifestyles on the internet to make the scenario believable.

When I started to write Take Me Now, my latest Crooked Cat published contemporary mystery novel, I decided to make my TMNx1000main male character Nairn Malcolm an unusual Scottish highland hero. My Nairn was going to be just as charismatic and sword wielding as many of the current highland heroes that can be found in romance novels set in Scotland, but instead of making him a Jacobite, or a medieval hero, I chose to create a contemporary Nairn. I also purposely chose not to create a time shift character, there being plenty of that type of novel available on the market.

Since the story is a romance mystery, I made Nairn a bit more larger than life, yet not the typical hero image at the outset. Though he’s normally the quintessential alpha male, my main female character Aela Cameron finds he’s not at his best when she first meets him. The swooning over my gorgeous highland hero is temporarily delayed since poor Nairn has been the subject of a rather nasty and mysterious motorbike accident. And so begins the fun of the book but also the mystery begins because although I wanted to write an almost ‘tongue in cheek’ version of a highland hero, I also wanted and needed to create a sound mystery plot.

The contemporary freedom for me was also creating amusing dialogue between those main protagonists. Some of the best fun during the writing was during scenes when my strong secondary character Ruaridh Malcolm, Nairn’s father, stirred up some mischief.

If I were asked if Take Me Now is similar to my other writing, I’d have to say no it isn’t because as an author I really tried something different.

Take Me Now is available in ebook formats from Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1QbhUwn ; US http://amzn.to/1MdeuCU ; Smashwords; B&N; and other ebook stores.

Nancy Jardine writes: historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time -Travel Series –Book 1 The Taexali Game).

Find Nancy at the following places-

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com Website: http://nancyjardineauthor.com Facebook LinkedIN   About Me   Goodreads Twitter @nansjar  Google+ (Nancy Jardine)   YouTube book trailer videos   Amazon UK author page   Rubidium Time Travel Series on Facebook http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG

Breaking the Rules

Last week, I spent time researching and putting together a writers’ workshop designed to help authors write the dreaded synopsis. It’s a crucial tool in getting published but often neglected on courses and in writers’ groups. There are plenty of rules to follow, if you want it to be effective.

Coincidentally, I finished reading A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale yesterday. I can’t imagine what his synopsis for this book would look like, as it breaks all the rules of story structure. Each chapter explores a different character at different times over a span of 60+ years, leaping backwards and forwards from the inciting event. Seven characters are looked at in depth with others important to the story included under their umbrellas.

It put me in mind of a book I read a few years ago called Olive Kitteridge. It was a novel but also a collection of short stories, each about a different character. The reader grew to understand the central character, Olive, and her story through the lives and observations of these others.

Writers are told to avoid having too many important characters and that you need a beginning, middle and end. Despite breaking these rules both books worked. The authors were so skilled; their characters came alive in my imagination. For all their flaws, I cared about them. Reading both books felt like doing a puzzle. Each chapter revealed another random piece until, gradually, the whole was revealed. Neither has the drive and pace of a thriller or crime novel but they are quietly compulsive.

Novels are what I read most and prefer to write but I’ve also written short stories, poems, plays and articles, submitting some for publication and/or competitions. This, I’m told, is good practice because it’s challenging and improves a writer’s skills. I once entered a short story competition with a piece inspired by my mother-in-law. Although told it wasn’t really a short story in the traditional sense, it won first prize and has since gone on to be included in the soon to be launched Forget-Me-Not memory book to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

I think my story worked because it was written from love and personal experience so people could relate to it. Like any art form, you need to understand the rules before you can break them and be skilled enough to pull it off.

Readers’ Groups

We discussed Black Diamonds at Wentworth Woodhouse, the setting for this non-fiction book.

After talking about writers’ groups yesterday, today’s Reith Lecture http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00729d9 on radio 4 talked about the civil society and the importance of associations and groups of like-minded folk. Then on Facebook I clicked on this link http://www.hidden-shallows.co.uk/2012/07/09/up-at-the-hospital/ and read about the crazy antics of a readers’ group in Kingston.

The most common comment I hear about belonging to a book group is that it makes people read books they would never have chosen for themselves. Fantastic! It’s far too easy to get stuck in our ways. Like the Kingston group, my lot also spend a fraction of the time discussing the current book, a chunk choosing the next one and the rest solidifying our friendship. We meet roughly every six weeks in a pub and have lunch. It’s a very civilised way to spend an afternoon and a contribution to civil society I’m more than happy to make ;o)

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We followed this book with a trip to the cinema to see the film.

From an author’s point of view, it’s been very helpful to discover that we seldom agree on the books we read. Knowing you can never please everyone, frees us from that obligation.

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