Thursday, August 23, 2012
published by Oak Tree Press
This is the story of a man and a young boy whose friendship blossoms as they travel the country roads of medieval France together. Each in his own way, benefitting the other. On the one hand we have the Abbot Rutilius and on the other his appointed Acolyte William. Rutilius is the Papal auditor of monastries in 13th century France. He goes around the monasteries checking on their finances and standing in for any Abbot who happens to be away at the time of his visit, as is the case in this book.
William, soon to be fifteen years old is the son of a minor noble, a man who had led an undistinguished life but whose relations had become embroiled with the lost cause of the Cathars. William is a quick witted lad and has also taken something of a shine to Abbot Rutilius, seeing him as a father figure. They set off on the road together to the Abbot's next posting, St. Guilhem. Along the way they are robbed of some of their possessions and the Abbot's donkey.
Therefore it is a slightly disheveled and flustered pair who arrive at St. Guilhem, only to be told of a death that has recently occurred of one of the monks. On the face of it the death appears to be from natural causes but is later proved to be murder. The Abbot soon realises that all is not as it should be at St. Guilhem. Money is missing from the accounts in both the kitchen and the scriptorium and food is also going missing on a regular basis. Add to that the fact that another body is found and it soon becomes apparent that Rutilius and William have got their hands full in trying to solve the killings and the false accounting.
The book is an enjoyable piece of light reading with no gimmicks or sensationalism within its pages and it is all the better for it. Just a good, honest medieval mystery
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
· If we hadn’t killed this character off, it would have added two more chapters to the book. Why add two extra chapters to a book that’s just the right length?
· We’ve got the right ingredients in the wrong proportion this will never make it in the thriller market. Why force a book that is about the British secret service and international crime into a thriller mould?
· A previously unknown son needs to earn the father’s respect before being welcomed into the family. Not when his only other son was killed a few years before, and from my perspective, not at all, never.
The other seven reviews say how enjoyable a read it was, one started with “I read the first 29 chapters straight off without stopping…” Another empathized with the little boy whose father was killed by a crime syndicate and was almost in tears.
The differences? The first two were male and writers, the remainder were mostly women and regarded themselves primarily as readers.
So is it male/female attitudes or is it writers vs readers?
As writers, we need to know so we can choose wisely among our peers.
Anyway, judge for yourselves – you can preview the first four chapters free and if you like what you see, you can get the book at a 35% discount, published by the Barking Rain Press
Friday, June 29, 2012
and still more advice, getting serious now.
Half a dozen Things Agents, Editors & Publishers may not know about Writers.
I was recently forwarded a much forwarded email with a link to an article “13 Things a Writer may not know about Agents and Publishers.” The ignorance-gap seems to be as steep sided on one side as on the other.
1. Once a writer has written one and a half books, they’re hooked. The journey counts as much as the arrival. “Get out there and promote” the writer is told; when?What about the sequel?
2. Many, if not a huge proportion of writers, are in the second half or fourth quarter of their lives. Waiting a year for a decision on your book, over two years for your book to become available means inevitably, some writers will wake up dead before it happens. We don’t have the time to waste.
3. Writers are usually up for promoting their book but a timetable of what will happen when, helps in the planning. Even worse than an unreliable timetable is the profound silence that can develop between the three events: submission, acceptance, publication.
4. A decent writer will submit a decently edited manuscript but the best writer in the world – perhaps excepting those who take 4 or 5 years over the job – will read what they expect to see rather than what’s there. There needs to be an editor between completing a manuscript and submission, but usually, that process will be completed by the publisher or by the agent recommending an editor. It shouldn’t be a process shunned by the writer, by the agent or by the publisher.
5. If an unsuitable manuscript is submitted, for goodness sake say so and it’s usually possible to do that without crushing a new writer’s ego irretrievably. One of my most treasured possessions, until it was lost in a house move, was letter of rejection from John W. Campbell, then editor of Analog magazine. He found time to write a foolscap letter, he cared.
6. Circumstances differ across the world. Unless they travel, a UK publisher will not know what works, what’s acceptable, what’s possible in the US or Japan and, of course vice versa. Credit the writer with a little intelligence when handing out advice across international borders.
7. Just to redress the balance a little… my first agent was the gentleman, John Carnell who specialized in Science Fiction. There were no computers or emails in those days but the UK Post Office was the best in the world... John kept me up to speed with picture postcards from NASA.
Friday, June 1, 2012
Adele Abbot is the author of
“Of Machines and Magics” and “Postponing Armageddon”
some further thoughts on the problems of writing fiction.
“Of Machines and Magics” is my first published novel although there is another work – “Postponing Armageddon” at the publishers which, actually, was the first book I wrote. Until I started on these two, I had no idea how difficult it was to get one’s characters to do what you want of them. It’s a bit like a film director telling his actors what is expected and then watching as they turn a carefully constructed film noire into a farce. Imagine a game of chess where all the pieces have their own idea of how to win the game and went about moving to any old square on the board they fancied.
Gentle Reader, do you have any idea of the callous and selfish attitude of most characters in books?
We authors spend hours painstakingly working out an interesting narrative (except for those, like my uncle, who don’t) and if we take our eyes off the character’s actions for a minute, he or she is off the plot, doing their own thing without a thought for their fellow characters or for the authors themselves.
Take conversation… How often do you stop reading and admire that instant come-back, the clever turn of phrase in an argument or the lofty put-down used by the main character? They speak the line and then off they go thinking about something else entirely. They don’t bother to consider that the author has spent three or four hours putting that brief instant together, polishing the phrase, picking exactly the right words for the job. Off they go, not a moment’s gratitude for making them look so good.
And appearance. We describe them in detail, we select their clothes with care, we choose elegant colour schemes and ten to one, they’ve forgotten to shave or they’re wearing way too much lipstick for the occasion or they have odd shoes on.
Personality is another thing. Putting together a personality is as time consuming as plotting the novel in the first place. We create a pair of characters with the intention of there being conflict between the two, we turn our back and they’re palling up, maybe even jumping into bed with each other, when we already have this perfectly fabulous argument all worked out for them.
In OM&M, I have this quest for my three main characters to take part in. It will take them the entire book to get there but they’re tired of the whole thing only half way through. They reach this elegant little city with a mayor whose job is to make them welcome (and whose other job is to make then very unwelcome if they so much as drop a toffee wrapper) and one of them decided, then and there, that this was end of the journey, the place they had been searching for! Well, it wasn’t and I had to have some harsh words with them before they carried on along the lines I had worked out. Threats of annihilation, no less!
Not all the tension and conflict appears on the pages, believe me.
In spite of my characters’ tendencies to do their own thing, I really did enjoy writing the book. Hope you enjoy reading it just as much.
click for Adele Abbot's web page
Of Machines and Magics at Amazon(kindle & paperback – post free to UK)
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Jim hails from Florida and has a fund of funny stories and that easy Southern drawl that makes his telling of them into a memorable occasion.
~ o O O o ~
Some folk say that writin’ is easy. They say, “All you gotta do is sit down at your desk with a cool drink and let ‘er rip!” Well, I’m here to tell you, it ain’t that easy.
If you wanta write somethin’, there’s lots of stuff you gotta know, and rules you gotta follow. Some of these rules don’t make no sense at all, but you gotta follow ‘em anyhow.
For instance: right off, if you wanta write somethin’, there’s some dumb rule that sez you gotta have a “plot.” Now that’s stupid, or what? Now it seems that a plot is what the story is all about. Well, who cares, as long as it’s a story? I watch Seinfeld every week and there ain’t no plot to that program. It seems to me that a plot is where they put you after you “cash in your chips.”
There’s lots of other stuff you gotta know too. Why, you gotta learn a whole new language, like commas, periods, prepositions, exclamation points, semi-colons and colons. Now I can understand why folks need their colons… but, semi-colons? I’ve been told I use too many commas. Well, I happen to like commas. They are cute, don’t take up too much room, and they allow me to breathe for a minute before the next idea comes crashin’ in. Everybody says I use too many of them, but do they tell me how many is too much? No, they do not. You gotta figure that out for yourself. I have, grudgingly, agreed to do away with half my commas to satisfy my peers.
The Grammar Gestapo also tells me not to use any exclamation points, if I can help it. Hey, an exclamation point puts a bit of zing into a drab story, like a dash of Louisiana Hot Sauce puts a little zing into a plain old omelet.
Take those preposition things. They tell you that you can’t end a sentence with a preposition. God forbid that you should end a sentence with a preposition. Why, they’ve even got somethin’ they calla “danglin’ participle.”
Well, I tell you, it’s just too much for me. I don’t know how I got into writin’ in the first place. All the fun things I coulda got into, like sky-divin', auto racin’, lion tamin’, and bein’ shot out of a canon, and what do I get myself into? … writin’ stuff. I reckon I must like to suffer. Why lots of times, I lie awake until four in the mornin', just tryin’ to think up a story.
Well, sir. I’ve nearabout had enough, and that’s where I’m at. Now, just see there? I’ve got to change that whole sentence just ‘cause I can’t end a sentence with “at.”
Well, I’ll tell you! I’ve about had all I can put up with. Oh, no! I’ve done it again! There’s another of those dern prepositions. See what I mean?
I’m getting’ so frustrated, I feel like puttin’ in a couple of those “danglin’ participles.” I would, too, if I knew what they were. So, you see? This writin’ stuff is hard work and it’s somethin’ you don’t wanta get involved in.
Yeah, I know… I can’t end a sentence with the word “in.”
Well, who cares? That’s where I’m at!
Jim has a book on Amazon...
click here to check it out.
"This little book is a collection of short, easy to read nostalgia and of memories gone by."
Jim has a book on Amazon...
click here to check it out.
"This little book is a collection of short, easy to read nostalgia and of memories gone by."
Thursday, May 3, 2012
The second day of the course was as demanding as the first. How the tutor kept up the pace hour after hour, James couldn’t say. He suspected that had she been male or less attractive, several of his colleagues would have dozed off. The women worked hard, none of them intended Paula Raines to get the better of them.
Today, Paula was dressed in a dark blue business suit, the short short skirt overlapped by a long long jacket that left less than a hand’s breadth of skirt visible. She wore tights to match the suit with brilliant cobalt blue shoes. The shoes, with four inch heels, matched the fingernails, the earrings and the slim necklace.
“Keeping up?” she asked James as they broke for lunch.
“Of course.” He grinned. “Where do you go for lunch?”
“Brenda’s. Know it?”
“Umm, yes. Can I join you?”
Brenda’s was furnished with soft, easy chairs around mosaic tables, lighting was low and the woman’s cobalt blue accessories gleamed dully. They ordered at the bar and took a brace of beers to a table.
“Business psychology?” James asked and they talked about the first day and a half of the course. As their meals were served, he asked Paula about her credentials.
Paula smiled. “Fifty percent experience, fifty percent attitude.”
She tugged at her cuffs, ran a hand along her thigh. “Clothes, image, confidence. Actually, it’s the outfit that gives you the confidence. If the spots are a bit bad, I go and buy another pair of shoes.”
James looked down at the brilliant footwear on view. “They’re splendid. My wife gets a bit crazy about shoes too, I’ve seen her go berserk in a shoe shop when she thought someone else was after the same pair.”
“Your wife? What does she do?”
“Barrister. Everything black except her blouse and her wig. And her shoes – red’s favourite. Brilliant red.”
“Hmm. Obviously good taste – I’ve a pair in red, just like these.” Paula licked her lips. “Wonder if her taste in men is as good.”
They met for lunch over the rest of the week. The shoes changed from Monday’s green and Tuesday’s blue to black, to cream, to darkest purple.
“You know,” James said at the end of Friday’s lunch hour, “if I were single, I’d marry you. Umm...” He raised his eyebrows, surprised at what he’d just said. “If you’d have me.”
They stood up and Paula brushed some crumbs off his jacket. “Oh, I’d have you, James. I’d take you just as you are. I’ll...’ She wasn’t smiling, not even a little bit.
Emma locked her office door and paused at reception on her way out. “Back in thirty minutes. Okay?” She left the chambers, stood for a moment on the pavement, undecided in the almost painfully bright sunlight. One of those days when everything within a hundred yards was as clear and as conspicuous as if the world was just newly made, freshly painted.
And her mind was made up for her.
Almost directly across the road was a Heart Research charity shop. The window was empty except for a tall fluted pillar supporting a pair of red shoes. She looked down at the pair she was wearing, white with a pearly sheen to them. She looked back across the road and started walking.
There was a roar, the whoosh of a car passing far faster than was safe on a high street. Emma might have been killed but she didn’t notice.
“The shoes,” she said.
“The shoes. In the window. Red.”
“Oh, yes. You want to see them?”
“I want them. Yes, yes, okay. I want to see them.”
The assistant leaned into the window and hooked the shoes off the pedestal. She passed them to Emma.
Red. Blood red, the colour of newly shed blood; so bright, so brilliant, so shiny that the whole world was reflected in double miniature from the toe of each one.
The shop assistant checked the ticket. “£95. Doesn’t seem right, we don’t sell anything for that much. I’ll go check.”
“The contributor insisted.” Another assistant said. “Same as the window arrangement.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Emma’s eyes never left the shoes. By touch, she found her purse, found the £20 pocket, took out five of them and passed them over.”
“Don’t you want to try them? They might not fit.”
“Of course they’ll fit. Exactly my size.” She rubbed a finger along the flawless column of a heel. “No,” she said, hearing the question through a growing rush of blood blotting out the world beyond the shoes. “Don’t wrap them, I’ll carry them.”
Outside, the reflection of the sun from the red leather was hypnotic. Emma hopped on one foot, taking off the white, putting on the red shoe. A moment later, she did the same with the other foot. She gasped. “Bloody Hell, they are perfect.” She stepped off the curb, heading back to the chambers.
There was a roar of engine noise, a screech of tyres, a thump of steel against soft flesh and a moment later, a clatter and a pop as the shoes hit the road – one on its heel, the other on the toe.
“Oh my God.” Paula screamed as she climbed out of the car. Blood red, the Porsche matched the shoes lying in the road.
“Dust to dust…”
He crumbled some soil over the coffin as it dropped slowly into the ground.
“I’m so sorry, James. So very sorry.” The red shoes rested on the coffin lid as it was lowered into the grave, so very like the cobalt blue pair she, herself, was wearing.
Paula slid her hand between his fingers, still gritty from the soil he’d dropped, When the service was finished, she hugged him, her cheek astonishingly soft against his. “I shall have to try and make it up to you.”
She did smile as she said it, just a little bit.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
by Everett Coles
She had been christened Millie Lofthouse but she hated her name as much as she hated her life. She cried each night praying for the chance to meet boys and to be popular. Living with an over-strict father was bad enough but by the time she was eighteen her mother had been diagnosed with Dementia. That meant almost ten years of full time caring before her mum died. Millie never had a job, never had her own career, never met anyone outside the family. Her father wouldn’t hear of a nursing home... “She gave you life,” He would say. “You owe her.”
After the funeral the family solicitor had given Millie a cheque for £25,000. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry, her Dad was astounded. Millie put her plans into action. she got herself a flat and booked appointments with a dentist and a plastic surgeon. It took £8,000 to fix her crooked teeth and another £12,000 to fix her small backside and turn her 32A's into 32BB's.
The competition, Belle of the South at the local nightclub – the Fiddler’s Elbow – was the first of many she planned to enter; the winner at the Fiddler’s would be the subject of the annual calendar which, in a good year would sell a few hundred copies. Millie entered under her new name: Melang'e Lefitte, it had taken most of one night to decide that and she wasn’t certain she had it right. Not that it mattered, Millie was not surprised when she won the contest; after all, she had planned every last step including the tête-à-tête with the portly MC. She handed out business cards to her admirers saying to each of them, "give me a call sometime."
Her name was on the notice board at the Fiddler’s. Her picture was up at the Stardust where she was the number one pole dancing attraction with a cloud of tissue butterflies floating down from an overhead net. Her phone never stopped. She would walk along the street with her cell phone glued to her ear, a succession of cars parked outside her door and all sorts of men were constantly ringing her door bell.
Neighbours eventually campaigned for her to leave and not without a certain relief, Melang'e went home. But her admirers found out her address and followed her. One in particular, one whom she’d snubbed with less courtesy than was tactful, was a loud and persistent visitor. “Melons,” He shouted. “Melons Leftfeet. I've got the money, let me in."
Millie was just a frightened girl, not understanding just what it was she had unleashed.” She would run upstairs crying. She locked the door and, dreams soured, pulled the bedcovers over her head.
She never heard the fracas outside.
Just the light knock on her door and her father's voice. "Don't worry Millie you’re home now. You’re safe here. My turn to look after you."