Monday, 5 February 2018

Shadows on the grass - Misha Herwin



 “Shadows on the Grass” came out as an e-book in January and after the first flurry of excitement,
 there’s time now to sit back and reflect on the whole process.

This book has taken many, many years to write. Not because I am a slow writer, quite the opposite in fact, but because it started out life in a very different form.

Back in the day I was interested in writing historical novels, I was also, at more or less the same time, researching my family history.

My parents came to England after WW2 and settled in a country that was totally foreign to them. Because at that time Poland was behind the Iron Curtain they had very little contact with any of their relatives and neither did we. Curious to know more I began asking questions and listening to the stories my mother told about her childhood.

Some of this material was incorporated in the original version of “Shadows on the Grass” a long shambling novel that had no real centre, or any particular theme. I remember finishing it one snowy December day and rewarding myself with a glass of vodka, then putting the manuscript away in the box along with all the research I had done on Polish history.

Of course what I should have done was to get feedback and start on the next draft, but somehow I had lost impetus. Life got in the way and it wasn’t until some years later that I took it out again, decided there was something in what I had written and decided to give it another go.

The first thing that went was the structure. Instead of following a chronological narrative, I went for a series of flash backs so that the story of the Dzierzanowski family would be told through the view point of three main characters. Grandmother, mother and daughter. And so a theme emerged, the relationship between the three of them became the focus of the book.

In nineteen sixties Bristol seventeen year old Kate is torn between the new sexual freedom and her rigid Catholic upbringing. Her parents have high expectations of her; she however is determined to lead her own life.

Mimi her grandmother is dying. In her final hours, her cousin the princess keeps watch at her bedside.  Born in the same month in the same year, the two women are bound by their past and a terrible betrayal.

Meanwhile, caught between the generations, Hannah Mimi’s daughter struggles to come to come to terms with her relationship with her mother and to keep the peace between her daughter and her husband.

She too must find her own way in this foreign land in a new post war world, where the old certainties have gone and everything she knows has been swept away.

Thanks Steve for hosting me on your blog. If you would like a copy of “Shadows on the Grass” here’s the Amazon LINK

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Creating a book - GB Williams

Creating a Book

Writing is an odd thing.  Most people think it’s a solitary activity, but is it really?
It does, at first glance look that way, and writers do spend a lot of time working alone.  At least I do.  Our distinguished host on this blog, Steve Lockley spends a fair amount of his time working with others, Paul Lewis and Steve Savile to name but two. Such collaboration is actually rare - at least, in comparison to the number of writers who write alone.
Writing is a process that starts with a story idea, usually in one person’s head.  It usually involves a computer somewhere along the line where one person sits and types. Then an editor, probably also sitting alone with a computer somewhere, rips it up and sends back to the writer telling them all the things that are wrong with it.  After that, there are tears and wine and rewrites.  Then more rewrites.  Funny that the re-writing feels like it takes so much longer than the initial writing.  Then there’s copy editing and proofreading still to do before publication. 
A writer can write, but no book should ever get into the hands of a reader without the work and effort of an editor. Have to say I don’t think my stuff would ever have been published without the hard work my editor puts in, the slaps around the head for the bad stuff and the sharper ones telling me to see that there are good bits too.
Then there’s the cover.  All books need a cover, even those that will never be printed. Like it or not the cover will help or hinder the book being sold.  It’s a creative element that needs to be right; people do judge a book by its cover.  It is very unusual that the writer actually designs the cover, that’s usually the province of a very different kind of creative.  I’ve sent out briefs for cover designs and had a couple where I’ve wondered how the result in any way related to what I wrote, where they really don’t relate, then I ask for changes to be made.  I’m happy with the covers my name is on.
Working with a publisher also helps with that too.  They have their own processes for creating a book, content and cover.  Then they do the marketing too.  Many an author does the whole kit and caboodle of marketing themselves, I don’t because that’s not the way my brain works, but even I know I have to put the effort into selling, and that certainly takes more than one buyer. Selling needs a seller and a buyer at least, and for an author to be considered a success, the author needs lots of buyers.
Funny then, that even after all that, the creative process still isn’t over.  Just because the book has been written and published, it doesn’t mean the creative process is finished.  Whatever a writer puts on the page, the reader still has to create what they see in their own mind. One person’s sky blue may be cerulean, the next might be azure. It will depend on what they get from the words they read.  It will depend on their perception
The character I write, will not be the character you read, and won’t be the character your best friend sees either.  We all have our own realities and we will each see different things even in the same set of words.  My reality and yours aren’t the same thing.  But none of those realities are wrong. The worlds we create are ours and ours alone, they are precious and they are perfect and we each should strive to create them over and over again.
So the creative process never really ends because it begins all over again with every new reader, and even every new read, as the reader picks up on the nuances unseen on the first run through.
Every writer sows the seed of a new story, a new world.  I’ve planted a few seeds now, why don’t you go see if you want to bring them to life.


Twitter:    @GailBWilliams  
Facebook: @GBWilliamsCrimeWriter
Blog:    https://thewriteroute.wordpress.com/
Website:   https://www.gailbwilliams.com


AVAILABLE NOW


Locked Up (The Locked Trilogy Book 1) by [Williams, GB]Locked In: a gritty thriller you won't want to miss (The Locked Trilogy Book 2) by [Williams, GB]

 Locked Up                                                                 Locked In




Thursday, 18 January 2018

Story Challenge 2018 #1

When I first started writing and submitting fiction, more than thirty-five years ago, I was only interested in short stories. I tried my hand at a novel, but after writing 10k words (on a manual typewriter) I lost all faith in it and tore it up, frustrated that I could have written a couple of stories in that time. If I'd continued I might have ended up with a novel that would never have seen the light of day as opposed to 20 stories and the hope that at least some of them would have found publication. It's impossible to make a living out of writing short stories, but back then that wasn't the aim; all I wanted was to get some publication credits.

I've written SF, horror, fantasy, crime, Sherlock Holmes tales, Doctor Who stories, and fiction tied to games. There was a time when I was regularly receiving invitations to submit to anthologies and the list of credits grew longer.

Somewhere along the way I started writing longer stuff and took the plunge to give up a day job I was no longer enjoying. I was producing stuff under my own name, in collaboration with others, and as a ghostwriter, but the short stories came along far less frequently. Last year, the only short story I had published was a story that had originally appeared in my collection Always a Dancer & other stories (Fox Spirit 2016). There was plenty of longer stuff, even though my own name didn't appear on much of it, but no new short stories.

This year, things are going to change.

I've challenged myself to write and submit at least one story every month in addition to the other work I already have lined up (and there's plenty of that). I have no intention of writing these stories for nothing, but I'm happy to write for markets that pay at least a token payment plus contributor's print copy if there's a theme that grabs me. If I am fortunate to place any of these stories I'll buy a new piece of art for my office, if I'm not I'll doodle something on a postcard and stick it up on the wall just to remind myself.

I already have a few deadlines pencilled into my diary for anthologies that I'd like to submit to, and if there are any editors who are working on projects this year and would like me to try my hand at something please get in touch.

So why am I telling you this? Well I figured that if I wrote my plan down I would be more likely to stick to it. It would be great if I reached the end of the year in which I celebrate my 60th birthday with enough stories to fill a new collection, even better if some of them had already found homes! I'll try to leave a monthly update to keep you up to date wit how I'm doing.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

A relationship with an Old Lady - Willie Meikle



As promised, here's the first of the guest posts coming to you over the next few months. Here Willie Meikle gets the chance to talk about the place that inspired his latest short story collection, The Ghost Club.


A RELATIONSHIP WITH AN OLD LADY

I went to London to seek my fortune, or rather, to follow a woman, back in early 1982. My relationship with the Old Lady proved to be the healthier one of the two, a love affair that I still carry with me even though it lasted less than ten years.

For the first few months I was living and working outside the main city while making forays into the museums, cinemas and pubs of the city center at weekends. But the love only came after I started working in the old city itself. I got a job in a converted warehouse in Devonshire Square near Liverpool Street Railway Station. My desk looked out over Petticoat Lane Market, my lunchtime wanderings took me to the curry cafes of Brick Lane and the bars of Whitechapel in the footsteps of the Ripper. I was supporting computer systems down in the financial sector, and my wanderings down there took me to Bank and Monument, to indoor markets and gorgeous old pubs, to tiny churches and cemeteries hidden away in courtyards, and across the river, to Borough Market and even older pubs, like The George and The Market Porter. If you're after a true whiff of old London, there's few finer places to seek it.

A few years later we moved office to Farringdon Road and more old markets, Guardian journalists in the pubs and forays into the area between there and Euston. Then we settled in High Holborn which for me meant Skoob Bookshop, the British Museum and yes, more pubs, in the Victorian splendor of The Princess Louise, the high gothic weirdness of The City of Yorke and many more, including forays down to Fleet Street for some Dickensian musings in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, the Strand for The George and the Coal Hole under The Savoy for some slices of theatrical history, and many other bars, too numerous to mention or too lost to memory in alcoholic poisoning of the brain cells.

For a while London got into my soul. I got able to find my way around from just about anywhere inside the M25, I lived south of the river in Bromley, Beckenham and Ladywell, where I discovered that the flat I'd bought didn't just have a bogeyman in the stairwell, but that the Old Lady's Well bubbled up in the cellar, to my eventual enormous financial cost, But at least I got to know the similarly drunken patrons of a variety of night buses after concerts or drinking sessions during my time there.

London is indeed a fine old city. Almost, but not quite, the equal of Edinburgh or Glasgow in my heart. My real love for it came from not just the place, but from the people I met there. I met many Londoners, but I also met people from all over the UK, people from India, Pakistan, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Poland, Greece, Turkey and many other far flung spots. I made great friends and a lot of them are still friends today, 35 years on. We spent many happy hours in those aforementioned old bars, telling each other stories. They heard mine, and I heard theirs, and the telling of them bound, and binds us in friendship all across the globe to this day. That's been better than any fortune to me over the years.

Towards the end of my time in the Old Lady, I met my wife there too, in another of the old bars, and our courtship was spent over beer, curries, film and theatre around Covent Garden and in the West End.

We left London for Scotland in 1991, but the Old Lady came with me, in my friends and, eventually, in my own writing. When I started to drift into writing Victoriana, it was London that called loudest to me, from Baker Street and Cheyne Walk, from Whitechapel to Embankment and yes, from bar to bar, Charringtons IPA, Fullers London Pride, Young's Special and all.

In my newest collection, THE GHOST CLUB, most of the stories don't take place in London. But they are all told there, over a meal and a drink, by Doyle and Stoker, Stevenson and Oliphant, Tolstoy and Wilde and others, all drawn, like me, by the tales to be told, and heard, in the arms of the Old Lady.



THE GHOST CLUB, a new collection of supernatural stories, is out from me at Crystal Lake Publishing in paperback and ebook on 8th December.

It's a tad ambitious, and might fall flat on its face, but given my love for the city, the era and the storytellers who lived in it, writing a story as if written by each of them is something I had to try.

It's a simple premise.

In Victorian London, a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal dining club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.

These are their stories, containing tales of revenant loved ones, lost cities, weird science, spectral appearances and mysteries in the fog of the old city, all told by some of the foremost writers of the day. In here you'll find Verne and Wells, Tolstoy and Checkov, Stevenson and Oliphant, Kipling, Twain, Haggard, Wilde and Blavatsky alongside their hosts.

Come, join us for dinner and a story.

Here's the TOC, which may have a different running order in the final book.


THE GHOST CLUB MEMBERS AND THEIR STORIES

Robert Louis Stevenson          Wee Davie Makes a Friend
Rudyard Kipling                       The High Bungalow
Leo Tolstoy                              The Immortal Memory
Bram Stoker                            The House of the Dead
Mark Twain                             Once a Jackass
Herbert George Wells             Farside
Margaret Oliphant                   To the Manor Born
Oscar Wilde                            The Angry Ghost
Henry Rider Haggard              The Black Ziggurat
Helena P Blavatsky                 Born of Ether
Henry James                           The Scrimshaw Set
Anton Checkov                        At the Molenzki Junction
Jules Verne                             To the Moon and Beyond
Arthur Conan Doyle                The Curious Affair on the Embankment

You can order a copy here.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Let's get this show back on the road!

Yeah, yeah, I know I've said this before, but this time it's really going to happen. I'm not promising that I'll be making updates every day, but they'll certainly be more frequent that once every year or so. I have no excuses beyond the pressure of work, and while there's no guarantee that the load will get any lighter, I'll be making sure that I find time to provide some kind of update.

So why am I doing this? Well, there are still plenty of people stopping by to read the previous posts and the least I can do is provide a little more for those who keep coming back hoping for more.

For the next few weeks I'll be trying to bring everyone up to speed with the stuff I've been up to for the last couple of years and talk about a few of the projects I have lined up for 2018 - it's already looking like it's going to be a busy one. There are a couple of things in there that I can't talk about yet, but it's all good

I'll be posting a few thoughts on various aspects of building a writing career including things like writing without payment and royalty only anthologies. I have no intentions of giving writing advice - there are plenty of others out there that have something to say - but I'm happy to talk about my own experiences.

I have some guest posts lined up for the next few months but this time I've invited a few people from outside the Fantasy/SF/Horror community. If you're interested in a guest slot, I'd love to hear from you.

Kicking things off will be the fabulous Willie Meikle. Willie and I started off writing for the small press far too many years ago and somehow we've both managed to keep plugging away. His new collection of short fiction looks rather special but more of that soon enough.

So if you're a writer and would like a slot to talk about the way you work, or to vent your spleen at some aspect of the publishing industry, get in touch. Hope to hear from you!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

I'm Back!

Has it really been almost three years since I last posted anything on here? I seem to have lurched from one project to the next with barely the chance to catch my breath. The thought was always there to come back and give an update but work has got in the way!


So what's been happening since I was last on here?


Well there have been a handful of new short stories, at least three short novels as well as a full length one (and a couple of novels I have ghost written but can't talk about). I've set up a page listing my published work and while there are no links to buy any of them yet I hope it won't be too long before I find the time to do it


The full length novel is 'The Sign of Glaaki', a novel based on Fantasy Flight Games' Arkham Horror game. Murder, mayhem, monsters, Harry Houdini and a young Dennis Wheatley. What more could you ask for?


The first of the short novels was 'Solomon's Seal' co-written with Steven Savile and featuring some of the characters from his best selling novel 'Silver'. The only monster in this one is very much the human kind.


Somehow Steve and I also managed to fit in a couple of short novels featuring our character Jack Stone who first appeared in the story Jack Be Nimble. This story was later renamed 'Northern Fire' for too many reasons to bore anyone with and is available as an ebook. The two short novels 'Northern Grit' and 'Northern Soul' follow Jack's exploits as he tries to rebuild his life back home in the North of England. They are only available as ebooks at the moment but there is the prospect of a paperback bringing together all three of the stories. I'll be sure to post on here as soon as I know more


There's plenty of other stuff on the horizon but if I try to talk about everything at once I won't even get this post published.


I promise to be back before too long!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

It's only me!


Well now that my two months of guest bloggers has come to an end, the usual routine of irregular updates from me will resume. Having said that, if anyone is looking for a place to talk about their latest work this space can be made available.


Of Time and Dust (The Sally Reardon Supernatural Mysteries)So what has been happening since my last update? Well Steve Savile and I have finally completed Deadlines the third of our Sally Reardon Supernatural Mysteries, which started with Of Time and Dust, and it's now available for the kindle. Other devices exist I'm assured, but there is a very good reason for the name of this blog! This one is twice the length of the previous two stories but we've decided to hold the price at the same level as the others for the first month at least, so I hope that those who enjoyed the first couple of stories rush out and buy it. We've also taken the opportunity to have revamped covers done by the fabulously talented Stan Tremblay. Stan has made an appearance on this blog and I'm sure you'll agree that he does some great work. Deadlines (The Sally Reardon Supernatural Mysteries) in the US or here in the UK

What else? Well I'll be at Fantasycon from the 30th September to 2nd October. As usual I'll be spending most of the weekend in the bar so if you are there please come up and say hello - you won't even have to buy me a beer unless you really want to. I'm not scheduled to appear on any panels as of yet but a couple of books are being launched over the weekend with my stories in. Full Fathom Forty, an anthology to celebrate 40 years of the British Fantasy Society, contains a reprint of 'Honour Before Glory' which first appeared in Chronicles of the Holy Grail. This time I'm not planning on sitting at the the end of the table during the signing session if I can help it. Last time I did that there was no space left on the page for me and I was signing at all kinds of weird angles!


Alt-Dead: The Alternative Dead Anthology (Volume 1)Also being launched that weekend is the new Alt-Dead anthology edited by Peter Mark May. This contains a new Winter Zombie story written in collaboration with Mr Savile. This tale is set in the same world as our story 'Snowbound' which appeared in Guy N Smith's Graveyard Rendezvous 37. There's a third story in the sequence due to appear in a Phobias anthology before the end of the year - more on that when I have it. We've already got ideas for another couple of stories in the sequence, so if any small press publishers out there are interesting in having a chat about doing a collection of them, get in touch.



Djinn, the first part of a series of vampire novellas again with Steve Savile, is now into a second draft. A couple of publishers have expressed an interest in taking a look at this so keep everything crossed for us.

As usual there are a couple of other projects on the go which I can't really talk about yet, partly because of contractual reasons and partly because I don't want to jinx them. I'm quite excited about all of them though. More news soon I hope.