Hey Shorty!

This week I received an exciting piece of news. A short story I entered into a competition made the Short List. As a writer it is the sort of news that sends tingles down your spine and puts a smile on your face.

Rejection is part and parcel of the everyday when you write, it comes with the territory. So when you get a short list or long list placing you can be assured that your story has had an impact – it is a wonderful feeling. Some days writing is thankless and hard, it can feel as if you are wading through treacle. You try your hardest to make your story sing only to have it land flat. Moments that make you fly are so important. They serve as a reminder that sometimes, just sometimes you can hold a tune!

Thankfully I do not have to wait too long for the results.

To Be a Good Writer…

Sage advice from the man himself –

To be a good writer, I believe that one has to read a lot of books. Fifty a year would be a good place to start, but twenty five would work... Stephen King.

I shall be putting this good advice into practice over the holiday season.

Merry Christmas everyone x

As Fast As I Can…

No one said this writing lark was easy! Well, if they did they were either lying or delusional.

With lots of ‘life events’ consuming a large portion of 2018, my writing for the most part has taken a backseat. Yes, of course I have dabbled, I have written everyday but not ‘big’ writing. For ‘big’ writing I needed time and headspace, both of which have been in short supply this year.

From birthing puppies (I kid you not), to providing a taxi service for the kids, 2018 has added a few more ‘life lived’ chapters to my story.

With Autumn well and truly ensconced (what a fine word ensconced is), I am getting back into my groove and tap tap tapping away. Dark nights and dark mornings I love them!

Book 3 is back on my desk and I’m editing like crazy. It has been good to step away and come back to it. Amazing what you discover the third and fourth time around!

Now it’s a race to the finish – on your marks, get set… Go!

Movin on Up ~ Driving Your Story Forward

    We have all been there haven’t we? You are merrily munching your way through the first few chapters of a book that has sat on your TBR pile for a while and then it hits you…. boredom! Yep, mind numbing ‘I’d rather be anywhere but here’ boredom. Like a beautiful car which has been filled with the wrong fuel, the story splutters and then comes to a grinding halt. I have kicked myself so many times for playing the martyr and plowing through to the bitter end only to kick myself a bit more for even bothering to finish it. On reflection what a lot of these books had in common was simple – a soggy middle. At the beginning I’m intrigued, the writing is good and has me turning the pages with glee and then, somewhere, somehow, the tension is lost and the story becomes like a slow moving stream, no I correct myself more like a stagnant pond! Nothing is moving, the characters are not under any sort of pressure to do anything or see anyone, they are just… well they are just there! I don’t know about you but I don’t want ‘just there’ when I’m reading a novel, I can watch TV for that. I want empathy and commitment, as much from the characters as from myself. Commitment comes from making decisions, if nothing is happening no commitments are being made. All of this equals boredom for me, the reader. Don’t get me wrong I am not proposing that there should be twists and turns on every page but the story does need to move forward. Sadly this vacation I have read two such books.

     Sitting here in the Mallorcan sun (photos to follow), I am struck by how important and methodical the editing process needs to be. I don’t want my books to be considered boring and I definitely don’t want a soggy middle! I am the first to admit I write too many words sometimes. Which is why I need to be strong and robust (like a good cup of coffee) when it comes to editing my own work way before an editor gets sight of it.

    I’m sitting poolside trawling my way through the draft of my next novel and three things strike me:

    – Who the hell wrote this?

    – Oh, that’s rather good 

    – What a load of tosh!

    It’s the ‘what a load of tosh’ that is bothersome. These are the sections where I need to channel a high court judge and become harsh but fair! Sometime the ‘tosh’ can be salvaged, sometime not. If there is a meaningful reason for the words to be there I will play around with them. If, however, they are acting as fillers for the main act then they have to go. No ifs, no buts, they must be crossed through with a red pen never to be seen again.

    I have asked myself the same question over and over today – what would happen if the words weren’t there? If I can not defend them then they have to go !

    I am doing well arguing with myself, although the lure of the pool is proving powerful! One more chapter then time for a swim….

    Wednesday Spotlight ~ U Got to Have U Some Fun by Andrew Harkless

    Morning campers! How are you all today? Did your tent stay up overnight? Thinking of upgrading to a cruise? Well, whatever holiday floats your boat (apologises, apologises) you should definitely pack a copy of ‘U Got to Have U Some Fun’ by my guest author Andrew Harkless. Firstly, welcome Andrew.  So, to get the ball rolling please tell us a bit about yourself?

    AH: I dropped out of Penn State University at the age of 20 with the deliberate, albeit unorthodox, intention to earn a more practical, street-smart degree studying the human condition through countless bartending positions and extensive travel. That path has been one of sparse means filled with challenging, often horrifying, periods of introspection and no holds barred character studies of everyone with whom I came in contact. From society’s upper echelon, to those whose resumes read like criminal rap sheets, no type of person was off limits. The ultimate goal: arm an innate imagination with enough real-life experiences to eventually be proficient in creating authentic, heartfelt, relatable characters to act out the scenes of my imagination through literary novels.

    NF: Wow, that sounds hard work but rewarding. ‘U Got to Have U Some Fun’ is a great title for a book! Can you tell us about the inspiration behind it?

    AH: I wanted to take an everyman character anyone could relate with on a sort of middle-aged, coming of age existential journey to discover his true potential.

    NF: What a great premise for a book. I note that it’s set on a cruise ship, was this your first choice of setting?

    AH: It was absolutely my first choice. While working a wide variety of bartending jobs over 25 years to research people so I could ultimately write novels like this one, I was a bartender for two different cruise lines—RCCL and Hawaiian. Setting this story up as a 7-day vacation aboard a cruise ship also allowed me to create a very interesting and realistic sub-plot pulling the curtain back on what really happens on cruise ships.

    NF: I am sure there are many more stories to come from those times…. Can you share with us what inspires you to write?

    AH: Everyone has a calling. I am an only child, never married nor had children. I am a natural observer who is quite analytical. I love working for myself. All these traits are conducive to creative writing. As a movie buff, my ultimate goal has always been to have something I write adapted for the big screen.

    NF: I agree, I think writers are the best observers. I often think writers would make great spies for that very reason. When you write would you say you are a planner or a panster?

    AH: A bit of both. I make a thin outline to start and then it grows and changes as I write

    NF: Me too. I love watching a story unfold, there is something magical about uncovering a story for the first time.Which authors do you enjoy reading?

    AH: All the classics; contemporary wise. I love John Irving, along with all the usual suspects like: Brown, Grisham, DeMille, Elmore Leonard.

    NF: I’m with you on DeMille.Who would you say have been your biggest influences?

    AH: I have the best parents. Without them, my dreams would have never had a chance. I used bartending for the past 27 years as my education and as a source of research to write great novels, so I would also say all the people I’ve met on that journey are content sources of influence. And last but not least, without my editor, publisher, business partner, and friend—Debra L Hartmann—this novel would probably never have come to life.

    NF: Yes families are so important in shaping and supporting us. Where would we be without having someone fighting our corner? If you could time travel what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?

    AH: Work hard and buy real estate or stock at a young age so you have the means to afford the luxury of pursuing your dreams later.

    NF: Good advice Andrew, I wish I’d have done that… the buying real estate bit! So, what are you currently working on?

    AH: A sort of anti-materialistic themed novel. The main character takes a vacation each year to live on the streets with the homeless.

    NF: That sounds intriguing. An actor I know is trying to raise money via crowd funding to make a movie about homlessness, it’s a very emotive subject. Thanks so much for joining me today Andrew and I wish you all the best with ‘U Got to Have U Some Fun’ and here’s to all of your future writing adventures.

    Just before you go can you answer these quick fire questions? It must be the first thing that pops into your head… OK… Ready…Set…Go..

    Favourite type of food?

    Pizza

    Favourite movie?

    Cool Hand Luke, Casablanca, Caddie Shack

    Favourite book?

    I have two: Canery Row by Steinbeck and Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk

    Favourite book character?

    John Smith from U Got to Have U Some Fun

    Red or yellow?

    Yellow

    Sweet or savoury?

    Spicy

    Beginning or End?

    The present is a continual beginning.

    Favourite city?

    Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

    Land or sea?

    Land by the sea.

    Fact or fiction?

    All fiction is fact.

    About the Author

    Andrew Harkless was born in Orange County, California in 1970, but raised in central Pennsylvania. He currently resides in coastal North Carolina. He has never married nor had children—life-lessons possibly still awaiting him down the road. Many typical luxuries were put on hold for devoting unbridled time to writing with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful literary author along the caliber of his idol, John Irving—inarguably one of the greatest contemporary American storytellers.

    Andrew Harkless was born in Orange County, California in 1970, but raised in central Pennsylvania. He currently resides in coastal North Carolina. He has never married nor had children—life-lessons possibly still awaiting him down the road. Many typical luxuries were put on hold for devoting unbridled time to writing with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful literary author along the caliber of his idol, John Irving—inarguably one of the greatest contemporary American storytellers.

    U Got to Have U Some Fun is available in both ebook & paperback  right here >>>                                   

    To Connect with Andrew Harkless:

    Author Website

    Facebook

    Twitter

     

    And The Nominee Is……

    I have been so caught up with ‘stuff’ this week I realised I did not share this wonderful piece of news…. I have been nominated for a 2017 Top Female Authors Award presented by The Authors Show  I have such a warm fuzzy feeling inside! It really is so humbling to have been nominated. Good news is like a fine wine…. it needs to be shared so here you have it…ta da….

     

    2017-TopFemale-Nominee-1000

     

     

    The Power of One

    It is almost a week since the release of my second novel Forbidden Colours. I am happy to report things have not gone too badly. After an initial heart in the mouth moment, the print copies are now all shiny and beautiful!! A friend of mine asked if she could get my books at the library and that got me to thinking… There is absolutely no reason why not but… and this is where the power of 1 comes in… you will need to ask for it. You may in fact need to ask and keep asking, or you may need to make friends with the lovely librarian. I would love for my books to be available in libraries. Not everyone can afford to buy books and not everyone wants to own them, but everyone should have access to read them. In these times of budget cuts and austerity, libraries are a valuable resource worth endorsing. I would like to ask for your help. Next time you are near your local library, go and browse, see what you can find and if you feel able, ask for my book. The power of 1 is a wonderful gift!