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Summer 2014 Issue 2

The Accidental Author Marneta Viegas Your Character Speaks Nicolas Corder 12 Way to Boost Your Creativity Rory B. Mackay

Summer2014Edition 2


August Releases

Cover picture : Stuart Davies: http://www.stuartdaviesart.com


Writer’s Wheel appears to have got off to an enthusiastic start and so we’ve expanded our team, cranked up our ambitions, and galvanised our contributors into making Issue 2 even better. Krystina Kellingley, publisher of Cosmic Egg and Axis Mundi Books, is acting as Fiction Editor and Author Resources, while Sarah-Beth Watkins, an established Compass Books author and publisher of Chronos Books keeps us on our toes checking grammar, spelling and syntax. By the time this issue goes to press it will also have its own website at http://writerswheel.com/ but in between issues keep in touch by logging on to the Compass Books blog to see what’s happening at http://www.compass-books.net/blogs/compass

and increase public awareness about their title(s). We’re also compiling a Writers’ Resource and Author Services Directory (see page 54 for those who need help with their typescripts (editing, assessment, etc), or require the services of a ghost-writer, a guest speaker, or workshop facilitator for a writing event. Some of those on the list are well-known names from popular writing events, others have a wide range of experience as tutors in the creative writing industry. So if you want to add a bit of sparkle to your writing event, have a look to see what’s on offer.

Writer’s Wheel has been compiled for the benefit of both readers and writers, and if there’s anything you’d like to see featured just send an email with your suggestions to publisher1@compass-books.net It’s often said that these days any fool can get a book After all, our aim is that WW should be more like a published – but the problem is can you sell it? When writer’s club rather than just another writing magaSusie Kearley accepted the contract for Freelance zine – and you don’t have to pay to join. Writing on Health, Food and Gardens she knew she’d need to be involved with the marketing, simply because most publishers require some input from their Happy writing authors. Her action plan appeared in the form of an Suzanne Ruthven article for the Compass Books blog and concluded Maria Moloney with the question: What are other writers doing to Krystina Kellingley promote their work? WW is always interested in Sarah-Beth Watkins hearing what other JHP authors do to promote sales

Writer’s Wheel now invites contributions for the next issue of the on-line quarterly magazine. We are particularly interested in features, articles and interviews from beginners, authors, publishers and readers on all writing-related subjects. Writer’s Wheel is a stable mate of Compass Books, the writers’ resource imprint of John Hunt Publishing and the material submitted for consideration should reflect the hands-on, practical nut and bolts approach to writing rather than philosophical ‘why we write’ reflections. Sub-

missions: 1500-1800 words, longer pieces by agreement. We will be featuring extracts from both fact and fiction already published by JHP authors but we are also interested in receiving original short stories up to 1800 words and flashfiction of 500 words maximum, regardless of whether you are a JHP author or not. Stories may be previously published or part of a published anthology or collection. Original poetry should be a maximum of 40 lines.

Where possible, the submission should be accompanied by an author photograph and a 30 word biography; photographs that enhance the submission will also be considered. Material that is date-related can be submitted for entry on the Compass Books blog: http://www.compass-books.net/ blogs/compass Submissions should be sent by email and attachments to: publisher1@compass-books.net


From the Editor's Desk

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Articles

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Marketing your book Susie Kearley

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12 Way to Boost Your Creativity Rory B. Mackay

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Author Power Has Arrived Tom Reilly

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What Makes a Good Horror Novel Krystina Kellingley

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Let's Do It Kelly Lawrence

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The Accidental Author Marneta Viegas

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Your Character Speaks Nicolas Corder

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Publishing is Like a Box of Chocolates Autumn Barlow

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Backbone of Your Children's Novel Maria Moloney

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There's Still Gold in Them There Hills Nik Morton

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Food For Thought Simon Whaley

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Writing for Country, Regional & Rural Publications Suzanne Ruthven

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Creating Characters Jane Bailey Bain

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The Lifestyle Writer Sarah Beth Watkins

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At the Edges of Historical Fiction Autumn Barlow

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Short Fiction Debt Collection Colleen Douglas

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Egyptian Summer William Hatchett

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Confessions of a God Groupie James Burkard

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Marked as Strange Krystina Kellingley

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Regular Features Contributor's Guidelines

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Book Review – Get Your Act Together

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Gems from the Backlist

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Poems by Jennifer Copley

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Book Excerpt –The Dark Council Reconvened Colleen Douglas

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Reference Shelf

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Poem by Dielle Ciesco

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Poems by G. Michael Vasey

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Interview – Looking at the spiritual side of life with Trevor Greenfield

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Writers' Resource

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SUMMER 2014

Marketing your book Susie Kearley When I accepted a book contract with John Hunt Publishing's imprint, Compass Books, I knew I’d need to be involved with the marketing. I think all publishers require that to some extent these days. So I wrote an action plan, committing myself to doing what I could to help promote my book. It’s a niche title, Freelance Writing on Health, Food and Gardens, so I don’t expect it to hit the best-seller lists, but with limited resources, I want to make it as successful as it can be. Here’s a breakdown of some of my marketing activities so far…

       

Magazine articles

Writing Magazine: I've written the leading article in Writing Magazine. It's about making money in writing and concludes with a little book promo. I've already had one call from someone who's ordered my book on the basis of the article, and received a tweet from someone who said the article was really inspiring. I'm hoping it might trigger more sales.

An extract of the book also appeared in the first issue of this magazine, Writers’ Wheel. It looks at how I've turned rejections into acceptances – something that surely every aspiring writer should be interested in!

Blogging in a way that either directly or indirectly, promotes the book. I’ve participated in an interview with Women on Writing, which was published alongside a book review. I’ve talked at a local photography club about my work. There's a talk scheduled at my local writers’ group in May. I’ve run promotions in the local newspaper. Posted promotional blogs across different social media platforms and in a range of specialist writing groups. Promoted the book on my own website. Written two articles for writing blogs – pending publication. Came runner-up in a writer of the year competition and used that to promote the book. Contributed to Jennifer Bohnet's 'surprises' blog, which attracts about 300 readers so I'm told. Did the 'My Writing Process' blog hop (chain letter online), which promoted the book.

And the results? Time will tell. Sales are steady. Building a profile takes time and I need to keep the momentum up.

What are other writers doing to promote their work? See the book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1782793046

My additional promotions have included:

Set your kitchen timer for fifteen minutes. Pretend this is a race. Write as quickly as you can. Don’t stop to think. Concentrate on filling the space with words rather than on getting it ‘right.’ Don’t worry if some of your ideas are a little crazy. Don’t worry about perfect spelling or grammar. The tidying up can be done later. Jot down the following as quickly as you can: - Five story titles - Five names - Five settings - Five emotions - Five first sentences Pick one from each list and just start writing until your time runs out. Don’t worry if your ideas change as you write – for instance you may decide that the story should be set on a beach rather than in the middle of a wood – or that your character’s name is Sylvie not Samantha. You’ll probably find that you’ll want to go on writing after the buzzer goes! (This exercise should give you enough ideas to spark your next four writing sessions). Sue Johnson www.writers-toolkit.co.uk 5


Creativity ought to be as natural to us as breathing, and when we're in the zone it is: the ideas flow, we see inspiration all around us and solutions present themselves with effortless ease. When we're in touch with our creativity – which is an innate part of our nature, even if we've convinced ourselves to the contrary – there's nothing we need do but ride the wave and have fun seeing where it takes us. It's a grace-like state requiring little effort on our part, and we usually feel invigorated, excited and buzzing with life (a pleasant by-product of being creative). But we all go through times when we find ourselves blocked, stuck and stifled. That's when it's necessary to shake things up, blast away the blocks and nurture our creative side. Here are 12 practical and time-tested tips for kick starting our creativity.

1. Create the necessary time and space. In order to be creative, you need to make sure you have the time and space to actually be creative. It may be almost habitual to fill up every moment of your life with activity, both productive and unproductive. It's necessary to take time out to flex your creative muscles, preferably every single day. Clear some time in your schedule, even if it's just 10-15 minutes a day. Guard that time and be aware of any tendency to procrastinate. Procrastination is the number one enemy of creativity. Ask yourself why you're procrastinating (often it's out of fear of failure or not being good enough) and commit to overcoming it. 2. Keep a journal. This tip is from Julia Cameron's book 'The Artist's Way' which is well worth checking out. She calls them 'morning pages': every morning, you have to write three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. This can be about absolutely ANYTHING, from problems, ideas, grievances and annoyances, inspiration, plans for the day and all kinds of random and rambling thoughts. You have free rein to spill your mind onto the page. Essentially this works as a kind of 'brain drain', freeing up mental energy, relieving tension and enabling you to tap into your inherent creativity. Try it for a month and be amazed. It's well worth getting up 10-15 minutes early to do this. I'm willing to bet that after a few days you'll be hooked. 3. Seek inspiration – fill your artistic well. Julia Cameron also encourages us to go on an 'artist's date'. This simply means taking time out to give ourselves fresh creative input and stimulation. Creativity needs to be encouraged and nurtured and you can facilitate this by 6

making a specified time to do things that inspire you. Ideas might include going for a long walk on the beach, visiting an antique shop or old bookshop, going to an exhibition or having a latte in your favourite coffee shop while reading up on people who inspire you. It's best to spend this time on your own, so you can give full attention to what you're doing and not get lost in conversation and distraction. Creativity feeds on fresh input, on images, sounds, sensations and new ideas and experiences, so be sure to keep the well filled. 4. Unplug. Stop watching TV! Or at least limit the amount you watch. Television tends to dull the mind and numb the senses. While it can be an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so, especially after a busy day, if you're spending entire evenings (or perhaps days) zoning out, it's probably time to take a break. Generally television is not designed to spark or foster creativity. It often does the opposite. Try also limiting the amount of time you spend on the internet, whether social networking or aimlessly surfing the net. This will free up time, space and energy which can then be channelled creatively. A 24-hour media/TV/internet fast every so often is immensely refreshing. Why not try it? 5. Take a walk. A 20 minute walk has a way of rebalancing the mind and reinvigorating the senses. A short walk is not only good for you physically, but can elevate your mood, free up creative blocks and get the inspiration flowing. It doesn't really matter where you go, although I recommend being in nature if possible, for nature has a harmonising and energising effect, particularly if you spend a lot of time indoors. Why not go for a walk without a destination in mind and just see where you find yourself (a creative walk!) or take a camera and be on the lookout for interesting photographs, which will help keep you in the moment and paying particular attention to your surroundings. 6. Be quiet. It's hard for creative ideas and insights to emerge when the mind is continually filled with thoughts and bombarded with stimulus. Creativity needs space to flourish, much like the sun needs a gap in the clouds to shine down. So sit quietly for a while. Learn to meditate, or simply relax. In our fast-paced culture our minds are conditioned to be constantly seeking input and stimulus and many people find it impossible to sit still for more than a few seconds without needing to do something. Try to overcome this urge. Sit still and just look around. Observe with vivid clarity, bringing your full attention to whatever your eyes rest


SUMMER 2014 upon. Even if you're in a room you've been in a million times before, try to notice little details you've never before seen. As Pierre Tielhard de Chardin noted: "The whole of life lies in the verb seeing". Another thing that can open the creative channels is to take a nap, especially if you are feeling stuck and uninspired. Often a short nap is enough to shift our thinking patterns and tap us into heightened creativity. It certainly worked for some of history's greatest creative minds, including Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali. 7. Learn to bypass the inner critic. You're probably already familiar with your inner critic or censor, the part of you that's constantly judging, analysing and criticising your work - and everything else besides. The inner critic does have its function and its place, but given free rein will probably sabotage your creative efforts before you've even begun. The first stage of any creative endeavour is simply to create, to freely get ideas onto the page and canvas. If your inner critic is continually criticising every single word or brushstroke, you'll quickly end up getting blocked. So learn to send the critic on an all-expenses paid vacation to Bermuda until you're ready for it. Create freely and without censor and don't fear making mistakes (see the next step). When you're ready for the next stage, which is analysing, editing and polishing up the work you've done, that's when you can let the critic do its job. But remind it to do so kindly and constructively.

you don't have many artistic friends, then consider joining or forming a group. Share work, discuss ideas, exchange experiences, reflect on what inspires and excites you. Creativity has a kind of resonance, and simply being around creative people and innovators of any kind can kick-start your own creative flow. 12. Take inspiration from the greats. Are there any creative geniuses whose work or lives you've always been fascinated by? Perhaps Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Tolstoy, T.S. Eliot or Thomas Edison? Why not adopt them as a kind of creative role model. Learn all you can about them, read biographies, view or read as much of their work as you can and learn how they functioned creatively. There's probably a whole lot you can learn from their achievements, mistakes and methods of working. Heck, you might even choose a creative genius who is still alive and someone you might even be able to get in touch with. Having a creative mentor is a sure-fire way to spark your own creative fire. Rory Mackay is an author, artist and blogger from Scotland. His first novel 'Eladria' is published by Cosmic Egg books. His website is http://www.dreamlightfugitive.co.uk

8. Be fearless. Let go of the need to be perfect. There's no such thing. Relinquish your fears of inadequacy and your determination to create something that's 'worthy'. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, because that's often the best way to learn. The need to create something 'great' can make it hard to create anything at all, so just surrender to the process and learn to enjoy it. Play around with ideas, words, paint or clay. Allow yourself to innovate, to think outside of the box and let go of any fears about what other people may think. Fortune favours the brave. 9. Explore music. Music has a way of loosening up the mind, allowing you to access heightened levels of creativity. It has to be the right kind of music, though; mainstream radio stations are unlikely to be of great help. Explore and experiment with different styles, including classical, world music and ambient. See what inspires you and compliments your creative process. 10. Observe, question, experiment. The key to innovation is to observe, question why things work the way they do and experiment to see how you could make them work better. This is a basic framework used by inventors and innovators in numerous different fields. 11. Hang out with creative people. Creative people generally love being around other creative people. If 7


The problem with writing is that most authors want a publisher to invest thousands of Euro/pounds/dollars in THEIR work and nothing else will do. But that’s kinda impossible. Publishers simply don’t have the money to take uncalculated – or even calculated – risks. Sometimes publishers get it right. Sometimes they get it wrong. Publishers are in business to make filthy lucre to either aspire to, or facilitate their (and their fat cat investors’) already existing affluent lifestyle. It’s always about the money, never about the author. Don’t ever kid yourself. It’s not even the case that the best-written books get published and the badly-written ones don’t. There are millions of brilliant Man Booker Prize level books being written that will never be published and equally, there are millions of dreadful books conventionally published that should never have seen the light of day. It can really be that volatile. And yet, the world is jam-packed full of authors who have bought, paid for, and now live on the high moral ground because they insist that they should ‘get published.’ Warnings abound on the Internet from many of these writers cautioning others to watch out for predators masquerading as editors. You see things like, ‘A friend in the publishing business once told me that if a publisher asks an author for money you don’t touch them with a barge pole.’ This is of course complete bunkum.

Publishing has changed/is changing. And it’s not just printing technology that is driving the change. The book business is constantly evolving. Already the contest between traditional publishing and self-publishing is over. Self-publishing won that game at half time. The power is shifting from publisher to author. The cost to create a book in digital format these days is miniscule and often it might well be the case that a physical manifestation of the work might not even be necessary. Companies like Amazon now have infinite shelf space with eBooks that will never go out of print because they were never in print in the first place. The boom in the self-publishing business is vibrant, effective, sustainable and most importantly, irreversible. This is mainly because readers are the ones who are benefitting most. Reading books is now so much easier and readers will save money, time and effort thanks to this inevitable outcome of the forces that are powering the digital age. The fact that there are less physical bookstores in existence is a sad fact of life but it is hard to see how their 8

decline will impact on the online ‘search and recommend’ revolution. Where once the traditional book publishers were the gatekeepers to being published, self-publishing authors everywhere are now self-empowered. Among the ranks of the self-published, talent proliferates. Savvy selfpublishers can easily outsell conventionally published tomes four or five to one. For many authors selfpublishing is becoming a more respectable, a more viable option than traditional publishing. The day might not be so far away when, using their market power, traditional publishers will offer a sales and marketing service to self-publishers to supplement their income. Indeed, most of the bigger publishing players recognised this self-publishing expansion years ago and bought themselves their own self-publishing companies to get on to the band wagon. Once a frustrated author, I became directly involved in the self-publishing business in 2000 as the MD of Trafford Publishing Europe Ltd., later to be usurped by Author Solutions. In a way, I was part of the revolution, offering publishing packages to authors whose souls had been destroyed by a relentless stream of rejection slips. It was a very rewarding time. There are few experiences in life that can be bettered than holding your new book in your hand for the first time. I knew that feeling and I wanted others to feel it too. My reasons for getting into the business were noble ones and the service offered was an honourable business transaction. People paid to get published. End of story. The expression ‘vanity publishing’ is exactly that. I found Trafford online and I was vain enough to pay to have my book published. So sue me. I eventually left the book business to get involved in all things historical, which is my main thing these days. I now manage a castle in Ireland and I write about history. So I wrote another book. But where to go with it? I like to think that I have a handle on the book business and when I found JHP online I was gobsmacked. I don’t really care if this sounds sycophantic or like an ad because it’s the truth. JHP is a unique animal. It’s run BY authors FOR authors. It is not a self-publishing house nor is it a traditional publishing house. And those that run it probably don’t even realise that they themselves are involved in another revolution. There are no other publishing companies like JHP around. I could sit here and extol the virtues of the company till the cows come home but there’s so much to say, my crude attempts to describe the extraordinary business model would be futile.


SUMMER 2014 Having said that I don’t know what the John Hunt Publishing model is because I would guess that John Hunt doesn’t even know what it is himself. Every month it changes. It gets better. It evolves. The folk who work in the business are mostly wordsmiths who have been there and done that and, as we say in Ireland, are as clever as bejaysus. The main difference between JHP and most others is that they actually care about their authors because they are authors themselves. Yes, filthy lucre is required to keep the business afloat but even a brief encounter with the company will highlight that they are not about the money. If that were the case they would have packed up and gone home years ago. Indeed, the people at JHP know that the time is also coming when the royalty balance will be tipped in favour of the author. That’s why we need companies like JHP to buck the trend, or indeed to set the trend.

Suzanne Ruthven: Author and editor of Writer’s Wheel magazine

Get Your Act Together

When they offered me a contract for Cromwell was Framed: Ireland 1649 I was thrilled. One day this summer coming I will sit in my living room caressing my latest book, smelling it, admiring it, re-reading it again and again, (and again) contemplating the endless possibilities that await with its imminent publication. (Or none at all. It matters little) It’s my baby and I will send it out in the world to grow and mature. Who knows what dreams may come?

It’s not always easy to review a how-to book when you’ve little understanding or experience of the genre. By rule of thumb it’s a good idea to think to yourself: “I know nothing about this subject but does the book stimulate my interest? Does it impart information that I find useful and adaptable? Is the author ‘qualified’ for the job?” Get Your Act Together: Writing a stand-up comedy routine by Jenny Roche ticks all those boxes. It is said that proper preparation makes for professional performance and this book provides the tools to achieve this, offering down-to-earth practical advice and a logical progression from identifying your stage persona, thinking about your audience and the craft of honing comedy material to fit your persona and audience, through to structuring your stand-up set, preparing for when things might go wrong, and last but not least – progressing your career. This book is for anyone who’s serious about being a stand-up comedian and wants to do it well. It’s for those who want to learn more about the craft of writing material for a stand-up comedy routine and want to approach stand-up in a

professional, well prepared, and well thought out manner. Non-performing writers who want to write for those who do perform, will also find this book useful. Jenny Roche has over 15 years’ experience of tutoring courses in comedy writing, scriptwriting and journalism for the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester, the Arvon foundation and other organisations. She has also run writing workshops and organised comedy events, together with a wide range of writing experience, selling her writing to newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, theatre and for stand-up comedy performance. A regular contributor to a UK writing magazine she has also produced comedy revue and short sitcom shows for theatre. She has worked with comedians involved in the C.O.M.I.C (Comedy on Merseyside in Creation) initiative to develop Merseyside comedy opportunities; and on her Intro thanks “master comedy craftsman Ken Dodd for his insight and the opportunity to write for his radio show”, together with the comedy actors, director and writers she worked with on a Sitcom Shorts theatre production.

I personally like to inject humour into my fiction in the form of one-liners in the dialogue and found several ideas I could expand upon and use in my own writing. I particularly liked the large number of ‘to do’ slots for each chapter that act as triggers for the would-be stand-up comedian. Stand-up is probably the largest comedy showcase of all and the inclusive, reader-friendly style the author uses would encourage wannabees who aren’t necessarily writers. I also liked the author not shying away from alternative comedy scripts. Well worth reading as the author knows her stuff and could take you from the ‘open mike’ night at the local pub to Live at the Apollo!

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Debt Collection – An Inherent Conflict by Colleen Douglas

when Urse the Necromancer walked away from his Tower of Echoes in the crimson city of Altar-Summit. He spoke no word to either servant or apprentice as he strode from his gardens to the city gates and towards the blue hills in the distance. The nobles, slaves, and watchmen all wondered at his purpose but none

High in the hills the sun was setting; disgusted with his luck Urse curled against a weathered statue of a giant snake. He sighed, squinted his eyes against the dusty dunes for a moment and shivered at the iciness that had settled on the desert. Urse built himself a fire to push the chill from his ancient bones. He sat watching the sun die in the twilight and drew a dagger from

dared to ask, for it was known that Urse's dark arts could kill with but a word. Urse was exhausted, all day he had searched these crumbling ruins in the heat of the Egyptian sun. He had found nothing except snakes and broken pottery. Was this truly once a great city of lost Stygia or had he been sent on a fool's errand. Surely death was a welcome respite? The necromancer pondered.

his robes. He tested the edge with his thumb and mumbled, "Sharp enough." Settling back he closed his eyes. A whisper of wind disturbed his fire. Urse cracked open one eye, beyond the circle of light cast by his fire something moved. For a second it passed closer to the light...an unholy combination of serpent and man, gigantic, with a face that spoke of ancient wisdom and inhuman cruelty. The

A morning came

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shape took form melding into a tall figure obscured in the gloom of a ragged grey cloak. A coarse hissing chorus distilled to a whisper came from the tumble of stones; I am the lowly fish, identical in essence to the serpent, he that is my father. The stranger spoke. "Is this the last night of the world?" "For some," Urse replied, and carefully rolled the sleeves back from his wrists. The stranger seated himself across the fire from the necromancer. His face shown oddly changeable in the glow of firelight, at times it was sharp featured and mask-like but at other times the flickering light cast demonic shadows across it. "Do you know me, Urse?" "I know not your name, but your eyes I have seen many times before. They are the eyes of a rabid hyena as it devours still twitching prey, the eyes of a serpent as it waits for the venom to take hold, the eyes of a shark as it glides among the unwary. You are death, so greedy it lays claim to all in time." Death spoke softly. "When a man takes his first breath he owes a debt...I am merely the collector." The scaled thing moved closer and Urse squeezed shut his eyes, wincing in anticipation of a death blow. The Old One's hand touched his forehead and Urse's last bit of courage failed... he sank into darkness as death’s


SUMMER 2014 voice echoed. I hear the Crawling Chaos that calls beyond the stars. And they created me for their messenger, and they clothed me with chaos that my form might be ever hidden amidst it. Who shall know the mystery of Death? For he is the mask and will of those that were when time was not! He is the priest of the Ether, the Dweller in air and hath many faces that none shall recall. The necromancer replied, "And who do you collect for, what god or devil has claim to my soul?" Death chuckled. "No god will welcome you to their heaven, your sins and many betrayals have seen to that. And no devil may lay claim to you, your knowledge of their secrets has given you power over them. No, Urse, you alone are an outcast in the afterlife and your shade is mine, it shall dwell with me in the outermost dark where there is nothing but endless waiting." Now it was close upon him, its head level with his own. For a fleeting moment he knew that the horror had touched him and seemed to merge within, to become one with his being. He felt that his veins were choked with dust, that his brain was crumbling cell by cell. Then he was no longer Urse, but a universe of dead stars and worlds that fell eddying into darkness before the tremendous blowing of some ultra-stellar wind .... Urse quivered. "Mercy, I have done no harm to you. Spare me and ever will I serve thee." They were silent for a while and the necromancer spoke again. "I could live forever by means of

my thaumaturgy, elixirs and potions." Death answered sombrely, "It is not the lack of means to live that drives you to your end, it is the lack of will to live. I see all this; you have grown bored with sorcery, wars, and women. No enemy yet lives worthy of your attention, and so your race is run. Come now, Urse, have done and finish the game, let me drown your soul in the depths of oblivion." "You are eager to claim me?" the necromancer replied, a note of interest in his tone. "Perhaps I am; you are the first soul vile enough to be rejected by both heaven and hell. It will be a new experience, to share the emptiness with a being so unique." Spasms of fear first ran through Urse as the sand gave way and began to vomit forth the dead. They rose with moans of pain, angry at the interruption of their sleep. The eyeless sockets held nothing but grave worms, but to Urse they seemed...hungry.

The necromancer strode to stand among the living dead with an expression of contemplation. Urse seemed to ponder the notion for a while, and then tossed his dagger away. "I think I shall live a bit longer, and perhaps I will seek to redeem the standing of my soul with the gods or devils who preside over such matters." The necromancer smiled wickedly at Death and whispered, “I would deny you my soul, simply because it is all you might acquire." Then he began the trek back to his tower in Altar Summit. Death sat staring into the fire and Urse swore he saw a single tear roll down the reaper's face when he glanced back.

Colleen Douglas has a BA in Creative Writing and is a member of The T Party London (Genre Fiction Writers Group) and the British Fantasy Society. She is the author of Origin http:// www.cosmicegg-books.com/ books/origin

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What makes a good horror novel? Krystina Kellingley So you want to write a horror novel, and, when it’s finished, having invested considerable time and effort, perhaps sacrificing other things, like any kind of life outside of your ‘garret’, you’d like it to be good. You’d like those who know you (and who may have sacrificed certain things alongside you) and those who haven’t yet even heard your name to be able to read your words, hot off the presses and make awed faces at the crisp, white pages, covered in your pristine prose and loaded with your ideas. You’d also quite like your ‘baby’ to grow into nice, crisp, wads of cash. In order for these things to even stand a chance of becoming reality, the first question you need to ask yourself is: what makes a good horror novel? Think about the horror novels you like reading. Having done that, the next question to ask yourself is, why? What is it about these particular novels that stands out against others which you didn't enjoy quite as much? Sit down and make a list. Was it the plot? If you answered yes to this then now is the time to break it down more fully for yourself. Which elements of the plot had you particularly gripped? What else made you keep on reading and held your rapt attention? Were the characters believable? Did you care about them and what happened to them? Was there lots of tension and action to keep you turning pages? Perhaps there was also a burgeoning romance with lots of conflict thrown in for good measure? Was the pacing tight? The dialogue snappy? Did you, the reader, know something that the characters weren't yet aware of? What didn't you like? Multi-tasking Just as we all have to juggle things we have to do in our everyday life, the author must also include different things into the plot for his characters to do. That multitasking is what makes them real. The author also needs to multi-task by layering the story. Essentially the bones of any horror story are the eternal struggle between good and evil. The author's task is to set this against a new backdrop. Not only must our hero/heroine fight evil, they must also deal with their inner demons, try to protect people they love, stop the innocent being hurt, possibly earn a living, and probably get emotionally involved (this does not necessarily mean romantically) with someone they come across whilst on their mission. As an avid reader myself, I place characterization very high on the list of what makes a good novel of any genre. However, the horror genre is conspicuous by the need to get the reader's attention quickly. Not only does the author have to have a plot that is well-paced and has sharp dialogue, he must have characters who are compelling from the start. 12

Where to Begin One of the most common mistakes newcomers make is to start the story too late. Unless you are Stephen King, there is no time to waste in a slow build up as you introduce your characters and unravel your plot. Start with the action. Make your first sentence strong; the first paragraph equally strong and the first five pages even stronger. If you can succeed in accomplishing this then you will have hooked your reader. Start with something BIG happening. An attack, physical or psychic, or a murder. An occult ritual or séance where something goes badly wrong. The horrendous beastie entering into the world, bedroom, life of a character (even if this character is minor and is about to meet their demise). Once your reader is well and truly ‘hooked’ you can then afford the time to ‘flesh out’ your characters. You can achieve this with a variety of methods including; back story, dialogue and flash backs. However, all of the above need to be carefully integrated into the ongoing story. Huge chunks of any of these devices will only slow down your plot and may also reveal the author’s voice behind the characters. Whatever else, it will certainly read amateurishly, thereby taking away from the reader’s enjoyment and engagement.


SUMMER 2014

One of the most frequent question asked on my ‘Kick-Starting the Novel’ course is how far should the novelist be expected to go in order to give a typescript the right amount of sex-appeal. The answer is, of course, how good are you at writing about it? Recently, in an idle moment, I picked up a secondhand paperback from a charity shop that promised to expose the sexy secrets of Hollywood society and in a double page spread, nine people were committing some sexual indiscretion in six different locations. (I’ll leave you to work out the permutations but I assure you the author convinced me that it was possible.) A mainstream publisher had accepted it, but do authors really enjoy writing that sort of stuff if their chosen genre isn’t erotica? I suspect not. Explicit sex is often unnecessary and boring, and reeks of “the faint aroma of performing seals” rather than Chanel No.5 and if the writing isn’t spontaneous, then we might need a few tips from classic authors who knew how to do it. Frederick Forsyth did it extremely well when writing The Day of The Jackal and obviously felt compelled to add seduction to the talents of the character, who was so obviously ‘100 per cent male’, that to not to have mentioned it would have been sacrilege. The result was a beautifully erotic 300-word bedroom scene that should have left any red-blooded female demanding an email address – if an over zealous police commissaire hadn’t been so meticulously efficient with half a magazine of 9mm bullets from a MAT49 carbine. Forsyth’s novel carried a first-class story and needed no extra ‘spice’ to liven it up. Jilly Cooper does it in her usual inimitable fashion, conjuring up delightfully old fashioned words like ‘risqué’ and ‘ribald’ rather than carnality. Her literary romps are merely ‘jolly good fun’ and like most things in life, should not be taken too seriously. The French have always been able to do it without embarrassment (and without resorting to Anglo-Saxon baseness), because it takes the soul of a poet to inspire ‘good’ erotica and today’s social climate is not always conducive to creativity of this nature. The inspired Colette could describe the breathless anticipation of an unfurling rose bud on a misty June morning in such sensual terms that it is enough to blow the cassock off an archbishop. Passion was her forte, her ability to create the erotic illusion, her own distinctive art. Choderlos de Laclos did it in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which is not the sort of work to be read in grubby paperback form on a crowded tube train. ‘Liaisons’ should be savoured in the confines of a warm, softly lit room, complimented by a dry white wine, and if this combination isn’t guaranteed to make your toes curl - consult a mortician! Mills & Boon characters are now doing it with impunity after all the years of straight-laced narrative, and many of the other mainstream publishers have erotica as one of their imprints. So even if the best selling lists are no longer dominated by sexy (often a euphemism for ‘tasteless’) books, then obviously novelists can dispense with the impulse to add a bit of spice purely for titillations sake – even if occasionally something like Fifty Shades of Grey slips through the net. If erotica is your forte - for more information about publisher’s guidelines see Bedroom Books (another imprint of John Hunt Publishing) at www.bedroom-books.com or www.Facebook.com/BedroomBooks Also keep an eye open for Passionate Plots: A Brief Guide to Writing Erotic Stories and Scenes by Kelly Lawrence if you need help in integrating sexy scenes into your novel. Kelly Lawrence writes erotic fiction but she also offers tips on how to use amorous scenes in any genre of fiction. www.compass-books.net 13


When I was choosing my options at school, I had no idea I would be an author. Being an author sounded so important and clever yet romantic and a distant dream that so few can claim. I wasn't even particularly good at English, although I had a deep interest in drama and storytelling. After graduating with a BA in Performing Arts and later training in Mime I stumbled into a clowning career. I was even invited to perform at HRH Prince of Wales' 50th Birthday at Buckingham Palace, as well as a cluster of celebrity parties who were enamoured by my storytelling rather than buffoonery style. Over the 13 years of party entertaining I noticed a change in children's behaviour. I noticed how they were becoming more and more hyperactive, less able to listen and sit still and concentrate on my (hopefully wonderful) show. Having been introduced to meditation and yoga when I was 12 by my mother, I felt that meditation tech-

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niques would help children focus and concentrate and started using a few of these techniques in my shows. When I was a child I was laughed at for meditating and years later a few laughed at my idea of meditation for children. At that time, at the end of the 90s, meditation was relatively unheard of. Parents were scared that it might be spiritual or associated with the occult, so I had to find a way to introduce these amazingly simple techniques to children in a way that parents would find acceptable. Having loved fairy tales (I wrote and directed a pantomime each year, using one of my favourite fairy tales, for 15 years), I had the thought to combine fairy stories and relaxation exercises. Children would imagine they were Jack climbing the beanstalk and floating in the clouds or Sleeping Beauty lying still on a feather bed. Once I had the idea I wrote the meditations very quickly. They seemed to flow beautifully once I was in a relaxed space. I was so lucky that O-Books were interested in my book and actually wanted me to submit two books. I was informed that it would be a year until the books were out. I felt so impatient as I felt children needed something now and a year seemed too far off. At the time, my mother gave me an early inheritance to put a deposit down on a flat in London. I informed her I was going to use the money to make relaxation CDs for children. I intend-

ed to make audio copies of the book even though I had no idea what it would entail. A few months later, I had a small range of products - the first of their kind in the UK. I gave the brand a name – Relax Kids (says what it does on the tin) and initially gave products away to friends and family. I took them to my children's parties and talked to parents about them, encouraging them to trial them. The word started to spread as parents were having great results and so were telling other parents and even taking them into school and telling teachers. I did try some costly advertising including one directory that was over a thousand pounds and brought no return. To promote the brand, I went to Mind Body Spirit and Education conferences and tried to talk at as many conferences as I could. In 2005, I went on Dragons' Den with the products. Although the Dragons didn't see how Relax Kids was a viable business, two of them asked to use the CDs with their own children. Television exposure helped raise the profile almost overnight and orders went up considerably. Being featured in local and national press helped raise public awareness. All the major bookshops were interested in the products, but it was too niche and they didn't know where to position them. I stopped pursuing the big shops and worked directly with my customers.


SUMMER 2014 Intense meetings with buyers gave me a headache while I enjoyed customer interaction and feedback. This was so much more important to me than being in a big shop. I also focused on getting some distributors who would promote and sell the products at exhibitions and in catalogues. I worked alongside O-Books and took support from their fantastic distribution and marketing network. Alongside the products I created Relax Kids classes for children, and then a training course to teach adults to run their own business teaching classes and selling the products, so making a profit. This was a great way to help promote the products. I created training for schools and bundle deals of products so encouraging teachers to use Relax Kids in their school. The growth was slow and steady and as I needed it, I took on more staff, allowing me to do what I did best (create and teach). In 2013, (10 years after publishing the first two books) I was approached by the Dutch publisher who had my books. They wanted me to write a third book. I accepted the challenge in an instant and within a month, the book was written. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to offer the book to O-Books and then got inspired to write four more. All five books will be published this year and I am currently working on another four, including one about my dog, Ronnie Barker (The Tail of Ronnie Barker). I tend to do projects together as I get easily bored and need the variety. It can get confusing and difficult to coordinate and manage, but keeps my interest and passion alive. 12 years ago, I had no idea my simple idea would be taken on by so many families and schools. I did not realise that I was creating a brand at the time. It has been back breaking and heart breaking at times. I have made many mistakes, but I feel so grateful that I have had this experience and I am so grateful to John Hunt and O-Books for giving me this

opportunity. I am proud to say that I was at the beginning of the mindfulness revolution - I was around before many others at a time where people laughed at the idea of meditation for children. Although I still do not own a home (having spent my inheritance on setting up Relax Kids), I feel content that I have brought peace to many homes in the UK and around the world. My Tips for writers Passion It goes without saying, commit to writing subjects which you are completely and utterly passionate about and want others to be inspired. Niche Find a niche that is original and unique. Make it so irresistible that even though customers don’t know they are interested in the topic, they are drawn to it. Diversify It is important not just to rely on book sales, but to create a training programme or product, or offer speaking services that support the book sales. I started running relaxation classes for children and then a training programme to teach adults to run Relax Kids classes. Having income streams from a variety of sources is important. Turn your product into as many types of revenue streams as you can think of.

Self-care I have often found that when I have been in a writing mode, I let a lot of things go out of the window including self-care. I now put this first and make sure I go out and exercise, have some good food, take stretch breaks and drink plenty of water. Environment When I first started writing, I was in a small space and I did not pay attention to where I was. My writing environment is now so important. I prefer writing by hand and so often write outside or in my garden studio where I am surrounded by beautiful and inspiring things. Marneta Viegas is founder of Relax Kids Ltd – the UK's leading expert on children's relaxation. She is the author of 3 books and has produced a range of relaxation CDs and has appeared on BBC Dragons' Den. Marneta has over 30 years' experience in meditation and relaxation and is editor of RELAX – a quarterly magazine and runs a training programme for parents and teachers to help children to relax. She lives in Oxford, UK.

Social Media Wherever possible use social media to promote your book. The key is to have a few raving fans who love your work and shout about it to others. Also ask for recommendations and collect testimonials from everyone.

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Dialogue lifts a book When you come across huge dry stretches of barren, speech-free prose, you realise how vital it is that your characters actually say something. How can we expect them to come to life if everything is internalised? Catching their tone of voice, rhythms of speech and their vocabulary is what pulls in readers and helps them believe that these characters are flesh and blood. There are other advantages to dialogue. Using it forces you to write in scenes as your characters have to interact. Writing in scenes means that we tend to show rather than tell, which is the writer’s mantra. It automatically introduces an additional sense - that of sound - into your writing. With its need for new paragraphs, it also breaks up the page, making it easier for the reader. Dialogue Needs a Purpose It may seem obvious, but dialogue has to do a job. In essence it should do one of the following:

 

give us information (He’s been dead over a week) move the story along (When I catch the person who shot him ….)  tell us about character (...I’m gonna make sure he gets what’s coming) Of course, if you can manage to do all three at once, that’s a bonus. In early drafts, we all write dialogue that does none of these and goes nowhere. Often it’s part of the process of finding out how our characters sound, warming up to our daily writing, getting the creative juices going. Flabby dialogue that meanders, treads water and merely pads out a story needs to be cut at revision stage. An ear for dialogue Dialogue should sound like people talking, but it’s actually a bit of a trick. Written dialogue is a lot tidier than real spoken language, which is full of repetitions, broken phrases, ums and ers and other speech tics. We have to maintain the pretence of speech, rather than replicate the real thing. But go too far the other way, become too grammatical and precise, and your characters will sound stilted.

Additionally, give a character the wrong kind of vocabulary and speech pattern and they lose credibility. A thug needs to be thuggish, an academic giving a lecture needs to sound academic, a working-class girl from Leeds shouldn’t sound like an aged old Etonian. Dialect and regionalisms need careful thought. You can 16

go the whole hog, as Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh does in his novel Filth. Here, the speaker, a sociopathic policeman, introduces Maisie, a brothel-keeping exprostitute, to his younger colleague: –Tell ye what Ray, Maisie here, she’d teach ye things that yir ma couldnae. Forgotten mair thin you’re ever ever likely tae learn. Ah keep tryin tae entice her back oot ay retirement, but she’s havin nane ay it. It’s a bold gamble, even if dialect does have illustrious champions, such as D.H. Lawrence and Emily Brontë. But it can be extremely hard for the reader to follow, so you may be better off using a more general pattern of speech with local identifiers or regionalisms as pointers. The taxi driver who calls his female customer love comes from a different region than one who uses darling, pet or duck. The danger of the infodump Putting words into characters’ mouths to dramatize a scene can sometimes backfire. Instead of writing narrative, we just give it to a character and wrap some speech marks around it: ‘I don’t think you’ve met my cousin Barry. He used to be in the army, but was wounded in the Gulf. Despite only having an invalidity pension and being a widower — remember that his wife ran off with the man from the Coop — he’s managed to bring up his two daughters. He lives over in Suffolk in a semi-detached house, where he spends his time water-colour painting and studying Feng Shui.’ You can occasionally get away with a character doling out raw information, but it tends to work best in a situation where this would occur naturally: teachers in classrooms, priests in pulpits or guides on tour buses. But keep it short and pertinent. Most importantly, let’s have something of the character’s attitudes come through what is actually said. (‘On our right, we have Downing Street, home to Mr. Nasty himself.’) The danger of Q & A In an attempt to avoid an infodump (in speech or narrative), we then decide to parcel out the information between characters. If we’re not careful, this can lead to clumsy question-and-answer: Friend: How’s your new colleague? Heroine: He seems very nice. Friend: When did he start? Heroine: Last Monday.


SUMMER 2014 Friend: Where did he work before? Heroine: He was in the finance department of Smith and Sons. Friend: Where are they? Heroine: They’re based in Colchester. It’s halting, unnatural and clumsy. We can also fall into the trap of having our characters telling people things they already know. We can try to get round this difficulty by embedding information in something that feels like a genuine conversation. You could try something along these lines: Friend: He looks all right, your new colleague. (We get in the info that there’s a new colleague. ‘All right’ might mean dishy/pleasant/a good worker — readers can decide. Friend may even fancy him.) Heroine: I’m having chips. I don’t care. (She changes the subject. Maybe she fancies him, but doesn’t want to let on. She’s possibly a bit overweight, or should at least be trying to eat better.) Friend: Life-time on the hips …(Yes, it looks even more likely she’s overweight, and her friend also likes to rub it in.) … And so forth. It’s not the world’s best dialogue exchange, but at least we’re trying to do something a bit more with the situation. Even better would be to think of a more interesting set-up in the first place. The few occasions when you can use the question-and-answer technique are best left to situations where it might genuinely happen, such as in a job interview.

One way round too many speech tags (he said/she said) is by having a character do something and attach what they say to that action: Julie made her way over to the corner table. ‘Sorry, I’m late.’ ‘Not your new boss keeping you late, is it?’ Helen moved her coat and bag out of the way as Julie sat down. This way, we know Julie says ‘Sorry I’m late’ and Helen mentions the boss keeping Julie back. Reading aloud Test your dialogue by reading it out loud. Do the characters sound slightly different? Can you actually speak it without stumbling over the words? If you can’t, then it needs re-writing. It’ll also tell you if a scene is exciting enough, or if it too should go. Obviously, a short article can only cover a fraction of a big topic such as this. There is much more in Nicholas Corder’s Creating Convincing Characters, due out on 29th August 2014.

He said/she said One of the new writer’s biggest fears is how to show who is speaking. When they write a scene that involves a lot of dialogue, they look over what they’ve written and the word ‘said’ seems to appear far too often. Surely the reader must be fed up with the sight of it? Surprisingly, readers don’t tend to notice. It’s almost as though it were a punctuation mark, just a little means of guiding the reader. However, the newer writer, fearing this may not be the case, starts looking for alternative words. Eventually nobody ‘says’ anything, because they’re too busy suggesting, shouting, screaming, whispering, moaning, conjecturing, confiding, guessing, deliberating or, in the wonderful world of the late Georgette Heyer, ejaculating. Be strict with yourself. Apart from ‘said’, you might also be allowed ‘replied’, ‘asked’, ‘shouted’, ‘whispered’, but be sparing with other variations. Try to avoid adverbs too. The reader should be able to understand HOW a speaker says something from what s/he says. He shouted angrily seems tautological to me. 17


Egyptian Summer William Hatchett Like a curious child, I squinted through my porthole. My heart caught in my mouth as the longedfor coast came into view – the Nile’s branches, like fat snakes writhing through aqueous rice fields. The smudged silver of the coast gave way to a patchwork of green and brown strips, like twists of yarn. These were fields tended by the slow-moving fellahin, with their donkey carts, oxen and long white robes. Gradually, the fields darkened to ochre. The Nile turned into rippling veins of molten gold. Gold is Egypt’s colour. It is a dead world breathed into life by the magic of water and sun. Our shadow passed over a barren plain scattered with hamlets of terracotta cubes. I scrutinised, like a schoolboy, the astonishing desert, intrigued as the shifting sand solidified into escarpments and cliffs. There was an interlude of green Nile-watered fields and, finally, we breasted the long-awaited city. Cairo – her women are like the dark-eyed virgins of paradise, even her dust is golden. Why should this not be so? For she is the mother of the world. There is not much of green in Cairo. It is an austere place – a jumble of mud and stone settlements, resembling, in some respects, an ancient, never-to-be-finished building site. The city’s colours and moods are nearly all brown, yellow and beige, except when they are softened by the Nile’s mists or the sun’s orange haze. We crawled over dusty plains and suburbs of crumbling, sharp -edged houses. As we dipped into the human world, I sensed the pilot’s skilful control of rudder, joystick and ailerons – it is a kind of alchemy, moving from air to land. There was a final sickening plunge. The city became manifest. In the arrivals hall, there was a lot of gesticulating but, eventually, my passport was stamped and I was let through. Outside, I knew that I would be slapped in the face by hot, suffocating air and that a wave of vendors and taxi drivers would clamour to offer me their wares. My MI6 handler, Knight, had said that someone 18

from military intelligence would be at the airport to greet me. I was in the middle of a deafening hubbub when I saw him; a tall fellow in over-sized khaki shorts, with legs like white sticks. With a hand on his leather holster, the man pushed his way through the mob and rescued me. I saw, from the pips on his shirt, that he was a captain. “Endicott?” he said, offering me his hand. “I’m your liaison officer. Hall. Tom Hall. I’m here to take you to your hotel.” His grip was a little limp for my taste. His hair had a ginger tinge, which was shared by the stubble around his chin. His pale face with its sharp, intelligent eyes had a haunted look. Didn’t officers shave any more? “I’m delighted to meet you,” I said. “We’d better get out of here, hadn’t we,” said Hall. I nodded. The crowd seemed to be thickening. British servicemen were not exactly popular in these parts these days. With a wary look, he gestured for me precede him. Once, he barked an Arabic phrase to clear our path. I had the measure of him now. He had been here long enough to develop a tough skin. A military policeman in a steel helmet was standing by our jeep. Hall accepted his salute and took the driver’s seat. The MP sat in the back. He started us off with a grinding clash of gears, but at least we were safely away. Soon, we were out of the airport precincts and passing through the suburb of Heliopolis. A huge orange sun, refracted through smoke and mist, seemed to beckon us. Ahead was the Citadel, the immense brown stump that dominates Cairo’s skyline, topped by the graceful silhouette of the Mohammed Ali mosque. I had forgotten the vastness of this metropolis; its crumbling walls, like brown cliffs; the mysteries of its medie-


SUMMER 2014 val courts; its sky-touching minarets and its sprawling City of the Dead, an occupied cemetery, where thousands lived in stone shacks on the graves of their ancestors. My hotel, the Continental Savoy, was like a mausoleum. The building was surrounded by heavily armed British soldiers and it was virtually deserted. The hotel was concocted from the usual elements – marble, polished wood, red velvet and gilt. Once it had catered for a well-heeled clientele – servants of the Empire, officers, rich businessmen and Egypt’s ruling families and politicians. It was a shock to see the decayed state of the vestibule – wilted palms, protruding wires, a dusty floor. A porter carried my suitcase and briefcase to the reception desk. He looked at me quizzically. He was demanding the usual backsheesh. I obliged, using some of the torn, grimy notes that I had picked up at the airport. I did not go into the city that night. I felt desperately enervated by the stifling heat. I had dinner in the hotel – a disappointing concoction of dried fish and stale vegetables – and went up to my room. It was wood- panelled, with a vast bed and a marble-tiled bathroom. The room overlooked a drab asphalt roof four or five stories below – a hunting ground, no doubt, for the feral cats that haunted the city at night. I stood by the window, breathing in the great city. The warm air was soft and ripe. One could detect, as usual, fermenting rubbish and drains. These smells were complemented by the cloying scents from the perfume market in the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar. There was something sinister about this hotel. It was not merely the dirt and decay but something less tangible – a sense of death. I had a distinct feeling that something very bad had happened here. For a long time, I merely lay on my back, thinking how vulnerable I was and the foolishness of the task that I had undertaken. My friend, Harry, had got me into this. He was a foreign correspondent on one of Britain’s most important newspapers and, although these things were never made official, a spy.

One day, at his club, White's, in St James's Street, Harry had told me that my intimate knowledge of Cairo – I had worked there for five years for the British Overseas Airways Corporation – could be extremely useful. An Arab millionaire at the centre of a vast criminal empire was threatening to destabilise the fragile Egyptian government run by Colonel Nasser. His name – Harry whispered it – was Abdullah Ishmael Omar. Usually he was known simply as Omar. He was known to be extremely dangerous. Harry was charming. He assured me that I would never be in jeopardy. My task was merely to gather information. I would be watched at all times and whisked away if I was at risk (he did not explain how). After a while, I gave in. Austin Endicott, spy. I was hardly equipped for the role. I was reasonably fit, thanks to golf and fishing trips. But working in an office for all these years had taken a toll on my waistline. I had never had to defend myself from a knife-carrying thug in a dark alleyway. I had left the window and shutters open but my hotel room was stifling. Lying on my back, I fell into a kind of trance. All the time, the city’s ceaseless murmur of traffic and human interaction invaded my dreams. I was not fully asleep – my nerves were on spring triggers. The slightest disturbance would render me fully awake. And it did. A strange sound wrenched me into consciousness, wide-eyed and clammy with sweat. It was something like the hoot of an owl. A gust of wind (there had been no wind earlier in the night) crashed the shutters against the window frame. I sat up and looked out. The moon was a thin crescent in a sky heavy with swollen clouds. There was a crash of thunder. A bolt of lightning cut the sky in two and lit up the room like a flash bulb. The white light had imprinted a horrible image on my retina, a brown shape, crouching by the wall. The thing chilled my blood. It was identical to the plate I had seen in a bookshop by the British Museum. It had no lips, eyes, or nose. It was a night wraith. The creature lurched towards me.

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The following day, still acclimatising to the brutal heat and humidity, I learnt that Cairo was an uncomfortable, hostile place. There were soldiers everywhere. People stared at me and I was constantly asked to show my papers. If I could not walk around the city in the daytime, I decided, I should carry out my mission at night – the time when criminals are most active – preferably inside. The evening found me in the lobby of the hotel. I wished now that I had brought my dinner clothes, for there was a certain amount of animation in the hotel and its evening clientele was well dressed. There were some businessmen in fezzes, their Levantine mistresses wrapped in furs, and Egyptian officers in elaborate uniforms. I had been in the lobby for a little more than an hour when a figure strode over. A European. He was tall, in a spotless cream suit. It was a shade lighter than mine and better pressed. He came with gold accessories and expensive cologne. He smiled, winningly.

now. He had confided to me that he had grown up in Streatham, which is a suburb of south London, and that he had enjoyed going to the Palais de Dance there and dancing the fox trot, that is until the Teddy Boys had arrived and ruined everything. A London accent had returned through his slurred words and his tongue had turned filthy. I was sick to death by now of his boasting and of his Home Counties prejudices. I had decided to turn it in. “Look, Austin,” he announced. “I know a club near here. It’s a special club” — he gave a strange smile — “if you know what I mean.” A quarter of Cairo close by had been famed for its dubious clubs and brothels since the First World War. It was called Clot Bey. Its most infamous street was known as the Berka. Many a wild-eyed Tommy fresh off the boat had been fumbled and fleeced here, before succumbing to a gallant death from dysentery or a Turkish machine gun.

“Name’s Dillmore. Gordon Dillmore. Mind if I join you?”

“Well, would you like to go?” he demanded, almost menacingly.

He did not wait for me to reply. He was fifty or so, I guessed. I could see from his skin and his watery eyes that he was a whisky drinker. He carried himself bolt upright and was bright and alert.

“Why not?” I said.

With a calculating glance he took in my creased suit. “My name’s Endicott,” I said. “I work for BOAC.” “Oh. Here on business?” “Partly,” I said, truthfully. “What line are you in, Mr Dillmore?” He told me that he worked for Shell Oil. He droned on for ten minutes or so, about new oilfields, tonnages of oil to be shipped through the Suez Canal, processing facilities. I gathered that he held the Egyptians in low regard. I had decided within seconds of meeting him, that I did not like him but that I would humour him. By midnight, we were in the hotel bar, drinking whisky cocktails. Dillmore had become intimate 20

It seemed my fate to follow where this unappealing character, with his red eyes and his yellow teeth, led me. I followed his gleaming white figure across the square. The moon was riding high and proud. Above it, I could see the creamy smudge of the Milky Way. The ancient Egyptians thought that the Milky Way was a celestial river, echoing the earthly river Nile. The Berka was glowing with red lights, like ruddy braziers. How many drunken British and colonial soldiers had been drawn in by its illicit secrets? Dillmore seemed to be well known at our destination. I was not surprised. Its name, The Aquarius Club, was picked out in neon sapphire, the only blue light, in a street of red.

“Go on, don’t be shy.” He beckoned me inside. A girl greeted us at the end of the corridor, a short creature with rouged cheeks and smears of black kohl around her eyes. Dillmore gave me a strange look. Already, I was


SUMMER 2014 imagining myself telling my friend, Harry, the story of this evening in London in his club, over a glass of brandy. I knew that he would be fascinated and amused by my experiences. He would rib me endlessly about my night in a Cairo flophouse. Issuing through an open doorway came clouds of choking incense. A group of men in white shirts and dark suits – a band – was assembling on a tiny stage. Kohl-eyed girls, some scarcely out of their teens, hovered around the tables. They wore tight silk blouses that exposed their brown midriffs. Waiters in grubby shirts fingered sheaths of dirty notes. I followed Dillmore to a table. A bucket containing melted ice cubes and four bottles was soon placed upon it and a dish of anaemic-looking food. No doubt, we would be charged handsomely at the end of the night. Dillmore leaned over and shouted into my ear. It was something about a cocktail. It was an aphrodisiac he claimed, with a leering wink. Our waiter returned with two drinks. They were bright blue. “Blue Lotus”, that was what Dillmore had been trying to tell me. Apparently, it was a speciality of the house. I sipped the liquid. It tasted peculiar. Because I was already drunk, my guard was down. Dillmore appealed to me with shining eyes. Oh well. I downed the glass with one gulp. I noted that his cocktail remained untouched. He dug me in the ribs and pointed towards the stage. The floorshow had arrived. It was a tableau vivant, depicting the history of Egypt from ancient times. First, I recognised the falcon-headed god, Horus, the father of the Pharaohs. He was accompanied by his mother, Isis, a vision in turquoise, in a towering head dress. Thoth followed with his ibis head, the god of science and knowledge, then Anubis, the jackal, guardian of the dead on their lonely journey to the underworld. My head was spinning. Ramses the Great passed, then Tutankhamun, the smiling youth in his gold death mask. The colours blurred into one. I looked at Dillmore. His head was a skull, his lips were bared from his teeth in a hideous rictus. He was pounding the table, like an ape, in time to

the music. Girls were hovering to each side of us, rotating their hips. Whenever one emptied one’s glass, their job was to fill it. The band was playing now. To its lively rhythm, a small, dwarf-like creature skipped onto the stage. As he span, like dervish, a voluminous white skirt spread around him. Coloured lights shimmered from the skirt, like sea serpents. I raised my arm. It seemed to stretch across the room, as if it was made from rubber. The world had slowed down. Sounds were attenuated. Musical notes bounced from the walls and floors like shards of light. I examined my hand. My skin was like tracing paper. I could look through it at the beautiful, delicate mechanism of bones and sinews. The dwarf bounced away. A gorgeous apparition now took the floor – a tall, amber-skinned lady. Her black hair was braided into coils, like snakes. Black lines at the corners of her brown eyes extended to the sides of her face in the pattern of the ancient Eye of Horus. Her beautiful dusky skin, white teeth and sensuous lips formed a typically Egyptian face. It was an ancient face. I could discern all of Egypt’s greatest beauties in her shining eyes and translucent skin – Isis, Hathor, Nefertiti, Cleopatra. Cairo – her women are like the dark-eyed virgins of paradise, even her dust is golden. To the sensuous popping of a tabla, she began to grind her hips. The voluptuous curve of her belly was the most alluring thing that I had ever seen. It was painful to tear my gaze from her writhing stomach to her face. Was her face white, brown or black? I could not tell. Only that it had become feline – the face of the goddess Sekhmet, the lioness. I was drawn inexorably to her eyes. The eyes of a cat. The black fathomless eyes tugged at me. They invited me to plunge into them like a dangerous abyss. They were cat’s eyes. I fell.

William Hatchett is the author of The Chosen, which is to be published by Cosmic Egg Books on 29th August http://www.willliamhatchett.com/ w.hatchett@virgin.net 21


Just a few years ago, there was no decision to be made. If your writing was considered “good enough” you would find (eventually) a publishing contract and if you didn’t, you paid a printer to run off a thousand copies which were stored in your garage when you discovered you couldn’t get them into bookshops. When self-publishing arrived, it was seen as the digital equivalent of having a garage full of unsold copies of a tedious family memoir that no-one wanted. Now self-publishing is out of its infancy, and into its loud, rebellious and vibrant teenage years, and has shed its “failed writer” image. But should it be the default option for the aspiring author? Your Skills Self-publishing appears very easy; it’s in the interests of the vendors to make it so. Many ask only for a Word document and a cover image, and off you go. And umpteen writers have done so, sold two books, and seen their dreams deflate. If you are embarking upon self-publishing, remember that you’re becoming a publishing company. It might be a company of one, but consider all the departments a successful company has: marketing, promotions, administration, design, quality control, financials and bookkeeping… not to mention human resources. Does that idea delight you? Are you excited by the idea of having full control - and therefore taking full responsibility? For many writers, this has opened a world of potential and they’ve discovered new, profitable skills.

tunity for providing ebook covers, and you will find them on kboards.com and other writers’ forums, and by asking around. If you see covers you like, you can usually find out who designed them by checking the front matter (use Look Inside on Amazon) or contacting the author. Expect to pay anything from £50 to £1000 - a new artist setting out their stall will be cheaper, as they are looking to grow their portfolio. When working with a cover artist it is helpful to send them links to covers you admire, and give them a rough idea of important points about the book. The artist won’t read the book. Do not worry about the characters not looking exactly how you imagine them; the cover is a hook but few people read the book and then turn back to the cover to say “I thought she was taller.” If it’s a major plot point the heroine has red hair, do mention it, but don’t go into details about freckles. Editing The biggest complaint about self-published books is poor editing. Hybrid authors (those who have traditional publishing contracts and who also self-publish other books) often feel that reviewers are harder on their selfpublished work, even when both have been professionally edited. No book is free of errors. A standard process for any self-publishing author would be: i. write a number of drafts until sick of the sight of the book, write a final draft, self-edit, send to beta readers for feedback. ii. take on board the beta readers’ advice, rewrite.

Cover art It takes brutal honesty to appraise one’s own ability. There are too many authors who think they can create a cover, or they think that the cover matters less than the content.

iii. send final-final-draft to a copyeditor. There are different levels of copyedit, from structural/developmental, to line editing. iv. take on board the copyedit, tidy it up.

Online bookshops are visual storefronts, and readers are trained to seek out books that look similar to their favourite writers. This cannot be ignored, and if you’re not a trained graphic designer, consider paying for professional cover art. Tiny details such as letter spacing and font choices make the difference between a good cover and a shabby one. There are many cover artists who have seen the oppor-

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v. send the revised version to a proofreader, who’ll be looking for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. Continuity errors - such as changing eye colours - should have been picked up at copyedit stage. vi. format, convert, check files (similar to a final proofread) and upload to vendors.


SUMMER 2014 It’s broadly similar to the traditional publishing process, although here the proofread tends to happen after the text is laid out. You need to establish with your copyeditor what service you’re paying for. Often an editor will take your first few pages and edit them for free and tell you what service they recommend, and give you a quote. It will usually be per 1000 words, and can vary between £1 per 1000 words up to £8 per 1000. Ask what turnaround they have; you could be waiting weeks. File Formatting Formatting digital files can be as hard or as easy as you like. Many vendors will take a Word document, which produces a simple, straightforward text file. It is a waste of time to create elaborate layouts for an ebook, as the user’s own ereader will set the text style and size. However there are things you can do to influence layout, and if you have images, footnotes and bookmarks, you will need to either get your head about HTML (which is what an EPUB is built with) or hire a formatter and converter to do it for you. Likewise, the layout for Createspace can be as easy as uploading a Word doc but if you want to have a traditional layout (chapters beginning on a right hand page, no widows or orphans, drop caps and the like) you will need to create your own PDF. Promotions Whether you are self-publishing or have a contract, promotion and marketing falls almost entirely to the author these days. Because of the shift to online platforms and the expansion of instant communication, readers (consumers) expect and demand access to all aspects of an author (product) and rely heavily on a created brand image to give them something to engage with. Some authors now employ Virtual Assistants to keep up with the demands of social media. Certain genres have very loyal and vocal fanbases, and the savvy author who is prepared to get involved in Facebook groups, Goodreads giveaways, forums and chats can, if they are genuinely likeable and offering quality interaction, build a “street team” which is a group of fans that end up doing the promotion for the author, because they love the author so much. They are usually rewarded with discounts, freebies and advance copies.

pany can add a legitimacy that a new self-published author simply does not have. If you took two new authors, both books in the same genre, and similar blurbs, and one had a well-known publishing company credited and the other did not, most readers are likely to risk their money on the one with the publishing company. There is a perception of quality and the notion that the selfpublished book might lack the quality control of the one that is traditionally published. As an author builds up their catalogue, however, this effect diminishes. A reader is more likely to buy a book from an author with a string of books out, whether selfpublished or not, because it gives the impression that they must be doing something right - after all, they’ve kept on writing. If you have only one book in you, then self-publishing might not be very successful for you. You will not build a fanbase. This is particularly true in genres that have voracious readers such as Romance or Fantasy. Self-publishing can be very freeing for the entrepreneurial-minded author. It can also be scary, and like all businesses, it will demand investment. It is unlikely that an author can self-publish successfully for free, although the costs involved will depend on how much the author can contribute and how many external services need to be bought in. To achieve a quality product to rival a traditional publishing, the costs can mount if the author has no design flair, no formatting skills, and poor writing that needs many levels of editing. Finally, authors with traditional contracts can learn much from self-publishers. Study the way a successful self-publisher approaches promotion, particularly ones at the top of your own genre; what lessons can you learn about fan engagement from them? Don’t leave it all to the publicity department of your own publishers; no-one can create an effective author brand like the author themselves. The Future My prediction would be for an increase in Hybrid Authors who write a variety of genres and have a variety of contracts, mixing self-publishing with traditional methods, according to the genres they are writing in at that time. I don’t think they should be seen as mutually exclusive, but rather, be blended together so that all authors can feel pride in the work they are doing.

However there is a danger that many new authors fall into; they write a book and then spend months on promotion which is usually fruitless. The single most effective thing a new author can do is WRITE ANOTHER BOOK. For a new author, being attached to a publishing com23


MANTRA BOOKS:

Shinto: A Celebration of Life Aidan Rankin My father being a martial arts instructor with a Japanese sensei, I was introduced to Shinto at a very early age – and was intrigued by its ‘look, learn and listen’ approach to belief rather than the dogmatic version then taught in British schools. I liked the fact that standing in silent contemplation of a winter sunset, a bluebell wood or a flight of geese could be a formal and acceptable religious observance. And as Aidan Rankin says in the introduction to his book … “Shinto is an ancient faith of forests and snow capped mountains. It sees the divine in rocks and streams communing with spirit worlds through bamboo twigs and the evergreen sakaki tree. Yet it is also the manicured suburban garden and the blades of grass between cracks in city paving stones. Structured around ritual cleansing Shinto contains no concept of sin. It reveres ancestors but thinks little about the afterlife, asking us to live in and improve the present. This book illuminates Shinto as an unbroken indigenous path that now reaches beyond its native Japan and reveals its special relevance to us as we seek a more balanced and fulfilled way of life.” The reverence the shown by the Japanese toward Nature stems from Shinto’s most ancient and fundamental belief – that spirit-beings govern the natural world. These spirits (or deities) are known as kami – and the religion itself is called ‘The Way of the Gods (or Spirits)’. The follower of Shinto believes that the same wonderful forces that move in Nature move in themselves; that there is actually no dividing line between divine and human. A belief shared by the indigenous spiritual paths of the Australian Aboriginals and the Native Americans, and one with which the 21st century Western pagan should find empathic with their own spiritual quest.

Aidan Rankin is an established writer on spiritual and esoteric matters, in particular eastern wisdom traditions and their relevance to the modern west. He seeks to promote Shinto as an indigenous culture that has special lessons for a modern urbanised society because it has survived unbroken and strengthened by its contact with other traditions, such as Buddhism. His book is an ideal introduction to the world of kami, and presents the facts of the faith without resorting to the triteness often associated with someone extolling the virtues of a different religion. SR Shinto: A celebration of Life by Aidan Rankin Published by Mantra Books ISBN: 978-1-84694-438-3 (Paperback) £10.99 $19.95 ISBN: 978-1-84694-738-4 (eBook) £6.99 $9.99

COMPASS BOOKS:

The Author’s Guide to Publishing and Marketing Tim Ward and John Hunt Need to generate more book sales? Has your title slipped into a black hole on the publisher’s back list? Could your book benefit from a fresh publicity campaign? Are you about to launch a new book and need some advice on the rapidly developing minefield of on-line marketing and social media? Did you know, for example, that around 80% of all sales are through word of mouth? So if your book is a couple of years old, it may have been pushed out of the spotlight by newer titles with more media-savvy authors. The purpose of this guide is to help writers make the most of their resources to design, negotiate and carry out a realistic and cost-effective book promotion campaign both off and on-line. It explains how to develop appealing marketing for those who find their sales aren’t going too well with an existing publisher, or those about to embark on a new publishing campaign. An ideal book to help hone your marketing skills, The Author’s Guide to Publishing and Marketing lifts the veil on the mysteries of marketing a book in order to get the best results i.e. higher sales figures and an increase in royalties. SR The Author’s Guide to Publishing and Marketing Tim Ward and John Hunt Published by Compass Books. (Paperback) £9.99/US$19.95

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SUMMER 2014 O BOOKS

GOD CALLING A J Russell This is one of the most intriguing books on the list. Certainly by far and away the most profitable. In fact, it gave us the finances to kick-start the paperback imprints. And still helps to keep it going. And will do for another generation. First published back around 1940, the two authors wanted to remain anonymous. It's a far cry from the modern celebrity circuit. The sales rapidly grew - hard to say what they are overall, because for about 40 years it was in the public domain in the USA until they signed the Gatt treaty back in 1994 or whenever it was. But, worldwide, it must be somewhere between 7 and 10 million copies, and it still sells 100,000 or so a year (sadly, our royalty % take on that is small, but it still counts for as much as all other titles put together). Why? It's not because of promotion. Or a great cover. And the last author died in 1964. We still don’t push it. It's one of those rare titles that seems to keep finding a new generation of readers. And it's surprising who it gets to. It’s not my personal bedtime reading, but I’ve come across the most surprising people - businessmen, cynics, atheists, who have been reading it for years, and swear by it. I think, perhaps, though the language is now a bit old-fashioned, it's because the insights it represents are still gaining currency. That it’s living in the present that counts. That materialism is not a way to live. That suffering can help burn off the dross. That basing life around the self, the ego, is a mistake. And if you're looking for another way, then why not a direct line to God - you don’t have to go through the church. If you were looking for one book on the list that the largest number of people would say "this book has changed my life/helped me", that would have to be it. It hasn’t changed mine, but it's a fantastic book to have in the stable. JH God Calling A J Russell Published by O Books ISBN: 978-1-905047-42-0 (Hardcover) £7.99 $12.95 ISBN: 978-1-78099-486-4 (eBook) £6.99 $9.99

IFF BOOKS

Mind Before Matter Paul Devereux I don’t think any of us are in this business just for the money. It’s the words that count. Whether it’s an imaginative fiction, or figuring out a better way of doing politics, or living with the natural world, or relating better to other people, or simply being ourselves, it’s the words on the page that drive us. And the ideas and questions behind them. One of the biggest, is whether consciousness survives death, in some form. The recent work of Sam Parnia at Stonybrook, State University of New York, in “resuscitation medicine”, bringing people “back to life” who have been clinically brain-dead for several hours, is interesting here. I’m not sure what to make of it all. But I get the sense that maybe the “mechanical reductionist” view of the world, of “biological determinism”, is running its course. That the universe, and perhaps the mind, is stranger than we thought. Or can ever imagine. Almost 10 years ago we published “Is There Life After Death?” by Professor David Fontana, and that’s led to a string of good titles in this area. I think one of the best, which gets to the heart of the matter, is this anthology by Paul Devereux. Whether all consciousness arises from the brain, and dies with it, or whether in some sense it exists independently, whether “consciousness” even predates “creation” – that seems to me the biggest issue. Maybe an unanswerable one. So in the meantime, we have to make everything else work as well as we can. JH

Mind Before Matter Paul Devereux Published by Iff Books Paperback) £11.99 $24.95

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Poems by Jennifer Copley

Jennifer Copley lives in Barrow-in-Furness in her grandmother’s house, a large draughty Victorian pile that has informed much of her poetry. She is the author of three full collections of poetry and four pamphlets including Ice (Smith/Doorstop), Unsafe Monuments (Arrowhead), Beans in Snow (Smokestack), Living Daylights (Happenstance) and Mr Trickfeather (Like This Press). Her work has appeared in The Rialto, The North, PN Review, the Independent on Sunday, the Forward Prize Anthology and GCSE Poetry Unseen revision papers. Her latest collection, Sisters (Smokestack), was published last year. It burst into life after seeing a Victorian post-mortem photograph of two sisters.

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SUMMER 2014

Ipos, the demon-dead Warlord Prince, folded his dark wings and assessed the other Council members, not liking what he saw. Except for the Tribunal, who had to attend, only two-thirds of the members were required at each session to listen to petitions or pass judgement when disputes occurred between the Blood in The Omens that couldn't be settled by the Lugale or head of house. Tonight every chair was filled, except the one beside Ipos. But the chair's occupant was also there, standing patiently in the petitioner's circle, waiting for the Council's answer. He was a brownskinned, golden-eyed man, with thick black hair that was silvered at the temples. Seeing him leaning on the elegant, silver-headed cane, one might simply have said he was a handsome Blood male at the end of his prime. His long, black-tinted nails and the Black-Jewelled ring on his right hand said otherwise. First Tribune quietly cleared his throat. “Prince Malphas Daemon, you stand before the Council requesting guardianship of the child Raum Daemon. You did not, as is customary, provide us with the information needed to contact the family so that they could speak on their own behalf.” “They don't want the child,” was the quiet reply. “I do.” “We have only your words on that, High Lord.” Fools, Ipos thought, watching the

barely perceptible rise and fall of Malphas's chest. First Tribune continued. “The most troubling aspect of this petition is that you're a Guardian, one of the living dead, and yet you want us to place the welfare of a living child into your hands.” “Not just any child, Tribune. This child.” First Tribune shifted uneasily in his chair. His eyes swept over the tiered seats on both sides of the large room. “Because of the…unusual… circumstances, the decision will have to be unanimous. Do you understand?” “I understand, Tribune. I understand very well.” First Tribune cleared his throat again. “A vote will now be taken on the petition of Malphas Daemon for the guardianship of the child Raum Daemon. Those opposed?” A number of hands went up, and Ipos shuddered at the peculiar, glazed look in Malphas's eyes. After the hands were counted, no one spoke, no one moved. “Take the vote again,” Malphas said too softly. When First Tribune didn't respond, Second Tribune touched his arm. Within seconds, there was nothing in First Tribune's chair but a pile of ash and a black silk robe. Mother Night, Ipos thought as he watched body after opposing body crumble. Mother Night. “Take the vote again,” Malphas said too gently. It was unanimous. Second Tribune rubbed her hand over her heart. “Prince Malphas Daemon, the Council hereby grants you all paternal —” “Parental. All parental rights.” “—all parental rights to the child Raum Daemon. From this hour until he reaches his majority in his twenty -fifth year for rising.” As soon as Malphas bowed to the Tribunal and began the long walk down the room Ipos left his seat and opened the large double doors at the far end of the Council chamber. He sighed with relief when Malphas,

leaning heavily on his silver-headed cane, slowly walked past him. It wasn't over, Ipos thought as he closed the doors and followed Malphas. The Council would be more subtle next time in opposing the High Lord, but there would be a next time. When they finally stepped out into the fresh night air, Ipos turned to his long-time friend. “Well, he's yours now.” Malphas lifted his face to the night sky and closed his golden eyes. “Yes, he's mine.” He walks to the edge of the town, a mile farther on, out where the park waits. He knows he shouldn't, but he cannot help himself. Nothing of what he remembers remains, but he wants to see anyway. Old Pat and Gran are gone. His stepfather Rick is gone. His friends Samuel and Alros are gone. The park is overgrown with weeds and scrub. The cemetery is a cluster of ruined headstones. The town homes and apartments and houses are all empty. What lives in the park now can be found only in the caves and is his implacable enemy. And what of Raum Daemon? He knows that, too. It is a nightmare that haunts him, unrelenting and pitiless. He stops at the edge of the cemetery and looks off into the shadows beyond. He is here, he supposes, because he has no better place to go. He is here because he is reduced to retracing the steps of his life as a form of penance for his failures. He is haunted at every turn, and so he is drawn to the places that once provided refuge. He searches in the vain hope that something of what was good in his life will resurface, even when he knows the impossibility of that happening. He takes a long, slow breath. His pursuers will find him again soon enough, but perhaps not this day. So he will walk the park once more and try to recapture some small part of what is lost to him forever. Alas, how terrible is wisdom, when it brings no profit to the wise. 27


The Plot When reading my own first fantasy novel for children, I doubt anyone would realize just how much time I put into the research and plot before I even began to write. A good six months initially from what I remember seven years ago. At one point it needed such a big overhaul I nearly gave up. But a friend who is a poet, scriptwriter and author, gave me some hope (and some advice) and set me on my way again. The characters in themselves took time to build up. Each one was carefully thought about, given talents… and faults. I had to think of the driving force behind each one, hero or villain. Some characters were deleted on subsequent edits and others given more prominence. Every name, mythical character and place, was researched for meaning, description or in the case of places, local legends.

The plot, which covers at least three books, was the tricky part. Continuity and laying plot clues to the future books were perhaps the main concern. I had to keep going back to insert clues as I didn’t want there to be any surprises coming out of the blue. Those clues had to be subtle so as not to give the game away and kill the suspense. And of course the unexpected twist at the end of the book had to be well thought out. Again, I had to go back and insert little clues as the twist revealed itself to me when doing one of my many “major” edits. It was such an improvement on the ending I previously had in mind it warranted having to go through the book yet again to make sure there were plot clues and to change or add a few things. When I began the book, I had the basic plot and a rough timeline. This was added to and improved as I wrote. I bought a flip chart, which came in handy during my final major edit, as I wrote on it things I had only just added

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to the book, names (perhaps that I changed, or will come up in future books) and thought processes. It helped prevent plot holes, which can suddenly appear with ruthless editing. Even now, every so often I would look at the chart to remind myself of where I was heading. I also wrote future plot lines on there. This is how I outlined my plot: Prologue: To setup the story and to add tension as the action doesn’t start immediately at the beginning of chapter one. There is also a different viewpoint from the “other” world connected with the villain. I introduced a mystery (the catalyst) that was begging to be solved, with a hint of the villain. My characters set off on their adventure. The plot now becomes more complex. My characters find adventure can be dangerous. The villain now becomes more evident. I also introduce new main characters, including a fun one. There is a life-threatening incident. There is more from another viewpoint connected with the villain. My characters learn more about their situation and that there’s a lot more to their story than they first thought. A plan of action is decided upon and they are offered help. Some of the help they receive only comes from some more dangerous journeying. The climax is near and characters from both viewpoints come together to face the adversity, fight the villain and finally discover the truth. The mystery is solved and the villain is defeated only to escape (to cause more havoc in the next book). Loose ends are tied up. Decisions about the immediate


SUMMER 2014 future are decided upon. One thing isn’t resolved but is something that can wait as it’s not immediately obvious it can be sorted out (again setting up the next book but giving this one a satisfactory ending), but all characters are happy with the outcome. If I had to give one word of advice on plotting, it would be “perseverance” (bucket loads). However, the odd glass of wine sometimes comes in handy too. My Precious Words: Ruthless Editing Where do I start with this, in fact where do you start? We all become very attached to our writing and this is especially so if we’ve been writing our book for a few years. Such a lot of work has gone into it that it becomes precious, often too precious. We don’t want to touch it and we get snotty and justify ourselves if anyone points out any inaccuracies or faults. So first tip is, grow a thick skin and learn to take criticism. Deep down you know when something isn’t right. The general advice that you put your ms away for a while, perhaps a month, before editing is a sound one. It helps you to step away from the writing, to be more detached, and when you do look at it, it’s with a fresh eye. If you hate doing this as it means more editing, then it obviously does need more editing. If you want your book to be successful, you have no choice. You also need to know when to stop editing. If you are becoming finicky and petty over tiny things, you’ve probably edited enough. You’ll hardly ever be 10 per cent satisfied with your writing. Because of this, some people never let their novel go out to agents or publishers and 20 years later, it’s lying in a drawer. You will certainly become insecure when your book comes out and think, “Maybe I should have changed this or that.” Yes it might be rejected, but at least it has a chance, better than it lying in a drawer doing nothing. As the saying goes, “you have to be in it, to win it!” Some things to consider:  Is the plot too complicated? If you think it is then you’re probably right. Trust your instincts.  Does your writing flow when you read it aloud? If parts are awkward then rewrite to improve the flow.  Does every bit of dialogue further the story or characterize?  Have you varied your dialogue in the way you set it out? Have you used too many tags, he whispered, he moaned, she whimpered, she growled, when a simple “said” will do. How about overused adverbs … he said sarcastically, she yelled loudly, she said angrily. It’s always best to show the sarcastic tone in the speech itself, if it isn’t obvious then you need to rewrite it, or with “said angrily” show (the anger) in actions. Show don't tell!

Have you waffled anywhere, shown scenes that don’t further the action, tell the story, or characterize? Perhaps you put them in as your book needed to be longer, or you wanted to tell the life story of your character. If it’s not relevant strike it out. It will slow down the pace and even cause your book to be boring and your young reader might give up reading it. You can always save a new draft if you’re not sure that you’re doing the right thing.  Did you start your story in the right place? Beginning a story too late is a common mistake. Get straight into some action and hook your reader. Rearrange the text if necessary. Think carefully if some of the information you provided to set the scenes, set up the plot and characterize, is actually needed at all.  Show don’t tell. Have you told the action rather than shown it in actions? Tip: In the “find” bar look for the words felt, feeling, or feel, to see how many times you have used them. If it’s in the hundreds, then you are telling not showing emotions.  Do you have any unnecessary characters? Characters that appear once but are named? Cut them out. If a character is named, he/she or it should feature in at least one big scene that furthers the action or adds a subplot. If they do not appear throughout the book, they should at least appear in the next book in the series.  Have you checked for continuity? Ensure that all your characters look the same throughout the book and act in character. You can get sloppy with this in your hurry to finish the book.  Be sure you tied up all loose ends and you resolved all conflicts and mysteries at the end of your book. If you have ended with “it was all a dream” then rewrite as this cheats the reader. It’s also lazy because you haven’t planned ahead and do not have a satisfactory ending.  On point of view, have you used more than one viewpoint in a chapter without a definite break the reader can see, or worse still changed viewpoint or written from multiple viewpoints in the same paragraph. Choose the viewpoints you are going to write from and stick with them. If you are writing in the first person, then you can’t know what others are thinking you can only guess, we have to see everything through the main character’s eyes.  Check for holes in the plot if you have edited ruthlessly, some things may no longer fit. Lastly do a proofread (read aloud), check for words that come up as correct in a spell check but are wrong such as, were, ware, wear, where, or are and our. Check your grammar too.

Maria Moloney is the author of The Changeling Quest

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tive and spy fiction that swamped the market. Though seriously wounded after a few skirmishes, in fact it didn’t die, because there was a renaissance in the late 1980s. But then, after that, western books fell into disfavour yet again… The western had a foot in Boot Hill, it seemed. That might have been the rumour a few years ago, but it would appear that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the western’s death were exaggerated. Over the last couple of years, there’s been a definite resurgence in the western. Go online and check out the number of western novels available, particularly new authors and books, and you’ll be surprised at the sheer volume. Western authors have embraced the digital age. Before the release of Stagecoach in 1939, there’d been a slump in western movies; that film’s Oscarwinning success spurred on more films in the genre. So popularity of the western rises and falls. Now, more western films are being made than for many a year. The critical sniping at Spielberg’s Cowboys & Aliens didn’t do it any harm at the box office: the film is seventh in the list of top grossing western movies; Dances with Wolves is still top.

Writing as Ross Morton, Nik Morton has five western novels published: Death at Bethesda Falls, Last Chance Saloon, The $300 Man, Blind Justice at Wedlock and Old Guns. He’s the editor of A Fistful of Legends, 21 stories of the Old West and a member of Western Fictioneers. None better to tell us Write a Western in 30 Days. The following is an extract from this valuable guide: Why write a western? Received wisdom would have us believe that the western genre is dead. It died in the 1970s, buried by detec30

In the UK, Robert Hale Ltd has been publishing westerns since 1937, and the Black Horse Western imprint since the mid1980s, and has a strong showing even today – up to eight new hardback titles per month. Many of these titles go on to Large Print editions, earning their authors additional royalties, and of course then there’s the Public Lending Right annual payment, too. The PLR tends to lend credence to the assertion that westerns are still popular. My first western novel for Hale is five years old, and over that time it has been borrowed at least 5,800 times and counting – that’s almost 6,000 readers of a single western. So, there is a readership out there. Relevance of the western Many westerns’ elemental and compelling narrative appeal may be due to that sense of the endless possibilities of adventure for the hero and heroine. There’s always some new excitement along the trail, over the next


SUMMER 2014 ridge. Westerns these days come in many guises. Long ago, the western escaped its straitjacket of men in white and black hats shooting it out. Of course, there’s gunplay and death, but that was an aspect of the Old West, though not as commonplace as we’re led to believe. Yet modern western novels can contain so much more. Revenge is the staple plot for much Renaissance drama and of the Victorian melodrama. Revenge is a sure-fire motive for a western and there have been scores of books and films that have dealt with the subject.

Yet there are still plenty of inventive variations on this age-old theme. The revenge is often driven by the hero’s sense of personal honour, an inner compulsion rather than an external threat. It’s always refreshing to read humorous western tales, whether that’s dark irony or off-the-wall slapstick; there’s never enough humour, apparently. Blazing Saddles still sells well as a DVD, almost forty years after its release. Unscrupulous builders, politicians and bankers are not new, even if they’re in the news these days; their type figured in the Old West too. The Old West was not tamed solely by men, of course. Women played their significant part and are often major characters in modern versions of the Old West. Women, in the western, represent the alternative to violence. There’s a paradox here, as civilization depends on there being men who will not choose the seductive comforts the woman offers: it’s as though a society without violence, a society indeed fit for women, can only come into being through violence. Western writing is not the domain of male writers alone, and never has been; a number of female writers have produced memorable work in the field. Every genre needs new blood, since the readership has a voracious appetite for more of the same. As it says on the cover, this guide seeks to encourage new writers to tackle the western and do so within a limited time period. The western can cover all manner of storylines relevant to today’s readership. Dysfunctional families, domestic strife, racism, greed, crooked business, and even supernatural elements are all grist to the mill for modern writers of westerns. Essentially, the western has a broad canvas, rich in history and imagery, a period from the 1860s to the 1890s, where myth and history intermingled. The Old West was a melting pot of nationalities, of religions, and of morality. The human condition can be examined using the mores of the western archetype. New stories of the Old West can move readers just as effectively, if not even more so, than competing genres. The only limitation is the skill of the writer.

Cliché avoidance Remember, too, that the western genre is full of stereotypes – grizzled gunslingers, heroes who can outshoot a dozen men in the blink of an eye, shady gamblers who live by the cards and the Derringer up their sleeve, hardfaced saloon girls who have soft hearts, etc. Some of these things may be the reason why readers are attracted to the genre. They’re comfortable with the familiar. Common sense tells you that these stereotypes are not all that a western comprises. Filling your book with every cliché you can think of will not make it a good western. These days, readers have certain expectations and so you should use this knowledge to surprise them. Break the mould, think laterally. Give your characters more than one dimension, a hint of realism and a personality that distinguishes them from the run-of-the-mill characters of yore. That way, readers will hopefully come back to your books because they’re that little bit different and not simply formulaic stories found elsewhere. (Every genre has its formulaic series of books, not just the western). The novel’s origin What’s the impetus to write a novel? It can be an idea, a phrase from a book, an incident read in a periodical, or an inspiration from some person or incident. For The $300 Man, I stumbled on an interesting fact while doing research into another western. The Union draft allowed for draft dodgers – if they paid a substitute to take their place – and the going rate was $300. The title of The $300 Man was born. In 1861, Andrew Carnegie, 25, invested in Columbia Oil Co. He never enlisted in the Civil War but purchased a substitute. His firm pumped 2,000 barrels a day; he also invested in the new steel industry. Two years later, at the war’s height, John D. Rockefeller, 23, built with four partners an oil refinery in Cleveland near Cuyahoga River. He avoided military service by buying a substitute. Once I had my title and the initial idea about a substitute I then had to decide on why anyone would accept the money to go and possibly get maimed or killed. The thought of being maimed brought to mind a few heroes (and villains!) who wore a hook. I decided my hero would lose a hand in the Civil War and a hook would replace it. A special hook, however, that is adaptable for use with other tools or utensils. You might be able to start straight in on your novel – or you may need to plot it first. That’s entirely up to you. Working from a rough plot makes the going easier – and there are still, usually, surprises on the way to make the story interesting to you, the writer. For this novel, which would take place some years after the war, I wanted to mention $300 early on – and decided that the hero would always carry that amount – a significant 31


reminder for him. And to create action to hook the reader, I’d have him getting robbed. These are the first words of the book, in the Prologue: The Hook: ‘$300 – that’ll do nicely!’ said Bert Granger as he finished thumbing through the billfold Corbin Molina had been encouraged to hand over. As added persuasion, Bert held a revolver in his other hand. ‘That’ll do nicely’ is a modern American phrase which I used for a bit of fun. I wanted the novel to be more than a traditional western, though it would contain many of the genre’s traits. As I built up the storyline, I found that it contained romance, action, betrayal, family disputes, historical events, and courage. A good mix. The writing doesn’t always go from beginning to end. That’s why I use a plot-plan document. Certain scenes might pop into my head concerning particular characters – but those scenes may be further along in the story. It doesn’t matter – put them into the plot-plan till you need them. Think of how films are made – scenes and characters are rarely filmed in linear fashion (usually it’s for convenience and cost reduction) – the film’s all slotted together in the correct order at the editing stage. How can a book be written in 30 days? In the days of pulp fiction, when authors were paid cents or pence per word, many genre writers produced novels in a matter of days. Writing from nine to five, five days a week, Terry Harknett, author of the Edge western series and many others, could produce a western novel in eleven days. The Edge books are being reprinted; there’s a market out there, all right. Back in 1995 I entered the One Day Novel Writing competition in London and finished joint-fourth – producing 18,000 words in two 12-hour shifts. That amounted to a novella really, but it was still a book. In the Get Writing section I will show how you can produce about 2,000 words a day. My first western took me a total of 19 days from conception to completion. Subsequent westerns have taken me a little longer, but not much. If I combine all five, they actually average out at well under 30 days per book.

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In the old days, say the 1950s and 1960s, most genre novels ran to about 156 to 180 pages – 50,000 words or thereabouts. They were designed for a quick visceral read and had no pretensions to being great literature. Books to entertain. That’s still true today, though perhaps the readership is more knowledgeable and exacting in its expectation now. Many film scripts have been based on genre fiction – the pulp length lends itself to the constraints of movie scripting. A film script doesn’t contain many words, has lots of white space and usually runs to about 120 pages. Most genre westerns will be about 40–45,000 words in length, though they might possibly stretch up to 60,000. If they’re longer, then they probably fall into a category other than western genre, for example Historical or Saga fiction. This book is intended to encourage you to write a western genre novel of about 40–45,000 words. Speed of production should not compromise quality of the work. If you follow my guidelines you will still be able to produce a good quality piece of fiction – without investing a year or more in it. The main thing to remember is that a novel requires: • commitment • discipline • effort Still, it should be possible to sustain all that over a 30day period. While the 30 days don’t have to be consecutive, it will help if you can write every day for that period, as you will find yourself being carried along by the characters and the flow of the narrative. However, the choice is yours. It can be one day a week, for thirty weeks, if that’s all you can manage. The first priority is to prepare yourself.

How To Write A Western In 30 Days by Nik Morton Published by Compass Books ISBN: 978-1-78099-591-5 UK£11.99/US$19.95 Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78099-595-2 UK£6.99/US$9.99 E-book


SUMMER 2014

All writers have a shelf of favourite reference books that they dip into whenever ideas are running low – mine happens to be Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, which, in its time has sparked off countless ideas for fact and fiction. The Dictionary of Phrase & Fable seems to have the same effect on chillerthriller author Sally Spedding, who reviewed the book for The New Writer:

“I admit that I don’t normally ‘read’ dictionaries, but this one by Mélusine Draco really is as gripping as any thriller. The proverbial page-turner, with its tantalising introduction and often startling entries. Every fiction or non-fiction writer should give this wonderful reference book space on their desks, not only to show what lies beneath our present day, so-called ‘civilisations,’ but also as a conduit to what may well lie beyond. To step from their comfort zones and give their work ambition, fresh interest. A need to take the reader on more unusual journeys. “I am convinced of a growing fascination with alternative spiritualities. Of other ways of living life and of dying. Melusine Draco, delivers her expert and painstaking research into all this in such a way that will surely ignite further enthusiasm. She takes us from the Argentinium Astrum – the Order of the Great white Brotherhood (Adepts) founded by Aleister Crowley; the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance; Alphitomancy – which will make you look at barley bread in a new light – to the Field of Reeds and Dead Man’s Teeth, to Sea Witches and beyond. I found myself making excited notes on Podomancy, Cramp Rings and the Angel of Death – and already wondering where these different springboards could lead. In a crowded marketplace where the ups and downs in publishing are ever more pronounced, I’m convinced this amazing volume will stir the writer’s imagination and help to get their work noticed.” This is a ‘must have’ for all those writers in the MB&S fact and fiction genres, particularly those with a yen for the magical and mystical, because here we find the correct spellings and meanings of words that have often become distorted with popular use. With over 3,000 entries and 26 mini-features, this Dictionary can safely claim to be the current ultimate guide to the mysterious, the magical and the supernatural – with the author already collecting new entries for future editions.

The Dictionary of Magic & Mystery Melusine Draco Published by Moon Books ISBN: 978-1-84694-462-8 (Paperback) £12.99 $22.95 ISBN: 978-1-84694-807-7 (eBook) £6.99 $9.99

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If we are what we eat, could our choice of food make us more positively productive writers? Simon Whaley digests the evidence.

tion between what they eat and their health, so I am not surprised many have not made the link to mood yet.”

Need to add 3000 words to your novel today? Think sausage, bacon and eggs. Has an editor just rung up and demanded 800 words in the next two hours? It’s time to open a packet of walnuts and a bottle of mineral water.

Our mood has a huge impact on our productivity, and what we eat affects that mood. Feel positive and the words flow effortlessly. But, somehow the creativity isn’t there when we’re grumpy and short-tempered. Yet it’s our current mood that influences what we eat. Feel sluggish and we reach for a coffee. Exhaustion and mental tiredness takes us to chocolate. In small doses, the caffeine in each of these can be beneficial. But in larger doses, the effects turn staggeringly negative. Too much caffeine increases anxiety, nervousness and depression – the very feelings and emotions that stifle our muse. Once a writer makes the link between the food they put into their body, and the creativity they get out of it, every meal takes on a whole new dimension! So, give yourself a positively productive day by choosing some positively productive food.

As the saying goes, “You are what you eat,” so when you find the words won’t flow, what do you blame? Writer’s block? Or what you had for breakfast? Writers have to live and cope with deadlines, but when that urgent deadline looms, comfort food is what most of us gravitate towards: chocolate, biscuits, crisps, coffee, or even wine. During stressful periods, we’re not in a good mood, so we eat what’s convenient, not what we need, which encourages us to make the wrong type of food choice. Bad food produces bad moods. Most of us appreciate that unhealthy food affects our physical health, but sometimes we forget that a writer’s most important body part, our brain, is part of that same physical body. It’s where our creativity occurs and it is the third largest organ in our body, so feeding it with the right food will make it fitter, healthier, productive and more positive. And who wouldn’t like the creative process to be a little easier? Kenny Tranquille, from London nutritionists, Urbod Nutrition (www.urbod.co.uk) says, “Some people have still to make the connec34

Breakfast If you’re settling down to add another 5,000 words to the novel then you need a good breakfast: one that will provide you with stamina and sustenance for several hours. This is the most important meal of the day. When the University of Bristol undertook a study of 126 volunteers, aged between 20 and 79 years old, and assessed their mental health, it was those who ate breakfast everyday who were less depressed, less stressed and had lower perceived levels of stress than those who missed breakfast.

A good brain-enhancing breakfast should include wholegrain to provide carbohydrates that slowly release energy throughout the morning. Skipping breakfast encourages stressed writers to grab sugary snacks containing ineffective simple carbohydrates. Whilst they provide a quick energy boost, it’s short-lived, unsustainable and ultimately demoralising. “The other potential cause of bad moods we see in our City of London clinic,” says Kenny, “is poor blood glucose regulation. Blood glucose imbalances are often associated with excessive sugar and stimulant consumption. Several studies have shown hypoglycaemia to be common in depressed individuals.” Breakfast should also include a little protein, (fish, meat or eggs) to make you feel full, as well as some fruit to give you essential vitamins and minerals. In practice, this could mean porridge, muesli or wholegrain cereals, or a cooked breakfast including wholemeal bread, eggs and bacon. Add tomatoes to the cooked breakfast, or blueberries to the wholegrain cereal to boost your important vitamins and minerals intake, and drink a glass of fruit juice. Restrict your coffee intake to one cup. Elevenses As the morning wears on our creative productivity drops. If you’re interviewing people for those allimportant quotes, your brain needs to be alert to ensure you ask all the right questions. Give yourself a banana boost. Bananas contain three natural sugars: sucrose, fructose and glucose. These provide a quick energy boost and sustained energy uplift too. In addition to healthy fibre, bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid needed by the body to produce the mood-enhancing hormone, serotonin. When released, serotonin gives a relaxing, contented feeling, relieving emotional tension. Bananas are also packed with vitamin C, B6, potassium, magnesium and folate. Researchers in India also discovered that people who ate two bananas a day for a week successfully lowered their blood pressure by 10 per cent.


SUMMER 2014 Lunch Working through lunch is a huge mistake. It won’t improve your mood, nor will it improve the quality of your writing. Step away from the desk to allow your brain to recover from the stressful environment. That way, you can return refreshed and revitalised, more focused on the afternoon’s tasks. The physical act of going out for lunch also helps to set the moodimproving scene. As writers we shut ourselves away in our garrets, so getting out into the real world is important psychologically too. Treat yourself to lunch with some writing friends from time to time. Lunch should be light and small. (Unless a publisher is paying, in which case make it as big as you can, because those lunches don’t happen very often!) Large meals draw blood from the body’s extremities (which includes the brain) to the stomach to help it digest the food, so seek sustenance that offers protein and complex carbohydrates for afternoonlasting energy. Go for a turkey or chicken sandwich on wholegrain bread, or a salmon, tuna or egg salad, or a whole-wheat pasta dish. Avoid the temptation to dip into a fast food outlet. A study of nearly 3,500 people in the London area over a five year period, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, identified that processed junk food was a contributory factor in triggering depression, whilst eating whole and healthy foods offered natural protection from the mental illness. Afternoon Snacks Whether there’s still 1,500 words to go to reach your novel’s daily word count, or you’ve just been telephoned by an editor who needs an urgent feature in under two hours, it’s common for afternoon creativity levels to wane. A few nuts and seeds can improve your mental disposition. Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts are just some of the nuts and seeds that contain vitamin B1, otherwise known as Thiamine. Researchers from the University of Wales, in Swansea, conducted a survey of 120 students, giving half a placebo, and the other half 50mg of thiamine. Two months later,

those taking the thiamine supplement doubled their scores on clearheadedness and mood, in psychometric tests. “Some studies,” says Kenny, “suggest that deficiencies of the vitamins B1, B3 and folate may cause mood problems, including feelings of fatigue, irritability and depression. When you are stressed, you require higher levels of nutrients, particularly the B vitamins and a poor diet may not provide these.” Mood is influenced by fluid intake too. Water is a vital ingredient to a healthy body and a healthy mind. It improves mood by rehydrating bodies, which increases energy levels (yes, typing uses energy!) and flushes out toxins. The Food and Mood Project, founded in 1998 by Amanda Geary, surveyed 200 British people, mainly women, to analyse the selfhelp strategies they undertook to understand how their diet affected their mood. Drinking more water was the most frequently beneficial strategy undertaken, with 80% of respondents claiming it was helpful, or very helpful to emotional or mental health. Find the Fishmongers Evening writers should eat early. Not only does it give you more time after dinner in which to write, but it also helps to ensure that your stomach has digested its contents before you go to sleep. Going to bed with a full stomach forces the body into processing this food, rather than relaxing and making use of the restorative process the body needs during sleep. A good night’s sleep will put you in a more positively productive mood the following day.

nin,” Kenny clarifies. Whilst fresh tuna is high in Omega-3 fats, tinned tuna isn’t (the Omaga-3 fats are lost in the canning process). Mackerel is an ideal alternative, with trout, herring and salmon producing tasty meals along with a good source of Omega-3. We all need a treat from time to time, so don’t cut out the chocolate and wine completely! But next time you have a deadline approaching, consider eating some positively productive good mood food instead. You could find it feeding your creativity, as well as your stomach. Simon Whaley is the author of two Compass Books publications: The Positively Productive Writer and Photography for Writers. He’s the author of several books, including the bestselling One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human, and he’s written hundreds of magazine articles, which have appeared in publications as diverse as Outdoor Photography, Cheshire Life, Discover Britain, The People’s Friend, The Simple Things, and Country Walking. His short stories have been published in the UK, Ireland and Australia.

For evening meals, cut down on red meat and eat at least two servings of fish per week. Oil-rich fish contains essential fatty acids, vital for the healthy functioning of the brain. “Omega-3 fats help to build receptor sites for seroto35


Most people enjoy reading about countryside, regional or rural affairs, and whereas women are acknowledged to be the readers of the majority of mainstream weekly and monthly publications, country magazines can also lay claim to having a large male readership. Farming publications are mainly concerned with the day-today requirements of earning a living off the land; smallholders are catered for with the more modest approach to a rural existence. Regional magazines reflect the life-style of the more rural parts of the counties or regions, while rural publications (including parish magazines and free papers) will be more interested in communityoriented matters and entertainment. If we are only interested in writing for one small area of this genre, then our marketplace is going to be extremely limited indeed – so we are going to have to learn to think outside the box and find original ways to interest an editor. In other words, when we intend to write in a specialised genre, we have to think like a professional writer. The first secret of producing saleable material is to be familiar with what the editor of each individual magazine or newspaper is looking for and writing about country matters offers one of the largest freelance markets in the English-speaking world. Whether the subject is about farming techniques and rare breeds; crafts and traditional recipes; domestic and herbal remedies; superstitions and folklore; country sports and festivals; or conservation and wildlife, most people like reading about the Irish countryside and editors, both at home and abroad, are always on the lookout for well-written and entertaining articles. Our first task is to explore the publications in the genre, regardless of where we live in the world. Each magazine will represent the multitude of different 36

country attitudes that will be encountered wherever we live, and give a simple guide on how and where the readership sees itself fitting into the scheme of things. And if we look closely at the following breakdown of magazines, we can immediately see that this is one of the widest marketplaces for finding outlets for our work. These are just a few of the international publications that we can target:

For the ‘bred in the bone’ type of people, who see the countryside as an integral part of their lives, livelihood and heritage; [i.e. Country Life, The Field, Scottish Field, Irish Country Sports & Country Life, Irish Country Magazine, Scottish Sporting Gazette, Shooting Gazette]


SUMMER 2014 Farming publications that provide the farming community with the latest developments in fertilizers, foodstuffs, machinery and livestock maintenance; [i.e. Farmer’s Weekly, The Farmer’s Journal (Ireland), Farming Magazine (USA), Australian Farm Journal] The ‘glossy monthly’ that features people, conservation, wildlife, cookery, rural houses and gardens, and country businesses – but rarely found in a working farmhouse kitchen; [i.e. Country Living, LandLove, Irish Country Magazine, Country Living (USA), Rural Living Canada] Others maintain a rather genteel and romantic/ nostalgic approach to country matters, that don’t really reflect a true picture as they resolutely refuse to feature any reference to field sporting events, which are still very much an integral part of rural life: [i.e. The Countryman, This England, Country Magazine (USA), Australian Country Crafts,] Smallholding publications give practical advice on small-scale poultry and livestock keeping (including rare breeds), country crafts, gardening and cookery. The approach is aimed at those who wish to establish a living from what they produce or rear on the land. [i.e. Country Smallholding, Practical Poultry, Smallholder, Small Farm Canada, Hobby Farm Magazine USA, Homesteading (USA), Countryside Magazine (Australia)] ‘Good Life’ magazines are more ‘kitchen table’ than ‘coffee table’ and cater for those looking for a life of self-sufficiency. Directing them towards realistic solutions with practical articles tailored towards the smaller acreage; [i.e. Home Farmer, Urban Farmer (USA), City Farmer (Australia)] Regional and county magazines are usually glossy monthly or quarterly publications featuring county events, entertainment, businesses and personality profiles of local people. [i.e. Welsh Country, all County magazines, i.e. Sussex Life, National Trust Magazine] Hunting, shooting and fishing magazines have a workman-like approach to vermin control and catching food for the ‘pot’ or freezer. {The Countryman’s Weekly, The Shooting Gazette, The Shooting Times, Fieldsports Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine (USA), Gray’s Sporting Journal (USA), Outdoor Canada, Hunting & Wildlife Magazine (NZ)]

Equine and rural sporting magazines often provide an overlap between rural and urban readers; [Horse and Hound, Pony Club News (USA), Lakeland Walker, Country Walking, Hill Walking Magazine, Camping Magazine, Outsider Magazine (Ireland), Backpacker (USA),Go Camping (Australia)] Wildlife publications have a very wide readership that often has little connection with country living but can provide another marketplace; [BBC Wildlife Magazine, Irish Wildlife Magazine, Canadian Wildlife Magazine, National Wildlife Magazine (USA), Wildlife Australia Magazine] Book publishers who accept full-length typescripts on all aspects of country living. [The Good Life Press, Countryside Books, Merlin Unwin Books, Quiller Publishing Books, Shire Books]

When we begin our writing career, the most vital lesson we should learn is the importance of thoroughly researching the marketplace for potential outlets. This is not merely a question of sending along something in a similar vein hoping for an acceptance, it is the continual study of a particular publication so we become familiar with that editor’s preferences. It doesn’t matter how competent we are with the written word, it will be of no avail if we haven’t concentrated our efforts on finding out all there is to know about our target magazine. Choose the most current issues available and read through each magazine very carefully, paying particular attention to the advertisements because these give an even clearer indication to the age/reader/market profile for that particular publication. Magazines are filled with all sorts of articles, on a vast variety of subjects, but again we need to analyse a selection of those already accepted by the editor before submitting anything of our own. There is, however, one hard and fast rule that no editor can change, and that is the fact that all country writing remains seasonally-based. This means that the writer often needs to submit material 6-12 months in advance of the publication for which it is intended. It is pointless glancing out of the window and thinking that the pleasant scene of rolling cornfields might spark off an idea – because you’ve already missed the deadline! Write the article by all means, but it won’t see publication until a year hence. So, what sort of style appeals to the readers? Are the examples factual, argumentative, emotive, nostalgic, how-to? Do they offer a subject for discussion, or do they merely mirror the author’s opinion? Choose six country magazines for analysis and, picking three articles from each, compare them with the following:

Rural publications cover local community newsletters, free newspapers and parish newsletters. 37


Do the majority of articles contain any new information, or ideas linked with current viewpoints or issues? If the article covers a familiar subject, is it written from a fresh and interesting angle? If so, outline the point of interest.

Desertion of the Muse sometimes a fire burns inside me a discontent so strong I long to burst out with a million words but they always come out wrong

Does the title catch the eye and if so, why?

it feels so much bigger than me but I know the words exist other poets have written them so I really must insist

Does the lead paragraph hold your attention and is the subject clearly introduced in the opening paragraph?

a greedy child who longs to express give me the words I desire something that cuts to my bones words to crack open the liar

Do the articles consist of long or short paragraphs? Do long or short words predominate? How many words to a sentence? Does the article comprise of easy to understand words?

let me not sit here forsaken through the long and lonely night while you look down in silence from your distant, lofty height

Is the house-style of the publication chatty, friendly, formal or pompous?

you just watch this bitter longing with a cool, reserv-ed air you, with every word to offer how little you seem to care

At what type of person are the advertisements aimed? To add a more professional dimension to features and articles, we can interview people and organisations who have experience in our chosen subject. Editors and publishers want original material that includes input from fresh sources; it is not enough to regurgitate previously published ideas, we need to think of some new ones of our own. We are often preserving country lore and rural traditions for posterity so the more obscure the better – and if we speak to the experts currently working in these areas then there is added interest – which can appeal to several different types of magazine. It is not, of course, easy to be original – after all, even the philosophers tell us that there is no such thing as original thought. As far as freelance writing is concerned, however, being original means trying to find a different approach to a subject, even to portray it from another angle, play ‘Devil’s Advocate’ and offer an alternative viewpoint. And should our writing reflect the well-loved nostalgic aspects of country living, the second freelance writer’s secret is to link it to something topical so that it offers a bridge between ‘then and now’ to add that extra bit of editor appeal.

you inspired Angelou, Hughes, and Nugent too they write with such fire the way I long to do some poems are like a sword slicing through what’s real that's what I want to write words of power to reveal So damn it, give me words take possession of my mind run your bright light through me illuminate my find I’m not asking for an awfully lot My interest is not a tome I long to be a poet I long to write a poem " Stop talking to yourself, dear child, “ in stillness hear my voice! if you can't stop your spinning mind you give me little choice" " I’ll take my words to someone else, “ another who can hear, then she shall be the poet and you her jealous peer!"

by Dielle Ciesco, author of Your True Voice: Tools to Embrace a Fully Expressed Life and The Unknown Mother: A Magical Walk with the Goddess of Sound.

Suzanne Ruthven, is a regular contributor to The Countryman and author of The Country Writer’s Craft: Writing for Country, Regional and Rural Publications, published by Compass Books ISBN 978-1-78279-001-3. www.compass-books.net 38

Dielle Ciesco specializes in the transformational power of the voice to heal and connect us with our own Divinity. She is passionate about every Voice, be it the one we use every day to communicate, the ones we hear inside our heads, the silent voice of wisdom, voices raised in song, or the ones that call us to awaken. With over 18 years experience as a performer, teacher and healing facilitator, Dielle assists clients in discovering a deeper connection to their inner truth and wisdom.


SUMMER 2014

A psychologist told me if you talk to God, that’s religion but if God talks to you, that’s schizophrenia. Well, I’ve got both happening and on top of that, I see the Mother Goddess and Jesus Christ and they talk to me too! Then there are the angels. The world around me is filled with them. Sometimes they spread their wings across the sky from horizon to horizon like a great silver dome. I suppose all that makes me a foaming-at -the mouth, barking-at-the-moon, certifiable schizoid. But hold on a minute. I do manage to keep it all together and hidden. I’m just a regular guy, living a conventional life. I go to work, mow my lawn, greet my neighbors, talk about politics, and bemoan the weather. Kind of like some of those serial killers you read about. You know, the ones where all his neighbors just shake their heads and say, “He was such a nice man, who would have guessed,” as the body bags fill up. Well, maybe that wasn’t such a good image after all. Anyway, I really don’t think I’m crazy, but then again don’t all crazy people say that? It’s just that I’m living in two different worlds at the same time. Well,

not exactly at the same time. It’s more like I move back and forth between them, kind of like Alice going through the looking glass. For the most part though, I’m here in this Walmart, Burger King, Starbucks world of getting and spending, but at any moment I’m liable to walk through that looking glass into the outside of the inside where God talks to me and the Holy Mother smiles her Mona Lisa smile and her eyes fill with boundless love as she rocks me in her arms, and Jesus Christ appears over the altar at Easter Mass and spreads his arms in benediction while his chest opens up and his heart blazes like the sun, but what it is radiating is pure love so intense my eyes fill with tears and I have to look away before I fall off the floor into some kind of crying -jag ecstasy because this may be church and holy ground but if you start doing stuff like that, people will start looking askance, give you a wide berth, and pull the kids off the street when they see you coming, and if you keep doing it, they’re going to cart your ass off and shock treat you back to medicated normality. So you see, I have to keep it all together and hidden, a closet God groupie so to speak, because once you’ve been on the inside of the

outside, the last thing you want is to be shock-treated back to medicated normality. “So what’s wrong with normality?” you ask. Up until a year ago, I would have said there was nothing wrong with it, but that was before I walked from the outside to the inside through the looking glass. Since then, normal reality has started to look decidedly flat, kind of like one of those two-dimensional worlds constructed by mathematicians and inhabited by flatworm people, who experience a world of only length and breadth with no conception of a third dimension of height. They crawl across their flat, tabletop world and are quite happy and content, convinced that these two dimensions are normal reality and that’s all there is. But every once in a while, something gets into one of these flatworm people and he stands up on his flatworm tail, looks around, and discovers beyond the narrow twodimensional confines of his table top world the inconceivable glory of a three-dimensional universe of mountains and valleys, of tsunami seas and Grand Canyons of the mind. Now, imagine him dropping back

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down onto his belly into conventional flatlander reality and trying to tell his flatworm brothers what he has seen. How do you think they’re going to react? You got it! They cart his flatworm ass off to be shock treated back to medicated normality because everyone knows and all the flatworm scientists have proved that there are only two dimensions and anyone who thinks otherwise and even claims to walk in a third dimension must be by definition crazy! So instead, our flatworm flatlander learns to keep it quiet, keep it all hidden, and instead every once in a while, when he thinks he’s got a likely candidate, he grabs one of his brothers by the scruff of his flatworm neck, hauls him up, and says, “See! See!” Only he has to be careful because not all flatworm brothers are ready, willing, or able to look into three-dimensional reality without spilling their marbles all over flatland and screaming about hellfire, demons, and damnation. That’s what happened to me. No, I don’t mean spilling my marbles. I mean getting pulled up by the scruff of my neck, or if you prefer, pushed through the looking glass into the God dimension where angels are constantly weaving the fabric of this reality and God is the ever present reality. (I know I’m mixing metaphors with Flatland and Alice’s looking glass but you grammar fetishists are just going to have to suck it up) As I said before, up until a year ago I was a pretty contented flatlander. Maybe my life had slid into a backwater, gotten a bit stale, a little boring, maybe a little too predictable. On the other hand, it was a comfortable life, and if you look at the state of the world today, comfortable backwaters are nothing to sneer at. Then for reasons that are still not clear to me, I accepted an invitation

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to a Christian revivalist meeting led by a woman who was supposed to be quite famous within evangelical circles. I was a sceptic when it came to Christianity so it could have been just idle curiosity that led me there, but that’s not the whole story. I suspect God already had me by the scruff of the neck. Anyway, like Alice’s White Rabbit, I was late for a very important date when I drove down to that little conference center revivalist meeting. I didn’t realize at the time but I was already on my way down the rabbit hole. By the time I arrived, a rock band was already up and praising God to the twang of electric guitars and a thumping backbeat, and sixty or seventy people were standing around with their arms raised to heaven hallelujahing and praising the Lord or falling on the floor laughing and screaming, and I thought, what the hell have I walked into? What I’d walked into was the White Rabbit’s house and Alice wasn’t far behind. The electric guitars wound down and the drums thumped into silence and there she was, the main attraction, and everyone broke into cheers and applause and more “Praise the Lord” and hallelujahing. I didn’t see much to cheer about, just a well-dressed, dark-haired, middleaged woman not unlike any number of other women you could see, strolling through the local suburban Galleria on a slow afternoon. But looks can be deceiving, I realized as soon as she began talking. There was no beating around the burning bush, no hesitation, disclaimers, or tepid declarations of belief. She’s totally up front and unapologetic about who and what she is. She comes from a long line of South American witches, the black magic kind, and broke with her family

when God grabbed her by the scruff of her neck and showed her a vision of what she must become. Since then she’s become God’s own white witch, who not only looks into the God Dimension but spends most of her time there. She makes no bones about talking to God, calling down hierarchies of angels, casting out demons, healing the sick, and prophesying. She talks of God’s love but it’s not the tepid Sunday School kind that’s hedged with divine retribution if you don’t walk the walk. No, this is Christ’s original, unexpurgated, radical message of God’s unconditional love before the churches got hold of it and turned it into a power tool plugged into the threat of hellfire, and damnation.

God’s love is boundless and unconditional. It’s that simple, she says. There’s no hellfire and damnation. God will never whack you for not doing what He wants. He gave you free will to make your own mistakes, and you can always come back afterwards and He will always love and forgive you. On top of that, you don’t need a church or priests to tell you what God wants. Your spirit is made in his image. He’s inside you, closer than your own skin and all you have to do is ask and listen. This is all heady stuff and I’m not sure what to make of it, but she talks with such conviction and simple honesty that I almost want to believe her; besides there’s power here, intangible but building. It’s as if she has pricked a hole into the God Dimension and the hall is slowly filling with unseen hierarchies. Or maybe it’s just my imagination, I tell myself. Then I look around and I can see everyone else is feeling it too. Then she raises her arms to heaven for what she calls a “Great Prophe-


SUMMER 2014 cy”, invoking God and all his angels, and it’s as if that pinprick hole into the God Dimension suddenly blows wide open like a balloon bursting, and the hall fills with a tornado of angels that sweep down through a ceiling that suddenly isn’t there anymore, that instead goes up and up into the inside of the outside where God stands pouring down all the blessings of his divine love. I feel the swirl of angel wings brushing against my mind and feel a growing hum of power, like being locked inside some enormous, cosmic dynamo. Through it all I can still hear my white witch prophet calling down more of God’s power as the turbines spin faster and faster and more and more angels swirl down around us until I’m sure the walls of that little conference hall will blow out. I hear myself scream, and I raise my arms to the source of all that power. I feel my body stretching upwards, like a flower towards the sun, towards the inside of the outside, becoming weightless. Did my feet leave the ground in that instant of absolute yearning? The invocation stopped, the storm of angels lifted, the divine hum faded, and the hole in the God dimension closed again but not completely, never completely for me or the others in that hall. No one moved or spoke. We’d all been touched by God and swam in his infinite peace in a sea of eternal silence that vibrated with boundless love. It filled us and filled the spaces between us. It rippled out into the night, and whatever it touched it softened and made radiantly beautiful. We looked at each other and smiled shyly, strangers no longer, our faces radiant with this shared secret of divine initiation. I drove home with this silence still

vibrating inside me, more at peace than I had ever been. It was still there when I got home and unlocked the door and stepped inside. I looked around at all the familiar things that made up my life, and I suddenly felt like someone trying to step into an old suit of clothes that didn’t fit anymore. Over the next few weeks, that feeling of inner peace faded, but it left behind a residue awareness of spiritual realms, vibrating just the other side of the wall of everyday reality that had grown somehow thinner. Every once in a while, sitting quietly or walking in the woods, that wall would come down and once again I would rest in God’s infinite, loving stillness. Sometimes the heavens would open in a joy of angels or the Mother Goddess would appear, walking beside me and the dirt path would turn into translucent, golden light as we walked the borders of the God Dimension. Finally, God began to speak to me and I realized he had been speaking to me all along but I hadn’t recognized his voice. I suppose I was expecting God to sound like something out of a Cecil B. de Mille biblical extravaganza, but God no longer speaks like that, if he ever did. Instead, God speaks with that quiet, inner voice we sometimes hear that always leads us right or warns us when we’re about to do something very stupid. For the most part, flatworm normality relegates this quiet, inner voice to a fuzzy concept called intuition, but no one knows exactly what it is, where it comes from, or what its purpose is. Scientists will shrug and tell you it is somehow coupled to instinct. Well, I’m telling you now, intuition is the voice of God and the more you listen to it the clearer God speaks! If you found that hard to swallow, you’re liable to choke on this next

one. Imagination is your doorway to the God Dimension! This idea is so hard to swallow because flatland normality has so marginalized and trivialized it that we say, “Oh, it’s only your imagination,” when we mean it’s not “real” and therefore not to be taken seriously, unless, of course, it can be hitched to some big commercial machine and generate Harry Potter big bucks. We take that very seriously. Now, I’m going to let you in on a little known secret. Mystics, saints, and prophets down through the ages have, like William Blake, called imagination “holy” because it is the doorway into the mind of God. It’s the third eye of inner vision, and when I see God, his angels, Jesus Christ, or the Divine Mother I see them with the inner vision of this Holy Imagination superimposed on flatland normality. Does that make me schizoid and all this just some wish-fulfillment fantasy delusion? Am I like that crazy bag lady pushing her shopping cart full of empty cans down Main Street and mumbling to herself? Who knows, maybe she really is talking to God. For what it’s worth, God once told me that the earth is the most precious place in the universe because it is a school for saints. I sometimes wonder how many of them are pushing shopping carts down Main Street into the God Dimension. Or maybe they’re just regular guys, living regular lives, who have learned to keep it all together and hidden in the closet. One thing I do know though, once you’ve looked through the single eye of the Holy Imagination and walked the Grand Canyon of God’s mind, Indiana Jones can hang up his hat and whip because, crazy or not, this is the greatest adventure of all times.

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Touching the Emptiness Touch the emptiness Stretching deepness Cooling depths Old memories Black and white Like old movies Funny feelings As if I could touch Touch the emptiness It’s on the edge As if momentarily Forgotten Was that my childhood? Was that really me? Stretching deeply To touch the emptiness Its’ dreamlike quality Chasing that thought Is there a reason? Am I all for naught? Touching the emptiness Building a soulful thirst Driving onwards ever wearily Towards the setting Sun Yet didn’t it just begin? Started in the sixties Images, floating illusions Touching the emptiness My father has already gone He prepares the place Wherever that is as he Touches the emptiness Birth, Death, emptiness Cyclic likes the seasons I came from the emptiness And there I will return Reaching out, stretching On the edge of my memory Touching the edge of emptiness Once again 42

The Visitor It was some strange time in the morning So early it was still night and without sunlight The air was so cold and you could hear a pin drop I shivered involuntarily and tried to sleep But there it was again The deepest of sighs rattling like a death breath My blood ran cold I strained to listen hearing the loudness of total silence But there it was again A scraping rustling sound scratching along the hallway My heart palpitated At any moment now that door will begin to open At any moment now I will scream with all my lungs And there will be nothing there Nothing there at all And I will lay and pray That the morning sun rises soon illuminating my room And ensuring that my ghostly visitor stays away Throughout the day


SUMMER 2014

The Stream of Life

Blueness

Bobbing along the stream Sometimes fighting Other times alighting For a longer look Checking out scenery But no real choices Except to go with the flow I go where I need to go Can only slow The inevitable As I start at the beginning I must end at the end That’s the way it really is Life is like a stream Winding its lonely way Always just passing through Never sitting still Ripples speak to movement Movement is my destiny One day, I will reach the Sea And that, my friends Will be the end of me.

With 12 books in print, G. Michael Vasey is an established author with notable contributions in poetry, metaphysics, and business. His first novel - The Last Observer (Roundfire 2013) - was published last year and is a thrilling cornucopia of mayhem, magic and murder. A yorkshireman who has spent most of his adult life exiled to

Blueness, luminescent, trickling through my soul Path of the smaller abyss I follow Winding and grinding, deep into the sleeper All a matter of breath control I can be here; I can be there, everywhere Remote perception, astral deception A silent golden shore, ocean translucent My place of remembrance being Fire and flame, Michael meandering same Archangel resplendent Rising pure fire, pursuing spiritual desire Into the circle of healing, respectfully kneeling A timeless location, fiery Sun burning down Standing stones circling motion Harmonic spheres, midst peaks of crystalline tears Naked – a Tiphareth child Ticking time coils, Inner sacred energy boils The savior serpent majestically rises Kabalistic number, while most of you slumber So what can be hidden in a name? Serpentine Kundalini, how will you reveal me? And then I feel it rise and rise Apocalypse of John, speaks to no one - unless You have eyes to see and ears to hear Nothing is as it seems All is one – all interconnected The one that is the God That the Church protected Literal truth is lacking in tact Deeper meanings meant in fact Look inside not outside With the eyes of a child Seek and yea - ye shall find That this Universe Is truly all in your mind?

Texas and now the Czech republic, G. Michael Vasey writes for a living as a leading analyst in the commodity trading and risk management industry. On the side, he writes poems, blogs, books on metaphysics and novels all with a theme of life and the nature of reality. Much of his inspiration comes from meditation and music. He is currently working on The

Lord of the Elements - the prequel to The Last Observer and another on the concept of the Fool in magic. He tweets at @gmvasey. Website is garymvasey.com The Last Observer book trailer not to be missed! http://www.roundfirebooks.com/books/last-observer 43


So you’ve got an idea for a story. The plot is watertight, the dialogue flows well. Now you just need to work on the characters. Are they realistic? Are they interesting? Will your readers care enough to find out what happens to them? Developing believable characters is a key part of the writer’s craft. Why do characters matter? When you write, you create a world for your audience. It must be exciting, or amusing, or at least interesting to visit. People read your book to find out what happens in this world. But you only get one chance to hook your audience. You must make your readers want to know what happens next. They will only care if you have characters with whom they can sympathize. People read books because stories let them explore parallel lives. Novels provide vicarious experiences which shape our view of the world. Studies indicate that people who read regularly perform better in social situations. Comedies of manners teach us how to interact with those around us. Dramas and thrillers teach us preservation skills in dangerous environments. As a writer, you create a world where you play the role of god. You choose the characters, and you can dictate what happens to them. Writing fiction is arguably a form of megalomania. And even though your world is imaginary, it has the power to affect others. The personalities and events you portray influence your reader’s view of life. You’re showing them who can be trusted, and how they can tell. So you’d better make sure that your characters are realistic ones! Building believable characters How well do you know your characters? Some authors spend a long time developing the protagonists in their story. This is when you can use all those exercises from the creative writing class. Whose point of view will you take? What motivates your main character? What does he or she look like? What are their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses? Readers like personalities whom they can recognize. Familiar figures are more likely to reflect their own experience of life. This is because we all tend to categorize people in the same way. We use stereotypes to help us deal with the people we encounter. You might think that the word stereotype implies prejudice, but it doesn’t have to be a negative thing.

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Stereotypes are an efficient way of storing information, so long as we are able to modify our views. Psychologists believe that we base our perceptions of others on universal stereotypical figures called ‘archetypes’.

The term ‘archetype’ was first used in this way by Carl Jung. Archetypes are prototypical figures which arise spontaneously in our minds. They are outline shapes, which we fill in with material gathered from our personal experience. When you picture a kind old woman, you may give her the features of a beloved grandmother. If you imagine your hero, he might look surprisingly like your favourite football star. Not all the archetypal figures are pleasant, of course. Some of them have a darker aspect. In stories as in life, good and bad characters are complementary. The good mother needs an urchin to care for. The wise man needs someone to heed his advice. Your protagonist needs a villain to fight. Such contrasts are the essence of a good story. As a writer, you can use archetypes to create more realistic characters. Because they evoke certain attributes, they provide a convenient narrative shorthand. When you invoke an archetype, you don’t have to explain all of your character’s motives or actions. You can assume that the reader knows more than you have actually said. There are twelve basic archetypal figures. They have many different faces, but all are variations of these twelve fundamental characters. You recognize them when you meet them: the princess and the wicked witch, the hero and the trickster. Their names reflect their characteristics but they can manifest in many ways (and genders). The good mother can be a nurse, a teacher or a mentor figure. The trickster can be a useful ally or a dangerous enemy. To see how archetypes work, let’s look at one of these figures in more detail. Archetypal Figures Young

Mature

Old

Light

Princess

Good Mother

Grandmother

Dark

Clever Girl

Wild Woman

Wicked Witch

Light

Infant Prince

Hero

Wise Man

Dark

Urchin

Trickster

Ogre

Female

Male


SUMMER 2014 The Ogre The figure of the ogre evokes our deepest fears. His very name is a synonym for terror. His dark shape prowls our dreams and haunts our waking hours. He knows no kindness, no mercy, no remorse: only his own hideous hungers spur him on. We dread his presence with a horror which seems to summon him. He is the fiend who lurks at the door, who skulks at the edge of sleep, who prowls at the perimeters of our consciousness. He is the monster who inhabits the darkest corners of our minds. Because the ogre represents a threat to us, we have learned to recognize him easily. The devil, the vampire and the murderer are manifestations of this archetype. Dictators such as Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot incarnate him in human shape. It is our own panic which gives the ogre his awful power. When we hate and dread something beyond rational explanation, we talk of ‘demonizing’ it. By ascribing the forces of evil, we give the beast a strength it did not have before. If we turn and face the monster we will find that he is not omnipotent after all.

we read the story of Frankenstein, we pity the lonely hybrid he created. Maybe we can even identify a little with the beast. Choose a myth or fairytale with a scary monster. Write about what happens in your own words - from the viewpoint of the beast. Imagine how it feels to be this creature. What have you experienced? How has this affected you? How do you think other people see you? What have you done, or left undone? Why did you behave in this way? Use the first person (“I thought... I felt... I did...”). Labelled a monster, you never had a chance. Tell us your side of the story.

A less threatening manifestation of this dark archetype is the tramp. Where the ogre is night-black, the tramp is merely a dirty shade of grey. A shabby and sometimes malevolent figure, he represents a life at best wasted and at worst abused. Whilst the wise man has accumulated wealth or knowledge, the tramp has nothing to show for his experiences. The real-life tramp may be pitied but he is more likely to be feared. His lack of respect for worldly goods signals a dangerous tendency to violate the rules. The tramp poses a real threat to those around him: either he is a potential thief, or he represents a code of values which renders their achievements meaningless.... Writing The ogre embodies our worst fears and prejudices. Assuming he wants to devour us, we define him as our natural enemy. When we categorize someone as ‘other’, we perceive them as sub-human. This precludes the possibility of ever seeing things from their point of view. If we try to understand their perspective, they may not seem so frightening after all. Many myths tell of a hero who fights a monster. Theseus kills the Minotaur; Perseus slays snake-haired Medusa; Beowulf destroys Grendel and his monstrous mother. These creatures are half-human, but hideous beyond belief. Often such demons are female, but they are shown no mercy on that account. The role of the hero is to conquer: that of the beast, to be overcome. When we know a little more about the monster, we may begin to feel differently. The Minotaur has a bull’s head because his father withheld an offering; Medusa was once a pretty girl who was ravished by a god; Grendel’s mother gave her life in an attempt to avenge her son. If

‘LifeWorks: Using myth & archetype to develop your story’ by Jane Bailey Bain has just been reprinted by Obooks. It provides detailed descriptions of the twelve archetypal figures with examples from books and films. Each character is illustrated with story, based on myths and legends from around the world. The book also contains tools and exercises for character development and plot analysis. For more information visit Jane’s website http://janebaileybain.com

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Look around you. What does your life contain? Home, family, children, grandchildren, eating out, good health, holidays abroad? Or maybe it’s not so sunny and your life includes relationship issues, a lack of a decent holiday, imminent surgery and a clapped out car. Wherever you are in your life, whatever you are experiencing, you can turn your life stories into saleable articles for the lifestyle market. People want to read other people’s stories. Humans are fascinated by other humans; what they’ve got, what they are doing, where they are doing it and whether we can do it too! The Oxford Dictionary describes ‘lifestyle’ as the way in which a person lives. Well, that should provide us with many an idea! Lifestyle magazines include everything from the home and interiors, fashion and beauty, food and nutrition to health and well-being; parenting, childcare, travel and days out are covered too. What is Lifestyle Writing? Lifestyle writing focuses on the things that are important in our lives. From raising children, dealing with health issues and being pregnant to decorating your home, managing a city garden and where to go on holiday; writing for the lifestyle market encompasses the aspects of our lives that we can share with other people. You’ll never be short of ideas when you are a lifestyle writer. Everything you do or have done has the potential to be a lifestyle article. If you get stuck for ideas, just talk to your friends and family. What experiences have they had that you could draw upon to write a lifestyle article? Ideas are all around you. Start looking out for them! Lifestyle writing is one of the easiest markets for a writer to get into, mainly because first person viewpoint is often used. This means you can tap into your own experiences to begin your writing career. There are hundreds of magazines that publish lifestyle articles on a weekly basis who eagerly await freelance writers to send in their stories. The first article I ever sold was about the differences between the births of my two sons. It started as simply as ‘Jake, my firstborn son, was born in a hi-tech hospital in Northern Ireland...’‘ (Your New Baby, 1997). That one 46

article for a parenting magazine led to many more lifestyle articles for the same magazine and their website. I began my writing career by writing about pregnancy, child-raising and how to survive as a parent when my children were young. What has affected your life recently that could make a good article? And what has happened in your past that you could draw on for another interesting article? My latest article was also written from a first person viewpoint and examines my recent foray into making home-made wine. I grew up in a household that produced the most amazing wines from next to nothing and I used this as an introduction to the article. ‘My grandparents made home-made wine. They made it from anything and everything: grapes, potatoes, marrows, tea - you name it, they tried it. They started making it during the Second World War and carried it on for many years. As a child I helped pick the grapes and crush them between my tiny toes. Not in a Greek vineyard but in the back garden of a small house in London. We were reared around wine: the smells, the process and later on, the taste.’ (BackHome magazine, 2012). When you begin to look at your own life experiences, you will realise that you have just so much to write about. And not just that, but experiences that can help inform, instruct, advise and support your readers too. Potential Markets A market is a term used to describe where you can sell your work. So it’s not the fruit and veg kind but each magazine, website or publisher is a market


SUMMER 2014 where writers can sell their lifestyle articles. There are so many markets out there from magazines and newspapers to websites and e-book providers that it would be impossible to list them all. Lifestyle markets are everywhere, from local publications like Parish journals and community newsletters to national magazines and newspapers and on to global book publishers. It is estimated that there are 3,300 magazines in the UK and over 10,000 in the US. Magazines are published weekly, sometimes monthly, so that’s a huge market looking for writers to fill their pages on a regular basis. And you don’t have to just write for magazines in your own country. I live in Ireland and I’ve sold articles to magazines in the UK, America and Canada so the world really is your market. The best guides for up-to-date information on potential markets are The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and the Writer’s Handbook (UK) and the Writer’s Market (US). They contain lists of magazines, newspapers and publishers that you can submit your work to. There are also over 644 million websites on the Internet - someone had to write them! Okay, they may have been initially developed by a computer tech somewhere but they still need writers to produce new articles, website content and blogs for them. Websites are constantly changing, regularly being updated and they need writers to keep them going. Web writing and blogging about lifestyle subjects can be a lucrative market for writers. Depending on where you find your information, the book industry is stable, unstable or in dire jeopardy. The event of the ebook has changed the face of publishing and there is a huge debate raging about whether this spells the demise of the printed word. I think there will always be a place for both print and ebooks and that place will continue to have many lifestyle titles. As well as mainstream book and e-book publishers, the Internet has led to the production of many self-published works. As a writer this means you can produce a book about literally anything and have it available to download directly from the Internet. So if you write a lifestyle book, there will always be a market for it, whether you do it yourself or are contracted to write it. Why Become a Lifestyle Writer? Why not? There are many opportunities to see your work in print and earn an extra income from your writing. You don’t have to commit to writing a book if you don’t want to, you can start writing smaller pieces before moving on to bigger things. You can give lifestyle writing as little or as much time as you have available while still building up a portfolio. Say you have an idea for a book, if you were writing a novel you would have to complete the whole manu-

script before approaching publishers. That’s a year; at least, of your time with perhaps nothing to show for it (I’m looking on the negative side here). A lifestyle book, however, starts with a proposal. That will take a few weeks to put together depending on whether the publisher wants one, two or three chapters to go with it but the lifestyle book is commissioned on the basis of that proposal. You don’t need to take a year out of your life to write something that may never sell. A lifestyle editor will tell you on the basis of your proposal whether you have a good idea or not. A lifestyle book writer will receive a contract before they have completed the entire manuscript. Your energies and time will not be wasted. If your proposal is no good then you can think of a new idea and try again. It’s the same with articles. A magazine will be looking at features of 1,000 words plus. It’s only going to take you a few weeks at most. Once it’s in the post or emailed, you start another and your productivity level increases. Web articles can be little as 250 words. That’s not going to take long to write is it? A lifestyle writer can be writing all lengths of factual, informative pieces in a short space of time.

I started my writing career by sending in letters to the editor, tips for advice columns and writing snippets of local news for a community newsletter. I graduated on to writing articles for several magazines. I’ve written on everything from parenting to wine-making. With the event of the Internet, I started writing for websites and am now a published author. Lifestyle writing can really take you on a journey of many different projects. And it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, what age you are or what your background is. Writers are a mixed bunch of people. You don’t have to be an academic to write about life, everyone has life experiences to draw upon and turn into a saleable article. You don’t have to have a posh home to write about interiors or the latest Lamborghini to write about cars; you just need a passion for writing. If you have hobbies or interests, are a mother or a father, work in a certain industry or are studying for a career, you have life experience that will make interesting articles and lifestyle books. Whatever you do in life has the potential to be turned into a piece of lifestyle writing. So there’s no excuses - you can write for the lifestyle market! But Do I Need Special Skills? Not at all. Writing skills improve as you use them; the more you write, the better you will become. You will need a good level of English to start with and the ability to send in copy that is error free. This might mean going back to the grammar books or punctuation guides to refresh your knowledge of English usage, but these days

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you can find fun quizzes to test your skills on the Internet or easy to understand books like Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves that will update your skills. Once you have covered the basics, you are ready to write for any publication. Lifestyle writers do need to be a bit organised though! You will find that research mounts up and will need to be filed. If you start making a good profit from your writing then you will have to keep accounts. You will also want to keep a record of where you have sent your work, on what date, and whether your writing was accepted or not. But all this comes as you progress along the path of a writer. All you need to start with is a love of writing and a desire to share your work and stories with others. A thick skin helps too. Your writing won’t always be accepted. Rejections are inevitable for various reasons. Your article might not suit a particular magazine or your book idea might have already been accepted from another writer. Perseverance is the key. As a lifestyle writer you need to keep writing through the highs and the lows and you will be published. There are so many markets out there that one day your work will see itself in print.

What Can You Write About? You may be an expert in your field of work, an academic with a specific field of study, or you may just be a person that has life experiences to share with readers. Whoever you are and whatever you do, you have knowledge and interests to write about. I said earlier that I’ve written on everything from parenting to wine-making and, believe me, it’s been a wide variety. Some of my articles have included holding Disney-themed birthday parties, writing wedding invitations, visualising your life goals, reading the clouds, homeschooling your teenager and how to choose the best petrol remote control car! Quite a random mix but each one has come from something I was doing at some point in my life. Lifestyle writers really can find ideas in everything they do. As you go about your everyday chores or working life, think about how you could turn your experiences into lifestyle writing. You go to buy a new car - could you write about what to look for? Or how to get the best deal from a showroom salesman? You’ve spent the morning at the doctor - could you write about an illness? Or how the health system is failing certain patients? What about that wedding you went to? You could write about wedding trends, fashion, catering, buying presents. Everything you do, however small you may think it is, has the potential to make you a writer. It

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doesn’t matter if the subject has been covered before, if you have a new take on things, can see things from a different perspective or can just write damn good copy, you’ve got a wealth of experience to draw on. What are your passions? Do you enjoy gardening, motor sport, football? How about reading, playing computer games and listening to music? Whatever your interests and hobbies are, they too have the potential for you to use them as ideas for your writing. What about your occupation? A landscape gardener could write about how to design a roof top garden, what plants will grow best in a damp garden or how to make cheap and easy pots and containers. A childcare worker could write about fun games to play with kids, what to do on a rainy day, or how to encourage children to read. And you don’t just have to write about your life. You can write about what others do, what their experiences have been and share their lives with readers too. Try this Exercise: Chunking down ideas Answer these five questions: 1. What is (or was) your occupation? 2. What are your hobbies? 3. Where have you lived? 4. Do you have children or grandchildren? 5. Where do you go on holiday or for a relaxing day out? You now have at least five things you could write about. Now let’s focus in a little further. 1. What is the most interesting part of your job? What is the worst part? 2. What hobby or interest are you most passionate about and have knowledge of? 3. Name at least one interesting thing about a place you have lived in. 4. Name one activity you have undertaken with your children or grandchildren. 5. Where was the most interesting place you have visited? Now you have more ideas about what you could actually write about. Look at each idea to see if it has the potential to be fleshed out as a piece of lifestyle writing. Sarah Beth Watkins is a freelance writer with over 20 years of writing for magazines and websites on a variety of topics including writing, parenting, crafts, literature and women's development. Over the past ten years, she has also tutored a number of writing courses within community settings and as a distance and online learning tutor. She lives in County Wexford, Ireland.


SUMMER 2014

It’s easy to define “historical fiction” – it has a Urban Fantasy – takes a recognisable world, albesetting in the past. That might be eighty years it one of the past, and adds in the subtle sense of ago, or eight hundred, or more. Other Worlds. The best stories do this with great skill so that the reader is left with the impression Within that, there are subdivisions. Stirring mili- of other realities nestling in amongst our everytary fiction – they have covers in red and black, day life, so close one could touch them. Silver with muscular men gripping swords, their square Hands by Elizabeth Hopkinson is a prime example jaws set firm. Or tender Regency romances, in of this kind of magical storytelling. It’s set in the paler tones, usually with a small blonde woman days of the Dutch East India company, and a swooning against a man in a dashing uniform. young woman travels the seas, ending up in JaThere are the Tudor-themed imitators of Philippa pan – all so plausible – but you just know, as you Gregory with their “headless woman” covers, read it, worlds unseen are colouring the edges of spawning endless re-examinations of Anne Bo- the narrative. leyn. Often these books are written in series, and fans can gobble up endless tales of derring-do Steampunk. Fans of this genre can spend a lot of and simmering passion. There are also one-off time trying to define it; I think that must be half literary works, often with illustrative or photo- of the appeal! And in a sense it’s very much an manipulated covers. The surface of the book individual’s choice to make of it whatever they might purport to be about bookbinding in nine- will. There’s a strong DIY ethos, and a love of teenth century London, perhaps, but the themes craftsmanship. There’s also a lot of humour; underneath will deal with The Human Condition Steampunk fans delight in being different but and universal feelings and tragedies. without any snide, sidelong glances at someone who is not “getting it right”. After all, if no one Let’s move away from subdivisions. Let’s move to can define Steampunk, who can judge if you’re the edges – where historical fiction becomes getting it “wrong?” That said, there are certain something else, perhaps. These categories are themes – alongside humour, there’s a tendency harder to draw defined borders around. to enjoy the colours brown and beige, and clockwork, and the best bits of Old Empire without the Top Hat Books actively encourages the more unu- bad bits, and a general feeling that if we all have sual historical fiction, although we necessarily a cup of tea, everything will be better. Preferably acknowledge that it’s harder to sell an ill-defined with biscuits, though perhaps not a Penance Bisgenre, so it’s important to be able to pinpoint cuit, which feature heavily in Nimue Brown’s what the book is. steampunk comedy, Intelligent Designing For Amateurs. I’d recommend that book as a good introAlternate History (in the UK, the tendency is still duction to Steampunk. to use the US convention of “alternate” not “alternative”). Usually, these stories take a pivot- So if you’re bored of reading or writing run-of-the al moment in history, and ask the question “what -mill historical fiction, and simply can’t take one if…” Sometimes, this then explores all the techno- more sword-and-sandal epic, have a look at the logical and societal differences that subsequently exciting and mould-breaking books on the edges emerge according to the author’s imagination. In of the genre. David Haworth’s book, The Hidden Crown, however, although the author has used his archaeo- Silver Hands: logical training to create a compelling view of http://www.tophat-books.com/books/silverhow the British Isles would have looked if the hands Norman Conquest had not happened, but instead Intelligent Designing for Amateurs: the Vikings had colonised the northern half more http://www.tophat-books.com/books/intelligent completely, the story itself is about the charac- -designing-amateurs ters of Thurstan and the young queen Adelise. The Hidden Crown: http://www.tophat-books.com/books/hiddenHistorical Fantasy. This does not tend to be elves crown and wizards, the usual tropes of High Fantasy. Instead, Historical Fantasy – like Charles de Lint’s

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The kid was nineteen. I studied him carefully as I introduced myself and spread out my junk. The unusual, violet eyes were wary and harder than you might expect. Still, this was not the face of a murderer. As Bethel’s one and only public defender I did the job I was paid to do, the job I was committed to. But it’s nice for the soul if you can, at least once in a while, believe your guy is innocent. I pulled out my chair and sat down, waiting to be convinced, one way or the other. The kid smiled … and in that moment, I knew he was innocent. No killer ever smiled in such honest misery. So his next words rocked me back in my seat. ‘I am a murderer, Mr. Harker. I’ve killed five times and when my description goes out you’ll find I’m wanted by the police in five different counties. I feel no guilt and no remorse for what I’ve done. Only a sense of desperation because I’ve run out of luck.’ He leaned toward me across the small space of the table. ‘And if by God’s miracle I somehow get out of here, I will kill again, soon.’ His voice was low, earnest and it left no doubt as to his sincerity. ‘Why don’t you tell me your story, son?’ For the first time in what seemed a long while, I was intrigued. I wanted to know how my instincts could have been so wrong. I was also looking for an angle to play. Some shoe with which to pry some small change loose from what I now saw was a bucket of shit. ‘My stepfather, Perry, was the first. He was one of them. I killed him because he killed my dad, and because I knew he wouldn’t rest until we were all dead.’ ‘Now son, if there were any — ' ‘Oh, it looked like an accident … my stepfather and his kind, I call them the ‘others’, are smart and they’re careful.’ Abruptly he pushed himself to his feet and grabbing the plastic cup of sludge that, at the station house, passes for coffee, hurled it at the opposite wall. ‘And as far as I know I’m the only one who can see them.’ I was beginning to understand how things lay. But the longer he talked the more chance there was of finding something to go to the table with. ‘From the beginning, kid,’ I urged. ‘The place to start a story is at the beginning.’ For an instant he hesitated, then his shoulders slumped and all the fight went out of him. He sat down again. His eyes, fixed on mine, were tired, hollow looking. ‘I’ve nothing more left to lose anyhow.’ He sighed, running both his hands through his sandy, collar length hair. ‘My rap sheet tells you I’m Tom White, but I came into this world inside a small clapboard house, high up in the hills of Vermont, as Tony Cameron – seventh son of a seventh son.’ 50

He stopped, glanced at me. I kept my face impassive, gesturing for him to go on. I needed all the information I could get, and something to plea bargain with, and somehow, for no good reason I could presently see, I badly wanted to have something to throw into the ring for this crazy kid. ‘My mother had her own magic,’ he said, his voice soft. His eyes were on the barred, dirt streaked window, but I knew from his face that what he was seeing was the green, rolling mountains of home. ‘People travelled a long ways for her herbs and poultices. Sometimes she would only have to lay her hands on and pray, and that would be enough for that person to get well.’ He smiled ruefully. ‘With that kind of genetic mix it was a certainty that we, my brothers and I, would be ‘gifted’. But,’ he said and his voice had turned dark, ‘with me the mix is something more than clairvoyance. In me the gift is unusually strong and it manifests in different ways.’ He turned his head and his eyes when he looked at me were clear and I would have staked my reputation that they were also sane. A chill, like a premonition of Armageddon, stroked down my back. ‘I’ve always been able to see the ‘others’. I’ve never spoken of it though.’ ‘Why, son? Why didn’t you tell anyone about these … others?’ He shrugged. ‘You’ve got to understand, Mr. Harker – I’d been seeing them since I was a child. For a long time I didn’t understand what I was seeing. But some part of me sensed it’d be dangerous to talk about. When Perry came along I couldn’t just start babbling about seeing ‘others’, masquerading as humans. See, everyone accepted my powers. Most, though, viewed them as a mixed blessing. Among the mountain communities, I was marked as ‘strange’. There are widely held beliefs that ‘seers’ are mentally unstable. Even my parents worried that the strength of my gift would prove to be a curse. I was afraid if I started ranting about seeing, 'others’, I’d only feed the fear of those people already scared I’d end my days in a padded cell.’ He was silent a while, drawn in on himself. Then he looked at me and giving me a tight smile he said quietly, ‘The link between psychic ability and mental instability is such strong folklore I have times when I doubt my own sanity.’ He looked away, to the window again. ‘It’s hard, Mr. Harker. I can’t control it. I can’t stop the visions. Dear God, if I only could! I can be walking down the sidewalk, the sun warm on my shoulders and … it starts with this little tickle, somewhere at the back of my scalp, and it grows, and as it grows, so does the fear – of knowing one of ‘them’ is there, somewhere close. Knowing sooner or later I’m gonna have to go after it … kill it!


SUMMER 2014 ‘There’s no rest. They’re even in my dreams. Sometimes – sometimes I dream about Perry. There … there’s blood everywhere – on the rock, all over my hands … in his hair. And he’s …’ His voice had dropped low enough that I had to strain to hear him. But the fear and loathing and the hatred was as clear and biting as acid. ‘ … begging me – “Please, don’t! I’m not one of them. I’m just like you! There’s no such … You’re crazy, Tony. Oh, my God! Oh, my God! You’re crazy!”’ I sat in the heavy silence that followed, torn between sick anger and gut wrenching grief for a kid who could have been something good, something fine, if only nature hadn’t poked a malicious finger in his pie. ‘In real life it wasn’t like that,’ he said. ‘In real life he didn’t beg. And he denied nothing.’ I had to get out of there now! I scraped back my chair. ‘Time’s got away from me kid,’ I lied. I stowed my stuff back inside the old, battered, briefcase that is as much a part of me as my arm; strode quickly to the interview room door and rapped on the thick, glass pane set high in the centre. Glancing over my shoulder I said, ‘You need anything? Smokes?’ The kid shook his head. He looked lost and scared, too thin, his shoulders bowed beneath the weight of his burden and my stomach roiled with impotent anger against a God who could create the terrible tragedy of insanity. The door opened. I was still looking at the kid. His face tightened and for just a second I saw fear and hatred blaze from his eyes. I whipped my head around. The guard’s hard gaze was fixed on the boy. The skin at the back of my neck prickled. No wonder the kid saw monsters in men’s faces when you could find brutes like this on any street corner. Man stank too. An habitual odour of old farts and rotting garbage. I hesitated, I’d had some previous run-ins with Dean. I decided it would be in my client’s best interests not to provoke him without reason. I made myself nod pleasantly as I walked into the corridor. I needed a drink … I needed sleep. I kept seeing the boy’s tormented eyes. *

*

*

‘Here you go, kid.’ I tossed the paper bag down in front of him. ‘I know the food’s none too good in here.’ The pleasure in his eyes far out stripped my offering of hamburger, fries and milkshake. ‘Thanks, Mr. Harker. That’s real fine of you.’ Suddenly he stopped chewing. His gaze went far away. He blinked. His eyes cleared, pinning me with their violet stare. ‘Take care, Mr. Harker,’ he said. ‘You’re a good man – good at your job. That don’t sit too well with the ‘others’. You let too many of the people that pass through here slip away from their grasp.’ ‘Now, son, I can —’ ‘Dammit!’ The sound of his fist hammering down on the table was shockingly ugly in the small room. He shook his head. ‘Why, God! Why’d you make me able to see them? I can’t stop them alone and no one will listen! No one believes me!’ The boy armed tears from his face. He glared at me angrily. ‘You don’t understand. The sole purpose of their existence is to torment, and if possible, destroy human

life. They’re motivated by an intense hatred of the human race. Everywhere they are – bad things happen. And prison is a wonderful place to make bad things happen, Mr. Harker. In prison they can torture, beat, rape, even, sometimes, kill … and no one sees. ‘And if it does come to outside attention, how hard d’you think it is to push the blame off on another inmate?’ ‘And you’d really like it if I did my best to keep you out, wouldn’t you, son?’ I asked mildly. ‘Mr. Harker.’ The kid’s look was resigned. ‘I’m goin’ to jail. We both know that.’ He sighed. ‘And I’m probably going to die in there. Because I don’t think I’ll be able to hide the fact I can see them forever in a place where their kind rule. Even if I could, it won’t take them long to find out I’ve been killing their own.’ He pushed away the remains of his hamburger. ‘After that … death’ll be the easy part.’ His voice was flat. He stared at the table for a minute. When he looked at me again, his face was closed. ‘I’d just like to know there’s one person in this world who knows my story – who knows what’s happened to me.’ ‘I could get in touch with your folks —’ ‘No! If they find out about this, about the ‘others’ there’s a better than even chance they’ll believe me and go looking for revenge.’ I looked at his pale, drawn face. At his wide, horror shadowed eyes, and finally, I really understood. For Tony Cameron these ‘others’ were as real as June following May. ‘Tell me about them, son.’ I hoped that in the telling he would, at least for a while, feel a little less alone in that dark and terrible space where he lived. A shudder took him, and the fear in his eyes leapt out at me so that for a moment, there in that quiet room, although I had absolutely no belief in these ‘others’ I found myself trembling and afraid. ‘They have no soul,’ he said, his voice shaky. He held my gaze. ‘I don’t know if you’re a religious man, Mr. Harker. But God gave me a gift.’ He gave a low laugh. ‘Or maybe a curse. When I look at someone, I can see their spirit – it’s a bright light all around them – an aura some call it. The aura around the ‘others’ is black, shot through with a dull, angry red. And within them, where the spark of their soul should be, there’s nothing but an empty, dark void. I don’t know what they are, Mr. Harker, but they’re not human. I think that’s maybe why they hate us. ‘There’s a smell too, not strong, but I can smell when one of ’em’s real close by. I think some people, maybe those who are sensitives themselves, sometimes catch it. They just probably don’t realise what they’re —’ He took a quick, angry breath. I could see the whiteness of his knuckles through the tanned skin of his clenched fists. Abruptly, hope shone in his face. ‘Look, maybe I can prove some of it. Check the records for the places where I’ve killed. Look for bad accidents, kids dying in a school fire – I – I don’t know – just look for an unusually high incidence of bad luck.’ As quickly as it had come, all the steam ran out of him and he slumped in the chair. ‘But you’re not going to do that are you, Mr. Harker? ‘Cause you’re sitting there, thinking I’m just one more 51


crazy dude and pretty soon now I’ll be sentenced and I won’t be your problem any more.’ ‘You’re wrong, son,’ I told him. ‘I’m sitting here, doing my damnedest to figure out how to get you the best possible deal when we go up in front of the judge.’ I stood up and walked to the door. Behind me the kid spoke. ‘Take good care, Mr. Harker,’ he said. ‘I want someone alive to remember Tony Cameron passed this way once.’ I headed for Joe’s – nothing unusual in that. Somehow though, tonight, watching the guys shoot pool and argue over which team would score a home run come Saturday, or who would finally catch Sammy Lee Darnell’s fancy enough to get her to agree to a date, was infinitely more appealing than facing an empty house. I was halfway through a bowl of Joe’s beef stew when Dean came in. It didn’t take very long for me to figure out he’d decided he was going to be the one to break down Sammy Lee’s defences. I guess Sammy couldn’t have liked his stink any more than I did, because from what I could see, she was doing her best to keep a distance between them. I was nursing my third beer of the evening when Dean must’ve trod on her toes once too often. I was sitting in the corner, too far off to get what she said but her face, as they say, told it all. The unofficial Sammy Lee fan club heard sure enough and I had no trouble at all making out the roar that went up. Dean slammed his beer down on the bar, his face ugly. For a moment I thought there would be trouble. Then he spun around on his heel and left. It was late when I pushed to my feet, around 11.30 and I still had a stack of work to do. Tomorrow was Tony’s day in court and I was determined to do the best I could for the kid. Truth was, I didn’t believe he belonged in jail. Dean opened the door to the cell. Judging by the hard glitter of his eyes, his mood hadn’t improved none since last night. I took a shallow breath. Didn’t smell any better either. Have to get him some deodorant for his Christmas stocking this year, I thought grimly. The more I was around Dean, the less I liked him. ‘C’mon, kid.’ I walked across, laying my hand on his shoulder, coaxing him to his feet. My hand was still on his shoulder as I glanced back toward Dean. I blinked, my arm falling back to my side. For just an instant, as I’d looked at Dean, I’d seen something looking out at me from behind his face. Something distinctly inhuman! Something with glowing, red eyes, like pieces of hot coal – come directly from hell and the snout of a pig, or maybe, maybe a bear. I blinked, glanced at the kid. He didn’t seem to be aware that anything was going on with me. That’s ‘cause nothin’ is going on wit you, dufus! my brain was screaming at me, insisting I believe. And I did! God help me. I did. With every scrap of my sanity – I believed. I got the sentence reduced from murder one to manslaughter, on grounds of diminished responsibility. Tony would serve his time in Riverdale Psychiatric Hospital where he would receive medical help. Definitely better than a stay in Cook County jail. 52

Joe’s was deserted, a couple of travelling salesmen sat together over a steak sandwich and warm beers, suitcases propped against their feet. ‘Gimme a beer, Joe.’ Joe nodded. That was pretty much the only conversation you got out of Joe. I glanced round, looking for Sammy Lee. I could do with the sound of her smooth voice washing over my nerve endings right about now. For the third evening in a row, she wasn’t to be seen. ‘Sammy, sick?’ Joe shook his head, chewing on a match he had clamped between his teeth. ‘Ain’t heard from her since last Tuesday. Guess she took off.’ It was possible. Sammy wasn’t a hometown girl and people passing through frequently decided to move on. Tuesday, the night Sammy had gone head to head with Dean. I remembered how he’d looked as he left the bar. Maybe she’d thought it would be in her best interest to move on. I took a long pull on my beer. I’d done my best for the kid, I knew it, he knew it. The end. But for some reason I couldn’t let the case go. I kept chewing on it like a hound with too little sense and not enough teeth. Two days later, the day of the kid’s transfer, Sammy Lee’s body turned up in a dumpster behind Harvey’s store. She was broken up pretty good. Ray Edmunds, town coroner, shook his head. ‘Twentytwo cuts! Some fucker beat the tar outta her and then took a knife and carved strips offa her – twenty-two times! What kind of a sick puppy dog d’ya have to be to do something like that to another human being?’ I drove down to Riverdale behind the police wagon. Pulling to a stop just as Tony stepped down from the back. He glanced at the low building set amongst manicured lawns and surrounded by old maples. ‘They don’t do room service, kid, but there’s worse places.’ He looked at me seriously. ‘I know, Mr. Harker. I appreciate all you’ve done for me.’ I watched him walk inside. Climbing back in my car I sat there, picturing his pale face and tormented eyes. It didn’t fit, the evidence was all there, but dammit, it was all wrong! Something was trying to get my attention. Humming in my brain, like an electrical circuit ready to blow. I killed the engine and hurried up to the wide doorway. The deputy was talking to an orderly that the kid was trying his damnedest not to stare at. The boy’s face was sweaty and his eyes were scared. He looked ready to run. Trying not to stare at the kid was a woman. She was around twenty-six and beautiful. There was a tension in her face that didn’t quite mask her excitement. But it was not sex she hungered for. She reached him before I did. Moving casually, her hand brushed his arm. She smiled, deliberately alluring now, looking for all the world as if she was making a play. I was close enough to hear her low whisper. ‘Hold on – don’t let them win. Yes!’ She nodded tightly. ‘I see them too … ’ I felt a chill gather in my gut.


SUMMER 2014

Suzanne Ruthven talks to Trevor Greenfield about the wide opportunities for writers within the field of pagan publishing. Trevor Greenfield is responsible for the smooth running of John Hunt Publishing, having assumed the mantle from John Hunt at the beginning of the year. He is also publisher and publicist of Moon Books with MA degrees in Religious Studies and English Literature from the Universities of Sussex and Southampton. He is a published author (An Introduction to Radical Theology) and teaches Religious Studies for the Open University. So who better to act as Head Honcho for the rapidly growing popularity of Moon Books and the strong support the publishing imprint has with the on-line pagan community – with a following of over 29,000 on Facebook alone. Now with an impressive collection of titles, most of them relating to paganism, witchcraft, Wicca, Druidry, Norse and shamanism, it must be difficult to discover new voices in these areas. “No, to be honest it hasn’t proved that difficult. We have developed a strong on-line presence and I think that has helped new writers to find us. That, and the fact that we assess and make decisions on proposals in days rather than the more traditional publishers that still take months to decide, encourages submissions.” It’s often been said that if you were to ask 100 witches to define their beliefs, you would have a 100 different answers, or in your case 101 – since you have recently published Paganism 101 as an introduction to paganism written by 101 different authors. Here we have twenty topics, fundamental to the understanding of the main pagan traditions, each introduced by an essay and then elaborated upon by other fol-

lowers and practitioners, but do you have any particular bias for one particular system or another? “No, we have no preference. We have published a number of titles on Traditional Witchcraft but that’s simply because they are what has come in. We introduced a new series called Pagan Portals which is designed for Pagans to write about their particular skills, interests or knowledge so that should hopefully encourage diversity in the submissions we receive.”

Books is to build a community and as it has to be a virtual one, Facebook and blogging are the way to go.”

The MB Blog gave pagan writers the opportunity to see their poetry published but another interesting development has been the introduction of community authored books. After the success of Paganism 101 they decided to extend the opportunity to more writers. Later this year they are publishing Naming the Goddess, a book with over 80 contributors and they are currently planning to pubWith so many different topics al- lish a book called Pagan Planet next ready covered, have you any addi- year, with around a hundred contribtional advice for potential Moon utors. Books authors – and in particular, what sort of material would be in- The general interest in pagan spiritustantly rejected? ality continues to grow at a remarka“My advice would be submit! We ble rate and as one of the Moon have a friendly, informal and very Books authors, Melusine Draco, exfast submission process. You'll know plains, “I’ve ten books in print with within a week or so what our deci- Trevor (Moon Books) and right from sion is and either way our feedback the start I’ve always felt that he was will include reader reports that will right there for me, despite being onhopefully be of use to the author ly one of a hundred other MB auregardless of our decision. I don’t thors. In the not too distant future, I usually instantly reject anything but think Moon Books will be openly if I do it's when the submission takes hailed as the biggest and best of the the form of an overly romanticised pagan imprints.” potted author bio with limited detail on the actual book. Keep the info With his dry sense of humour , patight and relevant. It might, for ex- tience and generous support for his ample, be of familial interest that the authors, Trevor Greenfield also inauthor has been a witch for forty jects a little bit of old fashioned couryears and can recall magical holidays tesy back into publishing – long may spent at her grandmother’s cottage he reign. where she passed on her knowledge of herbal medicine, but sadly it For full details about Moon Books' doesn’t follow that you are empow- go to www.moon-books.net . ered to write a good book.” To join the Moon Books Community simply LIKE their Facebook page As we’ve already noted, Moon www.facebook.com/MoonBooks. Books has a very strong on-line If you are writing a non-fiction book presence with its Facebook and blog on any of the different pagan – do you think this is becoming disciplines and think it may be of more important as a ‘sales aid’ for interest to Moon Books, submit publishers? your inquiry via the website in the “I'm told that the latest research is first instance. inconclusive as to whether Facebook and blogs etc., actually increase sales, but the whole thrust of Moon 53


COMPASS BOOKS WRITERS’ RESOURCE DIRECTORY Krystina Kellingley is a reader and commissioning editor/ copy editor/co-publisher across various imprints. Author of a children’s novel, she has had several short stories published in spiritual and fiction magazines as well as online articles on dream interpretation and other subjects. Krystina travels internationally to tutor in writing workshops as well as privately mentoring new writers of adult and children’s fiction. She has a First Class BA (hons) in Imaginative Writing and Literature and an MA in Creative Writing. She lives in the UK. Here is what one author has to say: “I felt very lucky to have Krystina Kellingley as my editor and mentor. She is a sensitive and intuitive professional with broad vision and a huge knowledge in creative writing. Krystina is a visionary who has the ability of traveling deeply inside the story as if she were one of the characters. All this ensures a high quality on her work.” F. T. Camargo, author of Shanti and the Magic Mandala. Find her on, http://writerswheel.com/ RESOURCE: Editing at all levels, fiction manuscript appraisal, tutoring, workshops, re-writing, ghost writing.

Maria Moloney has been part of the John Hunt Publishing team for six years and runs editorial services and foreign rights. She is also a publicist and co-publisher across various imprints. The author of five MBS books with two more in the offing, she has also authored a children’s fantasy novel, and is currently writing the sequel. Over a number of years she guest lectured at Liverpool John Moores University, and now holds workshops in writing fiction and non-fiction and on spiritual subjects internationally. She has had many articles published, and as well as being a team member on Writer’s Wheel magazine, she was co-founder and former deputy editor of Irish magazine, Brigid’s Fire. Maria has a BA (hons) degree in Imaginative Writing and Literature, and has studied both Writing and Research at postgraduate level. She lives in Ireland. Find her on, http://writerswheel.com/ RESOURCE: Editing, mentoring, workshops, fiction and non-fiction manuscript appraisal. Suzanne Ruthven has authored over 30 titles in the country lore, MB&S and creative writing genres, as well as ghostwriting a further ten books for other people, including a field sports autobiography that was nominated for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. She has also tutored at writers’ workshops including The Annual Writers’ Conference (Winchester College), The Summer School (University of Wales), Horncastle College (Lincolnshire), the Cheltenham Literature Festival and the Welsh Academy - following which she was invited to become a full member of the Academi in recognition of her contribution to literature in Wales. She now lives in South Tipperary, Ireland. Find out more at http://suzanneruthvenatignotuspress.blogspot.ie/ RESOURCE: Ghost-writing, tutoring, workshops, non-fiction manuscript appraisal.

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Sally Spedding is an experienced adjudicator, speaker and workshop leader at many literary festivals and writing conferences, where she enjoys meeting aspiring writers and helping them get published. She is a manuscript appraiser for the CWA and regularly assesses work sent by all those who have stayed in touch. This has firmed up her belief that new, original talent is too often overlooked for the safe bet. She lives in Carmarthenshire, UK. Find out more at http://www.sallyspedding.com/ RESOURCE: tutoring, manuscript appraisal, speaker, workshop leader. Sarah-Beth Watkins has been a freelance writer for over 20 years writing for magazines and websites such as Your New Baby, Changing Ireland, Banulacht's Gender and Development Bulletin, Take a Break, Scouting, Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly and many more. She has written over 300 articles for the web on a variety of subjects. Her most recent work includes writing articles for Wikio Experts, Vista magazine, Overblog and New Consciousness Review. Sarah has also tutored creative writing and journalism courses for various colleges and community centres. She is the author of Telling Life's Tales, The Writer's Internet, The Lifestyle Writer and Life Coaching for Writers available through Compass Books. She lives in Ireland. Find her on https://www.facebook.com/SarahBWatkinsWriter RESOURCE: Non-fiction tutoring, coaching for writers, making the best use of the Internet Simon Whaley regularly facilitates workshops and courses at writers' festivals and events, and also at writers' groups. His practical and hands on workshops offer tips on non-fiction writing including: how to analyse your target publication, drafting your magazine article, writing letters for publication, writing travel features, creative non-fiction and maximising your ideas. He lives in Shropshire, UK. For more information visit http://www.simonwhaley.co.uk/workshops-talks/ RESOURCE: workshop facilitator, tutoring Nicholas Corder is the author of hundreds of articles and fifteen published books and plays. He writes mainly on the topics of historical crime and on writing skills, but also light stage comedies. He has worked in a variety of community settings and as a university lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Open University. His novel The Bone Mill is set in the murky world of body-snatching in 1820s Stoke. He is currently working on a new novel with a contemporary setting, as well as a book on writing crime, which will be his second outing with Compass Books: the first, Creating Convincing Characters, will be published shortly. He also writes songs for The Pie Men, a light-hearted musical duo. He lives in Shropshire, UK. See www.nicholas-corder.co.uk and www.thepiemen.co.uk RESOURCE: Public speaking, workshops, teaching, manuscript appraisal, mentoring, writer-in-residence.


SUMMER 2014

WRITERS’ HINT FROM WILLIAM T. HATHAWAY By far the best book on plot structure I've read, STORY, is now available free on the internet: http://www.thestickingplace.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/04/Robert-McKeeStory.pdf. The author, Robert McKee, focuses on film, so at first glance this may seem like commercial formula writing, but the narrative principles he's illustrating appear in most great literary works; they're just more subtle in a literary story. The structure of progressive conflict is often internal or in the background, but it's usually there. The book is an excellent guide to applying them in our work. William T. Hathaway, author of WELLSPRINGS, Cosmic Egg Books, 2013.

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Writer's Wheel Magazine Issue 2  

Welcome to the second issue of Writer’s Wheel, the FREE online creative writing magazine from Compass Books. This issue is filled with helpf...