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The FREE online creative writing magazine

Mid-Autumn 2015


Issue 7

Writing Dystopian Roderick Vincent

Writing from Life Jane Bailey Bain

Symbolism and Motif in Your Writing Maria Moloney


New Fiction for October

Mid-Autumn 2015

We are now in mid-autumn, and the leaves are turning a gorgeous kaleidoscope of rich reds, bronze and gold. And we also have a lovely autumnal cover for which we thank tonal artist and writer Stuart Davies. In this issue in 'Writing Dystopian' Roderick Vincent discusses the changing character of literary fiction and challenges the assumption of whether it is necessary for a piece of literature to be meaningful or whether we should not simply enjoy a book for the sake of the story itself rather than its effect. In my article 'Symbolism and Motif in Your Writing', I talk about how you can use symbols and motifs with great effect to enhance your writing. And Jane Bailey Bain in the second part of her two part article Writing from Life (first part is in the Spring issue) talk about how you can use your experience of real people to write convincing speech. At the end of this article is a simple but fun practical exercise to help you develop your characters.

Non-fiction' that of 25,000 new books published each year that approximately 20% (25,000) are novels. The rest are non-fiction. The opportunity for having a non-fiction book published is therefore much greater, so why not make your first book a non-fiction one? (I have to admit that this is how I broke into the world of publishing so it's sound advice). And not to forget author Andrez Bergen who discusses being the 'Slave of the Cannibal God'. His new novel Small Change is one of Chicago News's Most Anticipated Books for Fall and Beyond! As well as other helpful articles and tips on writing in this issue. You can find more writing tips through the following websites: Facebook Twitter Compass Blog Happy writing, Maria Moloney and the Writer’s Wheel Team

Other articles include regular contributor Simon Whaley who observes in his article 'Dating with

Writer’s Wheel now invites contributions for the next issue of the on-line quarterly magazine. There is no payment as Writer’s Wheel is purely a voluntary effort. So please do include links.

reflect the hands-on, practical nut and bolts approach to writing rather than philosophical ‘why we write’ reflections.

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

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 2500 words and flashfiction of 1000 words maximum, regardless of whether you are a JHP author or not. Stories may be previously published or part

Articles: 1000-2000 words.

of a published anthology or collection. Original poetry should be a maximum of 40 lines. Please accompany submissions with by an author photograph and a 30 word biography. Photographs that enhance the submission will also be considered. Please contact the editor through our website and you will be given the email address. Material that is date-related can be submitted for entry on the Compass Books blog. 3


November eBook offer! Edit is a Four-Letter Word

Dating with Non-fiction Simon Whaley


Carrying the Flame Susan Skinner


How I discovered that writing literary fiction with 32 sex scenes in it is downright screwy! Amy Aimee

Writing from Life Part 2 Jane Bailey Bain


November eBook offer! LifeWorks and StoryWorks


Getting Gnomed in Public Kingsley L. Dennis

From the Editor's Desk Articles

Selling Your Own Stuff Mercedes Rochelle


The Writing Process—To Plot or Not to Plot Carolyn Mathews


The Nature of Poetry Susan Skinner



Dreaming of God Dennis Waite


Symbolism and Motif in Your Writing Maria Moloney


Short Fiction

The Debut Year Michael H. Burnam


Writing Dystopian Roderick Vincent


Headline Blogging Peter Bartram


Slave of the Cannibal God Andrez Bergen


Editing Checklist Glynis Scrivens


Spotlight on cover designer Stuart Davies

A Curiosity In Venice Veryan Williams-Wynn


Bittersweet Annette Oppenlander


Out of the Blue S. Bee


Regular Features Contributor's Guidelines


Poetry Margot Burns


Competitions & Events


In 1971, Stuart left Eastbourne Art College where he studied fine art, photography, typography, print technology and graphic design. Recognized for his ability, he worked as a freelancer with a London-based company which produced ‘legal forgeries’ of well-known masterpieces for discerning collectors who wanted more than a print. He specialized in Dutch seascapes and anything by Vermeer (The Girl with the Pearl Earring).

In 1987, he worked on Country Life, for a few months. The editor was so taken with his illustrative and design work, she called him back a short while later and offered him the job of Art Editor and Design Editor. Twelve years later, after winning a design award for 'Magazine Cover of the Year', he was offered the job of Art Director on Geographical magazine. Stuart is passionate about capturing nature's contrasts in a style that has been described as stunning, magnificent, tonal impressionism.



Mid-Autumn 2015 ebook publisher, for four years. Autumn writes light romance and cozy mysteries under a penname and works as a freelance editor for JHP, and for independent authors. has worked for John Hunt Publishing since 2009 in editorial and marketing. She is the author of five MBS books, and a children’s novel The Changeling Quest (and has contributed to several others), with many articles published in popular MBS magazines. Over several years she enjoyed guest lecturing at a UK university, and still enjoys teaching creative writing. She has a degree in Imaginative Writing and Literature, and has studied both Writing and Research at postgraduate level. Maria lives in County Cork, Ireland.

is the author of over a dozen writing books, including three for writers: The Positively Productive Writer, Photography for Writers, and The Complete Article Writer. He’s also written over 600 articles for publications as diverse as BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Outdoor Photography, and The Simple Things. His short stories have appeared in Take a Break, The People’s Friend, Ireland’s Own and Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special.

is a reader and copy editor for John Hunt Publishing. Krystina has a First Class degree in Imaginative Writing and Literature and an MA in Creative Writing. She is the author of Mistflower the Loneliest Mouse, a children’s novel, and has had several short stories published 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 is currently working on an adult supernatural fiction novel. She lives in the UK.

is a published poet, short-story writer and novelist. Her poems have been published in a variety of small press magazines, both in the UK and overseas and her short stories have been published in a variety of women's magazines in the UK and in Australia. She is the author of Surfing the Rainbow and co-author with Val Andrews of Unlock Your Creativity. Sue enjoys running workshops and encouraging other writers along the path to publication. She is a Home Study Tutor for Writers' News Magazine and lives in Worcestershire, has been a freelance writer for over UK 20 years writing for magazines and websites, on a wide range of topics. She has written over 300 articles for the web. SarahBeth also tutors creative writing and journalism courses for is the author of hundreds of articles and various colleges and community centres as well as working as fifteen published books and plays. He writes mainly on the a copyeditor and proofreader for JHP and Xchyler Publishing. topics of historical crime and on writing skills, but also light She is the author of Telling Life's Tales, The Writer's Internet, stage comedies. He has worked in a variety of community The Lifestyle Writer and Life Coaching for Writers available settings and as a university lecturer at Manchester Metropolithrough Compass Books. Her history books are Ireland's Suffragettes and Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged tan University and the Open University. His novel The Bone Daughter of King Henry VIII. She lives in County Wexford, Ire- Mill is set in the murky world of body snatching in 1820s Stoke. He is the author of Creating Convincing Characters. He also land. writes songs for The Pie Men, a light-hearted musical duo. He lives in Shropshire, UK.

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 lives in South Tipperary, Ireland. is a writer and editor based in North West England. She developed the Top Hat Books imprint, which publishes historical fiction that inspires, challenges and entertains. She writes regularly for Cycling Active Magazine and other fitness publications and has written fiction for Take A Break, People's Friend, Women's Own and Woman. She was a Managing Editor for loveyoudivine Alterotica, a US-based

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. is a director of a legal practice. She is also a psychology graduate, experienced in working with people challenging circumstances. Privileged to have witnessed the resilience of the human spirit, Helen believes that it is only by being true to our nature and honouring our integrity that we can follow our dreams. Acknowledging our roots allows us to spread our branches in new directions. She is the author of Tears of a Phoenix, The 49th Day and Scorpio Moons. She lives in Pembrokeshire, UK.


There are, on average, 125,000 new books published in the United Kingdom every year. Approximately 20% (25,000) are novels. The rest are non-fiction. The opportunity for having a non-fiction book published is therefore much greater, so why not make your first book a non-fiction one? This means creating a relationship with a publisher, so let’s go on a date! Lust Lust is the overwhelming emotion that gives us the courage to ask someone out on a date. Whatever subject you want to write about, you must have a lust for it. The enthusiasm will show in your writing. Many authors write about their hobbies, because they interest them. Have you already had some success with articles on the subject? Is there a subject you specialise in as an article writer? My walking book, Best Walks in the Welsh Borders, is a collection of interesting walks in my local area. Walking is a hobby I enjoy, but I also regularly provide walking articles to several different magazines. Know Who to Date Although blind dates are fun, they may also be a waste of time. Knowing who you are dating makes a world of difference. Before you even put pen to paper, find a publisher to date first. Would you go out with a cricketobsessed date, if you’re only interested in ballet? Find a publisher who already publishes books on your subject of interest. Publishers prefer to stick with the market they know best. Don’t send you car maintenance book to a social history publisher. Look in bookshops, libraries and search Amazon. Internet dating is all the rage these days (apparently!). Mimicry is Flattering When we like someone, we copy their body language. If they cross their legs, we cross ours. If they sip their drink, so do we. It’s the same with non-fiction. Publisher’s love a series of books. With a series, they know: • how many copies bookshops may buy, • the book’s retail price, and the cost of production, • how many copies they need to sell to make a profit. However, don’t think that you have to write the series. Instead, see if your book will fit an existing series. My first book was 100 Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human. The publisher had already published 100 Ways For A Cat To Train Its Human, written by another author. A friend’s first published book was 100 Ways For A


Chicken To Train Its Human. Have you spotted the trend? See the mimicry? It’s not copying, because the books focus on different animals, but the style, format, length and tone are the same. I wrote my dog book to fit the publisher’s 100 Ways format, and sales now exceed 250,000 copies. I did the same with, Best Walks in the Welsh Borders. Other authors wrote Best Walks in North Wales and Best Walks in South Wales, so my book follows the same format, but covers a different area. What to Wear? Do you spend hours deciding how to dress to impress? The same goes with non-fiction. A novel has to be written in full before it can be submitted. A non-fiction book is different. Usually, the publisher commissions the book from a proposal, and then asks you to write the book. The proposal is the first impression you make on a publisher, so dress carefully: Underwear – Give your proposal a front sheet, bearing the title of your proposed book, your name, address, email address, telephone number, and state that it is a book proposal. Shirt / Blouse – Follow with a brief introduction about your book, who your target reader is, and what the demand is for your book. Use quantifiable figures. For my book Fundraising For A Community Project, I told the publishers how many applications the National Lottery grant scheme (Awards For All) received from community groups over a 12 month period. The chicken book author, used circulation figures of chicken magazines to indicate the number of people interested in chickens. Trousers / Skirt – Detail how many chapters you will have, and provide a brief paragraph for each one, explaining what is covered, and the level of detail. Shoes – Give a total word length for the book and say if illustrations or photographs will be needed. State whether you can supply the images, and in what format. Overcoat – The biggest garment reflects the biggest part of your proposal. Show publishers your style and writing capabilities by including the first chapter, (or at least 5,000 words, if your chapters are short). Make-up Remember first impressions, so type your proposal to impress. Most proposals can be emailed (John Hunt Publishing imprints only accept electronic submissions), although some publishers still prefer a paper copy via the post.

Mid-Autumn 2015 Eye Contact What do you do when you meet someone new? You ask for their name. Find out who to address your proposal to. Get a name and check the spelling. Previous Flirtations Have you ever investigated who else has been out with your date? Look at the books your target publisher has already printed about your topic. How does yours differ? The fact that they’ve published books on your topic before is a good sign. It means they know about the market, and possible buyers. Your book though, must add something new. In a series, it should compliment or enhance the existing range. My Best Walks in the Welsh Borders covers a different area to the publishers existing books in the series covering North and South Wales. Chat-up Lines Do you impress your date by telling them about your best achievements? Do exactly the same with your prospective publisher. Why are YOU the best person to write THIS book? For Fundraising For A Community Project I told the publishers how I’d spent six years liaising with community groups as part of my job working for a local authority grant scheme.

copies with your proposal. It doesn’t matter whether you were paid for them or not. They prove that you can write about the topic for a specific reader. A New Relationship Send your proposal when you’re ready. Be prepared to wait for a response. Don’t be despondent if the publisher rejects it. Not every date works out does it? Go through the same process again with another publisher. Best Walks in the Welsh Borders, for example, began life as Welsh Border Walks and then Walks in the Welsh Marches before I hit it off with the publishers Frances Lincoln. When a publisher does commission you to write the book, always deliver what you promised in your proposal. It could be the start of a long relationship, with many more babies (I mean books) to add to your family!

Biography Simon Whaley is the author of over a dozen books, including The Positively productive Writer, Photography for Writers (both Compass Books). His latest book is The Complete Article Writer. For more information about Simon, visit his website at

Have you had articles published on this topic? Include

In a society that is often indifferent to poetry and history, I think it is important to understand how significant poetry has been to mankind in the past. The rhythmic arrangement of words, sounds and meaning, has been with us since the beginning of language. Poetry quite simply imitates the way of the world: Everything in life has its own rhythm and music: hidden inside our bodies are the circulation of blood and the automatic movement of our breath. In nature the seasons follow one another without fail. The migration of birds always happens at the same time of the year, their individual and repetitive songs never change. Hibernating animals know when to sleep and when to wake. It is almost as if life itself responds to some hidden ideal of movement and sound. This is what Plato believed at a time when Greek drama showed an extraordinary genius for poetry and music. Much later Shakespeare’s poetry and musical rhythms underpinned his understanding of human nature and gave his plays a universal appeal. Yet he was a man of his own time, completely aware of the physical and political world about him, its men and women, great and unknown. We look back and are influenced by masterpieces that were written before our era. There is nothing but good in that attitude and yet we must, by the same token, be open to contemporary influences and try to be adventurous in our choice of words and rhythms, just as Shakespeare was. T.S. Eliot writes in his article "Reflections in Vers Libre" for the New Stateman: In an ideal society one might imagine the good New growing naturally out of the good Old, without the need for polemic and theory. So while it is crucial that we value this wonderful background to our art and craft, it is vital that we too, in however small a way, keep the flame of this ancient art alight in our own way in our own day.


In the Spring Issue of Writer’s Wheel, we talked about Using Your Senses. This issue, we will look at how you can use your experience of real people to write convincing speech. At the end of this article is a simple but fun practical exercise to help you develop your characters.

Graves was writing his famous Roman novels (‘I, Claudius’) he would often lay an extra place at the dinner table…because he genuinely believed that there was someone else in the house. This might seem a little extreme, but the results were certainly very effective!

‘You can’t show them if you don’t know them.’ As a writer, you really need to know your characters. They must be original, but they must also be convincing. This means that you must put quite a lot of work into developing them. Think about your protagonist: What is their full name? Their favourite food? Their childhood pet? You don’t have to tell your readers everything about your characters, but these background details will inform your writing. You will probably use ‘character worksheets’* to get to know them better. You may be writing fiction, but you draw on personal experience when creating these characters. Many of their traits and idiosyncrasies will come from real people in your own life: Old Mr Bertwood, the crotchety neighbour who gave you fifty pence on your birthday; Cindy Jones, who used to hit you on the shins with her hockey stick. Remember that old writers’ adage ‘Show, not tell’? Because you know your characters so well, you will be able to show how they actually behave. This is much more convincing than just telling your readers about them.

There is a simple and fun way to develop one of your characters which I often recommend to my Creative Writing students. It is quite playful, so I hope you’re feeling in the right mood. I want you to do some practical research into something your character might actually do. Rather than just imagining it, you are going to experience it. This will help you to describe the incident much more vividly.

Let’s see how this works in action. Contrast these two pieces of writing. ‘Benny felt very cross because he hadn’t got the style of shoe he wanted.’ Oh dear, spoilt brat, let’s move on. ‘Benny looked down at his shiny new shoes. Then he looked up at the wall. Lifting his foot, he dragged it deliberately along the bricks. A long pale streak appeared on the dark leather. He examined it with satisfaction…’ Because you know your characters so well, you will also be able to make them speak more convincingly. This doesn’t mean that you have to master obscure dialects. Quite the contrary, colloquial speech can be distracting and difficult to read. Rather, you can identify ‘catch phrases’ which signify who is talking. For example, if one of your characters grew up in Cardiff, he might often end his sentences with the words, “…is it?” This is much easier to do than trying to transcribe a Welsh accent! Many writers find that fictional characters come to seem like real people in their lives. You may get to know your characters better than your friends. When Robert


Say your protagonist likes jazz (but you haven’t listened to any for a while). You really need to visit a local jazz club. Make this trip on behalf of your protagonist, rather than as yourself. (This makes it different from an excursion with friends). Make ‘their’ experience as realistic as possible. If they are a cool character, then dress up for the trip. Arrive early, so the place is still quite quiet. Walk in confidently, take a table and order a drink. Remember, this isn’t the real you, so you can act the part. There’s nothing to be shy about: it’s all in the interests of research. Make sure you’ve got a pen and notebook, to jot down all your impressions. The notebook is also a great prop: if you feel self-conscious, you can pretend you’re a roving reporter. You can do this with lots of other experiences: a massage; a Chinese restaurant; a trip to the Lake District. The key thing is to go alone, so that you can focus on the sensation. Probably you’ll talk lots of people on the way, but they will be part of that experience. Always keep your notebook handy: that way you’ll have it all on record, ready to provide material for your writing. Good luck and have fun!

*Character worksheets and more creative writing exercises are in my new book StoryWorks, published May 2015, available now in bookshops and on Amazon. You might also enjoy LifeWorks: Using Myth and Archetype to Develop Your Story (2012). Find out more on my website,

Mid-Autumn 2015

StoryWorks and LifeWorks are just 99p and 99c (may be subject to tax) on Amazon and other available platforms for the whole month of November!

LifeWorks Using myth and archetype to develop your life story LifeWorks is a practical handbook which combines insights from psychology and anthropology. Questions and tasks help the reader to identify relationship patterns and life themes. It is also useful to authors and scriptwriters, for character development. This work has been compared to both Julia Cameron and Joseph Campbell. She combines personal insight with natural storytelling ability. LifeWorks is predicted to become a new classic. Follow Jane's blog and find details of forthcoming events at Follow Jane on Twitter @janebaileybain Amazon UK Amazon US

StoryWorks A Handbook for Leaders, Writers and Speakers Is a practical handbook on how to tell stories, and ranges from classic tools like the ‘Rule of Threes’ to the new mnemonic ‘Five Finger Technique’. There are stories and creative exercises to expand your narrative repertoire. If you’re a leader who wants to communicate well, a professional keen to improve your speaking skills, a manager with a team to motivate or a writer looking for more ideas – you’ll find resources here to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Whether you have one minute to impress at an interview or the keynote speech at a conference, this book will help you tell better stories. Telling a good tale is key to holding an audience’s attention. A gifted storyteller herself, Jane Bain’s show-and-tell method of teaching goes down easily as a bowl of Goldilocks’ ‘just-right’ porridge. Her five -finger technique demystifies narrative for those who want their stories to grab readers and listeners like Bain’s do. ~ Susan Welsh, Book Reviewer & Journalist

Amazon UK Amazon US


It all started off very seriously, the writing business that is. I had written a respectable number of well-received non-fiction books on socio-cultural affairs that were helping to carve out some semi-respectable niche for me. I was invited to speak at academic conferences on such things as ‘Where are we Going?’(as if anyone really knows!), and I was content in this role. Non-fiction, for all its hassles of expected debate, is also a fairly predictable path in marketing. You see, you are expected to know your subject and so, after all, you are the expert on it. So you write your articles, engage in the radio interviews, and do the usual blogs. So I had been walking and talking this path for several years after I had decided to leave my professional academic career behind…until… Well, until the gnomes popped up! I didn’t see them coming at first; it was like they just poked their heads around the corner of my mind. They were so small (physically just 15 inches) that I thought they wouldn’t be any trouble. How wrong I was! Because you know what happens when you see a gathering of gnomes? It means there is a spewd of goblins not very far behind… I had to drop everything. The serious non-fiction book halted midway through Chapter Three. The notes I was making stopped being added to. The research I was doing shuddered to a wily coyote halt. Then a new file appeared on my computer desktop; its Times New Roman letters blazoned Mundus Grundy: Trouble in Grundusland. As soon as the first Word Doc was open the characters started to jump in unannounced. Here I was, trying my best to manage and organize a vivid array of lively fellows, from gnomes, goblins, and imps, to djinns, sprites, and sun-devas. It felt as if I had been given a fast-track ticket through a congested airport (which never usually happens unless you pay quids out!). In six weeks I had a draft of my first book for young readers. Well, that’s the very brief version of it – like cookery programs that never show you how the food actually cooks in the oven. And to be honest, I find it hard to write about the actual writing process itself. This is, I feel, because I have never learnt to write. I’ve just been writing since I was fifteen; so I just learnt by doing it. I have nothing particularly to share in this regard other than – persistence. That is, you find the hours of the day that work best for you; you find a suitable space to write where you feel good; and then you sit there every day and do ‘something.’ There, that’s my method then. The other news is that the age of ‘romantic writers’ is over. What do I mean by that? I mean that the stereotype image we have of writers being recluses holed up in their shack, scribbling away on masterpieces, and


then never entering the profane world – that’s all over. If John Donne was writing his famous ‘No Man is an Island’ poem today, he would probably substitute ‘Man’ for ‘Writer.’ We writers can no longer evade the world ‘out there’ like the famous recluses of old. For one thing, social media won’t allow it. And for another, book publishers no longer (or very rarely) will let the author off the hook when it comes to marketing their book. Now we have to get ‘out there’ and be a part of the whole playing field. A couple of years ago, as one example, I sent one of my book proposals (non-fiction) to a leading publisher in that genre. Their reply was that first I had to confirm my social media platform for their consideration. Further, they stated, they could only accept proposals from an author who could confirm that they had 3000+ names on their marketing email lists. @*/?# :-( The author, it seemed, had just been reluctantly promoted to Head of Marketing, whether they liked it or not. So the writer is now a part of a new era: a participatory era where we have to get our hands dirty too. Luckily for us though, there are some decent and relatively cheap tools available. And I had to learn fast, as the gnomes and the pesky rubber-bellied goblins were not far behind me – and they were begging to get out there into the world. So now that I had the finished book in my hands and – thanks to Our Street Books – a publishing agreement, I had to begin showcasing my vivid bunch of fellows. How to begin? Well, it all starts with a webpage, of course! First I bought/rented the URL domain name – I have an account with Godaddy, which I have found to be one of the cheapest domain sellers on the web. Now, you can either set up a free blogsite using the popular wordpress service (, which is a great and easy-to-learn service – or you can go into web hosting yourself. When I started doing my own webpages several years ago I made them all with Wordpress. The only problem is that you get a ‘’ tag at the end of your URL. So the easiest and cheapest thing to do is when you have bought your domain name, create a forwarding link with your domain provider. That is, you can promote your domain name on your emails, links, etc, and when people type it in it will automatically forward to your ‘’ page. Alternatively, you can use the Wordpress service to transfer your domain name with a one-off fee (plus yearly rental fee) so that your Wordpress site uses only your domain name. Anyway, I’ve moved along with things now that the gnomes were here to help me. With their friendly

Mid-Autumn 2015 advice I decided to opt to look for a web hosting service. So I got an account with one of the best/cheapest hosting companies – – where your first year is free. Then I simply uploaded a Wordpress template with a simple push of a button (provided on the page). Wanting to jazz things up a bit I decided to get a paid-for template, which these days are way gnomecheap. One of the best sites to look at for Wordpress themed templates is theme-forest, where you can get one from as little as a few dollars. My choice was the hugely popular and mega-versatile Avada theme (which cost me a whopping $59, and I’ve used it for three webpages so far). There you go, you are ready to program! In the past it would cost hundreds of $£ to get a website, now you can get one set-up for free, or get a professional hosting site for a few dollars...the only thing is, who’s gonna create your pretty-looking website using the versatile and cool-looking template? I was lucky – I have a good friend who did my webpage for me as a favour (I sent her some gnome pies in the snail mail). And in a week the result was Hey Presto But wait – all is not gnomelost! You don’t need to over-pay a fat-cat company to do the design; you just need a freelance dude on the end of the internet, and there are sites for these people too. You can visit a website where freelance programmers hire out their services; one example is freelancermap. They give great hourly rates and virtually all of them know the popular Wordpress themes. So you send them your content, describe how you wish your site to look, and they get to work. After several hours of toing and froing you finally (hopefully) get the webpage you had in your mind’s eye. Of course, you need to provide the content, which means writing your own blurb/text and finding your own images. There are plenty of photostock sites on the web which offer decent rates (I used But was that enough for my gnomie-buddies? Goblin-snot was it! They demanded more – they wanted their own video feature! This meant I needed to do an audio reading of their cheeky exploits. I decided to gnome-treat myself so I splashed out on an anti-goblin cool USB microphone, called a Yeti Blue – although any half-decent microphone will be fine. Then I downloaded a free audio recording software, which is one of the easiest and least complicated to use, called Audacity. Then you just open the recording software and mumble into your microphone (I should add at this point that you need to put all your phones and gadgets on ‘silent’ mode). Also, I shut my boys in a room of the house so as not to disturb this delicate moment.i Then once I had a suitable recording I exported it first onto my desktop and then into my Windows Movie Maker program (which comes as standard with all Window OS machines). I then decided to have my own Mundus Grundy theme tune, which I bought from a royalty-free website full of fun and cool tunes/sound effects called Audio Jungle (I paid $9 for my jingle). I then added the audio voice recording, music jingle, and the images together

on the computer. If you have an Apple Mac, then you are better off as these have some good quality installed software for movie making. You don’t need to be a techwiz, gnome-geek, or goblin-nerd, to create a prettydecent image-audio video files.ii Then when you’re 80 per cent satisfied (because you’re never going to be 100 per cent satisfied, as all writers are pseudoperfectionists – except me, of course), then you upload to Youtube. And here’s one I prepared earlier – my Mundus Grundy Youtube Playlist. Once all this is done, you crack open a bottle of Babycham or Eggnog (sugar-free), and feel smug about your work. After this all-too brief period of complacency you need to set to work to invade all your social media platforms with news about your book, its website, and the cool new video(s). You splatter your paid-for stock images over Facebook, and pester your buddies ceaselessly. The marketing ball then starts to roll, and you pump out blogs, cheesy citations/extracts, and maybe even a song or two…who knows? And that, more or less (and more of the less), is how I got gnomed in public...the rest, as they say, is goblinhistory!

For a list of Kingsley’s websites, please visit: Homepage: Beautiful Traitor Books: The Phoenix Generation:

i. Before anyone calls the social services, my boys are four-legged mixed-breed layabouts. ii. For my Mundus Grundy videos, I worked with my friend’s Apple Mac, which had a better movie software installed.


Veryan Williams-Wynn Quindici Febbraio 1751 Pietro Longhi, my dear friend Please excuse this intrusion on your valuable time, but I have come with news of the most extraordinary nature, indeed of a creature so wondrous, that has this very hour arrived in Venice. I fear it cannot wait but that you should view it for yourself. I shall remain below while your manservant delivers this note, lest you should immediately wish to engage your curiosity. In great haste, your most humble friend, Guido. Pietro was never pleased at being interrupted when working so when Fidel crept into the studio bearing a note, which he said was of a most pressing nature, he was immediately put into a frightful rage. This was made worse at being told that his friend, Guido, who’d brought it, was waiting below for an answer. Poor Fidel's knees quaked as the note was seized from his outstretched hand and the seal ripped off sending fragments of red wax skidding across the bare boards. ‘What is this, Guido? Are you in your cups that you should insist upon my seeing you, at this hour, when you of all people know I will not countenance being disturbed at my work?’ ‘No, Pietro, not a drop has passed my lips these last hours. I am quite sober, but elatedly so, and indeed if I am drunk, it is with euphoria on account of this most remarkable creature that I have just seen.’ ‘So remarkable that it will not wait?’ ‘Quite. Come, set aside your brushes, your depiction of God in his heaven can wait until you have seen and marvelled at this prodigious creation of his, for it is a mighty beast, the like of which has never before been seen in this city.’ ‘I will come with you, but later…’ ‘No. I am instructed to bring you forthwith – "find the most renowned painter in Venice," I was told,


"Signore Pietro Longhi no less, if he said as his friend went quiet. will come, so that he may paint the They were crossing one of the creature before the exhibition is many narrow bridges, when Pietro opened."’ stopped abruptly, not to admire the ornate buildings, which rose out of Guido barely gave Pietro time to grab the dark waters on either side of the his cloak from Fidel before hurrying canal, but to scrutinize Guido’s face. him out of the house. February had ‘I have seen a likeness of this creabeen blown in by a bitter east wind. It ture before, not living, but a woodcut had been driving in off the Adriatic for by Albrecht Dürer. 1515 I think it was, days on end, bringing with it torren- when he recorded one such captured tial rain, occasional flurries of sleet animal whilst on a visit to Lisbon. I and snow and whipping the water of take it this one is to be exhibited at the canals into choppy, spume- the Carnival for all to see?’ crested waves. The only good thing ‘Yes. And I shall take Catarina and about the weather was that the rain Beatrice, the child is so curious, she cleansed the cobbled alleys and the will love it.’ wind dispersed the putrid smells that ‘I wonder you continue your dallieven in the depths of winter rose ance with that hussy, when your wife from the sewage festering in the ca- is the most lusted after woman in the nals. whole of Venice.’ ‘You must capture the creature on Guido shrugged and laughing recanvas, make its image known that all plied, ‘Catarina is the most intriguing may see of what the Almighty is capa- and diverting of all courtesans, I could ble.’ never do without her, anyway, too ‘Are you certain, Guido, that you much of a good thing just makes my have not been subjected to a joke? lust for women the greater.’ Carnival week is almost upon us, ‘You won’t laugh so heartily, my when all manner of untoward occur- friend, when someone else takes an rences take place and when things interest in your wife’s charms.’ may not be quite what they seem?’ ‘Who would dare to pick a fight with ‘No, I tell you, it is no masquerade. me?’ he said, grasping the hilt of his This creature, this rhinoceros, for that well-used sword. is what I am told it is called, lives, Longhi didn’t answer, but pulledbreathes, eats, even craps. I saw it up the collar of his cloak, not so much brought off a ship, straight from India, to shield his face from the biting from whence it’s come.’ wind, but that Guido shouldn’t see ‘A rhinoceros; here in Venice?’ the expression etched upon it. ‘Yes, in the pit of the opera house,’ he

Mid-Autumn 2015 Catarina scrutinized the final touches she'd made to her maquillage; her face, chalk white, lips accentuated with crimson paste and her brows plucked into fine arches above her troubled eyes. A single, tiny, black patch to the side of her mouth was all that was needed before her maid powdered her hair and placed the allenveloping black domino around her shoulders, disguising her voluptuous décolletage and bone-laced slender waist. She would carry her mask until ready to become inconnue to all in the crowd, but for her lover, the Cavalier, Guido Balestra and their nineyear-old daughter, Beatrice, who was to accompany them to the exhibition. It was Beatrice more than anyone in the opera house who was transfixed by the animal displayed in the semicircular pit. She listened intently as the creature’s handler pointed out the wonders of the beast; was struck by the pathos of the prehistoriclooking creature, which most surely had been on earth long before the almighty devised man, and here, tamed or not, was treated as an object of curiosity. Even as behind her mask, she gawped, her heart reached out to it. ‘Look at this hide,’ the showman said prodding the creature with his whip, ‘the skin is so thick it forms these folds, making it look as if it wears armour.’ Beatrice felt increasingly melancholic as she looked at the rhinoceros’s impassive face and noted how small its hooded eyes were, even as her own burnt with unshed tears. ‘Signor?’ The keeper turned with the flourish of a well-practiced showman to where Beatrice stood grasping her mother’s hand and bowed to her. ‘Si, Signorina?’ ‘Signor, is the creature unhappy?’ ‘What an impertinent question, Signorina! Look at Clara, is she not well fed? Do you see any sign of fear or aggression? Does she snort, bellow or charge at you or the arena wall?’ ‘Non, Signor.’ ‘Do you hear those satisfied grunts as she grazes on the sweet hay I have

given her? If not happy, at least she is not unhappy and so is content.’ ‘Si, Signor, but what about her horn, did it not hurt when you cut it off?’ The keeper held the severed horn above his head for all to see and pointing to the rough patch above the beast’s nose, explained with an exaggerated bow, ‘I removed it for your safety, least she is angered and attacks!’ he said. Then dropping the horn, he mischievously shaped two fingers like horns on top of his head, ‘Gentlemen, beware the horns of the cuckold, and watch out for your wives,’ he added with a sly lopsided grin. Beatrice was about to sit down, but the keeper hadn’t finished. ‘Tell me, little girl, should an animal be happy, do they have rights to happiness that no human has? Anyway, I say that Clara should be very happy for no one is going to eat her – she’d be much too tough,’ he concluded as with exaggerated movements he rubbed his stomach and masticated his jaw, his ribald actions eliciting a roar of laughter from the assembled crowd. ‘Now, to continue: ladies and gentlemen, please pay attention to this fine ungulate’s feet; notice how it has three toes.’ Beatrice jumped to her feet. ‘I can’t see. I can’t see her toes.’ Hearing her cries, an unmasked woman sitting at the front row, turned and beckoned to her, ‘Come, child, sit with me,’ she said. ‘No, you mustn’t go,’ protested Catarina, hastily raising her mask, but too late for Beatrice was already pushing her way through the crowd to the front of the arena, ‘Stop her, Guido! That’s your wife.’ ‘So I’ve noticed,’ he said wryly, ‘but have no fear, she won’t know Beatrice, even though she is my daughter, but who, I’d like to know, are those people with her?’ ‘It’s impossible to tell with everyone in masquerade, but one must be her chaperone; the others are too heavily disguised to know – you’re not jealous are you? Since you have me and I’m sure many others,

shouldn’t she be allowed a dalliance or two?’ ‘A courtesan is not the same as a wife.’ ‘Indeed not; I give you more diverse pleasures than a wife!’ she retorted, slipping her hand inside his cloak. Beatrice was making her way back to her mother when Guido noticed a cloaked figure, tri-corn hat pulled low over his brow, sitting on the opposite side of the arena. ‘Ah, I do believe signor Longhi is here again, ‘he must be very taken by the beast to be making so public a visit! Beatrice, go and say Guido pays his respects and ask if he would like to join us.’ Beatrice slipped around to where Longhi was sitting and not liking to interrupt the great artist at work, waited and quietly watched over his shoulder as he sketched, not the rhinoceros, but Guido’s wife. ‘That’s beautiful, Signor Longhi,’ she whispered, making him jump. ‘It is she who is beautiful,’ sighed Longhi as he tried to shield the drawing from the child’s inquisitive gaze, but not before she’d noticed the picture also included a caricature of Guido, wearing the horns of a cuckold. Veryan Williams-Wynn, spent her childhood travelling the world in the wake of her military father, which led to a somewhat eclectic and multinational education. She married and had four children. She then trained and worked as a sensitive at the college of Psychic Studies in London and as a counsellor specialising in transpersonal psychology perspectives, for many years leading psychic development groups. She works as an audio describer for the blind and partially sighted at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. Veryan has written many short stories for all age groups, two broadcast on local radio. In addition to this she has written two books (fiction) aimed at the Young Adult market, and her book The Spirit Trap will be published by Lodestone Books on December 11th. She lives on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon.


As a writer you can use symbols and motifs with great effect to enhance your writing. A symbol is generally a single, often abstract, idea or concept either visual or auditory, and can be an object, picture, or even an item of clothing that helps add depth or atmosphere to your writing or to the unique identity of a character. There are the obvious ones: A fedora for instance, might indicate that the character thinks himself to be cool, or has a yearning to be a detective or sees himself as such. A man or woman who only wears known "labels" or drives an expensive car, such as a four-wheel drive or Porsche, shows us that the character is well off or is masking a feeling of inferiority. Some are more obvious, a bird can indicate freedom (unless it is caged then it has the opposite meaning) or a broken mirror can indicate broken love. However, often symbols are more subtle than this. Weapons, a piece of music, colour, words, lighting, or nature are just some of the ideas to use. A particular flower can have a hidden symbolic meaning. A red rose is obvious as a symbol of love, but author Jean Rhys uses other flowers such as the frangipani. Frangipani is also a symbol of immortality but also vampirism (see below). Your reader might not get the immediate significance as it's an abstract idea, but still, if used as a motif (as below), it can soon take on significance and add deeper meaning and power to your writing. Motifs are recurring ideas that have symbolic significance. These can add menace, foretell danger, reveal a theme, and they generally add more depth to meaning. Repeated colours, for instance, do not have to have the obvious meaning. All they have to do is repeat and represent an emotion, event or idea intermittingly throughout the book (see the yellow or yellow-green examples below). And it is these, often metaphoric or abstract, motifs that Jean Rhys uses so profusely and effectively in her classic novel Wide Sargasso Sea, along with her knowledge of witchcraft (again not obvious until your read her letters). I have used this book as one of the best examples of symbolism and motif in a novel. Rhys uses a combination of symbols and metaphoric motifs – often hidden meaning – that come together to add atmosphere, menace, and tension that makes it an excellent book for the writer to study. As a writer, you, of


course, do not have to use as many symbols as Rhys has done (especially in such a short book), but here it all adds to the atmosphere of surrealness and madness, even revealing an underlying plot. However, your own choices would depend on what you are trying to achieve. Wide Sargasso Sea was written by Rhys as a prequel to Jane Eyre. It describes the background of the meeting and marriage of Mr Rochester to his wife Bertha (who Rhys calls Antoinette in Wide Sargasso Sea, shortened here to WWS). In the original book, Mr Rochester, the hero of Jane Eyre, keeps his mad wife Bertha in the attic. Rochester realises her family have tricked him into marrying Bertha, and thinking why should he suffer for it, attempts to marry Jane Eyre. However, Bertha's brother catches him and reveals the mad woman. She later burns down his house, killing herself and maiming him. In WWS, Rochester is not quite such a hero but is redeemed somewhat as he has been tricked, and if the hidden symbols and motifs are examined closely, also drugged at times. A background theme of Obeah magic also runs through WWS. Candle motifs These motifs show up during Rochester's bewitchment. When her husband enters the marital bedroom, he notices that Antoinette has lit all the candles. He says, “The room was full of shadows. There were six on the dressing table and three on the table near the bed. The light changed her. I had never seen her look so gay or beautiful.” Rochester is already beginning to be bewitched. Numerology is also important here as part of the spell Antoinette has cast. The six and three of the candles make nine, three multiples of three, a magical number. If the number of candles had no meaning and were just to add to the eerie atmosphere then Rhys could simply have written, “The room was candlelit.” In 1952, Rhys mentions in a letter to her daughter, Maryvonne Moerman, “I have now become a great numerologist – at least I do think it is odd the way certain numbers turn up over and over again in people’s lives. Two is your number, six is mine.” An additional symbol in this scene is when moths fly into the candle flames and fall dead on the table during the dinner. Later in the book, almost at the end, candles again become significant. The candles of earlier become the

Mid-Autumn 2015 cause of the fire at Rochester’s English home. Antoinette/Bertha has a dream. She finds herself back in Jamaica; “Suddenly, I was back in Aunt Cora’s room. I saw the sunlight coming through the window, the tree outside and the shadows of the leaves on the floor, but I saw the wax candles too, I hated them.” There does not seem to be any reason for Antoinette hating the candles other than the backfiring of the spell that had ensured her complete estrangement from her husband. From then on, there was no way out of her predicament. Flowers There are many references to flowers throughout the book. Frangipani is mentioned numerous times. Frangipani has other names one of which being “the graveyard tree” as it is planted in graveyards as a symbol of immortality. If you pick a branch, it does not die but carries on blooming. Frangipani also called the “tree of life”, is used in wedding bouquets, and is a symbol of love. Significantly, in some cultures, the frangipani is associated with vampirism, and certainly Antoinette sucks the free will from Rochester. Frangipani appears near the beginning of the book as the tree that Antoinette’s mother’s horse is found dead under, after being poisoned. It features in the form of wedding wreaths when Rochester and Antoinette are visiting a Windward Island called Massacre, on their honeymoon. Rochester recalls, “Two wreaths of Frangipani lay on the bed.” He tries on the wreath and when he takes it off again it falls on the floor. He continues, “I stepped on it. The room was full of the scent of crushed flowers.” Rochester has trodden on the wedding wreath. Symbolically he has crushed love. This is an omen for the future and is repeated. At the end of the book, in Antoinette/Bertha’s dream, the same dream as when she dreams of the candles, she says, “I saw the orchids and the stephanotis and the jasmine and the tree of life in flames.” Orchid is a symbol of love and means both “testicles” and “beautiful lady” (see below), jasmine is another symbol of love, and stephanotis is frequently found in wedding bouquets as it means “happiness in marriage”. The tree of life could be either the flamboyant tree or frangipani. More significant perhaps, is the moonflower. During the ill-fated honeymoon, when Rochester rejects his wife, he thinks of them: “I was longing for the night and darkness and the time when moonflowers open…” Rochester does not like his wife by day; he does his loving in the dark. The moonflowers he so longs for here are also the means that almost kill him. When Antoinette attempts her bewitchment spell, she also gives him a potion that she gets from her Obeah woman, Christophine. Rochester drinks it shortly after noticing the nine candles. He wakes, not remembering anything of the night. He had dreamt he was buried alive, and has a feeling of suffocation. He suffers symptoms of pain, giddiness, dull thoughts, and thirst. His symptoms

correspond with those of Datura/Brugmansia poisoning, the plant otherwise known as “moonflower”. It grows in the Caribbean and is frequently used in Obeah; it also has aphrodisiac qualities, and Rochester spends a night of passion with his wife, which disgusts him. But more significantly, moonflower is one of the principal ingredients in zombification. There are other symbolic references to flowers in the text, many related to love. Rochester receives a letter from the half-brother of Antoinette, Daniel. Before this he had felt “drowsy and content”. He folds away the letter and finds that he still has trouble thinking clearly, he says, “I walked stiffly nor could I force myself to think. Then I passed an orchid with long sprays of golden-brown flowers. One of them touched my cheek and I remembered picking some for her one day. ‘They are like you,’ I told her. Now I stopped, broke a spray off and trampled it into the mud. This brought me to my senses.” Here we have a repeated motif: again the orchid, which is golden-brown (mentioned further below in colour), is trampled on, as was the wreath. Rochester has managed to break the zombification that he has suffered since coming to Jamaica. The orchid, meaning “beautiful lady” is crushed. Alternatively, he has crushed the “testicles”, perhaps representing the almost masculine or decadent passion of his wife that he seems to find so distasteful. From this point on, it is all over, and his passion has gone, until the spell of his wife poisons him. Colour Colour too is symbolic and magical in WSS, although references can be found in Rhys's other novels, and in her autobiography and letters. In a letter to her daughter Maryvonne in 1954 about room colours, she writes, “I have discovered that colours are very important – Red is energetic but quarrelsome, blue, silver, or best of all flowered wallpaper, restful. White is clean and gay and so on.” In WSS, colours are connected with mood, but also bewitchment. Yellow and yellow-green have sinister connotations. When describing Christophine, the Obeah woman, Antoinette remembers, “I can see the yellow handkerchief she wore round her head, tied in the Martinique fashion with the sharp points in front.” As a symbol there are connotations here of devil horns. During the ill-fated honeymoon, Rochester goes to visit Antoinette’s mixed race, half-brother, Daniel. He describes him as having a “thin yellow face”. He wants to get away from his “yellow sweaty face”. As he leaves the brother, he sees a tethered goat, which mesmerizes him for several minutes with its “slanting yellow-green eyes”. The yellow motif, with its implications of evil, continues. Soon after the visit to Antoinette’s brother, and shortly before Rochester is poisoned, he sees his wife shiver and remembers “[that] she had been wearing a


yellow shawl.” He fetches it and puts it around her shoulders. When he is poisoned and later wakes, he sees a blanket that was a “particular shade of yellow”. He has been unable to vomit although he retches, but after looking at the blanket for some time, he finds he is able to. And the orchid mentioned in the previous section that he tramples on, was golden-brown so also has a yellow tinge. Yellow seems to alert Rochester to evilness and bewitchment and helps him break it. There are many such references to colour throughout the text. One of the ways in which colour is used by Rhys is in signifying bewitchment. After bewitchment colour seems more vibrant. After being ill with fever just before his marriage, Rochester suffers suspected bewitchment at the hands of Antoinette’s stepbrother, Mason. Rochester only remembers three weeks of the month he has spent in Jamaica. He arrives in Massacre for his honeymoon. There is a wall of green on one side of them as they climb upward. He comments on this, “what an extreme green”. As they ride on he thinks that everything is too much, “too much blue, too much purple, too much green. The flowers too red...” Rochester realises that he has “sold his soul.” Later he remembers how he felt when first arriving in Jamaica. He realises that he cannot remember everything. “There are blanks in my mind that cannot be filled up”, he thinks. He tries to remember. “It was all brightly coloured, very strange…” He recalls, “I remember little of the actual ceremony”, and “I hardly remember what she looked like.” Rhys adds in a postscript to one of her letters, “P.S. I hear that morning glory seeds chewed slowly, work wonders – so am trying to get some. Must say I’m willing to try new things – they act like mescalin (on dit). I don’t believe it do you?” The hidden meaning in colour here is also the possibility of mescaline poisoning. In 1953 Aldous Huxley took mescaline/mescalin in the presence of an investigator and sat down and waited to see what would happen. When he opened his eyes everything was transformed. Huxley describes his experience in The Doors of Perception. He first sees a vase of flowers “shining with their own inner light”. He then notices the books on his study walls he writes: Like the flowers, they glowed, when I looked at them, with brighter colours, a profounder significance. Red books, like rubies; emerald books; books bound in white jade; books of agate; of aquamarine, of yellow topaz; lapis lazuli books whose color was so intense… So Mescaline poisoning may well have been used in the bewitchment of Rochester, which caused him to seek retribution of his own in punishing Antoinette. But Rhys does not explain any of this. It is all in the motifs. Colour is significant for Antoinette too, especially red. Near the end of the book, Antoinette is ensconced in


her attic, but she is cared for by Grace Poole. She has a red dress, which she describes as being the colour of “fire and sunset” and “the colour of flamboyant flowers”. She says, “If you are buried under a flamboyant tree (flame)…your soul is lifted up when it flowers.” She recalls that her husband had once said that she looked “intemperate and unchaste” in the dress. To Rochester red was decadent, but for Antoinette it meant home, life, and the light after her own zombification in the dark. In her final dream, Antoinette sees the sky and says, “It was red and all my life was in it”. A more usual interpretation of Antoinette/Bertha’s leap from the roof at the end of the book is perhaps that she symbolically burns as a witch as punishment by the outside world. However, if we look at the scene closely, we see she apparently jumps into what she believes is the pool at the first home where she lived and felt she belonged in, and which was destroyed by fire. For her, red was living, passion, love, warmth, sun, and freedom. Good use is also made of the parrot as a motif, particularly linking it to the colour red (or fire). The pet parrot had died in an earlier fire. Now as the house burns (told also in Jane Eyre), Antoinette remembers the death of the parrot: “He made an effort to fly down but his clipped wings failed him and he fell screeching. He was all on fire…it was very unlucky to kill a parrot, or even to see a parrot die.” This was a prophecy for Antoinette. She paid for her own misdeeds with her miserable life with Rochester in England. In her dream about the fire at the English house, Antoinette stands on the battlements, she recalls, “The wind caught in my hair and it streamed out like wings. It might bear me up, I thought, if I jumped to those hard stones.” Like the parrot, her wings have been clipped, but like the parrot, she jumps to the freedom of death. There is so much more in the way of symbolism in this book that is not mentioned here. But it more than adequately demonstrates just how effectively symbolism and motif can be used in your writing to add an extra dimension. Often symbols are used so subtly that we do not notice them except on a subconscious level, but what they add to the text is a rich tapestry of underlying threads that deepen themes and add power and atmosphere. Symbolism adds meaning that is more abstract than literal. Examine some of your favourite books and look for the symbolism and motifs and at how the author has used them to good effect. Look at your own writing themes to see where you can add more depth with the use of symbolism and metaphoric motif. Meanwhile, Wide Sargasso Sea is worth a read for this purpose. Bibliography Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001)

Mid-Autumn 2015

I had the pleasure of attending the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators International Conference two weeks ago and found it an eye-opening experience. If you don’t know about SCBWI, stop reading this and check out the organization’s chapter near you (but then come back!). As I have my first novel debuting this year, The Last Stop, young adult Sci-fi through the JHP Lodestone imprint, I attended a session titled (you guessed it,) The Debut Year. Prior to that, I didn’t have a clue about what to do except pleading for positive reviews from fellow authors trying to do the same thing. After the session I felt ready to push on beyond that and wanted to share what I learned. I’ll pepper my prose with a few quotes from the conference’s luminaries (not me,) in the hopes of both entertaining and informing you. Keynote address: “We have 1200 attendees this year, and after 42 years finally more than a few men. I know that because this is the first year we have lines at the men’s room.” The presenters for The Debut Year were three best-selling authors who shared their experiences and offered a road map of what and when they would do things to debut their book if they had it to do over again. Virginia Boecker, The Witch Hunter Stacey Lee, Under a Painted Sky Nicola Yoon, Everything Here is the outline they provided (with a few added comments from me. That’s what writers do!):

One-Year Out: Get on social media, but only the sites you like. Don’t over commit. Nobody can do all of it and still have time to write (or get a good night’s sleep.) Join a debut group, like OneFour KidLit, the Fearless Fifteeners, Sweet Sixteeners. Create a website. Rip off ideas from your favorite authors. Think about who you would like

to blurb your book. Stacey Lee: “Don’t ever read a review of your book on GoodReads. The first time I did, I cried for two weeks and told my husband I would never write again. He took my computer away and gave me a yellow pad and pen.” Four to Six Months Out: Reveal your book. (I’m still not sure what that means.) They suggested YA Highway, YA books Central, The Midnight Garden, Adventures in YA. Make some swag!  Book marks (never glossy, always matte so you can write on them.)  Buttons  Cookies with a frosted cover of your book Choose a launch party date for your book and book it. This usually takes place in a bookstore near you that will be happy to host you provided: they don’t have to pay anything, you bring frosted cookies with your cover on them, and coerce as many friends as you can to show up. You’ll happily sign your books for people you were sure were going to buy them anyway (or you won’t speak to them,) and celebrate one of the great achievements of your life! Plan events with other authors near you. Virginia Boecker: There’s nothing worse than having a book signing and three people show up. If you have other authors co-host the event with you, you can claim some of their people were yours. Get in touch with local librarians and schools. Send some swag their way. Keep writing! At the End (Two months before Onsale Date) Consider giving stuff away on Twitter or blogs run by sane people. Set up a pre-order campaign. (Tell your friends who ate the frosted cookies with your cover on it those cookies weren’t free.)

Send out launch party invites. Keep writing!

Nicola Yoon: I stopped reading my Amazon reviews. The last one I read gave me one star. The comment said, “Your book arrived two weeks late!” The Big Day! Congratulations! You did it! Take a minute to enjoy the moment! Go to your launch party. People are expecting you! If you’re doing a reading, keep it short so they’ll buy the book! Don’t forget to bring a guestbook for people to sign. Do a give-away. Feed your guests those frosted cookies. Make them feel guilty if they don’t pre-order! Take a break from writing, but not too long. You’re just getting started! What Never to do During Your Debut Year (or ever!) Stop writing Read your reviews on GoodReads, Amazon, or anywhere else.

Talk smack about anyone on social media!! Lastly Find a writers group and make friends. You’re going to need people to commiserate with. Good luck to everyone, and enjoy! MB Dr. Michael Burnam, MD is a cardiologist and scientist, and inventor of one of the world's first heartattack tests. Besides writing, he enjoys active sports, fishing with his sons, theater and music, and bouncing writing ideas off his wife and fellow writer, Jessica. He is the author of The Last Stop published by Lodestone Books January 2016.


Trudy Gertrude Anne, you better watch That sassy mouth. The devil is going to get you. A stern message from her mother, For having a say about things. Stubborn as the front door, swollen and stuck on a muggy July afternoon. Barreling barefoot around the farm, A 10-year-old powerhouse, Waving a big stick. Toes darkened with mud, a remnant from the morning rain. She was on the lookout, a sharp eye, She’d give that devil what for If she saw him first. She could fight When she needed to. Her big brother found out, Both teenagers now. He thought he could snatch that drumstick Right off her plate But she and her daddy got them, It was their Sunday dinner tradition. She took it back, Had a big ol’ bite. His hands wrapped around her throat, Tight as last year’s church stockings. Her knee landed the blow, Where it counted. “I’m not taking it anymore” she screamed, Her voice strong, a force rising in her. Off she went, Safe among the cornstalks, hidden. She could hear them, Calling her name, as she Drifted to sleep Under the nightlight of the moon. She never knew what happened, but He never touched her again. She tells the story from time to time. Now as Trudy – Gertrude never fit. She still has plenty to say. Carries a cane now, Just shy of 92, Still warding off the devil. He never had a chance.

Blueberry Bliss Arranged in an alluring pyramid, piled high. A batch of blueberry bars. A reminder Of a dessert my mother made for company. A time when eating and innocence did not reside In separate universes. Heavy on my plate, Dense buttery crust, a thick layer of blueberries Peeking out under crumb topping and a dusting of powdered sugar. The chilled plate clinks on the counter, and The barstool accepts my fleshy ass without judgment, Berries ooze between my teeth, A surprise tang of lemon, Tattoo of sugar on my black trousers. My tongue swirls, circles to catch An escaped flake of crust. Abandon, A symphony of flavors. Waltzing textures, Create an opulent tapestry for my taste buds. Bliss is a baked blueberry


Dimes I see them everywhere now. Our daughters too, so strong and beautiful, Missing you. They found one on the track that wraps around the schoolyard And then another under the antique oak table at the Lodge, Our sanctuary, while you were in hospice. Did I ever tell you the story? It was Kim. A connection from home And, a welcome friend when I moved to California. Just before her grandmother died she gave Kim a jar of dimes, An odd collection. When her mother died years later, The dimes started appearing. Shiny distractions from her grief. Comfort tucked away in her pocket. I found one, The morning I lost you. The glint of it catching my eye, Nestled along the edge of the cemetery. I was there to pick out your plot, Awash with the surreal absurdity of it, To make this decision on my own, Choosing where I’d leave you to rest. You’d like it. Plenty of shade from a giant elm, And, a nice view of the park across the street. I laid down along the length of your grave, Under the cobalt sky, A surprising gem on an April day in Iowa, A stark contrast to the usually dreary grey. It felt like home. And now I sit at dinner with my twin sister and cousin, At a vineyard in Temecula. You would have loved it here, Tranquility falling over us Like the soft white clouds blanketing the mountains. It rained today, Our anniversary. Twenty-three years. It was the waitress who discovered the dime under my chair. She placed it beside me on the table And the aching for you lifted for a moment. I long to feel you, The warmth of your belly pressed against the small of my back, Lulling me to sleep on a Saturday morning. Safe in the wrap of your arms. The dime rests in my hand, Your presence, A perfect gift.

Margot Burns is a Midwestern native transplanted firmly in Denver, Colorado where she enjoys a passion for creating stories about family, food, love, and the revelations of personal growth. Her book "Wide Awake Musings from an Unconscious Life" is due out the summer of 2016. In the meantime, she maintains a career coaching and vocational rehabilitation practice and is a certified teacher of the Enneagram personality system.

Mid-Autumn 2015 Sam and Chloe never thought they would spend the summer holidays fighting a battle against the dark past that haunts Kingsholt, a mansion inherited by Chloe's parents. A long time ago the Vikings burnt down the monastery that was built near Kingsholt. A few monks who escaped hid the monastery's treasure and dug a pit in which to bury the slaughtered monks. They swore that if anyone opened up the pit and used it for other purposes a darkness would fall over the area. Nimbus,an obsessive one-time circus hypnotist and acrobat, lives with his wife and two children in a cottage in the woods of Kingsholt. He opens up the pit and uses it for all his rubbish. With death, kidnap and madness ensuing, can Sam and Chloe and their guardian Aidan, bring back the light to Kingsholt? Here is a fine and beautifully written adventure story with all the cliff-hanger elements needed to keep one in suspense: murderous plots and an ancient mystery, riddles, clues, rhymes and a map, darkness and ambush in a forest, a burial pit and a hidden tunnel, a time warp of omens and terror where innocence and evil fight to the death and beyond. ~ Mandy Pannett Susan Skinner has published seventeen books of which the following are for young adults or children. She is married with three children. When her sister died she and her husband looked after the four children who were left. She now lives alone with her dog Alfie who is waiting for his story to be told! Pre-order on Amazon


I’ve been told to chill. “Don’t worry. Be happy,” they say. “It’s all good.” I appreciate the cool, laissez-faire attitude, but I grew up alongside apathetic Gen Xers who were the first Internet trolls, the first gamers, the first Goths, and the first speedmetal heads who blasted Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. Now, Gen Xers might be considered dystopian downer dudes as we creep into middle age, but perhaps that sentiment will change when the government starts cutting up EBT cards and kicks us off the free, bitchin’ Santa Monica debt wave we’ve been riding for the last couple of fun-filled decades where “money for nothing, growth for free” pervaded. Like Jeff Spicoli (played by Sean Penn) saying, “I can fix it” when he smashes up Jefferson’s Trans-Am in the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, governments often give us the same line with foreign and economic policy as they wander through the turnstiles of Congress passing the baton to the next set of anointed who continue making syrupy promises about our future. As the middleclass lives out the tale spun by Stephen King’s Thinner, we might find ourselves picking up a dystopian novel to relive our despondent youths. In other words, if you feel angry about the current political milieu, then you just might be a dystopian author. In most cases, the dystopian genre explores a fictional future, tapping into present fears about the path society currently travels. The art is in imagery of the not yet invented but easily imagined. It’s not a surprise the dystopian genre is often lumped together with science fiction (check out Amazon’s browse categories) where technology plays a crucial role. Robotics, nanotechnology, advanced artificial intelli-


gence, cloning, and all other derivatives of advanced, imaginable technology are often used as colors on the canvas painted into a reader’s mind. In George Orwell’s 1984, the all-seeing Big Brother uses the telescreen. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, reproductive factories of the future are used to produce a limited number of citizens preordained to a caste-world void of pain. 1. As you’re writing dystopian fiction, think about how to take current technologies and extrapolate. When you have a vision of what that might look like, ask yourself how it changes the society that does not yet exist. Other dystopian novels avoid the technological aspect, but drive one forward with a central theme (book burning with Fahrenheit 451, ultraviolence with A Clockwork Orange, and the cycle of revolution to despotism in Animal Farm).

2. Discover what the central theme is and then explore it with indefatigable passion. Better dystopian novels have two things in common: 3. The narrative pushes internal events to an extreme. Drive the plot forward so that at the climax, there is a big sense of doom. How are the characters taking us there? In dystopian, a lot of times resolution of the central conflict comes in death (The Road, 1984), but before that a force exists inside the story driving the reader towards the second crucial element: 4. The inherent message within closely associated with a burning fire inside the author’s stomach. In Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake,

Mid-Autumn 2015 corporate domination led by biotech companies pushing the envelope of manufactured micro-organisms (the theme) causes the inevitable collapse of mankind. The message: man is too smart for his own good; unfettered technological advancement without ethical consideration will have disastrous consequences. In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, reality TV is pushed to a violent extreme (the theme). The message: gladiator games appealing to the masses distract from the true nature of the world within the thirteen districts. The Surveillance State in George Orwell’s 1984 is all pervasive (the theme). History is rewritten to suite Big Brother’s needs, and the nation is in a perpetual state of war (any of that sound familiar). The whole book is one big message warning us about the nature of totalitarianism. Why do readers latch on to such pessimistic, futuristic novels instead of utopian works? Why are we dystopian downer dudes/dudettes? Perhaps the reason lies in what Nietzsche said, “If you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.” 5. Dystopia seeks to uncover truth in the morass of the present by projecting the problems of today into the future and amplifying them. When the author is successful at doing this, the writing immediately becomes more relevant. Let’s face it, utopia is a bore. As readers, we sense utopia as innately unachievable. Humans aren’t wired for stories without conflict, and perfect-world scenarios are a bigger lie than the leap of faith it takes to jump us into dystopian futures. Likewise, we’ve lived the horrors of dystopia through two world wars. We’ve seen the gas chambers smoking, the walking skeletons griping barbed wire fences clinging for their lives, the groupthink and fascism, the thought control. 6. When writing in a dystopian genre where the future usually isn’t so bright, one can draw on horrific examples of the past for macabre imagery. Keep in mind, almost all dystopian fiction uses stark, depressing imagery within the prose. What is crucial is to create something unique that will stick in reader’s minds. Much more based in the reality we know and understand, dystopia magnetizes a reader’s sense of fatalism when we speak of hopelessly deadlocked politics and looming social and economic problems we all see habitually. The battlefield spreads itself wide and far in dystopian novels, where the imagination can dive into futuristic minefields. Considering the current political landscape and where we seem to be headed, a resurgence of the adult dystopian theme is inevitable (young adult seems to be already saturated and lacks a certain tie to the present in most cases). 7. The key to writing great dystopian fiction is to entrench yourself in current affairs. Does it piss you off? If

so, then the fire in the belly will help you create great prose. Can you transfer it to paper? After each passing day, the narrative lie becomes the inkling of truth. Militarization of the police force, Ferguson, Edward Snowden and his NSA revelations, BigDogs, Petman and advanced robotics, crony capitalism and a ballooning kleptocracy in a perpetual state of war are all spicy ingredients for the next dystopian stew. Will you be the one to write it? I don’t know, but you as the author have a chance to say something, to slam home a point, so don’t let the opportunity slip away. How do you see the world differently and how can you express that through your characters without writing a diatribe on your beliefs? Therein lies the art of dystopian fiction.

Roderick Vincent is the author of the upcoming Minutemen series about a dystopian America. The first novel, titled The Cause, is out now. He has lived in the United States, England, Switzerland, and the Marshall Islands. His work has been published on the Ploughshares blog, StrayLight (University of Wisconsin, Parkside) and Offshoots (a Swiss publication).


When Headline Murder, my first crime mystery, was published on 28 August this year, it appeared the same day on six book bloggers’ sites. Starting with a bang? Well, perhaps not in the megaton class – but not a whimper either. With the book pages of the national and provincial press now virtually ignoring genre fiction – certainly published in paperback – book bloggers offer one of the few places where it is still possible to start the buzz. But as I discovered as I entered the bloggers’ territory, this is a strange world populated with geekish passions, super-sized egos and cunningly disguised elephant traps. I’ve stumbled along, fallen down a few times but, I think, learnt one or two things which might be helpful to other writers taking the same journey. To start with, there are hundreds of book bloggers out there – but they’re not all the same. There are lots who love romantic fiction, plenty serving the young adult market – and, thankfully, quite a few who have an interest in crime. (Books, that is, rather than burglary.) Book bloggers seem to have between a few hundred and few thousand followers. The largest I’ve found so far has 8,000. My first step was to research the market. It’s quite simple to get lists of book blogging sites – in fact, there are plenty on the John Hunt Publishing database – but it’s not enough just to blast out a standard e-mail to them. You need to research each one individually. I’ve found that you gain a pretty good idea whether a site is going to be one for your book simply by looking at it. If it’s all pretty pink, kittens and cupcakes, you’re in the world of romantic fiction. Werewolves and dragons indicate fantasy and the supernatural. Dark streets with lonesome figures spotlighted by street lamps suggest you might have hit on thriller and crime territory. Many but not all of the bloggers have a “reviews policy” section on their website. It’s helpful if they do. And


it’s here where the egos shine through – not so much in what they’re asking for as the way they ask it. Some adopt a relaxed tone, others are more prescriptive. It’s important, I’ve found, to study this section closely and read between the lines. Sometimes you can discover a particular interest or secret passion which might help open the door for your offering. It is also important to look closely at the books they’ve reviewed in the past. I’ve found that it doesn’t generally matter so much if they haven’t reviewed books exactly like yours, as long as what you offer is not radically different. Another element I look for on the site is whether they carry material other than their own book reviews. Quite a few publish guest posts, book extracts, question and answer sessions with authors, or giveaways. I’ve even found bloggers prepared to accept short stories – and have actually placed one. When studying a site, I might spend anything from one minute (obviously not suitable) up to 20 minutes (a strong and significant prospect) before deciding how to make my move. When I started, I made the mistake of offering only a review copy. Many bloggers say they are overwhelmed with review copies – the last thing they want is more, but they may accept a different offer. In the first 20 contacts I made, I had only one positive response. In the nine most recent contacts, I’ve had four positive responses (so far). The key to getting a response, I’ve found, is to hit on something which the site it likely to want – such as a guest post or an author’s Q&A. But you must do more than offer this in general terms. Study what the site has covered before and offer a topic that seems to fit the bill. As I journeyed deeper into book blogging territory, I

Mid-Autumn 2015 discovered the concept of the “blog tour”. Publishers, and authors, arrange a series of blog appearances on a succession of blog sites over a series of days. Usually, this takes place just before or when the book has been launched. But not always. I’m currently putting together what I’ve called the “Autumn Blog Tour” for Headline Murder. There are companies out there that will put a blog tour together for you. One I looked at wanted to charge me $450 for getting me onto 10 blogs and $650 for 15 blogs. In fact, I’ve exceeded that without paying a penny. If you’re putting together a blog tour, you need to arrange for each post to appear on a different day according to a timetable coordinated between the blogs. Then you must provide the timetable to all the blogs so they can publish it. So what’s the result? In the first two weeks following publication, Headline Murder has appeared on 12 blogs and has been promised coverage on a further nine. Two of the blogs have carried reviews – one giving the book five stars; the other, using a different system, rating it “highly recommended”. And other blogs have carried

guest posts, Q&As, and book extracts. Most of them carried links to Amazon. But all this leaves an unanswered question. Does it all make any difference to sales? As far as my book is concerned, it is too early to say. What I can say is that it’s hard work, but fun. And it’s started a buzz. Peter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle series ( His byline has appeared in scores of newspapers and magazines on articles covering many subjects from film-making to finance. His 21 books on biography, current affairs and popular how-to topics have received coverage in newspapers as diverse as The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror - and he's promoted his work on radio and television. Peter's versatile range of work includes a radio play, a comic strip and a magazine serial. He lives in Shoreham-by-sea and is a member of the Society of Authors.

Slave of the Cannibal God Raymond Chandler called it cannibalizing. And anything Chandler espoused has become my unofficial mantra, since it’s common knowledge to people who know me or my writing that I frequently (accidentally) set fire to incense in honour of the man who’s my favourite author.

scribe, since the artist carries much of the burden (I speak here from some experience as both), and when translating this into words on a page, minus the graphics, our author has to start earning his keep. There are settings to describe, people to outline, all the usual writerly brouhaha.

Andrez Bergen I hope. If only I did these things as cannily as Chandler.

Andrez Bergen is an expatriate Australian author, journalist, DJ, Nicking previous short stories is much easier; photographer and musician, based in Chandler’s idea was to cannibalize material all you really need do is change the names, from his short stories to pad out novels like some of the character quirks, and occasional- Tokyo, Japan. The Big Sleep, and it’s an approach I applied – in spades – when I tackled the writing of my fifth novel, Small Change, which is being published via Roundfire Fiction in December.

ly third-person narration to first.

multimedia pilfering, since I was disassembling not only previous short stories – most, admittedly, that revolve around key Small Change characters Roy Scherer and Suzie Miller, yet not all – but ransacking previous comic stories I’d written as well. Again, Roy and Suzie were the characters there, the “stars” of an Australian comic book series called Tales to Admonish (via IF? Commix). Turning comics into other media isn’t exactly new – back in the 1940s there were cliffhanger cinema shorts made out of Batman and Captain America – and no more needs to be uttered about the recent Marvel Comics cinematic explosion.

nuity, since the stories take place at various stages in the life of our principle narrator Roy Scherer, from age sixteen to his mid-30s, and how to make stand-alone stories fit together as a cohesive whole.

I was forced to think about all these things with Small Change.

One of Chicago News's Most Anticipated Books for Fall and In my case, however, the process turned into I also needed to work on timelines and conti- Beyond!

But stripping sequential stories to turn them into a novel isn’t quite as common as you’d think. Writing comics is an easier task for the

But I think I was lucky in this respect. Since 1996 I’ve also been making music (under the alias of ‘Little Nobody’), and the kind of sounds I produce could be loosely described as experimental electronic. While heavily influenced by the tape-loop cut-ups of Cabaret Voltaire in the 1970s, I’m also handy with a sampler and fell in love with the concept of remixing (my tracks as well as other people’s). This means dissection and rearrangement to create new entities, right on into entire albums, so it was a matter of applying this aural approach to that of writing – and voilà.


Based on true events Günter squats near the collapsed walls of a former villa while his best friend Helmut digs underneath a sideboard, all that remains of a kitchen. They’re searching for valuables, anything suitable to trade on the black market. It’s July 1945, World War II has ended. Tires screech. A truck door slams. “What are you boys doing?” a voice yells in broken German. Günter looks up from the rubble. “Searching for stuff.” “It’s forbidden to remove items from bombsites.” The man in a British military uniform waves a rifle. Günter keeps his eyes on the gun and the man’s pistol on the leather belt. “We didn’t know.” “Now you do.” The soldier sounds irritated. “This is city property. Read the announcements.” As Günter and Helmut scramble down the street, the officer yells after them. “Next time, you’ll be arrested.” “At least he doesn’t know our names,” Günter pants. He slumps behind a fence, ignoring the rumbling in his middle. Dinner is a long time away. “Or where we live,” Helmut adds. “Now, what? I’ve got to get firewood.” “So we go back?” Günter shrugs. He isn’t afraid. “Maybe another place. Surely, they can’t have guards everywhere. Half the town is in ruins.” Helmut shakes his head. “I can’t believe we are forbidden to take anything.” “How are we supposed to survive?” “Exactly.” “Ridiculous.” Günter’s cheeks burn with frustration. “Next, they’ll tell us when to use the bathroom.” “They’ll have an administrator of shit,” Helmut sneers. “An commissioner of outhouses and water closets.” Helmut scratches his head. “I need firewood, too. We’re almost out.” Günter grins. “I know a place with a collapsed roof.” Roof trusses burn long


and hot. “We’ll need saws.” “Wait at the corner, I’ll get them.” Günter races off. At least my house still stands, he muses as he approaches the row of modest apartment buildings. “Mutter, I’ll be back in an hour,” he yells into the kitchen, a handsaw and ax tucked under his shirt. The knock on the door startles him. He expected Helmut to wait for him at their meeting place down the street. Irritated, he yanks open the door. “What? I thought you were—” The visitor looks alien. Blackish filth covers his skin as if he’s spent years in a coalmine. His pants, held up by a piece of cord, are ripped, his shirt peppered with holes. Sores fester on arms and chin. “It’s me,” the figure says. Günter stares at the face and recognizes the voice of his older brother. “Mutter, come quick,” he yells over his shoulder. “Oh…come in.” He motions the skeletal visitor into the house, searching for something to say. His throat feels strangely hoarse. “Man, you stink. How are you?” “Much better…now that I’m home.” His brother grimaces through the muck. “I haven’t washed…” “Hans!” As his mother hugs his brother, Günter tries to hide his shock. His brother looks like a scarecrow left to rot in the field. His once muscular arms are thin as sticks, leaving his skin in loose wrinkles. He seems to have trouble standing. “Let’s get you cleaned up.” His mother wipes away a tear. “Günter?” she shouts. “I’m right here.” “Fetch water, enough to fill the tub. Better go twice.” Günter snatches the buckets. Anything is better than watching the crumpled figure in the kitchen. His brother left last October, drafted as part of the Volkssturm, the people’s storm, one of Hitler’s last attempts of fueling the war with Germany’s adolescents. He’d just turned seventeen when he marched off to join

the radio news troop. They have to help his brother into the bath. In former times Günter would’ve been embarrassed to see him naked. Now he doesn’t care. His brother reminds him of a child, helpless and weak. They scrub and wipe, using their last reserves of soap to remove months of grime. At last, when the water is black as diluted coal, and dead lice and a layer of muck cover the tub, his mother is satisfied. His brother’s skin is marked with brownish residue and red welts, but he looks human again. Though Günter is relieved that his brother is safe, he soon longs to be outside and away. With ever dwindling rations, he’s hoped his brother would help organize supplies. With an extra mouth to feed, they urgently need food. But a cloud hangs wherever his brother is. Sometimes he talks but it doesn’t sound like the old Hans. Meals—watery soups with shreds of potatoes and a few onion rings—are glum, their attempts at conversation awkward. His brother twitches all the time and Günter grows impatient when he speaks haltingly or stops in midsentence. Mostly Hans remains silent. All they know is that he was captured by the British Army in early 1945 and walked home from somewhere north. “We’ll have to scrounge,” Günter says a week later, staring at the kitchen table scrubbed clean and polished as if it demands food. It’s his way of saying they’ll steal. What choice does he have? Their pantry is empty, stores remain closed. Hans nods. “I’ll come.” “We go after dark.” Günter glances at his brother. “It’s safer. People are roaming all over the place. I’ll tell Helmut.” A half-moon throws shadows across their path, making it hard to see where they’re going. The air smells fragrant of grasses and blossoms, nature’s indifference to the destruction around them. Summer has begun in earnest, lulling them with blue skies and warm

Mid-Autumn 2015 temperatures. They find a handful of red currants in a front yard, the acidic fruit making Günter even hungrier. They have gone farther this time to increase their chances. As they stop at the edge of a field of dark, leafy plants, Günter bends low. “You know what this is?” he whispers, barely containing his excitement. “No idea.” Helmut sinks to his knees. “My feet are killing me.” He’s grown quickly during the year and is much taller than Hans and Günter. “Sugar beets.” Günter fingers the leaves. “They’ve been left for the second season, so they’ll be sweeter. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be this big yet.” He yanks at a stalk. The leaves tear but the root remains in the earth. “Scheiße!” “What are we going to use them for? Make sugar?” Helmut has taken off one of his shoes. His sock has a large hole and a big toe pokes through the fabric. “Molasses, you idiot,” says Günter, sounding sharper than intended. Sometimes he’s tired of being in charge. “Hmmm, molasses.” His brother’s voice carries easily across the field. “Shsh,” Günter hisses. “The farmhouse is probably close.” “Let’s hurry then. I’ll collect.” Helmut begins rummaging through his pack in search for a sack. Günter grabs a pointed rock to dig. It has been dry for weeks and the earth is hard and clumpy. His shirt is drenched with sweat as the pile of beets slowly grows. Günter glances at his brother who sits motionless. “Why don’t you help?” A dog barks in the distance. Günter freezes. There, more sounds: twigs breaking and heavy footsteps. Quietly, he crawls backward into a clump of hazelnut bushes, dragging the beet sack with him. Helmut follows, remembering his shoe at the last second. “Who’s there? Damn thieves!” A voice drifts through the brush to their right. “You’re stealing my crop.” A shot rings out. “Where’s Hans?” Günter peeks through the leaves. “Damn.” Now free of clouds, the moon bathes the field in bluish light. Hans sits near the place they dug. He is clearly visible. A man appears next to Hans, rifle in hand. “What’re you doing in my field?” he growls. Günter keeps peeking through the

undergrowth. The farmer has to be in his seventies. He is bald with the ruddy skin of a life spent outdoors. “Answer me!” he says. “I should shoot you on the spot.” His dog snarls as if to emphasize the point. “Why don’t you?” Hans’s voice floats across. “I don’t care. I’ve had worse.” “What are you doing in my field?” the farmer asks. “Taking a few beets.” Günter hold his breath, watching… waiting. Beads of sweat roll down his temples and chest. Any minute now the farmer will attack. Günter will never forgive himself if his brother gets hurt—even if he is positively crazy. His eyes on the dog, Günter gets to his knees. He has to show himself, confess to the farmer that it was his idea. “Son, how old are you?” the old man is just saying. “Almost eighteen.” “You alone?” The farmer scans the dirt, which shows the fresh marks of dug-up roots. Hans remains silent. Günter shifts his weight. His knees ache. He can’t wait much longer. “You been in the war?” “Yes.” “Thought so.” With a sigh the man sets down his rifle. “Listen. You shouldn’t run around at all times of night. You’re liable to get killed. Just because the war is over doesn’t mean it’s safe.” Hans says nothing. Why don’t you move, Günter thinks. Do something. But he feels paralyzed just like his brother. To his surprise, the farmer stiffly drops to his knees and begins to yank and twist at the leaves, the bulbous roots pulling out easily. The farmer stuffs the beets into Hans’s arms. “Take these and get yourself home. Don’t come back. Next time you may not be so lucky.” Hans stumbles and nearly falls into the bushes. He keeps walking, having seemingly forgotten about his company. Günter watches the farmer walk off in the opposite direction. “Hans?” Günter whispers. “Over here.” “I can’t believe this,” Helmut says. “He got the beets for free. Didn’t even have to dig.” “Let’s go.” Günter races to catch up with his brother. “I’ll help you carry.” Hans hands over his beets in silence. As the gray of dawn crawls across the sky, they hike through the

woods. Günter keeps glancing at his brother but Hans never speaks. He used to be strong and order me around, Günter thinks. Now I’m the leader. Somehow he resents Hans’s slowness. As the first mottled light filters through the trees, Hans suddenly throws himself on the ground, his face pale as the birch bark behind him. “You all right?” Günter says. “Fine.” “You don’t look fine.” Hans blinks, his eyes shiny. “Leave me alone.” He rolls on his side, facing away from Günter. “What happened out there? You could’ve been killed.” Günter tries to control his breath. He is fuming. “Next time we’ll go without you.” “You almost got us caught,” Helmut says. “And shot.” Hans remains silent as if he hasn’t heard. Günter shrugs in frustration and grabs the beets. “Let’s go home. It isn’t far now.” Hans continues to lie on the ground. Running out of patience Günter taps him on the shoulder. “Come on.” His brother jerks and slaps hard at the hand, his eyes wild. “Ouch!” Günter yells. “Why did you punch me?” Hans’s eyes widen as he stares at Günter. “Sorry. I thought…” Günter rubs his fingers. His brother has turned into a crazy man with slumped shoulders and worn eyes. Helmut jumps to his feet. “Let’s go. I’m starving.” Günter is unsure what to do. Hans still hasn’t moved. It’s worse than caring for his baby brother. “Come on,” he finally says. “What’s wrong with him?” Helmut says. “Wonder what happened.” Hans sighs and mumbles something. Günter bends closer. “Why don’t you tell us?” Hans shakes his head. The silence between them stretches. Something rustles in the underbrush. Tired of waiting, Günter straightens. Helmut is right, they need to get home. But when he looks up, Hans is muttering. “…Brits got us near the Belgian border. We marched northeast to Mecklenburg.” Staring into the lifting darkness, his voice turns mechanical. “Mostly boys like me without experience—stupid. The older men got treated worse. Some were shot on the spot.” He falls silent. It has been the longest he’s spoken since his return.


Helmut has picked up the beets. “Let’s go.” Günter glances at his friend and shakes his head. “Where did you sleep?” he says turning his attention back to Hans. “In a field with watch towers and barbed wire. We dug holes in the ground to live. We’d fight over bits of cardboard or fabric to line the bottoms. When it rained, the holes filled with mud.” Günter spits out a blade of grass he’s been chewing. “That must’ve been terribly cold.” “Sometimes we’d get wood. We’d strip the trees until they looked bare like black bones.” “Sounds awful.” Günter slumps down, his eyes on his brother. “How large was the camp?” “Thousands. Many died. There were mass graves.” Hans picks up a stick and chews gingerly. Günter knows Hans’s teeth are loose. “Once you got diarrhea it was over. Guys just collapsed in the latrines.” “What did you eat?” As usual Günter is interested in food. Hans grimaces. “We received a couple of biscuits most days, sometimes a handful of dry beans.” “Beans? What did you do with them?” “We’d cook—if we had firewood.” Hans leans back with a sigh. “In the beginning when I made it up into a tree I mostly lost the wood. I’d throw the branches on the ground and somebody would grab them and run.” “I would’ve punched them,” Günter says, a fresh knot of anger forming in his stomach. “They threw you in the box for fighting.” “What box?” Helmut interjects. He’s sitting down, his back against a tree. “A metal container, pitch-black, you couldn’t stand in upright, or lay down for that matter. Some people were in there for weeks.” Hans stares into space, once again in camp. “When they came out, they were hunched like old men. I made friends with a boy from Frankfurt. He and I took up house together. It was safer that way, he helped protect our stuff. I’d climb on his shoulder to reach the branches.” “How did you cook?” Günter thinks of his own travels in the spring. “A tin can. You’d burn your fingers and we never got the beans very soft, but it was something warm.” Hans


shivers as if he were back north. “You’re here now, safe and sound. We’ll take care of you.” Günter looks up. The sky has turned blue and a chorus of birds fills the trees. It’ll be a beautiful day. “What happened to your friend?” Helmut asks. Hans turns paler, his chin quivering. “We better take you home,” says Günter. “Come on, I’ll help you up.” He holds out his hand in safe distance but Hans ignores him. “My friend is dead,” Hans mumbles. “He was trying to help me and they pushed him down.” “The Brits?” “Some gang. Rough guys. They took whatever they wanted. Real criminals. One of them stole my cup. It was enamel and better for cooking. I’d traded a load of wood for it. My friend came to help get it back, but they threw him on the ground. He hit his head on a rock. He lay there, bleeding and nobody did a thing.” Hans’s eyes shine. “Couldn’t you run away?” “Some tried. They were shot.” Hans wipes a sleeve across his face. “Damn war.” Günter looks at his older brother whose face looks pinched as if his skull has shrunken along with his muscles. “Let’s go home and eat.” Hans ignores him and begins to tremble. “Why?” he suddenly says. “Why what?” His stomach beyond growling, Günter suppresses the urge to yank Hans to his feet. “Hitler wanted to kill us all.” Despite its low tone, Hans’s voice is seething. “They knew and didn’t care. My friends are dead. My classmates…dead. For what?” Günter bites his lip. What can you say when your own country has betrayed you, sending fifteen- and sixteen -year-olds to be slaughtered, a government more evil than Brits and Russians combined. Looking down at his brother, he feels his sadness and fury like his own. Wordlessly, he holds out a hand. Hans finally takes it. “We’ve got sugar beets,” Günter yells as he storms into the kitchen. The first rays of sun reach bright fingers through the window. Earth sticks to his hands and shoes and he yearns for a bath. “We’ll have to keep an eye on him,” his mother says after Günter tells her about Hans. “I wish your father were home.”

Günter nods, not trusting himself to speak. Pressure is building in his throat. He swallows but the lump remains. The war ended two months ago, but his father has not returned. He’s been gone five years. What if he’ll act like Hans, the voice in Günter’s head whispers. Or not return at all. “I can’t believe the farmer gave Hans beets,” he finally says, clearing his throat. His mother dabs her eyes. “We’ll need wood to boil them.” With a sigh Günter picks up the saw. He longs for bed, but his hunger and need for distraction are stronger. The sugar beet syrup looks like black gold, a heavenly combination of earth and sun melded into liquid sweetness. Günter licks his lips to savor each drop. Across the table Hans has dribbled syrup on a piece of cornbread. His eyes are closed, his face relaxed as if asleep. Günter smiles.

Author’s Note: Sugar beet molasses are a regional specialty in Germany’s Rhineland. Günter’s father returned from the war, having walked on foot from the Balkans. Hans fully recovered from prison camp, married and has one daughter. He passed away in 2000. Günter still lives in Solingen. He is 85 years old. Annette Oppenlander loves telling stories about young guys thrown into interesting and challenging historical settings. She was inspired to write Escape from the Past: The Duke’s Wrath after watching her two boys grow into avid gamers and visiting the ruins of Castle Hanstein in Germany. Her second novel Escape from the Past 2: The Kid will be published by Lodestone Books in February 2016. She holds an MBA in marketing and market research and lives with her husband and mutt Mocha in Bloomington, Ind.

Mid-Autumn 2015 Escape From the Past: The Duke's Wrath

Escape From the Past: The Kid

When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he's sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn't realize that 1) He's been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into the actual past: anywhere and anytime. And 3) Survival is optional: to return home he must decipher the game's rules and complete its missions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in the past—forever. Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornets' nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.

Time-traveling gamer, Max, embarks on a harrowing journey through the Wild West of 1881!

A hugely entertaining and fast paced historical novel based on the absorbing idea of time travel. Max Anderson is playing a bootleg demo copy of a computer game when he suddenly finds himself transported back to medieval times – to the same German village where he lives but five hundred years earlier. Wearing jeans and trainers, he becomes known to the locals as Max Nerds, befriending the local swine-herder, Bero, and falling madly in love with his sister. Max has to adjust to the foreign smells (and stenches), oddly spiced food, language and attitudes of a feudal village. Being a likable and highly capable fellow, Max finds himself rising fast in society and becomes a guest of the brave local lord, Knight Werner. But not everyone likes Max and he makes powerful enemies who will stop at nothing to destroy him. “Escape From the Past” is superbly told and full of great characters who you will care for.

After a huge fight with his parents, Max tries to return to his love and his best friend, Bero, in medieval Germany. Instead he lands in 1881 New Mexico. Struggling to get his bearings and coming to terms with Dr. Stuler’s evil computer game misleading him, he runs into Billy the Kid. To his amazement Billy isn’t at all the ruthless killer history made him out to be.

Trouble brews when a dying Warm Springs Apache gives Max a huge gold nugget to help his sister, Ela, escape from Fort Sumner. Shopping for supplies Max attracts the attention of ruthless bandits. Before Max can ask the Kid’s help, he and Ela are forced to embark on a journey to find his imaginary goldmine. This is book 2 in the Escape from the Past trilogy. Escape from the Past: The Kid is a magical fictional mystery interwoven with historical facts and exciting adventures. The reader experiences the twists and turns of the story while gaining a greater appreciation of the challenges of life in the Wild West during the late 1800s. Max, a typical teenager of today, is thrown into a series of arduous challenges he must overcome in order to return to his former humdrum life. Along the way, he and we gain valuable insights and appreciation of the hardships encountered by the new western settlers and the Native American people amongst outlaws and the formidable desert climate of the New Mexico area. It's a thoroughly enjoyable experience you will not want to miss. ~ Richard Rafes, Ph.D., J.D., President of East Central University

~ Rob Dearden, Amazon Read more Read more


New Fiction for December


Mid-Autumn 2015

Ask ten writers to describe their editing methods and you’ll get ten different answers. No one way is right. And no way is necessarily wrong. Whatever your method, get the basics right and do things in the right order. There’s no point polishing your language if the structure is falling down in places. Never polish a mess. Fix it first. There are three stages or levels of editing. 1. Substantive editing: This covers every aspect of the overall structure – plot development, character portrayal, point of view, arrangement of scenes. 2. Line editing: This looks at style and continuity – consistency, choice of words, sentence construction. 3. Copyediting: This covers nuts and bolts details such as spelling and punctuation. Checklist Doing things in the right order The three-tiered approach to editing works. Begin by fixing the overall structure of your story or novel. Scenes, characters, pacing, viewpoint and setting all need to be as strong and well crafted as possible. Once the bones are right, and only then, work through the layers of details and language. There’s no point doing it the other way around. You’ll only double your workload. When you make basic changes it affects the whole work. For example, you may be putting the finishing touches by checking commas and notice a disproportionate amount of dialogue in some scenes. Once you’ve made this kind of change you’re back to square one. Substantive editing – Fixing the overall structure

Characters Is it clear who the main character is (particularly if you use multiple viewpoints)? What their purpose or goal is? Do they face enough challenges? Do you know your characters well enough? Are there any clichéd characters? Can original touches be added to round out any of the characters? How are characters introduced? Try to show them in action rather than tell us who they are. Do you describe the characters – or let their actions

speak for themselves? Do you say someone is angry or show them throwing a plate? Do you introduce too many characters at once? Are characters’ names well chosen? Do several characters have names beginning with the same initial? Too many hyphenated names can become confusing. Names that are universally plain can be a problem too. Names that weren’t used in that particular era can be confusing. There’s no need to name every single character. Omit names for ones who aren’t important to the plot. Does every character earn their place in the story? Is there a character who could be omitted without detracting from the story? Could two characters be amalgamated into one without losing anything? Does any character demand a stronger role? Would adding a new character strengthen the novel/ story? Perhaps a confidante for your hero or heroine? What’s at stake for your characters? Are they in danger of losing something that matters to them? Does every character want something? Do the needs/wants of the main characters shape the plot? Is there enough conflict? Does your main character change by the end of the story? Have they evolved as a person? Do we care enough about the characters? Are they interesting enough? Scenes Does your story have a definite beginning, middle and end? Is there a subplot? Does the story open with a strong hook? Does each chapter end with a hook? Would the story be stronger if the first scene were omitted? Are scenes presented in the right order? Could more conflict/ tension be created by rearranging them? Can any scenes be omitted? Is groundwork laid for later plot developments? Is back-story woven in seamlessly? Are there info dumps? Could these details vital be conveyed in other ways such as dialogue or interior monologue? Do characters disappear from too many consecutive scenes? If you’re writing a romance, the hero and


heroine need to stay on stage most of the time. Point of View Is it always clear who is speaking? Is there too much head hopping? How often do you alter point of view? Do you alter viewpoint character at a natural break such as the end of a chapter, rather than midway through which can confuse a reader? Would your story be stronger if you changed the viewpoint character? Would the story be more compelling if written in the first person instead of third? Does your viewpoint character know things they couldn’t know? See things they couldn’t see? Setting Is your story set in a recognisable well-described place/ s? Time period? Is it clear exactly when each scene occurs? This is particularly relevant if your story is set in different time frames. Are transitions from one setting to a different one seamless so readers know exactly where they are and when? Do you use different senses to describe locations? What’s the role of your setting? Does it affect your characters? Pacing Are short sentences used to build tension? Are longer descriptive ones used to slow the pace? Too much of either can bore your reader. Does the story sag in places? Does too much happen in too short a time frame? Plot holes Are there any gaps in the plot? Is it clear how A leads to B? You may need to add a scene so one action logically follows another. Line editing – Fixing the general style Sentence structure Is sentence structure varied? Watch for several consecutive sentences beginning with ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘I’. Are there too many consecutive short sentences? Are there too many consecutive long sentences? Are there too many consecutive sentences which begin with a long phrase? If it’s hard to read out loud, it needs to be changed. Details of character and plot Check plot details for continuity if you’ve changed scenes. Are your character descriptions consistent? Where a character’s name has changed, does the


original name still appear anywhere? Is a character referred to by different names? Perhaps a first name to begin with, then later by surname, or both? This can be, confusing. Dialogue Check your dialogue is natural and believable. Read it aloud. Simplify tags if necessary. ‘Said’ is fine. Are there places where they can be left out? Are there places where they’re needed? Is there ambiguity? If there are several men speaking, it’s not enough to use ‘he said’. Do you have characters doing something impossible? For example, “How are you?” he smiled. Avoid heavy use of dialect. It can make a story hard to read. Is there a balance between dialogue and narrative? Do characters mention something they both know simply because you need to convey this information? Do characters use each other’s names too often in dialogue? Adjectives and adverbs Make sure your manuscript isn’t top heavy with your favourite adverbs and adjectives. Question the inclusion of any word ending in –ly. Try to replace them with a stronger verb. ‘She spoke loudly’ can become ‘She shouted’. If you have two adjectives before a noun, choose the stronger one and delete the other. Note that stories in women’s magazines often use adverbs so check your target publication. Clichés Clichés are best avoided. Find your own metaphors and similes. Passive voice Try to avoid using passive voice. Watch for overuse of “was”, “were” and “that”. Show don’t tell Readers like to work things out for themselves. Don’t spell it all out. Leave something to the imagination. Physical senses – sight, touch, smell, taste, sound Include several senses when you describe a character or scene. Readability How does your story/chapter look on the page? Is there white space to break it up? Solid print consisting of long paragraphs can look unwelcoming to a reader. Copyediting – Fixing the nuts and bolts Check for spelling mistakes. Be careful of words that look similar but have different meanings – for example

Mid-Autumn 2015 affect, effect Punctuation – for example its, it’s Grammatical errors – for example, misusing their, they’re, there Are there any misplaced modifiers? Make sure each phrase is as close as possible to the noun or pronoun it describes. Is it clear which noun a pronoun refers to? Are there any commas that aren’t necessary? These can slow a sentence down. Check facts. Tip When you’ve worked through this checklist, put your manuscript away. Come back to it later with fresh eyes and do it all again. Glynis Scrivens is a full-time writer. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and newspapers in Australia, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, the US and Scandinavia. She is a regular contributor to UK magazine Writers' Forum, and has had articles published in Pets, Steam Railway, Ireland's Own, Writing magazine and The New Writer. Her work has appeared in eight anthologies, both fiction and non-fiction. Before she began writing, she taught English literature at the University of Queensland. She lives in Australia with her family and a menagerie of pets – two dogs, a cat, ducks, hens, lorikeets and a rat called Wilbur. When she needs fresh inspiration, Glynis spends time in her beach house on the Sunshine Coast. An excerpt from Compass Points - Edit is a Four-Letter Word

Great November eBook offer on Compass Points: Edit is a Four-Letter Word! Just 99p and 99c (may be subject to tax) on Amazon and other available platforms for the whole month of November! Compass Points - Edit is a Four-Letter Word How to create the best first impression All you need to know about polishing your fiction for today's competitive market

Practical, clear, easy to read and understand, Glynis’s book is perfect for those who quake at the thought of editing their work. In her no nonsense, no waffle account anyone who gets in muddle polishing their work will gain confidence as they journey through the pages of this book. It starts with the all important advice of when NOT to edit and leads us through the editing process to the point of knowing when to stop! Glynis has interviewed writers, editors, competition judges and literary agents for an overview of what good editing entails and it is interesting to see how other writers approach the editing process. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the various methods from different writers, which illustrated clearly that what works for one might not work for another. There is a confidence that comes from learning that there is no one right or wrong way just the way that works for you and this book offers it in abundance. There is a clear explanation of grammar, different types of editing, common mistakes and exercises to strengthen your editing skills. Her subtitle -How to Create the Best First Impression says it all. When sending out your work it needs to be polished and professional and with this book to hand you’ll be able to achieve that with ease. ~ Tracy Baines Amazon UK Amazon US


I am constantly surprised when people say I write erotica! It continues to amaze me because I thought I was just writing about real life! I mean isn’t sex a part of real life? So when I get labelled like this, it makes me wonder… Why is it so screwy to write about our sex lives? As you may know, I wrote a book called “Good Pussy Bad Pussy – Rachel’s Tale” in which I attempt to follow the beautiful and naive Rachel in her dangerous endeavor to be free, follow her heart and explore life and her sexuality! When I was writing the book, I considered it to be literary fiction. And I still do.


However…after the book came out, I discovered something really interesting! I realized that many people were, and are, calling the book “erotica” or “erotic fiction” or “xxx-rated fiction”. And I found out that this is how many, or maybe most, people frame this book and the work I am doing. Which I find really interesting – mainly because as I said, I didn’t think of any of these things when I was actually writing “Good Pussy Bad Pussy”. I didn’t have any of these labels in my head. I just thought I was writing a book about a woman who was exploring life and relationships and her sexuality. And I was doing it because I find the subject fascinating and also because I feel that our sexuality is just a normal part of our everyday lives. So I didn’t put what I was writing into any special category. But then I discovered that other people do – and I thought “What’s going on here? Why all the labels?

Mid-Autumn 2015 As far as I am concerned, my book is literary fiction!” Then something more happened: As part of my marketing plan to promote the book when it came out, I hired a tweet service to tweet about the book every day. Quite a few people responded to the tweets by saying “Good Pussy Bad Pussy” was the best book title ever! But then the tweet service suddenly said they’d been the victim of a vicious cyber attack on their site because of the book title and refused to tweet the book title anymore. And I thought “Wow! This is really amazing. Censorship of my book on social media because of the title!” And then I realized I should be proud because I had joined the illustrious group of writers like Henry Miller and D.H. Lawrence whose ground-breaking works of literature had been banned!

Interesting to notice that not everyone in the world has the same belief systems about sex as so many of us have here in the West. And yes, we certainly have a lot more sexual and artistic freedom here in the West than ever before. No doubt about that. And we should be eternally grateful for that. But obviously…we still have a long way to go…

So how did this matter end? For quite a while, the tweet service will only tweet about the book using an abbreviated title “GPBP – Rachel’s Tale”. When I told a friend that “Good Pussy Bad Pussy” had been censored to #GPBP, he said “I’m proud of you. It really takes some doing nowadays to have a work of literature censored.” But now, one year later, the tweet service has changed their mind again and is once again tweeting about the book using the full title! And I've written a second book entitled "Good Pussy Bad Pussy in Captivity" which they are also happily tweeting about! Interesting isn't it? So what’s all the hullabaloo about anyway? When you think about it, not only is sex completely normal and natural, sex and our sexuality is probably the strongest human drive of all. So as far as I’m concerned, the real question is not whether or not what I write is so-called “erotica” but why we categorize and separate sex like we do from the rest of our lives? I recently read that Timothy Clark, curator at the British Museum Shunga exhibition, said in an interview about the museum’s latest exhibition of Japanese erotic art: “The division between art and obscene pornography is a Western concept. There was no sense in Japan that sex or sexual pleasure was sinful.” Now isn’t that interesting?

A. Aimee is a modern woman and international author who is writing in the great tradition of women authors who want the freedom to openly and honestly explore controversial issues concerning women, sex, women’s liberation, sexual freedom, women’s rights to their own bodies, relationships, and the changing role of women in the world today. Aimee is the author of Good Pussy Bad Pussy – Rachel's Tale and Good Pussy Bad Pussy in Captivity published by Soul Rocks an imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd.


I've been in sales for as long as I can remember. I love trade shows, I sold CDs at computer shows, and now I sell Real Estate. But I never had to sell my own stuff before, so when I sat at my first book signing I suddenly hit a brick wall. How in the world am I going to say complimentary things about my own book without sounding like a complete jerk? "Oh, it's really good..." "You're going to like it..." "It has a great plot..." One by one those clever remarks went by the wayside. The best I could squeeze out was "It got good reviews..." which sounded so lame I had to give that up too. Standing there and smiling didn't help much, and when someone did pick up a book, I had to fight the impulse to pounce on them. After all, they are reading the back cover, for goodness sake. I don't want to interrupt that! But I want to encourage them. So what should I do? Turn my back and leave them in peace? Ignore them? Stare at them? There's usually no one else to talk to, so I can't coyly indulge in conversation while they decide, although when available I'll choose that option. I've gotten four shows under my belt by now, and I think I've finally started to get the hang of it. First of all, I realized that each book requires a one-sentence description. If I couldn't sum up the book in one sentence, I usually lost the prospective buyer. Well, I could do it in two sentences, but the shorter the sound bite, the better. However, that approach, although necessary, is not sufficient by itself. If they don't have a point of reference (I thought the word Macbeth would do the job, but about half the time I am sadly disappointed. You never know.), I need to do something else to catch their attention. So I also learned that the sound-bite has to


come after I have engaged them in conversation, not before. There's the rub. How do I engage them in conversation? The weather usually doesn't lead to a book discussion. Nor does their dress, the stuff they are eating, the cute kid, or what they are carrying. This has all been trial and error. Finally, the other weekend, I stumbled across a new angle. At least for now my books are historical fiction, specifically about 11th century Britain. This is not an era on the top of everyone's list. Even the Battle of Hastings often draws a blank stare. Forget about King Canute and the Danish Invasion. That's beyond ancient history. In frustration, I started telling people that I thought it was my own personal mission to make people aware of these great events from 1000 years ago. Imagine my shock when they started paying attention! Voila! A new sound bite! During the course of the day, I finetuned my banter until I was drawing crowds like a good old-fashioned medieval hawker (okay, I exaggerate. But I did have a little crowd once). As someone slowed near my table, I announced earnestly that "I was bringing back the eleventh century one book at a time." A few people smiled embarrassedly at me and slipped away, but many more stood and thought for a second. That was enough for me to explain the purpose of historical fiction: to make it easy for the reader to learn history. My books contain real people and real events, and when those words came out of my mouth my prospective fans were suddenly interested. I think people love "true stories". I explained that especially 1000 years ago, we were lucky to get a one-sentence description of an event out of a historian, and it's up to the historical novelist to extrapolate the why, where, and how. You know, it seemed to me that many people had never

Mid-Autumn 2015 thought about it that way. Even if they didn't buy a book, they lingered at my booth which encouraged someone else to step up (while I was distracted, of course). A few actually did buy a book after I summed it all up with my one-sentence sound bite. Some were interested in history and had kept it a secret from me. But the biggest surprise is that many of them bought a book without even looking at it. That certainly warmed my heart. So I think I'm on to something. People seem to want to hear about the creative process. They want to know how a writer thinks, what makes us decide on a subject. Perhaps if I learn how to sell the concept of historical fiction, I'll sell more books by accident. I've got a couple more events lined up next month, and I'll have a chance to work on my new theory. Or maybe a better solution will come along!

Mercedes Rochelle was born in St. Louis MO and has a degree from University of Missouri. She learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. Mercedes is the author of Godwine Kingmaker: Part One of the Last Great Saxon Earls and Heir to a Prophecy. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.



The writing process covers so much ground, from the moment we get the idea for a story, right through the various stages of planning, writing, revising, editing and proofreading, that it’s no wonder we sometimes lose our way. Oh, if only I could just write, most authors moan, without all the boring stuff standing between me and publication. In fact, once the writer has completed the final draft, the copy-editing and proofreading are best left to professionals anyway. But when it comes to starting the project, you’re the captain of the ship and have a decision to make: how much, or how little, do you want to plan in advance? Picture the scene. You’ve got your idea and found a place where you can write undisturbed. If you’re lucky, your fingers will move magically over the keyboard and, almost without any effort on your part, you’ll have the first chapter done and dusted in time to pick the kids up from school. On the other hand, you might be staring into space, thinking, ‘How on earth do I start?’ Good question, and one which might have a different answer according to whether you’re a ‘pantster’, a ‘plotter’, or a bit of both. The word ‘pantster’ has arisen from the expression ‘flying by the seat of one’s pants’. It’s when the writer starts out with a story premise and then lets the characters take the action hither and thither without mapping out events in advance. Stephen King is in favour of this approach. In the following quote from his book On Writing, he calls plot a ‘noisy jack hammer’. ‘I want to put a group of characters (perhaps a pair; perhaps even just one) in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free. My job isn’t to help them work their way free, or manipulate them to safety – those are jobs which require the noisy jack hammer of plot – but to watch what happens and then write it down. The situation comes first. The characters – always flat and unfeatured, to begin with – come next. Once these things are fixed in my mind, I begin to narrate. I often have an idea of what the outcome may be, but I have never demanded of a set of characters that they do things my way. On the contrary, I want them to do things their way. In some instances, the outcome is what I visualized. In most, however, it’s something I never expected.’ I recognize this style of writing, because I have to admit


that I am more pantster than plotter. I tend to know what will happen at the beginning of the story and have a rough idea of the ending, but often get stuck in the middle. This is a common danger of working without a plan – which would have outlined, for instance, when conflict arises and between whom; or perhaps, at which point in the story to introduce a new character. As for the plotter method, as the name suggests, it’s about planning a structure upon which the story can be superimposed. It can take the form of computer spreadsheets or notebook scribbles; if there’s enough space and your loved ones don’t object, wall charts, even! J. K. Rowling is a plotter. She used handwritten ‘spreadsheets’, divided into columns for planning chapters, timelines, main plots and sub-plots for the Harry Potter series. It’s clear that working with such a large cast of characters, stretching across seven books, she couldn’t possibly have managed without a scheme of some sort, to ensure that everything tied in with previous books. In her case, plotting was essential. But it is recognised that too much plotting can be confining and can sometimes end up giving the work a formulaic feel. I prefer to call the plotters ‘planners’, because the plot is only one aspect of what can be planned. Characters and settings could also be fleshed out at this stage. As a pantster, I don’t create every character in advance. I list characters as they appear, giving minimum details such as date of birth, relationship to the protagonist and physical appearance. Some writers fill out character profiles in much more detail, but as long as I can see and hear them in my head, that’s enough for me. I also type a list of locations. I didn’t know, when I wrote the first book, that two more would follow with the same main character, so this list came in handy when she revisited some of her old haunts and meant I didn’t need to trawl through the books themselves. Last, but not least, are chapter summaries. After each chapter, I heave a sigh and open the summary document. Encapsulating what I’ve just written is the last thing I want to do at two o’clock in the morning (it’s 1:40 a.m. as I write this!), but it’s invaluable for a quick reminder. It’s also important to keep earlier chapter summaries updated. Pantsters’ characters will sometimes change: someone who is warm and friendly early

Mid-Autumn 2015 on might have to be converted to being cold and distant to fit in with some action later in the book. I’ve even erased minor characters completely if they didn’t go on to fulfil any dramatic function in later chapters. I don’t think I’ll transform into a plotter now – I like the excitement of letting the ‘actors’ in my dramas plot their own course. I recently read an article featuring a writer’s eight pointers for a successful novel. They are as follows: 1. Character 2. Wants something 3. Enters new world 4. Adapts to it 5. Gets what (s)he wants 6. Suffers as a result 7. Returns to ordinary world 8. Changes as a result. Out of curiosity, I applied this template to my latest novel, Pandora’s Gift, and it fitted perfectly. But that didn’t stop the pantster in me moaning, Does that mean I’ll have to write the same novel again with different char-

acters? Boring! Whichever way your writing brain takes you when embarking on your next piece of work, I hope the process turns out to be both enjoyable and effective. Pandora’s Gift, the third in the Pandora series comes out on 11 December 2015. Carolyn Mathews has a BA in English Literature and an MA in English Language Teaching and Linguistics. Born in London, of Irish parents, she became a management trainee for a Greater London Borough, gave it up to work in a Spanish nightclub, and finally became an English lecturer, producing books and plays for language students along the way. A member of the Society of Authors, her interest in contemporary spirituality informs and influences her fiction. She currently lives in Hertfordshire.


‘Tea?’ My husband David asked me. He was dressed in slim-cut black jeans, topped by a smart burgundy and white checked shirt. He normally wore baggy cords and a sloppy polo shirt at home. Despite his salt and pepper hair, he looked young and fresh. As he reached for the tea caddy, I caught an unexpected whiff of the citrus aftershave I'd bought him for Christmas. ‘Please. You look nice. Going somewhere?’ I chirped. He hadn't mentioned any plans. He filled the kettle. I took the milk out of the fridge, and he busied himself making tea. I noticed that he hadn't answered my question. 'What's Kyle going to do?' I sank into a chair at the dining table. 'It’s a mess.' ‘True, but it’s his mess,' he said, as he placed a slice of bread in the toaster. I usually loved our weekend breakfasts, yet recently, I'd been too churned up to eat. Last month, out of the blue, Kyle, our 25-year-old son, turned up on the doorstep after walking out of his degree course. I couldn't understand it, because he'd worked so hard for his place at uni. It had meant so much to him. He'd sacrificed nights out with friends, missed family meals and football matches and given music gigs a swerve too. He had a strong, clear goal, and I was pleased and relieved that he’d given girls the 'I'm not available right now' message. The person I automatically called on for advice was my neighbour and friend, Marla. Yet this time, I couldn't – because apparently, Marla and Kyle had got a thing going. Yesterday, when I was ironing, I saw Kyle visit her. It wasn’t the first time, either.


He hadn't told me the reason for his visits. There was no 'I'm popping round to Marla's to borrow a book' or whatever. It hurt. It hurt that he'd kept it secret. Oh why had he chosen Marla? Her, of all people? I felt disappointed and despondent. I liked Marla – I've always liked her – yet somehow, I couldn't picture the four of us playing at Happy Families. A widow my age, I clicked with her right from the word go. Ever since she’d moved in, in fact. Marla was a warm, down to earth, astute woman, who carefully tended her garden and enjoyed long rambles in the country. She had a deep throaty chuckle that instantly raised the spirits. She was a really good listener, too. She was my closest friend, yet sometimes I wondered … was I hers? Without naming any names, I'd tried discussing it with David, but he’d quickly cut in, 'For god's sake, Helen, he's bound to find a proper girlfriend at some point', so wisely, I hadn't pursued it. However, on this bright warm morning, I was determined to reopen the dialogue. 'We need to do everything we can to help him get back on track,' I said. 'Mmm.' David leaned against the worktop and closed his eyes against the sun streaming through the window. I hoped that he didn't practice this 'shut out' gesture with his clients. When David was made redundant, it was Marla who encouraged him to change career. ‘Why not train to become a counsellor?’ she suggested. She was one herself and worked from home. So he did. It took years of studying and of

course it was difficult financially, yet he stuck with it and with my fulltime admin job, we coped. I was content to be the main breadwinner – after all, David had taken on this role for long enough. He had finally graduated last year. I was very proud. Marla was kind enough to pass on a few clients, but I'd noticed the prominent white spaces in David's appointment diary. I’d nipped round to hers yesterday with a newsletter from the local neighbourhood watch. Suddenly, she was busy with a new influx of private clients. There was no time for me. Yet I hadn’t seen any new clients. Why was she lying to me? Who or what was taking up her time? It wasn't work, so it must be Kyle. Scared to face me, she was avoiding me. And I daren't question Kyle. I was afraid of hearing the answer. The kitchen clock ticked. My hubby munched his toast and I sipped my tea. It wasn't a comfortable silence. Kyle broke it when he wandered in, chest bare, yawning and scratching his thick mop of brown hair. His mobile rang in his pyjama bottoms pocket. I marvelled over the fact that my son kept his mobile in his pyjama pocket. He wandered out to the hall to answer. I wondered if it was a girl phoning him. Was it Marla? I turned to David. ‘Good jobs are scarce. He’ll end up washing-up in a pub.’ He didn't comment, so I took another tack. ‘What would Marla say?’ I murmured. David smiled. ‘She’d say, 'Let’s look at the options.'’ I pounced. ‘What options?’ He shrugged. ‘A college course?

Mid-Autumn 2015 Voluntary work? He’s free to pursue any path he chooses.’ I sighed. David was refusing to face reality. An unexpected burst of anger erupted. ‘Voluntary work won't pay him a salary, will it?' I shoved the loaf back in the cupboard. ‘He could be happy washing-up in a pub. Perhaps we’ve put too much pressure on him. He’s still young, he needs time to find himself.’ I recognised the personal development jargon, yet I didn’t comment. I wanted to grasp his hand. I wanted to say, 'Look, I’m desperately worried, please – just listen—' It appeared that I was the one taking on all the parental responsibility in this. That jolted me. Had David stopped caring about Kyle? About me? Kyle shuffled back in the room. ‘Any tea going?’ I poured some into his favourite mug, the Manchester United one. David left the room, and the mood instantly became lighter. ‘So,’ I picked my words carefully

‘Have you thought about what you’re going to do?’ ‘Marry a rich, older woman,’ he put in. ‘I’ll be her toy boy. We’ll sail around the world on luxury cruises. Eat the best food and drink the finest wines.’ I shuddered at the thought. I was aware of a lot of movement from above. What an earth was David doing? ‘I’ve just had a very interesting phone call,’ he said. 'What about?' ‘I was looking at a jobs website last week and I found a vacancy for a trainee estate agent. I applied for it and then I was called for interview,’ he outlined casually. What? ‘Really? Why didn’t you tell me this before?’ ‘I wasn’t sure if I'd get offered the job.’ I held my breath. ‘And?’ He grinned. ‘I’ve got it!’ ‘Brilliant!’ I hugged him tight, and suddenly my anxiety drained away, like water swirling down a sink. I felt hugely relieved. Oh I couldn’t wait to tell David! I was about to call up to him

when the doorbell rang. Still smiling, I dashed out to the hall. It was probably the postman. Kyle followed. I frowned. Was he expecting someone? David thundered down the stairs. He was carrying a suitcase. It was the big blue one we used for last year's holiday in Menorca. A suitcase? My head spun. ‘What’s going on?’ I whispered. ‘I’m so sorry, mum,’ Kyle said. ‘I begged her to let him go.’ Then, painfully, bit by bit, the pieces slotted in. The smart attire. The unanswered questions. The constant dismissive remarks. The emotional distance. The awkward silences. The parrot-Marla talk. My heart hammered as David flung open the door. Marla stood there. She smiled up at him. David took her hand, and together, they walked away.

The Nature of Poetry As we all know, poetry is a statement in words about human experience. It differs from prose because it is written in metrical and rhythmically stressed language. Of course any good prose is rhythmical up to a certain point but any cadence that is not controlled by a definite measure is likely to be loose and unsubtle. Poetry, like music, is based on a chosen metre or pattern of sound, whether traditional or radical. It is metre that gives the poet a way of containing and therefore sharpening the rhythmic emotion in the poem more precisely. In this way poetic language is structured to simultaneously express meaning and emotion. This is why poetry is so effective and affecting. As with music there are different ways to receive a poem that may well affect our response. Do you prefer to listen to poetry or to read it silently, or do you like someone to read it to you? Do you think by silently reading a poem you can appreciate every aspect of it? If you hear it spoken does the poem pass too quickly for you to respond accurately? When you read a poem aloud does your voice get in the way or do you feel more involved? Why don’t you take one of your favourite poems and become aware of what is going on in your head and heart when you try

Susan Skinner different ways of receiving it. The French poet Paul Valéry thought a poem should be recited rhythmically like a song or a chant. What do you think? One thing is certain. In many ways poetry is as near to music as it is to prose. She sits between them, a glamorous singer who enchants us with her sensitivity to both words and sounds.

Susan Skinner has published eighteen books, three for children with reading difficulties, translated the text of a French picture book, written five novels for older children, (KINGSHOLT will be published in December by Our Street Books) and had published four collections of poetry. She has illustrated her own choice of poems and prayers from round the world and illustrated and assembled a book of graces and abridged two classics. She finished and edited a book on Edward Johnson, Calligrapher, when her brother died. She and her husband had three children and took on four children when her sister died. Susan now lives alone with her dog Alfie. Website:


A philosophically-inclined wit once inquired into the difference between having God speak to one in a dream and dreaming about God. This metaphysical query is the basis of this article on Mind-Body-Spirit books in general and my own writing in particular.

authors of the software and get them to explain to me all of the interactions and functions until I understood everything for myself. This was an absolute requirement! Knowledge of subject

Let’s assume for a moment that I am a ‘successful’ author (by which I mean that I have written books that are acknowledged as ‘worthy’ rather than that I have made much money from the pursuit!) There are effectively two elements to this success: A) being able to write, and B) being knowledgeable about the subject-matter of the books. If I am deemed to have achieved those accomplishments, what were the principal factors? Writing ability Three elements have influenced this: a deprived childhood, an enquiring mind and a good education. By ‘deprived,’ here I mean ‘socially deprived’. There were no other children of my age in the neighbourhood. I had to provide my own entertainment. This was mainly achieved by reading around three books per week from the library throughout most of my childhood and adolescence. Mostly SF, I concede, but I also graduated to some traditional and modern classics as well as a little non-fiction. This had the effect of developing a wide vocabulary (I always looked up new words in the dictionary) and an appreciation of how to put those words together in an interesting and informative manner. This academic style of leisure activity both supported and enhanced my education and my attitude to it, so that I gained a scholarship to a prestigious school. There, I was obliged to study Latin. Although I did not at all appreciate it at the time, this provided an understanding of the underlying structure of words and the importance of correct grammar. On leaving university, having spent the previous 10 years specialising in Chemistry, I got a job as a computer programmer. Some years later, I discovered that I had a hitherto unrealised skill for explaining difficult concepts, when I was asked to write a manual to explain the functioning of the software in a complex telecommunications system. Provided that I could fully understand the intricacies myself, I found that I was able to break things down into their fundamental elements and document this knowledge in such a way as to educate others. But, in order to reach that stage, I had to sit down with the


I also have my education to blame for this aspect, to some degree. Since it was an all-male school, in addition to the woeful social skills that I had gathered earlier, my ability to interact with the alien female of the species was virtually non-existent. This shortcoming significantly helped to bring about my general dissatisfaction with life and engendered an interest in philosophy and matters spiritual, to try to fathom some meaning and purpose. I floundered for some years in the mass of miscellaneous material available before I finally became aware of Advaita. Again, it took some years even to find out what exactly this was about, since there was (and still is to some extent) a dearth of books on the subject. Having decided that I sincerely wanted to understand this teaching, I soon discovered that there is actually only one process for achieving this. Shankara, who is the principal historical teacher of Advaita and responsible for making it more generally available in around the 8th century CE, states it as follows: Listen to the teaching (from someone who is qualified to give it); ask questions to remove all doubts; dwell on what you have learned until it is completely assimilated. This poses an immediate problem: how does one find a ‘suitably qualified’ teacher? Such a person has to know the scriptures inside out, understand Sanskrit, and (most importantly) be able to explain it to a ‘suitably qualified’ seeker. This level of knowledge is really only available to someone who has studied for a long time with another, already-qualified teacher. I have received emails from seekers all over the world asking if I can recommend a good teacher in their area. I am rarely able to oblige. If you live in India, there is no problem. If you live in one of the major cities of the civilised world, there is a possibility. Others have only two choices: relocate or resort to reading and the Internet, as I had to do. Experience and Knowledge Writing about ‘spiritual’ matters is fraught with language problems. Many authors in the MBS category are presumably attempting to communicate their ‘experiences’ of whatever topic they write about. I say

Mid-Autumn 2015 ‘presumably’ because I freely admit that I have not read any of those books that claim to use extrasensory means of acquiring information, whether from angels or crystals or any other source. This is not because I believe such books are entirely fictional. But, even if they are based on what the writer believes to be fact, it is simply not possible to communicate experience in an unambiguous manner. Experience is ultimately ineffable; only masters of fiction write about it with any degree of success. To some degree, even ‘objective’ data suffer from these problems. After all, unless we are talking about the axiomatic or mathematically defined, even physical ‘facts’ are observer dependent or relative to the frame of reference. Attributes of objects depend upon the nature and acuity of the senses that perceive them, as well as on individual prior knowledge and experience. Thus it is that anyone attempting to describe or teach a system of philosophy needs to tread very carefully, as it were, when they speak or write. I actually began my first book, ‘The Book of One’, in a similar spirit to that with which I had approached the Technical Manual; I wanted to reach that level of understanding with respect to the teaching of Advaita. And the process was the same – read extensively, ask lots of questions of others more knowledgeable than me. I began in relative ignorance but acquired more and more understanding as I continued. I often encountered views that were mistaken, maybe because the writer was still following a similar path. But, over time, the correct views were reinforced by constant repetition from different sources and the erroneous ideas were discarded. There was the constant need to be alert to the dangers, cross-referencing every new source against previously read material, looking for reinforcing or contradictory views, and always exercising doubt and reason to question and validate new information. The vast amount of research I conducted on ‘Book of One’ enabled me subsequently to write ‘Back to the Truth’, since I had collected hundreds of excellent references from other sources. This process has been the cornerstone of all of my books. ‘A-U-M – Awakening to Reality’ is an exposition of a book I had read some 25 years earlier. I recognised its importance at the time but was quite unable to understand it, or to find anyone who could explain it to me. In researching it, I acquired virtually every book (in English) that had been written, including several that had extremely low print runs in India. And I listened to hundreds of hours of talks from acknowledged experts. The annotated bibliography in the book runs to 34 pages. Without such background research, discovering the truth from those who already know it, it is impossible to write books such as these in other than a cynical manner. Of course, there are those who are perfectly aware that what they write is little better than fiction, but their livelihood depends upon persuading others through their books and lectures. Some may genuinely delude themselves also but there will always be complete

charlatans in any field. The advice I would give to any seeker-of-truth, whether via a proven path such as Traditional Advaita or via some of the more recent, questionable paths is as follows. Only accept and give credence to books that provide knowledge that seems to be authentic, and which include lots of references that can be checked. Such books must also not be contrary to reason and need to provide convincing arguments if they are to change one’s views. If a book is constantly saying ‘this is what I have found,’ ‘I believe,’ ‘it has been my experience’ etc – by all means read it (if you must) but take all that is said with a large pinch of salt and look for a book that does not rely on such tactics. Remember the premise of this article: Experience equips one to write fiction; knowledge equips one to write non-fiction.

Following an education in Chemistry and a career in Software, Dennis Waite has become a recognized authority on the non-dual philosophy of Advaita. He has published six books on the subject including The Book of One (2010), Back to the Truth (2007), Enlightenment: the Path through the Jungle (2008) and Advaita Made Easy (2012). His novel Time for the Wind is to be published by Cosmic Egg Books on December 11th. He maintains the most popular website on Advaita at


Short Stories


Bath Flash Fiction Award

Grey Hen Poetry Chapbook Camp

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£1000 prize for the winner, £300 second and £100 third. Two commendations. 300 word limit, details in the Rules. Each award runs for 4 months. £7.50 for one entry (until Midnight UTC 13th December 2015, £9 thereafter).£12 for two entries (until Midnight UTC 13th December 2015, £15 thereafter).£18 for three entries (effectively £6 each, price held throughout competition). Free entry can be earned via our weekly micro competition Ad Hoc Fiction.

Prizes: Chapbook publication. Entry fee: £10. Looking for: A selection of poetry by women 60+. Closing date: 30th November 2015. Click here for more information The Plough Prize Prizes: £1,000, £500, £250. Entry fee: £5. Looking for: Poems, up to forty lines. Closing date: 30th November 2015.

Enfield Poets International

Click here for more information

Prizes: £500, £200, £100. Entry fee: £4, £10 for three poems. Looking for: Poems up to 50 lines on any subject.

For published and aspiring writers alike - enter the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2016 short story competition and you could win:   

a cash prize of £500 a place on an Arvon residential writing course of your choice publication of your story on

All you have to do is enter a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words, on the theme of 'ageing' and email to with "WAYB16 competition" as the subject line.

Closing date: 1st December 2015.

For more information click here.

Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize Prizes: £1,750 purse, plus publication by Waywiser in UK and USA, and a reading with the judge at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., in the autumn 2016. Entrants should not have published more than one full-length previous collection of poems, though they may have published an unlimited number of books belonging to other genres. Full details on website. Entry fee: £15, £17 online, $27. Closing date: 1st December 2015.

Closing date: 15th February 2016 Click here for more information


Petworth Festival Literary Weekend

Five days of insight, stimulating discussion and entertainment in the company of leading authors and public figures as they talk about their books, answer questions and sign copies of their work. John Suchet, David Starkey, Andy McNab, Terry Waite, Alan Johnson, Lauren Child, Christian Hill and more. 4– 8 November, 2015 Leconfield Hall Petworth, St Marys Church, Petworth, West Sussex Click here for more information Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival (Ham & High)

For more information click here.

The current Award closes Midnight UTC February 14th 2016.

Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2016 Short Story Competition

Literary Events

For more information click here.

The Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival (Ham and High) is a 4-day festival celebrating the area's rich literary heritage. Most of the authors come from North London, including many big names. Andrew Marr, Deborah Moggach (right), Lisa Jewell, Booker-Prize nominee Stephen Kelman, Melvyn Bragg and Iain Pears – plus award-winning crime fiction writers Friday 13 - Monday 16 November, 2015, South Hampstead High School 3 Maresfield Gardens London NW3 5SS Click here for more information Bridport Literary Festival

Sunday 8th to Sunday 15 November 2015 Various venues around Bridport, West Dorset Click here for more information

New Fiction for November


Writer's Wheel Magazine Issue 7 Mid-Autumn 2015  

In this issue, Roderick Vincent discusses the changing character of literary fiction in "Writing Dystopian". In "Symbolism and Motif in Your...