Tag Archives: #amreading

Writing together – a novel experience (1)

I don’t think I’d be very good as a co-author. I struggle to compile a shopping list with my husband without getting irritated, and as for joint authorship of friendly little missives on the Christmas and birthday cards we send out – don’t go there!

So I’m always very impressed when I hear about two or more people collaborating on a novel – especially when it all works out and their work gets published. Even more so if they are – and remain – married.

There are plenty of examples of successful collaborations. To start with a couple of married couples: there’s the British couple Nicci Gerrard and Sean French who write psychological thrillers together under the pseudonym Nicci French. There are also the children’s books authors Janet and Allan Ahlberg – although maybe they were able to maintain marital harmony by dividing their labours, with Janet doing the illustrating and Allan the writing.

Although the books were published under one name, the famous jockey Dick Francis always acknowledged Mary, his wife, in each book. She is widely credited with licking his prose into shape after he came up with the plot ideas. When she died he collaborated with his son, Felix.

Sometimes writers who are famous in their own right get together on a joint work with considerable success, as did Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (Good Omens). Despite his diagnosis of dementia, Pratchett continued writing until he died, including writing the Long Earth Series with Stephen Baxter.

The most recent, and well publicised, collaboration is that between former president Bill Clinton and James Patterson who worked together on The President is Missing.

Ann Evans and Rob Tysall

Robert D. Tysall and Ann Evans

I haven’t had the chance to interview Bill and James, to find out how their collaborative efforts were for them. But on my blog on the 8th August the children’s, romance, and thriller author Ann Evans and her co-writer Robert D. Tysall (better known as a musician and photographer) will be answering questions about their new novel-writing partnership.

  • Was their recent collaboration on a novel successful?
  • Are they still speaking to each other?
  • Let alone still working together?

Find out by reading my next blog…

 

Links to my books

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

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Are you in a Reading Slump?

I’m not sure if it’s the hot weather, moral turpitude, or advancing years, but I’ve been struggling to read much recently. Reassuringly though, I have just read an on-line article from the Times and Sunday Times, and find I am not alone. Help is at hand so, if you are struggling too, here are some of the tips sent in by readers:
Sleeping_Reader1 Read something short. The speedy sense of achievement will fill you with motivation to read more.
2 Reread a favourite childhood book to reconnect with the excitement of reading as a kid.
3 Try an audiobook.
4 Read a short-story collection. Easy to pick up and put down again.
5 Don’t feel guilty about abandoning books. Keep picking up new things until you find something that engages you.
6 Reread a “comfort” book. Something you’ve read before and know you love.

I am going to try out a few of these tips next week when I take a short break. (Maybe it will rain and I will have to stay in and make my own entertainment as there is no Internet on site).

I am also struggling to write much at the moment. The story-line is coming along nicely in my head, but is refusing to find its way onto paper or screen. So I’m taking an empty note-pad and plenty of pens with me and hope that, along with finding the mojo to read a bit more, I will actually put one of the said pens to paper.

Links to my books (in case you are looking for something pretty short to read!)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

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https://twitter.com/meegrot

 

How to be a prize-winning author.

Anne TylerAnne Tyler is an American writer who has written twenty-two novels, won the Pulitzer prize, been shortlisted for the Booker prize, and had one of her books turned into an Oscar winning film. Her latest book, Clock Dance, has just been published and is likely to sell well. Very well – she has a huge following of both male and female readers and has sold more than ten million books since she started writing over fifty years ago.

Unlike most novelists, who are encouraged / expected by their publisher to seize every opportunity to promote their books she has, for the past forty years, refused to go on book tours or appear on chat shows. Her books sell largely on her reputation, and positive critical reviews. She will, however, allow the occasional newspaper interview and recently talked about her writing technique to Louise France.

The author has a small office in her home where she stores her ideas for novels on index cards and jots down the initial outline for each novel on one page. She writes the first draft in longhand, with a black gel pen, onto blank sheets of A4 paper. Numerous revisions are then made to the handwritten draft before she feels pleased enough with her work to type it into her computer.

But that is only the start! She then re-writes it in longhand and, after that, reads it out loud into a recorder so she can pick up what still doesn’t sound right, make further changes and, finally, pull together a manuscript she is satisfied is ready to go to her publisher.

Anne Tyler is already well into her twenty-third novel. Recently she has given up writing all day. She writes in the morning and allows herself to read other people’s work in the afternoon. She reads fiction and doesn’t like memoirs, finding them too intrusive into real people’s lives. Perhaps a fitting stance for someone who is so unassuming about her own fame and talent, and who recently described novel writing as “A very odd way of making a living. Just telling lies.”

Odd it maybe, but it’s worked for her! Though, if her technique is anything to go by, it is certainly not an easy option. Writing a prize-winning novel is hard work.

 

 

My Amazon author pages and other social media links

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

Facebook: fb.me/margaretegrot.writer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/meegrot

 

 

 

The Restorative power of reading.

readers

Can you read to make yourself a better person? Laura Freeman thinks so. In fact she’s written a whole book about it – The Reading Cure: How Books Restored My Appetite. I haven’t read her book – yet, but I’ve read several reviews and it sounds like it’s a book for me. I’ve also recently read an article by her in The Times. Like her I find the concept of mindfulness to relax makes my teeth grind and I end up wanting to punch someone. Especially when the idea behind it feels to me like a process for emptying your mind rather than filling it – mind-less-ness, as it were, rather than mindful. (Don’t write in, I know other people swear by it, and it’s only my opinion).

Laura’s cure, like mine, for sleepless nights, unwelcome thoughts, generalised agitation? Read a book! Ie. fill your mind with something bigger and better than your own quotidian concerns. In her support she quotes the Irish author and founder of the ecology movement, John Stewart Collis, who in his memoir The Worm Forgives the Plough says:

He who seeks happiness can find it in two ways. He can find it in sports or working the land. He can also find it when the mind is absorbed and the body forgotten. This happens when reading a great book: on such occasions we as good as leave our bodies and go on a journey without them. Few if any pleasures excel this. [This is the way to quell] the restless body and the wandering lunatic mind.

Reading can be addictive. But it is a ‘good’ addiction, unlike many medicines, and the side effects (new knowledge, a good laugh, a cathartic cry …) are almost always beneficial. Also, what with libraries offering books for free, charity shops selling books for pennies, and the bookshelves of friends and family just begging you to peruse them, it’s a lot cheaper hobby / cure than yoga or meditation classes. Even, dare I say it, if you splash out and buy a brand new book you still get good value for money, as you will gain for yourself hours of detachment / distraction from the daily grind, and a book can remain with you in a tangible form to read again or share with others.

My Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO              

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO 

solstice logo (1)

 

Meet Nuzo Onoh – the Queen of African Horror

 Nuzo Onoh is a British writer of African-Igbo heritage. Popularly known as “The Queen Nuzo 3of African Horror,” Nuzo was born in Enugu, in the Eastern part of Nigeria (formerly, The Republic of Biafra). She experienced the Nigerian-Biafran war as a child refugee, an experience that has influenced some of her works. She first came to England as a teenager and attended The Mount School, York, (a Quaker boarding school) and St Andrew’s Tutorial College, Cambridge, from where she obtained her A-levels. She holds a Law Degree and a Masters Degree in Writing, both from The University of Warwick, Warwickshire.

Nuzo has been championing the alternative horror genre, African Horror, and has featured on multiple media platforms both online and offline, promoting this unique horror genre. She is included in the reference book, 80 Black Women in Horror and her writing has also featured in multiple anthologies. She has written several blogs for Female First Magazine and has also given talks at several events about African Horror, including the prestigious Warwick University Law Society.

A keen musician, Nuzo plays both the piano and guitar and enjoys writing songs when not haunting church graveyards and the beautiful Coventry War Memorial Park. Her book, The Reluctant Dead (2014), introduced modern African Horror into the mainstream Horror genre. Her other books include Unhallowed Graves (2015) The Sleepless (2016) and Dead Corpse (2017). Nuzo has two daughters and a cat, Tinkerbell, and lives in Coventry

What is the title of your most recent book? Dead Corpse (published 31st October 2017). Dead Corpse is an occultic story of supernatural possession and vengeance. It follows the lives9781909484870_cov2.indd of three generations of medicine-women. Ọwa is a diminutive, albino woman, who suffers years of abuse and ostracism from her community because of the pale colour of her skin. She comes from a long line of medicine-women, high priestesses to the earth deity, Aná. Her mother is the late Xikora of the Leloole curse, a powerful medicine-woman whose name, even in death, still strikes awe and terror in the twelve villages and beyond.

Ọwa lacks the ruthlessness of her late mother, Xikora, and is treated with contempt by the villagers, who confuse her gentle nature for weakness. Until the day her only daughter, Aku, is kidnapped and murdered for ritual purposes by “The Fat Man”, a corrupt politician protected by the village chieftain, the police and the witch doctor. Ọwa turns to the Earth Goddess for justice. Suddenly, an entire village awakens to the deadly fury of a powerful medicine-woman, as the dreaded Xikora returns to wreak her special brand of justice on the people responsible for her grand-daughter’s death.

Based on the true plight of African Albinos, Dead Corpse is a ghost story of betrayal, vengeance and redemption.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? I think any writer’s greatest challenge is to keep writing despite everything – sickness, divorce, loss, depression, bankruptcy or whatever else that life throws at one. Ours is a solitary work that requires the strongest of discipline to keep plodding on regardless. In my case, the most rewarding part of writing is when I finally type “The End” after completing a book, in spite of my personal challenges. Nothing tastes better than that celebratory glass of wine.

What does it feel like to be a pioneer writer of African horror? How did you get Nuzo 2started?  When I started writing African Horror, there was nothing like my work in mainstream horror. We had some South African horror writers who didn’t necessarily write African Horror or classify their work as such. As mine was an unknown work, I realised it was vital to create a brand before thinking of approaching publishers or agents. So, I set up a publishing company and started publishing my books. I also started promoting the genre with aggressive media publicity campaigns, using various professional book publicists at significant personal expense to get the word out. Thankfully, now, all that work has paid off and I find myself referred to by numerous reviewers as “The Queen of African Horror.” Better still, there are now a few writers who use the term, African Horror, to classify their work. I am proud to be the first African Horror writer to feature on Starburst Magazine, the world’s longest-running magazine of cult entertainment, as well as the first African Horror writer to feature as a guest speaker at the upcoming Birmingham Horror Con in October 2018. My works have also featured in numerous horror anthologies and podcasts and I’m in the process of pitching to traditional publishers, now that I’ve successfully built the brand.

And can you tell us a bit about your publishing company? My publishing company is Canaan-Star Publishing. It’s a paid self-publishing company of Print-on-Demand (PoD) paperbacks/ebooks. We undertake every aspect of the publishing process from personalised book-cover design using licensed images, to formatting, ISBN assignment, worldwide distribution and registration with the British Library. We don’t offer unpaid editing work and expect manuscripts to be publish-ready. We offer authors two separate book-covers to choose from and the entire process from the signing of the contract to their books getting published is approximately 6 weeks. I started out initially publishing my own books but have since branched out to publishing writers from all over the world, including authors who were previously traditionally published but trying the self-published process.

Please Visit www.canaan-star.co.uk for more information.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? Always repeat the mantra: “It’s only a matter of time.” If you have a story to tell, tell it, regardless of who likes it or hates it. Your characters want their stories told, that’s why they came to you as their mouth-piece. Don’t let them down because you’re upset nobody’s buying your book or believing in you. Persevere, believe and trust that one day, the world will wake up to your words. It takes a split second for your destiny to change. Don’t sabotage your success by giving up too soon. It’s only a matter of time.

What are you working on at the moment? I’ve just completed my next book, A Dance for the Dead, a 92,000-word novel of betrayals and ghostly vengeance. I am now polishing it off with a professional coach with a view to getting it traditionally published. I’m also writing some short stories to pitch to various online publications.

What do you like to read? Anything that grabs my attention, which isn’t always horror works, although I have a partiality for Japanese ghost stories and writers (Yoko Ogawa, Murakami, Koji Suzuki, Otsuichi, Ishiguru etc). That said, my all-time fav books are Gates of Fire by Steven  Pressfield and The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

Where can readers find you?

Website: www.nuzoonoh.co.uk

Twitter: @nuzoonoh

Goodreads: goodreadscomNuzo_Onoh

 

 

 

Words we owe to Africa.

Next week I am excited to have the ‘Queen of African Horror’ on my blog, talking about her work. As a tiny warm-up act I’m doing an African themed blog today. First, here’s a small selection of words in English that we all know, but don’t necessarily realise have an African origin.

Africa_map_sunset_motif

  • Banana
  • Banjo
  • Chimpanzee
  • Impala
  • Jumbo
  • Macaque
  • Okapi
  • Safari
  • Zebra
  • Zombie

 

 

And here are a few African proverbs that I think might include a lesson for the aspiring writer of any genre or nationality.

Wisdom: The fool speaks, the wise man listens. (And takes notes – could come in useful for a piece of dialogue one day)

Learning: You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down. (Good writing comes from practice, practice, practice…)

Unity and Community: If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. (Join a writers’ group to help you achieve your goals)

Friendship: Show me your friend, and I will show you your character. (Good tip re developing the synergy between characters in your story)

Money and Wealth: Do not let what you cannot do, tear from your hands what you can. (OK so maybe you aren’t going to write a best seller straight away. But that’s no excuse for not writing anything)

Love and marriage: Love has to be shown by deeds and words (Remember – show not tell, at least most of the time).

Patience: To run is not necessarily to arrive. (No point writing 5,000 words a day, if they are rubbish and not publishable)

Food: Words are sweet, but they never take the place of food. (Very few authors can live on what they earn from their writing …)

Good words are food (… but it is very satisfying to try!)

That’s it for today. I hope you will be brave enough to join me next Thursday (28th) for a journey into African horror.

My Links: Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

 

 

 

Meet author Pamela Q. Fernandes

Pamela 1Pamela Q. Fernandes is an author, doctor, and medical writer. She writes romance, speculative fiction, and Christian nonfiction. She is also the host of The Christian Circle Podcast. You can find out more about her at her website: https://www.pamelaqfernandes.com or reach her on Twitter @PamelaQFerns. She is currently giving away 10 free ecopies of her book on Facebook.

 What is the title of your latest book, and what is it about? THE MILANESE STARS is a romantic heist. It’s about the robbery of a set of pink diamonds also called the Milanese Stars. On the two sides of this romance are Vita, a barista, and Samuel, an insurance fraud investigator.

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? Finishing the story is challenging for me. I have so many ideas and so many things that I want to write. Making the time to write it all is hard. I’m a physician and a medical writer too, so managing the time to get it done is tough.

Reader’s feedback is a big reward. I use books to escape and if somehow I’ve provided that for others, it makes it worth it. There’s nothing better than seeing how much people enjoyed reading your work.

 How did you get started on a heist idea? I remember reading about the Museum Heist at The Hague. The thieves pulled off a heist worth 12 million and their plan was flawless. So much so the security cameras and armed guards saw nothing.  It got me started on the idea of a heist, and then the story of pink diamonds emerged. Since I write romance I thought, why not marry the two?

And can you tell us a bit about your publishing process? In January 2017, I sent my manuscript toPamela 2 Touchpoint Press. They got back to me a month later with feedback from their reading team. They liked the story but there were problems with the book which they were kind enough to detail. I was asked to revise and resubmit.

By May 2017, I’d done the best I could with my manuscript and sent it back. A month later it was accepted and we went through multiple rounds of edits by September 2017. Almost nine months later, once everything was in place, I had a publication date for June 25th  2018. Yay!

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? My top tip would be to submit a lot. You won’t know what’s wrong with your work until you let people see it. I didn’t start getting published until I started collecting rejection slips. I submitted short stories to anthologies, magazines, websites, small presses and indie houses. They have all given me tons of feedback.

When Touchpoint press first saw THE MILANESE STARS, they suggested changes. There were detailed suggestions on what was not working re the flow, the action, and the characters. I wouldn’t have known what was wrong with the story until I submitted. I’d submitted to several publishers, one of them wanted it as is, without royalties, and I had to turn them down. I believed in the story and knew it would find a home then. So submit your work. You’re going to hurt over every critique but trust me, its worth it.

What are you working on at the moment? I am currently editing my women’s fiction, Painting Kuwait Violet with Solstice Publishing. My first edit has come back from my editor in a sea of red and I’m slowly working my way through it. I’m also writing another romance and I have five more pages to hit the end. The last fifty pages are always the hardest. I’m not kidding, I am literally dragging myself across the finish line on this one.

 What do you like to read? I’m quite a voracious reader. I will read everything I can get my hands on. I did the Goodreads challenge last year and read 175 books. My target was 60. I like reading romance, self-help, science fiction, and mysteries. I’m currently reading Fingerprints by the Gods by Graham Hancock. It’s about how sophisticated civilizations existed before 4000 BC and how they’d mapped the universe, the earth and synodical revolutions of Venus. It’s fascinating.

Tempted to find out more about Pamela’s new book? Here’s her synopsis of THE MILANESE STARS:

The heist of the decade and yet, no one would have guessed… it was her. 

The Milanese stars are missing from the famous Buccatino boutique. When American insurance investigator, Samuel Keane is called in to liaise with the polizia, he finds the whole heist odd. Not only are the Milanese stars, a set of five pink diamonds, not listed in the inventory of stolen items, worse, none of the surrounding owners or passersby witnessed a thing. 

Samuel is anxious to solve the case and partners with local café owner, Vita, who has a very good vantage point to watch Buccatino. Vita herself has quite the interest in Samuel. He’s a decent man, not to mention delicious, and he’s smart. But the last thing she wants is to be caught. After all, Vita has planned the heist for years. Five to be exact. The only thing she didn’t plan is falling in love with the young American. 

As Samuel digs further into the history of the stars, he discovers Vita’s friends and her physically challenged sister are all connected to them. He learns of Vita’s past and the loneliness she’s resigned herself to in an effort to protect herself from loss. Samuel also learns Don Giovanni, proprietor of Buccatino, is no ordinary man. He’s a local Mafioso and will stop at nothing till he gets the stars. 

The more Samuel investigates the more dangers he and Vita face. Can he solve the case and what will happen with Vita? What will he do when he learns the heist of the decade isn’t about stealing pink diamonds… it’s about settling the score

Pamela 3

 

To get the book on Amazon, go to: https://amzn.to/2wQkULy