Tag Archives: #amwriting

Jane Austen and the new ten pound note.

jane-austen-ten-pound-noteLast week the Bank of England brought in a new £10.00 note. It is smaller, more durable, and harder to counterfeit than the old version. But for literary types its main significance is that it features two women: the Queen (as usual) on the front, and the novelist Jane Austen on the back. In fact the note was officially launched from her old home in Chawton, Hampshire, on July 18th, exactly 200 years after her death in nearby Winchester.

The note includes a quote from her most famous book, Pride and Prejudice, “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading.” (Let’s not spoil it by pointing out that this was said by a vain and snobbish young lady purely interested in capturing the attention of a more erudite and wealthy young man).

Jane Austen AltonWhat a casual reader may not know is that Jane Austen was not just a provincial spinster, scribbling away between the social calls and household duties expected of a woman of her social class and limited finances. Her portrait on the new note is particularly appropriate as she also had close links to banking. One of her brothers (Henry) owned a number of small banks, run from his headquarters in London and Jane often stayed with him at his London house. A £10.00 note issued by one of his banks is on display in the Chawton cottage where she lived, which is open to the public.

But, although the announcement of this new note’s design was made in her old home, no mention was made of her banker brother. He was not a good businessman, suffered losses in the financial crash of 1816, and his banking empire was subsequently taken over by others and forgotten.Jane Austen

Jane Austen is celebrated for her novels about the eager pursuit of suitable husbands for her heroines. Less romantically, they also illustrate her keen interest in the pursuit of a suitable income. In her own life she was acutely conscious of her lack of means, and took an active interest in the sale of her manuscripts, often with Henry’s well meaning, but not always helpful advice. (You can read more about this aspect of Jane’s life in Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister, by EJ Clery)

Which brings me, rather clumsily, to my own books. I write because I feel the need to write. I do not expect to live off my royalties, but, like Jane I take an interest in my ‘bottom line’, and every sale is a welcome acknowledgement of my efforts. (Reviews are also welcome, even low starred ones). All my books are available on Amazon, as e-books and / or paperbacks, and you can purchase them via one of the links below:

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

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

 

 

Advertisements

Meet author Salee Vidal Tadeo

 Salee 1Salee is a Lecturer of English Literature and Language in Norfolk, England.

Her first book is called, The Third Colour; a story about her youngest sister’s long battle for life, and eventual death.  For Salee, her sister’s story reignited the fire in her as a writer.

She incorporates her deep faith in God in all her writing because she believes that without God, she would not be able to write inspirational stories to share with the world.   

 

What is the title of your latest book?Salee 2

 

It’s called Sombre – The Incubus. It is about Ysabelle, a young girl who played Spirit of the Glass, a horror board game similar to Ouija. Little did she and her friends know that the spirit of the young man who answered their call on that dreamy night would become Ysabelle’s regular nightmare.

 

 

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

The most challenging for me is keeping with a self-imposed minimum number of words to be written every day. The reality is there are days that I cannot write anything, not even a word because of many reasons, or I’d say excuses, for being a normal? human being (I put a question mark as I am not really sure if we, as writers, are normal because our brains are constantly working , i.e. buzzing  for plots, characters, twists and turns.)

Another reason for not keeping to my self- imposed rules is the reality that I am also a full-time lecturer. That does not need any elaboration, I believe. Teachers, like me, will definitely understand my state of mind and body at that.

The most rewarding is when I read a scene and feel exactly how my characters feel. That’s when I know that what I am trying to convey in my book is working.

All writers want to be published; that is the ultimate goal, so when you finally get that seal of approval from a publisher, you know that all your hard work has paid off.

A good review and excellent sales result add up to the joy of course.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

 What I always try to do is the reverse chronology. I begin the story with its end without revealing the climax, of course: a scene that could create a rhetorical question that will ignite the reader’s interest.

I know the word passion is overly used, but it is really the bottom line. It should be embedded in everything that we do. If there is passion, you know that you’re doing it right. It may not be good in other people’s standards and in a writer’s case this could mean a rejection, but always remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; you’ll find someone who will put his/her trust in you eventually. In my case, that someone is Solstice Publishing.

Prayers also play a big role in my life so I always pray for guidance. Believe it or not, but some parts of my book Sombre were manifested in dreams. The manuscript I am currently working on is also shown to me in a dream.

What are you working on at the moment?

 I am about to finish the first book for a trilogy. As mentioned above, the idea came from a dream. I was watching a film in my dream and the title was Heaven’s Archive.  I am going to use that as the series title. The first book is my own title, The River’s Ode (not from a dream, so it’s likely to change).

The River’s Ode is about a soldier’s wife who becomes bewildered after her husband has gone missing in action. She tries to find her husband by herself. She begins by going to the last place where she thinks he has disappeared.  Her feet lead her to a river tucked away behind rows of giant trees. Little does she know that that river holds all the answers to all the questions on her mind.

 What do you like to read?

My job requires me to do a lot of reading so I basically read everything; from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Othello and many more;  John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men;  George Orwells’s Animal Farm to books like A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness , The Savage by David Almond, Stone Cold by Robert Swindells.

However, my most favourite is any book based on a true story especially when it is about heavenly encounters. I am a fan of Mitch Albom, Leo Buscaglia and Jacky Newcomb.

 Where can readers find you?

 My website is www.english-matters.co.uk

 Book links at all Amazon sites: https://www.amazon.com/Sombre-Incubus-Salee-Vidal-Tadeo/dp/1625265921/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503578920&sr=1-1&keywords=sombre+the+incubus        

 On Twitter: https://twitter.com/englishandbooks?lang=en-gb

GoodReads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16986661.Salee_Vidal_TadeoGoodReads:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorsaleevidaltadeo/?ref=bookmarks

solstice logo (1)

 

 

 

Cast Off – more excerpts

Regular readers of this blog may know that I’m working my way through the opening or Cast Offclosing paragraphs of my latest collection of stories – Cast Off (six down, seven to go). Each story concerns one of Shakespeare’s female characters whilst they are off stage. What are they thinking or doing? Do they have any opinions about the play they are in? Will they actually go back on stage? The stories are not to be taken seriously, but you may be able to identify the odd quote and, to quote the character in Red Dwarf, ‘engage smug mode!’ Here are my next three excerpts:

Closing paragraph of Our Mad Sister (Troilus and Cressida)

Of course, it all worked out exactly as I had foretold. Hector was killed and his body was dragged round behind a Greek chariot for all to see his ultimate degradation. And, as Troy fell and the Greeks swarmed in, the usual murder, rape and pillage ensued. Then my own fate as a captured concubine was sealed. Not pretty. Not pleasant. Definitely a humiliating way for a princess and a scholar to end her days. But, as I think I might have said before, utterly predictable.

Opening paragraph for Chains of Magic (Othello)

Senator Brabantio felt he should send his daughter to her private chambers when he Chains of magicrealized that Othello, a man of colour, would be among his important guests that night. He wasn’t sure what worried him most. Was it only Africans he needed to worry about, or Asians too, or maybe Muslims of any colour, or all of them? All his instincts and upbringing told him he must protect his daughter. Aside from any germs they might carry, or outbreaks of unprovoked violence, there was their attitude to young girls and women. And, oh yes, their gross clasps, their foul charms, their drugs….

Opening paragraph of A Virtuous Maid (Measure for Measure).

What in Heaven’s name was I thinking of? I must have been mad! Yes he said he was a friar, but a most unlikely one, wandering in and out of prisons and places at will. He’s new to Vienna too – at least I’ve never met him before, or heard mention of him, even. Come to think of it, I still don’t know his name, or what religious establishment he’s linked to. And, yet, I’ve just agreed to go along with his plan which, he says, will preserve my virtue and save my brother’s life without causing death or dishonour for anyone. Dear God, these are unchartered waters for me.

You can find the full collection of stories in Cast Off on one of my Amazon Author pages, where you can also find other novels and short stories I have written. One story, Mary’s Christmas in Festive Treats, is permanently available as a free download so you can ‘try before your buy.’

Most stories are also available from the publisher – http://www.solsticepublishing.com

solstice logo (1)

Time to give ‘Miss’ a miss?

What is the appropriate honorific for a woman? Mrs? Miss? Ms? Mx? None at all?

The debate is not a late twentieth century phenomenon. It has been going on since the end of the nineteenth century at least. According to the academic, Amy Erickson, ‘Ms’ was suggested as a suitable equivalent to ‘Mr’ in 1901, but never caught on.

Samuel Johnson, when compiling his dictionary in the mid-eighteenth century, was untroubled by the relationship between the married status of a woman and her title, be it Mrs or Mistress/Miss (a bit like the French madame / mademoiselle, where the latter tends to denote youth rather than the married state). However, in the Victorian and Edwardian era, ‘Miss’ started to be a term of preference for unmarried, but upper class and socially ambitious, women. As the twentieth century progressed though, attitudes to the title became more ambivalent.

The feminist, Sheila Michaels, who died in June this year, started to champion the use of ‘Ms’ for all women, during the 1960s. But it wasn’t until she was heard on a New York radio programme on feminism and talked about the use of ‘Ms,’ that she attracted the

gloria-steinem

Gloria Steinem

attention of the better known feminist, Gloria Steinem. Ms Steinem went on to create the feminist magazine ‘Ms’ and the rest, as they say, is history (or, as she didn’t say, Mstory).

It wasn’t too long before Government departments and banks, were accepting ‘Ms’ on their forms instead of Miss or Mrs, though the New York Times style guide didn’t acknowledge the term until 1986. Now the debate has moved on to the acceptance, or otherwise, of the gender neutral term ‘Mx’ for all.

Writers beware! We should be careful not to transfer twenty-first century sensitivities to characters set in the past. Most Victorian or Edwardian schoolmistresses felt no stigma when given the title ‘Miss,’ and cooks of the same era, whether married or not, were usually referred to as ‘Mrs.’

(Incidentally, Sheila Michaels is also credited with promoting the terms ‘feminism’ to replace ‘women’s liberationist,’ and ‘sexist’ instead of ‘male chauvinist pig.’)

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, and would like to read more of my work, please follow one of the links below to my Amazon author page. There are plenty of strong female characters in many of the stories. And at least one is always available as a free download.

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

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

Or go to Solstice Publishing:

http://www.solsticepublishing.com

solstice logo (1)

CAST OFF – the collection (continued)

A few blogs ago I started a mini series of posts giving opening or closing excerpts fromCast Off the collection of short stories in Cast Off. Each story is a glimpse into the character of one of Shakespeare’s female characters whilst they are off stage – and quite possibly not behaving at all as Shakespeare had envisioned them. But, after the hundreds – or maybe thousands – of adaptations of his plays, and books using his characters or plots as the starting point for going off in many weird and wonderful directions, I don’t think he will be too bothered by my efforts.

Anyway, here are three more opening paragraphs, which I hope will pique your interest enough to read further:

The Quality of Mirth (The Merchant of Venice)

(Portia’s maid, Nerissa, is keeping a diary of her life with her mistress)

Dear Diary, Well, I haven’t had a chance to write much in you recently. It’s just been sooo busy, what with the old master dying, the funeral, and stuff. Then the lawyers read out the will. All to go to his only daughter Portia, my mistress, as was expected. But the crafty old goat has tied it up in such a way that it depends on who she marries whether she gets anything. Or nothing. Did I say crafty? Cruel more like. What if my poor mistress ends up having to marry someone she doesn’t like, or hasn’t met before? When I just know she already fancies someone else rotten.

Journey to the Fair Mountain (Hamlet)

Journey to the Fair Mountain(Gertrude is to be married off to a distant cousin in Denmark to save the family home for her mother and sisters)

We were so cold when we arrived. My hands and feet were numb, my nose felt raw and my cheeks were stinging. I could feel my hair, damp and icy, clinging round my face and neck. Alise, with blue lips and streaming eyes, stumbled as she helped me down from my horse. She arranged my gown whilst the old retainer, who had accompanied us on the last part of the journey, dismounted stiffly and knocked on the great door. The rest of the retinue melted away into other parts of the castle, taking the horses with them. The clip-clop of their hooves on the cobbles created a ghostly echo that lingered in the chill air. Alise pushed my hair back from my face and patted my shoulder gently.  “You look lovely, milady,” she said, encouragingly. The door was opened by a young man, who took my hand and drew me quickly into the great hall. Alise followed, as did the old man who bowed deeply to the younger man then settled into the background, his cloak merging with the tapestries on the walls.

The Tangled Knot (Twelfth Night)

(The clown has his own theories as to why Olivia doesn’t want to get married for seven years).

They call me the clown, and clowning is what I do. If I can’t make people laugh, I go hungry. But opportunities for laughing, and getting paid for it, are in short supply in my current household, that’s why I need to look around. Not that I don’t care about my mistress, mind. Or that I don’t understand why her current predicament is no joke. Just because I’m a clown, doesn’t mean I can’t be serious and think. Or that I don’t see things that some of my supposed betters are blind to even when it’s staring them in the face. That’s the life of a clown I suppose. Some of us are better suited to a thinking cap than a hat full of bells. But that’s not the life we’ve been called for. So it’s “Hey Ho,” and on with the motley, as they say.

Links:

Cast Off: myBook.to/CastOff

Or you can go straight to my Amazon author page for this and other books. There is always at least one story available free on this site, so you can ‘try before you buy.’

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

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

Cast Off, and several of my other stories, are published by Solstice: http://www.solsticepublishing.com

solstice logo (1)

 

 

Meet Author KateMarie Collins

KateMarie Collins

 

KateMarie Collins is no stranger to this blog – she featured here on 2nd July when she talked about her work as the chief operating officer for the Solstice Publishing House. She is also an author  in her own right. Today she talks about her experience as a writer, and her latest book.

 

 

What is the title of your latest book?

My latest release is Consort of the Successor. It’s the sequel to Mark of theKate 4 Successor and focuses on one of the characters from that book, Talin. It’s about discovering who he is, his past, and what it means to stand next to someone who will eventually rule.

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

Rewarding? Being told that a story affected someone in some way. Made them think, cry, laugh, whatever. If I get an emotional reaction from a reader, I did my job.

Challenging would be making myself sit down and write. I let a lot of things get higher priority than they should. Marketing is a close second, Kate 3though.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Don’t give up. If this is what you want to do, then go for it. The only difference between a published author and an unpublished one is that the first one hit send. They kept submitting until they got a contract. This job isn’t easy, and it’s not for everyone. You’re going to see months on end where your book doesn’t even sell one copy while you’re branding your name. You can’t do anything about those months. You just have to take a deep breath, let it go, and keep trying. This isn’t a get rich overnight type of career.

 Kate 2What are you working on at the moment?

Guarding Amber. It’s the follow-up to an urban fantasy novel I wrote in 2016 called Guarding Charon.

 

What do you like to read?

Fantasy. Have always loved the genre.

 

 

Where can readers find you?

solstice logo (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet author Susan Lynn Solomon.

Susan Lynn Solomon was formerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney and a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine SunStorm Fine Art. She now lives in Niagara Falls, New York.

Suzy 1After moving north at the start of the millennium, she became a member of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Writers Critique Group, and since 2007 many of her short stories have appeared in literary journals, including, Abigail Bender (awarded an Honorable Mention in Writers Journal’s short romance competition), Ginger Man, Elvira, The Memory Tree, Going Home, Yesterday’s Wings, and Sabbath (nominated for 2013 Best of the Net). A collection of her short stories, Voices In My Head, has been published by Solstice Publishing, and her latest short story, Smoker’s Lament is online in the journal Imitation Fruit.

Susan was a finalist in M&M’s Chanticleer’s Mystery & Mayhem Novel Contest, and a finalist for the 2016 Book Excellence Award. Her first Solstice Publishing novel, The Magic of Murder, has received rave reviews, as has Bella Vita, a short story that continues the adventures (and often missteps) of these characters.

What is the title of your latest book?

I am the author of the Emlyn Goode Mysteries. Well, at least the characters in the stories grudgingly allow me to take credit for creating them. Most days, though, I feel as if they’ve created me. I suppose that’s what happens when imaginary friends become as real as people I’ve known all my life. I invite them to my house for a play-date, supply a few toys (also provide a meal—Emlyn and her friends insist on being fed), then I sit back and make notes about what these people say and do.

The last time I had them over, I told them about a body discovered forty years ago in the woods below Lewiston—that’s a town just north of Niagara Falls. This is what they made out of what happened:Suzy 3

When Emlyn Goode’s mother returns to Niagara Falls for a high school reunion, so does murder. During the reunion, a woman’s body is found in the ladies room. Is this killing connected to the one that occurred 40 years before in the woods below the town of Lewiston? Harry Woodward, then a young police officer working his first murder case, suspected Emlyn’s mother of the crime, although there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest her.

Home from a year-long leave, Harry—now the Niagara Falls Chief of Detectives—together with Emlyn’s friend, Detective Roger Frey, investigates the latest killing. Distraught over indications her mother might have been involved in both murders, Emlyn, with her cohort, Rebecca Nurse, sets out to prove otherwise. But danger lurks in the shadows when amateurs—even ones with witchy skills—get involved with murder.

With my characters dictating, this scenario became the novel Dead Again.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

For me the most difficult thing—and it’s a horror—is staring at a blank page, praying for the muse to speak, and dreading that this time she won’t. It isn’t only when I’m ready to begin a new story that this fear rears its head. It might strike when I’m facing the next chapter of a story in progress. Recently, I panicked because of a silent muse. About a third of the way through writing the new Emlyn Goode novel, even my characters refused to speak to me. Stuck, I was certain the fun had ended. Never again would I have a story to write. To the annoyance of my family, I sulked for a week. Don’t laugh. A writer is the only thing I ever wanted to be. It’s who I am. The sulking ended when I woke one morning. Apparently the muse spoke to me while I slept. She told me to change the name of one of the characters that appears for the first time in this new book. Once I did this… What a joy! The words are flowing. Once again I’m a writer.

There are other challenges to writing, of course. Once finished, I want my story published. This means I’ve got to create a synopsis. 1,000, maybe 1,500 words, and, it has to be compelling. I hate this! If I could have told the story in 1,500 words, I wouldn’t have used 70,000 or more words to do it in the first place. Even now that Solstice Publishing is accepting my mysteries, when I submit a story I have to give them a tag-line. This means telling the essence of the story in one or two compelling sentences… aaargh! And the biggest challenge is still to come. Once a story is published, I want people to read it. This means promote, promote, promote… When Mrs. Price, my 11th grade English teacher, encouraged me to become a professional liar (what? Isn’t writing fiction actually the art of lying convincingly?), she forgot to tell me this thing I’ve grown to love, eventually becomes work.

Ah, but there are great rewards for all the work. I recall the thrill the day my first short story was accepted by a literary journal, Witches Gumbo. So I’ll never forget how that Suzy 4felt, I had the first pages framed. It hangs near the desk where I write. Other stories have been published over the years, and several of them have been nominated for awards and a few actually won. I feel the same thrill each time one of my stories is accepted. Still, the greatest thrill came the day I received an email saying Solstice Publishing had accepted my first Emlyn Goode Mystery novel, The Magic of Murder. After its release, I felt elated each day I looked at the Amazon website and saw the incredible reviews posted by those who’d read the novel. In spite of all the challenges (and yes, rejections while I learned my craft) so many years later I still thank Mrs. Price for encouraging me to write.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

There are so many. Certainly, write, write, write. And read. Everything. Join a writers’ group, and take their critiques seriously. I remember walking into Just Buffalo Literary’s Writers Group more than 12 years ago. I’d finished a novel and, in my grandmother’s words, I thought I was a whole goddamit. Then the critiquing began. I might have felt insulted and walked out, but didn’t. I locked my ego in a vault, and listened to what the other writers said about each other’s work. In listening, I learned. Today, when I look at what I wrote years ago, I can’t believe how much that younger writer needed to grow.

Perhaps, though, my top tip would be to spend time on research. When I finished a first draft of Witches Gumbo, I showed it to my friend, Al. After reading it, the questions began. The story was set in a Louisiana bayou. Is this the way people there would speak? He asked whether this is what a house set in this place would look like. The story involved herbalism and a touch of “the old ways”. Is this what people practicing magic in a bayou would actually do? Even fiction has to ring true for the story and characters to be believable. I actually forgot to research one fact, and after the story was published a reader’s review mentioned what I’d missed.

What are you working on at the moment?

At present, I’m about 40,000 words into the next Emlyn Goode Mystery novel—this will be the third. Called Writing is Murder, it focuses on a writers group. One of my writers’ groups, actually, though the names are changed to protect… uh, me. It’s okay. The group members have given me permission to kill one of them. Or maybe more than one. We’ll see how blood thirsty I get. In this novel, it’s Halloween. Emlyn Goode and her writer friends do a ghost hunt in a house reputedly cursed in the 1820s by a Tuscarora brave. The eerie fun ends when they stumble over the body of a member of their group. This isn’t the first murder to take place in the Bennet House. When her lover, Detective Roger Frey is shot and Emlyn returns to the house searching for a clue to the shooter’s identity, will she become the next victim of the Tuscarora Curse?

Another Emlyn Goode Mystery is also in the works—this one a Christmas novelette I hope to have ready to submit for Solstice Publishing’s holiday anthology.

What do you like to read?

I read everything. My only requirements is that a story be beautifully written. The use of language, I mean. I want the words to almost be lyrical. I also want well-constructed scenes filled with believable characters. I want to care about the protagonist. I found all of this recently in Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife, A Manette Ansay’s River Angel, and in Blackbird Rising by Gary Earl Ross. I’ve also found it in recent books by A. B. Funkhauser and Maighread MacKay.

Of course, I’ll always come back to a good mystery. At eleven my mom gave me a Hercule Poirot story, and I was hooked. These days I’ve become enamoured of the missteps of Stephanie Plum in the Janet Evanovich series.

Where can readers find you?

There are presently three Emlyn Goode Mysteries readers can find on Amazon. Each has gotten rave reviews, and is a Readers’ Favorite 5-star pick.

The novels:

The Magic of Murder:

Dead Again: Suzy 2

 

Novelette:

Bella Vita: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01I01WEWW

I can be found on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/susanlynnsolomon

 

solstice logo (1)