Tag Archives: child readers

Meet Author W. H. Matlack

W. H. Matlack, who has had several novels and short stories published, is the latest author to appear on my blog this summer. He writes in a variety of genres, including a recent venture into writing a series for  young children (see the end of this post for more information). He has another book released at the beginning of this month.

 What is the title of your latest book?

Latest book title: Grin of the Krocodil.  A new synthetic opiate has been discovered that offers a high that is hundreds of times more intense than Heroin. It’s also many times more dangerous than any other drug as it eats away flesh right to the bone.

Now a chemistry PhD candidate has worked out a formula that makes the drug safe and just as effective. As the word of this modification gets out both the US government and a powerful drug cartel become highly interested in obtaining the formula beginning a deadly tug of war.

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

 Most challenging is plot-line development. Character development is the most rewarding. I can spend all day happily developing characters. It clearly releases endorphins when I’m working on characters. Then turning to what these characters should do, or what should befall them, the endorphins evaporate and the grind of plot development kicks in.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

My top tip for all writers is to read like a writer. Go ahead and enjoy reading your favourite author, but the whole time be aware of how he or she phrases things, handles action sequences, builds characters and manages grammar.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m a third of the way into my sixth novel. It’s a bit too early to tell what it’s about, but it involves a pawn shop and a mystery gun.

 What do you like to read?

Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Carl Barks, Dashiell Hammett

Where can readers find you?

 On Facebook at: W.H. Matlack – Author

Amazon: http://goo.gl/jloZ8w

Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/ufLCJe

Email: matlackpr@att.net

Grandma Explains the Rain (1)

 

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Are all book reviews equal?

I’ve been reading quite a lot about book reviews in various Facebook groups recently. One theme has been that even bad reviews can help sell your book. (I believe that JK Rowling has more one star reviews than any other writer, and they certainly don’t seem to have held her sales back).

To date I’ve only had a single one star review – for an anthology in which I had a short story (Mary’s Christmas in Festive Treats): festive-treats

Mary’s Christmas by Margaret Egrot relates the highly boring Christmas of an OAP in a nameless British town. Nothing of note happens. It is related in excruciating detail.

This review came straight after a much more upbeat one for the whole anthology, in which my story was again singled out:

Some of the stories are moving and heart-warming. The story of Mary’s lone Christmas, standing above the rest in the bunch, I feared another outcome, which is testament to the cleverness of how the author made the story unfurl, the resolution made me joyously happy! Margaret Egrot has written a truly beautiful story.

Just goes to show you can’t please everybody.

Despite (because?) attracting the full range of star ratings, Festive Treats has almost never been out of the Amazon best seller list – though the fact that it is free as an e-book might help!

One of my favourite ‘critical’ reviews was for my first YA novel, And Alex Still Has And Alex -coverAcne. The young reviewer hadn’t much liked the book, because she didn’t like books about topics covered by the celebrated author, Jacqueline Wilson. As many readers do though (including me) I was quite chuffed:

The book certainly shows the author’s understanding of the idiosyncratic problems which certain young people today (often described in the novels of Jacqueline Wilson) have to deal with.

Whether one star reviews boost sales or not, it is still re-assuring for an author to get a good first review after a book is published. So you can imagine I was delighted to get the following five star review last week for Cast Off, my recently released collection of short stories based on female characters in Shakespeare’s plays:

One word for this short story anthology? Original. Certainly an odd descriptor for a Cast Offcollection of tales based on the characters in another’s works, but Mrs. Egrot weaves intriguing story lines utilizing some of Shakespeare lesser known supporting characters, and spin-offs from his heroines. My favorite two? “Time Out of Mind” affected me on an emotional level, and “Ban! Ban! Cacaliban” left me wanting more. Each story stands alone on its own merit. If you’ve never even heard of the bard, and you were born in a cave and raised by wolves, you will find a tale here to fall in love with. Thoroughly enjoyed.

On balance, whatever they say about the merits of one star reviews, vis-a-vis five star ones, I know which I prefer for a first review!

All the stories mentioned are available from my Amazon author pages:

All but Festive Treats are also available from Solstice Publishing.

http://www.solsticepublishing.com

solstice logo (1)

 

 

 

 

A short story for a summer day.

Today for my #SundayBlogShare I am sharing my short, unpublished, story for young readers, and knowing adults, called When God Came Calling.  

Blurb: A little girl starts praying for enough money to buy a pony. Only to be sadly disappointed.

When God Came Calling.

       I’ve done with praying. Mummy said God knows where she’d find the money for the rent, let alone buy me a pony, so I prayed every night for three months. Pony

‘Please God … (I said ‘Our Father’ too because Granny said he was a father to me as my own daddy went back up north when I was a baby.) ‘Our Father’ makes him sound more part of my family; someone who’d really want to help me and Mummy. Does that make him Mummy’s father too?

Every night after Mummy put me to bed and closed the door I’d jump out and kneel by the side of the bed, just like I’d seen in a picture at Granny’s house. I’d put my hands together and squeeze my eyes tight shut and pray really, really hard.

‘Please God, Our Father, give Mummy a house of her own with a field and a stable.’ I thought God would like it if I asked for something for Mummy, and didn’t ask for anything for myself, which Granny says is rude. But if he got Mummy sorted, and I saved my pocket-money all year, then I’d be able to buy the pony myself.

I saved for weeks and weeks. Granny gave me a £10.00 note to give to Mummy to help buy new shoes for me when I started in Year 6, and I put it in the box under my side of the bed along with the other money. I told Mummy I’d lost it after Granny had gone home. Mummy was really cross and I couldn’t go out to play for a whole week. But that made it easier to save my pocket-money. So it wasn’t much of a punishment really.

In three months I had nearly £30, including Granny’s shoe money. I didn’t know how much a pony would cost but I thought it couldn’t be more than £100.00. Of course, you have to buy tack and food as well, but I’ve got a birthday coming soon, and then it will be Christmas. I thought I could persuade Granny to give me money instead of knitting me something, so I kept telling her I’d got plenty of jumpers from last year that still fitted.

I saved hard and prayed hard and tried hard to be really good and not answer Mummy back so she wouldn’t stop my pocket-money, and I really, REALLY thought it was all going to work out.

But then God knocked the door one evening just after we’d had our tea. There was a loud ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’ on the front door and Mummy stopped in the middle of washing up and her hand flew to her face as if a really hot splash had hit her in the mouth. Usually she tells me to answer the door but this time she said: ‘Stay where you are Anna,’ quite sternly and went to answer it herself. Mummy opened the door and I heard her say ‘Dear God, it’s you.’ Then she came back with God behind her, and she said ‘Anna, this is your father.’

He was tall and had a big beard and he said ‘How is my little angel?’ But he didn’t look at me when he said it; he only looked at Mummy in a cross sort of way. I cried and ran out of the room. I hadn’t expected God to look so scruffy and to smell like he’d traveled all the way from Heaven without his wash bag.

I heard Mummy and God talking downstairs. They talked quietly at first, but then they started shouting. I didn’t think it was a very holy way to carry on, but grown – ups often behave strangely – Mummy says ‘bugger’ a lot when she’s mad at someone – so I suppose gods can be funny too.

I crept into the bedroom and got out my secret box as I liked counting the money when I felt upset. I was wondering if I should go down and show it to God. Perhaps he’d be impressed and stop shouting at Mummy and answer my prayers even sooner than I’d hoped. But suddenly Mummy rushed into the room and grabbed her handbag.

‘I’m just popping out to the cash point with your father. Don’t answer the door while I’m out, and if Granny phones – tell her I’m in the bath.’ Then her eyes landed on all the money in my box.

‘Where the Hell did you get that?’

‘It’s mine,’ I tried to hide the box back under the bed but she was too quick for me.

‘Thank Heavens!’ she said. ‘Perhaps he’ll go back where he’s come from and leave us in peace for a bit if I give him this.’ (She used the ‘B’ word too, but I pretended not to notice). She scooped up the money and ran straight back out and gave it all to God. I heard him grunt as he let himself out of the house without even saying thank you to Mummy, though he did say over his shoulder ‘Kiss my little angel for me.’

So God has gone off with all my savings, and Mummy is crying on the sofa downstairs, and somehow I don’t think we’ll be moving to a house with a field and a stable any time soon.

If you have enjoyed this story, and would like to read more of my work, please go to one of my Amazon Book pages: 

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

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

 

Meet Author David A Wilson

On my blog today is children’s author, and dragon dreamer, David A Wilson. Like me, David lives in Coventry, UK, and is a member of the Coventry Writers’ Group.David Wilson

What is the title of your recent book? (In a nutshell what is it about?)

 Aaron Gray and the Dragon War is a book about an extremely bratty kid called Aaron who says “Crud” a lot. He lives in a children’s care home and has the same dream every night about dragons fighting each other around a castle. One day he gets sucked into the dragons’ world and is sent on a quest with another kid called Julia to try and stop a dragon war.  Julia’s generally quite thrilled about the whole thing. Aaron isn’t.

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

 It turns out that there are rules about when to use commas and exclamation marks. No matter how hard I try I never get it right and have to kill off all punctuation mistakes when editing. Sometimes I let a few stay in out of pity. The most rewarding part is that I have this whole world of characters and fantasy creatures that I get to explore. I’ve especially grown fond of Aaron and can’t wait to send him on more adventures in the future.

 Tell us a bit about everything you needed to do to get your book published – and launched. What worked? What you wouldn’t do again?

David Wilson 2Well Aaron Gray is self-published, rather than going through a publisher who already knows what they’re doing. The steps are all still the same, but it’s me doing them all rather than clever people in an office somewhere. I had to find my own editors to critique my book and find any errors, then find a printer and distributer, then find someone to design the cover because my art skills are shocking,  then format the book for printing and for e-books, then market the book myself and approach booksellers. Oh and before all that I had to write the book too.

My main piece of advice would be to give yourself plenty of time between your final book edit and publication. Getting books printed takes time, and every time you contact someone like Waterstones there’s a 30 working day (6 week) wait before you get a reply. You also need to take time to plan your book launch and contact your local media. I tried to do all of this in about 6 weeks, which as you can imagine posed some problems!

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

 Decide what you want to write and write it. Don’t stop because it’s rubbish. First drafts are supposed to be rubbish. Don’t even stop and edit what you’ve written before. Just write whatever you need to write until your story’s finished. Then give yourself a week or so, go back to your story and start to craft it into something special.

 What are you working on at the moment?

 Book two! Aaron Gray and the <cough cough cough> is all plotted out and I’m hoping to have the first draft finished by the end of May.

 What do you like to read?

 I have a ridiculously  strict reading regimen, making sure that I’ve read one book in each of the following four genres before returning to the top of the list.

  • A children’s/YA book (because that’s my genre)
  • A christian/spritual book (good for the soul)
  • A book that is considered a classic (because there are so many amazing books I haven’t read)
  • A book recommended by a book club (to see what’s currently popular)

Where can readers find you (Amazon links etc)?

 The easiest thing to do is check out my website at www.breveny.co.uk, which has links to all the various bookstores and new content three times each week. You can also find me on facebook at www.facebook.com/breveny .

 

 

 

 

A YA story for our time.

Happy ‘Everbody Reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare.

Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my contemporary YA novel Girl Friends. 

Blurb:

Two teenagers, each looking for a ‘proper’ boyfriend: Courtney follows the old fashioned route via school and getting to know you chats over coffee. Grace finds a young man with a fast car who gives her expensive presents and promises to get her a career in modelling. But there’s a catch, and it’s a big one involving drugs and sex trafficking. Can the girls remain friends? More importantly, can Courtney and her new boyfriend (and his older sister) rescue Grace before she is in too deep? Does Grace want to be rescued?

Excerpt:

Girl Friends - cover” … Mostly young girls who don’t have any family to speak of. They get lured in by promises of enduring love or some such, and then also end up as prostitutes—with threats to slash their faces or break their legs, or hurt their family or friends, if they try to escape.” “That’s interesting. But I can’t see Grace falling for anything like that. She may not work hard at school or get great grades, but she’s not stupid.” “Well, maybe she believed that Kal had something more to offer her, something she really, really wanted. Something that made the loss of your friendship, the rows at the home, and missing school etcetera, all worthwhile.” “Oh, God, yes,” I am about to sit down again, but Hannah’s words deliver another shock. “He’s told her he can put her in touch with a man who can arrange a modelling contract for her. She’s mad to be a model— would do anything for it.” “There you are then.” Hannah sounds almost pleased, and this makes me so angry I nearly hit her. “But that solves nothing. We think we may know now why she’s behaving like she is, and can guess it won’t work out for her. And aren’t we the clever ones. But meanwhile, she believes she has a modelling contract almost in the bag. In fact she’s going today to meet this mythical man to get it sorted.” “Oh, Christ!” Both Hannah and Laurence turn to me with a look of dismay.

Links:

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01EX9DPMS

myBook.to/GirlFriends

Girl Friends is published by Solstice: http://www.solsticepublishing.com

I’m taking a couple of weeks off. My blog will be back, with a number of author interviews lined up, after Easter. 

Meet author Ann Evans

When I started this blog I said that I hoped to feature  other writers here from time to time. So I am delighted that my very first guest is the acclaimed writer of children’s books, and romances, Ann Evans. Ann has also written ‘how to’ books on writing, runs regular writing classes, and has been a source of encouragement, advice, and inspiration to me since I started out as a writer. Ann Evans and books

 

  1. What is the title of your latest book? 

My latest full length book is a YA time slip thriller entitled Celeste.  It’s set in Coventry (my home city) in the present day and the Medieval past.  It’s about a girl – Megan Miller who moves to Coventry with her parents and starts a new school. She soon starts to get feelings of deja vu. Things become more worrying when she starts to have fragmented dreams and flashbacks to a past life. To a time when she had been called Celeste.

And then Megan believes some ominous presence is haunting her, following her, whispering in her ear. And always the same question, where did you hide it?

Megan becomes entwined in a frightening and heartbreaking world as she slips uncontrollably between her present life and her medieval past. She’s afraid that a new friend is actually a past enemy – and evil has followed her through the centuries.

I’ve also been busy writing books for reluctant readers, published by Badger Learning. There’s been Kicked Into Touch and Spend Like a Celebrity, plus I’ve had the fun of writing some horror stories: Nightmare, Red Handed and Straw Men. Also a heart-rendering story called By My Side, which has everyone in tears – even me!

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

For me the most challenging thing is finding enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. And the most rewarding is seeing the finished product – a book or a magazine article published. And it’s also incredibly rewarding when someone tells you that they’ve read and enjoyed your book.

 3. What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Persevere! Never give up. If you want to be a writer, then write and keep on writing regardless of the rejections.  I had seven books rejected before my first one was published. I would also say read as much as you can and learn from other authors.

 4. What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve got a number of projects on the go. I write regularly for various magazines, so I’m always working on articles. But fiction-wise, I’m writing two more reluctant reader books. I’m also working on a romance, a children’s book and what I hope will be a psychological thriller. 

  1. What do you like to read?

I have a wide taste in books, from crime to time slip and romance to autobiographies. Amongst my favourite authors are Lee Child – who comes from my home city of Coventry, and Barbara Erskine who inspired me to write a time slip novel.

 6. Where can readers find you?

My website: http://www.annevansbooks.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ann-Evans-Books-146957850210/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annevansauthor

Blog: http://annsawriter.blogspot.co.uk/

Buy links: Celeste paperback: AC_Celeste_1400x2100 (1)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Celeste-Ann-Evans-2014-06-02/dp/B019TLPNI4/

Celeste Kindle:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Celeste-Ann-Evans-ebook/dp/B00KQ8XIGE/

 

 

Ann’s books for reluctant readers are available from Badger Learning, Amazon and all the usual outlets. http://www.newresourcesforschools.co.uk/reluctant-readers/

By My Side Badger Learninghttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Ebooks-Nightmare-Teen-Reads-III-Evans-ebook/dp/B00ZMCU9SY

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Side-Teen-Reads-IV/dp/1784643211