Wannabe a Writer?

Category: Guest Room – 28 Articles (Page 1/3)

Wannabe a Guest?

Guest authors wanted

Would you like to give yourself and your writing a bit of promotion? You could be an honoured guest in our guest room.

Tell us about yourself, your writing career and the things you're working on.

Interested? Leave a comment below or contact wannabe@darkskipper.com.

Colette McCormick – Things I Should Have Said and Done

Photo: Colette McCormick

Hello everyone and thank you to Jane and Kev for inviting me into the Guest Room.

When Things I Should Have Said and Done is published by Accent Press on 15th November (it's a Tuesday) I will be at work. I will spend the day sorting through bags and preparing stock for sale, I'll be making cups of tea for volunteers and all the other things that I do every working day in my job as a retail manager in one of the nations hundreds of charity shops. I am an ordinary person, living an ordinary life, doing ordinary things. I am an ordinary person who happens to enjoy writing.

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Its been ten years since I had my first short (Elaine in the anthology Sexy Shorts For the Beach) published and since then I've had short stories in magazines and books in Britain and abroad. I'll never forget the thrill I felt when I was commissioned to write something for the first time. Kidney failure in 2013 meant I spent seven weeks in hospital which gave me a lot of time to think and I realised that if I was serious about getting my book published I'd better do something about it. It was finished in a fashion and had already been turned down by a couple of agents but as soon as I was well enough (almost a year later) I stopped messing about, rewrote large sections of it and thought about who I wanted to send it to next. In February 2015 I submitted my book to Accent Press and kept everything crossed. In September 2015 I was offered a three book deal.

Things I Should Have Said and Done is the story of Ellen who finds herself suddenly dead thanks to a drunk driver and George who has been sent to help her through the process of being dead. You'd think it would be a straight forward process, but Ellen has issues and George is new to the job.

Things I Should Have Said and Done is now available to buy. Please see the bookshop for details.

Annie Ireson – Sunlight on Broken Glass

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Sunlight on Broken Glass: The True Story

When wannabe writer, Annie Ireson, began recording her Auntie Rita's life story for her twelve years ago, little did she know that it would take six years to complete and she would end up with enough material for a novel so long it would have to be split into a trilogy.

Rita Crick (Annie's grandmother's younger sister) was a remarkable woman whose true life story was an epic saga of love, loss, hopes, dreams and family loyalty. It wasn't long before the pair of them, aided and abetted by Annie's mum, Margaret, decided to ditch the memoir in favour of a novel. Although, like most novels, Sunlight on Broken Glass is based on elements of fact, most of the names have been changed and some of the characters are fictitious. Annie is quick to point out that if there is a resemblance to any living person in the novels it is entirely coincidental. Before she passed away in 2007, Annie's aunt said she had a vision of being draped across her sofa for an official photograph when their novel was published, looking just like the legendary Barbara Cartland, glass of wine in hand!

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Sunlight on Broken Glass is the first novel in the Jeffson Family Trilogy of sagas. Published on 1st December, 2014 as an e-book on Amazon (price £1.99), it will be available as a paperback from 12th December and can be ordered from The Great British Bookshop or directly from Annie at the discounted price of £8.99 plus postage (email: anne.ireson@ntlworld.com).

The second book in the trilogy, Melody of Raindrops will be published on 1st May 2015, and the third book, Ashes on Fallen Snow, on 1st November 2015.

Since writing and publishing The White Cuckoo in 2012, which this year reached No. 2 in the Amazon paid charts in the ghost story category, Annie has completed the first draft of a fifth and started writing her sixth – this time with a change of genre as this book is a political drama.

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Annie has also written a number of short stories, one of which won a gold award in a national competition in 2008, and another which was included in a charity anthology in 2012.

Annie says:

Sunlight on Broken Glass almost made publication in the traditional way in 2008, when I secured the services of an agent and the novel was unsuccessfully submitted to publishers. Despite saying I would never self-publish, I decided to take this route in 2012 and take the risk with my fourth novel, The White Cuckoo. I have found the experience both satisfying and worthwhile and have absolutely no qualms about self-publishing the trilogy.

"I would say, though, that if an author is considering the independent route to publication it must be done professionally, with scrupulous attention to detail. In some ways, your novel is placed under a brighter spotlight because there is still a perception in some readers' minds they may be getting a sub-standard product. However, I have found that most readers don't give a moment's thought as to how a book is published – all they want is a cracking good read. As with most commercial enterprises, the quality of the end product is key. You can't get away with trying to sell something that falls short of expectations, either in book cover design, quality of the finished product or book length, and people expect good value for their money.

It is an absolute must to set a budget at a level you can afford to lose for publication purposes, undertake targeted marketing and promotion and maintain an on-line presence through social media. Despite having quite low expectations, I was very lucky with my first self-publishing experience: I broke even on my pre-set budget at my book launch and have even made a modest profit from my novel over the last two years."

Annie's first published novel The White Cuckoo is also available on Amazon for 77p and as a paperback from The Great British Bookshop.

Rosemary Kind

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Hello I'm Rosemary Kind, Managing Director of Alfie Dog Fiction. Alfie Dog was set up 18 months ago to specialise in publishing short stories. In that short time it has already grown to become one of the biggest short story download services on the Internet, with over 1200 stories by more than 300 writers around the world.

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The natural step from offering individual downloads was to put together short story collections in both e-book and paperback form. So far we have brought out 8 single author collections and 5 multi-author collections. The latest are: 'A Wish for Christmas' – a collection of primarily women's fiction, all with a holiday season theme and 'Read It Again' which has stories for children of all ages. They both launch on November 18th, in plenty of time for Christmas. You can find them on our web site or through Amazon and other leading retailers.

We're always open to submissions too. Not all work is accepted and all work goes through a rigorous editorial process. If you think you have stories of a good enough standard then take a look at our submission guidelines.

Rosemary J. Kind — Managing Director — Alfie Dog Fiction

Denise Barnes

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My non-fiction book Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business was published by Biteback Publishing in April 2013. It's a narrative about selling my chain of estate agents to the wrong buyers and describes my 3-year nightmare to try to retrieve my money and my reputation.

My real love is writing fiction, and I am nearly half-way through the third novel of a trilogy called The Voyagers. Book one, Annie's Story, is being read by a NWS reader from the RNA, and I have a couple of agents who have already shown interest. The trilogy begins in 1913 and ends in 2010, so tons of research which I enjoy far too much!

Find out more about Denise on her web site. You can buy Seller Beware from Amazon UK as a paperback or for Kindle.

Writer's Choice Authors

In this article, we meet three authors who are part of a publishing co-operative called Writer's Choice. They are: G.J Berger↓, Sharon Robards↓ and p.d.r lindsay↓.

Find all Writer's Choice authors at goodreads.com and their books – both print and e-book – at smashwords.com, amazon.com and awesomeindies.net. In fact, anywhere good books are sold.

Top↑ G.J. Berger — A Historical Novel Writer's Thought About Readers

Years ago when I had just begun up the trail to my first published novel, I often heard something like this from agent and editor gatekeepers: "Is your work good enough for someone to plunk down twenty bucks? Is it good enough for them to pay good money to buy it for someone else?"

Seemed like a sensible question then. Seemed like a useful litmus test.

Not any longer. In today's world it's the wrong question. There are now so many books to choose from in free e-book downloads, or for 99 cents. A solitary dollar bill allows readers to choose from many best-sellers in hard covers at our local library annual fund raiser.

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My first novel came out late last year. It's about a distant time, in a place not known to many, and about Iberian Celts. Like any writer of things long ago, I had no sense for whether anyone would care, would upload it to an e-reader or pay a few dollars more for the book version.

Held my breath and was pleased to sell a few here and there and more. Then I heard that some early buyers had not yet gotten to it. They smiled when they told me they had indeed paid a few dollars to download it, or a few more for a real book. They must have wondered why I did not smile back when I thanked them. That they had not opened it, had not started reading, removed the magic, broke my connection to them. Quite apparently they had better uses for their time than to give it to me and my writing. And I knew instantly that my real readers would become my dearest friends – though I might never, ever meet them.

Word from actual readers started to trickle in. One reader who got it for Christmas finished it before December ended and made his daughter read it next; another said she stayed up until two in the morning to find out what happens. The greatest compliment of all came from an avid football fan. He wrote that he skipped the NFL Conference Championship games – he needed to get to the end first. Imagine that, turn off the set on that pen-ultimate NFL Sunday to finish my creation about ancient history and Celtic fighting women!

I now know that the real question for any novel or non-fiction book writer is: "Will readers put aside all else and give the writer twenty hours, or more, of their precious time?" Precious are the readers who give us chunks of their time. Precious is the work that's good enough for readers to do that.

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G. J. Berger, author of "South of Burnt Rocks West of The Moon".

Top↑ Sharon Robards

I am an Australian author who lives two hundred kilometres north of Sydney, on the beautiful and rugged east coast of Australia, in a place called Port Stephens, a sanctuary for dolphins and a Mecca for tourists who come to see an annual migration of 6,000 whales each year.

Top↑ p.d.r. lindsay

We did it! Tired of being told by agents that my prize winning stories and novel were wonderful, but I was too old and lived too far away in New Zealand to be acceptable, I moaned on an historical writers' board, and several writer colleagues spoke up in agreement. They too suffered the same problem with agents, and publishers, and so we decided to form a publishing co-operative, the Writer's Choice publishing co-operative. Writer's Choice works like a traditional publisher in that we select or reject the work each member presents, help them with the editing and proof reading, and provide mutual support by doing PR for all our books from our Writer's Choice website. It's worked.

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We are an international gang from America, Australia and New Zealand and do PR for all of us in our home countries. Whenever one author has a book launch all Writer's Choice selected books are on sale and talked about. So far we have published two anthologies of short stories and two novels. Two more novels will be ready for publishing at the end of the year. Our intention to publish quality fiction, and to give it our Quality Fiction seal of approval. That seal is proving popular amongst e-book readers and our sales are steadily growing.

My novel, Jacob's Ladder, is launched on April 12th in our local library. I'm looking forward to lots of friends in support and a few sales.

The novel is set in 1642 when England is in an economic and political melt down, as difficult a situation as today's similar economic and political mess. The King won't bend, Parliament won't break, it's an explosive deadlock. During those few chaotic months before King Charles declared war on his subjects there was, for those who dared to take it, the opportunity to get away with murder, in return for impressive rewards of power and influence, or wealth.

Jane Ayres — Beware of the Horse

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Thank you, Jane for inviting me to the Guest Room.

My writing "career" started when I was a child and had my first short story published in a UK pony magazine at the age of 14. It was about a psycho horse that goes crazy at a horse show and attacks another pony! And so began my interest in combining pony stories for teenage girls with darker (and often supernatural) themes. I've always written, and for most of my life this had to be fitted in with full time work; so I wrote 1000 words each way on my daily train commute and used up weekends and holidays, until I was able, eventually, to work part time and free up more hours for writing. I've had 30 books for pre-teens and teens published through the traditional route, and translated into 7 different languages, thanks to my wonderful agent, but last year, with a large out of print back-list gathering dust, I decided to go the indie route and self-publish some of these titles on Amazon via KDP Select. I would recommend this to every writer and have learnt (and am constantly learning) so much in the process. I was able to indie publish my Matty Horse and Pony Adventures trilogy and donate all royalties to Redwings Horse Sanctuary, a long-held ambition, and my cat story, Coming Home, was re-issued as an e-book, with royalties going to Cats Protection. This is my legacy, since e-books (currently) do not go out of print!

Last month, after a major edit, I indie published Beware of the Horse, for older teens. I really enjoy every aspect of indie publishing, including marketing and writing my own book blurbs and this is the latest:

A lonely girl with a guilty secret.

A troubled boy given a second chance.

A dangerous horse everyone is scared of.

Well, almost everyone…

I love working with a professional designer to collaborate on the book covers, and have been really pleased with the results. In traditional publishing, I have never had a say in the cover designs, so this aspect of indie working has been a lot of fun.

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So what is Beware of the Horse about?

Fifteen year old Jan Bryant is haunted by memories of a tragic riding accident. Consumed by guilt, she struggles to cope and becomes increasingly withdrawn, much to the concern of her Mum, Irene, a single parent trying to make a new life for both of them.

Eighteen year old Richard has been in trouble with the police, but is given a second chance by his older brother, Chris. Together, they run a livery stable and give riding lessons to pay the bills.

When their paths cross, Richard becomes intrigued by the shy, enigmatic Jan, who has a rare gift with horses but seems determined to keep her distance.

Both teenagers are trapped by a past that make it difficult to move on. Like Cassius, the beautiful, damaged and dangerous bay horse that brings them together.

On the terrible day when Jan's world falls apart once more, Richard is injured after an impulsive act results in disaster. Boy, girl and horse become lost. With their futures inextricably linked, will they see each other again – and find their way out of an increasingly treacherous situation?

Beware of the Horse is available as an e-book from all Amazon territories. Click here to buy from Amazon UK.

You can also see Jane's Amazon author page or visit Jane's blog.

Alison Morton — INCEPTIO

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Thank you very much for welcoming me to your guest room, Jane.

Today (1st March 2013), my début novel, INCEPTIO, is published. Hooray! Three years of slog – researching, writing, and polishing – have led to this exciting moment.

An eleven year old fascinated by the mosaics in Ampurias (huge Roman site in Spain), I asked my father, "What would it be like if Roman women were in charge instead of men?" Maybe it was the fierce sun boiling my brain, maybe it was just a precocious kid asking a smart-arse question. But clever man and senior 'Roman nut', he replied, "What do you think it would be like?" Real life intervened (school, uni, career, military, marriage, motherhood, business ownership, move to France), but the idea bubbled away in my mind and INCEPTIO slowly took shape.

Of course, I made the classic mistake of submitting too soon, but had some encouraging replies and I'd had some full manuscript requests, even from a US agent! Replies went along the lines of "If it was a straight thriller, I'd take it on." and "Your writing is excellent, but it wouldn't fit our list." I was (am!) passionate about my stories so I decided to self publish with bought-in publishing services. Using high quality professional backing (editing, advice, registrations, typesetting, design, book jacket, proofing, etc.), I've found it a fantastic way to enter the market.

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So how is an alternate history thriller different from a normal thriller?

Alternate history is based on the idea of "what if?" What if King Harold had won the Battle of Hastings in 1066? Or if Julius Caesar had taken notice of the warning that assassins wanted to murder him on the Ides of March? Sometimes, it could be little things such as in the film Sliding Doors, when the train door shuts and Gwyneth Paltrow's character splits into two; one rides away on the train, the other is left standing on the platform. From that point on the time line develops differently from the one we know.

Stories with Romans are usually about famous emperors, epic battles, depravity, intrigue, wicked empresses and a lot of sandals, tunics and swords. But imagine the Roman theme projected sixteen hundred years further forward into the 21st century…

So what's INCEPTIO about?

In brief – danger, vengeance and love.

New York, present day, alternate reality. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice – elimination by Renschman, a government enforcer, or escape to the mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother's homeland in Europe. Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety, a ready-made family and a new career. But a shocking discovery about her new lover, fascinating but arrogant special forces officer Conrad Tellus who rescued her in America, isolates her.

Renschman reaches into her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why he is hunting her so viciously. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it…

INCEPTIO is out today as both paperback and e-book from Amazon.

And next? I'm working on PERFIDITAS, the second book in the Roma Nova series.

You can visit Alison's blog, connect with her on Facebook as AlisonMortonAuthor and follow her on Twitter @alison_morton.

Patricia Maw

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Jane and I first met on a Writers' Holiday in Caerleon more years ago than I (and probably she) care to remember and have been good friends ever since. So when she offered me the chance to promote a new site for writers, I was delighted.

As I'm sure most writers will be aware, today, Monday 12th November is the start of National Short Story Week.

With the market for short stories shrinking, Rosemary Kind set up a site in May where writers can sell their work. It's called Alfie Dog Fiction. There are now over 600 short stories by more than 180 authors and there are plans for a worldwide campaign in the new year.

Mary Colwell, Sony Radio Academy Gold Award Winner says: "It's a great web site. Alfie Dog brings together a variety of stories so that everyone can find something to amuse/inspire/intrigue them."

I came across the site in July and have 7 stories on it at the moment. At 39 pence they are cheap to download and Rosemary is always looking for new writers. I write mostly crime stories and Accidental Death, which I couldn't sell here, has sold to Australia, Norway and Sweden. But On The Rocks, which is one of my favourites, was snapped up over ten years ago.

So, to any writer who has stories not earning them any money at the moment, have a look at Alfie Dog.

Lucie Parish — Looking for Buttons

I'd always wanted to write a book. I started young, crayoning my own Mr Men stories. That phase passed (I moved on to felt tip pens), but the urge to make up stories didn't. So, taking heed of the maxim that you should write something you'd want to read, I started a thriller. It choked to death on its own sub-plots quite early on and I thought I'd better stick to the day job.

But the ideas for stories kept coming and one day I wrote about a thirty-something party guest suddenly finding herself face to face with her unrequited teenage crush. It was only a few hundred words but now and again I'd reread the pages and wonder about the woman and her beloved. After a while I had some idea who they were and why they were at the party and I started to write. Several thousand words later, it occurred to me that I might actually get a book out of it and that became the goal. When I did get a book out of it, I was slightly startled to find it was a romantic comedy with no explosions or car chases and certainly no fatal sub-plots.

That was when I started trying to get an agent. The third one I tried was enthusiastic and asked to read the whole manuscript. I sent it off by return of post… and never heard from him again. After a year, I decided to try more agents. Responses ranged from disdainful silence to the cherished "it's not for us but it's well-written and perceptive". That encouraged me to persevere. The decision to self-publish was driven by the terribly mundane reason that I was out of work in a recession and needed some sort of income, however small. Looking for Buttons, a comedy for the romantically hopeless, was published as an Amazon Kindle e-book in June 2012. It's deeply satisfying when someone tells me they've enjoyed it. I'm supposed to be working on another romantic comedy now but I've got this great idea for a thriller…

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Looking for Buttons — A comedy for the romantically hopeless

Burnt-out archaeologist Kate Harper finds herself house-sitting for her AWOL grandmother (last seen tangoing in Buenos Aires) and working as a cleaner for the man her mother seems to be lining up as her future step-father.

When she gets the chance to meet Hollywood actor Charlie Latimer, focus of thirteen years' unrequited adoration, Kate's horrified. He didn't notice her when they were students together, so what chance has she now?

As Kate's life becomes a chaotic cocktail of warring parents, randy superstars, village gossip and an unexpected greyhound, she starts to wonder if she's looking for Prince Charming after all.

What if she's just looking for Buttons?

Looking for Buttons is out now on Amazon. You can find out more on Lucie's blog and follow her on Twitter (@looking4buttons).

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