…the most wonderful moment of my writing career… and it’s not what you may think…

…I may have touched on this story before, but I make no apologies for its reappearance here… in my ten years of ‘serious’ writing, this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler has experienced so many emotional ‘highs’… from the first-ever typing of ‘The End’ – on THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, ten years ago, which lifted me onto a pink cloud that I refused to vacate for months afterward… from the astonishing award of ‘BLOGGER OF THE YEAR’ in December 2013, in which, as far as I know, my Granny did not vote… from the receipt of the first-ever Auntie Amazon Kindle royalty payment, even though it fell somewhat short of the downpayment on the Rolls Royce convertible… to the mind-boggling realisation of aggregate sales for my Jack Calder crime series novels surpassing 100,000…  all of these were terrific, not only for my confidence, but for that ever-so-fragile ego that, deep down,  many of we authors confess to owning… today, however, I was musing on an incredible day a few years back, of a time when I was blessed with a regular driver to look after my transport needs in Abu Dhabi (I’ve never owned a driving licence… and thereby hangs a story for another time)…

…he is an Indian national from the great area of Kerala… I won’t name him here, as he may be unnecessarily embarrassed by this recounting… for the early years of my writing of the series of Jack Calder and the ISP lads, he drove me around, unable to avoid hearing my countless phone calls on my mobile in the back of the vehicle… I would be discussing with others such things as character development, story lines, distribution channels for the novels, Guest Speaker meetings at book clubs and associations…

…one day in the car, he showed me a bundle of papers… from a filled, school-type jotter, written in ball-point pen… the language was his own Indian script and dialect from Kerala… he was writing the story about his childhood and the environment where he grew up… with the recollections of how different life was back then… black and white televisions, sparsely scattered around the district… the first time he saw a TV was the Mexico World Cup games, in a village miles from his own, where everybody went to watch… he described the village neighbours all pitching in to tend flowers in their wee street, open doors at all times… and the bit that floored me was he said he had been so inspired by listening to me and my writing journey, he had decided to embark on his own narration of his years growing up… it brought more than just a lump to my throat, which I can feel again even as  I write this now… and it remains the single most wonderful thing that my writing has ever given me to date… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

21 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…one of my favourite author friends, Anne Allen, has a new title launch…

…it’s always pleasing to see a good friend in the scribbling business continue to produce terrific WURK... here’s yet another from my pal, Anne Allen…

 

Thanks, Seumas, for inviting me onto your world-renowned blog to talk about my latest book, ‘The Betrayal’. This is the 6th in my series, The Guernsey Novels, and like the 5th, ‘Echoes of Time’, is dual-time, with chapters set during WWII and the present day. The events I describe during the Occupation are based on fact, but the characters are fictional.

The first inspiration for this story was the deportation of Jews from Guernsey by the Germans. They were sent to concentration camps and none returned. It is now considered a shameful blot on the island’s history, but the then local government were powerless to resist their German ‘masters’.

On a brighter note, the second inspiration was Renoir. He spent the summer of 1883 in Guernsey painting numerous versions of a particular bay, Muelin Huet, amongst others. At least one of these paintings is in a museum.

Leo Bichard is a prominent businessman whose French grandmother was a Jew, although both his parents were Christians. His family have never mentioned their ancestry but, unfortunately for Leo, someone tells the Germans, and he is deported with other Jews to concentration camps and does not return.

A matter of days before the Germans arrive, Leo sends his beloved wife, Teresa, and child to England and he stays to defend his property and stand alongside his fellow islanders. However, the Germans soon impose severe restrictions on the population and Leo is forced to close his business and months later his house is taken over by soldiers and he has no choice but to live with his housekeeper in her small cottage.

When Teresa returns after the war, she finds her home wrecked and the family’s valuables, including an extensive art collection, missing. One of those was a treasured family painting by Renoir. Learning she is a widow, she returns heartbroken to live with her family in England.

In 2010 Nigel and his twin Fiona, locals who have lived in London since university, return to Guernsey and buy a long-established antiques shop. A year later, during a refit, they find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth.

Searching for the true owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who helps to heal her broken heart. But there are important questions to answer before she can lay her brother’s ghost to rest —

Who betrayed Leo? Who knew about the stolen Renoir? And are they prepared to kill – again?

The kindle book is open for pre-order NOW and is published on Friday 20th October. The launch price is £1.99 and will increase to £2.99 from 22nd October. All the previous titles are on a promotion at 99p from 18th -22nd October. Bargains! The paperback will be out the end of October.

 

The Betrayal – http://myBook.to/TheBetrayal

Website: http://www.anneallen.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneAllen21

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Anne-Allen-Author-176883759173475/

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby.  Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession Anne was a psychotherapist but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, five having been published and the sixth, The Betrayal, is due out 20th October 2017.

…thanks, m’Lady, Anne… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

8 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…Authors, are yeez serious about a series?… Tony McManus shares his views…

…as a writer of a crime thriller series myself, my pal Tony McManus‘s WURDS are of more than passing interest to me…

BRINGING THE CURTAIN DOWN

Though it may be a well-written prize winner, a one-off book, a stand-alone novel, has little chance of commercial success in today’s reading market. The mass of readers wants recurring heroes, protagonists who return to deliver the goods of more adventures. It’s something a reader can look forward to and feel comfortable with. Series novels are the thing. And looking back, reading of the army of fans who followed Arthur Conan-Doyle and eagerly awaited his latest Sherlock Holmes treat, I feel it’s always been so. Now it’s big time.

Series novels are invariably thrillers in the crime, mystery and espionage genres. Some come about by accident. They begin with a single book, which is then followed by another, perhaps a sequel, and then a third and so it goes on. Others are intended from the beginning. My new novel, ‘The Sum of Things’ recently launched on Amazon’s Kindle, is one of these. It’s the first in what I intend and hope to be a long and successful series.

While writing my novel, I got to thinking about how long a series should run for? Given that it’s successful, how far should a writer continue producing his series before calling it quits? And what criteria should he/she use to govern the series continuance? Intrigued, I began to examine some recent thriller series novels.

Probably, the most popular thriller series today has to be the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child. Two of the novels: ‘One Shot’ and ‘Never Go Back’ have been turned into successful and money-spinning movies starring Tom Cruise.

Beginning in 1997 with ‘Killing Floor’ this writer has consistently produced a novel a year, for twenty years, many of them gaining awards. His latest, ‘Midnight Line,’ #22 in the series, will be released in November. His previous novel ‘Night School’ (#21) has garnered 5,464 reviews and counting on Amazon. I’m impressed. As only a small minority of readers bother to write a review, that gives some indication of the sales numbers Child’s books are enjoying. And sales have to be one of the major indices a writer will use in deciding to continue or not. But in reading some of the Jack Reacher reviews, I can see that cracks are appearing.

Many readers, some die-hard fans of the series, complain that the plots are becoming hackneyed and see Child struggling to come up with new situations and fresh story ideas, his style becoming more formulaic and his villains are turning into ‘buffoonish cartoons.’ It seems that Child’s creative well could be running dry. Nevertheless, based on current popularity, I’m sure we’ll see more of Jack Reacher.

Among other works, that fine British writer, Stephen Leather has now published fourteen novels in his Dan ‘Spider’ Shepard thriller series and is still getting good reviews.

Another successful series has been Andy McNab’s Nick Stone Series of thrillers. Book #19 ‘Line of Fire’ is due out in October 2017. But get this: it can be preordered on Amazon Kindle for a whopping US$ 26.78! Wow. How’s that for cheek? Not a hardback mind, an e-book. It would take a long cold day in hell before I would pay 27 bucks for a gift-wrapped, signed hardback edition much less a Kindle e-book. His previous book, ‘Cold Blood’ #18 in the series, carries a price tag of US$ 14.24, still too expensive for a Kindle novel I feel. And the reviews for this series don’t cut it anymore. The 2 and 3-star revues surpass the 4 and 5 stars; not a good sign. It’s time he quit, but I feel Andy will press on. It may be he’s seen the writing on the wall and decided to make as much as he can before it crashes.

An outstanding series of recent years was the Inspector Morse Series by the British writer, Colin Dexter. Made into a television drama with that fine actor, John Thaw, in the role of Morse, it was excellent, well produced and I enjoyed it immensely. And part way through the television series I turned my attention to the books and enjoyed them even more.

Dexter wrote thirteen Morse novels, beginning with ‘The Last Bus to Woodstock,’ and ending with ‘A Remorseful Day,’ in which Morse dies. Yes, he brought his series to a close by killing off his protagonist. Dexter made no apologies or explanation. It was the writer’s decision and his alone and therefore had to be. But his fans were disappointed, myself included.

In making Morse a heavy drinker with poor dietary habits and indifferent to his health, could it be that Dexter was setting his hero up for a finale where he could bring on the fatal heart attack that would end the series whenever he chose to? It does seem that way to me. It is worth recording that he killed Morse in a satisfying way and closed his series on a high note, his last novel receiving splendid reviews. Not for Colin Dexter the disappointing reviews of frustrated fans.

And it was death that ended another great series; the James Bond saga. Not the death of Bond, but that of his creator, Ian Fleming.

When Fleming died beside that English golf course on the 12th of August 1964 at the age of fifty-six, it brought to a close a fascinating series. Not a great writer; he didn’t have to be. But he was good. And though it’s perhaps true that he wrote fantasies for adult children, his prose was lean and spare, and every word counted. His novels were page turners, and he was eminently readable.

His last novel, ‘The Man with the Golden Gun,’ unfinished at the time of his death, was cobbled together by his publisher, Jonathan Cape and published eight months later. A poor job that lacked everything we fans expected from a Bond novel, it received poor though respectful reviews. I didn’t enjoy it much. It seems that heavy smoking and lifestyle-induced ill health had taken their toll on the writer. But, unsurprisingly, it was an instant bestseller in both hard and paperback form.

Fleming left behind a corpus of twelve Bond novels and some short story compilations, and so it was over. Or should have been. However, the publishing house, Jonathan Cape refused to accept it, and with the compliance of the author’s estate, they began searching for writers able to write Bond stories in the style of Fleming in what became known as the ‘continuation’ Bond novels.

First off the blocks was Kingsley Amis. Using the pseudonym, Robert Markham, Amis produced the novel, ‘Colonel Sun.’ It got mixed reviews and sold well. Bond fan that I was, I didn’t enjoy it. And I don’t read any more of the continuation series which continues to this day. Though a thing apart, the Bond film franchise seems to be unending with a fan base who’ve never heard of Ian Fleming. For me, Ian Fleming’s alter ego, James Bond, died along with his creator that August morning in 1964. R.I.P.

Should a writer ‘age’ his protagonist as a series progresses or should he make him ageless, impervious to time and therefore able to hold the ring forever and a day? I believe in the first option; it’s closer to reality and makes him more credible. And so does Lee Child. Born in 1960, Jack Reacher will turn fifty-seven on the 29th of October. Retirement at sixty? It would seem logical. The clock is ticking.

And if we were to give James Bond the age of thirty-nine when he faced down Le Chiffre at the baccarat table in that casino in Royale in 1952 he would be 104 years old today. He doesn’t look it in the movies though, and the continuation writers also seem to have ignored this reality.

My boy, James Fallon, stepping up and showing his credentials in ‘The Sum of Things,’ is a youthful thirty-five in 2017, so he has lots of things to do, lots of villains to destroy and lots of time to do it in. It’s up to me.

Several factors may determine the time to bring down the curtain on a series.

The advancing age or failing health of the author.

The author’s desire to write other things in other genres (it was Arthur Conan-Doyle’s desire to write more historical fiction that resulted in Sherlock Holmes ‘death’ at Reichenbach Falls).

Increasingly poor reviews telling the author his ability to produce good stories is faltering and on the wane and the series has run its course.

But if the series is highly successful, sells well and brings in much money, an author would be sorely tempted to press on regardless of poor reviews. To close it down would be like killing a Golden Goose.

I have to conclude there can no hard fast rule on this. At the bottom end you have writers who publish series schlock, written fast and aimed at low-brow readers with the single intent to make money. Such crap should never see the light of day. At the top end, we have a good example in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, going strong for twenty years and twenty-two novels. I hope my James Fallon series takes the same route. And I’ll be more than happy if it’s half as successful.

Tony McManus was born in Manchester, England. He resides alternately in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Ste. Adele, Quebec, Canada

He can be found at: http://downeastern.wix.com/tonymcmanuswriter Or via his email: downeastern@hotmail.com

He has recently published: The Sum of Things, Book #1 in a new thriller series. http://amzn.to/2yvv8OC

He is also the author of a novel: The Iran Deception. http://amzn.to/1Ppb45P

And a short story compilation: Down and Out in the Big Mango. http://amzn.to/1FetYVl

He is presently working on two crime novels: Bangkok Retribution, the first book in a series featuring sleuth Mike Villiers.

…thanks for that, Tony

…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

10 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…the Nobel Prize for Literature?… I coulda been a Contenda…

…by such tiny margins does the WURLD of Literature spin… I woulda been, shoulda been, coulda been a Contenda, Mabel… and yet… another year has slipped on by and still Master Gallacher‘s name seems to have been omitted from the long, medium and short lists for the various publishing industry awards… the Man Booker Prize, fr’example… is there no Woman Booker Prize?… if it’s only for the male gender scribblers, well, there’s half of the writing population competition eliminated in one fell shot… in fairness, having done my usual meticulous research (all of six minutes poring through Wikipedia pages), it would appear that emb’dy under the age of 115 is unlikely to be included in the Nobel candidacy… that, marginally, reduces my chances… then there’s the phenomenon of having surnames with a scarcity of vowels in them…

…so, p’raps I should change my moniker by Deed Poll to Schmyzz Gyllschkr, and make my normal Scottish burr even more pronounced… they do say that ‘rolling yer ‘R’s’ has its attractions… and another thought occurs… many, many people whose literary output I do admire greatly have never won, viz: Charles Dickens… Cicero… the guy that used to write the stuff for the Desperate Dan pages in the Dandy and the Beano comics… that wee Rowling lassie…  ergo, I’m in some exalted non-listed company right there… the fact also must be pointed out, that the Nobel thing-y is of Scandinavian origin… so if yeez don’t know yer Aarhus from yer Olso, there’s another stumbling block… and arguably the most powerful barrier is that I belong to that special set of penspersons – self-publishing authors – the seemingly modern literary embodiment of the ‘untouchables’... however, hope springs eternal… 2016’s winner was the legendary Bob Dylan, who has taught us that ‘the times they are a-changing’… so, I’ll keep my dress kilt regalia at the ready with the economy ticket to Stockholm reserved for next year’s Awards… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

10 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…a few wee WURDS in yer ear… it’s what it’s all about, really…

…when Master Gallacher has lost the capacity to rejoice in learning, it’ll be time to throw me in the box and close the lid… happily, that delicious sense of discovering new nuances and stuff is still alive, especially when it involves WURD-smithing… from whenever I can recall, my delight in reading was accompanied by an inquisitive mind that wanted to know what the WURDS actually meant when I read them… all too often we see vocabulary in a narrative, the meaning of which we think we know ‘near enuff’ what it means, but in reality we don’t… my habit has always been to have a notepad to write such WURDS and phrases in, to revert later with a dictionary to find out their true import… I try not to stop the flow of reading until the reading part is done, then go back and check the list… a long time ago, I read the trilogy, THE LAST LION, the biography of one of my life long heroes, Sir Winston Churchill

…the author was the remarkable writer, William Marshall… during the course of reading them I scribbled down almost fifty WURDS he’d used… his command of language was powerful, and not in a manner of ‘showing off‘… his was a natural stream… lately I was so pleased to find another seam of great prose in the latest in the Victorian Detectives series by accomplished scribe, Ms Carol Hedges

…her books are set in the 1860s in London, and are liberally seasoned with vocabulary from these days… I freely admit having to revisit my old habit of noting the wonderful succession of vocabulary she uses… and LUVVED IT!… try some of these for size… ‘frowsty’, ‘stertorous’, ‘crepuscular’, ‘quotidian’, ‘furbelow’, ‘barouche’, ‘sigils’... see what I mean?… treat yersels and have a delve into her stuff… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

7 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…good professional cover artwork is not a cost… it’s an investment…

…early in my scribbling career I grasped  the difference between the ‘Author’s Voice’ and the ‘Author’s Brand’… the ‘Author’s Voice’ is that style of yer writing that lets readers know who is the author, even without seeing the name on the book’s title… fr’example, pick up any novel from Charles Dickens, Lee Child, Dan Brown, or Robert Louis Stevenson, without knowing who wrote them, and it won’t take long before yeez recognize the ‘Voice’ belonging to each respective writer… on the  other hand, the ‘Author’s Brand’, is the persona created by, or on behalf of, yerself (if yeez are fortunate enuff to be able to afford and source a great marketing firm)… in modern publishing circles, that’s more likely to be through the SOSYAL NETWURKSand a Blog, which allows readers and others to identify yer own character… yerself as a person (heaven forfend – we are humans after all!)… getting to know what makes yeez tick, yer foibles, likes and dislikes… putting a ‘normal’ face to the name… however, there’s at least one place where the ‘Author’s Voice’ and the ‘Author’s Brand’ can legitimately be expressed together… in the artwork for the books… I’m blessed with the services of Edward Lu, who lives and does his thing in Manila, in the Philippines… it didn’t take long for him to ‘get’ what I wanted as the front covers on all of my Jack Calder crime thrillers… and I regularly receive positive comments on them… the ‘Voice’ is the visual depiction of the content of each book… the ‘Brand’ is the repetition of things like the strap line author’s name  in a similar, recognisable font, place and colours… the pictorial idiom of violent crime to be plundered inside… usually with weapons of some ilk… and as they paraphrase in a famous advertisement elsewhere, the value of excellent artwork is priceless… lately, I also delved into publishing a wee collection of poetry, and dressed its cover  with a beautiful view of Tobermory Bay in Mull in Scotland, taken on a visit there last year… ….good professional cover artwork is not a cost… it’s an investment… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

12 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…Authors, write about what you feel…

…when Master Gallacher first tumbled into this scribbling thing-y in a more serious vein, there was so much ‘new-stuff-to-learn’… whether it be in the self-publishing idiom, or as a ‘housed’ author… it has been all of ten years since the first paragraph of THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY crept into life… and things have never been the same since… I’ve discovered, at least for this ol’ Jurassic Scot, the ‘learning’ never stops… basic tenets were thrown my way at the start… cool buzz-phrases, like ‘find yer Author’s’ Voice’… and ‘character arcs’, ‘plot development’, ‘pace’, ‘build the platform’ (i.e. ‘generate a readership following’)… other neat novelties were discoveries about cover-artwork, editing, proofreading, ‘weasel words’ (the nonsense that keeps repeating in the novice writing, such as the overuse of ‘that’,’very’, and ‘so’… wasteful proliferation of adverbs, (the newish writer’s crutch)… ‘padding out’ passages in order to gain word count (the most soporific mechanism as far as your readers are concerned)… and thankfully, that education continues non-stop… however, let me point to another wee piece of advice, which is ‘write about what you know’

…common sense, yes, but I think there’s another more compelling directive I would offer to new writers (and even to established authors), which is ‘write about what you feel’… here’s why… a long time ago, I heard sum’thing that has stuck with me ever since, ‘people may not remember precisely what you said, or how you said it, or even where you said it, but they’ll remember HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL when they heard you speak’… now, I’m basically a crime thriller author, but I am conscious of feedback from my readers when they refer to passages where sensitive emotions of the characters are centre-stage on the pages… it’s okay, in my not-so-‘umble opinion, to lay bare the human anxieties and angst that affect most people, including the good and bad characters in my books… then, and only then for me, is the genre of ‘crime thriller’ enhanced in the thinking readers’ minds… how’s that for ‘armchair/laptop’ writer philosophy, Mabel?… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

9 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff