Guest Post: Why I Hate Love Triangles by Susan Mesler-Evans

I’m hosting Susan Mesler-Evans on my blog today with a post about love triangles! Welcome to my blog.

Why I Hate Love Triangles

Ah, the love triangle.

We’ve all seen it, over and over, in everything from books to movies to stage plays, and everything in between. It seems that when it comes to love, two’s company, but three’s a perfect plot device! I’ve always had a special hatred for needless, boring romantic subplots in fiction (especially YA), and nothing kills my love for a book faster than having to take a break from the actual plot to watch the lead and their love interest make googly eyes at each other. But my most-hated version of the needless romantic subplot is the love triangle, by far.

Now, I read primarily young adult fiction, I’m a loyal watcher of Riverdale (I don’t know why, either; it’s the worst show ever and I love it), and I grew up on soap operas. It’ll be a cold day in Hell before I get to escape the love triangle entirely.

For awhile, I’ve had trouble articulating why, exactly, I hate this plot device so much, but I think I’ve managed to break it down into five basic points.

It’s usually used as a cheap way to create tension.

Say you’re a writer, and you have a main couple. Let’s call them Alice and Bob. Alice and Bob are very happy together, and are totally perfect for each other. The fanbase loves them! But true love is just so… dull. There’s no angst, no drama, no tension! What’s a writer to do?

Wait, you know! You’ll introduce a rival for Bob’s affection, Claire! Now, Alice has someone to fight with and be jealous over, and Bob can angst over his torn heart. CREATIVE GENIUS.

…Yeah, the audience usually sees right through it. Most of the time, Claire will only be around for a book or two, or a season or two, cause some trouble, and then either get written off, or get randomly paired off with Danny. The audience knows almost right from the start that this won’t last, and that Alice and Bob’s relationship is in no real danger, so it’s hard to get invested.

There are so many other ways to create tension in a relationship! More realistic, less contrived ways. And there are plenty of ways to amp up the drama in a story without the threat of Alice and Bob breaking up on the horizon. It is possible to have an interesting story with two characters in a happy relationship. Shocking, but true.

The female characters involved usually get reduced to plot devices.

Now, despite the fact that my hypothetical people are called Alice, Bob, and Claire, a love triangle could easily exist between Albert, Betty, and Charlie. (It could also, hypothetically, exist between Albert, Bob, and Charlie, or Alice, Betty, and Claire, but it usually doesn’t.) But no matter whether the center of the triangle is male or female, the female characters involved tend to get the shaft.

If the love triangle is Alice/Bob/Claire, Alice and Claire are often reduced to “good girl vs. bad girl” stereotypes, and usually spend most of their pagetime together being catty and fighting over Bob, mooning over Bob, or talking to or about Bob. They don’t get to be their own characters — at least, not where a guy is involved. They’re usually pitted against each other, even when under circumstances that, in real life, would usually mean Alice and Claire would become friends, or at least learn to tolerate each other.

If the love triangle is Albert/Betty/Charlie, Betty will probably spend most of the book either being rescued constantly by the two gentlemen, or having to prove time and time again that she doesn’t need rescuing. There’s also an unfortunate tendency for her to be treated like a “prize” for the most worthy man to win. If Betty is the main character, she has a better shot at being a well-developed character in her own right, but if the main character is Albert or Charlie? No dice. Betty’s usually just “The Hero’s Girlfriend” or “The Damsel.” Sorry, Bets!

It usually makes the center of the triangle seem unsympathetic.

Yeah, if Bob spends an entire book (or movie, or season) trying to decide if he wants to be with Alice or Claire, chances are, the audience is going to wish Alice and Claire would tell him where to shove it. Relationships and emotions are messy, complicated things, not to be rushed into, but when a character takes too long to decide which (if either) of their prospective partners they want, it’s hard to sympathize. Not only does it get old fast, it also starts to feel like Bob is just stringing Alice and Claire along rather than making a decision or just being honest.

Depending on the plot of the overall story, it can also get annoying if Bob is angsting about whether he should choose Alice or Claire when there are much bigger issues to deal with. Your audience shouldn’t be shaking him and saying, “Who cares about your lonely soul? The world is ending.” It’s always annoying when romantic subplots distract from the more interest, more dramatic main plot, but the irritation is only intensified when you have multiple love interests in the mix.

This isn’t just restricted to the guys, by the way — female characters do it, too. No matter the genders of whoever’s involved, it’s just hard to be sympathetic towards someone whose biggest problem is, “Which of these insanely hot people who would do anything for me should I choose?”

It’s usually obvious how it’ll end.

“Wow, I wonder who will win Bob’s affections — Alice, the love interest who has been here for six seasons, or this new character Claire, who has no purpose in the plot other than to cause problems for Alice and Bob?” said absolutely no one ever.

One side effect of this trope being used a lot is that audiences are usually wise to how it’ll play out. The “nice” one usually gets the love interest. The one the audience has gotten to spend more time with usually gets the love interest. The one the writers have actually spent time developing usually gets the love interest. Sometimes a writer will try to change things up, by making Claire really likable and maybe even more compatible with Bob in some ways than Alice, or by having Alice turn out to not be so nice after all, but usually, all attempts at faking out the audience fall flat. This is why, if the love triangle ends with Alice and Claire dumping Bob, or Alice and Claire hooking up, it’s usually quite refreshing, as well as a genuine shock — deviances from the standard love triangle ending are that rare.

It’s done to death.

This is pretty self-explanatory, but by far my biggest gripe with the trope. It seems like 95% of YA fiction, 99% of television, and at least 70% of romantic films are contractually obligated to have a love triangle. After you’ve seen a couple dozen of them, it gets old! I get that, as a writer, you want to keep the audience on their toes, and throw a wrench into the happy couple’s happiness, bring a bit of excitement into it… but can we have something different, please?

Now, obviously, there are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes, a love triangle can be genuinely compelling and defy these problems. Sometimes, if the characters are likable enough, or if the writing is good enough, I can still find myself enjoying it. And, yeah, I know there’s no escape, so I may as well lean into it and try to have some fun with it.

But when you can’t read three books without tripping over one of these, it gets a tad frustrating. My favorite romances are the ones that just focus on the main couple, or, if there is a secondary love interest, shake up the formula a bit. Love triangles just bore me at best, make me give up on a book altogether at worst. And I know I’m not alone in this.

What about you?

—-

Susan Mesler-Evans is a college student and book blogger, trying to get published. In the meantime, she produces reading and writing related content at susanmeslerevanswrites.com. Subscribe to her blog for book reviews, editorials, author interviews, and more!

Free Book Proposal Contest Publishizer

I’m hosting a guest post today by the wonderful folks over at Publishizer, where they’ve set up a free book proposal contest. I’ll leave the word to them now.

Putting the Readers Back in Charge of Publishing

Imagine a YA publishing process without gatekeepers.  One where editors and agents read the manuscripts that readers love, not vice versa.  One where anyone with a knack for writing, a passion to succeed, and a little flair for self-promotion, has a fair shot at being published.

All too frequently, this isn’t the case.  Books often get rejected for reasons beyond authors’ control.  One editor turned down an ultimately successful book by saying, “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”  The book in question?  The Diary of Anne Frank.  Furthermore, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, only about 10% of all YA books accepted for publication feature “multi-cultural content.”  Clearly, there are some blind spots that need addressing in the publishing industry.

It’s with this vision in mind that Publishizer is launching its YA book proposal contest called Plot Without a Cause.  Publishizer is a startup seeking to fill a hole in the publishing industry through crowdfunding.  It works like this:

You write the book proposal.  You know the book proposal I’m talking about.  The one you’ve been daydreaming about for years.  The one that just popped into your head last week and you haven’t stopped thinking about since.  The one for the manuscript that’s been dearly loved by you but maybe not so much yet by the publishing industry.  That one.  Then you register (for free!) on Publishizer’s website and post your proposal in the Plot Without a Cause section (again—for free!).

Now this is when you’ll have to start hustling.  Crowdfunding runs on pre-orders, so you had better start promoting that proposal.  Reach out over social media, post on your blog, email your old roommates—whatever it takes to start building buzz.  If you get the most preorders by the time the contest ends, you’ll win $1000 dollars.  And if you don’t have the highest number of preorders, don’t worry—you’ll still be queried to major publishers who fit your proposal.

Previous Publishizer contest participants have gotten interest and landed deals with a variety of traditional publishing companies, including Harvard Square Books, She Writes Press, and Weiser.  Publishizer takes a small commission on pre-orders when you choose a publisher at the end.

Every year, thousands of books are rejected by the publishing world for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the book—they’re too mainstream or not mainstream enough, too similar to books already being published or too different from books already being published.  Or the literary agent just doesn’t stand to make much money on the deal so they pass on a perfectly good book!  Imagine how many brilliant YA manuscripts go unpublished every year thanks to frustrating rejections.  Imagine how many hugely talented authors quietly give up on their dreams, just because the gate to a traditional publishing path isn’t open to them.

With their new YA book proposal contest, Plot Without a Cause, Publishizer is seeking to level the playing field.  Publishing decisions shouldn’t be based solely on a literary agent’s judgement or how many friends you have in the industry. They should be based on quality of writing and how many readers the book attracts.

Great books get looked over all the time, and this is an opportunity to show acquiring editors that yours is worth paying attention to.  Not to mention the readership and funds you could gain in the process.  Crowdfunding (or crowd-publishing, in this case) is growing in popularity and brings a personal touch back to book sales—for readers and publishers.  Are you in?

 

Guest Post Spain, Guard my Bones

Today I’m hosting a guest post by Jack Thompson, author of crime thriller “Spain, Guard my Bones”. Welcome, and thanks for visiting my blog! I’ll leave the word to author Jack Thompson now.

Guest Post

Spain is unique. Not as a holiday destination. Other countries clearly compete. But Spain’s history, art and culture, have no parallel in Europe or elsewhere, an almost endless list of names can confirm this. The painters, Goya, Picasso, Dali, El Greco, Velasquez, Murillo; Cervantes, the writer of the very first European novel; the poet, Lorca; the musicians, Albéniz, Granados, De Falla and a host of flamenco artists; plus the legacy in architecture left by the Muslims of Andalucía.

Spanish football’s is a notable aspect al (Real and Barça), as are its tennis players. But many Spanish are turning their backs on the blood-soaked traditions of bullfighting. It’s even banned in Catalonia, partly because the region wants outsiders to see it as culturally separate from the rest of Spain, even independent in its own right. But that’s another story.

Spain though is made ever more interesting by its dark side, not least the brutal civil war in the late 1930s. Franco’s Nationalist rebels fought and defeated Republican government forces. It took them three years. They showed their enemies no mercy. Thousands of soldiers and civilians opposed to Franco were tortured and killed. It was in effect genocide against his own people. Their bodies were shovelled into mass graves and left to rot.

Franco died in1975. Many Spanish welcomed the revival of parliamentary democracy and some sought to exhume the remains of the slaughtered and bury them with dignity. But prejudice in Spain dies hard. Those harking back to what they saw as the stability of Franco’s 36-year dictatorship opposed anything that might remind them of the ruthlessness of the old regime. They are still to be found on the right of the political spectrum. On the left are socialists and communists, accepting among other things the restoration of the monarchy but determined that the Spanish should not forget its past.

Attempts at reconciliation have never really worked even though the political parties subscribed to agreements designed to make the new regime a success. Older people have been reluctant to put aside their differences. This may now be changing as a new generation takes over.

Into this scenario steps my shambling British journalist, Charlie Barrow. He finds the exhumation story fascinating, one he must write up in detail. But in researching it all, he makes enemies, in particular a right-wing politician called Ortiz, anxious to restore dictatorship by means of a coup d’état. Ortiz recruits an embryonic private army made up mainly of Moroccan jihadists but disappears when he’s charged with murder. Charlie wants to find and expose him.

Charlie has staunch friends and allies; a dwarf, Carlito, who is a human rights lawyer; Elena, a beautiful archaeologist; and Manresa, an enlightened officer in the intelligence services.

Charlie gets the story he wants. He unmasks the right wing politician but loses Elena and Carlito along the way.

Into the fabric of the story I have tried to weave coverage of the status of dwarves in Spanish society; the revelation that Carlito is not just a lawyer but a fine player of flamenco guitar music; and suspicions that, even though Elena and Charlie fall in love, she is not quite what she seems. Is she a political agent and which party does she really work for? I have also tried to evoke the atmosphere in present-day Spain with the rise of new parties trying to rid the system of a long-standing and corrupt stitch-up between the main forces of left and right. And in Colonel Manresa I have the ‘good cop’, a different breed from his predecessors under Franco.

The book is a mixture of invention, imagination and references to real people and real events. And I make no apologies for taking sides. Ortiz is an unreconstructed villain. Charlie is a good, honest hack but with foibles aplenty. In a way, Carlito is my favourite character but even he makes mistakes, as when he drags Charlie to his dwarf village in the mountains and shows that he can’t handle the complications of family life.

There’s a lot to digest in this book. But I hope it’s in the best traditions of thriller writing in the English language.

Jack Thompson

About Spain, Guard My Bones

Journalist Charlie Barrow originally intends to explore Spain as a tourist, to relax and escape from the pressures of work. But after his arrival in Castillo, where a mass grave of Civil War victims has been discovered, Barrow can’t resist the temptation to follow his gut and seek answers. Accompanied by an intelligent lawyer, Carlito, and a beautiful archaeologist, Elena, Barrow wastes no time making enemies of a powerful political party and another, misguided, lawyer, Ortiz.
Chasing the story of corruption in a land where old-fashioned political prejudices die hard, Barrow travels from country to city, and back again. Dodging bullets, Arab bodyguards, and untrustworthy officials, the shambling journalist seems certain to face many triumphs as well as the loss of friendships, loves and hopes.

Purchase on Amazon

 
 

Guest Post The Hunter

Writing Makes You Better

A title like that may sound a tad conceited, like writing “makes you better than everyone else around you”. That’s not the sentiment behind the title at all. Instead, it means that writing makes you (the writer) a better version of yourself.

(I’m a firm believer in Hemingway’s words: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” I strive to be a better man than I was yesterday, and the day before, and so on.)

There is a lot of research that illustrates how writing can make you a better person. Here are a few of my favorite ways:

  • Writing makes you happier. Writing is a form of art therapy. You express your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and beliefs onto a piece of paper. You’re no longer bottling them up or ignoring them, so you feel somehow “lighter” for getting them out. Creative and expressive writing can also help to motivate you. Putting the words “I will be more productive” on paper will oddly make you more productive. Call it self-motivation, positive vibes, good energy in the universe—either way, it works!
  • Writing makes you grateful. A lot of people keep journals as a way of tracking their daily activities, emotions, and feelings. They’re also a way to set goals and challenges, and have concrete evidence that you achieved those goals. You’ll find yourself more grateful for the good days, as well as for all the progress you’ve made in the past. This also goes for fiction writers. When you write about the obstacles your characters face, it makes you grateful that YOU don’t have to face those same obstacles. Life is suddenly brighter because your story has put it into perspective.
  • Writing makes you a more effective communicator. It’s easy to get lazy with your communication: emojis are pictures to convey your sentiment, texting slang and hashtags communicate your thoughts and feelings in fewer words, and you rarely get into deeper conversations over text or chat. But when you write, you HAVE to find the right word to communicate what you’re thinking or feeling. It forces you to think more, to try harder, and to work on your communication skills. Writing makes you more cohesive, coherent, and intelligent.
  • Writing is an outlet. Hold all those emotions in, and you’re eventually going to explode. Let them out, and they lose their grip on your mind and heart. Writing gives you a way to let all those emotions—positive and negative—out, clearing room in your psyche and emotions for other thoughts and feelings.
  • Writing can help you cope. If you’ve ever written a scene where a character rationalizes something, analyzes a problem, and finds a solution for it, you know how therapeutic it can be to go from A (problem) to Z (solution). You can come to terms with traumatic experiences by writing about them, and analyzing what you have written.

The truth is that writing taps into your psyche, your intellect, and your emotions. It helps you to access the deeper parts of yourself that may never or rarely see light. In the long run, it makes you a better person—better than you were yesterday!

Book Excerpt

 The Hunter peered out from behind the silent wagon. Good. No sign of Kellen or Graden. He’d have to keep an ear out for the caravan guards, but he should have plenty of time. The patrol had a lot of ground to cover.

Grunting, he shifted the heavy load on his shoulder and darted out from the row of shelters, hurrying toward the outcropping of boulders he’d chosen specifically for his task. He ducked behind the boulders and hurled his burden to the ground. A grunt and muffled cry came from the bundle, and something squirmed within.

He’s coming to. Good timing.

The Hunter pulled back the canvas, and moonlight shone on Rill’s pale, sweat-soaked face and wide eyes. Blood oozed from a wound on the bald man’s temple. The Hunter hadn’t bothered to be gentle.

“W-What?” Rill’s eyes darted around, and his gaze fell on the Hunter. “What is this?”

The Hunter struck the man hard. “Justice.”

Rill made to cry out, but the Hunter stuffed canvas into his mouth. “Ironic, isn’t it?” His fingers twitched a corner of the thick cloth. “You spend every waking hour stitching up canvas. Fitting that it will serve as your funeral shroud. There was more than enough of it around your area to wrap you up.”

The bald man’s eyes widened, and he mumbled something through the mouthful of fabric.

The Hunter shook his head. “Better you don’t speak. Nothing you say can change what’s coming. Best you die with a bit of dignity. Watcher knows you had little enough while you lived.”

Soulhunger, sensing blood, pounded louder in his mind, and the demon added its eager demands.

“I never understood men like you, knocking around your women.” He squatted on his haunches. “Just doesn’t make sense.”

Rill tried in vain to shout through his gag.

The Hunter narrowed his eyes. “Did you know there is a special hell reserved for your kind? Those who take advantage of the helpless.”

He slipped Soulhunger from its sheath, and held the glinting blade before Rill’s eyes. “You may tell yourself she belongs to you, you can do whatever you want.” He leaned forward, and his voice dropped to a low growl. “Just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.”

Rill’s eyebrows shot up, and his expression turned pleading.

The Hunter shook his head. “Save your excuses for the Long Keeper. You’ll be with him soon enough.”

With a vicious smile, he drove Soulhunger through the canvas and into the man’s chest. The gag muffled Rill’s scream, but the dagger’s shriek echoed in his head with mind-numbing force. Soulhunger’s gem flared, red light bright in the darkness. The Hunter grunted as a finger of fire etched a line in his chest. Power coursed through him, setting his muscles twitching, flooding him with life, and pushing back the voices in his mind.

Slowly, the brilliance leaking from the gemstone faded to nothing, and Rill’s screams of agony and terror fell silent. The Hunter basked in the stillness of the night. A soothing breeze washed over him, the chill soothing the burning of his new scar. Glorious silence echoed in his head. The voices had been sated. He had peace, for a time.

He straightened and stared down at the bundled corpse. Perhaps the Long Keeper will have mercy on you.

An image flashed through his mind: a pitiful figure huddled at the entrance to Rill’s tent, covered in filthy rags and reeking of blood and coitus. Rill’s desire to punish Gwen had made it easier for the Hunter to slip in, knock the fat bastard out, wrap him in his own canvas, and slip out unnoticed. The man’s absence wouldn’t be discovered until morning. Few would care.

He took a deep breath, relishing the cool scents of the desert at night. He would wait a few minutes until he was certain Graden and Kellen had passed, then he would dispose of the body, bury the canvas, and slip back into camp. Without the voices shrieking and pleading in his mind, he might even be able to catch a few hours of undisturbed sleep before the morning breakfast bell.

Tonight would be a good night.

The Last Bucelarii (Book 3): Gateway to the Past

The Hunter, legendary assassin of Voramis, has a purpose: protect Hailen, the boy he rescued from a demon in Malandria.

He joins a caravan in the hope of safe passage across the Advanat Desert. Yet he cannot outrun his enemies: the Illusionist Cleric on a holy mission to capture him, the bloodthirsty raiders out for blood and gold, and the Abiarazi, demons who masquerade as humans.

Every step north reveals who he was before becoming the Hunter, unlocking the truth about the woman who haunts his memories.

Fans of Joe Abercrombie, Brandon Sanderson, and Brent Weeks will love the Hunter…

About the Book

Title: The Last Bucelarii (Book 3): Gateway to the Past

Author: Andy Peloquin

Publication Date: March 31st, 2017

Paperback Price: 15.99

Digital Price: 3.99

Pages: 400

ISBN:

Links

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Bucelarii-Book-Gateway-Past-ebook/dp/B06XDKVD47/

Book Launch Event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1264998616922413/

Join my Thunderclap:  https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/54027-the-hunter-s-journey-continues

Author Bio

Andy Peloquin: Lover of All Things Dark and Mysterious

I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist–words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels.

Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It transcends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle–it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand new way. Fiction at its very best!
Website: http://www.andypeloquin.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndyPeloquin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andyqpeloquin

www.linkedin.com/in/andypeloquin/

https://plus.google.com/100885994638914122147/about

https://www.amazon.com/author/andypeloquin

https://www.facebook.com/andrew.peloquin.1

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYAKG5k06vcmc02Uy4fGLfA

http://andypeloquin.com/join-the-club/

 

Guest Post by Dane Cobain

This is a guest post written by author Dane Cobain.

Eleven Easy Author Blog Post Ideas

Blogging is a lot of fun, and many authors find it hugely rewarding. But it can also be a pain in the backside when you’re busy working on a new release and you’re out of ideas for things to write about.

Luckily, even when it feels like you’ve covered everything there are plenty of things for you to write about. Here are eleven of my favourites.

Interview yourself
Draft up a list of questions that you’d like to ask your favourite author, and then ask yourself those same questions. If you draft up a Q&A post and write a short intro and outro, you’ve got yourself a blog post. You can even deliberately ask questions that you want to answer so that you can release information to your followers.

Interview a character
Sometimes it’s best to let your characters do the talking. A character interview follows much the same format as a regular interview, except that you – as the author and the characters’ creator – get to respond to the questions in a different ‘voice’, potentially revealing backstory in a way that’s not otherwise possible.

Write about your writing
Be sure to post regular updates to keep your followers up to date with what you’re working on. This can include the word counts of your works in progress, the estimated release dates of upcoming releases, and information about any physical events that you’ll be appearing at.

Post a bonus scene
If you have any bonus material that didn’t make it into a book, posting it on your website can be a great way of stopping it from going to waste. If not, you can still consider posting excerpts of your books to drum up excitement and to give readers a free sample before they make a purchase.

Run a competition
Running a competition on your blog can have a dramatic effect on the number of visits that your site receives, and combining this tactic with tools like Rafflecopter can help to boost your social media following at the same time. Gift vouchers make a good prize and tend to pick up plenty of entries, but if money is tight then you can still give away e-copies of your published works.

Post a teaser
Readers love to see what you’re working on, so it can be a good idea to share a teaser from your current work in progress. This also has the advantage of opening your work up to reader feedback, which you can use to improve it before it goes through proper editing.

Review a book
By sharing your take on the books that you read, you can catch the eyes of mainstream authors by talking about their work while inviting readers to come and see what you’re into. Bonus points if you share your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads!

Introduce your workspace
Take a few photos of your office or workspace and share them with a blog post that talks about why you chose to set it up like that. Be sure to include fun facts about your writing that you haven’t mentioned elsewhere and to take individual photographs of any particular points of interest.

A day in the life
Share a post that takes your readers through a typical day in your life as an author. Be sure to include the times that you do things, such as editing in the morning, working on a new novel in the afternoon and catching up with emails in the evening.

Do a little travel writing
Next time you take a holiday or a short trip for work, keep notes about where you go and what you do and turn it into a blog post on your return. Share photos and videos if you have them, and tag any relevant businesses and organisations when you share the link.

Just write
Sometimes the best work comes from just letting yourself go and jotting down whatever comes to mind. Using this stream-of-consciousness approach to write a blog post tends to either work well or not at all, but even if you don’t end up publishing it, at least it’ll get you thinking and start the words flowing.

Your Turn
What do you do when you can’t think of what to blog about? Do you have any tips of your own to share with us? Let us know what you think!

About the author

This post is written by Dane Cobain and sponsored by Publishing Addict, an organisation that specialises in building websites for authors to help them to establish a brand, connect with their readers and to sell more books.

Guest Post Eternal Darkness

Guest Post: SMALL TOWN HORROR

By Tom Deady

I was thirteen when I picked up Salems Lot from one of those spinning wire book racks in a local Woolworths. Vampires in a small Maine town? Sounded good to me! I devoured that book, reading late into the night despite having school the next day. How could I go to sleep and leave the Glicks and Ben and Mark and the Marsten House? ‘Salem’s Lot felt like home to me. And so began my lifelong journey as a horror fan turned horror writer.

Forty years later, ‘Salems Lot remains one of my favorite novels. Others on that list include IT, Boys Life, and Summer of Night. It doesn’t take long to see the common thread that runs through these stories – aside from the great writing – is the small town setting. What is it about these stories that draw in so many?

Small town life is an interesting dichotomy. On one hand, everybody knows everybody, and there are often more social gatherings like farmers’ markets or parades for people to get together. There is a sense of community, more than that, a sense of comfort.

On the other hand, does anybody really know anybody? You trust your neighbors and those in positions of authority (mayors, police officers, even parents, etc), but should you? When everybody is worried about “what will the neighbors think?” you have to start to question what they’re up to behind closed doors.

There are many examples, in several horror stories, where the people you think you can trust are really the villain. Stephen King uses this concept often: Big Jim Rennie in Under the Dome and Frank Dodd in The Dead Zone come to mind. Another person of authority often used as a villain: a parent. It’s a special kind of terror when a person has nowhere to turn. After all, home is supposed to be a place you think of safety, comfort, shelter. A place where you can retreat when you need to. When your home is unsafe, there is no comfort. No safety. No protection.

Small town life can also mean isolation. Long stretches of tree-lined country roads are the only way in or out. Deserted houses on the outskirts of town. Lonely ponds or lakes or river beds. No public transportation to hop on, no heavily populated places to just blend into the crowd. Just you and your town, your home, and all your neighbors, good and bad. Throw in a blizzard, a washed out bridge, or a power failure, and then what do you do? Isolation is a powerful component of horror.

I recently reread Salems Lot and was not surprised to see it holds up against the test of time. Small towns may not be the same as they were forty years ago, and technology makes it difficult for anyone to ever feel isolated, but there are some things that never change. Growing up is always going to be hard: there will always be bullies and cliques and cool kids and misfits. The coming-of-age themes found in Salems Lot and the other books I mentioned isn’t a trope, it’s a fact of life.

Relationships, whether friendships or romances, are also difficult. For kids and adults. Ben and Susan in ‘Salem’s Lot, Bill Denbrough and Beverly Marsh from IT – the challenges are always there and seem magnified under the lens of a small town.

Reading Salems Lot as a young teen, I took comfort in knowing – even though it was fiction – that other people were facing the same struggles I was. Today, as a writer, I would like to be able to capture that same feeling and pass it along to my readers.

  I used small town settings in both Haven and Eternal Darkness, as well as a strong coming-of-age theme in each of the stories. If I’ve done it right, older readers will get a whiff of nostalgia, but maybe, just maybe, younger readers will find a nugget of hope to help them through their struggles. Either way, I hope I at least throw a few good scares into them!

Perfect For Fans of The Paperback Horror Days, Don’t Miss Eternal Darkness by Tom Deady!

Available For Pre-Order Now – Reserve Your Copy Today

Holliston, MA – January, 12, 2017 – Tom Deady, acclaimed author of Haven, is releasing another horror book, Eternal Darkness. For fans of old-school horror and character-driven stories with people you can identify with, this is sure to be a hit. Following the author’s debut novel Haven, Tom Deady’s Eternal Darkness novel promises a deeper look at the secrets people hide from one another, and the malice right next door.

“First and foremost, that’s what Tom Deady is about as an author: story. And those are my favorite kinds of writers,” says Richard Chizmar, owner of Cemetery Dance and author of A Long December. “Tom understands this traditional school of writing very well, and if his first two novels are any indication of his focus and growth as an author, all of us readers are in for many more treats in the future. Tom Deady is a true storyteller, and I can offer no higher words of praise,” says Chizmar.

Something is killing the people of Bristol, Massachusetts. Do you dare to find out what? First, a young boy goes missing. Then, his abusive father is slaughtered. Next, his grieving mother burns in an unnatural fire. The only thing you know for sure? Something’s not right. Ben Harris and his best friends Richie and Jack know the stories. Now, they must separate truth from lore when they dig for answers. Who will survive and who will succumb to the eternal darkness?

If there are three things to know about Tom Deady’s Eternal Darkness it’s:

  • Someone Has Moved Into The Old Brewster Place
  • Something Is Killing People
  • Sometimes You Can’t Fight Your Own Destiny

“Tom Deady writes the type of novels that made me a fan of the genre decades ago – big, hefty books about regular folks fighting monsters against incredible odds,” says Pete Kahle, owner & founder of Bloodshot Books. “I’m ecstatic that we are able to debut Bloodshot Books’ line of original novels with Eternal Darkness. We need more authors like Tom,” says Kahle.

Perfect for fans of the paperback horror days. Richard Chizmar says, “It would be too easy to tell you that Eternal Darkness is reminiscent of early Stephen King. Sure, it features a small town New England setting, a large cast of colorful children sprinkled with a handful of flawed adults, and a monster straight out of your nightmares. If it sounds like I just described ‘Salem’s Lot or IT, there’s probably a good reason for that.”

Whether you are a fan of Haven looking for more, or new to Tom Deady’s work, Eternal Darkness from Bloodshot Books should be on your 2017 release radar. Pre-order your copy of Eternal Darkness on Amazon Kindle today: http://amzn.to/2ibyj9p

About Tom Deady:

Tom Deady, born and raised in Malden, Massachusetts, is not far from the historic (and spooky) town of Salem. He has endured a career as an IT professional, but his dream has always been to be a writer.

Tom has a Masters Degree in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University, and is a member of both the Horror Writers Association and the New England Horror Writers.

Tom’s first novel, Haven, was released in 2016 by Cemetery Dance Publications.

His new release, Eternal Darkness will be published by Bloodshot Books.

As always, he is actively working on his next novel.

Blog Tour: A Knightsbridge Scandal

Guest Post: Is Flora Maguire a Suffragist?

A Knightsbridge Scandal is set in London in 1903, and during my research I couldn’t avoid that this was the year Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union.

My knowledge of Suffragettes was restricted to stories of hunger strikes and Glynis John’s singing and wearing a, ‘Votes For Women’ banner in Mary Poppins – well maybe not quite as simplistic as that, but my facts were sketchy.

That the women who gathered in tea rooms planning to deface works of arts and eat vegetarian lunches to change the laws made by big bad government men was only half the story. There were two factions fighting for women’s rights; the Suffragists, or non-militant arm led by Millicent Garret Fawcett who had been campaigning to instigate change in parliament for women forty years before Emmeline Pankhurst threw her first brick through a window. Then there were the Suffragettes; Mrs Pankhurst’s more aggressive splinter group whose WSPU made the cause less acceptable to society and probably put the cause back years.

In the early 20th Century, it wasn’t only women who were denied the vote, but one in three of the male population did not qualify for the ballot either. Young men were happily conscripted to fight Britain’s wars, but had no vote unless they owned property or paid a minimum rent of £10 a year.

In fact ‘Votes For Women’ also fought for ladies who owned property, while those from the lower classes were excluded from their manifesto. The poor and indigent, men as well as women, weren’t seen as worthy of a vote in their own government.

The 1918 Representation of the People Act brought more than five million men over the age of 21 into the electorate without regard to property or class as well as over eight million women over 30; although the majority of these did not qualify for reasons of property ownership. It wasn’t until the 1928 Act that this changed.

So what are Flora Maguire’s views in this area?

Flora is a modern young woman who sees the need for change, but she isn’t the type to break with convention to the extent she’ll vandalise a work of art or chain herself to railings to make her point. I gave her a middle of the road view in that she admired Mrs Garrett Fawcett’s principles as the way forward, but regards Mrs Pankhurst and her radical ideas a step too far. Flora believes this behaviour might well persuade the male population that women were irresponsible, flighty creatures in need of control that the male population have always believed. How could women who chain themselves to railings be trusted with the responsibility of something as important as the vote?

Flora is also keenly aware that had she remained a governess and not married to a solicitor who owned property, she too would have been excluded from any legislation achieved by these women.

In A Knightsbridge Scandal Flora attends a National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society meeting and hears Miss Evelyn Sharp expound the new WSPU formed in Manchester. However like many of the audience, Flora isn’t at all happy with this new group who advocate a campaign of civil disobedience.

Flora therefore becomes a passive Suffragist, believing the whole of society needs to be more equal, not just wealthy, upper class ladies who preside over tea tables in drawing rooms.

I also included a scene where Flora is taken for tea at Prince’s Ice Rink where The Women’s Exhibition hosted by the Women’s Social and Political Union was held six years later in May 1909.

Maybe she’ll even meet her heroine one day.

Millcent Fawcett worked tirelessly until her seventies, but was only 56 when this book is set and living at 2 Gower Street, a house she lived in for almost 65 years. Years where she was involved in international women’s suffrage, the opening up university education to women, raising the age of consent, making horticulture a possible employment for women, criminalising incest, providing homes for middle-class working women, and even for offering a German ‘open-air treatment’ to tuberculosis sufferers.

An excellent Blog which provides varied information and some interesting stories on the Women’s Suffrage Movement is Elizabeth Crawford’s Women and Their Sphere:   https://womanandhersphere.com/

Anita Davison

Anita’s earlier novels are set in 17th Century England, with a family saga set in Exeter during the Monmouth Rebellion and a biographical novel about Elizabeth Murray during the English Civil War in Surrey. Her fascination with the revival of cosy mysteries made her turn to the early 1900’s for inspiration where she found Flora Maguire lurking. The series of five novels was taken up for publication by Aria Fiction, a digital imprint of Head of Zeus Publishing.

Murder on the Minneapolis is available here [http://tinyurl.com/z2ly6lm] and Murder at Cleeve Abbey can be pre-ordered here. [http://tinyurl.com/zkqhx37]

Anita’s Blog – http:thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/anita.davison

Twitter – @AnitaSDavison

 

 

About the book

1903 London is bustling and glamourous. With troubling secrets simmering and worrying signs of war Flora Maguire must solve a deadly mystery which leads right to the heart of the corridors of power.

Flora Maguire has escaped the country to enjoy some time in fashionable Knightsbridge, London. Extravagant shops, exuberant theatres and decadent restaurants mean 1903’s London is a thrilling adventure, but there are dark secrets threatening from the continent.

When the body of a London socialite, and leading light of the burgeoning women’s movement, is found outside The Grenadier public house, Flora can’t resist investigating.

Mysterious letters are discovered in the victim’s belongings, strange links to the foreign office and why do the clues keep coming back to the assassination of a Baltic king?

As Flora closes in on the killer, it soon becomes clear she is no longer safe in London, but will her husband Bunny be able to get to her before it’s too late?

 

Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kWvr0O

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2kPIFtP

iBooks: http://apple.co/2kzDdg8

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2kbPt2U

 

 

Book 1 – Flora’s Secret is out now:

Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2cJhzSn

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2cJhiOZ

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2cTUtaF

iBooks: http://apple.co/2fY9bij

 

Book 2 – Betrayal at Cleeve Abbey is out now

Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2edQSnv

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2ffZN8x

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2ggohDw

iBooks: http://apple.co/2eZFkni

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Facebook: @ariafiction

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

NetGalley: http://bit.ly/2lkKB0e

Sign up to the Aria newsletter: http://bit.ly/2jQxVtV

Guest Post Child of the Night Guild

I’m hosting a guest post today for the release of “Child of the Night Guild” by Andy Peloquin. I’ll leave the word to Andy now, who talks about his process for clean manuscripts.

My Process for Clean Manuscripts

In my (few) years of writing and submitting manuscripts to editors, I’ve had most of them tell me, “This is one of the cleanest manuscripts I’ve seen.” I attribute that to the incredibly thorough editing process I subject my books to before they’re ever turned into the publisher.

The first step is sending the book off to alpha readers, people who read the first draft and give me feedback on the “broad strokes” of the story, characters, plot, plot twists, etc. I give alpha readers six weeks to read, and during that time I’m working on another project. That way, when I come back to the manuscript, it’s like I’m approaching it with fresh eyes.

As I work on improving the book according to the alpha reader suggestions and feedback, I go over every sentence with painstaking care to make it as perfect as I can. I often end up rewriting large portions of the book to flesh out details, tighten up mistakes I made in the first draft, and basically cleaning everything up. My goal is to make it as perfect as possible by the time I send it off to beta readers.

Beta readers will go through it and offer feedback on the story at large, but they’ll also look at the nitty gritty: show vs. tell, passive vs. active, character elements, sentence structure, grammar, flow, and all the rest. That’s another six weeks dedicated to another project while the beta readers get out their red pens and slice and dice.

After the beta reading phase, I go over the manuscript and make changes according to their suggestions. I DON’T read each sentence over, but I simply edit the mistakes and make the changes they recommend. It’s a much quicker phase, allowing me to get to the next stage faster.

The next, most important stage is also the last one before submitting the work to the editors. I print out the book and read it on paper. I find that the words that looked good on the computer screen often don’t read as well on paper. So this final phase helps me to really focus on the flaws that come out as I’m reading the “final” version.

After I find all the mistakes on paper, I give the manuscript one more pass to correct everything. Once I’m sure it’s done and I’ve corrected all the mistakes, it’s off to the editor (where it goes through 2 additional rounds of editing before formatting and publication).

Yes, this is a long, drawn-out process that takes me far longer than a writer who goes through fewer rounds of self-editing. We’re talking a total of 8-9 months of time, with around 5-6 months of solid work invested in writing, rewriting, and editing. But it leads to cleaner manuscripts with fewer errors and better all-round quality of writing. I know my readers appreciate my perfectionism!

About the Book

Title: Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1)

Author: Andy Peloquin

Publication Date: Jan 17, 2017

Paperback Price:

Digital Price: 2.99

Pages: 401

ASIN: B01N1TC3VW

Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1)

“They killed my parents. They took my name. They imprisoned me in darkness. I would not be broken.”

Viola, a child sold to pay her father’s debts, has lost everything: her mother, her home, and her identity. Thrown into a life among criminals, she has no time for grief as she endures the brutal training of an apprentice thief. The Night Guild molds an innocent waif into a cunning, agile outlaw skilled in the thieves’ trade. She has only one choice: steal enough to pay her debts.

The cutthroat streets of Praamis will test her mettle, and she must learn to dodge the City Guards or swing from a hangman’s rope. But a more dangerous foe lurks within the guild walls. A sadistic rival apprentice, threatened by her strength, is out for blood.

What hope does one girl have in a world of ruthless men?

Fans of Sarah J. Maas, Scott Lynch, and Brent Weeks will love Queen of Thieves…

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Canada

Goodreads

Book Launch Event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/336765836707837/

Join my Thunderclap: http://thndr.me/fdeiQu

Author Bio

Andy Peloquin: Lover of All Things Dark and Mysterious

I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist–words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels.
Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It transcends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle–it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand new way. Fiction at its very best!
Website: http://www.andypeloquin.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndyPeloquin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andyqpeloquin

www.linkedin.com/in/andypeloquin/

https://plus.google.com/100885994638914122147/about

https://www.amazon.com/author/andypeloquin

https://www.facebook.com/andrew.peloquin.1

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYAKG5k06vcmc02Uy4fGLfA

http://andypeloquin.com/join-the-club/

10 Things You Need to Know About Me:

  1. Hot wings, ALWAYS!
  2. I never forget a face, but rarely remember a name.
  3. I’m a head taller than the average person (I’m 6′ 6″)
  4. Marvel > DC
  5. I was born in Japan, and lived there until the age of 14.
  6. Selena Gomez, Skrillex, Simon & Garfunkel, Celine Dion, and Five Finger Death Punch are all in my writing playlist.
  7. Aliens are real, but it’s self-centered of us to believe that they would come to visit Earth.
  8. Watching sports: suck. Playing sports: EPIC!
  9. I earned a purple belt in Karate/Hapkido/Taekwondo.
  10. I dislike most Christmas music, aside from Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Favorite Books: The Gentlemen Bastards by Scott Lynch, The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson, Sherlock Holmes by A.C. Doyle, Warlord of Mars by E.R. Burroughs

Favorite Songs: Wrong Side of Heaven by Five Finger Death Punch, Prayer by Disturbed, I’m an Albatraoz by AronChupa, Look Down from Les Miserables, Shatter Me by Lindsay Sterling and Lizzi Hale

Favorite Movies: 300, Red Cliff, Shoot Em Up, Love Actually, Princess Bride

Favorite Comics: Anything with Deadpool, Wolverine or Doop in it

Favorite Foods: Hot Wings, Meat-Lover’s Salad, A good sandwich (made by me), Yaki Soba, Sushi

Favorite TV Shows: The Flash, Daredevil, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawaii Five-0, Brooklyn 99, Firefly (too soon!), The Last Ship, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones

Reviews:

“Creative, gritty, and beautifully dark…fantasy addicts will love it!” — Peter Story, author of Things Grak Hates — http://peterjstory.com/

“The fantasy world has a compelling new antihero…the Hunter will terrify and captivate you.” – Eve A Floriste, author of Fresh Cut

“From the first words on the page this fantasy holds the reader spellbound even after the book is finished…his character is very well-defined even if his past is a mystery. Root for an assassin? Oh, yes, one must!” — Carol Conley, for InDTale Magazine

“Oh the carnage! Fantastic bloodthirsty carnage! The fight scenes in this book were fast-paced, detailed and thrilling. I love a good sword fight and there is plenty of that here.” — Ami L. Hart

“One could get lost in this novel for its twisting plots, seemingly endless imagination, dark yet irresistible characters, or the mind-numbing paradox of its simultaneously dark and romantic world. One could follow the long and winding road of the dusky, fierce protagonist and fight tooth and nail not to sympathize with him. One could dance in the dizzying, intricate circles of Peloquin’s neo-mythology, or even basque in the black sunlight of a well-crafted gothic novel that both entertains and enlightens.” — Jesse G. Christiansen

Book Excerpt

We’ve been at this for hours! When will he let us rest? Mind numb from hunger and fatigue, Viola placed one weary foot in front of the other. Blood dripped from cuts in her hands, arms, and forehead.

Master Velvet refused to let up. “Your past is gone, your families forgotten. You have no names, no identities. You are nothing more than a number until it is deemed fit to give you a name.”

The children called out as one, “Yes, Master Velvet!”

“Everything you are, everything you will be, you owe to the Night Guild. We are your masters, your creators, your gods.” The tirade had repeated for endless hours, but Master Velvet never seemed to have enough.

“Yes, Master Velvet!”

Master Velvet’s voice cracked like a carter’s whip. “Disobedience will be punished harshly. Obedience will be rewarded well. Learn this and you will flourish in the Night Guild.”

Viola’s legs wobbled, her shoulders ached, and her arms shook from exertion. “Yes, Master Velvet!”

“Forget everything you know. Forget life outside this room. You eat, sleep, and shit at my command.”

“Yes, Master Velvet!” Viola’s voice cracked from thirst and fatigue. She wanted to lie down, to close her eyes, to sleep.

Master Velvet snarled in her ear. “You live and die at the pleasure of the Night Guild. You belong to the Guild mind, body, and soul. What are you?”

“We are tyros, Master Velvet.”

He crouched beside her. “And what are tyros?”

“Lower than dirt, Master Velvet!”

A satisfied smile spread across his face. “Empty your buckets and set them on the floor beside the barrels. Double speed, my drudges.”

Viola tried to move faster, but her feet refused. By the time she reached the barrel at the far end of the room, only one other child remained. The boy, barely taller than her, had yet to empty his bucket. He strained to lift his heavy load. His hands trembled uncontrollably—a permanent condition that made even eating and drinking difficult. Water splashed down his tunic, turning the dirt to mud.

Emptying her pail, Viola dropped to the sodden ground with a half-sob, half-groan of relief.

“Get up, tyros!” Master Velvet would not let them rest.

Tears of exhaustion and frustration streaming, she climbed to her feet. Though her back protested, she forced herself straight when Master Velvet approached.

Stand tall, no matter what. Mama’s words echoed in her thoughts. I’m trying, Mama, but I’m so tired!

“Chow time, my drudges. You’ll find that table over there loaded with delights to fill your little bellies. Eat. You have done well.”

Someone had piled the table high with fruits, sweetmeats, and treats. She’d been too exhausted to notice. The scent of fresh bread, cinnamon rolls, and pastries wafted toward her. Her stomach rumbled in anticipation.

Master Velvet placed a hand on her shoulder. “Not you, Seven. You were the first to fail, so an example must be made.”

“B-But…” Viola couldn’t put up more than a weak protest.

“Off with you, Seven. To your bunk and reflect on your weakness.” His dark eyes held no kindness. “Pray to the Watcher for strength to survive.”

“Y-Yes, Master Velvet.” She turned away to hide her tears.

“Perhaps you’ll try harder tomorrow, Seven.” He spoke without a trace of compassion or pity in his voice. “If you want to have any hope of survival here in the Night Guild, this will be the last time you fail.”

Hunger gnawed at Viola’s belly, but it could not outweigh the bone-deep weariness. She forced herself not to look at the other children, to block out the sounds of their eating. Feet leaden, she turned to the tunnel that led to their sleeping quarters.

Tears flowed in earnest once she reached the darkness of the passage. Sobs of anger, desperation, and frustration washed over her, shaking her body like a leaf in a whirlwind.

Slamming the door shut behind her, she threw herself onto her bunk and buried her head in the thin pillow. She didn’t care that her clothes were soaking wet or that she hadn’t had any water to drink for hours. She wouldn’t allow any of the others to see her cry.

Bright Lady, hear me and protect me in my hour of need. Her parched throat refused to form the words.

The prayer had comforted her in the past, but now it felt empty. The hunger, exhaustion, and thirst remained. Minutes ticked by in silence. Nothing happened.

She balled her fists and swallowed the ache in her belly. Down here, she was all alone. The Bright Lady can’t hear me.

Why would she? The goddess of healing hadn’t heard when she’d prayed for Mama and baby Rose. The gods were far away, if they cared at all. Mama was gone and Papa had left her here. In this place, she was the only one she could count on. She had to be strong, just as she had been after Mama died.

I will get through another day. Just one more.

Guest Post The Machine Society

I’m hosting a guest post today by author Mike Brooks, sharing five writing tips. Thanks for visiting!

Guest Post: My Top 5 Writing Tips

jhp57485c0e0d757Turn the internal critic into an internal supervisor
A lot of writers seem to like to beat themselves up. I’ve done it myself. Why are we so unkind to ourselves?! ‘I haven’t written enough – what I’ve written isn’t good enough – I’ll never write as well as such and such!’
These kinds of thoughts can no doubt assail any writer from time to time, but I want to suggest that this sort of internal critic is not particularly useful. Instead, try and turn the internal critic – a kind of internal enemy – into an internal supervisor, who is able to critique but also encourage. This is a technique I try to use generally in life – it can be applied to writing and most other things too.
For example, instead of thinking, ‘I’ve got writer’s block – I’ll never write again!’ how about, ‘The words aren’t flowing at the moment – but this has happened before and I know it doesn’t last forever.’ This is about being kind to ourselves.
Sadly, there is no fast track to improving our craft. But rather than feeling tempted to despair and criticise ourselves, we can tell tell ourselves we’re putting in the hours so we know there is more stuff on the way and at least some of it will be good.
 
Find your unique writing zone
My ideal writing zone is to have days of free time at my disposal – take a week off by myself – then I know that each day I will be able to fit in one or two long sessions of writing, which guarantees 12,000 or more words in a week – heaven!
I realise this is quite a luxury – and this is why my novel took nearly six years to write.
Failing this, organising a weekend by cancelling all appointments and switching off my phone also works well.
By contrast, when I’m editing, I like to print out sheets of paper and work at it while sitting on a train or on the Tube – it doesn’t matter if it’s noisy and busy.
But this is just what works for me. The trick, I think, is to find your own best writing place and style – then make it happen.
 
Do courses or join a writing group
I’ve been writing for years, whether professionally as a reporter/editor or creatively and, while sadly I’m not a best-selling novelist, I had somehow acquired the idea that I must be pretty good.
Then, recently, a friend asked me to write his memoirs – something I hadn’t done before – and I had to admit that I didn’t know how to approach it. I could guess, but it would be just that: guesswork.
The fact is, with the many styles and genres of writing – journalism, academic writing, novels, memoirs, essays – few if anyone has good grasp on them all. A simple solution is to do a course.
When I started the memoir writing course, I admit I felt a little huffy: ‘What can you show me? I’m so experienced!’ And yet, the course was a revelation. Turns out that writing a memoir is not dissimilar to novel writing – you spent time in the moment with the protagonist, describing the scene, drawing on the senses, using ‘show don’t tell’ and including dialogue. I was amazed and inspired.
The fact is, whenever I do a course – or join a writer’s group – I always learn something new.
 
Speak with your own voice
For many years, I think I held myself back by trying to be what I thought a writer should be, rather than being myself.
I imagined I should be writing profound life-changing literature. But the truth was, I didn’t read much of what passes for high brow literature; I preferred short comic novels or sci-fi or quirky left-field fiction. You could say that, in writing terms, there was a mismatch between my ideal self and my real self.
Then I was inspired by the work of Philip K Dick. Not specifically by his writing – although I like it, especially the ideas he conveys – but by the fact that he wrote so much. Just have a look at his bibliography – it’s vast!
I had a light bulb moment. Rather than thinking I had to slave away trying to be the next Tolstoy, I thought: I’m just going to churn something out like PKD did! This might not be the most noble approach to writing, but it set me free.
I thought: I’m just going to start and keep writing and see what comes out. No longer feeling a need to check that every sentence was Tolstoyesque (is that a word?) I simply wrote from the heart. I thought: I don’t know what’s going to come out – but it will be mine alone and I can be proud of it regardless; I can only be me!
 
Dare to go on a journey – dare to be challenged and surprised
From my experience – whatever I’m writing – it’s working best when I get myself into a place where I’m completely alone with the laptop and the words. I allow myself to focus, to pay attention, to sink into the work. In this place, characters in a novel might suddenly say something I’m not expecting. The characters take on their own life. I feel like I’m ‘in the zone’. It’s intense, and I can generally only maintain it for two hours at a time.
What’s happening? My belief is that when we write we are accessing our unconscious in a powerful way. The unconscious is always there, but writing seems to be a way of drawing out hidden parts of our psyche.
For example, I had this insight. I knew the main protagonist in my novel was a cipher for my own wishes and struggles in life; but then I realised the whole cast of characters represented different parts of me: the goody-goody, the selfish one, the brave one, the angry one, the vulnerable one, the noble one. When we allow ourselves to open up to ourselves, we open up a conduit to the unconscious, and we might be surprised – and perhaps challenged or delighted – by what comes out. I believe this approach to writing can also be cathartic and therapeutic.
 

About the Book

Mike Brooks’ debut novel is an adventure story set in a dystopian future in which our taste for branding, consumerism and artificial reality is boundless. In /The Machine Society/, he weaves together psychological insight, philosophical reflection and spiritual inquiry to give us a novel that is both a deep satire on modern life and a rich metaphor for our longing to find inner peace. Dean Rogers lives in the Perimeter of New London, holding down a soul-destroying job, surrounded by people who have lost the will to communicate. He is afraid his debts will spiral out of control, resulting in him being cast out of the city, outside of the Security Wall. Meanwhile, in the Better Life Complex, New London’s rich elite live in plastic luxury, unaware of the sinister secrets that underpin their world. /The Machine Society/ is an original and intelligent sci-fi thriller, and a heartfelt rally cry for the soul’s liberation.

Author Bio

4688Mike Brooks was born in Edinburgh, grew up in south Manchester, and now lives in London.
After completing a psychology degree at the University of Central Lancashire, he trained as a journalist and went on to work for various newspapers and publications in Manchester, Yorkshire and London. He is currently the editor and communications manager for an international development agency.

His first outing in fiction was the satirical comic book The Big Holy One, published by HarperCollins, which poked fun at religious extremism, thereby delighting non-conformists and enraging fundamentalists.

His taste for quirky off-beat literature continued with the publication of Al McNac’s Almanac, a spoof 19th century almanac, which contained elements of steam punk before the term had been coined. Next came a number of short story projects.

In recent years, Brooks has turned his attention to novel writing, with a particular focus on futuristic fiction as vehicle through which to critique our modern world and life as we know it. His debut novel is in part the fruition of a life-long passion for exploring spiritual, philosophical and psychological ideas. The ultimate questions, he says, are ‘What is life all about?’ and ‘Why is advertising so annoying?’.
When not writing, Mike Brooks is an amateur musician and a professionally-trained psychotherapist.

Mike Brooks Website

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Guest Post The Image Yoga: Holistic Guide to a Flawless Self-Image

Please welcome author Libelle Royce to my blog, who talks about beauty today.

Guest Post: Beauty – A myth, a perception or is beauty the beast?

“He fell into despair and lost all hope…for who could learn how to love a beast ~ The Beauty and the Beast”

I remember reading the very popular fairy tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve “The Beauty and the Beast! It is a classic tale describing how we make most of our choices based on visual appeal rather than instinctive wisdom. Even though the beast turned into a handsome prince in the end, still if it were to me I wouldn’t have ended it the same way. I wouldn’t have catered to the mass appeal by beautifying my protagonist just to sell it. That’s the upside, commercialization is extracting in today’s world too. They make people think that anyone can look beautiful rather than assuring them that they already are!

The highest form of service is to uplift someone’s state of mind”

So many philosophers have defined their own versions of beauty and I admire each one of them for braving against the norms. I really hope, bit by bit we all resolve to change the definition of physical beauty which I feel is the greatest curse to the mankind and banish body shaming that is spreading like an epidemic. Especially the most vulnerable and impressionable of all, acutely affected by this are young children who witness this prejudice every single day and lose their self-esteem to the ruling pseudo mandates of the society.

Here is my definition of beauty that is truly heartfelt and hope it changes at least one opinion out there…

Beauty is in the unbiased adoptive nature of darkness that makes everything obscure and incomprehensible. Beast is in the discriminating nature of light that illuminates everything only to be judged later. Beauty (light) is the beast; Beast (dark) is the beauty!”

Beauty is in the ‘Acceptance’ and beast is in the ‘Prejudice’! I sincerely wish that the generations to come learn more about appreciating each other and unconditionally accepting their nascent selves rather than becoming a hollow versions of the ones propagating this morbid prejudice on the first place!

Best Wishes,

Libelle Royce

About the Book

imageyogaTitle: The Image Yoga: Holistic Guide to a Flawless Self-Image

Author: Libelle Royce

Genre: Personal Development and Self-Help

 Do you know your Soul color or your dominant Chakra? Do you know your body type well enough to be mindful of this knowledge while shopping for clothes? Do you know that to heal your personal image, you first need to heal that closet of yours? Have you ever wondered that there is a certain pattern in everyone’s clothing style and fashion propensities that is closely centred around various fashion archetypes. Do you know your fashion totem, a constant reminder of your true nature that has the power to shift your mood instantly for better well-being? To know all these answers get hold this personal grooming and style development handbook. The Image Yoga is an earnest attempt to help the reader find their true inner self and make wiser fashion choices. It is really unfortunate when most of the women simply follow what is in trend without knowing whether or not it resonates with their inner persona, image, character or fashion archetype. This book marks the journey of your Image transformation with the help of five basic Image boosting techniques listed as Image Asanas, a unique (never been written before) and holistic approach, that would not only help you look good but most importantly make you feel good as well. The book uses guided visualization technique which is an ancient yogic tool that helps the yogi bring their inner most aspirations and essence to the surface from the sub-conscious with astonishing answers, they never knew existed within themselves.

Author Bio

imageyogaauthorLibelle Royce (pseudonym for Deepti Prashanth), is an Image Consultant and Wellness Coach by profession living in New Delhi, India. She aspires to help women of varying age groups boost their self-image and self-confidence with her words. She loves writing about spirituality and motivational Zen philosophies. She is an active blogger who is married and has a son. She loves travelling and is a huge fan of Deepak Chopra’s writing.

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