Writers-Wheel-Magazine-Issue-6-Midsummer-2015

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Writers-Wheel-Magazine-Issue-6-Midsummer-2015

The FREE online creative writing magazineSummer 2015MIDSUMMER 2015Issue 6Publications are not a teaching qualificationEmma SegarThe Changing Character of FictionN.E. DavidThe Dating GameSimon WhaleySummer2015issue6


2New Fiction


Summer 2015We are now in midsummer,though those of usin Ireland might disputethat. We have a lovely summerycover though and wehave to thank artist, vocalistand writer Dielle Ciescoto thank for use of thepainting. Tonal artist and writer Stuart Davieswho is her husband provided two of our previouslovely covers.In this issue N. E. David discusses the changingcharacter of literary fiction and challenges theassumption of whether it is necessary for a pieceof literature to be meaningful or whether weshould not simply enjoy a book for the sake ofthe story itself rather than its effect. Creativewriting teacher Emma Segar talks about dislikingthe idea that creative writing courses shouldbe an opportunity to bask in the presence of genius.How talent is not infectious and howlearning and teaching requires hard work, nomatter how much natural aptitude the teacheror students start out with. And regular contributorSimon Whaley observes that writing is a bitlike speed-dating. If we’re not flirting with publishersand agents, then we’re seducing editorswith our ideas and readers with our passion forwords. The trouble is, we really should take themore professional approach. After all, cornychat-up lines could have editors and publishersremembering us for all of the wrong reasons.Find out how to take the more professional approachin The Dating Game.Also in this issue, Sharon Boothroyd tells us theSecret to Competition Success and How to SetUp an Online Writing Group, and we have aninterview with our very own Writer's Wheelteam member, successful author Sarah-BethWatkins. We also have the final instalment ofour short fiction series Hera Pan by Helen Noble.As well as three further fabulous short stories,we have Jennifer Copley to thank for thisissue's poetry collection.As well as other helpful articles and tips on writingin this issue. You can find more writing tipsthrough the following websites:FacebookTwitterCompass BlogHappy Writing,The Writer's Wheel TeamWriter’s Wheel now invites contributionsfor the next issue ofthe on-line quarterly magazine.There is no payment as Writer’sWheel is purely a voluntaryeffort. So please do include links.We are particularly interested infeatures, articles and interviewsfrom beginners, authors, publishersand readers on all writing-related subjects. Writer’sWheel is a stable mate of CompassBooks, the writers’ resourceimprint of John HuntPublishing and the material submittedfor consideration shouldreflect the hands-on, practicalnut and bolts approach towriting rather than philosophical‘why we write’ reflections.Articles: 1000-2000 words.We will be featuring extractsfrom both fact and fiction alreadypublished by JHP authorsbut we are also interested inreceiving original short storiesup to 2500 words and flashfictionof 1000 words maximum,regardless of whether you are aJHP author or not. Stories maybe previously published or partof a published anthology or collection.Original poetry shouldbe a maximum of 40 lines.Please accompany submissionswith by an author photographand a 30 word biography. Photographsthat enhance the submissionwill also be considered.Please contact the editorthrough our website and youwill be given the email address.Material that is date-related canbe submitted for entry on theCompass Books blog.3


Summer 2015has worked for John Hunt Publishing since2009 in editorial and marketing. She is the author of five MBSbooks, and a children’s novel The Changeling Quest (and hascontributed to several others), with many articles published inpopular MBS magazines. Over several years she enjoyed guestlecturing at a UK university, and still enjoys teaching creativewriting. She has a degree in Imaginative Writing and Literature,and has studied both Writing and Research at postgraduatelevel. Maria lives in County Cork, Ireland.is a reader and copy editor for JohnHunt Publishing. Krystina has a First Class degree in ImaginativeWriting and Literature and an MA in Creative Writing. Sheis the author of Mistflower the Loneliest Mouse, a children’snovel, and has had several short stories published as well asonline articles on dream interpretation and other subjects.Krystina travels internationally to tutor in writing workshops aswell as privately mentoring new writers of adult and children’sfiction. She is currently working on an adult supernatural fictionnovel. She lives in the UK.has been a freelance writer for over20 years writing for magazines and websites, on a wide rangeof topics. She has written over 300 articles for the web. Sarah-Beth also tutors creative writing and journalism courses forvarious colleges and community centres as well as working asa copyeditor and proofreader for JHP and Xchyler Publishing.She is the author of Telling Life's Tales, The Writer's Internet,The Lifestyle Writer and Life Coaching for Writers availablethrough Compass Books. Her history books are Ireland's Suffragettesand Lady Katherine Knollys: The UnacknowledgedDaughter of King Henry VIII. She lives in County Wexford, Ireland.ebook publisher, for four years. Autumn writes light romanceand cozy mysteries under a penname and works as a freelanceeditor for JHP, and for independent authors.is the author of over a dozen writing books,including three for writers: The Positively Productive Writer,Photography for Writers, and The Complete Article Writer. He’salso written over 600 articles for publications as diverse as BBCCountryfile, The People’s Friend, Outdoor Photography, andThe Simple Things. His short stories have appeared in Take aBreak, The People’s Friend, Ireland’s Own and Woman’s WeeklyFiction Special.http://www.simonwhaley.co.uk/workshops-talks/is a published poet, short-story writer and novelist.Her poems have been published in a variety of smallpress magazines, both in the UK and overseas and her shortstories have been published in a variety of women's magazinesin the UK and in Australia. She is the author of Surfing theRainbow and co-author with Val Andrews of Unlock Your Creativity.Sue enjoys running workshops and encouraging otherwriters along the path to publication. She is a Home Study Tutorfor Writers' News Magazine and lives in Worcestershire,UKhttp://www.writers-toolkit.co.uk/is the author of hundreds of articles andfifteen published books and plays. He writes mainly on thetopics of historical crime and on writing skills, but also lightstage comedies. He has worked in a variety of communitysettings and as a university lecturer at Manchester MetropolitanUniversity and the Open University. His novel The BoneMill is set in the murky world of body snatching in 1820s Stoke.He is the author of Creating Convincing Characters. He alsowrites songs for The Pie Men, a light-hearted musical duo. Helives in Shropshire, UK.www.nicholas-corder.co.ukhas authored over 30 titles in the countrylore, MB&S and creative writing genres, as well as ghostwritinga further ten books for other people, including a fieldsports autobiography that was nominated for the William HillSports Book of the Year. She has also tutored at writers’ workshopsincluding The Annual Writers’ Conference (WinchesterCollege), The Summer School (University of Wales), HorncastleCollege (Lincolnshire), the Cheltenham Literature Festival andthe Welsh Academy - following which she was invited to becomea full member of the Academi in recognition of her contributionto literature in Wales. She lives in South Tipperary,Ireland.http://suzanneruthvenatignotuspress.blogspot.ie/is a writer and editor based in North WestEngland. She developed the Top Hat Books imprint, whichpublishes historical fiction that inspires, challenges and entertains.She writes regularly for Cycling Active Magazine andother fitness publications and has written fiction for Take ABreak, People's Friend, Women's Own and Woman. She was aManaging Editor for loveyoudivine Alterotica, a US-basedis the author of three full collections ofpoetry and four pamphlets including Ice (Smith/Doorstop),Unsafe Monuments (Arrowhead), Beans in Snow (Smokestack),Living Daylights (Happenstance) and Mr Trickfeather (Like ThisPress). Her work has appeared in The Rialto, The North, PNReview, the Independent on Sunday, the Forward Prize Anthologyand GCSE Poetry Unseen revision papers. Her latestcollection, Sisters (Smokestack), was published last year. Itburst into life after seeing a Victorian post-mortem photographof two sisters.is a director of a legal practice. She is also apsychology graduate, experienced in working with peoplechallenging circumstances. Privileged to have witnessed theresilience of the human spirit, Helen believes that it is only bybeing true to our nature and honouring our integrity that wecan follow our dreams. Acknowledging our roots allows us tospread our branches in new directions. She is the author ofTears of a Phoenix, The 49th Day and Scorpio Moons. She livesin Pembrokeshire, UK.http://helennoble.co.uk5


Emma Segar“I mean this one is at a very highly respected universitybut I've never heard of the tutor if she ispublished what has she written???” says a post onthe Mythic Scribes writers’ forum, with referenceto my course on Writing Novels and Short Stories atthe University of Liverpool’s Continuing Educationdepartment.Googling yourself can be an unsettling experience.Like Nietzsche’s abyss, if you gaze too long intoyour search results, you might find somebody whohas also been looking into you. Mercifully, the conversationmoved onto the value of creative writingcourses in general, so that my status as a fraudulent,unpublished imposter was spared furtherscrutiny, except by me. What possible insights(aside from the use of full stops and the sufficiencyof a single question mark) can prospective writershope to gain from a tutor who hasn’t been published?If I know my craft well enough to teach it,surely I should be practising it with some level ofsuccess.Most of the fiction I’ve written has been for academicpurposes, or for my own, and instead ofsitting respectably on bookshop shelves, clad in amodest dust-jacket, it flaunts itself on the internetfor all to see or hides away on a hard drive, bidingits time. I like to experiment with collaborativewriting and the emerging narrative forms comingout of social media, forms that complicate or outrightbypass copyright and sale, so that there’snothing much to interest a publisher. I’m not suggestingfor a minute that my writing is too pure tobe sold, or that I’m above such tawdry concerns asearning a living. Getting paid for writing is a dream Istill intend to pursue, eventually. Right now,though, I’m just trying to find enough teaching topay the bills, and the time and energy to seriouslyconcentrate on my own potentially publishablework seems a distant luxury. It’s less a case of“those who can’t, teach” than “those who teach,can’t.” They’re too busy teaching.On one level, it’s understandable that potential studentswant to see me structure a coherent plot outof articulate sentences before signing up for mycourse. If they’re investigating whether or not I canwrite competently, then I don’t blame them for goingafter some evidence. Unfortunately, I get theimpression that the greater concern is whetherwhat I write is sufficiently acclaimed to be worthemulating, as if I were going to teach my class howto write like me, rather than how to develop theirown styles and voices. There is a conspicuous lackof concern over whether or not I’m able to teach.Nobody looks up a creative writing tutor and questionswhether they have a Cert Ed, or a relevantsubject specialism, or over a decade of classroomexperience beginning in adult literacy tuition: thevery nuts and bolts of grammar, punctuation andsyntax, the palette and brushes of a writer.I dislike the idea that creative writing coursesshould be an opportunity to bask in the presence ofgenius. Talent is not infectious. Learning and teachingrequires hard work, no matter how much naturalaptitude the teacher or students start out with.Those who expect to learn a practical craft by takinga few notes, while a great master imparts wisdom,would be disappointed by my course, whichinvolves close reading, intensive group discussion,analysis of the mechanics of good writing (not justwhat works but how and why it works), and extensivepractice of techniques under the constant andrigorous appraisal of peers and self-critical judgement.Also fun, games, jokes, collaborative exercises,confidence building and mutual support. Forgetall the qualifications and experience I listed above:my proudest achievement is that I’ve had complaintsfrom the class next door because my studentswere laughing too loud.6


You can understand the mistake, the emphasis onwriting rather than teaching credentials, given thatsome lauded writers and professors of CreativeWriting are loudly denying that it can be taught atall. Take Hanif Kureishi, an accomplished writerwith many publications and awards but no teachingqualifications or experience, who stood in front ofundergraduate students, being brilliant and successfulat them just as hard as he could for threelong years, before declaring to the world that theexercise was pointless and made very little differenceto their abilities. What other explanation canthere be, except that his talent and that of othergreat writers is innate and unteachable? Except,perhaps, the possibility that he’s not a great teacher,that he never wanted to be a teacher in the firstplace, that he holds his students in unconcealedcontempt and considers the whole business sordidand beneath his dignity. Unsurprisingly, studentshave more chance of making genuine progresswhen guided by people who are not only trained toteach, but have chosen to do so for their living,who prioritise their teaching above their ownwriting because they care about it and even enjoyit.This isn’t to say that successful writers can’t also begreat teachers. I was one of the early takers of theImaginative Writing degree at Liverpool JMU, and afew publications didn’t stop Michael Carson, JennyNewman and Edmund Cusick from running practicalworkshops and giving incisive feedback that Istill look back on for inspiration. Even best-selling,award-winning writers can give others the benefitof their knowledge and experience, provided theyhave enough self-awareness to understand wheretheir success came from, to separate replicabletechniques from simple good luck. Many of theavailable writing guides contain little beyond thestandard advice on planning, editing and time management,but some stand out as genuinely useful.Ursula Le Guin, in particular, writes extensively onher writing processes, and offers analysis and workshopsuggestions in Steering the Craft that constitutethe clearest, most comprehensive, practicaland useable hands-on guide to writing that I’ve sofar found in print. I recommend it to all my students.Summer 2015However, as students frequently point out to me (alittle plaintively, as if hoping I can point them towardsan easier road, or at least offer them a lift)there are also exceptional writers who rarely thinkabout their processes, who don’t plan, don’t analysehow their choice of syntax, plot structure andviewpoint affect the overall theme and style oftheir work. Or, more accurately (as I try to explain)they probably think about those things a great deal,but might not be practiced at recognising or articulatingthose thoughts, because they've never had toexplain them to others: they are internal processes,which don’t need to be analysed as long as they’reworking effectively. These people tend to get ratherimpatient when asked questions about how towrite, because they don't really know how theywrite, they believe they just do it. They’re wrong:they have processes as complex and as strewn withrejected plans and structural edits and pacing issuesand additional research and painstaking rewritesas anybody else’s. They just don’t watchthemselves dealing with those problems or notethe replicable strategies they use, because theydon’t need to. They don't know how to share theirknowledge or set the challenges that develop otherpeople's skills, because that requires an entirelydifferent discipline and training. It requires a teacher.Writers know how to write, teachers know how toteach, and yes, Creative Writing tutors should knowboth, but you can’t judge their proficiency at onefrom their credentials in the other. If you’re in aposition to choose your tutor, remember one thing:a competent writer who can really teach will be farmore useful to you than a gifted and accomplishedone who can’t.Emma Segar teaches evening classeson Writing Novels and Short Storiesand Writing for Children at the ContinuingEducation department at theUniversity of Liverpool. She is currentlystudying for a PhD in The RelationalPoetics of Blog Fiction at EdgeHill University.7


Setting up an online writing group needn't be difficult.I established my own online writing group, FictionAddiction, in February 2010 – and it's still going strongtoday.Here are fifteen hints and tips you need to run yourown successful online writing group.1. Why did I want to set up my own online writinggroup?It was proving difficult for me to find honest opinionsabout my work from other writers, and I couldn't affordto pay for professional critiques all the time.Plus, on a recent creative writing course, the tutordidn't know anything about the women's fiction magazinemarket either, which was the market I wanted towrite for.Also, some writers can't find a creative writing groupin their local area, or can't get to one because it's too faraway. If, like me, you haven't got a car, it can be difficultgetting there and in winter it's not pleasant hangingabout in the cold and dark waiting for buses.2. Online only is easy to fit around daily lifeAn online group offers more flexibility than a normalwriting group. There's no set time or place to meet, nobuses to catch, and no hurry to give feedback on work.There's no laptop or paperwork to carry either andno copies to give out.There's no bad weather to contend with, no carparking hassle, no child care to organise, no worryabout members not turning up and no tea and coffeemaking duties!Then there's the global appeal. Fiction Addiction hasreached across the world – as well as the UK, we've hadmembers based in Singapore, South Africa, China andAustralia.3. Choose a genreFiction Addiction is specific – we focus on fiction for thewomen's magazine market.Consider setting up a group that focuses on a specificgenre, such as horror, thriller, crime, sci fi, ghost, chicklitor children's fiction. And is it for stories or novels? Orboth?You could run an online poetry group or one thatsimply offers beta reading and feedback for unpublishednovels.To recruit members, it's a good idea to target writerswho are not just interested, but deeply passionateabout your chosen genre and market – ideally, you'dlike members to stay in your group as long as possible.4. Have open membershipA lot of online writing groups are closed, and don't acceptnew members.It's a great pity. From my experience, I think this policymakes a group stale and dull. New members bring afresh perspective. Plus, more members mean extra pairsof eyes that can often spot things amiss.I suggest you hold open membership, just in caseyour members decide to leave. Members leave for avariety of reasons. Some folk don't have time to writeanything at all, let alone contribute to an online group!5. Recruiting MembersBack in 2010, I decided the first thing I needed to dowas recruit members.I wrote an appeal (I kept it brief and to the point)and asked writer Kath McGurl if she would publish it onher very popular womagwriterblogspot. (This blog spotsite is now run by Patsy Collins).She did do, and writer Sally Jenkins very kindly featuredmy appeal on her blog in March 2011 too.You could post information on FB or Twitter, or offerto be a guest blogger and mention it there. Find sitesthat feature your chosen genre and ask the webmasterto publish an appeal on their site. The online writingcommunity are usually very willing to help.6. Membership feesTo charge, or not to charge?If you'd like to earn an extra income, consider chargingmembers a small fee to join.However, if you do this, be aware. Because they'vepaid to join, members may expect a lot more – e.g. longcritiques that are almost professional standard. Feedbackon work should be treated as priority and respondedto very quickly too.If you decide to go down this route, you may find alot of professional editors and pro proof readers eagerto join, when really, all they want to do is sell their servicesprivately.You could discover that people who own and rundigital publishing companies wanting to join -especiallyif your group looks at novels.Fiction Addiction is free to join – it always has been.7. Be prepared for an onslaught!At the start, I was expecting just one or two enquiries –yet I was delighted and surprised with requests fromover 20 people wanting to join!Be aware that running an online group can take up agreat deal of time – for you and the members. Make8


Summer 2015sure you allocate at least thirty minutes a day to catchup with messages, work and feedback.8. Get a website or Facebook pageBecause of the daily enquiries, I realised that I neededto keep all the information about the group in oneplace.My husband had already designed a website for me,so we decided to put the information on there.(www.sbee.orgfree.com). It didn't seem worth the hassleof a new site, just for three pages of information.To keep costs down, we decided to pick a free website.Of course, you needn't bother with a website. Analternative option is to simply post your group's detailson a Facebook page. In fact, you could run it completelyon FB if you prefer.We're not on Facebook and Twitter, because I like tothe keep the group on an email basis only.9. Pick a suitable name for your group'What will we call our group?' was one of my group'sfirst questions. As I hadn't anticipated a lot of members,I hadn't thought of a group name at all!A former member gave us the name Fiction Addictionand I've stuck with it. I suggest that you keep yourgroup name short and snappy. It'll be easy to rememberand easy to search for online too.10. Have a clear goalThe idea behind Fiction Addiction is to test our work onmembers before subbing out to the magazines. Weoffer support, feedback, advice, encouragement andmotivation.Messages, work and feedback are sent in a 'roundrobin' email – sent to all the members at the sametime.I do expect members to contribute, even if it's once amonth. If I haven't heard from a member in a while, Iwill ask them to drop out (and re-join again when theyhave more time) because it's not fair on any of us.It's pointless sending chat and work out to someonewho isn't going to respond.11. HitchesOf course, it hasn't all run smoothly!The over-use of the red pen has been a problem forsome. It's not really a group for academics, intellectuals,professional proof readers or professional editors, yetwe have had some members who have gone throughevery single line in the document with a fine toothcomb, correcting all the typos, etc.Typos can easily be corrected later – bear in mindthat most work is a first draft of a new story, and wasprobably written in an excited rush!While I appreciate their time and effort, to me, themost important part is what members think of the storyitself and the intended market.For example, a lot of writers insist on using indents intheir work, yet the fiction editor of Take a Break's FictionFeast magazine asks writers to take these out onany accepted stories.Presentation of work is covered in the fiction guidelines– different magazines hold different requirements.Anyone can request these – all are sent free ofcharge.12. No GuaranteesThere's no guarantee that every member will commenton every piece of work – members are often away onholiday, moving home, or simply busy with their jobs,families or a longer WIP. (Work in progress).Christmas, summer, half-term holidays and Easterare quiet times for Fiction Addiction.Then there's technical problems – attachments thatwon't open, dodgy broadband connections, serverhitches, PC's and laptops giving up the ghost…13. Be kind to each otherIt can be very tempting to say to a member: 'This is howyour story should be written.'Members have even re-drafted their pieces for them.Yet every writer is different and I expect members torespect this. A better option is to offer a series of suggestions.My advice is to be kind, yet honest, which I admit canbe tricky!It's entirely up to the writer what they do with feedback– they don't have to use it. It's the same principlein any writing group, whether it's an online one or not!14. It's good to shareWe don't just read and review stories.We look at competition entries and first chapters ofnovels, too, plus re-drafts of stories and other bits andbobs. We also share details of story competitions andonline fiction projects, and any other snippets of interest,such as writing awards and possible new markets.15. Has it been worth the effort?Yes. It's been great fun!Five years on, it's still lovely to read work and receivewarm messages.We can commiserate or congratulate and we all understandour passion to succeed.We've had lots of successes when a writer hastweaked a story after receiving feedback from members– and this includes me!One of the first stories I sent round Fiction Addictionwas an office girl’s story called The Game.After initial feedback and lots of re-drafting, I sent itto PRIMA magazine. It won their short story competitionand was published in the May 2013 edition.My life has become richer because of my onlinewriting group – and I'm sure that yours will be too!S.BEE is the writing name of Sharon Boothroyd.Since 2010, she has had a wide range ofletters, poems and stories published in nationalUK magazines. She edits an e-magazine :.www.kishboo.co.uk9


10Autumn BarlowWhether you are a full time writer or snatch thirty minutesfrom time to time, it can sometimes be difficult to stay ontrack.I came to fiction from journalism, and so have an advantage(I think) in my mental attitude: I do not allow myselfto have writers’ block any more than my dad wouldget plumbers’ block. I am used to deadlines and wordcounts, and I have applied that rigorous work ethic towriting novels. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile is.Even so, there are days when I could really use a boss tostand behind me with a large stick, slamming it onto myfingers every time they stray towards another biscuit or Itwitch the mouse onto Buzzfeed.So here are some apps, websites and tips that have helpedme Get Things Done.1. Make others hold you to accountI am a member of an online group that uses a private chatroomvia a website facility called Mibbit. It’s a globalgroup and there are always people “in chat.” We undertakethirty-minute “sprints” where we all agree a time tostart writing, and thirty minutes later, we compare wordcounts and talk about random nonsense for five minutes.If you are not in any online groups, tryhttps://www.mywriteclub.com/ where you can join a publicchat or create one with a small circle of friends.2. PomodoroThe “sprints” I mention above are a type of Pomodorotechnique, where you work for a set length of time andthen goof off for a short while. There are apps for all thebrowsers that will simply cut you off from all internetbrowsing while you are in “work mode.” You might feeltwitchy and make excuses – “But I NEED to fact-check onWikipedia.” No, you don’t. Make a note, and do your researchat another time. I time my Pomodoro sprints withthis online countdown: http://e.ggtimer.com.3. Write cleanBy which I mean, get rid of your distractions. If the onlineapps to stop you messing around online are not enough,then take drastic action. I heard of one woman who sentthe internet router to work with her husband. She HAD towrite all day. It was that, or housework. No meaninglessbrowsing!4. Small targets, big goalsBreak up the writing process. Whether you are a plotter ora pantser or some strange combination, mark the smallmilestones along the way - it can help to stop you gettingoverwhelmed.5. Music and noiseThis is worth experimenting with. This past month I triedout the free trial of https://www.focusatwill.com/ whichclaims to be scientifically proven to aid concentration. Ifound it mildly helpful, but others swear by it. Anotheroption is to create a playlist on Spotify or some other player.Generally people find it is easier to concentrate if themusic is non-verbal or in a language unfamiliar to them.Also, don’t listen to music you usually listen to as you canget hooked into it and pulled out of the writing. I generallyplay movie soundtracks on YouTube.If you are trying to work in a noisy environment, try typesof white or pink noise. You can play them online or downloadthem to your device (these are also good for insomniacs!).Try https://www.tmsoft.com/white-noise-player/.Some people find it easier to concentrate with the hum ofa coffee shop. So, either get out and work in a publicplace, or use Spotify or YouTube to play ambient cafésounds in the background.6. Forgive yourselfDon’t become a slave to targets and goals. In spite of mysneering at writers’ block, some days, I acknowledge,writing can be difficult. Sometimes, when you only have ascant few minutes to write, that lack of time can hinderyou – you know you can’t waste it, you fret about makingthe most of it, you get stuck with the fear that you mightwaste it… and the moment has passed and you’ve missedyour chance. Don’t beat yourself up. Look to other writersand their schedules for inspiration, but don’t let their apparentsuccess put you down. Remember that there isreporting bias – people shout about how great they are,but rarely confess to the mistakes and the woes.If the words aren’t flowing, there are a million otherwriting-related things you can do with your time. And themost useful one of all?Reading.Allow yourself time to recharge and refill the well of inspiration– consider that this is still work, after all. So turn offthe computer, go for a walk, potter round your library,chat to a neighbour, listen to some friends, and be assuredthat this, too, is an important and productive use of yourwriting time.(Buzzfeed, alas, is not. Sorry.)Autumn is a writer and editor based in North West England. Shedeveloped the Top Hat Books imprint, which publishes historicalfiction that inspires, challenges and entertains.She writes regularly for Cycling Active Magazine and other fitnesspublications. She has written fiction for Take A Break, People'sFriend, Women's Own and Woman. She was a ManagingEditor for loveyoudivine Alterotica, a US-based ebook publisher,for four years.She also writes light romance and cozy mysteries under a penname.She works as a freelance editor for JHP, and for independentauthors.


Summer 2015N.E. DavidINTRODUCTIONNot for the first time, I think I’m about to offendsomeone. So for those of you who give, or like toattend, creative writing courses, I’d advise you to lookaway now…I’ve never done either. As far as giving them isconcerned, it’s not that I don’t count myself a goodenough writer – it’s simply that I have no desire to‘teach’ other people how to write. I’m not even sureit would be possible for me to do so. For me there’ssomething vaguely arrogant about the idea that Icould ever presume to give lectures on the ‘art’ ofwriting. Don’t get me wrong - I’m not precious aboutit either. I’m quite happy to share my experiences ofwriting with anyone who asks. If they can gain somethingfrom that – so much the better. But I wouldn’twant to force it on my worst enemy.As for attending them, I confess I have what is aprobably unwarranted fear that by conforming to thenorms they propound, I will lose what little creativityI already possess. Better to be untutored and inventivethan shackled by someone else’s thinking.Plus, the fact that they seem to play to my rebelliousstreak. I remember a writing colleague saying he’dbeen told that we should never use the word‘suddenly’. My instant reaction was to go home andput ‘suddenly’ in my work in as many places as possible.One of the maxims that circulate on such coursesis that the main protagonist in modern fiction needsto undergo ‘change’ through some form of physicalor spiritual journey. I want to challenge this assumptionand ask whether this is necessary for a piece ofliterature to be meaningful or whether we should notsimply enjoy a book for the sake of the story itselfrather than its effect. I should add that I’m purelytalking about literary fiction here, since I have noknowledge of the requirements of other genres. In amoment we’ll look at this theory in detail but let mebegin with a definition of character. Not my definition,I hasten to add, but one borrowed from acourse attended by another of my writing colleagues.CHARACTERMajor or central characters are vital to the developmentand resolution of the conflict. In other words,the plot and resolution of conflict revolves aroundthese characters.Protagonist – The protagonistis the central personin a story, and is often referredto as the story'smain character. He or she(or they) is faced with aconflict that must be resolved.The protagonistmay not always be admirable(e.g. an anti-hero); nevertheless s/he must commandinvolvement on the part of the reader, orbetter yet, empathy.Antagonist – The antagonist is the character(s) (orsituation) that represents the opposition againstwhich the protagonist must contend. In other words,the antagonist is an obstacle that the protagonistmust overcome.Dynamic – A dynamic character is a personwho changes over time, usually as a result of resolvinga central conflict or facing a major crisis. Mostdynamic characters tend to be central rather thanperipheral characters, because resolving the conflictis the major role of central characters.Static – A static character is someone who does notchange over time; his or her personality does nottransform or evolve.Now let’s examine the theory. Here it is as expoundedby Novel Writing Help on their website atwww.novel-writing-help.com/character-change.htmlCHARACTER CHANGE IN NOVELSWhen you think about it, a plot in a novel is ultimatelyall about character change. Without the central characterundergoing a transformation, there would belittle point in writing or reading fiction at all.Seeing a fictional character we care about undergoa momentous experience (in the form of the novel'splot) and emerge changed as a result of that experience(hopefully for the better), is somehow lifeaffirmingfor writer and reader alike.And so, when plotting your own novel, never losesight of the fact that the way your central character isat the beginning and the end, and the difference11


etween the two, is of paramount importance.(This change, incidentally, is often called thecharacter arc.)CHARACTER CHANGE IN THE REAL WORLDHave you noticed that, in real life, people don't tendto change very much at all. By the time they reachadulthood, a person's character is more or less set,and that is the way it stays.Oh sure, they might make the occasional effort tochange - to be more tolerant, perhaps – but sooner orlater they slip back into their old ways.That is why fiction is so much better than real life…12 The bad become good. The weak become strong. The joyless become happy.…and the changes tend to stick, too (or at least usreaders like to imagine that the character change ispermanent once we have closed the final page of thebook).Of course, not all characters undergo transformationin a novel. It is usually only the leading manor woman who undergoes this change. The rest of thefictional characters remain precisely how they wereat the beginning.So what I am about to say really only applies toyour protagonist. (In fact, a novel's protagonist, bydefinition, is the one who is transformed.)THE THEORY OF CHARACTER CHANGEIn a nutshell, the theory goes as follows…"In reality people change, however slightly,as a result of their experiences. There must besome sort of conversion brought about by theevents you devise; the central character mustdevelop along with the novel and acquire newattitudes – preferably wiser ones."– Dianne Doubtfire1. A character in a novel starts out a certain way –as a happy, contented family man, say.2. Their world is then thrown into confusion bythe triggering event of the plot, and they areforced to act to make things right again. (Theman's young daughter is kidnapped, say, andhe must find her safe and well if he wants toreturn to a happy family life.)3. In trying to achieve their goal, however, thecharacter is forced to confront their innermostself, and they usually end up changed in somefashion. (The man finds his daughter, but hefinishes up fearful and distrusting.)Changes are triggered in a character when they undergoa momentous event.They are unlikely to be changed in any significantway by a trip to the seaside. But if they save someonefrom drowning while they are there – or fail to savethem – they will almost certainly arrive home withtheir internal make-up altered.Now, when a fictional character undergoes such amomentous experience, there are three possible outcomes…No ChangeImagine a story in which a character wakes up in themorning and goes to work to discover they have beenfired.Are they upset? A little, at first – but at least theycan now go home to watch some golf on TV. So theygo home and switch on the golf, completely unaffected.Zzzzzzzzz!If characters aren't altered by the novel's events,not even a little, then the events they experience aresimply not big enough.By "big," I don't mean there has to be explosionsand car chases. A scene showing a family sittingdown for a meal has just as much potential for dramaas the same family aboard a hijacked airliner.It is simply that the events, whether large or small,dramatic or quieter in nature, should have consequencesfor the characters concerned.Massive ChangeLook no further than Ebenezer Scrooge for the perfectexample of this kind of change…At the beginning of the story, Scrooge is themost mean-spirited, miserly man who has everlived. (Hey, your name doesn't enter the Englishlanguage for nothing!)Scrooge then experiences the story's coreevent: the three visits by the Ghosts of Christmas.Finally, he wakes up the next morning and issuddenly the most generous, joyous man in oldLondon Town.Now, I am not having a dig at Dickens here. (He isone of my favorite writers, and A Christmas Carol isone of the most perfect stories ever told.But in most novels, particularly in the 21st century,having the protagonist change so suddenly andso completely would frankly be laughable.If you are writing a modern fairy tale, fine. If not, gofor the third option...


Summer 2015Subtle ChangeAim to be as light-handed as possible when chartingyour protagonist's change.And that really is the best way I can explain it. Gofor more of a slight shift in the main character'sconsciousness than a Scrooge-like total transformationand you won't go far wrong.AN ALTERNATIVE VIEWAll admirable stuff, much of which I have to say Iagree with, but does it have to be that way? I have acontrary argument, but firstly let me pick a few nits.We’re told that ‘Seeing a fictional character… emergechanged… (hopefully for the better) is somehow lifeaffirming…’Why better? Why not worse? If everynovel ended happily, this would be to deny some ofthe very best aspects of tragedy – a subject, incidentallywhich is close to my heart.My audience in Leeds gasped when I read them theline ‘That is why fiction is so much "better" than reallife…’ I’m not surprised. My whole purpose in writingnovels is to try and record reality and to try and understandwhat it means to be human in the modernday and age. For me, without real life there can beno fiction.And ‘a novel's protagonist, by definition, is the onewho is transformed’ Whose definition is that? Not myCollins dictionary – according to them, a protagonistis merely a main character, no mention of the needto change.But these, as I say, are nits. The fundamentalproposition, from which all else flows, is this.‘Without the central character undergoing atransformation, there would be little point in writingor reading fiction at all.’I disagree and I can think of at least three goodreasons why.1. The Power of Story.Let me illustrate this with an example. A TOWN LIKEALICE (Neville Shute) is one of my favourite novels.The main character is a woman, Jean Paget, andwe’re not concerned with character change at all.The strength of the book lies in the power of the storyand the fact that Paget’s unshakeable self-beliefand optimism overcomes every obstacle and gives usall hope. Without this book, my life would be all thepoorer.2. The Exposition of CharacterThe purpose of a novel can be to express a character,whether that character changes or not. Jean Paget isone such example. Another is Holden Caulfield in JD.Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. Here the authorwants to show us a picture of disaffected and purposelessyouth. He succeeds, to the extent that bythe end of the book we want to take Holden Caulfieldby the shoulders, give him a good shake and tellhim to wake up and smell the coffee. He doesn’t, andhis refusal to change leaves us with a great feeling ofdespair – a perfectly valid sentiment.3. The Expression of an Idea or MoralMany novelists want to tell us something about theworld or how we should behave within it. SLAUGH-TERHOUSE 5 is supposed to be a warning to us of thehorrors of war. Its main character is Billy Pilgrimwhom we meet in the aftermath. Whatever changeshe has suffered (if any) have already occurred andthe book does nothing more than record his presentcondition. I could be wrong here as I never understoodmuch of what was going on in the book but thegenerally accepted opinion is that this is a modernmasterpiece.So a novel is not just about character transformationbut can be much, much more. I sincerely hope so,since in my new book, THE BURDEN, my main protagonistdoesn’t change. Like Billy Pilgrim, the eventsthat moulded his character took place earlier on inlife and in the latter stages of the story he fails tomove forward. Summoned to his dying father’s bedsideto hear the great secret which has been keptfrom him throughout, his father dies before it can bedelivered. Frank returns home none the wiser andconsequently unaltered. I contend this doesn’tmatter, and in fact it has to be so because withoutthis there is no irony in the final scene, when he goesback to his mother. By now the reader is only toowell aware of the secret and is left to conclude whatwill happen to Frank when he eventually finds out, ashe surely will.I’d better be right – otherwise I’ve just wasted twoyears of precious writing time.THE BURDEN is published by John Hunt Publishingand is available as follows:UK : http://amzn.to/1JkMkZmUS : http://amzn.to/1CvmQAI13


Simon WhaleyWriting is a bit like speed-dating, isn’t it? If we’re notflirting with publishers and agents, then we’re seducingeditors with our ideas and readers with our passion forwords. The trouble is, we really should take the moreprofessional approach. After all, corny chat-up linescould have editors and publishers remembering us forall of the wrong reasons. Making a good impressionrequires a decent photo, a suitable biography and, insome cases, an up to date writing CV.If we sell an article or a short story to a magazine theeditor might ask us for a head-and-shoulders photo anda brief 50-word biography. Approach an agent or apublisher with a book idea, or a novel, and they mayask to see a full writing curriculum vitae with all of ourwriting achievements listed. Prepare these in advanceand we’ll come across as cool, calm and someone to dobusiness with, rather than the tongue-tied twit who’sgone all coy because someone’s suddenly taken a fancyto us.Camera ConundrumMany magazines include snapshots of their contributors.These may all appear on one page together or beplaced on the page where their article or story is used.Authors frequently need a photo to go on their book’scover. I, like many, hate having my photo taken, butrather than grin and bear it (because that producesimages more suited to police Wanted posters) weshould invest some time and effort into producingsomething suitable. The right photograph creates abrand image, but it should also convey our character.So what would you like your photograph to say aboutyou and your writing? Is one photo sufficient, or do youneed several: each representing a different market youwrite for?Suzanne Ruthven, whose latest book is Creating MeaningfulDialogue (Compass Points), has writing intereststhat include the occult, horror, and MBS (mind, body &spirit) titles. She was looking for an image that encapsulatedall of these elements, but also reflected herown character. It was a professional photographer whohelped her achieve this image. ‘My photograph wasone of a make-over series and my favourite. I also happento be a ‘hat’ person so it wasn’t something out ofcharacter. The all-black image is another echo of myGothic Society days, and the professional photographersuggested the pose, but it was one I was comfortablewith. In other words, it didn’t feel as if I were posing.’It’s called a head and shoulders pose because that’s allreaders need to see. Frequently, the image is used at asmall size, so our faces need to fill the frame. Don’t gothrough holiday snaps and use a photo with the EiffelTower sticking out of the top of your head, and someunknown person’s arm draped around your neck. Remember,this is a business. You need to convey a professionalimage.Judith Cranswick, author of the Fiona Mason mysteries,agrees. ‘Your photograph is your first selling point. Itneeds to look professional. The one on my website welcomepage with a black background is quite old now,but the reason I haven’t yet replaced it is that I’ve decidedthe dark background is essential.’If you visit her website,www.judithcranswick.co.uk,the dark background of her author photo echoes thebackground image of her website, designed to create adark and moody atmosphere to reflect the edginess ofher psychological stand-alone novels. However, Judithuses other photos too. ‘My preference would be to useone photo for everything, but there may be times whenas a writer you need something different. It really dependsupon the circumstances.’Someone who understands the benefits of having morethan one publicity photo is Marvin Close. His televisioncredits include Emmerdale, Coronation Street, andTracey Beaker. He’s written eight plays for the professionalstage, been a writer-in-residence and is the authorof More Than Just A Game: Football vs Apartheid(Harper Collins). With all these different writing hats hehas a range of publicity shots, yet none of them wastaken by a professional photographer. Today’s cameraequipment means you don’t need a professional photographerto get a high quality image, but it’s importantthe photographer knows how to take a professionalphotograph and understands composition. ‘Ihave half a dozen or so different head and shoulderspublicity shots, all taken by either my 16-year-old son,Eddie or 15-year-old daughter, Tilly, who are bothheavily into photography and website design, so I trustthem to take what is most effective. My writing life issplit between writing TV and radio scripts, stage plays,non-fiction books and going into schools to foster creativeself-confidence amongst children. Sometimes onephoto feels more appropriate than another. If I’m send-14


ing out a CV that’s specifically to do with televisionscripts, it seems dumb to include a photo of me holdingup my latest book.’Remember, if you’re an expert in a particular subjectmatter you should look like an expert. Dress accordingly.Someone writing for the mountain biking magazinesmight wear their cycle helmet in their photo, whereas atravel writer might want a photo that shows them travellingthe world (but that’s still no excuse for having theEiffel Tower sticking out of the top of your head). Yourphoto should show you looking relaxed and knowledgeablein your field of expertise.Brief BiographyWe’re often asked for a short biography to accompanythese photos, and short could mean 100 words or fewerthan 40. Just like our photos, these should be tailored tothe audience. It’s worth spending some time preparinga selection in advance for different markets.‘I have two stock biographies,’ says Suzanne, ‘dependingupon whether it’s for a how-to book or an MB&S title.These should always reflect that the author is qualified,either by degree or experience, to write on a given subject.’Here’s Suzanne’s biography showing her writingcredentials: Suzanne Ruthven is the former editor of thepopular monthly creative writing magazine, The NewWriter, and now commissioning editor for CompassBooks - the writer’s resource imprint for the internationalJohn Hunt Publishing company. She is the author ofover 30 titles in the metaphysical, country and folkloregenre.Marvin draws upon a collection of four or five differentbiographies, which he tweaks according to the markethe’s approaching. ‘I visit a lot of schools,’ he says, ‘and ifI’m looking to promote my work in that area I start withdetails of the writer-in-residences I’ve undertaken inschools, schools that I’ve visited and the range of workshopsand talks that I offer. If I was looking to promotemyself with TV/production companies, I would startwith a more detailed overview of my TV credits, like so:Marvin has written and story-lined over 100 hours ofbroadcast TV drama, including penning over 70 scriptsfor Emmerdale, story-lining over 100 Coronation Streetepisodes and writing scripts for everyone from TraceyBeaker and The House of Anubis to Doctors and 24/7.’Summer 2015Judith also tailors her biography, including its style aswell as its content, and begins by asking a question:‘Does it need to be formal, as for a publisher, or muchlighter for a magazine/newspaper interview?’ To ensureshe includes the relevant information she recommendsmaintaining a list of key achievements to draw upon. ‘Astock biography, or at least a list of bullet points, foryour own use is a good idea. That way you are not likelyto miss anything that might be relevant. Only pull outwhat is essential. What you include in it depends entirelyon the purpose it is being put to.’Some magazines like an injection of humour in a biography,because, just like your photo, it helps to conveycharacter. One of my biographies for walking magazinesis: Simon has been exploring the Welsh Borders on footfor over 15 years, clocking up several thousand miles, aregular walking column in a local county magazine, andtwo walking books. His feet now ache considerably.CV CredentialsWhen approaching publishers and agents a fuller biographymay be required in the form of a 'writing' curriculumvitae. This is not the place to list all the jobs you didto keep you in booze money at university, unless they’reimportant to your writing subject matter. Instead, listwriting successes. Mention publications your articlesand short stories have appeared in. Include any competitionsyou’ve won, or been placed in. Refer to notablecompetitions you’ve been shortlisted in. These stilldemonstrate skill and potential. If you’ve had bookspublished, state the title, publisher and year of publication.If you’ve self-published a book and sold thousandsof copies, include this information. Publishers andagents are interested to see the results of your writingbusiness so far.‘I maintain a full writing CV that lists all my books publishedto date, even those out of print,’ says Suzanne,although she no longer lists every article published, becausethere have been so many.Don’t consider a writing CV as something you createonly when approaching publishers and agents. Create adocument that evolves. Marvin makes a point of updatinghis CV regularly. ‘I review and, if needs be,change my CVs every couple of months to ensurethey’re fresh and include details of any new work.’Don’t think of all of this as a one-off business exercise.Remember the dating analogy: to make a good impressionwe need to look our best. These three steps are allabout sprucing ourselves up and making ourselves lookand feel good. Listing all of our writing achievements isa great way to boost our esteem and self-confidence.And, who knows? All this pampering could lead to a longand fulfilling business relationship.Simon Whaley – BiographySimon Whaley is the author of over a dozen writingbooks, including three for writers: The PositivelyProductive Writer, Photography for Writers, andThe Complete Article Writer. He’s also writtenover 600 articles for publications as diverse as BBCCountryfile, The People’s Friend, Outdoor Photography,and The Simple Things. His short storieshave appeared in Take a Break, The People’sFriend, Ireland’s Own and Woman’s Weekly FictionSpecial.simon@simonwhaley.co.ukwww.simonwhaley.co.uk15


A child is born – The Priest has an unexpected houseguest –Hera makes a pledgeHelen Noble“Arsenio, as your physician and your friend, I imploreyou to accept the offer of treatment,” pleadedDr Theo Phaedrus. “Advanced prostate cancer canbe treated with chemotherapy, surgery might provesuccessful for you. Once we know more about yourcondition we can decide what is best for you.”Arsenios Kokkinos shook his head. “I have lived along and full life, Theo, and I still have things to do. Idon’t have time to be sick.”“Surely anything to help prolong your life isworth trying?” insisted the doctor. “Well at least letyour friends know, so that they can help you,” hereasoned. Arsenios dropped his chin and looked intothe eyes of his confidante.“Theo, we have known each other for many yearsand I know you will respect my wishes when I tellyou that my health is to remain a private matter.”The gentle doctor sighed, closing his eyes andnodding in acknowledgement.Most uncharacteristically, Hera Pan had been seekingsolitude. Her social world had recently sufferedtwo major upheavals, and she knew that thingswould never be the same. Unable to discuss the terminalillness of her neighbour and suitor, Arsenios,Hera continued to bicker and banter with him, aswas their way.Watching him in the farmhouse courtyard, jugglingwith the apples that she had given Dora forlunch, she wondered how his impending deathmight affect the young girl. Unable to speak her ownthoughts, Dora could only repeat the words of others,her internal world a mystery to everyone. Shehad a close connection with the old sea captain,laughing now at his antics, and squinting her sparklingblue eyes against the early morning sunshine.Hera opened the kitchen window and scolded themboth for forgetting her hat. Dora’s fair skin and goldenhair was also a constant concern for Hera, whoknew that the child would be spending most of theday in the face of the fierce, summer, Mediterraneansun. She took a deep breath and stepped out intothe courtyard. Today she must once more face theworld, if only for the benefit of her friend, DespinaPachis.“Stop that fooling! We must leave now,” shechided, “I am needed in the bakery today. FilloposPachis has his hands full with much more thanRavani and Spanikopita.” When the pair continuedto play, she snatched the apples from the hands ofArsenios, and replaced them in the pannier.“You are a stubborn fool, Arsenios Kokkinos,” sheadmonished him. Arsenios grinned and made a grabfor her, waltzing around the courtyard, much to thedelight of Dora, who whooped in excitement andpirouetted around the pair.***16


Summer 2015“Hera, you have never looked more beautiful to me,than on this perfect day,” he said. Hera blushed andpushed him away. However her resistance had lessened.Arsenios could sense her softening. A secretsmile crept out from his heart and spread itselfacross his reddened face.***Fillopos Pachis patted the sweat off his brow andsmiled in relief as Hera stepped into the bakery.“Kalimera, Hera, my good friend,” he greeted herwith gratitude. “The day’s baking is completed andthe deliveries are ready for dispatch.” He indicatedto the store of paper-bagged goods on the shelf behindhis head. “Nickos will be here shortly to takethem on his bicycle. Now I must go to help Odeta.”Hera quickened at the urgency of a baby’s cry.Fillopos disappeared into the back of the shop, andthe cries quickly ceased.Hera was not surprised at how quickly the observanceof practicalities resumed in the lives ofpeople with newly-born babies. There was no otherway, the survival of everyone depended on it. Shelooked at the counter before her. It was full of freshly-bakedbread, sweet cakes and savoury pies. It wasnow her responsibility to ensure that all of thesedelicious wares were sold. She knew how to sweettalk each customer into just one more slice of cake,or an extra bag of cookies. She took an apron from apeg on the wall and wrapped it tightly around herample form. She was ready for business; it was theleast she could do for her absent friend, Despina.When Odeta appeared in the shop front, with thebabbling baby in a buggy, Hera turned away in scornand the young woman cast her gaze to the floor.Fillopos quickly ushered them out through the frontdoor. Although she was eager to see the innocentbaby’s face, Hera knew she must not be seen to approveof the relationship.Later that afternoon, when the village was at siesta,Hera closed the shutters to the bakery andheaded off to meet her Despina. She was to befound at the shrine built into the rock, at the harbour-side.A place rarely frequented by anyone otherthan the priest, and a few of the community elders,Hera now approached with reverence, gentlyknocking on the dark, wooden door of the whitewashedbuilding. Hearing the sound of shuffling feetfrom behind it, she took a step back and looked atthe inscription written above. It was a symbol oftwo fish swimming around an anchor. The dooropened and Despina beckoned Hera to step inside.Lit by candles, heavy with the rich scent of incense,Hera became disoriented by the sudden transitionfrom bright sunlight into the darkness of the interior.Despina guided her towards a small woodenbench, and sat alongside her.“How are you, my friend?” Hera asked when hereyes had adjusted to the dim flicker of light.“I am praying,” Despina replied, her face streakedwith tears. “I am praying for guidance. I must find itin my heart to forgive them.”Hera sighed. She knew the Church’s teaching onsuch matters. However, she was also witnessing thegreat distress of her closet friend.“How are you passing the hours?” she askedkindly.“The priest is very kind,” replied Despina, smilingthrough her tears. “He is allowing me a room in returnfor the keeping of his house. He praises mycleaning and cooking. I am grateful for his compassion.Tell me, how is Fillopos? How is the bakery?Who is making the baklava? Have we lost many customers?”Hera reassured her that Fillopos was ensuring thebakery was well stocked, that he was working hard,and that no custom had been lost as a result of thescandal. She knew that was not strictly true, however,she would not add to the troubles of her belovedfriend.“Will you return home?” asked Hera. Despina’sface crumpled and Hera saw the flicker of candlelightreflected in her fresh tears. She placed her armaround her friend’s shoulder. They would talk againanother day.***As she climbed the hill to the farm at dusk, Heralooked to the heavens for guidance. Despina’s plight17


flooding her mind. Perhaps she should accept his proposal,if only to secure a safe future for Dora.As she approached the farm, Hera heard the bray ofthe donkey tethered in the courtyard, and saw a lighton in the kitchen. She could make out the stout silhouetteof Arsenios as he passed the window. Inside thekitchen, the day’s produce had been placed on the tablefor inspection and approval. Dora’s freshly-picked wildflowerstook pride of place amidst the offerings. Arseniospresented Hera with a wedge of goat’s cheese, someeggs, freshly-picked figs, and a bottle of his home-madewine. Hera unwrapped a loaf of bread she had broughthome from the bakery and retrieved the Loukaniko andsome tomatoes from the refrigerator.“Let’s talk,” she said to Arsenios, pouring two largeglasses full of sweet, red wine.***was on her mind, although not weighing as heavily asthe health concerns of Arsenios. People survived brokenhearts, she knew, all too well. But what would happento her and Dora when her old friend Arsenios passedaway? What would happen to his mill and the vines?What if it was never sold and was left to fall to rack andruin? Such was the economy these days…Would a newowner allow Dora to roam freely on the land? Wouldshe be welcome in her neighbour’s home? How wouldshe, Hera, manage without his help? She could notafford to pay workers to harvest her crops, unless…hermind wandered comfortably into the wild fantasy ofinheriting his home and land after his death. Then shewould be able to rent out the mill, and afford extrahands to work the land, whilst keeping her other jobs inthe village. She could once more raise sheep in thefields and find another keeper for the bees. Perhaps Dorawould find another friend amongst the handlers shecould employ to tend to the livestock? If she, Hera, wasto marry Arsenios, surely such an inheritance would becomea reality? He had no other kin. Hera stopped totake a breath, her heart was racing with the effort ofthe climb and the excitement of the possibilitiesDr Phaedrus raised his glass and proposed a toast:“Arsenio and Hera, may your family be well, your tablealways full, and your happiness all consuming.”Despina echoed his wishes. Dora chanted the word‘happiness’ over and over again. The priest helped himselfto more wine. The engagement party gatheringfeasted on a mezze of local meats, cheeses and freshvegetables. Arsenios produced two, plain gold, weddingbands and exchanged them with his wife-to-be, eachplacing the band of the other on their left hand, as witnessedby their close circle of friends. His infamousjokes and teasing served to bolster the celebratory spirit,whilst those present, with the exception of youngDora, managed to suspend their innermost fears andmisgivings, for the occasion.The priest cleared his throat. It was time for him tospeak. “Although it is customary for the future brideand groom to visit with me on three occasions, to discusstheir marital responsibilities and wedding arrangements.I believe we can deal with the issues here, today,if the bride-and-groom-to-be so desire,” he offered.“We are hoping to marry on the seventh of September,”Arsenios announced.The priest nodded. “That date is acceptable to theChurch, as it is after the commemoration of the beheadingof John the Baptist on the twenty-ninth of August,and before the celebration for the Exaltation of the HolyCross on September fourteenth. I shall make note of it.Next year, I am glad to say, is not a Leap year in the calendar,”he added.“No, not next year,” Hera interjected. “We intend tomarry this year.”“This year, next month? In ten days time?” he questioned,wide-eyed in disbelief.18


Summer 2015“Yes,” Hera firmly replied.”The shocked priest stumbled over the words of hisresponse: “So much to do, so little time, will you rethinkthe matter?”Arsenios spoke up: “Now is the time, Father, we havenothing to wait for. I’m sure you can see the wisdom inour minds and know the love in our hearts, and ofcourse we are not getting any younger.” He winked.Dr Phaedrus caught the Priest’s eye. The priest bit hislip and nodded in muted acceptance.On the Wednesday prior to the marriage ceremony,Arsenios took it upon himself to demonstrate some ofthe ancient wedding traditions to Dora. In his stone mill,he gathered together the sacks of grain to be used forthe baking of the bread for the wedding feast, and alarge sieve. He introduced her to the practice of leavening.“It is customary for a young person, like yourself, tothrow lucky coins into the mix and speak of your goodwishes for the bride and groom at the same time,” heexplained. “May the couple be blessed with a bounteouswealth,” he demonstrated, tossing a coin into theflour.“Bounteous wealth,” repeated Dora. Arsenios smiledand continued.“May the happy couple live long lives,” he said, handinga coin to Dora, who shrieked in pleasure as it disappearedinto the mound of flour. “And may they beblessed with beautiful children,” he completed the trioof good wishes. Dora repeated his words as she threwthe last coin. He kissed the top of her golden head. Hehad already been blessed with a long life, and honouredwith the responsibility for a unique child. Arsenio believedhe was the happiest man in the world.Although tradition dictated the bride and groom participatein the ‘filling of the sacks’ on the Friday beforethe wedding, Hera had no family members to add itemsinto the sack and she wasn’t about to pack up all herworldly goods, just to unpack once more in her ownhome, at a later date. She opted instead to spend sometime with Despina, who had taken it upon herself to beresponsible for the arrangement of the Church flowersand the candles for the ceremony. As Dora practicedwalking to the altar, whilst holding a lit candle, Despinacautioned her friend.“We must not forget the evil eye,” she whispered.“Stuff and nonsense,” retorted Hera. “But of course Iwill wear a pin.”Meanwhile, Arsenios had sailed to the mainland insearch of the bridal shoes.“I told him not to bother,” Hera explained to herfriend, as they discussed the seating arrangements forthe wedding feast. “But he was insistent. I will leave youhere with Dora now, as I have promised to meet him atthe harbour side.”Hera waited patiently whilst the ferry disembarked.There was no sign of Arsenios. She boarded the boat,before it could make its about-turn for the last journeyof the day, to ask the captain what had become of herbetrothed. Had he any news? Arsenios would not nowbe able to return to the island until the next day.The captain struggled to look Hera in the eye. As fellowsailors, he and Arsenios were well acquainted. Hewas aware of the purpose of the man’s journey. He alsoknew that the man would not be home for the weddingin two day’s time. His body would have to be transportedfrom the hospital into which he had been admitted,when he collapsed on his way back to the ferry port.The hospital had attributed his death to multiple organfailure. They were making the necessary arrangementsfor the body to be transported back to the island, forthe funeral.With a heavy heart the captain now handed Hera abox. Inside was a beautiful pair of ivory satin shoes, decoratedwith a silken bow, a diamond heart embeddedon the heel of each shoe. In an instant, Hera knew inher heart that these shoes were never to be worn. Trueto tradition, Arsenios had filled the exquisite items withEuros, and he had also written a card.It read:“For my greatest love, Hera, who will forever live inmy heart.”http://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/blogs/fiction/an-interview-with-soul-rocks-author-helennoble/http://helennoble.co.uk/?page_id=18http://www.amazon.com/Helen-Noble/e/B007KJJCTE19


Jennifer CopleyJennifer Copley lives in Barrow-in-Furness in her grandmother’s house, a large draughty Victorian pile that has informedmuch of her poetry. She is the author of three full collections of poetry and four pamphlets including Ice (Smith/Doorstop), Unsafe Monuments (Arrowhead), Beans in Snow (Smokestack), Living Daylights (Happenstance) and Mr Trickfeather(Like This Press). Her work has appeared in The Rialto, The North, PN Review, the Independent on Sunday, the ForwardPrize Anthology and GCSE Poetry Unseen revision papers.Her latest collection, Sisters (Smokestack), was published last year. It burst into life after seeing a Victorian post-mortemphotograph of two sisters.20


Summer 2015I’ll admit it. I’m a born again writer. When I wasyounger, only about (*ahem*) years ago, I wroteALL the time: bad poetry, melodramatic short stories,and the odd youth theater script. As long as Ihad pen and paper, or a good old-fashioned SmithCorona (*another dated reference*), I’d be as happyas a lizard on a rock.But then real life got in the way. Like all of us, I hadto grow up, get a job, get a life, oh, and somewherein there, a family came along, and a whole bunch offluffy pets. I never meant to stop writing. It happenedaccidentally.One day I foundmyself a middleaged,middle-classmother of two(now, three –we’ve been busy!)And of course themid-life crisis hitbig time. I thoughtabout where I wasand what I reallywanted to do withmy life, finally realizingI’d let writingget away from me.So I started thinkingabout writing anovel, the onething I’d nevertried before, notseriously anyway. Iwanted to enroll inan online writingclass for the flexibilityit offered.Naturally, the literaryfiction course I wanted to take was already fullyenrolled. However, the same institution was offeringa fiction writing class for younger readers. I’d beenreading The Hunger Games and Twilight (yes, I’ll admitthat I developed a penchant for sparkly vampiresfor a while there). I saw that there was a wholenew young readership out there open to all sorts ofnew ideas in their books.I took the class, and then another, and then another,finally culminating in finishing the entire onlinefiction writing certificate programs at both UCLAand Stanford. Even though I continued to work fulltime, those programs gave me the opportunity tobuild up a supportive and encouraging network ofother readers and writers. An eternal student, I’mnow in my final year of the M.F.A. program inWriting for Children and Young Adults at VermontCollege of Fine Arts, anotheramazingly supportive and wonderfulcommunity of readers andwriters.Inside the Palisade, forthcomingin August with Lodestone Books,is my first full-length novel, althoughI’ve also written a bunchof short stories in recent years. Ienjoy writing stories that revolvearound strong female characters,and this book is no exception. Asa woman whose day job happensto be in a male-dominated profession,I often find myself saying(or hear my colleagues saying)things like: “Well, if a woman wasin charge of this project …”Inside the Palisade is an explorationof what would happen ifwomen were, in fact, in charge ofa futuristic dystopian society,having banished men to thewastelands outside a massivestone wall. The society reproducesvia an artificial inseminationtechnique known simply as the Procedure, andwomen raise their children in the Nest. While thestory is a fast-paced action adventure story foryounger readers with a little romance thrown in, it’salso pretty tongue-in-cheek about gender dynamics.21


Before any male readers start sending hate maleabout me being a man-hating feminist, I want toassure everyone it’s all in good fun. Indeed, someof the women in the story do things as terrible as,or more terrible than, the things they accuse menof having done. Having women in charge doesn’tnecessarily make society better in my story. It onlymakes society different.I would describe the story as a cross between TheMaze Runner and The Gate to Women’s Country.It’s dystopian, there are mysteries about how thecity ended up the way it did, and big mysteries asto what’s outside the palisade. There’s an unusualromantic triangle and a few surprises about thelead characters’ parents.The book is intended for upper middle grade toyoung adult readers. It’s a quick and easy read andgreat for a summer day by the pool or the beach.Because this magazine is for both readers and writers,I should say something specific about mywriting process such as it is. I’ve hemmed andhawed and left this until the end of the article becauseI’m not sure I really have a process ratherthan a hit and miss, throw-everything-on-the-pageand-see-what-sticksapproach. I’m definitely a“pantser” rather than a “plotter.” For those unfamiliarwith the lingo, it means I write by the seat ofmy pants, let the characters do what they want todo, and try to stay out of their way. For me, tighteningup the plot comes later in revisions.Speaking of revisions, that’s actually one of my favoriteparts of writing, although I know many authorshate it. I have what I call a “slash and burn”approach. Unlike many writers, I don’t carefullysave discarded scenes in old files, at least not anywhereI’m likely to ever find them again. I’m notprecious about my words and have no fears aboutkilling my darlings.I often write the same scene from multiple differentcharacters’ perspectives to get a sense of thefullness of the action. However, if I’ve decided tostick to one point of view character (as I did in Palisadewith Omega), then the final draft is alwaystold in that character’s voice. I considered alternatingpoints of view for this book, but found Icould get the main action across even if I stayedcompletely in Omega’s head throughout the book. Ialso chose the first person present tense to maintaina sense of immediacy and action.I’m excited and apprehensive about letting my babybook out into the wider world and into readers’hands. I hope folks enjoy reading it and I wouldlove to hear feedback or to chat about writing generally.I can be contacted through my blog at:kcmaguire.com and would love to hear from you.Write on!K. C. MaguireA mother of three and online book reviewer, K.C. Maguire has studied fiction writing at Stanford andUCLA, and will shortly commence her Masters at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is widely published inthe flash-fiction area, and has received strong reviews for her three e-novellas: Dear John, Destiny, andIvory Tower.Incorrect: We poured over the map. (To flow: “Pour yourself a drink”)Correct: We pored over the map. (Absorbed in the study of…)22


Summer 2015Sarah-Beth Watkins is basking in the success of herlatest title, a biography of Lady Katherine Knollys:The Unacknowledged Daughter of Henry VIII, whichis attracting some very positive reviews in the wakeof the recent spate of televised Tudor popularity.How much of her success does she attribute to therecent adaptation of Wolf Hall and was her booktimed to coincide with the release of this historicaldrama? Or was it a matter of being in the right placeat the right time?Wolf Hall has great costumes and setting wise it’sfabulous but Cromwell is a dry character and I foundthe first couple of episodes quite slow going. It hashowever created a renewed interest in the Tudors soit’s lucky that my book hit the shelves at the sametime as it was televised. Pure luck really – it wasn’ttimed as such.Lady K, however, isn’t Sarah-Beth’s first excursioninto historical non-fiction since Ireland's Suffragetteswas published last year, explaining how the struggleof the suffragettes in Ireland was different to that ofthe UK, in that many of the Irish suffragettes werealso involved in the struggle for national independence.These two subjects appear to be worlds apartbut is the common link an admiration for strong,positive women who often change the face of history?I’m interested in various different periods in historyand I love reading about women whose lives weknow little about. In the course of researching mydegree, where one module was the role of women inpolitics, I realised I didn’t know anything about theIrish suffragettes, British yes but not Irish. I was alsoworking with women’s groups at the time and weoften discussed politics and women’s current lack ofparticipation. A trip up to the National Archives inDublin where primary sources can be found set meoff on the suffragette trail.And Lady Katherine was another woman whoselife had been affected by the politics of the time. Shehad a passing mention in books about her mother,Mary Boleyn, but I wanted to find out her life storyand get it down in one volume.All these women had a part to play in history andyet they have been neglected. The Irish suffragetteswon the right to vote before the British suffragettesdid. Lady Katherine, as Henry VIII’s daughter carriedon his line to this present day. Strong, positive womendefinitely and their stories deserve to be writtenabout.An experienced freelance writer who has written forvarious publications over the past 20 years, she beganher career writing for parenting magazines andhas since gone on to write on many different subjects.Her experience ranges from feature articles,human interest and historical articles as well asshort stories and book reviews. She has written on avariety of topics including self help, women’s development,parenting, literature and how to information.She has written over 300 articles for theweb on a variety of subjects. It’s obvious that she’sserved a long apprenticeship to reach this level ofher career but which element of it has given her thegreatest personal satisfaction?That’s a tricky one because I think when you are firststarting out every success gives you satisfaction andalso spurs you on to write more. I was delighted tobe taken on as a regular contributor to a magazineand then with several websites but I always wantedto write books. Had many half started ones in adrawer. That was always my goal – to be an author.So having my first book published by Compass Bookswas a big deal. To finally have a print book with myname on the cover!Now with the history books, that’s a level I’d onlydreamed of reaching. My book Ireland’s Suffragetteswas a personal interest and I really wanted thosewomen’s stories to be told, although I knew the marketfor the book would probably be fairly small. It’sdone well though and one reader contacted me fromSpain to thank me for writing about her great grandmotherand filling in some gaps in her life. I was sodelighted by that!Lady Katherine has reached a much wider audienceand given me more confidence to write historicalnon-fiction. You need to be committed to writethis type of book. You are going to live and breathethe times for months, even years, on end. Its successhas brought me to a great point in my writing career.And given me ideas for many more books!Sarah-Beth is also the author of Telling Life's Tales: AGuide to Life Writing for Print and Publication, TheWriter's Internet: A Creative Guide to the WorldWide Web; The Life-Style Writer: How to Write forthe Home and Family Market and Life-Coaching forWriters: Realising Your Creative Potential . In 2013she joined the JHP team as publisher of ChronosBooks, the new history non-fiction imprint that aimsto bring history to a new generation of readers thatsheds new light on old information and uses newsources and top notch research to explore historical23


people, places and events. This was obviously a newventure for you but what advice would you give towriters exploring the non-fiction history market?See what is out there first. When you are thinking ofwriting historical non-fiction, you need to know whathas been written before. Pick your time period andresearch it, research it and then research it again. Ihave piles of books and papers on the Tudor periodand the newer they are, the fresher the research soyou need to read a lot, from primary sources to currentthinking.Biography-wise, some people have been wellwritten about. Take Henry VIII for example or AnneBoleyn so you need to look for other individuals thatwill interest readers. People whose stories have beenglossed over.If you’re writing about history, you need to knowthat the sources are there. I have an idea for a bookabout another fascinating lady but I can’t pinpointmany sources of information on her. Before you evenstart chapter planning, you need to know that youwill have enough information to fill your book.Writing historical non-fiction takes a high amount ofpre-planning before you even start but if you arecommitted to your writing and enjoy delving into atime in history every day, then go for it!She’s also had an excursion into writing fiction foryoung adults, which is a long way from history andself-help books, so what’s the lure of YA fiction?I’ve always loved fantasy fiction – it’s what I read inthe evenings to unwind. I do so much research readingin the day that I need something completelydifferent to relax with. Can’t go to sleep without abook! There was a time in my life when I was workingwith young people and having my own kids,those stories grew from that. YA fiction today cancover so many things, so many issues that the kids oftoday have to deal with, and fantasy can help themto escape. So I like to combine the both and have anotebook for those ideas. I haven’t written anythinglately – history took over – but I may in the future!I started Bookworms Author Services to help otherwriters get their work in print. I teach writing coursesbut also work on individual manuscripts to helpimprove them and make them ready to send to apublisher. One of my clients has just received a contractfor her history book that we worked on togetherand that’s what I call a success! I’m at such agood place in my own writing career that - I knowthis might sound clichéd - but I wanted to give somethingback, help others to reach their writing goals.I’m currently working on two projects of my own.One is another Tudor biography and one is a screenplay.I do like to dabble with screenwriting and it’sanother area where history can be told in such away that it reaches a wider audience.Finally, would she give us an insight into her dailywriting routine and working methods, which is alwaysa subject of interest to other writers?I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home butsometimes the work takes over rather than thewriting! I have to balance teaching and copyeditingwith my own projects so I have work days andwriting days. A typical writing day starts with householdchores – pure procrastination – followed byreading what I have written previously and reassessingwhere I am up to. I always plan my bookswell before I start writing so that I have chapterbreakdowns that detail where I should be at any onepoint. The problem with history though is that youfind out an odd snippet of information and then offyou go on a tangent for the rest of the day! Thechapter plan brings me back to base though. I alsouse a detailed timeline that has life events and worldevents on it.I break my day by walking the dogs and it’s priceless.Yes, we all get our exercise but it also clears myhead, helps me think out a tricky section and givesme space to think of what else I should be including.I tend to do my best writing in the afternoon and theevenings are then taken up with research and reading,ready for the next day!Writers cannot, however, live by royalties alone andBookworms Author Services is her latest venture.Can she tell us a little bit about it and any other‘work in progress’.24


Summer 2015by Barbara TakoEveryone writes to greateror lesser degrees in theirnormal daily life and theirjob. Maybe that is why it is hard to be successfulin the writing business. It has been said that fora book to be successful, it must either be the firstin its topic or the best. I am sure that is true tosome extent, but there are other ways to write andto be paid for writing, and books that aren’t atthose extremes can sometimes generate a reasonableincome or other writing opportunities too.If you love to write, write daily. Write even if it isjust a journal entry or a paragraph in a journal entry.I can’t count the number of times a rant or articulationin my journal has later turned into an articleor a book chapter. Write an article idea and letit expand in your subconscious and add to it later.Keep adding and polishing until it turns into a reasonableblog or article. Write letters. Write emails.Simply, write.Dictate too. Sometimes I want to talk rather thanto write. An idea or an eloquent sentence pops intomy mind. A few minutes or hours later, anotherthought needs to be added. Technology allows meto dictate and then I can later pull the pieces togetherinto a coherent article. I have done this andit works!My dad who was an editorial page editor for anewspaper for many years also said this: Read,read, read. Reading leads to internal processing.Notice how the author forms sentences. Noticehow they do description or dialogue. Notice howtheir article or book is structured. Reading teachesyou. This reading, as an active and as a passive internalprocessing, leads to writing. So, as my father’sdaughter, I say write, write, write.Get help. Yes, this means the “M” word—marketing. To get your writing out there, it is worthevery penny to hire a publicist. I work with AscotMedia. They send out numerous press releasesabout my books and refer responses to me to followup. Those press releases have generated radiointerviews, television interviews, and articles andinterviews in newspapers and magazines. You mayhave written the best book in the world, but if noone knows about it, they won’t be able to read it.Help yourself. Craft a great email inquiry that includesyour press release at the bottom. Send it outto organizations and individuals in your topic area.This has generated numerous speaking engagementsand article requests for me. Send and resendto those places. Sometimes it takes more than onetry to get a response. Marketing may be the part ofthe writing job that you don’t care for but it isworth your time and attention. Do it.Learn technology. Avoiding it isn’t an option. Istumbled around figuring out how to “tweet” onTwitter. I worked hard to set up pages for my bookson Facebook. I joined and now support other Facebookpages in my topic areas. If you have time toread and time to write, take the time to learn technology.It is well worth the effort and it becomesincreasingly important every day.It is also possible to be paid to write but it mightnot appear in the way you had visualized it. I wantedand still want my latest book to be a success.That said, I had posted a blog entry on an onlinewebsite in my topic area and the response was aquestion from the blog editor as to whether Iwould like a paid blog position with them. At first Ididn’t respond. I continued to work through theday’s emails because it didn’t really dawn on mewhat she was telling me! Then a god-sent light bulbin my head went off (it basically said “Hey, silly,head’s up!” and I responded to the blog editor’soffer.I write regularly now for www.curetoday.com/community along with other cancer experts andcancer survivors. If this type of writing interestsand fits for you, please let me know and I will get intouch with them on your behalf. This is a way I getpaid for my craft and it helps to promote my JHPbooks. You can do this too. Pick one or two placesto blog so you can keep up with it, and get started!25


Accept help and help yourself. Edit your writing.Write. Walk away and let it age. Edit. Rinse and repeat.Accept other people’s editing ideas. I have heardmany writers get upset when their copy is edited. Iwelcome editing! If someone is willing to combthrough my work and get the tangles out, I am happyand grateful. Yes, sometimes the meaning can get inadvertentlychanged, but overall, editing has savedand polished me more than it has hurt me. Accepthelp graciously.Finally, try writing in a genre you don’t normally use. Itmay open up a new window for you or help you expandand improve the way you do write in your genreof choice. I wrote a poem at the end of my cancercoping book and have gotten lots of feedback fromreaders who enjoyed it:Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools –We'll get you through thisHearing the words “You have cancer” can be devastating—somecancer patients even say that theemotional pain and loss of certainty from hearingthis are worse than the pains from the cancer, surgeries,radiation, chemotherapy, and other treatments.This is the intimate journey of a melanoma andbreast cancer survivor who honestly, and sometimeseven humorously, shares her own story and offerssupportive emotional tools to help people diagnosedwith cancer, and their loved ones and caregivers,work through the emotional pain and upheaval of acancer diagnosis. You will be supported in knowingwhat it feels like to hear you have cancer and be givena variety of helpful ideas to start feeling betterwhether you are newly diagnosed, in treatment, ormonths or years after treatment. If you are a caregiver,friend, or family member who wants to help,you will get a better understanding of the cancerexperience as well as tools to help the person youcare about.For any woman who has been diagnosed with breastcancer, information is vital. But more important, itneeds to be good information. Barb's book morethan qualifies!~ Julie Edstrom, breast cancer survivor, supportgroupfacilitator and spiritual directorNever give up. Never stop expressing yourself throughyour craft. You are a unique and empowered individualwith something important to share with thosearound you. As George Eliot says, “What do we livefor if not to make life less difficult for each other?” Soget out there and write, write, write!Barbara Tako is a breast cancer su rvivorsince 2010 and a melanoma survivor since 2014. Shespeaks in the U.S. and writes at CureToday.com/community and Cancer.net. Since 1998, BarbaraTako has been a professional seminar leader, speaker,and published writer on clutter clearing and organizing,appearing on television, radio, and othermedia venues across the country. Her books areavailable on Amazon and wherever books are sold.Reach Barbara atwww.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com orwww.clutterclearingchoices.com26


Summer 2015Let Your Unconscious Help You OvercomeYour Writer's BlockClarke W. OwensThe term "writer's block"seems a bit of a cliché tome. Do other professionshave "blocks"? Is theresuch a thing as "teacher'sblock"? "Lawyer's block"?"Doctor's block"?Why do aspiring writers allow themselves the luxury ofclaiming to be "blocked" when they can't think of a way tokeep writing? (And isn't it mostly aspiring writers whocomplain of it?)One thinks of the term as applying mainly to longerforms, like the novel. One is writing along, and suddenly inchapter thirteen, or chapter fifty-five, zam! The blockcomes down. You're stuck. You don't know where to gowith it.Suppose it was only a little old poem you were writing.You wrote about half the poem, and you couldn't think ofa way to resolve it – tie up the metaphor, give it somepunch, make it work. Would you say you were "blocked"?Or would you say, "Maybe it's not a poem"? Would youconsider shelving it altogether?I believe a novel – although entirely different from apoem in most respects – is no different from a poem insofaras it's either going to work or it isn't. And it's entirelypossible to begin a long project like a novel, and then torealize midway through that it isn't going to work. It wasimproperly conceived. There's not enough research ordeep knowledge in it. The characters aren't cooperating.The whole thing is turning to wood.So my first feeling about "writer's block" is that it mightbe a sign that the project is not a good one. You need (orat least I need) to know when to give up.That doesn't mean you give up every time you hit asnag. It means you keep your critical and self-critical sensesin operation, and you use them as necessary to get abetter result. Write only poems that are poems, only novelsthat are novels. Be like a sculptor, and cut away everythingthat isn't the art you're seeking.The critical mind is the opposite brain from the creativeone. The creative one is the unconscious.Have you noticed how free language is in a dream, orwhen you're waking from sleep? What about those dreamimages? Wild, aren't they? Yet if you analyze them, theynearly always do what Freud said they do: they multi-taskon an anxiety or a wish.The unconscious mind layers images over the anxietywith as much meaning as possible. Multiple images representthe same area of concern, while each image containsmultiple points of possible reference. That's exactly whatyou want a poetic image to do. That's a good thing for storylines to do.The critical mind kills this process. You can't think apoem into existence. You have to be open to experience,and open to language. With a novel, you have to be openfor a long time, and the subject has to marinate in its layersof contemplation and study until it's ready to emergeas plot, character, voice, narrative line.In the process of spinning out the yarn, there will betimes when the story seems tied up in a knot, and unwillingto go further. What do you do?I suggest you sleep on it.Don't try to figure it out. Just try to understand thenature of the snafu. Character X is poised to commit Act Y,but Character X has been developed in such a way thatshe would never do that. What has happened? How canwe fix this? Should we just plunge on, and have CharacterX commit Act Y, when it's totally out of character?No. Your critical sense is trying to tell you something.It's saying, "Don't go there. It won't work." But your criticalsense does not tell you where to go. The critical sensedoes not perform that function.The Unconscious does.Think about the nature of the problem. Then, stop analyzingit. Go to sleep. Your unconscious mind will work onit, just like it works on all your daily problems, anxieties,fears, and conflicts. Nine times out of ten, in the morning,you will wake up with a completely new idea about how toresolve the issue."Wow!" you'll say. "I didn't even think of that."No, you didn't think of that when you were worryingabout Character X and Act Y, because that was your criticalfaculty doing the thinking. But at night, when your Unconsciouswas percolating, running wild programs throughyour problems to come up with solutions, creation tookplace. You realize now what you had no clue about lastnight when you went to bed, namely, It's not necessary forCharacter X to engage in Act Y. Character X can engage inAct Z – and that's exactly what she would do.…Or whatever the solution is.The point is, if you leave it alone, the solution willcome to you in your sleep. This has happened to me moretimes than I can count. When it does, I'm always amazedat how creative the unconscious mind is, and how effortlesslyit solves seemingly insoluble problems.I've come to realize that a creative problem is onlyseemingly insoluble because the perception of such problemsoccurs to the critical part of the brain, which isproperly trained to be aware of such things. It's not part ofthe critical brain's sphere of influence to know how to fixthe problem – only to be aware of it, and to define it consciously.Once you realize this, there really is no writer's block. Ifyou are really blocked and your dreaming mind can't resolvethe issue, it means the project is bad and should beabandoned for another one. But don't give up until bothhalves of your brain have looked at the issue!Clarke W. Owens is the author of a novel, "600 PPM," anda book of literary criticism, "Son of Yahweh." His poemsfrequently appear in literary journals. He lives in ruralOhio. Visit his web site at www.clarkewowens.com .27


Autumn Barlow Interviews Helen NobleWhat is your book about in thirty words?Scorpio Moons is an insight into the secret worlds of passionate,driven women who summon the physical and spiritual andstrength to face their demons and forge their own destinies.What inspired you to write it?I wanted to explore and illustrate, in an entertaining way, theoperation of the psychological concept of resilience in the livesand experiences of women; to shed some light on our innerstrength and celebrate our vitality.What inspires you in your daily life?Compassion, beauty, trust and fresh sea air!Where would you most love to travel and why?So many places! In Europe I feel equally at home in the mountainsof Ireland and the islands of Greece and would love totravel further afield in North America. However in Africa Iswear I could feel the heartbeat of the world.What or who is the greatest love of your life and why?The ‘what’ must be the act of writing. I am happiest when I amformulating, researching and writing the ideas and notionsthat morph into books, yet which seem to come out of nowhere,often starting out as a single image or a random concept.The ‘who’ is an array of the people in my life at the present,and some from the past. There is however still plenty of roomfor those of the future.When did your interest in all things spiritual and soulfulbegin?As a child I was aware of otherworldly ‘things’ but it crystallisedduring my rehabilitation work with offenders. I becameaware of the spaces between people and of ‘stuff’ happening,the activation of energy of those spaces. In a cathartic sense Iwrote about my experiences. This was my way of makingsense of them, finally publishing a fictional account in the formof my debut novel Tears of a Phoenix, published by Soul Rocksin 2012.When things got dark in your life (as they tend to do in all ourlives) how did you cope?I wrote about it. To close friends and confidantes, in journals,in blogs, in poetry; I incorporated my experiences and understandinginto novels and short stories.What has been the most spiritual / soulful moment of yourlife thus far?The unique moment that someone very close to me survived,against the odds. It made me appreciate the endurance of thehuman spirit as well as the strength of the body.What advice would you give to readers of the next generationon finding their soul in this often corporate / consumerdriven world?Be discerning.Feel for the truth.Images are illusory and transient.The only constant in life is change.Listen to your feelings – if it feels wrong, it probably is, for you,at least.Be true to yourself as others will inevitable let you down (evenif not intentionally)Learn from your fear and challenge your anxieties.Trust that things will always work out,A negative outlook is a sure-fire way to fail.Be kind.Be warm.Be loving.Be loved.What’s your spin on God? Is he real? Is he a woman? Is God abig giant fluffball of a kitten in the sky? Your call…I think God is consciousness, a state of mind and heart andtherefore a state of human being.Where do you call home? What’s so great about it?Home is currently by the sea in Wales…I love its solitude, itsrugged beauty and the fresh, expansive atmosphere.Nature or Nurture?Nature is nurturing!But seriously, I think elements of both are evident throughoutlife. We all have our default settings, courtesy of our genes andcircumstances of birth. However we also have ever-connectingbrains and choices. I think that nurturing ourselves and othersis one of our greatest human gifts and the platform on whichto build happy, successful and satisfying lives.Favourite ever soulful book?There are so many….I love books that make me think, thatchallenge my existing perceptions. Yet I also love books thatillustrate the beauty, strength and compassion of humanity.The late, great Doris Lessing’s book of short stories titled‘Winter in July’ tuned my adolescent mind into higher planes.What has changed in your life over the last ten years?My home, my family, my occupation, my body, my mind!Change is the only constant in my life, and I’m looking forwardsto finding out what changes the next ten years willbring…What else do you do – besides writing?I mother, take photographs, read books, and walk dogs. I lovealso to encourage other writers to find their voice and lovetheir craft.Are you working on another book?Yes I am currently working on another three novels, includinga sequel to forthcoming Soul Rocks novel The 49 th Day.Website links@welshmermaid@Tearsofaphoeni1http://helennoble.co.ukhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Tears-of-a-Phoenix/28


Summer 2015Scorpio Moonshighlighting the drama of their deeds.While speaking of the nature of thesepowerful individuals, it also reveals theirhidden connections and unveils the transformationalflow of their collective force.Dramatic. Intense. Deep. Containing astrology,myth, dreams, omens, therapies,and more to draw you into a magicalworld. Well-written. I recommend it.~ Anita Burns, The MessengerThe 49th DayTears of a PhoenixScorpio Moons is a collection of dark,secretive and passionate tales of thedeeds of driven women in their search forself-empowerment. In an astrologicalsense, the moon embodies the interior ofthe soul; the mother of existence, the yinenergy of the universe. Scorpio energy isdeep, intensely loving, transformative andpotentially destructive. It is believed thatwomen with the moon in Scorpio, whilstfearlessly passionate and highly creative,may also become consumed with jealousyand hell-bent on revenge. With their intuitiveability to see into your soul, they canmake for the most fiercely loyal of friendsand the most deadly of sworn enemies.Committed to the constant of change,equally powerful in the creative and destructiveelements, they are the Goddessesof Transformation. The secret to theirstrengths lies in their invisible thread ofendurance; their effortless embodimentof resilience will ensure they will alwaysbe on the cutting edge of life.Scorpio Moons offers a forbidden glimpseinto the interior of the lives of thoseamong us. It casts a silvery light into thedarkest corners, illuminating their secretdesires, revealing their indulgences andA contemporary romance with undertonesof medieval history and a spiritualtwist, woven with ancient Welsh mythologyand timeless Irish humour. 'The 49thDay' is the first in a trilogy of novels weavingtogether the past, present and futurelives of Katherine Walsh and the powerfulmen who seek to control her. Basedaround the Buddhist notion of reincarnation,the story unfolds to reveal theevents of the first seven weeks of herunexpected pregnancy. Coincidences inher past and present lives become clear asshe grapples with the current strangleholdon her life and contemplates herfuture as the custodian of the soul of herunborn child.A life sentence signifies the end of oneroad for Jed, a convicted violent criminal,yet the start of a whole new existence.Desperate to escape the shackles ofhis past, he opens his psyche to the peoplehe meets in the prison system anddelves into his psychological and spiritualheritage. To be released into the outsideworld, Jed embarks on a journey of selfexploration,with the help of a prison psychologist,prison officers and fellow inmates.From the confines of his cell herelives the past events which led to hiscurrent status as a prisoner, and travelsinto the history and culture of his Ghanianhomeland, meeting with his spiritual ancestorsto seek the truths he believes willset him free.As a new novelist, Helen's writing is repletewith insights and promises a wealthof them still untapped. She fearlessly exploresthe dark underbelly of the humancondition, providing both a deeper understandingand uplifting hope for humanity.~ Stephen Russell, Author, The BarefootDoctorHelen Noble is a director in a progressive legal practice. She is also a psychology graduate with experience of working withpeople in a variety of challenging circumstances. Privileged to have witnessed the resilience of the human spirit, Helen believesthat it is only by being true to our nature and honouring our integrity that we can follow our dreams. Acknowledging our rootsallows us to spread our branches in new directions. She lives in Pembrokeshire, UK.http://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/blogs/fiction/an-interview-with-soul-rocks-author-helen-noble/http://helennoble.co.uk/?page_id=18http://www.amazon.com/Helen-Noble/e/B007KJJCTE29


Young Adult Books special offer on eBooks only 99p/99c on Amazon (may be subject totax) for the whole of September! Coming soon!Inside the PalisadeWhat if the sexes were divided by a massive stone wall, and someonewas on the wrong side?Omega has grown up surrounded by women – literally. Inside thepalisade, women fall in love, marry and raise daughters, relying onan artificial insemination process known as the Procedure. Butsomething goes horribly wrong. One day, Omega comes face toface with a mythical monster – a man – within the society’s walls.Men had been eradicated long ago to protect women from thethreat of violence. But this boy is not what Omega has been led tobelieve. And he needs her help. She soon finds herself embroiled ina manhunt headed by a vigilante Protector, Commander Theta.When she falls into Theta’s clutches, Omega realizes that there’smore to the banishment of men, and to her own past, than she’sever known. Ultimately, she is forced to make a choice betweenbetraying the lost boy and betraying her society, a decision complicatedby the realization that she has more in common with himthan she cares to admit, and the fact that she is developing feelingsfor him.A tense thriller about a future where the choices humanity is makingnow have ravaged the world as we know it. The Palisade andthe rigid society that survives within are an adaptation to the newenvironmental circumstances, but its people are running out oftime. One girl challenges her society to either change...or die out!~ Alyx Dellamonica, author of the Indigo Springs series and theChild of a Hidden Sea trilogyA mother of three and online book reviewer, K.C. Maguire hasstudied fiction writing at Stanford and UCLA, and will shortly commenceher Masters at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is widelypublished in the flash-fiction area, and has received strong reviewsfor her three e-novellas: /Dear John/, /Destiny/, and /Ivory Tower/.You can find her on the web at: kcmaguire.comEscape From the PastWhen fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he'ssneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn't realizethat 1) He's been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player.2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into theactual past: anywhere and anytime. And 3) Survival is optional: toreturn home he must decipher the game's rules and complete itsmissions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in thepast—forever.Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless.It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may costhim his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl froma deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott.Overnight he is dragged into a hornets' nest of feuding lords whowill stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in theirmidst.Fast-paced, compelling YA debut.~ Giselle Green, #1 bestselling author of A Sister’s GiftA wonderfully crafted romp to the time of lords, ladies, and knights.Cool gaming experience is an understatement as young Max findshimself in the 1400s as he's beta testing a new video game. Historyis made, intrigue abounds, and the bonds of friendship are forgedas a modern-day boy bravely navigates the past. Are you Maxenough to play the game?~ Lee Ann Ward, author and former Senior Editor of ChampagneBooksAnnette Oppenlander writes historical fiction for young adults.When she isn’t in front of her computer, she loves indulging hermutt, Mocha, and traveling around the U.S. and Europe to discoveramazing histories.30


Compass Points - Edit is a Four-Letter WordSummer 2015A one-stop refresher course in editing fiction, suitable for both newwriters and more experienced ones. When to edit, how to edit, why toedit – and when not to edit. The different stages of editing. Checklists,examples, and advice from other writers, editors, competition judgesand a literary agent.Don’t know how to edit your work? Not sure when it’s ready to sendout? Glynis Scrivens’ book answers all your questions. Follow the excellentadvice given by Glynis and the experienced contributors she hasincluded and reap the rewards. If you are serious about sending out yourbest possible work you cannot be without Edit is a Four Letter Word.Lynne HacklesA writer’s editing process is as personal as their writing style, but it’salways useful to know how others do it. As the book says, there is noobvious cut-off point. Knowing when to stop is just as important asknowing what to edit. Glynis has written a book that shares the tips andmethods other writers use, enabling you to select, refine, hone and perfectyour own editing technique. There’s no right or wrong way to edit:just your way. This book will help you discover your way of editing.Simon WhaleyGlynis Scrivens is an Australian writer. Her short stories have appearedin magazines and newspapers in Australia, the UK, Ireland, South Africa,the US and Scandinavia. She is a regular contributor to UK magazineWriters' Forum, and has had articles published in Pets, Steam Railway,Ireland's Own, and Writing Magazine. Her work hasappeared in seven anthologies, both fiction andnon-fiction.Clutter Clearing ChoicesClutter Clearing Choices is humorous, authentic, and entertaining. It is an extremelyinformative book on clutter clearing, home organizing, and simple living.If someone thinks they have already read everything out there about clutter, thisbook will show them they haven't. If this is the first clutter clearing book someonepicks up, they will be pleasantly surprised by the flexibility and quantity ofhelpful ideas and resources here. Readers are invited to pick and choose whatworks for them. There is no single right way to get rid of clutter! This book isfilled with practical ideas to reduce clutter and get organized to free up time andenergy for personal priorities, whatever they are! Isn't that much more fun thanhunting for car keys or misplaced paperwork?Funny, thorough, and not the least bit intimidating, this book is a godsend for theorganizationally challenged.~ Victoria Moran, author of Creating a Charmed LifeWhen I began my organizing business 30 years ago, it was based on four simplewords: Clutter is Postponed Decisions. Few of us (even professional organizingconsultants!) ever reach the point of being satisfied with their ability to get rid ofclutter as it just seems to keep pouring in. Barbara Tako has done a wonderfuljob of giving her readers practical suggestions for getting rid of the clutter intheir lives. Less is more!~ Barbara Hemphill, author of Taming the Paper Tiger at Home31


‘The police investigation concerninglost teenager Melody Watkins(16) has reached a completestandstill,’ Bex typed.In The Chronicle office, Deirdre,the senior staff journalist,scanned the words on the PCscreen over the junior reporter'sshoulder.Well, that was true, shemused.‘Despite her not being a memberof the dating site Heart toHeart, her disappearance couldbe linked to the recent murdersof on-line singles, Natalie Saunders(18) and Amber Melrose(20) who were found strangledwith twine in their own homes.Police believe that the victimshad come into contact with TheLove Rat Slayer before he cruellystole their lives.’‘Ah – stop right there!' Deirdreinterrupted. As Bex swunground, irritation creased heryoung, pretty, heavily made-upface.'You can’t write that,’ Deirdreadvised. ‘Not about Melody Watkins.She might have eloped toGretna Green to marry her boyfriend.’‘Melody doesn't have one. Iinterviewed the family myself,'Bex snapped.'He could be a secret boyfriendfrom another area,' hercolleague pointed out. Hmm –why hadn't Bex followed this lineof enquiry up? Deirdre askedherself if it was worth pursuing…Not likely,’ muttered Bex.‘Even the Ed agrees with me –The Love Rat Slayer has huntedher down and—'Deirdre shuddered. ‘Whocame up with that horriblename?’‘I did!' Bex replied. 'It's great,isn't it? The nationals loved it.'Yes, Deirdre acknowledged,the national newspapers had eagerlylapped up the grisly title.The Ed was absolutely thrilled.The Ed relied on Bex to providethe spicy, sensational elementfor The Chronicle’s readership.Being a long-standing memberof staff, Deirdre felt that thenewspaper – originally a familyfriendly publication – had managedperfectly well without it.Perhaps those dropped circulationfigures were preying heavilyon his mind, she reflected.The fact was, most people hadstopped buying local rags – theyabsorbed the headlines from theTV, radio or the Internet. TheChronicle had its own website,and every day, the apprenticeswere hard at work on social mediaand blogs, updating the pageswith news and celebrity items.Most of the current material wascentred around the enigmaticLove Rat Slayer.‘A secret source close to theinquiry hinted that Kelly’s disappearancecould be a primarycause for concern,' was the nextpart of Bex’s copy.‘Who is this secret source?’Deirdre broke in.‘Dave Bailey, that dishy DC,'she answered. ‘I rang him tenminutes ago while you were inthe loo. It was strictly an 'off therecord' chat, of course.’'Really?' Deirdre enquired dryly.From her experience, ‘secretsources’ had a nasty habit of beinguncovered… It saddened herthat some folk (even expert professionals)were willing to dishthe dirt for a sordid stash of hardcash.Bex clicked her fingers.'Another coffee please.'Deirdre was about to issue theorder down the line to an apprentice,but they were all busy.She wandered off to the kitchenand pondered.Bex certainly knew how tosmarm around the Ed. The eagertwenty-something was dedicatedenough, Deirdre admitted. Yetshe also found her arrogant, immatureand vain.Despite her senior position,Deirdre had been downgraded tocover tame 'human interest' features,such as tap dancing classesfor the over 60s or cats that gotstuck in unusual places, whileBex's copy was always awardedfront page prominence.It was a ridiculous title Bexhad given the killer. Not only ridiculousbut insensitive too. Sheobviously hadn't thought thatthis could upset the deceasedgirls’ families. Deirdre hadbrought this issue up with TheEd.Yet he’d gone with it, saying itwas appropriate, as it turned outthat both Natalie and Amber hadbeen romantically involved withthe same man. He was Mike Edwards,35, a local unmarried accountant.Both girls had met himvia the Heart to Heart website.After being arrested and questionedby the police, he’d beenreleased without charge. His solicitorhad given a brief statementto the press, then Mike hadpromptly gone into hiding.32


Summer 2015There'd been a lot of speculationon social media about him. Had hereally murdered those girls? If not,why had he run away?His family were worried too.He'd probably employed thisavoidance tactic to give sharpnosedhacks like Bex the swerve,Deirdre reasoned.If she'd been given the by-line,her copy would hold a respectful,sympathetic slant – after all, thishorrific double murder affected lotsof people in lots of different ways.She'd focus on that, instead ofdrawing attention to the gory aspectsof the case. Deirdre hated theway the media glorified in glamorisingkilling and violence.Yet a far more pressing problemremained. What on earth had happenedto Melody Watkins?Wasn’t it time she found out?She dumped a mug of coffee onBex's desk, quickly booted up herPC and put her professional investigationskills into practice.***It was 5.30. Home time.‘I don’t feel safe with this killeron the loose,' Deirdre said, wishingshe had a boyfriend to protect her.She thought of Dave Bailey. Bexwas right – he was certainly verydishy. She doubted if he’d evenlook at her – after all, Bex was theone with the attractive looks, slimfigure and apparently sparkling personality.‘Why don’t you stay at mine tonight?’Bex offered. 'We can chillout – phone for a takeaway andwatch a DVD.'Deirdre glanced up in surprise.‘That’s very kind of you, Bex.'She was touched by the unexpectedgesture. 'Thanks.''I know how you feel. I live onmy own too.' She smiled.Deirdre returned the smile. Itseemed she wasn’t all bad…They collected their bags andcoats, and ten minutes later,climbed into Bex’s car and setoff. Out on the road, a movementfrom behind caught Deirdre's eye.‘Is that driver in the blue minifollowing us?’ she asked.‘I don’t think so.’ Bex frowned.'It's probably just me being paranoid.'She shrugged.'It's not surprising, given the circumstances.'Bex pulled into a terracedstreet and parked. Shelooked behind her. 'He's gonenow.'A sense of relief flooded Deirdre.'Thank goodness!'Once settled in, Bex rang for apizza. Deirdre peered out of theliving room window to look out forthe pizza delivery guy.‘Hey, that blue mini's parkedover the road,’ she said. 'The maledriver's reading The Chronicle.'‘Well, if he’s The Love Rat Slayer,the least he can do is grant me anexclusive interview.’ Bex grinned.'Shall we open a bottle of wine?'Deirdre trotted after Bex as shebeetled to the kitchen. It felt as ifshe'd been trotting behind her forever…The doorbell rang. Pizza. Blimey,that was quick! Funny – despite herstance by the window, Deirdre hadn'tseen a pizza delivery van.Then Deirdre heard shouts andbanging on the door: 'POLICE!OPEN UP!'She froze. 'What are the policedoing here?''They must have got the wronghouse,' Bex breezed.Instead of answering the urgentraps, strangely, Bex headed for theback kitchen door – it led outside tothe garden.She turned the handle, but itwas locked.'Blast! It's locked! Help me, Deirdre!'she pleaded. She was clearlyvery frightened.'Help you? What do you mean?'Deirdre stuttered. Why was Bexfrightened?'I can't explain now. Just helpme!''What do you want me to do?'The volume of the thumping hadshifted up a gear. Her heart hammered.Crikey – this was like somethingout of a film!'I need to find the key to theback door! I kept it somewheresafe, and I've lost it!' Bex yankedopen drawers and frantically pulledthings out. Pizza flyers, pens, scissors,notebooks, and even a ball oftwine went flying as items crashedand slithered on the floor.Deirdre followed suit. She'd alwaysthought Bex was an organisedperson…Her thoughts spun wildly, yetshe tried to keep them on a steadytrack. Think, Deirdre, think! Somewheresafe, she'd said…'POLICE! OPEN UP NOW!'Deirdre felt dizzy and sick.Should she let the police in or—The front door suddenly crashedand splintered. Her blood raced, asa flash of vivid white, yellow andsombre black rushed in. In the burlypolice team, she recognised DaveBailey and someone else – it wasthe driver from the blue mini andhe was reciting some familiarwords:‘Rebecca Hardy, I'm arrestingyou for the murders of NatalieSaunders and Amber Melrose. Youare not to obliged to say anything…'the words of the caution faded asthe officer handcuffed and led hercolleague away.Bex had been arrested! Shecouldn't believe it! She wouldn't.'Are you all right?' Dave asked.'This must be quite a shock.'33


Unable to speak, she simply nodded.‘I see you spotted DCI Baker inthe blue mini.’ Dave took a seatat the dining table and indicatedthat she do the same. Aroundthem, the team franticallysearched.She took a deep breath. ‘Whydo you suspect Bex? The LoveRat Slayer is a man. Isn't he?'‘I’ll explain everything.’The doorbell rang. Dave ranout to answer. She felt tense andon edge. Who was it? What washappening now?He returned with a pizza.***‘Why did Bex kill those girls?’ shewhispered.‘Mike Edwards is Bex’s ex too.He dumped her for Natalie. Thenhe dumped Natalie for Amber,'Dave said. ‘He met them all viathe Heart to Heart dating site.We traced Bex's membership detailstoday. She'd used a differentname, of course.'‘How did she manage to getclose enough to them to commitmurder?’He shrugged. ‘She's a journalist.It was easy to track themdown. Perhaps she invented afake feature about fashion? Visitedtheir homes to interviewthem and then—'Deirdre paled.'Anyway, thanks to you, we’vemanaged to solve one mystery.Melody Watkins turned up safeand well yesterday when she returnedhome after eloping toGretna Green with her secretboyfriend. He's from another area– recently reported as a missingperson to another policeforce. They met at a friend's party,apparently. She decided notto marry him, by the way.''Good.' Her tracing had yieldedresults. Dave went on to explainthat The Love Rat himself,Mike Edwards had also recentlyreturned to the UK after his briefexile in France.Someone shouted for Dave'sattention. 'I'll ring you later.' Hesmiled. 'Perhaps we could meetup sometime?'She instantly understood – hehad a job to do. It was a hint tobeat a hasty retreat.They'd have plenty of time tocatch up later… Deirdre too,would be busy – composing herresignation.With a jolt, she realised thatgradually, the world of blazingheadlines had lost its appeal.Deirdre sensed that she wouldn'tbe unemployed for verylong. There were lots of avenuesto explore.First of all, she'd try freelancework, penning articles for women'smagazines. She could eventry her hand at a novel.It was a brand new start – andmaybe the start of a new romancetoo!The BurdenFrank is a reformed alcoholic. He lives at home with his mother, Elisabeth– at least, he did until she went into a nursing home sufferingfrom dementia. He is devoted to her and conversely hates his estrangedfather, Geoffrey. So when elder sister Pat calls to tell him Dadis dying and wants to meet him, Frank is forced to face up to his demons.But what are they? And how did he acquire them?Every family has its secrets and Frank's is no exception. As much as hetries to forget, something happened a long time ago that has colouredhis life ever since – and he can't live in peace until he confronts it.Seen from the perspective of four separate family members, The Burdenexamines an individual's contrasting relationships and the differentemotions they inspire.William Faulkner famously said 'The past isn't dead. It's not even past.'The Burden explores, with sensitivity and skill, the way in which eventsthat took place decades ago can impact on the present. Its unsentimentaltreatment of childhood as a time of confusion and uncertaintyis especially acute. Many readers will see elements of themselves inthis emotionally engaging novel.~ Miles Salter, Director, York Literature FestivalN.E. David is the pen name of York writer Nick David. His debutnovel, Birds of the Nile, was published by Roundfire in 2013.34


Summer 2015If you are a writer, I'm sure you have thought aboutentering a competition at some point – whether thecompetition is for a short story, a piece of flash fiction,a poem, a blog post, a play or a novel.Competitions provide a variety of scope and canoffer writers a fantastic freedom of style, tone andgenre.Here's ten top tips to the secret of competitionsuccess.1. Follow the rulesIt sounds basic, but you'd be amazed at how manypeople don't.Some competitions are very strict about the size offont and even the font itself. Then there's the businessof actually sending it. Do they want entries viasnail mail or e-mail?If it's e-mail, do you paste it in the body of the e-mail itself or send it via an attachment?If so, what kind of attachment? PDF? Word? It canbe a pretty complex business, and I can recall plentyof times when I've had to call upon my IT expert hubbyfor help!Check if your name (and writing name) is requiredon the story or if it's preferred without. Entry formscan usually be found on the organiser's website.Sometimes a cover sheet with your details is allthat's required.Paying the entry fee –there's cheque and Paypal.Make sure that the organisers have received your storyand payment.It's a good idea to check out the organisers, too.It's extremely rare for anyone to spend time, moneyand effort simply to set up a bogus competition inorder to run off with your cash, yet this did actuallyhappen to a writer friend of mine. She chased it via e-mail and demanded a refund, yet sadly, she got nowhere.Don't forget the closing date, and the word countmust be correct, too.Also the genre, theme and brief should fit therules. The judges see it like this – if you can't be botheredto follow the instructions, the judges can't botheredto consider your entry. Harsh, but true.2. Be preparedWrite down the closing date of the competition onyour calendar.Give yourself a generous time limit of two months(for a short story) to include re-drafting time. For anovel or a play competition, your time limit will obviouslybe considerably longer.For blogging competitions, it depends on howmany words they require. I'd suggest a working timeof 2–3 weeks. This includes re-drafting, resting andediting time.Pick a length of time you feel comfortable with.The important thing is to prepare.Remember that novel and play competitions mayrequire a full synopsis, a list of characters, chapter orscene breakdowns, a detailed outline of your themeand a bio, plus a writer's CV and photo. Phew!Time to get cracking. Write a first draft.Go back, add and edit, print it out, then leave it torest. Keep doing this until you are completely happywith it.When you've reached the 'completely happy'stage, leave it again for a week, or even two weeks.When you return to it, you should be able to spotthings you've missed. Run it past a writer friend andask for their opinion, because you want to give yourselfthe best possible chance of winning.3. CritiquesWith some competitions, for stories that didn't reachthe long or short-list, there is an opportunity to payextra for an additional critique. These critiques can bea bit hit and miss. I've received good critiques andbad ones. The bad ones have offered me one or twolines only. The good ones go through each weak pointand suggest ways of improvement.Is the extra expense worth it? It really depends onwhether you plan to send that particular piece ofwork elsewhere after the competition.4. Don't dump your back catalogueStories that have 'done the rounds' are unlikely towin.Don't think 'That one will do' and desperately redrafta rejected old stock story to fit the specifiedgenre or theme. This rarely works, because the judgeswill see straight through it. It's the lazy writer's tactic.Always attempt to create something new. Surely afabulous prize and publication is worth the effort?After all, if you are short-listed (or even if you win)this achievement can be proudly added to your CV.35


5. Be aware of rightsSome fiction competitions want to grab all rights, includingcopyright. Check the terms and conditionscarefully before entering. There are ones that statethat they automatically hold all copyright to all entries.Simply put, the organisers can use or sell submittedstories any way they like without your permission, becauseby entering, you have effectively given yourwork to them.And if there is an entry fee, you've paid for the privilegetoo. That means that your story is not yours anymore,even if it's got your name on it. You'd be forcedto ask the organisers for permission (written probably)if you want to submit your story elsewhere.Writers often don't mind giving away just one story.Yet what if you're entering two, three or fourpieces of work?It's your call.6. AnthologiesThe prize for these fiction competitions is publicationin an anthology. Some of these printed books are soldto raise money for charity. Some, however, aren't. Theones I'm talking about are competitions run by privateself- publishing companies.If your story is picked for publication, the publishersmay expect you to buy a copy of the anthology thatcontains your story. The price of this can end upcosting you more than the entry fee!7. The cost of entry feesThe cost of entry fees can quickly mount up, so makesure you keep an eye on your spending. Set up aspreadsheet to track your outgoings.Comping can be very addictive, especially afterachieving short- list status, runner-up success or anactual win!Competition entry fees for novels and plays canexceed £10. The general rule is, the higher fee, thehigher the cash prize on offer.Bear in mind that the organisers need to cover thecost of advertising the competition, plus there's websitecosts, and often there is admin staff to pay as well.Usually, the entry fees cover the cash prize (or prizes).The organisers will often pay a high profile writerjudge (or a panel of judges) a fee too.However, there are several free to enter competitionsaround. The downside to free ones are that theyattract quite a lot of entries.8. E- magazines, small paper press competitions andonline fiction projectsThere are literally hundreds of e-zines, e-magazinesand small paper presses that offer ongoing, open genreshort story competitions. The prizes are small, yetthis is reflected in the entry fee, so it's worth giving it ago.They usually publish more than one issue per year,and late entries are automatically considered for thenext edition. This means that the closing date is notpreying on your mind, and with an open genre, youcan pick and choose your subject.Pro writers tend to not bother with these much, sofor amateur writers, it's more of a level playing field.The editors are often the judges.As for online fiction projects – sometimes the prizeis simply publication on their website.9. Where to find competitionsA Google search will bring up plenty of opportunities,plus links to hundreds of websites that list fiction competitions.I have a network of writer friends who tell meabout interesting competitions that are posted ontheir blogs or FB pages.Please return the favour – I also let them know if Istumble across anything that may interest them, too.The two UK writing magazines – Writers' Forum andWriting magazine – also contain plenty of comp detailsand there are some listed at the back of this magazine.10. Carry on comping!I love entering fiction competitions. My entries havebeen long-listed and short-listed, they've been runnerupstoo, and I've even won first place for a short storycompetition run by a UK national monthly women'smagazine.It's an incredible feeling of elation and achievementto see your name up there on a website with the results!The prizes I've received range from a plant (Yes,that's right – a plant) a book of short stories, a year'sfree magazine subscription to a kobo e-reader – pluscash and publication too, of course.I relish the challenge, and I try my best to make myentry entertaining, engaging, different and original.Another writer friend of mine was lucky enough tohit the jackpot. Within the space of a few months,she'd scooped an incredible £900 from winning severalfiction competitions! She told me that she'd treatedherself to a beautiful antique desk with the winnings.It was very well deserved.So work hard and carry on comping, but pleasemake sure you have fun too!www.kishboo.co.uk36


Summer 201537


Peter CresswellIt is 6.30 am and I’m gradually coming out of sleep.As so often happens, the problem that I was leftwith the night before is beginning to resolve in mymind. Perhaps it is the reordering and problemsolvingof my unconscious, dealing with the eventsof the previous day.But, in any case, I need to get it all down on paper(well, into the system) before I lose it. I am at mydesk half an hour later.I can now see how and why Peter’s ‘confession’came to be introduced at Mark 8, 29, as part of theprocess of introducing a new slant to the transfigurationtext. I can establish why it has to be a laterinterpolation.My new appreciation will also necessitate somemodifications to earlier parts of my book and somenew footnotes …It is now 3.30 pm. My wife comes in with coffee. Ihave had no breakfast and no lunch.It is time to get on with the rest of the day: walkthe dog, do some housework and gardening, helpwith the running of our joint business.I have spent probably over 1,000 hours on my newbook. It squeezes out time for recreation, leavesmy desk cluttered with unanswered correspondence.I don’t yet have a publishing deal.Why am I doing this?It is a good question.Well, one straight answer is, certainly not for themoney, even if I do end up selling lots of copies bymost standards.It is a question that all potential authors need toaddress. The number of new titles is rising almostexponentially, faster than any possible growth inpopulation and readership. For every one successfulfiction writer, there are many scores of others,with just as good or even better books that eitherdo not get published or successfully marketed. Forevery recreational, lifestyle or occupational niche,there’s already someone good out there who hascovered it.To get a foothold, you have to be better than them,and persistent and lucky. You have to have somethingnew to say, and be sure of it. It has to besomething that wakes you up in the morning,drives you on, and gives you the satisfaction ofknowing that you have got it (whatever it is) justright.So, what drives me? I am both lucky and unlucky inhaving stumbled on a field, biblical textual analysisor more specifically New Testament textual analysis,that offers the scope to make advances and reallysignificant discoveries. And I am, day by day,doing just that.There are a combination of reasons. It is the onefield of study that has successfully resisted the Enlightenment.Circumvented by scholars in otherdisciplines, it has been left to its own devices as acurious survival, run by a conservative, religiousestablishment. It runs all the journals, conferencesand the university departments, keeping at bay theworld outside and outsiders.It is not entirely their fault that they remain aclosed community, imprisoned by their own constructs.Not very many non-Christians are motivatedto spend three or four years studying theology,while also learning to read the original texts in ancientGreek, Aramaic and Hebrew. But the believersare for the most part held back by their own preconceptions,no matter how many years theystudy. So, they have, over a very long period, madelittle or no progress.This leaves me like someone from the 21st century38


Summer 2015thrown back in time, to the era before Darwin. Ihave the skills. There is so much to discover.The point is that I am back in time, but only in thefield of New Testament textual analysis. This is because,for this field, time really has stood still.This is the upside. Few people nowadays ever havesuch an opportunity. It has taken a while for me torealise that there may be no one else out there doingwhat I am doing, from an objective and dispassionateperspective.The downside is that I am treated with cordial,though barely suppressed, disdain and hostility.The religious establishment would like me to goaway and patently hopes to ignore me and my findingsout of existence. But just as Robert Eisenmandid, in breaking the stranglehold on publication andinterpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, I am makingthe breakthroughs that cannot be ignored.As Eisenman said at the time, ‘the game is up’.There can be no more tight teams of like-mindedmembers from a religious establishment withholdingtexts and keeping other scholars at bay for decades,no more official versions manipulating interpretationof texts to conform to pre-existing beliefs.There can be no closed circuit of apologeticsmasquerading as scholarship.The books that are going to be landmarks, like TheInvention of Jesus: How the Church Rewrote theNew Testament will be published, but not by them.We do now, in Eisenman’s words, have ‘free competitionand free thinking’. And, even if nothingelse of significance turns up in a long-buried clayjar, dessicated spoil heap or even prized(scandalously) from the material of a first centuryEgyptian funerary mask, there is plenty of scopefrom the so-far poorly analysed material that wealready have.It gets me up and at my desk at daybreak.So then, why are you doing it?Peter Cresswell is author of Jesus the terrorist, O Books, 2010, The Invention of Jesus, Watkins2013, and is currently working on The Hidden Gospel of Jesus.When editing your book, read it aloud. This will take patienceand you’ll need plenty of breaks to sip a drink andease your dry throat. It’ll be worth it though as it willthrow up more typos, missing words and lack of flow indialogue than you would spot just by reading it throughseveral times.39


Bellino processed along the hallowed nave of theSistine Chapel with the other boys, his ill-fittingleather slippers pattering as the choir’s feetshuffled over the polished marble. He glanced nervouslyat the oblique patches of light that broughtlife to the carved effigies and monuments lining theside aisles and catching sight of the illuminatedgrace of Caravaggio’s Madonna, he made a silentplea to her, 'Please, oh Holy Mother, save me fromthe surgeon’s knife.'Brass incense burners, swung by solemn facedacolytes, filled the Chapel with eddies of spiceladensmoke and Bellino noticed how the flashes ofruby light they emitted fell like splashes of blood onthe mosaic floor. He heard the great bells of St Peter’sring out over the Vatican and Rome and knewthat he’d been sucked into something so powerfulthat he, a mere eight-year-old boy, had little hopeof escape. All the same he was determined, for hismother’s sake, to sing as well as he possibly couldso that the masters of the choir would keep him.Bellino’s day had started with a fierce scrubbingthat had left his flesh red, his unruly curls de-lousedand combed into submission, and the fraying edgesof his freshly laundered clothes trimmed.‘The whole family is depending on you, Bellino, youare our only hope of salvation now your father’sbeen imprisoned,’ his mother had said, hugginghim tight. ‘You sing like a canary, little one, makethe Cardinals love you, then they will train you, educateyou and you will become famous and rich…’‘If Mama sells you to the Vatican, she’ll havemoney for food again and you can have shoes ofyour own and not take mine,’ said his sister, Lucia.‘I will try my best … but will they cut me, makeme castrato, so my voice will always stay like agirl’s, like the famous Farinelli?’ he asked.‘It is an honour, nothing to be ashamed of,’ hismother had scolded. ‘Just look how princes and noblesfawn over the castrati, how they are fêted allover Europe! The great Mr Handel may even composean opera for you – imagine that!’Bellino walked the lengthy corridors of the Vaticanon that first day with an awed mixture of excitementand apprehension. He knew nothing of whattook place behind the closed doors of palaces suchas this; got no sense of the centuries of Cardinalsscheming over dominion, the ruthless jostling forposition or of the conspiratorial whispers from behindthe threatening iron grills set into the walls ofthese dark corridors of power. But he did feel anaura heavy with fear that lingered there. Suddenlyhe remembered the tales he’d heard of inquisitors,torture and dank prison cells like the one his fatherwas now locked in. He wanted to run, but he didn’t,and it was not only because running was forbidden;it was more on account of Lucia’s slippers, for despitehim keeping his toes firmly scrunched, heknew they would fall off, and besides, it was 1739,not the middle ages. Now, he was told, were timesof beauty, of wonderful architecture, sublime music,opera and art, even though families like his sawlittle evidence of it as they struggled for existencein the poor quarters of the city.The organ music soared, the choir chanted and asblack-clad priests entered the chapel, and the Cardinals,beatific in crimson and purple, took theirplaces in readiness for the arrival of his holiness,the Pope, Bellino put his terrors behind him. Heglanced at Michelangelo’s ceiling, glorifying Godand the creation, before lowering his gaze to theblaze of light being emitted by hundreds of flickeringcandles and as it came to rest on the glitteringgold and silver chalices covering the altar, he knewthat he must be stupido to be afraid.If he could just hold that high C or even the F,then he would be accepted into the Vatican. Theywould send him to study at the conservatory, hisfamily would be secure with food on the table, butnot before he’d been placed in a tub of warm water,lulled to a stupor by opium and the barber hadmutilated him to preserve his cherished voice.After the slow ponderous procession from theChapel, Bellino slipped out of Lucia's shoes andconcealing them beneath the folds of his robe,40


Summer 2015hurried with the other members of the choir to thechambers where they would rehearse the‘Laudamas Te’ for the evening service.‘I heard the crystal clarity of the F in the ‘DiesIrae’, boys, now let me see if any of you can reachacross three octaves and hold the high C,’ thepriest said. As the boys lined up beside the countertenors,tenors and the resident castrati, Bellinoknew he could reach the notes, that was why hewas here; it was that ability his mother was dependingon. It was now up to him to sing it in thepure, high pitch that could only be produced by aboy soprano like himself, or, a castrato.He watched and listened as two other boys sangsolo and knew he could do better. Then one of thecastrati gave them a demonstration of the samenotes, produced with the same pitch and range,but delivered with the power from the lungs of agrown man. The castrato added a few of his ownembellishments and flourishes, showing off his vocalacrobatics and making Bellino gasp out loud.‘Yes, you may gasp and gawp, Bellino, but nowyou see what the human voice is capable of – is itnot a more wondrous instrument than any devisedby man?’When Bellino’s turn came, he knew this was hismoment of truth; the time when he must andwould hit the high C, hold it, trilling, and dazzling allwho listened and in so doing seal his fate. Just for amoment, before he began the ‘Pie Jesu,’ hethought again of not reaching those needed notes,of sacrificing his family rather than his manhood,but even as he wavered, the ever-present pangs ofhunger gnawed at his stomach, and his pride, toostrong to let him fail, forced him to open his mouthand sing. His voice would never falter, he wouldbecome castrato, endure the long arduous years oftraining, be given an unsurpassed education andmaybe, if he worked hard and was lucky, he wouldbecome rich and his family would rejoice thatthey’d sold their only son to be castrated for theChurch of Rome.As his solo came to an end, Bellino felt a handon his shoulder, and looking up saw the beamingface of the choirmaster, ‘Multo benissimo, Bellino,’he said, and the assembled castrati nodded theirapproval.Veryan Williams-Wynn’s young adult book TheSpirit Trap published by Lodestone books will be outin a few months.It isn't what happens to you, it's whatyou do when it happens.Through the trauma of breast cancerAlicia Garey came out of the writing closetto share her experience and how sherestored her balance. Facing the challengesof motherhood, running an interiordesign business while also being awife, daughter, sister and friend, Aliciacelebrates the gift of life through a newlens, and finds the joy by seeing the lightin her darkest hours.Alicia dedicates her story to all of us whohave or will face a terrifying life challenge.As far as she can tell, the challengesdo indeed come our way, and welearn from them.A genuinely wise and funny account ofliving through breast cancer and findingmeaning on the other side. Alicia putsinto words what so many women on theunexpected journey through cancer feeland never say; this book gives solace toall who wonder - is it just me? A trulysensitive and inspired story, told withgreat warmth and generosity of spirit bya gifted writer.~ Kauser Ahmed, PhD clinical psychologistSimms/Mann - UCLA Center for IntegrativeOncologyAlicia Garey’s What a Blip takes you onan honest and at times uncomfortablejourney of the challenges one faces withcancer, while giving an in-depth, soulfullook at not only this disease but the innerfears that arise and the fortitude it takesto stay focused on the result and acceptnothing less. Alicia gives direction andtips on how to achieve success, and exploresthe courage it took to look thismassive wild animal in the eye head onwithout ever backing down.What a Blip is heart-wrenching, endearing,and gives any woman who is facingor diagnosed with cancer extraordinaryhope.~ Amy Gibson, Founder and Client CreatedHair.com,Leading Hair Loss Consultantand Wig Designer in the U.S., AlopeciaActivist, Talk Show Host, Producer, AuthorAlicia Garey is an interior designer andblog contributor for the Huffington Post.She lives in Santa Monica, California withher husband and their two children.41


Writing a Stand-up Comedy Routine—an excerptWHO ARE YOU?STAGE PERSONAYour stage persona is the person you are when performing.It may be a heightened version of yourreal life self or it may be a character you’ve created.It will be your identity tag, the thing that distinguishesyou from all the other comedians out thereand the way reviewers and listings will describeyou.Your persona should approach ideas and topicswith a distinctive, fresh and unique style and senseof humour. Your persona will then define the materialyou use, the topics you talk about and the thingthat will give your material credibility. Comedy canlose its edge if it doesn’t fit the person you are onstage. So, let’s start building a stage persona.An easy way is to start with yourself. OK, youknow you can make people laugh in real life sowhat’s wrong with just doing the same thing onstage? In theory, nothing. In real life however youdon’t make people laugh a couple of times everyminute.In real life we have to know when to be seriousand when to be funny, on stage you have to be funnyall the time. A stage persona is then a selectiveexaggeration of aspects of your natural self. Becareful of exaggerating too much however as thingscould become unrealistic, incredible or bizarre, unlessthat’s the persona you’re aiming for.Once you have a handle on what it is about you,and how and why you are able to make peoplelaugh, you’re on your way. If you know how itworks it’s easier to keep it working and it’s easierto mend if it goes wrong.A persona may later need to be refined or retunedwith an audience. The important thing is tobe aware of the necessity for a persona and to taketime to think it through.TO DO: Watch TV, DVDs and online video clips, goto live comedy venues and watch and listen to othercomedians to see how and why they’re different.Look at how they dress, think about what is uniqueabout their attitude, approach to topics and theirstyle of delivery. Learn from others but don’t try tocopy another comedian’s style. You want to beunique, remember? A note of warning. Be carefulof writing or recording anything in a live comedyvenue. It may be thought you’re stealing material.DOMINANT TRAITIf you read reviews of stand-up acts you’ll findthey’re often described in a few words – curmudgeonly,cynical, laconic (Jack Dee), clever insecurity(Woody Allen), high octane lunacy (Jason Byrne),ranting, raucous and extremely foul-mouthed (JerrySadowitz), a fine purveyor of lugubrious surrealism(Mick Ferry).We can call these few words a dominant traitand this can be centred on a persona’s style of delivery,their attitude or even the kind of materialthey use. Tim Vine for instance is known as thePunslinger for his dominant trait of using puns.TO DO: Define your dominant trait using a coupleof adverbs and adjectives. This will give you a basicframework on which to mould everything else thatwill define your stage persona.Everything else includes not only your material,we’ll come to that in a later chapter, it also includesyour attitude, mannerisms, style of delivery, voiceinflections, what you call yourself, the way youdress and any catch phrase you may have. We’lllook at these in turn and if you then find a betterdominant trait than the one you started with, goback and make everything fit with that trait. Everythinghas to be logical and consistent.ATTITUDEYour on-stage attitude is the most important aspectof your persona as it will be integral to the kind ofmaterial you use and how you’ll deliver it. Two comediansmay talk about the same topic but havedifferent points of view and a different range ofemotions and ways of portraying those emotions.42


Summer 2015TO DO: Consider whether you’re going to be serious,angry, sarcastic, polite, crazy, surreal, cerebral,political, good natured, whimsical, downright aggressiveand opinionated, or something else. Again,think of how a reviewer might describe you in a singleor few words.Once you’ve defined your attitude this will give yourdelivery style. Someone with an aggressive attitudecould be expected to rant and have a rapid deliverystyle, maybe punctuated with a lot of bad language.The persona of a whimsical character on the otherhand might be expected to have a slow, laid backstyle that drifts off into flights of fancy. Alternatively,you may decide on a deadpan style of delivery inwhich you say everything in a laid back matter-offactway.These personas are logical and credible but adominant attitude can have a range of moods andemotions.TO DO: Imagine the scenario of an aggressive personatalking about someone knocking on their doorto return a £10 note they’ve dropped in the street.An unlikely situation perhaps but go with it. It’s nota situation which naturally invites an aggressive responseand there’s not much comedy in a nice‘thank you’. So what does this persona do or say? Tokeep in character you’ll need to think of a reason ora situation for the person to respond with an aggressiveattitude.Jenny Roche has over 15 years’ experience ofteaching writing courses and has sold her writingfor print, theatre and broadcast mediums.600ppmNATURE IS COLLAPSING, AND THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WANTYOU TO KNOW WHY.It's 2051. Global warming has flooded eastern U.S. coastal cities.The West is a waterless desert. Refugees migrate northward. Foodand water are tightly rationed amid endless war.When Jeff Claymarker's friend is wrongly convicted of murder, theonly clue to the truth comes from a stash of flash drives belongingto Jeff's late uncle, a Washington climate scientist. As Jeff unravelsthe crime, he stumbles across a state secret that threatens totopple the government.I love this book! A fascinating, believable and well-crafted look atwhat the climate-changed world might be like in 35 years. Plot, suspense,characterization, pacing – it's all good. You won't want toput it down until the very last sentence.~ Jeri Studebaker, author of Breaking the Mother Goose CodeClarke W. Owens writes fiction, poetry, journalism, and literarycriticism. He is married and lives in rural Ohio. Visit his website atwww.clarkewowens.com .43


I was lying on a sandy beach watching the Italian film star VirnaLisi walk towards me. As she approached, she loosened achiffon scarf tied around her neck and let it fall on the sand.Then she unfastened her skirt, and it floated to the ground.She walked on leaving a trail of clothes behind her. Shecame up to me, caressed my shoulder and said, “Wake up.”The scene froze. It was like that moment in the flicks whenthe film jams, then burns out in a magnesium flash and everyonelaughs and throws popcorn at the screen.I smelt Craven A on stale breath as Beatrice Gribble hissedin my ear, “Wake up.”My eyes opened. I glanced at my alarm clock. 4.30am.I said, “What’s up? Is the place on fire?”“It’s worse,” she said. “My brother’s downstairs. Somethingbad has happened.”I was dressed and in her parlour within five minutes.The room was stuffed with ancient furniture. There werefussy antimacassars on the chairs and lace doilies on the tables.The place smelt of mothballs.Mrs Gribble - the Widow to her tenants – was my landlady.Her brother Derek was a layabout who spent half his time fishingand the other half complaining he never caught anything.He lounged on the Widow’s sofa wearing a stained anorakand a worried expression. He smelt like a herring. He said, “I’vebeen on the beach fishing.”I said, “At this hour?”“Tide’s up. Thought I might try for those mackerel which’vebeen coming up the Channel. Found something else instead: apile of clothes down by the breakwater.”“Probably washed in by the tide,” I said.“No. These were placed there, deliberate like. There was anote, too. Thought you might want to see it, you being thecrime correspondent on the Brighton Evening Chronicle andeverything.”“Just crime, not everything,” I said.He handed me the note. It read: “Everyone’s got it wrongabout me. It wasn’t my fault my company went down the panowing big time. The papers say I’ve stashed half a mill in mySwiss account. They say I bilked thousands out of their hardearnedsavings. All lies. I’m skint too. I’m walking into the seanow. And I can’t even swim.”It was signed Hector Pinchbeck. “King of the get-rich-quickinvestment scam,” I said. “He’s set up more pyramid schemesthan the pharaohs.”“And now he’s lying with the fishes.” Derek grinned.“Feasting with sharks, more like,” I said. “Big money sharks.If he walked into the sea, I’m Lloyd Bridges. The fraud squad ison his tail. He’s scarpered. The question is: can we stop himbefore he leaves the country?”Even before Derek and I reached the beach, I was sure HectorPinchbeck hadn’t gone for a stroll under the English Channel.Suicide by drowning was a ruse to throw the fraud squad offhis tail. The idea that he’d end it all by walking into the sea wasrisible. Pinchbeck wouldn’t walk into a shower cubicle unless hethought he’d make something out of it.We hiked along the seafront to Black Rock, where Derek hadfirst spotted the clothes. The early glow of dawn lit the sky inthe east as we approached the breakwater.Derek pointed out the neat little pile down by the water’sedge. He picked up his rod. “Don’t mind if I get a line out whilethe tide’s still up, do you?” he asked. “Only hope I don’t reel inold matey here.”“There’s no danger of that.” I knelt on the shingle and examinedthe clothes. Pinchbeck must have been an optimist tobelieve that the boys in blue would think he’d stripped off thesetogs and then plunged into the briny.For a start, the shirt and underwear smelt of soap as thoughthey were fresh back from the laundry. The shoes weren’tscuffed as they would have been had he trudged across theshingle. And the jacket – a cheap number which looked like areject from a second-hand shop – lacked Pinchbeck’s trademarkshow handkerchief in the breast pocket. Everything had beencarried down in a bag and placed there.I had little doubt Pinchbeck was even now fleeing the countryso that he could be safely reunited with the loot in his Swissbank account. But which route would he take? I’d hoped theclothes might provide a clue.I rummaged among them again and a small wristwatchslipped out of a trouser pocket. It was a cheap job, not likePinchbeck’s usual Rolex.I picked it up and wound it. The spring turned once and thenstuck. The watch had been wound within an hour.Derek tugged on his fishing rod and said, “I think I’ve caughtsomething.”“Me, too,” I said.“So how did you know the old rogue was catching the earlymorning ferry from Newhaven?” Frank Figgis, my news editor,asked.It was later that morning. Figgis perched on the edge of mydesk in the Chronicle’s newsroom. The stub of a Woodbinestuck to his lower lip.“It was the watch that gave him away,” I said. “He couldn’tresist winding it before he left. He’s a control freak. Most fraudstersare. So I knew he couldn’t be more than an hour away.“He’d want to quit the country as soon as possible afterhe’d left the clothes, in case someone found them more quicklythan expected. As Derek did. So he’d head for the first availabletransport out. Which at that time of the morning was the earlyboat to Dieppe.”“After your call, the cops arrested him before his shipsailed,” Figgis said.I grinned. “Ironic that his watch gave him away. Now he’llbe doing time.”Headline Murder, the first Crampton of the Chronicle novel ispublished by Roundfire Books on 28 August.Read more Crampton of the Chronicle stories atwww.colincrampton.comFollow author Peter Bartram on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/peterbartramauthor.44


Summer 2015Dielle Ciesco has magically tapped into the sacred shamanic voicethat resides deep in the heart of all creation. Matrina, the UnknownMother, reminds us that sound and words have the powerto heal what ails humanity when we are willing to surrender to theGreat Mystery... Linda Star Wolf, Author of Shamanic Breathwork:Journeying Beyond the Limits of the Self and Visionary Shamanism:Activating the Imaginal Cells of the Human Energy FieldIt isn’t every day that one meets a goddess, let alone a Matrika orbeing that presides over the sounds of language. It is said suchdeities can bring us complete liberation. Will that prove true for astruggling vocalist named Wrenne when a mysterious woman appearsand offers to help her find her True Voice? This beguiling andeccentric teacher guides us all on a deep and powerful journeythrough 10 mystical gates of sound, sharing great insights, secrets,and profound wisdom about the power of letters, words, and ourvery own voice to transform the world around us. This isn’t standardknowledge; this is a gift for our times, taking the reader intothe very heart of sonic revelations.Dielle Ciesco has magically tapped into the sacred shamanic voicethat resides deep in the heart of all creation. Matrina, the UnknownMother, reminds us that sound and words have the power to healwhat ails humanity when we are willing to surrender to the GreatMystery. As the creator of Shamanic Breathwork Journeys, I believethat Matrina must have been whispering her wisdom in my earsthese many years while I slept!~ Linda Star Wolf, Author of Visionary Shamanism: Activating theImaginal Cells of the Human Energy Field"This book is alive. It senses your presence. It is meant to be like anapprenticeship with a wise teacher...the teacher being you. Thereis power on every page should you choose to open to receive it. Infact, this book is reading you just as you are reading it. It's in partnershipwith Life, and the three of you, whether you realize it ornot, are colluding to give you exactly what you need. It will arrive,whether or not you follow through on the exercises. Your intent isenough to bring it to you. Will you be aware when it arrives or willthe moment pass unrecognized?"A treasure trove of poetic activations and sound wisdom based onThe Unknown Mother: A Magical Walk with the Goddess of Sound,YOUR TRUE VOICE is a stand-alone or companion text offering detailedpractices that encourage your enchanted journey throughthe 10 Gates of Sound...The Vocal Channel, Breath, Letters, Words,Storytelling, Listening, Vibration, Vocal Toning, True Voice, andRainbow Light, and beyond. Included are quotes from the originaltext, explanations, anecdotes, journal prompts, and the all newTransformational Voicework processes…powerful tools to help yourecover your authenticity, creativity, and truth for a fully-expressedSelf!Your True Voice offers a unique approach to developing "freespeech" and aligning with impeccability revealing the outrageousjoy awaiting your heartfelt connection to life. The poetic wisdomand practices, thought-provoking and fun, make a powerful awareness-buildingcombo! Dielle encourages her reader toward lovingresponsibility for all aspects of our expression and helps us rememberthat when coming from the heart, whether we move quietlyand speak in a whisper or sing out at the top of our lungs, our truthwill echo through the cosmos with a roar!~ Gini Gentry, Dreaming Heaven co-creator-DVD and JourneybookDielle Ciesco specializes in the transformational power of the voice to heal and connect us with our own Divinity. Creator ofVocal Toning Meditation, Shamanic Voicework, and Toning for Peace, she blends her experiences in vocal toning, meditation, andshamanism to assist clients in discovering a deeper connection to their inner truth and wisdom.45


Short StoriesThe High Sheriff's Cheshire Prize forLiterature 2015Prizes: The prize-winner will receive£2000 and additional prize money of£750 will be awarded and the best entrieswill be published.Entry fee: Free.Further info: The 2015 Cheshire Prizefor Literature is for a previously unpublishedshort story. The entry shouldnot exceed 1500 words. The Competitionis open to residents of Cheshire,Warrington, Wirral and Halton includingthose who have ever lived orworked in the area. The entry shouldnot exceed 1500 words.Closing date: 1st September, 2015.Click here for more informationManchester Fiction and Poetry PrizesPrizes: £10,000 plus publication onlineand in print in each category.Entry fee: £17.50.Short stories up to 2,500 words.Closing date: 25th September 2015.Click here for more informationReading Room Short Story CompetitionPrize: £50, publication, 5 copies ofbook, runners up publication and 5copies of the book.Entry fee £4 per story or 3 stories for£10.Any story under 2,000 words, anytheme, any genre.Closing date: 20th October, 2015.Click here for more informationPoetryNational Literacy Trust partnership withBloomsbury PublishingPrizes: A brand new iPad; £250 of Bloomsburytitles; a framed copy of the finished posterfeaturing your poem; Exclusive celebrationevent to reveal the prize-winner. Two runnersupwill also be chosen, and all short-listed poetswill be invited to the celebration event.Entry fee: £8 per entry.Please note this competition is open to allaged 16+.Further details: Entrants must submit a 2 to 16line poem aimed at children and young people,on the themes of reading and/or literatureand based on the themes of reading andliterature.They may be written in any form: limericks,odes, performance poems, haikus and everythingin between!Closing date: 31st August 2015.Click here for more informationManchester Fiction and Poetry PrizesPrizes: £10,000 plus publication online and inprint in each category.Entry fee: £17.50.A portfolio of poetry (3-5, maximum 120lines).Closing date: 25th September, 2015.For more information click here.National Poetry CompetitionPrizes: First Prize: £5000; Second Prize: £2000;Third Prize: £1000; Seven commendations:£200.Entry fee: £6.50 for the first poem, £3.50thereafter.Further details: Maximum length 40 lines perpoem. The competition is open to anyoneaged 17 or over at the time of entering. Internationalentries are welcome.Closing date: 31st October, 2015.For more information click here.Literary EventsEdinburgh International Book FestivalA festival of open horizons and energisingideas, at the heart of EdinburghUNESCO City of Literature. 17days, 750 events, 800 authors, over40 different countries represented.Bookworms, bibliophiles and internationallyacclaimed authors and thousandsof aspiring writers will descendon Edinburgh. It's massive and wonderful.15– 31 August, 2015 CharlotteSquare Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland.Click here for more informationThe International Agatha ChristieFestivalThe festival takes place in the elegantseaside town of Torquay, in Devon,UK, where the author was born on 15September 1890.11th -20th September, 2015 TorreAbbey.Torquay, Devon, EnglandClick here for more informationUxbridge Literary FestivalWill feature a variety of presentations,readings, discussions, masterclassesand performances with successfulcontemporary writers andlocal writing groups. All events willbe free, albeit ticketed, and held atBrunel University London, the UxbridgeLibrary, Southlands in WestDrayton, and the Great Barn inRuislip.16-18 October 2015 London Boroughof HillingdonWill Self (right), Kate Mosse, DeborahMoggach, Benjamin Zephaniah, LauraBarnett.Click here for more information46


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