“Take a letter, Miss Jones.”

I was considering how many ways people use to record their thoughts, from long passages to quick notes.  We have longhand, shorthand (stenography), typewritten, digital and recorded voice.  Now personally, I use longhand (often illegibly!) and digital, these days.  I would use typewritten too, if I had a typewriter available.

When watching TV programmes or movies where a writer is involved, one thing is not infrequent – they have a secretary trained in the art of shorthand.  What a wonderful invention!  So much recorded with so much economy.  But alas, I never had the opportunity to learn any system of shorthand.  Or did I?

It struck me, in my pondering, that I had, in fact, learnt a crude form of shorthand quite recently, mainly thanks to my kids.  And now, there are those who raise their voices in objection to this new semi-shorthand system, predicting the demise of our language!  It is often portrayed as the enemy of good language, an evil infecting all levels of Society.  Yet, these paranoid fears were never voiced when shorthand was invented, even when it took the form of an automated system: the stenotype machine!  Why?  Is it the fact that shorthand was an utter mystery to everybody but the inventors and those who learnt to use it, while the modern semi-stenography uses recognisable letters?

What am I talking about?  Text Speak!  The rapid communication of longer words by contraction and even substitution.  Letters are left out – usually vowels – and some letter combination sounds are replaced with numbers that give a similar sound – the 4 and 8 being the most frequently used.  This quick means of creating messages has spread from not mobile ‘phones, as most assume, but from things like Telex machines, where operators used abbreviations to communicate at a more personal level when sending more official communications.  In fact, it may well date further back – to the first telegraphers!  Yes, it’s really not that new, after all.  Some of the codes and abbreviations are identical, in fact, like TTFN and C U L8R.

So you see, if I now climb down off my high horse of indignation, stupidly acquired through the mistaken belief that I would be condoning the corruption of my Mother tongue, I can safely begin using this shorthand that I have actually been able to learn!  I really don’t have to write everything out in full.  Heck, I can even adapt it to make my own abbreviated word forms – if I’m consistent enough.  Yes, I’ve accepted the modern world and will use so-called “text speak” in my personal notes!

~ Steve

Advertisements

Alternate Worlds

The Voice I came across a rather odd question, recently.  I will admit that I couldn’t quite understand why it was being asked.  On reflection, perhaps I was being unfair – making assumptions based on my own ways of thinking.  The question was, in essence: how do you write alternate histories/futures?  I hope that I can put right any fault my initial reaction might have revealed.

Continue reading

AWOL Sunday & Falling Behind

Lazy Sunday…

Well, kind of, I guess.  Started with dosing up as much as I dared to make a journey I really wasn’t fit for, but in a very good cause.  Why?  It was the baptism of our granddaughter Kimberly!  Sadly, the best I could manage in participation terms was arriving before everybody headed out, as the “facilities” at the church and the club afterwards were not suitable for me.  So I basically house-sat.  Still, I spent an extremely pleasant day in the back garden, enjoying the warmth and, eventually, the sun.  I dozed off for a while and then used my son’s tablet to start writing a new story (probably a short story).  It was wonderful, actually.  Being somewhere so very quiet, doing nothing of great importance.

If you’re interested in such things, I have a photo gallery of the baptism on my Facebook.  The majority of the photos were taken by my wife, Jenny, and using a Samsung Ace Smartphone (with only one exception), after the batteries died in my digital camera,  I have to say that the Samsung’s camera function provided phenomenal quality results, especially considering that no flash was used!

Not Keeping Up Well…

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been keeping up with things very well, lately.  That’s mainly because of the work involved in preparing for the book launch!  Part of it is the to-and-fro’ of getting the book into print, which will be both paperback and hardback.  I complicated matters by wanting the hardback to be the kind with a dustjacket with a plain book cover, rather than a full colour book cover.  This is probably a holdover from growing up with such things.  I used to love peeking under the dustjackets to see the smart, minimalistic titles on the covers and spine beneath.  Somehow, when I first encountered hardbacks without dustjackets but with glossy, full colour covers (often just on the front), well… to be absolutely honest, they looked cheap and tacky to me.  And yes, I know that’s silly and unfair, but it’s something I can’t get past.  Even those where the dustjacket illustration is still printed on the book cover beneath just doesn’t have the same feel to it.  A further complication because of this wish for a dustjacket is that the book sizes available are different!  Thus, I can’t have the 8 x 5 inch size.  I have to move up to 8.5 x 5.5 inches, which means that there will be a reduction in the number of pages!  The paper will also be crème instead of white.  Finally, the desire for a dustjacket means I need to come up with something for the inner flaps, without repeating anything from elsewhere, preferably.  Keith at skoobebooks.co.uk has been a huge help throughout!

On top of the print issues for the book, I have fallen foul of something I did for the release of The Sigil of Ahriman – producing a video book trailer!  There are many, many difficulties involved in the process, and I spent a considerable amount of time beating my head against very high, hard brick walls!  Without the enormous amount of help I had from Chris Graham (creator of the book’s cover illustration) with the images used in the video, and my son Damien in the narration, I would probably have conceded defeat long ago.  The task would have been, I  now know, far beyond me!  I will admit that this process was complicated when Damien pointed out that the video lost quality rather badly when watched full screen in HD!  I don’t have direct, personal access to HD.  Further, my computer seems to be suffering from serious memory problems (I know that feeling!) so many of the tricks used to persuade Windows Movie Maker to record in HD, or even pseudo-HD, simply won’t work for me.  I found a video conversion program which may have overcome the problem, but I won’t know until Damien confirms one way or another.  Finally, I haven’t yet decided on whether to superimpose the narrative on the video or to incorporate subtitles.  Both present significant technical challenges for a video creation newbie!

So I hope that you all understand why I have been struggling to keep up with other things!  If you’ve emailed me, for any reason, and I haven’t replied as yet, please accept my very sincere apologies.

~ Steve

WIPs and Memories

WIPping up a Storm!

Yeah, I know!  Terrible!  But this little paragraph is about, shockingly, WIPs.  Though circumstances forced a stall, I am working on a new book.  It will be the fifth  in the G1: The Guardians series.  It has a slightly different atmosphere to the other stories.  I decided that there was a serious risk of things becoming just ‘more of the same’, so the new tale has some very different elements, including multiple threads and some nods to European folklore and even some Christian myths.  As to more immediate WIPs, the soon-to-be-released novel is progressing well in the preparations for printing, and Shade of Evil is already heading to the final proof stage with the printers.  There’s good reason to hope that the novel will be available in both paperback and hardback print editions on the launch date!

A Memory of a Wonderful Series

Back in the 1970s, The Hamlyn Publishing Group produced a lovely set of books – the Hamlyn all-colour paperbacks.  Now, before anybody who remembers them jumps all over me, I know that the binding quality was absolutely awful, and you were liable to end up with a set of loose-leaf books!  No, for me, what made these books so special was the range of subjects and the first class colour illustrations.  I had numerous books in the series, ranging from animals to geology, from Budgerigars to guns!  As one of hose kids more inclined to learn by self-education at home, or out and about, the books were an invaluable resource.  And, most important of all, they were affordable.  The books were all written by experts but in an interesting way, without being overtly educational or, vitally, condescending.

~ Steve

“Not Another Series!”

I’ve seen some writers, and critics and readers, complaining about the number of authors writing series of books.  Now, I’m certainly guilty of doing just that, as you probably know.  But why do I write in series?  The simple answer is that some stories encourage  me to do so.  In fact, there’s a very real possibility that some of my shorter books could have been held back and put together as single works.  That said, there’s no guarantee that the prospect of a series wouldn’t have raised its head.  In truth, like readers everywhere, we writers get attached to some of our characters, and/or the worlds/universes we create for them!  And that phenomenon isn’t predictable.

Of course, some authors set out quite deliberately to write a series.  They have it all planned far ahead.  They have every reason to do so, too.  The emotional, creative and temporal investment in their invention is such that they would, in fact, be underselling themselves and their efforts.  They know this, from the very inception of the project.  I know that these circumstances exist, both from the biographies of such writers and from the fact that, many years ago, I actually planned such a series.  It was, most definitely, far more than simply a series of books!  I had to create detailed maps, not just of small areas but of a whole world.  I had to invent new languages, and even new scripts.  And then there were the numerous species, races and histories.  To contemplate going to such extremes of creativity for a single tome would, to put it bluntly, just utterly foolish!

But there are accidental series, too.  These can happen in two ways.  First, the author recognises a potential behind the original creation – and runs with it.  Second, readers can plead for, even demand, more!  Of course, the author has to be able to see what it is that has so strongly hooked those readers.  If they can’t, then no more can be successfully written.  I would, if it was in my character, envy those authors who enjoy such demands and pleas from their readers!  For myself, I’m limited to the first accidental event.  I can only hope that readers share my interest in a series which is taking an ever larger life of its own.

Let me take a personal example!  My novelette, Shade of Evil, was originally intended to be a single work, part of my experiment in genres I wouldn’t normally write in.  Even after I had finished writing it, there was no obvious course forward.  But then, during the final stages of preparation for publication, the final scenes of the book suddenly threw out grappling hooks!  They took a very firm hold.  The characters, and the organisation they worked for, piqued my interest.  It wasn’t long, therefore, before they appeared in a new story.  It was begun, and there was no turning back.  Why?  Well, apart from those sneaky grappling hooks, there was a question of a ‘tidy’ conclusion.  Sure, Harry’s story was definitely done, but I could feel the suspended story of that intrepid bunch, the Guardians, and especially G1!  So it continued, and still does.

I like standalone stories as much as anybody.  As an author, they’re a lot less troublesome to write!  That doesn’t, however, stop the need for some stories to go far beyond a single volume.

I probably haven’t persuaded those who bemoan the plethora of series that there are often good reasons for them, but I thought it worth trying!

~ Steve

Wandering On Wednesday

The Delight of Unexpected Reviews

I was thrilled to discover that two of my books were reviewed and given 5 stars! Shade of Evil and Evil Under The Circle, Parts 1 and 2 of G1: The Guardians, were reviewed by Chris The Story Reading Ape and the reviews can be found on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  You can find all of Chris’ reviews on Goodreads.  Of course, you can also find Chris’ reviews on his own blog.  I would like to express my sincere thanks to Chris for his kindness and honesty.  Having friends who understand fully that you only wish to receive absolutely genuine reviews of your works is beyond valuable.

I was further delighted to find a 5 star review of Intruder from the Thief series of free short stories!  The review, posted on Barnes & Noble is so heartening!  I quote it below:

This book kept me on the edge of my seat until the last word was read.

There is a serious threat that exudes evil and wants to claim the land in this sci-fi fantasy.  Mages, which this author describes as magicians of a sort, are sought to help go up against the evil.

Characters are richly described and likable and fascinating.  This is a novella which is a quick read but this reader did not want the story to end.  The author is a very talented and creative storyteller. I will be reading many more of his stories. This is an excellent choice of reading for YA.

Review by jesNH, 6th August, 2013.  5 stars awarded.

I would like to thank jesNH for such a glowing review!

Going for a New Look – Again!

Yes, I’m afraid I’m going to be tinkering again!  The main page of posts can be rather overwhelming, especially when the posts are long!  I’ve decided to try to improve things by making use of a WordPress post facility.  This will involve adding the codeword More to all long posts, which will mean that only part of the post will appear on the main page and you will need to click on the More… link in the post to read all of it.  One advantage of this is that it will give easier access to other facilities, such as commenting, sharing, rating and liking.  In respect of special days (Book Promo Day and Blog Browser Day), I will endeavour to place the codeword in such a place that the link has to be clicked or some of the detail information will be lost to the reader.  Obviously, this will be subject to any feedback – positive or negative – as to whether I continue to use the codeword.  Also, I will not be going back to posts already displayed.  I simply don’t have the time to edit all those posts (around 270 of them)!

If you wish to provide any feedback on this change, at any time, please  contact me using the contact form on the blog, or via email if you have my address.  I would suggest not using Facebook or Twitter, as messages are too easily lost unless the direct message system is used.

Uncovered: The Naked Manuscript

If by any remote chance you’re waiting for Part 4 of G1: The Guardians, which will also be the first novel I will have released, I’m afraid the waiting must continue.  It still lacks a cover.  My son is extraordinarily busy now, with negligible time for such extra projects.  My own attempts have been woeful, to say the least, and I simply can’t afford to pay anybody to provide a more professional cover.  I can assure you all that I am more frustrated than anybody else.  I even considered abandoning my original vision for the cover, even if only for the first edition, and going with an extremely simple cover.  So desperate have I become!  There has been a consequence to this situation, too, in that the work on Part 5 is crawling along.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

No – they dream of having more storage space  built into their main circuitry!  How do I know?  Well, I have a Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830i and it is forever complaining that its built-in memory is almost or actually full!  The kind folk of Samsung allow the use of micro SD cards to obtain more space.  Unfortunately, that really doesn’t help because they have been so miserly as far as the built-in space is concerned!  Don’t misunderstand me.  This isn’t a problem unique to Samsung,  I had, for a short while, an Android tablet, and that suffered from exactly the same problem!  Sure, most apps are installed to the SD card, along with things that they handle – such as the Kindle app and the ebooks that you download for it.   I was amazed, having watched TV adverts talking about the vast number of available apps, that this ‘phone has so very little actual capacity.  Every app installed contributes to the space consumed in the ‘phone itself, regardless of where the app itself is installed to!  And even more annoying is the fact that there are pre-installed apps which you can’t uninstall!  Some of these are massive (‘bloatware’) and I know that I’ll never use them, but Samsung have decided that they should be locked in, untouchable.  I find it increasingly difficult to understand how Samsung, and most other Android device manufacturers, expect to compete with Apple’s devices!  For example, the internal, built-in storage of the iPod Touch is impressive.  Sure, you can’t expand it, but at least most of the storage is available without all the nonsense problems of the Android competition.  Yes, there are locked apps with Apple too, and yes, it would be hugely beneficial if we could remove them, but even then I can get loads more apps on the standard, basic iPod Touch than I can on the Android smartphone!

(Apologies to Philip K Dick, author of the book whose title I have stolen for this section!)

Blog Browser Day: 3rd August, 2013

Welcome to the inaugural Blog Browser Day!  I have opted to place this on a Saturday each week, depending on submissions received, as I believe this will give the majority the most time possible to have a good wander around.  Weekdays tend to have severe time constraints on what we can do.  A Saturday should, in effect, allow a full weekend for browsing.  The submission form and details will be available through the top menu, as for Book Promo Day.  Please try to get your submissions in by midnight GMT on the Thursday as I cannot guarantee later  submissions being included the following Saturday, though they will be carried forward to the following week if that’s the case.

Thanks to all those who have submitted blogs for this first edition!

==0==

Barbara Ann Mojica’s blog

Twice weekly (Wednesday and Sunday) review of children’s books (up to and including young adult) I also update my own works, do occasional guest postings and author interviews. My goal is to keep children, parents, homeschoolers and teachers up to date on current resources for children.

Blog Class: Book reviews

Recommended by: Barbara Ann Mojica

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Thriller Writer

The blog provides distinct authors the opportunity to publish a Guest Post concerning some aspect of writing. The objective is to inspire and inform writers of any level. Contributors are both Internationally known bestselling authors and writers who have yet to reach that status. These posts are backed up by a social media campaign designed to attract maximum exposure to their work and help promote the material about which they write. A maximum of 2 guests per month allows for an extended promotion of each post and all participants have indicated that this has increase their book sales and driven more traffic to their own websites/blogs.

Occasionally the blog’s manager, thriller writer Eric J. Gates, will publish additional material, usually of a whimsical nature, related to writing.

Blog Class: Author

Recommended by: Eric J. Gates

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Seumas Gallacher

A personal blog by author Seumas Gallacher, in which he mentions his writing but also gathers a wildly varied collection of threads from all  over the internet.  You’ll not be subjected to hard sell, here, which is refreshing in an author’s blog.  What more can I say, apart from the fact that Seumas has a tremendous sense of humour and is incredibly supportive of others?  Not much worth saying, so let Seumas have the final words (I quote the opening of his “About me”):

Seumas Gallacher was born in the cradle of the Govan shipyards in Glasgow in the so-called “bad old days” which were in reality the greatest of days, where everybody was a real character of note.

Blog Class: Writing/Publishing General

Recommended by: Steve K Smy

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Kellie Elmore

Kellie Elmore is a published poet who is currently working on a novel. On her blog she posts on a variety of subjects:
* some poetry
* her experiences as she works through writing her first novel
* she hosts Free Write Friday. This challenge helps me explore my own writing. Kellie takes the time to read all entries and comment on them.
I have found Kellie and her blog to be an inspiration to me ever since I found it. Not only that, her poetry is beautiful to read.

Blog Class: Author

Recommended by: Colline

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


John Guy Collick — On and on I sped into futurity…

John posts about art, writing, films, illustrators, TV shows, sci fi, fantasy, with updates about his own writing. His articles are witty, pithy, beautifully illustrated and researched.

Blog class: General Blog

Recommended by: Jane Dougherty

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Musings of a Social Butterfly Turned Cat Lady

Funny and down to earth blog concerning the everyday aspects of life, love and figuring it all out,  without losing your mind.

Blog class: Author

Recommended by: Karie Thoma

Rating: 4 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Change It Up Editing

Offers posts and occasional reblogs of information that is helpful to writers and authors of both self-published and traditionally published books.

Blog Class: Writing & Publishing General

Recommended by: change it up editing

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.

Delving Into The Supernatural

I wouldn’t normally do this, but I’m battling problems so coming up with new posts is proving problematic.  The following is a post I wrote for koobug.com, which is another support site for authors and readers:

==0==

When I was growing up, the Fantasy genre was beginning to become a very popular genre with readers, and therefore writers. However, there were still many volumes of the two genres that had vied for top spot in ‘popular fiction‘ – science fiction and horror. I consumed my fair share of both but leaned ever more towards science fiction. That was until I was bitten by the Fantasy bug. The horror tales were now appearing in thick volumes of short stories, but still reflecting something of the Hammer House of Horror take on the genre. It was a fading genre! What revived it then was a move towards gore, but the tension, the suspense, of the great tales was lost and that was almost fatal.

It was, in my mind, when horror took yet another turn – attempting to embrace Fantasy – that something new began to appear. There was a subtle kind of horror, often a blending of fantasy and old legends. Characters with strange powers appeared, to do battle with Evil in new ways, or modifications of very old ways. The forces of evil were something beyond Nature, and so were some of hose who battled them – they were ‘supernatural‘! At the same time, of course, the first hints of another new concept appeared – powers went beyond the physical. Mental powers began to come to the fore, and the ‘paranormal’ idea was born. Parapsychology, which investigated telepathy, telekinesis and other ‘mental talents’ was fighting for recognition in the real world of academia, and it leaked out into fiction, where it could be given a reality that it hadn’t (yet) achieved outside of fiction.

By bringing together elements of horror, fantasy, the supernatural, the paranormal and even science fiction, authors tapped a very deep well! Readers couldn’t get enough of it – and still can’t! Okay, so some of the terminology is being misused, and even abused (e.g. vampires are gothic horror or even supernatural, but they aren’t paranormal!), but the fact is that we have a new kind of fiction that actually resists being pinned down into a single, clearly defined, genre. It borders on just being ‘fiction’. The reader can describe it to friends and family however they like. They can feel comfortable with it because it doesn’t carry a ‘brand’ which might embarrass them. They can even call it romance in many cases!

To be honest, I never expected to join the trend. I didn’t do so deliberately. I simply wrote a story that came to me. That has, however, given rise to characters I like and can, in some senses, relate to. I regard the stories as ‘mixed genre‘ rather than as strictly one of those I’ve already mentioned. Let me tell you – that makes life interesting when submitting to websites that demand a clear statement of genre! In fact, that’s a practice I think those websites need to change! It could see a tidal wave of protest if we all begin to use the term ‘general fiction’ or even – shock horror! – ‘literary fiction’ to express our need to not be categorised so rigidly!

At the end of the day, we write one thing: “Entertainment Fiction”!

There was a day… A Guest Post From Peggy Bechko

A big welcome is extended to Peggy Bechko, who kindly relates her story as an author.  Her success is undeniable, but here we discover just how narrow the margins are!

==0==

There was a day when I was very young, around 13 when I started writing stories. Why? I couldn’t tell you. It seemed like fun.

Then it seemed like something more and I was bitten by the “I want to see my books published and other people reading them” bug. My first novel was published by Doubleday when I was 22; a western, written in the first person, as a middle-aged man. It certainly got a lot of attention from my editor when he realized the rough western (Night Of The Flaming Guns) who’s lead was a gnarled 40-something man had been written by a 21-year-old female. Oh, and by the way, back then I was told “women don’t write westerns”. Ummmmm.

Well mostly, but I had been challenged by a friend to do it. He knew I was writing and said, “so why don’t you get a western published?”

So for the publication of westerns I became P.A. Bechko as of course they couldn’t put a woman author’s name on a western novel (was I born in the stone age?).

Disney World Guide Book Final Cover So how did it all happen and what brought me to where I am now, writing westerns, romance, SciFi/fantasy (my latest release being Stormrider, available in paperback and Kindle editions) and screen scripts (oh and don’t forget the non-fiction: I just released The New Grown Ups Disney World Guide Book)?

It’s an ongoing process – a career that’s thus far been filled with dreams, focus, determination and good luck that fell into my lap.

The first novel’s publication was chaotic. I’d signed with an agency, the agency went belly-up and I was frantic about the whereabouts of my manuscripts when I got a call from an agent who’d been associated with them with an offer from Doubleday to publish – he became my new agent as he started his agency. He sold several books for me and we became great friends.

Romances were beginning their great growth spurt so he encouraged me to write one – I did and sold that to Harlequin (you can now read a sample and get the romance Cloud Dancer in digital edition on Kindle .

Two more followed. More westerns followed that, publishing with Pinnacle, Manor and other houses. I even ghosted as Bill Haller for SideWinder’s Trail.

Stormrider Cover - New 8-23-12_j My agent retired and I had one more so-so agent after him. Then I had a very bad agent (not in the good luck category there) and broke with him after the sale of several westerns but some very bad blood between us.

From there the good luck followed again as I decided I also wanted to write for the movies and Larry Brody, TV Writer and producer was giving some classes on just that. I enrolled. I worked. Larry and I became friends (I still write guest posts for his blog at TVWriter.com) and I’ve optioned scripts in the US and overseas in addition to having written an episode for an animated series called Diabolik that was produced in France.

What it boils down to for a writer, I believe, is to create, work, learn, put yourself out there and be ready to jump when opportunity presents itself.

And new opportunity did with the arrival of digital publishing and Ebook readers. It’s a new world for writers with even MORE to learn to create, publish and market their work.

There’s still the traditional publishing as well which I certainly intend to keep a finger in, but in the immediate future I’ll be re-releasing my novel Hawke’s Indians, originally published by Doubleday, in digital format on CloudDancerFINALCover JPEG Amazon. Look for it in a couple of weeks.

My newest novel as an original release will be as an Ebook on Kindle. That release will be several months down the road; a paranormal romance with the tentative title of Serpent’s Tail. It’s a whole new avenue.

Every writer will experience trials along the way. I’ve endured a very bad agent (just having an agent isn’t always the best), long droughts between sales, frustrations with editors (one who wanted me to cut a book’s length by 1/3 – I did it by the way, but not the way it was intended and still got the sale), part-time and full-time day jobs to fill in the gaps when the sales were thin and yes, even more dark moments.

But from it all I’ve learned that for me as a writer it’s all about focus, learn, persist and value your own work. There are more critics out there than creators. Be a creator.

Find the author at:

Webpage
Blog
Goodreads
Twitter
LinkedIn
Facebook
Pinterest

News and Creative Questions

Apology!

I have to start with an apology.  I realised too late that I posted twice in a very short space of time about my latest paperback.  I really had no intention of doing so but I was rather swept along by my excitement yesterday, and forgetting that I’d already made the announcement didn’t help!!  My only excuse is that yesterday was caused by my receiving my own copy of the book.  I really have no intention of becoming one of those bloggers who just bangs on interminably about their own works!

An Amusing Fact

This statement is not meant to elicit a cascade of good wishes.  It’s simply something of some mild amusement, in my view.  Today is my birthday, the 56th one inflicted on me by a cruel calendar.  It strikes me as slightly funny that the one thing I haven’t received is – a book!  Don’t get me wrong, either.  I have a large library, which has grown exponentially with the advent of ebooks!  It’s also a truth that, with my increased writing activity, the time I have available for reading has declined significantly.  Of course, as it’s early yet, there’s still time for a book to put in an appearance, and it would be very welcome, naturally.  I also have to say that I don’t make gift buying for me easy!  I admit to only one thing, when asked: that I don’t need anything, and there’s nothing I would dearly love to possess.  More, I reiterate, every year, that I would rather that our three children spend their money on more important things – like their own families!  And I can say that I mean every word – totally!

Of course there are books I would like to get, but so many are out of print and can’t even be found online, or are insanely expensive if they can be found.  There’s not one, single book that matters so much to me that I am willing to pay any price for it!  So I am content.  If I should, by some happy chance, come upon a copy of a desired book at a sensible price, fair enough.  Until then, they will remain on the list.

Work In Progress

This may be a matter of total disinterest to you, some mild interest, or even some resignation.  I have already begun work on the fifth book in the G1: The Guardians series, and surprised myself by its opening!  I won’t, for obvious reasons, give any details.  It has to be enough to say that the beginning is very different, and the story promises to be equally different.  Naturally, G1 won’t be excluded, but there are glimpses of other things, including a bit more about how the police of that undefined future time regard the Guardians.  There’s also a clear indication that the members of the organisation aren’t so insular that they have no contact with people on the outside.  It’s not an ‘international’ story, this time, so we’re again somewhere in England, but perhaps we’ll learn a bit more about future English Society – or maybe not.  Only time will tell.  The one thing I’m fairly confident about is that this is very likely to be another novel.

A Parting Question

There have been numerous new books, and movies, that are quite blatant retellings of old stories.  Everybody seems to be doing it.  Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Treasure Island, and so many more.  This would appear to be a downhill path to stagnation.  But is it?  Are there any truly original stories?  Taking English alone, there may be a very large potential vocabulary at our disposal, but, when all is said and done, it is still a finite language.  And when you start putting words together into comprehensible sentences, the variations available actually diminish.  So, as authors, are we ultimately condemned to come up with rehashed tales, even if we’ve never personally read anything even remotely like the material we’re writing?  It’s reminiscent of music’s difficulties.  We’ve all encountered music tracks which sound very familiar, but which have been honestly composed, without sampling or direct copying.   There being a finite number of possible combinations, however, means that there is an inevitable occurrence of familiar musical phrases.  Surely this applies to stories too?  The basic themes are repeated, with new settings and characters, and maybe as a kind of story stew, with elements from a wide variety of earlier works.  I’m not talking about plagiarists!  All I’m asking is: are we all retellers?

~ Steve