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Judith Rook  (with Alison Dere)

Monthly Archive: November 2016

Resistance may be a Good Thing

21.11.16.

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I spent part of today attending a free webinar on the subject of Pinterest.  The webinar was very well constructed and presented, and of course, after the statutory 35 minutes of relevant content, the remainder of the hour was devoted to selling a seven-part course – about Pinterest.   I hadn’t expected anything less.

Since I bought my first participation in a similar course in the past, I have grown in experience. I understand now much more about what can be done in the vast world of the internet, I have become more proficient at using it, and I know more about online courses.

I came away in my usual post-webinar condition; slightly bewildered, slightly shaken, slightly depressed, and needing a cup of tea.  Certainly, I was not able to make a decision about whether the rather large amount of money would be worth what I might gain from participation in the course.  I needed time for reflection. The trouble was that in order to benefit from sizable bonuses of content, we were given 15 minutes only to sign up to the whole course.

The outcome is that I won’t be taking this particular course, although the content might have been very helpful.  I’ll wait until I see it offered again.  But here comes that old FOMO feeling.  Have I decided correctly?

New Facebook Group

 

SCIENCE FANTASY SOCIETY

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I have joined a comparatively new group on Facebook.  It is called “Science Fantasy Society” https://www.facebook.com/groups/SciFanSociety/ and as yet it has not decided on its identifying logo.  However, I think it will suit me and my writing rather well, so I put in a little more effort than usual to my introductory message, and here it is.

 

I started off writing what I intended to be space opera, but I could not seem to manage the empire/huge centralised government aspect, and the power/militaristic theme that goes with it.  Instead, I found myself developing a fantasy theme concerning a sentient planet.

Is a sentient planet possible?  In one way, no; but on the other hand, it can be argued that our Earth already possesses a type of sentience, although perhaps not an awareness of individuality, which my thinking planet (whose name is “Circe”) possesses in spades.

However, I believe that the concept of a sentient planet places my some of my writing in the Science Fantasy genre, so here I am, a new member of this emerging group, looking forward to some interesting discussions around our particular brand of speculative fiction.

I have indie-published two novels in the “Circe” series (“Planet Woman” http://geni.us/p1w2   and “Man of Two Planets” http://geni.us/m1o2p ) and the third is a work-in-progress.   I have also written one (nearly two) more clearly sci-fi works which I won’t mention here.

Earlier in 2016 I turned to a bit of writing for young adults, and produced the novella “First Steps for a Hero” http://geni.us/Hero2  which takes the fact of the multiverse as its basic premise.  This moves slightly nearer science fiction, although there is still an element of: “fantasy rationalized by reference to science-fictional conventions” (quoting Wikipedia).  Therefore, I feel that I can mention this and its follow-on novel (another WiP) in this group.

The simple act of writing this post has motivated me to return to the YA novel, which has been on my ‘pending’ shelf for a little too long.

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STEVE ATKINSON – From Story to Story

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I came across Steve Atkinson’s novel Ludec by Facebook chance, and while the concept of Ludec is highly intriguing, the important thing is that the novel introduced me to Steve’s short stories.  I read some of them and realised that these are very good short stories indeed. Learning a little about Steve’s background, I wondered if his 30 years experience as a Fleet Street journalist may have influenced his short stories, so I asked him.  In reply, he wrote the following piece.

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pizap-com14790930228141 A newspaperman lives through dozens of stories every day. Touching, often harrowing, tales that bring tears, at least on the inside, laughter, pain and sometimes passionate fury. It comes with the job, like milk comes with the milkman.

If you didn’t experience enough life in thirty years, on what used to be called London’s Fleet Street, to cram at least 10 books to bursting, then you were probably on the Obituary Column.

A lot of my stories – but not all – come from exciting snatches of other peoples’ adventures. I’ve had my own, too, and inspired by these two factors, my imagination goes into overdrive.

We all absorb what we see and feel around us from day to day, and with me, it all comes gushing out when I sit down in my study and start to write.

Photographers take pictures, artists paint landscapes, and I plumb the depths of my memories for inspiration. There’s a goldmine down there and all I have to do is wrap it all up in some carefully chosen words and wham!…we have a story.

Steve's study. How did that street sign get onto that wall?

Steve’s study. How did that street sign get onto that wall?

I’m looking at my study wall as I write this, and the framed pictures of newspaper stories I have covered: the last words of a victim gunned down by a gangster in a shocking revenge killing, on manoeuvres with the British military, training with RAF jet fighter pilots (dumped in the wintry ocean before a dramatic helicopter rescue), a day on the motor racing circuit, ski-ing, a venture aboard a two-man hot air balloon ending in near disaster, spy stories, crime stories,  love stories, celebrity stories – I seem to have covered the whole gamut of our modern world.

Lots of people have done these things and perhaps keep diaries and albums to store them in. With me it’s more a case of wrapping them up in storylines and packing them off to a sympathetic publisher.

 

Four-year-old Steve in his first car. The gate mentioned in the story "Reflections in a Hub Cap" is behind him.

Four-year-old Steve in his first car. The gate mentioned in the story “Reflections in a Hub Cap” is behind him.

That’s where I live, in those books. From the Californian redwoods and surf cities (Old Grumpy and Wipe-out!), the dusty High Atlas mountains of Morocco (Innocents Abroad), Sixties London (Puppets) and even way back in my very own childhood, Reflections in a Hubcap.

Another story (Cokum) is much closer to home, exploring the edgy relationship between a craggy old Sussex fisherman and his son who has no desire to fish.  It is set entirely in the small town where I live and is a kind of homage to a bygone age, now pretty much swept away on the waves of time.

Most of my stories have a shock twist at the end, because that was what always impressed me as a reader. I didn’t want to know what was happening after just a page or two; predictability was pure poison. Now, as a writer, I want people to reach the last line, drop the book and say: Wow! Didn’t see that coming!

It wouldn’t have worked with any of my news-editors but I believe it works well in fiction. They used to say ‘tell the story straight and true.’

Not me. I like to keep ‘em guessing to the very end.

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Reflections in a Hub Cap appears on Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Steve+Atkinson+Reflections+in+a+Hub+Cap

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