I have posted a very enlightening video on the “Ideas” page. Cosmologists are great generators of ideas for my writing.
Writer, Reader and general Book Fan
A PERSISTENCE OF OWLS
I wrote this short story because I had been given another owl figurine as a present, and I realised that I had begun a collection, without intending to do so. I have twenty-eight owls in various mediums and sizes. Two are large enough to stand on the floor and others live on the walls as pictures. Owls are generally given to me. People say “I know you like owls”. I think it may be the other way round, and it is that owls like me.
The story has been posted on a blog run by Karen J. Mossman. It has many other stories, some of them very good indeed.
THE MAGNIFICENT THIRTY
ALMOST READY TO RIDE FOR THE FIRST TIME
Earlier in June I joined a limited membership Facebook group created by Lucinda Hawks Moebius. She set it up almost, I think, as an experiment. An experiment to see how a small group of writers may be able to really help each other in the hard and demanding world of ebook development and marketing, given a system and schedule for such support.
The group is titled: 30 Authors 30 Days Promotion and Writing Challenge. Its major aims are:
(1) To create interactive posts across social media platforms;
(2) To cross promote each other;
(3) To work in small groups to develop effective promotions.
(4) To keep in good health.
(5) While doing all the above, to keep writing – most important.
Preparation posts are flowing fast from the desk of our respected leader, but one strong theme runs through them all: we must leave our accustomed zones of comfort and embrace the new and, possibly, the scary.
In fact, I think the first Lucinda post I spotted was of the lady herself, with a video message posted on Facebook. I did not realise that one can do that, but now I do, and it is a group requirement that we should all post at least one personal video message on Facebook during the thirty days of the Challenge. So our Facebook friends can expect a stream of interesting faces on their respective timelines, hopefully exploring interesting ideas.
There are other requirements expected of us during the campaign, and my impression is, that through organisation and system, we will become thirty authors able to make their way effectively in the world of electronic publishing.
For me, this will be something of a paradigm shift, and increasingly I realise the necessity and deep value of good leadership. We’re already getting that. Before the main campaign begins, our leader set us going on individual HeadTalker campaigns, promoting the books which will be the focus of our activities during July. I had joined HeadTalker at the beginning of this year but had never run a promotion campaign, which just about sums me up.
However, things are changing, and even at this early stage, I would like to thank Lucinda for motivating thirty writers to get up off their fundaments and stir themselves into activity. Yee-Haw! Nearly ready to move out!
A VERY SHORT STORY
It’s a strange thing. Although my large-scale writing is in the SciFi genre, my short stories tend to be set in contemporary Australian life.
On July 1st, one of them (‘A Persistence of Owls’) will appear on the website “The Magic of Stories”: http://magicofstories.net/2017/07/01/a-persistence-of-owls
Here is the Twitter post for the great event.
A TAKEOVER WITH A DIFFERENCE – MARCH 15TH 2017
“Planet Woman” – Book 1 in the “Circe” Series http://geni.us/p1w2
I don’t feature much now on author takeovers because I’m hopeless at making up games and other activities, and I feel that offering give-aways reduces the worth of what I want to promote. However, I do attend such events and find a lot of interest in the conversations, although I rarely play any of the games.
However, I am taking part in the “Ides of March – Essentia” event on March 15th, because it is based around characters – not authors. Here is the link to where it will be happening: https://www.facebook.com/events/1842866815961224/1856439211270651
Each participant has to select a character from one of their books to be the focus for the hour-long slot, with the author becoming the character. I like the idea, probably because my writing tends to be character driven.
The event organiser, Tom Fallwell, writes:
“The essentia of any good fantasy or science-fiction story requires a believable character that the reader can relate to. It is our intent to bring to life, for you, the characters from such stories created by Indie Authors, so you can get to know them. If you find a character you love, then read the book and you may just have a new favorite author.”
The character who will be appearing on my slot is the villain (see the pic.) of my “Circe” series – a story arc based on a sentient planet and the humans who live with her. But I’m not at all sure how well I’ll be able to step into his shoes and represent him, although I’m the one who has brought him out. Anyway, it’s an intriguing situation.
All the authors who will feature their characters are introducing them briefly on the site. We have two introductions already up, and mine will appear on February 25th, so please go and have a look.
I hope that the introductions will be interesting enough for you to put your name onto the “Going” list and then set some time aside on March 15th to have a look at what’s happening on the character takeover.
On March 15th, my character will be appearing at 6.00 pm EST, which is 8.00 am Western Australian time.
From the Other Side
Unwittingly, innocently, and probably likely to be distressed should I be unkind enough to point out the fact, my young neighbour has become the spectre at my personal and private feast. I am very glad indeed that he has a job as a junior accountant in a bank, because it takes him out of his house for the working week, and I have hours at a time when I can occupy my back yard without seeing his head rising above the fence, like a balloon with a smiley face.
But when he detects my presence around the flower beds, he pays me an al fresco visit, because he told me that his Nan said that he should take an interest in people. I think she means young people of the other gender, but he has taken it into his mind to be interested in me. He is unfailingly cheerful and sometimes comic; he looks at my garden and tells me that his weeds are better than mine, then giggles as he goes off, leaving me to it, as he says.
Sometimes he makes the early mornings hideous as he exercises on his back patio, singing along, enthusiastically and out-of-tunefully, with whatever popular song may be pouring into him through small black devices stuffed into his ears. He solemnly persists in this completely unnecessary regime of exercise, for he is fit and healthy beyond belief. He thinks that life is a wonderful adventure. For my neighbour, grumpiness is an infinitesimal cloud on his horizon.
The other week, he became almost hysterical with excitement when he met one of the great financial gurus from television land, who visited his place of work to deliver a kindly and motivational pep-talk to the up and coming juniors. I asked what colour tie did the pundit wear. My neighbour didn’t even know if the visitor wore a tie at all. What did he talk about? “Macroeconomics,” breathed the young idiot, and I’d swear that, hidden behind the fence, his hands were clasped against his chest.
My neighbour doesn’t know anything. When I told him about 1848, the year of revolutions, he looked at me in amazement. The next day he called over the fence: “I told my Nan about you. I said that you’re cool.”
What are you going to do?
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?
SCIENCE FANTASY SOCIETY
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reflections in a Hub Cap appears on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Steve+Atkinson+Reflections+in+a+Hub+Cap
See “Independent Publishing – Promotions”
for full information.