26 May 2013

Fantasy Spotlight - Torc of Moonlight

It's all go! Quite by chance I've found myself, or at least Torc of Moonlight, featured on Andrew Butcher's Butcher's Blog. He's just started a listing for all subgenres of Paranormal Fantasy and the novel is one of his first.

There must be something in the air as this comes hard on the heels of a cracking review just listed on SantsRants:
"...Torc of Moonlight is no light snack it's a gourmet meal. Acaster weaves rich descriptive language into the plot. She seasons with diverse and interesting historical detail. Spice is added with an arrogant and ancient spirit hell bent on revenge.... An intelligent, interesting and well researched novel that was a pleasure to read."
Thanks Darren. And Thanks Andrew.

22 May 2013

Guest Blogging at Southern Writers

As part of the Reading A Writer's Mind... launch, today I'm guesting at Southern Writers Magazine talking about creating characters of depth and how to put this across in the subtext of the fiction these characters inhabit.

Drop by and leave a comment or ask a question. If you need it, the full link is:

See you there.

19 May 2013

Launch Day! "Reading A Writer's Mind..." Paperback

Yay! It's launch day for the paperback edition of Reading A Writer's Mind: Exploring Short Fiction - First Thought To Finished Story. It joins the ebook which has been out some time.  

As you may have guessed, the book does what it says in its title. Here's the blurb:

From initial idea, through the story itself, to a commentary explaining the decisions made during its creation, this book leads the reader through the detailed thinking behind the writing of ten stories across a range of genres:

  • Lyrical narrative v terse dialogue (Mainstream)
  • Characterisation through deed and thought (Horror)
  • A calendar structure using the Tell technique (Women's Fiction)
  • The importance of pacing (Twist in the Tale)
  • The use of alliteration, rhythm and subliminal detailing (Romance)
  • Using the Show technique to elicit a reader response (Drama)
  • Building fiction with an unsympathetic narrator (Crime)
  • Working with parallel storylines via past and present tense (SF)
  • Conjuring the weird from the everyday (Fantasy)
  • Writing for performance and sound effects (Historical) 
  • Editing: ten common problems explored.  

The recommended price is £8.99 / $13.99 but it is enjoying the benefit of discounts:
Amazon UK ¦ Amazon USA ¦ Barnes and Noble USA
Book Depository for free worldwide shipping
Signed copies from Fantastic Books Publishing

...a fascinating insight...            ...great coaching advice...
 For those who prefer to e-read, the ebook of Reading A Writer's Mind has been updated to match the contents of the paperback and is available for £2.00 / $2.99:
Amazon Kindle UK ¦ Amazon Kindle USA ¦ Nook ¦ Kobo ¦ iBookstore ¦ Smashwords

If you are a reader who has always wondered how a writer produces a short story, or a beginner writer desperately trying to decide how best to proceed, this book is for you.

7 May 2013

A Need to Read for Pleasure

"Reading for pleasure at the age of fifteen is a strong factor in determining future social mobility..." - so starts an article by Jonathan Douglas, Director of the Nationl Literary Trust in a recent edition of the Telegraph Weekend.

The bottom line is that those who read for pleasure, rather than due to the goad of education, are nurturing an inherent human inquisitiveness, a willingness to learn, that will be carried throughout their lives and spill over into aspects of their work environment - hence the social mobility angle.

I agree with this. Feeding an engagement with an abstract world pushes back barriers, opens up horizons.

I meet such readers in bookshops each time I support a signing. Usually they are wide-eyed and dumb-struck by being faced with a writer of novels who actually speaks to them. Despite my not writing for their age group, I ask their opinions on story ideas; ask if they, themselves, write stories. Usually it is the parents who answer, because the children are ten or eleven or twelve. And I talk to them now because I can almost guarantee that by the age of fifteen they won't be reading for pleasure at all, especially the boys.

Point to hormones if you like, point to computer games and peer pressure, but I point to school, the academic need not only to tick boxes but tick boxes dictated by academia for the good of the child.

In the UK we move our children from primary to secondary education at eleven years old, where tales of adventure and enthusiasm are suffocated beneath worthier texts which must be read. In my day that meant Dickens, Austen and Hughes - at eleven, twelve and thirteen - 19th century novelists writing for a contemporary adult audience, not even children of their day.

Did my son fare better? Not much. What could I say to books thrown across the room accompanied by '...explain how a rocket can land next to a house and an old grandad can climb aboard and travel to the moon...' when he had never known a time without manned space flight. 

My family has no third generation going through today's schooling, but from reading Jonathan Douglas' article there seems to be the same sort of hand-wringing over literacy there was in my day. Perhaps my four minute conversation with a young voracious reader in a bookshop is a mere drop in the ocean, but oceans fill due to individual drops of rain. Sprinkle a raindrop today. In fact, sprinkle several. They're needed, if the comments beneath the article are anything to go by.

4 May 2013

Interview: Native American historical

My interview with Lisa Mondello is live, and we are discussing the story behind the story of Beneath The Shining Mountains, set up in Montana and Wyoming.

Americans tend to find it amusing, if not decidedly odd, that a Brit would have an interest in Native American historical lifestyles. I recall having just this conversation with a Cheyenne lady on duty at Old Bent's Fort near La Junta, Colorado.

The adobe fort was primarily a trading post and replenishing station on the Santa Fe Trail, and ran from 1833-1849. The fort isn't the original, but was rebuilt in 1976 to the specifications drawn up by a recuperating army surveyor who wintered there and made it his project to stave off boredom. And let's all be thankful for that.

So what did that Cheyenne lady, who was working in costume feeding horses, think of a Brit having an interest in the period? "Visiting Europeans mostly have more knowledge - sometimes more than me!"

Well, visiting Europeans are going to Fort Bent for a reason. And I know many Americans who have a sight more knowledge of the English Regency period than I do.

Do drop by the interview. You may well be surprised.