collecting thoughts

Hello everyone:)

I’m working on a new project right now, and I was hoping you could all give me some input on a question I have been mulling over. When you read a book what do you want in a villain?

Do you want someone who is senselessly and inherently evil, or one that can be almost likable? Does your bad guy need a defined reason to do the things he does or can he just like being bad?

Can you form a connection and hate him or love to hate him if he has virtually no good qualities to redeem him?

I have been tossing around ideas and am really curious to see what you think.

Antisocial Media : A thought process

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how many people the average person “knows” in the digital age. This post is not really so much an opinion as it is a question posed to everyone who makes use of social media, be that blogging, Facebook, Twitter, or the various other platforms out there. Do you think that we are more social or less social than we used to be thanks to technology?

What does the word social really mean? You can find plenty of definitions for it in the dictionary and plenty of different forms. The one we will use here comes from the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary. so•cial /adjective:

2. Marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates. <An active social life>

I have met some of my very best friends (and Julian, sweet Englishman that he is) through blogging. I know these people now as “real people” who are much more than just a face on a website. I have spoken with many of them, met with some of them, sent gifts and cards back and forth and come to rely on our friendship. Still, for as many people as I interact with outside the social media outlets, there are thousands that I am “friends” with that I likely wouldn’t know if they sat beside me on a train for a 12 hour trip. I guess what I am trying to say, is that even though I am grateful for the people I have met over the internet, I feel a certain loss when it comes to my good English manners. When I log onto Facebook, I am in my pajamas. I would never answer the door that way if I invited you to come to tea. Here are some other things:

Differences between social media and social gatherings in the real world:

I  shut off my phone, tablet or computer when I get sick of you.

I don’t make any effort to be pretty when texting you.

I don’t serve you any food or have to clean up after you.

My dogs don’t go mad and bark when you visit on my computer.

I can pretend not to be  home that day and you don’t see me peeking out the drapes.

My children don’t have to behave in the background.

Your children didn’t just break something I value.

My pot belly is not showing and I can shove further peanut butter cups into my mouth without judgment.

So what is the problem? This all sounds great!

I find that I am more consciously nervous in social situations where I cannot hide behind my computer.  Does this happen to you too? I have never been comfortable in entire rooms full of people, be they strangers or not, sadly, it is part of my job to do this, thankfully infrequently. Still, I wonder if social media is partially to blame for my lack of outgoing personality now that I have grown so used to the comfort of plug and play friendships.

Also, I feel a loss at not welcoming guests with a specially prepared treat that is their favourite thing, or just seeing the smile and sharing the laughter that goes along with a face-to-not-Facebook visit.

I would love opinions here, if anyone would like to give one.

An interview with Charles E. Yallowitz (Legends of Windemere)

By Jason Pedersen

By Jason Pedersen

I am very proud to welcome my favourite author and fellow blogger Charles E. Yallowitz to Readful Things today to discuss his career as an author. Please give him a welcome and a pat on the back, he is the hardest working author I know.

BUY THEM HERE

Each one will feed a starving writer in New York….

 What has been the hardest and most unexpected part of your journey as an indie author thus far?

The level and scope of marketing caught me by surprise. I had been told that I would have to do my own marketing, so I started my blog. Soon after I started, I realized I had to spread out to other social media sites and look for promo sites to work with. At the beginning I was thinking I would never need Twitter or find much use for Facebook, but now I promote on them every day. This aspect of being an indie author has required a lot of time and patience to figure out the nuances of all the sites. It helps to use my blog as a center for the other social media sites because my posts end up on every platform, which keeps me active. Being active on the sites is certainly one of the keys to success as an indie author.

Has your perception of what a self-published author does changed since you have begun publishing the Windemere series?

I can barely remember what my initial impression was, which means my perception is entirely different. I knew it was going to be a lot of work as a self-published author, but I never realized how much I would have to put myself out there. Growing up, I had the image that an author spent more time writing their next book than doing marketing. This might be true for traditionally published authors, but a self-published author needs to spend a few hours every day interacting with others. This creates exposure and reveals that there’s a human being behind the books. You’re no longer a name within the self-published pack, but a known entity with a personality.

What is the most important piece of advice you have received about writing or publishing so far?

The most important piece of advice is kind of a combination. I’ve been told to keep writing and keep evolving. I messed up the second part when I was younger and mistook accepting all advice as evolving. So, I would tell other authors to add ‘stay true to your own style’ in there because that’s where you will get your best work from.

If you could steal any character from any book, movie, or TV show and make them your own, who would it be and why?

This is an answer that will be different tomorrow depending on what I watch or read today. For now, I would love to claim Halt from The Ranger’s Apprentice series. He’s a mentor character with a great combination of wisdom, cunning, and wit. The evolution of his character is entertaining because he grows alongside the main character instead of staying the same like other mentor characters.

Tell us a bit about your current WIP.

My big project is Legends of Windemere, which is going to be a 15 book series. So, I’m trying to keep working on it and avoid lengthy delays. This is a tale of adventure, which follows a group of adventurers who are pitted against an ancient evil that is trying to return to the world of Windemere. Much of the story involves them coming to terms with their roles and dealing with the pressure of being a destined champion. One of my big goals with Legends of Windemere is to create colorful characters that people can connect to and enjoy following. This series is also going to be the foundation of the future Windemere series that I gradually outline and think about on the weekends.

You made the decision to keep your Windemere series exclusive to Amazon. Has this been an advantage or a hindrance and why?

I started with Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero on all mediums and I wasn’t selling beyond Amazon. I tried marketing for them and nothing seemed to click. So, I haven’t lost much by going Amazon exclusive and I gain the advantages of the KDP Select program. I have received a few requests to put my books on the other sites, but only by about five people, which isn’t enough for me to want to leave the exclusivity. Now, this is only my personal experience and I’m not saying this is how it always goes. For any first-time authors, I would recommend trying the other sites at first. It never hurts to try and gain a foothold on the other mediums because you can always go exclusive at a later date.

What does your writing process involve when you begin a new book? Do you keep strict outlines or do you just go with whatever is in your head at that moment?

I’m a big planner, so I start with designing basic plots and writing up character profiles. This is where a lot of my subplots and character evolution paths come from. After that, I plan out the chapters of a book with general descriptions to give myself a section goal. For series, I may do this for all of the books or the first few before I begin writing. This helps me set up foreshadowing and keeping my series goal in mind. Once I start writing, I find that about half of what I planned gets altered to fit the characters and my style. Many times I’ll find that I should merge chapter sections, remove others, or add a scene that would clear up a plot hole. I’m always aware that things will change when I begin the actual writing. For example, the character of Kira Grasdon from Legends of Windemere never existed in the original outline or the first version of the story. Now, she’s one of the biggest supporting cast members and will play a big role in a few of the books.

What do you see happening in the future of books? Will Ebooks ever take over and if so will indie authors benefit from this or will it hurt them?

I don’t think Ebooks will ever take over because there will always be a place for paperback and hardcovers. If anything, I can see Ebooks gaining equal amounts of respect and viability as the other mediums. While they are portable, there are advantages to physical books such as not needing to be charged or a corrupted file wiping them out. From experience, I can tell you that a physical book can be a precious thing when dealing with a long power outage.
I don’t think an Ebook takeover would change the indie author game. Many of us already depend more on Ebook than physical books, so it’s more about an author gaining exposure than the medium. It would be business as usual for us.

Where can we find your books available?

All of my books are available on Amazon in both Ebook and paperback form.

http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Legends-Windemere-Charles-Yallowitz-ebook/dp/B00BL9GBU2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387324756&sr=8-1&keywords=legends+of+windemere

To anyone who is thinking about self-publishing a book, I would recommend blogging and making friends with other authors. Contrary to popular belief, the world of indie authors is more of a community than a competition. Indie authors can draw a lot of confidence from positive support, which can be found from those that are attempting to do the same as you. This is because they understand what you’re trying to accomplish and all of the hard work you’re putting into your book. This is certainly one of the best discoveries I made as an indie author because I feel like I’m not alone in this.

Multi-project Meltdowwwwwwn

You know how it goes. You have this excellent idea and you go with it, until you hit a roadblock and it is easier for another idea to take precedence over the first one. You do this enough times and suddenly you have twenty great ideas out there but none of them are even close to completion.

(I get all my great analogies from talking to Charles.) So there you are, standing in a wading pool with a ski on one foot and a roller skate on the other, wearing a pair of boxer shorts and a parka. What is the answer to this great conundrum?

1. Remember to breathe.

2. Decide which project is the most important.

3. Decide which project fits into your schedule and your lifestyle.

This is not to say that you cannot be a successful multi-tasker. Many authors have the ability to write multiple things at the same time, whilst still marketing and managing life, but even then, how much time do you devote to writing vs. marketing? Do  you edit one book whilst writing the next or do you keep those projects separate?

Answer: (Not helpful at all)

It depends on the person. There is no simple end-all-be-all answer for the above questions. Each person deals with stress differently and handles multiple projects in their own way. The thing to remember, in my opinion, the thing that is the most important, is that you do not overextend yourself to the point where the quality of your work suffers on all accounts.

Great ideas do not usually have time limits. (I was going to invent the wheel but some other person did that first.)

Has this happened to you? Have you gotten involved in so many things that you can’t decide which of them are important to your original cause and which of them are just distraction? Comment box below.

* Additional note, I had a point to this post but somewhere along the way I lost what it was, likely because I am trying to write a review, answer emails, send out an author interview, write my shopping list, talk on the phone, quiet a dog barking, keep four kids entertained, figure out what’s for dinner tonight, feed  fish, fix a broken watch, read wordpress posts and write my next novel.

Thankfully i don’t distract easily…Hey look! A squirrel!

Case and point.

 

** Additional note, I blame you English Muffin.

An Great Interview with Author Stephanie Elmas

7305910   Today, I am so excited to bring you an interview with the talented and rising author Stephanie Elmas. Stephanie has written an incredible book called “The Room Beyond.” Check out the interview and learn more about her work below. Thank you so much, Stephanie, for taking the time to tell us more about you!

Can you tell us a little about you and your work?

I am thirty-six years old and live in the UK, just outside London. I’ve had a really mixed upbringing: my Father is English, my Mother is Czech and I was born in Hong Kong. To make matters even more interesting my husband is Turkish, so my three children have quite a genetic melting pot going on (of which, needless to say, they are very proud)! We live in a big noisy house with gentle green rolling countryside just moments away. In the other direction we have London close by, so it’s a nice position to be in. When I’m not dashing off to school, rummaging through mounds of laundry, trying to get vegetables into my grumpy two year old, attending swimming galas etc etc, I am writing! It’s the thing I love doing most in the world. I have written one book so far, The Room Beyond, but I have about ten more in my head. Now that I’ve written one, nothing will stop me making this a lifelong career.

 When did you first know that you were going to be an author?

The Room Beyond took me seven long years to write. This was mainly because I had a young daughter already and went on to have my other two children during that time. It’s been a busy few years. When I started writing it I was actually trying my best to avoid doing some real work. I was supposed to be researching for a Phd and instead I was sitting in the library twiddling my thumbs. In my heart I knew I just didn’t have the time or passion to complete my studies. And so, I picked up my pen and started writing a story. I loved it, and as soon as it started taking shape I knew I was an author.

 Tell us about your most recent work and where we can find it.

The Room Beyond is a dual time suspense novel set in the present day and the Victorian era. The central theme of the story is a beautiful London house on a road called Marguerite Avenue, home to the Hartreve family who have lived there for generations.

In the 1890s the house is bought by Lord Hartreve for his beautiful but rebellious daughter Lucinda. Her neighbours are Miranda and Tristan Whitestone, a couple trapped in a loveless marriage . When Lucinda and Tristan set eyes on each other there are immediate fireworks but the relationship that ensues between leaves a dark legacy that will plague the family for more than a century to come.
In the present day a young woman, Serena, moves into the Hartreve house as a nanny. From the outset she is entranced by the beautiful building and its eccentric aristocratic inhabitants. But, as Serena begins to find out, things in Marguerite Avenue aren’t quite what they seem. The past lurks around every corner and there are secrets in every shadow.

You find The Room Beyond on Amazon.com:

http://amzn.to/19czREZ

And Amazon.co.uk:

http://amzn.to/1bmtSvq

How has publishing been different than you expected?

Publishing The Room Beyond was one long battle. The first massive hurdle was getting an agent, which only happened after a great number of rejections and many re-writes. Then there was the nightmare of trying to secure a publisher as an unknown, non-celebrity writer in a huge recession. I actually got to the final round with a major publisher before being turned down because my book wasn’t a romance. Although The Room Beyond has many ‘romantic’ elements in it, it just doesn’t quite fall neatly enough into that genre. It was heart breaking until my agent offered to support me through the Amazon White Glove Programme. This is an agent based scheme for quality self-published books through Amazon. From the moment it went out to the public, my world turned upside down. I’ve loved every minute of being published and have come into contact with many wonderful readers and reviewers all over the world.

What does your creative process look like?

Writing a book isn’t just about being chained to a computer and waiting for the muse to take hold of you. Some of my best ideas have come to me whilst waiting at a traffic light or mowing the lawn! There have been times when I’ve had to rush out of the shower to find a pen before that ‘perfect sentence’ escapes my brain. However, ultimately you do have to put the hours into writing a book. It’s a lengthy process that requires a lot of patience and can be frustrating when the words don’t flow. I write best in the mornings when my brain is fresh and the house is a quiet as possible.

 How important do you think word of mouth/reviews are in getting attention for a book?

Absolutely vital! Most of the books I’ve read have been recommended to me and I think that most people would rather buy a book that has a selection of good reviews than one that has nothing to say for it at all. Before I published The Room Beyond I had no idea how active and vocal the online reading community is. I feel like I’ve been dragged out of the Dark Ages and it’s opened up a whole new world to me.

Who is your favourite character from your book and why?

Probably Miranda. She’s the character that most of my readers seem to like best too. She’s married to an awful man, Tristan, and is a complete underdog at the start: lonely, a product of an unhappy childhood, plain faced and unloved. But as the story develops Miranda finds strength inside herself that she never knew she had. She turns out to be a fighter with a noble heart. For me she is the heroine of the novel. I also love Walter Balanchine, a strange Victorian mystic from London’s poor East End. He wears extraordinary wizard-like clothes and has bottles and charms hanging from around his neck. His early life is the subject of my next novel.

Any advice for fellow writers about taking the plunge into publishing?

Be strong, it’s a jungle out there! If you a find a traditional publisher then that’s fantastic but you are most likely to meet a lot of rejection along the way. Always take criticism on the chin and keep working to make your writing as good as it can possibly be. The competition is fierce and there is no room for pride. On the upside the possibilities for self-published authors are better than they have ever been and the publishing world is changing dramatically. Recently a UK self-published author reached the No. 1 spot on Amazon. It can be done and if you’re willing to put the time and effort into it then it’s a great ride.

Where can we find you?

Amazon of course, I gave the links above.

My website is: www.stephanieelmas.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheRoomBeyondbyStephanieElmas

Twitter: @StephanieElmas

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/TheRoomBeyondbyStephanieElmas

Feel free to contact me, I always love a chat!
I’d like to thank Ionia for all her amazing support and her wonderful review.

 

 

Even Roses grow in Sh*t (Warning–book rant) *Swearing*

Flowers 447  I can be quite soppy. I know, right? Hard to believe. I can, and more often lately than previously. I love a happy ending just as much as the next girl, but when it comes to books, getting there is half the fun. Here is a truth that I wish more authors would recognise when writing their stories.

Even Roses Grow in Shit.

What does this have to do with the price of tuna in a Nevada brothel? I shall tell you.

Authors, authors, authors. You go to all the work to create characters that make us feel things. You give them histories, families, trouble along the way. You ensure that their story is interesting enough to get the reader involved and keep them there. Then you go and fuck it all up by making sure that everyone at the end of the book has not the slightest care in the world and all involved are happy and trouble free.

Really?

I’m not much of a soap opera fan. Never have been, but my mum was. I cannot count the number of times that I watched a character who was long dead suddenly reappear to the chirping of birds and the playing of harps. Okay, it is fiction. I get that. I really do understand that fiction does not have to fully encompass reality in all forms. Still, I find it pointless to read a book where everyone struggles, has events they must overcome that test their strengths and the patience of the reader and then by the last chapter everything is forgiven, the characters are squeaky clean as a whistle and everyone lives happily ever after.

Give me some grey area. Make it believable and give me a reason to remember the end of the book. Could it be that a couple of the characters are physically maimed or emotionally scarred by the end of the book but you are proud of them for not giving up? Would it be possible for the woman who has been beaten, abandoned on the side of the road and left for dead to actually take her knowledge and help others at the end of the story instead of meeting Mr. Right and just forgetting that anything ever happened to her?

Now, I am not saying there cannot be happy endings, nor that there should not be some happiness involved. What I am saying is that it is impossible for my mind to conceive that EVERY character and EVERY situation in any group of characters can all turn out 100% sunshine and daisies. Show me that the characters have learned to adapt to their challenges and see the bright side, great. Show me that they are ignoring everything that sucks in their life for the benefit of the reader? Thumbs down. I shall annihilate you in my review.

I am begging you, authors. If you talk about a gun in the first chapter of your book, describing it in vivid detail, make sure you actually fire the bloody thing before the last damned chapter. Why even mention it if it will have no bearing on the story at the end of the book?

Red fish are pretty and I really like pearls.

See.

All the intense drama, well written action scenes and things that make me boo hoo in the middle of the story can be erased by your idiotic fairytale endings. Keep your story moving on even ground. There is no way I am going to believe that every person in the story had serious issues until the last page when magically life became perfect.

If the character is an Arsehole at the beginning, make them a bit less of an arsehole at the end. Don’t pretend that your reader doesn’t remember chapter one.

Insult to injury:

Forget what you wrote about your own character by the end of the book. It happens, trust me. Please ensure that if you said your character had never been outside the US earlier in the book that they do not recall going to Europe as a child somewhere in a later chapter, unless this is a discovery they just made.

This is not just an indie book curse. Authors.  Opinions?

Is sex always about love?

Fire & Ice 380

This is actually a writing post…kind of. We all know I like titles that drag you guys in because I am a comment whore.

Plus Julian Froment started this conversation and asked me not to tell everyone even though he said it in the comments. He is a very reserved gentleman who would never swear and/or make a lewd comment to anyone anywhere. What we like to refer to as proper English Gent. I lie. I digress. Go check out his blog anyway. I hang out there. We can have a drink.

So here is the question. When you are writing and reading, how important is it to you that the characters fall in love with one another before they fall into bed? Do they ever have to fall in love or is the act itself good enough to satisfy you?

When I write love scenes, they can be pretty intense, but I tailor them to the individual character. If the character has a fiery, forward type of personality, I try to make sure the love scene reflects this. If they are more reserved, then I take that into consideration.

What do you all think? Is love the same thing as sex when it comes to a novel? Do you like the character less if they have a meaningless one night stand or if they become involved too quickly, even if it is with their intended?

As a general question to other writers, do you get nervous when you write a sex scene, fearing that you will botch it up and make it silly?

 

Answers please. Comment whore.

 

 

 

 

How the hell did that happen?

Science 489

I have a question for everyone.

shocking, no?

 

When you began your blog, did you have an exact idea of what it would be about? Was there a particular theme to the things you planned to post and now that you have been running it for a while did you stick to the original idea?

 

I went backward through my blog looking for something a few days ago and realised that I have done over five hundred posts. This was supposed to be a book review blog that has now evolved into a everything you can possibly imagine and some stuff you might not want to blog.

You know what? I like it.

 

So, did you stick to your original plan?

The train of thought derails

Has anyone else been having issues getting wordpress to upload photos since the recent revamp? I’m about to go F mad trying to get it to work.

 

There is a lovely picture of a train right here. If you close your eyes you can imagine it. Hey wait–open your eyes and read my bloody post!

 

Okay that had nothing to do with this post.

 

It seems as though I used to accomplish a lot in one day. Since beginning on the chemo again, my train of thought seems to derail more than it stays on the tracks. I just wanted to let you all know that I am working on trying to write the half-way intelligent posts that I used to write pre-chemo. I miss those moments when I would sit down to write a post and the inspiration was just there. Now, I am busy trying to remember what I was trying to think and I find that I am distracted most of the time.

 

The odd thing is, everyone warned me that I would be really tired after this. I’m not. I’m just flighty and silly and can’t keep a thought in my head for more than a few seconds. I am boring you. I know. At least I can still do that.

 

So the point in this pointless post (again) is that I find myself at an impasse. I, for once, have no idea what to blog about. What would you all like to see more of? The book reviews will happen as I am able, but other than that–ideas would be appreciated. More writing related topics? Guest blogs? Help. I’m stuck. I have too much fog in my head to figure out where to go from here. What is your favourite part of my ridiculous blog?

 

So I am going to try my best to get back to the pre-chemo me. I am going to read blogs today, refocus my attention and …hey look a squirrel.

Not be so easily distracted.

An Interview with Mac Black

007 (2) Today I am proud to welcome Author Mac Black to Readful Things. If you have not had the pleasure of meeting him yet, here is your chance. Mac truly is an amazing author and has the best sense of humour of anyone I know. Please welcome him and don’t forget to check out his books!
1. When did you first get the idea that you were going to be a writer?
It certainly was not planned in any way nor was it ever a lifelong ambition. About three years ago it sneaked up on me when I bought a new PC. Now, I might as well admit it. I am at a certain age, an age that permits me to look back with wisdom. Yes, Ionia, I am mature (though ‘almost fossilised’ my family think is much more appropriate!) I was given a book on Genealogy and a suggestion, by my elder daughter, that I should read the book and use the internet to create a family tree, and stay out of trouble. So, I did. Now, don’t we all secretly hope that we’ll stumble on skeletons in the family cupboard? And did I? Yes …but that’s another story. Meantime daughter number two had a special birthday coming up. For a present: “Print the family tree …on a tablecloth, please …a plastic one!” (She has three small boys!) With no idea how to do that, I came up with an alternative – I would write a little book about the family, and I did. A tad too creative with my imagination I was. To be honest, this became my first work of fiction, but don’t tell the family; and the book’s title? ‘This is NOT a plastic tablecloth.’ Well… I thought it was clever!

Who or what inspired you to come up with the character Derek? Can you tell us a bit about the books he is featured in?
I found I’d actually enjoyed my first writing experience, and was curious about whether I was capable of doing something more but, this time, non-factual and original. Several attempts at creating a serious story were failures – even I was unimpressed. What about humour? Never in my life have I been able to tell a joke properly but I was involved a while ago in amateur theatre in mainly comedy roles, so the challenge I set myself was to attempt humorous fiction. The nickname for a character occurred first, ‘Sweaty’, not the most glamorous name. I then had to decide why he would be called that. The surname created for him was ‘Toozlethwaite’ and the way ‘Thwaity’ is pronounced by lisping youngsters gave me a reason to be proud of ‘Sweaty’, and so I was started. Would he be a hero; or something else? I chose something else, and because humour usually develops from mishap, I used some fairly basic run-of-the-mill activities as the plot but, in doing so, I have made a poor guy called Derek Toozlethwaite suffer severely …in four stories. Occasionally I feel guilty about that…

How did you choose which way you were going to publish?


When I began I knew little about the business of either publishing or self-publishing. Trying to find someone to become interested in what I’d written would be a real challenge and seemed unlikely to be successful, knowing that some people try for years. So, I was grateful then and still am, when the eighth publisher I contacted smiled, and offered to publish my books without charge, and being a Scotsman… This small independent organisation has taken a chance with me, UP Publications Ltd. and they do not have a large PR system like the larger publishers. It is a small team with the industrious multi-talented manager arranging all the formalities of my publication needs, and an excellent editor to keep me on the straight and narrow, and, a nice one, artwork able to be done in-house. Although I have an editor I do a great deal of the editing myself, and nowadays actually enjoy that part almost as much as the writing.

 Would you have done anything different now that you are able to look back on your publishing journey?
I doubt it. So far, it has been a very interesting and enjoyable experience for me, and I’ve learned a lot along the way but I still lack confidence in my ability to tackle self-publishing. I appreciate the help of experts and prefer to rely on them. In other words, to use a good Scottish term – I am a big feartie! (A coward, for those that don’t know the term…) and sadly my technical expertise is stretched at just producing the words on the computer. ‘Spell-check’ and I have become very good friends.

What is the name of your work in progress and what is it about?
The fourth ‘Derek’ story is completed and is with my editor just now, ‘Derek’s Good Relations’, waiting a publication date. I am giving this established character a rest for the moment, he deserves it, and I am now working on a final edit of ‘Lofty Issues’, a story that does not involve Derek. This one is a tragicomic tale of a Glasgow family and how they stumble on some family secrets, thanks to a ‘Treasure Hunt’ created by a dead Granny, and involves a gun, diamonds and bagpipes, and …skeletons are discovered in this family’s cupboard. Now, how is that for starters?

Who are some of your favourite authors?
Selecting a book for me can be influenced by the cover or the ambiguity of the title and does not have to be by a well-known author, and I am rarely disappointed. However authors such as Ian Rankin, Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo, Alan Bennett, and Donna Leon give me many hours of pleasure. I enjoy autobiographies too, but not those I suspect to be written by ghost writers for celebrities. A Scottish author of long ago, called Neil Munro, wrote short stories of gentle humour about the crew of a Clyde puffer vessel, and every so often it is nice to re-read these; written in the days when books were created the hard way by authors who had to use pen and ink…

Any advice you can give to others looking to publish?


Try to remain optimistic. The world is a big place and there are lots of people out there who read, so surely someone will take a liking to your masterpiece. I think that luck can play a big part in how you succeed and sometimes you have to create your own. Although I still prefer to read a story on paper, rather than on an e-book, the marketplace nowadays gives plenty of scope (to those who are more technically skilled and braver than I) and gives you the chance to do your own thing, and help you achieve fame, electronically.

How important do you see reviews as being and why?
It gives feedback. It can be difficult to know what readers in general think of your work. How often are readers inclined to comment back to an author? Not often, I’d say, and friends, I suspect, try to be kind and tell you what you hope to hear. Reading what an independent reviewer says about your writing is a measure; a good review and it is a boost to your morale; a bad one, though disappointing, might send you in a better direction, though you could perhaps ignore it. A review might also influence the public to go beyond the book title. That would help and, as writers, don’t our egos require others to read our works and lavish us with praise? (Sorry, got carried away – wishful thinking!)

What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey?
Creating answers for interviews? No… Quite simply, it has been making the world aware that my books exist. Whether the books are well written or not, unfortunately the chances of someone stumbling on them in the web pages of Amazon, or Waterstone’s, or WH Smith’s, or Barnes and Noble, etc. are slight. So how can it be done? Newspaper articles are one way, but another is to find a friendly blogger who might take pity, or better still, one who likes the books and is willing to encourage others? Know anyone you could recommend, Ionia…?

Where can we find your books and personal website?
My website: www.macblack.info/Books/
My publisher’s website: www.uppublications.ltd.uk/ and books can be purchased there.
I can also be contacted at macblack.author@gmail.com.
Each book is available on line as paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstone’s, and WH Smith’s, etc. (and on Kindle from Amazon).
And I might as well give you the book titles too. ‘Please…Call me Derek’; ‘Derek’s in Trouble’; ‘Derek’s Revenge’. As has been suggested, that although each story has been written as a self contained tale, to read them in sequence makes you more familiar with Derek’s disturbingly developing life. You might even get to like him…

Any final thoughts?
As has been suggested many times before by those wiser than me, and even older: Remain optimistic; keep plugging away even though you may seem to be getting nowhere; but most importantly – don’t give up the day job!