The Fates

Many people believe in chance and luck, and equally many people do not.  A famous golfer, I believe, once said, “the more I practise, the luckier I get”.  That is undoubtedly true but there is still an element of chance in life, a chance that a random event could occur in somebody’s life and knock them off course sending them in an entirely different direction.

Thomas Hardy, of course, wrote about this in his stories.  For example, one of his characters was walking across a field when a young woman, as a joke, threw a piece of pig offal at him.  When it struck him it drew his attention to the young woman and he found an entirely different part of his life pursuing her and eventually marrying her and all the consequences which then followed which then flowed from that.

 

I am sure that everybody would be able to point to some similar occurrence in their life.  I, myself, met my first wife because I came home from the Alps where I had been climbing with a German friend a day early, having mistaken the day of the week.  Having arrived home a day early, I was able to go to a party which I would not have been able to attend had I returned home at the intended time.  At that party, I met my first wife.

 

Chance, in my view, plays a part in all our lives, although as I get older I wonder if in fact it isn’t fate because as you look back upon your life, you start to see patterns and the form that chance takes can also resolve itself into a pattern.  As you grow older and look at your life in retrospect, you too may be able to discern patterns in the way that events occur and then unfold.

 

It can seem almost as if there is a scheme or a pattern for an individual’s life, however insignificant we may be in terms of the cosmos or the rest of humanity, and this is one of the things which makes stories, story writing and story telling so fascinating because since the beginning of time it has been exactly the same.  We look with wonder at the lives of others as told in story form, held up as a kind of mirror to our own lives.

 

In my story, The Retainer, it is the chance meeting with a professional criminal and what flows from that which determines an entirely new life for the hero.  As a consequence of that meeting and what flowed from it, instead of leading a predictable and perhaps boring life as a provincial solicitor, suddenly he is plunged into a life of crime from which he is ultimately unable to escape, or is he?  You have to read the story and reach the end and then think about it.

 

Happy reading!

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The Journey

I have recently been reading Ithaka, an epic poem written by a 19th century Greek poet called Cavafy. The first verse translated reads:-

Pray that your journey be long
That there may be many summer mornings
When with what joy, what delight
You will enter harbours you have not seen before.

the journey

The poem is about the journey that we all make through life. The journey has been used as an analogy for life by other authors too.

I have tried to use the idea of life as a journey in my story about the adventures of a young man entitled “The Sons of Death, Part I”. It is Part I because it is the first of a trilogy of stories that will follow this particular young man on his journey through life.

Why call it “The Sons of Death”? This is a reference to the name given to the Norse raiders from Norway in the 9th and 10th centuries due to their fiercesome reputation. The hero of my story I see as a modern Viking, a penniless young man on a collision course with the world who sets out for pretty much the same motives of adventure and gain. He is an opportunist and a gun for hire, his youth, physical strength and quickness of mind being the only assets that he has.

What happens to him along the way is something you will have to read about as he makes his journey which is both physical and spiritual as he gradually confronts and reflects on the meaning of this life and our journey through it.

I hope you enjoy the journey.

10 Ways That Twitter Can Help Writers

TwitterWhen I first heard about Twitter, I dismissed it as just another social networking site. I didn’t really take it seriously but as a self-confessed online beginner, I gave it a go, even though I was already overloaded with keeping up with the social networks I had already signed up for.

Why on earth would I want to read about what someone eats for breakfast or what they’re doing every minute of the day?

I admit now that I was completely wrong. I’m now @marlin_writes on Twitter, and here are some of the reasons I’m glad I joined.

1. Twitter forces you to exercise your writing and editing skills. With only 140 characters to work with, you have to choose your words carefully and be concise.

2. Stay informed about the publishing industry. With so many publishing house Tweeters, you can learn a bushel about what’s happening in the industry.

3. Make contacts in the publishing industry. One of the reasons I decided to take Twitter seriously was because I kept hearing about various editors and publishers who were Tweeting. And they weren’t just posting promo items; they were also reading posts by other Tweeters and sometimes replying to them! (Imagine that……one can only dream)

4. Meet and share ideas with other writers. Yes, you can do this through other social networks as well. I’m finding, though, that Twitter’s platform provides a unique experience not yet duplicated by other social networks .There is a HUGE network of writers on Twitter and chances are good that you’ll find other writers who are going through the same types of experiences in their careers as you. Said writers will almost certainly posts tips and blogs articles of mutual interest.

5. Promote and market your writing. As writers are expected to take on more and more of the responsibility of marketing their own work, it makes sense to use every possible venue to do so. You may already be promoting your book on Facebook, for example, but Twitter gives you access to more potential readers.

6. If you can’t get to the next ‘big’ writing event, the next best thing in my view if not better is by following the relevant event #. You will then see posts from anyone attending and keep up to date with all the latest news!

7. Increasing your blog readership. Post a summary or blurb about the great content on your blog on Twitter, with a link back to your blog post for those who want to read the full content. Increased blog traffic means increased exposure to your work, which could lead to other writing-related benefits.

8. Writing motivation. In addition to finding inspirational tips and information via Twitter, you can also exchange mutual encouragement and advice with others via mentions and hashtags. The #amwriting hashtag is a popular hashtag for those posting updates on what they’re working on, for example, and has expanded into its own Amwriting website.

9. Get ideas for your writing projects. Get inspired by following current hot “trending topics” as well as thought-provoking posts.

10. Find useful resources, articles and tips to help you in the craft and business of writing. Most of the people I follow with @marlin_writes are writers, editors, publishers or book publicists, and many of them post links to useful info for writers on a daily basis. I try to do the same.

I could go on, but I have to get back to writing now. Follow me on Twitter! I’m @marlin_writes.

The Kindle-ing- To keep the author fire burning

The Kindle-ing- To keep the author fire burning

The Kindle-ing- To keep the author fire burning

There was a time–and not all that long ago–when self-publishing was considered nothing short of blasphemy and with the ‘one stop shop’ offering from publishers being hard to refuse what else would you do?

Well, that was then. Today, self-publishing has become a billion-dollar juggernaut. So with that last year I embarked on a journey, and what I have found was more complex than Quantum Reality.

Igniting the fire

Having the fortunate driver of ‘just because’ behind me I was in an advantageous position. My aim was to share my stories, being a bestselling author was not (although I wouldn’t say no!)

So my first book ‘The Retainer’ was published in April 2013, followed by ‘A Hero of Our Times’. I had no real idea of how my stories would be perceived but some early glowing reviews gave me the gentle nudge to ‘keep calm and carry on’.

And I’ve enjoyed it….

Exploring new fireplaces

It gave me an excuse to delve into the world of social media as a means of communicating my work and join the online Indie Author community, it’s also quite a pleasurable way of depositing ones daily thoughts.

I have learnt all manner of technical skills such as ‘what on earth is a pdf’ and also what that wheel on the top of the mouse was for – yes I was using the keyboard arrows prior to this revelation (not even the scroll bar)

I have found blogging delightful!

Blogging provides substance for social media and an aperture for the ‘surplus to requirements’ short stories or tales of years gone by. The lure of fellow bloggers postings is also quite formidable and often diverts my attention.

Utilising the many relevant on-line habitations of readers and writers is a highland I am finding an ongoing and changing expedition. Helpfully for every suitable outlet there are hundreds of blogs, articles and social media accounts to promote them, so they are not hard to find.

One of the single most successful things I have done to date has been to utilise the facility via Amazon of offering my books for free on chosen days via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

My first free promotion saw over 400 downloads in 24 hours!

Yes I know I made no money from it, yes I know the appeal of the book being free is often enough for someone to download it regardless whether they are interested in the genre or book description, but just imagine if even 5% of those 400 wrote a review on Amazon!

With rankings being heavily review led that opportunity is not to be sniffed at!

Maintaining the burn

So now I am in full swing with my author journey, I can hashtag with the best of them and use a mouse properly, what’s next?

The procurement of some all-important ISBN codes will I hope open up some more boulevards for distributing my books.

I also hope to locate some time for literacy consumption now that I have freed up some space in the grey matter!

How is your Indie Author journey going?

The mark of our time

The famous artist Andy Warhol said:- “In the future everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes”.

warhol-future1-small

In this world of short lived media publicity or celebrity of an individual or phenomenon, the prediction rings true but the reality is otherwise.

The overwhelming majority of humanity will be born, live and die in anonymity at least as far as the wider world is concerned beyond their own family and friends. 

The same is true of those who went before us.  Perhaps a faded photograph or two of somebody you might remember as a grandparent but in the photograph looking impossibly young and optimistic.  How did they leave their mark on the world?

The answer in my opinion is very much the same as you or I, by quietly getting on with it, working throughout their lives, supporting their families and when they eventually died leaving behind them only their flesh and blood as an inheritance for their descendants.
No matter how important we might consider that we are, even in this world of instant and mass communication, our lives are essentially no different to theirs in that respect.

In the wider sense of leaving a mark, we are surrounded every day by the marks of our forebears.  In the countryside it is largely manmade and man shaped and in the towns and cities all of which reflect the work of generations which went before us.

As you grow older and have more perspective on life, you cannot help but admire and in so doing honour the memory of all those unsung and largely anonymous individuals who quietly got on with it and did what had to be done before passing on the baton to the next generation that took their place.

They live, locked in our memories, as long as we do and when we pass, perhaps successive generations may at least for a while remember us.  We can hope for no more.

I hope you enjoyed my interpretation of what it means to leave your mark, and honour those before you.

Writing is deliberately taking over

tree-roots.jpg-smallWhat was once an occasional pursuit has slowly and deliberately crept its way into every aspect of my life like the roots of a determined perennial.

I now keep a table at my office especially for my creative endeavours, where from time to time when in need of a change of scene I go and sit down and write a little more of whatever story I am currently engaged with.

I normally write 1,000 – 2,000 words before stopping and then returning to do some of the “day job”. I am often amazed at my ability to jump in and out of a story with ease. However unexpected, I enjoy the balance between the two, the one providing a distraction and even relaxation from the other.

I do of course write at home as well when the opportunity presents itself but again would not normally write more than about 1,000 words at a time.

I often do not know what I am going to write next and in fact that is usually the case.  What I do is make sure I remember the last line that I have written and then think about something else and by the time I sit down to write again my subconscious imagination has had sufficient time to sort things out and the next part of the story comes out. It’s a bit like waiting for the birth of a baby.  It comes out at its own rate and won’t be hurried but if you are patient then it arrives naturally.

I don’t need to go and isolate myself in some silent room or library to be able to write.  I simply think about a story and write about it surrounded by people doing other things, just as you might read a book or listen to the radio under similar circumstances.

I wonder what will be next in my journey.

 

 

The fuel and fire of a new author

comfort_zone5.jpg-purpleThis post is for those who had a bad day, those who think it can’t be possible, those who are about to give up, or those who need to get back up.

I once had doubt in my mind: doubt that I would ever find the time alongside the day job to dedicate to my passion, doubt that there would be any point. Why would anyone want to read what I had written? Doubt that my writing would be any different from all the thousands of people, who have reached a point in their life where they have succeeded in their career, yet still held onto a fanciful dream.

Over the last 30 years I have been compelled to write at various times.  For some reason I find myself inspired to write.  A story wells up inside me and I then have to begin putting it down on paper.  Each such occasion lasted for a while and then died but over the years what has happened is that I have lived with a number of stories which have slowly developed and have occasionally bubbled up to the surface again.

So in the words of Susan Jeffers, I felt the fear and did it anyway! I’m not telling you all to run out and book a skydive but maybe just ask yourself:  what’s stopping you? Is it fear?

The reason I wanted to write was just that…because I wanted to, why was I worrying about its success? There was a slow realisation, that the only person standing between me and my daydream was ME.

So here I am.

I plan to depict my experiences of being a new author and how feeling the fear works out.

I have written 2 books so far: The Retainer – An intriguing tale of blackmail, betrayal and lust in the 1970’s, and A Hero of Our Times – A romp through law and polo with plenty of lust along the way.

I hope you like them.