Tag Archives: Candy Jar Book Festival

Project Hush-Hush – Event, Rewriting and … Acting?

So, what have I been doing the last few days? Well, first a few words on Project Hush-Hush.

SecretHow The Forgotten Son opens is hugely important, more so than usual for a book. The opening lines are so vital to the success or failure of any novel, but when it’s the first of a new series of a licensed project, those first few lines, indeed the whole prologue, is even more important. And so the publisher and I have been discussing this opening, and it occurred to us that I am in a unique position to rewrite a piece of history — or rather add something new to a piece of history that means a lot to a lot of people.  Yup, this is one of those entries where I can’t reveal too much about the content of the writing — the scene is too big and too integral to the concept of the series that to reveal its contents would spoil so much. So, you’ll have to just bear with me and believe me when I say that reworking the prologue is a unique thrill that may not ever be one I experience again.

I was showing the first line to two friends yesterday, both of whom are big fans (of what? Well, that would be telling), and only one of them understood the in-joke of that very first line and just what it meant. Just goes to show there are different levels of fans. I’m confident though that the majority of fans will get it, and that one line will set the tone for the rest of the series.

10551036_10152313417955197_986522740607362979_nIn other news I was at another Candy Jar Book Festival event yesterday, this time discussing ‘monsters and mirrors’ with fellow author Benjamin Burford-Jones. It was an interesting little talk. Not many turned up, but we did get an interesting few including a couple of kids who had all kinds of random questions to ask about monsters in fiction. My favourite part was the girl’s answer to my question, ‘what monsters do you like best in Doctor Who?‘. The answer? Why, the cake monster. Of course! (Must be an episode I’ve never seen!) During this event I also did a little bit of acting! Sort of. Ben was going to read an extract from his book, Beware of the Mirror Man, but it soon became obvious that he doesn’t have the most involving reading voice so I happened upon an idea. The section he chose features two characters — Sophie and Ell. Now, Ell is a mimic who happens to have a cockney voice, and as the title of the blog suggests I am something of a Londoner (albeit one who was born in Wales). So we acted out the scene, with me providing the cockney-voice of Ell. Which was great as Ell by far got the best lines in that scene, and we got a couple of giggles from the kids. Job done! 😉

Next up,as well as the ongoing research for The Forgotten Son I have the proofed version of Sharon Bidwell’s The Draco Eye to go through, and looking through the proofs of my forthcoming short story collection. All the stories in the latter have been published individually by Untreed Reads Publishing over the last four years, but they’re putting them into one all-new volume for release in a couple of months. So look out for that one!

Now, it’s time to head back to find out how John James is dealing with the creature that he’s discovered in the back garden…

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Project Hush-Hush – Hush!

SecretBeen a tad quiet on here last few days, mostly because I’ve just been soaking up the ’60s vibe with a ton of music. Which isn’t that exciting to report on.

So, instead, here’s a picture of me and my fellow author, Anthony Ormond, and the head honcho of Candy Jar Books, Shaun Russell. We were down the Hayes in Cardiff, selling and signing books and meeting our adoring fans. Most of whom were obviously put off by the tempestuous weather. Still, it was a nice day with much talking about Project Hush-Hush and the exciting follow up to Anthony’s brand new novel, Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You!

#tommyparker

More news soon!

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Candy Jar Book Festival

I’m very pleased to announce I’ll be a part of the forthcoming Candy Jar Book Festival. Not only will I be joining Benjamin Burford-Jones for a talk on monsters and aliens in fiction, I’ll also be on hand at the Stall in the Hayes, Cardiff, at various points throughout the week to meet with readers, sign my book, and discuss Doctor Who with whoever will listen. But there’s much more going on than just that. Take a look below!

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The festival runs from Saturday August 9th through to Saturday August 16th. Candy Jar Books will at the Hayes, Cardiff, ever day with authors signing books. On top of that many events are running throughout the month; including an exciting range of discussions, author meetings/signings and workshops to offer something for everyone. Right click here to save and download the PDF timetable or alternatively look at the list below to find out what’s going on!

31052013844At the Hayes you will be able to find;

  • Eileen Younghusband (Sat 9th from 11am)
  • Mark Brake (Sat 9th from 3pm)
  • Anthony Ormond, Andy Frankham-Allen and Cardiff Jack Sparrow! (Sun 10th)
  • Laura Foakes and Emma Taylor (Tues 12th from 12:30pm)
  • Michaela Weaver (Weds 13th from 10:30am)
  • Joanne Teague (Weds 13th from 1pm)
  • Penny Richards (Thurs 14th, 11am-1pm)
  • Benjamin Burford-Jones (Sat 16th from 12:01pm)

Plus special guests throughout the week!

Timetable for discussions and workshops is;

Saturday August 9th

THE SCIENCE OF DOCTOR WHO

(ALL AGES)

stmm360-copyMark Brake and John Chase (Cardiff Central Library, 12pm and 2pm)

The Doctor Who universe is one of aliens and time machines, cyborgs and supermen. Conjuring up evidence on the themes of space, time, machine, and monsters, author Mark Brake and TV presenter Jon Chase deliver their verdict on the science of The Doctor.

Mark’s books include Space, Time, Machine, Monster (an irreverent look at how science fiction has impacted and changed our lives), as well as Space Hoppers, Really, Really Big Questions about Space and Time and The Alien Hunter’s Handbook.

Monday August 11th

MAKE YOUR OWN PICTURE BOOK

(6+)

Danny-Down-the-Drainpipe2Lynda Nash (Cardiff Central Library, 2pm)

Lynda Nash invites you to join her in this creative workshop and have fun bringing your stories to life.

Lynda teaches GCSE English and Creative Writing. Her work has been published in various magazines, including Penumbra, Square, First Edition and Mslexia. She contributes to Buzz Magazine and runs Little Writers Inc, a Newport-based writing group for budding authors.

Danny Down the Drainpipe is her first book for children.

Tuesday August 12th

HOW TO BE A FIBBER EXTRAORDINAIRE

(6+)
lafa360Laura Foakes and Emma Taylor (Cardiff Central Library, 11am)

A workshop designed for the liar and fibber in everyone. Come and meet Laura Foakes to discover how lying can produce a winning novel. She will be joined by illustrator Emma Taylor. Between them they have conquered Everest, danced with dinosaurs, and fought off ferocious ninjas.

The Liars’ and Fibbers’ Academy stands out as a truly original story, with drama, humour, twists and turns, weird and wonderful escapades and so many fantastic standout characters. Honest!

Tuesday August 12th

HOW TO WRITE A PAST LIFE AUTOBIOGRAPHY

(ALL AGES)
mohicanreborn360Simon Marcus Caines (Canton Library, 2pm)

For those who have always wanted to document your past life, this is the workshop for you! Simon, a Native American in a past life, tells the story of the death and devastation brought about by the white man, and how he became one of the greatest swordsmen in pre-revolutionary France.

Mohican Reborn is an autobiography with a difference. The book tells the story of Simon Marcus Caine’s Native American past life, Arion Lightfeather.

Wednesday August 13th

SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER – TRAVEL WRITING DISCUSSION

(ALL AGES)
september360dJoanne Teague (The Corner House, Caroline Street, 10:30am)

A workshop to help you turn your travel memories into prose. Joanne will talk about writing her moving, hilarious and uplifting book See You in September.

When Joanne learned that she may only have a few months to live, she decided to take her three children out of school and, with her husband, spend six months travelling around Europe. Why not come along meet Joanne to find out what happened next?

Wednesday August 13th

MANIC MONDAYS – CREATIVE WRITING DISCUSSION

(ALL AGES)
manic_mondays360bMichaela Weaver (The Plan, Morgan Arcade, 3pm)

A workshop for aspiring writers. Michaela is creative in all aspects of her life: her work, her writing and her hobbies. Having studied creative writing – and written a book herself – Michaela knows all too well the pressures aspiring writers often endure. She also recognises the benefits of thrashing out creative difficulties in a group setting, so whatever stage your novel’s at, feel free to come along for a chat over a cuppa.

Manic Mondays is Michaela’s first book.

Thursday August 14th

TOP SECRET – HOW WOMEN HELPED WIN THE WAR

(ALL AGES)
oww_paperback_2013_book_prizeEileen Younghusband B.E.M. (Cardiff Story Museum, 11am)

The Second World War is dominated by heroic tales of men defending their country against a formidable enemy, but what about the women who also played their part in the fight for freedom? Eileen Younghusband (93) was just 18 when she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). She quickly demonstrated her keen intellect and mathematical skills, and will be discussing the crucial role played by the women in Fighter Command’s top secret underground Filter Room.

Eileen has written three books: Not an Ordinary Life, One Woman’s War and Men I Have Known. In 2013 her writing was recognised by The People’s Book Prize when One Woman’s War won the non-fiction award.

Thursday August 14th

MONSTERS, MAGIC AND MICHELLE BRISCOMBE

(6+)
silentmountain360cMichelle Briscombe (Cardiff Central Library, 2pm)

Tying in with the Summer Reading Challenge, Michelle invites you to share your favourite magical books and monstrous characters. Why not bring yours along.

Michelle likes to turn her dreams into stories. These dreams may frighten her, make her laugh or wake her up. To explain these dreams, she finds it difficult but sometimes, she is able to write them down. Silent Mountain is her first (of many) books.

Friday August 15th

MONSTERS AND MIRRORS

(6+)
mirrorman360eBenjamin Burford-Jones and Andy Frankham-Allen (Cardiff Central Library, 2pm)

Whether they are under the bed, in the wardrobe or behind the mirror, monsters feature heavily in TV and books. Benjamin Burford-Jones is joined by Andy Frankham-Allen to discuss how monsters have inspired their writing.

Whilst working late nights at the BBC, Benjamin would often spend his time thinking of stories and ideas, one of which being that the people on the television were in fact in the television. His début novel for children, Beware of the Mirror Man explores this idea.

Friday August 15th
A PERSONAL PORTRAIT OF THE ROYAL FAMILY

(ALL AGES)
royalpreviewColin Edwards (Cardiff Central Library, 2.30pm; WHSmiths, 11am-1pm)

A familiar face at royal events, Colin Edwards has collated his vast collection of photographs of the Royal Family to create a new book.

His book A Personal Portrait of the Royal Family features never before seen images of Her Majesty the Queen, the Queen Mother and Diana, Princess of Wales at public events. The author also provides emotive, personal accounts of his meetings with the Royals.

Colin will be sharing some of his memories at Cardiff Central Library on Friday and signing copies of his book at WHSmith on Saturday.

Saturday August 16th

TIME TRAVEL IN FICTION

(6+)
tommyparker360(Anthony Ormond, Cardiff Central Library, 12pm and 2pm)

Whilst the idea of time travel seems like great fun, an innocent trip to the 1940s could have devastating consequences. Anthony Ormond delves into this fascinating subject – where paradoxes, time warps and anomalies have inspired countless TV shows, films and books.

Anthony’s début novel, Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You! is a youthful adventure that gives an unfamiliar twist to the time-travel genre, with the characters travelling not only through time but also through memory. Make sure you’re on time!

Throughout August

NOT THAT KIND OF ART (ALL AGES)
Nathan Wyburn (Art exhibition in Cardiff Story Museum throughout August)

Nathan is renowned for his original take on pop culture artwork. He’s created portraits of Simon Cowell using Marmite, Stephen Fry using egg-fried rice, and even Paul O’Grady out of dog biscuits. He has made numerous TV appearances, and a number of celebrities have commissioned his unusual pieces. This is your opportunity to view some of his wackier pieces, a number of which will appear in his book Not That Kind of Art, to be released in 2015.

Nathan first came to public attention when he appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2011. He reached the semi-final, and despite not winning the show, this catapulted him to success. He is launching his exhibition in Cardiff Story Museum on 1st August.

Writing the Winning Short Story

festivallogoOn August 2nd, Laura Foakes and I spearheaded the forthcoming Candy Jar Book Festival at Cardiff Central Library, talking about some of the best ways to write a short story with a view to winning the much coveted spot in a published anthology. Alas, as with these events, not everybody was able to attend and several asked me to share my Top Ten Rules; so here they are…

  1. Inspiration: What inspires you? With a short story it can be something mundane, something small. Something you see, something you hear, or perhaps something you read that makes you wonder ‘where would I have taken that idea?’. Find one central idea, and build your story around it.
  2. Heart of Your Story: Explore your motivations, determine what you want your story to do, then stick to your core message.
  3. Few Characters: You simply will not have room for more than one or two round characters. Find economical ways to characterise your protagonist, and describe minor characters briefly.
  4. Limit the time frame when you write a short story: Though some short-story writers do jump around in time, your story has the biggest chance of success if you limit the time frame as much as possible. It’s unrealistic to cover years of a character’s life in twenty-five pages (even a month might be a challenge). By limiting the time period, you allow more focus on the events that are included in the narrative.
  5. Ever Line Must Count: The short story requires discipline and editing. Every line should either build character or advance the action. If it doesn’t do one of these two things, it has to go. Keep descriptive passages to a minimum; you don’t have time to be expansive. Use description as pointers to help the reader paint their own picture, don’t do it for them.
  6. Perfect first and last line: Hook the reader with the very first line, and leave them with a final line they won’t forget easily.
  7. Cliffhangers: Don’t give a resolution; leave the reader wondering what comes next. End on a major twist.
  8. Experiment: The short story is a great way to play around with style and form; to try something different. Don’t necessarily go from A to B to C, etc. However much you experiment with form, though, remember something has to happen in the story (or at least the reader has to feelas though something has happened). Things like conflict and resolution achieve this effect. Don’t be afraid to blend genres. Remember, there is very little that is original in storytelling these days, but it’s how you blend the elements that can give a sense of originality.
  9. Shorter Is Sweeter: Resist the urge to go on and on. With a shorter short story, you will have more markets available to you and thus a better chance of getting published. When given a word limit for your short story, always aim or the lower end of that limit. Editors will want to fill a book with as many stories as possible, and so will often be looking for the shorter submissions.
  10. Craft A Strong Title: This can be one of the most difficult—but one of the most important—parts of writing your story. How do you find inspiration for a great title? Have friends read your story and note which words or phrases strike them or stand out. These excerpts from your text just might hold the perfect title.
Laura and I giving our advice at Cardiff Central Library
Laura and I giving our advice at Cardiff Central Library

 

Additional Hints

  • Reworking Old Stories: If you have old short stories, pull them out and dust them down. Look over them again, and see if you can do something new with them.
  • Write Popular Genres: Write short stories featuring the fads that cycle around. Vampires, zombie, werewolves, ghosts, wizards, etc. Write them and put them aside, then when each cycle comes around again you have a short story all set to submit to anthologies.
  • Look at Publisher’s Output: Consider the publisher you’re submitting to. What else do they publish? Target your story to best suit the publisher.
  • Unbiased View/reader (not family or friend): If able, find an unbiased person to read your story and give you an honest view. Despite the best intentions of family and friends, you will not receive an unbiased view. ‘My mother is my worst critic.’ – don’t believe it!
  • Read Out Loud: Read your story out loud, to somebody else or to yourself. If you stumble over sentences then they’ll need rewriting. Reading out loud will also help you see how natural the dialogue is.