Monday, 30 January 2012

Memories from 1984 - Music and Lyrics

I remember back in 1984, we were going up the Oxford Canal on our narrowboat, Nados, during the summer holiday. We stopped in Banbury which was always one of the highlights. We'd always dash up to WH Smiths and stock up on pens and pencils, paper and other essential stuff. It was the same every time. Except in 1984 I was one of those scary creatures that is a thirteen year old girl. I'd started writing angst poetry and loving songs with good lyrics.

That summer I went to WH Smiths and bought some cassette tapes by Howard Jones and Nik Kershaw. I wanted to be Howard Jones because of the way he could play keyboards. I wanted to be Nik Kershaw because of his incredible lyrics. I spent hours, days, weeks wailing along to 'Wouldn't It Be Good' and 'The Riddle' and thinking I was the bees knees because I owned those tapes.

Fast forward to 2012 and thankfully I no longer write poetry, but the memories of those days in the sun still make me smile. And guess what? Nik Kershaw is still writing and performing, and he's written the forward for a book that I have a story included in, which is the brain child of Caroline Smailes.

I can't believe how brilliant this feels - firstly to have had a story chosen for a book created by and including one of my favourite authors but secondly to be in the same book as Nik Kershaw.

I will keep you updated on this book, which is being published in aid of the charity One In Four.

In the meantime, I'm still trying to work out what the bloody hell is in that hole in the ground near the tree by the river...








If you have the Ether App you can read more about my time on Nados. It's a free download.











Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Post Launch Roundup

I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped me celebrate the official publication date for New Beginnings on Monday. It was so much fun, and I should have published this post earlier but after 16 hours straight at the computer on the day, I couldn't face going near it yesterday!

I would especially like to thank all of the bloggers who signed up for my Web Splash. You can check them out using the links below.

I said in my post on Monday I was offering a prize for the blogger who had the most clicks via my linky list - that was Pete Domican. I also said there would be a prize for the person who commented on the most blog posts and that was Gina Dickerson. They could both chose a signed copy of either of my books or an entry to the writing competition, and have selected a signed copy of my short story collection each. They are on their way, along with all of the giveaway prizes.

Thank you to everyone who made Monday so much fun. I hope you enjoy the book if you read it.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Writing Competition to Celebrate the Publication of New Beginnings


I am pleased to announce my second writing competition, this one to celebrate the publication of my debut novel New Beginnings.

This time I am looking for entries of up to 700 words.
The story must involve a fresh start or new beginning in some way or other, and may be in any genre apart from erotica.

This year there will be a fee to enter. The fee for one entry is £3, or for two entries £5.

First prize will be 60% of the takings.
Second prize will be 35% of the takings.
There will be a number of runners up prizes including a choice of books which have been donated by some of the publishers I have worked with in the past.


The remaining 5% of the fees taken will be donated to Bullying UK, the charity mentioned in my novel, which helps people who are being bullied for any reason.


Here's the obligatory list of rules:
1. E-mail your entry to NewBeginningsComp@yahoo.co.uk
Your entry should be in word format or in the body of the email, and should have a title and your name. (This is for ease of organisation, the judging will be anonymous.)
2. Wordcount is 700 maximum not including the title or your name. There is no minimum wordcount.
3. Please only submit your own work. Previously blogged/published/adapted works are allowed, and copyright remains with the author at all times.
4. If you are a prizewinner in this competition, your entry may be published on my blog after the competition closes if you are in agreement.
5. The competition is open to anyone, worldwide, until the last timezone passes midnight on 22 April 2012.
6. Your entry will be disregarded if it exceeds the maximum word count or does not involve a theme as detailed above.
7. Any genre is allowed, apart from erotica. You are welcome to enter with a story for children or YA, but for your info, all of the judges are adults.
8. Paypal payment for your entry/entries should also be sent to NewBeginningsComp@yahoo.co.uk
9. Judging will be by a carefully selected panel of readers. (None of them are writers.) Their decision will be final, whether I agree with them or not.
10. I will acknowledge receipt of every entry. If you do not hear from me within 5 days of submission, please feel free to query.
11. There is a maximum of two entries per person.


Have fun!
 

Monday, 23 January 2012

New Beginnings - Publication Day!!!


Thank you for joining me here on the official publication day of my debut novel New Beginnings.  


Web Splash
A lot of lovely bloggers have signed up for my Web Splash, so please do take a look at their sites today. You can find links to all of their blogs here, and on them you will find interviews, guest blogs, reviews and more. If you have a blog and would like to sign up, you can still do so until the end of today.

Writing Competitions
This is my second writing competition, and this time I am having a competition for children as well as one for adults. The competition for children is over on my other blog Writing for Children and Teens, now.  The competition for adults will go live on this blog at midnight (UK time) tonight. I know, I know, what a tease. But today is all about New Beginnings.

Giveaways
I will be doing some random giveaways today, which will take place on my Facebook author page.

Prizes
The person who comments on the highest number of blog posts about New Beginnings (from my Web Splash linky list) by 10am GMT on 24th January is going to receive a prize – they will be able to chose a signed copy of either of my books, or one free entry to the writing competition. The only rule with this is you have to make it obvious you have read the posts in your comments.

The blogger who receives the most clicks through my linky list today will also receive a prize as above.


If you are able to help spread the word on Twitter today, please use the hashtag #NewBeginnings


Thank you to everyone who has already read New Beginnings. If you haven’t, you can find out how to get your own copy of it here.


Thanks for visiting my blog today. It’s a very special day for me and it’s lovely to have you here.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Someone Beginning With T

You know when you get to know somebody and you become really fond of them; you find them likeable, funny, witty and you know they'll go far?

Then they do and you feel so very proud of them.

That is how I feel today.

Some of you may remember a book review post I did way back in January 2011 called, Tracy is One To Watch. Well, guess what, I was right!

Tracy's Hot Mail by T.A.Belshaw has been snapped up by E-book publisher Crooked {Cat} Publishing and today it's her official publication date, complete with face lift and everything.

I highly recommend Tracy's Hot Mail, and all of other Trevor Belshaw's books to you. Trevor is a fantastic writer for readers of all ages but I have a particular spot soft for his book for children, Peggy Larkin's War as well as Tracy herself, of course.

Yes, Tracy, today I am so very proud of you!



Doesn't She Look Gorgeous?

What are you waiting for? Buy the book now on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com I promise you you won't be disappointed.


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Not Long Now...

23 January 2012

Hi Everyone

Well it's not long until the official publication date for New Beginnings.  I have spent the last couple of weeks writing quite a few guest blogs and interview answers which has been great fun.

So far over 40 people have signed up for my New Beginnings Web Spash. This is many more than I was expecting so I am thrilled about that. I also discovered when I logged into Linky Tools this morning that the blogs on the list are being clicked through to already, so that's a good side effect for my blogging friends.

I hope you will be around on Monday when I will be celebrating online, and doing lots of giveaways and things. There will be:

  • The launch of a writing competition for adults on this blog 
  • The launch of a writing competition for children on my blog about writing for children
  • A prize for the person who visits the most blogs in the blog hop
  • A prize for the blogger whose blog gets the most clicks through on the day
  • Random giveaways on my Facebook Page
  • Much tweeting using the hashtag #NewBeginnings
  • Loads of virtual champagne and cake.

None of the prizes will be the book itself, so if you want to read it you'll have to buy, borrow or steal your own copy, although I don't personally recommend the stealing option.

If you need a little reminder on the day, you can join the event page on Facebook so it will ding up at you on the morning!!

Thanks so much for reading, and for the enthusiasm that has been shown so far. You are all fabulous!

x x x




Friday, 13 January 2012

Interview with David K. O'Hara, Novelist and Playwright


It is with great pleasure that I welcome David K. O'Hara to my blog. David is a versatile, local (to me) writer who has written two novels and several plays. I have seen one of his plays The Upstairs Room which was fabulous, and will be seeing his latest play next week.

I hope you will enjoy this interview as much as I did.


David K. O'Hara
Hello, David, and welcome to Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.

Please could you let us know a little bit about yourself in about 50 words?

Thank you for having me. Yes, I’m an Oxford-based writer. Also an occasional teacher and photographer. I was born in the California Bay Area in 1979 to an English father and an American mother. And I’m sure it would boggle the minds of most of my school teachers to know that I somehow became a writer, let alone made it to university.

How long have you been a writer and what have you written in the past?

I’ve always been writing. It was one of the few things I found I could do, that I wanted to do without being told, though it has certainly taken on different forms over the years. There was the obligatory comic book phase in my teens, followed by a journal crammed with bad poetry. I never really thought it would amount to anything, it was just something I found myself doing privately. Honestly, it wasn’t until I met a great Canadian writer named Greg Hollingshead and joined his writing classes that I focussed and started paying attention (to the craft, to other writers, to the devotional aspects of writing). It was only then, as an undergraduate, that I began to realise that, yes, this is what I actually want do, this is how I want to make my way in the world.

I now consider myself a novelist who also writes plays.   

What made you decide to write plays? Could you tell us a little bit about your process?

Playwriting was pretty accidental: I was doing research. I had a character in a novel I was writing who finds himself accidentally involved in the theatre, and I needed to find out more about the hands-on side of play production. I knew that James Savin, from the Oxford School of Drama, was about to put on a play here and I asked if I could get involved somehow. He said I should read the play first: it was Sartre’s Huis Clos, the Stuart Gilbert translation, and I read it once, read it again, then rang James and pleaded with him not to do the play, listing the various reasons why. I proposed instead that I write something for him, based around this same purgatorial idea (a man and two women locked in a room together) but as a response to what Sartre was grumbling about. James said he could give me two months and, if he liked the script enough, he would swap the one for the other. That was how The Upstairs Room happened: meeting with James one a week at Cafe Rouge in Little Clarendon Street and looking over the next instalment.   

As for my process, I do find playwriting easier than, say, writing a novel. There’s less to think about and therefore it’s easier to hunker down in your subconscious and see what happens. You can concentrate on voice alone. With a novel you have to worry about the prose, you have to describe things interestingly and savour them. The ball just gets rolling much faster when you can simply type a name and, underneath, start typing a line of speech. It’s almost like outwitting yourself, because you don’t have so much time to think about it. 

What is it like seeing something that you’ve written acted out by professional actors?

On a very basic level, the experience of being a playwright is far less lonely than that of the traditional writer. It’s not just you, alone, at your desk tearing your hair out.  You know that there are people, whom you will meet, and who are depending on you, who will bring these characters and emotions to life.

I suppose the experience of seeing your work performed is rather like a traditional writer getting into the head of a reader, and actually experiencing first-hand how much that reader is investing. It gives you an extreme sense of worthiness, a sense that your work is worthy. On the other hand it’s very much about handing over the reins. You’ve laid out the map, and now other people are going on the expedition. You wait to see what unexpected discoveries they come back with.


You have a play showing in Oxford next week, what is it about?


It’s a one-woman show, called Now Until the Hour, starring the wonderful actress Jacquie Crago. The story is very much that of a woman’s life, but it’s not a biographical monologue per se. She’s one of these artist manqué figures. She has an expansive imagination and she could, once upon a time, have been an artist of some kind had she only believed in herself more, had she only been allowed different choices. But she’s been dealt some awfully short straws and existentially-speaking she’s sort of locked-up shop, hidden herself away in daydreams.

I had this daydream of my own while writing it: a painting, an amazingly expressive piece of outsider art, hidden in an attic somewhere, unloved, which—in a kind of protest—decides to erase itself.  It occurs to me, in writing this out, that I'm describing something not unlike Robert Rauschenberg's Mother of God collage-painting that hangs in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, not far from where I grew up. The Virgin Mary in both this work and in my play is invoked to suggest the similar mystery: that sense of self-erasure when one makes room for the unknown. It's what the Greeks called the khora.

Thematically-speaking, the play is very much about how storytelling and fiction, even as lies, can express a kind of poetic truth and offer even the most limited of lives a kind of spiritual freedom.


What are your plans for future writing projects?

I’m working on a new novel, but also continuing to write new plays. One theatrical project I have on the go is an adaptation of one of Ingmar Bergman’s most unloved films. Another is a bigger production, about one of Freud’s most famous case-studies. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, David. I'm really looking forward to Now Until the Hour.

David is represented by Leslie Gardner at Artellus Ltd. His academic website can be found here.

Full information on Now Until the Hour
Savin-O'Hara Productions Present

Now Until the Hour: a new play by David K. O'Hara

Starring Jacquie Crago and Directed by James Savin

At the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, Jan 17, 18, 19 and 21st (Q&A)

Tickets (£8) available on the door or via Tickets Oxford.
www.oxfordplayhouse.com/ticketsoxford
01865 305 305

A woman named Mary. A woman alone. A woman dreaming. A woman who took her degree at Oxford. A woman who never left home. A woman sleeping in the basement of a museum. A woman behind a reception desk. A woman without love. A woman with nothing but love. A woman who used to run to the very edge of town. A woman who is still running. A woman who can barely walk. A woman handing out questionnaires. A woman with a doll’s head in her pocket. A woman on a bus. A woman mystic. A woman who spills her coffee. A woman haunted by the ghosts of her past. A woman who lives only for today. A woman who knows the clock is ticking. A woman who answers phones. A woman too afraid to answer the phone. A woman at the bedside of her dying father. A woman looking after lost schoolchildren. A woman telling stories. A woman telling lies. A woman speaking the truth. A woman speaking to us. A woman named Mary. 

 

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Short Stories on Wednesdays: While I'm Still Myself


This is the first time I have joined in with the Short Stories on Wednesdays meme, and I plan to join in with it whenever I can. I love both reading and writing short stories, and I am also focusing on writing short stories for the first quarter of this year.

On to the book at hand. I am currently half way through While I'm Still Myself by Jeremy Mark Lane. This collection was published yesterday, and I am rather proud of my signed copy which winged itself across the Atlantic Ocean and into my hands. The book feels lovely in my hand which is why I had to buy a signed copy, even though I also have a copy on my Kindle. (Long live paperbacks!)

Jeremy Mark Lane is a versatile author who has got his head around the short story form. Each of the stories I have read in this book so far has made me smile, made me think, and has basically given me that "I liked that a lot" factor. My favourite so far is called The Reflection, Only Hers which is a beautifully written, clever piece which merits a re-read very quickly after the first.
Jeremy on the Ether app
Jeremy Mark Lane first came to my attention via the Ether app, where he has had ten stories published to date, incidentally, some of the stories from the collection are also available via the Ether app so if you have an iPod Touch or iPhone, you can read them on there.

I am really enjoying this collection so far, and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the stories.


As always, thanks for reading. x

Click to read my review of this book on Amazon.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Interview with Sarah England


Sarah England
Today it gives me great pleasure to interview Sarah England here on my blog. Sarah is a prolific short story writer as well as a novelist. I invited her here so I could find out more about her.


Hello, Sarah, and welcome to Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.

Please introduce yourself using around 50 words for any of my readers who have yet to discover your work.

Hi, I’m Sarah England and I’ve been writing short stories for around 5-6 years now, mostly for women’s magazines like Woman’s Weekly, also for newspapers and anthologies (like Mosaic (below) and Global Shorts Anthology), and now online. 

Just out is…ta da…. my debut comedy  novel on Amazon kindle - Expected

Mosaic features 2 stories by Sarah

You have had a lot of short stories published, how did you get into writing short stories originally?
  
I started telling stories when I was about 5 years old but only turned professional when I became an old crone about 6 years ago. I was swigging gin and shouting out obscenities to passing builders when it hit me – hey I could be a millionaire this time next year! So I began writing huge tomes that no one wanted to read before deciding to learn how to do it. Short stories were no easier but at least the turnaround was quicker, so that’s how it happened. It turned out I liked doing them and people began to buy them - eventually. 

Your novel, Expected, is available on Kindle. How would you describe your book using only five words?

Fast, funny, feisty, thought-provoking.

Do you find it easy to switch between writing short stories and novel length fiction?

No. I’m in this dilemma right now. Once in short story mode the ideas come and I’m into the groove. Once out of it and into a novel I become immersed and obsessed. It takes a huge amount of work to produce a novel – even fast humour like Expected. I become my characters and it’s very hard to come out of it. My nearest and dearest notice the change!

So, you have your novel available via Kindle, and have also had short stories published digitally by Ether Books. What do you think of digital publishing as a whole?

Sarah, top of the charts!
I think it is a very fast moving concept that is really taking off. With short stories uploaded onto Ether Books, they did the book cover so that was relatively easy to do – and I love the concept of people downloading a short story onto their phone while stuck on the tube or in a queue. However, putting my own novel onto Kindle I found very difficult because I had to edit, format and market, which was horrendous for a techno-phobe like me. I am not widely known as a novelist and promoting the book is tough!  I wonder too, how readers can possibly know what is good and what is not good when Kindle books are self-published. That is why I try to establish my magazine background and offer a free sample before they part with their cash. 

As you can see from the screenshot, Sarah's short story 3am And Wide Awake is currently the number 1 bestselling story on the Ether Books app. Congratulations, Sarah!


What type of person do you think will enjoy your novel, Expected?

Expected is really for women in the 20-50 age group. They would need to enjoy comedy and an alternative view point – chick lit this isn’t! – and to be challenged. My heroine, Sam Sweet, is rebelling against marriage and children. Her fiancé is a respected doctor and only she can see that he is also a psychopath. She is also working class and in trouble. She’s real and she’s feisty but she’s also rather lost. I hope that her somewhat gallows humour endears her to the reader. The whole concept is about what is expected of women and what happens when/if you step out of line.

Do you find yourself mostly writing in one particular genre?

Yes I veer towards comedy or thrillers and horror! Maybe this is my nursing background or perhaps my Northern humour, but I often find the two juxtaposed - and the closer to real life the better. I’m also very into psychic phenomena and psychology so often the characters will show aspects of these interests. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Tricky question. I’m at a cross roads right now – a book that will take months and hardly anyone will read, or more magazine stories? I want to stretch  myself and am just hoping the answer will pop into my head shortly!


Thank you for joining me here on Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.



Expected is available now for Kindle via Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Connect with Sarah by visiting her website, adding her on Twitter, or adding her as a friend on Facebook.


Friday, 6 January 2012

Tag - You're It!

Tagging on Amazon is a subject I have heard more and more about recently. In brief, if you tag a product on Amazon, people can find it easily if they are searching for items using that keyword.

I'd like to ask a favour. Could you possibly pop over to Amazon and tag my books? I'd be so grateful (it will only take a couple of clicks).


If you are a writer, and would like me to tag your books as well, please leave a comment under this post and I will click on the tags on your books too.

Click to see My books on Amazon.co.uk
Click to see My books on Amazon.com

Published 23 January 2012
Tags for New Beginnings:  Young Adult, Bullies, Bullying, Childrens Books, Feel good, musical theatre,  uplifting

Tags for A Knowing Look: anthology, collection, flash fiction, short stories, short story collection

You should find these tags already in place but please ignore the other weird ones which people seem to be adding for reasons I can't fathom, like "virus" "sci fi" and other irrelevant words.

Thank you SO much.








Thursday, 5 January 2012

Another Visit To The Wallingford Bookshop

The Wallingford Bookshop is a shop I have mentioned a few times on this blog. I remember how nervous I was the first time I popped in clutching some anthologies, but now when I go in, I am greeted by name and always given such a lovely reception by the owner and staff. It's such a lovely shop, and I am not just saying that because they have stocked everything I've every asked about, bless them. Not only that, they've pretty much sold every copy as well.

Today I went in and was told New Beginnings had sold out and by chance (ha ha) I had taken two more copies in with me. I also asked about the possibility of them stocking A Knowing Look and Other Stories, and before I had finished my sentence, the lovely shop owner, Alison, had the books in her hand and then... well you can see for yourselves:


A Knowing Look & Other Stories next to Nothing But Flowers

And over in the children's section...

New Beginnings rubbing shoulders with a book by one of my heroes




The Wallingford Bookshop can be found at:
10c, St. Martins St
Wallingford
Oxfordshire OX10 0AL
Tel: 01491 834383



Wednesday, 4 January 2012

My Latest Giveaways

Please feel free to enter the two giveaways below.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

New Beginnings by Rebecca Emin

New Beginnings

by Rebecca Emin

Giveaway ends January 22, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win


  Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Knowing Look and Other Stories by Rebecca Emin

A Knowing Look and Other Stories

by Rebecca Emin

Giveaway ends February 29, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win


Don't forget to sign up for my New Beginnings web splash which is taking place on the official publication date - 23 January 2012.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A Small Stone: 1 January

My first ever small stone as I dip my toe into the river


Nine empty plates, scraped clean with turkish bread.
Through the constant chatter, fascinating memories are revealed.




I have set up a new page for this, and my future small stones.

What is A River of Stones?  Find out all about it here, or by using the #smallstone hashtag on Twitter.