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Saturday, February 25, 2012

To swear or not to swear; the "F" bomb and religious cussing

I've been working on a new anthology containing three novellas, as some of you know. It's a horror anthology and at least one novella contains some cussing and the "F" bomb, as well as a few religious swear words, more common in French speaking Quebec. 

I'm not talking about Jive Hive. I'm talking about a book called Circle of Devils.

I asked around on FB and my author's group, and the consensus is be careful with cuss words as someone might take offense, but most folks won't, and the US doesn't ban books because of swear words. One citizen said the US doesn't ban books, but I know some school boards would, or libraries. So I'm thinking like Solomon Rushkie, who sold more books because of the Islam brouhaha (more than a brouhaha, actually, a threat on his life), but I won't go so far as to knock Islam or Christianity (a lot). It first started as a question about cussing.

You know, we hear things sometimes that give us pause to stop and consider. My book would be much more authentic with some "F" bombs and cuss words in it. Not that I cuss myself (a lot) but the characters are those who do, in one novella in any case. 

My father used to say, "I refuse to let them make me live in fear." Figure that out and you'll see what motivated some great men and women in history. My father could have been a great man and was in many ways, at least to his children, wife and a few select friends.

He was an intelligent man who read a lot, figured things out to make life easier, and played a mandolin and harmonica not particularly well. I never heard him sing but my mother sang a lot. We were raised on a small mixed farm and were not allowed to swear.

I recently found the swear words more authentic to certain characters, particularly as I've found my voice as well.

Any comments would be considered. My young adult book has no swears, as I don't think that would be appropriate to the age range. 
What do you think? To swear or not to swear, that is the question. 
Sunday, February 19, 2012


Phil Parry
Blogging with Philip Parry, author of Wishful Thinking, available on Phil is an interesting guy who lives in the UK, and an all around good fella.

Tell us something about yourself, Phil.

I live in the UK, town called Skelmersdale in the county of West Lancashire. It's a 'new town' and inhabited mainly from the 'overspill' of Liverpool. It has a population of around 40,000. I was born in Seaforth, Liverpool, and lived there until I was eight years old. My parents then took us to Dunedin in New Zealand in search of a better life. Home sickness set in very soon after arriving and I think ate away mostly at my Mum. We returned to England after only a few, but long, months. Our family had to be split for a while, with some staying with an  Aunt in Skelmersdale, and the rest, including myself, staying with an Uncle in  Bootle, Liverpool. After some time, which I enjoyed in the company of my Uncle Ernie and his rather colourful comrades, we then moved to Skelmersdale,  where I still live. I had a lovely childhood with the same up and downs as most  kids, but enjoyed it. Didn't think until my teenage years about writing at all, and my imagination, rather than experiences is what made me, not 'become a writer,' but simply 'write'. 

I wanted to be a martial arts instructor!!!

What led you to write a book called 'Wishful Thinking'?

When I was younger my older brother read a lot and would give me books that he enjoyed. Some I enjoyed, others not, and I began to think that I could do that! The title came before I had put pen to paper, but I'd already thought and planned the story. Hence, the title seemed perfect.

Phil has a day job which seems perfect for a writer.

I am a private hire taxi driver, or minicab driver, and after working day shifts for many years, now only work nights. Seeing real life and real people and real situations, some nice, some scary and some simply horrendous (that applies to both the people and the situations by the way!) I think bits of peoples' characters and the way they speak has been used with my own imagination. 

Are you working on a second book, Phil?

Yes, I'm working on the second book. I'm about half way through the story that is  planned in my mind, however, I tend to alter things as I write so maybe I'm not quite half way yet! Think I'll need 2 - 3 months to complete the pen to paper draft (yes, I do it the old fashioned way!) and then maybe a month to transfer to  computer, edit, and basically 'touch up' and 'fuss' over. 

What was your proudest moment?

My proudest moment was when I actually held a copy of my published novel 'Wishful Thinking' and realized that I had actually done it and was now and forever, no matter what, a published author.

How do you come up with such interesting characters? Do you know characters like this in real life? Do you mine your day job for characters and settings?

I try to simply use my imagination to put real life types of people into my imaginary situations, and I have met many people with different quirks in their character, and have lived in many settings.

Who influenced you or mentored you in order to make you the writer and person you are today, Phil?

My parents, two brothers and two sisters, all older than me, influenced me the  most. I am the 'baby' ha ha! All have influenced me and I suppose 'mentored' me  at various points in my life. My karate instructor Mr. William ( BILLY ) Higgins was, and still is, a major player in my opinions of self worth and self rights. He taught me through my teenage years with respect and military-like instructions,  but also with humour and friendship. I still hold total and utter respect and thanks to him -- no nonsense and true gentleman!

You write poetry and draw. Can you comment on your inspiration for that?

Since I was in junior school. At the time I called it doodling' not 'poetry' and in fact still do!

The older of my two older brothers is, and has always been, an absolutely amazing artist, in particular, 'sketcher'. His skill with a pencil is astonishing, and from  seeing this from an early age I was simply jealous and still am. I have attempted to achieve the same through my own 'sketches' but admit I still 'achieve' to fail! 

Do you have a favorite author, books, or music, Phil? What motivates your muse, in other words?

Don't have a favourite author. If the story and writing style grips me, then I applaud the 'author' whoever they are. Favourite books, simply because they mesmerize me, Lord of the Rings, and (with no religious reasons or beliefs swaying me), the Holy Bible. 

How may we get more information about you?  

My good friend GLENN PYE has added, designed, edited and basically built the webpage and the blog page. I am grateful to him for all his hard and amazing work. See my webpage or Phil's author blog.   

Thank you, Phil Parry, for this entertaining and informative interview. Do check out Phil's author blog and his webpage for more information on 'Wishful Thinking' and Phil's amazing talents!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Imajin Books Editing the Jive Hive, The Em Dash, and other Oddities

I'm happy to say The Jive Hive is now with my publisher's editing department. I've edited it again at the request of Imajin Books. There were several technical difficulties such as punctuation (particularly the em dash). Before I asked my editor, I didn't know what an em dash was!

Did you know a double hyphen can be automatically replaced by an em dash on MS Word? I'm using Word 2003 for editing but do have Word 2007 on my computer. I got so carried away with double hyphens and extra spaces between paragraphs, this busy bee was subsequently busy trying to make it right. Tightened up the writing a bit and now can hardly wait to see what Imajin Books does to weave its magic with the rest of it.

A graphic artist will create a book cover next month (maybe) that hopefully will knock your knickers off. Look for a trailer soon, probably featuring killer bees and spaceships!

Oh, the em dash? You may also find and replace on MS Word for PCs. Enter the double hyphen and then in "replace" look under Advanced and choose Em-dash from an extensive menu. It'll look like an odd couple of codes but works when you edit the double hyphen.

Replacing it automatically is more challenging. To be covered in another post if anyone's interested.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Interview with a Writer of Ghost Stories: Alan Place from the UK

Alan Place, Author

We asked Alan to tell us about himself and his books, his inspirations, his proudest moments, how he relaxes, and what makes him the ghostly and wonderful writer he is! This fascinating UK author shared some of his personal and professional stories with us today.

Originally I am from North Yorkshire, the area around the setting for my stories 'Ghosts of St. Mary's,' 'The rocking lantern,' 'The ship inn,' and the 'The lost ship.' 

We moved to the Bristol area in the winter of 1963. I moved to Bristol when I got married 25 years ago. It is a lovely area as it is full of history.

I think my interest in ghosts goes way back. The supernatural has always fascinated me; add a mysterious appearance and you have me.

I have been to Northern Italy, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, The USSR, Canada, Holland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, and Austria. Sadly, last year I had a serious accident and though I planned some outings in the UK, I no longer feel I can trust my left Achilles tendon, therefore cannot travel farther than across town in case of further injury. I did most of my travelling during my Royal Air Force days.
Most of my books are on the Bookrix site, at the moment in rough form. I also have books done on the Amazon sites in the USA & UK, as well as Barnes & Noble, and hopefully soon on the Waterstones on-line store, here in UK. I'm in the middle of negotiations with a dealer for them.

I'm presently writing a Medieval series about a group of people forced from their homes by a huge fire caused by a comet. This story follows them as they travel to a nearby city to start again.

Also I wrote a short collection of ghost stories, 'Apparitions.' I've also written a light comedy book 'The P A Canella chase,' which now is linked to my 'Chronicles' sets.

Just released is a new set, 'Pat Canella' (Cold case series) which centers on a young female Private Investigator, in a fictitious US city and her attempts to get recognized for her work. This has a supernatural element to it as well.

My books cover most of the genres. I have written fantasy/horror. The soon to be released on-line and ebook 'Chronicles' sets, tell the story of ex-glamour photographer Mark Johnson as he tries to find the real stories to sell his photos. Tired of the shallow celebrity scenes, he starts solving mysteries and then turns demon hunter.

 I do like Poe, as well as Sheridan Le Fanu & M.R. James. I don't think in terms of a writer influencing me as much as the style of writing. I always liked the old Black & White films, which is what you can probably detect, I hope. Rather than have a lot of action to fill pages, I tend to fill the pages with tension building to a climatic end. I am pleased you can see the influences of the masters in my style, thank you for the praises.

What are some of your favorite books by other authors, and why?

That is tricky question to answer (laughs, as I read so many types of books and authors. If I had to choose, I like the adventure and mystery of Clive Cussler. I like the thrills of Warhammer books, the chills of the Victorian ghosts. I also like the works of my good friends Yezall Strongheart from Texas  and Valerie Byron, who, though from Cheshire, has lived in California since the late 1970s. 

Chronicles is a series of stories linked by Mark Johnson's fight to control demons, both of the elemental and inner variety. The two that will be out shortly are the first two.  I have so far written up to story eighteen, with the idea of going on further and doing maybe another six or seven stories. I did not intentionally write them with an order in mind, they just fell into neatly set series. Book 1, the first seven stories, tell of Mark and his fight to stay a recluse. Book 2 tells of how he lost the lady whom he thought loved him, and how he went over to the dark side for revenge (very dark). Book 3, currently being written, tells how he fought her again on a spiritual rather than physical level. I plan to leave Book 3 with a nail biting climax for the fans.
Apparitions was intended as a small collection of ghost stories, which I may break up and sell as smaller items. 

I started 'Dockland Murders' with the idea of a misconception of someone looking for Pat, thinking he was a tough Irishman or an Italian, not a young girl. However that changed when I saw the cover I had won. I then went for more of a ghostly feel as I was asked for a supernatural story.  The genre is dark-noir/supernatural. I was going for a feel like a female Phillip Marlowe with a super-natural essence. Hopefully, this will be the first in a series. I have the follow up book 'Ghosts of your past,' half written now. I had not really written dark-noir before; however, the ghost element I've focused on since my first stories in 'Apparitions.'

My proudest moment in life was delivering my daughter Fiona without a mid-wife.

My proudest moments as an author were getting my first story published on line, back in October 2011, getting my first book published, and getting 'Chronicles' serialized this summer.

Are you self published or traditionally published?

I suppose a bit of both, as some stories are published via the sales tools for Some I have to do for myself on and now hopefully Waterstones.

What are some of your hobbies?

I like to garden and over the years have become proficient at growing fuchsias and herbs; herbs I also use for my cooking. I used to do a lot of photography. Many covers feature my work but that has been stopped since my injury.

What do you do for relaxation, Al?

I write stories, listen to Native American music, and I'm starting to read again. I like to go for short walks as well these days.

To whom do you owe your greatest inspiration and success in life?

My success as an author I attribute to my great friends Ruth Slattery, Hazel Jackson, and Jane Houlding, who helped me stay focused in October of 2011, when I was very close to quitting writing. In my personal life, I can think of my English teacher Glyn Thomas. He was a lovely man and saw my potential even then, and we always got on so well.

What are some of the barriers to success that you see in your life as an author?

Anyone who knows me, will tell you the same answer. I am my own barrier. As I am far too self-critical of my work, too analytical, and overall I don't really think I am that good. I am modest and  not self assuming.

I think self publishing is the thing for an Indie writer to start with, the thing is as I found out you have to find your own outlets at time, which these days is not too hard as many publishers distribute only to set lines. It depends who you go with. I am in favor of Bookrix. Their system is cheaper than many, easy to use, and has good coverage. I am not sure about Smashwords, as they seem to be mainly East European & Asian, which will cause a lot of translation issues, I feel.

Is there anything further you'd like to add that I haven't touched on, Alan?

I cannot overemphasize the use of a blog. Because of my blog I've obtained readers from all over the world. Also, put yourself on as many social media sites as you can. I use Facebook, LinkedIn and Bookrix. Basically, the more visible you are, the more viable you are.

There you have our author of the moment, Alan Place. Look for his next series of books out soon, available on and other venues as noted above. Thank you, Al, and good luck with your new ventures. You're certainly a busy bee there in the land of Hope and Glory.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


A great collection of ghost stories by my friend Alan Place. Apparitions -- enjoy!A sequel coming out soon on Amazon called Chronicles.

Here is the link to the trailer for Ken Weene's new novel, Tales From the Dew Drop Inne. I hope you enjoy watching it. AND, please share it with others.

Set in a small bar in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tales From the Dew Drop Inne tells the collective stories of the people who make the place their home - people who have not fallen off the social ladder but who are hanging on desperately at the bottom.

Look for an interview with UK author and all around good guy, Philip Parry, coming soon! Phil wrote Wishful Thinking, available on A great read.

The Robot Apocalypse: KABOOM

One of two robot short stories I year. A treat for my readers, I hope; enjoy!

Short Story

The dentist's wife awoke with a head cold two hours before their house blew up. Her husband was a man of routine and left home at 7:45 a.m. He promised to call home at 10:00 a.m., no sooner and no later, his wife Quinn knew.
"Don't get up, darling," he said as he opened the French doors at the back, leading to the garage and pool.
"Id a minute. Shortly." Quinn reached for a tissue by the bed and laid her head back on the pillow. She heard the French doors click shut. Her eyes closed. In a few minutes she began to cough. She got up on one elbow and called for the Model 2000 Robot.
There was no response. Model 2000 couldn't speak but usually reacted promptly to a request. Except for this morning.
The robot did all household tasks, and would even help her dress. Model 2000 had strong titanium arms with opposable thumb and fingers. It was powered by an internal electrical pack which delivered constant power to its metal frame, rubber wheels, and unique computing system -- or "brain" -- as Robotics Corporation called their latest refinement in artificial intelligence.
Whirrrrrrr. Model 2000 rolled to the edge of the bed then back.
"What IS the matter with you, 2000?" Quinn swung her legs over the edge of the bed.  "Bring me a cup of coffee, please. And toast, please."
The robot returned with coffee, a glass of orange juice, and cookies. It rolled to the window and back, clutching at Quinn's arm. She shook off the robot's touch.
"I'm getting really annoyed with you, 2000. Ged me my cigarettes."
The robot rolled across the room, crumpled Quinn's cigarettes into brown mush in its metal fingers and threw her lighter into the glass of juice. Whirrrrrrr, it propelled itself to the bedroom door. The dentist's wife shoved her feet into a pair of her husband's slippers and followed the crazed mechanical assistant with the complicated "brain" to the French doors.
"No, you don't," Quinn said. Her husband would hear of this when he called. The dentist would make short shrift of this mechanical monster. They had purchased the robot only six weeks ago to help Quinn with the household chores. Quinn was fond of the device and imagined the robot felt likewise about her. Perhaps not, she thought this morning.
"Ged me my housecoat," Quinn said. Model 2000 returned with a pair of jeans and her husband's shirt. Quinn noticed the clock on the wall wasn't working. Had the power gone out? The robot raced to the oven and opened the door. What was it trying to tell her? Quinn couldn't smell the gas leak, nor did she suspect that a spark would result in an explosion.
"I'm going to take a shower."
She picked up her cell phone. Whirrrrr clack clank whirrrrr -- the robot tore the phone from her grasp and doused it in her cup of coffee.
"Now that's enough." Quinn reached for the desk phone. The robot grabbed it and laid the receiver down. Whirrrrr clank clack. It careened to the French doors and back to the large window in the kitchen, then to the dining room. Quinn followed it. The hands of the chime clock on the mantel began to turn towards the hour. The robot threw the clock on the floor where it broke into pieces. No human assistant would dare act this way, Quinn thought. She was furious and puzzled.
She didn't know the air was thick with Zylon gas, a new substance that was a hundred times more volatile than natural gas but much cheaper to produce, and artificially developed. Stores of it would last indefinitely. "It's safer than natural gas or nuclear energy," the salesman had explained. "Second only to solar or wind power." Quinn and her husband had the most modern appliances and equipment. Only the best, Quinn thought, but they hadn't counted on a crazy robot out of control. Whirrrrrrrr
Their gas line was leaking and Quinn's nose was so stuffed she couldn't smell it. Model 2000 knew, though. It calculated the time to 10:00 a.m. when Quinn's husband would call and precipitate a spark that would explode and destroy his home and wife. The robot knew there were other phones in the house. Its circuits whirred. There was a phone in the dentist's shirt which Quinn was wearing. Get rid of the shirt. It reached for the phone.
She felt dizzy. Perhaps the robot was right by trying to get some fresh air? Quinn staggered toward the French doors and collapsed. The robot knew the phone would ring in ten seconds. No time. It scooped her up in its titanium arms and burst through the French doors to the pool. It was ten o'clock. The phone rang. A spark ignited the Zylon leak.
Ka BOOOOOMMMMM…!!! Black clouds of smoke and a violent wind sucked the breath from Quinn as she and the robot dove into the deepest part of the pool, away from danger. Quinn shuddered and cried; she was safe in the middle of the pool. Model 2000 had saved her life. She was alone in the pool with that wonderful mechanical creature.
"I love you, 2000," Quinn said. The robot approached her and held her in its metal arms. She embraced the stalwart metal frame, passionate in the crystal clear pool. The roiling warm water reached the robot's internal electrical system. It short circuited and 10,000 volts raced through Quinn's body.
Her husband and the fire department found them later that day, dead in the pool, the house a smoldering ruin. The garage remained intact.
"She had a short existence," her husband said at the funeral. He sued the Robotics Corporation for ten million dollars and rebuilt his house. The money scarcely seemed enough for his dear one's life. Model 2000 would have agreed, had it survived.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Carpe Diem, Crap Breaks Writer's Block

I broke the writer's block by sitting down and typing crap crap crap carpe diem crap and then I went on to write 4000 words.

My 96,300 word horror anthology is finished. You've heard of Circle of Friends -- I called it Circle of Fiends then realized my readers would think I'd made a typo. So it's Circle of Devils. Will be submitted in March to Imajin Books for their consideration. Writer's block now broken. Another author came up with the same idea. Good article on writing and distractions.

These were my solutions:
  • My publisher advised me to set the book aside for one week
  • On another suggestion I sat down and typed anything to get started
  • Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, anything to break the ice
  • Just write
  • A deadline helps
  • Are you simply burned out? Give it a rest
  • Go for a walk or workout
  • Have a hot shower
  • A cup of tea
  • Read something similar to the genre you're writing
  • Read something pertinent to the subject you're interested in
  • Write a poem
  • Listen to music
  • Dance like nobody's watching. Chances are nobody is.
  • Read for pleasure, read for interest, read for knowledge, read your Kindle
  • Go to the library
  • Go to a used bookstore
  • Go to a thrift shop
  • Go shopping but don't use your credit card
  • Get a cool exercise book at the dollar store and write your goals and plans in it
  • Write an outline of what you'd like to say
  • Call a friend
  • Sleep
  • Dream about it
  • Take a notebook with you and jot down ideas
  • Write in your own handwriting on a pad of yellow foolscap
  • Write in the park on your laptop
  • Write in a cafe while drinking a latte
  • Go to a conservatory if it's winter and smell the roses, walk around
  • If it's summer go to a park or for a walk
  • Jog or run
  • Lift weights
  • Watch a movie
  • Forget about it for a day, a week, or if you have a deadline, then:
  • Just write anything and the juices will start to flow. You can always edit later.

Good luck. Life is short, seize the carp!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Neat Names, Titillating Titles, and Writer's Block

What is your formula for choosing a good title for a story, or for naming the characters in a book?

I owe an author I met on-line, Mike Wells, a huge debt for telling us how his journalist mother-in-law picks titles for his books. It works! His own book is called Lust, Money, and Murder. Alliterative and as I told him, with a title like that he doesn't have to write the book. He did, though, and it's very good.

Note to authors: you can Google names that were popular in specific years. This helps to appropriately name your characters. There's a site which also lists how popular a specific name was in a certain year if you type it in, but I've lost the link to that site, which was based on the U.S. Government Department of Statistics.

I mistakenly thought Quinn was a boy's name until I ran into a woman author called Quinn. I advised her I'd like to use the name in a story where Quinn is not a villain, and I did call a minor character Quinn in one of my horror novellas. So Quinn Mar is now a female police officer who shot my pore villain in the chest in the novella called Behind You Satan.

In my stories, I like to mix and match names of people I know or have met -- different first and last names. It's sort of fun and I hope they don't mind. The characters are like no one I've ever met, but their monikers often spring for me from a well of appreciation for an incident, a quality, or personality I like.

My own name was actually listed near the bottom of the 1000 most popular names since 1944. So someone else is named Kenna!
Yesterday I finished the second draft of the third novella in my horror anthology, Circle of Devils. Changed the titles frequently before I settled on something. I was looking at some book titles in a used bookstore today and am happy with what I chose, but that could change, too.

The three novellas have unusual titles befitting their horror paranormal genre and the unusual subject matter. The names of the characters were chosen carefully.

There's a lot to learn out there. Many motivational and helpful ebooks are available on-line, some of them free. I'll be sharing hints, odds and sods with my readers over the next few months until the Jive Hive is published.

Look for some original articles or flash fiction here based on what I've read and learned.

A note: had my first case of writer's block last week. I left the story for four or five days then attacked it viciously -- sat down and wrote 4000 words in one night, finished it this week. Followed some advice from Cheryl Tardif, left it, then followed further advice from someone on-line and wrote anything just to start, ha ha, like crap crap crap and then it flowed. Four thousand words later I had the story almost finished.