Monthly Archives: October 2012

Adventures in writing…a personal journey by Stuart G Yates. Part 9…

I don’t believe a writer can write well unless he or she has experiences to draw on. That’s not an age thing either. When I was sat in my room, bashing out my words, I was sixteen. Not much to go on except a vivid imagination, and a desire to know. This set me on a road of discovery, about a lot of things, always keeping an open mind, logging it all away in my mind for later use.  A lot of the people I met in those days now grace the pages of my books, but they may not recognise themselves. Like I say, I use my imagination too. I remember when I was doing karate, I went to visit a guy who was doing a demonstration on aikido. I said to him, ‘Yeah, it looks cool, but what would you do if someone tried to punch you in the face?’ So he looked at me and smiled. ‘Why don’t you try?’ So I did, and he had me in knots, threw me around like a piece of wet tissue, which I felt like by the time he’d finished with me! That taught me a lot. If you read my thrillers, you’ll see exactly what it taught me. That’s just one example, but there are many.

My publishers were interested in ‘The Well of Despair’, the book that had been plagiarised by my lovely publisher over in the States (note intense use of sarcasm here). My new ones had read it and they liked it, but I would have to change the title. But I loved the title! A good friend of mine at work gave me a super suggestion, ‘The Well of CONSTANT Despair’.  And that was it. They published it, and soon they wanted a sequel. That got me to thinking. I’d never envisaged a sequel. And what began to run around in my head was the idea that, in order to do a sequel, I needed a lot of back story. In others words – a prequel. The trilogy of terror was about to be born.

I set The Accursed Dawn, just like the Well, on Alderney, a small island in the English Channel where I had lived and worked for 5 years. It was an island riddled not only with numerous German World War Two bunkers, but a wealth of very painful history. The Germans had taken over a virtually deserted Alderney at the beginning of the war, and had immediately begun to fortify it. Not only that, they established work camps there. And, most disturbingly, the only concentration camp on British soil. Russian prisoners and Spanish dissidents were sent there, and many hundreds died. I learned horrific stories, shameful events. Only very recently have I discovered the story of the Spanish dissidents, sent there through a deal struck by Hitler and Franco. It makes for disturbing reading. Nobody knows what became of those prisoners. It is a very heart-rending tale.

I needed to tone down the story I was writing. It wasn’t a ‘historical novel’ by any means, and it was written for young adults, but I used snippets. The bunkers, the tunnels, the atmosphere. I remember working in Germany, in Bavaria, how a friend and I had come across a tiny door in the cellar of the hotel where we were employed. We prised it open, went through the narrow, twisting corridor that ran under the ground. It was dark and damp, and I had no idea where it led. In the Accursed Dawn I used that experience to describe how the charatcers felt, what they could smell and see.  Those memories, and the geography of the island, all combined to help me create a tale of terror which set the scene wonderfully for  the next book,The Well.

The cover of The Accursed Dawn, the first in the trilogy of terror by Glenn Stuart.

We can all do this. We can trawl through our past, look for people and incidences that have left a mark. It’s probably a good form of therapy, who knows. But the search for realism in fiction is a very important one. We have to be truthful. I feel extremely uncomfortable writing about things I don’t know about, and I always abandon those scenarios. No, I’ve never been shot, but I’ve seen someone who has. I watched, horrified. And he was ‘only’ hit in the arm. So when I write about that, I have some degree of knowledge. I once spoke to a group of teenagers about how to write, and one of then asked me about this idea of being truthful. ‘Ah yes, he said, but how can you write about a fantasy? A dragon. What’s it like seeing a dragon, belching fire. How do you do that?’ And I asked him if he’d ever been confronted by a dog, with its teeth barred, growling and snarling. Why not transfer that real experience of how you felt inside with the dog to a confrontation with a mythical dragon? Then multiply the feeling. Call on your imagination, but reinforce it with REAL experiences. Get inside your own psyche, explore YOURSELF before writing about others.

Well, next time I’ll continue with my jounrey. I was published now. How did that make me feel? All those years of waiting, now a reality. What next I wonder?

 You find out about my witting by visiting my websites. For young Adults, visit www.glennstuart.co.uk. My latest book, ‘INTERLOPERS FROM HELL’ is due out very soon. For my adult work, visit   www.stuartgyates.com  where you can read an extract from my latest thriller BURNT OFFERINGS.

Thanks for coming along, and keep on reading.

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Adventures in writing…a personal journey by Stuart G Yates. Part 8

The thing is about all of this, it never deterred me from continuing with my writing. I guess that is because I’ve always had the desire, the need if you like, to actually write. Even when I was acting, I was always thinking of scenes and plays to create, dialogue to develop. So, despite this shark having ripped me off, I was not unduly worried. I still had my dream; in tatters a little, but still there.

But you can imagine the shock, can’t you. Opening up Amazon with thumping heart, and there is your book, authored by someone else! Whoa…

I immediately got in touch with Amazon. They were very good, sent me a few forms to fill in (which I had to repeat for both dot com and dot co dot uk) and I had to write a sworn statement that my testimony was true. Well, the idiot had kept my name on the inside cover hadn’t he. What a complete ding-bat. No wonder he got caught out. To cut a long story short, as the authorities in the States investigated this guy, they discovered he had about twenty or thirty (perhaps more!) AKA’s. Imagine. And as they continued, other people came forward with further tales of scams, plagiarism, downright theft.

The upshot, I suppose, is what did I learn from all of this.

First thing is to find out as much as you can about any prospective publisher – or indeed and agent – before signing anything. I now use Predators and Editors, Author Beware, Pohl Anderson (who is brilliant, by the way)Ralan, and of course I always take note of what others are saying in blogs, on the webs, social forums, etc. This should mean that incidences of being ‘stung’ are less, but we all know that the people who do this sort of thing are devious, as well as just plain nasty. So…BEWARE. Find out as much as you can. Go to ‘You Write On’ and ‘Authonomy’ and learn what people are saying. Firstwriter.com is also a good source of information regarding publishers. Okay, it costs about £3 a month, but it is invaluable because not only does it put in touch with literary agents, and publishers, but it also lists what ordinary people have said about these people. That can be particularly telling.

Well, okay, there’s a little bit of guidance. So, after all of that, what did I do next?

Short answer – I found another publisher. This took a while, because I was submitting a different book. It was in November of 2009 that finally ‘Cold Hell in Darley Dene’ was accepted, and that Christmas saw it published. Elation, in buckets!

The cover of my first ‘legitimate’ novel, Cold Hell in Darley Dene

I loved writing that book. Sometimes, a book – albeit fiction – really delves into your own heart, drags up memories, emotions, makes you question decisions and actions. It was like that with ‘Darley Dene’.

 I used a lot of memories in that book, despite it being set in the years immediately following the end of the Second World War (I’m actually not that old). My mum had told me a story which had always stayed with me. Our family lived in Wallasey, very close to the docks. And of course, these were a prime target as the War took hold. My mum had gone to New Brighton for a night out, had met some soldiers and they had come back to my house for a cup of tea (if you live in America, or anywhere else, yes, we Brits really do drink a lot of tea!). As they sat in our front room, an air-raid began. When it was over, the soldiers had to go back to their camp. A camp which was situated down the road at…Darley Dene. But Darley Dene was no longer there. It had received a number of direct hits from German bombs, as it was right next to the docks. What a wild, mad idea that was. The point is, of course, these soldiers would have been amongst the dead of Darley Dene if they hadn’t met my mum, and sheltered in my home during the raid.

From that fragment, the story developed. I brought in moments from my own childhood, when I would play down there. A barren wasteland by that time, but it had an atmosphere. An ambiance. I knew something had happened there, and when I came across some old bomb shelters buried into the ground…

This is how my imagination can be moulded by events. I develop, alter, add, stirring the pot to create a story that, hopefully, others will enjoy. I still love ‘Darley Dene’. I don’t think it is my best, but it is very special for me.

But then, all of them are!

If you would like to know more about my writing, and where to buy my books, you can visit my websites. For Young Adult paranormal mysteries (including ‘Darley Dene’), go to www.glenstuart.co.uk. For adult thrillers, go to www.stuartgyates.com. Thanks for all your support, and tune in for next Friday’s blog.

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Some questions for the author

Well, this is unuusual for me…a blog post before Friday1

Whoa!!!

so, what’s it all about…

Well, it’s simple. some people have been asking about me and have posted some questions. so, hetre they are, together with my answers which you masy find of interest. I hope so! Questions to the author…mm…sounds exciting, so let’s see…

WHAT IS THE WORKING TITLE OF YOUR BOOK?
Road Kill
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM FOR THE BOOK?
I worked in Cornwall, England, right in the middle of Bodmin Moor. An incredibly mysterious and haunting place, I heard lots of stories about ghosts and THE BEAST OF BODMIN. I’d often drive across the Moor, late at night after meetings at the school where I taught, and I could imagine any number of terrible beasties lurking in the spiralling mist.
WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR BOOK FALL UNDER?
It’s an adult thriller. No frills, no pretentions. A pure, escapist adrenalin ride, I hope!
WHICH ACTORS WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY YOUR CHARACTERS IN A MOVIE RENDITION?

Whoa, what a question…for Salmon, the poor, down-trodden teacher in the centre of all this mayhem, that would be…Mathew Broderick. Fragile, innocent, confused, lost. For Ralph, the psychotic, demented and deranged killer, that would probably be someone like…ME!!!
WHAT IS THE ONE-SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR BOOK?

Through the mysterious Moor, a shadow stalks, at once large and loathsome, and it is coming for you.
WILL YOUR BOOK BE SELF-PUBLISHED OR REPRESENTED BY AN AGENCY?
Er…I’m hoping it will be taken up by my publisher, Moonshinecovepublishing.com.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT?
Mm, well the idea has been playing around in my head for about…twenty years…but the actual writing took maybe 4 weeks.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS WOULD YOU COMPARE THIS STORY TO WITHIN YOUR GENRE?
American Psycho. Even though it is not American. It tries to convey what seemingly ordinary folk can get up to when they are pitched into the abyss.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?
Bodmin Moor. There is a cottage on the Moor, which is old and abandoned, and which is visited by schoolchildren. I went there. It was bleak, and that was on a sunny afternoon in summer. Imagine the difference in winter, with the fog, the cold, the cry of the night beats. Wow!

WHAT ELSE ABOUT YOUR BOOK MIGHT PIQUE THE READER’S INTEREST?It’s got lots of sex and violence. What more could you want?

So, there we are, some answers about my book ROAD KILL which is right this minute I am editing. Hopefully, all being well, it will be published around December for you all to enjoy.I have certainly enjoyed writing it. But then, I say that about all my books.

If this has sparked your interest, why not visit

http://www.nicksweet.co.uk/apps/blog/

and find out what Nick Sweet has to say about his writing.

Soon, my latest YA thriller will be available. you can discover my paranormal thrillers, written for Young Adults on…www.glennstuart.co.uk

For those of you who prefer adult matetrial why not pop along to www.stuartgyates.com to discover my latest adult adventure, BURNT OFFERING which has been receiving some very good reviews.

Until then, see you Friday!

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A personal journey in writing by Stuart G Yates. Part 8.

As with many things to do with writing – and with life, I guess – impatience tends to grip tight. I don’t mean the actual process of writing a novel, because to be effective, you have to be patient. The tension – if writing a thriller – has to be developed, sustained, then brought dramatically to a mind-blowing conclusion…Well,like I said, life can be like that too!

The point is, my book was written. I felt good about it, and I wanted it published. This was the impatient part. I’d found a publisher who seemed interested and everything seemed to be going well. He seemed in a rush, but so what. That suited me fine. I’d read somewhere that authors worked with editors to refine and improve their work. An editor will pick up things you’d missed, or hadn’t even seen. But this publisher said everything was fine. He’d sent me the book block and I went through it, highlighted some mistakes, suggested one or two corrections to the typesetting mainly. I sent it back, he emailed me to say it was all systems go. It was going off to the printers. Okay, I trusted his judgement. Why shouldn’t I? I’d seen the website, read the blurbs of his other books, been on Amazon…That was a little dispiriting, because I couldn’t find any of the titles on there, except one. But he did say he was relatively new, so…

Well, the thing was, I could buy some books from him at a discount, sell them on if I wanted to. Distribute them to bookshops, pass them on for reviews, that sort of thing. I wasn’t really geared up for any of that. This was my first time, don’t forget. I was a babe in arms, trusting of those around me.

What an idiot.

Well, the books arrived from the States and they looked great. I scooped up the first one and began to flick through it. I seem to have the ability to randomly choose a page, any page, and find a mistake. This one seemed to have a few. And the typesetting errors were still there. But what could I do now? Here it was, in my hot little hands…

Friends bought them, and soon I only had my own copy left. I asked him if I could buy some more because I’d gone to a local bookshop who seemed very keen. The owner wanted about ten copies to put on the shelves. Wow. The publisher wrote back to tell me it would probably be more financially viable to make a larger order. So I did. Fifty books.

Now, I know in the real world of publishing, the Viking, Harper-Collins world, it is they who supply the books. They distribute. But in the world of the small independents, so much is down to the author. I had business cards, flyers, posters, postcards, adverts in magazines. I’d been writing a monthly column for one of the ex-apt magazines, and they were going to run an ad for me free of charge (more about this in a later blog).

So I sent off a cheque for 500 dollars. I say ‘cheque’, but it was actually a bank transfer. I don’t many people use cheques now.

Anyway, I then sat back and waited for them to arrive.

I waited. And waited. And waited.

The weeks went by, no sign of any books. I emailed him, and he told me they were on the way. Often the US Postal Service gets over-loaded. Well, okay, so I waited some more.

In the end, after a few more weeks, I was becoming deeply concerned. I wrote back and told him again that the books had not arrived. I got no answer.

I then wrote to another author he had signed. A really nice guy from Canada. We got friendly, exchanged some stories, then I asked him if he had bought any books. He had.

And you can guess what I’m going to say next, can’t you?

That’s right. His books hadn’t arrived either.

Okay, now I was getting seriously worried. More emails, and then a reply, at long last. But not from him. From his brother, to tell me that this guy had gone into hospital with a suspected stroke. I felt awful. Here I was calling him every name under the sun, and all the time he was laid up, close to death. What an unfeeling idiot I am! So, to pass time, I went onto Amazon, but my book had still not appeared, even thought the publisher had promised me it would.

Then I got an email from another friend who said they liked the look of my book on Amazon, but why had I changed my name. Well, authors often do, I explained. I was somewhat intrigued. How come she had found it, but not me? So, this name, why was it so surprising? My name is STUART GLENN Yates. I’d changed it to GLENN STUART. See? Clever, eh? Mmm…Well, the name she told me about had absolutely no relation to my own.

Intrigued, I put in a search. For the book title this time, not my pseudonym. And there it was, under the name of some mysterious guy I didn’t know, had never met. I realised that I had seen him on the publisher’s website, it was one of many pseudonyms for the publisher himself, and now here he was, as large as life, claiming to be the author of MY BOOK!

You can imagine how I felt. Or maybe you can’t. Sick, frustrated, angry, frightened. All of those emotions and more. The guy had ripped me off. My book was there, with another person’s name on the cover. His name. How bare-faced can you get?

I had no idea what to do, where to go, who to ask for advice. This was awful. All of my dreams, all those years of hoping, wishing, praying…to be published, and then to have it all torn away.  What was I to do?

How this all developed into something not very nice, I’ll tell you next time. Suffice to say, in the end, he did me a great favour. I networked with a lot of people and found another publisher who was honest and hard working. But all of that was in the future. Right now, I had to do something about a guy plagiarising my work.

 

For more information about my books, visit my website at www.stuartgyates.com.

Keep reading!

 

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A personal journey in writing, part 7

This part of my story doesn’t make for easy reading if you’re an author, aspiring or not – it doesn’t make for easy writing either. Dragging it all up again. Facing mistakes, learning from them, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

So much for the philosophers.

Life can be a little different.

So, I’d written what I thought was a good story. It was called ‘The Well of Despair’, and it was set on the Island of Alderney, and the discovery, by a young boy, of a mysterious well that held great powers. For young adults, the book mixed paranormal activities and murders in equal helpings, and I believed it was great fun. I’d certainly enjoyed writing it.

Now began the serious business of finding a publisher. As I’ve detailed previously, I went through all the traditional avenues and they were all as fruitless as they had ever been. I’d joined a couple of author-friendly sites, read some blogs, and through this grapevine I’d discovered Ralan. A good site this for fantasy, sci-fi and horror authors looking for ‘independent’ publishers. It was through them that I contacted a magazine that published horror. That was what everyone advised, you see. Write a few short-stories, get published, make a name. That way ‘the big boys’ will take notice of you.

Well, that was what I’d been told.

The magazine I chose was great. The editor, Steve, a real gentleman. Really supportive. He published a story I’d written and, although I wasn’t paid, I was out there. Swimming in the sea. Keeping clear of the sharks.

But not all sharks can be seen.

Some are stealthy.

So, buoyed up with self-confidence, I chose a seemingly good publisher and submitted my novel ‘The Well of Despair’.

The cover of my re-worked published novel ‘The Well of Constant Despair’

Then I waited. Whilst waiting, I clicked on a likely looking tab on one those Ning author sites. It was an agency that declared they would publish, offer advice, support. Everything for the ‘new author’. They emailed back within two days of my submitting. It was a huge email, I had to print it out. And it was weird. No other word for it really. Overly friendly, too familiar, not business like at all. They seemed to offer so much, and the waxed lyrical about how brilliant my work was, how they could certainly represent me, etc, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t pursue that particular avenue, despite them offering me the world. Yes, they almost certainly guaranteed that they could get me published. All I needed was for them to edit my work first, because there were ‘one or two things’ that needed smoothing out. Sounds great, yes? We need a good editor, a new eye to glance over what we’ve done. Except they wanted about two thousand pounds to do it.

So, they went in the bin.

But that was not my lesson learned. Far from it. Because about four weeks later, I got a reply from the publisher I had contacted through Ralan. They wanted to see my whole book. My heart was in my mouth as I read through the wording of their email over and over again ‘we very much like what you have done, and wish to read the rest of your story. Please submit the entire manuscript by return’. It was just what they wanted, and they gave me links to their web-site. With trembling fingers, I typed in the URL and sat back, mouth agog. It looked great. A real horror-type one – dark and foreboding, with photos of ghouls and vampires. And their staff. Artists, chief editors, sub-editors, publicity, advertising. WOW! This was it. If I could get with this crowd, I’d be made! Move over JK, I have arrived.

Except…I was a long way from arriving anywhere. In fact, I was to soon find myself spiralling out of control, all hopes and dreams dashed…Yes, I really was about to begin a journey into an absolute nightmare.

If you want to learn more about my Young Adult fiction, written under the pen-name Glenn Stuart visit www.glennstuart.co.uk.

My adult fiction titles are detailed in my Stuart G Yates website, where you can also read an extract from my latest thriller BURNT OFFERINGS: www.stuartgyates.webs.com

Please post a comment. Thanks! 

 

 

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