Monthly Archives: May 2014

Adventures in Writing … praising, and agreeing with Michael

I was listening to the wonderful Michael Jecks the other day. His series of videos on being a writer are a needs must for anyone out there contemplating putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard. He is such a nice guy, very down to earth, with no ‘side’ to him at all. Not only that, but his books are pretty darn good too! But the reason I’m writing is not simply to praise Michael, but to think about some of his comments and try to add my own thoughts to the mix.


More than anything, Michael is a writer. He often talks about the work ethic, that aspect of being disciplined. He writes for about ten hours every day, with a break in between, as he sees this as his job. I absolutely echo this. To be a writer, you have to treat it as a job. It is not a hobby or a pastime. You must, if you want to achieve anything in this business, be prepared to make sacrifices. And, above all else, if you have a family, they have to understand this is just like going out every morning to the office. It’s work. End of. So treat it as such. Be disciplined. Make your timetable – especially if, like me, you have another job – in order to manage your time. Often I come home totally drained of energy and the last thing I want to do is write. Usually, especially in the late summer, I have masses of reports to write. Being a teacher everything accelerates as the end of term draws nearer. There is no getting away from it, but if you do not time-manage, your writing will suffer. And that, for me, is a total no-no.
So, get yourself sorted.
I write best at the weekend. I get up early, have some breakfast, then write. I have a break at around 11 for a coffee, then it is back to writing until around 2pm. Time for lunch, but I have what is termed a ‘working lunch’, as I’m going over what I’ve previously written, adding, editing, all the usual stuff. The afternoon is not so manic for me, but come the mid-part of the evening, I’m at it again. I edit each chapter as I finish it, looking for repeated words and phrases mainly, over-used and filler words. I do the best I can and, when I’m satisfied, I put it away until tomorrow. I never used to do this. I followed the Elmore Leonard approach of simply writing. But I then found going over an 80,000 word manuscript so incredibly time consuming and, I have to admit, boring, I have abandoned this approach for the one just described. And, you know what, it works. I can finish my novels so much more quickly now. I have written two full-blown novels in 4 months. That’s pretty good going I feel. From now on, this will be the approach I use.
Michael was also asked the inevitable ‘do you suffer from writer’s block?’ And his answer, thank fully, was the same as mine. No. Neither of us know what this is. We write. There is no secret, we have an idea and we develop it. Michael’s research and knowledge of the medieval period is exceptional. Me, I’m just a dabbler, but I do love researching. For my Viking novel ‘Varangian’ (and the second in the series, ‘To be King of the Norse’, to be published later this year by Rebel-E) I devoted a great deal of time and effort in researching, but I loved every minute.

http://www.amazon.com/Varangian-Byzantine-Histories-Stuart-Yates-ebook/dp/B00FEJDF3G/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401553775&sr=1-1&keywords=stuart+g+yates

My library is growing and I feel good about that. Yes, I do use Wikipedia, because it is quick and simple and can lead you to all sorts of wonderful places you may not have previously thought about, but my mainstay is well written books.
So, there we are. Just two subjects I’m sure will be of interest to many aspiring novelists. But always remember, writing fiction is not about writing a book – it’s all about writing books. When you’ve finished the first one, you get right down to the second and you continue doing so.
Enjoy!
Keep reading, and thanks for dropping by.
Please, if you have a moment, drop by to visit my website: http://www.stuartgyates.com. Here you can find out more about my work, together with some excerpts from my books.

 

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Adventures in Writing … the month so far!

An exciting time for me so far this month, and we’re not even half-way through!
It began with the tussle I had with one of my publishers over the publication of ‘Whipped Up’, the second of my Paul Chaise thrillers. They said they were reluctant to accept anymore work from European writers, which I found bizarre to say the least, but my other publisher thought differently and they accepted it. Whipped Up will be published sometime soon. Here’s some background to the story:
‘Paul Chaise is a former operative in the SBS – the Special Boat Service – but has been ‘retired’ for over ten years, living a quiet life in Spain, following a career as an estate agent, selling villas to the ex-pats seeking a new life in a new country. Everything is going very well until he inadvertently gives a hitchhiker a ride and his life begins to spiral out of control. This is the premise for the first book ‘Burnt Offerings’. At the end of the book, with his girlfriend fleeing to the UK, and his former employers incensed that he has emerged from his ‘cover’, he too is summoned to return.
‘Whipped Up’ sees Chaise trying his level best to make something of a life in the UK, taking up employment in an East Anglian estate agents. His old ‘employers’ are not convinced and they have him followed. He becomes embroiled with the problems of a customer who is being harassed by some particularly nasty Eastern European types who want to take over the running of this man’s houses. It all spirals out of control when this man is murdered and his wife tortured, her mutilated body left in Chaise’s flat as a warning to back off. Naturally, this has the opposite effect and the body count soon begins to mount up as Chaise goes on a one-man crusade to bring these Europeans down.
When the S.I.S in London gets wind of this, they decide to rein Chaise in, and that’s when it becomes really nasty!
A contemporary thriller set in the sordid world of human trafficking; this second in the series pulls no punches and will appeal to anybody who likes their thrillers violent, fast moving and with lots of twists.’
The first book, ‘Burnt Offerings’ is available through Amazon, on the Kindle and in paperback:
http://www.amazon.com/Burnt-Offerings-Paul-Chaise-Adventure-ebook/dp/B009HX2IYC/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1399706827&sr=1-3&keywords=stuart+g+yates
I really enjoyed writing ‘Whipped Up’, and as soon as it was done, I turned my attention to another thriller entitled ‘Overstretched’, and I’ll give more details about this next time. Of course I had other concerns too. The second in my Harald Hardrada series was completed, and I was working feverishly on the re-writes. Entitled ‘To Be King of the Norse’, it too has gone to the publisher. I am hopeful it will be released sometime in the autumn. ‘Varangian’, the first in the series, has been receiving some amazing reviews lately on Amazon. Here’s a sample:
‘This was one of my favourite historical-based books that I’ve read in ages, mainly because it blended reality and fiction so perfectly. Fictional characters mixed with actual figures from this time period, and I found myself flipping back and forth between search engines and my reader to try to decipher which parts were based on fact and which were just the creations of Yates’ imagination. It was a seamless and well-thought out story that had everything someone who loves 300, Rome, Game of Thrones, and dozens of other historical/fantasy/intrigue sources of entertainment. There was violence and sex and betrayal and power-hungry madmen who would stop at nothing to retain their control.’ Such wonderful words from somebody I do not know. This is what writing is all about, for me. Creating a world in which strangers can visit and enjoy.
See other great reviews, and the details of how to buy Varangian here:
http://www.amazon.com/Varangian-Byzantine-Histories-Stuart-Yates-ebook/dp/B00FEJDF3G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1399706827&sr=1-1&keywords=stuart+g+yates
So, it has certainly been busy, as I said at the start. Soon I shall turn my mind to the third in the Paul Chaise series (I have some ideas, of course) but as for Hardrada, well, I am already 25,000 words into the third part. I envisage it going to at least four volumes, possibly five. His is such a fascinating story. Some have compared it to Game of Thrones, but apart from the intrigue and the killing – oh, and the sex – there really is little to compare. George R.R. Martin’s word is episodic and brilliant in its breadth, an awesome achievement from a superb writer. I am humbled to be compared to his majestic talent, but Hardrada is no fantasy figure. What he did was real. A giant in Viking history and a man who, for far too long, has been buried away under the piles of literature written about William, Duke of Normandy. Everybody feared Hardrada, including the Duke. I wonder what would have happened if Hardrada had prevailed at Stamford Bridge…? Now, there’s fuel for thought … and possibly a damn good book too!
Thanks for dropping by, and keep reading!

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Adventures in Writing … the best is yet to come!

Just this week we said goodbye to a really great bunch of students at my school as they went off on their study leave. They are wonderful young adults, hard workers, determined but filled with fun and excitement as they look forward to the rest of their lives. Despite their relief and joy at taking the final step which would see them leaving school behind forever, their farewells were tinged with sadness.
I remember when I left school.
I was fifteen. As I walked out of the main gate, everyone was throwing their ties into a makeshift bonfire. Yes, we used to wear ties back then. My mother had warned me not to do anything to my tie, as she had already sold mine to our next-door neighbour’s son who would be starting at my school in a few short weeks. I hated school. Every single second. I used to lie awake on Sunday nights, unable to sleep, in a cold sweat at the thought of spending yet another week in that most ghastly of places. From first light on Monday morning I would pray for it to be Friday evening.
What a waste.
All those years, tramping along the street on my journey to and from school, wishing to God I was anywhere else.
And now I’m a teacher.
Ironic, yes?
About the only things that got me through were my friends and my writing. Even back then I’d write lots; scripts for plays, novels, a comedy magazine. I never had any real plans, no ambitions as such, but I always knew one day I’d be a best-selling author. I don’t know why. I have an in-built gift I believe for observation. I listen, learn, think. I store away a huge amount of information which I can return to whenever I’m dreaming up situations and characters. I’ve also experienced a fair bit, been through the mill, loved, lost far too much, and met the most amazing people.
Experience is what makes a writer, and the ability to put those experiences into words. All the books, boot-camps and seminars can’t teach you any of that. You look into your soul, deeper than deep, and you trawl up the hurt and the pain, the joy and the love. You cannot write about something you do not know. Yes. I’ve experienced. And my gift is to be able to relay it in the books I write.
I’ve learned by writing, and reading damned good books. I’ve listened to my editors, revisited author’s words to see if they did the same things. I’ve seen how the great writers break all the rules, and I’ve learned that intuition is the greatest weapon to bring to the keyboard. Believe in yourself, in what you want, in your words, your message.
Those students left my school with regrets probably, knowing they had left one of the most wonderful periods of their life.
I left school knowing the best periods were still to come.
I have received a number of mesmerising reviews for Varangian over the last few days, one which brought tears to my eyes. Here is the link, simply click on the image and then scroll down the new amazon page and you’ll see it:

http://www.amazon.com/Varangian-Byzantine-Histories-Stuart-Yates-ebook/dp/B00FEJDF3G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1398971667&sr=1-1&keywords=stuart+g+yates

 

Something like this makes everything worthwhile. The countless hours I have spent tapping away, and all those years I wasted wishing it to be Friday.
Because now I know the best period is almost here.
Keep reading!

 

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