Tag Archives: Don Luis

Adventures in writing…westerns at 84

Okay, so this month, I’m off to the UK for a well-deserved holiday. Well, that’s how I see it. I’m worried about the heat. It is 40 degrees here in Spain (that’s about 110 degrees Fahrenheit), but I see on the news temperatures are hitting 35 over in Blighty! Maybe it will be like the time I went to Berlin, thinking it would be so much cooler. So much so, I didn’t pack any shorts. And boy did I regret it! I’ve known such heat. Anyway, this time I will pack some, as I will be visiting Parkgate and, as you all know, that is an infamous place for getting burnt, so I’ll pack the sun cream too.

Well, here I am getting all excited and just before I go, I have read an interesting post from Simon Kernick about his struggles with his latest book. Simon is a great writer, with a list of truly fantastic thrillers, so the thought of him battling over a book, reaching 20 pages and abandoning it, kind of gives me some hope.

Well, I say that, but having just entered a writing competition, I’m not so sure.

This competition was supposed to be therapy for the state of the publishing industry at the moment. I am becoming increasingly frustrated at the speed with which they work. I want my books out there, but no…I have to wait. And I’m very impatient. I’m old. I am running out of time and I’m trying to make up for all those years I’ve lost being a pratt. I write like a lunatic, but the publishers don’t care. They go along at their sweet merry rate. Snail-s pace that means. No wonder so many opt for self-publishing. Anyway, that’s beside the point. I entered this competition to prove I have lots of other books waiting, waiting, forever waiting. But I was hoodwinked into believing this had something to do with writing. It hadn’t. It was a popularity competition and, as I know full well, I’m not very popular. I didn’t realise this until my good friends began to vote. Five votes. The leader had 50. I had no chance, so I withdrew.

So now, I’m totally pissed off.

I had thought about giving it all up. I still might. Maybe when I’ve completed my Hardrada series. I’m going to write the fifth volume, then perhaps jack it all in. When I’m…around 85 maybe. That seems like a good time.

We’ll see.

Until then, I have tons of books to write. I believe my best one hasn’t been written yet.

But I’m not going to be put off because people don’t buy my books, or support me, or anything else. Well, I say no ne. That’s not quite true. A lovely, lovely friend at work bought my first Varangian book and she was so amazed I almost burst into tears. Sometimes, people say and do the most amazing things.

I’m going to keep going, keep writing. I have the sequel to my don Luis book to complete AND, as a little tonic, I have decided to write a Western. And, do you know what, I love it. You never know, this just might be the one.

But it won’t be until I’m 84 before I know it.

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Adventures in writing … some news so far

Wow, what a difference a month makes!

This month everything has changed quite dramatically, in terms of forthcoming publications, etc.

For a long time, 2014 has been somewhat dormant. I’ve been writing, editing, planning, all the usual stuff that a writer is required to indulge in, but for a very long time none of my work has appeared in print or on e-book.

Well, all that has changed!

My agent sent me some good news. It seems that the revised and extended version of ‘Ogre’s Lament – a Don Luis Story’ has been accepted for publication! This is great news for me, as I think this is a good story. I’m already well into the second book, so I’m extremely excited about the whole thing! For those of you who don’t know, the novel is a historical murder/adventure, set in the mid’17th century. All of the stories involve a young man named Luis who is something of a celebrity – he can read! He lives in a remote Spanish village and the first story sees him maturing into a resourceful and fearless young man as he faces down a bunch of blood-thirsty mercenaries on the hunt for gold! The ogre is a legend, developed by the mercenaries to keep the curious out of the mountains where the gold is buried … or is it a legend? As the story develops we soon realise that not everything is at it first appears.

I wrote a story some time ago entitled ‘Fallen Past’. It was a smaller book, one which I found very moving to write as it is so very personal. It languished on my memory-drive as I wasn’t at all sure what genre I could place it in. So, I went back to it, developed it, changed a lot and added a lot more. What I ended up with was an even more moving tale! Then I came across a publisher who wanted to publish ‘feel-good books’! Well … I couldn’t resist, so I submitted ‘Fallen Past’, and it was accepted! It should be out in the spring of 2015. Quite a wait, but I think it will be worth it. A young boy is on a collision course with an old, embittered man … but the more they meet, the more a grudging respect develops between them. In the end, they become friends. They have a shared sense of guilt over what they have done in totally unconnected acts in the past. This is their link. Their bond. I won’t tell you about the end, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

Further to the above, ‘Whipped Up’, the 2nd in the Paul Chaise series will be out soon. And following that ‘King of the Norse’ will be published, which takes Harald Hardrada’s story to the next level. Of course, I have to write the 3rd volumes for both. I’m about 32,000 words into Hardrada’s story, but poor old Chaise only has the first chapter.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, I’ve submitted a contemporary thriller entitled ‘Overstretched’ and I’m working on an extended version of ‘Sallowed Blood’ which will be in two parts so that Daniel’s story is developed into the most spine-tingling direction imaginable.

All very busy and all very exciting. A writer should never stop writing. One project should lead onto the next in a never-ending stream. This is what it means to be a writer. As if to underline the point, as is typical with me, I’ve had an idea for a story and it will not leave my head. So, I might be putting all my efforts into that!

All details are on my web-site (which is about to be extended, to include more news and more extracts) so please pop along and have a look.

www.stuartgyates.com

Thanks for visiting this blog and remember, carry on reading!

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The Stories of Don Luis, chapter 2…by Stuart G Yates

Here is the second chapter of the newly revised ‘Stories of Don Luis, Part one, Ogre’s Lament’. I am hoping to submit this book when it is finally re-done, and all the tiny inconsistencies have been removed. It is, as they say, a ‘work in progress’. I hope you’ll enjoy it and please feel free to comment.

 

A soldier

Luis first spotted the man as he rode into the village square. A soldier, sword at his hip, pistols in their holsters, breastplate protecting chest. He wore no helmet, instead a large, floppy hat, which cast his face in deep shadow. A bright red feather took all of Luis’ attention, as the man’s features, masked by the wide brim, and a thick tangle of black beard, were difficult to work out. Except for the eyes, burning with an intensity Luis had seldom seen before. Dust covered the soldier like an extra coat, his poor steed stumbling forward to the drinking trough. They had obviously ridden for many miles, in the searing, unrelenting heat. The horse dipped its head and drank. Luis, with only two more bundles left to deliver, sat down on the fountain steps next to the animal whilst studying the man keenly.

The soldier dismounted, stretched and sighed loudly. He pulled a bandana from around his neck, dipped it into the water beside his still drinking horse, and washed himself, running the soaked bandana over his face before pressing the material into his mouth. He dabbed his lips, stopped and noticed Luis as if for the first time, his eyes narrowing. Luis stiffened, a tiny thrill of fear running through him. The man’s look seemed dark and terrible, as did the rest of him. A soldier, quick to judge, violence never far from the blade of his sword. Luis quickly averted his face and went to move away.

“Boy, wait there.”

Luis froze, the gruff voice sharp, used to giving orders and no doubt expecting compliance. The man stepped closer, his air of supreme confidence unsettling.

“Where is everyone?”

Luis blinked. “Er…it is only early, sir. Most people will still be in their beds.”

“Bah…peasants.” He looked around, as if he were trying to find something that would prove the lie of Luis’s words. Nothing else moved in the square. They were quite alone. The soldier exhaled and slumped down on the stone bench next to the fountain, coat and trousers creaking as he bent limbs. He motioned Luis to join him. For a moment he hesitated. “I don’t bite, boy.”

Luis forced a smile, and sat down. The tangy mix of stale sweat and aged, cracked leather invaded his nostrils, and something else. Something he knew, had smelled many times before; the acrid stench of decay.

“What’s your name, boy?”

“Luis, sir. Luis Sanchez.”

The man cocked an eyebrow as he scanned Luis, from head to foot. Luis felt his stare and grew uncomfortable, edging away from him slightly. “You wear your hair long, like a girl,” said the man, turning away to rifle inside a little pouch at his hip. “You must be a page, or a scholar perhaps.”

Luis studied the man filling a white bone pipe with tobacco taken from the pouch. Once before had he seen this. The mayor often smoked a pipe, the only man in the village to do so. Tobacco was rare and expensive, brought in from the Americas. Luis knew where that was. He had pored over maps at his school and would often spend hours daydreaming of adventures in far off lands, of voyages across vast, open seas, of mountains and valleys and—

“Are you listening to me?”

Luis snapped his head around, blinking rapidly. The man’s eyes burned with anger and the atmosphere became charged with danger. Luis held up his hand, alarmed. “I’m sorry, sir. I was thinking, and I meant no disrespect.” He tried a smile, but the man’s expression did not change.

“Thinking about what?”

Swallowing hard, Luis pointed towards the pipe. “Tobacco. Our mayor, he has a pipe. Rare things. Expensive.”

“Expensive…” The man’s voice drifted away and he sat back, closed his eyes and sucked on his pipe. His mouth made tiny popping sounds and smoke trailed white into the air.

The relief was palpable, the moment of danger past. Nevertheless, Luis remained upright, anxious not to allow his imaginings to return and so receive another sharp rebuke. So he sat and he waited, whilst the soldier quietly puffed away.

They remained like that for some time, neither speaking nor moving. Luis concentrated on his heartbeat, struggling to keep it steady. He had an urge to run, but he overcame it, grinding his teeth, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the soldier as the man’s lips popped around the stem of the pipe.

The horse shook its head and abruptly, the soldier stood up. He knocked out the old tobacco against the fountain step, then stuffed the pipe back inside the pouch. “A tavern.”

“Excuse me?”

“Is a tavern close by, where I can find refreshment? Stable my horse?”

Looking up at him, Luis marvelled at the man’s size. The buff leather coat strained across wide shoulders, arms thick and strong, legs, like coiled springs of steel, stuffed inside long riding boots. Sheer strength oozed from every pore. Even Fernando, the village blacksmith, couldn’t compare with this man. A soldier. What stories he must have, what tales to tell. The things he’d seen, the places he had visited.

“Have you never seen a soldier before boy?”

Luis shook his head, and for a moment allowed his imagination to wander, pictures of distant castles, endless forests, rivers of silver, invading his mind, sending him far away.

A crack of laughter shattered his imaginings. He gasped and held his breath, waiting for the reprimand. But this time the man did not seem vexed, merely curious. Luis let out a slow sigh of relief. “No, sir, I’ve never seen a soldier. Never.”

“So none have ever passed this way?”

“None.”

“Are you certain?”

Luis nodded. The man seemed satisfied, pulled in a breath and adjusted his belt. “So…tavern?”

“Filipe runs an inn, sir. Up the main road,” Luis stood and pointed towards the hill that ran from the square. “Just after the bridge. You can’t miss it. Or the mayor, he sometimes lets out rooms I believe.”

A moment of tension returned, the man’s shoulders tightening. “Filipe’s will suffice.” He took up the reins and lifted himself into the saddle. The horse stamped at the ground, annoyed to be moving so soon.

Luis patted the horse’s neck. It nuzzled into him and he stroked its soft nose. “You have come a long way.”

The soldier studied Luis intensely. “You’re not just a country bumpkin, boy. I can see that. You are a scholar, then?”

“Yes, sir. I like to think of myself as such.”

“Peasants are ignorant, stupid. Dangerous. But you…you are different. And that, my friend,” he struck the horse’s flanks and began to move away, “makes you even more dangerous. We shall meet again, Luis Sanchez. Farewell…and thank you.”

Luis stood still, contemplating the man’s words. Different…Yes, he was different; he knew that much, the other children of the village reminded him of it every day. But the soldier meant something more, a difference which ‘…makes you even more dangerous.’ Those words, curious, making no kind of sense to Luis at all. How could he, little Luis, be dangerous? If anyone was dangerous, it was he – the soldier. He had an air about him of barely contained fury, as if he struggled constantly to keep it at bay. Violence was his companion, his friend, his constant. And now he was here, in Riodelgado. But why? That was the biggest question of them all.

 

If this has sparked a tiny interest in what I do, please visit my website at www.stuartgyates.com where you can find out how to buy my books. Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading!

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The Stories of Don Luis – Part One, by Stuart G Yates

The Stories of Don Luis

By

Stuart G Yates

Introduction

Not so very far from the coast of southern Spain, in a little inland village, I first heard the stories of Don Luis.

Riodelgado is a typical Andalucían village, like hundreds of others dotted amongst the soaring mountains. Whitewashed houses huddle together amongst the steep, silent streets, sweltering in the summer, freezing in the brief winter. The people are cheery and live uncomplicated lives. Here the tradition of storytelling still thrives; vivid, colourful tales full of daring-do, enchanted castles and maids to be rescued. Simple, old-fashioned and charming.

Except for the stories of Don Luis.

Here are tales with fire in their belly, grim and cautionary. How a young boy is transformed…but into what, you will have to wait and see.

I’ve met Don Luis, you see. So I know. In fact, we’ve all met him, at some stage in our lives. And what did we do when we laid eyes on him, even from afar? Did we ignore him, or give him just a moment’s thought? How many of us stopped to ask ourselves what we would do if we were like him? How many of us even cared?

Let us find out; and in the telling, perhaps we might just discover a little bit more about ourselves. We will certainly discover a lot more about Don Luis…

PART ONE

OGRE’S LAMENT

A village

The morning began much as any other, but many remembered this day as the last one of normality before death came to visit the silent streets. From afar, the old clock chimed out the hour as it always did, the peel of its bell cutting through the still air, shattering the quiet, but only briefly. Locals said the mechanism had come from Germany, or Italy. Nobody knew for certain and nobody really cared so long as it worked.

Luis Sanchez stepped out into the bright sunshine and took in a breath. Another beautiful day. For a moment, the sun shone within him and he hoped today might be a good day. His mood, however, soon changed. Thoughts turned to his mother lying in bed dying, his tiny sister Constanza sitting on the damp earthen floor, playing with the little wooden doll Luis had fashioned for her out of an old twig. The images brought a sad, resigned smile to his lips. If only he could do more for them. If only he were older, bigger, stronger, able to find a descent, full-time job and bring in more money. He sighed, shoulders dropping, and resigned himself to the fact that right now, the only thing he could ever do was go to Señor Garcia’s bakery to pick up the bread for the early-morning deliveries, and get through. What followed soon afterwards would be worse, and he knew that. The trek to school to face the baying of the children from the village. Home by two, sweeping out the house, making the meals, reading Constanza a story before bed. Always the constant round of monotony and despair.

The sunshine inside faded, despite the heat still burning his face. The day would be neither good nor indifferent, merely the same as every other.

Señor Garcia welcomed Luis with his usual growl. Already the bread lay on the table, bundled up for the various customers whose orders never changed. Luis knew them all by now, so no need for the list. Señor Garcia marvelled at this revelation when Luis first appeared at his doorstep not so many mornings ago, his eager face peering around the door entrance.

“I can help you with your deliveries, Señor Garcia,” Luis had said, flashing his best smile.

Garcia paused from kneading the bread and frowned. “Why would I want you to do that?”

Luis stepped inside, waved his hand over the flour, water, waiting masses of soft, sticky dough. “Because you’re a busy man and I’ve been watching you working hard, making your bread. After it’s baked, you have to rush out and get the deliveries done before your next batch of bread burns. I could help.”

“With the deliveries?” Garcia shook his head. “I’d have to pay you.”

Luis had shrugged. “Yes, but maybe the money you give me would not be as much as the money lost from all that wasted bread, burnt whilst you rush around. ”

Garcia thought about the reasonableness of this. He turned down the corners of his mouth, and appeared unconvinced. “You’d have to remember all the customers, where they lived. It would take months. I’ve been doing this for half a lifetime and I still manage to get some of them mixed up. I’d lose too much money. I’m sorry.” He picked up a large handful of dough and slapped it down on the worktop, kneading it with those thick, strong fingers of his.

“I’ll write them down,” said Luis, stepping closer, wafting his hand through the great cloud of flour pluming up around the baker’s hands. The baker had stopped, mouth open, stunned. Luis smiled when he saw the look of total incredulity on Garcia’s face. “Yes, I can read and write, Señor Garcia.”

Garcia put his hands on his hips and shook his head slowly. For the first and only time that Luis remembered, the man smiled. “Well, if the good Lord has seen fit to bless you with such a gift, then I don’t see how I can deny you! You can start tomorrow, at six.”

And so, every morning for the past three months, Luis had done just that. This morning was no different.

Without a word, he gathered up the bundles of bread as Garcia worked away at more dough. Luis stepped out into the street to begin his rounds.

Despite the early hour, the Sun beat down with relentless intensity. Summertime in the village was often unbearable. Riodelgado sat in a little valley, surrounded by the steep sides of the mountains, the heat funnelling downwards, hugging the streets, never managing to escape. The residents cooked in this natural oven and they grumbled and groaned constantly. No one liked the heat. They retreated into their dark, cramped homes, like so many tiny, nervous animals escaping from the danger of predators. They waited for the cool of the night to arrive before venturing outside again, to sit and talk. And talk. Constant talking.

Luis sauntered through the streets, placing a bundle of bread inside each customer’s open door. Not everyone ordered bread; some did not have the money, others made their own. Times, however, were hard, the lack of rain turning the ground iron-hard, crops unable to flourish. Coupled with this, news of the War filtered through every now and then, causing fear and concern amongst the villagers, numbing appetites. Recently things were not going well for the Spanish. Once, many years before Luis had been born, stories weretold of Spain defeating the heretics in the far north. But then the Swedes came, followed by the French who joined with these Protestant upstarts to oppose the Imperialist cause. The forces of Spain soon became hard-pressed. Luis, when he heard the news from a one-eyed itinerant tradesman called Pablo, didn’t believe the man’s words at first. “But France is of the true religion,” he’d blurted out.

Pablo had frowned, a gesture which made his single eye look quite terrifying. “How do you know anything about France?”

“I read it. “

“You read it…?” Pablo had shaken his head. “What is the world coming to when a mere child can read…”

“It’s true though, Señor Pablo. How can the Catholic French fight alongside the Swedes, who are Protestants?”

Pablo shook his head again, much more sadly this time. They sat by the dried riverbed, under the shade of the orange trees, not far from the tiny bridge. When he spoke again, Pablo’s voice sounded resigned, almost sad. “Like everything else in this mad world, it’s a mystery. Protestants fighting alongside Catholics, against other Catholics! Death is everywhere. I see so many horrors in my travels, and I hear tales of so many dreadful, inhuman things done to others. Things done in the name of religion, in the name of God.” He shook his head. “We are in the end-of-days young Master Luis, the end-of-days.”

Nevertheless, despite the War spreading, the tiny village of Riodelgado remained untouched by the scourges in the north. No soldiers ever came and the village carried on the way it always had, boiling in the summer, freezing in the brief winter.

A village like a hundred others in the mountains of Andalucía.

Until, one day, a soldier did come.

 

I hope you enjoyed this first instalment of ‘The Stories of Don Luis’ and will call again soon for the next part.

Visit my website for news and information about my work: http://www.stuartgyates.com

Thanks for reading.

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Adventures in Writing – a personal journey by Stuart G Yates

Something happened to me the other day which has happened before, and will no doubt happen again.

The publisher of my novel ‘The Story of Don Luis’ folded.

This meant, of course, that the book came off the shelves at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc,etc, and the rights reverted to me. The initial shock gave way to a kind of simmering optimism. I now had choices, real choices. Should I submit it again, to another publisher, or take the plunge and self-publish?

I’m still debating.

The thing is, I began to write a follow-up. I won’t use the word’ sequel’ because it isn’t. It is a stand-alone story about Don Luis getting himself involved with solving a murder. I’ve always wanted to write a ‘whodunit’ ever since my first outing when I was 12 and wrote one for my Nan (see an earlier blog of mine which details all of this). Well, I wouldn’t call this your typical Agatha Christie-type work, but it is something of a mystery. And I’m loving writing it. However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

There is a scene in the book in which the villain (there’s always got to be a villain, right?) shoots at Don Luis from a distance of over 200 paces. Now, this may not sound a lot, but actually it is. Try it and see. We’ve all seen Usain Bolt cover 100 metres in way under ten-seconds, but have you actually seen a 100 metre running track? Well, double it. That is long!

So, the problem I had was this: was there, in the Seventeenth Century , a musket capable of shooting someone over that distance. Naturally, I did the Internet surfing thing. I read about the Afghani Jezail, a beautifully carved musket of exquisite craftsmanship, with a range of over 250 paces! Success…or perhaps not. Because the Jezail was used in the 19th Century against the Brits during the Victorian Afghan Wars. Had it been around earlier than this? Well, I didn’t know. So I got in touch with the British Museum. They didn’t know. Then I contacted the Leeds Armouries, and they didn’t know, but they put me onto someone who might…but they didn’t. So, I was put onto someone else…and I’m still waiting.

This is what makes writing so exciting and interesting for me. It may start out as mere imagination, but fairly soon – if you have set your story in a historical period – the facts have to be checked out. I can’t wait to learn if this gun was around 350 years ago. If it was, then that is great…but what if it wasn’t? Well, I’ll have no choice but to do some serious re-writing!

 

You can visit my websites and discover more about my books and links to purchasing them.

For Stuart G Yates (thrillers and adult fiction) visit www.stuartgyates.com

For Glenn Stuart (for YA paranormal mysteries) visit: www.glennstuart.co.uk

Thanks for dropping by, and keep reading!

 

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Adventures in writing…a personal journey by Stuart G Yates: back on track!

The main difference between writing a work of historical fiction, as opposed to what could be termed ‘ordinary’ fiction is, of course, the research. The facts have to be correct. There’s no getting away from this if the story is to be authentic, and not a fantasy piece. I have always longed to write historical fiction and some of my Young Adult works have been well grounded in research. My first published work, ‘Cold Hell in Darley Dene’ dealt with the immediate post-war years, and the aftermath of what happened during a bombing raid on Birkenhead in 1941. I knew the story, but I still had to check up on the facts. However, it was during the writing of ‘Death’s Dark Design’ that I seriously took up the mantel of research. This involved labouring through masses of literature, weaving all the numerous threads that would bind the story together. It was set during the civil wars in England between Henry VI and Edward IV (which became known as The Wars of the Roses), and I had to link this into what was happening in Eastern Europe at the same time. Because, of course, my villain was a vampire, and had to meet up with Vlad Tepes (whom some of you may know as Dracula). It was fascinating, and my own work of fiction grew as a consequence and became, for me, one of the best things I have done.

When I began to turn my mind away from paranormal fiction, I wrote a historical pierce set in Spain in the Seventeenth Century. ‘The Story of Don Luis’ grew out of what was happening to a boy in my school. He was being relentlessly bullied and was becoming ill because of it. I couldn’t do very much, being a lowly teacher, but I told him I would show everyone what a great person he was, that he was better than any of those who were making his life a misery. I would write a book, and it would be about him.

That summer, I did just that. ‘Don Luis’ deals with a young boy who is hounded by the local toughs. They make every day hell for him, because he is ‘different’. He can read. I poured my heart into it, and produced a story that showed that strength of character and love can conquer all. cover

When he saw the book, Luis burst into tears, but they were tears of joy. It is one of my fondest memories about writing. How books can change lives. Wow, that saying has never been more true than when it came to Luis’s reaction. It helped him, I believe, in realising that he has so much to offer, and is a far better person than those who attempted to hurt him.

I researched that story, got everything right. One day, I will write the sequel. I have ideas for a series of books about ‘Don Luis’, but they will have to wait, because now I have the bug gripping me about William ‘Rufus’. More about that, next time.

Until then, I’d like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas. I love this time of year and I sincerely hope that love and peace visits you all at some point over the festive season. As Dickens says, ‘God bless us, everyone!’

You can visit my websites to read about my books and where to buy them

For Young Adult paranormal books (including Death’s Dark Design) go to www.glennstuart.co.uk

For adult and ‘cross-over’ works, including ‘The Story of Don Luis’, go to www.stuartgyates.com

Thanks for reading.

 

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