Tag Archives: thrillers

Adventures in Writing – my Western, part one.

Writing during the summer months usually finds me accelerating my output, embarking on new projects, finishing off old ones.

This year is no different, despite soaring temperatures causing the entire process to be an arduous one!

With July barely half way through, I’ve completed the final edits of my novella ‘Fallen Past’, and the first adaptation for a television serial of my book ‘Roadkill’. With both of these out of the way, I can put my energy into writing biographies for famous Vikings, which I’ve been invited to do for an artist friend of mine (more news of that when it is done) and starting a new novel, in a genre I have always wanted to try.

The Western!

I reckon (notice the easy way in which I slip into Western-like parlance!) I should keep a log of my progress, so here it is.

DAY ONE

Writing first few chapters. In a deadbeat town in the Utah of the 1850s, a retired army general is embroiled in a bank robbery and is shot. As he lies bleeding, his daughter is abducted. US Marshalls, summoned to find the daughter as our good general is a hero of the Mexican War, are waylaid and killed, possibly by Indians. The Pinkerton Detective Agency over in Illinois, charged with finding the missing girl, send Officer Simms  out across the Territory to find her. Simms knows the general, served with him in the War. He’s the perfect choice. He’s also a killer, which might help.

But he’s travelling to a violent, unpredictable land. An added terror is the land is gripped by the worst drought in living memory. This does nothing to lighten Simms’s mood. Soon, starving Indians, merciless bounty-hunters and other, even more despicable individuals punctuate his progress. But he can handle it. Simms is tough. The toughest there is. Utah may be about to find itself pitched into all-out war, but none of this matters one jot to Simms. All he cares about is the girl.

But will he find her alive?

Well, okay, I’ve put down 8,000 words so far, which is about a tenth of the way through, which isn’t bad for my first outing. I might have it done in less than two weeks at this rate! More of the same tomorrow, because when a story takes hold, there’s no way I can shrug it off.

I’m not sure if it will be successful. I don’t even know if a publisher will accept it. Westerns aren’t the most popular of genres, but I don’t care. I’m past all that now. I write for myself, what I enjoy. This used to be my benchmark, and so it is again. I’ve discovered in this business, publishers don’t really give a damn. Not many others do either, and I can’t blame them. It is impossible to make yourself known in this business nowadays, so what is the point in killing yourself in trying. That’s my motto now. I write, for me. If someone else likes it, that’s a bonus. The world is awash with books, a lot of them are pure bilge, and authors battle like demented insects around a light bulb, all of them jostling for the best position. I see it and read it all the time; Twitter and Facebook alive with adverts and posts screaming out why you should read such-and-such book. I steer clear of them all. I suspect people do the same with mine, because yes, I do indulge. One of my publishers tells me to, even though it’s all a bunch of crap. Anyway, I digress. This book is going to be great fun. Great fun to write, hopefully to read.

Next time, I’ll detail subsequent chapters.

Stay tuned and thanks for dropping by.

If you are in the least bit curious as to what I do, please visit my website where you can find out a lot more about me, my work and where to buy copies of my book! If you like spies, adventure and Vikings, you’ll like my books. I write thrillers, historical and contemporary ones, and now Westerns! Yeeha!!!

www.stuartgyates.com

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Adventures in writing … pot pourri!

Bit of a mixed bag this month, so feel free to skim!

They say Twitter is good.

Just who are ‘they’ I hear you ask. Well, experts I suppose. I’m not an expert, so all I can go by is my gut-reaction, my instincts. So, I’m probably wrong, but nevertheless, I just don’t get it.

Okay, so I looked last time at how many followers some of the top authors have and, yes, they have lots. But does it help their sales? This is where I have the problems. I’m not sure who generates all this advice, you see. I suspects they are associates of Twitter, Facebook, Book Baby and Amazon. They are all in each other’s pockets anyway. Any idiot can see that. So, can we trust them?

I’m not sure.

I have just received an email informing me I have a new follower on Twitter. I wonder why, as the person is somebody I have never heard of. Perhaps they have bought one of my books, a new fan? With beating, expectant heart, I checked out their profile.

This person follows around 200 people. And how many follow him? 75,000. Say that back to yourself, slowly. SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND! I mean, how does he get the time to even obtain that many followers? And does it actually mean anything? Imagine if every one of those followers went out and bought his book. Imagine! In a flash, he’d be more successful than almost everyone else on the best-sellers list. However, a quick check on Amazon reveals he is not.

So … what is the point?

I don’t know. I’m very cynical. I don’t think it means diddly. I follow more people than I have followers. I’m not sure if I have ever bought anybody’s book from a tweet on Twitter. And I do read. I read a lot. I suppose all of us struggling to make it in this over-loaded world of authors and publishers need to explore every avenue in getting ourselves known. But it’s a long old road and it is very disheartening when I see the sort of thing described appearing on Twitter. I will never have 1,000 followers, let alone 75 thousand of them. Perhaps I should give up and not worry so much.

Well, I’m not giving up writing, that’s for sure. I’m working on a screenplay of one of my books at the moment, but as the gales are roaring through my village, knocking out the electricity every five minutes, I have resorted to using my notebook. It has a battery you see, and can continue when the house is stripped of power. Ah, the joys of living in the dark ages!

I received a post from a friend, about Stephen King’s top 10 best reads.

Here it is: http://www.openculture.com/2014/11/stephen-kings-top-10-all-time-favorite-books.html

It’s really interesting because as a horror/thriller writer you’d expect his list to be peppered with titles from the genres he writes in, but it’s not. You could say, at a push, that 1984, even Bleak house, have scary moments, and ‘Lord of the Flies’ is certainly very dark, but … not your true-blue horror. I guess it all has to do with what you like to read. My interests are very wide.  It got me to thinking about my own top-ten, so I-ll work on that and present it next time. What is yours?

I’ve finished the third in my Hardrada series and will send it off to my lovely publisher soon. Enjoy the first two volumes, both of which receiving super reviews. If you like historical fiction, with plenty of twists and turns, and written at a cracking pace, you’ll enjoy these. Oh, they have Vikings in them, so that can’t be bad!

I have other genres too. Check them out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/279-4230230-2335426?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=stuart%20g%20yates

Thanks for dropping by, and happy reading.

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Adventures in Writing…a little taste of ‘Whipped Up’

Hi everyone, and I hope you all have a wonderful 2015!

To start things off, my brand new novel, ‘Whipped Up’ is published on the 5th January, so I thought why not give you a taster. So, here it is, and I hope you enjoy it enjoy to rush out and buy the book. It’s a contemporary thriller, with Paul Chaise back in the UK looking for his girlfriend, Linny. But, as he is Paul Chaise, ex-SBS and trained killer, nothing runs smooth as he becomes embroiled with some very nasty people indeed.

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Amazon tends to post the first couple of chapters, so here is some of the action from later in the book…

‘He drove out of town towards Lowestoft, making a turn down a narrow country lane, signposted for Gisleham. At a quiet, deserted spot he pulled over and got out. He checked nobody was around and opened the boot. The shadow seemed in a bad way, with blood trailing from his nostrils, his face chalk white with purple blotches. Without a pause, Chaise took him by the lapels and heaved him into the road. He draped him over his shoulder, carried him to the other side and propped him up against a solid tree in the middle of a copse. He stepped back to have a good look. The force of the blow to his neck had almost taken the man’s head off and a nasty red welt had developed across his throat. He continued breathing, however, so it did not seem he was about to expire. Reassured, Chaise used his tie to lash the shadow’s hands together, returned to the back seat of the rental and rooted inside. He found the bottle, swished it around. Little more than a mouthful of water left, it would have to be enough. He crossed the road again, unscrewed the cap, and threw the contents into the shadow’s face.

It had minimal effect.

Chaise went down on his haunches and picked up little stones, throwing them one at a time at the unconscious shadow. The first few brought no change, but after a dozen or so well-placed strikes on the man’s forehead, he stirred. He coughed, moaned, shook his head and opened his eyes as a final stone struck him in the cheek. He growled, blinked a few times and realised his hands were tied. After a moment or two of fruitless struggling, he focused in on his assailant, recognised Chaise and fell back against the tree with a loud sigh.

“What’s your name?”

A few laboured breaths, eyes closed, head lolling. “Colin.”

“Colin? Pleased to meet you. I’m Paul, but you know that already.” He dangled the snub-nose from a finger stuck through the trigger guard. “Colin, I’m getting a little sick of being tailed now. I’m tired and I’ve got a lot to do, so I’ll get straight to the point. I want you to tell me who you are and who you work for, or I’ll kill you.” Paul smiled, twirled the snub-nose in best Western-roll fashion and pointed it directly towards Colin. “With your own gun.” ’

‘Whipped Up’ is available for a range of e-readers at Smashwords, and on the Kindle at Amazon.

Thanks for reading.

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Adventures in writing … Facebook and Twitter, the way to success?

Random shots … well, it is The Season!

Just finished reading another of those little articles that cause me to stop and think…this one from The Guardian, recounting how publishers are now expecting authors to have Facebook and Twitter accounts, with as many ‘followers’ or ‘friends’ or ‘likes’ or whatever else you want to call it, as they can get.

Okay … you see, I’m always a little cynical about all this, wondering who exactly creates this stuff. A little bit like receiving posts from Book Baby and Kindle glowing with the stories of self-made authors who are making thousands every week. Apparently, this can’t be said for authors signed by major publishers as everyone there is losing money.

Which is why, I suppose, they tell us to get out there and sign up those ‘friends’.

Well … so I did a little research, just to see …

I chose five of my favouirite authors (I have a lot more than five, and this is only a random list)

Here they are, in no particular order.

John Harvey, Mark Billingham, Harlan Coben, Philippa Gregory and C J Sansom.

The results were really interesting.

On Facebook, Mark Billingham has 6.424 likes, C J Sansom 10,726, Philippa Gregory a whopping 129,229 and Harlan Coben an utterly amazing 306,448! John Harvey does not have a Facebook page. Mm …

Okay, on Twitter, the results are somewhat different. These are followers, and I haven’t done ‘following’. Maybe I should, or you could, and let me know. Anyway … John Harvey has 337 (which is less than me, I think!), Philippa Gregory has 13,400, Mark Billingham 16,200 and Harlan is way out in the lead again, with 57,000 followers! C J Sansom doesn’t appear to have a Twitter account, but there a thousands of Tweats about him, which may or may not mean the same thing.

The thing is, of course, these authors don’t seem to have ‘personal’ pages, which is probably a good thing as it keeps their private lives separate from their professional ones, although some of them do share quite a lot of personal stuff other than their writing on their author page, and Twitter accounts. I notice many self-published authors combine their private and author pages into one. I have two, one personal and one for my writing and related news. I have probably gone about this in totally the wrong way, but nobody was here to guide me when I set it all up. And my poor old Twitter account uses my Young Adult author name, which proves I am moron when it comes to social media.

Which, in the final analysis, means I’m not going to be taken seriously by a big publisher.

Great. What a lovely way to end the year.

However, I do take solace in the fact that my very favourite writer, John Harvey, is in exactly the same boat. He has published NINETY books and is internationally regarded as one of the finest thriller writers there is. So, although I see the sense in having all these people following me (wouldn’t it be great, to have 5,000 likes on Facebook, and 15,000 followers on Twitter. Wow, the thought is intoxicating!), I am warmed by the fact that me and John are true soul-mates when it comes to this sort of thing. I don’t know what I’m doing. Perhaps John doesn’t either, but it hasn’t stopped him selling millions of books.

Wonder what my excuse is?

Anyway, lovely people, hope you had a very lovely Christmas and a wonderful New Year. 2015 is going to be YOUR year, don’t forget. As for me, I have a new book, ‘Whipped Up’, the 2nd in the Paul Chaise thriller series, coming out on the 5th January, so please pop over to Smashwords and reserve your copy! For Kindle, it’ll be on Amazon as that beautiful day dawns.

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Thanks in advance

God bless us, everyone!

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Adventures in Writing … interview with Cat

I’ve recently had the good fortune of being interviewed by one of Rebel-E’s wonderful and successful authors, Cat Connor. (Check them out HERE). She is quirky and great fun and seems to have a healthy obsession with zombies, which is cool. I’m watching ‘The Walking Dead’ a TV series of which Stephen King, no less, is a great fan, and it’s great. Not because it has zombies in it, but because it just a great story. But, I digress. One of her questions was the perennial, ‘why do you write?’

I have trouble answering this question.

I’m a natural rebel (maybe that’s why I submitted to RebelE? Who knows). I hate being told what to do. I don’t follow the crowd, never have. This has sometimes resulted in me getting into hot water, but there’s not a lot I can do; it’s the way I am.

So … not wishing to insult anyone, as far as I can see there are two main reasons.

One, people write to make money;

Two, people write because they love it.

I guess some of us fall into both categories, but if you write because you love it, the monetary gain is a wonderful by product of our desire, our need to tell stories. And it is wonderful to make some money, of course it is. But it’s not my main motivation, not by a long way.

I’m a story-teller. I simply love conjuring up new tales to write. I don’t know how I do it. I sit down and write. There’s no mystery, as far as I’m concerned, but I am aware that this something of a thin, possibly unsatisfactory explanation.

I’ve tried to analyse why I do it. It causes all sorts of problems for those around me. It impacts on my social life (of which I have none), and it makes me seem self-centred, selfish, even boring. Whilst others – colleagues, friends, loved-ones – go about their lives, all I do is sit down at my desk and bash away at the keyboard. If you’re not a writer, how can you possibly understand? It’s the downside, I guess, to writing. BUT, if you are creative, you have no choice. If I do not write, I am tetchy, unfulfilled, short-tempered, I stomp around like a big bear brought out of hibernation too soon. More than anything, I feel guilty.

I’m not sure if those who write for money have the same emotional response. And what happens if they don’t make any money? They stop, give up, and latch onto something else. Writers who do it because they have no choice write another book. Then another.

Well, to help me answer Cat’s question, I turned to others for some inspiration. George Orwell put down four reasons why, and his words rang so true for me. I won’t go into all of what he said, but the idea of us longing to have our opinions heard has a lot to be said for it. All too often, I am ignored, not listened to. My opinions don’t count for much. Those around me are far more vociferous than I. I’m not good in social gatherings. I’m too self-conscious, too shy. I’d rather sit in silence, than air my own thoughts. And we are surrounded by so many armchair experts who spout off constantly about what they know. The internet, Wikipedia, the Discovery Channel, have made everyone an expert. It’s also closed people’s minds to the possibilities of formulating one’s own judgements. Sheep.

I’m not a sheep.

I get into trouble because I do not believe the BS.

But I write. And that’s me, my way to give voice to what burns inside.

Perhaps I should have said that in answer to Cat’s question. I’m not sure if I did. Ho hum…

 

I’m working on my website!  Woohoo! I’m adding all sorts of things to flesh out my stories. I’ve already put in some background interest, and extended extracts, so why not call in and have a look HERE. It’s all building to the release of the second in my Varangian series, which should be available very soon.

It’s all very exciting! So keep reading.

 

 

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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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Adventures in Writing – two thoughts

Two items this month, which I hope interest you.
A few days ago, I received the final edits from my publisher of my latest novel ‘Whipped Up’ (the second in the Paul Chaise series, which began with ‘Burnt Offerings’) and it started me thinking about the whole editor/author partnership and how vital it is.
Nowadays, with the explosion of self-published books, an entire industry has surfaced, one which I assume has always been there, lurking in the deep shadows, but which now is everywhere to see. I am bombarded by emails, as well as adverts on Facebook, for book-publishing services, editors, gurus, marketing advice, videos and blogs telling me how wonderful it is to be self-published. I’m not going to get into all the pros and cons of that, I’ve said it all before, but what struck me are some very simple facts.
For a book to be even moderately successful, it not only has to have at its core a good story, it has to readable. This means fundamental aspects of grammar, syntax, spelling. No matter how good we might think we are, a second, or indeed third eye looking through our work, is essential. But nothing beats a good editor. Someone who has the knack to notice what you never did, even after the fourth draft. Stupid things like ‘an’ when it should have been ‘and’, or, what I am particularly guilty of, mixing up people’s names. My editor has such an eye; she asks such incisive questions, forcing me to think deep about my reasons for writing a particular line, or even using a particular word. Whatever your level, you need and editor, and a damned good one at that.
So, how do you find one? I have no idea. This is one of the many reasons why I steer clear of self-publishing. It’s a minefield. Do you put in a search, look out for recommendations, what? I read somewhere there are now almost as many writers as there are readers. You only have to go on Amazon to see the numbers. It’s mind-blowing, all the wannabees out there. And they’ll all be using these ‘services’, so the opportunity to make lots of money is so easy. The vast majority of self-pubbed writers will never write a second book, some will write more and they will be as dreadful as the first, and a tiny few will work hard, improve their craft, and make a modicum of success. This demands hard work, determination and, most fundamental of all, a love of writing. It’s not something you can be taught to do, not matter what the hype or the power-salespeople tell you. Read good fiction, not ‘How to be a Writer’. Be consumed with the desire, work at it, treat it as a job, and always carry a notebook. Write, write, and write some more. But please, don’t pay attention to the so-called experts. Ever wondered why they’re not writing fiction? How many great authors have written how-to books? I mean books, not articles. Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, a few others. But not many. Best thing, write your book as if your life depends on it and get yourself a publisher and with it, a good editor. It’s all free and that, in this mad, mad world in which we live, has got to be a good thing!

I’ve been writing a novel recently, one which explores the fascinating world of reincarnation, parallel universes and how our present is shaped by the past. I included some scenes from the reign of Richard II of England, the king who, at the tender age of fourteen, stood up to Wat Tyler during the Peasants’’ Revolt, lied and succeeded in maintaining his power. Well, he was much more than that. It appears he was easily led, may have been in lust with one of his favourites (how many times does that happen in history! My God, what a list it is, of kings having it away with their bosom pals!) and struggled ceaselessly with the nobility. He fell out famously with one Henry Bolingbroke and that, ultimately, was his undoing. When Bolingbroke invaded England to claim the throne from the deeply unpopular Richard, he had the former-king incarcerated in Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire. He was never seen again.
Shakespeare, in his play, had Richard murdered whilst imprisoned. Historians have cast some doubt on this, but the truth is nobody actually knows. In my book, I played around with this idea and came up with one of my own. And as I wrote, I gained quite an affection for Richard. A tragic figure who simply faded away. I teach history, and his story is never touched upon in school, but I see him just as worthy of investigation as William II’s death, or the mystery of the Princes in the Tower. One of the joys of writing historical fiction is we can play around with the facts. We don’t know everything and never will. It’s too long ago. And there lies the opportunity for our imagination to be let free! I love writing historical fiction and can’t wait to get my teeth into the third volume of my Hardrada series. My first volume is doing quite well, so why not check it out for yourselves over on Amazon. ‘Varangian’ is a fast-moving tale of double-crossing royals and generals, of fighting men and servant girls, all set in the magnificent city of Constantinople. The second volume, ‘To be King of the Norse’ is now with the publisher and should be out in the autumn. After that, I think I might just delve ever more deeply into the tragic world of Richard II. Sounds like a plan!
Thanks for stopping by and please, if you get the chance, take a look at my website for more information about my work. http://www.stuartgyates.com.
Keep reading everyone!

 

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