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James Collins authorWriting Thoughts is about just that: my thoughts on writing.
Feel free to follow me on Facebook and bookmark ‘Writing Thoughts’ to follow this blog. Scroll down for my Author posts, or visit www.symidream.com for my day-to-day blog.

News: February 2018:  ‘The Witchling’ is now available on Amazon, Kindle Unlimited and it print. November 2017: Symi, Stuff & Nonsense‘ published. All books are free on Kindle Unlimited and available on Kindle and in print from Amazon.

The Witchling

The Witchling

The follow-up to my best-selling novel, ‘The Saddling’, is now available on Kindle, in paperback and free on Kindle Unlimited.

“The sins of our ancestors have committed us to the flames.”

The WitchlingSaddling is cursed and dying. The village will be lost unless someone burns at the stake on solstice morning. Six months after the life-changing events of The Saddling, Tom Carey must solve the witchling mystery and risk his life to save his lover.

Mystery and action combine in a sweltering thriller set on the Romney Marshes.

 

Praise for The Saddling
“Superbly descriptive.”
“Gripping from the start.”
“Full of intrigue and danger.”

The WitchlingThe Witchling is a follow-on from ‘The Saddling.’ You don’t need to read The Saddling first, but you will get more from The Witchling if you do.

‘The Saddling’ took the water element, sacrifice and winter solstice as its background. ‘The Witchling’ takes the fire element, acceptance and summer solstice. The main characters return, you will meet new ones, but is William Blacklocks really dead? That’s just one of the mysteries to be solved as the story hits the parched ground running and doesn’t let up until the fire-pile is lit. The question is, who will burn to save Saddling?

Buy The Witchling here. If Youv’e not read The Saddling, it’s best to start with that one.

The Witchling

The Witchling

Today, as we are battered by a cold and strong north wind, sitting here in hat and gloves in the workhouse, I’m going to blatantly advertise the new cover for ‘The Witchling’, and the book itself. We’re still finalising the image, and we’ve not got to the back part of the cover as yet, but below is what we’re looking at, for the moment.

saddling smallThe story is a follow-on to ‘The Saddling’ and, if you could, it would be great if you can share the news around all your Facebook pages and friends and any readers’ groups you might belong to there. (You can use the share buttons on these pages for direct links.) You can find more details, on Facebook, at my author page: https://www.facebook.com/jamescollinsauthor/ Here, I put up links to books and things of interest to my readers, and there will be more news about ‘The Witching’ there, and on here, as we approach publication date. I’m still not 100% sure when that’s going to be, but if you’re interested, below is the vague timetable. Meanwhile, here is the cover so far:

The WitchlingI’m hoping to have my beta readers’ comments back within the next week – thank you to those who have already returned their notes.

Early February, I will be making any last edits to the MS before sending it off for the final edit by my editor, as you can’t have too many people checking for typos, especially not when an MS had been written by me.

The cover will also be finalised before then – must work on the back blurb – and I’m hoping for a release date in early March before we go on honeymoon to Croatia.

Me, being me, want to send this out now and get the book out there, but I am trying to curb my enthusiasm for the sake of accuracy, something I very rarely do.

So, if you’d like to play a part, please share ‘The Saddling‘ around and maybe have a read if you’ve not read it. (It’s on Kindle Unlimited if you have that it won’t cost you anything.) And also keep an eye on these pages and Facebook for more news of ‘The Witching.’

Girl Gone Greek – The Movie

Girl Gone Greek – The Movie

Today, I have an interview with Rebecca Hall, author of ‘Girl Gone Greek’ a best-selling novel of one woman’s experience of teaching in Greece and… Well, read the interview to discover the rest.

Girl Gone Greek - The MovieArmed with a degree in International Relations and Sociology, obtained as a ‘Mature Student’ when she was in her 30’s, Rebecca Hall decided after her course that she wanted to travel, to understand the world beyond her own front door (and her own wet, terribly polite Britishness). It was inherent in her nature to realise that in order to better understand a culture, then the only way, really, was to immerse herself in it.   What better way to do that than to learn to teach English?
After a one month, incredibly difficult CELTA course (Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults), she secured a job teaching English in a small Greek village on the mainland.

With such an interesting start to her Greek life in 2008, culminating in the creating of her blog Life Beyond Borders in 2010, she slowly but surely came to fall in love with not a Greek (as many people dismissively assume), but with a whole nation — many Greeks if you like — and she feels blessed to have cultivated a whole new ‘family’ for herself.

To this end, as Greece increasingly started to hit the headlines for its economic crisis and be blamed as the ‘poor man of Europe, pulling the other countries down,’ this was not Rebecca’s reality of Greece. So, she set about trying to put the record straight by showcasing her reality of Greece and the characters/people she experienced.   “Girl Gone Greek” – the novel was born.

From start to finish, it was six years in gestation and eventually self-published in June 2015.

Says Rebecca: “It was a difficult process, having never written before. And I didn’t want to get all political or on my high horse… I just wanted people to experience Greece through my eyes: to see it for what it was – see the beauty and quirky characters.  Countries are, after all, made up of the individuals within it and in times of crisis, we tend to forget that.”

“It was also an exciting process, but exhausting!  I had moved to Athens by this time and would work in the evenings teaching, come home, write some more, then bed in the early hours (having been incorporated into Greek time!)”
“I had to also dig deep and examine my past; give the story some tension and depth.  So I looked at the reasons why the character went to Greece (it’s a semi-fictional book) and had to really go through some self-analysis.”
“Self-publishing meant I could choose my graphic designer and book cover – and what a book cover it is!  I am so happy with it…and I believe it attracts people to want to read it too.”

After two years of it making steady sales through Amazon, talking at local Literary Festivals and schools in her hometown in the UK plus presenting on a Mediterranean cruise, Rebecca felt it time to take this one step further.  BREXIT had become a reality, spreading yet more uncertainty throughout not just Europe, but the globe.
Rebecca saw this as yet another opportunity to prove that we seem to have lost our way in aiming to understand, not criticise other cultures and Greece, once again, seemed to bear the brunt of Europe’s wrath.

Says Rebecca: “I felt the time had come to try to take this one step further. Why not look at a ‘feel good’ film and try to see if it’s possible to make ‘Girl Gone Greek’ into a movie?”

Not knowing anything about the movie industry and, indeed, where to start, she was lucky enough to at least know people – one of them being James Collins.

Together, with James’s extensive know how, they collaborated on working the book into a relatable and realistic screenplay, something Rebecca says she felt nervous about initially because “I really did not want the essence of the film to be lost… To turn into a cheesy ‘girl meets boy and has a foreign fling.’  Luckily James really captured the book’s essence, introducing new elements that are great.”

Rebecca wears many hats, and when not chewing her pen, trying to change the world through her quirky, self-deprecating style of writing, she’s a guidebook writer for Rough Guides and writes for various online publications, as well as still maintaining her site Life Beyond Borders.

You can find Rebecca on:
Facebook
Facebook Author page
Pinterest
Instagram
Twitter

Author Interview: Jackie Keswick

I am thrilled to be able to present to you today, Jackie Kewsick in an interview. It’s a fascinating read and, towards the bottom of the page, you can find links to her books, more info, and a sample of her writing.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background (short bio)

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.

Who, or what, first inspired you to write?

If I had to guess, I’d say something historical. I wrote my first “novel” when I was twelve. It was set in England during the time of the Norman Conquest and had a very dashing hero. After that I got bitten by the sci-fi bug. My love affair with thrillers and suspense is much more recent.

Where does your inspiration for a story come from?

Usually a line of something – a song lyric, a snippet of dialogue, or a sentence in something I’m reading. The inspiration for one of my current WiPs, Sound Judgement, was the song Me and Mrs. Jones, playing while we drove home after a holiday. The plot bunny for another story, Undercover Star, turned up while I was reading the news about a court case involving undercover work. Most times, the plot bunny fairy lands me with the first line and I go from there.

What is your writing process?

I’m fairly happy-go-lucky in the early stages. I let the plot bunny loose and follow where it goes. That tends to take me over the first 5k or so and by then I’ll know whether the story has legs or not. Then I write myself a stack of signposts… that’s usually either the emotional story arc, or the mystery plot, if it’s suspense. If I get to the last line, I keep going. Otherwise I set the story aside until I come up with the end. Once I have first line, last line, and my stack of signposts, I can get going. And no, I don’t write in a straight line.

Can you list your favourite books (by other authors) and say what attracts you to them?

I have three “forever” books, which I can read without the need to take them off the shelf. The one that’s been with me the longest is Johannes Tralow’s The Eunuch, a historical novel set in the 1760s. I first read this when I was fourteen or so, and I still find new bits to admire every time I go back to it.

The second of my forever books is The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin, which has been with me since my early twenties. Amazingly detailed world building, lots of gorgeous imagery and… Estraven. One of my favourite characters, ever, and I still choke up in places when I read it – never mind I can quote whole pages!

I only found the third book a couple of years ago and Late Summer, Early Spring by Patricia Correll knocked me flat. I hadn’t expected to find another forever book, but the language is gorgeous, so quiet and sensual, and the love story between Iwata and Hiroshi just blew me away. It’s so understated it’s barely there, but it packs a punch.

What have been your experiences with publication, indie, self, traditional or otherwise?

I write for a living, which doesn’t mean I’m at all confident submitting fiction anywhere. Dreamspinner Press took a chance on my suspense novel Job Hunt (they’ve also published the sequels Ghosts and House Hunt, as well as Leap of Faith) and they’ve been an exceptionally good place to learn the ropes.

I treated the production of Job Hunt very much like an apprenticeship and their support for new authors is awesome. [Me: Click Here for more info about Job Hunt, in Pdf format.]

I’ve just started to branch out into self-publishing with The Power of Zero, the prequel to Job Hunt and a story I’m using to fundraise for the Albert Kennedy Trust and the Banbury Young Homelessness Project.  It’s trickier, since I’m my own project manager as well as the author, but using what I’ve learned from DSP it worked out well and hasn’t put me off doing it again.

What are you working on now and what’s coming out next?

I’ve just completed Swings & Roundabouts, which is the fourth book in the Power of Zero series. That’s with the betas and editor right now, and I’m very much hoping to have Jack & Gareth out on amazon before Christmas.

Meanwhile, I’m playing with Undercover Star, a light-hearted romantic suspense novella, and Sound Judgement, where I’m building a dystopian England, six years after a military coup. Of course, there’s always more Jack and Gareth in the works.

Where can we find out more about you and follow you? (Blogs, Facebook links etc.)

For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places:

Website: http://www.jackiekeswick.com
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ctY9RD
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackieKeswick
FB: https://www.facebook.com/JackieKeswick
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jackiekeswick/
Pronoun: https://books.pronoun.com/JackieKeswick/

A sample of Jackie’s excellent writing,Dinner (Click for Pdf)

Author interview: Kay MacLeod

This week I have another author interview, and it’s with Kay MacLeod. Kay, like me, plans before she writes, but she plans more than me, by the looks of it. The Pinterest page is a good idea. I’ve also looked around for images of my characters and found random pictures online where the person looks like the character I am creating; it’s’ a good way of keeping consistency. I won’t chat on, I’ll let you read Kay’s interview and please click on her links and take a look at Heirs Of Power, her first novel.

Hi, Kay! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background

Hi everyone, I’m a self-published author with an unhealthy obsession for epic fantasy, and tea. I come from Nottinghamshire in England where I live with my husband and adorable tuxedo cat. I’ve been creating stories and characters for most of my life. So, now it’s time to share them.

If I’m not attached to my keyboard doing author-related activities, I’ll be devouring books, playing RPGs, or listening to much heavier music than most people would expect.

Who, or what, first inspired you to write?

I think I could read before I could walk, so I’ve always had a love for books. Even at primary school part of me wished I could write my own, but a lack of confidence, and a lack of determination, held me back from doing more than a few short stories for fun. I have piles of drawings, plans, family trees, and character bios from years of work, but it took a big push to finally start my first novel.

Sat in church one day, our message was about passion. ‘What are you passionate about?’ All I could think of was my stories, my characters, my worlds. Of course, I was mortified that I should have been contemplating something much more noble, but the speaker said that we shouldn’t discount the passions we do have, we should do something with them. So, a year later Heirs of Power was completed. Now I don’t think I could stop.

Where does your inspiration for a story come from?

The tiniest places. A fragment remembered from a dream, a wistful thought of ‘I wish it had happened like that instead.’ One day I heard a dad shouting his daughter and I loved her name, and it made me think- what kind of character would have that name? What would she do? What powers would she have? What kind of world would she live in? I’ve created an entire series from that one spark. I guess names must be a powerful catalyst for me because I drafted a novel in my mind one afternoon after randomly coming up with interesting name.

What is your writing process?

Plan. A lot. I know some authors can rock up to a blank page and see where it takes them, but I am not one of those authors. I do work on each character, making sure they have unique traits, even finding pictures of people that look like them (you can see them on my Pinterest page). My plot is all laid out, even by chapter so I know I have a decent hook at the end of each one. I’m not saying it all stays this neat and tidy during the process though, things get shifted and characters grow out of the little boxes I’ve put them in. It just helps me so much to have a point to start from, otherwise I find myself staring at that blank page and struggling to know where to start. Oh, and there must be tea. Lots of tea.

Can you list your favourite books (by other authors) and say what attracts you to them?

That’s always a hard question, and there are so many, so I’ll just pick out a few.

I love the Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky, mainly because it isn’t predictable. The characters are all different shades of grey and have realistic motivations and flaws in their personalities, and no-one is safe. There are plenty of hard-hitting moments, to the point that it gets scary when someone you like turns up! And the world is one of the most original I’ve ever come across.

I really enjoyed the Matthew Swift books by Kate Griffin, again this is a pretty unique take on the fantasy genre and the story will keep you hooked. The urban magic system in this series is truly fascinating, and funny in some places, and the setting in London is so imaginatively described.

I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series too, it’s absolutely hilarious and the characters are brilliant. It’s surprising how many little morals there are buried within it, and great lines that get you thinking. He had such a distinct voice, and talent for intelligent humour.

What have been your experiences with publication, indie, self, traditional or otherwise?

Heirs of Power Kay MacLeod
Kay MacLeod

I’ve only had the experience of self-publishing my first book. I have to say that there are positives and negatives with all types of publishing, I decided to go this route because I wanted the freedom to not have to conform to current trends. I wanted to write the book that I wanted to write and I understood that would mean a huge amount of work, but it was worth it. The hardest thing is having to learn all the skills that are involved with taking a story and transforming it into a book, it made it a lot easier to get a team of amazing people to help me out. I would have been stuck without them!

What are you working on now and what’s coming out next?

Right now, I’m working on the last few chapters of the second book of The Constellation Saga, that will be my next release. I’m so excited, there’s some big moments that I hope people won’t see coming, and we get to dig a bit more into the characters. Maybe meet some new ones too…

Where can we find out more about you and follow you?

You can visit any of these links. I have a lot of great stuff on my website, including news, reviews, and interviews. The Constellation pictures I mentioned are on Pinterest, and I do daily getting to know you questions on Facebook if you want to find out more about me and answer them yourself.

Websitehttp://kaymacleodbooks.com/

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15975307.Kay_MacLeod
Amazon UShttps://www.amazon.com/Kay-MacLeod/e/B01MDSNQ0A/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Kay-MacLeod/e/B01MDSNQ0A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1486248511&sr=8-1
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/KayMacLeodFantasy/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/KayMacLeodBooks
Pinterest- https://uk.pinterest.com/KayMacLeodBooks/
YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx_CW8jslVSowv2FpZjx9Kw

Thanks so much for reading and I hope to hear from you all soon.