Tag Archives: writing

Guest Post: Author Jack Probyn

Hello fellow authors and writers! I’ve wanted to start doing some guest posts for a while and Jack Probyn from over at https://jackprobynbooks.com has kindly volunteered to be my guinea-pig. (Thank you Jack!). He’s agreed to an interview by way of some serious, and some fun questions (below). Jack has completed a thriller manuscript, and is currently working on the completion of a fantasy novel. He also has a blog with some great content – ideas, thoughts, information, and quirky short stories. A recent short story with a scary twist at the end was ‘Short Story: Bad Pooch’ https://jackprobynbooks.com/2017/05/18/bad-pooch/

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Jack has been an excellent first guest! Here are his questions and answers …

1. What is the working title of your next book?

The next book, or rather my first that I plan to publish before my fantasy novel, is going to be called The Next Destination. It’s a thriller novel set in London, with a detective as the protagonist who is thrown into a deadly situation regarding terrorists and a mode of public transportation… I do not want to disclose too much at this stage!

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

As cliché as it may sound, the inspiration came to me while I was on my commute to my placement job. Hence, probably why trains feature so heavily in it. I just thought “what if…” and then it came to me.

3. Do you have cover-art planned, and will you do it yourself or hire an artist?

I do not have cover-art planned at this moment. As much as I like to think I’m creative, I somewhat lack the artistic capabilities to do anything as important as create a book cover, despite having worked with graphic designers at my job. However, I feel it best to leave it up to the professionals. After all, they’d ask us to write a novel for them rather than do it themselves (I hope!).

4. What, for you, is the single most important quality in a novel; what must an author do to win you over?

I think that the most important quality in a novel is that it needs to have a gripping plot, something that’s going to excite me all the way through, leave me guessing, making me want to read more. It’s like going to the cinema, in a way. I will watch a film because I think it looks good, not because of how well it is done, because at a first glance all we get is the trailer (or in the case of a novel, the blurb). Only after we’ve begun watching – and reading – do we appreciate the talent and skill that has gone into it.

5. Your three favourite books?

My three favourite books are probably The Shining, by Stephen King (I was – and still am – a massive fan); 1984, by George Orwell (difficult choice between that or Animal Farm); and A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. The reasons for them being that I read The Shining when I was younger, after having been repeatedly told not to by parents because it was “too scary”, and I loved the complexity of the plot and the way it was written. It was the first proper, full length book I had read, and I loved it. The reasons why 1984 is one of my favourites, is because the political undertones fascinated me. To think, that he was able to get away with saying such things! And also, how pertinent the themes in that novel are nowadays is crazy. Finally, my reason for choosing A Clockwork Orange is because I enjoyed the plot, but not only this, the way it was written and the language that Burgess created intrigued me. I believe it could be an influence on why I enjoy “world-building” so much! As you can see, all of my favourite books have nothing to do with which genres I want to write in – but I think that’s okay, because I do not think it necessary to limit myself to only liking certain books from the fantasy and thriller genres. Reading is about having a particular favourite genre(s), but it’s also about enjoying a broad range of genres, too.

6. What strengths of character do you particularly admire?

I quite like writing about strong willed women, who are quite intimidating. I’m not too sure why, but both have appeared in my thriller and fantasy manuscript. I also enjoy an underdog, a shy boy/girl who is quite reserved and underestimated – they always come out on top!

7. Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

This is a tough one. Very tough, indeed. I think it would have to be Tolkien. Just to simply get inside his head for a few hours, see what’s really going on in there – how he came up with The Lord of the Rings and the legacy it has created.

8. What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Quirky. Sarcastic. Pedantic.

9. You’re writing a fantasy novel, do you plan to try the traditional publishing route, or go straight to Indie?

I have thought about this for quite some time now, and have weighed up both options. But personally, I think I will go down the self-publishing route, because I believe in the long run it is more beneficial for me as an author. I mean, it is essentially creating a brand for yourself, on your own, without the help of a publishing house to do that for you – what can be more rewarding than that?

10. Do you have any significant scars?

Perhaps significant isn’t the right word. Stupid, yes. Significant, no. On my arm I have a small scar where I “chicken scratched” it. For those of whom that don’t know, a chicken scratch is where you furiously scratch at your skin until it bleeds and creates a scar. Stupid, I know. But I was young, and didn’t know what I was doing. Other than, I’m pretty scar-free. *Touches wood*.

11. If reincarnation exists what do you want to come back as?

A Killer Whale. Hands down. They’re the predators of the sea, and they’re beautiful, majestic animals. Often-times I would only watch a documentary on the sea if a Killer Whale features in it, otherwise they’re just not worth watching. The way they work in teams and come up with creative ways to catch their prey is just ingenious. Usually, I’m sat there, face glued to the screen watching a Killer Whale scene in a documentary while my girlfriend can’t bear to look because of the poor seal/penguin/prey gets killed.

12. If you could have one magical power what would it be?

Another interesting one. I don’t want something mainstream like flying, or invisibility. While they would be cool, they wouldn’t serve much of a purpose. Neither would immortality, because no one wants to outlive the earth and everyone else on the planet. My magical power would have to be something to do with time or the brain. The ability to control others’ thoughts… possibly, but no. The ability to move things with my mind… also interesting, but still no. I think the power to alter time, pause it, stop it, reverse it, fast forward it – everything would be fun. All I’d need is a pen and paper so I can write some brilliant novel ideas down from all of the amazing things I’ve seen.

13. A famous lady you’d be happy to get stuck in a lift with?

Emma Watson. She was great in Harry Potter.

14. At the fairground – Roller coaster or galloping horses carousel?

Roller coasters, every day of the week. Until I feel nauseous, of course, and then I have to come off. But I have been to many theme parks in my life and I love the adrenaline. Every boy’s dream: going fast, something dangerous, and having no fear of your own safety!

A Note From Jack – Thanks for reading!

 

In a Walled Garden …

I haven’t done any creative writing for ages due to so much time spent converting my four e-Books to paperback. But recently I’ve been spurred to get back into practise by a few of my fellow writer/bloggers.  I don’t know where this idea came from, I dreamt it up when we were in the car recently.

In a Walled Garden …

Sunday Morning

A commotion below in the old walled garden disturbed the nest-building jackdaws. One of them peered down from the chimney top, a twig in its beak, head cocked and one blue eye fixed on the woman. A young woman, standing on the lawn with her arms wrapped tightly around her, as though if she let go she would break into a million pieces.

The bird wasn’t disturbed by the sight of the woman but by the splintering crash of a Waterford crystal wine glass as it shattered on the patio, followed by the hoarse shouting of the woman’s husband.

‘You will not leave me! You will never leave me!’ Words steeped in rage and laced with alcohol.

The woman turned slowly, raising her chin and pulling herself up as though to strengthen herself against the fury in his voice.

‘It’s over,’ she said, and she unwrapped her arms, ripped off her wedding ring and flung it across the garden. It hit the old wall and pinged back into the rose bed. It was too much for the man.

The jackdaw watched intently as he charged across the grass roaring in some sort of demented anguish. He was a big man and when he threw himself at her it took them both down; his hands around her throat.

‘I’ll kill you!’ he bawled as they wrestled on the ground.

‘I’ll … see you … in hell!’ The woman choked out the words as she clawed at his face. He tightened his grip, he was too strong for her, too full of black fury and out of control. Her vision began to blur. Light was fading, but she managed to stare up into his eyes as he bent over her, those very blue eyes that she had once lost herself in. He was triumphant now, so pumped by his power over her that he allowed a slight relaxing of his grip. Her life in his hands. It felt glorious. It gave her the chance to suck in one last breath.

‘I’ll come back,’ she rasped, ‘And I’ll haunt you … you bastard … ‘.

A few minutes later she lay still. The husband stood up, pale and sweating, muttering curses and staring around. Thank god they lived in an isolated spot. Then he dragged the woman across the grass, into the potting shed and shut the door.

Sunday night

The man couldn’t sleep even though he was dog-tired; too much on his mind. The work had been hard – lifting the floor of the shed, and then the digging. So much digging that his hands were blistered. But it was done. He finished the whisky in the Waterford crystal tumbler. A shame she’d made him smash the wine glass; ruined the set. It would probably cost him fifty quid to replace it. Bitch. He eased his legs up onto the sofa and leaned back against the cushions. She was staring down at him from the photograph on the mantelpiece over the old fireplace. He’d smash that tomorrow. That picture of the three of them; her, himself, and his best friend Antonio. Friends since college, until now. Now that he’d found out about about the affair. She’d always fancied bloody Antonio with his Spanish good looks, charm oozing from every slimy Latin pore. ‘Bastard,’ he mumbled, curling his lip, ‘Wait till I get my hands on you.’ And then he closed his eyes.

The old grandfather clock in the hall struck three, it’s heavy tones resounding through the downstairs, and then a few seconds later there was another sound, a clink-clink-ping-clink-clingle- ping-ding- clingle-clink … . The man on the sofa woke up. The moon was shining in the window where he hadn’t quite pulled the curtains together. He sat up and rubbed a hand across his face and wondered what had woken him. His eyes were drawn to the little path of moonlight which ended in front of the old fireplace. There was something there, sparkling. He didn’t remember dropping anything. He eased himself off the sofa, heavy-headed, and padded across the carpet. A jolt went through him and he reared back at the sight of a ring. Her wedding ring. He’d know it anywhere, even in moonlight in the middle of the night; the bespoke design he’d paid a small fortune for. How … ? ‘I’ll haunt you, you bastard!’ Her last words slithered into his mind and an irrational fear slammed into his chest and squeezed, squeezed so hard he couldn’t breathe. Squeezed so hard that he toppled forwards and fell with a crash into the fireplace.

Three days later

The doctor watched the men from the mortuary load the body-bag into the sleek black van. He shook his head sadly. Poor bugger he thought, massive heart failure and dying alone like that. He wondered if the police had tracked his wife down. What a dreadful shock it was going to be for her. Maybe she was in Spain, she often took trips there. He looked up as a jackdaw on the roof suddenly gave a shrill cry. It was staring down, eye-balling him. It wasn’t happy. It had found a wonderful shiny treasure in the rose bed a few days ago and carried it up to the nest in the old chimney. His new wife was thrilled with it. They had placed it carefully between the twigs. The next day it was gone.

My First Month of Book Promotion: What I’ve Learned (Re-blogged from Niels Saunders).

A really informative post from Niels Saunders, for anyone who is about to start, or who has already started to try and promote their book. A host of different options!

Niels Saunders

First Month of Self Promotion I’ve been a busy bee

Just over a month ago, I self-published my novel Mervyn vs. Dennis on Amazon. A lot’s happened since then and I’ve been much busier than I expected. Here’s a fairly self-congratulatory list of the things I’ve managed to do in 5 weeks:

  • Design my cover
  • Buy a pineapple
  • Buy a larger pineapple from a different supermarket because the first one looked a bit pathetic and not bristly enough
  • Take a load of profile pictures
  • Eat both pineapples
  • Format my manuscript for Kindle and other devices
  • Write a new blurb (this actually took hours)
  • Completely redo my cover because I’d done the whole thing in the wrong size
  • Write a bio
  • Create an author site for Amazon
  • Buy a domain name and create my own website
  • Revamp my personal Twitter account into a more authory one
  • Write my first 4 blogs
  • Feed the cat

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New Book!

I’m really pleased to announce that yesterday I published the sequel to The Mouse and the Microlight as an e-book on Amazon. It’s called The Stowaways. I originally wrote both books as blogs, putting up a chapter a week with illustrations. I decided some time ago that they would convert very well to e-books and went ahead with The Mouse and the Microlight. It worked well and so I set about doing the same for The Stowaways (originally called ‘When the Hangar Came Down’). A complete edit was needed, all the artworks improved and resized, a table of content created and of course a cover which is always a favourite job.

This is about the book as published on Amazon:

The Stowaways is the second book by Jude Thompson about Mouse Formidable. In the first book, The Mouse and the Microlight, Mouse Formidable refuses to follow wood-mouse ways. He moves into a barn and builds a nest under the back seat of a microlight. He’s accepted by the couple who own it and he starts to go flying with them.

The Stowaways find Mouse Formidable getting home one day to find his beloved flying machine gone. And then the Louds (the name wood-mice have given humans) start dismantling his barn. With his whole world collapsing he stows away in their car and travels with the Louds into their world. Little does he know that someone is travelling with him. At the Louds house fantastic discoveries are made, but then Formidable is caught in a trap. Will he be found before it’s too late, and will he ever go flying again? In the meantime, many miles away, back in the wood where he was born, a fire starts. Mouse Formidable’s family are in terrible danger. With nowhere to run who will save them? The Stowaways is is a story of exploration, discovery, daring and friendship.

My next project, now that all my books are published e-books, is to go for paperbacks. It may take a while as all the e-book files have to be converted and made suitable for book publishing. Lots of research and trial an error I think! More about this in a later post.

Lastly a BIG thank you to those of you who have bought The Mouse and the Microlight!

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Traditional Publishing versus Self-Publishing

Revived Post from 2011

*I wrote this post (now slightly edited) back in 2011. It’s rather interesting for me rereading it now. Looking back I’m still glad that I went the e-book route as opposed to continuing down the traditional route.

 

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The Traditional Route

In March 2008 I completed what I suppose is technically a memoir, then it festered in a drawer for nearly three years while I winged the standard synopsis and sample chapters off to publishers. To me the very word memoir is off-putting. It conjures up pictures of a white-haired old man relating his war experiences in a somewhat starched  and stuffy style. So when I approached publishers during that three years I avoided using it and instead I called it a True Romantic Adventure. It made no difference, I still got the standard pleasant and complimentary rejections. To get a personal story published I think you really need to be a celebrity of some sort.

Thousands of writers follow the same well-worn path of rejection, and not just for memoirs. It matters not what your genre is, it’s still a laborious and often disheartening task trying to get published, however dogged you are. A fact which also causes some concern is that some books which are now world-famous were turned down by dozens of publishers before eventually being accepted. I read recently that Zen and the Art of Motor-cycle Maintenance was turned down 121 times before it was accepted. So even if you are a good writer it could take donkeys years to get published. And even worse, what if your book was eventually published and sold like crazy after you had died; wouldn’t that cheese you right off!

Fortunately for me and a lot of other authors the age of the e-book is seriously with us now. It gives us all a long-awaited and sporting chance to sell our chosen genre. At last the author has some control. As one writer recently put it, ‘The Kindle (and other e-Readers) allows you to publish your work and let the people decide – democracy in action!