12 August 2020 - Shoddy Short Stories!
I have been writing short stories for competitions for the last few years but have had no success. Although a distraction from completing the Lucy novel, short story writing gives me a chance to try out other ideas. Storylines that don't fit in one of my novels can be given life and explored. Some of the prizes are not to be sniffed at and obviously to be shortlisted would promote my writing in general.
A big issue for the writer is not knowing what a judge is really looking for. Many of the competitions are very broad in scope. But it seems to me judges are in part like teachers, they need you to follow their rules. Trying to be creative may not only fail to tick enough boxes, it could result in crosses too! Having to follow a set of rules goes against the concept of being creative. I had little success at school with English teachers (see my blogs 12 November 2016, 19 February 2017). So am I doomed to live in the reject pile?
I've decided that whilst my ideas are creative the way I am structuring the short stories is probably not what the judges are looking for. So I've caved in and bought a book on how to write short stories and hope to get something from it. In the case of novel writing I read a couple of guides on how to write, but as I have mentioned in my blog previously my attitude is not to follow them too closely. I feel much happier to internalise the bits that resonate with me. Hopefully I'll get a couple of extra ticks and find success over the next couple of years!
Do you hear the sobbing of new writers?
The coronovirus lockdown will, I guess, result in a flood of new writers who have used their extra free time to give novel writing a go. I hope you have been inspired and had the motivation to slog it out. I am sure writing a novel has taken a lot more effort than you thought at the onset - see my 25 June 2016 blog on the subject of moving deadlines! Whilst I wish everyone good luck don't get downhearted when the rejections keep coming in. My novel about pregnant barmaid Lucy is done except for a few final read-throughs. So in the near future I too expect a flood of rejections! Never despair, there is always self-publishing (see troubador.co.uk) to get your work out there!
31 May 2020 - Welcome to Bar 2BC! Inventing your favourite bar!
I'm pleased to announce that Galahad Porter's new watering hole Bar 2BC will shortly open for business!
Newly pregnant Lucy Conti takes a job at a bar in Brooklyn, New York. Little does she know the danger she is in. She has lifestyle decisions to make against a backdrop of intrigue. I'm in the final stages of finishing the novel, but had, like many writers before me, a key decision to make - locate, design and name the fictional bar!
Creating fictional locations, places and businesses is not straight forward. Douglas Adams was fortunate with his creation of 'The Restaurant at The End of The Universe' - nobody on Earth (as far as I know) has yet set up a business at the end of the universe! But choosing a terrestrial name and location is fraught with difficulty.
First is location. In the novel At Reception, location was not an issue. Receptionist Sally worked in a hotel that had no name and no location other than somewhere in the southern hemisphere. But, I will have to have a location and probably also a name for the hotel in the first book of the trilogy, due out after the novel about Lucy.
For reasons that may become more apparent in the subsequent novels in the planned thriller trilogy, Brooklyn is important. I can't reveal why at this point in time. Maybe you can work it out as there are clues in the novel about Lucy, currently due to be published in 2021.
Secondly, any bar that portrays an existing bar or has a very similar name could open the writer up to potential lawsuits. Yes, the nightmare the innocent writer fears. So, the best thing you can do is start by making the bar generic. There are many bars in the USA formatted in the traditional Irish pub style or with modern interiors and glass frontages (the latter applies to Bar 2BC). Alternatively your operation must be so far out there that nobody has anything like it!
Finally, the real problem is naming your bar. Once you have a location you must chose a name that is different from current or former local businesses. Although it could exist elsewhere in the state or country, I wouldn't risk that. So, if you come up with a name for your venue, here's a suggestion on how to limit any chance of getting into trouble:
- Search trade mark databases, not just US, but others depending on your location eg European
- Search the name on search engines such as Bing and Google for similar businesses
- Search the likes of Amazon for the country location
- Search the national equivalent of Yellow Pages for local businesses of the same name
If nothing directly similar to your business turns up you are probably, but not certain, to be OK, but at least you have covered many bases!
So, after all of that my Brooklyn bar is called 'Bar 2BC'. For details see bar2bc.com. Come and join me for a drink in the forthcoming novel about Lucy. Cheers! GP
Update on publication timetables
You would think that the lockdown for coronovirus would give me plenty of time to write. But as I work from home this has not given me any more free time. In fact I have had less, in part blame the dry weather in the UK that means I have had to tend to watering duties more than expected! So, whilst the novel about Lucy is close to completion, publication deadlines mean it won't be out until next year, 2021. This pushes back the trilogy novels to 2022-4.
5 February 2020 - Adding depth and menace!
In previous posts I mentioned how the novel about pregnant bar worker Lucy was evolving into something deeper, becoming a true prelude to the thriller trilogy I am writing. As part of this process I have decided to add two storylines that create challenges for the writer.
There is a regular customer at the bar, a man with psychological issues. At the moment you only see his behavioural traits. This was deliberate, forming part of the mystery element of the storyline. However, rather than just showing his mannerisms, I'm thinking of taking the reader inside the guy's mind. It is very difficult trying to imagine exactly how someone might feel and handle their challenges. In At Reception Sally has some characteristics of a person on the autism spectrum. I was able to achieve this with the help of a couple of books*. BUT in the case of my character, he has serious complex problems. As far as I can tell he can't be narrowly classified. I once read a book that said we all have some of the same problems but the difference is in the degree of severity. So, I must imagine myself and dig deep...
Just over a month into her pregnancy Lucy starts having unusual dreams. These are nothing like those she's encountered before. The description of her series of dreams was planned to start in the trilogy. When you encounter Lucy in the first book she is suffering nightmares. They add intensity to the thriller element of the story. However, at the current stage of her pregnancy the dreams are relatively simple. Nevertheless, they add an additional feeling of menace to the story. Recreating her dreams on paper is quite a challenge. I'm hoping the reader will be able to visualise the richness of them without my having to use excessive description!
Completion of these last two storylines and expansion of a few draft conversations are all that remain to be done. There comes a point in any novel when you must draw a line under it. Say 'It's done'. I'm certainly a lot closer to that today than I was six months ago, and the result is a much richer reading experience!
'All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome' by Kathy Hoopman
'Life on the Autism Spectrum - A Guide for Girls and Women' by Karen McKibbin
both from Jessica Kingsley Publishers www.jkp.com