Some Questions For You All

I got an e-mail from my publisher yesterday to let me know the publication process had commenced. I’m hopeful, therefore, the book will be out at some point during the summer. Yes, it’s that close. Scary stuff. Various questions popped into my head so I thought I would share them with you all, rather than allow them to fester in the worry whirlpool known as my imagination.

1. If you were interested in buying the book, would you prefer it in hard copy or e-copy?

2. What are your thoughts on a launch party/event? Where would you hold such an event?

3. Is it pretentious to offer signed copies to potential buyers? Would you be interested in a signed copy?

4. I want the launch to coincide with a blog tour. Are you a book blogger, or do you know one, who would be interested in participating?

Answers on a postcard, please. Or, alternatively, comment below. Thank you.

Having Difficulties Getting To Sleep? Then Read This

The older I get, the weirder I seem to be getting. Hard to believe, I know, but true. Take my sleep patterns for example. I can’t remember the last time I experienced an uninterrupted night’s sleep. No matter how tired I am, at some point during the hours of darkness my mental alarm clock will go off, wakening me at some ungodly hour. I will then toss and turn before invariably slipping into a deep slumber, just before the real alarm clock brings me rudely back to the land of the living.

It’s not much better, either, at the other end, the going to sleep end. Used to be I could sit up all night, watching movies and the like. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I see beyond 10 pm. I spend roughly 67.478% of an average day in my pyjamas and from 9pm onwards feel my eyes getting heavy as the lure of sleep becomes too much and I succumb to it, stumbling up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire.

Which brings me to the point of this post. My inability to read more than ten pages of a book at night time without nodding off. It’s the same sad ritual every night. Often, bedtime is the only time I get to indulge in my passion for the written word. It’s my downtime, where I get to temporarily escape the rigours of the real world into lands of dragons, magic and the occasional angry orc.

I’m currently reading ‘The Priory of the Orange Tree,’ by Samantha Shannon. It’s a sprawling, epic fantasy novel which has been receiving rave reviews. Right up my literary alley. All 800 plus pages of it. Every evening I look forward to disappearing into the story, and every evening I find myself dozing off within a few minutes of opening it. The book isn’t the problem. It’s brilliant. The problem is Sleepy Stephen. Not quite so brilliant.

At this rate, I will be drawing a pension by the time I finish. Ms. Shannon will have probably penned the sequel and I’ll be forced to leap straight into it, leaving the growing queue on ‘to be read’ novels on my Kindle accumulating dust….or whatever e-books do these days. This does not bode well for my bucket list target of reading ‘Lord of the Rings’ in a year. I’ll be lucky if I get out of the Shire by Christmas.

Last night, however, was a huge step in the right direction. Fionnuala was exhausted after a long day being Super Mummy so said she was going to bed early. I jumped at the opportunity. This was my chance to make serious inroads at the Orange Priory. Would Ead save Queen Sabran from the evil clutches of the Nameless One? There was only one way to find out. Quick, get reading you fool, before the Sleep Fairy arrives and sprinkles you with her pixie dust or whatever it is she does.

10, 20, 30 pages passed without a yawn, stifled or otherwise. The story ebbed and flowed, as I devoured the pages. By 40, I could sense my eyelids drooping but soldiered on, determined to reach my predetermined target of 50 pages. 40, 45, nearly there. Zzzzzzz…..wake up you idiot. Finally I reached the summit, barely able to set my Kindle on the bedside table before collapsing in an unconscious heap. I slept the sleep of the victorious. Until I woke up at 4:50 a.m. again. Some things never change.

It’s funny how the activities we love the most are often the hardest to squeeze into our increasingly packed schedules. But we must continue to strive for our downtime at regular intervals during this hectic rollercoaster ride we call life. I hope you enjoyed this post and managed to read it from start to finish without falling sleep. And if you did, don’t worry. I forgive you.

When do you read?

At what time do you feel your eyes getting heavy?

How many hours sleep do you need every night?

What Was Your Favourite Childhood Book?

Today sees the start of my ‘bucket list’ challenge to re-read my favourite childhood book, ‘The Lord of The Rings.’ I purchased it on my Kindle last year with this intention in mind, but have always found an excuse not to start. Well, no more. I’m holding myself accountable to the good people of WordPress to ensure I don’t renege on my word this time. I’m diving into Tolkien’s world of elves, hobbits and talking trees.

Every week I’ll post an update on my progress, giving my own unique slant on where I’m at and how it compares with when I read it as a wide eyed, naive teenager. For now I am a wide eyed, naive middle aged man. Will it be as magical and captivating as when I first picked it up all those years ago. Or are my memories of Gandalf & Co. viewed through rose tinted spectacles? Has Peter Jackson gone and ruined it all?

Feel free to join me on this epic journey from The Shire to Mount Doom. I’ll tell you all my guilty secrets. Like, how I find hobbits slightly annoying and my irrational love of all things orcish. How elves are a bit dull, despite the best efforts of Evangeline Lily and Cate Blanchett to convince me otherwise. And how Styder is waaaaay cooler than Aragorn despite them being the same person, a concept I never quite got my head around.

I’m off to face what the day has in store for me now. But please leave your comments and thoughts below and I’ll get back to them as soon as I can. Are you a Tolkien fan? Can the film adaptation ever be as good as the book, no matter how many squillions of dollars they throw at it? Why does Hollywood insist on straying from the original text because they know best? The mic is all yours. Enjoy.

Stop The World….I’ve Lost My Kindle

If you asked me what three items I would take onto a desert island (go on, ask me) I’d probably plump for my glasses, a lifetime supply of Diet Coke (surely that counts as one item?!) and my beloved Kindle Fire. You see, I read….a lot. And the Kindle is my way of stashing hundreds of books without Fionnuala shouting at me for the clutter around the house. Happiness is a new book on the Kindle. Assuming the island has wifi of course.

All that changed a couple of months ago when my favourite electronic device went AWOL. MIA. It vanished. At first I assumed it would turn up as misplaced items tend to do in our house. Or rather, Fionnuala would find it for me. But as the weeks passed, there was no sign of the prodigal paper substitute. I even, shock horror, started to look for it. But it had vanished. Like the Marie Celeste. Gone.

The mystery niggled at me increasingly. Searches under various pieces of furniture proved negative and I began to worry. Had I actually lost it? How could that be, given I rarely take it out of the house. I was resorting to squinting at the Kindle app on my phone. I was even considering the unthinkable, purchasing a real book. You know, with pages. Real paper pages.

My whining increased to such levels that by Christmas morning, Fionnuala had enough and took it upon herself to search for the offending item. She tutted, climbed the stairs and entered our bedroom. I followed her, safe in the knowledge I had turned the room upside down and the Kindle was not there. No way, was she making a fool of me by placing her hands on it within seconds.

She strode over to my side of the bed and began to rummage through an old briefcase where I store random bits of paperwork. Pah, I sniffed. I’ve searched there at least a dozen times. What does she take me for, some sort of buffoon. I froze as, after a cursory search, she stood up and flung the Kindle Fire in my direction. There followed a brief exchange of words, where my wife gently challenged various aspects of my intellect and wisdom.

Once this loving verbal wave had washed over me, and I’d recovered from the shame and embarrassment of being an incompetent numpty, it was as if I had received a new Christmas present. I charged up the Kindle and proceeded to surf Amazon for all sorts of cut price bargains and new releases. All at a fraction of the price I would have paid for them on the high street. Check out this lot.

  • The Cruel Prince – Holly Black
  • Eat, Drink, Run – Bryony Gordon
  • How To Stop Time – Matt Haig
  • Into The Water – Paula Hawkins
  • Echoes – Laura Tisdall
  • Dreamlander – K..M Weiland
  • The Grey Bastards – Jonathan French
  • My Thoughts Exactly – Lily Allen

All for £20! But here’s where I need your help. I still have a few Christmas shekels left. Can you recommend a book to add to my collection? My favourite genres are fantasy and dark thrillers but I’m open to all your suggestions. I also have an interest in biographies that focus on mental health and addictive behaviour. Leave your comments below. I’m looking forward to reading them all.

What books can you recommend to me?

Have you ever lost anything and it’s been under your nose all along?

Where Do You Find The Time To Read?

I’m currently reading ‘Dark Places’ by Gillian Flynn. It’s a fantastic read. Eerie, edgy and beautifully written. The twists and turns of the plot leave me none the wiser as to how the story will turn out. It ticks every box as far as I’m concerned, a real page turner. Well, it would be if I didn’t keep falling asleep every time I picked it up. Page 221….check….Wow!….I never saw that coming….I wonder what….zzzzzzzzzz.

Books such as this I would normally devour within a week. Ten train journeys to and from work and it would be in the can and on to the next one. Except I’m not. The reason? I’m writing. And editing a lot. Meaning the only sliver of my day when I have an opportunity to indulge in my love of reading is when I go to bed at night. Whoever said authors needed to read a lot obviously hadn’t three kids and a full time job.

In order to read more, something needs to give. Give up running? Nice try, but I’m afraid that’s a non starter. Running is a physical and mental necessity in my life. It purges me of the many toxins which regularly pollute my body and soul. Running while listening to an audio book? Don’t even go there. It takes every ounce of my concentration to put one foot in front of the other, let alone digest a novel. I don’t want to end face down in a ditch.

I could give up work but there’s the irritating matter of the mortgage and numerous other bills to pay. Plus the thought of me getting under Fionnuala’s feet all day at home, is not a recipe for a blissful marriage. My dream is to become a full-time author, but if that day ever comes I will need a shed at the bottom of the garden to protect my long suffering wife from the temptation of strangling me.

I’ve been reading all my life but, at this rate, it will take the rest of my life to finish ‘Dark Places.’ Meanwhile, the backlog of untouched books on my bookshelf and Kindle continue to grow unabated. Just because I can’t finish a book shouldn’t impact on me continuing to buy them, right? I’m the eternal optimist and constantly convince myself I’ll get caught up soon. Which never happens.

It’s a Gordian knot, a Catch 22, my own personal Brexit. A conundrum which I’m no nearer to resolving. Writing and reading? It’s akin to pouring two litres of water into a one litre bucket. So I’m throwing it out there this morning. Fellow writers, where do you find the time to write? Answers on a postcard please. Or alternatively, you can leave a comment below. I might even reply. If I can find the time.

Beta Readers Required

Happy August one and all.

This looks like being a big month for me. I’m now nearing the end of the third edit of my debut novel ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles – Skelly’s Square’. This has been a long road and I’m sure regular readers are sick to the back teeth of my updates on the topic. For that I apologise once more. But I have one last favour to ask of you all. So bear with me please.

I am setting up a team of beta (test readers); that is people who are willing to give up their valuable time to read a draft of the novel and provide constructive, honest feedback as to areas such as plot, grammar, structure etc. I will provide detailed instructions as to what is required in due course but, for now, I’m purely looking expressions of interest. It’s a sizeable undertaking so please only put your name forward if serious.

The book is set in modern day Belfast and tells the story of a troubled young man who forms an unlikely alliance with a homeless girl when they discover they are at the heart of a supernatural struggle between ancient forces of good and evil that is being waged in the city. Their destinies become intertwined as they face a battle against time to defeat a fearsome enemy while, at the same time, slaying their own personal demons.

Still interested? If so please comment expressing why you believe you would make a good beta reader for this project. Ideally I am looking for 6-8 readers so, if oversubscribed, please do not be offended if not selected. I will choose those who I feel are best fitted to perform the role. Thank you.

Stephen

Please reblog this post as I’m keen to spread the word. Thank you 😊

Fun Friday Continues….Even Though It’s Saturday

Today’s question is for all you bookworms out there. What was the last book you read and what did you make of it? To get the ball rolling here are the last few I’ve read. I read a lot much to Fionnuala’s dismay but I know that in order to succeed as an author you need to soak up as many other styles and genres as you can. Read, Read and then Read some more. I think Stephen King said that. And he’s done alright I suppose.

  • Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs
  • The Very Worst Missionary – Jamie Wright
  • Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions – Russell Brand
  • Sylvia Plath: A Biography – Linda Wagner-Martin

Happy Reading!

Stephen 🙂

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