I’ve moved my limited blogging activity over to Medium for a bit more visibility. I’ll be blogging both fiction and non-fiction under my real name and Kitty’s.
Medium is an interesting idea, there’s free and premium articles but non-members can access three premium articles per month. You like things by clapping them (up to 50 times) and Medium notes how long you spend reading an article and who comments, the uses some kind of magic algorithm to pay authors and recommend articles.
You can find me at https://medium.com/@BeautyInLonely
Vampires have always been sexy. Traditionally they have been smart, well dressed, aristocratic men, until Twilight ruined it for everyone by making them mardy teenagers.
Shira Glassman’s vampire Nellie is solidly working class, is invisible to humans, and doesn’t sparkle. She’s also a very sensible woman.
Nelly is an unwilling vampire, and is faced with the dilemma of eating ethically or eating well. The best humans are also the best tasting. The kind of humans who deserve a bite to the neck taste bitter and rancid. Unwilling to kill a good man, she finds a place where good and bad men die in equal measure, the battlefield. She finds Jacob, an honourable man, who is killed and becomes a dybbuk. As well as satisfying Nellie’s need for blood, Jacob can satisfy her in other ways.
This short story has a spicy, and happy ending. If you are squeamish about blood then it’s unsurprisingly not for you. Out on Friday the Thirteenth, A Man of Taste is a Halloween treat that won’t ruin your teeth.
I spent the summer of 1999 working in a data entry job in a sixth form college, saving up for my final year of university. The work was easy, and I was quickly promoted to a small room where I would assist the admissions officer: a bored, middle aged woman whose working day consisted of eating biscuits and listening to the radio: two things I could readily assist with.
The millennium was coming, as was a solar eclipse, and those of a superstitious nature saw this combination as a portent of the End Times. We didn’t know at the time that we were in a brief bubble of relative peace and security – one year after the Good Friday Agreement and two before 9/11. A moment of sunshine for the UK.
As the 11th August drew closer, newspapers and magazines were full of safety tips (don’t stare at the sun!) and eclipse facts. Astrologers were full of crap. And the radio? It was a golden time for Bonnie Tyler fans.
The college had decided that not only could we all take our early tea breaks at once, but we could do it on the roof of the building. By five to eleven the flat roof was crowded, my colleagues from admissions armed with pinhole cameras I had made from stationery. I patiently showed them how to use them: stand with your back to the sun, hold the paper at arm’s length and move the card, with its pinprick, until you get a clear image of the sun projected on the paper.
As the projected circles waned to crescents the volume dropped. First the traffic fell silent as people pulled over and got out of their cars to watch. Then, in the mid-morning gloaming, the birds stopped their songs.
Behind the paper of my pinhole camera, I could see the rest of Leeds. Each building bristled with people on the rooves, the streets were thick with crowds. All looked behind me at the sun. I turned around and looked at the shining sickle in the sky, opaline behind thin cloud.
The sun waxed, the sky brightened. The birds sang once more. I looked away and blinked. The darkness had been brief. We returned to our day, to our small rooms and biscuits. But for just one moment, we had all stood together under the sun and the moon.
The inaugural Lightbox Literary Festival 2017 runs from Thurs 20 April – Sun 23 April and I am extremely excited to have been invited to lead a Q&A with established author Nicola May. Nicola, author of Love Me Tinder, Better Together and The School Gates, to name just a few, went from self-publishing her novels to being picked up by Accent Press who went on to publish all of her books. Needless to say I’m hoping to pick up some of the secrets to her success.
Tickets are £8, £6 for Friends of the Lightbox, and are available at https://www.thelightbox.org.uk/Event/how-i-became-a-published-author
Actress Mil Nicholson has given voice to the people of Thornethorpe in the audio book of Mighty Like a Rose. Here she tells us about her acting career, favourite reads and what goes into making a successful audiobook.
Tell us a little about yourself
I was born in Wallsend, the name taken from the town lying at the end of the Roman Wall in Northern England. Many famous ships were built on the Tyne river at Wallsend port. My Mum and I were great pals, she was a force to be reckoned with, and still full of fun and energy in the last months of her 96 years. My work began in the business world after getting my degree. I acted in any plays I could, whilst apprenticed to a Solicitor. Then work as a Mum with three big bouncing boys, a year apart. After arriving in the United States when my lads were one, two and three, I realised the USA was where I was meant to be. Years later, I found my real soul mate, and we moved to Hollywood to follow our acting careers. ‘Twas a great fifteen years, working in Movies, TV and Stage. Now I live in North Carolina up in the mountains, very isolated, with my wonderful second husband. We are a team in most everything we do, which now includes audio book performing, his part being editor, producer and lover, all in one.
How long have you been an actor?
I began acting at age seven, found the stage to be my second home. While acting in several musicals in England, I was coached for a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Arts in London. After winning the scholarship, unfortunately I couldn’t attend. However, I continued stage acting, and to date have performed in over 100 plays in England and the USA. Some of my favorite roles were Nurse Ratchet in ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” Doris Wilgus in “The Owl and the Pussycat” and Meg in “The Hostage” musical version. While in Hollywood I played several roles in movies and TV, but by far the most satisfying were the stage plays.
When did you start doing audio books?
Audio books came into my life after I left Hollywood for NC. I had done voice over work in Hollywood, most notably the life story of JRR Tolkien on the Lord of the Rings DVD. I began being part of a team on Librivox, a wonderful free site, then decided to perform a solo of Charles Dickens Dombey and Son, with around fifty characters all self created. I’ve continued to record Mr. Dickens’ work, and now have eight books available for free, with about half a million downloads. I also recorded 17 books for Audible.com, a SciFi series of 9 books by Dave Duncan and a Western Series of 8 books by Janet Dailey. Then on joining ACX, have performed such great books as Mighty Like a Rose.
Do you have a favorite type of character you like to read?
Captain Cuttle in Dombey and Son was a favorite voice of mine, I’d always wanted to do an Arrrrgh! pirate, and he’s perfect for the job, and childrens’ voices are always a fun challenge. However, there are just so many varied voices, and each has its place, some I have to work harder to maintain, and others just flow out. I particularly love accents, and have most of the British Isles covered, also now Texas, Montana, Massachusetts, Maine. Minnesota, South Africa, and Australia. I intend to add to my repertoire as I go along.
Tell us a bit about what goes into making an audio book.
Audio books are quite an involved process. From the initial choosing a book among the many available, auditioning if it’s ACX [Audiobook Creation Exchange – Amazon’s audio book creation site], then working out a timeline and agreeing contracts. The downloading of the text, reading the full story, sorting into separate chapters, paginating, marking characters and mood, and then dividing into recording segments. After the author has given me a description of the characters, I begin matching a voice to each character, and making a file of each voice to refer to throughout the book. If there are several characters talking to each other, I will rehearse that scene so I can switch evenly from one to another, because the recording isn’t stopped for a change in voice. When the performance is begun, if any errors occur, the recording is stopped and the place marked, then re-recorded. At the end of the session, the session is edited for the corrections. I then listen to the whole recording again to make absolutely sure all is right. Any new corrections if any are then made. Finally the mastering process takes place, removing any extraneous noises, sound levels checked, the whole changed to MP3s. When the book is complete it is uploaded to ACX for approval by the author. If any corrections are agreed, they are done, and when all is in order the book is checked by ACX’s technicians. If they are satisfied, the book goes to the market. Five hours work for one hour of finished recording is the industry standard.
What do you read for fun?
Ah! reading for fun. Right now I’m reading Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, just wonderful, I’m fond of Stephen King, David Baldacci, Jeffrey Archer, Isaac Azimov, Jonathan Kellerman, and in between I go back to my Dickens for a good laugh and cry.
Does your work make you read books you normally wouldn’t?
Yes, I do record books I would not normally have chosen to read. If the story is interesting and well written, then it is helpful for performance work. I have recorded some self help books, and tried to make them really interesting, but it makes for hard work as the text is not exciting or has any characters to break things up. Thrillers can get quite dramatically heavy, and romances can raise the emotional levels, in some of Dickens I actually had to stop recording in order to either stop laughing or crying, even though I’d rehearsed some of these scenes ahead to keep under control. I may be just a softy at heart!
I love my work, it is a wonderful replacement for stage work. When I enter the sound booth, it’s like stepping onto the stage, my audience at the outset is my mate, then who knows after that. What a joy to look forward to work!
Thank you Cathy for letting me voice your “baby” it was a real pleasure.
Thank you Mil, for all your hard work in making the Audiobook so great!
New year, new cover. Much as I love Jhinuk’s design, it got a bit lost as a thumbnail which is how most people will see it. If you bought it with the original cover you have a collector’s edition!
If you are anything like me, when browsing books online you totally judge a book by it’s cover. This cover (hopefully) tells people what they need to know about the book – that it’s got mining and kissing!
Of course the other way people buy books is based on recommendations – if you’ve read the book and enjoyed it then please leave a review or tell a friend.
If you haven’t yet read the book it’s available from Amazon, it’s currently just £1.99 for the Kindle edition.
You may have friends who are doing NaNoWriMo, or you may be doing it yourself. or you may have no idea what it is.
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s a bit of a misnomer: it’s international, and you won’t get a novel written in one month however hard you try.
The aim is that in the month of November you try and write 50,000 words. That is possible, although not easy. Like anything with writing, it has its champions and its critics. Criticisms include tales of agents spending December deluged by hastily written crap. Another is the focus on word count, rather than quality.
I like the idea of NaNoWriMo, although I have never managed to hit 50,000 words in one month. Mighty Like a Rose started off as a NaNoWriMo effort, although I don’t think I had even 10,000 words by the end of it. Its focus on word count rather than quality is its strength – it gives you opportunity to turn off the inner editor. There’s no time to search for the perfect phrase, you need to get the story down.
Of course that doesn’t give you a novel, it gives you at best a first draft. But it’s a lot easier to polish 50,000 words, to expand on the ideas and firm up the plot, than it is to write thousands of words of perfect prose.
I’m trying again this year, and I very much doubt I’ll “win” by getting 50,000 words. But I’ll have some words, which is better than none.
NaNoWriMo isn’t somethign that works for everyone, but if it does work for oyu go for it, and have fun!