Friday, 27 March 2015

RIP Terry Pratchett 1948-2015

A couple of weeks back, one of the brightest lights in the literary world went out. No, make that the world. Terry Pratchett, my all-time favourite author, won his fight against the Alzheimer's that was claiming his brain. I say won, not lost. I'll explain further below.


1989, I was eight years old and massively into fantasy such as The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia, even Choose Your Own Adventures. Then, I happened upon this funny looking little book called Truckers, by Terry Pratchett. I can't remember if I received it as a present, or if I picked it up at one of the book sales the school had. All I know is I was intrigued by this cartoon-like cover featuring gnomes (actually, nomes) using everyday objects which are huge to them. There was movement, action and humour, all hallmarks of the book itself as well. These nomes live under the floors of a department store which is their entire world and must formulate an escape plan and brave the mythical realm of the outside when the store is slated for demolition. I was hooked. These nomes were fantastical creatures, but they acted like humans and you could relate to their squabbles and their triumphs. And there was nothing po-faced about it. It was the least "taking itself seriously" fantasy book I'd ever read. I devoured the second and third installments in the series which both came out in 1990 (Terry was one of the most prolific authors ever. He actually released five books in total in that year alone). The third book was the first time I'd ever read a novel in one day. Then I looked to see what else was out there by Terry Pratchett. The front of the books said that he had also written the Discworld series, of which there were about ten at that time. Luckily, my mum worked in a bookshop and could get all the paperbacks for me at discount prices. I steamed through them and then read each new installment as it came out. I just had to wait a year after the hardback came out to get the paperback which I would receive for my birthday or Christmas.

The Discworld
At the time, I couldn't believe everyone wasn't reading Terry Pratchett. On the surface, this was a classical fantasy world complete with dragons, dwarves, trolls, vampires, werewolves, zombies, wizards, witches etc etc. But everything was slightly skewed and subverted. Terry played with the tropes of these creature types and made them fresh. When Death takes a holiday, the undead start appearing in the world and instead of terrorising the living population, campaign for fair treatment with the "Dead Rights Club". Dragons are household pets and there's even a Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons. Vampires take jobs in the city and wear a white ribbon to show they have pledged to give up human blood. And the characters were like people you'd meet in real life. As the series went on, the scope of the series grew and Terry satirised many aspects of our own world, such as the media, industrialisation, the rise of telecommunications and mass transport, not to mention meaty issues like war, prejudice, religion, sexism and the very nature of existence. But with all that, it never did take itself too seriously.

Terry ended up writing over seventy books including his collaborations. Some are better than others, of course, but all carry his unique stamp. During the last few years of his life when his brain was under threat of a disease, he not only continued writing but also became a fierce campaigner and advocate of the "Right to Die", stating that people should have a choice over the manner of their own passing before that choice is taken away from them, and making TV documentaries about possible treatments for Alzheimer's. Terry passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by his family, at 66 and while on the one hand it's sad that he went at still such a young age, I'm also glad his disease did not get a chance to erode one of the brightest minds on the planet.

Here's a link to Terry's Amazon page. If you've never read one of his books before, pick one up and give it a go. Start wherever you like. It's all good.

Monday, 23 March 2015

A Change of Mind and Other Stories Cover Reveal

* If you're looking for my A-Z Theme Reveal post, you can find it here. *

Today I'm excited to unveil the cover for my very first story collection, created by the talented Rebekah Romani. I think she has done an excellent job.



Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Contemporary speculative fiction
Release Date: May 25th 2015

A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.

But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.

Preorder Links: Amazon US, Amazon UK
Add it on Goodreads

The collection contains my first novella written two years ago, as well as stories written up to five years ago, so it's been quite a long time coming together. I'll be getting more and more nervous approaching the release date!

A-Z Theme Reveal Blogfest

Can you believe it's only nine days until this year's A-Z Challenge starts? It's rolled around quick. This year, I'm participating for the first time in the Theme Reveal blogfest.


I really enjoyed my last Challenge two years ago where I wrote a continuous story based on words suggested by visitors. To have a writing challenge as well as a "social" one was a thrill and so I'm going down that route again. But this will be 26 individual stories instead of one long one. Each day, I will randomly pick one word from the dictionary for the letter of the day, and write a story based around it. The only limitation? It can be no longer than 100 words. So, that ticks the "short posts" box (last time, people coming in on the last few letters would have had to read a pretty lengthy story to catch up).

The stories can be about absolutely anything, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes me! I had planned to write each story on the day as an extra challenge, but hopefully I'll have time this week to preschedule a few.

To see more theme reveals, check out the linky list.

Are you getting excited about the Challenge?

Friday, 13 March 2015

One Good Catch release day

Today it's time to say Happy Book Birthday to our good friend Heather M. Gardner whose latest release finds its way into the world today! Here are all the details...

 One Good Catch, A Maguire’s Corner novel



Title: One Good Catch
Author: Heather M. Gardner
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs
Release Date: March 13, 2015

Buy Links

~~~)(~~~
Ignoring a recent trauma that is affecting her everyday life, ER Doctor Kate Maguire engages in some high risk activities, but putting herself in these dangerous situations isn’t enough to feed her edginess. She needs something more. When her brother’s high school best friend comes back to town, it’s her chance for a ‘no strings attached’ fling with the man who still headlines in all her best dreams.

Rhys MacGrath’s days of one-night-stands are long over. The pro-football player might be side-lined at rehab for a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t mean he can’t admire and desire the all-grown-up, so-damn-hot, version of the tomboy he once knew. His sudden interest in Kate might be aggravating his best friend, who doesn’t approve, but it’s her indifference that’s driving Rhys crazy.

Everything heats up when Kate’s nosy nature sets her in the line of fire of an arsonist forcing them to deal with more than just the sparks igniting between them.

Excerpt:
Kate crossed her arms. “I’m not complicated.”
“Oh yes, you are. Incredibly complicated. And off limits.”
“Look, it was just a kiss. If you can’t handle a little first base, it’s your problem, not mine.”
Rhys stopped in front of her, shaking his head. “What?”
“I’m not some kid anymore, Rhys. I can kiss whomever I want. And I do. If you want to continue living by my brother’s rules, then I suggest you head back to the bar.”
“I guess I have more respect for Steve than to try and feel up his sister after being back in town for less than a day.”
“That’s fine. Whatever helps you sleep at night.”
“Fine. I’ll sleep just fine.”
“Then, goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” he said.
Rhys reached for her, his fingers tangling in her hair. He pulled her in to kiss her again. Kate enjoyed this kiss even more than the first one. It was full of his exasperation, plus his inevitable surrender, making it incredibly hot. Her victory was intoxicating.

~~~)(~~~

Heather M. Gardner's love of books began on the hand-woven rugs of her small town library where her mother worked. There she had a never-ending supply of stories to read at her fingertips. As a teen, her favorite genres to curl up with were romance and mysteries. When she started to create her own stories, they were the perfect fit.

Heather resides in New York with her best friend who is also her husband, plus her talented and handsome son. She is currently owned by four stray cats. Heather's a full-time mom, works part-time from home, a chocolate enthusiast, coffee junkie, cat addict, book hoarder and fluent in sarcasm.


Blog:
The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Twitter: @hmgardner


Goodreads: HMGardner 

Facebook: HeatherWritesRomance Bottom of Form

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

IWSG



It's time for another posting of the Insecure Writers' Support Group hosted by the fearless Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. This is where us writers can share our insecurities and offer encouragement without fear of ridicule. Our cohosts today are Chemist Ken, Suzanne Sapseed, and Shannon Lawrence.

Unfortunately, I kind of blanked on the IWSG coming up today (I know, right??) and already posted about my insecurities on Monday, which kind of covers things. So the best thing I can do is link you to that post. Feel free to comment either here or there! And go here to check out the full list of participants.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Time for an Update

So, it's March already. How did that happen? Here in Scotland we're still in the grip of winter though, with snow, ice and hail to contend with. Fun! Have you signed up for the A-Z Challenge yet? Can't believe it kicks off in under a month!

So, where am I with my writing? I can't deny 2015 has not been quite as productive as I would have liked. I've been preparing my novella and other stories for release in May, so that's positive. But I need to tackle the last part of my trilogy and I seem to have a blind spot with this. It's self-imposed pressure to come up with something really stunning for the finale, and I know everything can be fixed in editing, but something has to be there in the first place. I've got some ideas, but I don't yet know how they will pan out. This might be the first novel I actually... plan (gasp!) because it feels too important to fumble through. I really like flying without a map, but I think this time I want to know what's going to happen.

So, it's sitting down and coming up with a plan. I'll get round to that one of these days. In the meantime, I'll keep myself going by sending out a couple of submissions this month. Hopefully, working on something different will help get the juices flowing.

Where are you at with your writing? Signed up for the Challenge?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Books You'd Like to See Made into Movies

I listen to the radio a lot in the car and lately it seems I can't tune in without hearing something about 50 Shades of Grey. Yes, I know it's a massively popular book and I can see why the movie is such a big deal, but the level of hysteria is ridiculous. A group of women even set upon a man with their fists in a cinema recently because he dared to speak during the showing. Where did this happen? In Scotland, of course...

I think even EL James's staunch supporters could admit that her writing hardly ranks up there with the likes of Shakespeare. Or perhaps the quality of the prose isn't what they're reading for. Whatever, I'm sure many of us could think of books that are more deserving of the Hollywood treatment (don't even get me started on Twilight!) So I thought I'd offer my own suggestion and feel free to add your own in the comments.


Two first-class thrillers I've read in recent times are The Mistaken and Leverage by the fantastic Nancy S. Thompson. The writing is so visual and I could see the white-knuckle action unfolding in my mind's eye all the way along, so adapting them would be an obvious choice. The books follow Tyler Karras's descent into violent chaos, as the death of his wife plunges him into a grief-stricken journey of retribution that lands him in deep trouble with the Russian Mafia along with innocent bystander Hannah Maguire and, later, her son Conner.

I even have actors lined up to portray the two leads. Eric Bana would be a great choice for Tyler as he is rough and tough enough for the role while also having a softer side. During the books, Ty frequently flips between these two sides of his personality. Also, Bana comes from Australia and has played American roles. Ty was born in London but grew up in Australia before moving to San Francisco, so he has something of a hybrid accent. Bana would be well equipped to take this on.


Main female character Hannah is feisty and refuses to give up even in the most dire of situations. I'm pretty sure she is described as red-haired, or at least this is how I always pictured her. Alyson Hannigan would be a great pick to portray her after her kick-ass role in Buffy.


Conner would need to be a young, handsome upcoming star and I'm, um, not too up on those. Any suggestions?

What books do you think deserve a movie treatment? Who would star in them?