The reviews still keep coming…

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on 22 September 2016

This is a rollercoaster of a read. From the start, we know something is going to go horribly wrong and from then on we are hanging on to the coat-tails of the characters. It really is a race against time and I held my breath as they slipped past their adversiaries by the skin of their teeth.

The writing is fast paced and yet in a few sentences the author describes perfectly the country or area they are in. I cared about all the characters that we were introduced to and hated the evil ones. Fantasic read highly recommended. Don`t just take my word for it, buy a copy for yourselves you will not be disappointed.

on 18 November 2016
From the dawn of mankind until twenty-five thousand years ago an alien race still lived alongside our ancestors. Then, because humanity rebelled against them, they left. However, two of their race stayed, one cared about humanity and one hated humanity.
They also left behind a network of powerful artefacts which were counting down to the destruction of Earth and all it’s inhabitants.
Zero hour happened on 21st December 2012!
So why are we all still here?
Read and find out.
Note: This is an updated version of this author’s previously published book ‘The Seventh Age’
on 18 September 2016
If you like your action fast paced this is for you. A beautiful ancient mystical being, an English Archaeologist and an ever changing band of misfits and rogues working together to save the world from a count down to an apocalyptic end.
A secret society and an evil god trying to stop them from achieving their aim. Working against the clock to reactivate an ancient machine, it takes them across the globe. Will they make it? Love, treachery, heroism and around the world action – what’s no to like? This would make a great movie.
“Race against time” is an outstanding example of how an author can turn extensive archaeological knowledge into a superb adventure story, chock-full high-caliber entertainment. With the abrupt ending of the Mayan Calendar in 2012, and the prediction that the Solar System will be annihilated in that very year, as a starting point, Jack Eason tells a gripping tale that spans the world, that is often funny but at the same time suspenseful, and that is populated by characters we love to love or to hate. At the end, when the reader thinks that everything will collapse, Eason provides an ingenious, surprising end. An adventure story that also is instructive, a mix of genres that also is a fast-paced and highly entertaining yarn….Eason succeeded in forging all these elements seamlessly together.
on 21 February 2018
If you like Sci-Fi and a fast paced, international novel, this one is for you. I enjoyed this tale.
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How essential is research to a writer?

Research-introduction

Its everything!

I can’t speak for any other writer out there, but when it comes to my own books, they are the end product of seventy percent research time plus thirty percent writing.

When I finally decide on a topic, I spend many months finding out everything I can about it. It doesn’t matter which of the genres I write in.

Without comprehensive research, no story gels. More often than not, as I spend ten hours a day, seven days a week for maybe four to six months reading up on the subject, I will come across a sentence in some dusty tome which gives me the inkling of an idea for the story. As for my resources, here at home I have an extensive research library of my own. Plus I also make use of the internet. Although, having said that, there is a lot of disinformation and plainly incorrect articles on the net.

To give you an example, take most things which appear in Wikipedia with a large pinch of salt. Never rely on just one source! Use Wikipedia by all means. But check what is there with reputable sources like the British Museum, British Library and other institutions. Many of the better universities across the planet can also prove invaluable when it comes to research, especially these days via the internet.

Another excellent source for me are serious documentaries on television, particularly when it comes to history, geography and the universe in general.

So, to sum up – research is the key to a great story unless you are merely engaged in writing what the Victorian’s termed ‘A Penny Dreadful’, or a potboiler if you prefer. But remember this, even they needed a degree of research to be beleaved by their readers…

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Time to fess up!!!

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Here is a question for all my fellow writers, both published like myself, and those who just love to write for the sheer joy of doing so. How many hours do you spend writing each day and how many words does it involve?

Ever since I changed the way I write from how I used to in decades long since past, when I would spend all day and long into the night to achieve a daily word count in the thousands, I now stick rigidly to a short but extremely intense daily session when I have a new story in mind.

I find this is the method that works best for me. If you are wondering how long; these days I limit myself to adding no more than one to two hundred words per day.

Once I get back into the swing of things, I start writing at five in the morning, finishing promptly at eight am. I find that to continue beyond that three hour working window of 100% concentration, means that silly errors will inevitably begin to creep in due to my state of total mental exhaustion by the end of each session. The rest of the day is taken up with a lot of thought about where the story wants me to go next while I carry on with my normal daily activities.

Years ago when I was still in the workforce I used to spend two to three hours writing each night from Monday until Friday. Then on the weekends I would write for twelve hours on both days. On public holidays the number of hours sometimes stretched from twelve to eighteen. While to the novice, endlessly pouring out words might seem to be the only way to write a story, trust me when I tell you it isn’t!

In fact its often the worst possible way of going about it. If you don’t believe me, just look at the hundreds of thousands of poorly written books out there by writers who convinced themselves that high daily word counts is the only way to go. A daily three hour session is by far the best way from my point of view.

I would love to hear how you go about it, but I know most of you are reluctant to own up. There is absolutely no excuse for you not joining in here. You never know, you might even gain some useful ideas and tips on the subject from one another. So leave your thoughts for others to read as comments below this post.

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The reality of writing

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What is the ultimate conundrum?

When it comes to the book we writers have spent many months working on, sooner or later we are all presented with the same conundrum. Will it sell, bearing in mind that this business is extremely fickle?

Daily I see countless writers both new and old, endlessly blogging about spending not only a considerable amount of time and effort, but also their hard earned money, on a book they wrote that simply isn’t selling, in the vain hope that what they’re doing will increase its chances in today’s saturated market.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it until the day I die. If your book doesn’t work, no amount of money spent on changing its cover or having it edited by someone who professes to be a professional (by the by there is no such beast), together with purchasing a number of copies of the new version from your publisher to give away in a book store or at writer’s convention in the vain hope of promoting it to an already jaded reading public, will not make one iota of difference in the end. All you’re doing is flogging a dead horse!

Despite what so many still foolishly believe, the fact that you have availed yourself of the services of an editor and maybe even a publicist, or perhaps you have spent money having it’s cover, hook and link added to one of the countless number of book advertising web pages who demand payment for doing so. Or maybe you even shelled out yet more money by employing a reviewer to help kickstart your book’s chances. Even then, using all of these options still doesn’t guarantee sales. No marketing strategy ever does, no matter how slick it may be.

Face it – there is no magic formula for literary success. It’s always down to luck!

In the end, the only thing that does matter when it comes to sales, is whether or not the story in question actually works. It’s immaterial that you and your immediate family circle and close friends loved it. After all, you and they are too close to be objective.

So, what might the discerning reader be looking for? I can’t speak for others, but when I am perusing the millions of books currently available, first of all I narrow down my search to the genre that has appealed to me my entire life – science fiction or its derivatives. Next, I totally ignore the often gawdy covers, if I want to look at pictures I’ll go to an art gallery or buy a daily newspaper!

Instead I read each book’s hook. If what I’m reading intrigues me, bearing in mind that as a successful science fiction writer, I am extremely hard to please these days, then and only then will I read the first few pages. If I feel that the story appears to show promise, I’ll buy a copy. If not, I’ll move on to the next one.

Oh, and before you ask – no I don’t take any notice of book reviews, no matter whether they are good, bad or indifferent. I prefer to make up my own mind about a book thank you very much!

The other thing to remember is that having enjoyed reading a specific work, when I see another by the same author, I will always seriously consider it, just so long as it’s as good as the previous one. In other words whether or not the author shows consistency!

What do I mean when I say does a book work? There is nothing mysterious or complicated about it. If a story has been carefully thought out. If it gradually builds towards a climax, with the odd red herring thrown in for good measure. If the characters and their relationships with one another are believable. Then and only then do I consider that any given book works.

There are a few other things to remember. In this business, to succeed you have to gain a reputation as a storyteller – not an easy thing to achieve. To do that first you must have written several books, preferably honing your skills with each one. Normally your first few won’t do it for you. Secondly, you will find that even though your book or books are read as a result of those free giveaway promotions by tightwads looking for a free copy, doesn’t mean that your book will actually sell in the thousands. More than likely the chances of selling more than a dozen copies per year is slight, no matter how much time, effort and money you may have put into promoting them.

Only one of mine ever became a best seller. Because of it, I earned the elusive epithet a consumate storyteller from a few of the more prominent writers around the world like Robert Bauval and Bob Van Laerhoven. Men who despite their own success are always willing to acknowledge the product of someone else’s hard work.

Never once have I pinned my hopes on whether or not any of my covers appeal like so many do these days. What ultimately matters is what’s contained within a book’s pages, and whether or not the story actually works. Remember, in this game you are only as good as your last book. Having said that, I continue to enjoy regular monthly royalty payments from my publisher as some of mine still continue to be bought and read. It’s all thanks to that one best seller a few years ago…

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Here is another short story of mine…

I wrote this fully intending to include it as a chapter in my novella Cataclysm. In the end I went without it…

~~~

Wuffa’s Sword

A month had passed since Dr Gilbert Briggs became the first human ever to travel back in time; in his case, to witness the battle of Hastings. As the new director of the UK Advanced Science Institute based in the city of Norwich, Gilbert had demanded that he be the first. Not for selfish reasons as his detractors within the Institute would have the academic world believe, but merely because he was not prepared to gamble on anyone else’s life. He was the one responsible for designing the Teleportation Gate and the minute homing chip, designed to be inserted beneath the observer’s skin; therefore in his eyes, it was his responsibility to test it.

Many lessons had been learned during that first use of the Gate. As far as Briggs’ nemesis Professor Malcolm was concerned; under no circumstances should anyone who may be a direct descendant of the people existing at the target be sent through the Gate ever again, citing the narrow escape Briggs had experienced to back up his argument, secretly hoping the whole programme would be closed down.

Malcolm was the senior academic Briggs had replaced as head of the Institute. He led a small number of the more senior academics within the Institute determined to block Briggs’ every move. The majority of the scientific community in the know largely ignored his protestations, preferring to back Briggs.

The trouble with Malcolm’s argument is that the further you travel back in time, the more likely you are to be related to the people you have been sent to observe, particularly if the target is anywhere within the UK and across the Continent and parts of the Near East.

~~~

While Malcolm and his cronies continued their pathetic attempts to disrupt the programme, Briggs, was taking a break from his own personal research regarding his Norman ancestor Gilberte de Brige who had nearly killed him that day during the battle of Hastings, when he suddenly thought of another historical figure worthy of observation. He was fascinated by the man since his early childhood growing up in a small market town in north Suffolk on the border with Norfolk, not forty miles south of the Institute.

Ever since he first read about the discovery in May 1939 of the ship burial beneath Mound One at Sutton Hoo near Woodbridge in southern Suffolk, four months prior to the opening gambit of the Second World War, commonly referred to as the phony war, he had often wondered about whether or not its occupant was indeed Rædwald, the legendary king of the East Angles (the Scandinavian people who occupied what is now Norfolk and Suffolk at the time) as the world had been led to believe, long before the amalgamation of the Angles and Saxons into one people, and later the Vikings.

In his early teens whenever he accompanied his parents on their annual visit to his mother’s relatives in London, Briggs usually waited until they were all deep in conversation before sneaking away to catch the bus to the British Museum, spending many happy hours wandering around the room where all the rich grave goods found during the Sutton Hoo dig were displayed, marvelling at the seventh century workmanship.

In particular what got his attention was the gold belt buckle, the equally exquisite garnet encrusted cuirass clasps, and the remains of a plated iron helmet and face mask with its magnificent modern day replica mounted alongside for comparison purposes, produced for the British Museum by the artisans of the Royal Armouries, showing how it must have looked on the day of the burial when it was carefully placed alongside the body.

Then there was the garnet cloisonné pommel of the deceased’s sword, equally as exquisite as the buckle and clasps, not to mention the pattern-welded blade still within its scabbard, with superlative scabbard bosses of domed cell work and pyramidal mounts, and the remnants of a once magnificent shield. Were they the sword and shield of Rædwald’s legendary grandfather Wuffa? Briggs was determined to find out one way or another.

~~~

Gilbert’s choice of Lars as his observer was inspired. The long haired, well-built young Scandinavian was currently engaged in a post-doctoral study of the University of East Anglia’s precious copy of the saga of Beowulf. With his extensive knowledge of the ancient Geat language which quickly developed into Old English, a Germanic language at the time, who better to send through the Gate? After all it was widely believed by historians that Rædwald’s ancestors, the Wuffing dynasty, originated in Lars’ home country of Sweden.

The only real decision left was where to send him – Rendlesham, the hypothesised seat of Rædwald’s power, not far from Sutton Hoo, or to the site of the decisive battle at the River Idle, flowing through what is now Nottinghamshire, between Rædwald and his arch enemy at the time, Æthelfrith of Northumbria. In the end Briggs took a calculated guess by deciding on Rendlesham, even though he had no definitive proof that the hamlet actually was Rædwald’s powerbase. It may even have been at nearby Gipeswic (Ipswich), the East Angle’s predominant port at the time.

The other problem was the date. Although it is generally accepted by historians that the king died sometime in 624AD, what month was anyone’s guess. Nor was the actual date of the battle at the river Idle actually known, except that it occurred either in 616 or 617AD. If Lars appeared on the scene too late or early he may miss Rædwald altogether. And so after much discussion between Briggs and his historical section, the twenty-second of September, 616, was decided upon. If their calculations were out, Lars could always travel back again at a different date and time.

~~~

They were in luck. When he arrived in Rendlesham it was night time. The king’s great wooden hall, surrounded by the guarded walls of a wooden stockade, dominated the hamlet. On entering the hall Lars saw that it was filled to capacity. At the hall’s centre, surrounded on three sides by long wooden tables and benches, stood the great brazier. Above it, suspended by a chain from the hall’s ridgepole, was a large iron cauldron from which slaves fed the ever hungry assembly. The thick wattle and daub walls were lined with expensive, richly coloured wall hangings made by the finest artisans.

He marvelled at the sight before him from his vantage point in the shadows beside the doors at the opposite end of the hall facing Rædwald the undisputed king of the East Angles, seated below what Lars had been sent here to find – Wuffa’s mighty sword and shield. To the king’s right were his two sons Rægenhere and Eorpwald and their uncle Eni (Rædwald’s younger brother). Lars said later that finally being able to put actual faces to names from dusty history books was initially unsettling. And yet here he was and there they were…

On Rædwald’s left was his wife Eabæ, a daughter of the royal house of Essex, who Rædwald had originally married on the death of her first husband, to seal a peaceful alliance between her people the Saxons and his. The mother of his beloved sons was still a beauty despite being in her late thirties – which was old for the time.

Rædwald had become king of the East Angles at the age of twenty on the death of his father Tytila, inheriting his crown and his badge of office, Wuffa’s great sword and shield. Later the venerable Bede would contemptuously dismiss Rædwald as nothing more than a mere footnote in England’s history and therefore of no real importance, by simply observing: filius Tytili, cuius pater fuit UUffa (son of Tytil, whose father was Wuffa).

The cleric could not have been more wrong!

Barely a month since, Rædwald had driven out Eabæ’s firstborn son Sigeberht by her previous husband, who’s claim to the East Angle throne was at best tenuous since she had produced two rightful heirs for her new husband.

Rædwald’s desire to kill him soon forced the young man to seek exile in Gaul. Thanks to his loyal thanes and ceorls, Rædwald learned of his stepson’s treacherous plot to murder young Rægenhere and his infant brother Eorpwald in order to take his place as next in line to the throne. Under the circumstances, the usurper was extremely fortunate to escape with his life.

~~~

Lars followed the king’s gaze as he now glowered at the cause of his latest dilemma seated with his thanes and ceorls, to one side of the hall. Edwin, the true heir to the throne of Deira, brother in law of Æthelfrith of Northumbria, had sought Rædwald’s protection after attempts were made on his life at Æthelfrith’s command.

At first Rædwald had been in favour of either killing him, or simply returning him. But his wife Eabæ and Paulinus, a monk and member of the Canterbury mission had reminded him of his recent religious conversion in Kent and his new Christian duty to honour his gift of sanctuary.

Reluctantly he sent Æthelfrith’s ambassadors back to their lord empty handed after Eabæ had pleaded with him to listen to the monk, reminding him that he now served two sets of gods, the new Christian god and his old ones Tiw, Wodin, Thor and Freya.

Completing the picture before Lars’ eyes, Rædwald’s faithful wolfhound Ceolwulf lay at his master’s feet gnawing on a cow’s thigh bone, snarling should any other hound stray too close. While his master was still king, Ceolwulf was the leader of the pack both here in the hall and on the battlefield.

Because of Edwin, Rædwald now had no option but to answer Æthelfrith’s declaration of war. He had already sent his most trusted thane Egfrid to spy on Æthelfrith’s army near the River Trent at the western boundary of the kingdom of Lindsey, two days earlier. When Egfrid returned, plans would be made for a surprise attack.

~~~

The massive carved doors of Rædwald’s hall swung open, noisily striking the wooden poles on either side of the doorway, making Lars jump. Egfrid, together with his ceorls entered; he motioned for his men to go and eat, as he strode forward to the high table where his old friend the king sat.

Rædwald stood to greet him. “What news of Æthelfrith’s army?” he demanded.

“My lord, Æthelfrith has an army already assembled near the River Idle. He is not there yet; he tours his kingdom gathering more to his banner. His thanes are thirsty for blood.”

“Then we have no time to lose. Lord Edwin, will you fight for your birth right or will you cower here in my hall?” Edwin instantly stood up knocking back the bench he had been seated on. Drawing his sword, he strode to the centre of Rædwald’s hall beside the brazier. “Great king I stand by your side ready to do battle with my brother-in-law Æthelfrith and his army. He sought to kill me, denying me Deira. Now it is his turn to die.”

Rædwald nodded. Within the hour he had sent word to all his thanes along the route north to the River Idle to prepare for battle. The two day march began almost immediately. Lars insinuated himself into the ranks of the long column of warriors not far behind Rædwald.

~~~

The king of the East Angles rode at the head of his steadily growing army dressed in his magnificent ornately decorated helmet, with its protective cheek pieces and cranium ridge overlaid with gold, beneath which his protective face mask with its prominent gold brow ridges, who’s ends were decorated with tusked Boar’s heads, together with a nose and moustache inlaid with gold, hid all but his piercing blue eyes from view. His rich cloak was held in place by smaller versions of the garnet encrusted solid gold clasps fixing his cuirass. His belt was adorned with its ornately worked solid gold belt buckle.

From where he marched in the column, Lars recognised the sword sheathed at the king’s back. Only days earlier he had stood beside Gilbert in the British Museum closely studying its pommel and hilt guard in preparation for this very moment.

The sword was a work of art rather than a weapon of war, expertly forged by Swedish artisans in the middle years of the sixth century from pattern-welded rods of iron, edged with steel, which created a beautiful shimmering wavy effect along its entire length, with its pommel and hilt guard of solid gold, both inlayed with garnets.

Striding effortlessly beside his king’s horse was his faithful thane and shield bearer Egfrid proudly carrying his king’s mighty circular wooden shield with its outer covering of thick hide. Its edge was covered in ornate gold filigree work depicting writhing serpents; at its centre stood a gleaming gold plated shield boss. Lars also recognised the mighty shield’s finely crafted adornments after seeing them close up at the Museum. At least one thing was abundantly clear, the sword and shield did belong to Rædwald. Whether or not they actually first belonged to his grandfather Wuffa was not immediately clear.

Rædwald’s faithful wolfhound Ceolwulf trotted in front of his master’s horse, closely followed by his own army ready to rip Northumbrian throats.

 ~~~

When dawn broke on the mist covered east bank of the River Idle, a little known event in England’s history began to unfold before Lars’ eyes as Rædwald formed up his considerable army into three columns across the river’s floodplain, following the long established tactics last employed on this island by the Roman legions, two hundred years previously.

To the left Edwin stood ready with his men. To the right Rædwald’s oldest son Rægenhere and his men prepared for battle. Rædwald sat motionless astride his horse at the head of the central column with his old friend Egfrid ready to protect his back.

Across the marshy meadow ahead of his army, the mist began to lift as the September sun slowly burnt it away, revealing Æthelfrith’s encampment. At Rædwald’s command, the three columns formed their shield walls and began shouting “Out, out, out!” while banging their iron tipped spears against the back surface of their shields as they purposefully began advancing in the characteristic crablike manner of warriors with shields locked together.

Lars stood a little distance away in low scrub behind the advancing columns, unsure quite what to do next, praying he would be forgotten in the heat of the forthcoming battle. Briggs’ account of his own near fatal experience at Hastings still registered vividly in his mind, reminding him of the dangers of personal involvement.

~~~

Æthelfrith’s more seasoned fighters attacked the three shield walls in a ragged open formation, believing that their superior numbers and skills would win the day. With each charge at Rædwald’s shield walls, Æthelfrith’s crazed warriors fell in great numbers. His men, who were attacking Rægenhere’s shield wall, believed they were fighting Edwin. In the ensuing carnage, they succeeded in killed Rædwald’s much loved son.

Ceolwulf and his brethren joined the battle with canine relish, savagely tearing flesh from bone, ripping Northumbrian throats in their own frenzied attack.

The tide of battle slowly turned in Rædwald’s favour as his three column’s shield walls relentlessly drove forward to where Æthelfrith stood surrounded by his most faithful thanes. Despite the danger, Lars followed on behind. The excited, inquisitive small boy in him wanted to get closer to the action.

On hearing of the death of his son, Rædwald with Egfrid at his back, sought out Æthelfrith and slew him with the great sword. With his demise the battle of the River Idle simply petered out rather than end decisively. No one bothered to give chase as the few survivors of Æthelfrith’s Northumbrian army rapidly fled the scene.

Soon after the battle, Edwin succeeded Æthelfrith as ruler in Northumbria which also gave him control over the lesser kingdoms of North Deira and Bernicia. He later became the first Christian king of the Northern English. His now considerable military strength enabled him to conquer the Brythonic kingdom of Elmet, and also to lead his army to victory as far south as the Saxon kingdom of Wessex. As for Æthelfrith’s sons, they went into exile among the Picts and Scots, vanishing from history.

Grief stricken over the death of his son Rægenhere, Rædwald sheathed the great sword and returned home a broken man. A few years later in 624, he died aged forty-four.

~~~

On returning to the Institute Lars asked to be sent back. He wished to attend Rædwald’s funeral out of his deep respect for a great warrior. Briggs agreed and asked to accompany him. They watched through the early morning mist of the November day when Rædwald was laid to rest with his belongings including his sword, helmet and shield on a simple cot within a purpose built wooden chamber aboard his recently repaired longboat,which had been brought overland from nearby Gipeswic. The boat was then buried beneath the tumulus at Sutton Hoo, now known as Mound One.

England would never see his like again. Barely a generation after his death the East Angles ceased to be a separate people when the inevitable intermarriage between Angles and Saxons forged a new nation.

Thanks to Lars’ extremely detailed written account, many gaps in the sketchy history of Rædwald’s East Angles had been filled in. Briggs now knew beyond any reasonable doubt that the remains of the helmet, sword and shield in the British Museum exhibit were indeed formerly owned by Rædwald. Whether or not they actually belonged to Wuffa would probably never be known…

~~~

 Don’t forget – if you want to read Cataclysm, click on the word in red at the top of the page…

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Are you writing a book?

Liz-S-Writing-Workshop-101Over the past couple of months on several Internet sites for writers, I’ve read many questions and queries plus suggestions and comments regarding the use of correct grammar and speech.

The academically minded among us, plus the vast majority of editors still cling desperately to the fervent belief that a book sans correct grammar will inevitably never make it. While that may be true for books of a historical, biographical or academic nature i.e text books, when it comes to fiction the real key is whether or not the writer can actually tell a story, not if he or she adheres to the accepted rules of English.

When your characters speak, by insisting that they do it correctly you will do yourself no favours. In fact these days it almost guarantees that your book will be lucky to sell more than a dozen copies. In essence, the story and the way your characters converse in a mix of correct speech and common parlance is the key, not the use of perfect English as rigidly laid down by close-minded professors within the English departments of universities worldwide, or even the majority of editors come to that.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the comments in favour of correct grammar are contributed by people from countries whose native language is not English. It’s not their fault. They are merely echoing what they were taught by their teachers.

Think about today’s best selling writers. Do they stick rigidly to the rules of grammar? Most don’t. Gone are the days when the likes of Emile Bronte, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe et al wrote to entertain the educated elite minority. And yet they are still held up as the ideal in literature.

Why when today’s writers must write for the majority. In fact you must know your target readers better than they know themselves. I write specifically for the US market for two reasons.

1. The greater majority in the US are brought up on soap operas, reality shows and film, not literature.

2. Because they are more switched on than any other people, I also only publish my books in Kindle form (Ebooks)

They are my readers, not my own countrymen (the English) and certainly not academics. They will be yours as well if you are brave enough to break away from the idea of literary rules. As my good friend and fellow Antipodean Derek Haines has stated on numerous occasions – when it comes to writing there are no rules…

Writing this article is one example of using correct English. But if I had written my books in the same way, I would not now be enjoying my regular monthly royalty income from them.

If you feel strongly one way or another about the subject of correct English and grammar, don’t just read this article and tut-tut under your breath. I don’t bite. Be brave. Write your comments below.

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Plot, characters or both? Which is the most important element?

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For me its a no brainer. I was brought up on plot driven books. Consequently I far prefer them to the character driven variety. Why? Simplicity itself. You can have the most appealing/ intriguing/ baffling characters ever dreamt up. But unless the plot is strong and compelling, your characters are going nowhere. Remember that you are writing a book not a screenplay!!!

Whether you like it or not, plot is king!

I’m criticised ad nauseam by the same pair of writers masquerading as self-styled experts on Amazon, whose own works have yet to sell more than a couple of dozen copies in any given year, over the fact that my books are purely plot driven. In that regard they are perfectly correct. Consequently the individuals concerned constantly whine about a lack of emotional depth to my characters.

To them I say – tough!!!

If like them your idea of a good book is driven by the need to have every nuance and character flaw spelt out for you, instead of allowing your imagination free reign, I suggest that you stick with movie and television programs…

I’m a bloke. I write what appeals to me. If you don’t like a strong story, then clearly my books are not for you. Were I ever to produce the kinds of books those two wanted, quite frankly I would deserve to be locked up. If like them, you are looking for endless mind numbingly boring deep and meaninful dialogue between the characters in my books, so that you can figure out what makes them tick – I’m sorry it won’t happen! While it is true that my books do contain various intriguing characters, as far as I’m concerned they are secondary to the story.

The proof is in the pudding. What do I mean by this? Easy – its the regular monthly royalty payments to my bank account. Proof that my books sell and that I know what I’m doing. Finally, to those two individuals, all I can say is that if your own books aren’t selling, then perhaps its high time you asked yourselves why?

PS – I’ve only ever written one character driven book – a fantasy anthology entitled Goblin Tales. I’m lucky if it sells one copy a year…

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