Wishes Do Come True

My latest news speaks for itself. Excuse the unseemly author squeal but HOW COOL IS THIS!!!!!

Sharon x

wishing_bazaar_cover_smallPRESS RELEASE 25/11/2016

LETHBRIDGE-STEWART

PRE-ORDER FREE STORY

Candy Jar Books is pleased to announce its latest brand new free story!

The Wishing Bazaar by Sharon Bidwell will be sent out to all subscription customers, and those who pre-order the forthcoming novel, Blood of Atlantis by Simon A Forward.

Sharon Bidwell was born in London on New Year’s Eve. She has been writing professionally for many years, with her first short story receiving praise for being “strong on characterisation, and quite literary, in terms of style”.Her work has appeared steadily in both print and electronic publications, such as Midnight StreetAoife’s KissNight To Dawn, and Radgepacket. She has written several romance novels under the name Sharon Maria Bidwell, including Snow Angel and A Not So Hollow Heart, as well as dark fiction under the name Sharon Kernow. She was propelled into the universe of Steampunk as one of the writers for Space: 1899 & Beyond, winning the approval of series creator and award-winning game designer, Frank Chadwick. She wrote three books in the series, one of which was co-authored with editor (and writer) Andy Frankham-Allen.The Wishing Bazaar is her first piece of Doctor Who related fiction.

Range Editor Andy Frankham-Allen says: “I first met Sharon via the wonderful world of social media back in, I think, 2009. I was very impressed with her work, and soon enlisted her for my Space: 1889 & Beyond series. Her work ethic was proven to me when a novella fell through at the last minute and she agreed to co-author a replacement with me – which we did, in only two weeks! Sharon’s first drafts are often better than a lot of published works out there, and from the off I told her that I would get her writing for the Lethbridge-Stewart series. She resisted for all of five minutes.”

Sharon says: “I’ve written for and with Andy before with great success, so I was not entirely surprised when he got in contact about his latest project. For one thing, he’d been ‘hinting’ for some time that he wanted to rope me in and Andy isn’t someone who understands no as an answer.Whenever I hear from Andy, I never know whether to cheer or groan. All those who write novels for well-known television shows now have my utmost respect. Some find it easy; for others the experience feels difficult and involves a lot of angst. I’m one of those worriers. Despite the responsibility, Andy has dragged me into incredible worlds and stories that are part of history and there’s no way not to be grateful for that.Invariably the experience of writing for Lethbridge-Stewart was, for me, daunting, exciting, fun, and adventurous…a bit like the character himself.”

Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, says: “Sharon was an unknown quantity for me, but I knew that Andy had worked with her before, so I was more than happy to see what she’d come up with. Having read her short story, and looked up her other work, I now believe she’s going to be a wonderful addition to our stable of authors on this series.”

This story is set between Times Squared and Blood of Atlantis.

Blurb: Back from New York, Lethbridge-Stewart is investigating one of the strangest cases that has come across his desk yet. Wishes are coming true, and if there’s one thing Lethbridge-Stewart still doesn’t believe in it’s magic. But what if he’s wrong?

The cover of The Wishing Bazaar is by regular cover artist, Richard Young. Richard says:“I adore working with Candy Jar, and their cover briefs are always so specific, but this one was rather ambiguous as there were several elements that I could have used on the cover. I decided to concentrate on the alien of the piece.One passage of the story mentioned its burning eyes. Using a combination of traditional drawing and then colourisation in Photoshop (to really get the blazing eyes right), this is what I came up with.And I’m pleased to say everyone loved it.”

The Wishing Bazaar will be sent out to every person who pre-orders Blood of Atlantis (as a single book, or as part of our bundle/subscription offers).

Blood of Atlantis can be pre-ordered individually, or as part of the Series 3 Bundle (both UK and overseas), which includes the previous novel, Times Squared by Rick Cross, and the forthcoming novel,Mind of Stone by Iain McLaughlin, or the subscription deal for those wishing to get six books for the price of five.

Candy Jar is pleased to announce that the subscription offer is now being extended to international customers. Please see http://www.candy-jar.co.uk/books/subscriptions.html for more details.

Candy Jar is also offering a special promotion for its online customers. Buy Blood of Atlantis for £8.99 and get Times Squared for £5. This promotion also applies to six other Candy Jar titles. Please see http://www.candy-jar.co.uk/books/offers.html for more details.

-END-

www.candyjarbooks.co.uk

For more information, or to arrange an interview with the editor, authors, cover artist and/or license holder, please contact Shaun Russell at shaun@candyjarbooks.co.uk or 02921 15720

Lethbridge-Stewart series 1:

The Forgotten Son by Andy Frankham-Allen

The Schizoid Earth by David A McIntee

Beast of Fang Rock by Andy Frankham-Allen

Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters

Lethbridge-Stewart series 2:

Moon Blink by Sadie Miller

The Showstoppers by Jonathan Cooper

The Grandfather Infestation by John Peel

Lethbridge-Stewart series 3:

Times Squared by Rick Cross

Blood of Atlantis by Simon A Forward

Mind of Stone by Iain McLaughlin

Being Busy, the art of Tinkering, and Screaming

I came across this post from 2012 and repeat it here now almost word for word as I wrote it then. This year is different. I am writing. I have been doing lots of editing and I’ve more of both ahead of me. I’ve not done anywhere near enough promotion and those ‘life’ annoyances are different but still very prevalent, maybe more so. Part of me wants to sum up the entire post into a single sentence: I’m a writer and I’m forever busy:

A friend sent me a text last night: “I hope the writing is going well.” I had to reply that I’m not writing. I haven’t been for…well, I’m not sure. Several days, maybe three or four weeks, and it’s starting to annoy me. I’ve found a moment here and there to ‘tinker’ but not to write, although that’s not entirely true either.

I’ve ‘tinkered’ with a bit of story, but not had time to sit down and truly write so in that sense I’ve hardly written a word. On the other hand, I’ve written plenty. I’ve had edits. I’ve written long-overdue emails. I’ve three works out in December so have written blurbs and promo, and typed my book details everywhere I can think of, and written blog posts for places I’m hoping to show up at to pontificate about my books or the writing process that created them for anyone who has asked me, or cares to read them. And sometimes just to say hi — to connect with other writers and readers and thank them for their support, understanding, and lovely words and messages.

This is another side of ‘writing’ and I’ve had lots of that to be going on with, but I’ve also spent some time out to attend to daily ‘life’. Much as I’d like to claim otherwise, we all have them, these daily lives, and maybe that’s a good thing — keeps a person grounded. I’ve a relative in the hospital, the extension roof sprung a leak, and I’ve done some shopping, some of which I can’t avoid as we head towards Christmas. I will have a Christmas run of presents to attend to, and I have parcels to pack up, post off or deliver. I have cards to write, and a yearly letter to put together for those I have and haven’t neglected equally — either way it will be a chance for them to catch up on what is happening at ‘our house’.

I’m…deep breath…busy, but in that, I can’t say this time is all that different to any other time. I’m always busy, because when I’ve ticked off all the things on my current to-do list, there will be another one to attend to, and another one, and another after that. It doesn’t stop. It’s part of writing, living this double life, and sure, sometimes it’s part of any normal life, too, but having all this going on occasionally means I procrastinate and tinker a bit with something trivial because it stops me from screaming aloud, which will only earn me strange looks and speculative whispers. And if there ever should be a time when I’m not busy… As if that’s going to happen. I’ll still be occupied because what writers do when they’re not busy is get busy writing. See how that works?

Still, I’m getting antsy and I’m longing for the moment — and it will arrive this week — when I sit down and begin work on something. It may be something that needs editing — it may be old or new, may require a complete re-write, or may be ticking over quietly in a dormant brain cell for now, but I’ve reached a point where if I don’t write ‘story’ it’s quite possible you’ll hear me screaming.

The Seeker

To start with a summation, I’ll say this book (by Andy Frankham-Allen) is absorbing and satisfying. Initially, I didn’t feel that this was going to be the case. At the risk of the author’s wrath, I confess it took me more than a few pages to get into this story. That isn’t to say my attention wandered; I simply didn’t find it gripping, but I quickly accepted I probably opened the pages with more than a little bias, and the fault lies with me, not the writer. Knowing the author’s style my already active imagination worked overtime with anticipation, for I’ve been waiting for this book for more than a little while. The pace at the start was steady but a little slower than I was expecting. However, that’s my one and only negative and it’s a small one. I found the book increasingly absorbing.

I should say I’m going to be sharing a publisher with the author and our paths have crossed in writing circles enough to call each other friends. After reading The Seeker we eventually went on to write a book together for the series Space 1889. It says a lot of Andy’s tenacity that he talked me into co-authoring. However, if a writing acquaintance pens a book that I dislike, I simply never review it. Neither do I review all the books I do like, but I keep my evaluations generally for books that speak to me on some deeper level of enjoyment that makes the book a keepsake. The Seeker, book one of four in The Garden series, is such a book.

Absorbing and satisfying is the only description that fits the gradual expansion that made every distraction in my life irritating. By the time I reached halfway I’d find myself suddenly thinking of Willem and wonder what was happening to him as if his life hadn’t ‘paused’ while the book lay shut, but continued between the closed pages. That felt unacceptable; I wanted to be reading.

Willem is both a businessman and loving uncle, with much in his life to be thankful for including a long-standing friendship with his best mate, Jake. That’s not to say that Will’s life is without stresses and seeing Jake at long last appears to be getting serious with his latest girlfriend, Will decides to take a chance and follow what began as an internet romance to its logical conclusion, to meet up with the person he’s only known online. From here what happens after Will disappears leads the reader into a clever reworking of mythology extending back to ancient Egypt. As I immersed deeper into this supernatural world that exists in the undercurrents of our own, that initial steady pace began to make sense. One needs to fully know and understand Will to make what happens to him all the more involving.

It’s been a while since I read a book where I loved almost all the characters, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ached equally for them. There is much manipulation and secretive agendas that make the line between antagonist and victim blur, as do the lines of sexuality. Although Will is gay, this is not a homosexual novel, and it would be a tremendous pity if anyone dismissed the reading of it as anything less than it is — an engrossing narrative bringing new life to the vampire mythos that could equally interest vampire aficionados as well as those with no particular liking for the subject.

This is and isn’t a vampire book, just as it is and isn’t so many other things, but rather a satisfying blend, a commingling of old and new, the future and the past, complexities of relationships, love and hate. One is left feeling that these characters are all being moved like pawns in some great game where some fundamental rule or ‘truth’ is missing. Those who believe they are following a line of destiny are as helpless as a newly rebirthed upyr of the story. I hurt for Frederick in an almost equal way as I did Willem. In this expert way, the author humanises the villains of the piece, making the reader care even when a twinge of betrayal or guilt accompanies the feelings, for Willem remains the central pivot that wreaks havoc with the emotions, both with the other characters in the story and in turn with the person turning the pages.

Unusually for a book in a series, I have to agree with another reviewer who commented on the truly great ending, calling it both subtle and powerful. I’d like to add another word to that: perfect. It’s the perfect end at the perfect moment. I feel content enough to leave the story for now, and let the events I’ve learned so far percolate…with anticipation.

You can check out Andy’s Amazon page where you will see The Seeker has two covers but this is the latest:

seeker

Happy Halloween

Last year I took part in the ‘Howloween’ Blog Hop. Unfortunately, owing to an update of my site I’ve lost that particular post, but I did note the contents. When discussing all things unnerving, it occurred to me there are many things ‘scary’ about writing. One of those is the fear there will come a day when someone devours all the plot bunnies. Often the writer struggles to kick the furry little blighters back because they’re rampaging and demanding attention as much as any zombie on the march for brains. I’m sure my bunnies have nasty sharp teeth and claws — they sure enjoy nipping at my ankles — but many ask the question: where do they come from? So let’s concentrate on the scary ‘how’ and ‘howl’ of plots. How does one make the magic happen?

I doubt there’s a writer in existence who won’t one day be asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” There is no spell book. No magic shop one can go to. Authors wish there were, but in some ways ideas are conjured up out of thin air. A writer is someone who can connect two or more seemingly dissociated events, can play the ‘what if’ game, and maybe add an extra twist.

Here is a brief example. I wove my short story Bitter and Intoxicating for the anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe (editor Mitzi Szereto; foreword by Kelley Armstrong) in answer to a submission call for gothic erotic romance. Although a list of example work was given, I didn’t have anything written that fitted, and worse, I had no ideas. I went online and began running searches for red, velvet, and for absinthe. Although the stories didn’t need to have anything to do with these items, I needed a place from which to start. I certainly didn’t expect to write anything on those topics. I was just searching for a spark.

I came across a painting by Albert Maignan, La Muse Verte, which seemed a good portrayal of what the effects of absinthe was supposed to have on the artistic mind. Inspiration! What if a distraught painter came across a seductive woman in a bar, one with flaming red hair clad in a diaphanous green gown, and she was to take him home to try absinthe promising that it would be the answer to all his woes? The resulting story is part BDSM, part gothic horror, part sensuous seduction ‘painted’ with words — something fitting to read on a dark October night in front of the fire with the wind blowing outside.

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Tired of Adulting

As children we often feel put-upon because the adults are the ones who make ‘our’ decisions. This is not helped by the numerous times these restrictions come without an explanation. Children feel victimised, unfairly treated. At times, they are bullied by other children, and in worse cases, by parents and teachers. We hear, or imagine, how great it is to be an adult. Being ‘adult’ represents freedom. This is strengthened by being told, “Well, when you’re an adult you’ll be able to make your own decisions.”

13515
Adults are liars. People are born into a world where they are never free. They are born into a world with expectations. That’s not entirely a bad thing — I do believe in a certain standard of social and ethical responsibility, but it’s why money can be the root of all evil. Money represents a kind of freedom most of us will never obtain, never appreciate. It’s not so much about what we can buy, or what we can own. It’s not even about not having to do as we’re told. It’s about not having to do as we’re told, unjustly.

11909
Children and adults bully children. Adults and children bully adults. Children look at adults and see them as having all the power, when the truth is most adults will never have the power at all. Adults remain children. It’s just that some are better at hiding it. Some ooze confidence but in their darkness hours they are still children. We all need a cuddle sometime. We all wish someone else could be the adult for a day. We all just keep plodding along, doing the best we can. We learn our parents were ‘winging it’, faking it, ‘putting on a brave face’…and maybe that’s the true definition. Maybe in that regard I excel at being ‘adult’. I’m still tired some days. And it is on those days where creativity is many a person’s survival mechanism.

6483-o

‘Adults’ everywhere, I hug you.

 

Images from memepile. If aware of any copyright breaches, please advise.

Beautiful Brugge

Hi Everyone. I was absent from blogging last week because we were in the beautiful city of Brugge (you may have seen it more commonly spelled as Bruges). We sailed over on a two-night cruise to spend the day for two reasons. One of which was curiosity. We had heard both good and bad reviews of the flagship Britannia and wanted the experience and to make up our own mind.

DCIM100MEDIA

The Atrium

Our view is short is that while well conceived overall the ship is seriously let down by a few design flaws, most importantly the lack of a central staircase, which would ease congestion on the lift (even if unable to walk up, many would have used them going down). There were stairs mid-ship but only for the crew or to be used in an emergency. At least we found points we did like, including a good bottle of wine in the wine bar.

DCIM100MEDIA

Wine Bar, Coffee shop, and shops surround the Atrium

DCIM100MEDIA

Decided if this were a long cruise this would be my spot in the library.

On to Brugges. I was shocked to hear a few less than complimentary remarks when we said we were going. We’ve been three times. This occasion, we went to do some shopping.

DCIM100MEDIA

The famous Belfry (I’ve climbed twice), over 36o steps.

What is Brugge famous for? Most chocolate, beer, and lace. My tip for chocolate is don’t opt for the cheapest as you’ll be eating butter not cocoa. Of course, there are also cakes.

DCIM100MEDIA

Just one of the bright ‘eat me’ displays.

Beer…it’s an acquired taste for some so it’s one of those flavours that needs experiencing rather than recommendation. Belgium beer is very different from other parts of the world, though can be more refreshing. Lace…I bought my first pieces, both with Halloween/Autumnal themes. I also bought an Autumn Mix bag of chocolates that is too cute to eat…but I’m sure I will manage, though I may save them until the end of the month. But for the writer in me, I love the architecture, which screams story setting and fairy tales.

DCIM100MEDIA

Looks like something magical should happen.

For now…life returns to normal with a shiver or two not created by anything I’ve written. There’s a definite nip in the air.

Shaking hands with Lethbridge-Stewart

Hi, everyone! I thought this week was a good time to post an update I planned to entitle Update September 2016. That changed when my most exciting news arrived in my inbox this morning. I can’t exactly call this Dark Fiction, but it’s more that side of my writing than anything else, though the tone of the story is fast and light. My short story The Wishing Bazaar is now part of the third series of Lethbridge-Stewart ‘The Brigadier’ of Doctor Who fame. I’ve been keeping this secret for quite some unbearable time. With the press release it’s official:

Series Three Announced! Times Squared for Pre-order!

***

My next truly Dark Fiction title Blood Moon will appear in Night to Dawn magazine early next year under my pseudonym of Sharon Kernow. It is one of several from an on-going project of shorts under a theme, of which I’ve already published some stories. I have it in mind to place a few with magazines and then form a collection either through a publisher, should I be able to find one, or dip into self-publishing.

***

On the romance side, Snow Angel has been contracted by JMS Books. The new, and one hopes, improved version should be out before the end of the year both in ebook and print. Hard to believe how much my writing has changed. I’m working on drafts of book 2 (which is now extended), and book 3 (completely new/roughly drafted). The re-write came about because when I considered adding a third and much-asked for title, I realised the writing was vastly different. I asked a couple of the fans and they voted for a re-write. The re-release is with JMS mostly because that’s the only way I could obtain print, but because of the good work ethic I’ve seen from the company so far. Others are screaming for work from me, I know. I’m sorry. Life pitches us curves and no one can be more frustrated than I.

I have a schedule I’m diving into. Thanks to everyone who has asked for work and those who have shown incredible patience.

Plot vs Pants

First, an explanation.

A writer who is a ‘plotter’ plans out the course of the story, spends time thinking about the plot, theme, subtext, characterisation, and many other elements ‘before writing’.

A ‘pantser’ sits down at the keyboard with an idea or a model (these are two different things I won’t explain here except to say one is more fully-fledged than the other) and begins to write. ‘Pantsing’ is to ‘fly by the seat of’ (one’s pants), though I prefer to call it organic writing.

I’m (mostly) a pantser, which I’ve come to realise doesn’t mean I don’t plot but having read a reference to Stephen King recently, a proverbial lightbulb went off in my head illuminating the fact that, like King, I’m an intuitive plotter. I am NOT for the record stating at this point in time I do it as well as he does, but here’s hoping one day, preferably soon. Really, that’s the definition of (successful) pantsers — they are intuitive plotters.

Yes, I am able to face the blank page and craft a story with nothing more than a vague idea in mind. I tend to write from beginning to end. I seldom jump around. The story comes to me as if I am reading, and in that respect it appears I’m lucky the way King is fortuitous. We are able to ‘pants’ it. The same cannot be said of every writer, though it doesn’t diminish the effort required, and a simple but painful truth remains: sometimes planning isn’t a bad idea even for pantsers. A story may not work for many reasons. Vital elements may be missing. Or be in the wrong order. Even a good book may benefit from being looked over to check all the important formations of story-telling are present and/or in the right place.

I imagine most writers start out as pantsers, unless they have some form of professional writing background. The majority of writers are readers who range from someone ‘wanting to have a go’ to those who have always dreamed of it being a vocation. Some (the lucky few) will discover they are intuitive, their writing tends to be organic, and they write something good enough to capture a publisher’s interest. Those who aren’t intuitive likely never publish anything, or nothing well-received.

Stories have patterns. Don’t worry if you didn’t realise this. If you’re a reader, you shouldn’t. I was ‘just’ a reader once, though there’s no such thing as ‘just a reader’ to those who love books, who buy them or produce them. A reader should enjoy a book without seeing its framework. The reader isn’t supposed to know the design is there.

Pantsers start writing and either give up or get nowhere (I throw my hands up and confess there are always the often-dreaded exceptions) because they don’t realise this, or they are intuitive and form the shape without realising. Once pantsers become published authors, they may or may not perceive the hidden construction of stories. Some will continue to be intuitive without thinking about it, while some (of which I am one) will begin to spot these layouts.

A note of warning: IMHO recognition of these designs ‘may’ spoil the simple enjoyment of reading somewhat (at least for me). As an author I now read a book more aware of the narrative. I’m able to spot the ‘inciting incident’ (for example). Don’t worry if as a reader you don’t know what that is, but writers should understand. For me, books were more enjoyable when these plot points were ‘invisible’ because as a reader my mind wasn’t tuned in to spot them.

Plotters know stories require an arrangement and they set out to make the task easier for themselves by laying the groundwork beforehand.

To a pantser plotting feels like studying for an exam. A plotter to a pantser can seem like one of those irritating kids in school who enjoyed the study process. Ironically, I was one of those who didn’t overly mind studying — good thing because as a writer there are times when I need to do research.

The trouble is, depending on what level of intuitive grasp the writer has of the subject, the pantser can be the one looking wistfully back, wishing they had spent the hours pouring over the text books in order to obtain a better result, but I’m not advocating either option.

Which is better? This is a simple question with an easy answer: use the one that works for you. Some writers plot, some pants, and some do a mixture of the two, and what’s required can differ from work to work, genre to genre, project to project. The choice often comes down to which the writer finds easier, more natural, or even which he or she can withstand. For some pantsers, plotting can seem torturous. For some plotters, pantsing must seem bewildering and disastrous.

A Pictorial Narrative

I confess I missed last week’s blog. I had my laptop, I had interview access, but I was away on holiday, which also involved some semi-research and it all got a little too much. Started to feel more like work than a break so something had to get overlooked. So this week while I get catch up with everything I thought I’d take you along with me to some of the fun things.

Hard to spot but on the way down spotted all these people floating in the sky. Not bad shots considering we were in a moving car and this wasn’t my best camera.

DCIM100MEDIA

DCIM100MEDIA

    The perfect sunset greeted us as we arrived. Love this sky.

DCIM100MEDIA

DCIM100MEDIA

P1070013

A lovely stretch of Cornish coastline.

P1070024

Minster Church, not easy to get to.

P1070026

P1070027

If in the area it’s a must to visit Davidstow Airfield & Cornwall at War Museum, whether interested in the subject or not. All put together by the exhausting work of volunteers who deserve recognition for their efforts. They’ve taken my box brownie camera to put on display.

P1070029

Launceston Castle.

P1070046

IMHO English Heritage charge a little too much to get into the castle but it’s worth doing once for the views.

P1070045

Love the zoom on my camera.

P1070047