Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Snips and Snails and Fairy Tales, That's What My Summer's Made Of!

So I'm back and the wedding's over. It was a glorious but small affair in the gorgeous Grand Hotel perched on the edge of the Jurassic Coast. I met family members I've never ad the chance to meet (they were born after I emigrated ) and was reunited with many more. I wasn't there for nearly long enough but times are tough and purses are not over-flowing.

Durlston Castle

I haven't finished reading any of the books I recommended in the last post - not because they aren't superb but because I stocked up on some second hand bargains during my stay at home! I love charity shops and Swanage is stuffed with them, I found a hardback copy of Violin by Anne Rice that I haven't read - hadn't even heard of to be honest, although the character was touched on in the Prince Lestat. Looking forward to diving into that. Didn't get hold of her latest book but I'll ask for it for Christmas! The one that has really got me stuck though is Second Nature by Alice Hoffman - I love her stories they are pure magic realism that I would love to capture! I even found a box of books up at Durlston Castle which I practically emptied - there were super reads for my kids - one kid's rubbish is another kid's treasure!

So as for writing. I have several things pending with publishers and several rewrites going on but this summer it's my intention to finish my first fairy story. I've got about 12,000 words down but no ending as yet. In fact, I'm only just going into the adventure! I'm taking the kids to up to a tiny cottage in the forest where they'll run free and I'll be inspired to write, at least that's the plan. Wish me luck!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Hot Summer Reads!

July already and it's averaging 40 degrees Celsius here in Greece. The heat's not so conducive to writing - or much else for that matter - I do not do air conditioning (for various reasons I won't bore you with here!) So with fans swirling overhead, I've been reading and packing for a long awaited trip home for my niece's wedding. So here's the (wedding) low-down on what I'm currently reading (or planning to)!

SOMETHING OLD:

The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman. I'm about a third of the way in and intrigued! A friend of mine, who I always meet on holiday, gave me this last year (it had been passed on to her from a friend of hers). I had a pile of books on the go and didn't start it then. This year I picked it up and I'm really stuck in it.

The story slips smoothly between the present and the past following the research of Elizabeth Stavely, who is running away from a troubled trelationship, and Paul Pinder, who discovers that his lost fiance may just be the newest slave in the sultan's harem. The detail and research that must have gone into the book are phenomenal. Hickman, not only builds strong characters but also gives a vivid description of life in Constantinople of the 1500s. I can't wait to see if Pindar rescues Celia and if Elizabeth get over her relationship Marius. I'm also curious about Elizabeth's very strong sense of intuition.


SOMETHING NEW:

On a much lighter note, Bite Somebody Else by Sara Dobie Bauer is my new book as it was released in June. It continues the story of vampire friends Imogen and Celia, this time from the perspective of Imogen. (Celia took the lead in volume 1, Bite Somebody - which I also read recently - the Kindle edition is currently on offer on Amazon for 99p!)

I'm about to dive into this one, but the blurb makes it sound just as exciting as Bite Somebody. Imogen is wild and crazy and on the surface seems not to give a damn about anyone, but I somehow feel that she's about to show a deeper side in this novel. Now Celia is pregnant with a human/vampire baby, Imogen has to deal with the ancient vampire history who wishes to follow Celia's progress. Bauer's writing style is quick witted and very funny. She makes reference to other contemporary vampire fiction and has familiar tropes, yet there is something delightfully original that will suck you in.



SOMETHING BORROWED:

Living in a provincial town in Greece means that reading material is in short supply unless you have $s to spend. (Which, due to the financial crisis/wedding, I do not!) Fortunately, my local library has a quite a good foreign language section which consists mostly of classics donated by graduates returning from English philology studies in the UK. This gives me the opportunity to catch up on reading books I feel I should have read, but never have. So my borrowed book at the moment is The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan. I have only just started reading it and I love that very British voice that classic writers have. I've tried to emulate it in one or two of my stories and it's not easy. This is one of those occasions where I have seen the film, by Alfred Hitchcock, first and now I'm reading the book. Apparently there are other stories with Richard Hannay as the protagonist, so I'll be looking out for those too.

If you do not know the story, here's a quick overview: Richard Hanney returns to London after growing up in South Africa and finds life boring as hell. He is on the verge of returning to S.A. when he's accosted by a dead man and dragged into a story of espionage and murder that takes him to the wilds of Scotland and turns him into a the prime suspect in a murder investigation.


SOMETHING BLUE:

Call of Fire by Beth Cato and is the sequel to Breath of Earth, which I read last summer, but have only just gotten round to reviewing. (Shameful, I know.) I can't wait to catch up with geomancer Ingrid Carmicheal, Cy, Lee and Fenris and see what is going to happen since they were left fleeing San Francisco after the devastating earthquake at the end of the last book. It seems they're going to get tangled with ambassadors and turn to Theodor Roosevelt for help. The galley reviews on Goodreads are really promising another great story! So why is this blue? That's how I feel because it doesn't come out until August 15th!



Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Challenge me!

May 12th is National Limerick Day held in commemoration of poet, artist and composer Edward Lear (May 12th 1812 - January 29th 1888). It is also in commemoration of his Book of Nonsense, first published in 1846, which contains fantastic limerick poems. (When I was about twelve, I asked for a copy of the book for my birthday, instead I got a birthday book with his limericks!)
In a blatant attempt to increase followers/ subscribers to my blog, and following the adage that you don't get something for nothing, I'm proposing you challenge me! Yes, you heard me.
Challenge me! 
Subscribe to/follow my blog, post a key word (often but not always a place name), in the comments below any time during May 12th and I will (attempt to) write a limerick in return. Those of you who know me from the (recently fallen) Steampunk Empire know that I've got a bit of a knack at this (even if I do say so myself). The publishable limericks from a similar challenge carried out there and a few more besides are free to read on my Wattpad account under the title "There was a Wild Woman Who".

NOTE: This challenge is only for all people who post their word on May 12th, 2017 and are subscribed to/following N.O.A. Rawle: Through the Eyes of a Stranger. All limericks remain the copyright of the author. Please don't expect immediate returns on your prompt word; I'm a working mum after all, and it is a pretty hectic period for me right now too, but I'm also known for writing into the wee hours of the morn, so check back frequently throughout May 12th and that goes for any time zone!


Thursday, 27 April 2017

"Write What You Know."

This is the some of the oldest advice given when it comes to writing. It holds true even though it might feel a bit limiting, especially if to a young and/or inexperienced writer. So let me explain how I've dealt with this.

Think about all the emotions you know. It's certain that you've experienced a huge range of feelings from euphoria right down to depression. Really explore those experiences. How did you move? How did other people understand your feelings or relate to you during that time? What were you thinking at that time? What made your emotion change?

Then there are age issues. You cannot change how old you are, but in my experience the way you think will not change so drastically despite the encroaching years. What does change are your reactions to certain situations. (I find myself thinking, "Oh hell, I sound just like my mother." more frequently than I wish.) But anyway, there are always older or younger people around who you can observe. Look at how they react in certain situations, how the respond to people of different age or status. Quiz them on their thoughts on a certain experience. I enjoyed doing this with my story Shark Nose.
Read it here.
Knowledge of certain jobs, places or circumstances can seem hard too gain too. The most revealing way of doing this is actually by putting yourself in that situation, embracing opportunity. If you a recent report from Greek Reporter, you will know that I suddenly found myself in the position of translator/reporter on live TV, earlier this month. I've also had a variety of jobs including but not limited to fishmonger, set builder for the BBC, costume designer,interior designer, factory worker, baker, cleaner, secretary, teacher, care assistant, bookseller, shop assistant, oh and of course writer. You don't have to do the job to get a feel for it though. Find another person who does it and subject them to an inquisition. Watch documentaries in the Internet where people are talking about their lives as a.... (I did this for a WIP about a taxidermist.)

For a fantasy author, worlds are a challenge all on their own, especially if you want to create another, non-existent planet. There are whole blogs on world-building you can follow but you can make it simpler too. Look around you and observe. Weeds growing on an old stone wall can become fairy land, a desert a barren planet. It is said that the Shire is inspired by certain areas of the Forest of Dean where Tolkien worked in the late1920s. Regions can become countries, follow the geography of a map but put in your own cities, swamps, forests and so on. Think about the climate you want to create and then research regions which have this climate. Of course, if you have the wherewithal, why not take a visit to the place you wish to write about. Neil Gaiman had tours of London's sewer system when researching Neverwhere, which just proves, nothing beats reality after all.

Characters are a challenge too. They require a little psychoanalysis and a lot of observation. Find a person who resembles your character in looks of personality or both and trim them to suit your purpose. It doesn't have to be someone you know or even a real person. Beth Cato says she drew inspiration for Mrs. Stout from British TV series 'Are You Being Served?''s Mrs. Slocombe in her bestselling Clockwork Dagger series.

Don't have a plot and want to be a writer? Use someone else's. Yes, I am serious. How many stories have been inspired by Mythology, Bible stories, the Classics or Fairy tales? (Ulysses by James Joyce, for one!) Take your favourite story, change the setting, give the characters new names, swap their genders or race and write it anew! You will find that you will probably just wander off on a tangent as you write and create something very much your own.

Finally and most simply, be inspired. You know an awful lot about all kinds of things and in the words of William Arthur Ward, “If you can imagine it, you can create it.”

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Shark Nose!

Those lovely people at Great Jones Street are featuring my short horror story 'Shark Nose' and boy have they made a great cover! Don't forget to download the app to your phone if you want to read for free! Click here for a link directly to it and my story.

"The story is heart-pumping and so vivid, you can feel the earth move when the bombs make impact with the ground." Great Jones Street

Friday, 20 January 2017

Balancing Act Cover!

2016 was a very sparse year for me as a writer. Let's hope 2017 is more promising and what a better way to begin the year than with a cover reveal?

Great Jones Street is promoting my steampunk short story 'Balancing Act' and they have created this beautiful cover for it.


BALANCING ACT
 Jeremy Alsop has managed to dupe Clarisse and her family into believing he is rich and eligible. As an engagement present he invites Monsieur Du Monde, snake oil man, and the Equilibrator to work it's fickle magic upon his fiancee.

If you want to read 'Balancing Act', 'Synchronysi' or 'Shark Nose' all you have to do is download the free Great Jones Street app from Google Play or App Store and off you go!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Saying Goodbye

The end of 2016 is here and social media is lamenting a long list of lost icons. I too am mourning a loss; that of my godmother. She was one of the last of the real ladies, full of grace and charm and a wicked temper! A lady who told tales of the mountains and the creatures and fairies that live in them. She supplied many tidbits and trivia which have filled my stories with magic and mystery. Her passing is a huge loss. I have included her in my latest work-in-progress, a new short story currently called Hood Winked, as a character that is not too far removed from reality and guides the heroine through a devil of a difficulty. Let's hope this is published so you can meet her and so that she lives on in print as well as memory.

2016 also saw the passing of the lovely lady whose memories graced the pages of my story Shark Nose and I'm glad this story is dedicated to her so that she will always be remebered there. You can read this story on Great Jones Street via your mobile phone.

As a writer you never can tell who or what will inspire you nor what will become of those little sparks; will they fizzle out to nothing or burn like a thousands suns? I have realised that the truth is not fate or luck, but sheer determination. My output this year was minimal because of personal health problems and too much work of the bill-paying kind. I have been gathering sparks in my notebook and I'm hoping to kindle a few blazes this coming year!

Just in case you have missed anything, here's a recap of published works from 2016 - it's a shamefully short list! (One of my colleagues published 75 stories and novellas and thought he had not done enough...I have to get my a**e in gear in 2017 it seems!) Click on the titles for links/purchase details!

Balancing Act (Steampunk)
Synchronysi (Steampunk)
Hark! Hark! (Steampunk)
Shark Nose (Horror)
Close Call* (Horror)
The Night Before (Zombie)
Tickets to Ride (Weird)

* Watch this space for the final chapter in 2017!

HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR AND MAY 2017 BE THE YEAR TO TOP THE REST!