Stories Based on a Song

A while ago I read a book called Riddle by Elizabeth Horton Newton. I really enjoyed it and reviewed it on my blog.

It was only recently I found that it was based on the Richard Marx’s song Hazard. This was really cool because my own book Down by River was also based on the ninties song.

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Both books are very different from each other. For a start Riddle is a full blown novel, whereas Down by the River is a novella, a smaller read.

Apart from the actual stories, I thought it would be interesting to put my own thoughts down as to why I wrote it, and how the inspiration came to be. I asked the same of Elizabeth Horton Newton.

So, here for your delectation are two books, their descriptions, and an excerpt which should delight you, as much as they delighted me.


Riddle by Elizabeth Horton Newton

Screen Shot 2019-08-31 at 12.02.24From the first time I heard the song “Hazard” by Richard Marx, I knew there was a story to be told. Although I grew up in a big city I was well aware of how small-town gossip can ruin a person’s life. I wanted to tell the story of how a young man was viewed as an outsider by some of the townspeople and how those who believed him innocent of any crime remained silent, afraid of getting involved or being harassed because they defended him.

Around the same time, I was learning about discrimination against Native Americans or Indigenous People in both the US and Canada. Something just clicked and several years later I put together my book Riddle.

It seems in small towns there is always an outsider. It may be someone of a different color or nationality or religion. Sometimes it is because the individual dresses differently, holds different beliefs, or some obscure reason. I created Kort Eriksen as both an indigenous man who may have been railroaded as a teen for murdering a popular teenaged girl.

Returning to the town where the crime was committed he faces both people who believe he got off too easily and others who feel he was a scapegoat. Even the stranger, a young woman with problems of her own, arrives in town and develops a friendship with Kort can’t be sure of his innocence or guilt. This book remains close to my heart as it incorporates romance, injustice, and revenge in a suspenseful thriller.

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Excerpt

“Look, there’s a fun house,” Norma pointed out. Knowing it would be dark and probably crowded inside she realized it might be a good opportunity to ditch the rest of the group and once again have Kort to herself.

Grace hesitated. Mandy laughing, called over her shoulder, “Come on! It will be fun!”

As they all headed inside Kort maneuvered until he and Norma were near Grace. They made their way through a rolling barrel, and a maze of mirrors where everyone posed seeing their reflections as fat and skinny, short, and stretched.

Tony stayed close to Grace but Mandy and the other women rushed ahead. Then they entered a room that was totally dark except for dim glow in the dark wall decorations. Occasionally something would brush across Grace’s face and she lost track of where everyone was. She brushed at the spidery web like strings that seemed to grab at her.

Holding her hands out before her she tried to find a wall so she could follow it to the exit. All around her people were laughing or squealing. Once in a while a girl would yelp obviously startled by someone.

A body moved quickly past her and she jumped slightly to one side. Someone else bumped into her and a giggling female voice apologized before continuing on. Feeling disoriented, Grace was tempted to call out for help but didn’t want to appear silly.

Suddenly someone slammed hard into her knocking her off her feet. A boot connected with her cheek and she fell sideways covering her head with her arms and rolled to one side. There was no apology and Grace sensed whoever it was continued to look for her. She had no doubt it was deliberate and she kept quiet hoping he would not find her in the blackness of the room. As noiselessly as she could she began to crawl toward what she hoped would be an exit.

Then out of nowhere she heard a male voice softly call her name.

Amazon UK

 


 

IMG_6264.JPG When I first heard the haunting melody of Hazzard, I was hooked. On Top of the Pops they played a video to accompany the song and I was mesmerised. Apart from Richard Marx being really good looking, I loved the atmospheric storyline.It was so clever being shot in black and white that added to the mood.

I was intrigued about what happened to Mary and many of my questions were not answered. It always left me wondering. Although the song was released in 1991, it was played regularly for many years afterwards. Each time I heard it, I was blown away, absorbed once again in the story.

Being a writer, I had to do something about it, and felt the need to write about what could have happened that night.

It started as a very short story and included a character named Ricky, based entirely on Richard Marx as he was a key feature in the story.

My main character was called Shelby, because I felt it sounded American. Shelby had visions and could never understand why she could see many things, but could not see what happened to Mary-Jo.

I tried very hard to create an atmosphere similar to the one in the Richard Marx’s video. I wanted intrigue and mystery, with just a hint of something dark.

Shelby always had a hard time dealing with her father’s alcoholism, it was one of the reasons she left town. This time when she returns home, something is different; something has changed and it takes a while for her to put the pieces together.

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Excerpt

It was growing dark when she arrived home. Pa was banging around upstairs. Shelby took off her jacket and straightened her pale blue sweater. Mary-Jo had had one just like it. They’d laughed and joked that they were twins. It seemed very apt that she was wearing it today.

The coffee-pot was still warm. She was pouring a cup when something came crashing down the stairs. Rushing through from the kitchen, she found Pa lying at the bottom muttering a string of obscenities. He was drunk, very drunk.

“You!” he accused shaking off her offer of help. “What are you doing here?”

“Pa! What’s the matter?”

“You should never have come back, you little whore! Did you think I didn’t know about you and the sheriff? Get out!” He struggled to his feet and staggered through to the kitchen.

Shelby stared at him in shock and disbelief. “W-what do you mean?”

He laughed as he poured himself another whisky. “The whole town knows you were screwing Rawden. I’m a laughingstock!” He staggered through to the living room and slumped into the chair.

“You don’t need me to make you a laughingstock!” she cried, feeling the humiliation burning inside her. “Anyway, it ain’t true!”

He pointed his finger at her face. “Did you think it was easy for me after Annie-Clare died? I brung you up.”

“You didn’t bring me up!” she shouted back. “I brought myself up! You were always too goddamned drunk!”

“Enough!” he roared, rising from the chair. Shelby stepped back, frightened. He poked two fingers into her shoulder. “You wanna get out of here before the same thing that happened to Mary-Jo happens to you.”

“Pa…” Hot tears ran down her face.

“Get the hell out!” He roared. Shelby turned and fled.

Darkness was descending as she walked back towards town. She kept to the road and away from the embankment, feeling the chill of the night air. A car drew up beside her. Rawden got out.

“Can I give you a lift somewhere?” he asked.

“No, leave me alone.” She wasn’t in the mood to deal with him and his sarcastic undertones.

“Don’t walk away while I’m talking to you, Shelb.”

She lost her footing then and slipped down the embankment. Rawden came down as she got to her feet. “Now, that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t of run. I’m just offering you a lift, that’s all.”

Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

 

 

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The Changing World of Books

I’ve been thinking for a long time how times have been changing and this post via ‘Ramblings from a Writer’s Mind‘ came up today. It says a lot about what I’ve been thinking about.

Drastic action by writer’s to giveaway their books in the hope that readers will want to read another from them doesn’t work. I’ve tried it and it always grieved me. All that work, years in some cases, to be given away for nothing, No other trade would dream of doing this, would they?

Authors are stuck in their ways, just as this article suggests, and too many drop and go links land in various Facebook groups, so much so that it has almost become spam. Who reads them anyway?

What people do want, and enjoy is proper content. Something interesting they can read and be entertained by, not hard sell right in their faces.

This is what I’m trying to do now with any posts I make, yes it is taking a lot more time  but I am a writer afterall, as they say, Rome was not built in a day. We have to build up again from scratch and find new ways to do things. Make books valuable again.

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One of the ways I am also doing it, is exactly what is mentioned in this article. A new an innovative marketing brand that is aimed at helping authors and providing readers with something special

It is called Electric Eclectic Books, and I’m proud to have belonged to this since the beginning. It is also good to see how it is changing with the market and always taking on new opportunies.

Writing is a lonely job and hard work on your own. That is changing because being part of a team, part of something global is the best thing that ever happened to me. Read this article and give it careful consideration – but don’t take too long to think about it!

via Good news, for (a few) authors.

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What to do next in Self Publishing

I recently read a blog post called The Decline of Self Publishing. It made me think about myself and my own books. I feel that the self publishing market is saturated. Everyone is writing stories these days and readers have a massive choice. The odds of them choosing mine amongst the thousands on offer is very slim. Promoting my books daily can can bring in one or two sales, but it’s hard work, especially when you have as many as I do.

All my Books

You can spend up to a year writing your and it costs a lot of money to prepare for publication. A decent cover can set you back about a £75-£150, then there is editing and formatting. Even if you do most of it yourself, that doubles the amount of time you spend on one book alone.

Suddenly, your baby, who you have become very attached to, is now ready, and you upload it to Amazon. If you set the price too high, those few people you reach with your promotions, won’t buy it because they can get books for free or 99p. So you set it at £1.99. You sell the book and Amazon takes 65% of the profit. How many books would you have to sell before it becomes profitably? Far too many to make it viable.

Why shouldn’t you collect £1.99 from every sale?

You deserve it – we deserve it – other trades and business make money without someone else taking a big chunk of it, so why can’t we?

I’ve tried selling directly to the reader, but for some reason, they only want to buy from Amazon. I’ve got a Kazz’s Books and Cards page on Facebook where people can purchase a birthday card and an ebook, because don’t they make great gifts? I’ve still to make first book sales.

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So why do we continue flogging a dead horse? Wasting so much money, time and effort to do something that only brings us stress?

I’ll tell you why, because we love it, we are addicted. We can’t stop writing stories.

So how can I turn it around? What can I do that still indulges my love of writing fiction?

Simple – I joined Electric Eclectic Books. My sales have gone up, I’m writing more stories and importantly, I’m not fighting my corner on my own any more. I am part of a collective of authors who support one another.

Writing novels is just not worth the time and the effort any more but I can still write stories, have them as eBooks and sell them. What more could I want?

Here are a few facts:

  • Electric Eclectic Books is not a publisher.
  • It is a book brand of novelettes between 6K and 20K.
  • Founder and author Paul White came up with the idea in 2017.
  • Everybody keeps 100% of their profit.
  • They get a book cover and a light edit and a book template.

Electric Eclectic Books are already taking the self-publishing world by storm. Our books are getting seen everywhere.

And it can only get better as we expand into newsletters and other websites.

I’m now on my seventh novelette under the EE brand. My love of writing as never been as high. I read a lot of the books too, because they encompass almost every genre.  I like finding new authors, because besides being a writer, I’m an avid reader, too. If I enjoy the book. I’ll go on to read their novels.

Another thing an Electric Eclectic book is great for – and that’s enticing readers to read your novels.

  • PARALLELS give authors the prospect of exploring untold events from their books; these Parallels are like a sidebar, allowing incidents not fully investigated in other volumes, now to be discovered by their readers.
  • BACKSTORIES are excellent ways to explore an individual (or several) character’s life (lives) in more depth, even from childhood or birth, delving into their lives to find what experiences moulded their temperament and personality. What traumas or conquests brought them to this point in their lives.
  • A PREQUEL is, of course, telling the tale of what happened before the series started, the worlds, the events, the people, their endeavours and conflicts, the formation and destruction of agreements, syndicates, cartels and collaborations… there is no end of possibility.

So, what does it cost? Not a lot, when you compare it to what you’ve spent on your novels or what you could pay big companies who say they will publish for you.

With Electric Eclectic Boosk there is :

  • A one off registration fee – £5
  • Brand Licence fee per book £4
  • Book cover £8 per book, or provide your own. (Subject to specifications)

There has to be a catch, I hear you say, and there is, isn’t there always?

We can only take six more authors this year.

Admission is open now. So what are you waiting for?

Contact Electric Eclectic here.

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Time to Unpublish

The book market is completely flooded. In the distant past I would go to the library and spend my dinner hour browsing the shelves for a book I would start reading that night. Now with one click, Amazon Kindle, free books, and charity shops selling cheap paperbacks, it’s never been easier.

For writers, self publishing is available at at the press of the button. To do that, we’ve learnt to format, make our own book covers, proofread, and edit. Sometimes, it isn’t possible to do everything, so we pay someone to help. Writing a book can be an expensive affiare, with covers ranging from £50 to £75, paperbacks double that.

Once you’re published, you then have to promote your book whenever and where ever you can. The moment you stop, so do the sales. What makes it all the more difficult is there is a thousand other authors doing the same thing.

I’ve written fourteen books since I first published in back 2014. I didn’t set out to have them in collections, it just thappened out that way

The Decade Series

The Themed Collection

Electric Eclectic books

Just Stories

It’s almost impossible to promote all of them. I’ve even paid to have them promoted. If often ends up costing me more than I make. On average I sell between three and eight eBooks a month. If only that were weekly. The royalty paid is a pittance. I don’t even earn enough to call it pin money.

Take The Themed Collection for example, they were the first books I published and they’ve never sold well. I 2016, I gave them a rewrite, new formating and these beaujtiful covers. It still didn’t help. Maybe I haven’t advertised them enough, I don’t know. That’s the trouble with having too many, some get left behind. I’ve not had a new review on any of them for over two years now. It speaks for itself.

My novels take at least a year to write, and sell for 99p, if I’m lucky. So why do I bother?

I bother because I love to write. Last year I decided to write for myself. I would not chase my tail looking for readers, reviews, and sales, any more. I still see authors stressing about it. Life’s more than just books.

Last year I was involved in Electric Eclectic Books. They are novellas and much easier to write because they can be anything between 6 and 20K. That’s a very manageable word count. I’m part of a group of authors; I belong to something ,and not pursuing this on my own any more.

We promote and support each other’s work. Book covers are provided for as little £8, along with formatting and a light edit. Electric Eclectic Books have had a great first year. 2019, as they expand and grow is where I want to be.

So I have decided to pull all my books except for The Decade Series and The Magic of Stories, which was produced to show my capability as a multi-genre author, and it’s is part of this website.

The cover that pains me most of all is for The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold. I don’t want to give it up, I love it, it’s perfect for my heroine. Unfortunately, it’s not a suitable for EE as all their covers are a certain style. That’s what makes them so unique.

I will be deconstructing The Themed Collection and they will eventually make their way over to EE in one form or another. It’s the only way I‘m going to sell anything, and importantly, manage the book promotions.

My author website will have to redesigned and I’ll be removing them from the various other online stores by the end of February.

Unfortunately, Amazon, who is a law unto itself, will not take down the paperbacks, not that I ever sell them, anyway. I’ll unpublish but they’ll continue to have a presence.

The Themed Collection are 99p/99c and you can get your copy here.

The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold will remain free, and you can get a copy here, or following the link on the menu.

If any authors are interested in joining us at Electric Eclectic, please visit the website for all the details.

Readers, take a look at our website to see what we have on offer, and come over and like our Facebook page.