Blogger’s Books: Susan M. Toy

Today I bring you not only a book by Susan, but also a complete list of the many authors featured on her website. Susan is a writer, a former publisher’s representative, and blogger. Originally from Canada, she is now based on the idyllic island of Bequia, in The Grenadines. She has more than one blog, and is incredibly supportive in her efforts to promote fellow writers and bloggers.

This is one of her books, part of a series she has written based on life on her island.

Here is the short verson of her own bio.

I have been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and a promoter of fellow authors and their books through my company, Alberta Books Canada. I am also an author and publisher, under my imprints, IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts. Through Alberta Books Canada, I represented authors directly, helping them find promotion for themselves and their books, seeking out new readers, and assisting them in making wise career decisions.

In Feb. 2012, I decided to put into action some of my ideas concerning the new direction of publishing and I ePublished my novel, Island in the Clouds. In June, 2012, the print edition was released. I continue to experiment with new ways to promote and sell both the eBook and print editions.

I read widely, preferring fiction and short stories. I’m also an accomplished amateur cook with a particular interest in baking, and I own a library of over 500 cookbooks that I continue to consult, in spite of the speed of internet searches for recipes. There’s just something about pulling out a stack of books in the morning and flipping through the pages while sipping a coffee, planning the evening meal, that just can’t be matched by enter and click. I don’t mind, however, reading e-books.

On this page, you can access a whole world of books, and the authors who wrote them.
https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/authors-readers-international-list-of-authors/

If you would like to discover more aboout Susan, her own work, or her life now, please follow some of the links below, and get in touch.
She may even be happy to promote you and your book!

https://readingrecommendations.wordpress.com/
https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/
You can find her books through this Amazon link, and hopefully buy your own copy.

Writers Wanted!

Daniel of Longshot Press and Thinkerbeat has contacted me. He is looking for writers from the UK and Canada to work on projects.

Here is what he sent me.
As you maybe know, I have lived in Taiwan for a long time. Almost 15 years. Recently the Chinese government put a ban on Hollywood movies, due to the trade war. They also issued a new fund to build the sci-fi market. I’ve got connections (friends) in both Taiwan and China who are applying for the money. We’re also working with the copyright office to protect the stories, because the money is big enough that people will take your content, given the chance.

So here is a genuine chance to work with him on projects for the movie market in the Chinese-speaking world.

He is looking for writers with some interest in the following genres.

Artificial Intelligence.
Robots and Romance

If you think you fit the bill, please contact Daniel Scott White at this email address.
contact@unfitmag.com

10 Ideas to Keep Your Author Blog Fresh

Are you blogging about your own books, or your passion for writing? If so, check out these great free tips on Nick’s blog!

Nicholas C. Rossis

This is a guest post by Ronita Mohan. Ronita is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic and design platform. She is an avid reader with an interest in mystery fiction, history, graphic novels, marketing, and diversity. Twitter: @Venngage

10 Ideas to Keep Your Author Blog Fresh

Writing a list | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookImage: Unsplash

Authors are idea-machines—or at least, they want to be. If they aren’t thinking of ideas for new books, they’re brainstorming ideas for their author blog. 

A key aspect of modern life for authors is how much self-promotion they need to do. It is no longer enough to post the odd tweet when you publish a book—authors are now expected to be online all the time, actively participating in the community and giving their fans new content.

But while fans on social media thrive on personal updates on your book-writing journey, authors need to capitalize on content marketing methods by…

View original post 1,245 more words

Published Bloggers

This is an open invitation to any blogger in this small community. Do you follow my blogs, or make regular comments? Are you one of those who never fails to add a ‘Like’? If so, then I have a genuine offer for you. If you publish a book, whether a novel, or non-fiction, I will feature it on this blog, as well as Twitter, Linkedin, and Google +.

This is not a time-limited offer, and will be open to you every time you publish. Please send me a link to your book, along with any sales links, free offers, or electronic versions. Feel free to include a small bio, if you so wish. I will give your book (or series) its own post, and add all the links supplied too. Please limit photos though, so as not to use up my space allowance.

Whether you have sold lots of copies, or are still struggling to make that first sale, I think you will agree that it cannot do any harm to get more exposure, even from a relatively tiny blog like this one. I think we all need to help each other in this great community, so either post a comment with your links, or send me an email to petejohnson50@yahoo.com

There is nothing in this for me, I hasten to add. No hidden agenda, no ulterior motive, just trying to help.

Please note. If you are NOT a part of this community, or you are seeking to sell a service, or product, then don’t even bother.

A Literary A-Z: D

Don’t forget that everyone can play along. Just add your own favourite book titles beginning with ‘D’, or those of any author whose surname begins with that letter.

It couldn’t be ‘D’ without Charles Dickens of course. When I was a child, my grandmother had a complete bound set of his work, stored in its own bookshelf. She had never read it though, so as I took each volume down to read, I had the joy of being able to feel the binding, and to smell the pages of those unopened volumes. His books are fantastic examples of descriptive writing and wonderful characterisation, and have left us with an historical legacy to treasure always. I won’t bother to add any titles, as once I started, I could go on all day. But if you have never read any of his books, I suggest you start with ‘Great Expectations’.

British author Frederick Forsyth is a rather opinionated individual, who can be difficult to like as a person. However, in 1971, he published his first novel, and I could not put it down. I stayed up so late reading it, I was late for work the next day. ‘The Day of The Jackal’ is about an assassination attempt on the former French president, Charles de Gaulle. Rarely had I read a book so meticulously researched, or so gripping in its style. I soon felt that I knew so much more about events in modern French history, the war in Algeria, and the terror campaign of the OAS that followed. This is how to write a thriller, undoubtedly. It was later made into an excellent film, starring Edward Fox.

In the same year, I read a new novel, ‘The Dice Man’ by Luke Rhinehart. This fascinating book poses the question of how your life might turn out, if you left it all completely to chance. The main character is a psychiatrist named after the author, (a pen name) who one day decides to continue his life based on rolls of a die. He gives each number a potential outcome, and acts on the result. The effects of this decision are life-changing, and take him down a route from which there seems to be no escape. As well as the experiences of the Dice Man, we see cults spread around the idea, and as others begin to live their lives in the same way, society itself begins to change. A very unusual concept, and one that works very well.

Daniel Defoe was an English writer, best known for his books ‘Moll Flanders’, and ‘Robinson Crusoe’, though he wrote much more. As a child, I was drawn into the world of the castaway sailor, Robinson Crusoe, and his native companion, Man Friday. I used to imagine myself trying to survive on that island, wearing clothes made from palm fronds, and wondering if I would ever be rescued. That a book published in 1719 caught my imagination so firmly never really occurred to me at the time. It is interesting to note that this book has been printed in more than 700 versions, and is second only to The Bible in the numbers printed in the western world. It has also been made into films and TV series, and inspired many copycat series and films, such as ‘Lost In Space’, and ‘Castaway’.

I have to include the Russian author Dostoyevsky in ‘D’. His heavyweight fiction delivers moral impact, alongside historical accuracy, and his themes have endured from the middle of the 19th century, to the modern day. Never an easy read, with many characters, and often depressing themes, they do however reward the serious reader with a glimpse into a bygone age. Most of us will know his book ‘Crime and Punishment’, a tale of murder and retribution that has been filmed more than 30 times. But I can also recommend ‘The Gambler’, and ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, as examples of his other novels.

My top pick today is the first novel in a series by Frank Herbert. I did not usually read science fiction at the time. Although I had read some H.G. Wells at school, as well as a few John Christopher and John Wyndham novels, it was not a genre that appealed that much to me. (And still doesn’t) However, during the late 1970s, I read an article about Frank Herbert in the Sunday Times, and decided to try his novel ‘Dune’. I could never have imagined how caught up I would become in the unusual worlds portrayed in this book, and the five sequels that followed. Imaginary planets, time-travel by folding space, a drug that was the major currency of the universe, and giant sandworms too. Add a mystical religious order, warring families and empires, and some intriguing and unique characters, and I was well and truly hooked. I couldn’t stop reading them. I stayed up half the night, I was late for work again, and I couldn’t wait for the outcomes of the convoluted plots. This was story-telling at a massive level. I never aspired to get anywhere close to this, but it did give me ideas, and a lesson as to just how much work is involved for the author. It was later made into a film of course, by David Lynch. He did very well with it, but couldn’t get close to the complexity of the ideas.

A Literary A-Z : A

Thanks to a suggestion from Robbie, writer and cake-maker extraordinaire, I am embarking on a new A-Z. This time, it is about books and authors. You can use the title of any book, fiction or non-fiction, or the surname of any author, as long as it begins with ‘A’. For readers who do not have English as a first language, feel free to include foreign titles. Hopefully, we will all discover lots more about literature, and find many new books and authors to investigate. Before you play along, please check out Robbie’s excellent blog. https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

I am starting with one of the greatest anti-war books ever written. The powerful novel about the First World War by Eric Maria Remarque, ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, published in 1929. This tells the story of excited young soldiers from their time at school, through to their harsh military training, and eventual involvement in the horrors of the trenches. Those soldiers are Germans, but the nationality is immaterial, as the experience was the same, whatever side the young men were fighting on.
This novel is rich with characterisation and description, and you really feel yourself taken on the journey with Baumer, Muller, Kropp, and Kat. As well as insights into life at the front, the fighting, and the occasional breaks from the trenches, we also see how the youth of a nation became detached from the life back home. When Baumer goes on leave back to Germany, he can no longer settle in his former life, and longs to return to his comrades, and the war. This book was later banned by the Nazi regime, and made into a classic film of the same name, in 1930.

By contrast, the 1991 novel ‘American Psycho’ by Brett Easton Ellis, deals with the vain and vacuous lifestyles of the super rich executives during the financial boom on America’s Wall Street, in the 1980s. Young men who compete to have the most impressive business card, or to get a table in the best fashionable restaurants. They have affairs with each other’s girlfriends, and spend time styling their bodies in the same way that they style their lives. These men have no real friends or attachments, and appear to be devoid of normal emotions. Their sole aim in life is to appear to be better than others, and to acquire more wealth and possessions.
What is shocking about this book, is that its main character and narrator, Patrick Bateman, is also a serial killer, preying on those around him with a callous air of complete detachment that reflects his everyday business dealings. Despite the descriptions of murders, and the overwhelming sense of the sheer pointlessness of the lives led by the characters, I thought this book was a wonderfully impressive allegory on the society of greed and indifference that existed at the time.

My third choice for ‘A’, and today’s top pick, is a novel I have written about before on this blog, ‘And Quiet Flows The Don’, by Mikhail Sholokhov. (And the sequel, ‘The Don Flows Home To The Sea’) In my late teens, I was becoming interested in politics, Left-Wing politics in particular. I discovered these books by the Russian writer, published in full in 1940, and was immediately drawn into the world described in them. He had won the Nobel Prize for literature a few years earlier, and deservedly so. The story deals with a vast array of characters from the Cossack heartland of Russia, and their experiences from the outbreak of the First World War, until the end of the Russian Civil War. He was writing from personal experience, having served in the Bolshevik army, and coming from the area he describes. Reading these books I learned a lot about Russian history, but also about following characters, wanting to know what happens to them, and being swept up in an unfamiliar world, made familiar by skillful writing.

Please add your own favourites in the comments. It can be a children’s book, a serious novel, or a major work of non-fiction. There are no rules, except the letter ‘A’.

Literary inspirations

I have never written about books on this blog. Considering the amount of words I have written about so many other things, this fact has just struck me. It has been a glaring omission, and one I will attempt to rectify with this post. It will not be a series, so don’t worry.

Many blogs on the Internet are about books and literature. Some recommend good new reads, most promote the work of the blogger themselves. Others quote from classical literature, or delve into its origins and meanings. I won’t be doing any of that. Do I write because I used to read, or did I read because I wanted to write? The answer is probably neither of those options. I started writing at school like most of us do, as it is compulsory. But I didn’t read for that reason, I did it for enjoyment, education, and a desire to acquire knowledge. I was soon enjoying writing as well. I put more effort into my homework essays than was required, did background reading, and found myself looking for other works by the same writers in the local library.

My studies were also rewarded, with good marks at school, and a sense that some subjects were becoming easier to tackle, less daunting, and more familiar. I expanded these methods into History and French classes too, soon becoming an avid reader of non-fiction History books, and French authors in their native language. This took more work of course, and I quickly learned that nothing comes easily, and that any good writing requires preparation, research, and numerous proof-reads. I also decided that writing comes best from those that read the writing of others, so I began to read more. I read novels, works of fantasy, science fiction, Russian classics, most of Dickens, and volume after volume of historical fact and opinion. As I got older, I became interested in political and existentialist writing as well, making sure to still read novels, and the occasional best-seller, for balance.

I carried on reading at the same rate for many years. Eventually, shift-work, marriage, and all those things that interrupt the routine took over. I didn’t read so much. Then even less, finally hardly anything at all. Now, I mostly read blogs, articles, and short stories, rarely books. I still buy books, I just haven’t got round to reading them yet. I write a lot more of course, as I am doing now, when I could otherwise be reading a book. What were those books, and who were those writers that brought me to this point; provided inspiration for what I do now, and who I am today? Here are some; a selection, if you will. Just a snapshot of the hundreds of books read during my life, and not intended to be definitive, or even that comprehensive. I will not be analysing them, or going into great detail. Just a short overview, the title, the name of the author, and why I think it is worth reading. It is not an academic list, nor does it feature the usual cast of philosophical heavyweights. There are popular titles in there, and some very obvious ones too. It will be quite long, so put the kettle on first.

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger was published in 1951, a few months before I was born. The main character, Holden Caulfield, relates a coming of age experience that is instantly recognisable to any teenager in western society. Despite the differences in background between myself and Holden, I identified with his frustration and rebellion immediately. I don’t know how old Salinger was when he wrote the book, but the style, and expression of thought, is just perfect.

Moby Dick was written by Herman Melville one hundred years earlier, and also explores the experience of a youth, this time surrounded by older and rougher men, in situations where his life could be in danger. I hold no brief for whaling, and know little of the sea, but when I read this book aged eight or nine, I was immersed in the descriptions of the characters, and the relentless pursuit of revenge.

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. About the same time, I began to read Dickens, from a leather bound set untouched and stored, in my Grandmother’s bedroom. Few writers in English can describe a scene so well, or conjure up the image of a character, like Dickens. I could choose almost any of his books, but I picked Great Expectations, for the amazing Miss Havisham.

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. As I began to study at senior school, I was told that we would have to read this book as part of the syllabus. I was unhappy at first, as I didn’t consider it to be something I would appreciate. But I was wrong. It has so much. A sense of menace, despair, bleak settings, an ethereal heroine, and a callous hero, who is not all that he seems. From a synopsis, it might read as little more than a romantic pot-boiler, of class, love, betrayal, and revenge. But the quality of the descriptive writing elevates it, and sets it apart from so many others.

Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier. Although published in 1938, this thriller novel was almost as Gothic as Bronte’s book. The settings, characters, and slowly-dawning sense of betrayal, are all familiar themes. I remember reading this in the 1960s, perhaps a strange choice for a teenage boy, but I could picture Manderley, Mrs Danvers, and Maxim de Winter, as if they were all in front of my eyes. And the opening lines are some of the best ever written.

And Quiet Flows The Don/The Don Flows Home to The Sea, by Mikhail Sholokhov. In my late teens, I was becoming interested in politics, Left-Wing politics in particular. I discovered these books by the Russian writer, published in full in 1940, and was immediately drawn into the world described in them. He had won the Nobel Prize for literature a few years earlier, and deservedly so. The story deals with a vast array of characters from the Cossack heartland of Russia, and their experiences from the outbreak of the First World War, until the end of the Russian Civil War. He was writing from personal experience, having served in the Bolshevik army, and coming from the area he describes. Reading these books I learned a lot about Russian history, but also about following characters, wanting to know what happens to them, and being swept up in an unfamiliar world, made familiar by skilful writing.

The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy. I came late to Hardy, having disliked D.H.Lawrence, and for some reason, considering him similar. I then saw the film ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’, and decided to explore Hardy’s writing. I was overwhelmed by the period feel, and once again by the painstakingly detailed descriptions that allowed me to visualise everything, from a tent at a fair, to the unseen features of the protagonist. This is one of the ‘Wessex’ novels by Hardy, and my favourite. It deals with regret, reconciliation, greed, shame, and as usual, betrayal. It is soap-opera on a grand scale, and at a higher level, with writing to relish.

Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell. Orwell (Eric Blair) was a Socialist and writer in England. After serving as a policeman in Burma, he lived in Paris for some time. After he returned to the UK, he wrote about the condition of the working classes, in his book ‘The Road To Wigan Pier’. By the time this was published, in 1937, Orwell was in Spain, where he had travelled to join in the fight against the Nationalists, in the civil war there. ‘Homage to Catalonia’, written in 1938, is an account of his experiences in that war. In the confusing politics of Republican Spain, he declined to serve with the International Brigade, as he did not want to be under the control and command of the Communists. Instead, he fought with a trade union militia, run by Anarchists, and was badly wounded on the Aragon front. His book relates the confusion well, and tells the story of the fighting between different factions of the same side in Barcelona. He was left with a dislike of totalitarian systems that later surfaced in his better-known books, ‘Animal Farm’, and ‘1984’. Reading Orwell taught me a lot about expanding a dairy-style account of real events into a readable account, with the added interest that I was keen to learn more about this tragic conflict.

Dune, by Frank Herbert. I did not usually read science fiction. Although I had read some H.G. Wells at school, as well as a few John Christopher and John Wyndham novels, it was not a genre that appealed that much to me. (And still doesn’t) However, during the late 1970s, I read an article about Frank Herbert in the Sunday Times, and decided to try his novel ‘Dune’. I could never have imagined how caught up I would become, in the unusual worlds portrayed in this book, and the five sequels that followed. Imaginary planets, time-travel by folding space, a drug that was the major currency of the universe, and giant sandworms too. Add a mystical religious order, warring families and empires, and some intriguing and unique characters, and I was well and truly hooked. I couldn’t stop reading them. I stayed up half the night, I was late for work, and I couldn’t wait for the outcomes of the convoluted plots. This was story-telling at a massive level. I never aspired to get anywhere close to this, but it did give me ideas, and a lesson as to just how much work is involved for the author.

By Reason of Insanity, by Shane Stevens. In the late 1970s, I picked up this book at the airport, as I thought it would be an easy read on holiday. It was a thick paperback (500+ pages) and seemed to be ideal for this purpose. It was a lot more than that. It tells the story of an abused young man, who escapes from incarceration, and embarks on a series of killings. The format of the book, new to me at the time, appealed greatly. One chapter would feature the killer, Bishop. Devoid of conscience, he planned and carried out his murders. The next chapter would focus on those hunting this killer, looking for clues, and trying to get close to him, as he moved around the country. This book had a profound effect on me, and though I have never forgotten it, I have not read it again since, as I have done with many others. As a writer who can imagine himself on both sides of this situation so well, and construct what is in effect, two books in one, Stevens deserves high praise.

Christine, by Stephen King. King is a prolific and successful writer in the horror genre. His books are too numerous to list here, but many are excellent, and he has a huge following. The first of his novels I read was’Christine’, in 1983. It appealed to me, as it was about a car, and obsession. The plot is fantastic of course; how the love of an unpopular boy for the car he restores is returned by the vehicle, with grisly results. But I discovered that King was a very good writer. He made the unreal seem believable, and used his knowledge of his native New England to bring locations to life. He also made novels seem easy to read, until you forgot how difficult they had been to write.

The Alexander Trilogy, by Mary Renault. In three books, written over the space of twelve years, she tackles the difficult area of fictionalising the life of a real person. Not just any real person, none other than Alexander The Great. Reading these books as they were published, I became caught up in her ideas about what life was like for the growing Alexander, the people around him, and the world he inhabited. I also discovered a lot about the history of the time, although I made myself remain aware that much of the action was fictional. This type of writing is not admired by those historians who write weighty tomes, based on ancient records and writings. However, it makes the period, and the characters, more accessible to everyone; and this can only be a good thing, if like me, they go on to read more about it.

The Civil War: A Narrative, by Shelby Foote. I had been interested in the American Civil War from a very young age. I collected bubble gum cards, read comic-book versions of the war, and progressed to novels, such as ‘The Red Badge of Courage’, as well as one-volume histories of the conflict. Later, I began to read long accounts of individual campaigns, and different events, both military, and political. Even with such a thirst for information, some books were dry reading indeed. I had stopped buying them, and decided that I had read enough, when I was recommended this trilogy, and later received it as a gift, in the early 1990s. Running to almost 3,000 pages, it is not a lightweight read, to be sure. Foote’s writing is always accurate and authoritative, and suggests a gentleness in the author. It is a huge work, in both scope, and physical presence, and leaves out nothing that anyone interested in the subject would ever want to know. I learned what the term ‘definitive history’ means, after reading this.

High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby. This popular 1995 novel deals with two things close to my heart; music, and London. The main character is almost certainly a thinly-disguised version of Hornby himself, and as he discusses music with his employees in the record shop, or tracks down old girlfriends to discover why they dumped him, the mixture of observation and comedy is irresistible. It is a literary lesson in writing about what you know, injecting pathos and humour in just the right amounts, and achieving a satisfactory conclusion.

So there you have an idea of the writing that inspired me, and continues to do so. I could have included so many more, but it is long enough. If anyone sticks with it, and finds something to enjoy. I thank you. If you are tempted to read any of these because of it, I will be very pleased.

We all have a book in us

How many times has this been heard over the years? Approaching Retirement, I was often told, ‘now is the time to write that book’. After all, I had led a comparatively exciting working life. Over 20 years in a front line ambulance, followed by more than 10 years behind the scenes working for the Metropolitan Police. I had attended bombings, and major disasters. I had delivered babies, cared for victims of terrible burns and injuries, and ended my working life deploying firearms officers in Central London. There was also the possibility to inject humour, with unusual tales of quirky events, mistakes and errors made, and the strange characters that I had dealt with, or worked alongside. I had travelled a fair bit. What about experiences behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ in Soviet Russia, or visiting East Germany many years before the wall came down?
If this did not provide fertile enough ground for that book, there were always my personal interests. History, Civil Wars, Cameras and Photography, Dickensian London, and the development of weapons through the ages. Maybe I could use my experiences with the Police, to write about modern crime-fighting in the Metropolis? There was always the possibility that my new life in Norfolk would yield great material for a book about the transition from London to the countryside. I would definitely look into it. After all, didn’t my life deserve a printed legacy, or to be available as an electronic download? Surely I too deserved to be in the remainder bins at half price, or in the window of Waterstones as the cheapest of the ‘buy 3 get 1 free offer? Failing all that, I could adapt these experiences and interests, to write a work of fiction, loosely based on something I knew a bit about.

I considered all the options, starting with the obvious. My Life in the Ambulance Service. An interesting read, with a few chuckles, and lots of gasps. From the end of the 1970’s, to the start of the 21st century. Strikes, civil disorder, changes in the NHS, advancements in care, yet the job was essentially the same. There have been a few written already. They didn’t sell well. There was one exception to this, the marvellous ‘Bringing out the dead’, the only work to ever get inside the darker aspects of the job of a Paramedic. Generally though, people don’t want to read the truth about injury and illness. It just isn’t entertaining or informative.
What about Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War? I have always been interested in that period. I am a member of the Cromwell Association, and I live in East Anglia, so research should be easy. I was forgetting Antonia Fraser. Her definitive biography of the man and his times, as thick as a telephone directory, immaculately researched, and a great read for anyone interested in the subject. No point trying to better that.
Perhaps a crime thriller, drawing on my Police contacts? I remembered the novel ‘By Reason of Insanity’. Probably the best book about a serial killer, and those hunting him, ever written. Then there were the books about forensic detectives, pathologists, or those with a gritty, authentic feel, like the ‘Rebus’ series. Could I do better than all these?

I doubt it.
How about a non-fiction work of importance, say the history of a great city like London? Oops, Peter Ackroyd beat me to that one.
This leaves the fish- out- of- water transition to a strange land, as my best bet. Hang on, am I forgetting Bill Bryson, or ‘A Year in Provence’? My feeble musings on a life in Norfolk are never going to hold a candle to these best sellers.
So, it had to be a well-researched, thought-provoking work about the unhappy lot of the working class in Victorian London. I would start right away. I had the credentials, as I came from the poorest district in South London, Rotherhithe. Nuzzling the south bank of the Thames, this was a place that had changed beyond recognition, from unspeakable slum, it had become a fashionable, dockside development. The docks had closed, and the inhabitants mostly moved away. There had to be some mileage in that surely? No. I had forgotten Charles Dickens, not to mention Mr Ackroyd (again).

My conclusion is that we do not all have a book ‘in us’. Writers and authors have books in them. They get up early, write long and hard. They research, they study, they read other books, and they strive for excellence. They are their own harshest critics, and they give their lives to their work. Families are shunned, homes re-mortgaged, lovers abandoned, luxuries are foregone. They also have good ideas, and act upon them.

The recent meteoric success of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and its sequels, fuelled by social media sites on the Internet, is a good example. Written by a lady who waited until she had seen her family grow, and her career aspirations satisfied, she embarked on her trilogy of lust, bondage and dark love. It has probably made her a fortune, and she has the film rights to come as well.
I could have had that idea. I could imagine sex and bondage, vulnerable females, and a dark central character. It can’t be that difficult can it? But I didn’t have the idea, and if I had, I wouldn’t have acted on it. E. L James had the idea, and she did the work necessary to get it into print. She reaps a just reward, good luck to her. That is the difference between writers and readers. If you want to be a writer, you have to act on those ideas, and be prepared to work hard to make them appear on a page. They don’t always have to be new, but they must catch a mood, and be of their time. Just because you did something interesting, doesn’t necessarily make that thing, or you, interesting as well, when translated to the written page.

Keep reading, and enjoy those books. I choose to stop believing that I have a book ‘in me’. I don’t.