Craft and Practice with Jeff Bowles – Should You Write Every Day?

Craft and Practice

Each month, writer Jeff Bowles offers practical tips for improving, sharpening, and selling your writing. Welcome to your monthly discussion on Craft and Practice.

The cure for common burnout?

I’m not a long-haul writer. I’ve tried to live by the adage a writer should write every day, and to be perfectly frank, there are monasteries in the world that don’t live by more draconian standards. My best writing gets done when I work in spurts, crank out a project of one kind or another, take a break of weeks or even months, and then get back at it feeling refreshed.

By traditional standards, this is a pretty lazy and dysfunctional way to go about it. These things were determined long ago by the writing powers that be, and as far as they were ever concerned, it’s a bad idea to rest on your laurels when you could be mass-communicating incredible beauty and truth.

Milage varies on that last point, of course. Because after all, how can we communicate much of anything when we’re dog tired and in need of a rest?

If you’re like me, keeping up with a daily, monthly, yearly word count is hard work. For sure, being a writer is hard work anyway, so if we can make our jobs easier, even just a little bit, I think we owe it to ourselves to do so. But be warned, the advice which follows is not for the faint of heart. If the idea of going long-term without putting any words down sends you into an apoplectic fit, maybe stick to the way you’ve always done things.

I do, however, think you’ll find my method of working allows for much more personal freedom than the long-standing tradition of writing till you drop. Yes, you may get less done in a year. That is a distinct possibility. But do you want to know something funny? When polled, most writers who also work a typical nine-to-five job say they wish they had more time, and that if they did have more time, they’d produce far more writing.

But what if some of those writers are wrong? What if, somewhat counter-intuitively, more free time on our hands doesn’t always equal a higher rate of production? The thing about being an author of any kind is that it requires incredible creative and intellectual energy to pull off on a regular basis. Yes, taking breaks might damage your output. Then again, it may just boost it. You may also find that the quality of your writing improves the more slack you cut yourself.

I’m big on cutting writers slack. I think it’s incredibly important, and in my experience, most of us are simply too hard on ourselves. That’s really why my writing habits have developed this way. By nature, I’m hard on myself, which means if I don’t take breaks every now and then, I’m liable to tear myself down instead of fostering a mental attitude that helps me build myself up.

Now, the first thing to realize is that taking a break from your writing means your skills will not atrophy so much as cool down a little. Writing is not unlike riding a bike. You never forget how to do it. But let’s say you take a five-month hiatus, simply because you’re feeling worn out or you’ve got more important things going on in your life—happens all the time. After that five months, you might return to the craft a bit dismayed at your apparent lack of talent. Whatever you’re working on needs to be rewritten from page one, and it’s all because you took the lazy advice of that awful Bowles guy.

One key thing, of course, is that I never said to quit entirely. If you know you’ll be taking a siesta, if you can schedule that in for yourself, why not also schedule in some light exercises so you don’t feel like a total louse?

For instance, I write for this blog three times a month even when I’m not writing a book. Producing content for the internet is a great way to keep your skills in tip-top shape. You could also work on a short (and I do mean short) story or two, or in the very least, engage in some weekly finger exercises. It doesn’t really matter so long as you don’t miss the point. Rest, recuperation. This is the point.

Conversely, and this is always a good idea, you could increase your reading load. The worst kept secret of the craft is that reading a lot tends to make us better writers. And the good news is it doesn’t really matter what we read. The basic engagement of our minds in this way seems to keep our intellectual and communicative abilities primed. Reading’s good for you. It keeps the stupid at bay (it is to be hoped). Honestly, you should be doing it anyway, and if you’re not…

Another piece of advice I can offer is to decrease your writing load rather than to cut it off altogether. For a little while at least, try transforming your 2,000 word-per-day average into something more like 500 words-per-day. That’s not a bad count-up when averaged out over an entire year. If you could write a scant 500 words per day, you’d end up cranking out about 15,000 words in a month. That’s the equivalent of a novel or two in a year, and the best thing about it is that 500 words per day means you’re only writing for about an hour or so, half an hour if you’re quick. That doesn’t sound too daunting, does it? If you’re feeling burned out, this might be just what the doctor ordered.

And the truth of it is people do get burned out, fed up, exhausted, and all sorts of other tired-sounding descriptors that equal one thing: you’re a human being, not a machine. If you’re struggling with your work right now, if you’re having issues with confidence or anxiety or anything of the sort, try slowing down. Trust me on this, don’t even fret, your desire to write will return in all its power and glory, and then you’ll be ready to crank out another masterpiece.

You’ve got a masterpiece or two lurking inside you, right? That’s what I thought. Happy writing, everyone. Or perhaps I should wish you a happy vacation. I’ll be back with more Craft and Practice next month.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


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The Cost of Writing

A Writer’s Life

Many of you authors out there are like me. You know what it feels like to feel an idea wiggling its way to the surface of your brain and popping up its head when you’re right in the middle of cooking dinner or in the middle of a project, or you’re two hundred miles from nowhere on a camping trip. You know what it’s like to feel that need to drop everything and run to put words on the page, or screen, as the case may be. You may know what it’s like to be on a roll, in the middle of a vital scene for your book, and have to stop and set it aside, because you have an important engagement to attend and you can’t show up looking like you haven’t slept for days, even if it is true.

Let’s face it. Writers write because they have a innate need to express themselves. We didn’t ask for it, but it is there. We didn’t choose it, although we have chosen not to ignore it in our younger days, when ignoring it was still an option. Writers need to write as much as they need to eat, sleep or breathe. (Probably more than we need to sleep, since writing often takes the place of sleep on many nights.) This needs stems from our creativity deep within us and is as much a part of our inner mental beings as water is to our physical beings.

When I was getting my M.F.A., I had an instructor who was a binge writer. When she was done with the prewriting and was ready to write her story, she would shut herself in her office and not emerge until it was done, be it days, or even weeks before she had the first draft of the story out. She said that her family members all knew better to disturb her when the door was closed, and she wouldn’t come out, except maybe to tend to urgent bodily functions. That was her writing process, and it was effective, because she was publishing and selling her books. But there was a cost. She was on her second marraige because her first husband hadn’t put up with her crazed writing frenzies, and frankly, I was amazed that her current husband and family did.

That’s one of the prices that we pay for following our innate urges and releasing our creativity. Human relationships often suffer. I know there have been times when I have gotten up in the middle of a family get-together, and pulled out my laptop to start typing away because an idea struck me, or I suddenly realized what really happens in a scene I’ve been working on. My family members may have thought I was being extremely rude, and I guess I was, but they didn’t understand about the idea or thought that was nudging away at me to get it down NOW. Those ideas are fleeting, and if I don’t get them down when I have them, they may abandon me and not be there later.

I never go anywhere without my laptop. It goes on camping trips and vacations, even to the laundry mat or out to dinner. I write while traveling in the car, even though I know it makes me car-sick. At a memoir workshop I took a few years back, we were asked to read aloud something that we had written. Everyone else came with sheets of paper in hand, printed out with what they intended to read. When my turn came, I paused to make sure the correct work was on the screen with an explanation that “My life is in my laptop.” That brought a few laughs from my fellow workshoppers, but you know, there is a lot of truth in those words.

Writing is my world. I am passionate about it. And I’ve missed more than a few outings with friends and family, jeopardized my day job by writing late into the night when I had to work the next day, let my grades suffer to get the words just right, and missed out on countless hours of sleep just to empty what’s in my head out onto the page. Writing is a wonderful outlet for creativity and self-expression, but as all good things usually do, it comes with a price. I’ve paid that price time and again, and never thought that it wasn’t worth the cost. So, how much are you willing to pay to be a writer?

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Jeff’s Movie Reviews – The Queen’s Gambit

Jeff's Movie Reviews

Seduction by Chess

by Jeff Bowles

Chess is not typically known for excitement or suspense. The game of kings has certainly been portrayed any number of ways by Hollywood throughout the years, but Netflix’s new limited series The Queen’s Gambit makes it look passionate, dangerous, and well, sexy.

Maybe it’s the stylish 60s themes, fashions, and music. Or perhaps the magic of this series is in the writing, which is sharp, compelling, and just a little bit wild. So too is the basic look of the show. Each and every chess match (and there are quite a few scattered across seven hour-long episodes) has a different feel, a different level of intensity. And make no mistake, The Queen’s Gambit is all about intensity. To finish a single match is to look into the hungry and carnal eyes of your opponent and ask for another round. And here I thought chess was boring.

No two ways about it, Beth Harmon (played by the wonderful Anya Taylor-Joy) is a child prodigy. After a terrible car accident kills her mother, she’s sent to an orphanage and there befriends a lowly janitor who lives in a veritable dungeon of a basement. The janitor, by the way, happens to be a chess wizard himself. After some brief instruction and the early rumblings of blind obsession, Beth beats him, his chess club (all at once in a series of simultaneous matches) and then begins to play on the larger American circuit. She becomes an overnight sensation, her face on magazine covers, her name known to anyone interested in the game. But the fire in her belly is unquenchable. She’s a marvel and a ticking time-bomb. We know she will explode. The only question is when.

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in Netflix’s new limited series, The Queen’s Gambit

We are talking about the 1960s here, and at that time chess and master chess players were honored and respected worldwide. Beth’s basement-dwelling mentor warns her genius often comes at a price. Her personal demons take the forms of addiction, mental illness, and compulsion. Every single night is an opportunity for her to practice and read and imagine (or perhaps hallucinate) whole matches upside down on the ceiling above her bed. She pops a few of her favorite pills, which are never specifically named, maybe has a drink or two, and then she lies down and watches as the shadowy game unfolds above her.

The Queen’s Gambit is based on a novel by Walter Tevis, who passed away in 1984. It’s a shame he didn’t live to see the adaptation, because Netflix has done his book justice. There’s real emotion and drama here. Beth Harmon is a fascinating character, and though she’s entirely fictional, she and her world are so fully realized you might mistake her for an actual public figure. The show drips with passion and lust. It’s incredibly sexy at times. Imagine making chess sexy.

How rare is it to find someone who burns for something, anything, as much as Beth burns for chess? Mastering the game, explosive, sometimes cold, almost always calculated, but there’s a beating heart inside her, a need for appreciation, recognition, for someone to love and understand her. Even those closest to her see her as an enigma. So incredibly young, stunningly beautiful, dressed in the most Chic fashions of the time. A genius, absolutely. But always at a distance, just beyond everyone’s reach, right where she likes it.

Drug addiction adds an interesting element to The Queen’s Gambit. Self-destruction, it seems, can be as seductive as a tender kiss. Even if the acting weren’t top notch across the board (and it is), the fascination, drama, and blind ambition emanating from Tevis’ narrative is stunning. If you were as determined to become the greatest chess master of all time, you might develop a drug problem, too. Then again, maybe you wouldn’t. Beth Harmon comes from tragedy, and it follows her wherever she goes. Adopted by a married couple whose relationship was on the rocks to begin with, she learns from a very early age the only way to get by in this world is to commit to personal freedom and absolute autonomy. She drinks, she pops pills, but the ultimate question of what it all costs comes down to this: if genius and madness go hand-in-hand, when does the ride stop? Where must the line be drawn?

We’re never really sure Beth Harmon receives the answers to these questions. The Queen’s Gambit is an unexpectedly charming, gripping, and seductive limited series all fans of excellent storytelling need to stream immediately.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives it a Nine out of Ten.

I think that’s checkmate, everyone.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


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The joy of nursery rhymes: Twinkle, twinkle little bat

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are”

Do you remember the words of this nursery rhyme? It has always been one of my favourites and the first one I remember hearing as a child. There was something about it that captured my imagination. Today, the words of this nursery rhyme are imprinted on my brain and remind me of the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, one of my favourite childhood books.

When I was 9 years old, Alice in Wonderland was my favourite book [it still is a favourite and I have a number of different copies of it]. The words of Lewis Carroll’s adaption of Twinkle twinkle little star stayed with me and is still the version I think of first.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE BAT: A Singable Poem with Pictures and a Play on a  Classic | Film alice in wonderland, Parody songs, Alice in wonderland

I had difficult babies. They were both real ‘howlers’. Gregory cried so much I gave all my baby stuff away when he was three months old and the promised reprieve from the endless crying didn’t happen. It turned out he was a ‘six-monther’. Terence had to work hard to convince me to have another baby and then Michael turned out to be a howler too. His health issues were even more challenging and he was in hospital numerous times during his first two years of life.

But, I digress … back to nursery rhymes. I used to recite nursery rhymes to my kids while I carried them around. They howled and I recited. It kept both of us sane.

Both of my sons have good vocabularies and literacy skills and both are musical. Reading up on the useful benefits of nursery rhymes for children, I think all the reciting I did may have helped enhance these skills.

The five major benefits of nursery rhymes are as follows:

They help develop language and literacy skills:

Vintage Nursery Rhyme Print Mary Mary Quite Contrary & Fairies... | Vintage  nursery, Nursery rhymes, Children's book illustration
Remember this one – this is how I learned the word contrary. It was applied to me a lot when I was a kid.

The help develop phonemic awareness – children hear the words said and learn to pronounce them. A lot of nursery rhymes include unusual and funny words and phrases.

Pin by Charmaine Cretin on rhymes | Hey diddle diddle, Nursery rhymes, Nursery  rhymes poems

Nursery rhymes help build word memory and articulation. They are full of rhyming words and include words and groups of sounds you don’t encounter in everyday speech.

WEE WILLIE WINKIE". OLD SCOTTISH NURSERY RHYME | Nursery rhymes, Nursery  rhymes lyrics, Childrens poems

Nursery rhymes help develop creativity in children by encouraging them to imagine the scene in their heads. Just think of this one:

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

BY EDWARD LEAR
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
    What a beautiful Pussy you are,
         You are,
         You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”

II
Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
   But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
             His nose,
             His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.

III
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
             The moon,
             The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)

Finally, nursery rhymes teach children to listen, a very important life skill.

I am finishing off this post with a video of a recital of the poem Television by Roald Dahl. It is hilarious and epitomizes my thoughts about children and the modern trend of television and video/TV games.

About Robb,ie Cheadle

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Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  1. Two short stories in Spellbound, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  2. Two short stories in Spirits of the West, A Wordcrafter Western Paranormal Anthology edited by Kaye Lynne Booth;
  3. Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  4. Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  5. Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  6. Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books



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What’s in a Genre?

Genres

I’ve discussed genres a lot here on Writing to be Read. I’ve done monthly genre themes, with author interviews and reviews of books included in each one. We’ve covered nonfiction, romance, western, fantasy, science fiction, young adult fiction, children’s fiction, horror, crime fiction, mystery, women’s fiction, Christian fiction, comic books and graphic novels, and the list goes on. Some genres were easy to find authors to interview and books to review. Others were a bit harder. Likewise, some attracted more readers than others.

Fantasy

Recently, there hasn’t been so many author interviews. I hit a bump in the road and was unable to fulfill my interview and review commitments. Now, I’m ready to jump back in the saddle and get things rolling again. As I contemplate what 2021 will look like for Writing to be Read, I’m wondering wether to keep the genre themes, or explore different areas in the craft of writing, and I would like your feedback. Chances are, if you’re a reader of this blog, then you are also a writer. Leave a comment and let me know which genre(s) you like to write in. Which genre(s) do you like to read? Which would you like to learn more about? Or should I trash the genre themes and concentrate on some other aspect? Which one? Let me know your thoughts.

Romance

I suppose there was a time when genres were more cut and dried, but in this day and age, genres don’t always fall into clear categories. Just take a look at the plethora of categories Amazon has for you to list your book under. When Delilah was published, I got a shock. I had written a western with a female protagonist, who was tough and gritty and made her way in the man’s world of the old west. Her character’s flaw was a lack of trust, and in order to get what she truly needed from the story, she had to have a love interest, so there was a thread of romance woven into the tale. It wasn’t the main story line, but my publisher had picked up on it and listed it as a “Frontier Romance”. Is that what I wrote?

Horror & Dark Fiction

Actually, it may have been a smart choice, even though it wasn’t my original intention. When we re-published the third edition with the new cover, I asked that they list it as a straight western, but it hasn’t helped with sales. Genre has as much to do with marketing as it does with craft. Readers of frontier romanace are a different group from those who read classic westerns.

Christian Fiction

The first group are mostly female and the second are mostly male, and they are looking for different things out of their stories. The women want romance, the men want rugged adventure, and it seems that maybe they want it to come from a big, burly mountain man or a rowdy cowboy. Men who read westerns don’t have the buy-in for a tough female character, but women who read romance have no problem with a female who is tough and gritty having the adventure, as long as she lets her gentler, feminine side show enough to fall in love.

Western

When I was working toward my M.F.A. in creative writing, I was told it was imperative to know who you are writing for, to form a mental picture of your ideal reader in your mind. But, I take an eclectic approach to most things, and writing is no different. I’ve tried my hand at many genres, some more successfully than others, and it can be seen from the example above that different genres have different readers. For me, I found I need to write what is in my head, and then figure out who to market to.

Children’s & Yound Adult Fiction

With the first WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, in 2019, I chose to make the theme paranormal, because most people love a good ghost story. It got a good response and the Whispers of the Past anthology was born. Each entry had paranormal elements, and they were all the type of stories that would make readers think.

Whispers of the Past

For 2020, my thinking was that the old west has a lot of ghosts, and western was a genre I write in, so a western paranormal would be a natural combination, so that was the theme. But, just as not so many people read westerns, not so many authors write in the western genre, and I think I scared many possible entrants away. I had to convince author friends that they could write in the western genre just to get enough entries to create the Spirits of the West anthology, but it contains some very unique stories. Robbie Cheadle contributed two South African western paranormals, playing off South African history, but with western flavor, and Art Rosch contributed a science fiction western paranormal, of the likes you’ll not find anywhere else.

Spirits of the West

As with Writing to be Read, I’m looking toward the future for WordCrafter Press, and it’s time to think about the theme for the 2021 contest and anthology, but I’m at a loss. The paranormal theme worked well, and so did the western paranormal after I coerced some entries out of my author friends. But, one purpose for creating the WordCrafter Press contests and anthologies was to open up avenues to get your work published for new and aspiring authors, and another was to motivate established authors to think outside the box, or work outside their usual genres. It shouldn’t be a struggle to get entries, but it should still offer a challenge for the writer. So, I’m going to ask one more question of all of you. Please leave a comment to let me know, what genres of short fiction you would consider entering, were they the theme for a short fiction contest. i.e. “I would enter a short fiction contest if the theme were…”

Writing to be Read wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for you, my loyal readers. Some of you have stuck with me since the blog began, while others are new sign ons, but I appreciate you all. Please share your own thoughts on genres and help us carry on and move forward together. I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

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Music as Inspiration or Copyright violation?

Using Lyrics in Your Fiction

2020 saw the birth of the book I’m currently working on, and it was all inspired by music. In fact, the female lead character, Amaryllis is based on the music of Taylor Momsen and The Pretty Reckless. So, I had this great idea to set the tone and offer a glimpse into the thoughts of the pov character for each chapter with a snippet of lyrics; lyrics from The Pretty Reckless for Amaryllis, and lyrics from various artists for the male lead, LeRoy. It’s a time-travel story, titled The Outlaw & the Rock Star. The only catch is, an author has to be careful not to infringe on the copyright when using lyrics in her fiction.

Copyright, whether in the literary arena or the music industry, is serious business. Artists and writers protect that which they have created, as they should. As a writer, I can’t imagine the outrage I would feel, were I to learn someone else had infringed on my copyright. My words are my creation. They came from me. No one else on the planet can write them in just the way I wrote them, unless they steal them. And, let’s face it folks, theft is what copyright infringement is. So, I get why writers and artist want to protect their creations. I want my work to be protected, too.

According to Matt Knight on in “Using Lyrics in Fiction” (5 January 2019) on Sidebar Saturdays, obtaining copyright permission for song lyrics involves a ton of research into who actually holds the copyright, and then contacting them to request permission to use specific lyrics in your fiction, and pay the requested fee to obtain copyright permission. It can be both expensive and time consuming.

Knight offers a few ways around obtaining copyright permission, including only using the song title, since titles cannot be copyrighted, or using a small enough portion of the lyrics so that you can claim fair use, or choosing different lyrics from the Public Domain realm. Since this one of my characters is based on the music from one specific band, using Public Domain lyrics doesn’t seem to be an option. Since the lyrics are going to be used to set the tone of the story, using only titles wouldn’t really work. I really feel the story would loose a lot if I don’t include the lyrics, although I might be able to trim some of them a little.

So, I’m left looking at researching each individual song and contacting each copyright holder to gain permission to use their lyrics in my work, which seems like a lot of work. In the case of The Pretty Reckless, I will need copyright permission for multiple songs, so it may be an up hill battle, and it could get very expensive.

I can do the research and strive to obtain all the copyright permissions that are needed. I can’t say I’m looking forward to that part, or that I think it will be easy, but nothing good ever is. I’ve only written about six chapters, but my heart is already invested in these characters and their story. This is going to be more of a project than I realized when I concieved of the idea for this book. Here’s hoping this venture doesn’t cost more than I can afford.


“Terminal Sequence”: A medical thriller conspiracy of truly evil proportions

Terminal Sequence

I reviewed the first in this series, The Gamma Sequence, when it came out, so when a chance to review the third book, Terminal Sequence, I jumped at the chance. With this series, Dan Alatorre has created a horrifying conspiracy where, Hauser, one maniacle mind, holding genetic power over human life in his hand, tries to play God. Of course, he created a team of protagonists to combat this evil genius.

In Terminal Sequence, our heroes develop a computer virus with the ability to launch a terminal sequence into Hauser’s network and bring his operations to a halt. But injecting the sequence into the network is a challenge, and with Hauser’s operatives knocking off the good guys right and left, we also have to ask if there will be anyone left to do it. And if any of the team members do survive, can they accomplish the task before Hauser has a chance to complete his evil plan? They may succeed with some help from surprising allies, but you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Thrilling action from start to finish, Terminal Sequence, is one that you won’t want to put down. I give it five quills.

Writing to be Read

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


For the Love of Halloween

Happy Halloween

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. We get to dress up and be anyone or anything that we want to be. As adults too big to trick or treat, we find one Halloween party or another to attend, so that we have a legitimate excuse for donning a costume and pretending to be someone or something else for a while. Or we turn our yards into graveyards to scare the kids who come to trick-or-treat, or maybe we channel or Halloween fantasies into the costumes we make for our children. But no matter how well we hide away our inner children, the longing to once again play make believe never really goes away.

But this year, things may be a bit different. The Covid 19 pandemic has turned the world upside-down, and trick-or-treating poses new threats to both us and our children. Social distancing is the new buzz word and large social gatherings are falling out of fashion. Although masks are in style, they aren’t the kind that will go well with our costumes. In fact, in many places trick-or-treating has been cancelled and other types of holiday celebrations are emerging in its place.

It’s sad, really. We may be seeing the destruction of many time-honored traditions which are no longer deemed ‘safe’ activities. Thanksgiving celebrations are being limited to maximum numbers, as well. Apparently, no holiday is safe.

2020 WordCrafter Halloween Book Bash

I hope all of you will join us for the 2020 WordCrafter Halloween Book Bash tomorrow evening. For the past two years, WordCrafter has hosted or participated in Halloween book events on Facebook, and this year is no exception. Many of the activities and events being used to replace traditional forms of celebration are of a virtual nature, so our celebration this year is probably trending. It is a short one this year, only three hours, from 6 p.m. MDT to 9 p.m. MDT, but we’ve got some great contests and games, and some fantastic book promotions and new releases. My co-hosts are authors Mark McQuillen, Ellie Raine, Jordan Elizabeth, and Amy Cecil. It’s my way of keeping Halloween traditions alive during tradition crushing times.

Spirits of the West

I think the thing that I’m most excited about though, is that WordCrafter will be promoting their newly released western paranormal anthology, Spirits of the West. This anthology contains eight unique stories with hints of paranormal and western flare. Contributing authors include myself, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Jeff Bowles, Art Rosch, Tom Johnson, and the author of the winning story, “High Desert Rose”, Enid Holden. It’s an antholgy like no other and I am so pleased with how well it turned out.

However you choose to celebrate this Halloween, be safe and have fun.

Happy Halloween!

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Winter Wonderland My Eye!

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday in Colorado an unseasonably cold winter storm hit us. We went from temperatures in the seventies and eighties to near zero temperatures almost overnight, and at 8,500 feet, we got at least eighteen inches of snow to go with it. Not that I didn’t know it was coming. I pay close attention to the weather in these parts, but knowing a storm is coming and the reality of its impact are two different things. Oh, I made all of my winter preparations, making sure all the yard and garden tools were picked up and put away, digging up my Gladiola corms and storing them for winter, taking down all the hummingbird feeders and cleaning them for storage, too.

I told myself that the approaching storm was a good thing. We need the moisture and the snowfall will surely help get all the wildfires that have been raging across the state under control. I envisioned all the writing I would be able to get done now that there was no more yard work to becon to me and no sun to entice me outdoors. I saw myself staring out the window at a pristine wonderland while soaking up the warmth of the pot belly parlor stove, tapping away at the keys on my laptop as the word count on the book I recently started soared.

But this morning, reality hit when I found I couldn’t step off the porch without shoveling a path through a foot and a half of snow. So, I pulled out my winter coat, gloves and snowboots and bundled up and out I went, shoveling paths to all areas to which I need access.

The Juncos were struggling, perching in the rafters of my front porch to get out of the snow, and I swear, I could see them shiver. Although I’m sure birds have some kind of inner sense that tell them when bad weather is headed their way, they could not have predicted these cold temperatures at the end of October, and they seemed to be at a loss as to what to do. So, a path to my shed to get bird seed was in order, and then one was needed so I could get to the bird feeder to fill it, so my little feathered friends wouldn’t have to tough the freezing tempertures on empty stomachs.

I had to be able to get to the coal bin, so I could keep heat in the house, so a path was needed from the house to there, and another to the generator to keep the electricity on. My neighbor offered to plow my driveway, which is a great help, but I needed a path to the gates and an area cleared so I could open them so he could get his ATV in.

Now, here it is, afternoon and I stopped for lunch, but that is a lot of digging. I still have to dig a vehicle out, so I can at least get out in case of emergency and clear off my back deck. I’m working on this blog post, which should have been posted this morning, and I haven’t typed one word on the new book. The yard work may be over, but shoveling has taken its place. Winter wonderland my eye!


Meet author and poet Geoff Le Pard and a review

Treasuring Poetry

Today, I am delighted to welcome author and poet, Geoff Le Pard to Writing to be Read as my “Treasuring Poetry” guest for October.

Geoff is sharing some interesting information about his favourite poem and poetry and I am sharing my review of Geoff’s inaugural poetry book, The Sincerest Form of Poetry.

Welcome Geoff

My favourite poem

Of course, everyone will say this is impossible, there are too many and that is true. But put on the spot I will plump for High Flight by John Gillespie Magee. You may not have heard of Magee and that’s probably because he was killed in WW2 in 1941 aged 21. I suppose I am drawn to the poignant and the powerful, having enjoyed the WW1 poets, if that’s the right word – Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon et al – from when I was introduced to them. There’s something raw about the emotions they carve out of a few lines, often the passion or despair that, because it is coming from someone so young, who is probably experiencing such exhilaration for the first time it is clean and honest and timeless.

High flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

This is a paean to the excitement of flight, of the sense of rapture and wonder that being alone in the cloud-smudged skies gives him. His freedom. Battle of Britain pilots had a very short life expectancy which he would have known. He would have sat waiting for the call, to scramble. He would have taken to the air full of fear and adrenaline, seen his friends and colleagues blasted out of the sky and felt relieved and guilty that he was glad it wasn’t him and desperate that it was them. I can imagine the intensity of the Mess, the quiet voices, the unspoken terrors, the shared desperation that being on the ground forced him to confront. And even though taking to the air meant an almost inevitable appointment with death, it also took him away from the mundane realities of life as a pilot. He could give rein to the child he still was, tumbling, living, on the edge, but to the full. Every sense heightened, every nerve and sinew stretched to the max. Those images would be burned, seared into his imagination. And once again he’d return, be a man, debrief the day, go through the appalling motions of paying his respects and yet, for the sake of his own sanity not really engaging in the awfulness of the loss, of what his friends’ families and loved ones would be going through and knowing that these moments could be his soon enough. So he losses himself in a sonnet that captures those few moments of true freedom when death, like the ME109 behind him is breathing down his neck. I admit I have no faith, a happy committed and convinced atheist, but even I can understand his last sentiment, in those moments, in that bounteous, beautiful firmament when he can feel he is so near his Maker, so enraptured by His creation that he can touch it.

I have never experienced war but my parents did and I can put my poetry-loving father in that plane and imagine him finding the same extraordinary inspiration that Magee found. And it’s a sonnet, too, the perfect format for this love poem, a love of life, a love of the person to whom he is writing, a love of what it is just to be, to be in the moment and breath and take in something of the wonder of being alive and aware.

I have goosebumps every time I read this as I’m there in that plane, not sure if I’m about to be ripped apart by some egregious unnecessary act of slaughter, yet, just then I’m like him, delirious with the gift I’ve been given to be alive.

My favourite poet

Again it is an almost impossible question. There are those, like Magee who wrote the one poem and while that is delightful, I think we must consider a poet with a proper oeuvre and decide across several examples. So who I am drawn to and who uniformly triggers in me the delight response? Some poets have been so prolific that they almost count themselves out by failing to maintain a uniform appeal – I can’t fault their quality. I’d include Wordsworth, Kipling, Thomas and Duffey in that list.

So, I’m going to default to the poet whose poetry collections I’ve amassed more than any other: Roger McGough. I was first aware of McGough in 1975 when I went to University and a friend took me to my first poetry slam, of Liverpool poets. McGough read from his book ‘Sporting Relations’ and I laughed and was hooked. Since then I’ve read so many and been struck by the combination of off-beat humour, much like my own, his quirky punning, again which I do a lot and his oblique view of the human condition. If Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, whose novels I absorb like nectar wrote poetry, then McGough might be their inspiration.

This one, from Sporting Relations is a case in point. Read out loud there’s some simple humour but it is when you see it, realise it’s also playing on the absurdities of English spelling that the poet’s visualization becomes clear. And you still have the last line of punning word play with ‘grass’. Simple, effective, accessible and fun. That’s the sort of poetry I aspire to write.

Cousin Angelina owned a yacht
And smoked pacht a lacht.
So when things got haght,
Away sailed Angelina (so regal)
To where the grass was greener (and legal)

Thank you, Geoff, for visiting here today and sharing these thoughts and poems.

Review of The Sincerest Form of Poetry

My review

I know Geoff Le Pard as an author of hilarious books that frequently poke fun, in the tongue-in-cheek way of the British, at many of the situations and achievements we humans hold the most dear during the course of our short lives. I am a big fan of this type of humour and have enjoyed several Geoff’s short stories and pieces of flash fiction. Geoff’s writing has another side to it, a more serious and family orientated side which also comes through in some of his books and writing.

The unusual book of poetry by Geoff Le Pard is his inaugural poetry book and is a mix of these two sides of his writing. The poems forming the first part of this books are a hilariously slapstick take-off of the works of many famous English poets. The poet has reproduced the exact tempo and rhythm of the original poem, replacing the original wording with his own amusing poetic descriptions of topical events and circumstances.

My favourite of these poems was the very first one in the book, which is based on one of my favourite poems, The Listeners by Walter de la Mare. The Listeners tells the story of an unnamed traveler who approaches an abandoned house which seems to be occupied by ghosts. In Le Pard’s version, the public toilet is held up for discussion and probing commentary. Here is an extract from The Relief of Waterloo:

Is there anybody there, said the traveller

To open up this loo?

It’s surely wrong that one must pay,

For our numbers one and two.

***

It’s not a function of the state

To limit where I go.

My body ain’t so politic

But it has some rights, you know.

The second part of the book is devoted to sonnets which generally have a more sophisticated and serious flavour. One of my favourite poems in this second part is The Hand That Guides. Here are a few lines to give you a sense of the poet’s sonnets:

I continually try to do it my way,

To give into weakness of flesh and of soul

But you hold my love tight, I cannot stray

And we remain linked, two parts of one whole.

If you enjoy poetry, in all its varying shapes and forms, you should not miss out on this collection.

Purchase The Sincerest Form of Poetry

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sincerest-Form-Poetry-Geoff-Pard-ebook/dp/B08HJRJHWC

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sincerest-Form-Poetry-Geoff-Pard/dp/B08KH3QWWB

About Geoff Le Pard

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Geoff Le Pard (not Geoffrey, except to his mother) was born in 1956 and is a lawyer who saw the light. He started writing (creatively) in 2006 following a summer school course. Being a course junkie he had spells at Birkbeck College, twice at Arvon and most recently at Sheffield Hallam where he achieved an MA in Creative Writing. And what did he learn? That they are great fun, you meet wonderful people but the best lessons come from the unexpected places. He has a line of books waiting to be published but it has taken until now to find the courage to go live. He blogs at https://geofflepard.com/ on anything and everything. His aim is for each novel to be in a different style and genre. Most people have been nice about his writing (though when his brother’s dog peed on the manuscript he was editing, he did wonder) but he knows the skill is in seeking and accepting criticism. His career in the law has helped prepare him.

About Robbie Cheadle

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Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in Amazon horror anthology, Spellbound, compiled by Dan Alatorre;
  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling horror anthology, Dark Visions, and three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling horror anthology, Nightmareland, both edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


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