Writing Realities

We asked Author/Publishing Editor, Robin John Morgan, if he would like to contribute a piece to our blog. he has provided an honest and humorous look at some of his experiences for new writers. 

 

When I was asked to do something that looked at my writing, and considering I write on a few blogs as well as work on manuscripts, I decided I would look not at myself and my experience of what I write, but thought I would write something more about what the book world is about from the point of view of a Small Indie Publisher and Author, and aim at those who have often thought about writing, and give a few facts based on my experience of my own work, and working with other writers.

One of the most difficult parts of what I do is talking to unpublished writers, who are looking forward to becoming published Authors.

With a good many years of being published behind me, and also as a publisher myself, I have fallen into every pit fall there is and have a much more grounded understanding of the book buying public, and so yes, I have been taught the hardest way of all through trial and error. So the problem I have when I talk to a writer about the prospect of working with them on a manuscript, is that knowing all the mistakes I have made in the past, it is hard to teach a new writer who is so filled with excitement that actually, their time as an author may be one of the most wonderful, yet hardest things they attempt.

Actually sitting down and writing a book is without doubt one of the greatest experiences of my life. I cannot deny that in those quiet moments where my mind is at its most focused as I bring together a tale, for me personally it is sheer joy, and I get a rush of adrenalin as I pound away playing the story in my head and turning it into the words on the page. When you finally choose that moment to say “I am Done” is such a rush, and it is very exciting and you simply cannot help but feel the buzz, I strongly recommend it to anyone who really does want to write something, be it with publishing in mind or not.

The thing here is, when you have finished and the manuscript if finally ready, the first thing you need to do is find some ground. It is vitally important that you ground yourself before you let anyone read it, and I will give the best advice I can in saying “Grow a thicker skin.”

There will be mistakes, I know you don’t want to hear it, but no matter how many times you have read it, subconsciously and because you have written it, you will have skipped over little mistakes and errors, and it is not because you are a bad writer, it is simply because this is your work and you know it so well, and for that very reason your mind will fill in the gaps and pass mistakes without noticing. It is actually the most normal aspect of writing, but here I will give a warning, everyone who reads it will simply love telling you that you made a mistake. The appropriate response to this as they smile with self-righteousness at you is “Thank you.”

I always say thanks and then say if you find more just note them down so I can add them in the final edit, because even though you think you are done, take my word for it, there will be more editing whether you want it or not. People love to pull you up on your mistakes, it makes them feel superior, because while you are filled with excitement and joy, I can assure you they are feeling a tad jealous that you wrote something, and it is at this point you deploy the thicker skin. Really good friends will absolutely love it, and if you made a mistake, you will find they will be embarrassed to point it out, keep those people close as they are your best tools, and after a little honest coaxing they will be blunt and provide you with some great points, so DO NOT TAKE OFFENCE, listen to them, and you will find that actually they are doing exactly what every good reader will do to your manuscript, so pay attention and learn, it’s all part of the process and again I will add very normal. Take notes and then go back through your manuscript and make all the changes that are needed, and even though you have done it a million times, go through it page by page and see if you can find more. Can I suggest you print the manuscript out and then work through it as follows:

Read the first page of each chapter, and then read the second and so on. Doing this you will not get as caught up in the story and you will find that your retain greater objectivity when spotting mistakes, I have found it to be a really good practice, although I will warn you, it is the longest and most boring job you will ever do.

If you decide to go ahead and publish, there are also things that will help you. Getting a publishing contract is one of the hardest things you will ever do, and actually most people blow it when they reach the stage of actually meeting a prospective publisher. The best advice I can give is be open, be honest, and wear a thick skin. A publisher will have read your manuscript several times, and possibly let others they trust read it, so they already have a good sense of the story, and let’s be honest this is what they do every day, so most importantly listen to them and make notes. Try not to be too ridged, they may offer a few good ideas, and yes they know this is your baby, and they are aware of those millions of feelings sloshing around inside you, but you must not be too demanding, this will be a partnership so treat it as so and take any and all positives you can from the meeting. No one likes to edit out things they love, so listen and also add your input as to why you think certain parts should stay and talk a well-reasoned argument for keeping them. A temper tantrum at this point will ensure your manuscript remains exactly that, so stay open and approachable and talk through each issue that raised.

A brief look at the different formats used by two very different Indie Publishers

So congratulations you got a deal, and your manuscript has taken its first step and enters production. Before I look at the life of a publish author let’s take a small pause and address a few myths of publishing, because you will find a lot of people in the big wide world actually believe this stuff, and at this point in time you may also be one of them. Firstly you may retain the rights to the book, and I strongly recommend you do this, but actually you will not own the rights to the format, and that is the most important point to rise when you first start out, because the format which you may be consulted on will actually belong to the publisher. They are the ones that will set the interior and page design, and that is their design and format, so as you can see this really is a partnership between the two of you. You can end your contract with them, but if you do, well what you are holding in your hand is no longer yours, you will have to change everything and re issue the story in a different formatted way, with a completely new catalogue number, even though your previous publisher will no longer be printing your book.

The second biggest myth in publishing is that if you do not have a big traditional publisher doing your book and you take a more self-published route you are simply using a vanity publisher and are not actually a real writer. Ok let’s kick this myth out into the grass and burn it once and for an all. I have seen too many good writers’ crash and burn because of this stupid myth. Thirty years ago things were different, most large publisher created their own household names, sadly today the bigger publishing houses only want well known writers and celebrity writers. A few years back in an attempt to face off digital publishing, the big companies cut most of their mid list writers leaving the market flooded with out of work writers, as they focused on celebrities to add more money to their coffers. What they actually did in their panic was change the game forever as out of work writers rushed to publish their own work, and that brought in the rise of Self and Indie Publishing Companies. Indie companies are small operations, and yes they do not have the advertising clout of the big boys, but in recent years they have worked very hard and done well to get books out, and in some cases they have been more successful for their authors. It will always pay to check out companies and size them up to see if they are the right fit for you, and I always advise writers to look around and see what they can get for their money, and I would say the same to you if that is a route you want to take. The most important thing to take into account is that there is no time table to publishing, if a company tells you they will have your book out in two weeks, I would be a little suspect of them. Talk to them and ask as many questions as possible, and if you feel they are talking your language, congrats you found yourself someone you can work with.

There is a myth that using a self-publishing company is an act of vanity. My personal point of view is that if you have spent years working on something you would want to share with the world of readers, using a big Traditional Publishing firm is no less vain than using a small indie. There is a little vanity in all writers, we have written it and yes we want to know what others think, and would it not be a wonderful thing to see your name on a book spine?

Ok now on to the more common stuff, firstly you will find that everyone thinks authors are all millionaires, they think the moment you put out a book, you are suddenly rich. Not true, selling books is bloody hard work and it is going to be trickle by trickle, and even though this is most important book in your life because you wrote it, at this point in time no one has ever heard of it. Not only that,  they have never heard of the other million books produced that year, so you suddenly find that you are in the centre of a pool filled with rival books, and somehow you have to make yours look better than everyone else’s. Depending on your publisher, you will be expected to promote and sell the book. Advertising in the book industry is massively expensive, and it’s hard to match the bigger publishers who throw thousands of dollars at advertising big name authors and celebrity writers, and you will be competing with them also. The thing here is that actually there is no special formula for a bestselling hit, and even though you are pitted against some big titles you have an even chance of having your book in the right place at the right time, and suddenly you could be an overnight success. It may take a year, it may even happen after ten years, the important thing to remember is that when it comes to sales, take the long view, sometimes small repetitive sales can gross more money over time, so make your game plan about a long term investment and do not expect instant fame, that is the rarest commodity in the book market if it happens at all.

Ok so here is the best bit advice I can give. Every man, woman, dog, and acquaintance you know will expect a free copy of your book. Now it is up to you, but that is the fastest road to bankruptcy, so work out who those special people are. I make a short list, and it is usually parents, wife and those who really helped out, after that everyone else pays, even if it is discounted to them. I honestly believe no one should write a book for the money, and if cash and fame are your incentive, I would say stop and go get acting lessons, because as hard as that is, you may find you will do better.

Big rule here, PEOPLE LIE. Yes sad as it is, if everyone who ever told me they were going to buy my book did, I would be ten times richer, I work on the average that if two hundred people tell me they are going to buy my book, I expect to paid for two, and that really is the case in the real world. People mean well and they probably do intend to when they tell you, but the reality of it is that most of the time they forget. It is also the same when they tell you they have read it and loved it, most people may buy a book and ask you to sign it, and that is good, but if you expect them to read it, I am sorry to say that for a lot of people a book is nothing more than an ornament these days, and it looks on good on their shelf or unit, as it gives them the chance to gloat about knowing the author, so yes, for many a book is a stroke for their ego not yours.

I am a bit twisted and actually love these kinds of people, and yes my evil side appears with my humour, I ask them questions about the story and watch them squirm whilst thanking them for reading it. I know I am bad man, but if you take it with a pinch of salt and do not take offence it can be really funny adding things that are not in the book and watching as they agree and telling you how much they loved it, I guess I am sick person but I see it as sport, and more importantly it stops me being depressed about it. There are a lot of sycophants out there and you will meet them as they ooze all over you and paint you out to be a glorious author, again keep grounded and do not let your ego go wild, being an author is about understanding that there is always a balance to be met.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the praise, and for some people you have written something that touched them deeply, and you should be very proud of that, for that is one of the best reasons for writing, you bring joy and inspire some people, it is a nice thing for any author to be recognised for their work, so enjoy those moments. Not everyone will like what you write, and some people (Namely Trolls) will take a lot of pleasure out of ripping your work apart, either on forums or in person, trying to defend yourself is pointless because these are the kind of people who fail at reason argument, I take a leaf out of Mark Twain’s life, he once said, “Never argue with an idiot, they will bring you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.”  I find it is the most apt approach to trolls, so try to ignore them and move on, because it really does not matter how you try to answer, whatever you put will be torn apart and used against you. It is not fair I know, but honestly take it from me and all other writers, at the end of the day they are not worth the trouble.

Robin john Morgan at a book reading of his own work.

Right the final point that I feel is important. There is a debate that authors should really throw themselves out there in this day of social media, and it is believed that readers want a much more personal relationship with authors these days. Now this is my own view point only, so you need to understand that before reading on. I am a publisher as well as an author, and in my role as a publisher I do look constantly for new and refreshing ways I can make my authors look good in hope of sales, but as an author I know there is a line to be drawn, so I always ask a new author just exactly what their expectation of being an author is, and you should ask yourself the same. One of my authors is not keen on too many personal pictures being out there, and I have respected that by taking the one and only picture that was printed in a newspaper and using that in all our publicity. That was his wish, others I have published have a broader view of what can be used, and so with their permission I only use what they are comfortable with, and I would suggest that you follow a similar principle. I know some people want to know everything about your life, and hey if you are happy to do that, then fine. With my own work, I control everything that is released, I actually write most of the personal stuff to ensure better control, and that keeps things balanced with my family. Just because some big boss somewhere wants to exploit everything you do for sales, does not mean it has to be that way. I have another author who is probably one of the best at selling his own books to others, which is actually something I don’t like to do, I much prefer someone else (Usually my wife) to sell the books. I must admit though this author I mention is really great at it, he has the perfect calm persona and friendliness and I have to smile as he has sold to his dentist and church vicar, as well as a long list of others he has met on his travels, I do agree that if you are going somewhere it always pays to have a few spare copies in the car with a pen.

Book sales are a tough business to be in, so take your chances as you can, and put out exactly what you feel is relevant to you and you only. When the books are selling it can be a wonderful experience, and when they don’t sell keep your chin up, all book sales come in fits and starts, do something to promote and push the sales whenever you can. If things are slow write, keep writing, because even if your first book does not sell that well, remember its always the roll of the dice, so keep writing and eventually put another book out. The golden rule is always write, write, write and remain grounded, but more importantly than ever, enjoy the experience of all of it.

 

 

Robin John Morgan, writes for VCP, and has published seven out of an eight book adventure/fantasy series, “Heirs to the Kingdom.”

Another World for Book Day

20-logo-right-downNothing makes world book day better than discovering a new fantasy world to live in for a while. As part of World Book Day’s 20th year, we are introducing you into a captivating world of adventure and fantasy.

The Woodland Realm Comes Alive

Heirs to the Kingdom (HTTK) is described by author, Robin John Morgan, was one of those ideas that grew into an obsession. What started as a side project to occupy the author as a mixture of hobby and simply something to help pass the time in his quiet hours as a single parent, raising his daughter alone, grew over a period of twenty years into a filing cabinet stuffed to the brim with notes, sketches and diagrams, of the many ideas he connected to what we now know as his central characters of Robbie and Runestone. In 2006 during a spring clean, he made the decision to sort through all of his material and rather than have a cabinet stuffed with paper, he thought it would make more sense to sort it out and transfer it all on to his computer.

bowmanfrontWhat followed was a year of copying down all his notes of what had become a fantasy existence for his two central characters who lived in the year of 2038 and beyond. Having completed the task of getting everything on the computer in a rough sequence, Robin decided to use his free time to slowly put it all into an order than would create a timeline, and show an alternative way of life in his make believe world, and Heirs to the Kingdom, the fantasy series of books was born.

What began back in 2007 as the writing of one continuous story, should find its completion this year with the final book of the series, after ten years of constant writing back to back books. His series of stories all based around his two characters and their friends and family is based around two central ideas. The first being his love of old tales from the past, which always state the hero will rise up again to return and save the day, and his second idea of what would happen if the world was struck with a catastrophic disaster that wiped out the larger percentage of the population? With nature back in charge and small groups rebuilding their communities the basic premise of the story is set, and into the mix his two teenage lead characters are placed.

HTTK begins on New Year’s Day 2038 in the snow, and as Robbie one of the central characters rises to his daily duties on the farm, he faced with the monotony of his dull life. What he thinks is a boring isolated town in the middle of nowhere is far from the truth, and as the story starts to unfold, we start to learn of sinister figure in the south, Mason Knox, who claims to be a descendant to the line of the one true King Arthur.  The country is recovering from the deadly virus that killed most of the population, and the survivors are slowly trying to rebuild from scratch a life based on what surrounds them in the wild natural world that has swept over the destroyed remains of the once era of Modern Man. But it appears our sinister figure in the south has the idea that he alone has the duty to rebuild the world back to his view of things, and so begins the separation of the people and a struggle to fight to protect the lives they have built.

carnacfrontThis is a series that develops into a full and fascinating struggle between two ideas of how the world should be, mixed with a blend of fantastic characters. When our lead hero’s companions reveal that they have some odd and mysterious powers, the story starts to twist and turn into an adventure of fantasy, built on the foundation of a very realistic way of living away from modern life as we know it, and what is seen as the Woodland realm really does come to life with some fantastic and very well thought out and insightful writing. This is without doubt a gripping adventure fantasy series that has all of the everyday aspects of life mixed with fantasy in a way that really does draw the reader into Robin’s make believe world. It feels very real and timeless, and has many moments that have you caught within pages unable to put the books down. It is thought provoking and emotional, as well as action packed with a thread of humour throughout its core that draws you deeper and deeper into this wonderfully written tale. 2017 should see the final part of this slice of life fantasy adventure story reach its final conclusion, and so now is the perfect time to get the first book and walk into a superb fantasy adventure and enjoy a year of thrills, tears, and laughter whilst fighting for survival.

These are all good reads with a high word count that makes for an immersive reading experience, they are written in an easy to follow style, which will draw you quickly into the story and captivate your imagination. The books are available now and entitled:

dunnottarfrontBook One – The Bowman of Loxley

Book Two – The Lost Sword of Carnac

Book Three – The Darkness of Dunnottar

Book Four – Queen of the Violet Isle

Book Five – Crystals of the Mirrored Waters

Book Six – Last Arrow of the Woodland Realm

Book Seven – The Bridge of Sequana.

Book Eight the final book in the series should be out later this year and will be entitled, The Ravens of Berengar.

Start Book Day with a Play

20-logo-right-upIts World Book Day, which means it’s time to lift a book and enjoy yourself. Today VCP are featuring some of its best reads, and so why not do something a little different and choose a great and enjoyable play to read?

Heaven Knows.

Plays have become a fashionable read in recent times, none more so than the release of JK Rowling’s The Cursed Child, which has seen great success. When we were first asked if we would consider producing a play formatted book, it was new territory, but something we felt would be a good experience for us.

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, by Colin Smith, has seen a lot of local success around the Manchester/Liverpool area of the UK as a stage play, and so with a recognisable title for play goers, we started work with Colin to produce the book version.

To set the scene, this is comedy, which has darker threads woven into the humour. The scenario follows the story of Andy, whom having had three marriages and has been widowed three times, after a long life dies in bed without realising it. He wakes up in a strange place not really understanding what has happened, and at first is not aware he is dead, and his soul has passed into limbo, before being assessed for entrance to heaven.

Heaven knows I'm Miserable Now by Colin Smith ISBN 978-1-910299-16-6

Heaven knows I’m Miserable Now by Colin Smith ISBN 978-1-910299-16-6

The story line is a chuckle fest from the first page, as he encounters his guide into the afterlife with his trainee reaper, Eva. Much to his surprise, his reaper is an attractive young female dressed in rather sexy night attire, something she feels is more welcoming. Eva is to be honest very absent minded and forgets to instruct Andy in the ways of his reaping, which just leads to yet more comedic confusion as he arrives at the reception to Heaven and enters the selection process.

Whilst editing and formatting this book there was many moments where there were outbreaks of giggles and chuckles, as the humour intensified, and we must confess it made working on this book delightfully entertaining. The selection process for Andy, which is a very entertaining and hilarious process not un-similar to the bureaucratic process of a human resources interview, reveals that his three passed wives are all in Heaven and he will be given the option to meet them, and decided which one to spend eternity with.

Whilst making his decision he is taken to a safe house until he can adjust to his new circumstances of being dead, and reflect on the choice for a partner for eternity. Much to his surprise he finds his house sharing comrades to be none other than Adolf Hitler and Jesus. What follows is a wonderful mix of great one liners and side splitting hilarity, as his new house friends help him to decide who his ideal partner for eternity is. This though provides what turns out to the funniest twist of all, because unbeknown to Andy, in heaven you can choose the life you want to be for eternity, and so all of the three women he had been married to in his living life, are very different in their afterlife.

This is a very tongue in cheek look at life and what follows, and is very funny indeed, but not only does it make you have a really good chuckle and belly laugh, surprisingly it also provides you with the chance to think about your own ideas of an afterlife. We had a few discussions amongst ourselves as we worked on the formatting of the book, and it is surprising how it does make you sit up and think about your own life and also your beliefs, in a somewhat light hearted way.

The one dilemma our author Colin had was that in the early stages of developing this play for the stage, he had two very different endings, and during the process he was torn as to which one he could use. We suggested he add both, and so this copy of the play in print form, has the added extra bonus of two ending from which you can choose your favourite, either way we think you will laugh at both.

Colin Smith Playwright

Colin Smith Playwright

This really is a very entertaining play and we feel a book you should definitely pick up when you need a break and a space to chuckle. Having worked on the book and followed it through the whole process, we are really hoping a new stage production is put on in our local area soon, so we can actually see it performed on the stage. A wonderful, light and entertaining tale, beautifully written and presented in a play format by Colin Smith.

 

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Again by Colin Smith is available now on all online book retailer sites including Amazon.

Crumble for World Book Day.

20-logo-left-downIt’s World Book Day, and it’s a special one as today is the 20th, and so we are featuring some of our best reads to get you all turning the pages. This one is especially for the children.

Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale.

When we first considered putting out a children’s book, and we started the process of working with Mike, it was important to us that the book met certain expectations. Firstly it had to be an engaging story that children would enjoy, and we also felt a story that would delight any parent equally as much, when reading it to their child.

We also believe that books should contain positive advice or messages, which would aid the reader in not only understanding the story, but also understanding themselves and the life they live. To answer this we posed the question, would children take a positive message into their own life, having read this story?

Finally we looked at how the story could be enhanced; this question was answered when author Mike Beale presented us with a selection of drawings for the book, done by Illustrator Maureen Fayle.

The ultimate test of the book came when we gave it to our six year old daughter, and asked her to read it and then give us feedback on her own experience of the book.

Crumble’s Adventures, we are pleased to say passed all our criteria with flying colours. The story which evolves around Crumble, is a charming tale of a small dog who at the start of the book is homeless and alone. Wandering the streets and living off scraps, it is very clear how her existence is one of loneliness and sadness. I think every child has a point in their life where they experience this, especially at that early age where they enter a new school and have to leave their parents at the door, so the start of book struck a deep chord with all children. It can be frightening to enter the start of the real world, and here Crumble reflected all those tiny feelings that many children face.

As the story moves forward, Crumble stumbles by accident on another dog named Alex, and at this point Crumble’s fortunes take a turn for the better. Alex takes the homeless Crumble home, where she is welcomed in and given a good meal, and this is the starting point of a strong friendship, and a sense of belonging. From here on in the books takes up a positive stance as the two dogs develop their friendship and go on many adventures. From our point of view, this shows the importance of family and strong friendship, something that is a very valuable asset to all children in the early stages of their development.

Crumble's Adventures by Mike Beale. Illustrated by Maureen Fayle ISBN 978-1-910299-06-7

Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale. Illustrated by Maureen Fayle ISBN 978-1-910299-06-7

What follows is an engaging tale of the dogs, with very positive messages and a few tense moments that do indeed captivate the imaginations of children. The story is adult enough for parents to comprehend the story and its meaning, yet written is such a delightfully easy to understand way that all children can relate every quickly and easily to the two dogs, and the friendship that strengthens between them. Our main test was our daughter and her understanding of this story, and it passed with flying colours as she really loved the story and became very excited as she followed it through the publishing process.

The story is enhanced by the simply wonderful artwork that is woven throughout the book. The hand sketched illustrations provided by Maureen, contain such wonderful detail that the pictures themselves jump from the page, and it brings a real sense of identity to the characters for the children to relate to and follow. 

The book has been formatted in a way that moves away from the large pictured and low print types of books that children start reading with, and carries a similar format to that of a novel for older children, but with larger print and slightly wider spacing. This we felt was an ideal way to bridge the gap between books for younger children, and serves as a way into gaining an insight into the formatting of books for older children. Spliced together with the illustrations, it forms a package that gives of a sense of a step up into a more older approach to reading, and we feel is an ideal way to help children adjust to what will come as they progress into older and more print driven books at a later stage.

In conclusion, Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale, is a simple to follow, well written story that serves as a very positive reading experience for children aged six and above. The story which is fun and exciting, is ideal for either reading to children by an adult, or as a good start for young readers who want to progress into a more print driven type of story. It is beautifully illustrated, with easy to read formatting and larger print, and we feel is an ideal first serious book for young readers.

 

 

Poetry and Me, Ted Morgan

20-logo-right-down It’s World Book Day and not only that, it’s the 20th one so it is a little more special than normal. Today the VCP blog is going to feature the work of its author’s, and felt it would be nice to learn a little more about one of our author’s, so we asked Ted if he would supply us a little history on how he started to write his poetry.

 

Poetry and Me, by Ted Morgan

My first recollections of hearing poetry was sitting on my elder sister’s knee at about the age of five and having the poem, The Elf and the Dormouse by Oliver Hereford read to me. It was from the Silver Book of Children’s Verse book 1 and that poem and many others from it have stayed with me all my life. The book disappeared from my home during my military service and I spent nearly 40 years looking for a copy of it until my late wife tracked one down with the help of a radio programme. It now has pride of place on my bookshelf.

Like all children I also had to both recite and read poetry as part of English lessons I do remember some which excited me but many others did not fire my imagination at all. Poetry was not top of the pops amongst the majority of my classmates.

I did find that I had a talent for writing funny doggerel this was appreciated by some of my fellow classmates, but not my teachers who were the butt of some of this verse, my posterior bore witness to this on a few occasions

Poetry took a back seat for many years through my military service and professional training as a general and psychiatric nurse. I would pick up the odd book of verse but did not write due to a host of other commitments.

I contracted Pulmonary Tuberculosis whilst nursing; this is classed as an industrial disease for nurses and involved a prolonged spell in hospital as a not so patient, patient!

It was during this time that my muse returned and I wrote a poem called Flowers which was published in my Wordsmiths Wanderings book,

The majority of the verse that I wrote in hospital has been consigned to the dustbin and the only person who ever saw it was me. I was a secret poet and remained so for the next twenty five years.

My interest in poetry was rekindled when I started reading the war poets of the first and second war, then going on to Kipling,   the great romantic poets and finally Lancashire dialect verse. 

I was singing and playing in a folk group then started to write song lyrics which were performed in public. This was when my secret was out and I came to be recognised as a poet and lyricist. I had a poem about the taking down of a local Power-stations chimneys printed in a church l magazine it was then that some members of my family and friends saw my work

I first recognised the importance of poetry as a therapeutic tool when I was doing a residential psychotherapy workshop. A psychologist gave an example of a girl who he was treating who was so upset when he moved to another hospital, with the consequent referral of her to another therapist that she articulated her sorrow in verse to him. I will always remember the first line of her poem “he has cut a shape in my air by his gentleness.”  Here we have the expression of her emotion in such a simple and beautiful way. I have used poetry with patients who found it hard to define their feelings, but writing how they feel in verse does seem to aid concentration and allows them to use metaphors and simile’s when talking about traumatic emotions and events.

I retired from nursing 23 years ago at the age of 55 and did lots of traveling Woodwork, Gardening, walking and all the physical things that one now had the time and energy to do.

I purchased a computer and that was the real start of my serious writing, I felt that I had to set down just how I felt about the world around me and the joy and enjoyment that I had got from my love of the countryside. Poetry was the answer.  My wife had many relatives in Canada and I became very close to a big hearted ex Toronto cop with a warped sense of humour. I suppose nurses and cops do see life in the raw, sad at times but also hilarious. My gift for comic doggerel was given lots of practice and I lampooned him unmercifully. My verse then drew in the rest of this large and extended family.

I think the turning point in my journey into writing was when my wife contracted breast cancer in 2000 the emotional shock was severe to both of us  and I had to support her through  her operation, radiotherapy and prolonged drug treatment. I used writing poetry as a help for me to express my innermost feelings so that I would not “bottle things up”. To see how you feel written on paper at a stressful period of your life is therapeutic, as some of my patients found many years before, I was now using the same treatment on myself and it helped. After 2 years my wife was pronounced free from cancer and life returned to normal.

 

Wordsmith's Wanderings by Ted Morgan.  ISBN9781910299043

Wordsmith’s Wanderings by Ted Morgan. ISBN9781910299043

IN 2010 my wife’s cancer returned and I became her full time carer My life changed and I spent long periods of time running the house looking after my wife and because I could not go out, writing my feelings down.

It was during this period I wrote my poem The Carer this has resonated with so many people in that position, it has been published in a MS magazine and it does describe just what you do.

I can remember sitting with my wife reading it to her for the first time with tears streaming down both our faces. All she said was “it’s so true but beautiful”

My writing became more prolific and I feel that through practice my use of words improved so much that I allowed my son’s to read my efforts.

In 2013 my wife passed away, She was in a hospice for the last week of her life I was a physical and emotional wreck, but I still wrote verse.

Some of my emotionally charged poems were written at this time and when they were eventually published in my book these poems have elicited the biggest response. Only last week I had a lady say I could not read all your book last night because the ones about your wife made me cry. I just said” then I have succeeded in what I set out to do”. If you can write verse that touches people deeply and gives them the emotional response which you felt when you wrote it, your own joy at this success is indeed a bonus.

I have had lots of conversations with my readers about many themes that I have written about; my works has provided a bridge of communication and allowed them to reveal how they feel about a multitude of both sad and humorous events. I think that if you write honestly and make yourself venerable though your verse, your readers recognise this and most react in a positive way.

 I have had my work published in a number of magazines and journals but my greatest pleasure was to hold my first published book in my hand. . My only regret was that my dear wife Pat never lived to see it.

MY Poetry Blog  edwardmorgan4@wordpress.com.

 captureperegrinations-cover

Teds has two poetry books in print: Both are available on Amazon or any online books retailer.

Wordsmiths Wanderings.

Peregrinations of the Wordsmith.

 

Heaven Knows What Will Happen

Possibly one of the most frequently asked questions in life is, what happens when we die?

It is a reflected moment we have all had in our lives that asks us many other questions. Will we go to heaven or hell? Do angels really sit on clouds? Will it hurt? And also if you have been married to a significant loved one and they have gone on ahead, will they be waiting to meet you at the gates?

Our looming demise in time is one subject that binds us all, the many questions we hold are the bonds we all share, and it is with that in mind that VCP arranged a meeting with the author of what was fast becoming a very popular local play in the Northwest of the UK.

Colin Smith Playwright

Colin Smith Playwright

Enter potential published author Colin Smith.

I must admit that as a writer myself I have pondered the question of life many times, so I was keen to find out a little more about a title that had been suggested to me named “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”.

I had been informed it was a play about a man who had been married three times, and who was sent to limbo to begin the process of his admission into heaven. It was enough to peak my interest, but when I was also informed it was a Black Comedy, well I wanted to read it, and talk to its author.

I grew up around plays, many of my family were once very into the armature dramatic scene, so I was no stranger to the format, although it has been many years since I read one, my partner on the other hand loves them, and she eagerly encouraged me to get samples.

I must admit I sat in the garden in the sunshine and read the sample I was sent and it was not very long before I found myself chuckling, as Andy who is the main character arrives in limbo not realising he has actually died. It was not very long before I began to see that even though this is a comedy, it actually asks many questions of the reader, as it attempts to pull you into what you feel would be your own ideal scenario of what you would prefer Heaven or Hell to be.

We met with Colin and talked in depth about the play, which has been very well received in the several places it has been performed, and we agreed to take it on and publish it. There was a part of me that wanted to know what happened, and I must admit I giggled and belly laughed a great deal reading the full manuscript for the first time, it truly is fun and a very entertaining and at times hilarious piece of work.

Like all good comedy, it should be able to touch on every subject, and challenge the readers perception of themselves and every aspect of life and death, and I can assure you that whilst having you giggling, it will make you think about just what does come next after the end of what we know today as life. I can only say so much as I feel I do not wish to give too much away, but I did really enjoy it and would happily recommend it to any reader.

We are delighted at VCP to be able to help Colin take this production from the stage to print and make it available to everyone from August 1st 2016, and having not actually seen the stage play in person, I am somewhat looking forward to hopefully seeing a production of it in the future

coverPRF

Heaven knows I'm Miserable Now by Colin Smith ISBN 978-1-910299-16-6

Heaven knows I’m Miserable Now by Colin Smith ISBN 978-1-910299-16-6

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by Colin Smith.

ISBN : 978-1-910299-16-6

RRP £7.99

Available from August 1st.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article Provided for VCP by Robin Morgan (Writer/Author/Publisher)

 

Robin John Morgan talks Crystals and Mirrored Waters.

Heirs to the Kingdom Book Five, Crystals of the Mirrored Waters by Robin john Morgan

Heirs to the Kingdom Book Five, Crystals of the Mirrored Waters by Robin john Morgan

With the release of the new Heirs to the Kingdom instalment today, we took a little time a few weeks ago to talk with its Author Robin John Morgan.

This is the fifth book in the series entitled “Crystals of the Mirrored Waters” and as we discovered is a very important marker in the series, of which we still do not know how many books there actually going to be.

The question most people want to be answered, and if you have read the fourth book you will know if you have. Robbie the lead character leans into an unidentified young boy and lifts a golden dragon on a chain from his shirt, and turns back and questions Ally “You Knew?” For us avid readers, it just about blew our minds, as we want to know who the King that will rule is. Book five will reveal all and Robin smiles.

“Its in there, you will have to read it to find out though.”

It has been a topic of debate for some time, as many of the readers have put forward their theories and we can now state clearly (Having read an advanced copy) we have all been hopelessly wrong. Obviously we are aware of spoilers and so are being very careful of any of the detail within the book, but what we can say is that the start of this book is very different from the first four, and it does take a very different approach as it introduces the reader back into the story, which is something we did want to ask Robin about.

“Yes it is  very different, I wanted to take some time just to fill in the blanks, and in a way come back round in a circle. Book five is an important stage within HTTK as I feel that with the arrival of a new king it wraps up one very important aspect of the story. During the writing process, which compared to the last four was a much longer intense affair, I wanted to take this particular moment to fill in the gaps and in a way paint a wider picture of events from the past. If you think about it, back in 2006 I placed all the notes I had in order, and then from about June 2007 until May 2008 I wrote the first rough drafts of the first four books back to back. Those first four were really written at fever pitch as I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, but once I had completed them, I then sat back and added more notes to help me edit the books and shape them to a closer match to the versions of the books I have published. I mean there have been many changes and additions since then, but the story has remained relatively unchanged from those earlier writing days, which I also will add was at a particularly difficult period, with five my life circumstances had changed a great deal, and I had the time to take much longer in the planning and writing, and that also let me work much deeper inside the story.”

The start of Crystals of the Mirrored Waters is somewhat reflective, and in a way almost historical.”

“Yeah I think that is the point, and is the reason why this is such an important book in the series as a whole. Before this book we know that there has been a struggle to rebuild back to the point where the story begins in Loxley with book one, and since that point there has been a lot of references to past events. Look to the past is a huge theme in the earlier books and it is at the start of the fifth book that I think the process of reflection is key to the future, and so I felt that had to be a very important starting point in fully understand the past and the present of Heirs to the Kingdom. I also had so much more time, as I had finally finished with my horticultural business and could focus on just writing this story, that alone had a huge impact on my approach to this book and those that will follow, in a strange way this story is a reflection of my own life, especially some of the more emotive aspects, and those first five chapters do reflect that.”

So really the book is almost a history of the story and your own life running hand in hand? (He laughs)

“I think there is no doubt; I mean those first four were written in all the spare moments of what was a fight with the local authorities as I felt myself losing everything I had ever worked for slipping away, and it was intense and frustrating and heart breaking. I do smile at it now as at that time I did feel like Robbie facing those overwhelming odds and I was riddled with doubts as I fought my hardest, to be honest I think I would have preferred a sword or longbow and taken on the local council one by one in combat, it would have felt a lot easier.”

So you get to five, and life is calmer and more relaxed, and is that why it took much longer to write this particular book?”

“It is and it isn’t. (He laughs at me) It was nice to be able to work in a more focused way, I think I just took a huge deep breath and let myself calm down a little. I was quite ill when I final closed down and made what was a hard decision to quite horticulture, it had been my life for over 30 years, and walking away felt like a huge emotional pull, and for months it was hard to focus on writing, I guess I did a lot of soul searching and looking back at my own life, it was a process of reflection and in many ways a time of healing for me. I needed to make that first important step forward, so I looked to the roots of this story and did a lot of writing of small bits to give me a background to the story, and I soon found some of it was based very much in my own past and my early years growing up in the woodland.”

So that explains the dedication. This book is dedicated to your brothers, and does refer to those times you had together as children.

“I know most readers do not really understand why authors dedicate books, but for the author it is an extremely important aspect of the book, for me personally it was important that I made five a tribute to my three brothers. Some of it is the past, as we were all very close and at that time, and when we all ran wild in the woodland it was for me a deeply special and important time in my life, and they were a large part of it. But you also have to understand that five is a very important aspect of this story, five members create a circle of power, and each family creates a circle of its strongest five, which is where the tables around Runestone play a vital role in Heirs to the Kingdom. I suppose the symbolism for me is what is important, my love of this very special place we grew up in, is the foundation of whom I have become, and that moment from my own past was shared with my brothers. It is the reason I love the wild so much, it is the very heart of where this story came from, and so I could not write this turning point which looks to the past in order to shape the future of Heirs to the Kingdom, without including my brothers who are still one of my strongest circles of power. We were pretty poor as kids and yet we overcame so much, my eldest brother has a force of stamina that I am in awe of, my next eldest brother against all the odds has achieved so much to be proud of considering his starting point in life, and my youngest brother who has the craziest sense of fun, has brought a huge amount of laughter and joy to so many people in his lifetime, and I find them inspirational and have taken elements of each of them into my writing, which has indeed made the charters of this story much more interesting to read. As I said the readers probably won’t see any of this, but I hope my brothers can, and that is why it was so important to me that the fifth book was for them.”

I think up until this moment I have never really considered the dedication in a book before, and maybe I will think about others in the future when I read. So we finally have the new book and we will all soon know who the new king will be, so I have to ask even though I am uncertain of getting an accurate answer, tell us what can we expect from Crystals of the Mirrored Waters?

Heirs to the Kingdom by Robin John Morgan

Heirs to the Kingdom by Robin John Morgan

 “That is the million dollar question isn’t it? I feel the desire to shout “Plot Twist!” OK, Book one through four imply a lot of what has happened, and in that much they ask a lot of questions, so my first priority was to address those.

I think the question of Why was the death Red, who started it, and why a virus, and how was it certain people survived are all relevant questions which I need to answer, and so I have. I think another important question is why is the line of Arthur so relevant when obviously the Lox household are quite capable of uniting the country alone? But the biggest untied threads that run right through the whole series have to be, who did what and why? These are questions the books have asked, and through book five you will gain a lot of insight as to the goings on behind the scenes, but saying that, I know it will lead the readers to ask yet more questions, and that will be explained in a later book. What happened in the past is a guide to the future, so there is more detail on those past events as they run side by side with current events. There are moments within the earlier books which may not have felt very relevant, but actually those moments will become very important as other books come out.

I suppose the biggest and most important thing in book five is the change of emphasis, you know, the books are named Heirs to the Kingdom, and we have pretty much worked out who all the heirs are… or have we? From five onward the story has to change, otherwise it would become stagnant and the emphasis has to move away from the search, to the actual destinies of each and everyone within the tale, and that starts here.”

Why do I suddenly feel you have answered my question by simply posing even more?

“That’s Heirs to the Kingdom. Look I write this story primarily for myself, but I can assure you nothing is written that does mean something, and that is who I am, and that will be the case whatever I write in the future, am I going to give away the plot, obviously not? The rear cover mentions a few hints and nothing more, but if you read it carefully you may pick out a few things, such as a new realm and a new enemy that is very dark and devious. Book five will test everyone, including the reader and I hope you find yourself in situations you never expected. Harry is in there getting himself in trouble, Jett and Jade are as usual up to their tricks and Robbie and Runestone will be tested, but you all know that as this is their story and it is slowly unfolding. I will say I try very hard to surprise myself in hope of surprising the reader, and this book took two years of carefully planning to get to the final scenario, which I hope leaves the reader breathless. I feel this is a gritty and good paced story, but I will leave it to readers to decide, I certainly think they will really enjoy it.”

So to end, I feel I must ask what I consider the most important question I can ask. Considering how involved she is with all of this adventure, what does your wife think of it?”

“Ask Her? (Giggles) I do believe she loves it???”

Heirs to the Kingdom Book Five : Crystals of the Mirrored Waters by Robin John Morgan, (ISBN 978-1-910299-05-0) is out today (28th February 2015) and will be available worldwide via all online book retailers and via your local bookstore, published via Violet Circle Publishing. All of Robins books are available and you can get full details on them via violetcirclepublishing.co.uk or heirstothekingdom.com