Simply Being A Writer.

Recently we asked our Author, Robin John Morgan, for his take on his life as a writer. We know how seriously he takes his writing, but we are also very aware of his tongue in cheek approach to life, so we thought he would provide us with a thought provoking and light hearted look at his own life. We are happy to say he did not disappoint, have a read:

Being Simply a Writer. Written by Robin John Morgan for VCP.

I was asked if I would like to describe my point of view of life as a writer, it seemed a little odd at first, I thought, “Have they any idea what they are doing asking me?” Because in many ways I have no clue as to what most others writers feel like, and I am not entirely sure if I know. I pondered the point, and wondered if it is a feeling one gets with publication? Well if it is, it saw me coming and hid, I really have no idea, I am pretty much doing the same thing I always have, which is put one word after the other, and hope that it will make sense to someone.

I am often referred to as “Author,” but the thing is, I am not really that comfortable with the term, I have always seen other authors as special or sacred, of which I feel neither. I usually when asked, reply that I write for a living, I like that, it can imply many things, and it gets me out of the hole of having to then explain that I actually write books for a living. I think in many ways I am a bit of a closet author, but actually that suits me down to the ground, as it means I have space to simply do what I do, which is write, an act I see as a process whereby I convert vast quantities of Caffeine and Nicotine into legible words on a page. Being asked to describe my life as a writer for the purpose I assume of educating new writers, felt to me like an invasive operation at first, but as I sat back to consider things, I made what is my usual approach to everything that I write, which loosely put, meant I drank lots of coffee, grabbed a pad and made sufficient notes to act as some form of guide.

I felt I should at least ponder the point for a while before giving a commitment, and so after some thought, and lot of scribbling, I have put together the following in hope that it provides a little insight into my view of the world, whilst doing my best to flog a book or two along the way. I should add at this point, I see myself as just some bland and actually quite ordinary bloke whom like most of us, has lead a life filled with ups and downs. Women have never fainted at my feet, and I have never really been in step with the rest of the world, to put my life in a nut shell, I have made the very real choice of avoiding people, whilst watching them from a distance, in the vain hope of learning about humanity. I have published a few books, and I have one or two followers on facebook, so I think it’s safe to say I am nothing that special or out of the ordinary.

Since publishing my first book, which was a very surreal experience, which involved a great many terms I have never heard before, like “Interior” which I assumed was the inside of a house, but was happy to discover it was the term given to the actual writing in the form of pages. I have to admit I also encountered a lot of myths about writers, and I am happy to report that none of them fit me, so if there really is some sort of special person who becomes a writer, I think I managed to dodge that particular bullet.

What I do know about being a writer is that most people think my life is easy, in their minds, I rattle off a few words, back it in a cover, and hey presto I am a millionaire. Oh if only it was that easy, the sad truth is very far away from that fact, most people just laugh when I tell them this, as if I just made a ridiculous joke. I understand that I cannot talk for all writers, but I am sure a great many would agree with me, when I tell you that it is a bloody hard graft, and at times it can be soul destroying. I think it was Ernest Hemingway who once said, he would sit in front of the type writer and bleed.

Not only do I write, I also occasionally work with a few other writers, and for myself that provides the unique opportunity of being able to compare notes on how others approach their work. It is one aspect of my working life I find fascinating, as it does allow my curiosity to kick in, as I peep into another writers world, and make notes on how they work. It is startling at times to see how similar or how completely different we all approach the task of writing. This leads me to form the view that we all approach writing from a different perspective, and being me, I chose the isolationist and often more indifferent approach.

In most cases when I talk of writing, I tend to speak from the point of view of my own working practice, as I am obviously a well versed expert in my own approach. I have found my own little selection of comfy habits that allow me the time and space to isolate myself, and set too with the task in hand. I also find it easier to simply state my own journey from secret writer to author.

Most people appear quite surprised when I first talk openly about my own writing, which is actually quite rare, as the introverted part of me which is the writer, tends to shy away from being around too many people, but in a one on one situation, I tend to express myself better. They are really quite shocked when my opening response to their question is usually, “I wish I had never published anything, I was happy before then.” Odd as it may sound, writing makes me extremely tired and grumpy as I drain my brain at high speed onto the page, and when whatever piece I am working on is done, I collapse and sleep for several hours. Not writing makes me even more grumpy, because the plot is always in my head, I can be shopping when a great idea comes out of nowhere, but I am out in the middle of the street with no desk or computer, and that drives me frantic, as I have to keep a mantra going in my already crowded head to remember all the shopping, and the new addition to the story.

My wife has become a well-seasoned professional who notices as we chat that something completely unrelated to our conversation has suddenly popped into my head, and she sees the sudden change in me, and packs me off with a smile to my desk, knowing the urgency coursing through me as I have to write it down. Honestly at times it’s like a curse, have you any idea of what it is like to be at a party when your head explodes into life? It is really awkward as all you want to do is find a quiet spot to scribble stuff down. Most people find it rude when my eyes glaze over as I slip into my own little world, and I pull an idea apart and reconstruct it in my brain. I have been called aloof, a snob, ignorant and downright rude in the past, but they do not understand that is the level of conviction and dedication all writers have to the things they write about. It’s not our fault; we literally can never switch it off. You want to try living with all the characters I have created, having nervous breakdowns or getting into trouble and chatting away furiously in your head every second of every day. The story never sleeps, and sadly neither do I now I am up against deadlines.

I realise this can appear all bad and somewhat off putting, but it isn’t really, as like all things in life you adjust, and find your comfort zone in which to manage your writing life. I find being a writer also challenges me to be a better person. I think it is easy in ordinary life to make snap judgements about situations, events and people. I would even say that in my long life I have seen society change into something so different than the days of my youth, something maybe I would have missed had I not been reflecting on everything. I don’t think people are as kind or open as they used to be, and in many ways I think recent times has shown how closed off people have become from each other. The wonderful thing about being a writer is that I have begun to understand how every person and every event has a story behind it, and in many ways my view-points on life have changed as a result. I no longer rush to judge what I see at first light, I actually tend to look for a deeper understanding of why things are the way they are, and in your everyday life that can make a massive difference in the way in which I interact with everything.

I also feel that one of the greatest points of being a writer or a reader is that through the books we consume, we learn this art of looking on the ways others live or have lived in the past, and I feel from that we can gain a lot of insight into people and our own lives, which is great fuel for creation. I am now a part of that process, and I often sit back and reflect on life and its many wonderful attributes, some of which become parts of the stories I write.

Now I am not saying being a writer also makes me a better person, I still have the real ability to be an utter ass hat, but I do think that because I try to see the story in most things, it has helped me to be a more informed watcher of the world. I think I understand myself a lot better than I used to, and that has given me a little more inner peace, I think I deal with life better now than maybe I used to.

I came into publishing quite late in life compared to many other authors’, I think maybe I had to grow up a little first. I have always written things down, and created small stories in my head for the kids etc. I was a secret writer for years, and I loved it, I loved the process of creation and the freedom to play around with endless ideas that stretched the limits of my vast imagination. I still do, only now it is considered work, and where as before, well that was my way of having some alone time to keep my creativity well exercised. Don’t get me wrong I still love writing, I am not sure I could go a day without stringing some words together, it is as important to me as breathing, but the problem I find is that as soon as I publish, it all gets far too business like.

Back in those carefree days of a none published writer, all I had to do was write, today because of the way the world of books works, which by the way is so aggressive, not only do I have to write, but I have to do it to a deadline, and then once done, I am involved in so many different process’s that suddenly my writing takes a back seat to everything else, I really do not like or enjoy it.

Most writers struggle to get the word out, and contrary to popular belief, it is only writing royalty that get all the big promotional stuff to support them. Us mere mid to lower list writers, have to get out and about and do it ourselves, so instead of writing with all the time and freedom in the world as I used to, I have web pages to maintain, social media sites to update and keep fascinating, promotions for book sales, and a whole host of other tasks to do every day. It is a lot of work to do before I can even consider sitting quietly alone to put down my latest idea. It can be exhausting and very frustrating, and for myself it is not that much fun, especially considering I hate leaving my desk or the house.

The modern media world is not a place for introverts like myself, I am constantly told if I want book sales I must sell myself and dazzle, but the simple truth is, I don’t want to dazzle, and I am happy to not have photos of me plastered everywhere, I mean have you seen my face, who the hell is going to buy a book when they have seen that? I am sure there are many sparkling and dazzling writers in the world who bang on about the joys of life on twitter all day, posting details of their every movement, and I am thrilled they feel so at ease, but honestly that is not really who I am, I never was before and I am not sorry that I am still a tad dull in that respect. I absolutely hate the idea of sitting in a shop with a four by four foot picture of me on the wall behind me, just thinking about it makes me shudder, and want to hide under the bed.

I hate selling my book, yeah I know everyone tells me my attitude stinks, but honestly think about it. I hand a book to a person and say “here read this its brilliant,” how messed up is that? I wrote the dam thing, and if I am completely honest, I think it’s a bit cheeky and rude to do such a thing. People tell me I am old school and to modernise more, and maybe I am a little, but the way I see it, if someone who is not me hands a book to a person, and says “it’s a great book read it,” well that’s OK because they are recommending it based on their own enjoyment. I think it’s somewhat hypocritical to recommend my own book, I have no problems recommending another writers book, I have read it and enjoyed it, so I am honestly telling the person it’s worth the money, why does no one in the book industry understand this?

It is so hard to sell your own work, it puts me on the spot which is lethal, as I usually feel so ill at ease I shift into humour as a sort of survival mode, and I cannot lie, it has got me into a lot of trouble. I once had a customer ask me “what happens at the end of the book?” I mean come on, am I the only person alive who finds that to be a stupid question, seriously what writer living or dead would give away the final plot? My unappreciated response which I cannot deny amused me, and completely put the customer off was, “the words stop.”

It’s not me is it, that is funny?

In this particular case, obviously not, I suppose me laughing did not really improve the situation, as my wife looked on a little displeased with my efforts. I am honest about it, I don’t want to do it, all I want is to do the one thing I love, I want to be sat at my desk ploughing through the fields of my imagination, using it as the inspiration to make my next story even better than I planned in the first place.

The absolute worst things for me are all the sycophants. If I am absolutely honest when I am out and about and friends meet up with me, seriously people, you don’t have to buy the book or read it in order to know me. I am still me, I have not changed, I still wear my jeans and tee, I don’t shave nearly as often as I should, I am always going to be scruffy even if I was rich, and no I honestly don’t give a rats ass if you have read it or not. Don’t tell me you are going to buy it just to cheer me up, because I know you have absolutely no intention of doing so, honestly do you not think I will know when the weekly report shows nothing sold? I hate it, my life has become a long stream of embarrassed people who feel the need to impress me by committing to a purchase, I honestly only want people to read my books if they are genuinely interested in the kind of stories I write. The same goes for critics, honestly if you hate it toss in the bin, my interest is only in those who find the things I write about thrilling, your over bloated sense of self-importance is right at the bottom of my I don’t give a s..t list.

I tell all new writers I work with to ignore the critics, I cannot tell you how many times I have read something written about mine and other authors books, which was factually inaccurate to the point where I honestly wondered if they had read more than the books description. I have no idea why these people are so important, because if you look them up on google, you usually find more often than not, they have hardly any real writing experience, so why are they fit to judge something that can take years to perfect? Do not waste your time looking at them, look at the screen you write on, there is no such thing as a perfect writer, I find mistakes in every book I read, it is human nature and we all suffer from the same affliction.

It can be a fun experience though when that neighbour who has ignored you for years, and ignored you for reasons you will never truly understand, suddenly spots you and races over to smile and welcome you like you have always been their best friend. My wife and I see them and giggle, they rush over to ask how I am doing, and they always ask the same question, I actually wait for it, and say the very same words in my head as they speak it. “So what is like to be rich and famous now?”

I want to laugh hysterically. What is this myth that all writers are like JK Rowling or Dan Brown? It is a documented fact, look it up, ninety percent of writers do not even earn the minimum wage, most of us have a second income or working partners, hell if I add up my yearly income from writing, I could hardly afford a decent long weekend away in a good quality hotel.

So let me just set the record straight for those who do not understand, we write for no other reason than it is an affliction, seriously it’s like a limp or mumbling to yourself, we have no idea why we write. It’s certainly not for the money, we just do, it is in our DNA or something, I have never been able to explain why my brain has this massive overload of noise and words, it just has, and assembling them in some sort of cohesive pattern on paper gives me a momentary rest and a quietening of the traffic, that’s it, that is why I write.

If I was famous I would still be scruffy, the only real difference would be that more people would stop me and want to talk when I am in a hurry so everything would take me twice as long to do, and I would probably end up in some magazine as an example of how famous people let themselves go with age. Honestly I am not in hurry for that particular bus. Writing gives me great joy and I have absolutely no idea why, all I know is when I sit alone in the quieter moments of my day, and I tap away on the keys, something so magical happens it blows my mind. I get excited and filled with some sort of meditative euphoria. I lose track of everything as I hammer away, and all the pictures in my mind come into some sort of sharp focus, and that’s it, when I am done I collapse and sleep, and it is a deep contented happy sort of sleep that makes me feel wonderful. Honestly it is like a drug, in some cases I would say better than a drug, all I can say is I need it, and I want it, and I am as happy as can be when I am doing it, there really is no other way of explaining it.

Whatever this elusive trance like state I enter for long periods of some days is, I want to live there forever. I have sat for ten hours working and not even been aware of it, for me it is quite normal to work until late into the night, and yes I get tired, but not until that last line, and then it hits me. The following day I read through the previous night’s work, and I can honestly say, there are times I sit back with a satisfied smile and I think, “Where the hell did that come from, did I even write this?” I am sure there is some sort of magical word fairy that nips in whilst I sleep and enhances the stuff I write. It is a very odd sort of experience, and all I can say is that it is all down to the deep level of focus that washes over me when I write, because I can say without a doubt, when I write, I say things a hell of a lot smarter and with deeper meaning than I do in my normal moments of life, something I think my wife would be happy to confirm.

Much to the disappointment of all six of my adoring fans, I don’t write for you, I write for me, this is my story and written as I want it to be written, I am sorry if this crushes anyone, but it’s the truth, no one has a say, not even my wife, I work everything out alone, I write alone, I do the first edit alone, and then and only then does my wife get to see it. I know a couple of people who listen to the points of views of others, and I find it is not for me, I would advise all writers to close out others, and take no heed of their comments and views. I strongly believe you should only involve another party once the writing is done. I have worked with a beta group of readers, but I did it to hear their comments on the finished work, it was a great help as it gave me a deeper insight into the reader and how they view my work, and yes as a result I improved the way I wrote, but I never once allowed another living soul to dictate the story line, that I fear is a road to hell. After it is written, that is when I sit with my wife and work through the manuscript.

We both share the responsibility after that in cleaning it up because I am a lazy writer who makes about a million mistakes. To me, she is the queen of comma’s and speech marks, I miss hundreds, and she finds them and highlights them for me to add later. My only rule of writing is get it down as quickly as possible, then edit the shit out of it, and guess what, even then I still miss stuff? It really is impossible for me to proof read my own work, I think it is some sort of psychological thing, I know what’s coming, so my brain adds the missed words or full stops, and I simply do not notice I skipped them during writing.

At some point once you become a writer, everyone gives you their advice on how to write, which I find ironic, because everyone waited until I was actually published. A little advice before hand would have served a much better purpose, but once done they all came out of the woodwork, it was in my humble opinion a tad too late, the book was already out on the shelves, and there was not a great deal I could do to improve it at that point.

Believe me you will meet that person who will take a great deal of pleasure in pointing out your short comings, they will give you a kind word and then slap you in the face with comments such as, “I have read your book, it was a good read.” This is the compliment so wait for it, “Although… I am not sure I would have written it that way, your style is somewhat different.” I have learned to bite my tongue and smile, whilst imagining ripping off their head and using it for a football, but the sad truth is there will always be one or two ass hats who will try to put you down. It was about this time in my life after publishing, I encountered a term I have grown to despise. “The Craft.”

When people talk about the craft of writing I usually yawn and fall asleep, is it a craft? I have no idea, I simply know that when I read back what I have written, which is usually out loud, if it’s not right, I notice and make changes, if that’s a craft, then wonderful, I have the gift. I usually use a text to speech program on my computer, which reads my own writing back to me for editing purposes. I set it to a dull boring voice and believe me when you have written something wrong, it leaps out of the speakers at you, it’s a good tool that I have really come to love.

At this point, I should mention, I simply love writing. I got your ordinary everyday education in the 1970’s, which Ok I do consider to be of a higher standard than today, much to the disapproval of my teacher friends. I loved English and English Literature; they were my favourite subjects which finally makes sense to me now, as I have spent thirty five years working in horticulture before having a writing career today. I did want to be a journalist, but was told not to even try when I left school, as I was too fast a writer whom scribbled my illegible scrawled notes on stories across paper like a spider had raced through the ink pot. Like now, my mind had a habit of running off without me, which I now realise is my true passion about what I am doing, but back then a story that was filled with missing commas and words was not acceptable. I realise now that scribbling down is OK on a computer as later on it can be edited at leisure, but sadly there were no computers then, and so I took up working in the dirt, something I found involved a lot of research and working with plants, which is still applicable to scruffy writer me in the work I do now, writing about woodlands and trees and the magic within them.

I don’t see myself as complicated; although I am sure a few people I know would give a good counter argument on that. When writing I like to keep things as simple as possible, I like my work to be easy to follow, I like it to be a captivating and a straight forward read for the reader. I try not to concern myself with the views of other writers, in my opinion they have their way and I have mine, and never the twain shall meet. I believe with passion that communication is the greatest asset of humanity, and that writing is the greatest achievement of mankind. It is the simplest of things, and yet it is profound on many levels. I can take what is trapped inside my inner self, and use words on a page to convey that to another human being in a another country who I have never met. I can make them smile, or even make them cry; now tell me there is no such thing as magic? It has to be the greatest thing ever, and I have the joy of doing it on a daily basis, it is not a craft, it is a gift, and I for one am delighted to tell you all that every single one of us has the skills to do to.

I discovered the craft when joining an online forum for new writers, which was one of the tips recommended to me after I had published my first book. This site had lots of people talking shop, and I settled in to take it all in. One girl in particular was very young and offered a small piece to be critiqued, I read it and I enjoyed it. It was a little thin and needed a some padding out, but I felt it was worth working with and would in time be a nice little story, and I told her so, which really delighted her. She did confess she had been terrified of uploading it to the site, but I commended her bravery and told her to keep going. Suddenly, well let’s just say for politeness, this grumpy old badger came online and absolutely assassinated her piece. He tore it to shreds and banged on line after line about “The Craft.” I thought he was cruel and just plain nasty; it was not that bad a story, certainly compared to some of the other flowery drool I had read on the site. Her story was imaginative and inspired, but he just banged on about the standards of the writing craft, and for want of better words, he publicly crucified her.

He was wrong, his behaviour in my mind was just plain horrible and nasty. I messaged him to complain and tell him that he had gone overboard, and that her story had a lot of potential. OK I realise I am not schooled in modern writing, I have just developed my own way over time, people say I have a particular writing style, but to be honest I would not recognise it if it hit me in the face. I just write the only way I know how, and I may not be rich or famous, but I do have some fans who love what I write. I argued my point that writing has changed since Queen Victoria was on the throne, which ok, probably didn’t help us bond, but language is changing all the time, and the younger more modern writers embrace that, and I think it should be considered, we are far too quick these days to hoist the classic literature banner and disregard new work.

I love the classics, but just take a moment to look at how JK Rowling got panned by the critics, so did Dan Brown, and yet both of them have written books selling millions of copies. The way I see it they tapped into something at the time the rest of the book industry hadn’t, and it was that approach which made them the stars of modern literature they have become today. He completely disregarded my points and stuck to his mantra of the “Craft.” A lot of people today are leaving reading, modern technology has crept in with film, TV, and instant video channels, and maybe it is some of these young new writers who will invigorate the book world, I feel they should be encouraged, and as much as classic literature has its part, the literature of tomorrow will be completely different. Sadly my voice fell to the floor unheard as I was dismissed for not supporting the craft. Needless to say I left the site and any ideas of embracing this so called craft went right out of the window for me. Today I stick to what I know, which is very little, but it makes me and the few who read my work happy.

I came to writing alone, and after 43 years of my life usually writing all kinds of odd bits and bobs. I have had one story in my mind for a long time and made a huge pile of notes on it, so much so, I realised it had become a fire hazard, and if my house ever caught fire, I would be burnt to death in minutes. It made complete sense at the time to convert the huge mass of stacked hand written papers into digital documents, and hey guess what; when I had finished, suddenly I had like a whole other space by the wall for yet another bookcase. Being a little bit of an obsessive freak, I realised during the digital conversion of my stack, that it would be easier in the long run if it was all filed in some sort of organised and tidy way, and by the time I had finished, I had a book.

Disappointed aren’t you? Well sadly I did not set off to actually write the story in full, I just got carried away at a time when I needed to escape from reality, and it just so happened that it became my first manuscript. Holds hand up, “Hi I am an accidental author.”

I feel the shame and hang my head riddled with guilt. I wrote a book by accident, it was never some sort of challenge or goal, I knew I could write stuff, I had been doing it for years. The problem was this time I got caught, and sadly that person felt the need to tell everyone. I cannot put into words how reluctantly I handed over what I had written for them to read, seriously for a moment I considered wrestling them down and binding their mouth with tape. Absolutely no one knew, it was my hidden pleasure, and I never meant for anything to ever be read, but my gabby friend just had to tell the world, and then my dad. Have you any idea how hard it is to change the subject every time someone mentions reading to an avid reader like my dad? It was a nightmare, ducking and weaving, until finally he cornered me, and I had to hand the thing over to him so he could read it, I wanted to die on the spot.

That was when all the attention and hype started, all I wanted was to be left in peace, but oh no, they were obsessed. I had a constant stream of conversations on how I should publish. Well they weren’t exactly conversations, they were more one sided, them telling me to publish, and me trying to change the subject. Don’t get me wrong, I love authors, Tolkien, John Wyndham, H G Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Philip Pullman, all of them my absolute ideal of great writers, I just felt like I did not belong in their company, and I would rather have remained lost in a room somewhere else with my trusty old desk top PC. That is when it all started, everyone hassled me telling me “you must publish so I can buy it.”

Let me just clear the air at this point, as nice as it is to be told by everyone, “it’s a great book publish it and I will get a copy,” once again I would like to remind you all, that you are all actually very big liars. Is it like some secret trend to harass writers into doing something they don’t want to? I made a list of every person who promised to buy a copy, all two hundred and thirty one of them; I know I am a little weird like that. But in all honesty it does sort of play on your mind, or it did mine at the time, I started thinking wow this is unreal, if all these people want a book, then how many others might buy it? Listen to me now, “Do not do it, it’s a trap.”

By the time the first book came out, on launch week I sold fifty of them, yep just fifty; and hardly any of them to the people on the list, it was a good lesson to learn at that point. It is like a sickness, and I would say to anyone who wants to be a writer and put a book out, a lot of people will say they will buy it, but when you hold a copy in front of them you will get one of two responses, the first being “Oh dear I don’t have enough cash on me at the moment, can you get it online?” The second excuse which is by far the most used, “What I have to pay for it, I thought we were mates?” Everyone wants a copy, but no one wants to shell out money for it, my wife and I work on the assumption that out of every two hundred people who say they will buy a copy, only one will, and to date we are pretty accurate.

I blame the current obsession we have with celebrity culture, when confronted with an author, people go into some bizarre default setting that makes them smile a lot and make unrealistic promises in the hope that you will like them. I have one friend who introduces me as “His friend, the Author,” it used to be “hey guys this is Rob,” But sadly not anymore.

I find it a most peculiar phenomenon, it is almost like these people feel a strong desire to be liked by a famous person, the problem with that which they have not already stumbled on is very simple, ‘Most writers are just ordinary folks and not at all famous’ in truth we are a bit of a disappointment, although I do love the idea of some random women rushing home to boast about meeting me, and being confronted with a lot of confused family faces, who look at her like she is mad and say “Who the F**k is that?” followed by “Never heard of them” It does cheer my day. The truth is with over two million books published a year, there are one hell of a lot of us, we are not rich and we are certainly not famous, which is something I am currently quite happy about.

I sat and worked out, that if I take into account, all the places I have visited to photograph for my work, which I use to help me describe places, and all the books I have bought for my research, all the paper I have purchased for print outs, the heating of my home to write in, the electric used by the computer and lighting, and all the fuel I have burned up traveling around for research, I would easily need to sell well over one million books to even come close to breaking even. If I add to that all the man hours involved in the production of the books I write, and they were then charged at minimum wage rate, at my current selling rate I would need three hundred years to fully recover what I have invested in my writing life.

If you want to write for the money, by all means try, no one, not even the biggest publishers can predict what will and what won’t sell, and yes you may have a best seller inside you, no one will know till you do it. I personally believe that it should never ever be about the money, writing is not a way to stay afloat, it is a joy of hidden magic that lives inside you, and you can choose to release it into the world, or hide it away forever, it is up to you. What I can say is I have had equally as many days of wonder, as I have despair, and I am still doing it. It involves a lot of self-motivation; there have been days where I sat in bed staring at the cat, who was far more motivated than I was, although I hadn’t fed him at that point which explains a lot. I have days of endless frustration deleting a months’ worth of writing because I knew it was simply not good enough, and have started again from scratch. Writing on a bad day can be the equivalent of chewing dry sawdust, as the frustration to get it right builds inside me, I feel sorry for my wife who bless her tolerates my grumpiness as I walk around the house itching to write and unable to type a word.

The good days are glorious. It can come in the form of a wonderfully written piece, or a lovely email, a comment on social media, a sales report, or a good revue from a total stranger. I still get a buzz knowing someone I will never meet is so touched by some of my words; they feel the need to write something nice about my book, it really can lift your day, week or year. There are a few people who get very excited when they know I am about to release a new title, and it is wonderful to see their reaction and the excitement they feel, I really feel happy for them, and take great heart from it. There is no greater thrill than looking at the book case and seeing your own name on a spine and thinking, wow I actually did it, and those days have far more value than mere money.

By far the most joyous moments come when you are completely alone, walking free in your make believe word with people who are as well known to you as your best friends. I sit with the head phones on looking at the screen, with my mind ablaze with the images of my own creation, so lost in thought and focused, nothing can touch me as the magic surrounds me and holds me trance like in this theatre of joy. My mind, my heart and my soul join as one mixing with every experience and emotion I have ever had, and I smile as I tap away with my characters or cry the tears of their pain, no film can come close to the immersive experience of writing.

At this point I will add a very important health warning. You do get lost in space and time, and believe me you will not be aware of anything else, so when as happened with me, my eight year old daughter got up at two in the morning with tummy ache, and I was sat in the almost darkness of my room typing away lost to everything. I did not notice her pale white figure approach, until she touched my arm with her cold white hand. I do not jest when I state it was almost the last line I ever wrote, such was the terror that coursed into my heart filling it with fear and surprise. She scared the living hell out of me, which in turn scared the hell of her, as I leap straight up in the air with a scream of abject terror. So be advised writing can traumatise not only the author, but also their children. This is probably why I don’t write ghost stories, I feel it is taking far too big a risk, in what can already be a slightly risky situation.

I left my known profession to become a full time writer, most people thought I was insane at the time, and maybe I am, but there again I sit at my desk and write down all the day dreams that as a child I was told were bad for me, so I actually get to do it now for a living which is delightful. It was a huge step for me to walk into the unknown, and life took a downward step in comparison to before because of it, but I don’t think I will ever regret it. I am now fifty three years old and actually a lot happier than I have ever been. I will freely admit that I can juggle bills better than a circus clown juggles batons, but any idea of switching career now is unrealistic for me having done this for almost ten years. It has been suggested, but I love doing this too much, and there again, if I really do sit and think about it, what else can I do now at my age?

Writing suits me, I have always been a tad rebellious, and I have spent most of my life searching for some form of liveable peace and freedom, I just wish I had realised sooner that I have always had it. Most self-help books will tell you happiness and peace come from within, well I am living proof, as I look inside on a regular basis to find the materials I need to work with, and yes, after 35 years working in every kind of weather outdoors, I have found my small place of peace and happiness sat before a computer screen, inventing new worlds and new people, and then telling their story as only I know how. Life can be tough for millionaires, but I am not one, so if there are tough days for me too, I ride them out day dreaming until all the happier days come along.

So when I was asked what it is like to be writer, and after a great deal of thought, I feel it is safe to make the following statement compared to those I have observed in other professions. Being a writer is a simple life that suits me, and the truth is: 


 It doesn’t suck. 🙂



Robin John Morgan is a Husband, Father, and Author of the Heirs to the Kingdom series of fantasy adventure stories published through Violet Circle Publishing.



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


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

Wordsmiths Wanderings.

Peregrinations of the Wordsmith.


Christmas In The Community

Brinnington Christmas MarketArticle supplied by Author Robin John Morgan.

Yesterday, Myself and the VCP team were invited to set up a stand at the Christmas Market at Brinnington, Stockport, Cheshire.

As with all the events that concern this small independent publishing company, it was a family affair, so with our children along bearing “Little Intern” badges, we all mucked in and by the opening time of 11am, we had our book sales stand, and our Jaded Opals stand built and laid out, not really sure as to what the events of the day would bring.

As part of the event, I had been invited to host a writer’s workshop, for any aspiring writers to come along and ask questions and get some positive feedback for their work. The event was scheduled to be held in the small library that adjoined the market square where the main stalls and activities of the day were being conducted. Part of the request that was made to myself by the Brinnington Events Team during our initial discussions over the writers workshop, was could I help advise some people on poetry also? Luckily for us we have a poet in our published author’s list, and so I invited Ted (Also my Father) to join me, which was actually pretty special as we have never really worked together in this kind of situation, so all in all I was looking forward to an interesting day.

Most importantly, the weather was very kind to us, yes it was a cold day, but it was dry, and in truth we have done outdoor events in colder, so for us with a little dancing behind the stall and a few hearty coffee’s, we began our day in high spirits, surrounded by the various stalls that provided food, gifts, raffles and face painting etc… it was not long before the square filled up with families, and the event swung into high gear to celebrate the communities Christmas, and I have say everyone was delightfully polite and treated us with a very warm welcome.

VCP Sales Table


I think the thing that struck me as I stood there behind the book stand, was what a wonderful community spirit everyone had, I think great credit should be given to the Brinnington Events Team, for what was a massive amount of effort on their part, in bringing together all the residents of the area. I have written often in the past of the way parts of our heritage has disappeared over the years and especially in the area of how our communities have become less important and isolated, so it was wonderful to see that there is indeed a small pocket where community still has a great relevance and importance.

The whole area was filled with laughter, and people talking and dancing whilst the children ran round enjoying themselves, it felt like a pleasure to see it. The community really got behind the event and gave it their all, and a lot of money was raised to ensure that more events like this one will continue in the future.

When it came to my time in the workshop, my father and myself headed in doors to the library and set up our tables, not really certain of the kind of response we would get, yet within minutes we had our first visitor with questions about poetry and also writing children’s stories. The young woman in question asked us both quite a lot, and we gave her some great advice and the option of talking to us whenever she needed to. She left feeling happy and showing a little relief that there was help at hand should she require it.

I have to confess when I was asked about this workshop, I was asked what age group I could cater to? My response was at the time, any writer of any age, but I still was surprised at the amount of children who came during our session to get a better insight into the writing process. The children were really enthusiastic and talked happily about the stories they write, one young ten year old girl in particular, who spoke with great passion and love of reading really caught both my father’s and my own attention. We hear so much today about how children have stopped reading, we have witnessed so many library closures across the country due to so called cuts, and yet here was a group of children all talking about the books they read, in a very beautifully laid out and well organised friendly atmosphere of their own library, I must admit as a writer and a publisher, I was delighted to see that my opposition to library closures over the past few years was indeed very well founded.

These children talked of how they came there once and sometimes multiple times a week, I have to say it was joy to my ears, as it reminded me very much of my youth where I almost camped in the library as a child. It gave me such a boost, not just as an avid supporter of the need for more libraries, but also as a simple writer myself. This community has a thriving spirit, and at its heart is great library offering so much to children, which is clearly demonstrated by the children who came to see us.

Mayor of Stockport, Chris Gordon talks to Robin and Ted of VCP

Mayor of Stockport, Chris Gordon talks to Robin and Ted of VCP

Once the session was over, and we returned to the stand I found several adults approached me with questions, and later during the day the Mayor of Stockport came round to support the event, and he stopped and chatted to both myself and my father for some time. I noticed his aide looked at little a frustrated as we talked, but as I mentioned my experiences in his local library that day, I found I was greeted with equal enthusiasm by him, as he too shares the very same views. It was wonderful to actually talk to a representative of the council and get my message across to understanding ears, and also have him speak with such passion about the importance of parents reading to their children and encouraging them to read more.

It was getting dark as we started to shiver, the Christmas tree was lit to great applause,  and we begin the long packing up after what had been a fun day in a great atmosphere. We came home cold and tired, well the grownups did, my children were still very much elated as they gathered their balloons, sweets and prizes they had won after a very exciting day for them, and VCP managed to make a profit and had successfully promoted their name and books to yet more people, so I consider it was a good day all around.

The Christmas Market was a wonderful family fun day out, even if we were working at the same time, and it is a credit to this small often unnoticed little community on the edge of Stockport. Well done to all of the organisers for doing something so many small communities fail to notice, simply put, you show everyone the importance of bringing all the community regardless of their status or creed together, and that really is a wonderful accomplishment. We had a fantastic day, and are thankful for your invite and hospitality, and I for one am looking forward to a return at some future point.