Tag Archive | writers

Let me tell you a story…

glasses-booksCommonly known in writing circles as a ‘hook,’ a lot has been said over the years about the opening sentence, or two, of a tale. It’s common sense to try and grab a reader asap, be it with something dramatic, curious, unusual or quirky. Not all writers do, of course. I’ve read some bland opening sentences over the years and yet – reading deeper – some books have ‘delivered’ more than promised. It is, nevertheless, a good idea to give careful thought to those first words which confront you when you open the cover. As I always have piles of read and unread books everywhere…I picked five at random and checked them out.

The first one: Kate Granville’s The Lieutenant began: ‘Daniel Rooke was quiet, moody, a man of few words.’ Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8) by Sandy Balfour, simply said: ‘Let me take you back to December, 1983.’ Both openings were an invitation: to know more about the ‘quiet, moody, man’ in the first instance, and a direct request to return to December, 1983 in the second. So, both subtle hooks… The third book, called The Seed Collectors by Scarlet Thomas starts: ‘Imagine a tree that can walk. Yes, actually walk. Think it’s impossible? You’re wrong.’ The fourth book titled Amsterdam, written by Ian McEwan, begins: ‘Two former lovers of Molly Lane stood waiting outside the crematorium chapel with their backs to the February chill.’ Both openings intrigue. A tree that can walk? And who was Molly Lane? None of the authors are amateurs. They knew what they were writing.

The fifth and final book, a favourite by Carlos Ruiz Zafon The Shadow of the Wind states: ‘I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.’ Another interesting, mind-winding opening.

Fast-forwarding to Writers’ Ink member, Nigel Grundey’s, latest novel, The Vienna Connection, let’s see what his hook is…Take his first paragraph; ‘Can we trust the messenger?’ asked Harry Ward slowly as the tall Warrant Officer scratched at a scar on his cheek, then returned the hand-written note to his commanding officer. ‘What it says is believable, because the Nazis broadcast their plans for Rome and Paris before liberation. But why wait until now to reveal the details?’ Again, intriguing.

Some more examples of great openings here www.dailywritingtips.com

It’s great fun this writing lark, plotting and planning…


© Joy Lennick 2018



And now for something slightly different..

footThere’s so much heavy, disheartening and tragic news around, thought I’d lighten the load for a while.

For anyone fed up to their back teeth with either flippant/kinky, or boring romances/gory, twenty-toed monster killings or utter nonsense all depending on your particular taste of course – here are a few books which promise (dib dib dib) to, at the very least, offer something unusual/bizarre/original to titillate the jaded reader’s palate. (The fact that they could be a load of old codswallop is neither here nor there.)

Forget the proverbial ‘Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman’. ‘LAGOON’ by Nnedi Okanafor presents a rapper, a biologist and a rogue soldier, who walk into a bar…

SLAPSTICK, OR LONESOME NO MORE’ by Kurt Vonnegut. Apparently, it’s about the last President of the USA… (Written in 1976, but could be quite topical!)

THE PASSION’ by Jeanette Winterson –Napoleon! Venice! More web –footed people! And a woman who is trying to retrieve her heart from a locked box…

THE BEAR COMES HOME’ by Rafi Zabor – The protagonist is a walking, talking, saxophone-playing bear. What more could you ask for?


I imagine, if you’re a reader/writer, you are as fascinated by people as I am. Here are a few facts about some of our more famous ‘Pensmiths’.

CHARLES DICKENS was a stickler for order and routine and wrote most days from 9 am until 2 pm. He always slept facing north as he believed it better aligned him to the electrical currents of the earth. Despite no formal education, he wrote 15 novels, 5 novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction; lectured and performed: all before he was 48 years old, when he tragically died of a stroke.

HARUKI MURAKAMI is working by 4 am – five or six hours – he then runs for ten kilometres and/or both swims 100 metres. Later, he reads, listens to music and is in bed by 9.00 pm. He says the discipline helps him reach a deeper state of mind.

JODI PICOULT says: ‘You can’t edit a blank page,’ so obviously gets on with it. She never suffers from writers’ block.

KURT VONNEGUT worked from 5.30 until 8.00, then again later. He swam, had ‘several belts of scotch and water,’ and did push-ups and sit-ups in between writing. (It must have helped, he lived to a respectable age of 84).

ERNEST HEMINGWAY wrote every morning, as soon as it was light, ‘Cool and quiet.’

HENRY MILLER advised not to work on more than one thing at a time; ‘to mix work with pleasure, go out and meet people and don’t be a draughthorse.’ He also said you should ‘not be nervous, work calmly, joyously and recklessly.’ And last, but ‘that cliché’…’

MAYA ANGELOU, poet and author, found the comfort of home too distracting, so rented a small, mean room in a hotel for months at a time, taking only her writing materials, a Bible, a bottle of sherry and a pack of cards. She had a calloused elbow from leaning on one side of her bed to write!

So, there you have it, for now. Just a few odds and ends for you to ponder.


© Copyright Joy Lennick 2017


Wake up at the back!

Steinbeck2The whole literary world seems awash with new writers: of all genres and capabilities. In their number – trust me I know – there are a handful who will make it big: and I mean BIG (genius among their ranks; some excellent writers but also moneyed writers WITH CONNECTIONS. It is not cynical to suggest this, just factual.) It was ever thus, but I’m not a party-pooper. Good luck to those who have reached the pinnacle of their profession, more particularly the authors who have worked hard to get there, for there is truth in the saying success takes more perspiration than inspiration… Although it is humbling to recall, and furthermore brings the egotists to heel, that Ernest Hemingway said ‘We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.’

However, the “connected” and more savvy/wealthy/technical scribblers among us, don’t need as much help, while there are plenty who do! I count myself in the latter category as I hesitate when I am faced by a ‘Push’ sign…over-think (dangerous) and tend to under-estimate any suggestion of talent.

In this technical age, more than ever before, the actual writing itself seems easy-peasy when faced with the maze of problems in getting your work/book “out there.” Having experienced mainstream publishing in the 1970’s/80’s – to be applauded – I can categorically say there is no comparison with what’s on offer today. Yes, it’s easier to be published, but most authors like to see their books sell. Right? Plus they like to be paid for all their sweat and tears; more than two/three euro per book would be nice…(Don’t choke over your cornflakes if that’s a surprise!) And therein lies a difficulty. Amazon and Kindle are choked up with every conceivable book on every conceivable subject you can imagine, and nowadays the ‘big boys’ are greedier.

The writing part of your book really could be the easiest when compared to ‘putting it out there’ and selling it. If you’re very confident, can sell yourself and your book, AND you can write well, you are well on your way to becoming a household name, otherwise it’s a struggle. And, remember, wise authors put much store by the design of their book covers, and the back cover blurb is almost as important. It can make the difference between luke-warm sales and brisk ones.

Apart from the totally original/genius/moneyed writers in our midst, there are plenty of tentative, talented people aspiring to get into print, and I genuinely feel concern for them. So – including myself in this plea – let’s sit up and take note before it’s too late.

So, what can we do to improve our success? Well, common sense tells us to ensure the quality of our writing is as good as we can make it. We never finish learning…or improving, and shouldn’t. We should all read as much as we can and keep our curiosity honed at all times. Being original and spinning a good tale is another must, and cliches should be avoided but not ignored. Rules should be massaged, and sometimes turned on their heads… In Doris Lessing’s words: ‘There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.’ Optimism is key.

I will forever be intrigued by the fact that 26 letters of the alphabet can spell magic, mayhem, mystery, fear, titillation, happiness and every other emotion you can think of, and the mystique of muses and inspiration remains. Although, in my own, very modest, writing life, there was never a “”Eureka” moment, I was inspired to plod on by John Steinbeck’s writing, read after…I had written a sentence almost matching one of his about a sunset in a short story. Not exactly a difficult task, but I was thrilled to have chosen the same words as a writer of his calibre. (He was, by the way, rejected by many publishers before succeeding.) Of course, we should never compare ourselves with the greats, and remember, we are ALL UNIQUE. Every last one of us.

Sadly, none of the above sketches out HOW to ensure readers buy our books. If you are a good speaker/actor/promoter/technology wizard, it counts for a lot, for today’s writer has to do a heap more than just write. Making videos, giving interviews and courting coverage by way of Twitter and Facebook, etc., makes sense, as does setting up a website and interacting with like-minded people.

As for finishing the book itself, Larry L. King suggests you ‘Write, rewrite; when not writing or re-writing, read. I know of no short cuts!’ I heartily endorse his advice. Good luck!

© Copyright Joy Lennick 2017

Spotlight on K. J. Rollinson

Hi all

As a departure from my occasional blogs, I’m offering my very first ‘Interview’ with author Kathy J. Rollinson. Kathy has a fertile imagination and I’m sure you’ll find her and her work highly interesting and entertaining. To say that she is a well-rounded, prolific writer is an understatement…


Me: Now you’re seated in my ‘comfy chair,’ Kathy, please tell us something about yourself.

Kathy: You’ve already mentioned my name, and I was born in Salford, Lancashire, UK and moved

to Wales aged 12. I also lived in Berkshire. I gained A levels and professional awards, and

worked for many years for the National Health Service, filling various positions within

England and Wales. I now live in Spain.

My short stories have appeared in various publications and anthologies, including the award
winning ‘Shorts for Autumn,’ awarded by the Writing Magazine in 2012.

Me: When did you realise that you wanted to be an author?

Kathy: I must have been about eight. My first story was about a big yacht, at least 20 ft. long!! I also

remember my first poem was called ‘Pictures in the Fire’ – when we used to have coal fires.

I thought to publish on Amazon after I joined WordPlay Writers’ Forum, assisted by co-

founder Michael Barton.

Me: What process do you need in order to write?

Kathy: I live on my own, so have peace and quiet. Usually, I get up at 5 am, and after going through

my emails, I write for a few hours, leaving the rest of the day free for my other hobbies.

Me: Please share your books with us and a synopsis of each.

Kathy: THE FALLYN TRILOGY: FALLYN AND THE DRAGONS. Allan and twin sister Eileen,

along with two friends, are persuaded by a mysterious figure, Dorius, The Keeper of Dreams,

to enter a medieval dream world. Aware of their visits, they use their thoughts to overcome

problems they encounter, helped by friendly dragons, and go to the aid of King Rudri of

Nashta against his evil brother, Prince Bato.

FALLYN IN THE FORBIDDEN LAND. On the Island of Nashta, the friends are known as

Lord Fallyn, Lady Eila, Lord Merin and Lady Kalla. As problems faced in the real world

often reflected those they faced in the dream world, they use teamwork to overcome

difficulties encountered in both. They meet a race of little people known as Chougans,

who breed colourful, little dragons. Are the Chougans responsible for the red dragons

attacking Nashta?

Third in the series:FALLYN AND THE SEA DRAGONS. The final book concerns the

continuing adventures of the friends. They meet a charismatic, handsome, pirate captain. In

an exciting climax, all dilemmas are resolved in the real and dream worlds.

A TWIST OF FAIRY TALES, is a book for modern, trendy children, 6 – 10 years. Five of

the stories, Little Scarlet Hudson, The Ugly Duckling, Jack and the Beanstalk, Miss Goldie

Locks, and Cinderella, are updated without losing their magic. I wrote four, completely

new fairy tales: Fairies and Unicorns, My Funny Valentine, Shrimp, and Rudolph

the Red-Nose Reindeer. All have a full-page illustration.


(John Rode, lst Grade Detective, murder stories.)

Consisting of four stories: Little Josie, Dr. Lister – I presume, Courting Justice, and

The Dancing Queen. John Rode, a middle-aged, widower cop, knows New York like the

back of his hand. He’s known as ‘old blue eyes’ to work colleagues, not because he can

sing, but – ‘if his eyes were any paler – he’d have to carry a white stick.’ In free-time

into Shakespeare, he has a strong sense of justice. In one story, he says, ‘This is a Court

of Law, not a Court of Justice.’

Me: How do you come up with ideas for your stories, Kathy?

Kathy I used to attend an art class and a friend drew a picture of a proud dragon. I wrote a

500 word story for her, and the ‘FALLYN TRILOGY’ grew from there.

A TWIST OF FAIRY TALES’ The leader of a group I belong to, part of the U3A,

gave us an exercise to write a modern story based on Little Red Riding Hood and an

altered version appears in the book. My imagination grew wings and I wrote another

eight stories. Re ‘THE RODE TO JUSTICE’ – the idea led from writing murder stories

for the WordPlay Writer’s Forum anthology tales set in New York

Me: What projects are you currently working on?

Kathy: My latest, exciting, project is one devised by the WordPlay Forum. A founder member

called Ian, sadly died a few years ago. He had always said he’d never come across a

main character named Ian, so I, for one, have addressed that situation in my book

‘WHERE LIES MY HEART.’ My character travels to Eritrea, East Africa, a place torn

by wars and famine, with a desire to assist where he can.

Me: What do you expect to accomplish this year?

Kathy: Now that ‘Where Lies my Heart’ is finished, I intend entering the above-mentioned

competition. Here is the synopsis. Against an exotic backdrop in East Africa,

my story charts the life of Ian Cornwall, from boy to man. Since boyhood,

Ian has been drawn to help his fellow man. However he has a flaw – his weakness?

Women. He is, after all, a handsome man. With two disastrous romances behind him,

he travels to Eritrea. Here, he meets a woman he truly loves, only to lose her when

she’s abducted by Jihad rebels. His one regret of not telling her of his love haunts him.

Ian flees with an Eritrean family from the despotic government, only to find their

situation worsening. Fact and fiction inter-weave in a fast-moving plot – from

Birmingham, UK to East Africa, through Eritrea, Sudan, crossing the Red Sea to

Saudi Arabia and Egypt. My story is fast-moving and will, hopefully, thrill its readers!

Me: Please share your links and where to purchase your books, Kathy.

Kathy: Twitter @BoyesKjr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/kathy.rollinson.1

Websites: www.kjrollinsonauthor.weebly.com Click on book covers to go directly

to my author’s page.


Amazon author’s page: https://www.amazon.com/author/kjrollinson (Details of my

books for purchasing from Amazon, both in soft book and Kindle.)

www.wordplaywritersforum.com Click ‘Our Members’ Publications.’ Click ‘Buy

on Amazon’ at bottom of appropriate book for a direct line.

Me: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Kathy: My videos on You Tube



A big thank you for making me so welcome!

A Twist of Fairy Tales Front Cover for Kathy_smlFallyn and the Dragons Front Cover 15 02 2015_smlFallyn and the Sea Dragons FRONT COVER_sml

Fallyn in the Forbidden Land FRONT COVER_smlRode Front Cover_sml