Wednesday, 31 October 2018

FATHERS AND STRANGE MEN

THAT'S NOT MY DADDY

(WRITING WITH SOMEONE ELSE'S VOICE)

I asked my Writers Group to compose a very short piece using the 'voice' of another character, for example, an old person, a teenager, a drug addict, a child, a harassed mother - the choice is endless. I chose the voice of a 5 year old child. Afterwards it struck me that the emotions involved in the piece must have been echoed in many other situations where a soldier has come home from the fighting to greet his children again.Here it is:
That's not my Daddy.
Miss Haynes said he was waiting outside to take me home, and I got so excited. I haven't seen him for a long long time. Not since he was sent to be a soldier in Af – Af – that place with all the sand and the bombs. I peed my pants a bit, just a little, when Miss Haynes told me he was there, waiting by the gates. I hope they'll be dry by the time I get home so Mummy won't be cross.
But – That's not my Daddy. My Daddy is very tall and he stands straight up and he has a big shiny, smiley face and . . .
I take a step backwards into the hall.
My Daddy has two arms and two legs. The man by the gates has only one of each and his face is sort of squashed up and crunched, like a paper bag that's got nothing in it. He's pretending to smile, but it's not a proper smile.
No, that's not my Daddy.
He's calling to me now. He knows my name. Lukey, he's calling. His voice is different. Sort of shaky and whispery. And then he raises his arm, the one that's got a hand on the end, and waves.
Come here, son.
I'm not supposed to speak to strange men. If one speaks to you, my Mummy says, don't answer them, just run back to where there are other people.
There are other people in the hall and the cloakroom. Miss Haynes and Mrs Batsby the Head, and Alfie and his Mummy. I can hear them laughing.
'Lukey,' says the man. 'Don't you remember me?'
I think he's crying, and I want to cry too, I can feel the crying coming up in my chest in big hard lumps.
But he's not my Daddy.
I turn around and run back into the hall.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

AN UNLIKELY HERO

TEENS! NOW THE RESULTS ARE IN, TREAT YOURSELF TO A FUN READ.

CABBAGE BOY by local autrhor Joy Wodhams, is set in Swindon. Nick, its unlikely hero, is almost sixteen and longs to be taller, braver, more athletic, more popular with the girls, more one of the guys. He also suspects that he's the only one in the class who's still a virgin.
Let's face it, he's a worrier, with more than a dash of OCD. At home he cleans up his messy sister's bedroom, colour codes his Mum's spice jars and his Dad's garden equipment, measures various parts of his anatomy every Sunday morning and has to have his Full English Breakfast arranged in the same order each week.
Life brightens when he finds a girlfriend and falls in love with her. They've been together for four weeks and he's kissed her eighteen times, according to his notebook.
But when Nick meets a strange and scary mutant and is forced to protect and hide him, his life becomes unbearable. Who can he turn to for help?
Mum and Dad are busy line dancing, big sister Becca has lost interest and his girlfriend Chloe has moved on to a handsome six-footer who's captain of the school football team. As for friends, Nick doesn't 'do' friends. Or rather, they don't do him.
This is a story about beauty and ugliness, about kindness and cruelty, about prejudice and understanding, about self-doubt and courage. Full of humour, warmth and tragedy, CABBAGE BOY can be enjoyed by teens, young adults and is available at £1.99 on Amazon Kindle, £4.99 in paperback

Saturday, 28 July 2018

FREE EBOOK OFFER SATURDAY JULY 28

THE BOY WHO COULD FLY - TODAY, SATURDAY 28 JULY - FREE OFFER


The photograph below is of my past relative, aerialist Sydney Bird, who was born in 1875 and died tragically in 1891 while performing at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Grimsby (now a cinema!). Sydney (billed as 'Una The Human Fly') was the inspiration for my latest novel THE BOY WHO COULD FLY, which unites him supernaturally with a fictitious descendant, Jamie Bird, during WW2.An exciting tale for kids, teens and anyone who's interested in the circus, today is the last day to order a FREE ebook from Amazon (also available as a paperback at £6.75). I hope you enjoy it - and if you do, I'd really appreciate a short review on the Amazon site,

Sunday, 22 July 2018

FREE FOR THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS!


FREE! Holiday reading for kids, teens or any grown up who's ever wanted to run away with the circus


For just five days (Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th July inclusive) the Kindle version of my latest book, normally £1.99, will be available FREE on Amazon.
It's an exciting adventure story with more than a touch of mystery and the supernatural. Its two heroes, one born in the 19th century, the other in the 20th, are linked by their dreams and their love of flying. The 19thc hero was my own great-uncle, tragically killed at 16 while performing.
Una The Human Fly
I hope you and your children enjoy it. If you do, I would really appreciate a short review on Amazon so that others may discover it. By the way, it's also available as a paperback, price £6.75. Please share with your friends.


Thursday, 24 May 2018

HOW TO WRITE DIALOGUE


DO ALL YOUR CHARACTERS SOUND ALIKE?

How do you distinguish one character's dialogue from another? If you Google you'll find lots of authors and tutors giving their suggestions. There's useful advice there and it's tempting to apply it to characters all the way through the story but I think the important point is to SUGGEST rather than to hammer the differences home in every line of dialogue, which can become tedious and could slow down the pace of your story.
On the other hand, distinctive individual dialogue often develops as you get to know the characters in your story, knowing them so well eventually that you actually hear their voices inside your head!

I thought I'd have another look at some of my own writing and see if I could find some examples:How about doing the same with your own work, isolating the odd conversation from the story itself and seeing if it works? The following, though, are mostly just single sentences.

'Delighted, my dear. Take a pew.' This is a well-educated middle class older man.
'The guys all seemed so juvenile, apart from the usual creepy gang of hasbeens with their eyes on stalks.' A young woman, worldly but no longer a teenager.
'I ate half a caterpillar once. It was sweet. Like sugar. One of those long thin green ones, it was.' A small boy.
'That is a pity. Because I do not think your parents will wish to entertain your friend at this time.' An educated but non-English rather sinister man.
'Child - you are a child, are you not? Child, do you realise to whom you are speaking?' A conceited pompous fantasy character.
'Dickheads! Fuckwits! Arseholes! Just because a girl doesn't look like Beyonce, she doesn't have to take that sort of crap!' An angry tearful seventeen year old girl.

Normally it's not really a good idea to use slang or jargon of the moment, because it dates so quickly. Of course, if your story's set in the future you could invent your own. Think of The Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess).

Individuality depends on many things. A well educated, well read person will have a much greater vocabulary at their fingertips, at the other extreme a kid from a deprived area may struggle to find more than a few dozen words, relying heavily on the F-word. An older person may use words and phrases seldom heard amongst the younger generation and may - or may not - be more polite, more tentative. Syntax - the order of words in a sentence - may figure heavily. Grammar, dropped aitches and gees, mispronunciation, rushed, self-interrupted or slow and deliberate- all of these might be used, but again occasionally rather than continually.

Dialect can be a problem. likewise a character whose home language isn't English. Suggest occasionally - and avoid cliches (Och aye! for a Scotsman, n'est-ce-pas at the end of every sentence for a Frenchman. Syntax is useful here, again used occasionally.

I hope this is helpful. Setting it down has certainly helped me, making me think more deeply about my own characters.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

A SUPERNATURAL ELEMENT


THE CIRCUS, THE LIVERPOOL BLITZ AND A TRAGIC GHOST

This year the circus is celebrating its 250th anniversary, which inspired me to write my latest novel, THE BOY WHO COULD FLY.
The story is written for children (10 years upwards) but is also interesting for adults. It has a supernatural element, bringing together my own 19th century ancestor, 'Una The Human Fly', a circus star tragically killed while performing at the age of 16, and Jamie, a fictional descendant of his. It begins in Britain during WW2 with Jamie losing both parents in the Liverpool blitz and follows his subsequent life, much of it difficult, and his burning desire to learn how to fly on a trapeze.
A mix of story telling, circus lore and historical detail, parts of the book are autobiographical. I was born and brought up in Liverpool, and it's the setting for one of my adult books too (ME, DINGO AND SIBELIUS). From the mid-19th century my family were circus and theatre performers - acrobats, gymnasts, dancers, singers and musicians
THE BOY WHO COULD FLY is my twelfth book, available in both paperback and Kindle from Amazon.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A BOOK FOR THE 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CIRCUS

TWO TRAPEZE ARTISTS, LINKED BY BLOOD, LINKED BY THE CIRCUS, DIVIDED BY HALF A CENTURY

THE BOY WHO COULD FLY



There have been three 'final drafts' but it's finished at last. Now comes the wait while it's edited, proof-read and the cover is completed.
In the meantime, here are the first few paragraphs as a taster:
Just before midnight on the 4th of December 1941 a bomb fell on Number 23 Deremont Street,
It killed Jamie Bird's Mum and Dad instantly and it buried Jamie beneath tons of rubble.
Five minutes earlier when the air raid siren began its warning wail his Mum had rushed to the kitchen to cut sandwiches, fill a flask with hot cocoa and turn off the gas. His Dad had rushed upstairs to collect thick jumpers and scarves to keep them warm in the street shelter.
They had told Jamie to wait inside the family's Morrison shelter in the dining room, which was supposed to be safe. But it didn't feel safe. The thunder of bricks, the screech of metal, the groaning of timbers, the hiss of water escaping from fractured pipes terrified him.
'Mum! Dad!' he cried. Where were they?
He called again and again but brick dust had clogged his throat and he didn't think anyone could hear him.