The Rules of Writing (there are two)

I have been teaching some creative writing sessions recently. The writers in the group are great; they have some wonderful ideas. Their WIPs (works-in-progress) are varied, from reality-based domestic dramas to high fantasy. It’s great to see.

The majority of what I’m teaching comes from my book, How To Write a Novel in 6 Months. But of course, I’ve learned some new things about writing since I published the book. I think about writing a lot, because that’s what I do.

One of the things I’ve become more convinced about is that there are no RULES to writing—but there are PRINCIPLES.

However, I have U-turned slightly…

I have come to the conclusion, now, that there are TWO rules. They are axioms, I think; fixed and never-changing. Everyone who sits down to write a novel or story, play or screenplay, must stick to them.

The 2 rules are:

1. Finish it: your book, your play; get to THE END.
2. Don’t bore the reader: make them WANT to turn the page or stay in their seats.

That’s it.  Your starting points when you begin writing: these 2 rules.

Do you agree? Anyone have other rules? Or maybe you don’t think these are important. Let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.

So with Christmas coming, and New Year goals looming, maybe some of you intend to write a novel. If that’s the plan, the above two rules are really the only things you need to be thinking about.

Have lots of festive fun, I hope 2022 is creative and bountiful for you all.

Read Chapter 1 of Judgment Day, the final part of The Prophet Wars

The fourth and final part of my Young Adult series “The Prophet Wars” will be published on KDP on September 22.

Called “Judgment Day”, it brings to a close the story of Billy Kingdom, the boy who ca see the future, and Tawny Lang, the girl who can part the waves.

I’ve been writing it over the last month, trying to hit 7,000 words a week, using the progress grid I write about in “How To Write a Novel in 6 Months” to keep track of my writing.

Here’s the grid:

It’s taken just under a month to write the first draft, and now I’m starting the revision process.

And Chapter One is ready. Click here, and you can read it. Hope you enjoy.

You can also pre-order Part 4, here.

The prophets are back…

Hello friends, readers, reviewers, writers, vampires, demons, ghosts…

First, I should say happy new year. We’re well into it now, but this is my first email of 2020. Hope it’s going well for you so far. And if it’s not, I hope it gets better.

Volume 3 of The Prophet Wars, my young adult dystopian thriller (it’s “gripping,” according to reviewiers) will be published on February 28. It’s titled “Battle In The Caves”. Does that suggest action to you? Well, if it does, you’d be right to think that. It’s “action-packed”. You know me. I try to make my stories as exciting as possible; page-turners, I hope.

Of course, I’m making some advanced reader copies (or ARCs, as they’re called) available.

If you’re a blogger, a reviewer, or a reader who’d like to let the world know what they think about the book, you can download a copy here at Bookfunnel.

Formats available include Epub, Mobi and PDF.

Remember, there are ARCs available on the same site for Volumes 1 & 2 as well, if you havne’t read them and would like to leave a review.

Volumes 1 & 2 are available on Amazon (here for UK; here U.S.; other territories too) and here (Smashwords) if you prefer epub or other formats. There’s also Barnes & Noble for epub versions.

Thanks again for your support, and we’ll speak soon,
Thomas

The wonderful world of werewolves

An anthology of werewolf stories is published in January — and I’m very proud to say that one of my stories is featured. Editor and author Graeme Reynolds (High Moor) contacted me last year and asked me to contribute a tale to the collection. The criteria was that it had to be based on an already-created werewolf universe.

My horror-thriller Maneater was published by Snowbooks in 2008, and introduced Laura Greenacre – the tagline was “Meet Laura. She’ll eat you alive.” She wasn’t the troubled, sweet-natured, “I-don’t-really-want-to-hurt-people” type of werewolf that had started to plague fiction and films at the time (and that kind of werewolf still does). She was animal. And she went down well with readers. You can read more about her here.

And here’s just one review, by Sheila Merritt of Hellnotes:

“Laura is gory and gorgeous, beauty and the beast, the stuff that dreams (and nightmares) are made of. Male readers will find her extremely attractive, and women readers will admire her for her attributes and attitude.

Couple of years later I wrote a sequel, also published by Snowbooks, called Prey. Went down well, too.

So when Graeme commissioned me, there was only one place to go — back to Laura.

My story’s called The Hunt and elaborates on an event mentioned in Maneater that took place when Laura was a teenager. The story also flashes back to Roman times, 60AD, telling the story of how the Maneater werewolves came to be, their history, their culture.

This week, I’ve just received the proof — and it looks great. That’s the cover, above. I’m really excited to be featured in this collection alongside some top horror names such as Paul Kane, Ray Garton, Jeff Strand and David Wellington.

You can pre-order Leaders Of The Pack: A Werewolf Anthology, here in the UK, here in the U.S.

The Prophet Wars continue…

Volume 2’s cover art

Volume 2 of my young adult novel The Prophet Wars will be available as an ebook on October 31. Apt, eh? Halloween.

It’s going to be downloadable in multiple formats. Kindle, epub, PDF, and will be available on Amazon, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Barnes & Noble, iBooks… I could go on.

You can pre-order your Kindle copy right now. Here if you’re in the UK. Here in the U.S.

Meantime, if you’d be happy to review it, you can download a free advanced reader copy (ARC) in various formats right here at BookFunnel.

After you’ve read it, it would be great if you could leave a review on Amazon (after publication day), Smashwords, Goodreads, YouTube, your blog, the local paper. The first volume ARC is also still available, by the way, just in case you’ve not had a look.

If you don’t want to sign-up at BookFunnel, but you want to review the book, email me at info@thomasemson.com and I’ll mail you a PDF. No bother.

Thank you, as usual, for your support. And if you’ve not already done so, you can sign-up to my newsletter here – and you’ll get a free story and an extract from How To Write A Novel In 6 Months.

My chimp brain is overloaded

If you’ve read The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters, you’ll get this title… It’s a mind management program designed by the guy who helped British cyclists become the best in the world. Anyway, it just gives you tools to better understand, and maybe control, that “I’m-losing-my-shit” part of your brain. I’m actually losing my shit right now over another chimp, MailChimp. Trying to set up a “subscribe” button on my website, and it’s just so mind-boggling. I think there’s a disconnect between people who work in tech and normal human beings. They think they’re being simple, but still use words like “integrated”. I don’t know what that means. So I’ve sort of set up something on my front page, and I’m giving away a free story, but there problem is – and I’m testing it – I’m not getting follow up emails as I’d requested when designing the form in MailChimp. My brain hurts so bad. So if you happen to subscribe (or attempt to), and you don’t get confirmation emails, and the email with the link to the free stor, email me, please, and I’ll send it to you.

Coming soon…

I’ll be self-publishing the first volume of my dystopian/sci-fi/fantasy/YA-but-suitable-for-grown-ups novel The Prophet Wars in the next few weeks.

This book’s been through the mill. I wrote it back in 2015. We were very optimistic it would find a home. My agent liked it; lots of readers I asked to look over it liked it.

But the publishing industry is unpredictable. To quote William Goldman, the screenwriter, “Nobody knows anything.” I certainly didn’t. The Prophet Wars did not find a home. Yes, people liked it a lot, but… always a but.

Usually these days “buts” are related to uncertainty. Publishers aren’t as willing to take risks – although to be honest we didn’t think The Prophet Wars was that risky. However, here’s the pitch:

Britain 2026. Crime is rife. Unemployment soars. There is hunger, there is misery, there is devastation. Our world is on the brink of catastrophe. Earthquakes, storms, wars and plagues blight the planet.

And dark forces are gathering…

The future looks bleak. And 15-year-old Billy Kingdom can see it coming. He dreams about disasters – and days later, they happen.

Through social media, Billy learns that other kids are experiencing similar visions. Online, he grows close to a girl named Tawny Lang.

But one night Billy, Tawny, and other youngsters from across Britain with the same gifts, are kidnapped by armed men. They are taken to an underground compound called The Caves run by Ruby Bleak and her teenage nephew Robin, a child genius lacking any empathy.

Holed up in the subterranean complex, Billy and Tawny develop a bond. The Caves, however, hides a sinister secret. The kids quickly learn that they are only guinea pigs in a plot to control the future. But Billy isn’t having any of it and plots his escape.

But will his desire to see his family again tear apart the trust and friendship he has forged with Tawny and create, for himself and the world, a deadly enemy?

An action-packed story set in the near future and dealing with themes such as family, relationship, trust, and the environment, this is the first volume of Thomas Emson’s Young Adult thriller.

Volume One, which is titled Project 9:6, is available for pre-order here (UK) and here (U.S.).

If you’re a book reviewer or blogger, or just a fan of YA fiction who’d be willing to review the Prophet Wars when it’s published, you can download an ARC (advanced reader copy) on BookFunnel.

If you would like to read an extract, here are a few pages…

Zombie Britannica among Ezvid Wiki’s top choices

Really delighted to hear from the fabulous people at Ezvid Wiki this week telling me that Zombie Britannica has been included in their recently published wiki, Books with Inventive Takes on the Zombie Genre.

You can see the list here. There are some great zombie books selected. Very proud to have been chosen.

Zombie Britannica is a very “love-it-or-hate-it” novel. What we call Marmite here in the UK. As you’ll see from the reviews, opinion is polarised. But I’m glad to say that the “positive” column has the edge.

One of the criticisms doled out was that everything happens so quickly. But you see, that’s the whole point. Partly, the idea for ZB sprang from the research cited at the beginning of the novel – and it is actually a real study.

Carried out by a group of University of Ottawa mathematics students, it says a zombie outbreak would be devastating – and rapid.

Unless we “hit hard and hit often”, the researchers say, we would be very quickly overwhelmed by the undead – and civilisation would collapse.

So really Zombie Britannica is realistic in that regard. It is backed by science.

Anyway, thanks so much Ezvid Wiki. And if you’d like to know what happens after Zombie Britannica, a sequel, in the form of the short story “Where Moth and Rust Destroy”, can be found in my collection The Trees And Other Stories.

Writer, you are not alone: visiting FantasyCon

Last weekend I was in Scarborough at the British Fantasy Society’s FantasyCon. I travelled up from Kent with fellow writer Danny Rhodes, who’s had horror stories published in Black Static and Cemetery Dance, but is also an acclaimed contemporary novelist (his novel Fan about the Hillsborough disaster is wonderful).

It was quite a trek up north, but I was quite impressed by Scarborough. Very nice seaside town. And the convention itself,  held at the Grand Hotel, was brilliant.

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Movies That Should Be Re-made #1: The Valley Of Gwangi

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By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30937323

I recently heard they’ve re-made Ben-Hur, 1959 the epic starring Charlton Heston. Well, it’s actually described as a “re-adaptation” of the original novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, written by Lew Wallace in 1880.

Now I’m not against re-makes (or “re-adaptations”; whatever). Sometimes they work (Ocean’s Eleven worked well; Christopher Nolan’s Batman re-boots were genius). But I was unsure about Ben-Hur. Ben-Hur is just, well, Ben-Hur, isn’t it; like Jaws is Jaws. Do not touch. Anyway, it got me thinking about films that I’d could do with a re-make.

A few years back I reviewed The Valley Of Gwangi on a website. Now this dinosaur romp was a favourite of mine when I was growing up. and it’s definitely one I’d be interested in seeing re-made – not because the original is poor: it’s not; it’s brilliant. But because it would be fun, I think.

Continue reading “Movies That Should Be Re-made #1: The Valley Of Gwangi”