A bolt out of the blue


I have a confession to make, I like the tv show Castle. This is something that infuriates my fiancee because she finds it vapid and ridiculous. I’m not even sure why I like it but there is something about the show that appeals. I first started watching it when it started, the new vehicle for Nathan Fillion, from Firefly, a favourite show of mine. In it he plays a writer asked to consult with a New York cop about a case scarily similar to one of his books. Not a bad premise but then they throw in the inevitable ‘will they won’t they’ scenario for the two leads, Castle the writer and Beckett the gorgeous New York cop. I’ve watched this relationship develop throughout the series’ run and last night they got married. I think this is part of why I like the show, the goofy guy gets the gorgeous girl, now I know Fillion is a handsome dude but his character is supposed to be the antithesis of what Beckett would go for, or at least that’s how I see it. So for him to get the girl gives guys like me hope.

Last night as I watched them get married and exchange vows expressing their love for each other I wondered if my two main characters, Kurt Stryder and Zara Hardy would ever get married. Alistair Maclean once said that he never put sex into any of his books because it slowed the action down. My priority in writing the Col Sec series is to give the reader a rollicking good ride of an adventure thriller. The last thing I would want to do is slow down the pacing so I have to be careful how I handle the relationships between my characters. In a book of this nature it is a difficult trick to capture, you have to balance just how much character development you allow without detracting from the action. It helps with it being a series which means I can drip feed details of this nature at a slower pace. When I wrote Ronin I had no idea it was going to turn into a series so I tried to tie up all the loose ends and end it fully but as in life, things rarely end with a full stop.

That was why Kurt and Zara fell in love by the end of the first book, an accusation of it being too fast was thrown at me by one reviewer. Now I don’t know about anyone else but I have fallen in love very quickly, in fact I would say that I have experienced love at first sight. I think most of us have experienced at some point that jolt that comes like a bolt out of the blue when we lay eyes on someone and think, “Wow!” It can happen at any time and sometimes with just a glance. So for my two leads to realise they are in love towards the end of a book after spending a few days in an intense situation together is not too unrealistic. As for will they ever get married? That’s something you will have to stick with the series to find out.

So guys, keep reading

Jan.

Could we eradicate natural wear and tear, or should we?


As the years accumulate and I see far more of this road I travel called life behind me than I do before me I began to think about wear and tear. The body, just as anything in life has a finite number of years allotted to it and at some point we can expect it to wear out and die. This was brought home painfully to me recently as I visited my Mum in the hospital where she was recovering from a nasty dose of pneumonia. As I sat looking at this frail old lady, holding her hand telling her that I loved her and willing her to get better, I started to remember her in her younger days. I had memories of her and my father when they were young and vibrant and I thought of how young I was back then and how the years had treated me in between. I am showing defineite signs of wear and tear too. It’s something that comes to us all, a phrase I think we’ve all heard at some point and never more true than in regarding my point.

Medical science has come a remarkable way in the few years since I was born and this also got me thinking about the future. In the Col Sec series medical advancements had ensured that people live longer but not just longer, have more vitality too enabling them to have a better quality of life. Then there are those in the Wildfire Initiative who have the ability to regenerate, Kurt Stryder and Zara Hardy. These two individuals now have the remarkable ability to totally regenerate from almost impossible injuries to totally heal themselves. This has not yet been tested to the fullest, but the series is still young yet and as my  wicked imagination conjures up more ways to torture them I’m sure those tests will be forthcoming.

What would it be like though to have some measure of that ability? We all have the ability to heal ourselves but their’s is just enhanced to an inhuman level. Think of the medical advancements that could be made where diseases are concerned if this was something that could be harnessed. Diseases such as AIDs, Cancer and Hepatitis would be a thing of the past as would viruses such as Ebola and many more.

What would it do to our quality of life though if we were free from disease and injury? The simple answer would be it would enable us to enjoy more, be more adventurous but would it? If the threat of injury was taken away from our daily lives how would we view our existence? Would we cherish it still as being wonderful and a gift or would we cease to care?

The finite time we are on this planet is for a reason, to continue the cycle of life, in death we nourish the ground from which all life stems. It is as natural as breathing but what would happen if we broke that cycle?

I don’t know about you but I have grave reservations.

Jan.

Writing as an art form


I had my first taste of Shakespeare’s King Lear last night at the New Vic theatre near where I live. It was produced by the Northern Broadsides company with Brian Rutter OBE at the helm in the title role. Directed by the outstanding Jonathan Miller it was a brilliant performance by all. There were quite a few familiar faces in the cast who I had seen in various other media ventures, either cinema or tv which added to the enjoyment of the event.

Ever since I was introduced to Shakespeare’s work back in my school days, I have been fascinated and confused in equal measure. Fascinated by his story telling of complex personal issues that are just as relevant today as they were when he wrote them centuries ago, and confused by the language he used. I know it was the language of the day which he helped to establish as the language of the day. He alone is responsible for inventing more phrases used still today than any other writer in history, and except for the writers of the Bible, he is the most quoted writer in English. His writing  was very stylised and I think this is what I struggled with the most. His use of the English language was a virtuoso performance which fascinated me, that the language I used every day and took for granted, could be used to paint such verbal pictures so eloquently, totally amazed me.

As a writer I have no pretentions of anything so lofty as the heights that Shakespeare was able to reach with such ease but I try. I have no allusions of literary genius, I write simple stories that I aim to entertain, nothing more and nothing less. My aim is simple and if I achieve it I am happy. it does ne good though to visit the theatre and watch Shakespeare being performed for it illustrates what can be achieved when if you set your mind to it.

See you soon,

Jan.

Empirical evidence


Ever since I started out to write the Col Sec series I was under the impression that this would sell. I would be the next big thing in the writing world. I was convinced my ideas would make me rich beyond my wildest dreams, and as Han Solo said in A New Hope, “I can image a lot,” Then I began to do some research on who to sell the series to and I started to see the chink in my planning. I learned that the publishing industry is rife with nepotism and you had to be either a celebrity or an already published author to get a book deal. It was similar to a Catch 22 scenario, you had to be a published author to get a book deal, but if you were already published chances are you already had a book deal.

Then I learned about the self publishing boom and I decided that would be my best bet, but I hadn’t taken into consideration the marketing aspect which is possibly the largest hurdle any writer has to overcome.

I’ve taken on board all the tips that are out there by writers who have made it through the self pub route; I’ve got a website, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a press release and reviewers and yet still the sales do not reflect all the hard work and money spent on this project. I know what some would say the problem is, and that’s the content, ie the series is naff, crap, horrible, terrible and all the other words used to describe awful writing. If that was the case though all the reviews would reflect that but not one does. Not one single review says that I’m wasting my time, that the stories are not engaging in fact they say the exact opposite with several of them saying they can’t wait for the next book.

So my question is this, what marketing campaign actually targets readers and encourages them to buy? I need empirical evidence that social media actually works. All I’ve seen so far especially on Twitter is that there are thousands of people doing the same as me, trying to sell something, whether it be a book an exercise program, anything, all they do is sell. No one is interested in what the others are doing their only intent is on selling their own wares. That’s fine, but like I tweeted recently, if everyone is selling, who is there left to buy?

It’s a tough one I know and when I started out I knew this was a marathon and not a sprint so I’ll keep on searching for that elusive campaign that actually works and in the meantime keep on writing. By the time I perfect the art of selling my books I should have a fine back catalogue for you all to delve into with gusto.

See you soon

Jan.

One lab accident away from being a super villain.


During a recent spell of writing I became aware of the mass destruction I was causing. In the present book I’m working on there is a scene where the villain of the piece wants to detonate a device that will destroy a major city and I was trying to work out how to stop him, or rather how my hero could stop him. I had great fun in working out the villains nefarious scheme, how he would trap the hero and slaughter all the innocent lives once his device went off. His plan was to cause such mayhem that the galaxy would be thrust into utter chaos giving him time to fill the power vacuum caused by his actions. My planning was meticulous, I had worked out the power distribution of the device that was going to be used, had the blast radius worked out but then when I came to check the logistics involved what I had planned could not be stopped. My idea of saving millions of lives had turned into the destruction of the same.

It brought to mind a comment on one of my favourite comedy shows,The Big Bang Theory, when discussing one of the characters he is described as “One lab accident away from being a super villain,” As I sat at my desk plotting the destruction of millions of lives I couldn’t help but feel that in some small way that applied to me too, but only in the respect of the stories I write. Good God I could never hurt anyone in real life, I much prefer to plot my enemies doom from the safety of my laptop.

This got me to thinking that most writers of this genre, thriller/sci fi/action/adventure where the stakes are high and lives are on the line, must feel the same way, even if just a little. We exhibit Godlike powers as we put our characters through ordeal after ordeal in the universe we create. We cause chaos, we put lives at risk and many times we destroy millions but the fun part is that no one really gets hurt at all. It’s just fiction after all.

I make no apologies about the books I write, I know they are outrageous at times, blatantly over the top where the action is concerned but as an entertainment, they are pure fun. I have a blast writing them and I hope you have one too in reading them.

So until next time, pick up a good book, throw yourself inside and have a blast, preferably in one of mine.

Jan.

Retribution review


I recently received this review from a fellow blogger Michael Thal whom I became acquainted with after he published an article I was asked to write as a guest blogger. Seeing as how he was good enough to post that article I thought I’d chance my arm and ask if he could review my new book. I wasn’t holding my breath because I knew he was a busy chap and my request could have been a slight imposition to him. Nevertheless he agreed and here’s the result.

Retribution: A Col Sec Novel

I was pleased that he actually could take the time to review my book and doubly so that he liked it.

If anyone is interested in picking up a copy for themselves to see if what Michael has said is true you can get one here

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Retribution-Col-Sec-Book-4-ebook/dp/B00FNK10UQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1433362422&sr=1-1&keywords=retribution+col+sec+4

See you soon

Jan.