Category Archives: writing

Why Did I Want to Become a Writer? – Good Question…

 

Picture this.

A young Nick Tingley, still at school – probably about primary age – coming home one day and scooting up to his bedroom. On his bookcase, there are a fair number of books. Some of them have been read to death, others have hardly been touched at all. Occasionally he might stop and look at the whole expanse of vibrant covers. He would spend minutes at a time carefully examining each individual book for what he wanted…

But it was all kind of pointless really. He would invariably reach for the same one every time.

Few of his friends had heard of Gideon Gander Solves The Worlds Greatest Mysteries by David Henry Wilson. Those that had didn’t really make a point of reading it all that often. But Nick absolutely loved it. There was something about this quaint story of a farmyard gander who went around poking his nose into other people’s affairs and solving crimes that didn’t actually exist that inspired that young boy.

In fact, it was that book that fuelled Nick’s love of crime fiction. So I guess David Henry Wilson is to blame for it all…


Flash forward fifteen to twenty years or so. 

Nick Tingley is now grown up. Well, he’s supposed to be grown up – but in reality he still thinks very similarly to that young boy who used to read about Gideon Gander and his adventures. Only I suppose he’s a little wiser and more aware of the world around him.

He still stares at bookshelves for hours on end. Not necessarily because he wants to read something, but more because there is something oddly comforting about them.

You see, Nick Tingley suffers from extreme anxiety – most people would call it OCD. In fact Nick has been known to spend hours attempting to leave his apartment – he seems to get stuck in an endless loop of checking everything from locks to plug sockets. And it’s not because he is an overly cautious person normally – it’s just like there is some sort of demonic being inside his head, constantly poking and prodding at him, questioning every action and decision he makes.

He stares at the books, not because he is looking for something to read – most of the books he stares at are those he has read a dozen times before. No. He stares at them because they are the single fixed point in what is a constantly changing world. Those books will always be there. And they will never be anywhere other than precisely where Nick has put them…

And that is relaxing for him.

The only difference is that Gideon Gander is no longer on the shelves. That book disappeared a long time ago. Nick can’t even remember when and how…

When he’s writing, Nick is at peace. He writes because he enjoys it, he writes because he loves telling a good tale. But he also writes because the world outside is so complicated, and everyone seems to have their own opinion of it, which only serves to make it even more complicated. The stories that Nick writes are his way of explaining the world. He takes all the issues that he sees around him and condenses them down into a single problem. Then – using the narrative of his stories – he solves that problem.

In those hours, he can type away and dream and understand. In those hours, he can fly…

But there is still something not right…


There’s one more place I want to take you. 

A few weeks ago, I just happened to remember Gideon Gander. I recalled those hours I spent devouring that book and reading it again and again until the pages frayed and began to fall out.

I went online and I found it. It’s not been printed for a good time but, by some stroke of luck, someone was selling one second-hand (or third or fourth – I didn’t really care). I bought it and it arrived at my home a few days later. I held it in my hands and admired the front cover.

This was the book that inspired me to write.

This was the book that created my love of crime fiction.

This book allowed me deal with my own problems in a way that was fun, hard work and intensely rewarding.

All those hours and days and weeks and months of diligently ripping apart my own work, breaking it down and starting again; the characters and the plots and the unnervingly real settings all stemmed from the love of a single book.

And now I have it again. Sat on my desk at all times where I can’t miss it.

And it isn’t going anywhere.

 

 

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Want a free read?

Are you an avid reader? 

Do you have an interest in historical fiction and/or mysteries? 

Do you want to read a free novella?

If your answer is yes to these questions, then I have something for you.

For the last few months, I’ve been writing a novella called The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow. Set in England in 1855, it follows the story of Patrick Conroy, a butcher who has reluctantly been assigned the role of village policeman, as he’s called on to solve the unexplained death of a retired vicar. But, with the whole village set against him and waiting for him to fail, the unlikely policeman is forced to solve the case with little more than his own intuition and the help of a young girl.

I am on the look out for Beta readers to give me feedback (good or bad) on the story. So, if you’re interested in what you’ve read so far, and would be up for reading a story for free, then click here to be sent to Inkitt (where the story is currently being hosted) and send me your comments via Inkitt, Facebook, Twitter or through this contact form.

At 30,000 words (or thirteen chapters if you prefer), it is not a long story, but I’m sure you will find it a fascinating read nonetheless. I’m looking for a wide-range of viewpoints so, if you are interested in a free read, let me know what you think…

 

 

Sneaky Snippets 21/9/16

Ali wants to be a writer. Like most writers he knows that he not only has a book in him; he has a library. His imagination is teaming with great stories that he can’t wait to unleash on the world…

So he settles down and starts writing his story. It’s a novel with dragons and sword fights and damsels in distress. Whenever anyone asks him about it, he talks with enthusiasm and his friends respond by saying they’ll read it when he’s finished.

Ali makes good progress to start with. He writes a chapter a day – three to four thousand words in a matter of hours. Every day – without fail – after he gets home from work.

Pretty soon he is half way through. But then Ali starts to have a problem. He doesn’t know where he needs to go from here. His story sounds a little like that book he read a few months ago and, even though he knows he hasn’t copied it, he’s worried that people will say he has.

A little more cautiously now, he carries on – growing more and more concerned and unsure of himself with each chapter.

He stops talking about it to his friends – instead he talks about new ideas that he’s had that are much better than the novel he’s writing at the moment.

Eventually, he gives up writing the novel and starts on the new one instead. This one is much better. It’s about a spy fleeing a corrupt country with half the army on his tail. He ploughs through the first few chapters but something still isn’t right.

Soon he gives up this story for another one.

And then another one.

Until finally, Ali stops writing altogether. Instead he can be found lounging in front of his computer watching cat videos on Facebook. Or out in the pub drinking with his friends and making fun of guys in the street who are enthusiastically talking about the book they’re writing.

Pretty soon, Ali’s friends realise what they thought they knew all along.

Ali is never going to be a writer.

From Defeating Writer’s Block – ©Nick R B Tingley 2016

Sneaky Snippets is a weekly segment of short extracts of my work – usually something I’ve been working on in the past week or so.

Did you like what you read? Do you want to learn more about Defeating Writer’s Block?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below and subscribe!

As always, if you do like what you’ve read, make sure to hit that like button or (if your not a fellow blogger) let me know in the comments and share this post on Facebook, Twitter and anything else you can think of.

Knowing the Fate of my characters…

I’m a little bit sneaky in my stories – particularly in the Giles series. I’m in the process of planning the third Giles story and I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. So long, in fact, that some of the themes and story twists have managed to worm their way into The Bluebell Informant as I’ve been doing the final polishes on it – only subtly mind, but the references are there.

Is it important to the story? Not really.

Does it add anything? As a matter of fact, yes.

I don’t know about you, but I like to feel safe with my authors. I like to know that they have an overall plan for their characters – that their not just cracking a whip in whatever direction they please and hoping they’ll get a decent story out of it.

Those references are there to show people that I know where I’m taking my characters – that I know what fate has in store for them.

If people clock on to those references, then that’s just great. If not…?

Well, let’s just say I know they’re there. And those little nods to future books are what helps my stories come alive.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing…

A New Format of Blog

There have been a few changes to my blog in recent weeks. I’ve been experimenting with some new post types and -generally speaking – I’ve been giving my blog a bit of a make-over. Well, at least in terms of my posts that it.

Up until now, I’ve been blogging a little haphazardly – only creating content when I felt like there was some news that I wanted to pass on to my readers. But I want my blog to be so much more than that – I want people to know what they are expecting every time they see one of my posts appear and I want you guys – my loyal readers – to help.

But we’ll get to that bit later.

First let’s talk about the new style that you may have already seen creeping into my posts:

As of now, my blog will consist of two parts: regular segments that will appear week-in week-out, and the slightly more irregular parts (reviews, musings, updates on my writing and latest news) that will fill in many of the gaps.

The regular segments consist of:

Monday: What I’ve been listening to this week… – a run down of whatever music I’ve been writing to over the past week. 

Wednesday: Sneaky Snippets – short extracts from whatever project I have been working on during the week. 

Saturday: First Lines – analysis of opening lines of books from various different genres 

Whilst the more irregular segments will consist of:

Reviews – book reviews from whatever crime/mystery/thriller books I have been reading lately (although there are occasional exceptions to this genre) as well as regular updates to my Book Review Rankings

Occasional Thoughts – short posts, usually musing in nature, about things that have been going on in my life – sometimes it’s books, sometimes it’s my writing, sometimes it’s politics. 

Writing Updates – more in depth than the Occasional Thoughts, these posts tend to focus on my writing – what inspires me, how I tackle a particular problem etc – more suitable for writers and those intrigued by what goes on behind the scenes in my life.

The hope is that I will have a blog that will be able to deliver quality material on a regular basis and to regular deadlines.

And this brings me back to you guys, the people reading this post. I need your help.

Because it is all well and good me creating valuable content for people to read and rearranging my blog site to make it more approachable, but it will all be for nothing if people don’t get involved.

So, here’s what I want you to do.

If you like what you’ve read (and if you’ve reached this far, I would assume you have) like it by clicking the ‘Like’ button at the end of each post you read. If there was something about it you didn’t like, give me a quick one or two lines in the comments to tell me what bothered you about it. Share it on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and whatever else you share this type of stuff on. Get the conversation going…

This blog has developed and the readership has grown so much since those early days two years ago – let’s spread it even further.

All the best,

Nick

 

Insomniac Writings

Last night, I found myself doing something that I haven’t done in years…

I was lying in bed watching the highlights of the German Formula One Grand Prix when I started to drift off to sleep. On any normal night, I would remain in an uneasy sleep until the sudden absence of sound – caused by the programme finishing – would wake me up just long enough to allow me to turn the iPad or television off. Then I would instantly fall back asleep and not wake up again until the following morning…

On a normal night…

But last night was different.

Just as I was drifting off to sleep, I was woken by a large crash coming from the street outside my open bedroom window. I’m not sure what it was: a cat jumping into some bins, some drunken party-goer stumbling against someone’s front door – I’m not really sure. What I am sure of was this sudden, sharp sound snapped me straight out of my slumber and left me very much wide awake.

I remained in this state of complete alertness and attentiveness long after the Grand Prix programme had finished and I had switched off the iPad. In fact, I was so wakeful that, when I attempted to fall asleep again, it just wouldn’t happen.

I was in a state that I hadn’t experienced in years…

My mind was in overdrive. My imagination was running wild. And out of the gloom and frustration of still being awake at gone one in the morning, an idea slowly began to develop – a solution to a problem that I had been grappling with for nearly a year…

Brimmed full of excitement, I rushed through to my study, grabbed my notebook and returned to bed where I spent the next hour or so jotting down ideas for a story. Whenever I reached a problem, I picked up my phone and researched my way through it and – by two o’clock this morning – I had finally built the nucleus of a story.

And that story is The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow.

Some of you may recall me mentioning The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow in the past, but probably not very often. It was never intended to be one of my main stories – maybe that is why I struggled so much to piece it together – but it was something that I was very excited about.

As with most of my stories, The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow started out as a concept of character and setting rather than with an actual crime. As I said in a previous post, I consider the characterisation to be one of the most important aspects of a successful crime story and The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow certainly has an engaging, if not a little unorthodox, lead character.

I had even written what I thought was a killer first chapter – something that really sold the concept from the off and got you into the mindset of my main character, Patrick Conroy. I couldn’t have been happier with it…

But then I couldn’t carry on. For the first time in my life, I struggled to come up with a crime that would be suitable for the character and setting I had created. For months I tried different ideas – none of which ever got passed the planning stages – and I was beginning to fear that I might never get the story off the ground.

Until last night.

Last night, something clicked. Whether it was my dozing brain pulling ideas out of my subconscious that had been intended for my dreams or whether my imagination went into overdrive in a frantic attempt to get me to go to sleep, I don’t know. What I do know is that I was repeating a pattern that I used to do when I first started writing and – on this occasion – it worked like a charm.

There is definitely a moral to this story.

Sometimes in life you can try so hard to find an answer to a problem that you always seem to be pushing it away with every step you take towards it. Sometimes, just sometimes mind, you just need that little bit of delirious, unshakeable wakefulness at the completely wrong moment to make everything become that little bit clearer…

So there it is.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a story to write.

Or go to sleep…

Not sure which…