Monday 23 July 2012


The following conversation was spotted on Twitter this morning between our very own Kristen Stone and the mysterious Production Elves in the Blue Hour Publishing office of wonders.

KS: Calling Blue Hour Production Elves, you’ve been very quiet of late.
PE: Oh Miss award winning author Kristen Stone forgive our slackness. We have trauma aplenty.
KS: Trauma? Explain.
PE: Tis chaos here. Mr McMiser got run over by a steam roller.
KS: A steam roller? Surely not.
PE: Well, it was a car actually but he insists it feels like a steam roller.
KS: Is he ok?
PE: Well, he took a nasty knock to the head, so no real harm done. Thinks we have taken on more staff though.
KS: Why?
PE: He keeps seeing two of everything.
KS: And have you heard from Sanguine Scribe lately? He seems to have gone AWOL too.
PE: Oh Miss award winning author Kristen Stone, Mr Sanguine has been at Mr M’s bedside mopping his fevered brow.
KS: Look, cut the award winning author bit. In the circumstances just call me Kris.
PE: Oh Miss award winning author Kristen Stone we couldn’t do that.
KS: Cut it! So Mr M has a fever?
PE: Oh, no. Just a bit non-compos mentos, but what’s new? We think Mr Sanguine is taking notes for his next scribieness.
KS: That’s good to hear. But don’t let Mr M hear you say that. So what have you been doing?
PE: Between tweeting and running errands we have been making copious quantities of chicken soup.
KS: Chicken soup, no Lambas bread?
PE: We have been adding a few crumbs of the wonderful Lambas bread to the soup. But we fear Mr Sanguine is scoffing it.
KS: Best keep an eye on him. You know what these starving authors are like.
PE: Indeed we do Miss awar… Kris. Well, must get on. We hear the subtle voice of Mr M calling for soup.
KS: OK. Take care of Mr M and if the other fellow gives you trouble let me know. I’ll sort him!

Thursday 19 July 2012

Does a book NEED sex to sell?

What makes a book a good book, a seller? Are the two things the same? Is a best-selling book necessarily a good book? These are the questions that ever indie author would like answered. Unfortunately it is unanswerable.
             The thing is, every reader is different, every writer has a different story to tell. How that writer tells the story is up to him/her. For me a good book is one that has a story I can relate to. It is one where language is used to its fullest extent. Not necessarily complex language but carefully crafted words and sentences. I don’t like reading the same phrases over and over again. I don’t like getting bogged down in too many facts. I like my fiction to be that, fiction. I’m happy to read any genre as long as the story is good. I can be transported back in time with an historical novel. I can be sent into space or the future. I can be a spy or a lover, an adventurer or an ordinary person living a life with a story to tell. As long as the words are good I don’t care.
             I went through the phase of giving every character an action to accompany speech, a toss of the head, hair tucked behind an ear, the raised eyebrow. Fortunately I got through that phase before I got published. That’s not to say that sometimes a character doesn’t do something to enforce what is going on, but it is not all the time. My characters still laugh and smile, shrug or wink, such things are part of life, but it is only mentioned if it is important. The rest of the time the reader can make up their own reactions to what is going on.
             Following the success of a certain book this summer I caught an author on Channel 4 news the other night putting forward the argument that the great classics of our literature should be sexed up to make them more appealing to readers. WRONG! In the interests of accuracy and research I should call up the programme on whatever ‘watch again’ system Channel 4 has and check the names of those taking part in the interview – but I write fiction, I don’t do a great deal of research! Suffice is to say they had a rather enthusiastic female writer of indeterminate age, long black, wavy hair, saying that we shouldn’t be afraid to write about sex, and a rather dry, balding, grey-haired older professor of English Literature for the ‘leave it alone’ camp. I felt it was a pity that the professor wasn’t young, handsome and more passionate about the books he was defending, but maybe there are no such young professors about.
             A few examples of what could be added were included in the discussion and frankly, maybe because of the time the interview went out, I did not find them particularly sexy at all, and definitely not erotic.
             So do we need to sex up Jane Austin? Personally I think not. People read the classics for the style, the wit, the story and the craftsmanship. They can be led to believe things and fill in any gaps in their own imagination. These stories are already sexy in their own ways, else the TV companies and film studios would not be falling over themselves to put them on screen. 
             Who does it benefit to make these stories more raunchy? Certainly not the authors who are all long dead and gone, so it would be the publishers and anyone commissioned to write the extra scenes. All they will be doing is cashing in on the name and the title. If there is really a need for such a thing then let the author take the story and re-write it under their own name or pen name, with a different title and different character names; then wait and see if it is successful.
             So on to the very first question asked – does a book need to have sex in it, and when does that sex move into the erotic category? All my books have sex scenes. I write about life and sex is part of life, to deny it would be to cut a chunk out of a character’s personality. But I usually write about the build-up to sex and when the actual act takes place the bedroom door is discreetly closed and we re-join the characters later. Having said that I don’t know if those introductions are classed as mildly sexy or erotic. Is it erotic for Kianda to become aroused at the smell of Hannah, or for Mark to lick the sugar from his girlfriend’s fingers after eating doughnuts, or for Tony to massage his girlfriend with baby oil?   
             As writers we need to consider who our readers are and who we want to reach. It is not true that young people do not appreciate the classics. Maybe more read Twilight than Dickens but that does not mean we have to put vampires and werewolves in Dickens any more than we have to delve into the relationships between Bill Sykes and Nancy.
             Sex in books is not new.  Even before D H Lawrence wrote Lady Chatterley’s Lover, there were references and hints. And it is those hints that make the work more appealing, giving the reader a chance to participate in the story by using their own imagination if they want the characters to go further than what is written on the page. Whilst listening to this author spouting excitedly about how sex should be in everything, I couldn’t help wondering if she had never heard of Harold Robins, Wilbur Smith, Lesley Charterise and any number of authors who wrote raunchy and sexy books without being placed in the erotic category. Oh, and not to forget Chaucer.
             Yes, lots of people want to read sexy stories, but just putting sex into Jane Eyre will not make it any more popular or a more enjoyable read.
             Finally, do you know which is the most profitable and prolific publishing house? Mills and Boon. And they are very particular about what can and can’t go into their stories.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Tinged with SUCCESS

When our intrepid leader suggested putting three books up on promo at once I was not at all sure such an idea was a good one. When Amazon KDP failed to register any downloads we were both beginning to think the same. Then ... we checked the statistics for each book and saw that they were rising in the promo charts on a steady basis, not only in the UK, and .com but also in Germany and France!
    All is forgiven intrepid leader, you were right! We ended the day with the comfortable feeling that lots of people now have three of our books. We don't know how many yet because KDP is still showing nothing! Oh, the wonders of modern technology!

Friday 6 July 2012

Are You Sitting Comfortably? (A Writer's Tale)


Stephen R. Hulse

What does writing mean to me?
     Well, at this particular moment it means sitting in front of my computer typing with two fingers - but very fast fingers...even if I am using only two of them. Oh, I do have more - I mean it's not like I only have just the two - I have eight of them, and two thumbs... but when I'm writing, six of those fingers and both of those thumbs have a holiday, because I never learned to touch type. No, I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't lose the other fingers fighting a duel, or defusing an unexploded bomb or even saving the yummy Miss Priestley from the huge, salivating, razor-sharp jaws of a Great White Shark somewhere in the crystal clear blue waters off the Barrier Reef or anything heroic and exciting, because I didn’t.
     Of course, I could tell you I did... but I'd be lying...well, technically I wouldn't be lying... I'd be "writing". I'd be creating a fiction. In this case a fiction just for you, but a fiction all the same.
     But yep, okay, you've got me... it still wouldn't be true...only it would; because I'm a writer and that's what we writers do... we tell stories.
     Sometimes those stories are sad - sometimes funny - sometimes a little of both with just a dash of something else mixed in to make things even more interesting - and don't faint; but sometimes they might even be true.
     But they're still basically stories. Silly, wonderful, beautiful, amazing, breath-taking, eye-widening, heart-stopping, pulse-racing - sometimes even yawn-inducing - but still stories.
     I can't begin to tell you how to write or even where ideas come from. (Although "where do you get your ideas?" is the single most asked - and single most impossible to answer question - a writer is constantly asked.) If you were asked by someone why you nicked your best mate's last Hob Nob while he wasn't looking, or why you think Johnny Depp is the hottest guy walking around on two legs, could you easily answer?
     Then welcome to the "I Don't Know The Answer...Honest, Club". Because that's what it's like for a writer all - and I do mean all - the time!
     Sometimes we writers will give long, twisty-turny, very deep and important sounding explanations if we're backed into a corner - but pssssttttt.... don't tell anyone, will ya? The answers are fake.
      Made-up, fictions... more stories invented to get people off our backs so we can get back to the really important business of doing everything and anything we can think of except what we're actually supposed to be doing; writing. And you know exactly what I mean by that - you do it all the time - come up with clever, stupid, unlikely excuses for not doing your latest homework assignment or project or the chores or whatever... but you're doing exactly the same thing…
     Only you’re not getting paid for it. (Hang on a second… I’m not getting paid for this either! Which is just as well, because if I was being paid for this Mao my cat would be eating cardboard for, oh… about a month… - I don’t come cheap.)
     Look, I’ve gabbed away for over 724 words now telling you lot about  nothing and a little about a lot.
     But what it all comes down to at the end of the page is this…
     I write because it touches people.
     Young people, old people, smart people, not so smart people – everybody’s welcome to the party.
     Everybody can read the words that come tripping off the end of my two – very fast – fingertips, and perhaps smile or frown, laugh or cry, be bored or be interested… but whatever their reaction – whatever else happens - for a little while (even if it’s just a teeny-tiny moment) if I’m very lucky; I’ve made them think or feel or look at something in a slightly different way than they did before.
     So what does writing mean to me? It means I made a difference. Maybe not a big, “It’s Gonna Change The World” kind of difference; but a small almost unnoticeable difference.
     And sometimes, just sometimes - it’s the tiny differences that turn out to be the most important.

Wednesday 4 July 2012


Hi, Kristen Stone here. The Editor has asked me to talk about my new novel Shattered Dreams. What it’s about and how it came about.
   I’ll start with the how and more importantly, when. The idea behind Shattered Dreams has been with me for years, grown and developed as I, myself, have grown and developed as a writer. It is a work of fiction. None of the people in it are real. But I love creating people, events and situations in which to put them to the test. Unlike Edge of Extinction which has a specific story to tell, and The Penhaligan File which has a mystery to solve, Shattered Dreams is a snapshot of a person’s life, a fiction biography almost, although it doesn’t cover the characters whole life.
   So what is it about? (Didn’t Mark Andrew say ‘don’t start a question with ‘so’. Sorry Mark, will do better in future).
   Shattered Dreams is the simple story of Tony Walker, a teenager who gets mown down by a car just as he is being ‘scouted’  by a football club. His dreams of becoming a top player are taken from him.
·         It’s about dealing with disability
·         It’s about relationships
·         It’s about growing up
·         It’s about forbidden love
·         It’s about bereavement
·         It’s about drug related date rape
·         It’s about image
·         It’s about building a new life
·         It’s about rape within a relationship
·         It’s about single parenthood
·         It’s about alcoholism
·         It’s about a growing romance between two disparate people
·         It’s about recovery
    Wow! Did I write all that and I thought …
    Shattered Dreams is the simple story of Tony walker, a teenager who gets mown down by a car.
Available now at 
or here     

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Sunday 1 July 2012

Susanne O'Leary

Our author Susanne O'Leary is being interviewed over on Big Al's Books and Pals.
Click the link in the right hand column to pop along and read.