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Welcome to this November 2019 edition of Hackwriters. 20 years on-line, 7600+ articles - reviews - stories - travel - share any feature you like and pass them on using the links.
PS we are mainly in archive mode now with sporadic updates.
Once again celebrating Hello travel.com - Hackwriters Best Travel blog 2018

Vote For Pedro

EDITORIAL: Strange Times

The UK election is upon us and promises are heaped on our heads like there is no tomorrow.
So Labour promises free broadband, free dentistry, free higher education, and puts Saint Len McCluskey in charge of newly nationalised rail, water, energy, the Royal Mail, BT, what's not to like? But surely the logic is that gas, electricity, rail should be free too. And logically it follows that no one will need salaries, because almost everything except food will be free. And perhaps they'd also like to take over the banks and maybe the supermarkets too as there might well be a few shortages once we are twinned with Venuzuela. This Soviet Style Command Economic paradise promised will no doubt appeal to many - all I hope is they get so drunk thinking about it they fail to turn up to vote on Dec 12th.

Meanwhile on getting to the end of a novel ...

Almost two years on I can finally say I have finished writing my next book. Sadly the world isn't exactly waiting for this pile of words, but once started I felt obliged to finish the damn thing.

I think I wrote the first chapter way back in December 2017 - so you will appreciate that this has been a work in progress for a long time now. It began as a high-concept novel about pain. Research was easy as I was in pain for around three-quarters of the period of writing it and getting treatment from osteopaths, dieticians, healers and well-meaning advice-givers. At all times I refused to take any painkillers. I did however have to give up teaching, as at one point I could hardly dress myself, the pain was so bad. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, tendonitis, osteoporosis and various combinations of other problems I can no longer remember. Conveniently none of these health issues has a 'cure'. I was offered opiates by doctors as a 'solution'. I not only refused but also refused statins (for my heart) and any other drug they wanted to 'try' because, let's be honest, your average GP doesn't know what to do with pain except wish it away.

So I felt well qualified to write a novel on the subject. My cure, prescribed by yours truly, was to cash in my savings and go on vacation in warm places for as many months as I could afford. Cape Province (Knysna), Calpe (Spain) Miami Florida (USA). Walking, writing, swimming when warm enough (particularly in Florida) gradually made me fitter and after a few months, relatively pain free. When I returned I had to renovate my new old home and there is nothing like sawing wood, painting walls and ceilings to stretch every muscle and all the pain you feel is 'new' pain. Nothing is cured, the underlying causes are still there and I worry about the shape of my fingers daily but do my best to ignore it all.

Wherever I went I took my notebook and wrote. Some places worked better than others. I loved writing in Knysna in one particular cafe that served vegan food. Made a point of going there every day and I made great strides. Miami worked too and I found many people in pain there to discuss ideas and issues with. I took six months off the book when I had to deal with the house. I thought I'd percolate ideas whilst painting ceilings, but to be honest all you think about is paint. It was really tough to sit back down in Cafe Petit in my hometown and make a concerted effort to write again. You always hope for breakthroughs but they are few and far between. Minor characters start demanding screen time and at some point you can't remember what they hell you were going to write anyway.

I remember thinking at the start I wanted to aim for the spirit of a Chandler novel to get that hard-boiled dialogue going, but my central character was in pain, just like me and what is more he's a softy and sucker for needy people who need rescuing. The book was going badly off the rails. It wasn't remotely what I'd intended in style at least. I had problems with location. Where was it set? The City was a mix of Miami and Cape Town, absorbing all the places I had been staying in. I deliberately didn't want it to be in a particular place, but that presents it's own problems. At some point I realised it was becoming a little like Outlaw Josey Wales and picking up waifs and strays, not forgetting the dog. Then my sister read an early draft and wanted a new ending. I tried to point out that the last ten chapters were endings that never seemed to end, but she insisted. I mowed lawns, washed the car, went for walks, did everything possible to avoid writing another ending and then to hell with it, I went to Biarritz to see my friends Lionel and Catherine. I was walking by the beach and my brain instantly started to engage. and there it was. Ozone was the mising ingredient. Took no more than a few days and I got another 20,000 words done and a new ending. A ridiculous ending, but a definite ending that astonishingly left the main protagonists alive - ready to do battle again. The really strange thing, that one short week in France was so key - I managed to write the entire plot for my next book in one very long afternoon marathon fortified by pots of Earl Grey at seven euros a cup. I can now see a whole year ahead and with luck I'll get that started in the New Year. Everyone I have pitched it too likes the idea, so that's exciting.

In the end, it doesn't matter if anyone is reading you. It's getting it out of your head that matters. Sometimes it pours; sometimes it's like archeology and you just have to keep digging.

Now I have to see I can get anyone interested. The hardest part of writing.
November 17th 2019

Massive Congratulations to the Springboks for their crushing victory in World Rugby. Well deserved. And congrats too to Lewis Hamilton for his Sixth World Formula 1 Championship. That is one hell of an achievement.

Earlier Musings:
Hope you got passed Halloween without mishap.  With luck the kids that knocked on your door demanded sugar-free treats.  If they didn’t I hope you gave them a good thirty minute lecture on dental care and obesity – as only a woke generation would expect – right?

A case of R. I. S. (Repetitive Injury Syndrome)
I ventured to Bath in Somerset for my birthday but very nearly didn’t get to celebrate it.  Foolishly I decided to pass a heavy box of books up a loft ladder and next thing I know is bang and thirty minutes of unconsciousness I am told.  I remember nothing except waking up to Kit’s anxious face and a hurried Uber to hospital for an x-ray.

I am grateful for the NHS and recognise they are busy, but I’m not sure it went quite right.  My neck was x-rayed but not my head and they didn’t take my blood pressure, which I should have insisted upon, given that I’m a heart patient.  Trouble is when you are concussed you don’t really behave in a rational manner.  “You’re neck is ok, no broken bones.  We might x-ray your head now.”

I declined.  I couldn’t stand another three-hour wait.  Stupid I know, but why not do head and neck at the same time?  Is there some quota or reason they need two visits to an MRI to keep up the stats?  Anyway here I am, days later back home with a very sore back.  Seems I fell off the ladder, staggered six feet and fell hard on my back, my head bouncing off a hard bathroom floor.  I'm sore all over but I live.  Birthday was celebrated, a lovely vegan feast prepared by my pal Kit, but I suspect I wasn’t exactly at my best.

I have form when it comes to ladders and head injuries.   A loft door fell on my head back in 2000 and left me unconscious.  Cleaning an upstairs window I turned to get fresh water and fell onto concrete in 2013.  Fell from an extended ladder when trimming a tree in 2014. A month later fell off a wall trying to watch a Spitfire flypast and split my head open. Way back in 1985 I went through my Alfa windscreen when struck by another vehicle running a red light.  About twenty-five stitches up there I vaguely recall. I remember nothing about the actual crash of course.

There is probably some statistical probability that predicts that once one has one head injury you’ll have another – and another – until one day it kills you. Or causes dementia apparently. I know people who constantly injure their arms or hands, or more commonly, legs and feet. My sister Sara has metal in her leg from a fall from a small cliff. My nephew is accident prone, recently shattering his shoulder in a mountain bike incident. Now he too is full of metal. I seem to recall I once trod on his head when climbing a cliff, but I guess I’d better not remind him of that trip to the hospital.  I suppose it comes down to always making the same mistake or ignoring warnings.  You’d think I’d learn, but who else will trim the tree?  Who will shove the boxes up into the loft if not me?  Yeah, I hear you, as you get older the risks get higher, but one doesn’t want to admit to not being able to do things anymore.  (Although I drew the line at the hand-held vibrating floor sander that gave me heart palpitations).

I write this to avoid the obvious topics of Trump’s impeachment, the impending UK election and massive nationalisations, Nigel Farage and a possible recession and the aftermath of the Spanish election Nov 11th. There’s plenty of time to worry about all that.  And as long as I stay clear of the loft I might live to see it all happen.

Stay safe.  Stay well. More later.

© Sam Hawksmoor  November 5th 2019
Joint Editor
Author of Girl with Cat (Blue) - 'funny, scary and full of surprises - a must read' LD

*As ever Hackwriters is supported by sales of our books - so do buy, print or kindle, we aren't picky.
Magenta - A chilling story of kidnapping, burning and strangeness set in the wilds of Lincolnshire
The Sam North Novels - still available to order on Lulu or Amazon
** The Heaviness, also recommended & The Repercussions of Tomas D -'best time travel WW2 story in a long while'
Girl with Cat (Blue) Girl with Cat (Blue) - Shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award 2018

'a funny, bloody, colorful narrative that never fails to surprise the reader. Girl with Cat (Blue) provides great entertainment'.

'This book was amazing! I was hooked from the first few pages and couldn't put the book down.'
Judge, 26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.
2018 - Honorable Mention

J&K 4Ever - Love and Devotion in the Wastelands
Sixty years after the end of everything the city of Bluette survives, controlled by a malignant sect.  A place where men rule, girls receive no education and are matched at 16 to the highest bidder.  No one is ever permitted to leave the city and outside is a murderous wasteland of despair. Orphans Kruge and Jeyna have been devoted to each other through all the years of terror in this harsh regime and sworn never to be parted.  But the beautiful Jeyna has been betrayed by the Warden. Kruge has been swiftly banished to the Scraps, under the control of the Keeper. Jeyna is heartbroken; she will not accept her fate and escapes to find Kruge.  She is pursued by ruthless Enforcers on horseback, whose task it is to bring runaways back, dead or alive. 'A genuine romance in a bleak but plausible and terrifying setting'.
Marikka MARIKKA- exclusively on Amazon Print and kindle 2

Based on a tragic real life event, Marikka flees from an arson attack on her home to the sea, where she meets Starfish boy – a runaway working for Jackson, a scarred man hiding a sinister secret from the world. Meanwhile her real father searches for her with the aide of Anya, ‘the girl who can read objects’. More about the writing of this book

Long after my tears dried, my heart stayed with Marikka, Starfish Boy and the strange girl who reads objects.’ CT
You will smile, you will gasp with shock, and you will struggle to read the words through your tears. Gemma Williams - Amazon.co.uk 2015

By Sam Hawksmoor & Sam North
Could you live in a world where antibiotics no longer work?
Print & Kindle
Q&A interview with the authors here
A city gripped by fear as a lethal virus approaches from the East. No one knows how many are dying. People are petrified of being thrown into quarantine. Best friends Kira and Liz once parted are scared they will never see each other again. Teen lovers, Chris and Rachel, prepare to escape to the islands. Do you stay and hide, or do you flee?

Review from the First Edition:
'Beautiful, plausible, and sickeningly addictive, Another Place to Die will terrify you, thrill you, and make you petrified of anyone who comes near you...' Roxy West - Amazon.co.uk

Another Place To Die

Repercussions Spy/Romance thriller set during the Blitz in WW2 - Kindle download
All proceeds go to keeping Hackwriters going

The Repercussions of Tomas D
A Hero? Or Englands Greatest Traitor? USA Paperback here

'Disturbing and very poignant YA love story that presents a chilling alternate future for an England that lost the war.' Marcel d'Agneau
'A brilliant imagining of living in the Blitz, well researched.' Amazon UK
'This is Man in the High Castle for teens and scarily plausible with alternative facts '
*download the Kindle version or buy the paperback from Hammer & Tong
'The Heaviness' for any reader who likes to think about such things as betrayal, revenge, relationships and the laws of gravity. An original Genie Magee story

Genie & Renée have just 36 hours to save Rian or he dies

'Without a doubt, one of the best YA Sci Fi series out there.' Evie Seo Bookish
Kindle & print

Thanks to readers who have been buying this title. . * Also published as Rüya by Marti Yayincilik - The Turkish publishers of TOZ & Golge
The Heaviness of Genie Magee Ruya

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