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Editorial: Strange Times
Inflation coming down to 6.7 but pounds plummets -
Net Zero targets altered. We won't freeze to death after all. Or have to buy that electric car - meanwhile in Wales a million men wanted to walk with a red flag in front of cars. Job crisis solved!
But Antartica is meltling at a fantastic rate worries climate scientists.
Floods and Gales in the UK as Autumn arrives with a bang.
It's true nations decay from within. In the UK we lack trust in politicians (of any party), have lost faith in engineers, architects, doctors, nurses, train drivers, air traffic controllers, to be able to do their jobs to any degree of satisfaction. We can no longer build anything on time to an acceptable standard it seems. (HS2, Nuclear Power Stations, Hospitals). When did it all go wrong? Whatever you do this month, don't stand under anything made from aero concrete.
Just read Adrian Tchaikovsky's City of Lost Chances (Recommended for any readers who enjoyed The Name of the Wind). There's an allegory in there for Russia's invasion of Ukraine and their violent attempts to bring 'perfection' to that country. Recently took myself off to see the ‘Theatre Camp’, a very sweet movie about a summer camp in a financial crisis whilst trying to keep the news of foreclosure from the very talented kids desperately trying to put on a musical that hasn’t actually been written yet. I guess it’s exactly the kind of opportunity I would have loved to do growing up. But the UK doesn’t do camp for kids in a big way. We do camping in airports waiting for a strike to be over or someone to come and fix the software glitch that's grounded all the planes. Then we go home miserable (rail strikes permitting) and wait to do it all again next year.
This month in Hackwriters we have an extended article on the Arab point of view of Russia’s war against Ukraine and by chance – an American tourist went to Iran for a visit and didn’t get kidnapped or held to ransom. Tom Hackney writes about a conspiracy theory that a cure for cancer was deliberately destroyed by the AMA and James Campion discusses Education in the USA (a sorry tale) and why life is unfair to Woody Allen.
Recently I finished a first draft on a new novel and sent it out to a few beta readers for feedback. So far three replied (thank you) and it was generally positive with useful notes and wanting to know what had happened to some of the minor characters that hadn’t been quite resolved. Mea Culpa. That I can take care of, but the hardest feedback was about the title. One didn’t think it would appeal to female readers, the other didn’t think it reflected the other character in the story. (There are two main protagonists).
It could be that neither reader is aware about how hard it is to come up with a title at all. It is agonising. If you have ever known anyone trying to come up with baby names you’ll understand. If you call him or her something weird that might be bullied or mocked or stereotyped or worse end up being one of the 11 million babies called Tyler or Ava that year. I once taught a class with seven Tasmins in it. I’m pretty sure there are classes now where every girl is called Taylor. Names also come with trigger warnings. (Ask any 60-year-old called Wayne or Elvis what it was like growing up).
So a book title has a big load to carry. It must describe the story; say something about the characters or location, or at least the situation. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is intriguing, ‘Spare’ – a little bit tragic. ‘The Best Years of our Lives’ speaks of celebration and nostalgia, ‘The Girl who could move Sh*t with her Mind’, (Yes it exists) is self explanatory, ‘Things we didn’t see coming’ makes you curious to know what it was we didn’t see coming. (Brilliant book by the way). ‘The Age of Innocence’ is deceptive, sly in many ways.
Of course, I had a working title, riffing on other books I have written but how the hell to change it? A monumental headache.
The story is an American road trip, featuring two disparate characters, one old, and the other young just starting out. They both have emotional baggage, the girl in particular. Then there’s a dog. (Pretty much all my books have a dog in there somewhere). There’s also Studebaker that needs restoring and jeez, a whole lot of nonsense and mishaps on the road. There isn’t much of a plot, like many road movies. The road is the plot and all the things that happen there. So hard to boil it down to a short title and just like naming a baby once you have decided to call it Tiffany, you are stuck with it. Maybe something will radical will work, such as ‘What happens on the I-95 stays on the I-95’ or ‘100 Emergency Bladder Stops on American Highways’. I always admired the movie ‘Gas-Food-Lodging’, great title and so apt to the story.
I’ve been here before. I remember a long road trip from London across France trying to come up with a title for one of my books and finally came up with ‘The Repossession of Genie Magee’, which was sort of subtle and reflected the essence of the novel. The marketing department dropped the Genie Magee bit, which was annoying. I’ve restored it for the new edition and makes more sense now to me at least.
Can I rescue the situation? No idea. Worse now I have to write the synopsis. That’s whole different ball game. My students used to hate when it when I asked them to write a synopsis and I know why. How to build atmosphere and intrigue without giving away the whole story. But hey, distraction alert, wouldn’t 'When Wayne met Elvis' make a good story …
Enjoy September. Try to have at least one day this month when you don’t think about Trump. Go on, at least try. Blank him from your mind – forever….. focus on seeing in jail ... forever ....
© Sam Hawksmoor September 2023
Editor and author of We Feel your Pain & The Book of Ashes
The Book of Ashes
New from Sam Hawksmoor
Hammer & Tong - print and kindle
'an immensely satisfying story' -
Walli Leff on Goodreads.
'a fun read with unique elements ... exemplary in its voice and style'
'Judge, 10th Annual Writer's Digest E-Book Awards
An extract from the Book of Ashes
||The Book of Ashes -
Some secrets are meant to be kept forever
Delaney and Asha run their own investigation company now. Hired to find a writer who stiffed a client of $10,000 - things go bad pretty fast.
"This was supposed to be a simple track and trace job. Find the writer, bank the money. Now it's a horror show."
'We Feel Your Pain'
by Sam Hawksmoor
Published by Hammer & Tong
Print or Kindle from Amazon
||We Feel Your Pain – So you don’t have to.
Delaney (42) and Asha (22) run the Office of Berg City Oversight. Their role is to expose the scams, keep the city safe from unscrupulous people. When something looks too good to be true – it’s a scam, right? But what if the scam works? What kind of scam is that?
how far will you go to save one life?
Gerry is convinced aliens are going to attack on Millennium Eve - Y2K night. Everyone else is preparing for the end of civilisation. When it happens only Gerry notices aliens land. He and his spacenut pals Jolene and Kali race to be the first to greet them...
'Climate change, lost alien civilisations, adventures in deep space. Great fun with endearing characters'. Kitty Thomas
The Sam North Novels - still available to order Amazon or Lulu
*Keeping Hackwriters archived 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 Heaviness, & The Repercussions of Tomas D - 'best time travel WW2 story in a long while'
The new edition of 'ANOTHER PLACE TO DIE: ENDTIME CHRONICLES
By Sam Hawksmoor & Sam North
There's no safe place to hide from a lethal pandemic
Print & Kindle - Q&A interview with the authors here
A city gripped by fear. 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.
a taster here The Last Ferry
Review from the First Edition:
'Beautiful, plausible, and sickeningly addictive, Another Place to Die: Endtime will terrify you, thrill you, and make you petrified of anyone who comes near you...'
Roxy West - Amazon.co.uk
||Girl with Cat (Blue) - Shortlisted for the Rubery International Book Award
'a funny, bloody, colorful narrative that never fails to surprise the reader. Girl with Cat (Blue) provides great entertainment'.
* Screenplay a quarter-finalist in the Creative Screenwriting competition 2023
'This book was amazing! I was hooked from the first few pages and couldn't put the book down.'
26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. - Honorable Mention
|J&K 4Ever - A post-apocalypse love story
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.
'A genuine romance in a bleak but plausible and terrifying setting'.
||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
|Spy/Romance thriller set during the Blitz in WW2 - Kindle download
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 '
*download the Kindle version or buy the paperback from Hammer & Tong
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