Imagine if…

Before you read this week’s blog – a quick update on last week. The lighthouse took a week to recover, and then, when I replaced the battery, the light flickered into life and began to turn. Brilliant!

With regard to the chick’s gender – not so brilliant. It’s still too early to be sure, but yesterday, one of the chicks which I was sure was a hen, was trying to crow. It is possible the five of the six chicks are cockerels. Ah.

Imagine if…

When you were young, did you ever pretend things? Did you ever dress up and pretend to be something else? I did – whenever I could.

For example, I remember visiting Aunty Daphne once, my mum’s cousin, and she lived in this big old house, which had stables in the garden, and big flagstones on the ground. The adults spent hours (literally, hours) talking, and I used the time to play in the garden. In my mind, those disused stables were full of horses, and I ran around, bringing them hay, curtseying to the master of the house, dancing in the moonlight (even though in reality it was a sunny afternoon). I became a different person.

As an author, people sometimes ask me where I get the ideas for my novels, but this has never been a problem. Even when I was very young, my mind was always full of the “what if?” question. “What if I was lost on the moors?” What if a monster landed in the garden?” What if I didn’t really live here, and was simply hiding under the bed?” I spent a lot of time on that last one, and would spend hours reading books under the bed, not hearing my mother when she called to me, sneaking down to the kitchen – desperately trying to not be seen – and stealing slices of bread and apples, which I would scurry back upstairs with and eat under the bed; all the time lost in this ‘other world’ where I was an orphan, sheltering in the house to survive. I didn’t ‘pretend’ to be other characters, I sort of ‘became’ them. I think it annoyed my brother and sister intensely, and I am a bit surprised my parents never sought psychological help for me.

As a teenager, I tried to use this game of ‘becoming a character’ to act. I joined the amateur dramatics group in the nearest town, and tried to ‘become’ the characters in a play. However, I found I didn’t especially like following a script, being what someone else has imagined, so although it was an excellent experience (I found my husband there) I didn’t continue.

I have a million books in my head, waiting to be written. Each one begins with the “what if?” question. What if a foreign government crashed all the infrastructure in England – how would I cope? What if I became aware of a smuggling gang using the lane beside the house to exchange goods? What if I was a teenager, and the boy I fell in love with had a horrible accident and lost his legs? What would it feel like to have dementia, and be slowly losing my mind?

Stephen King said that reading books about ‘nasty things’ is the way we prepare our minds for when disaster strikes, like dipping our toe into something. It allows us to examine our fears in a safe place, and consider them, before we put them away again. I’m not sure about that. I think I just like living in a pretend world.

Of course, each story begins in my head, but to make them authentic, I need to do some research. So if I want to write a story about smuggling, I need to find police reports about what is happening, I have to find the transcripts of police interviews to learn facts, I have to check on possible routes, and actual ways and means. There has to be a smattering of real facts to hold together the structure of imagining. Otherwise it would be like telling someone what my dream was about last night – and we all know how boring that is!

Reading books is a way of experiencing other people’s “what if?” – I think it helps us to understand situations beyond our own experiences. Reading books differs to watching films or television or plays, because the action takes place in our heads, we hear our own voice speak the lines, we become part of the action. (This is why I rarely read supernatural or ‘spooky’ books, because I don’t want that stuff in my head.)

I wonder what your “what if?” thoughts are. Perhaps you should write them into a story. I did.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about some of the support I received.

Thanks for reading.
Love, Anne x

This is the story I always promised myself I would write ‘one day’ while I was teaching in an infant school. A light-hearted novel about 3 teachers.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0995463204/ref=tmm_pap_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=1539091413&sr=8-1

What if…you were the mother of a psychopath? The story of Joanna and her family – an exciting novel.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/JOANNA-Anne-Thompson-ebook/dp/B071H3RCKC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1539091592&sr=1-1&keywords=joanna+by+anne+e+thompson

Counting Stars Link

Invisible Jane Link

CLARA Link

Hidden Faces Link

JOANNA Link

An exciting surprise!

Good Morning!

This isn’t my normal time for posting blogs, but I wanted to share some news with you (because I’m very excited, and Son is in bed and Husband is at work, and I have to tell SOMEONE!) This morning, when I woke up, an envelope was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. When I opened it, I found a magazine. It’s an Arts magazine, and reviews art, literature, music and dance. As I flicked through the shiny pages, I found, on page 68, a review of CLARA. Wow! This is my first ever unsolicited review. How exciting!

I skimmed the review first, heart in mouth, wondering if I was going to read something critical. But no, the reviewer had found the book gripping. They describe being “glued to your seat and wondering at human nature”.

Clara is a pretty awful person (slight understatement) but the reviewer says: “I found myself fascinated – in the same way one can’t quite help but peer at an accident as one drives past – and in spite of myself, occasionally rooting for this woman as she ran roughshod over family and friends, so well was she written.”

Have you read Clara yet? Here is the Amazon UK link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079T5NJP7?ref_=k4w_oembed_94cpRjkhwVeJc3&tag=kpembed-20&linkCode=kpd

Reading a review of Clara, when it’s written by someone who has never met me (and therefore has no reason to be kind) was rather scary. But the reviewer wrote such a lovely article, it has brightened my day!

Clara tells the story of a young woman, who shows all the traits of psychopathy – so she lies, is self-absorbed, unable to empathise with others, and feels no guilt. But then she is shocked into changing her behaviour, and although she is still a psychopath, still not able to feel as most people feel, her actions change, and instead of being destructive, she begins to achieve great things.

Clara can be ordered at any book shop or library. You can also order a copy directly from me, or from Amazon. Buy a copy now, in paperback or on Kindle, and enjoy reading a different sort of book.

Amazon Link

CLARA – A Good Psychopath?
by Anne E. Thompson
ISBN:9780995463257
You can order copies from any library or bookshop. Also available from my website:
anneethompson.com

Listen With Your Eyes

Listening with your eyes

When you are an author, you are, in effect, a parasite of life. Every experience, every glimpse of people, is stored up, ready to use in a novel. Sometimes, when there’s time, it’s good to be able to simply notice. To walk through a crowd and store up memories. You don’t consciously decide that a stranger will be a psychopath, or that a young man will be a jilted lover, or the grandmother will be the wise woman in a story. But you notice, you listen with your eyes, and add to the store in your mind. So that when you are writing, perhaps months later, and you need a character, you have a whole bank of them, waiting, ready to be fleshed out with a personality and a backstory. It helps if you are alone, as chatty husbands can be something of a distraction. So when the family decided to build a sandcastle (yes, they are all adults) I didn’t object, and was happy to walk along the beach for a while.

Walk along a beach in the Algarve with me, and notice. The Muslim family, with the mother covered from head to toe in black, sitting, child on lap, laughing as the waves rush over them. The bronze grandmother, wearing not a stitch, her stretched breasts flopping as she walks. The young men in tight swimwear, throwing a ball between them on the hard sand; the pretty teenager, sucking in her tummy, posed to one side, hoping, desperately, that one of the men will notice her. The mother of twins, sagging tummy oozing over her bikini, not caring because the two boys toddling through the waves are her whole world. The English woman, with the sensible haircut, walking through the shallows, her whole body red with sunburn except for the two white lines she has exposed where her sun-top straps went. The young girl with the tiny bikini walking next to her muscle-bound lover, the twin peaches of her perfect bottom moving from side to side, perfect ovals beneath the tiny pants. The old man, in straw hat and baggy shorts, walking along the sand. The father laughing as his young son spits water, after being swamped by an unexpected wave. The mother wrapping her shivering daughter in a big towel when she returns from her swim. The couple under the big umbrella, on the striped mat, eating a tidy salad from a plastic container, before they return to their New York Times bestsellers. The girl collecting shells in a purple bucket. The boys digging a trench next to their sandcastle; and the young men; and the grandfathers; and the fathers—while their children, bored, have wandered away. The young father holding his podgy baby in the waves, while she lifts her legs and squeals at the cold. The pregnant woman walking with measured steps along the tide line, watching other people’s children playing, anticipating.

And then there are the sounds. The crashing of the surf as it hits the shingle. The crunch of footsteps as you walk. The roar, somewhere out to sea, of the speedboat. The chatter of language you don’t understand, and the wisps of English that float towards you as you pass. The shrill of seagulls from the cliff behind you, the cry from sellers as they stomp the sand, showing their wares.

You can feel the sun, hot on your head. The trickle of sweat on your back. The grate of shells prickling your feet, the cold as the sea rushes over your skin. And the breeze, that blessed cool, that glides in from the sea and makes it all bearable, pleasant even, as you watch, and listen, and absorb all the life surrounding you; hold it tight, because one day you might need it.

Thank you for reading.

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com

Costa Book Awards

I recently saw some information about the Costa Book Awards. These are awarded each year, and they are a big deal. There is a financial prize (from £1,000 to £5,000) but more importantly, they attract readers. The winners of the Costa Book Awards can expect mainstream bookshops to put their books where they are likely to be seen by people browsing. And readers are keen to read a book that has won a prize. The awards can turn an unknown author into a household name – at least amongst those who read.

I discovered that books can be submitted to the judges from publishers. Now, as I set up a micro-publishing house, rather than paying a self-publishing company to publish my books, I thought why not enter a book? I know that CLARA – A Good Psychopath? is by far my best book, and is as good as many popular books, so why not have a try? It has been professionally edited and typeset, it was printed by mainstream printers, I paid a photographer for an enticing cover, it is available through wholesalers, it has an ISBN number. If someone randomly picked it off a shelf, they wouldn’t know whether it was self-published or published by one of the major publishing houses. So I wrote to the person sending out the application forms, and she duly sent me one. Or to be precise, she sent one to The Cobweb Press, which has its own email account.

But then everything fell to pieces. There was a clause which read:
iv We regret that self-published books and books solely published online are not eligible. Self-published books are not eligible where the author is the publisher or where a company has been specifically set up to publish that book.

I was pretty sure this disqualified my book. But The Cobweb Press is a legitimate business, and I do employ editors, typesetters, etc on a freelance basis, so I had one last try, and emailed the helpful admin person to check. She informed me that if I published books by other authors, I could submit my book, but not if I only published my own work. I considered quickly publishing via Kindle a book by another author (I know a few) but decided that they would probably check, and it was probably deceptive of me, and I probably shouldn’t. So I didn’t. The Costa Book Awards will not be considering CLARA – A Good Psychopath? as a possible contender. Which is a shame.

I was particularly interested by a clause in the instructions which reads:

We ask that you take careful note of all conditions before submitting your title(s).   If you’re uncertain as to whether or not a title meets the criteria, then please contact me before submitting it. Very occasionally we’ve had situations where the eligibility of a book has appeared ambiguous.
 
When you submit any title, you are confirming that title’s eligibility.  Entries will be further checked by the organisers as the judging process progresses to confirm that they are eligible.  If, at this stage, it’s found that an entry is, in fact, ineligible, it can cause great inconvenience and disappointment so please ensure that all titles you submit are eligible.

Now, this implies that they have had self-published books submitted in the past. And they have considered them for a prize, not realising that they were self-published, but further investigation revealed they were not published traditionally, so they were disqualified.

My question is – why? Why is the book industry so intent on squashing the new author – unless they are linked to a celebrity or film producer, or have an actual human contact? Why do major bookshops and wholesalers and competition organisers refuse to accept that a book which is indistinguishable from a traditionally published book might not be inferior? I have had my books rejected from magazines when I have offered them for review:”Sorry, but we don’t review self-published books”, from some bookshops (though the major ones are beginning to accept them if you jump through enough hoops) and, most importantly, readers. People will ask, “Is it self-published?” and if it is, they walk away. Yet it is incredibly difficult to persuade traditional publishers to take on a new author unless they fit a very tight criteria, unless they are pretty much the same as books they are already selling. Which is rather limiting don’t you think? Do we want the world to be full of books which major companies have decided we should be reading – or do we want to select them on merit?

I understand that some self-published books are not edited, and are badly written. I realise that some do not have trade agreements with wholesalers, so if they were to become well-known they would be difficult for bookshops to source. However, as publishing houses become ever more restricted by falling sales, surely society should be looking in a wider pond for excellent new authors.

CLARA – A Good Psychopath? is not likely to be eligible for entry to major book competitions. Nor will it be reviewed by well-known magazines or newspapers. But it is still a book worth reading. As are many, many self-published books. Please remember, when you next choose a book to order from your library, or to download for your Kindle, or to buy for your holiday, some of the best books are the ones which are not traditionally published. Why not give them a chance?

The latest, and best book (in my opinion). An exciting novel written in the first person, which shows how a psychopath views the world. The story encompasses the world of women trafficked in India, and shows how someone very bad, can be used to achieve something amazing.

Thank you for reading.

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and one non-fiction book. They are available from book shops and Amazon. She writes a weekly blog at: anneethompson.com

 

The latest, and best book (in my opinion). An exciting novel written in the first person, which shows how a psychopath views the world. The story encompasses the world of women trafficked in India, and shows how someone very bad, can be used to achieve something amazing.

A gritty thriller, which shows what it means to be a psychopath, and how it would feel if someone in your family did something awful. (Because every psychopath has a mother.)

Hidden Faces by Anne E. Thompson.
An easy read, feel good novel, set in an infant school. An ideal gift, this is a book to make you smile.

An exciting novel, set in the near future. One family shows how they cope with driverless cars, new laws, and schools run by computers.

This tells all the things I wish I had known when first diagnosed. A helpful book for anyone with a potentially terminal illness. It shows how to find a surgeon, how to cope with other people’s fears, how to not be defined by an illness. It also has a few funny anecdotes – because even when you’re ill, it’s good to laugh.
Available from Amazon (you can get it free if you have a Kindle).

A hilarious romance for when you want to relax.

Agonies in a Craft Tent

Let me tell you about my weekend – another craft fair. Not my favourite activity. The thing is, writing books, creating a whole world with quirky characters and exciting happenings, is fabulous – best job in the world. However, taking those books, and trying to persuade people to risk a few hours and read one, is very scary. But there is little point in doing one without forcing yourself to do the other. This is how it tends to go.

First of all, is the venue. Usually you’re provided with a space in a marquee, booked at immense cost, which all adds to the pressure of how many books you need to sell to not lose a ton of money. The space can vary in quality. Sometimes you’re placed next to an aggressive seller, who has set her table well over the boundaries, and has squeezed your space to a tiny square. Sometimes the organiser has been more canny, and has marked on the floor exactly where each space begins and ends. There are good pitches – towards the centre of a walkway, and bad pitches – right next to the door (because people entering the tent don’t usually want to stop and listen to your sales pitch as soon as they get inside, and if you are the last stall, they are already thinking about leaving by the time they reach you. Though last is slightly better than first.) If it’s raining, you often get drips of water plopping onto your books. If it’s dry, you sometimes get condensation (see previous sentence). Sometimes it’s really hot, and then the air becomes too thick to breathe and after a couple of hours you are very red-faced and sweaty, and no one wants to approach your stall.

After you’ve set up, you can walk round and have a look at the other stalls. These tend to vary. There is the scowling old man who sits opposite the entrance, surrounded by his wife’s knitted cardigans. There are homemade stands: twigs stuck into flowerpots hanging with necklaces; husband-made constructions that would withstand a nuclear explosion; and the carefully selected textures and colours that make up the artists’ stalls. Most stalls represent hours upon hours of work, and everyone is feeling slighty desperate about trying to sell things, and trying hard not to show it.

There is lots of tension involved with selling books. Unlike jewellery and knitwear and paintings, they aren’t sold by how good they look, so the only way to sell is to tell people what they’re about. Not easy. You sit there, watching for potential customers, hoping for a flicker of eye-contact. It’s very bad form to start speaking while they’re looking at your neighbour’s stall, so you have to wait until they have moved into the space you ‘own’. These are moments of real tension, as you watch a couple meander around the tent, buying trinkets at other stalls (so they’re spending money today), they look intelligent (so sure to be readers); they walk nearer while I wait, ready with my patter, throat dry with nerves, waiting while they examine the stall nearest to me then, at last, they begin to approach, they glance towards my books, they turn to each other to make a comment, I begin to approach them and – they leave the marquee. I breath out, sip some water, wait for the next person.

And then there are the low points. The customer who arrives right after you’ve taken a swig of coke who you greet with a loud belch (she didn’t buy a book). Or the customers who arrive with a football team of uncontrolled kids who touch everything and ruin your display, and probably can’t read anyway. Or the owner of the small dog who lets it wee against your tablecloth. Not to mention the joys of portaloos. Or, depending on the fair, the happiness of sitting right next to where the bagpipes are playing.

However, I survived, and lots of lovely people did buy my books. There were also some interesting chats, like the one with the tiny old woman who told me she used to teach Camilla PE, and the palace have done wonders with her appearance, and she was always a very lazy girl who couldn’t do a handstand properly.

The problem is, selling books is personal. Every rejection feels like a put-down, and every sale brightens my day. So why not take a look at my books today – if you buy one, you’ll cheer me up immensely.

Thank you for reading. All my books are available on Kindle and in bookshops. UK Amazon link below.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-E.-Thompson/e/B07CL8HV95/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

 

The latest, and best book (in my opinion). An exciting novel written in the first person, which shows how a psychopath views the world. The story encompasses the world of women trafficked in India, and shows how someone very bad, can be used to achieve something amazing.

An exciting novel, set in the near future. One family shows how they cope with driverless cars, new laws, and schools run by computers.

A gritty thriller, which shows what it means to be a psychopath, and how it would feel if someone in your family did something awful. (Because every psychopath has a mother.)

A hilarious romance for when you want to relax.

Hidden Faces by Anne E. Thompson.
An easy read, feel good novel, set in an infant school. An ideal gift, this is a book to make you smile.

Email from a stranger

I received this message, which was lovely, so I thought I would share it with you:

Comment: Dear Anne
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading “Clara”. I was very much taken by the explanation you gave when you told me about your book at the East Grinstead book shop.
Some books stay with you when you have read them, and Clara was one of those for me.
I found Clara fascinating. I think there is a little bit of Clara in all of us, particularly in the way we all do try and manipulate others. However, unlike Clara, we will feel remorse for doing so.
At first I found the character of Clara intriguing as to how her mind worked. Then, the further she went, the more I started to feel uneasy about what she was doing. However, that then changed again when she went to India where she became a bit of an anti-heroine. I wondered what it would be like to try and communicate with her; knowing that would never be possible with someone like her. As soon as you were of no use she would just drop you.
Some books I buy to stretch the mind, others simply for the enjoyment as “page turners”. Clara was one of those books that did both for me. Thank you.
I went back to the bookshop today and purchased Joanna and Hidden Faces, and will continue to look out for your work.

Kind regards

Philip

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 Clara – A Good Psychopath? by Anne E. Thompson
ISBN 9780995463257
Published by The Cobweb Press
Available from book shops and Amazon.

Have you bought a copy yet?

 

 

Never Trust a Quiet Bull, or an Unloaded Shotgun…

There are two things a sensible farmer never trusts: a quiet bull and an unloaded shotgun.

I went back to the farm, for further research on the book that is in my head. I have lots of ideas, and snippets of stories, but I don’t yet know enough about my characters, or how they live, to begin writing. I should really visit a few different farms, but asking farmers (who I don’t know) is too scary, so for now I’m only visiting one – a beef farm in the next village.

I chatted to the couple who run the farm. They’d had a near disaster earlier in the week, when all the full-grown cows escaped and were heading off towards the road. The farmer called to them, as he ran away from them, into their pen. When they heard his voice they stopped running, and then turned to follow him. The farmer told me how important it is that he talks to them when they are calves, handles them, and becomes someone familiar and safe. Then, if something frightens them, they will look to him for security.

It seems that security is very important to cows. They are naturally very vulnerable to predators, and only their size and the herd can protect them. So they have big eyes that can see all around, and they shy away from anything unusual, any potential danger. Which means that everything has to be introduced slowly, and from an early age.

So when the farmer has new calves, he takes time teaching them how to go into the cattle truck. He tempts them in with food (always easier to lead than to drive from behind, apparently). They will practise going up the ramp, being shut in, even going for little drives. This means that later, when there is a humungous fat bull with opinions, he will be quite happy to be taken in the cattle truck. Which makes life easier for everyone.

The farmer said that you should never trust a bull. Even when they appear to be quiet and friendly, they can turn in a second. He also said you never assume a shotgun is unloaded, even when you know it is.

I went to watch the cows being fed. I would like to say ‘helped’, but I really just got in the way. All the cows are in, because the weather’s too wet for them to be out on clay soil. There were some new calves, just a couple of weeks old. They were still mainly drinking milk, so we (he) mixed the powder with warm water, and poured it into containers so they could suck. If too many calves crowded to the same place, we had to move them along, ensuring they all had a good feed. Moving them along sounds easier than it was – a sucking calf is very reluctant to move, and it took a lot of force for me to shove their heads to a space so each of them could reach a teat. While we fed them, the two farm dogs kept trying to lap the milk out the buckets. Any that was spilt (that was from my buckets) they licked up instantly.

The calves I saw in the autumn have grown loads. They still look young, but are nearly full-grown. They were in a large straw pen, and were fed dry food. They had to stick their heads through bars to reach it. They’re fed a mixture of rolled barley and protein pellets. The barley is grown on the farm, and if it’s not milled first, it passes straight through them, without them absorbing any nutrients.

 

There were some full grown cattle too. They went outside into the yard to be fed. They’ll soon be ready to leave, which I don’t think I would cope with if I was a farmer. I’m not sure how you don’t bond with the animals, and then find it impossible to send them off to the abattoir.

I saw where cows have their hair cut (because their winter coats would be too hot when they’re in the barn), and heaps of feed for the winter. I can tell you that cows have cold wet noses, and very rough tongues, and they are bemused when you take their photograph.

I also saw stacks of hay from other farms, which are going into a hay-growing competition and were waiting to be judged. Apparently very green hay, with very little leaf content, makes a winner. Who knew?

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Thank you for reading. Don’t forget that CLARA – A Good Psychopath? is available at a 33% discount, from me  (£7.95 with free UK postage), until 31st March. Send me a message via the contact form below. (The form is sent to me, it does not appear on this blog.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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