No entry fee; $500 prize or publication; July 31, 2013; details HERE:
Punchnel’s, an online magazine, pays ($10) for a variety of types of writing. Details HERE:
Shades of Romance magazine is for readers and writers of romance; buys fillers, devotionals and short stories; pays $15 for fillers and $25 for short stories and $25 for articles; details HERE:
July 15 deadline; FREE to enter; Amazon gift cert. prizes; 250 words max
I was born and live in Wales, UK; grew up in a mining village near to the coal mines, which was a feature of the landscape at that time, and was a great influence on my early life. I am married and have three children, who now make their own way in life, and I must say, doing very well at that.
I attended the University of Wales Cardiff and read Economics, later, I specialized in Financial Services, and set up my own company, a lot of the work was to do with compliance and regulation. The work was demanding but interesting, and I immensely enjoyed the work for many years, but there was always a little voice whispering to me to write a novel, which of course I ignored, I was earning far too much money to think about writing.
Five years ago, the whisper turned into a shout, and finally I made the plunge, sold my large house, my business, purchased a smaller house, set up my study, and started to write, living of my savings.
I have two other books in print, “Of Boys, Men and Mountains” and “Anger Child.” I do very little freelance writing now, but in my last profession I used to frequently write articles linked to financial services and compliance, but now I am a full time writer/novelist and concentrate inside the parameters I have given myself.
1. Tell us about your latest book.
My latest novel, just published, hardcover, by Strategic Publications is called, “The Tour.” A group of people from a diving club in Wales decides to go to Mull in Scotland on a diving holiday. And so, the adventure begins:
When four members from the Coral Diving Club on a trip to Mull, an island off mainland Scotland, discover a Spanish Galleon, nothing can prepare them for what is about to unfold. The course of history is at stake when they are thrown back in time to 1526 amidst the warring Scottish Clans, the Mac Dougalls and the MacLeans, and must fight their way back to their own time.
They return to their own time, but Lanky quickly realises their existence is threatened when they realise they have unwittingly started a chain of events which seems unstoppable. It is down to Lanky and Jane to reverse the catastrophe of a time rift which is pulling time itself into the past, back to creation and beyond, and Lanky becomes aware, the only way to close the time rift is for someone to go back into the past and physically close it, but with little prospect of ever returning.
For one member of the party, who finds gold on the Galleon, lust, greed, and murderous intentions are the only way forward, and the stage is set for the drama to be played to its conclusion on the island of Mull in Tobermory.
2. How did you get started in writing?
I have always enjoyed writing, but it was not until I was on a live aboard boat on the Andaman Sea off Burma, that I started to give it serious thought. I used to go up on the top desk with my laptop when it was still dark, early morning, and write about what I could see and how I felt as the dawn broke.
I wrote many thousands of words over that coming two weeks, and I emailed them back to a friend, who told me I should write a book about my early childhood. She saw something in my rough writing, and encouraged me to carry on, and so my writing journey began in earnest.
When I started to write seriously five years ago, I trawled to look for ideas, purchased books on how to be a successful writer until my mind was chock-blocked with ideas from other people who told me how to do it. Quite a few said – my friends included: It would be easier to go to the moon than to get a book published by a main stream publisher, I’m not talking vanity here. Most people, who knew me, thought I had gone mad. Many times over a meal they tried to talk, “sense” into me.
These are a few of the comments:
“You are giving up a real job, to write!”
“You can’t be serious?”
“I’ll tell you what? Do have a medical check. I’ll pay!”
“Writing! Writing! You mean full time, with no job!”
So the comments went forward. I listened, but equally, I shielded my mind from their negativity. I had made up my mind. I wanted to be a writer, and importantly, I was willing to pay the price. Believed it with a passion, had confidence in my ability and in me (myself Roy) to follow through. There is no substitute for action, and I had the will and I had the mind set to make it happen by action and belief.
I wrote out my plan. Not a long complicated one, short and to the point. A few words, something I could look at everyday, a measured plan, and here it is: somewhat elaborated and explained, and not the actual affirmations which I use.
They are personal to me, and no one sees them but me.
I forget about getting my work published, it just wasn’t important to me. I believed getting published would happen as a matter of course, and this, I believed with a passion, and told everyone so, there is no greater force than belief. It did happen in less than five years, three of my manuscripts are now published books.
At the start, I decided I would write ten manuscripts. The best ten manuscripts I could possible write, two a year, (I am now starting my tenth manuscript) and only then would I think about betting anything published. But I needed to stand out first from the crowd – my main affirmation, to be the best, of the best, of the best.
I searched out people who know what they were talking about to criticize what I wrote. I paid them, people I didn’t know, and who didn’t know me. I have three such people, not the same people, my work is sent anonymously to them.
That, to me, was the only way to get an objective view point. Some of the criticism I rejected, a lot I accepted, some hurt. It still hurts even today, and I still have my work criticized, but it was, and still is necessary. It always will be as far as I’m concerned. We grow far more from our mistakes that we ever do from our successes.
If I wish to improve my fitness when in the gym, it is no good me standing and talking about getting fit. I have to become active, to jump out of my comfort zone and meet the resistance head on, and then to work through that resistance until it becomes my new comfort zone, and then I, with my confidence grows.
I was out to learn the craft, and learn it I did over the years, but I know there is still a lot to learn. I once read: If you haven’t been writing for at least 5000 hours – carry on, even then, you will still be learning. Forever you will be learning. This I found to be true, you never become a master without encountering resistance, and overcoming it.
I set a target, without a target there can be no aim. I made it realistic; I needed to achieve, to continually achieve it – my motivation: I like to feel successful. There is nothing more powerful for your personality than setting a goal and then setting about and achieving it.
In my case, I targeted to write 2000 words per day, 10,000 per week. I didn’t like working weekends, but if I failed in my objective, it meant I would have to work a Saturday or Sunday, and I had a lot of living to do every weekend, so I made sure I achieved my set goal.
I strived, and I kept striving for perfection, in my early days I was very rarely happy with my writing. My first published novel, “Of Boy, Men and Mountain,” which is destined to become a classic. I wrote and rewrote it 17 times before I was happy. I looked upon it as a kind of apprenticeship. Each time I thought I had it, I would leave it a few days, reread, and rewrite, and then after many months I knew I had it, and I partied.
I read other authors; I studied their plots and characters. Every writer had something from which I was able to learn. That is what a story is, a plot and characters. I strived to make my characters alive, my plots realistic.
Indeed, to me, my characters are alive. Some become my friends, others I hate, but to me they are alive, and not just a bit of writing across the page. I didn’t realize this until quite recently. I was due to finish a manuscript, the third manuscript in a trilogy, two and a half years work: 500,000 words in length, yet to be published, no one has seen these three manuscripts as yet only my critics. Personally, I think they are my greatest work to date.
For two weeks, I went back over it, walked, studied, did everything, anything, but complete the last chapter. It was only a few thousand words, and then I realized. I didn’t wish to leave them. I was suffering withdrawal symptoms similar to bereavement. That’s how alive these characters had become to me.
I work out the plots and the characters before I start. A pat saying, everyone tells you the same, to plan, always to plan. I do the same. Do I stick with it? No, of course not, sometimes, something happens and Voilà! A minor character seems to talk to you, and it grows, and grows, and sometimes, I wonder who is in charge.
I’m not talking here about going off on a tangent. There must be a plan, if there is no plan how can you know when you are not totally on it. You can’t of course, so always I have a plan, otherwise, how can you deviate away from it. So that it how I started to write.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
I get up around 8 am dress and breakfast; I’m at my work desk at around 8:30 and start work. I have my own study where most of my writing takes place, it’s my work area and separate from the house. When I am there, it means I’m working, and the message is, to leave me alone.
Around 11am I stop and have a coffee and a snack, and then work to around 1pm, have lunch, and work to around 3pm and that is it for the day. Normally, by that time my daily target is achieved, if sooner I finish sooner.
What about writers block you might ask. Do I get writers block: these word seems to be in almost every self help book on how to write. With multitudinous ways of what you should do to overcome the problem. More worry and nonsense are expounded here than the worth of it.
I relax, place the rough plot, and characters inside you mind, I mean deeply inside. They should already be there anyway. Let them become part of you, think about them as people, the locations as real, some are real, before you go to sleep, and let my subconscious mind do the rest. If not the following morning, definitely the morning after, the answer will be there, inside you mind just waiting for you to write it down.
I am ruthless with you time when I write. It is a job, and if other people, family included, do not see it like that, I tell them, and follow through. I do not get distracted. The greater you are able to control You, the greater you are able to control what you write and the more free time you will be able to spend with your family or at play.
Finally, I keep positive, I believe you only ever fail when you give up, and I look upon my life as a journey and not as a destination. They say writing is a vocation, I need inspiration. I’ve lost my inspiration.
Codswallop: I am doing a job, a hard slog job. If I were a farmer, would I say I cannot milk the cows today because I lost my inspiration? Or, I’ve got work block against milking the cows. Rubbish, of course, no one would think that, writing block is no different. I do a job, so I enjoy the journey, some days I need to work harder, and it’s a pain, but that is the same with all jobs. Also, I know, the more I do it the better I will become, as in any job. Provided I don’t make the same mistakes, and expect to see a different outcome.
4. Describe your workspace.
Nothing special, it’s just a work station. I work from a small study, looking out into a forest. My study walls are lined with books on three sides; a flat screen, a computer and printer are on my desk, with room also for a lap top.
Facing me on the wall is a large picture, a beach with a girl looking out over the water; with a smaller picture directly in front me of a listed building, hanging on the wall, just above my head. Within arm’s reach, are numerous dictionaries and other reference books which I sometimes refer to for information. The room is functional, the view from the windows delightful, everything works as expected, and there I write as I would if working from an office
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
Like most things, over the years my tastes change, as they say: the only constant life is change. But I do have a few lasting favorites: George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Hardy, and Wilbur Smith, to name but four authors.
With George Orwell, there is a message in his writing, perhaps, more so in the essays and articles than in his novels, though, “Nineteen Eight Four,” and “Animal Farm,” leaves a lasting and clear message on the mind. Favourite: “Animal Farm” and his collected writings, and especially the articles, which he wrote for Tribune.
Ernest Hemingway, again like Orwell, his message is clear, war is not about glory or honour but about death, destruction, decay, and he takes you inside the action, strips it bare, and shows it in all his nakedness, not many writers are able to do this as effectively as Hemingway. Favourite: “For Whom the Bells Tolls,” followed closely by his short novel, “The Old Man and The Sea.”
Thomas Hardy, who was a great follower of Charles Dickens, indeed, the influence of Dickens can be seen in his style. He was writing when women had few rights, and he highlighted that in many of novels. I some quarters he was pillared for his writing. Indeed, in “Jude the Obscure,” he had to tone down one rape scene in order to get it published, and even then, many influential people of his day found the scene of three dead children, two killed by the eldest, who then commits suicide, distasteful, and difficult to stomach that could actually happen in their cosy world.
His plots, I must say, are somewhat farfetched, but this is more than made up by this characterisation and prose, especially when writing about the agricultural classes. “Favourites: Two novels, “The Hand of Ethelberta,” and “Return of the Native.”
Wilbur Smith, the way he sets a scene is brilliant. In some ways, he reminds me of J. Fennimore Cooper especially the “Deerslayer.” This novel is full of the rich description of the wilderness of the North American continent during the early colonization period, and the ways he describes the forests, lakes, and topography of the land is breathtaking. But there the similarity ends. Smith takes it a stage further; his research is meticulous, especially in his novels on ancient Egypt. And his novels based in the African Continent. Favourite: “When the Lion Feeds”
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
1. In my early years, I left school with no qualifications against my name. Indeed, without as much as the word failure written next to my name on my school certificate. I could barely write, and my reading was even worse. To my shame, I was never in school to take any exams. Always, I bunked off from school whenever I had a chance.
Frequently I was caught, punished, but it made no difference, I did exactly the same thing again. When I did finally leave school, I travelled and did various jobs, any job really, to earn money. Finally, when I was twenty, I decided to learn, and a few years later attended the University at Cardiff where I read Economics and then into business where I excelled.
2. One of the dullest things I did was when I returned to the UK from Thailand, where I had been diving in the Andaman Sea for two weeks. Tired, I lugged my diving gear and my case through customs, when I was abruptly stopped.
“Anything to declare the Custom Official asked me.”
I was mortified. “No, I replied sharply. The indignity, as if I would do such a thing was written all over my face?
“Open your case.”
“The other bag, if you please.”
I emptied out my diving gear onto the table and folded my arms in defiance. The Custom Official picked up my diving cap, and to my horror, six watches fell out onto the table. I had forgotten all about them. He looked at me, then towards the watches now in front of us, and back towards me, his face a scowl.
“I… I… I… forget about…” I stumbled out the words. My positive stance gone, arms languishing loosely by my side, back humped, wishing the floor would swallow me up.
His stern face looked at me; it was prison for me I was sure. “Rolex I see.” He grunted.
I had to come clean. “I paid two pounds each for them in the market. I bought them to take back for a few of my mates, as a joke,” I replied with hesitation, stumbling over my words.
The custom official to my relief laughed. “Gullible I see; you were robbed. I wouldn’t have given one pound for the lot, let’s be having you through. I should confiscate them, they have a brand name on them, but they’re so bad… just take them and go,” he mocked.
From that day on, a few of my friends still call me, “Rolex Roy,” my humiliation complete.
3. One of my hobbies is going frequently to the gym and then to the sauna and steam room later to relax. On one occasion, a few years ago, I stayed in the steam room far too long, didn’t drink a lot of water, and was severely dehydrated. I came out of the sauna, went into the changing room, and I stared to dress as was normal, but my body was so dehydrated, my mind just shut down on me.
Yes, I mean in went totally, off the scale, blank. A friend I had with me didn’t know what had happened to me. My mind was caught in a round lock and it had locked closed. I was saying the same things repeatedly, no matter what question he asked me.
Personally, can’t remember anything about it. He took my car keys off me and drove me home. There was still no improvement, so my wife took me straight to the hospital together with my friend. The doctor questioned me, and I was admitted, yes, you’ve guessed it, into the psychiatric ward. I slept through the night and the following morning I underwent a barrage of test until the two doctors were convinced I was now back to normal.
The diagnosis, I was hallucinating due to being dehydrated, and because I am a relatively fit person, my body did not shut down as would normally have happen and go into a faint, but my brain did shut down. I was lectured by the doctor for staying in the sauna too long and advised I should always drink plenty of water after I had trained and when in the sauna. I can tell you, I felt such a fool, but my wife and my friend were really frightened by the experience. But at almost every dinner party it is mention, and believe me, they really take the Mick.
7. Favourite quote
If you can’t have a good day, stay away for a bad one.
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
The best part is when I get up from bed, no travelling, look out at the day, see everyone else scuttling off to work, faces long, minds somewhere else, wishing they were still at home. I, still in my dressing gown, eat breakfast, listen to the morning news, walk a few paces and start to work. There is no delay for me, stuck in a traffic jams or train, no battle with the weather. Just myself, my computer, and away I work.
The worst part: when I first started to write it was the loneliness, well not so much that, more the sudden shock of the different culture. Before, I was always busy. On the phone, schedules to complete, reports to write, lunches, speeches, traveling.
Continually I was in demand and on the phone. It makes one feel important; you are valued by your peers, and of course I was needed. I never thought I would miss it, but in the early staged I did, far, far more than I would have believed possible. The world I was then in had become a part of my life and I took it for granted.
Suddenly, there was nothing, no phone calls, no lunch dates, no traveling. Indeed, I even switched off my phone. I needed to be alone with my writing. My characters would now become my world when writing. I took me months to really be at ease with my new situation, but eventually, I adjusted, and now this is my world, and I am happy inside it.
9. Advice for other writers?
Don’t worry about getting a manuscript published, or initially about the money you hope to earn. Make yourself good enough and it will happen. Believe in it, visualize it, taste it, smell it, let it become part of you, glow with it, not against it, and believe, you must believe, and it will happen.
Market yourself as a writer; too many writers think that it must to be left to someone else. If you believe in your writing, tell, shout it out, and be positive. Get an agent, if need be, be your own agent, use every way to tell the world who you are and what you are, doubt not, and it will happen.
Sell your work by selling yourself. Make yourself stand out, but first, you must stand up, on a stool if need be, you have a story, and you need to tell others about it. Otherwise, how will they know? If you lack faith in yourself, how can you expect others to have the faith in you, which you, yourself lack. Good luck with your writing, but remember, luck is something you make yourself. Show you are successful and other people will beat a pass to your door.
Attitude of mind, commitment, action and belief you must throw into the pot, and remember to always keep stirring, lest they harden and become unworkable. Finally, do not let negativity lessen your resolve; the world is paved with good advice on how to give up and to meet resistance with apathy. Good luck, stay focused to your task and go for gold. And remember, it is easier and less work to find stones in the ground than gold, which requires a lot more effort to find and dig out.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
When I started to first write, my friends used to laugh and joke, they thought I was just lazing around, taking it easy, and I would go back to “work” and “business,” when this crazy notion I had of becoming a full time novelist was out of my system. Through the Welsh Arts Council in Wales, my first novel was published very quickly. Far quicker than I anticipated, I didn’t pitch the publishing company; it was a referral to get in touch with them which I did.
A few months later my first novel, “Of Boys, Men and Mountains,” was published. The printer mostly published welsh books, and there was little or no advertising with the launch, and even though it didn’t take off with a bang. Sale of the book is steadily increasing, and it is already relatively well know within Wales.
The crux: some of my gym friends bought and read the novel, there is no more taking the Mick now, they are all fans, and it gave me a lot of satisfaction when I was sitting in the hot tub talking to my friends, and a stranger walked in and joined us and started to talk about a book he had just read, and said it made him laugh and cry. Stating it was the best story he had read in a long while.
It was my book; it made me feel really good, especially when the others agreed with him, but not for me to get carried away, I had to buy a round of drinks later at the bar. They stated (sic) it was to keep my feet on the ground. I know sometimes your friends tell you what you want to hear, but it was not this time, when a few of them said my novel made them feel the same. One even admitted parts of the book makes him laugh whenever he thinks of it, and other parts makes him cry, he he’s a second Dan karate expert.
Where can people buy your books?
My books, latest included, “The Tour” can be purchased on line from all major on line book retailers and from most book shops in the UK. “The Tour” is on sale (just released) in America and can be purchased at most retail outlet, which sells books, or on line including the website they have built for me.
See web sites:
1. “The Tour” ISBN: 978-1-60693-682-5
2. My blog page: “roytomkinson.blogspot.com” CHECK IT OUT ON GOOGLE.
3. Webpage: “Of Boys, Men and Mountains” ISBN: 0862438683
4. “Anger Child”: 978095597360-4
What are fillers and how much do they pay?
Fillers are those little snippets and one-paragraph factoids you often see in consumer magazines. Sometimes they run them next to larger articles (almost like sidebars or “Did youknow?” blurbs), sometimes they’re scattered throughout the magazine, and other times they’re listed in groups in their own section. A magazine like “Woman’s World” might run a whole page of tips from readers (“I clean my toilets with denture tablets because it’s cheap and safe for my dogs to drink from the toilets!”) and pay $25 or so per idea. I used to write short blurbs for “ePregnancy Magazine” on newsworthy pieces of interest to pregnant moms. The pay wasn’t much – I think $15 for 100 words or so – but each one only took me about 15 minutes, so that’s $60/hour. Other than greeting cards, fillers might have the highest per-word rate of all the types of writing you can do as a beginner. (Ad copy writing pays great per word too, but you usually need more experience.) I highly recommend trying your hand at fillers. It’s great, easy money and you usually get paid faster than you do for longer pieces like feature articles.