Monday, July 22, 2013

The Truth About Banaby Wilde

Long ago in the Land of the Royal Fish & Chips there was born a fine wee lad to a family called Fisher. That lad, named Timothy (or Tim as he is now known) did as most boys do: he grew up and became a man. He is now an accomplished writer and, I am proud to say, a friend of mine although we've never set eyes on each other - O, the wonders of the Internet!

Being the creative sort - and perhaps to protect himself from disgruntled readers - Tim chose to write under someone else's name. He chose Barnaby Wilde for reasons known only to himself, a name which actually befits his quirky writings, all of which are enjoyable and highly recommended reads.

I am honored to present to you the following guest post from Tim Fisher/Barnaby Wilde:

Barnaby Wilde doesn't exist. Even his name is a joke. (If you haven't got the joke yet, think Steppenwolf and, if you still haven't got it, you'll have to Google).

The truth is that Barnaby Wilde is a liar. He makes things up. He confabulates. He tells stories for personal gain. You can't believe a thing he says.

The question is, why does he do it? The obvious answer, one might suppose, is that he'd like to be rich and famous, but even he doesn't believe that's going to happen. So, why?

Perhaps he just wants to be loved? Actually, that might not be too far from the truth. Certainly he's delighted when someone tells him that they've enjoyed reading something he's written. In fact, he gets far more pleasure from a piece of positive feedback, such as a book review, than he does from any commission he might make from selling it. In that case, you might ask why he doesn't give all his books away for free. Well, he has this strange belief that the only praise you can truly trust comes from the stranger who's laid out his own money. If someone takes the trouble to leave a positive review for something they've paid for, then it's probably genuine praise.

Maybe he's insecure? He needs to feel needed? Perhaps, though he has plenty of people around him who appear to find him useful. He certainly doesn't admit to feeling insecure.

Could it be that he just has an urge to be creative? Now, that surely has a ring of truth to it. He's certainly tried his hand at a few creative endeavours such as wood turning, pottery and painting in the past. Writing, though, has been there at some level or another ever since he was a kid. One of his earliest memories is of his father one-finger typing a story that Barnaby had written at his Primary School and turning it into a miniature book. (No idea what ever happened to it, sadly).

On the other hand, could it just be conceit? Maybe he just wants other people to see how clever he is? He swears it isn't, but it's an unconvincing denial.

Barnaby's own explanation is that he simply wants to entertain, amuse, and maybe, occasionally, mystify people. He loves the sound of words. He loves puns and rhymes. He says his head is full of stories and he thinks other folk might find them diverting.

But, as I said at the beginning, you can't believe a word he says. He makes things up.

Barnaby Wilde has published seven volumes of Quirky Verse, and five volumes of Short Stories, as well as a series of Detective Stories featuring the motorcycle-riding Mercedes Drew and her Detective boyfriend, Inspector Flowers, plus a series of Humorous Novels (The Tom Fletcher series) featuring talking cats and parallel universes. All these books are currently available as e-books. He has also contributed to several publications by the writer's consortium 'Top Writer's Block', which publishes books on behalf of the charity 'Sea Shepherd.'

You can find out more about Barnaby Wilde and his books at or follow him on twitter @barnaby_wilde

David H. Keith

Monday, July 15, 2013

Surviving the Monsters

The world is full of monsters. We know this. We don’t like it necessarily, but we acknowledge it. In fact, monsters are fodder for a vast amount of our literature—writers from Bram Stoker to Poe to King and on and on have used up boatloads of ink telling us about monsters. Monsters intrigue and beguile us every bit as much as they frighten.

Monsters, however, are often adept at concealing themselves from ordinary folk. They don’t all have a pair of fangs or 12-inch talons or laser-breath capable of melting an aircraft carrier into a pile of sludge. The worst monsters, in fact, are those whom we instinctively trust, those we even rely upon for our very lives…until they strike.

Award-winning author Elizabeth Rowan Keith has just published a short ebook about such a monster, or, rather, a pair of them. It’s about a young girl’s surviving this malevolent duo and, by doing so, becoming stronger than both of them. With a little help from some extraordinary people and a mantra taken from a nursery rhyme, she survives the abuse and grows into adulthood a strong woman.

I don’t want to spoil the book any more than I must, so I’ll just say that Ashes, Ashes, Don’t Fall Down is a must read for everyone who has made it through childhood and for those who are still struggling. Dr. Keith has a knack for engaging and holding onto the reader until that very last period and Ashes won’t disappoint you.

You can find a link to her newest offering as well as her earlier works at

Friday, July 5, 2013

Chekhov's Gun

If you introduce a cannon into the first chapter, you better have fired the thing by the end of the book.

That principle, known as Chekhov’s Gun, is an element that too many beginning writers either do not know or, worse, do not care about. The concept was named after the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov.

I want to talk about Chekhov’s Gun, though, rather than the man himself. What does it mean? Why is it important? Is it graven in stone?

First, exactly what is it? To quote the ubiquitous Wikipedia, "Chekhov's gun is a metaphor for a dramatic principle concerning simplicity and foreshadowing."  It sets the reader up for some sort of dramatic surprise and causes himer to anticipate it. It also forces the writer to consider if what hesh is introducing is really necessary.
So what? Why does it matter? Quite simply, if you introduce a major plot point into your book but don't use it, you will only leave your reader confused and disappointed, and mark yourself as an amateur.

Think about it. You’re writing a book about, say, the FBI and you talk about this nifty new technology they’re just bringing online, say a transporter beam to move agents here and there almost instantaneously. So many newbie writers will make a grand introduction of its existence…and then hardly ever mention it again, if ever. They’ll just leave us readers hanging.

Makes you wonder what was the point So the Feebs have this marvelous new toy. So what? Do they actually use it? If so, how did it work—or, for that matter, did it work at all? Against whom did they use it and why? What happened next?

See my point? The author titillates us with this technology but then seems to forget about it. And that, in my opinion, is just plain rude and unconcerned about the reader. It’s also the mark of a rookie.

So, if you introduce some big plot element, use it ere reaching “The End.” It’s only the polite thing to do.

With that said, is the principle inviolate or is there some wiggle-room? Well, like most things, of course there are times when violating the rules are not only appropriate but enhance the story even more. It can make a wonderful red herring. Let’s go back to that transporter beam. Our illustrious author may introduce it to send the hapless reader off on a wild goose chase while the real story continues on apace.

The Feebs are investigating the criminal shenanigans of Monster Corporation and are naturally keeping it as hush-hush as they can. Makes sense, right? But the CEO and lawyers of the corporation are canny and quite suspicious, even paranoid, thus placing the investigation (and the investigators) in peril. So, the Feebs make a huge, boasting announcement of this wonderful new transporter beam…but it’s all just a ruse. There is no beam. It’s intended only to throw Monster Corporation off the scent.

We readers, being caught up in the story, are dragged into the ruse, as well. We are looking forward to seeing the thing in action and we forget about the real purpose of the story: the investigation into Monster Corporation. We’re hoodwinked just like the corporate bad-guys.

And we love it. It adds a delicious taste of spice to the story. The author broke the rule, but, in doing so, wrote a story worth the read.

Understand, though, that the writer absolutely must use that cannon in some way by the end of the story, even if just a few words at the end explaining it was all a con. That’s the important part.