30 Days to go

Today marks the start of a new countdown to the launch of my new book Navajo Spirit Part 3 Detour. To date I have been receiving excellent reviews from those who have read part 1 and 2 and have already got pre-orders for the new book. I'm particularly pleased with reaction to these as parts 1 and 2 were the first books I ever wrote back in 2012. In part 3 I can tell the fans of these books that the two brothers separate for the first time. One stays in the town of Mason and one leaves for home. The book itself focuses on the journey home and the sequential events that change the way one of my main characters think and act. The brother who stays behind has his own issues to deal with and that features in part 4, which i'm pleased to say is now in the editing stage.

I have just completed an Amazon Kindle promotion, due to start on the 17th of June, in America, in order to get feedback and see the response in the American market. To be honest I'm not really sure how long to keep the promotion going for so I have started tentatively and will extend if needed. It's difficult to know where to promote a book that is set abroad to create the maximum effect so experimentation is the order of the day. I have recently joined a group of authors who set books on the Romney Marsh so I will be contacting them for advice on this. The group is called Romney Marsh Fiction and includes myself, James Collins, Emma Batten, Oliver Tidy, Chris O'Donoghue with more to come and we cordially invite members of the public to join our site and follow our writing journeys and interact with us.

There is nothing more important than promoting the work we do as authors, getting our books and names out there. Building a fan base can only happen through exposure and I will continue to tour the schools in Hampshire, West Sussex and Berkshire right up to the summer holidays. I have to say though I am really looking forward to the break. I hate to think about the mileage I've clocked up this year. 

In the meantime it's editing all the way for me, sticking to the plans I have already made in an effort to meet the scheduled deadlines I set myself. 

Happy Reading

Steve

Catching Up

Its been a while since I've found time to blog, two consecutive weeks of touring the home counties have taken toll of my time with many an hour spent driving on motorways. The weather has been good and once again I have been fortunate enough to be able to appreciate the countryside and the amazing old buildings that pepper the country villages and hamlets. Every school I go to is warm and welcoming and the children engage with the activities I set willingly. The standard of writing in year six now is so high that many of the children already compose their work at a higher standard than their parents; a positive sign for the future of British writing and a continuance of a artform that has always been strong in our history.

I've decided to take a break from writing new material for a while, in truth it's about time I took some time off to concentrate on the forty odd books that I have written and not yet started to edit. I've set my goals for the long summer break, as far as that goes, and I won't be resting on my laurels for too long. I'm really looking forward to the imminent launch of my two series for key stage one. The picture books are for the six to nine year olds and I have a new cross over series for the five to eight year olds with the action taking place at sea. My illustrator Laura has been working hard on the first book in both series and I can tell you now that her work is amazing. In addition to this,I am hoping to finish editing the first in a new series of young adult books called Chameleon Origin. The book features two female lead characters who have powers of the mind, but I'm not yet ready to reveal how they get them and how they decide to use them. I also have a special book to launch at Christmas. It's not exactly a Christmas book but is set at Christmas and is the only book I have written that isn't part of a series. Then the next Walking With book, also due out at Christmas and this is one for the girls. You'll have to wait a little longer for details though.

So its a case of busy, busy, busy, and to be honest I wouldn't have it any other way. The life of a writer is a never ending cycle of writing, editing, promoting, marketing and advertising and  thats without the research that you have to do for the books and the research you have to do into what other authors are writing. It pays to keep an eye on them if you want to make sure what you do is different from everybody else and I most certainly want to do things differently.

Keep your eyes peeled for the date of my next Waterstones signing. All six of the Walking with Series will be available to be  purchased and signed by me in store and I will look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones there. The date will be published soon on all my media sites. Not long until the holidays now and I bet you can't wait, it's been a long year but in the meantime keep reading and enjoying the escapism each book can offer.

Happy reading

Steve

Editing

In my travels I have been asked many times about editing, what system I use and who does it. I have always been a supporter of the free writing approach where you let your imagination flow unchecked and allow the story to take you on a journey. In most cases that works for me. Having written fifty-nine books now, only three remain unfinished and that was because of the direction the stories took. If I don't like what I have written then I don't pursue it into the editing stage. Writing in this manner doesn't allow me to stop and check what I have composed and as such mistakes come as a consequence. It's a trade off, unchecked, imaginative writing that flows unrestrictedly or correct on route which often stunts or even shuts down the imagination process. Each to their own, what works for me doesn't necessarily work for others and I just prefer to separate the creative side of writing from the technical side of writing.

Having people to read the story at this stage is very beneficial, despite the mistakes and lack of editing for grammar, opinions of the story and characters are crucial to the later developmental stages I go through.

In my first edit run I like to focus on the story itself. Is there enough twists and turns, enough detail and description and is the balance between description and dialogue correct. I colour code description and dialogue. I often add complete chapters in at this stage for a variety of reasons: action, consequence, solution etc. 

My second run is all about the characters. Are they true to my description and personality all through the book? Consistency of this is paramount to making them believable and real. Do they make mistakes as individuals, does the plot offer them challenge and difficulty. Again this all adds to their believability.

My third run is about waffle. When I write in the manner i do I quite often say things twice, unnecessarily within a sentence, adding which and that to stress a point that doesn't need it. Its also about recomposing sentences that don't have the desired effect that I had tried for. At this point it still isn't about grammar.

My fourth run is about the dialogue, this run is about using contractions correctly and making sure that the voices my characters use remains consistent throughout the story.

Once this is done I start the real grammar and punctuation runs. I do two runs with a few weeks break between the two runs before I ask others to look at it for me. The more people involved in this the better.

Currently I have a reader, who appraises the story, three separate editors, and two amazing artists on my team.

Writing the first draft takes considerably less time than the editing process but a great story needs great editing to turn it into greta writing.

Happy reading Steve

Inspiration

Those of you who know me well enough will know of my passion for the Romney Marsh countryside and history. I never find it easy to have a day off from the work that my life creates but I wasn't really up for it on Saturday and headed for the wide open spaces once again.

Inspiration can come from many sources: a person, an image, a tale, or even history but I find inspiration from the peace and quiet of this beautiful landscape. I traipsed over fields, followed paths I never knew existed and dodged the numerous sheep that were present everywhere I went. Herons stood guard over the canal whilst ducks and swans glided effortlessly past them failing to stimulate a response. Rounding a bend in the path, the field ahead had been left fallow and daisy's and buttercups adorned it with vibrant intensity that forced me to stare at the sea of yellow.

The sun shone and the breeze was gentle and cool, and once again as I wandered I was reminded of the timeless quality of a place that changes little through the centuries. The welcoming embrace of the marsh is not felt by all and some find it lonely and even hostile, but those that stop and look, really look cannot help but fall for the spectacular beauty and the serenity of a place that is always willing to share its delights and embrace those who visit its land.

Romney Marsh has always been a source of inspiration for me and will continue to be so in the future. If a place calls to you, stop, take a look, listen and allow the caress of the place to envelop you. Such places have the ability to make you see and think in different ways and it never ceases to amaze me how much inspiration that can offer.

Happy Reading 

Steve

Old Friends

It's been a little while since I blogged but I was encouraged to by the reemergence of some old friends and former pupils. Time changes everything including people, some more than others. The first to surface was the mother of a former pupil who happily stopped and chatted about how successful her children were becoming, and rightly so too. later that evening her daughter face timed me and told me about her dreams to become a writer and how well she has done at college with her creative writing course. Ellie is an immortal child, or adult as she now is. By that I mean she has the same happy disposition that she always displayed when I taught her and although grown up had still retained the appearence I remembered. The fun and humour and the work ethic is all there just as it was and  talking to her took me back a decade to a very happy time.

Later the following day I was sipping a McDonalds latte when a lovely young girl approached me and asked me if I was Mr Clifford. I owned up and she introduced herself as Georgia. She was in the same year as Ellie and I remembered her well. Unlike Ellie, her face had changed with the passing of time and I wouldn't have recognised her but for her confident nature in approaching me. We passed a few minutes catching up and again I was reminded of happier times. I always enjoy catching up with my old pupils and in schools like the one we all attended the sense of family still holds true. 

It's been a few days of reflection as I wind down for a week off and a much earned rest. The art work for my two new series of KS1 books is coming along very well and Laura my artist has produced some stunning work for me. I took her to see the features that pervade through the series of story books and as it turned out the real person who stars in and inspired the idea for the books. Can't say too much more about that at the moment. We'll be starting another count down soon for the new Navajo Spirit Book which is now published but not available in print yet. Walking with the Smuggler should be going on Kindle this coming week too. A few things to sort out and off we go again on the editing drive that consumes much of my time. A very special book that I'm working on for the young adult market that should be published by Christmas. The work never ends and I'm glad of that.

Happy reading 

Steve

C.S. Clifford

Author writing for all ages
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