Advice for Writers by Harry Duffin – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Advice for Writers

There are several things you need if you are going to be a writer.

There first is dealing with rejection. Because it happens to every one of us. Remember J.K. Rowling was rejected by twelve publishers before she was accepted. If she had given up after the twelfth, the world would never have heard of Harry Potter. Carrie by Stephen King was rejected thirty times! So, the first thing to accept is that you will be rejected, a lot of times. Accept that, feel sad for a moment, have a drink maybe, then move on.

Secondly you need a lot of persistence. It took me twenty years of submitting my work before I made a living as a writer. Over those years several friends told me to give up, and I nearly did, a few times. But if writing is the thing you want to do more than anything else, carry on. You might never make it to the top of the best-seller list, not many people do, but with self-publishing anyone with a few hundred quid can produce a book; your book, which you can put on your shelf. Even if it doesn’t sell all that well, maybe you can give it as a birthday or a Christmas present? It’s a unique gift.

Remember rejections are not about you, though it generally feels like it at the time. After a few rejections you realise that it’s your writing that is rejected. And there are many reasons for that. Maybe it’s not very good. Maybe you didn’t find the right agent for that type of book. Maybe you didn’t market it well enough.

When your work is rejected, look at it again. Maybe you could do better? If someone is good enough to tell you what they think is wrong don’t just dismiss their comments. They may have a point. Or they may not. You have to decide which, because it is your work after all. You have the ultimate choice.

You also need a bit of luck. Put yourself around so you know what’s going on. You have to be in the right place at the right time. I had nearly given up the idea of being a writer when I got a three-month contract reading scripts at the BBC. I learned about a new soap being developed and I rang the script-editor every day for two months, before he asked me in at asked me to write a dozen storylines. He and the producer loved them, and I became a member of the first writing team on EASTENDERS.

So put yourself about. Meet other writers, go to conferences, book fairs, anywhere where you might meet that one person who can help you make the next step.

In May 1939, when Professor Carl Mueller, his wife, Esther, and their three children flee Nazi Germany, and find refuge on the paradise island of Cuba, they are all full of hopes and dreams for a safe and happy future. But those dreams are shattered when Carl and Esther are confronted by a ghost from their past, and old betrayals return to haunt them.

The turbulent years of political corruption leading to Batista’s dictatorship, forces the older children to take very different paths to pursue their own dangerous dreams.

And – among the chaos and the conflict that finally leads to Castro’s revolution and victory in 1959, an unlikely love begins to grow – a love that threatens the whole family.

Having escaped a war-torn Europe, their Island of Dreams is to tear them apart forever.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The deck was already full of passengers, mostly standing in silence. Like Anna, taking their last look at the island. She found a space at the rail facing the shore, as the rising sun turned the grand buildings of the Presidential Plaza to gold.

The ship was divided between wailing and deep silence. Somewhere Anna could hear a rhythmic chant –

‘We cannot sail. We must not die -’

Anna choked back tears. How she longed to set foot on the island. To walk under the palms, to be lost in the bustle, the sounds, the music of these vibrant people. She stood silently, the tears hot on her cheeks. She looked past the line of police boats to the shore and remembered her first sight of the island. It had looked so welcoming, so free. She could make out the line of tall palm trees beyond the harbour, their long fronds waving in the gentle breeze. She had never stood beneath a palm tree. Were there coconuts clustered at the top? She’d never know, now.

‘We cannot sail. We must not die -’ continued the chant.

But they were to sail. Were they also to die?

The ship’s klaxon startled them all. A long, mournful moan. A deeper silence followed the deafening noise. Then the panic and the prayers rose again, louder, from deep inside the ship. Suddenly, the note of the engines changed, higher, louder, more insistent. Anna knew it couldn’t be long now.

About the Author: Harry is an award-winning UK screenwriter, who won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial, while writing for Granada Television’s ‘CORONATION STREET’. Before that, in 1985, he was on the first writing team for the BBC’s ‘EASTENDERS’.

Before beginning his career writing drama for television, Harry spent a dozen years working in British theatre, as stage manager, writer, designer and director, working with actors such as Nigel Hawthorne, Anne Reid and Lesley Manville.

After script-editing the BBC’s HOWARDS’ WAY, he freelanced for series like DISTRICT NURSE, THE BILL, BOON, THE BRETTS, EMMERDALE.

In 1994 he became Head of Development at the UK independent company, Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment. As the script executive he was responsible for seven major television series, included ‘SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON’ starring RICHARD ‘JOHN BOY’ THOMAS, and ‘TWIST IN THE TALE’, featuring WILLIAM SHATNER. He also wrote the film, RETURN TO TREASURE ISLAND.

In 1998 he was the co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘THE TRIBE’, which ran for five series, numbering 260 episodes. ‘THE TRIBE’ has been sold world-wide, and all series is on YouTube.

His first novel, CHICAGO MAY, is the first book of a two-part series. He has also written JAIL TALES, about his wife’s 20 year career in the prison service, and the novel BIRTH OF THE MALL RATS, the prequel to THE TRIBE.

He has just finished his third novel, ISLAND OF DREAMS, to be published on December 1st 2022.

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The book will be free.

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