Hello!

Welcome to my new website/blog.  First off , I wish to say a huge thank you to the creative and gifted Colleen Sheehan for her work on this site and for giving it its professional gloss.  Anyone who would like support in starting up a new website, or have their Facebook or Twitter pages redesigned, their ebooks formatted or any one of a number of excellent services, click on this link.  You will not regret it.  write.DREAM.repeat Book Design

Sunday, 18 September 2016

WHY DO WRITERS WRITE?

After a recent talk I gave on writing, some people waited behind to speak with me. More than one of them jokingly remarked, “What do you do with all the money you’re earning?” There are some writers, I know, who write with the hope of making money – a vain enterprise – but the great majority of writers are concerned more about finding readers. One famous writer, whose name I no longer remember, once asked to have written on his tombstone the simple legend, “He wrote only to be read.” Money for him was neither an issue nor an objective.

Reflecting further on this, I have come to the realisation that recognition, or fame perhaps, is little more a motivating factor to the truly committed writer than is money. So what drives the urge? There is simply the creative spirit that desires to bring into being something original, and there is the creative ego that yearns to share that creation. Most writers would confess, if they’re honest, to a secret wish to stand at the shoulders of everyone reading their work, to watch their every facial expression, to decipher their every reaction, and hopefully, to win appreciation, even praise, for their brainchild. So, while writing may appear initially to be a fire in the belly that must need find expression, ultimately it cannot be an end in itself. The creative ego is a hungry beast.

Saturday, 17 September 2016



Something of a Dilemma

I am working on my new novel and I'm sitting here wondering about the extent to which loose plotting causes a book to take over the author's thinking rather than the other way round. (Loose plotting is my preferred mode of writing. I like surprises to suddenly emerge from the actions of the characters and I tend to allow these surprises to influence the growth and development of the plot and story.)

I am currently about half-way through writing the third novel of my Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Series in which the Inspector finds himself pitted against a coven of Satanists. It's called The Coven Murders. The book was initially intended to be a straightforward mystery but I have just now completed writing 3500 words that fit more obviously into the supernatural/horror genre. How did this happen? Where do I go from here? I think I'm going to have to run with it and see if I can marry the two genres (mystery and the supernatural) without falling between two stools.

As I have just said, I tend have to let the consequences of character action dictate what happens in my books. All right! That's how it will be. There are going to be some strange, even frightening, episodes in this new book (Black Mass, exorcisms, demons running around!!!) I'll keep you posted about further developments.

Saturday, 3 September 2016


Readers' Comments. Don't You Just Love Them

A friend told me recently that my books never failed to disappoint. I hope this was something of a lapsis lingua rather than a deliberate slight. It was, perhaps, somewhat less barbed than Disraeli's comment to an author he had little time for: "I shall lose no time in reading your book." or Ambrose Bierce's less oblique judgement: "The covers of this book are too far apart."

Tuesday, 16 August 2016


ANOTHER AWARD

I am pleased to record that today I received an email from the New Apple Literary Awards Service that The 11.05 Murders was chosen as the solo "Medalist Winner" in the Mystery category of the New Apple 2016 Summer eBook Awards!

The solo selection is somewhat odd, and I do not have an explanation for it. Others of my books have won similar New Apple Awards and there have always been first, second and third places.

Anyway! Throughout the coming months, New Apple will roll out the prizes associated with the awards, including press releases, tweet blasting, banner advertising, awards certificate, and digital medallions to place on the book's various covers. I look forward to that.

Saturday, 13 August 2016


WILDE-LY FUNNY

         I came across this little epigram this morning, written by Dorothy Parker in 1937.

"If, with the literate, I am 
 Impelled to try an epigram, 
 I never seek to take the credit, 
 We all assume that Oscar said it."

        Reading this reminds of a story I once heard about a second-rate writer, well noted for his propensity for plagiarism. He was at a party where Oscar Wilde was holding the guests spellbound with his rhetoric and wit.
       At one point Oscar said something that had everyone laughing and clapping.
       The plagiarist said, "Wonderful, Oscar, I wish I'd said that."
       Wilde replied, "Don't worry, you will."

Saturday, 16 July 2016



5th and LAST POST ON WRITING

GETTING PUBLISHED


I will make two totally contradictory points:

One: Getting published is the next best thing to impossible 
Two: Getting published is the easiest thing in the world.

ONE; TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING (impossible)
Many people believe that if the writing is good, the author would be offered a traditional publishing deal. Sadly, that isn’t necessarily the case. So many other factors come into play. Publishers, despite their protests to the contrary, exist mainly for one thing. They want to make money. And that’s not easy for them. There’s an old joke in publishing circles. How do you make a small fortune in publishing? You start with a large fortune. Losing money is a serious possibility if the wrong books are chosen for publishing. Thus they reject anything that doesn’t immediately smell of money. So, if you are an unknown writer trying to break into the business, you are basically on a hiding to nothing, even if you have a good product, You really need to be a film star, a famous sportsperson, a celebrity of some sort, or an already established writer.

Actually, the chances of you even getting to present your MS to a publisher are pretty slim. Nearly all of them require that your work comes to them through an agent. This presupposes that the agent has done all the preliminary dismissing of rubbish and has held on to MSs that might make money. And getting an agent is even harder than finding a publisher. All they want is a guaranteed 15% of a money maker and they are going to waste no time on any MS that doesn’t immediately smell of money.

Submitting your MS

If, by some fluke, you find a publisher who is willing to take what they call unsolicited MSs, there are still many hurdles to cross. Double check their submission guidelines. Follow these exactly or your submission will not even be looked at.

First you have to make the pitch…
- preliminary letter,
- the one page synopsis,
- the three page précis,
- the opening chapters.

All of these preparations have to be top drawer, eye catching , impressive, edited and re-edited, polished and re-polished, even to get a reader to look at the early pages of your book. A poor pitch, your MS doesn’t even get opened. These pages have to grab the publisher’s reader. This is the first impression you will make and the only impression you’ll get a chance to make. So make sure they are compelling and error free.

And don’t think, ‘Ah, well, it gets better as it goes along’. No publisher’s reader will ever reach where it gets better. It has to rock from the word go. The first chapter…the first paragraph…even the first line is vital….If you want to grab a publisher’s reader’s interest, you need to give your opening all your attention and all your skill. So make sure that everything you send is compelling and error free.
Because… very rarely does a publisher’s reader ever go beyond the first 20 pages of any MS. He has usually decided by then whether your MS goes forward to be read by someone else… or dumped on what they call the ‘slush pile’.

Your chances are that fragile, I’m afraid.

TWO; EBOOK PUBLISHING (possible)
This has never been easier and there are some very reputable and reasonably priced firms out there to help you do it. One of the best is the Amazon KDP, i.e., Kindle Direct Publishing for Ebooks.

Getting your book published as an ebook is a matter of getting a few technical details right, getting a cover designed, getting the text properly formatted to fit the Amazon requirements. If you are technologically aware, you could do it yourself and many do. The technologically illiterate, among which number I include myself, generally have to pay someone for such help. But once you have these basics sorted, you can have your book published as an ebook within a couple of days and…suddenly, there it is for sale on Amazon, or Smashwords, or Barnes and Noble, etc.

If you want a paperback version, Lulu and CreateSpace are very well respected POD firms. POD means Print on Demand. Instead of printing an initial run of two or three thousand books, POD firms will only print whatever numbers of books you intend to sell. They will print one; they will print 30; they will print 200. Whatever you order. But they’re American and while you get great value for your purchase prices and high royalties, the postage from the US is crippling. There are very well respected UK firms…two I know about are IngramSpark ( a huge outfit) and XLibris. Pretty much the same services but the postage, I think, should be cheaper. If you are thinking about going this route, do some serious internet research. There is plenty of information out there … and there are plenty of scammers, too. Do your research. Never consider any company until you have googled information about them.

There is also a little known third option

THREE; SMALL PRESS PUBLISHERS.
Agented and unagented submissions are equally considered. If your book is good and well written, and one of the press team falls for it, then you have a great chance of being published. You don’t have to be a celebrity or famous. Small press publisher cover all of the expenses, the authors are involved in every step of the process and their input is highly valued, though devoted committees take on the difficult tasks of copy editing, designing and marketing to achieve professional results. The authors are asked to do a minimal part of the marketing (for example, sharing our social media posts, inviting their circles to the launch, participating in blog tours) and will receive guidance and help every step of the way.
Royalty rates are competitive, and books are systematically available on all three major platforms – printed, digital, and audio – through all major online vendors, such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and distributed by Ingram.

SO, WHICH ROUTE?
My view is that the chances of finding a publisher, or even an agent, are very slim. And even if you find an agent, you might still have to wait forever before you hear back from them. You won’t even know if they are still trying to sell your book or have simply abandoned it. They don’t seem to care about keeping the writer up to speed. You could wait years rather than months for a reply. So, publish your book on kindle while you search for a publisher. even a small press publisher. At least the book will be out there. And you will get the odd sale here and there.
NB. AUTHORS PUBLISH.
There is an e-magazine that offers great help to authors about publishing. It is well worth a look. The address is: http://www.authorspublish.com/Authors Publish

MARKETING
You might improve your chances of getting sales by learning something about marketing…a distressingly time-consuming and frequently frustrating business. But it has to be done. Why?

Well, let me give you an image:
Imagine a huge warehouse full of books, shelves and shelves and shelves with thousands upon thousands of books. You have written a book and it is somewhere in the middle of all of those thousands, actually millions, of books. How would any prospective reader even come across it? What are the odds that any book they lift will be yours? About 4,500,000 to one. Yes, that’s how many books are published by Amazon and those are the kind of odds you face when you throw your book into the kindle ebook store. That’s why marketing, using social media like facebook, blogsites, twitter, professional help, etc., is so essential. You have to do something to get awareness of your book’s existence before the reading public. And that still doesn’t mean that they will actually purchase and read it. And worse still, hundreds of thousands of kindle books are offered at bargain prices, often even free. Thousands of kindle readers buy these books but research has shown that a huge percentage of them end up lying in people’s kindles, never to be read.

One indie writer said, ‘If you self-publish your book, you are not going to be writing for a living. You are going to be marketing for a living. Self-published authors should expect to spend only 10% of their time writing and 90% of their time marketing. There is an awful lot of truth in that…or a lot of awful truth. Marketing is not easy. The sad truth is that marketing your books is far more trouble than writing the books …. and the results are often abysmal.

BUT….. don’t let that deter you. If you do, you don’t really want to be a writer. You write because you have to. And if you have to write, you’ll want to be read. So, self-publish and be damned

HOW DID I FIND A PUBLISHER?
It sure wasn’t easy. I read somewhere a note by a published author who said, ‘If you re not receiving five or six rejection slips a day, then you are not sending out enough MSs’ Lots of well known best seller writers have faced loads of rejections before finally finding a publisher, JK Rowling, Stephen King, James Joyce, George Orwell, Joseph Heller (Catch 22) John le CarrĂ©, Herman Melville and loads of famous crime writers.

So, what chance did I have? After loads, literally, of depressing rejections (often accompanied by very positive comments, oddly enough) I finally decided to try a new young, thrusting publishers that I read about. I sent off The Doom Murders. A reader called Bill rejected the book. Surprise! Surprise! When I received his rejection, I read it and said….Uh…well, I had better not relate what I said.. But take my word for it, I said it; I definitely said it.
BUT…. next day, I received a frantic email from the president of the company telling me that she loved the MS and asked me not to send my MS to anyone else until she had time to discuss it with her editorial committee. A week later I received a contract. (She eventually took all my books)

And it’s been great. My books have new professional covers that didn’t cost me a penny although they normally run to about 300 - 500 dollars. Professional editing, usually a minimum of a dollar a page (380 dollars for the average length book I write) expensive … but again at no cost to me. Marketing support…thank God I am not on my own with that any more. Special efforts to get my books on to big-shot distributor networks that I could never hope to reach by myself, e.g. Ingram, one of the biggest distributors in the world. All of my books were posted there just at the end of May and all have just recently been issued in hardback format.
It’s early days yet, First books don’t sell. It takes time to build an audience. A new writer’s first couple of books are unlikely to turn any profit — renowned literary agent Donald Maas talks about a “five book threshold”…so, I’ve still a couple of books to go. But I now have some hope for sales, for recognition, but most important of all to me (and to authors who are serious about their work) they will find me readers. There was a famous writer once, I can’t remember his name, but he said, “All I want written on my tombstone is: He only wrote to be read.” If you’re writing to make money, forget about it. If the money comes, it’s generally a happy accident.



Friday, 24 June 2016

POST No. 4 ABOUT WRITING

WRITING CRIME FICTION

Writing is writing, whether it is about crime or romance. Everything I have been saying applies. But maybe there are one or two other things I might mention.

But first, let me make a confession. When I started my first crime novel, The Doom Murders   I had no idea what I was doing. Any connection I had to crime and criminality boiled down to the one occasion when I had to explain to a cop on the Warrenpoint Road why I was doing 76 miles per hour. Other than that, my connection with crime was nil. I had no idea how to go about writing a murder mystery or how the book should be plotted. I didn’t know how I should leave clues, how to drop in red herrings. I knew nothing of police procedure, police ranks, police stations, investigation procedures, or anything about the kinds of briefings that go on in what are called ‘Incident Rooms’. Yet….The Doom Murders has, to date, garnered over 55 reviews in the USA (most of them 4 and 5 stars), and has won three awards, and I have a number of communications from screen writers and novelists on the USA side, congratulating me on the accuracy and detail of my detective’s investigation procedures. For example, a review from American female crime writer contained this sentence: "The author knows the methodology of a police investigation, as I understand it to be handled in the UK. While I am no expert in law and procedure on the other side of the Atlantic, I am something of an expert on American police procedure, and I found the procedures here believable and enjoyable to read."

As the Americans would say, “Go figure!”

Now all of this might sound like bragging…uh…well...that’s probably because it is bragging. But I need to make an important point. How did all this happen? How could I have gone from abysmal ignorance to this … apparent ... level of expertise? I think you’ll find my answer encouraging. I did only two things and was able to rely heavily on a third.

1.I BOUGHT A LITTLE BOOK barely 150 pages, by Michael O’Byrne (an ex-police officer) called, ‘The Crime Writer’s Guide to Police Practice and Procedure’

2. I PHONED A VERY PLEASANT AND INFORMATIVE WOMAN DETECTIVE SERGEANT at the Newry Police Station who was on duty during a quiet and uneventful evening and who happy to spend an hour on the phone with me answering every question I could think of.

Armed with her answers and O’Byrne’s book, I set off into the unknown with only my imagination, my annoyance at certain religious anomalies that were afflicting the society in which I live, and whatever there was in my head after years of reading crime and thriller novels and watching murder shows on television.

3. I LEARNT TO RELY VERY HEAVILY ON THE INTERNET

I think there’s never been a better time to become a crime writer. With the world of the internet at your beck and call, you can find the answer to hundreds of issues and ensure complete authenticity in all that you write…provided that you check your sources and don’t start making stuff up.

TIPS ON WRITING A CRIME NOVEL


Crime is one of the most popular genres and thus a good area to be writing in…except that the competition is fierce. I have just time to make a couple of points from what I have learned through actually writing a few novels.

1. READ AS MANY CRIME NOVELS AS YOU CAN. Reading bestsellers is the best way to understand what makes a good crime novel. You’ll see how to introduce seeming random groups of events and people who finally come together as part of a coherent whole.

2.CREATE YOUR KILLER FIRST
Know and understand his every thought, feeling, motives for killing, how he would go about it. He has to be a real person if he is to be a convincing killer. Be the killer. Live in his head. Otherwise you won’t know what he’s going to do next. It would help if you are psychopathic, a person who nurses all kinds of grievances and animosities, hates everybody around you, and are constantly devising horrible ways to kill half the people you work with. But, most of us will simply have to extrapolate these feelings from our imagination or from tv and books we read.

3. UNDERSTAND ALL OF YOUR OTHER CHARACTERS
and make each one of them a real living person. This will also help with plotting because the characters can only behave in accordance with the traits you give them and so much of the action will have to run along lines that are natural for the characters. Plot will develop to a very large degree out of this interaction. So, you need to know all of your characters intimately, how they think and feel. Know their every thought. That will help to ensure real interaction between them and will also ensure that what happens follows logically from the type of people who are involved in the action. Most of the reviews of my books refer to the characters. Norma Miles, a reviewer, said recently about Thje 11.05 Murders   "This is only the second of Brian O'Hare's Belfast set detective mysteries, but already Chief Inspector Sheehan and his team are becoming old friends as they investigate another murder in their city, so well does the author portray his characters." And Max Tomlinson, an American writer, says, "But it’s the richness of the characters that really gives this book its authenticity."

4.THINK UP SOME DRAMATIC KILLINGS

Try to add something to the murders that lifts them out of the mundane…check out the biblically inspired killings in The Doom Murders

5.DON'T CHEAT THE READER; plant plenty of red herrings but also plant genuine clues. (I read a mybook recently in which a character who spoke briefly with the investigator at the very beginning of the book, who was never mentioned again, but who turned out to be the killer. No one could ever have guessed that and, of course, there would have plenty of annoyed readers throwing that book down.

6.ENSURE THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST THREE OR FOUR VIABLE SUSPECTS. It’s a mystery book; you have to keep your readers guessing

7.GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT
If you choose a contemporary setting for your novel there are high-tech detection procedures and forensic techniques to get your head around. Fortunately, the internet makes researching the facts of crime detection relatively easy. There are lots of websites you can use to find out the basics of how an investigation works and how a forensic investigation proceeds.

8. CALENDAR OF EVENTS [KEEP TRACK]
Make sure you keep careful notes on who has done what and when so that your writing doesn’t suffer from continuity errors. Some people use a detailed plan to do this, something they can keep referring back to. Others, including myself, are not great about plans. But the very least you should do is have a calendar of events so that there is a very clear progression When you say something like the following morning, you should be sure that this follows exactly from the Saturday night of the 21st of May or whatever and not actually a week later, a week during which three other important events have taken place.. One of the early drafts of my first novel was full of errors of this kind. I was lucky to spot one…and that led me to check the whole thing for general continuity of dates, times and events. I couldn’t believe how far out I was with a whole lot of them. I am now a great advocate of the event calendar…with each event slotted into its time and date.. This way you can refer back to the calendar if you become unsure of when a particular event is actually taking place in the novel.

9. KEEP BACK-TRACKING ...
... to ensure that the early part of the book has enough information in it to justify additional stuff that you want to bring in later. I always have. I had to keep going back to the murders to add in extra stuff as I progress through the writing. For example, there were times when I needed certain things to happen later in the story but they would not have made sense unless the seeds for them had been sown earlier on and that meant, often, that I had to go back and change, or add to, what I had written before, to plant those seeds. There was a lot of that backing and fro-ing…indeed, it continues to be a significant feature of my writing, even today.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016



POST NO 3 ABOUT WRITING

Note:  To read the earlier posts, you will have to scroll down this page.


So, how do you become a writer?
To write you will definitely need the building bricks…grammar, vocabulary, grammar, an awareness of structure…. character, plot, dialogue, adjectives, adverbs, dialogue attribution…I can’t go into any of that here. There is just so much of it. I simply wouldn’t have the time. I’d need a year of classes. All can be learned in writing or even ordinary English language classes…

but for me the building bricks are best learned from the experts...from great writers. So, read everything you can get your hands on…read stuff by established writers, writers with credibility.

Where does the talent to write come from?
My belief is that talent pretty much develops itself. When I was a kid we studied Latin at school. We came across all sorts of saying and idioms. One comes to mind now: Poeta nascitur, non fit. A poet is born, not made. I suppose that applies equally to writers. There has to be a certain built-in instinct there that cannot be manufactured. Am I saying that these skills are already there and inherent and that if they aren’t, forget about writing? No, I’m not. BUT… the skills have to be learned and, to me, there are TWO ways learn them

1. THE FIRST IS TO LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS.

... from great writers. Read, read, read… Read everything you can get your hands on…read stuff by established writers, writers with credibility. Experience of great writing will influence the way we think and write in later life.
When I was a teenager, a boarding school student with nothing much better to do, I read all the classics I could get my hands on. I loved them, devoured them, I re-read many of them over and over. I read Austen, the Brontes, Dickens, Thackery, Wells, Twain, Defoe, Swift, Stevens, Trollope, Melville, Buchan, Baroness Orkzy, Alexander Dumas…and many more. All of these were the constant companions of my adolescence. I loved reading! But all the time I was reading I never gave any thought to being a writer. I suppose that my history of reading everything great that I could get my hands on made me feel that it would be idiotic of me to even contemplate trying to emulate these great writers. But unknown to me, while I was reading. I was absorbing so much more than just the stories. By some form of literary osmosis rather that by any deliberate intent I was picking up something of the wonder of imagination, an unconscious understanding of plotting, of character development, of structure, of dialogue. I was picking up a sense of writing techniques and styles …just even the way to use words, to make them my servants on paper, as it were.

2. THE SECOND WAY TO DEVELOP THESE SKILLS IS TO WRITE EVERY DAY
You will need to write a lot if you want to become a writer. When you get to the state of being enthusiastic about expressing your thoughts, when you have a picture in your mind that you want others to see, when you become concerned about reporting that idea, about painting that vision, about bringing it to some kind of clarity… you will turn to writing. And when you write something, you want you first draft to be good. BUT when you re-read the first words you write, you will suffer disappointment because they’re nowhere nearly as good as you though they would be. Ernest Hemingway once said: ‘The first draft is always shit.’ So, once you have a crappy first draft, you improve on it, keeping in all the good bits and dumping the rubbish. Then you rewrite again. You read it aloud to see how it sounds…how it flows. Elmore Leonard said, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” (It’s a bit like the difference between good acting and obvious acting.)
So you work on it. You leave it. You go back to it and make more changes. And in doing this you begin to learn the craft because writing, like any skill is learned through practice and the best practice…and the best writing… comes in rewriting. You learn to recognise, too, when you are being pedantic or trying to impress. So,   write to be understood, not to impress.

1. write every day;
2. always carry a notebook (short-term memory lasts only three minutes. Without the notebook you will lose loads of good ideas.)
3.  have your own writing space. (You need private uninterrupted time and space in which to write.)

OTHER ELEMENTS OF WRITING
Of course there’s more to writing than style and the vocabulary you use. You’re offering a view life as you see it from your point of view. That’s all you can do. It’s just the way you see the world. And you’ll reveal these views through the eyes and mouths of your characters. Characters speak, feel, act…and they way they speak or act will reveal something about them and something about you and your view of the world. People interact with each other in real life; your characters will also have to interact with exch other in your writing.So, relationships should be at the centre of your stories. They will make you think about your own life, the people that you know, and what each of them might encounter in their day-to-day lives…and your writing will gravitate more and more towards truth. Actually, this had never even entered my head until a little while ago when another writer reviewed one of my books. He said something that had me scratching my head in puzzlement. He said:        "Murder investigations must be like this in real life: the discovery of layers of complications and interwoven situations which tell the reader things worth knowing about the human condition, regardless of the mysteries being unravelled."

I had to go back over the book to see what he was talking about because I had not deliberately set out to include this element in what I had been writing about. Me? Pontificating about the human condition? I wouldn’t dare. Yet, according to this critic, somehow I did.

So, much can be said on the subject of writing style, plotting, etc., but what’s most important is that you keep writing. The more you write, the better you will get.

Ultimately, writing success boils down to hard work, imagination and passion, or, to coin a phrase from something Thomas Edison once said, writing is about ten per cent inspiration and ninety per cent perspiration. And the perspiration is in the rewriting as much as in the research, the preparation, the first laborious drafts.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016



POST No. 2 on WRITING:


WRITE TO BE UNDERSTOOD; NOT TO IMPRESS


CLARITY IN WRITING
When I was a young lecturer I became involved in writing academic reports of various kinds for the Department of Education in Northern Ireland. I was chatting with a senior staff inspector at a course one time and I said, “Why did you pick me to write these reports?”
I was initially upset, almost insulted, by the answer. “We have had reports written by other people but much of it is jargonistic and confusing. Your stuff is dead easy to read.”

Dead easy to read? Did that mean that my writing was superficial? That it was simplistic? That it lacked depth? To be honest, for quite a while I felt genuinely aggrieved by his comment. ‘Dead easy to read’ seemed to me to detract for the depth of argument, the subtleties of meaning, that I knew were there. I wondered if people reading my stuff were missing the good that was in it. I said as much to the inspector and he laughed at my concerns. “Anyone,” he told me, “can discuss complex issues in complex terms, particularly using the jargon of the topic. It looks and sounds great but more often than not is confusing and confused. Sometimes it degenerates into gobbledegook. Your skill lies in the fact that you can deal with complex issues in a jargon free way that allows your reader to follow your arguments and still be with you when you arrive at your conclusions.”

I thought about it for a day or two and finally arrived at two conclusions.

ONE: that he had actually paid me a compliment and,

TWO: that I was going to have to radically examine my writing style and try to understand what it was that I had been doing so that I could do it as a deliberate process. And I determined that above all things, clarity would be the hallmark of anything I would write in the future.

I WOULD WRITE TO BE UNDERSTOOD, NOT TO IMPRESS

and if people wanted to call it ‘easy’ or ‘simple’, then I would accept that as a compliment.

So it is now my belief that writing styles can fall into 4 categories:

FOUR CATEGORIES OF WRITING STYLE

1. COMPLEX IDEAS
described using COMPLEX LANGUAGE (to impress, to blind, and ultimately to confuse … frequently degenerates into gobbledegook).

2. SUPERFICIAL IDEAS
using COMPLEX LANGUAGE (to give the ideas a veneer of intellectual worth that they do not have).

3. SUPERFICIAL IDEAS using simple or NAIVE LANGUAGE (the writing of the immature)

and

4. COMPLEX IDEAS, something with some depth to it expressed in CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS  LANGUAGE  (Dead easy to read.)

NB: Always aim for Number 4.

Monday, 20 June 2016




ON WRITING

I delivered a talk recently on writing and getting published. I intend to post bits of the talk over the next while. here is the first instalment.


A teacher of English Literature was lecturing a class of adolescents on one of the syllabus’s prescribed modern novels. She selected a short passage which included the following sentence:

“Vanessa’s passage was impeded by a blue door at the side of the building”

She read the sentence aloud and said to the class, “What did the author mean when he said the door was blue?”

Heads went down and none of the students would meet her eye. So the teacher went on, “What we have here is a clear metaphor for the angst, the anxiety, I might even say the Weltschmerz, that can afflict modern youth as they seek answers to life’s most basic questions. There is a specific significance in the use of the word ‘impeded’ here, with all its implications of psychological conflict, especially as it is linked to the unmistakeable nuance of melancholia so strikingly impressed upon the inner consciousness by the deliberate choice of the colour blue.”

It so happened that, a couple of weeks later, the writer of this book was doing a book-signing at the local bookshop. One of the students, a studious young male, went along to have the famous author sign his copy of the book. As the author was writing his signature, the boy said, “Do you remember that bit in the book where Vanessa was impeded by a front door and you said, ‘The door was blue.’”

The writer thought for a moment and said, “Oh, yes! I do.”

“What did you mean when you said the door was blue?”

The writer eyed the boy up and down, mystified by his question. “I meant the door was blue. What else could I have meant?”

Literary Deconstruction
Sometimes I wonder if literature teachers, in their enthusiasm for literary deconstruction, that is, reading hidden meanings into an author’s text and coming up with a host of hypotheses about intent, do so at the cost of creating a mystique around the nature of writing that can confuse young would-be writers and distract them from the essential need for clarity in writing. I had a literature teacher once whose outlandish explanations of what authors meant easily rivalled that of the teacher in this anecdote. It got to the stage where I could scarcely understand anything I was reading, so convinced was I that I was missing all sorts of significant underlying messages. And, of course, I always assumed that there was no point in me ever trying to be a writer because I would never be able to write anything that contained hidden depths, that contained meaning other than the obvious. But sometimes interpretation is nothing more subtle than accepting the meaning that is there. There may be, often will be, subtlety in a line or a phrase, but you will need support from the context before letting your minds run riot about it.

For me, interpretation of intent is nothing more subtle than accepting the meaning that is there. BUT, of course, writers do use words, ideas, characters, with specific nuances in order to manipulate the reader.  That’s what writers do.  It’s built in to their DNA. These subtleties are there to be seen by the astute reader.

 Other subtleties come almost unconsciously from the innate values, principles, and the attitudes that drive the writer’s normal existence We are all born into a certain kind of life – we have parents, siblings, peers, an neighbourhood with a specific environment, teachers, social circles… and we assimilate, unknowingly, attitudes and values from the milieu in which we have lived and grown up. These values will emerge in your writing and, until you are a very experienced writer, very aware of what you are writing and what you are saying, there will be all sorts of messages underpinning your writing without you realising that they are there. So, don’t worry too much about hidden meanings and symbolisms.  Future critics of your work will find loads of meaning that you didn’t know was there.  It’s there because any writers who writes honestly…who writes his or her truth… will inevitably leave parts of themselves in the pages. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

THIS REVIEW HAS APPEARED ON AMAZON

        Click here to see more reviews:  The 11.05 Murders


5 0UT OF 5 STARS   on March 27, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase



ByJoseph Souza, Author of Crime Thriller, NEED TO FIND YOUon 28 March 2016


The first thing I thought after reading this book is: why isn't Brian O'Hare better known in the crime writing world? This man is extremely talented, and his book a wonderful whodunnit that left me guessing until the end.

O'Hare masterfully tells a tale of obsession, lust and political maneuvering. Set in Nothern Ireland, we start with a sexual assault on a young college woman that happened twelve years ago. We are then brought back to the here and now with the violent murder of a unethical loan officer. His connection to the sexual assault soon becomes apparent, and before long the body of another man from that era comes to light. One more man from that fateful day is still alive, and the police must save his life and catch the clever killer.

But there's so much more between these pages. Amazing dialogue and setting, for starters. Intricate plotting and a vibrant pace. But where O'Hare shines is in the brilliant characters he's created. Stewart, the beautiful but standoffish sergeant, is one of his best. She is smart, sexy and dedicated to her job, and yet troubled at the same time. Her budding romance with a fellow police officer is masterfully told. But his character, Mike 'The Bat' Weir is a brilliant portrayal of a villain, a monster in all respects. I could read an entire novel with these two in it.

If you love police crime novels, you must read O'Hare. I have to say, I was unsure of what I was getting into after glimpsing the uninspired title. Don't let that put you off because it doesn't do this brilliant novel justice. Also, the novel needs better proofreading and formatting, but these are minor quips in view of his unique talent as a writer. I can't recommend this book enough. I'm so glad I discovered this author. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016



Radio Interview about The Miracle Ship

On Sunday 8th May, Michael O'Neill, Miracle Hunter, aired his weekly programme on Relevant Radio, Illinois. There are three or four items on this programme,  but one on them is an interview with Brian O'Hare, author of The Miracle Ship. The Miracle Ship
        
Here is the audio archive of the interview:
http://relevantradio.streamguys.us/MH%20Archive/MH20160508.mp3


Friday, 6 May 2016

THE 11.05 MURDERS


SUMMARY

Three people are murdered on separate Tuesday evenings at precisely 11.05. Random clues point to random suspects, but too many questions remain unanswered. Why 11.05pm for each killing? Is there any connection between these deaths and a rape that occurred at Queen’s university twelve years before? What is the connection between the killings and Sergeant Stewart’s mystery informant? Who is the violent stalker who twice nearly kills Detective Allen? What is his connection, if any, to the murders? When one of his team is kidnapped, Inspector Sheehan has literally only minutes to make sense of these questions if he is to save his colleague’s life.


SOME COMMENTS FROM RECENT REVIEWS

The first thing I thought after reading this book is: why isn't Brian O'Hare better known in the crime writing world? This man is extremely talented, and his book a wonderful ‘whodunnit’ that left me guessing until the end.
[Joseph Sousa, Crime-writer]

Head and shoulders above most mystery authors who are published today, Brian O’Hare deserves far wider recognition. You won’t regret purchasing his books.
[CBT, Amazon Reviewer]

Brian O’Hare is an intelligent and compassionate storyteller who takes his chosen genre a decent literary distance beyond your average ‘whodunnit’.
[Robin Chambers, author]

An explosive mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end, riddled with unseen surprises and breathless suspense! 
[Wesley Thomas, writer and blogger]

Tuesday, 22 March 2016



AT  LAST

In finalising arrangements to launch The 11.05 Murders, we had some last minute glitches with the printer. Apparently the cover picture had some problems with its dimensions. These problems have been resolved and the book is now avaiLable on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com. Smashwords, or direct from the publishers, (Crimson Cloak Publishing).

To introduce The 11.05 Murders, the publishers have agreed an introductory offer for the kindle version of 99 cents to run for about two weeks.  Take advantage of this while the offer stands.

Even as I write this, I notice there are already two reviews posted on Amazon (both 5*s.)

Check them out here:
Two Reviews for The 11.05 Murders

I hope those of you who have already read The Doom Murders, will continue your contact with Chief Inspector Sheehan. (Perhaps you might even write a short review. These are an author's life-blood, the literary equivalent of word-of-mouth.)

Sunday, 28 February 2016

NEW BOOK IN THE INSPECTOR SHEEHAN MYSTERY SERIES





Three people are murdered on separate Tuesday evenings at precisely 11.05. Random clues point to random suspects, but too many questions remain unanswered. Why 11.05pm for each killing? Is there any connection between these deaths and a rape that occurred at Queen’s University twelve years before? What is the connection between the killings and Sergeant Stewart’s mystery informant? Who is the violent stalker who twice nearly kills Detective Allen? What is his connection, if any, to the murders? When one of his team is kidnapped, Inspector Sheehan has literally only minutes to make sense of these questions if he is to save his colleague’s life.

Brian O’Hare is an intelligent storyteller who takes his chosen genre a decent literary distance beyond your average ‘Whodunnit’. Murder investigations must be like this in real life: the discovery of layers of complications and interwoven situations which tell the reader things worth knowing about the human condition, regardless of the mysteries being unravelled. You will have your suspicions throughout, but patience and perspicacity is needed to tease through all the possible patterns and arrive at the final point where all the pieces fit. And, of course, you can confidently expect a few surprises before the end! One for the connoisseurs of this genre. Congratulations Brian O’Hare on a well-judged, carefully crafted piece of work.                                                                                                                 [Robin Chambers, Author of the Myrddin’s Heir Series]






Wednesday, 27 January 2016









FALLEN MEN by BRIAN O'HARE

Some readers might have been trying to find Fallen Men, kindle version, on Amazon during the past few days. The original ebook is no longer available. I have to unpublish it because the book is about to be republished by Crimson Cloak Publishing in a new and revised format both in ebook and paperback ...probably within the next week to ten days.Above is a close-to-final version of the new cover.I am slightly concerned that the girl's face might not be sufficiently visible at first glance. If anyone would like to leave a comment about this, please do.

Additional Note

All is now sorted and the book has now been republished (re-edited and re-formatted) with the new cover. It is available on a number of digital sites, most specifically Amazon and Smashwords.
http://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Men-Brian-OHare-ebook/dp/B01BKUVRVY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455288470&sr=8-1&keywords=Fallen+Men+by+Brian+O%27Hare

and

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/612345