Category: literature & fiction

TELL ME A STORY

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

“Tell me a story.”

Like kids all over the world, my daughters loved me reading them a story every night before they went to sleep.

At that time, in movie theatres right across the world, couples settled down with buckets of popcorn as the lights went down, thinking the very same thing.

“Tell me a story.”

Only they asked Steven Spielberg or Jonathan Demme to tell it to them.

My daughters are grown now. Jonathan Demme is gone.

But there are other daughters, other movie-goers …

When did humans first start saying: “Tell me a story” ?

The first graphic novel started with someone scrawling some figures on a cave wall thousands of years ago.

photograph: Clemens Schmillen

The actual genesis of the first audio book was the campfire; the first listeners were dressed in animal skins.

Long before human beings could even read, they were telling stories.

In the millennia since, stories have been variously carved, scratched, printed or inked onto wood or parchment, silk or bark or palm leaf, stone and clay.

These days stories – in some cases, the very same stories – are now recorded digitally, to be read or watched as moving pictures.

The medium has changed – no, it has multiplied – but whether it’s an audio-book or a play or a movie or an eBook or a hardback you can hold up to your nose and sniff for the complete sensory experience – it’s all just a way to provide the very thing that all human beings crave: narrative.

But why? Why do we all consume stories, every day, and in such prodigious quantities?

Psychologists tell us our brains are wired for story.

Even those of us who have never learned 3 Act Structure – and that’s most of the world – understand it, expect it and respond to it.

Without 3 Act Structure, Mister Darcy and Batman and Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella would not have become such a vital part of western culture. (Or in the case of Cinderella, almost EVERY culture.)

Originally, it is believed stories evolved as a way to teach younger members of a tribe notions of morality, about good and bad.

For example, a Native American tribe called the Chippewa told their ankle biters a story about an owl who snatched away naughty children if they did not behave. Most other cultures have similar Santa Claus or Bogeyman myths, with a similar theme and purpose.

But story is more, much more, than this.

Narrative became a way to look for and explore the meaning behind human existence. It is a mirror that shows us who we are, where we come from and where we belong.

We are not talking Booker Prize; we are not just talking JM Coetzee and Margaret Atwood. Narrative is story, any story.

Because telling stories is absolutely central to what it is to be human.

Some people say that Facebook, Hollywood, mobile phones and the Internet have put narrative under threat. Not a bit of it. The medium is not important. (To say otherwise will have us mourning the end of cave painting.)

It is content, not delivery, that shapes us and the culture we are a part of.

A thousand words can paint a picture.

Depending on the message, stories can be used to instil tolerance or breed hate.

For instance, do the stories we learn, the ones we carry with us, teach us to turn the other cheek or take an eye for an eye?

One theme is found in Leviticus and Exodus; the other is from Matthew’s Gospel, (the Sermon on the Mount). Both are from the Christian Bible, ‘the greatest story ever told’.

Both stories are re-told over and over today, with modern plots and themes, in a thousand ways, in plays and movies and novels.

The stories we tell ourselves reflect what we believe, but they can also persuade us to change our minds.

In the fifties and sixties John Wayne told us one story about the plains Indians of North America; more recently, Kevin Costner told us quite another story.

Stories are never just entertainment. From Cinderella to Pretty Woman, Jack and the Beanstalk to The Hunger Games, even the simplest of stories has a message. They explain the world to us; they shape our view of it.

It’s why that little voice inside us whispers to us every day.

“Tell me a story.”

That’s why, in the beginning, there was the story.

The End.

 

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

 

colin falconer, bestselling author, international, historical romance, historical fiction, romance, adventure

COLIN FALCONER

THE SHAMELESS ART OF SELF PROMOTION

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

Writing. Really, it’s no big deal.

self-promotion, hemingway, balzac, steinbeck, balzac, advertising

Ernie writing to beer companies looking for a sponsorship deal

It’s the shameless acts of self-promotion that are hard for most of us.

We live in a world where the advances in digital technology have made writing a book not so much an achievement but an obligation to anyone with access to a Microsoft Word program. It has also made the opportunities for self-promotion almost limitless.

Write the equivalent of a long email and you are required to bombard friends, relatives and people you meet in the lift with Facebook alerts, followed by a shit-storm of tweets and YouTube trailers. It is now considered the industry standard.

These days even a print publisher will expect you to do pretty much everything but put ink in the presses and choose the font for the typeface.

Okay. I’ll do it.

self-promotion, hemingway, balzac, steinbeck, balzac, advertisingYet still I can’t shake the feeling that it’s all a touch shameless. I have these bad dreams where I’m a snake oil salesman at a county fair in 19th century Idaho, standing on a box and haranguing passers-by, giving free candy to their kids to lure them to buy.

In others, I am standing on a street corner in a short leather skirt, chewing gum. Won’t do anything for less than seven bucks fifty.

It’s not Tolstoy, is it? It’s not Hemingway.

Or is it?

“For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed.” Who said that? No, it wasn’t Neil Gaiman.

It was Balzac.

self-promotion, hemingway, balzac, steinbeck, balzac, advertising

Captain, my captain; the king of the review farm

The problem was highlighted recently when an author by the name of Ray Dolin, writing a book about the kindness of Americans, was shot in the arm by a passing motorist while hitchhiking across the country. Terrible, right?

Except it later transpired that he’d actually shot himself, in a desperate attempt at self-promotion.

(You see? It works! He’s getting free publicity right here.)

Or, as Stendhal said in his autobiography : “Great success is not possible without a certain degree of shamelessness, and even of out-and-out charlatanism.”

Ray is just following in the footsteps of celebrity authors from before the time of Christ. For example, in 440 B.C. a novice Greek scribbler named Herodotus paid for his own book tour around the Aegean.

He got his big break during the Olympic Games in Athens, when he got a gig at the temple of Zeus and read excerpts from his “Histories” to the city’s smart set. It was like being on Oprah, except with chitons.

self-promotion, hemingway, balzac, steinbeck, balzac, advertisingMore recently, Balzac observed that in 19th century Paris it was common practice to bribe editors and critics with cash and lavish dinners to secure review space. In 1887, Guy de Maupassant even sent up a hot-air balloon over the Seine with the name of his latest short story, “Le Horla,” painted on its side.

Le Horla is about a man going insane. Shortly after its publication Maupassant actually was taken off to an institution by the men in white. Or was it just another piece of blatant self-promotion?

Even sham reviews on Amazon are nothing new. Back in the day, Walt Whitman was bigging himself up this way – anonymously, of course: “An American bard at last! ” he raved in 1855. “Large, proud, affectionate, eating, drinking and breeding, his costume manly and free, his face sunburnt and bearded.”

O captain, my captain. Even John Locke was subtler than that.

self-promotion, hemingway, balzac, steinbeck, balzac, advertising

sold the grapes of wrath and the hops of Ballantine beer

It was Georges Simenon, author of the Inspector Maigret novels, who raised the bar. In 1927 he agreed to write an entire novel while suspended in a glass cage outside the Moulin Rouge nightclub. Members of the public were to be invited to choose the novel’s characters, subject matter and title, while Simenon hammered out the pulp on a typewriter.

Tragically, the newspaper financing this little stunt went bankrupt. But the publicity was priceless and for years afterwards journalists still described the event as if they had actually been there.

And then there’s Hemingway; surely America’s grand old man of letters, winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature, would not stoop so low?

Better believe it. Papa could have showed Nike or Coca-Cola a thing or two about branding.

Not only did he set up photo ops on safaris, fishing trips and war zones with the shamelessness of a whore on the hustings, he even posed for beer advertisements and endorsed Pan Am and Parker pens. He pursued the limelight like it was a thousand-pound marlin.

Papa was a tart.

He wasn’t alone. John Steinbeck recommended Ballantine beer after a hard day on Cannery Row; even Virginia Woolf was lured away from discussing philosophy and ethics with her Bloomsbury pals to go on a shopping expedition at the French couture houses in London with the Vogue fashion editor in 1925.

So look, I’m up for it. Want me to flog toothpaste? My contact details are at the top of the page. Write a book outside a nightclub? I’ll write one inside if you like. Shoot myself in the arm? Just on the way to the shop now to buy ammunition.

But as Hemingway and Steinbeck both liked to say; just for God’s sake, buy my book!

And to prove to you just how shameless I am, here it is:

East India, Batavia, shipwreck, historical romance, historical fiction, adventure, romance

 

colin falconer, bestselling author, romance, adventure, love stories

COLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

 

THE BEST 43 OPENING LINES IN NOVEL WRITING HISTORY

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and to get Advanced Review copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO ON THE RIGHT!

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover.

best opening lines, Hemingway, Dickens, Austen, novelA good cover may make us pick the book up and think about buying it.

But it’s the first lines are crucial in helping us decide whether we are going to keep reading or not.

For my own part, I’ve read plenty of good books whose first lines I don’t remember.

I even tore out the first three pages of one of my favorite novels – The Poisonwood Bible – when I came to re-read it. (Thank God I persisted that first time. )

But all in all, you can never underestimate the power of a good opening line.

Here are 43 of the best in Literature: Continue reading

THE 23 MOST BEAUTIFUL LINES IN LITERATURE

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

Let’s start off this blog about the 23 most beautiful lines in literature by saying these are not the 23 most beautiful lines in literature.

They are just some of them.

I’m sure you can think of others; Feel free to contribute your own favorites at the end.

1. “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
— J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”

2. “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

3. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” – Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

literature4. “The half life of love is forever.”
Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her

5. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live – Natalie Babbit, Tuck Forever

6. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”
—L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

7. “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”
— Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

literature8.  “Journeys end in lovers meeting.”
—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

9.
“And the rest is rust, and stardust.”
– Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

10.
“I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

11.
literature“Why don’t you tell me that ‘if the girl had been worth having she’d have waited for you’? No, sir, the girl really worth having won’t wait for anybody.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

12.
“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

13.
“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

14.
Give me my Romeo. And when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
– You Know Who, Romeo and Juliet

15.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
Miles to go before I sleep
– Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost,

16.
Teller, teller, tell me a tale
of love and fear and duty,
I want to die in the arms of love
I want to die for beauty,
For beauty is the only truth
and death the only lie,
I want to sing a final tale
and love before I die
Troll Bridge, Jane Yollen

17.
“I have one thing to say, one thing only, I’ll never say it another time, to anyone, and I ask you to remember it: in a universe of ambiguity, this kind of certainty comes only once, and never again, no matter how many lifetimes you live.” – Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County

literature18.
“Oh, Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.” Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. “Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

19
“Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

20.
“Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit em, but remember that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” — To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

literature21
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aurelio Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon that his father took him to discover ice.”

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

22.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

Rebecca,  Daphne du Maurier

And my own particular favorite:

23. It’s from the short story Innocence, by Harold Brodkey

literature

romantic adventure, romantic fiction, historical romance, adventure, romance, opium, bangkok, laos, vietnam, bangkok, drug wars

Laos 1961: Noelle Bonaventure is young, beautiful, spoiled – and lonely. When she meets a handsome and barnstorming pilot called Crocé, it seems to be everything she is looking for. She will do anything to keep him. But as Indochina descends into chaos around her, she finds that love can lead to dark places she thought she’d never go.

colin falconer, kitty o'kane, historical romanceLOVE, INDIA, TAJ MAHALCOLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

 

HOW TO BECOME INSANELY, MIND-NUMBINGLY FAMOUS

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

Most writers work so hard to be famous. We study the craft, we self promote, we tweet. But sometimes Fame happens despite our best efforts to avoid it.

Frank Kafka, famous,

Frank Kafka, a testament to self belief

Franz, for example, was an insurance clerk who wrote short stories in his spare time and constantly complained that his day job left him too little time for his ‘calling.’

Only a few of his works were published in his lifetime – perhaps because they were surrealistic and deeply disturbing. One was about a scientist who wakes up one morning and discovers he has turned into a cockroach.

Franz thought his stuff was so bad he asked his best friend and the executor of his estate, Max Brod, to destroy all his manuscripts upon his death. Max promised him faithfully – then reneged, and published posthumously everything Kafka asked him not even to read.

Franz Kafka is now considered one of the most influential authors of the 20th century, his work is said to have influenced Camus, Sartre, Nabokov, J.D. Salinger, García-Márquez and Bukowski. Continue reading

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