The Power of Dreams

I often feature dreams in my books and have done so in my latest novel, Born Bad. I find that dreams can be an effective way to add drama or to convey the emotional turmoil being experienced by a certain character.

What are Dreams and why do we have them?

Nobody is really sure as to the real purpose of dreams although several theories have been put forward as to why we have them.

Sigmund Freud’s theory was that dreams are, “…disguised fulfillments of repressed wishes.” He suggested that the conscious mind does not allow us to express certain aggressive and sexual desires. These are therefore expressed through the subconscious mind in the form of dreams.

Carl Jung, on the other hand, believed that every dream has a meaning behind it and that we are all able to interpret our own dreams.

Analysing Dreams

Many theorists believe that analysing your dreams enables you to understand yourself better. There is a lot of literature on the subject, which is far too vast to cover in a blog post. However, much of the literature contains tips on how to remember your dreams, details of the common types of dreams and an interpretation of what various types of dreams mean. Here are some links if you wish to find out more on the subject:

https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-analyze-your-dreams-and-why-its-important/

https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-transformative-power-of-dreams/

http://www.dreamdictionary.org/dreaming/meaning-of-dreams/

http://www.dreamdictionary.org/dreaming/

Dreams in Literature

Over the centuries dreams have been used to good effect in literature. Some examples spring to mind straightaway, such as:

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare

1984 by George Orwell

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

But, of course, there are many others that you might be familiar with. Here’s an example of my own taken from my latest book, Born Bad, which is due to launch on 1st July:

“Adele’s sleep was sporadic and strange thoughts raced around in her head. She pictured the faces of the judge and members of the jury. Then they would fade and be replaced by others; her school teacher speaking to her. ‘I want that essay handed in in six months. Six months, Adele. You’ve got six months,’ he kept repeating. And her classmates sat around her and gasped.

Then a disturbance broke her sleep. In her semi-conscious state she heard the sound of raised voices. Her heart was racing. She sat bolt upright listening for other sounds. Her father yelling. Her mother pleading. Then nothing. Still semi-conscious, she drifted back off to sleep. Back to the nightmares. Prisons. People scowling at her. And her mother in tears.”

As I get nearer to the 1st July launch date of my latest novel, Born Bad, I’ll be sharing excerpts and details of my blog tour. In the meantime, bye for now and sweet dreams.

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Growing up in 70s Gorton

1970s Gorton is the setting for the first part of book one in my new gritty crime trilogy. Gorton is a suburb of East Manchester, and is also the place where I was born and raised until the age of 13.

Book one of the trilogy is called Born Bad and the first part of the novel describes Adele and Peter’s tough upbringing with a drunken, violent father and a slovenly, beaten mother. The remainder of the book tells the story of how that upbringing affects them into adulthood.

I have chosen 1970s Gorton for the setting of ‘Born Bad’ part one because, by doing so, I have drawn on many childhood memories. However, I wish to add as a disclaimer that although I draw on the characteristics of many people when creating my characters, none of the characters in the book are intended to depict any real people, either living or deceased.

Gorton has changed very much in recent years with rising unemployment and an increase in violent crime. However, the Gorton that I remember was very different from the Gorton that is now portrayed in the media. It was a working class area where most people worked for a living or, as was the custom in those days, the husband worked and the wife stayed at home to look after the children.

What is Gorton Famous For?

Belle Vue – formerly a zoological gardens, which opened in 1836 as well as a speedway stadium, amusement park and amusement hall complex. Belle Vue hosted many sporting events including wrestling, boxing and rugby.

Sadly the zoo closed in 1977 and the amusement park in 1980 followed by the speedway in 1987. Nowadays all that is left of Belle Vue is the Greyhound Racing Stadium and a snooker hall although that part of Gorton is still often referred to by locals as Belle Vue.

Shameless – Although the programme featured the fictitious Chatsworth estate, it was actually filmed on the council estate in West Gorton.

Gorton Monastery

Picture by Mikey – originally posted to Flickr as Gorton Monastery, Gorton, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8010571.

The monastery is grade II listed and has been included amongst the 100 most endangered sites in the world alongside the ancient ruins of Pompeii and the Taj Mahal. It was designed by Edward Pugin and built by Franciscan monks between 1863 and 1872.

The Franciscans left the monastery in 1989 and it fell into disrepair as well as being ravaged by dry rot. It was also prey to vandalism and theft, and many of the artefacts disappeared.

Fortunately, a £6 million fundraising campaign enabled the monastery to be restored, and many of the artefacts were returned. It now functions as a conference and events centre.

I’m pleased to say that I visited the interior of the monastery in the early 70s when the monks were still in residence and before many of the artefacts disappeared. It’s a stunning building. I’m also old enough to remember the monks in their brown habits walking in and out of the building when I passed the monastery on the bus to Manchester.

My Memories of Gorton

Belle Vue – In those days its main attraction was the well-known zoo with an accompanying fun fair. We used to love visiting Belle Vue in the school holidays.

When I was a teenager I moved out of Gorton but still lived within easy reach of Belle Vue, which also ran the Zoo Bi Doo disco. It was very popular amongst teenagers and was great fun, a precursor to the clubbing days of my 20s. Many of the kids who went to Zoo B Doo also went to the same secondary school as me.

I also remember attending the East Area Athletics championships at Belle Vue, where I represented my school in the 200 metres sprint. No, I didn’t win. I came third out of four runners.

Gorton Cross Street – This was the place where parents went for their weekly food shop but, as well as supermarkets, it had many other shops including clothes shops, haberdashers, toy shops etc. It was rare for our parents to venture into central Manchester in those days because of the expense, even though it is only a few miles away. Therefore, most things would be bought at Gorton Cross Street. There is still a thriving shopping centre in Gorton but the street has been renamed and most of the shops have changed.

The Corner Shop – We had one at the top of our street and many others dotted about the surrounding streets. I have vivid recollections of women standing in the shop gossiping, often wearing hair rollers and turbans. Women would also gossip on their doorsteps and I remember that a trip to Gorton Cross Street with my mother would take an age as she would stop to chat to many people on the way.

The Red Rec – This was where many of the older boys went to play football. It was also the place where most of the surrounding streets had their bonfires on Bonfire Night. Back in the 70s, the abundance of fireworks from people attending a dozen or more bonfires used to frighten the living daylights out of me. It’s a pity I can’t see it again nowadays because it must have been quite a spectacle.

Although I was nervous of the fireworks, I still have fond memories of all the mothers mucking in with Jacket potatoes baked on the bonfire, homemade treacle toffee and Parkin.

The Local Park/Playground – Although we referred to it as the park, it was actually a playground next to the Red Rec with some fields off to the side. From what I recall, I don’t think the park even had a name; it was just ‘the park’ as far as we were concerned. I have based the playground in ‘Born Bad’ on our local park.

As kids, when we felt a little more adventurous we would take ourselves off to one of the ‘proper’ parks, the ones that had names, such as Sunny Brow Park, Peter Pan Park or Debdale Park.

Playing out in the Street – At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged bore – those were definitely the days when we didn’t need games consoles and mobile phones to entertain us. We knew how to entertain ourselves and would play out for hours.

Here are some of the games I remember from the 60s and 70s:

Skipping – when the mothers would often come out to hold the ends of the rope.

Two and three a ball against the wall to chants such as Pontius Pilot the king of the Jews bought his wife a pair of shoes etc.

Handstands against the wall.

Paper chase, where we tucked bits of paper into wall crevices etc. and each piece of paper would have a clue as to where to find the next one.

Knock a door run – when we were feeling a bit devilish.

Please Mr Fisherman.

Statues.

Ticky It – still played by children nowadays but I think it’s changed its name.

Hide n Seek.

 

 

Check out those street urchins – I’m the skinny one second from the right.

Black and White TV – Yes, I still remember our first rented black and white TV. Most of the sets we rented used to jump and we would have to change the position of the indoor aerial to get the picture right. When it became impossible to adjust we would send to the rental shop for a replacement.

School Sports Days – Back in the days when winning was celebrated (and not just the taking part). I remember taking my giant sized prize bars of chocolate home and being ordered to share them with my brothers. Having brothers in school had its advantages though as it meant that half the school would be cheering for me whenever I entered a race. Yes, believe it or not, I used to be quite an athlete back in the day. I don’t think my arthritic knees could cope with it nowadays though.

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‘Born Bad’ now Available for Pre-order

I’m thrilled to announce that my new novel is now available for pre-order on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XGY9YHG, priced at only £2.48. It has changed its title from the working title of ‘Bad Brother and I’ to ‘Born Bad’. The novel will also be available to purchase from other eBook retailers.

I’m really pleased with the cover that my publishers, Aria Fiction, have produced. The image of my protagonist, Adele, is just how I pictured her in my mind, and I love the tagline that Aria have added. Here is the cover:

The book blurb has changed too and I’m really happy with the new blurb that my publishers have written. Here it is:

Brother and sister Peter and Adele Robinson never stood a chance. Dragged up by an alcoholic, violent father, and a weak, beaten mother, their childhood in Manchester only prepared them for a life of crime and struggle. But Adele is determined to break the mould. She studies hard at school and, inspired by her beloved grandmother Joyce, she finally makes a successful life for herself on her own.

Peter is not so lucky. Getting more and more immersed in the murky world of crime and gangs, his close bonds with Adele gradually loosen until they look set to break altogether.

But old habits die hard, and one devastating night, Adele is forced to confront her violent past. Dragged back into her worst nightmares, there’s only one person she can turn to when her life is on the line – her brother Peter. Afterall, blood is thicker than water…

I hope you agree that it really pulls readers in and makes them want to find out more.

Big thanks to Aria fiction for a sterling job so far. My publication date for ‘Born Bad’ is 1st July and as the date draws nearer I’ll be taking part in my first blog tour, organised by Aria. I’ll keep you up-to-date with links to blog posts, interviews etc. once I have the details.

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Free Promotion of Danger by Association

‘Danger by Association’ is the third and final book in the Riverhill trilogy and, according to many readers, it’s the best of the three. It is therefore ironic that sales of this book are much lower than for the first two at around 3000 compared to over 9000 for ‘Slur’ and over 8,000 for ‘A Gangster’s Grip’.

Danger

I hold responsibility for that to an extent – I should have put the book up for pre-order a lot sooner than I did. Then perhaps readers of the first two books would have downloaded the third straightaway, especially since there is evidence that readers of ‘Slur’ went on to read ‘A Gangster’s Grip’.

So, I’ve decided to do a free promotion of book 3. ‘Danger by Association’ will be free to download to the Kindle for three days only on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of January so if you haven’t already downloaded a copy, now’s your chance. Here’s the link: http://viewBook.at/DangerbyAssn.

Here’s the book blurb so you can see what the book is about:

Rita has been avoiding Manchester; it brings back too many bad memories. She still has harrowing flashbacks of ruthless gangster, Leroy, and the death of a loved one. It takes the wedding of her brother, John, to persuade her to return. She agrees on the condition that she steers clear of the Riverhill estate and Leroy’s family.

When her son, Daniel, is placed in danger, Rita is lured back to the Riverhill where she confronts those she believes responsible. She receives support from an unlikely source who promises information subject to terms. Realising that she needs help to act on that information, Rita turns to her brother, John.

But John works for the law. And he will have to go against everything he believes in if he agrees to embark on a maverick mission to help save his sister’s son.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Channelling my Inner Angst

During much of the writing of my current WIP I was going through a lot of personal trauma. Last year I went through a divorce after 23 years of marriage so things were never going to be easy.

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While it would have been easier to hide away somewhere till the black cloud had passed, I had no choice but to continue writing. Firstly, I have a publishing deal to fulfil and, secondly, I had to think about my future income. At times I felt frustrated as my writing wasn’t flowing as easily as normal; I was too preoccupied with other matters and it made it really hard work.

With all this in mind I was dreading the edits, feeling that I might read through the book and think, ‘what a load of rubbish’ or words to that effect. However, I’ve now reached the editing stage and I’m glad to say that I’m pleasantly surprised. It seems that I have channelled my inner angst.

There’s no doubt that the writing of this book, more than any others, has been cathartic. It’s fortunate that I write gritty crime rather than syrupy romance as I think it would have been difficult to write anything sickly sweet given my frame of mind throughout much of the writing process.

I’m happy with the book’s content and feel that it’s my best yet although some may view it as my worst in terms of the level of brutality. As I enter a new year and the next chapter in my life it’s a relief to know that I have produced something that I’m not only proud of but that I also feel is marketable, especially as my writing now provides the bulk of my income.

So here’s to a better year ahead. This will be the year when my first book through my new publisher hits the market so I’m very excited about that. I’m also hoping to push ahead in my personal life too with just the small matter of moving home to attend to and sorting out my finances. Although I expect moving house to be a stressful process I’m viewing it as the start of a new phase in my life.

Here’s to new beginnings:

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Writer’s High

There’s a feeling that many authors are probably familiar with. I like to think of it as ‘writer’s high’ but others refer to it as having the muse. I also call it being ‘in the zone’. It’s that wonderful feeling when you enter one of those writing phases during which you’re on a roll and the ideas are spilling from you quicker than you can type them up.

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Unfortunately, it isn’t always like that. Sometimes it’s an uphill struggle, especially with a new novel, and it can take a while before you really connect with a piece of work and with the characters. You’ve got your basic premise for the novel and may have drawn up an outline but it feels a bit like painting by numbers as you try to fit each of the scenes into an overall framework. However, you’re not feeling a real spark and your writing isn’t exciting you.

Then, all of a sudden, something kicks in – one idea leads to another, scenes come alive in your imagination, characters become animated and you’re typing like the clappers, before you forget everything. You stop to make the dinner, you think of something else. You go for a walk, another scene comes to mind. You go to bed and the ideas still keep spilling out of you. By the morning you’ve got pages of handwritten notes ready to type up the following day. Your mind is alive with the thrill of it and you can’t wait to commit it all to the PC before you lose the feeling. Does that sound familiar?

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It can take over your life – a bit like a drug and, although it’s a good feeling, it can get in the way of so much. When I’m ‘In the Zone’ ideas usually come to me when I’m trying to relax so it can be while I’m trying to sleep, when I’m out for a walk or even when I’m taking a shower. I find it useful to have a notepad by my bedside and another in my handbag so that I can jot down ideas whenever they come to mind. When I’m ‘in the zone’ I find it difficult to concentrate on a film as my mind wanders. That’s the reason I watch a lot of trash TV; because I don’t need to concentrate too much. (That’s my excuse anyway.)

With my current WIP it was an uphill struggle for part of it but mostly because I was going through emotional upheaval in my personal life. However, I’m now in a much better place and back ‘in the zone’. This novel has two timelines running through it and, in order to write the later timeline, I had to recap on a lot of what had happened in the previous timeline. I was relieved to find that it read quite well. Perhaps my personal struggles helped me in dealing with much of the conflict in the book.

I’m almost ready to give the novel a good edit and hope to send it off to my publisher in a few weeks’ time. It’s been a challenge as it’s the most I’ve ever written for a novel, in accordance with my publisher’s guidelines. But this story has a lot of depth to it so I was confident of reaching the word count without any unnecessary padding. I’ll be keeping you updated as I progress further with the novel.

 

Free Short Story Book

First of all, I apologise for being quiet lately both on the blog and on social media. The reason is because I’ve been working hard towards meeting my publishing deadline for my next book, which will be the first book in a new trilogy. More news will follow on that later but in the meantime I need to continue promoting my existing books.

As part of my book promotion, I’m pleased to announce that my short story, Crime, Conflict & Consequences is now permanently free on Amazon UK and Amazon.com. Here is the Amazon link: http://viewbook.at/Consequences. There is also a preview of the first chapter of Slur in the back of the book so if you haven’t yet read any of my books, here is a chance to sample my writing free of charge.

Crime v3

Crime, Conflict & Consequences is also free to download at Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, 24 Symbols, Thalia and Inktera. I don’t have a link for Apple but here are the links for the other stores.

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

24 Symbols

Thalia

Inktera

To give you a preview of Crime, Conflict & Consequences, here is the book blurb:

This entertaining collection of 10 assorted tales explores a variety of genres with stories of crime, love and family dilemmas. There are also a few twists and surprises along the way. The common thread running through each story is – consequences.

  • In HELD UP our heroine is caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes a witness in an unusual bank robbery.
  • In ISLAND OF DREAMS Joe and Bev are looking forward to returning to the island they visited on honeymoon 34 years previously. Will it still be the same?
  • In WELCOME ABOARD find out how Helena copes with the job from hell.

These short stories are a great introduction to the work of Heather Burnside. Each one makes an enjoyable quick read with a satisfying conclusion.

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It’s only fair to warn you that my novels are quite different from the short stories. Whereas the short stories cover a variety of genres and writing styles, my other books are gritty crime novels. However, the excerpt from Slur, which is in the back of the short story book should give you an idea of what is to follow.

Bye for now and happy reading.

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