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Computer says - everything. N M Browne

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 When we dreamed of a future with robots, we dreamed by and large of a world where they did the grunt work and we humans had the fun, having the time to explore our creativity. It isn't working out that way. New forms of AI can not only write you an essay on any subject you like but make a passable, if derivative stab at writing poetry, film scripts, stories. I never thought I'd be rendered irrelevant by computers and when I read a computer generated example of Anglo Saxon poetry I panicked.  I am still trying to assimilate what it means and I feel as though the Borg are assimilating me.  In one way this development is not surprising. The concept of super intelligent machines has been the staple of SF for years and what humans can imagine we often try to create.  We learn by reading, by copying: we emulate forms, emotions and experiences by reading about them. AI can just do it better because it can learn from all and any digitised material. Of course it has never experienced t

Ghostwriters Become Big News by Andrew Crofts

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  It’s been an interesting month to be a ghostwriter. The weekend before Prince Harry’s book was officially published, as the leaks and “exclusive” interviews piled up on both sides of the Atlantic, the media suddenly became interested in the idea of who actually did the writing and how the whole relationship with the subject works.   I had been looking forward to reading the book from the moment I heard that J.R. Moehringer was going to be writing it, already being an admirer of his previous work, particularly the ghosting job he did for Andre Agassi. But the eventual book that he and Harry produced surpassed all expectations, providing a brilliant example of just how well a ghostwriting partnership can work if the story is strong, the subject is wanting to be open and honest, and the writer is skillful . On the day Spare came out it broke all records for sales of non-fiction, shifting something like 1.4 million copies in English alone, not to mention the sixteen other languages

Graft and Digital -- Susan Price

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I've been self-publishing for over eleven years now. 😲 For most of that time, most of my books have been exclusive to Amazon, first as ebooks, and then as paperbacks too. I did try one or two books on Nook, but never seemed to sell much and, frankly, couldn't be bothered to put in the amount of work necessary to publish across the board, even with the help of Draft2Digital. But this year, I decided to give it a go. And it has been just as much hard graft as I feared. Although I don't suppose I'm telling most of you anything you don't already know. Sorry, Grandma. Sorry, Grandad.  D2D ebooks aren't too bad. After some experimentation and the usual hiccups, I find that transforming a book already published as a ebook with Amazon is fairly straightforward. You make the whole book a long, uninterrupted stream of text, except for chapter ends, where you insert nothing more fancy than a page-break. Draft2Digital advise you to use Word's 'Heading 1' for a

Is any of our writing ever wasted? -- Mari Howard

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Summer term, the mid 1970s. Two small girls who’ve reached the top of the village primary school, lie on their stomachs at the back of a large Victorian house, staring down into a basement room. The house, suitably converted, is the local GP surgery, the basement, one of the consulting rooms. Jenny has brought her soon-to-be stepsister Daisy here to view the place where her mother (who’ll soon be Daisy’s stepmother), works. They watch, full of curiosity, as Jenny's mother examines a young woman, whom they recognise as a shop assistant from the local town. Until, discovered by the receptionist, they are roundly told off… This passage was written as the opener to a story which takes up these two characters some years later. Jenny is one of the central players in a complex story involving the two girls in some risky occurrences, a medical mystery, and romance. At the time, it seemed to fit perfectly as the reader’s introduction to several central characters, giving a portrait of Jenny

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - review by Katherine Roberts

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society When London author Juliet is invited to speak at a book club that was formed on Guernsey during the German Occupation of the island, she discovers rather more than a cosy group of book lovers hoping to hear her read. For the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is hiding a secret from its war years that draws her deeper into the lives of pig farmer Dawsey and the little girl he is raising as his own. This 2008 historical novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece Annie Barrows is fictional, but might easily have been a true story. It was made into a film in 2018, which I caught up with on TV. In a series of flashbacks, the film brings Guernsey's occupation to life, starting with the evacuation of their children to England days before the German army arrived on the island, and the various ways the islanders co-operated (or did not co-operate) with the invaders. The Germans occupied Guernsey in 1940. They immediately went about

What kind of writer? by Sandra Horn

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Here we are into a new calendar year, which I hope will bring you health and joy and creativity. The days are getting longer. The equinox has come and gone; here’s how it was and always is: a fulcrum a point of rest, a hair’s breadth, a held breath Earth turns towards light and life, by moments     When I shared this with the writing group, the response was that it would only make sense to someone who had studied physics. I wonder – does it work anyway, whether or not a reader knows about levers? When I first read Four Quartets all those years ago, I was both enchanted and daunted by it. Enchanted because it moved me, spoke to me somehow, and daunted because I knew I wasn’t clever enough or educated enough to understand the allusions. I have gone on to read many other poems I didn’t fully understand but was captivated by – notably some by Eiléann nί Chuilleanáin and Alice Oswald, but now I can just bask in the pleasure the words give me. It’s like music – I have never stu