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New Perspectives from Covid, by Elizabeth Kay

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It’s always useful to be able to see things from someone else’s point of view when you’re creating a character. I have tried to view the world from the standpoint of a devil hyena, a prehistoric bird and a flying carpet (not in the same book, mind you) and they’re easy because you’re starting from scratch. No one can tell you what priorities a phorusrhacos had, although like most predatory birds, it was probably food. And the feelings and priorities of a flying carpet are even more fun to imagine. This is an extract from Back to the Divide , in a carpet shop: “Let me introduce myself,” said the rug, its voice emanating from different bits of its surface. “I’m brand new, and I’m the very latest design. Top of the range. My name is Nimblenap; Nimby for short." Felix burst out laughing. The rug rippled with displeasure. “What’s wrong with Nimby?” “It’s an acronym,” said Felix. “Not In My Back Yard.” “I can land just about anywhere,” said the carpet, offended. “From the smalle

When Life Throws You Lemons - Wendy H. Jones

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  When writing the first blog of the year it always leaves me wondering what I should say. As this one falls on the 16th of the month all the usual New Year's Resolutions have been covered and most people are gazing in dismay at the bills from Christmas. Add in the added pressures of COVID (there I said it) and lockdown and it really leaves me wondering - what the heck can I do to make this better. Well, I'm a definite glass half full girl and a great believer in making lemonade from the lemons of life. So, I handed myself a challenge to think about what good has, or could, come out of this as a writer. So let's see what it's like on the bright side.  The first thing that has happened since last March and the first lockdown is that I have had to stay at home. When I say stay at home, I don't just mean inside my house, I mean no travel and all speaking engagements have had to be cancelled. Usually I spend many weeks of the year travelling which I love. However, it me

Oliebollen -- Maressa Mortimer

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  In the Netherlands, the rule is that up till the 15th of January, you can still wish people a Happy New Year. You can see people shaking hands, or waving at friends from their bikes, calling out, “Best Wishes for the New Year !” It also means people are still serving guests from their carefully stored stack of oliebollen: dough balls with raisins, cooked in very hot oil. They’re made on New Year’s Eve, the smell in your kitchen reminding you for many days afterwards. Some are better organised, and they bake them in their shed or garage. Now, you might wonder what oliebollen have to do with writing, apart from providing sustenance. But it suddenly occurred to me, as friends sent me pictures of golden brown balls, usually covered in icing sugar. (You buy special shaker tubs of icing sugar in the Netherlands, to sprinkle liberally over strawberries, mini pancakes called poffertjes as well as oliebollen). There are quite a few unwritten rules about oliebollen, especially when you

Say Hi to My Friend Stupid--by Reb MacRath

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  I'd have had a different headline--one loved by my friend Stupid--if I'd placed a comma after the word 'friend'. But Savvy, my other friend, came to the rescue. The two are seldom far apart. Savvy has his moments and has served me well through the years.  A few of Savvy's strengths and achievements: --A small rainbow of belts in martial arts, Hapkido and Aikido, before my back retired me, gave me physical confidence and serve as a motherlode for fight scenes in my books. --Street smarts acquired through life in a half-dozen big cities and retail acquaintance with scoundrels and thieves of all sorts. --Copywriting and journalistic experience --Stoker Award for best first novel. --Moving experience gained from a half-dozen cross-country moves. --Writing, proofreading, and editing experience gained from a dozen published novels and an advertising background --From my classical studies, a passion for complex structure, brevity, and word play. --From my close study of

Your Book is Finished. What Next? -- Misha Herwin

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What do you do when you finish a book? When the final edit has gone to the publisher, or you’ve pressed the publish button and it’s live on Kindle do you take a break, or immediately start to write the next one? Some writers take time off to recuperate, or to plan, or research their next novel. Lee Childs famously starts to write each Jack Reacher book on September 1 st , the anniversary of being made redundant, and aims to finish in six months, leaving the rest of the year free. For Susanna Clarke there were sixteen years between her debut, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and Piranisi which was published in 2020. Years she spent planning and writing. Lee Childs never plans. He simply sits down and starts writing. Other writers, especially those writing historical fiction, use the time to research the background for their next novel. As for me, much as I like the idea of taking time off, I find that it never works out that way. It is as if the stories are lining up waiting to be told

Getting to Know You | Karen Kao

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  When I write fiction, I have no idea where the story will end. Something sparks my imagination ⏤ an overheard conversation or an image glimpsed from a train window. Maybe I can sense already the character I want to portray. I might have a general direction of where that character will go. Or not. By the time I’m ready to edit my fiction, most of the moving parts will have revealed themselves. I have a setting, some plot points, and a cast of thousands. It’s time to decide whether I want my story to be plot-driven or character-driven. A plot-driven novel compels the reader to turn the page because she needs to know what happens next . A character makes a decision that causes a cascade of effects. Consequences follow in rapid order. The question in the reader’s mind is: did the character make the right choice? The character-driven novel centers on why a character makes certain decisions. What fear or desire is driving their action (or inaction)? Their int

The Snow Goose & the Dorrien Rose by Julia Jones

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The Snow Goose 1946 In the autumn of 1940 the Saturday Evening Post in America published a short story, 'The Snow Goose' by Paul Gallico (1879-1976). It won the prestigious O. Henry short story prize and in 1941 was expanded into a novella, published in both the US and UK. It was hugely popular. Later it became a Golden Globe-winning film, a spoken word recording, an RCA record with words and music. More recently it's been represented as a touring puppet show and it's an acknowledged influence on Michael Morpurgo’s hugely successful novel War Horse .  For me, as a 1950s child, the story was accepted as truth and the most significant version was the book published in December 1946, with illustrations by Peter Scott. (I'm faintly shocked that there could be any others.) Our copy belonged to my mother but I appropriated it as soon as I could and have always treasured it. I never actually asked her whether she minded me removing it to my shelves -- or indeed how she fe