Posts

Multi-Tasking with Cecilia (Cecilia Peartree)

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 In my previous post here I reported on my new writing plan for 2023, but I must confess I've already driven a coach and horses through it. The desolate wastes of January seemed to stretch so far ahead that I couldn't restrict myself to working on only one novel at a time, but I didn't entirely expect to end the month having written 12,000 words of the novel I was halfway with as well as 15,000 of the one I didn't intend to start until February. And there's more... What I had planned to do was to spend most of January finishing the historical novel I was in the middle of, while occasionally getting out my plotting notebook to draft a plot for a new mystery novel in one of my existing series. I'm not quite sure where it all went wrong, but I think that as usual I got bored with plotting and decided I wouldn't know where the story was going until I made a start on writing it. I am already well aware that this is a high-risk strategy and often results in a lot

I've met an agent! -- Sarah Nicholson

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Don't get excited about the title, it's pure clickbait, I've not met an agent to discuss my work but rather I’ve just returned from a “meet the agent” event at the local uni. Although my friend did make me sit on the front row with her and it felt very up close and personal, there were probably a hundred other people sat behind us. The talk was informative but the leaflet handed out was copied from the website and I’d done my homework and already looked up the agent and her agency. Doing your homework and researching where to send a manuscript is just one of the pieces of advice she gave us. In fact much of what she said I would consider common sense - maybe I’ve just heard it all before – write, edit, research, query. Only I’ve never really got much further than the writing bit – at least as far as a longer piece of writing is concerned. Perhaps I just get bored too quickly, or I expect to be miraculously found on blogger and offered a lucrative book deal, because

Embraceable Doomsday: Or How to Make AI Your Best Friend, Maybe -- Umberto Tosi

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It's getting so there's no future in futurism. The future nips at our heels faster than we can predict it. Take the latest chatter about ChatGPT. Professors say it's the end of the world. Standard fare for Scici writers - warning of misuse, while speculating on our replacement by the instant proliferation of this AI phenomenon.  ChatGPT explains itself succinctly as any human: "ChatGPT is a large language model developed by  OpenAI  that can be used for natural language processing tasks such as text generation and language translation. It is based on the GPT-3.5 (Generative Pretrained Transformer 3.5) model, which is one of the largest and most advanced language models currently available. All this is free of charge, mind you. (Or course, nothing is truly "free" in tech world.) Free means getting billions of users to provide content for free - content in quality and quantity promising to be worth trillions of dollars in return. Data is to Internet enterpr

Sailing to Chongqing -- Peter Leyland

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                                                                                                                 Sailing to Chongqing*   Wednesday 29th August We are now looking out over the city from the big picture windows in the living room. We have just had the best Chinese meal ever at Xiheyaju - seven dishes in the centre and all dipping in with chopsticks, inexpertly in my case. Thursday 30 th  August   This is ever so slightly unreal – a life of sheer luxury, lazing in the gym and pool with the adjacent sauna and the hot and cold tubs. Today we wandered out for breakfast with Becky. She has quite an astonishing command of the language – this is a profound skill which she uses all the time in taxis, restaurants, shops.   Saturday 1 st  September   Yesterday we were briefly lost outside the Summer Palace. Thankfully we had contact with Becky, and the driver Jerry Bing who dropped down as though from heaven to where the rickshaw man had mistakenly left us.   Later I went with Bec

Anyone up for a School Visit? They're great, says Griselda Heppel

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Setting up for the Creative Writing group, Headington School. One of the best things I get to do as a children’s writer is visit schools.  I love these visits. There’s nothing like getting together with a group of 9 – 13 year-olds and their teachers and introducing them to the ideas behind a particular book, drawing them into the excitement of story creation and giving tips on how to make strong, believable characters and a gripping plot. Ante's Inferno by Griselda Heppel Because my books tend to be inspired by other, much greater works, there’s plenty of background information young people find fascinating. Ante’s Inferno , for instance, in which 12 year-old Antonia finds herself on a dark journey to the heart of Hell, is based on (can you guess?) Dante’s Inferno. Dante, in turn, drew  deeply from Greek and Roman legend of the afterlife, rendering my school talk full of references to monsters like the Minotaur and Harpies, and giving my audience the chance to tell me what they kno

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