Veni, vidi...Wiki! Not long ago I had the all-time greatest Great Idea: one, born of total ignorance, that nearly tanked a novel. As you may have guessed from my opening line, my subject is Julius Caesar. But you might not have guessed from the title that my Great Idea entailed his being reborn as a penis. Don't laugh, please, I beg you. I saw no way around this, even though showing JC as a 'dick' might lead some to think that I've written a spoof. In fact, it's a serious thriller. Without giving the plot away, I can say this: I needed JC's ghost, today, remembering his nights with Cleopatra on her fabled golden barge. There was the heart of my book--a ghost trying for 2000 years to relive that lost boogie with Liz. And I'd begun to run with this when my memory corrected me: Mark Anthony, not JC, was on the barge with Cleo. And this was after JC's death. What the hell was I to do, lacking the good sense to check memory's 'facts
This blog post is going to start with a whinge about KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Then it’s going to tell a proper tale of courage. Both are connected by My Ship is So Small , Ann Davison’s account of her solo Atlantic crossing. She’d left Plymouth on May 18 1952 frightened stiff, alone on her 23’ yacht Felicity Ann . ‘I wondered why I had let a dream run away with me. Why, for heaven’s sake, why?’ Ann had told the press that she'd be heading for Madeira but stopped at Douarnenez, Vigo, Gibraltar, Casablanca, Las Palmas, Dominica (and other Caribbean Islands) and Nassau. Then she had followed the Intracoastal Waterway to her final destination. Ann and her small ship arrived in New York seventy years ago this month (November 1953) She was the first woman to have sailed alone across the Atlantic. I wanted to mark the occasion. Simon Kiln, Ann’s closest surviving relative agreed. He and his sisters gave their permission for Golden Duck to publish a new edition of My Ship is So S
December is a time for looking back and although I’ve written a few Christmas letters in my time reminiscing about what we have been up to as a family I have never looked back at what I have achieved as a writer in the past 12 months. To be honest I tend to play down many of my writing exploits, but with my memoir about to be published in the New Year it’s time for a change, a time to be bold and update my writing CV. In January I discovered a new opportunity writing for Paddler Press magazine . My piece based on Silence was accepted on January 6th and the magazine arrived all the way from Canada on the 28th. According to my diary I was also very busy writing lots of 100-word stories for my memoir. At the beginning of February I wrote a 100 flash for the Retreat West monthly microfiction competition. By the end of the month, I was crowned the winner and I took home the People’s Prize as voted for by the readers. March was a month where life took on a new direction. I
Ah, December. Christmas approacheth, and what does that mean? Television ads, of course. And, oh my, do we in the UK have a bizarre selection this year. Stupendous New York Christmas tree. How did this happen, this escalation of The Christmas Advert? So that all the big hitters – John Lewis, Marks and Spencers, Aldi, Tesco etc – feel they have to go all out every year to outdo themselves in lavishness and sentimentality… And do they actually boost sales, the point of advertising in the first place (though you'd never guess it from these intensely concocted minidramas)? Well, funny you should ask that (oh all right, that was me). Because, judging by the reaction to this year’s John Lewis creation, they do. Though not quite (tee hee) as the Great Retailer intended (see below). But first to the one there’s been all the fuss about. Yup, the M & S offering , which, because of popular outcry, had the scene showing red and green paper hats burning in a fireplace removed. It isn’t
Bruce Nauman, Double Poke in the Eye II, Tate Modern. Photo credit: Karen Kao A while ago, a student asked me to talk about writing dialogue. She felt that her own dialogue was stilted, created solely for the purpose of completing her writing exercise for the week. I said something vague and probably wholly unsatisfactory, although this student was too polite to say so. I think I mumbled something like: use dialogue when it’s the most efficient way to convey your information. When the reader needs to hear the words coming out of the mouth of one of your characters. After class, I went home and started looking at my writing books. As I had hoped, there were plenty of better answers than my flubbed attempt. So here’s what I learned about writing dialogue. Impossible Dialogue Image source: HarperCollins Legend has it that Truman Capote could eavesdrop on a conversation on the street, rush back to his hotel room, and transcribe that conversation verbatim.