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Showing posts from January, 2014

Under The Influence - Simon Gould

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When a band comes along that ‘sounds’ like another band – one that has preceded them by some years, it is generally regarded as acceptable; a knowing nod to those bands that have influenced and inspired that particular band. With no Beatles, there would be no Oasis, with no Black Sabbath there would be no Metallica and, well you get the drift. Did these bands sound a little like those that had inspired them? Absolutely. Did Oasis get criticised in their early days for sounding too much like Lennon and McCartney? Yes, one more than one occasion. Did Metallica use the template of hulking riffs pioneered by Sabbath’s Tony Iommi (among others) as a blueprint for how to construct a great heavy metal song? Yes, Sabbath’s impact on them is undeniable. Both Oasis and Metallica have gone on to inspire and influence many, many other bands that are active today and would not even exist if not for the aforementioned bands.
Yet when a writer draws on their influences, and sources that have inspired…

Guest Post - Harriet Steel

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I was thrilled when Debbie invited me to come and talk to her on her blog but I must admit that latterly, I’ve been looking forward to the experience with some trepidation as well as pleasure. The prospect of being interviewed by a crime novelist who’s also in the police force is slightly alarming. Still, here goes – wish me luck.

DB.* Tell me about your writing.

HS. I started out, as many authors do, by writing short stories and sending them in to magazines. I was lucky enough to have a few accepted which was encouraging. I’ll always remember the day my first cheque came in the post, I wasn’t sure whether to cash it or frame it. After a few years, I decided to try my hand at a novel. Ever since my schooldays, English and History have been my favourite subjects. Historical novels are my staple reading diet so that genre seemed the obvious choice.

If you’re so fond of history, why don’t you write non-fiction?

That’s a fair question. I suppose the answer is partly that, although I enjoy re…

How not to give the IRS 30% of everything you earn! - Cally Phillips

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This information applies to those of us who DON'T live in the US - or as we are prosaically known by Amazon etc ALIENS.   So if you are an alien, read on.  I've put it up just in case there is anyone out there who still does not know that if you aren’t on the ball then selling either books (Createspace) or ebooks (KDP) on Amazon in America will result in them taking 30% of your royalties… I thought I’d just run through this little lesson in confusion. It's not simplez. You do have to keep your wits about you, but then it's saving you money so...
Step One.  In order NOT to pay tax to the IRS (that’s the US Tax service) you first have to register with the IRS.  Yes, I know… what can I say? It is the most ridiculous thing in the world but then if you don’t, you’ll be giving 30% of everything you earn to the US Tax system. And since you are already giving at least (probably) some 30% to Amazon (and therefore corporate America) you may want to think twice before giving away …

Bereavement, and a Christmas goose (not for eating).

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It was a Christmas I'd been dreading - the Christmas of 2013, and my first one without David. I refused to acknowledge it. I bought no tree, put up no decorations, and sent only the obligatory minimum of cards. I wanted to go nowhere, and do nothing.

However, my daughter, Jude, put a tough, daughterly boot in, and booked me a rail ticket from Paddington to Truro (she lives in Falmouth). Neither of us were to know that I'd be travelling on the day of the Great Storm, and that, when she picked me up at Truro station (the train was delayed by two hours, and was the last one to get into Cornwall that night) we would face the most white-knuckle drive of our lives!

          Those five days of Christmas went unexpectedly well. I re-acquainted myself with her amazing puppet of Borka the goose, from John Burningham's classic picture book which is currently being developed as a children's opera by The English Touring Opera Company. Jude, and her husband, Alan, were work…

A Little Lone Wolf - Andrew Crofts

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“The eagle is probably the most powerful bird in the world, always flying alone, never in a crowd,” The Middle Eastern merchant prince I was ghostwriting for was talking with his eyes shut, a habit which, when coupled with long pauses, sometimes made it hard to tell if he had fallen asleep mid-thought.
          My recorder was taking care of preserving his widely spaced words, his closed eyes giving me the opportunity to look around the Aladdin’s cave of a room. Every inch of the mighty floor space was filled with objects elaborately decorated in gold. Anything that wasn’t gold was white or cream, from the endless sofas and the cushions of the heavily gilded thrones that we were sitting in to the tissue boxes that were carefully placed in order to be constantly within reach of anyone wishing to expectorate unexpectedly.
Around us were panoramic views of Hyde Park from the windows of one of the apartments in the newly built Knightsbridge block which was reported to contain …

Dexter Eat Your Heart Out

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A couple of weeks ago I had the great fortune to be pointed in the direction of a free online Introduction to Forensics course at Strathclyde University (many thanks to Chris Longmuir). Without hesitation I enrolled and proceeded to develop a thin veneer of forensics knowledge, having noticed my deficit when recently starting to write a murder mystery.
If someone in your street today tried to commit the perfect murder they would surely fail. In the old days only Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Columbo and Miss Marple had the honed detective intellect to deduce motive, method, perpetrator, weapon and time of event from the few scant clues. Nowadays, thanks to the proliferation of modern entertainment media, we are all experts. True crime documentaries, CSI, Criminal Minds, Dexter, Sherlock and other TV programmes contribute to the societal knowledge of methods of murder, criminal profiling and forensics.
We congratulate ourselves on having already identified the killer before the on-s…

Cats, Gorillas and Ebooks by Susan Price

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Have a look at this. Click on the link below, to go to the 'book.' Turn the pages by clicking the arrow at the sides, or by using the black tabs.

KOKO 
           It's a simple little story about the famous Koko - the gorilla who learned to communicate using American Sign Language (it's claimed) and had a pet cat.
          It's part of the library being developed by my friend, Alan Hess, a teacher, and myself. (Look along the toolbar at the top of Koko's page and, just to the left of the question mark and printer, you'll see a stack of books. Click on them, and you'll find the other books in the library.)
          It's still a work in progress at the moment, but please bear with us. We're still knocking through and laying wiring, our hair is full of virtual plaster dust.

          Try hovering your mouse over the words in the book. Some are highlighted in red, some in blue, some in green.
          These demonstrate 'blocks of meaning…

I'm not here! - Jo Carroll

I’m not here.
This is weird, writing this. I’m sitting at my computer, in my little room at home with a view of the garden. The wind is fierce – it is very late autumn and the last of the leaves are soggy on the wet lawn. The sky is unforgivingly grey. Beside me I have Christmas lists: things to buy, to cook, to pack up and post.
What!! You’re reading this in mid-January! Christmas is long gone. I know – but when you read this I’ll be in Cuba. I can’t tell you exactly where, as I don’t know (I’ve not been there before, and don’t do much travel planning anyway). It will probably be hot; I hope I will have drunk plenty of wonderful coffee and probably some wonderful rum. I will have given balloons to children, and tried my wretched Spanish on their mothers. And I may well have very limited access to wifi (hence writing this so far in advance).
Which got me thinking – as writers, we spend hours with our heads in another place. I’ve retraced my steps with every travel book I’ve written. When…

The Double-Edged Paper Cut of E-Books

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Asking a reader about e-books can be a risky business. The topic is almost as touchy as asking someone about sports or politics. Worse even, its like asking a sixteenth century Christian how many fingers one uses to cross himself. I have a writer friend who makes absolutely no bones about her disdain for ebooks. Another writer friend thinks they're great since that is where most folks are buying his books.

          I fall somewhere between these two extremes. I far prefer reading a tangible book (further, I prefer hardcover to paperback, but paperback to e-book) since to me reading is far more than an exercise for the brain. It's a physical thing, too. I like how different books feel, Vonnegut books are light as a feather, for example, but a John Irving novel is heavy. Older books have rough pages that have turned tan with age and flipping, but new books are fresh and slick. And each book has a different scent to it that can have the ability to evoke powerful, long f…