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Showing posts from September, 2014

Should Authors be Present at an Audiobook Recording? Guest Post by Anna Bentinck

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I realised that I would probably feel uncomfortable about Julia being able to see my face as I worked.
I am an actress and in seven years of narrating audiobooks there had never been an author present at any time. Recently I have been asking to have all the lights turned off in the studio so I could turn the iPad screen up to its brightest, but this made my eyes blur after about seven hours so now the lights are on again. And this meant my face would be lit. So I placed myself rather carefully at the microphone on the day I invited Julia to the studio.
The Salt Stained Book is a wonderful adventure story with a strong theme of sailing and with references to Swallows and Amazons. I was very happy to be the narrator for the audio version as I knew the author Julia Jones, and had already read and loved the book. But I had not really anticipated how anxious I would be about her listening to me interpreting her work.
I had already phoned her to check up one or two things about how some of th…

Fresher's Week by Nicky Browne

It is that time again. The leaves are turning, there’s the smell of woodsmoke in the air, mornings are chilly and there are conkers on the trees.  Kids have been back to school for a while, but now it is the turn of university students who are buying new pens and pads and reorganising their possessions in barren university rooms even as I write. The freshers, wide eyed and soon to be legless, are staggering around intoxicated by their new found freedom from Mum and Dad as well as by anything else they can buy on offer in the student bar.  
For many years I’ve hauled my offspring’s motley bin bagged possessions around the UK from one bastion of learning to another. The scent of autumn brings with it the flavour of apples, blackberries and loss; I miss them when they are away.  But  the turn of the year also brings with it a certain thrill, the hopeful sense of a new term starting for me as well as for them. This is my new year, my time for new resolutions and new projects. I have taken …

A Golden Autumn, Spiders, and 'STREAMING' by Enid Richemont

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It's been an especially beautiful September - my favourite month - and I've been watching the year slowly dying in a haze of gold. My London back garden is full of colour. Today I picked my last runner beans, and was starting to remove the stems which were infested with blackfly when the structure up which they'd been growing collapsed, reminding me cruelly that it's been a year and a half now since I lost my beloved David who set up the beanpoles in the first place.

Recently, I've been meditating on my own death, and, indeed, death itself. In my work, I've always found endings difficult - they have to be perfect, rounded, right (would that life were like that) and I've often fantasised about having a convenient 'END NOW' button I could click at an appropriate time. To be honest, it's not just a fantasy. I have recently become a member of Exit International. The 'appropriate time' is certainly not now, but I would like to think that, if t…

Relationships with Literary Agents - Andrew Crofts

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When I set out to become a writer in the early Seventies literary agents were no more than fantasy figures to me. I had no idea who they were or how I might find one to help me. I imagined that once I did locate one, however, he or she would take me under their wing in much the same way that Colonel Tom Parker had looked after Elvis, and they would do everything to launch me that Brian Epstein had done for the Beatles. Surely, I reasoned, literary agents must work in the same way as these infamous Svengalis of the music business, who we read so much about in the “Swinging Sixties”.
Eventually I discovered where these mysterious agents’ addresses and telephone numbers lay hidden and I started to pursue and plague them with letters and synopses and ideas and manuscripts. I was a frustrated and deluded stalker in pursuit of the ideal soul-mate who I fantasised would accompany and support me through my professional life journey, assisting me in picking up all the glittering prizes along …

Raise Your Glass

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At the start of summer we received my son’s school report. End of Year 4 in the primary school, he’s ten years old. His marks per subject were pretty much what we had expected – very strong academically, just getting by in activities. But the overall commentary the teacher had written came as something of a shock. He was described as something of a sociopath (my word, not the teacher's) – "needed to be more tactful, uncooperative, a loner". We thought this might have been mentioned during the school year, at parent teacher meetings, in notes home to us, but it hadn’t.
I know my son pretty well. He’s a chip off the old block. Very attentive to detail, studious but impatient, strong with figures and language but reacts badly to criticism, mediocre at sports, not too interested in investing energy in friendships. A bit of a lone ranger. Well, as they say here in Ireland, he didn’t lick it off the stones. He and I, we may well both be somewhere on a behavioural spectrum but l…

An Interrogation of... Susan Price

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Not everything we write is wonderful - Jo Carroll

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Not everything we write is wonderful.
There, I've said it. And I think it's particularly relevant for memoir writers - including travel writers. So I'm going to give myself a bit of a kicking here, but hopefully some of it will echo in your chambers too.
There are many who can write beautiful sentences. The basis of our craft is sentences. We can perfect our grammar and absorb the thesaurus and create images that leave a reader bewildered by our erudition.
Yes, but is it interesting? I could describe, in glorious detail, my hotel room in Killarney (I've just got back from Ireland) but I won't because - let's be honest - who the hell cares? It was clean and comfortable, and there were no rats or cockroaches (very relevant given some of the places I visit), so what more do you need to know; I ate great food (Irish cuisine has improved hugely in recent years) and drool over the Guinness (oh the Guinness) but my readers - if any have stuck through this ugly, convolute…

Lev Butts' Top Ten (Part I)

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Recently I found myself tagged in one of those Facebook chain posts that make the rounds every few hours or so. You know those posts: Somebody tags you and you have to post a status that says exactly how you met or you have to tag the first five people on your friends list and they are your survival team when the zombies attack during a nuclear war caused by an asteroid crash or if you're tagged you have to post the answer to some kind of secret question and when you do the answer seems some how dirty ("I like it hot and steamy in the morning on the porch." Secret question: How, when, and where do you like to drink tea?).

Anyway, I usually try to avoid these things unless I'm bored or grading papers, but this one I liked. 
So much, in fact that I didn't do it. 
It was too good a challenge to waste on Facebook, so I decided to do it here instead:
List ten books (or series) that have stayed with you throughout your life.
I am assuming by "stayed" they mean…

Does it pay to advertise? by Ali Bacon

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Well does it? Until recently I hadn’t even considered it.  When A Kettle of Fish was published in late 2012, I already had a healthy online presence. Using my ‘platform’ to sell my wares, I could also call in online favours to shout about my new e-book without spending a penny. But two years on, while reluctant to conjure up images of deceased equines, that’s pretty much what I feel I’m dealing with. Surely my online audience and real-time contacts have by now either bought it or decided against?  Yes, I think it’s time to find a new audience by doing some advertising. Will it pay? Maybe I should have consulted my blogging associates first, but having woken up one day with a sudden desire to go for it, here’s what I’ve done so far.
The first thing I considered was a listing with one of the increasing number of e-book marketing services. With these your book is  emailed out to readers who have usually indicated a genre or set of genres that interest them. To test the waters, I signed up…

Of Birds and Butterflies, Books and Differences! - Pauline Chandler

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Do you love birds? I wouldn't have one as a pet in a cage, but I love to see them in the garden, especially finches. They're like bright little jewels.


Recently, I was struck by how different birds pick out different foods. Usually we fill up the feeders with sunflower hearts, to the delight of the finches. Then, one morning, we put out a pile of stale bread, pulled into chunks. The finches weren’t the least bit interested, but a great flock of jackdaws came down and took the bread away, every last scrap, within a couple of minutes, like pro burglars on an easy-peasy heist, in and out, roundabout, thank you very much. They left a most confused squirrel, frozen, beneath the bird table, eyes lifted to the skies and a speech bubble issuing from its mouth: ‘Wha.at? Wha.at? Wha.at sort of a cheese sandwich was that?’ (Love that ad!)







Did you know that butterfly larva eat their own special plants? No, neither did I, until I read about it in the paper this week. 

For instance, 




It’s all v…