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Showing posts from December, 2014

New Beginnings from an Old Story - Guest Post by Pippa Goodhart

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It’s New Year’s Eve, so a moment to consider casting out the old and bringing in the new. But is casting out of the old really necessary to the creation of something new? I’ve just made a new start with something old, and that something is a story called Ginny’s Egg.

I have had over ninety children’s stories published in the traditional way over the last twenty years, but I’m brand new to self-publishing. I’ve just created my first Kindle ebook: Ginny’s Egg. Ginny’s Egg was originally published by Mammoth (later Egmont), got shortlisted for Young Telegraph Book of the Year and sold well.

It was reissued with a new cover some years later, kept in print for a good number of years, but finally went out of print about twelve years ago.

So why, out of all my now out of print books, was Ginny’s Egg the one I’m trying as an ebook before any other? Because it’s a story that is close to my heart, and because it is the book that made me into a ‘real’ writer in my own mind.

I’d been a b…

Two Writers, One Story - co-authoring a book by Susanne O'Leary

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I have, with my co-writer Pete Morin, just published Full Irish, a political suspense story set in Boston and Ireland.

This is my second co-written project, my first being the two Virtual books that I wrote with my fellow Swede, Ola Zaltin.

I never thought I'd do this again, as I'm quite happy writing my romantic fiction stories all on my own. Writing the Virtual books was fun and very educational, as my then co-writer was not a novelist but a scriptwriter of Wallander fame. Our working method was not easy but Ola Zaltin was forced, because of his own commitments, to let me take complete control during the first draft and then he just sketched in his own take. His knowledge of Swedish criminal procedures was invaluable, and also his superb plotting skills. But I did the whole story arc, the characters, dialogue and the settings. The result was unusual to say the least. But it was hard work and, although the two novels were well received, we didn't feel we could repeat the …

Making a New Year's exhibition by N M Browne

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So as the fridge slowly empties of cling-film covered leftovers stored on ever smaller  plates, the Christmas tree sheds pine needles onto the carpet in ever increasing quantities and the waistband on my jeans grows ever tighter, thoughts inevitably turn to the New Year and resolutions. These  cold turkey-filled twixmas days  are a good time for indigestion and introspection, not to mention chocolate comas, Netflix binges and that ever popular, post gift-giving game of ‘hunt the receipt.’
          I am a fan of new resolutions. ‘Drink less wine’ is always up there along with ‘write every day’ and ‘keep on top of the laundry pile'. Such resolutions are always doomed, but  last New Year was a little different. For a start my whole family were in Australia visiting my sister. Nothing is quite the same when it’s 40 degrees at Christmas, not even resolutions. Sunshine changes everything and in a spirit of sun-drenched optimism rather than the more  usual chilly self loathing,…

Metamorphoses, Elephant Boys and the Cosmos by Enid Richemont

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This is a disturbing image of a boy turning into an elephant (or can it be an elephant turning into a boy?) Possibly worse is the person who is clearly turning into a giraffe, and even more worrying, the caterpillar man, but these are classifed images, and not for the consumption of delicate souls like you.

Strange, top-secret experiments are taking place in Cornwall this Christmas and New Year, and I would advise anyone considering going there, especially with young children, to stay well away. However, if you're still prepared to take the risk, visit Miracle Theatre's pantomime this year - it will not disappoint (it never does).

The mask and the backdrop are both designed by our daughter, and just to remind you that dubious shape-changing might well run in my family genes, here is my most recent book. THE NIGHT OF THE WERE BOY, in which a cat is transformed, by the full moon, into that most odious of creatures, a SMALL BOY (SO embarrassing for an elegant feline equipped with a…

Thoughts on the Vlogging of Zoella - Andrew Crofts

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This was the month of Zoella the Vlogger, (that’s “video-blogger”, for those who haven’t been following the story.) For reasons too complicated to be bothered with, I was aware of this book’s approach before the full page article in the Sunday Times explained that it was the fastest selling new release from a debut author since the beginning of time. The article was a sort of expose, telling shocked readers that Miss Sugg, (Zoella’s wonderfully Dickensian real name), had had the help of a ghostwriter to pen her debut novel, “Girl Online.” A languidly affronted Will Self was quoted as saying that he did not regard Zoella as a writer “in the sense that I’d regard Marcel Proust or Franz Kafka as one.”
The following morning my in-box was filled with requests from eminent journalists asking if I had any thoughts on the whole shocking scandal. Always eager for a bit of free publicity I stared hard, (it has also of course been a triumphant month for that greatest of all starers, Paddington…

Oh, Those Russians! by Ruby Barnes #ASMSG

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The Chernobyl disaster of 26 April 1986 is imprinted on the memory of everyone who lived through that time and continues to be known as one of the World's worst nuclear accidents. The Cold War had long threatened the planet with a nuclear cataclysm but Chernobyl surprised and appalled the population of Earth.

An author with a knack for prophesy had written a novel based around a nuclear power accident in Russia several months before the Chernobyl disaster occurred. Farewell to Russia by Richard Hugo (a.k.a. Jim Williams) described a technically very different scenario to Chernobyl, with an even more disastrous potential outcome. But the point Williams made was poignant:

"...there remains a fundamental similarity in that both disasters have their origins in the way that the communist system operated. The Soviet Union was a rickety slovenly place behind its sinister façade and the circumstances of the imaginary disaster at Sokolskoye and the real disaster at Chernobyl stand as a …

Big Fat Lies - a review, by Susan Price

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It's Christmas Day, so I don't suppose anyone is reading this post. Which means I won't be accused of  killing the joy.
          On the other hand, Christmas is a traditional time for telling creepy stories - and I am here to make your flesh creep.
'Big Fat Lies - How the Diet Industry Makes You Sick, Fat and Poor' is by an Australian lawyer, David Gillespie. He was fat, and he wanted to be thinner, but found, like so many of us, that diets don't work. So he started researching the subject.
          As he says, he may not be a doctor or nutritionist, but what lawyers are really good at is following the evidence - which he presents in Big Fat Lies.
          The ghastly monsters which emerge from fridge and pantry, to gibber, mop and mow, are Sugar, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, and Polyunsaturated Fats, aka 'vegetable oils' - though as Gillespie points out, they aren't vegetable oils at all, but seed oils.
The tale that Gillespie uncovers about sugar and …

One Christmas in Pokhara - Jo Carroll

‘Merry Crishmus.’ The text was from my guide, reminding me I’d agreed to be up early to go hiking today. Pokhara was twinkling but I did not look back as Tika led me through the city and across a suspension bridge into the foothills of the Himalaya. I puffed up, with boots and walking pole, as two women in flip-flops came down with oranges for the market. Would I like to buy some? Of course. Less than a mile later we met a friend of Tika’s who took us to his house. His tree was laden with oranges – we must eat some. But we could not linger long, as his aunt expected us for lunch. High in the mountains there is little choice and we ate traditional a Nepali meal of rice, spinach and lentil dhal. At least she has a biogas stove and no longer has to collect wood from the forest for cooking. And her tree was laden with oranges; she picked some just for us. On the way home we paused by a small temple, gazed across the valley to the mountains, stark and beautiful. The birds sang; the air was sw…

Lev Butts Top Ten (Part IV)

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The hits keep coming and we're counting them down!

For those of you just joining us, this all started when a friend and former student challenged me to a Facebook status game where I was asked to list the top ten books or series that have "stayed with me" (whatever that means). I took it to mean the books that have meant the most to me. Since a simple list with no explanations seems boring, and since I am essentially lazy and am always looking for ways to spread my Authors Electric posts out, I decided to take them two-by-two and month by month:

Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.
Part 3 can be found here.

4. The Parsival Series by Richard Monaco If you've been following my posts from the get-go, you all know that Richard Monaco is the writer who has had the most influence on me.

I've spoken elsewhere about how I came to meet Monaco and how he came to be one of the most important writing mentors I've had, so here I want to talk about his book …

Clarity, All Is Clarity, by Ali Bacon

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I’m afraid I’m not talking turkey gravy here, just another writerly conundrum. Do you ‘flatter your reader’ by letting them work out what’s going on, or just lay it on the line, loud and clear?

This balancing act came to mind during the recently concluded TV drama The Missing,  a gut-wrenching tale about the abduction of a five-year-old child and his father’s insistence on following up new clues eight years later when everyone thinks he should move on. I’m not questioning the characterisation, the acting or even the labyrinthine plot, only the problem of keeping track of what was going on in a narrative that jumped backwards and forwards in time right up until the final denouement. At first we were told this with useful captions ‘present day’ or ‘eight years earlier’ but after a couple of episodes we were left to work it out. 
Well that was fine up to a point, but because the locations and characters were the same in each time frame, some close observation was required:– what colour is …

Aah, it’s Christmas – Seasonal Ramblings from Pauline Chandler

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It’s an odd thing that we change so much as we grow older. Odd, but exciting. It’s not just our bodies and faces that change, it’s our opinions, too, isn’t it? And our habits, long ingrained, that give way to new ones. Even if you never move house, if you stay in the place where you were born for the whole of your life, you change. Life is movement. Families alter, like the patterns in a kaleidoscope. Our children leave home, make their own families, change the pattern, yet we stay bound together, the colours repeating themselves in different ways.


Years ago when my boys were young, I drove myself mad at Christmas, crossing every t,dotting every i, ticking every box, following like a brainless sheep – baaaa! - every idea thrown at me from tv or magazines, to create the perfect day.