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Showing posts from 2015

A Day Like Any Other - Guest Post by Jan Edwards

January 1st is a day like any other. Many of us like to celebrate the new year in grand style with parties and nights on the town. ‘Seeing in the new year’ has never been a family tradition for me. My father always maintained that ‘it would still be there in the morning what ever you do’ and he was right of course. Yet I still like to see the year out and in, toasting new ideas with those closest to my heart.
Today I received a copy of SPARKS 2: A Year in E-Publishing , the Authors Electric book of blogs for 2015.  I also had a payment for a story about to be published in January and I had a meeting with fellow writer Misha Herwin to map out our plans for 2016 projects. Projects such as 6X6 - a series of quarterly reading cafes to be held at Central Library, Hanley, Stoke on Trent, and also the launch of our respective new titles with Penkhull Press. We have collections and novels already in proof stage and ready to launch in the spring, so 2016 is already busy before it has even arr…

Rewriting from the Inside Out - Guest Post by Rosalie Warren

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Many years ago, when the world was new and I was an enthusiastic young (actually, not so young) PhD student, my assistant supervisor read a draft chapter of my thesis and advised me to ‘rewrite it from the inside out’.

I had no idea what she meant and I still have no idea, or not much of one. She might have been looking for a simple reordering of the contents of the chapter. But even that would have been next-to-impossible, given my time constraints and the fact that the chapter contained a lot of technical stuff (things in boxes – you really, really do not want to know). I decided to ignore her advice, hoping she wouldn’t notice. Fortunately, she never did, or if she did, she didn’t let on. I think, like me, she had probably had more than enough of those boxes.
Anyway, the years went by, as they do, and after a stint in academia which included supervising other people’s theses (though I never, I’m proud to say, told anyone to rewrite anything from the inside out), I ended up as an …

Ghost Writers: N M Browne

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Today, the day of this post, is my father’s birthday. He would have been eighty three but unfortunately died at fifty seven, not much older than me. I mention it, because his birthday is an annual reminder of what I’ve lost but also how lucky I was to have him at all. Along with my mother, he made me feel that I could do anything I wanted to, long before the idea of following your dream became a staple of Saturday night TV. He died before I’d published anything, but without him I would never have written a word of fiction. He was a painter and so I grew up in a house in which the importance of creativity was a given; the arts were important and to participate in them a privilege. I think that concept is rarer now than it was. Our dead are always with us. I see his echo in my children, a look in the eye, a tilt of the head, the way they, like him, drink from a beer glass tucked against their chests. Years on, I still glimpse him occasionally out of the corner of my eye walking along the…

Two Christmas/New Year Freebies, Terrorism, and a Lovely Dog

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I hope, as well, that we all have a saner New Year - saner, because our 2015 world seems to have gone completely off the rails (and lovely Hattie, on the right, agrees with me. Her little world consists of cocktails of smells, chasing things, and the occasional treat - like a stick to destroy, or a carrot to munch - no oil, guns or money - MUCH nicer than ours).

Since I last blogged on this site, a great deal has happened in the world, and most of it unpleasant. There were the atrocious attacks on people in Paris - most of the victims young, and with their whole lives ahead of them - and now we are, it seems, at war against the people who planned this. I, like most of us, had mixed feelings about bombing Raqqa, the apparent 'Head of the Snake', but on the whole, I simply couldn't see how doing it would resolve anything. The best suggestion I've seen online has been to turn the whole area into a no-fly zone, which would curb the…

The Guilty Pleasure of Burning Books - Andrew Crofts

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“Do we need to keep all those editions of every book you’ve ever written?” my wife enquired as we stood together in the cellar staring at the pile of satisfyingly tightly sealed plastic crates that she had packed the books in some years before to protect them from possible damp-attack – and to clear a few shelves upstairs. “I could really use those boxes.”
“Chuck out books?” I asked, horrified. I mean, that’s my life’s work sealed away in there.
“Think you could sell them?” she asked. “Or give them away?”
A bit rude, I thought.
“I mean,” she snapped open a lid and passed me a book, “do you even know what language that is?”
I opened the book in the hope that I would spot the name of a city or something that would give me a clue. It all looked a bit Eastern European, but I couldn’t be sure which bit.
“Could be Romanian,” I ventured.
“Do we know any Romanians who could confirm that? There’s the Hungarian au pair next door, or the Polish family down at the farm. Do you want to offer them…

Can a Man Write from a Woman's Point of View? by Ruby Barnes

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Write what you know is the maxim often bandied about at workshops for wannabe best-selling authors. Read in the genre that you want to write. Write in the genre that you read. Base your fiction upon your knowledge and experience.

If - IF - we accept that premise then can a man write successfully from a female point of view, and vice versa? The answer, of course, is yes. But only if that author can immerse himself in the character and speak convincingly on their behalf.

Shameless plug time:


 It's easy to be shameless when what you're plugging is actually someone else's work. The Demented Lady Detectives' Club by Jim Williams is a cozy mystery written from a female point of view. To pull off something like this needs a lifetime's experience of the fairer sex and Jim, in all fairness, is as old as Methuselah so if anyone can do it he's the man.

I have nothing else to add except the description of the book.

In the pretty Devonshire town of Dartcross an elderly lady d…

Ghost Song Covers - by Susan Price

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A very happy Christmas Day to all our readers!

And a Prosperous New Year to come! 
Here's what I've been working on, in the run-up to Christmas...




This is what I've been slaving over a graphics programme to produce. A new cover for Ghost Song.
          The blurb on the back reads:
At white midnight, in the endless midsummer of the far North, Kuzma the bear-shaman demands a new-born baby boy from his father, the slave and hunter, Malyuta.
     Steadfastly, throughout the long summer night, Malyuta refuses.
     The powerful shaman, thwarted, leaves at last.
     Malyuta names his adored son 'Ambrosi' or 'Immortal.' But, as Ambrosi grows, the villagers begin to fear him.
     The bear-shaman still walks in Ambrosi's dreams and still calls him...            The old cover looked like this:-


          I've changed the font, and the text colour. I've added a text-box to contain the blurb, and 'screamer lines' for the back.
          I uploaded it to Cr…

The joy of celebrations ... Jo Carroll

Only the super-organised, the serious prevaricator, or those spending the festivities alone will have time to read much today. And so I'm offering nothing more than a passing thought for anyone who might drop by here.

For none of us can escape the reality that the western world is shutting down for a few days. The razzmatazz of shopping and visits to Santa will die down and we have time to eat and drink and play with those we love. Sometimes, as we settle to our feasting, we can almost believe that this is the most important festival in the world.

But hold on a minute. What about Diwali? What about Ramadan and Eid? What about Hanukkah?

All over the world, we celebrate by eating together. We tell different stories, have different gods, but we all find reasons, regularly, to spend festive time with those we love, and to share food.

Those stories, those gods - they help us to make sense of ourselves and why we are here, and why we need each other. They seek to explain the creation, e…

Lev Butts' Comic Countdown Part III

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If you've been following my posts for the last few months, you know that I am now embarked on another countdown. This time we're counting down the five best metafictional comics. These are comics that in some way deal directly with the art of writing.

Before we move on with the countdown, though, I thought I'd like to take a minute to explain the highly scientific method I employed to arrive at this list.
First, I approached a trained team of comic book scholars . . .
. . . and asked them for recommendations.

From this list, I eliminated the titles that were not applicable to my purpose (or that I had not read and were too long to skim over). I then chose the five titles that best fit my description of metafictional (in other words, the ones that I liked best). Finally, I presented my team of experts with my list and asked their opinions, eliminating any opinion contrary to mine.


Now, on with the countdown:
We've already discussed Dave Sim's Cerebus and Alan Moore&…

Deck the Halls by Wendy H. Jones

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I am sure the whole world knows that Christmas is upon us. Everyone is chasing their tails trying to get ready for the big day, or two days if you celebrate on boxing day as well. I am no different to anyone else. My days have been filled with present buying, card writing, turkey buying, and a search for all the endless trimmings that go with a turkey dinner. What's this got to do with writing I hear you ask. Bear with me, I'm getting there. I have the added joy of being an author. This means that my Christmas has been full of book signings as well as all the usual parties and frivolities. Okay, my book signings are full of frivolity as well. I'll give you that. 
The title of my post is Deck the Halls. Well it's not quite deck the halls today, but certainly dressing me. I have appeared in a number of guises throughout the festive period. In the photo above I was signing books at a local shopping centre. The picture above is me dressed as a smiling santa, complete with…

Stephen King says... don't be scared of Genghis Khan, Katherine Roberts.

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Ever since discovering a copy of Stephen King's On Writing in my goodie bag at a British Fantasy Convention way back in the 1990s, I've admired the man for his no-nonsense approach to writing. I'm not especially a horror fan - those familiar with my work will know I'm more into fantasy and legends with a bit of science fiction mixed in. But I enjoyed the screen adaptations of King's books, such as writer's nightmare Misery, where the author of a popular series finds himself incapacitated at the mercy of his No. 1 fan, who forces him to write another book in that series. Having someone smash your ankles with a sledgehammer must concentrate the mind, I suppose, and makes me wonder how autobiographical that book was when he wrote it. After all, Stephen King's No 1 tip in his tips for writers published recently in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/30/ten-things-i-learned-about-writing-from-stephen-king is "Write whatever the hell you …

In celebration of the dark by Sandra Horn

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Christmas Memories

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Christmas Day will be here in less than a week. The street decorations have been lit for the past month. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. The retail stores are counting their footfall and profits, and wondering whether there will be a last minute rush. Children are writing their Santa letters, and parents are ignoring their ever increasing credit card spending.
Am I the only one who wonders, in the midst of this spending frenzy, where the magic has gone, the simple pleasures, and the enjoyment of what was once a religious festival.
Memory Lane is sometimes a place it’s better not to visit. Everything in the past wasn’t perfect, and life for many has improved substantially, but in the process maybe we have become more disillusioned and less satisfied with the simple pleasures of the past.
However, the temptation to wander through Christmases past is beckoning. There were no expensive presents left in the stocking I pinned up every year when I was a young child. But the…

Dear Santa ... by Catherine Czerkawska

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Dear Santa, please could you send me a time machine, Doctor optional, although David Tennant would be a nice addition. He could pilot it for me.
I want to go back to 1950s Leeds. Just for a little while. Oh, and I want to be a child again, so that I don't find it too much of a shock. But with just enough adult hindsight to be able to observe with a certain amount of clarity. And take notes. 
Tall order, I know.
The alternative, as I've discovered, may be a magical website called Leodis, which is one of the old names for the city. You can visit it here. I first discovered this wonderful site when my cousin sent me a link to it, and I must confess that back when I was working as a writing fellow for the Royal Literary Fund, I browsed it in between appointments whenever my students were late. It was ideal for filling in the odd five or ten minutes of free time, easy to click on a few photographs and just as easy to click off them again. Now I've been spending whole evenings,…