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Showing posts from May, 2015

The Perils and Pleasures of When Real and Imagined Characters Meet - Umberto Tosi

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I remember having a heated discussion – okay, argument – with my historian friend, Dino Moro Sanchez, in Los Angeles back in the 1980s about Peter Shaffer‘s play, Amadeus, which I had seen in New York not long before the Oscar-winning Miloš Forman film came out. My erudite friend was of the scholarly opinion that Shaffer had pandered shamelessly to popular myths about Mozart – to wit: that rival Antonio Salieri had something to do with Mozart’s untimely death, and that Mozart wrote his exquisite compositions off the top of his head, penned onto paper perfectly every time. Historians have debunked both of those clichés, of course.
Much as I favor historical accuracy, however, I disagreed with my friend on grounds of poetic license. Shaffer’s play wasn’t supposed to be biographical, I argued. It examined the nature of envy and hypocritical ambivalence about genius. Fictional works should never be confused with history, I pontificated. They need only illuminate deeper truths to be valid –…

Parta-a-a-a-ay! - Authors Electric

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It's time to partaaaay!

Well, perhaps not quite yet, but soon, so we're just getting ourselves in the mood.
Bercause this isn't any old party, this is the AE launch party for our forthcoming anthology. And because it is an e-book (although it will also be appearing as a physical version thanks to the heroic efforts and late night candle-burning of Susan Price) and we are Electric Authors, it will of course, be an online launch party. 

There's a lot to be said for the virtues of this - no need to find dog sitters (or for children either) while you are out. There is no driving there and back involved, so you can drink as much as you like - and no rushing to catch the last train either. No stress over what to wear (or wailing when you find your favourite outfit fits rather more snugly than the last time you donned it - or worse still, fails to fit at all). No one has to crawl out of bed at dawn the next day to tidy up the mess: in fact you can even attend the party from the …

The World Divides... N M Browne

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The world divides into people who divide the world into two divisions and those who don't. As I fall clumsily between two stools more often than not, I have rarely had time for such binary thinking. People seem to defy categorisation largely because we are so inconsistent, switching attributes according to circumstances, eluding definitions. On the other hand, I often say 'on the other hand' and regularly divide the future into two possible outcomes.  I have been know to mutter  ' It will either sell or it won't,' under my breath like a mantra, one which I find oddly reassuring. Similarly, ' the editor will either like it or she won't,' helps because it makes it sound as though both outcomes are equally likely at a time when I am full of the greatest doubts.
 I've always had the least patience with the idea that writers are either 'planners' or 'pantsters', which for those of you may not have heard it, divides the writing world …

Tiny Books, Wonder Books, and Anthologies, by Enid Richemont

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To my great shame, and my almost certain loss, I have never read Thomas Hardy, but yesterday, feeling low, I took myself off to see "FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD" at the Phoenix cinema in East Finchley. This proved to be one of the most visually stunning films I've ever seen, its images of the English landscape like a Nineteenth Century Book of Hours. The actual plot is extraordinary, with its peak moment coming about three-quarters of the way through (well that's my analysis, but others may differ).

I have often meant to draw a plot graph of books that impress me, as I'm sure many of you have. The (sadly, late) Ruth Rendell orchestrated plot lines like a symphony. I often likened her novels to music, and even painting - Paul Klee 'taking a line for a walk' springs to mind. Very recently, I've taken on a brief for fifty word stories aimed at four/five year olds -  the length of a medium-sized email (or, in musical terms, a VERY short exercise piece for …

Beta-Testing Books - Andrew Crofts

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One of the greatest by-products of the electronic publishing revolution is being able to keep developing and refining a book after its initial birth.
The traditional publishing business model loaded most of the pressure onto publication day, with a possible second chance of breathing marketing life into the project when the paperback came out a year later. If your book didn’t float on at least one of those launch days then it would almost certainly sink beneath the surface within a matter of weeks. Copies might possibly be washed up onto the shores of a few libraries and Oxfam shops over the coming years, and not much else unless it became caught up in a freak rights storm in Hollywood or as a foreign translation.
Now, however, we have more chances to get things right, more ways to keep a book alive while we try to work out the best way to alert potential readers to its existence and to tell them why they would enjoy it.
In other parts of the electronic jungle, such as on-line gamin…

What You Really, Really Want by Ruby Barnes

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So, tell me what you want, what you really, really want. As a reader of electric books and the like, what do you really, really want?

Why am I asking? Because me and my little publishing house, we give things away. Why would Marble City Publishing do that? To maximise readership for our authors and to reward readers for staying with us. This is nothing new, of course. Mail lists have been a mainstay of marketing ever since Baldrick started pushing Mrs Miggins' pies through letterboxes (ref. Blackadder for non-cognoscenti). Staying in touch with people is essential for a new book release.


The virtual cafés of the writing world are abuzz with methods to successfully build a mail list. Independent authors with prodigious output are presenting subscribers with such offerings as starter libraries of free novels. Phrases such as Reader Magnets abound. Online courses are being sold for hundreds of bucks to share the secret sauce of building an author's list. In this modern digital fr…

A Viking Voyages From CreateSpace to Kindle by Susan Price

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I've just published my book, The Saga of Aslak Slave-Born, simultaneously as an e-book with Kindle, and as a print-on-demand paperback with CreateSpace.
          The book's been published before. It was first commissioned by the British publisher A&C Black, as part of their Flashback series of historical novels for children. The brief was to write an entertaining, exciting story which would persuade young readers to turn the pages for its own sake - while, at the same time, giving as historically accurate a picture of life in the Viking Age as possible.
          I took this very seriously, and, despite carrying a load of stuff about the Viking Age around in my head - which is why I was commissioned - I dusted off my books, checked facts and did further research. I've added a historical note to this new, self-published edition, called 'How Much Is True?'
          I tried hard not to put anything in the book for which there wasn't evidence. So when Aslak buys…

On saying what we mean, even on Twitter. by Jo Carroll

I'm grumbling about sloppy language, again.

As writers we should be precise. We hone our sentences until each word says exactly what we need to to say, don't we? Or course we do.

But let's unpick this.

I'll play a game with you. Let's have a continuum, from a bit of a problem to disaster, looking something like this:

Bit of a problem<----------------------------------------------------->Disaster

Now, you've been out, having a lovely time, maybe a couple of glasses of wine, and you're looking forward to a cup of tea before crawling into bed - only to find that the washing machine has leaked, the kitchen is under water, and the cat has knocked one of your most precious books onto the floor and it is ruined. Where would you place this on the continuum, and what word might you use?

Again, you leave your bag on the bus. Not only does it contain your purse, house keys and phone, it also has your laptop containing the final draft of your manuscript. It is th…

Lev Butts Judges Books by Their Covers

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KI have never been a fan of the People of Walmart internet meme. It seems to me that much of it simply stuck-up jacktards making fun of poor people by taking snapshots of them at their most vulnerable: shopping at  America's #1 haven of low-priced, cheaply produced crap (Seriously, who isn't going to look like a sideshow freak when trying to shop with small children in tow?). It's a way for idiots to feel superior by laughing at other people just trying to get in, buy some batteries, groceries, and ammo, and get out. The message is clear: We are so much better than poor, uneducated people. Clearly the only people who shop at Wal-mart are these freaks and the rest of us taking pictures of them.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have come across several internet articlesshowcasing what is rapidly becomingthe publishing world's answer to these unfortuante sites. If you clicked on any of those links, I'm sure you picked on the unstated thesis of them as well: Self-publi…

A dream - or two - of Manderley, by Ali Bacon

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For the last few months I’ve been helping with a teenage book-club and the breadth of reading of these 12 – 14 year-olds is awe-inspiring. Pride and Prejudice and The Help get equal billing with comic books, Harry Potter and Maze Runners. What was I reading at that age? Apart from school Home Readers and a few children's classics, mostly the novels loved by my parents and already on our bookshelves at home. I mean authors like HowardSpring, Nevil Shute, Hammond Innes, Alistair McLean. 
This brought me to think about the lifespan of popular novels, books regarded as de rigeur by one generation and elevated to classics or simply neglected by the next. I mean is anyone still reading Rider-Haggard – adventure novels par excellence of my parents’ generation? Will The Thorn Birds, possibly the most popular novel of my twenties, still be around when my own copy has been consigned to the bin by grieving (I hope) offspring? Is there some characteristic other than literary excellence that gi…

'‘I Want to be Alone!’ - Pauline Chandler

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Are writers by nature anti-social? Is this why we write? 
This month, I was supposed to be blogging Part Two of my Spring Clean-Up post, with the focus of how edited my collection of fiction. We.ell, as so often happens with any type of cleaning in my house, I’ve started, so I’ll not finish. Tra la! My butterfly mind hops on to a different track. 
What interrupted my Clean-Up blog?  An interesting piece from the Huffington Post, about Introverts.
Now, I’m not a fan of labels for people, in any form.  We can only pin people down for a very short time. In the next moment we’re different. Influenced by something in our environment, we change our minds, we learn and grow, we evolve, as written in stone as blobs in a lava lamp.






Yet, this piece on Introverts really spoke to me, because I recognised myself and for the first time acknowledged my weirdness as perfectly normal. There, I've said it! I've come out! I'm an Introvert!  Finally. In my seventh decade. Better late than n…