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Showing posts from June, 2015

Where are the Asian novelists and poets? By Leela Soma

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Salman Rushdie is the winner of the Best of Booker Prize for his Midnight’s Children. But how many Asian writers are recognised, encouraged in the UK? How many parents or young people see it as a career choice? Drama, dance, music, and the other arts have made great strides in being inclusive and Asians contribute and participate in these categories as they rightfully should. When it comes to writing, there seems to be a dearth of books by Asians especially in novels and poetry. Not even Asian magazines feature any articles on writing as a career for Asians. Why is this?
We can’t blame the publishing industry alone. Though one of the reasons given by many is that Asian books are not ‘commercial enough’ to invest in! There is a need to get many writers to participate in every town and city that they live in. Whenever I go to book launches, book festivals I see very few Asians participating in it. Literature is an important aspect of society that we cannot ignore. It is our stories and p…

Magic on a Monday N M Browne

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I want to talk about magic. I’m not personally particularly magical: my wishes rarely come true, I have yet to discover the secret of eternal youth and I can’t fly though I have always really, really wanted to and I lack even the most elementary skills of turning raw ingredients into delicious and nutritious feast for the senses.Even with all these inadequacies, howeverI am proud to stand up and boast my credentials as a somewhat inept practitioner of fundamental magics, the simple fireside spell casting of the story teller. There is something arcane, mystical and almost supernatural about the telepathic power of text.The way in which through story we can live a million lives in a million different places: the ideas we have in our heads, the worlds we dream of and the invisible people we talk to as we go about our daily business are conveyed through the magical medium of words from our brains to those of our readers. Its not telepathy -it’s better than telepathy because we get rid of …

POPPIES, ALLIUMS, REVIEWS and ROBOTS

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In my front garden, the poppies have suddenly performed their annual magic - and what a performance it is. On one occasion, David and I stood, like kids, for ages, watching the buds all fat and pregnant with the blossom to come, to see if we could capture the precise moment it happened (and no, cameras are not the same as human eyes), but we never did.  It felt like a stage magician's trick - pulling, no, !exploding! stuff out of a hat.

Yet another small garden miracle happened recently. Three years ago, we planted two spectacular alliums (well, we believed the pictures in the garden centre). In their first year, they produced masses of rather floppy green leaves, and in the second, likewise, but this year in Spring a single stem began growing out of the limp salad mess, and I didn't even notice it until it was tall enough to produce a round, fat bud, out of which came this star-burst. David, with his passion for all things astronomical, would have loved it.

And concerning other…

That Splinter of Ice in the Heart of Every Writer -Andrew Crofts

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Living, as I do, in one of the safest and most prosperous islands in the world, and being part of a comfortable and loving family, it is easy to forget or to remain ignorant of the depths of hellishness that man is capable of inflicting on his fellow man, and frequently does. The collapse of the communist Eastern Bloc at the end of the eighties released a hurricane of shocking and fascinating human interest stories, carried back to the West by people who needed the help of ghostwriters to tell them.


When Romanian President, Nicolae Ceausescu, was toppled from power and executed in 1989 his country was released from a quarter of a century of oppression. What horrified the outside world the most, however, was what was discovered inside the walls of the “orphanages for the irrecuperable” which littered the country. Thousands of children who had been deemed to be of no use to Romania, or who had been “inconvenient” births, were found locked up in these asylums, tied up in cots, starved, …

You've Got Mail by Ruby Barnes

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I get mail. A lot of mail. Every day. I ask for it. In total I am subscribed to twenty-five (yes, 25) daily e-book mail lists. In addition, I'm also subscribed to a similar number, no, let's say maybe fifty author and publisher mail lists from which I receive maybe two or three e-mails a day. I like getting e-mails. However, I don't buy a lot of e-books, maybe one or two a month. But there is method in my madness. I'm studying mail lists.

Yesterday I was reading a thread in the Writers' Cafe on kboards.com and the topic was Veterans, share your pro-tips! What's something you wish you'd known sooner? This topic or similar comes up frequently in on-line self-published author communities. A lot of great advice can be gleaned by mining these threads, with the caveat that your mileage may vary i.e. all things don't work equally well for everyone. One perennial gem in such threads is build your mailing list. As soon as you get into this self-published or mi…

Hot trod! - by Susan Price

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Twenty years ago - yes, it was twenty years ago, though it doesn't seem possible - I went on holiday in Northumberland, walked along Hadrian's Wall and bought MacDonald Fraser's book, The Steel Bonnets, about the riding families, or reivers, of the Scottish Borders.
     As a result, I wrote The Sterkarm Handshake - which tells how a 21st Century multi-national company, FUP, develops a time-machine, and travels back 500 years, to the early 16th Century, in order to exploit the fossil fuels. They intend to bring the coal, oil and gas back through the time tube to their own time, and sell it at huge profit.
      They come into conflict with the natives, the Sterkarm family. Windsor, the 21st Century executive,  makes the mistake of dismissing them as 'peasants armed with sticks.' The 'sticks' are longbows and eight-foot lances and the Sterkarms - shrewd, quick and bolshy to the bone - make him regret his words.
       The book did very well, in the UK and US, …

Conversations with the weather - Jo Carroll

It's sunny as I write this. I can hear my neighbour cutting her grass. Bees hover on the rosemary by my window. All I want to do, if I'm honest, is to finish this and get out there. To sit in a shady corner with a book and allow the afternoon to pass me by.

I recognise that I have an ongoing conversation with the weather. It's not simply that I'm British and we can be obsessed by it. It's that the weather can shape my day. Cold has me huddled indoors, hands curled around a mug of hot tea. The rain - especially if it comes with days of endless grey - leaves me struggling to find the motivation to do anything. Wind - ask any teacher of five-year-olds how she copes with children on a windy day. I know just how those children feel - wind seems to blow through my head leaving me reeling from one idea to another without managing to grasp any of them.

I know myself well enough to recognise that there are days when I need to go with the flow of the weather, and others when…

Where Dreams Come From by Lev Butts

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If I had to guess, I would say that the most common question an author gets asked is "Where do you get your ideas from?" This question is also, coincidentally, the most impossible to answer.

It's a question that almost every author from John Irving to Stephen King, from Neil Gaiman to me dreads. And it is the most understandable question. Think about it. How often have you watched a movie or television show or read a book or comic or play and thought, "That story story seemed so simple and clear. I could write something like that if only I had that idea first. How can I have that idea first?"

The thing is, though, that we can't share where our ideas come from any more than we can teach someone to have a sense of humor. Sure I can tell you that the idea for Guns of the Waste Land came from reading an article about heroes in American fiction in which the author said the cowboy was America's answer to the knight, but that is hardly helpful, is it? I mean,

Lights, camera, fiction. Ali Bacon thinks about taking to the stage

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Something I touched on in a very ancient blog post and am now thinking about a lot more, is that all writing is a performance, because like all artistic endeavours it assumes an audience, an audience whose expectations may be satisfied, disappointed, exceeded, subverted, but always taken into account. (Even if writing is therapeutic or introspective, i.e. the audience is the writer her/himself, that audience still needs satisfaction.) But this isn’t about philosophy or therapy. It’s about the writer as a performer, as in on stage. I could include Youtube and audio tapes but I’m thinking of  those times when as authors we’re asked to stand up in public and read our own words. 
I admit I used to hate it, not because it involved ‘public speaking’ - I was always fine with giving talks and presentations in work situations –but reading my own work felt like presenting myself , my creations, my inner world – which sent me in to an unusually shrinking violet state of mind.  Not surprisingly my…