Showing posts from October, 2015

Serendipity, Bernard Cornwell, and ‘Warrior King’ – by Sue Purkiss

I’m very fond of my book about Alfred the Great (and his daughter, Aethelflaed). There, I’ve admitted it. I always feel a bit guilty when children (or grown-ups, for that matter) ask which of my books is my favourite. As if you shouldn’t have favourites among your books, just as you shouldn’t have favourites among your children. But I think if I did have a favourite, Warrior King would be it. Why? I think it’s partly because I became so very intrigued by the character and achievements of this Dark Age king, who believed so strongly in the value of education and the arts; who had a vision of how to unite his people and make them safe; who, although he was, by all accounts, a sensitive soul who was not always in the best of health, still managed to defeat the Viking leader, Guthrum, against all the odds. And when he had Guthrum at his mercy, instead of simply killing him, he instead had him christened and made him his godson. Interesting, eh? Unlike a certain permatanned recent

From Teen to Mean ... Making the transition. A Guest Post by Caroline Akrill

Books by Caroline Akrill Whilst one’s own transition from teen to adult is usually comfortingly blurred, the transition from writing for the teenage fiction market to the general adult market is a definite step – in my case more of a stumble, because nobody realized what I was up to until it was too late, so secure had I appeared to be in my little niche.   I had produced nine books all aimed at the teen market, all in the horse and pony genre, and the eventing trilogy had exceeded all expectations – there was even a supermarket deal for 25,000 copies (for which I would receive a derisory 10p per copy, but I didn’t know that at the time) so everyone at Arlington Books was in celebratory mood, and Desmond had brought out the champagne, and when I enquired as to what I should write next (having hitherto never written anything not actually commissioned) they waved their arms airily and said ‘Write whatever you like.’  A casual, champagne-fuelled statement they would live to r

Staying Sane: N M Browne

Whenever I go on Facebook, which, because I am a procrastinating, distraction seeking excuse for a human being, is all too often, I come across something connecting writing with poor mental health. Back in  2012 the Karolinska institute found that writers had a higher risk of anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, substance abuse and schizophrenia. They or rather, we, are also twice as likely as the general population to kill ourselves. I’ve often wondered whether people with these disorders are drawn to writing as a way of dealing with their disorder or if writing itself produces it .I mean it can’t be that healthy sitting alone in a solipsistic universe, killing off characters and reopening old wounds or as Ernest Hemingway would have it, opening a vein and bleeding. The job itself, with its isolation, its constant rejections, obliges the writer to believe in their own talent in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Worse, we are constantly bombarded with the evidence of other

Nasturtiums, Caterpillars and Cornwall, by Enid Richemont

I was recently persuaded, by my daughter, to get myself a ticket, jump on a train, and leave next morning to visit her in Cornwall, which, to my own amazement, I did (travel-wise, I am usually not that spontaneous,  but the weather was lovely). That evening, she complained about her nasturtium invasion which happened when she was away in Edinburgh for a month, with a play in the Fringe. She'd planted herbs and a few vegetables earlier in the year, plus a few  nasturtiums, and expected to see them all thriving. Instead, she'd come home to this... That's her workshop in the background, to which there should be a path. She now has to navigate through the nasturtium jungle. Somewhere, down deep, are other plants struggling, and probably failing, to survive. We all know someone should get out there and hack, but she can't bear to, and neither could we, because, in October sunlight, the colours are stunning - the reds, golds and oranges splashed among those flat, waterlily

Does BookBub Sell Books? – Andrew Crofts

A couple of months ago I blogged about hiring Midas PR to garner a few reviews for my novella, “Secrets of the Italian Gardener”, concluding that the resulting reviews added a few more bricks to the wall of the book’s reputation, but were probably not going to result in many direct sales. The next thought was to use the reviews to convince BookBub that they should feature the book in their recommendations. My publisher – the utterly wonderful Clare Christian at RedDoor – made the approach to BookBub in September, but was turned down. In October she tried again, perseverance being the only weapon we authors and publishers ultimately have in our armoury, and they said okay. If we were willing to drop the price of the book to 99 pence in the UK , $1.50 in Canada and 65 rupees in India they would try it out in those three markets for a few days. For that they would charge US$90. On the first morning of the promotion the Canadian version went up from number 1,

Hallowe'en Thrills, Technological Spills by Mari Biella

Picture credit: laobc, via If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that it just doesn’t do to rely too much on technology. Just when you get to that point at which everything depends on a gadget, invention or app, what happens? Why, the blasted thing fails to work, of course! Our regular poster on the 26 th , Ruby Barnes, has very recently found this out to his cost. A combination of computer woes and travel plans have made it impossible for him to publish his regular post, so I’ve stepped in at the last minute. And, ironically enough, my replacement post will, after a fashion, concern technology. Two things have, of late, been taking up my meagre mental resources: firstly, the Authors Electric newsletter, of which I am the administrator; and secondly, my favourite festival, the fast-approaching Hallowe’en. I’m at that age where I should regard All Hallows’ Eve as a bit of fun for kids, but come this time of year I’m often to be found car

Visiting L-Space - by Susan Price

Terry Pratchett      Books bend space and time.  One reason the owners of those aforesaid little rambling, poky second-hand bookshops always seem slightly unearthly is that many of them really are , having strayed into this world after taking a wrong turning in their own bookshops in worlds where it is considered commendable business practice to wear carpet slippers all the time and open your shop only when you feel like it.  You stray into L-space at your peril.       Terry Pratchett. I'm a long-term fan of Terry Pratchett, and recently experienced the thrill of venturing into L-Space myself.       It happened because - as a wandering writer of rags and patches, who travels over hill and dale to earn a crust by speaking in schools and libraries - I recently stayed the night with Authors Electric’s Whippet-Queen, Karen Bush.      Karen is another long-time Pratchett fan, and told me that she could take me into L-Space - that is, to the second-hand book

Let's build a house! - Jo Carroll

What's house-building got to do with writing? Not a lot - at least not right now. I've other things on my mind. For I've just come back from Nepal and witnessed first hand some of the devastation of the earthquake. Too many families have spent the monsoon huddled under tin roofs. Too many schools are still in tents. The big charities are very active in the cities - the temporary shelters are fairly well organised in Kathmandu. But in the villages - often only reachable along narrow tracks - the story is very different. I met a family who were living in the ground floor of their home - the first floor had collapsed but they daren't move the rubble in case it all fell down. Others had homes which were cracked from top to bottom and faced months in tarpaulin shelters. It is easy to retreat into helplessness in the face of such need. We can't rebuild a city. We can't rebuild a town. Even a village is beyond us. But one house - we can rebuild one house. This