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Showing posts from January, 2016

Where is the Line Between Reality and Imagination? Guest Post by MA Demers

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While writing my first novel, Baby Jane, which is set in Vancouver, Canada, I wanted to restrict my main male protagonist to a single detective, Dylan Lewis. In Vancouver, though, homicide detectives work in pairs, and thus I contrived to have Dylan’s partner, Tom Farrow, off on holiday for the whole book. So you can imagine my surprise when, only 48 pages in, I found my imaginary medical examiner asking Dylan, “When’s Tom back?” “Sunday,” Dylan replies.
Huh?
Tom Farrow did indeed return on Sunday, and became one of my favourite characters in the book.  Question is, why did he come back, and uninvited no less? Was it just my creative subconscious realizing I needed another foil for Dylan? Or was this something more intriguing: that Tom existed in another, perhaps parallel, universe, and I had merely tapped into his existence?
Many moons ago, in university, I studied comparative religions and was intrigued to learn that the monotone beat of shamanic drumming induces the brain to produce t…

The Weird : N M Browne

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I was a weird kid, well weird for Nelson where I went to school. I was terrible at sport, obsessed with books and reading, wouldn't wear make up and thought there was something wrong with girls who covered their rough books with pictures of David Cassidy and Donny Osmond. Luckily back then school finished at sixteen and I was able to go to sixth form college. I was still weird, but it mattered less. I fell in love with my subjects, and with a few boys, started wearing (rather a lot of) make up and was angst ridden, academically ambitious but essentially happy.
 I bother you with all this because yesterday I made the four and half hour train journey that took me back to my old sixth form college and thirty seven years back in time.
As soon as I got off the train I smelled it: a tang of something in the damp northern air, the scent of my past. I marched up the road in the wind and rain, head down and someone said' All right love?' and I was - extremely all right: you can ta…

Lizzie Lizard, Little Owl Press, Pipeline theatre, Bach and Tolstoy (grandiose or what?)

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Coming out in March is another of my little books written for Franklin Watts' Early Readers. This one, in response to their brief for stories about animals practising Olympic-type sports, features Lizzie Lizard who's being wooed and pursued by a number of beasties whose intentions are far from honourable! As with a couple of my other books, the illustrator is Inna Chernyak from the Ukraine - a country I'd prefer to associate with artists, poets, writers, dancers, music and songs - all the really important things in life - than with any kind of armed conflict. Speaking of the important things in life, do pay a visit to Little Owl Press - an Iranian publishing house based in London which specialises in the re-telling of Persian fairytales. Predictably, the illustrations are gorgeous.

At the other end of the writing spectrum is an adult novel, COUNTERPOINT, which I'm currently editing and re-structuring. It's a novel I wrote twenty-five years ago, on a typewriter (reme…

On Behalf of My Client - Andrew Crofts

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“She said what?” my wife’s tone of voice managed to convey both her contempt for the woman I was describing and her astonishment at my naiveté for swallowing her line. Her fork had come to a halt half way to her mouth as she peered down the table at me, obviously awaiting some sort of satisfactory response.
As so often happens I had been talking without fully engaging my brain, expounding my client’s theories on why she was performing a social service by sleeping with other people’s husbands. My wife’s tone had woken me fully and I sensed danger. I paused and struggled to replay whatever I had just said in my head. The words, which just an hour or two before I had been typing out with fluent conviction, suddenly had a rather hollow ring to them.
I cleared my throat and tried putting my client’s point of view a little differently. My wife listened like a High Court judge might listen to a lawyer pleading for a client with a hopeless case, but her expression did not lighten.
“And you …

You Have Thirty Minutes to Evacuate by Ruby Barnes

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In half an hour you and your family will have to leave your home, probably forever. What are you going to take with you? The good news is you have your car, truck or whatever you normally drive. One vehicle containing your family and the essentials of your life. If you only ride a bike then hitch a lift

Oh, I forgot to mention that this is not a holiday. You are fleeing certain death, or worse, at the hands of an evil horde of hungry undead and venomous mutants. The good news is that you and your pals stopped off at the shops on the way home and essential food and drink items are already taken care of.

So, I packed all my DIY tools, including the brand new ones I have never used but keep because they will come in handy some day. As Mrs R was busy being a mad scientist out at the laboratory, I was free to load all our clothes into the pickup without having to check what would be suitable for which occasion. My son, being a boy scout, had the forethought to grab our sleeping bags and a …

The Dragon Like Yoda Talks - Not! - by Susan Price

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Here I go again, doing what I'm told you absolutely should not do -
that is, talking back to your critics.
I did it here, when people said my villain in the Sterkarm books, James Windsor, was not believable - and now I'm going to defend my poetry-loving dragon in Foiling The Dragon.

I recently put Foiling The Dragon. out as a paperback and e-book. It is, as the strapline informs you, 'A light-hearted fantasy of poets, sorceresses, dragons — and wrapping paper.' It's not epic fantasy. It's meant to amuse for a few hours, and maybe make you smile.

On Amazon it's collected some positive reviews. J. Mathews says,
 'I enjoyed this book as a child, and have just read it again. I found it equally enjoyable.'Thank you, J. Mathews. I don't know who you are, but I greatly appreciate your taking the time and trouble to post a positive review.

D. Lamb says:
Drily funny reversal of the usual medieval fantasy stereotypes... Anti-hero, anti-king and even a bit …

Some darlings matter more than others.

I've just escaped from the Ecuadorian jungle. I say 'escaped' as it makes it all sound more adventurous. In fact I was with an organised tour - but it was still something of an expedition: a flight from Quito, bus ride, then two hours in a fast boat down the Napo river, and then a walk (over an hour) through the jungle to the lodge. Not a trip for the faint-hearted. (It is possible, when water levels are higher, to get there by canoe down small creeks and waterways.)

I was in the upper Amazon basin. And the diversity, of plant, tree, bird, insect and mammal life is astonishing - and precious. We saw giant otters - so rare they are listed as endangered. We saw monkeys and turtles and caiman. We saw frogs and beetles and spiders (including a tarantula).

And - deep underneath all this wonderfulness - is oil. The oil companies are circling. Just one road into the jungle, they say (with its truck and belching diesel). Just a few wells (with homes for the workers, and machinery,…

Lev Butts' Comic Countdown Part III 1/2

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We are almost finished with this year's countdownof thetop fivemetafictional comics. I'd like to take a moment to thank a couple of folks without whom this list could not have been written. Consider it the obligatory long distance dedication.

My D&D Group

It may come as somewhat of a surprise to you all, but I am indeed kind of a nerd. I've been playing tabletop RPGs since the mid-1990's when the owner of the restaurant I worked at told me he ran a game on Sunday nights, and I wondered if experimenting with live-action story-telling would help my writing (SPOILER ALERT: Kind of).

My boss, Bunch, ran the game from his living room in a house that was slowly being reclaimed by earth elementals.

It was here, on Bunch's book shelf, that I first saw the Cerebus telephone books. And it was here that I once found myself spending several hours with nothing to do but read them after my character stumbled over a doorstep, and I horribly fumbled my saving throw, causing hi…

Joy to the world: Ali Bacon looks at the problems of merging fact and fiction

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When my friend muddled the cinema times and we failed to make The Danish Girl, I wasn’t too disappointed because we plumped for Joy instead. I'd heard good reports of it and was interested to see what Jennifer Lawrence (known to me only through Hunger Games ) would make of the role of a beleaguered mother with an entrepreneurial streak. In the end I did enjoy the film but in some respects was disappointed. The opening depended too much on clips from a TV soap opera  to set out the theme of ‘strong woman’. Nor did I feel we needed so much back story of how Joy met her live-in ex and the previous run-ins with her father and half-sister. But then I never was keen on back-story-dump, however engaging the back story might be. As soon as Joy invented her miracle mop, the pace picked up and the plot had its own momentum, but there were still sticking points for me  - what did the grandmother add apart from a voice-over? (No I don’t like voice-overs either!) and motifs from Joy's ea…

When a good friend dies - Katherine Roberts

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A good friend died just before Christmas. She was about 10 years older than me but still too young. She had cancer but it was still a shock. In the summer when I went back to Wales to see her, she seemed quite well. She had completed a course of chemotherapy and was walking 15 miles a day, writing and keeping up with her various social activities and her family. Now she is gone, and I will never again walk with her along the banks of the River Wye discussing books and publishing and putting the world to rights.



Before she died, Sue self-published a book set in the near future in the Welsh border country where she lived. She'd been writing it for several years but kept quiet about the story, most of our discussions being about how she might find a publisher. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she decided she couldn't wait any longer for publishers to say 'yes' and took the book to a local printer. After her death, her daughter kindly sent me a copy.



Reading this book h…

Blogophilia by Sandra Horn

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Recycling: Increase your productivity

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How green are you? How much do you recycle? How many bins sit at your back door?
In this age of recycling so that we don’t all finish up living on rubbish tips, I bet you’ve become adept at separating your waste paper from your bottles and tins. And of course there’s that wee bin for your food waste.
But what else do you recycle?
Have you thought about those blog posts you write, and the articles you submit to various online and offline publications. How many of those do you recycle by changing a bit here and a bit there? And what about all that research you’ve painstakingly done for your latest article or blockbuster? Once the book is written where does all that information go? Does it nestle cosily in your hard drive for evermore, or maybe it winds up in the salvage you are commendably recycling in order to save the planet? Or do you use it to write articles and blog posts?

And then there is the plot we squeeze out of our brains – more painful than giving birth – to arrange lovingl…