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Showing posts from March, 2016

Pictures Within Words - Guest Post by JS Watts

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I’m delighted to be writing a guest post for this wonderfully electrifying blog. I’ve been told I can write about anything I like, so long as it has something to do with writing. I’ve therefore decided to write about art, the pictorial kind.
No, I’m not being contrary or awkward, honest. The pictures I’m going to talk about are those that feature directly in my writing, primarily my poetry and one of my novels, A Darker Moon(which is available in all the usual electronic formats, so it is appropriate for this blog).
I am not a painter myself. The nearest I come to creating visual pictures is via photography (feel free to check out my photoblog if you are interested in the photographic images I create), but visual art is important to me, so I guess it’s not surprising that it features so frequently in my writing. As to why it’s important, I believe it has as much to do with childhood memories and experiences, as any deep-rooted psychological drivers (which I shall most definitely NOT be …

The Book that wasn't Written by Zombies: N M Browne

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I am a bit ashamed to admit that I am rubbish at quite a lot of things related to book production: I am not as good as I should be at punctuation and my typing is truly shocking so that, in spite of all the advantages of self publishing, I have always been a bit lazy and tried to get someone else to deal with my weaknesses. Every book I have published has had mistakes – a character called Ruby morphed into Roberta in the space of a paragraph in one novel, but generally good editing has saved me for looking like an ignorant, illiterate ignoramus more times than I can say. However, I recently sent a book out to a couple of small presses and was slightly perturbed by the result. Now, I don’t actually mind a book being rejected – or rather after I have stomped around the house, kicking my non existent cat and swearing at my existent husband – I accept that my writing is not for everyone. I have never sold in the kind of quantities that will make a publisher rich beyond the dreams of even …

ISSUE-LED BOOKS, STARING BEARS and TOO MUCH BOOZE

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First of all, a funny little success story which began several years ago via a venture called UTales, now sadly (or maybe not sadly) no more.  The idea was to pair picture book authors (one of my several writing identities) with illustrators. Well, I'd once dreamed up a surreal and funny little book about a small boy who would eat nothing but chips, and in these days of healthy eating and five-a-day veggies, it did seem like a goer, but it had had no takers, so I thought - why not give it a try? I teamed myself up with an illustrator called Duncan Beedie, still at the beginning of his career, so in the course of our many online discussions, I also offered him some advice (I am old and well-seasoned in this difficult profession).

Fast forward to the present. Duncan and I had almost, but not quite, lost touch (when David died, he was hugely sympathetic). Suddenly, hey! He'd written and illustrated his own picture book: THE BEAR WHO STARED, and got it accepted by Templar, so sent …

A Million Books in an African Warehouse - Andrew Crofts

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“You must fly down for the launch of the book,” the Minister boomed, “I insist. The President will be there. It will be a great day. There will be food and speeches. I will make all the arrangements for you.”
There was no arguing with him, and I didn’t really want to anyway. Most clients don’t even admit that they’ve used a ghostwriter; they certainly don’t want to invite him or her half way across the world to the launch party. In most cases they don’t even let the ghost know that there is going to be a party. Once the book is written and delivered the ghost normally slinks back into the shadows and moves on to the next project, allowing the client to bask in the glory of being a published author. The Minister, however, was a man who enjoyed the limelight so much he wanted to share it with the whole world, which was one of the reasons he was such an endearing man.
His extremely efficient assistant made the arrangements through the embassy in London and a business class ticket was de…

I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again by Ruby Barnes

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Since last month's blog post I haven't written a thing. The priorities have been elsewhere - reading the unpublished manuscript of a colleague and getting beaten up at karate. The manuscript reading went well and more will follow from Marble City Publishing on that account later this year. As for the karate beatings, that's the subject of this post.

Our club, Evolution Martial Arts Academy in Kilkenny, competes in a variety of competitions. We do all kinds of stuff, ranging from traditional karate to demonstrations that are best described as a series of stunts you might see in a martial arts film. We also do creative forms, with or without weapons, to pieces of music that we choose ourselves. Another category we compete in is sparring, or fighting, and that's where the oldest ninja in town (yours truly) wheels himself out to do battle.



Over the past two or three years I've been making sporadic appearances at a quarterly tournament up in Dublin. The category I comp…

Scrabbling Brains Alive! - by Susan Price

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My partner keeps his brain alive - his expression - by playing Scrabble.
     He's only been playing the game for about a year, but he took to it ferociously and now plays every chance he gets. He even plays against himself.
      He joined his local U3A and their unsuspecting Scrabble-arm made him welcome - since then he's beaten them all, even their best player, monotonously, like gongs. And by 'beaten', I mean by over 300 points.
     In self-defense, they brought in rules such as: No cheating by using the official Scrabble dictionary instead of an old Concise Collins without a cover, published in the 1940s. And then: No looking things up in dictionaries.
     It did them no good. He's simply memorised all the allowable two and three letter words, and all the allowable words containing 'U', such as:
usufruct: the right to enjoy the use of another's property, so long as it's not damaged or destroyed, and uraeus: the emblem of power, in the form of a ser…

Finding the story, Jo Carroll

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I'm back from my travels. And I know that some people will be waiting for me to write about the mountains and jungles of Ecuador, and the astonishing islands of the Galapagos. After all, that's what I do, isn't it - go walkabout and then come home to write a book.
If only it were that easy. But 'woman has wonderful time in Ecuador' isn't a story. I can flesh that out a bit - 'woman stays in a lodge in the jungle, climbs a volcano, stays in an old city or two, potters round a market, flops about on a beach and then spends a week on a boat in the Galapagos' isn't really a story. Indeed, I can feel you glazing over as you trawl down that list and then you'll see my point. It's not that hard to write about what I did. But finding a thread that holds it together in a narrative that takes it beyond a written version of your neighbours' holiday snaps, that's the hard bit.
I did meet some interesting people, so that helps. And I had the odd…