Showing posts from July, 2016

15 and Not Out - Guest Post by Conrad Jones

I am Conrad Jones a 50-year-old Author, originally from a sleepy green-belt called Tarbock Green, which is situated on the outskirts of Liverpool. I spent a number of years living in Holyhead, Anglesey, which I class as my home, before starting a career as a trainee manager with McDonalds Restaurants in 1989. I worked in management at McDonalds Restaurants Ltd from 1989-2002, working my way up to Business Consultant (area manager) working in the corporate and franchised departments. On March 20th 1993 I was managing the Restaurant in Warrington’s Bridge St when two Irish Republican Army bombs exploded directly outside the store, resulting in the death of two young boys and many casualties. Along with hundreds of other people there that day, I was deeply affected by the attack, which led to a long-term interest in the motivation and mind set of criminal gangs. I began to read anything crime related that I could get my hands on. I link this experience with the desire to w

Leader of the Pack by Bill Kirton

I’ve had a career-change idea. If I’m honest, I want something which doesn’t involve that strange concept of a work ethic. I’m not looking, either, for a luxury yacht, a Monte Carlo pad (do people still say ‘pad’?) or a cellar full of Château Pétrus. And, despite my unflagging egocentricity, I want to keep my carbon footprint as small as possible. So I think I need to become a guru. It’s nice having followers on Facebook, Twitter and blogs but it’s no substitute for followers in the flesh who’d come to my hut to ask for guidance, waft about singing ethereal songs, making Peace signs and, basically, worshipping me. Or not even that. They can worship someone else if they like. The only problem with that is, if I’m their guru, then it’s up to me to tell them whom or what to worship, and I don’t want to create a religion. All I want is a little sect. (Ah, think of the gags I could have written if, grammatically, it had been legitimate to make that noun plural.) So, how do I

How Not to Write a Novel: N M Browne

Every serious writer is a master of procrastination. I am sure that, if you are reading this, you are  already on track. However, if you are running out of ideas, I would like to share with you my top procrastination tips. I can guarantee that if you follow these, you will never finish a novel again. 1.      Make a ‘to do’ list. If you think list-making helps avoid procrastination, you are doing it wrong.     There is only one possible pad you can use for list making and only one pen. You keep them in any one of several places about the house. To find them you will have to clean your office/workspace, reorganise your bedside cabinet and clear all kitchen surfaces. Clearing kitchen surfaces necessitates making room in your cupboards. Your pen is obviously a cartridge pen which takes only one (obscure) brand of cartridges which are rarely in stock anywhere, necessitating several hours online and/or a shopping expedition.      Once you have the correct pen and pad for list-ma

Interesting Words, Horror, and Pipeline Theatre, by Enid Richemont

Recently I was given this delightful book by my daughter who thought (quite rightly) that it would amuse me. LOST IN TRANSLATION, by Ella Frances Sanders, is a collection of single words  describing mostly, but not always, familiar situations for which, in English, we'd use several. There is, for example: MURR-MA, from an almost extinct Australian language, which means searching for things under water with your feet.      There is the lovely-sounding TIAM, in Farsi, meaning the twinkle in your eyes when you meet someone special, and on the downside: KUMMERSPECK, in German, which literally translates as 'grief-bacon', meaning the excess weight gained by emotional over-eating. The illustrations are fun, too - do check it out. For authors specialising in crime and horror,how are you responding to recent global events which seem to surpass anything dreamed up in a novel? Which of us, writing futuristic fantasy twenty or so years ago, would have invented a lethal and brut

Playing Literary Games - Andrew Crofts

Like many writers I am not a natural games player; firstly because I have terrible trouble remembering the rules to anything and secondly because I seldom care whether I win or not, which rather removes the fun for those with competitive urges that need scratching. When I received an email out of the blue, however, asking if I would like to take part in a literary panel game called “Ex Libris” which would be recorded in front of a live audience at Blackwells in Oxford and then put out as a pod-cast, my interest was piqued. Ex Libris was invented by Oxford Games who also invented, among many others, Jenga, and has been available as a board game for some time. Quite why it hasn’t yet been snapped up by Radio 4 I can’t imagine. Anyhow, the BBC’s loss is Blackwells’ gain. The rules are simple. There are four contestants. One reads out a book title and author, with a very short plot synopsis. It could be anything from Blyton to Byron, Wodehouse to Wordsworth, Henry James to

Recognising a Diamond in the Rough by Sensei Ruby Barnes

A few weeks ago I attended a session at the Irish Writers' Centre in Dublin (many thanks to Valerie Ryan for organising) with some of my writing colleagues from our Kilkenny writers' group. We spent several fascinating hours in the company of acclaimed novelist Mia Gallagher who kindly shared her knowledge of writing and editing, and the varying experiences of being published by large (Penguin) and small (Little Island) publishing houses. Mia herself offers editing services and was able to clearly articulate both sides of the author / editor equation. We listened, asked questions and made the occasional furtive attempt to grasp the elusive goal of writing a manuscript that agents and publishers will want . Or, as was freely admitted for those who might dare to venture into the modern world of self-publishing, the goal of writing a novel that readers will want to read . I felt confused for the first hour or so as my feeble brain struggled with which hat to wear. As an &quo

Flashing Pens - by Susan Price

Another Flash in the Pen I know it's not the done thing to favourably review a book in which you yourself have a story. It's understandably seen as biased. Well, I would say it's good, wouldn't I?           So I wasn't planning to review Another Flash in the Pen here. I reckoned I would post the fact of its existence on Facebook and then keep schtum.           And, to be brutally honest, I had muted expectations.           I like short stories. I've read lots of anthologies and what I've come to expect is a few stand-out pieces studding a book full of perfectly good but underwhelming stories. Or, perhaps, stories that would be stand-out pieces for someone else but just don't do it for me.           That's what I expected from Another Flash in the Pen and, had it been so, I would simply have kept quiet.           What I actually found was a book full of stories that I tore through, enjoying each and everyone. I found I was looking forward

What do you look for in a travel book? - Jo Carroll

What do you look for in a travel book? One of the most memorable pieces of advice I was ever given was 'don't write about things people can see on the telly'. And so I have never written about hearing Rigoletto at the Sydney Opera House as both can be found online without too much difficulty (even though it was wonderful). That mentor also told me make sure I involved my own experience - which meant writing about things I hadn't told my daughters about. I'll never forget steeling myself to tell them about the man with a gun in Lucknow. But my last trip took me to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. I spent a few days deep in the upper Amazon basin, where caimans hide in the shallows and tarantulas creep up the hut walls. Google any nature site and it's easy to see pictures of the Amazon (though they can't capture that wet mud smell, nor the wake-up call of the howler monkeys). I took a road trip through the mountains, where the ground trembles for so

Make Good Bad Guys by Lev Butts

Characters are the soul of fiction. They are the first movers of story. Imagine any story you've ever read, then take out the characters. What you have left is essentially a lunatic's National Geographic article: a description of a fantastic landscape or a discussion of a particular group or species daily habits. Without characters, The Hobbit , for instance, would read something like this: Chapter 1: Hobbits live relatively peaceful lives, reside in modestly decorated holes in hills, and like to eat. Like a lot. They have seven meals a day, and do not like to be surpised by unexpected visitors. Chapter 2: Trolls will eat anything and turn to stone in the sunlight. Chapter 3: Elves are wise, and kind of pompous assholes. Chapter 4: Goblins are just assholes. Chapter 5: Caves are dark and scary, and sometimes people lose jewelry there. Chapter 6: Wolves and Goblins are friends and often team up to terrorize villages, but giant eagles will sometimes put a sto

Feelings not facts - from novel to short story, by Ali Bacon

Since my recent post which touched on the early photographs of Hill and Adamson , I’ve not only paid a flying visit to St Andrews (my old university town and always a good place to go) but also been invited to read a selection of my historical fiction at the St Andrews Photography Festival . This is a huge thrill for me and has given me the nice job of making sure that by the time of my event on Sept 9 th . I've assembled the right words in exactly the right order.  Reading Silver Harvest in April at  Stroud Short Stories I’m planning to read five or six pieces which have already been written in one form or other, but I don’t want to read for more than 10 minutes at a time  - i.e. 1500 words max - and although the pieces are linked in theme, I would like each one to stand alone.  Looking at my raw material, only Silver Harvest fits the bill exactly. The others are either too long or, on closer inspection, betray their origins as fragments of a novel. ‘Repurposing’ th

Taking your Kindle to the Beach? - Katherine Roberts

It’s the holiday season! Long summer days, schools are out or almost out, and if you're like me you’re probably thinking about a beach somewhere ... I’m lucky in that I live about ten minutes' walk from one of the best sandcastle beaches in the country (according to an experiment carried out by the BBC a few years ago). Above is Preston beach - the one with all the beach huts in the English Riviera resort of Torbay. The red colour of the sand comes from the local sandstone cliffs. You can get here by train on the intercity to Plymouth, which runs along the coast from Exeter via. the recently repaired sea wall at Dawlish. Hop on to the branch line at Newton Abbot, and you'll end up at Paignton, where you can either walk past all the bucket-and-spade shops and casinos to the beach, or board the steam train to continue at a more leisurely fashion down the line to Kingswear and from there via the passenger ferry to the Naval port of Dartmouth. Travel by steam