Showing posts from June, 2017

You Couldn't Make It Up...

If you go down to the woods today... When I started writing my new series, the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries , and set myself the ambitious target of publishing a cycle of seven novels over two years, I had no idea how much I would come to enjoy escaping into its fictitious Cotswold village of Wendlebury Barrow. Having now drafted the first three in the series -  Best Murder in Show   was published in April,   Trick or Murder? will launch in August, and Murder in the Manger will be my 2017 Christmas special (no surprises there) -   I feel as if the characters are old friends. I feel entirely at home with them. My second home... That shouldn't really come as a surprise, because in real life, I've  resided in the small Cotswold village of Hawkesbury Upton for over a quarter of a century.  Both the fictitious and the real village are safe, fun but eccentric places to live . Frequently heard in response to Hawkesbury Upton events is the phrase "You couldn&#

The present is another country: N M Browne

I am currently working on an historical novel set in England in the mid sixth century. I have written historical novels before - sort of. My Warriors series: Warriors of Alavna, Warriors of Camlann, Warriors of Ethandun’ and the stand alone ‘Wolfblood,’ were all set between the first and ninth centuries. I have always done my research  but, as these books have always included fantastical elements, my brain has allowed me a little wriggle room with the facts. I still angsted over the kind of sword that would have been available to my protagonists but permitted magic, and metamorphosis and, yep, I admit it, I’ve made a lot of things up.  This time it is different. This is history not fantasy and I am in dire need of magic. This England is  a muddled kind of period, or at least I’m muddled about it.     It has been enormously helpful to hear Hilary Mantel reflect on the writing of history in her Reith Lectures. They are brilliant if you haven’t caught them yet.  She points out 

Cow in a Tree, Malign Inanimate Objects and Heligoland. - Enid Richemont

To counteract the horrors in London news over the last few weeks, I have been unashamedly posting my own local London image. In my suburban street there's a cow stuck in a tree, and she seems quite happy up there, semi-floating against a hot blue sky, although she clearly disliked being photographed because she kept bouncing. I wonder what the birds will make of her? With those slightly aggressive, horizontal udders, maybe she's begging to be milked? Maybe someone could send up an inflatable milkmaid with a bucket? I'm feeling that this is going to be a rather silly blog - put it down to the heatwave we're currently experiencing, or to the fact that I write picture book texts as well as more serious stuff. Take the story I picked up on Facebook today, about the misfortunes of a colleague, one of whose Birkenstocks went solo walkabout just as she was getting off a train, forcing her to limp with one bare foot through the ticket office. This confirms my long-held the

Using Reviews as Promotional Tools - Andrew Crofts

Faithful followers of Electric Authors may remember that I talked a year or two ago about my novella “Secrets of the Italian Gardener”.  To recap; I launched it on Amazon through their White Glove service, with the help of United Agents. That sold a good few copies via Kindle and print-on-demand - and garnered some good Amazon reviews. I then produced a hardback edition through Red Door Publishing, with the aim of getting non-Amazon reviews, with the help of Midas PR. When Red Door suggested that the time might be right for a paperback, I realised that we had managed to collect quite a few good endorsements from these previous two incarnations and it might indeed be worth producing something for the bookshops. Red Door commissioned a redesign of the cover and we included flaps back and front so that we could smother them with lavish third-party praise and on July 4 th the paperback will be making its way out into the world, supported by PR from Bookollectiv

Reinventing the Book Review in the Age of YouTube, by Dipika Mukherjee

On most days I know how lucky I am to work with words everyday, and in doing so, meet some of the most creative minds of the world. On other days I think I should be coding alone in a basement so that I can be paid without ever making a public appearance again. Don’t get me wrong...I teach and write, so I am quite comfortable pontificating in front of large (captive) audiences. The problem starts when I am being recorded doing so. As I write about Asia, and Asian audiences are right at the forefront of embracing our digitally visual world, I am finding it hard to avoid YouTube. I can, of course, always decline being videotaped, but I find myself more and more on camera, whether it is my publicist wanting a YouTube video, or a radio station in Chicago telling me that folks are much more likely to click on a YouTube link than an audio podcast (and then taping a  Part I and Part 2 !)  So I found myself at Star Malaysia’s TV studio in Kuala Lumpur in May; not only had they

Moniack Mhor by Susan Price

Early this month I spent almost a week at Moniack Mhor. (The 'Mhor' part means 'big' but I'm unable to find out what 'Moniack' means.) The week was a Society of Authors 'retreat' organised by my friend and tireless ball of energy, Linda Strachan , who is always organising retreats and conferences and what-not while we beg her to pause for a moment and take a deep breath. The place is near Inverness and not that easy to find if you've just driven for eight hours from the West Midlands and got lost because your sat-nav died. They tried to guide me in by phone but by that time my brain was scrambled and they had to sent out a rescue party to guide me in. It was not the first time, they said. I was happy anyway. The countryside I got lost in was some of the most beautiful I'd seen for a long time. Above is the view from my little bed/writing room. The camera never captures the chromium yellow intensity of the bonny broom which bl

Keep calm and carry on writing? I wish. by Jo Carroll

We live in dangerous times. Not that you need telling - unless you’ve decided that the news is just too terrible to watch any more. I know someone who rations her news-watching to once a day, as she finds it too distressing. I get that - if we allow ourselves to think about the full horror of everything that is going on (not just here in the west but all over the world) we can easily by paralysed by it. But where does that leave us as writers? I present this as a dilemma - I have no solutions. For if we are going to write about the fires and the terrorist attacks and the political shenanigans and the civil wars and floods and droughts … where do we begin? Is it possible to write about all this in a way that is new, and different, and enables the reader to think about things differently? Are there any new words for horror, or trauma, or tragedy? Is it possible to tell the story of one man or woman in the middle of all this and let that stand for all the others - when each stor

The mystery of language: Ali Bacon is disconsolate when words fail her on a trip abroad

The  lovely port of Santander, so much better than a bank Last week on a trip to Cantabria, we visited the museum of Altamira  where a startling range of Neolithic cave paintings were discovered in the nineteenth century, dating from somewhere around 20,000 to 14,000 BCE. Yes – they are roughly 16,000 years old.   In the ‘new’ (replica) cave, visitors can watch reconstructions of daily life  and observe the tools and skills these people are thought to have used in the stone age. But the projected display had no sound-track, and the same thought occurred to myself and a fellow tourist – how did they speak? What language did they have? Language and communication were in fact pressing concerns on this trip. I used to consider myself a bit of a linguist but it appears I came to Spain and Spanish too late in life to ever feel comfortable with it and have to fall back on a dumb tourist act to get through any holiday, something that grieves me for the duration but which I always

Midsummer 99p Kindle sale - Katherine Roberts

Forgive me, but it's far too hot down here on the beach to write a long blog post. So here's a little Devonshire ditty (please excuse the accent), followed by a few 99p treats for your summer holiday Kindle... enjoy! There was a young author from Totnes Who wrote a book about a quest. It went out of print When her publisher was skint, Which saddened our Devonshire authoress. Along came a site called Amazon, Champions of digital fiction. E-book or paperback, No title do they lack By authors whose books sell for a song. Now readers worldwide can rejoice Because there's never been so much choice. Many ebooks are free Or ninety-nine pee*, Why not download one this Summer Solst(o)ice? ~~~ You'll be relieved to hear Katherine Roberts does not make her living as a poet. She writes fantasy and historical fiction for young readers with a focus on legend and myth, and historical fiction with a touch of romance for older readers under

The power of words by Sandra Horn

The power of words, eh? I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately, partly because of Jo Bell’s ’52 poems’ challenge (I promise to stop banging on about it in about six months). There’s been a lot of struggling to find the most precise and satisfying way to express my response to each challenge – first things, weather, a celebration, a letter, a famous person, and so on. I was moderately happy as I wrote each one, but looking back over them has put a big dent in that. I am managing to say what I want to, but it doesn’t come near the poetry I admire. If poets are born and not made, I’m genetically deficient, but as I’m pig-headed (unofficial motto of Sussex: I wunt be druv) and I also believe that working at something can (sometimes) overcome such deficiency, I plough on. My ‘famous person’ is Nelson Mandela and I’m writing about ballroom dancing on Robben Island, which is an image I’ve always found inspirational. It’s coming slowly! Another recent effort, ‘a letter’   was to Alice