Showing posts from October, 2017

In Which Debbie Young Breaks the Habit of a Lifetime

Seasonal reads by Debbie Young - some novels, some short stories, but all good fun One of the many reasons I love writing contemporary fiction is that it means I don't have to bother much with research. In this respect, I'm in good company, because as my friend T E Shepherd , who writes compelling magical realism novels, told me over the weekend, Philip Pullman says: One of the pleasures of writing fiction is that you can sit at your desk and just make up what you are too lazy to go and find out. This is especially true for me because my current series of cosy mystery novels is set in a little Cotswold village much like the one I've lived in for over a quarter of a century. During that time, I've been a member of countless clubs, served on various committees, founded an annual fun run and a literary festival, and volunteered in the village community shop. There's not much about daily life in Cotswold villages that has passed me by. Having fun in H

Books That Go Bump in the Night

Ghosts Electric Ghosts, ghouls and other supernatural entities can appear in many shapes and guises but they never come just for fun ... They usually appear at this time of year, though... Ghost stories have been firm favourites ever since humans first gathered around a fire to listen to the storyteller weave his magic: the supernatural world which lies just beyond ours was a very real and ever-present part of the lives of our ancestors -- and who is to say things have changed since then?  Welcome to the world of the weird and wonderful: here you will find tales to thrill and to terrify, to bemuse, bewitch and mystify and above all to make you wonder 'What if...? Could it be ...?' Twenty one offerings from the top writers of Authors Electric. But if ghost stories aren't your thing... With a flash of the pen we introduce One More Flash in the Pen , a collection of short stories by the Authors Electric Collective. One More Flash

First thoughts on editing: N M Browne

I want to write about editing but I don’t know where to start - no I mean, really. I make a start and then I decide that I have begun in the wrong tense and in the wrong place and I quietly delete the line. Again. And this is the problem with editing - once you really get into it. Unless you have written a perfect sentence, rejigging is kind of de rigueur: all writing is re writing. And thank you Mr Hemingway.   I was happier before I knew that. In pre computer days I only ever wrote anything once - in long-hand with a limited number of crossings out. It never occurred to me to do anything else. The first time someone suggested I edit my initial perfectly adequate words I was nonplussed: whatever for? Now, well   everything is up for grabs all the time. Every word, sentence, paragraph, chapter is up for reconsideration and re envisioning, reworking and revising. It is exhausting. I hate editing - there I’ve said it. I hate having to rethink. Thinking once is bad enough, thinki

Haydn Middleton, Dickens, Deathdays and cats, by Enid Richemont.

The Finnish edition of my book - "THE NIGHT OF THE WERE BOY" came out earlier this year, but I've only just received the physical copy. It's a very funny story, based on a cat who's affected by the full moon to change into something else - in this case, a boy, than which nothing, in the moggie's interpretation, coud be lower. I mean, no TAIL? No WHISKERS? No FUR? Also a creature which pees INDOORS (disgusting!) and which has to put on scratchy and uncomfortable CLOTHES before it can present itself to the world. I mean, UGH!   I knew that my publisher had sold the Finnish rights to the book much earlier this year, but I didn't receive a copy, so I agitated, because Finnish is such an extraordinary language. I finally discovered this edition via Goodreads, where it showed up, unexpectedly as "KISSAPOJAN YO" which I initially thought might be pornographic (these things can, and do, happen) but no, it was, indeed my book. I'm still struggling

A Love Letter to London - Andrew Crofts

I never really wanted to leave London once I got there, but I guess everyone has to grow up and buy a house and a washing machine some time. I’d been living in the city for more than a dozen years and had ended up renting a flat beside the river in Chiswick, the waters at high tide lapping just metres from the window where I stationed myself and my typewriter every day. The flat was in the home of an elderly widow whose husband had been curator of antiques at the Victoria and Albert Museum and one of whose sons was a Cabinet Minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government. Our flat had once been the family’s “nursery wing” and the surrounding house was a wonderland of cobwebs and curiosities. I would quite happily have sat there, watching the waters flow by, for the rest of my life. Our landlady, however, turned out to be mortal and passed away after we had been there five years. The family needed to sell the elegant old house to someone who would then brush away the cobw

Barefoot Poetry at a Balinese Monastery ~ Dipika Mukherjee

By the time I reached Bali on October 22nd, I was mentally and physically drained.  I had been travelling and been out of my home in Chicago for over two months, and although I was to deliver a keynote at the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Annual Conference in two days, I hadn’t written anything at all in months. My keynote, titled Contests and Prizes: The Advantage of the (Global) Asian Writer , was becoming impossible to write. I felt the imposter syndrome growing toxic in my brain. Despite being surrounded by the beauty of Bali, I was unable to relax. There were a Ganesha at every turn – the APWT conference was hosted by the   Ganesha University of Education  and there was a beautiful Ganesha right outside my hotel door – but it seemed clear that the God of Scribes and Beginnings was concerned with weightier matters than my silly writerly angst. The Asia Pacific Writers and Translators community has been in existence for 10 years now, and this was my third APWT

Come With Us to Bremen! - Susan Price

PriceClan has been quiet for a while. But we've been working. Above is the first page of our 'Bremen Town Musicians.' It's not quite true to say I wrote the text and Andrew did the pictures. Andrew wrote some of the text and although I didn't actually pick up the e-brush, (I wouldn't have been allowed) I had a lot of influence over the illustrations. Below is one of my favourite panels. It's where the (almost) always cheerful donkey first gets the idea of going to Bremen. So off he goes to Bremen. On the way he meets three more abandoned, homeless animals: a dog, a cat and a cockerel. All are lamenting their sad fates but Donkey cheers them up by persuading them all to go to Bremen with him and form a band: "We'll be a duo! - We'll be a trio! - We can be a quartet!" With new purpose and full of hope, off they all go to Bremen. Andrew came up with the idea of the little shuttered windows at the corners of the pages - &quo

The #metoo phenomenon, and how do we begin to write about it? - Jo Carroll

I don’t have an answer. But anyone glancing at social media during this past few weeks can’t have missed the sheer numbers posting under the #metoo hashtag - each one disclosing how she, too, has experienced sexual harassment or assault. I don’t know any women who are surprised by the numbers. It’s just something we’ve lived with for decades and felt ashamed to speak about.  But no longer. So what are the implications for us as writers? This experience is clearly ubiquitous and yet I can’t think of any novel that includes an acknowledgement that everyday harassment is just something we’ve learned to live with. There are, of course, films and novels that look at rape. I have a problem with rape being seen as a subject for entertainment - I recall seeing Sleeping with the Enemy, many years ago, and cringing when the assault lasted for hours and then the woman spent most of the rest of the film terrified that the man would find her, and all that happened to him was a quick g

Things to Understand on Being Accepted for Publication by Lev Butts

Almost three years ago, I wrote a post on when self-publishing might be inappropriate . In it, I discussed a recent project, a critical edition of H. P. Lovecraft's work, that had been passed over for publication by a university press and my reasons for not self-publishing it. Since that post, two of my fiction works, Guns of the Waste Land I & II , have been picked up by traditional (though small and independent) publishers and been released professionally. My collection of short stories remains self-published but continues to receive good reviews. But for the longest time, my Lovecraft book has remained in acceptance limbo. That is, until last year, when McFarland accepted my manuscript for publication. Yesterday, as I was surfing the digital aisles of Amazon, I stumbled across this offering . It was the first I have heard of an actual publication date and a nice start to my birthday weekend. It's been a long journey to get this book to publication, but I have l

How long is a novel? Ali Bacon looks at the changing shape - and size - of some favourite reads

How long does a novel have to be to be worthy of the name? With In the Blink of an Eye currently coming in at around 60,000 words, i.e. somewhere short of the regulation 70 – 90,000, I’m developing an awareness of the size of books I’m picking up to read. Compact but totally satisfying On my recent trip to Fife , bereft of a car and encumbered with hand-luggage I became doubly aware of the volume of my volumes. In Toppings of St Andrews, I turned down the new Arundhati Roy precisely because it was massive and looked around for something more compact. Elizabeth Strout's   My Name is Lucy Barton with its 190 pages of well-spaced type and lots of good reviews, fitted the bill exactly. Later (yes, bit of a book-buying spree) I added Ali Smith’s Autumn – chunkier but still nicely manageable. Come to think of it, I had really enjoyed her Hotel World , and although I read it as an e-book, that one struck me as a fairly slim volume too. Back home and picking something at ran

NOT a celebrity author - Katherine Roberts

There has been much media attention lately devoted to celebrities publishing children's books. In many cases they're writing them, too - after all, children's books are short and simple and therefore quick to write, aren't they? (Children's authors: don't answer that!) Many of these celebrity titles are, of course, perfectly decent books loved by their young readers and, more importantly for their publishers, they sell in squillions... at least compared to a perfectly decent book by your average non-celebrity author. In fact, ever since Madonna successfully published  English Roses,  publishing a children's book with your name on the cover seems to have become an important addition to the celebrity bucket list, along with camping out in a jungle on TV so you can scream "Get me outta here!" or appearing on Strictly Come Dancing. No problem, you might think. Just because you're a celebrity doesn't mean you're banned from writing a bo