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Showing posts from December, 2017

From Zero to Three Novels in 2017 - by Debbie Young, Author of the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries

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Writing on the penultimate day of 2017, I can't NOT think about where this year has taken me and what next year will bring. 

Don't worry - I'm not going to be banging on about New Years' Resolutions. I love new beginnings and seize every opportunity for one - new school terms (I have a school-age daughter), solstices, equinoxes, birthdays, etc. But I was cured of an addiction to Resolutions a couple of years ago by my friend and mentor, the author and creativism teacher Orna Ross (you may also know her as the founder and director of the Alliance of Independent Authors).

Orna Ross made me realise that New Years' Resolutions generally focus on the negative: things to give up or bad habits to reform. Her recommendation is to state Creative Intentions instead - a more positive, constructive system which focuses on the process rather than the outcome. Novel Intentions
This is the approach I took for 2017, and, hey presto, it turned me into a novelist. Instead of saying …

Bali Highs: N M Browne

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It can’t be the New Year already! Looking back on last year’s post, which I swear I wrote about five minutes ago, I can’t help but be grateful that we are still here. Still here and still writing.
So much changes and so much stays the same. Last year I was taking a few hours out of a big family Christmas to cobble together, or rather, share my profound reflections on the meaning of life, with a cup of coffee in chilly London, this time I am in a holistic vegan cafe in Bali with a glass of coconut water, but the world in my head is much the same. As Neil Gaiman says ‘ wherever you go you take your self with you.’ Even for the most solipstic of writers, travel brings emotional as well as physical distance from the patterns of everyday life. In among the pleasures of new tastes, smells, conversations and experiences, it is a huge reminder of privilege. A few days ago, as I sat under a thatched canopy, drinking Bintang and laughing with my family, I watched a woman of roughly my age, trudgi…

John Masefield, Victor Hely-Hutchinson and Forgetteries by Enid Richemont

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I have a very active Forgettery. We all have one of these - a place where we store idealised images, like an album into which we post nothing disagreeable or upsetting. The perfect summer is always in there - the blue skies, the flowers, the lavish picnic without squabbles, sweat or wasps, the turquoise pool into which perfect children jump and splash quite noiselessly, the perfect affair between a couple of unbelievably beautiful people with sungold skin - remember those two? Thought it would never end, but it did. Endings have no place in the Forgettery, though, so it doesn't show.

Most people have lengthy summer sections in their Forgetteries - after all, who wants winter, unless you ski, and even then, things look better when the sun is shining, don't they? I, however, am a winter person. I like a bit of drama in my weather, and I enjoy the cold and seeing my breath clouding in the air, and the pleasure of coming into a warm house afterwards, books, TV, and maybe a whisky o…

The Rich and Powerful go Shopping for Ghostwriters - Andrew Crofts

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What do the global rich come to London for? To hire their butlers, to buy their art, to shop for clothes and houses – oh and the culture; they come for the culture.
For a while we called it “soft power”. When we threw our Olympics opening party we flexed those muscles to their full extent and books and their characters were a mighty part of the show. There was Mary Poppins and Harry Potter of course, James Bond skydiving with the Queen, a host of characters who looked as if they had come straight from the pages of Dickens and declamations from the pens of Shakespeare and a variety of other poets. Was Jane Austen invited? I can’t remember but she should have been, if only for the wonderful inspiration she provided for Bridget Jones.
In the eyes of the world London is the city of Byron and John Murray, T.S. Eliot and Faber, George Bernard Shaw and the Bloomsbury Group; so where else would you go to buy your ghostwriter?


Robert Harris sealed our reputation a few years ago when he wro…

Christmas Under A Tropical Sun: Dipika Mukherjee examines Christmas in literature from a warm and sunny place

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As I write this post from Malaysia, under a tropical sun, I am struck by how universal the festivities of Christmas are, even in our modern fractured world. In this majority-Muslim country, Christmas is celebrated with Open Houses as Christian families open their doors for non-Christian friends and family.  There is no snow, there is food, there is feasting...and the emphasis is on the ties of friendship and family.  A green Christmas in the tropics is a warm Christmas indeed. Two years ago, I read a story by the Godden sisters, recounting five years of their childhood spent in the Indian village of Narayanganj, during World War I.  I was enchanted. Jon and Rumer Godden wrote Two Under the Indian Sun story as adults, but it is infused with the childhood wonder and daily astonishment of life in British India. This book was published in the US in 1966 by Knopf/Viking and is a delightful retelling of a childhood in India by two accomplished writers. And nowhere is the magic more apparent …

A Bigly Christmas 2017 to You - by Susan Price

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Christmas Day 2017.Joy to all women, children and men in this season of pantomimes and circuses.

We seem to be living through a seven-ringed conflation of the two. 

Ho, ho, ho ho. 

Overseeing it all we have our very own grey Mother Goose and what a gigantic goose she is. Off she goes to church, the Vicar's daughter, in her Dolce and Gabbana shoes costing £600 while her government cheerfully cuts and delays benefits to the disabled and barely-managing across the land. Ho ho ho.


Behind her, the stage is filled with mugging, smirking, prat-falling clowns tumbling from Stage Right and, as ever, these clowns aren't remotely funny... But they are bigly sleazy, scary and sinister.

You have to appreciate the sheer audacity of the humour. Shiny, smarmy 'Calm down, dear,' Clown Cameron completely misjudges his referendum, trips over it and falls smack on his face. But up he skips, to announce that he will see the negotiations with the EU through to the end. Then, quick as a blown ras…

May we all have the Christmas that we need. Jo Carroll

Well, if it’s not bought, wrapped, or posted by now it never will be. For the whole of the ‘Christian’ world is shutting down for a few days to celebrate Christmas. (The inverted comma reflects my own view that this now bears little relation to any religious festival and is now a homage to capitalism.)
For months, the press and social media have been full of stuff we must buy. Aunt Nellie and Uncle Jack will be bereft if you fail to spend a week’s wages on something that will sit at the back of a cupboard until they get round to taking it to the charity shop. No home is complete without emptying the supermarket of mince pies and sausage rolls and sprouts. You thought you could re-use last year’s tinsel? Pah! Flashing fairy lights are essential.
And yet, as the Big Day approaches, the tone of newspapers changes. We now have to learn how to spend a whole day with Aunt Nellie and Uncle Jack (who will fart unmercifully after a sprout or two) and not want to slap them. Families, we are told,…

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas from Lev Butts

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It's the most wonderful time of the year when, baby, it's cold outside, and Jack Frost is nipping at your nose. Yep, it's Christmas, Yuletide, Winter Solstice. And what better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, champion of the poor and oppressed, than engaging in a heartwarming celebration of gross materialism?


With that in mind, I am here to give you a couple of last minute gift ideas for that writer in your life.

1. Book Cover Design Secrets You Can Use to Sell More Books by Derek Murphy 


Writers love books, or at least they should, otherwise, they are in the wrong business. Here's a book about book design for independent writers. There are a plethora of books out there about writing, but not as many about designing covers, which is a shame, because despite adages about judging books and covers, a well designed cover can be the major selling point for an author, especially for readers unfamiliar with the author's work. I bought my first N…

Last posting days? Reports of the death of the Christmas card are premature according to Ali Bacon

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Remember how books ‘as we know them’ were on their way out? I seem to remember a few years ago the same kind of prediction was going on around Christmas cards: rising postage, conservation, e-alternatives and a multi-faith society made it look like the white bendy things were heading for oblivion and I think that was a reasonable prediction. I culled my list, signed up for an e-card service and found old friends turning up in my inbox rather than on my door-mat. I can’t deny a pang of conscience for however many thousands of jobs relied on their production and design and the possible loss to charity coffers (how many of us make that donation we really mean to?) but that was balanced out by the feel-good factor of thrift and eco-friendliness.
Well here we are a few years on and I glimpse a small revival of the robin and reindeer cheeriness. Cost of postage it has to be said is a factor and I’m surprised (in a good way) that my children are now asking for addresses of cousins and aunts t…