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Showing posts from July, 2018

Debbie Young Puts the Log Back into Blogging

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We're all so used to reading and writing blogs now that it's easy to forget that they are a relatively recent phenomenon. 

Jane Perrone, writing on The Guardian's blog just 14 years ago, felt the need to explain what they were for the sake of the uninitiated:
A weblog is, literally, a "log" of the web - a diary-style site, in which the author (a "blogger") links to other web pages he or she finds interesting using entries posted in reverse chronological order.
We Sing, We Dance, We Blog...
I'd almost forgotten that blogs used to be called weblogs. When I see that word now, my instinct is to read it as "we blog" rather than "web log", as if it's part of the declension of the verb "to blog". (Iblog, youblog, heblogs, weblog ...)

Interesting, too, that Perrone defines the main purpose of a weblog as being to link to other web pages rather than to post original content, which I've always perceived as the bigger prior…

Sweet inspiration: N M Browne

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I don’t believe in the muse any more than I believe in writer’s block. I believe in hard work, regular hours, good diet and plenty of exercise. I believe that in a well-ordered life there is room neither for inspiration nor despair but only solid graft, ruthless discipline and a robust attitude to failure. IfI got up early and sat at my desk for a solid eight hours a day, I am quite certain I would write a lot of books and I would be much more successful. It is perhaps surprising then that I struggle with the well-ordered life and am quite prone to apparent moments of inspiration, and then months of arid days when putting one word in front of another seems like a long, forced march to nowhere. Obviously, this isn’t surprising if you have ever met me or read any of my previous blogs, but even I find the gulf between what I believe about creativity and what I experience slightly disconcerting. About four years ago I set my self the task of writing a poem a day for a year and asking frien…

END OF LIFE and a MYSTERIOUS BOOK by Enid Richemont

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There are so many books one reads for pleasure, and admiration for the writing, but there are some stories, not necessarily by well-known authors, which strangely settle in the psyche and just don't go away. One of these, title and author unknown to me at least (perhaps you can identify it for me?) and possibly picked up in a charity shop, came with the most extraordinary and unusual premise, and with an unforgettably moving ending which I won't reveal here as you may well know who the author is, but may not have read the book. The premise is based on the second nativity of a divine child, not necessarily Jesus, to a woman who is the very opposite of Mary - a twenty-first century and very sexually experienced woman in her late twenties? early thirties? drinks quite a lot, and smokes etc, who is visited in her bedroom by a very sexy male angel. At first she assumes he's a burglar?pervert? but it becomes clear that he's not because he's gentle and respectful (and ver…

A Writer's Dream Job - Ben Rhodes and Obama by Andrew Crofts

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A few months ago I wrote about being a little envious of Michael Wolf for finding himself sitting in the White House at the moment when the Trump team came to power, allowing him to observe the mayhem from close quarters and to write “Fire and Fury”.
Well I have now read “The World as It Is – Inside the Obama White House” by Ben Rhodes, and I am even more eaten up with envy. Rhodes set out to be a novelist, became politically engaged and ended up as Obama’s speechwriter and advisor on matters international. For eight years the two of them were together virtually every day and Rhodes travelled more than a million miles in Air Force One, so that he could always be available to his friend and hero.



Was there really a time when a man as good and gracious as Obama was able to be the most powerful in the world? Will liberals ever again see such a hopeful, idealistic situation in the White House, the Kremlin, Number Ten Downing Street, or anywhere else?
Rhodes writes beautifully about what h…

Poetry by Design: Dipika Mukherjee takes a Broadside Workshop

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On a rainy day in Chicago, five poets gathered in Wicker Park to create art from poetry. In short, we were there to make broadsides.

What are Broadsides, you ask? They are poetry rendered as gorgeous posters. Words to be displayed as wall art. The best gifts for wordsmiths and bibliophiles. 

I have always been in love with broadsides. My home is dotted with examples of poems as visual art and I have signed copies from the Copper Canyon Press  as well as illustrated examples from the Poetry Center
So when I saw that the Wasted Pages Writing Program was offering a Poetry by Design workshop on July 14 in Chicago, I immediately signed up.

So there we were, five poets, juxtaposing our words with pictures for maximum impact. Our fingers became inky from hauling huge drums of ink, and we found new inspiration from the work of the group.

Our Risograph machine had three ink options (black, brown, blue) and we had an array of colorful paper at our disposal. The poems had to be shorter than 30 line…

Sweating with Wolves by Susan Price

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Friday 13th may be unlucky for some, but not for me.

On Friday July 13th I went into London, to Tiverton Primary School in Tottenham, to see the second performance of a musical play based on my book, The Wolf's Footprint.

It was an exhaustingly hot day -- and I got lost. I interrupted several people as they were going about their business, to ask the way to Tiverton School and every single one of these randomly selected people was as friendly and helpful as could be. Several pulled out smart-phones and entered the name of the school, so they could show me where it was and guide me on my way. Thanks to them, I found Tiverton in time for the afternoon session.

So thank you, kindly people of Haringey and Tottenham and especially those -- you know who you are -- who were stopped by a hot and dishevelled writer asking, "Do you know where Tiverton School is?"

At the school I spent the afternoon talking with two great classes about -- oh, how a writer works, the wri…

Libraries - so much more than just lenders of books. Jo Carroll

I’ve always known that libraries are important. I’ve retweeted posts that insist they are kept open, liked FB pages that support those that are struggling. Like millions of us, I recall many happy hours in my childhood spent in libraries, and they kept me sane when I was without money to buy any books at all.
But it wasn’t until I volunteered for my local library that I truly realised just how important they are.
I feel strongly that everyone who works in libraries should be paid. But cut after cut after cut means that many libraries can only function with volunteers. Should the money ever be found, I’ll be the first to move aside so someone can have a job. Meanwhile, I help keep the show on the road.
I love it. It’s ‘only’ shelving - but it’s oddly satisfying taking a heavy trolley full of books and finding a home for them all. But it’s while I’m tucking the latest Katie Fforde back into place that I become aware that the library does much more than lend books.
The town I live in has its…

Lev Butts Lists the Best of Self-Publishing II

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Last month, I began my list of notable self-published books. These books, though, are not in any particular order (well other than the order in which I read them). Before I talk about this month's selection, however, I want to talk a bit about my method of finding these books.

I know quite a few authors of self-published books, and they're all really good, a few may even make this list, but I wanted to focus more on writers I had not read before. The point of this list is, after all, to get more self-published authors as much exposure to new readers. 
It is surprisingly hard to find self-published books by new authors, though, since one of the biggest drawbacks to self- or small-press publishing is the lack of promotional funds.
However, thanks to social media promotions, which are not nearly as expensive as you might think, I found it fairly easy to discover new writers just by browsing my Facebook news feed. In fact, over half of the novels I'll be discussing in this li…