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Showing posts from August, 2018

Debbie Young Raises a Glass to a Cotswold Pub's Free Library Initiative

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After a fortnight's holiday near Glencoe in a minimalist cottage and abundant fresh mountain air, I returned to my own cluttered cottage ten days ago determined to ditch surplus possessions. Even (whisper it) a few of my large collection of books...

Fate sent me a helping hand in the form of a request from the landlady of Dinneywick's pub in Kingswood, the next-but-one village from where I live in the Cotswolds. She asked me whether I could donate any secondhand books for the pub's new free library scheme.

I've had a Little Free Library on my front garden wall for a couple of years, and there are more like this popping up all over the country.


A Bookish Pedigree for a Pub Aggie's interest in doing something similar came as no surprise. When she and her partner Guiseppe ran The Fox in Hawkesbury Upton, they gained a reputation as an innovative, energetic couple full of ideas for keeping a country pub afloat. One of these ideas was to support the first ever Hawkesbur…

Mixing it up: N M Browne

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I am of an age when it is remarkably easy to get stuck in a mental rut: new story ideas have the unmistakable flavour of other books. You find yourself reaching for a familiar phrase, a particular sentence rhythm, hell, even a character name you have used before. If this has never happened to you, then move along, look away, you are probably youthful, mentally flexibleand I have nothing interesting to say to you (though I am open to any tip you can offer me.) To everyone else, this has been my attempted solution: over the last few months, I have been experimenting with different forms of writing to force my lazy brain into forging new neural pathways, stave off early mental decline and re-energise my work. At least that has been the plan.

I have been sticking to it too. I have written a few more short stories since my last post on the subject. One of them may form the basis of a novel. Or not. I am still writing the odd poem (they are very odd) since my last blog and I think the time …

"THE TIME TREE" film, screen-writing, and sixteenth century fear of witches, by Enid Richemont

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Well, the secret I've had to hold back on for two years is now out, as, if you follow me on Facebook, you'll already know. The modest film deal I've referred to from time to time was based on my first children's novel, THE TIME TREE, published by Walker Books in the early Nineties, and a first for them, too, as it was the first time they'd published a children's novel.

The book stayed in print for ages, and seemed to grab people in a very special way. It's a time-slip story - a magical encounter, via an ancient oak tree, between two contemporary eleven year old girls, and a profoundly deaf Elizabethan girl of the same age. It's a book that grabbed a very close friend who works in the media, and who had always seen it as a film (I didn't) so she pushed me into writing a screenplay with a number of plot extensions and developments, which was challenging and exciting. Writing for the screen is SO very different from writing a novel, because the whole st…

Brilliant Writing Careers - Andrew Crofts

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“Their Brilliant Careers – the Fantastic Lives of Sixteen Extraordinary Australian Writers,” by Ryan O’Neill is a spoof literary history which contains so many characters and situations that will be painfully and hilariously recognisable to writers and publishers the world over it is tempting as a reader to simply suspend disbelief and go with the flow.
Each biography is written as a short story but the lives of the various writers soon start to intersect. There are many good jokes, even for those of us who are unfamiliar with the real Australian literary scene that it is satirising. It would be great to think that Mr O’Neill might one day turn his attention to the literary pretensions and deceptions of other cultures – just imagine what he could do with the Bloomsbury Set, Will Self, Martin Amis – or Jeffrey Archer.     

'A Ministry Of Defense, But No Ministry Of Peace': A Celebration of Myanmar Poetry at the Irrawaddy Literary Festival by Dipika Mukherjee

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NOTE: This article was first published on the Poetry Foundation website on May 21, 2014. The Irrawaddy Literary Festival remains one of the most interesting festivals I've participated in, and I feel privileged to have been a part of this historic festival, even though the patron, Aung San Suu Kyi, has not lived up to the ideals she represented in 2014.

The Champak, fragrant with white blossoms growing wild on Mandalay hill, perfumes the gardens of the Mandalay Hill Resort. This is where the 2014 Irrawaddy Literary Festival was held from February 14-16, with poetry read under white canopies amid the feathery foliage. Palm trees fringed tiny wooden pagodas; even the breeze was mellow.
In this most Zen-like of settings, the Myanmar poets read fiery words. Words to inspire the schoolchildren bussed into the venue from Myit Nge and surrounding schools, children with faces plastered with the yellowish-white thanaka paste, distinguishing them from the trendy young volunteers from the Jef…

Multiplying, Colour-Burn and Gaussian Blur by Susan Price

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I started with this, drawn on a sheet of scrap paper, copied from a photo of a stuffed fox. I scanned it into the computer. Before I adjusted the contrasts, you could see the type showing through from the other side.

Then I opened the ink sketch in Photoshop, took out the white background of the scrap paper and added a dark background layer. Coloured the drawing, added a title and a screamer.


This is only a try-out for the front cover. I can't do the complete one until I've finished laying out the interior and know how thick the spine will be.
     I used various photos for reference, sometimes using the 'eye-dropper' tool to get an idea of what the colouring should be.
     I was so pleased with the result that I hailed a passing brother. "Cop a butcher's at this," I said.

     He came, he looked. A long silence. Then, grudgingly, "That's pretty good. Come out of it."
     He took over my chair. He over-layered in violet and red. He lowered opaci…

The joys of research - Jo Carroll

I’m tiptoeing towards another novel. 
It takes month to evolve from initial idea to that challenge of the first sentence. I’ve learned to trust that process - ideas, like soup, need simmering time. But they also need occasional attention - in the form of research. Ideas need contexts.
I love research. I love the way it takes me down surprising avenues (or sometimes barely visible pathways) - it’s so easy to spend days learning about something that is nothing to do with the subject but is hugely interesting. No learning, I tell myself, is wasted. (Or it wouldn’t be if I could remember it two days later.)
Research takes many shapes. The most obvious is googling. Speaking personally, I find it the least inspiring. It’s so easy to click from page to page, and read regurgitated facts. If all I need is facts then it’s the obvious way to begin.
But I want more than facts. I need to understand place (not surprising, maybe, for a travel writer). And so, whenever possible, I visit the towns or vill…

Lev Butts Lists the Best of Self-Publishing III

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If you’re just joining us for this latest countdown, I’m listing (in no particular order) the best self-published books I’ve come across.

I’m doing this for two reasons:
I want to show that self-publishing, despite the commonly held belief, does not automatically signify a lack of quality.Since the hardest part of self-publishing is finding an audience outside your immediate circle of associations, I am hoping to spread the word about these talented writers to a wider audience.
If you missed my previous posts, you can find them here, here, and here
Okay, let’s get started, shall we?
3.  Dangerous to Know - K. T. Davies (The Chronicles of Breed series)


This is another series that showed up on my Facebook feed, probably because I clicked on last month’s selection, Hero in a Halfling. And if you liked William Tyler Davis’ book, this one will probably appeal to you as well. The humor is drier and less satiric than Davis’ work, but it is genuinely funny. Where Davis’ humor is designed in…