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Showing posts from May, 2020

Creativity in the time of Covid: N M Browne

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Checking on my last post, I am disturbed to discover  that to use a well-worn phrase from a
previous historical era ‘nothing has changed,’ or at least, not much. The camellias have died back, the rosemary is making a bid for world dominance and the birds are extemporising their own symphony. I have still barely read a book let alone started writing one.  There are differences: I am writing this outside and  there’s a lot more traffic on the road, cars, motorbikes, buses intermittently drowning out the bird song, reminding me of our noisy normal. The clear blue sky above my house is tracked by planes and Trump’s ability to believe seven stupid things before breakfast appears to be contagious, though limited to the higher echelons of government.  Friends of mine in mid novel are struggling with normality or rather with how to characterise it. Will we still be socially distancing in a year? Will we ever eat indoors in restaurants, drink in pubs? More pressingly for me, will I ever get …

Editing old work, lockdown, and reading Hilary Mantel - WOW! by Enid Richemont

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Once again, I go into a novel I wrote aeons ago with the honourable intention of editing. One glaring error of judgement jumps out at me - the quoting of the lyric of an actual song, which if published, would cost me an arm and a leg in legal fees, so I need to take that out, and just convey its feeling without the actual words. And then, as always, I go blank, because at the time, I was writing in a drug-like state, on a high with words - no problem writing them down except a physical one with speed, hand with pen or pencil on paper, then pounding them out on an electric typewriter, errors manually corrected if, indeed, they were even noticed, because I was unstoppable.

That was then, and this is now. After three decades of being rejected, then published - a lot, then going out of print, then experimenting with ebooks etc etc, I'm no longer unstoppable, and that old enchantment has long since faded to reveal a very harsh reality.

There's a very interesting discussion going on a…

If You Were Leader of the Whole World, What Would Be the First Thing You Would Do?" - Andrew Crofts

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It started just before Christmas 2018 with an email from a Dutch publisher and author called Geert Kimpen, informing me that his client was looking for a ghostwriter to help him write a “thriller-like book about the return of the Messiah” and asking if I would be interested. I was.
On the 3rd of January 2019 I met Martin Van Es at the Stafford Hotel in St James’s, tucked away in a mews behind the Ritz, and listened to an outpouring of ideas about how mankind needed to adapt if we were to avoid self-destruction.
“If you were the leader of the whole world,” he asked at one point, “what would be the first thing that you would do?”
Good question.
“If Jesus was to reappear on Earth to give mankind one more chance to save themselves,” he continued, “what do you think would happen?”
Another good question. 
I was hooked. 
Martin had read my novel “Secrets of the Italian Gardener”, and wanted his story written in a similar style.


In March I travelled, along with Geert Kimpen, to the Dutch isl…

Corona + Amphan -- Rituparna Roy

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Corona + Amphan is the worst double whammy one can think of - and we are facing that at the moment. By “we”, I mean Bangladesh and two eastern states of India – Orissa and West Bengal. Cyclone Amphan hit us on 20th May. Last year, a similar cyclone - Fani - had hit the coastal belt lining the Bay of Bengal in early May. It coincided with my daughter Srishti’s Birthday - so, the small party I’d arranged at home for her had to be cancelled. This year, a day after Amphan, with no internet, we could barely wish our niece in Hyderabad on her Birthday. While the ISD call did connect, all that could be heard from the other side were garbled voices… but at least, we could shout out a “Happy Birthday”! 

Privileged kids


Birthday celebrations are luxuries that can be done without for a year or two (though for children it can be a bitter disappointment; eagerly wait as they do for months for their BIG day). But even for them, a greater calamity is not having access to TV or the internet. While ‘con…

Wilding by Isabella Tree -- reviewed by Susan Price

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'High up, skimming a tree's silhouette and framed against the sky, the emperors look black -- like a rainforest butterly. At a glimpse they can be mistaken for birds... The males attack anything that comes near them, defending their territory and the pick of the females. An unwary chaffinch is chased away. Blue tits shriek in alarm -- a comeuppance for them since, from October through to April... they are the butterfly's main predator. Emperors have even been known to attack sticks and bricks thrown up into the air. From time to time a couple , or even three, male emperors lock horns, tussling in flight -- 'having a bundle', as Neil puts it...'  From 'Wilding' by Isabella Tree.

Thanks to our destruction of the environment, not only by our roads and shopping malls but also by modern farming practices, this large, blue-tit bothering butterfly, the purple emperor, has become very rare. Thanks to the courage and initiative of Isabella Tree and her husband, …

Words, words, words ... and feelings. Jo Carroll

Words matter - as writers we know that more than most. And clarity of definitions matter as well - as the recent hoo-ha over the definition of 'alert' (here in the UK) shows only too well. I can't be the only writer who can spend half an hour thumbing through a thesaurus looking for a 'right word'.

Feelings matter too. As writers, we know there are times when we need to put words into a character's mouth while, at the same time, making it clear that they are thinking and feeling the opposite. On the page, we can use asides, parentheses, detours in the narrative to show that feelings might not mirror the words. When it's words we listen to, things can get complicated.

For instance - most mornings, I wake to the dulcet tones of Michal Husain and Nick Robinson on Radio 4's Today Programme (I need burbling, not music, in the morning). At the height of the pandemic their voices were appropriately subdued, full of grief for the dying and awe for the hopeless…

If You Could Read My Mind by @EdenBaylee

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In these Covid times, many of us are streaming or renting movies online. Last night, I watched If You Could Read My Mind, the Gordon Lightfoot story.

If you don’t know who Gordon Lightfoot is, here’s a brief intro.

Before Canada produced stars such as Justin Bieber and Drake, we had bonafide legends like Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Neil Young. For a relatively small country (roughly 36 million), Canada has contributed some impressive talent to the music industry.

Amongst this group is Gordon Lightfoot, whom I would consider one of Canada’s greatest songwriters. He’s a homegrown talent who continues to live here today.


Suffice it to say, he is an icon and a treasure.
If You Could Read My Mind was co-directed, co-produced, and co-written by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni.
Martha is a friend, and I’ve wanted to see this film ever since it first came out late 2019.
For one reason or another, I was unable to get to it, but then my husband rented it recently, and I had no reason not to see it.…

Out of Step (as usual?) by Mari Howard (Clare Weiner)

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“May you live in interesting times” – a (probably fake) old Chinese proverb, which circulated humorously among us as students, many years ago. Well, now we do. Far too interesting… people have complained about "lock down", and other people, as it began, invested in craft materials, knitting yarn, or jigsaws, because they would have so much free time. And some even decided that this would give them a chance to try writing that book which they often thought about…
Although many contemporary fiction writers have mentioned that this is a time when they are struggling to write! The shock of the new and peculiar circumstances surrounding us have left experienced speechless, as it were. Its significance has overwhelmed them, the unusual lifestyle and added insecurity has robbed them of all creative energy. What can you write, when your planned and half written story may now bare no relation to present or future, once it is hopefully published and offered to the public? What once per…

Three Centuries of Scary Science Fiction - @AuthorKatherine

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Don't panic... I haven't heard any horrible new rumour that Lockdown is going last quite that long! But it's interesting to see how science fiction writers often get things uncannily right, sometimes hundreds of years before the actual events become part of our history. So here are three classic reads - one from each of the past three centuries - which are reflected in some way by current events. If you have your own favourites, feel free to add them to the comments below.

War of the Worlds by H G Wells (1897)

"Yet across the gulf of space intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us..."

A tale of Martian invasion that was so realistic when first broadcast over the radio it caused many people to panic, thinking aliens were indeed attacking the Earth.

These 19th century Martians land in individual pods and set about building themselves giant metal fighting machines that stride a…