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Showing posts from September, 2020

Making Hay in 2020 - Katherine Roberts

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The Hay Literary Festival is something of a pilgrimage for me, dating from the days I lived an hour's leisurely drive across the border and along the River Wye. One year I was even invited as an author to talk in a big tent about my first 'Seven Fabulous Wonders' adventure THE GREAT PYRAMID ROBBERY (and Hay must have worked its magic, since that is still the best selling title of the seven in the series). I don't think I've missed a Festival in 20 years, except of course this year when it, like pretty much every other event where literary folks mingle to exchange ideas, was cancelled "due to Covid". Well, dear Dictator Covid, this month I decided to risk the rising number of cases in Wales and the threat of a last-minute local lockdown, and drove across the border anyway to visit Hay and see if there were still any ideas knocking around.The experience was, as expected, a little sad. Half the smaller bookshops seemed to be closed (though hopefully just tem…

Keyhaven and poetry by Sandra Horn

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I can't count the many strange and beautiful things and places I’ve seen in my life – thundering Icelandic waterfalls fringed with towering icicles; hot water seething under the sand on a beach in New Zealand; aurora borealis from a midnight boat approaching Tromso; the eeerie loveliness of the Alhambra, islands, downlands, lakes, meteor showers, the moon…I’d love to be able to say that they have inspired me to write poetry, but no. I’ve gawped and gaped, felt awe, wonderment, deep joy, but I’ve not been able to put any of it into words. When I’ve tried I haven’t often managed to capture the essence in a way that satisfies, although I’ve tried- and several of the poems in my first collection, Passing Places, have been set off by particular landscapes - but there is something about Keyhaven, that keeps messing with my head and making poems.  There, a shingle bank stretches for over a mile out into the Solent. It started life as a geological oddity but since its ancient origins has…

Nissen V Nissan - Jan Edwards

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Because of my dyslexia I do keep the spellchecking function on as a matter of course but Microsoft and other software/social media sites can make this incredibly frustrating.I have watched as Word especially (though Facebook can be as guilty) will change a word, without red-underlining it, not just once but several times after I have gone back and altered it.These anomalies can often be put down to syntax – i.e. when writing dialogue where characters are not speaking in grammatically correct sentences.At other times it is down to the software’s limited dictionary. I always have Word in the UK, rather than US, spelling and language mode but still have occasions when it throws a wobbly over Z versus S.
Because The Bunch Courtney Investigations are a crime series set in WW2 the number of ‘unrecognised’ words rises by some margin.Today it was ‘Nissen’, as in Nissen hut. I was typing fairly quickly to get my ideas onto the screen before it vanished into the ether and simply did not notic…

Having a go at something new, by Elizabeth Kay

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It’s so much harder than I thought it would be. You make your own rules in fantasy, so the plot can head off wherever you want. I’ve always said that a book has to be an adventure for me too, and if I knew too much about the story before I started it would feel flat and unexciting. I always knew where I wanted to end up, but not how I was going to get there. Starting a thriller like that is not ideal, as I soon discovered. I am currently on the eighth re-write of the first few chapters, because every time I think of something that doesn’t quite ring true I have to go back and make sure that whatever I alter doesn’t impact on the storyline later on. So, in the end, I had to do the thing I really hate doing, which was to write a synopsis. I’m not used to it, though. My synopses normally get written once I’ve finished the book. Despite having written it, I am constantly changing things. Let’s have Character B’s wife killed, so that he’s free to become romantically involved with Character…

Seriously, write funny – by Fran Hill

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Did you know that Wendy H Jones hosts a weekly podcast called ‘The Writing and Marketing Show’?

She invited me along, thankfully not to talk about marketing. It’s not my specialist subject. For example, last week, I met two neighbours chatting. They asked to buy copies of my latest book. ‘Why don’t you share a copy?’ I said. ‘You live opposite each other. No point buying two.’

Their eyebrows lifted but they didn’t argue. Who would?

No, Wendy interviewed me about humour writing. On this, I’m a touch more secure. I self-published my first book ‘Being Miss’, a funny fictional account of a teacher’s day, in 2014. In Lockdown May this year I had my second book ‘Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean?’ released by SPCK Publishing. This time, it’s a funny memoir of a typical school year, in diary form.

I used to think ‘writing funny’ a lesser calling than, say, writing serious novels on gender politics or intellectual plays about social ills. Why couldn’t I be more informed/learned/intellectua…

Goodnight, and Good Luck - with your bids at the Children in Read charity book auction! - by Alex Marchant

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This is my last regular blog post for Authors Electric, so I would like to say farewell and thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my posts over the past couple of years, and for the support of both my fellow author/bloggers and readers.It’s been an exciting time for me since publishing my first children’s novel The Order of the White Boar in October 2017, and I’ve enjoyed sharing the ups and downs of life as a newbie indie author with you all. But I’ve come to realize that a commitment to writing a monthly blog results in time spent away from getting on with the novel writing itself (which is already rather far down the pecking order in terms of time spent). So I’ve sadly decided to call it a day.But I’m calling it a day on a day when the launch has happened of a wonderful charity auction of books! For the next 62 days, until the Friday that is the annual BBC Children in Need day, an auction of more than 500 titles across a range of genres will be underway at https://ww…

Reading Women Authors in Translation by Bronwen Griffiths

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Last month was Women in Translation Month. Meytal Radzinksi started WIT in 2014 with the aim of highlighting the brilliant women writers, translators and publishers who bring us literature from around the world. Radzinksi was concerned that women authors made up less than 30% of the books translated into English and WIT has been a means of promoting such women to the wider reading public.UK book readers are less likely than their European counterparts to read books in translation although that is beginning to change – 2018 saw a 5.5 increase in the market. However, a substantial part of this growth was down to best-selling Scandinavian crime thrillers - authors such as Steig Larsson and Jo Nesbo. (Research by Nielsen for the Man Booker Prize, March 2019) – and overall we in the UK read far less in translation than other comparative countries. This can be partly explained by the fact that we can also read books written in English from countries like India, Nigeria, South Africa and Zim…

What do you do with old photographs: Misha Herwin

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Time after time, when people are asked what they would save from a house fire, they say their family photos. Which, when you consider how rarely we look at them, seems odd. And yet in another way this makes perfect sense. Those photos are more than pictures. They are memories. Mostly happy ones too. The bad times are rarely, if ever captured on film. They remind us of who we were, what we looked like and what we did. And they make us smile. They also link the generations. The grandchildren can see what parents and grandparents looked like when they were young and get a glimpse of what life was like back there in the dark ages. A photograph can also be a window into history. The only one I have of my grandfather is as a young man in uniform when he fought for Austria Hungary in WWW1. I’ve spent the afternoon clearing out a box of old photographs. They are now sorted into categories and ready to be put into albums. An old fashioned way of storing them, but what else do you do?Some I’ve …

Female Language | Karen Kao

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The bookshop is small but well-stocked. It occupies a narrow windowless space like most places in this part of Amsterdam. At the far end of the shop sits Sheila Heti, waiting to talk about her latest novel, Motherhood.

We join the crowd. We are four women in a sea of female faces. Three of us are mothers; one is not. I am one of the few women in the room past the child-bearing age. Whether a woman is still sexually productive seems relevant when Motherhood is about an unnamed protagonist wrestling with the decision to have a child.

Heti and her protagonist share many of the same characteristics. Both are writers, around 40 years old, living in Toronto. Both have mothers who put their work ahead of child-rearing. Many reviewers have assumed that Motherhood is a very public accounting of Heti’s private decision.

But that wasn’t Heti’s goal. Her interest is in language and how we choose to speak about the choices we make. For example, Heti’s protagonist models her behavior on…

Johns Campaign v. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

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This letter requires your urgent attentionDear SirsRe: John’s Campaign v. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care1.We write this letter in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review.  [...]The Proposed ClaimantWe act for Nicci Gerard and Julia Jones who are the co-founders of John’s Campaign https://johnscampaign.org.uk/#/. John’s campaign was founded in 2014 as an organisation that campaigns for the right of people with dementia to be supported by their family carers. John’s Campaign is generally, and here, advocating on behalf of many individuals who have been affected by the issues raised in this letter and we attach to this letter a sample of case studies collected by John’s Campaign which illustrate the issues being faced by hundreds of thousands of care home residents and their relatives across England.The Proposed DefendantThe Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Department of Health and Social Care, 39 Victoria street, London SW1H 0EU.
That'…

Far from Kenosha, at Door County, Wisconsin: by Dipika Mukherjee

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2020 has been a capricious year in so many ways, for all of us. I have continued to teach, hectoring students to keep writing, to find some catharsis in words, but I find myself derailed whenever I try to cultivate any sense of normalcy.Living in the United States at this particular point of time feels so dystopian that I have no words for the parallel universe of my fiction. So when I received a residency from Write On, at Door County, Wisconsin to work on my novel-in-progress, I grabbed the opportunity to travel somewhere, anywhere.
For two weeks, I am the lone writer  in nearly 39 acres of woods, orchards, and meadows. I am a short distance away from the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Every evening offers a spectacular sunset over waters that calm the soul; there is also the occasional deer, lots of chattering birds and humming wasps and bees, and one harmless garter snake I startled during an evening walk. There are no people. 
This feels like paradise. An anonymous gift of …

Brew ha ha by Bill Kirton

The present, and too long-lasting, circumstances invite all sorts of speculation and theorising about the nature and definitions of ‘normality’ (as well as, needless to say, the principles, morality, competence and even basic common sense of our ‘leaders’). This post seeks only to be a minor, temporary effort to divert attention from the negatives, the frustrations, the pressures of it all by trying to provoke a smile via an old-fashioned format, the rhyming monologue, made popular in the Stone Age by such greats as Stanley Holloway, and still getting laughs at the Edinburgh Festival not so many years ago. This one, best read with a generic ‘north of England’ accent, goes…

I went down the pub on Friday.
It’s a nice pub, quiet, tidy.
Lovely barmaid. Well, she’s sweaty. ’Fact, we call her Sweaty Betty.
We were sat there, then this bangin’
Starts; an’ then the doorbell’s clangin’
Then some silly bugger’s shoutin’.
Betty says: “He needs a cloutin’,
Kickin’ up that bloody racket.
Go an’ punc…

Story v Style - Debbie Bennett

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I see a lot of posts on social media aboutwhether to write in first person or third person, if a storyshould be in past or present tense or if it’sOK to use one or more of the above at the same time. I’m not sure why anybody thinks they need permission to do anything. You can do what you like how you like and when you like – although in my opinion it does help to know what the rules actually are, so that you can break them properly and carefully, as opposed to driving a tank through them and leaving the poor little rules squealing on the ground in pain …I find with novels, I’m best using third person past tense. I can’t really sustain anything else for the length and depth of writing that a novel really needs. I have a lot of admiration for writers who can gallop along in first person without tying themselves up in knots, but I can’t do it. I like to get up close and personal with my characters, but they are not me and writing first person seems odd to me in anything longer than a sho…