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Showing posts from 2021

Editing - Love It or Loathe It? by Allison Symes

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Image Credit:  All images created in Book Brush using Pixabay pictures. I’ll put my hands up and say I love editing. I’ll also confess to being an editor.   So not unbiased here, are you, Allison?  Correct.  Am not sorry.     I learned a long, long time ago (and in a galaxy far, far away) nobody writes the perfect first draft. Shakespeare didn’t. Dickens didn’t. Austen didn’t. So the chances of yours truly writing a perfect first draft are zilch to the power of ten million squared, cross out the first number you thought of etc. That’s fine. Knowing this has made me feel better about editing. Feeling better has been the first step for me getting on with the business of editing and finding this is okay. It can be creative in its own right.     What I love about editing is when you sense your draft has been “sharpened”. As a flash fiction writer, I must make every word count, which has brought on my editing skills considerably. I now know what my wasted words are. Those go immediately on

Different vehicles for different ideas, by Elizabeth Kay

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Is that idea you suddenly got in the supermarket a Ferrari, a Reliant Robin, or a penny-farthing? Knowing which form is the right one can make all the difference between staring at an empty screen until making a cup of coffee is the only constructive thing to do, or dashing downstairs first thing in the morning before anyone else is up to get onto your computer. Is it a doorstop trilogy, a standalone one off, a play, a short story, or a poem? And how do you decide? Of course, the vehicle you first choose may not be the right one. If we take a poem as being the likeliest form for a single idea, there are still a lot of forms to choose from. A limerick about the death of your first pet may not be such a good idea, and an ode to an ingrowing toenail may prove tougher than expected. There are always exceptions, of course, and I think blank verse is actually the hardest. This came from a single idea: cakes.                           VICTORIAN SANDWICH   Ask me about my childhood, and

'Writer's Life - Getting Real' by Wendy H. Jones

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  As I am merely one of the contributors to, rather than the owner of, this blog, I don't usually use my own image or that of my books as the main photo. I always think that would be rather presumptuous of me. However, I thought it was appropriate for this particular post and I am hoping the admins and you, as readers of this blog, will forgive me. There is a good reason for me using this today. Often, as authors, we only display a very public persona and what people know of us is what can be seen in the images we choose. These are most often chosen to show us in our best light. Of course, that makes sense as we want readers to invest in our books. From the image above you would see me as a confident prolific author, with numerous books to her name, across a range of age groups. I have also been published in, edited and compiled numerous anthologies which are not seen in the above image. Why are you telling me this, I hear you ask. The answer - you may think that words just flow fr

Hot Drinks ~ Maressa Mortimer

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  I do love coffee, as you might know, but I noticed a few things when watching people around me having hot drinks. Especially as writers, we should think about our favoured liquid. First of all, a lot of people reach for tea in times of need. Being Dutch, coffee has a calming effect on me, so in busy stressful times, it’s coffee you need, not tea. Tea is for when you’re poorly. Mind you, that probably has something to do with the colour of the drinks as well. English tea is strong enough to be used as paint stripper. It comes with plenty of rituals and implements. Like a properly shaped teapot. It has to be just so, to let the air in as well as allow you to pour properly. Nobody likes a dripping teapot. After filling the pot with a handful of teabags and pouring boiling hot water on top (making sure the water has only boiled ONCE!), you cover the teapot with a tea cosy. Preferable one that has been hand-knitted by a great aunt or great-grandmother. Now the tea needs to stew, whilst

O Solo Knee-O: Bond Gadget Recovery for Bachelors--by Reb MacRath

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I couldn't have done it without James Bond: have a total knee replacement operation on 3/5...go home the following day...survive the first couple of weeks filled with level 10 pain...try to not go stir-crazy from my inability to sit or stand for longer than 10 minutes at a time...and somehow figure out a way that I could continue to write.  For the first 7 days, I had a care companion. But even after the first day, one thing became painfully clear: I needed gadgets, lots of gadgets worthy of James Bond if I was to prevail. And so...              An Illustrated GT My Dirty Decuple 1) The Magic Gadget Bed a) A bed becomes a gadget when it has as many functions as a Swiss Army knife. Long before surgery, I realized that I needed a much higher mattress than I'd been accustomed to using. For a six-foot man with a knee replacement, I wanted a height close to 30" instead of the 17" height I'd been using.  I chose a Nectar foam mattress for comfort and back support. Heigh

The Quixotic Nature of Inspiration by Ruth Leigh

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  As writers, we’re all different, and thank heavens for that. Some of us are planners, with notebooks full of plot development, story arcs and carefully researched facts, distilling each precious drop into our literary efforts. Others (and I include myself in this category, at least most of the time) are pantsers, seizing at random facts (Colchester’s Dutch Quarter is so-called because the inhabitants called anyone foreign “Dutch”, even Flemish refugees fleeing Catholic persecution).   So, let’s start with the Dutch Quarter, or at least what it represents. I’m fortunate enough to be paid for using both sides of my writer’s brain, factual and creative, spending much of my week writing for freelance clients, and the rest of it marketing my first novel and writing my second.   One of my clients is an exclusive estate agent, covering East Anglia and a little further beyond. They came up with the rather splendid wheeze of hiring a team of freelance writers (me included) to interview th

Lockdown Blues by Bronwen Griffiths

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  This is my first blog for Authors Electric since December. A mix of winter blues and lockdown floored me for a while. I stopped writing altogether. I even left social media for a while unusual for me. I do recommend you take a break from social media from time to time, if like me, you are a regular user. I get a lot of support on social media (I mostly use Twitter) from other writers and it provides a great source of writing tips. I can read wonderful essays and flash fiction too. However social media can be a source of anxiety and anger. This anxiety is often related to measuring up against other writers. This can all too easily morph into a crippling loss of confidence and an unhealthy level of envy because – and let’s be honest about this – we all feel envy sometimes. The anger I feel isn’t related to writing but to politics. However that can also be unhealthy if it is just reacting to events and venting but doing nothing constructive. Some people seemed to have managed to make

The Sharpness of Spring

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  April is the cruellest month, or so TS Eliot says. This year, in the cruellest of times, there is some truth in that observation. From blossom, to snow showers in the same week, my magnolia has been subjected to the cruellest of weathers. Whether it will survive or not is yet to be seen, but the joy of seeing the first white pristine flowers open up to the sun has been replaced by the sadness of seeing those same flowers becoming brown and wasted. It’s a fairly good metaphor for our lockdown regimes of the past year. From the joy of being able to see family and friends again in the summer we went to lockdown one, when in our tier it was forbidden to travel out of the area, to the much more stringent lockdown from January onwards when we were more or less prisoners in our own homes and the only communication was via FaceTime or Zoom. Interspersed with that were the moments of happiness and anticipation that caught so many of us out, like the pronouncement that we would have a five d

My Daily Practice | Karen Kao

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Image source: International Writers' Collective   Every term, my students at the International Writers' Collective ask: how do you develop a writing practice? If you’re taking one of our core writing workshops, you already have a rhythm. It might be the last minute sprint to finish your exercise in time for the deadline. Any schedule is better than none. Try to hold onto it, even after the term is over. Need a hard deadline? Set yourself a realistic goal. Need a spanking when you miss your deadline? Find a writing buddy. Do what works for you. I have it easy. Writing is my work. This is what my daily practice looks like. 08.00 Wake up. 08.05 Make coffee. Unless you’re the novelist Jennifer Egan , in which case you reach for your journal and start to write. She doesn’t mind that her handwriting is illegible, even to her. She wants to surprise herself. There are monsters and plot points and character arcs to be found in the grey space betw

2021, Daffodils Denied by Julia Jones

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April 2016 Happy Daffs  Five years ago on this date I was giving  thanks for the joy of daffodils . I was bearing witness to the blessed moments of relief given by their inherent gaiety to my mother’s poor tired mind as her dementia worsened and paranoia set in. It wasn’t long before we were forced to admit that the illness was overwhelming her and she needed to move into the dementia nursing unit where, finally, she would die. Meanwhile, in April 2016, there was a neglected strip of flower bed opposite the window of her extra care flat. After ripping out the couch grass and cutting back the dead twigs, we planted two small clumps of daffodils. Mum's flat was increasingly filled with ghosts and murderers that set her screaming in the dark and me hurtling down the 60 miles of main road attempting to hold them at bay. In the end I lost that battle, but this time five years ago, my main allies were those daffodils. I wrote Even in the time of sundowners when Mum’s brain is exhausted a

The Golden Age of Crime Fiction and Home Schooling by Neil McGowan

 I've reached that sticky point around the middle of the book I'm writing that I always seem to hit, the one where I doubt anything I've written is any good and wonder how on earth everything will come together. I'm pretty sure it will - it has with every book so far - but right now writing is like wading through treacle. Every sentence seems to take an age to write, and at the moment 500 words seems like a good night.   So, I turned to other things in the hope of breaking the deadlock. The joys of home schooling means I'm having to revisit various topics with my children (some of which are a struggle -- I was never a fan of RE at school and only paid enough attention to get by in the lessons). My youngest was assigned a murder mystery theme to create, and immediately pounced on me as 'you'll be good at that.'   Turns out, what she needed to do was write a series of short documents to support the crime and the resolution -- character profiles, witnes

Alchemy or serendipity -- Bill Kirton

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When it’s going well, there’s a certain alchemy to writing. I’ll explain with reference to the last (so far) of my novels, The Likeness . It’s embarrassing to admit that, when it was a WIP (Work In Progress), the IP bit went on for ages. In the good old days, it used to take me about 6 months to write the first draft of a novel, but The Likeness crawled on (and off) for at least 2 years. It eventually made it over the 70,000 word mark but I had no idea why it had been so much like hard work. It’s a sequel to The Figurehead , which is a historical crime novel that, in the course of writing, also became a romance, and part of the reason why I’d been dragging my heels was that I wasn’t sure how I intended to resolve the problems of the relationship between a figurehead carver, John Grant, and Helen Anderson, the daughter of a rich merchant. The novel’s set in 1841, when attitudes to marriage and extra-marital goings-on didn’t leave much scope for … well, anything really. But then so

Dear Diary, says Debbie Bennett

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One of my Facebook friends is sharing her childhood diary with us, with comments from an adult perspective on the life of a ten year old. It’s fascinating stuff.  I started keeping a diary from the start of 1977, when I was almost 13 (my birthday is in January). I wrote pretty much daily until the end of 1985, by which time I’d left university and home and gone to work in my first job in London. Clearly real life was more exciting then as the entries tail off. My last entry was 1988 as I was about to get engaged to Andy – by husband now of over 30 years!  So 6th April 2021. What was I doing on this day over the years of my childhood …  1977   Went to the cinema today and saw 101 Dalmatians , also saw Ride a Wild Pony . It was ace. The pony was called Taff and was a palomino. I was 13 and in the typical teenage girl pony phase. I can't remember what age I started riding lessons but most of these years were spent obsessing about ponies, reading pony stories and desperately trying to