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Showing posts from April, 2021

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

Calculating the Risks (Cecilia Peartree)

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  Yesterday my son travelled on a bus. I can't remember when he last did this. It must have been over a year ago, before he started working from home. His trip, across town to collect things from his old place of work before he started a new job, was the subject of a disproportionate amount of discussion between us beforehand. His first thought was that he would walk all the way there and back, but as the route would involve going up quite a steep hill and down the other side (and return) I tried to talk him into getting a taxi at least one way. He was reluctant to do that but at last decided to risk getting the bus. On his way back, another family member happened to see him waiting for the bus and gave him a lift home. As soon as he told me this, I began to work out whether there had been any risk attached to that option. Happily, the risk seemed minimal as the other family member had been fully vaccinated and they both wore masks. We have both avoided risk almost entirely by stay

Death and the Writer, Part 2 DOA - Umberto Tosi

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Death came calling not long after my last Authors Electric blog post on February 3 in which I remembered a recently departed friend and colleague. Prophetically, I had entitled the post " Death and the Writer , Within a month I was hospitalized with congestive heart failure and other critical problems from which it was touch and go. Doctors brought me back thanks to the wizardry of modern medical technology. But no silver bullet, magical pill or micro-surgical technique could reverse the change this episode brought to my state of mind. Overnight, A sickly kid who became a 10K daily runner and adult adventurer who hardly ever caught colds, I went from seeing myself as a robust, healthy chap to a wheezing heap of ailments and conditions, whose every step required maximum effort. Overnight, my body seemed to give way to the multiple insults of age, each of which requires medical tending. It makes one realize one's luck to be alive with each breath, easy or hard. Avoidance doesn&#