Showing posts from January, 2022

Happy writing memories, by Elizabeth Kay

Rain, heavy cloud, mud, Omicron... So this is a picture post of happy memories connected with writing. This one is of my wonderful agent, Carolyn Whitaker, on the balcony of her house in Turkey, which I visited many times. We also went to Iceland together. She died in 2016, and I miss her more than I can say. A generous, funny, adventurous woman with the most incisive and down-to-earth mind I have ever encountered when it came to editing a manuscript. "Let's start with the first f--- on page thirteen." She had a speedboat at her place in Netley, and piloted it at terrifying speeds. She also owned racehorses, and I was there when she had a winner at Epsom. A total original, who was an enormous influence on me. I was very touched when she left me some money; I realised it was exactly the same amount she had earned off me in the previous twenty-five years.    This is a humming bird from the garden in Monteverde, Costa Rica, which was the initial setting for my fantasy The Di

My TikTok Author Adventure by Wendy H. Jones

  I'm sure there are few who cannot have heard of TikTok but for those who have not, it is a video centric social media platform. WIth over a billion users worldwide it is racketing up the charts and is either fifth or seventh in the charts on whether you count messenger and WhatsApp as social media apps. So, why am I talking about TikTok here today? Join me on my TikTok adventure. In a fit of enthusiasm I joined TikTok about seven or eight months ago in a slow period during lockdown. Then, I saw all those youngsters dancing and lip synching and nearly lost the will to live. I literally had no clue what I was doing, or why I was doing it. I did a small video of my writing space, chucked on the hashtag #booktok and left it to fall as it would. I followed one person, had one follower, got a number of views and likes but nothing more. It was like astronauts drifting in space with no clue what space actually was, where they were supposed to be heading and hadn't even heard of the m

A Time For Everything? ~ by Maressa Mortimer

My kids couldn’t believe it. It was literally a few days after Christmas, and the shop was selling Easter Eggs! Is it me, or are they even earlier this year than normal? They’re all mixed on the shelves with Valentine merch. At least, it means as a writer, your timeline doesn’t have to be too precise. That’s my excuse, anyway. It’s a nice detail to include in your story, something like a poisoned cream egg, for example. Your time frame is from the start of January, all the way through to Easter. You can describe the victim, walking through the supermarket, tutting at the fact that Easter Eggs and Valentine's hearts are right next to one another. Maybe she dislikes the passing of the seasons, feels it’s like wishing your life away. She might hesitate between cream eggs and valentine hearts, with the killer peeking between the shelves to see if his dastardly plan will succeed. It could confuse your readers, I suppose. It makes the timeline less precise. Writing about seasonal s

PUZZLE -- Bill Kirton

I’m naturally anxious to remind the august membership of Authors Electric that I’m still a keen follower of the group’s comings and goings so I’ve decided to use one of my occasional guest visits to help prolong the relentless gaiety of the Christmas and New Year observations by offering a little light-hearted challenge designed specifically for members' tastes and talents. In fact, it’s a variation on one I published several years ago by way of response to a Facebook posting. Facebook is a strange place for all sorts of reasons – some good, some less so. Just by answering a few questions, one can, for example, find out really useful things, such as which 18th century politician, Renaissance painter, Jane Austen character, or medieval landlord one most resembles in terms of one’s susceptibility to certain medical conditions. Other queries help one decide whether, temperamentally, one is closer to a porcupine, a swallow-tailed butterfly, or a haddock. Or there’s the simple process

Don't You Dare Tell Me My Baby's Dead, Fool!: Part 1-- Reb MacRath

  Oh, They have a long list of reasons why the book that's your baby belongs in the casket they've already made. It's too short/long/purple/plain/commercial/literary/off-the-wall/common...or to put it simply: I've spent the past year on a project that had Too-Too all over it before I'd even started. And yet I continued with some trepidation. But, as I continued, I grew more defiant. I also grew more confident that there was a market for my project: seven radical renditions of poems by one lesser-known Roman poet--'inspired-by covers ' instead of conventional translations. I envisioned a book totaling maybe 50 pages, including commentaries that I hoped would be half of the fun. Since nothing like this book exists, it might have a fighting chance if I remembered E. Lynne Harris.   Harris was a bisexual black author who self-published this first book in 1991. Like other authors in those pre-Web days, Harris drove around in a car loaded with copies. But unlike o

More Daisy than Jessica -- Ruth Leigh

When I was a little girl, the answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was always the same. “I’m going to be a writer.” As I’ve written about elsewhere, life got in the way and it’s only now, in my mid-fifties, that I am a proper author, with a book or two what I wrote.   I took the plunge and at the end of last year, we did our last catering function and hung up our aprons forever. “What joy!”, thought I to myself. “No more distractions like quotes for weddings, working out how many champagne flutes a client needs, planning a menu which will suit a party which contains two coeliacs, five vegans, two dairy-frees and a person who can’t abide peppers. Surely, I will be as light-hearted as a swallow, swooping ‘ere closer to the earth.”   Sitting at my laptop, with all the time in the world, the words didn’t flow. Not even a bit. I wrote several paragraphs then edited them heavily, sighing as I did so. Where had my creative spark gone? Why wasn’t I racing along,

Untangling my Entanglement

On the last day of 2021, I sat at my desk ready to write.  I woke up early, made a cup of coffee, told Alexa to play the best of Kenny G and cut a huge slice of my favourite Rum cake to nibble on. I wore my fluffy lounge wear and cosy socks. I was ready, absolutely ready to write the last few words of my new novel. I only had 4,000 more words left. Then the unthinkable happened, I stared at my screen for more minutes than I could count and nothing. My hands didn't move, but my mouth did, finishing the cake and coffee that was supposed to last a few hundred words in only a few minutes. It was weird and uncomfortable. The ease with which my mind betrayed me.  It was not that my mind was completely blank, actually, it was quite full with words, so much so that - I could smell the words I could taste the words I could see the words I could hear the words I just couldn't write the words  My mind was entangled, spun into a web of doubt, fear and insecurities. It felt so crazy to me,

Wrestling with an octopus -- Misha Herwin

  When it comes to writing a novel, I’m a planner not a pantster. Once I’ve got an idea, I can sit down and do a chapter by chapter synopsis. This isn’t necessarily the final version but it is more or less the shape the book will take. From then on it’s fairly straightforward. I sit down, I write and, when I have finished, I edit. The editing might involve a little re-structuring but it general this is fairly minor. That’s how I usually do it. With my current WIP the whole process is more like wrestling with an octopus.   There are so many tentacles to drag me down and when I escape from one, another is waiting to twist and tangle my thoughts. I have a basic narrative. I have characters that I'm growing to know and mostly to like, but it wasn't coming together and after 40,000 words I was at the point of giving up when I posted my dilemma on various writers’ forums and on Twitter. Fellow writers were quick to help. Some people suggested putting the m/s away for a while and

This Week (just passed)

Lunna House, Shetland, overlooking the anchorage This week began 9 days ago. I was self-isolating, having tested positive a couple of days before, and I’d just made the terrible mistake of saying aloud to Francis how conducive I hoped this was going to be to a quiet spell of writing. I’d been playing my usual game of not exactly mentioning the current project, clocking up a few hundred words here and there and hoping they would turn into something. They’d crawled nicely past the 30,000 sticky point and my characters had anchored in the evocative West Lunna Voe in Shetland. They and I were both eager to know what would happen to them next. A spell of enforced seclusion seemed the ideal opportunity to find out. What actually happened was a message from Delyth, a dedicated, passionate, dementia nurse in Wales introducing Liz Saville Roberts MP who was offering to support the John's Campaign on-going struggle for the rights of people in hospitals and care homes to maintain their rela

Writing Struggles, Restructuring, and Finger Exercises by Neil McGowan

  I’ve recently finished a deliberate break from writing. Not just the act of putting words on paper, but editing and tweaking, even thinking about it in any great depth. The Christmas period helped (I managed to get away to Yorkshire for five days, and deliberately didn’t take a laptop or even a pen with me). Never mind Zoom fatigue (or in my case, Teams (which is, shall we say, not the slickest piece of software I’ve ever used), I had screen fatigue. The thought of turning on my laptop after a full day of staring at a screen was demotivating to say the least. Add to that my job involves teaching all levels of clinicians and their admin staff how to use various digital systems, using both Teams and another piece of software (because Teams won’t do everything we need) and my digital energy levels were non-existent by the time I finished. For the past few months, I’ve ploughed on, trying alternatives such as writing by hand (quite satisfying but slow, and still needed typi

The January Blues -- Joy Kluver

 I’m sitting here, wondering what to write for this post. And the truth is – I don’t know. I have a book coming out next week but I don’t feel compelled to tell you about it. I could write about pantser vs planner but that’s not grabbing me. Settings maybe? No, not loving that idea either. I think the January blues have already set in and this apathy is indicative of my writing too. I have to start something new but not sure what it’ll be. I haven’t written a new book for almost two years as I’ve been editing three books for publication, the third coming out next week. Just before Christmas, an idea I’d been working on for months was rejected by my editor. So I have to come up with something else. I have a couple of ideas mulling in my head but no idea if they’re feasible or not. I had an email from Jericho Writers recently, titled, ‘What do you want, Joy?’ When I opened it up, it continued ‘What do you want? I mean really?’ It was an illuminating email about authors who thought the

Resolutions and Legs - Debbie Bennett

Resolutions. Don’t we all just hate them? It’s like we deliberately set ourselves up to fail. Start the diet. Do the exercise thing. Give up alcohol. And we start out from such an overindulged, lazy and alcoholic place that we convince ourselves it must get better and it can’t be that hard just to get clean, can it? But then we set impossible targets and beat ourselves up when we consistently fail to achieve them. January is too dark and cold and miserable to do much more than scoff all the Christmas leftovers while watching the latest must-see series on Netflix. Add to that the ever-gloomy news of pandemics and plan Bs, face-masks and lateral flow testing and it’s no wonder we’re all so bloody miserable, is it?  I don’t do dry January. I like my weekly pub quiz nights accompanied by wine. I don’t feel the need to prove to everybody that I’m not an alcoholic – I know I’m not, and I don’t actually care what other people think. Diet and exercise? Hmm. Not a resolution, no, but I do wan

Getting Away with Murder - or Not? (Cecilia Peartree)

 Most of my novels, even the ones with murders in them, end up being rather lightweight and frothy, no matter how much I try to introduce serious topics. Incidentally, the same kind of thing has always tended to happen on the occasions when I have presented a paper at a work-related conference. In one case, the colleague with whom I co-wrote the paper but who was unable to attend the conference himself, gave me strict instructions not to make people laugh. Needless to say a colleague from another organisation came up to me at the end of the presentation and said, ‘I did enjoy your paper – it was so funny.’ However, I’ve recently realised that during these dark days of late autumn and winter, my writing has taken a darker turn. It isn’t so much that the murders have become more gruesome or the peril faced by the main characters is more terrifying, but that I’ve given the characters moral dilemmas to try and resolve. This year in particular there seems to be a theme to the moral dile