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The blank blank page: N M Browne

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I have been a writer for a long time and yet sometimes it is as if I've never done it before. The blank page is still the blank page and though I like the potential of white space, the process of filling it with words is no easier than when I first started. Indeed it may be harder because the great thing about being a beginner is the naive tendency to underestimate weaknesses and overestimate the chances of securing a six figure book deal. To all of us the blank page is often more fantasy than the fantasy we intend to write. When I teach, students are keen to tell me what they are going to do with the blank page, the misunderstandings they will clarify, the profound emotion they will convey, the subtly delineated transformations their characters will undergo: the blank page is so full of potential. I have blogged before about my love of the blank page when writing fiction. I enjoy the moment before I've messed everything up. I am familiar with the delete button and the deadzon

Menace and Mystery - an evening with Elly Griffiths and Lesley Thomson -- by Joy Kluver

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Huge apologies for missing my slot! I'm normally on the 7th of each month but my daughter came home from uni for reading week and I lost track of the dates. On the 27th February, we welcomed Elly Griffiths and Lesley Thomson to West Barnes Library. Here's my report on the evening. Well, it's been eighteen months in the planning but it was definitely worth the wait! We had a fabulous evening with Elly Griffiths and Lesley Thomson at West Barnes Library. Of course, I'm struggling to remember today what was said but I have a few snippets to share with you plus lots of  photos. But before I regale some of the evening, here are the blurbs for the books. The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths When builders renovating a café in King's Lynn find a human skeleton behind a wall, they call for DCI Harry Nelson and Dr Ruth Galloway, Head of Archaeology at the nearby University of North Norfolk. Ruth is preoccupied with the threatened closure of her department and by her ever-compli

Man-Eating Typewriter by Richard Milward - you have been warned!

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I have just finished reading the newly released Man-Eating Typewriter by Richard Milward, and I think it might appeal to anyone who has worked at the seedier end of the London publishing scene over the last half century, unless they are easily offended. It is fabulously well written, but merciless in its subject matter. I understand it can be a lazy option to draw comparisons with other books, and possibly galling for the author, but in this case, it might be useful for potential readers to get an idea what they are in for in this masterpiece. If you enjoyed Perfume by Patrick S ü skin or American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, then chances are you will love this book. Likewise, if you can remember enjoying Dead Babies by Martin Amis and The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. If you enjoy alternative worlds created by the likes of Mervyn Peake, or films like Clockwork Orange, Silence of the Lambs, Withnail and I and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, you will also be okay. You may also be r

Pirates! -- Susan Price

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Terrifying -- lives with witches and has knives in its feet.  If you didn't watch 'Our Flag Means Death' , then please find it on iPlayer and watch it there As Soon As. I was slow to catch onto it myself, but after being urged to watch it by people who laugh at the same things as I do, I watched the whole series on BBC iPlayer. It's an original, playful, laugh-out-loud, gender-bending, pirate sit-com and there aren't many of those, so we have to grab them when we find them. One of the main characters is Stede Bonnet, a wealthy Barbadian land-owner, circa 1700, who suffers a mid-life crisis. Fearing that he'll never be more than 'a little rich boy,' he builds himself a ship, deserts his wife and family and takes to the high-seas to be a pirate, despite knowing nothing about ships or piracy. His crew are baffled by his lack of pirating skills, as well as the way he treats them like children in a remedial class, occupying their time and expanding their im

Dear Homonymous Fellow Authors... from your namesake, Katherine Roberts

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Katherine Roberts (author of this blog) How often do you Google yourself to check how famous you are? If you have a unique name, no problem. You'll most likely appear on the first page of search results, even if you've only ever written a specialist non-fiction paper on the relative distance of Jupiter's moons from Earth when the planets are aligned once every 30 million years... hooray, instant fame! And easier to find means easier to sell, something you might want to consider when inventing your best-selling pseudonym in our digital age. Having a common name like mine, on the other hand, can be both a blessing and a curse. If your name is a variation of a more famous author's, you might get lucky... a Jane Rowlings title, for example, will probably be shelved beside the latest Harry Potter in a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. With an online search, however, it will likely be buried beneath a hundred or so pages of JK Rowling's more popular results, and I suspect your

Going to Heaven by Sandra Horn

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  Have I ever told you about the day I went to Heaven for the first time? Via St Pancras? I arrived, not by a straight and narrow way, but via a broad and inviting set of steps.                                                                                          from Wikipedia   Of course, as St Petra explained to me, you can’t just walk in; there’s a ticket system. I was crestfallen at that, thinking I had come on this long and difficult journey only to be denied. What saved me and gained me admission was a dirty,   crumpled-up letter in the bottom of my bag.     It bore the logo of Barefoot Books. ‘Oh, you’re a WRITER,’   said St Petra, touching her forelock as a mark of respect, ‘Come and take your rightful place, O Best Beloved.’ Or something like that. So in I went and found my beautiful, my own, space at a shining desk with a lamp and a screen on which I could order any book I wanted from the catalogue – that is, effectively, ANY book. I searched the catalogue, I inputted m

Witch or Midwife? -- Carol-Ann

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  Hello everyone. I wanted to write today about where I got my inspiration for Irin Solis, the first character that you meet in my debut novel, Sisterhood. The name Irin means ‘peace’ and the surname Solis means ‘comfort’. I thought that together they would be a good fit for someone descended from a midwife. The birthing of babies has always been womans’ work. As far back as records go women have delivered the babies of their sisters, daughters and friends. They were usually women who were mothers themselves and so they attended these births with knowledge and compassion. Traditionally, the treatment of illness, injuries, pre and postnatal care, were not seen as a profession. The cures and remedies were part of the culture of the area and passed down from mother to daughter and shared between certain women in the community, especially those with a knowledge of herbs and plants. The human body was not understood scientifically and so old wives tales and superstitions in the form of char