Showing posts from July, 2023

Barb-believe: N M Browne

For once I'm not going to complain about the vagaries of the writing life, but celebrate the power of a good story and a good script.   As you may be able to infer from the pic I recently saw 'Barbie' at the cinema. I went with my daughter and we both laughed a lot. I loved Barbie and Sindy as a kid and the script in its silliness and cleverness was a joy. I loved that it referenced a shared cultural past of play and film and that some critics have seen it a retelling of the myth of the goddess Inanna.   Although the story follows many script writing conventions: the heroes journey, the fish out of water and I suppose the transformation narrative of Pinnoccio etc it was clearly written by a human being so that it isn't just a retelling of a myth, a reworking of a story archetype.   I was horrified and unsurprised to learn that Netflix are intending to  get round the writers strike and the pesky business of human writers requiring money to live by employing someone to wo

Bowl of Beauty by Susan Price

 It's called 'Bowl of Beauty.' It's a peony and I had to have it. This is my mother living on in me. Her small garden was so crammed with plants that there wasn't a patch of soil to be seen. But there was always some other plant she had to have. My Dad lives on in me too, because I'm just as interested in the things that live in and around the plants. Last year, I was given a bee hotel. That's what the sellers call it anyway. I'm puzzled that, according to the sales catalogue, bees get a hotel, but ladybirds are housed in a barn, like back-packing hostellers. The little toe-rag caught in the act: Photo: Bernhard Plank   But, that aside... Since it was a gift, I dutifully opened the bee-hotel for custom but, being a pessimistic sort, didn't expect much from it. So I was surprised and delighted when several of the holes were filled by leaf-cutter bees, so called because they block their nesting-holes with the neat circles of leaf they cut from nearby

Words don't 'alf define a Society: useful words for the 2020s -- Clare Wiener (Mari Howard)

Another from (soft) science writing? Liminality : I stared at this word, wondering whether I’d seen it before, and what it meant. Was it actually a mistake, for something I could imagine: ‘luminality’ ? Luminality made sense of a kind: the writer probably meant whatever possessed this quality in spades — it illumined, or lit, things, rooms, extremely well. I then returned to my normal self and understood: liminality was the name of an Easter art exhibition which I’d recently contributed to, about the ‘liminal’ or in-between time between, for example, career or job changes, between taking exams and receiving your degree results, and in this particular case — this Easter exhibition — the Saturday between Good Friday, the Crucifixion, and Easter Sunday, the Resurrection… ‘Liminal’ — a somewhat poetic word — has entered popular use rather recently (it was 11 times more frequent in 2019 than in 1980). What I was reading used its ‘ality’ noun ‘liminality’ (10 times more frequent in 2019 than

I asked ChatGPT to write my next book, and this is the result - Katherine Roberts

Image generated by AI at Last month, I promised you some AI-authored fiction. This is what happened when I asked ChatGPT to write the first scene of my next book. ME Write a fight scene featuring Princess Zandra and her centaur friend Rru training with wooden swords on the edge of a cliff. ChatGPT (first draft) Princess Zandra stood at the edge of a cliff, her royal blue gown swaying gently in the wind. Her eyes, filled with determination, met those of her loyal centaur companion, Rru. They had come to this secluded spot for their regular training session, each armed with a wooden sword. The distant sound of crashing waves against the rocks below added an air of urgency to the scene. With a swift motion, Zandra gripped her wooden sword, the polished oak handle fitting perfectly in her delicate hand. Rru, towering over her, flexed his muscular equine body, his hooves digging into the ground as he prepared for the mock battle. "Are you ready, Rru?" Zandra called out,

Books as Therapy by Sandra Horn

  I talk to myself in the shower in the mornings – in my head, you understand, out loud would be weird. It’s usually fairly mindless chatter, reminding myself what day it is, etc. but it will be coloured by whatever I’ve been reading during the EMC (early morning cuppa) before I get up. This morning it was in the voice of the Russian narrator of Life's Music, yesterday, suave Italian   Marco from The Hummingbird. If it was poetry, the internal monologue might be in iambic pentameters. It’s not a skill – I just can’t help it. It tends to wear off by the time I'm talking, which is probably just as well, but the mood invoked can last. A couple of blogs ago, I had a brief online conversation with Peter Leyland via the comments section. He mentioned his interest in bibliotherapy and kindly included a link to a paper he had written about it in the magazine   Aeon/Psyche. It contains a fascinating account of his exploration of the impact of reading on mood and wellbeing, with an a

Books Which Work and Those Which Don’t by Allison Symes

Image Credit:  Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. There are few books which have flopped for me. There are some I won’t read due to personal taste, my faith etc., but everyone has likes and dislikes. What I dislike is finding a book that looks promising, I read, and it falls flat. Life is too short for wasted reads! In these thankfully rare cases, I realise fairly early this will be a dud and I stop reading it.  The books and stories which work take me to other worlds, show me things about this one I hadn’t considered before, inform me, entertain me, and remind me of why I love reading. I adore books and stories like that. My tastes include non-fiction, historical, crime, as well as flash fiction and short story collections, novels, novellas etc.  Those which don’t work turn an interesting subject matter, such as history, into a dull list and too much academic jargon for non-fiction. For fiction, characters which fail to engage me means I’m unlikely to read much of thei