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Showing posts from May, 2024

PowerPoint and Zoom Workshops by Allison Symes

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  Image Credit:  Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. One positive thing to come from the pandemic was the increasing use of Zoom to enable people to still “meet”.   I use Zoom regularly to meet with distant family members and for workshops. One welcome thing I hadn’t expected was being able to run flash fiction workshops for writing groups all over the country. No travel fees and I’m paid. I like this - a lot! I now run a monthly flash fiction workshop, on different aspects of the craft, for a Christian writing organisation. The members could never meet in person - we live hundreds of miles apart - but Zoom comes to the rescue and it has made it possible for the organisation concerned to offer genre specific writing groups. I think it is a wonderful development. Zoom has also led to my rediscovering PowerPoint . I used it a lot in the 1990s, moved away, and then returned to it for Zoom workshops as these presentations are great (and easy) to share on screen. For my

A Rant, by Elizabeth Kay

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Communication systems are now being organised, in the main, by people under fifty with no disabilities and a reasonable income. As readers and writers, we should be concerned not only about the language in which we communicate, but also the means of communication which have already excluded some sections of society. And when this comes to medical matters, the effects can be fatal.       Yes, I did do A/L zoology We thought the internet was a wonderful thing, for disseminating knowledge and getting in touch with people on the other side of the world. We would learn so much. And so we have – we can look up any number of symptoms and decide what is wrong with us. I have always had a reasonable knowledge of medicine, starting with A/L zoology which gave me a good idea of how a mammalian body works. I used to be asked if I had a medical background, and would reply with a smile that I was an enthusiastic amateur. That’s not funny any more. Doctors these days assume that you have looked up

Doctor Bloato's Guide to Beating Word Count Blues--Reb MacRath

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  It's a terrible thing to be skinny these days, at least if you're writing thin books. Bloated or musclebound books are the rage when the minimum word count required by publishers and gatekeepers is 70-80K. Never mind that many published novels would have been far better if cut in half. On the beach of the publishing business today, you need to bulk up to keep bullies from kicking sand in your face. Have no fear. Doc Bloato's here with eight great tricks to save the day. Set aside your shame and play the same game played by many others. 1) Add unnecessary speaker tags--he said/she said--to every line of dialog, as done by the late Robert B Parker in his last ten years. This will also increase your page count exponentially.  2 Calculate the number of words you'll need to meet the minimum word count. Then force-fed them shamelessly, page by page by page. For example, if you're 10,000 words shy, at 250  words per page, you can add 40 words to each. Add an extra line o

Auras Misha Herwin

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  “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/Than are dreamt of in your philosophy” The quote from Hamlet has almost become a cliché yet it sums up so much of what many of us think and feel about the world we live in. We sense that there is more than the physical. We yearn for the spiritual and yet more and more of us no longer believe in or subscribe to any religion. Instead we delve into the world of the supernatural, go for tarot card readings, consult mediums, take part in ghost hunts. I’ve tried all these but never had an experience that convinced me. However, that doesn’t mean that I am a total sceptic. I think I’ve just come to the conclusion that I don’t have any sensitivity to physic phenomena. My one chance of proving whether I did or not, ended in dismal failure. I had gone to a series of evening class about the connection between mind and body in terms of health and wellbeing. Dr Graham was phycologist at Keele University and this was her particular interest.

Meet Author Virginia Watts, a Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award, and Find Out How She Does What She Does

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  The list of people who I have published is starting to become substantial. One of those books is the wonderful ECHOES FROM THE HOCKER HOUSE by Virginia Watts . Virginia lives in Pennsylvania, in fact she grew up there, and so did I, which may be a small reason why her stories so resonated with me, because they channel the "something" that is the more rural parts of the very large, primarily rural state. My dad was from coal country, and there is something unique to being from coal country. Virginia's stories capture this very well. A little bit about the book from our side, the publishing side, My husband, David Yurkovich , and I are the entirerty of the company, or, I should say, we were, until we added some short-form/poetry/ writers/artists/experimentors on board as volunteer collaborators. They help each other, and us, publish chapbooks (for lack of a better word) of their excellent writing, and, we hope, someday, together as a group, we will open up opportunities f

Last Chapter?

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  I should have come by boat, of course. The one-way street leading down to the river at Hamble-le-Rice, near Southampton, is as narrow and steep as anyone might expect, who knows the ways of riverside villages. I thought of Pin Mill, I thought of Wivenhoe and Maldon. You can probably think of many more. Then, like all the other riverside towns and villages which you might have in your mind’s eye, I was suddenly there, by the water. The public hard stretched in front of me, a yacht club to the left and an utterly lovely 1960s ocean racing yacht doing an utterly incredible 21 st century 180º pivot in her own length to reverse smoothly into her pontoon slot, just as the sun went over the yardarm. The Yacht Club at the end of the High Street by Janet Bradley I’d come to Hamble to have lunch with Vuyisile Jaca, who was part of the winning Maiden team in the recent Ocean Globe Race – and also the first Black African woman ever to race around the world. I wanted to say goodbye before she r

Revisiting Past Work by Neil McGowan

This past month has been quite introspective for me. I’ve been looking back through some of the short stories I’ve written over the past thirty-odd years with a view to seeing if there’s anything in there that still engages me. I will say, I don’t write anywhere near as many shorts as I used to – the books have kind of taken over, there, meaning the time to write something small and self-contained has shrunk – so the majority of them are earlier works. I’m also, for obvious reasons, not revisiting those stories that have been published. I think they can stand on their own merits. This started four or five weeks back, after a conversation with a work colleague who was asking me about writing (surprisingly, not the usual questions about ‘Where do you get your ideas’ and so on). We were discussing how it’s possible to see a writer’s style and voice develop over the years with each book they put out – we started looking at the development of the Harry Potter books, funnily enough, and

Self-publishing journey - yep, still going!

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 Last month I told you about my MS woes when I discovered that I'd sent the wrong draft to my editor. Well, you'll be pleased to know that I sent the right draft to my copy editor/ proofreader in April. She's working on it at the moment. In the meantime, I've sent uncorrected digital proofs out to crime authors to get some quotes. The cover is almost ready - just waiting for an author quote to go on the front. All sounds positive, right? Well, yes and no. There's still a lot to do that I'm avoiding, like buying ISBN numbers and working out how I'm going to format the book when it's ready and I don't even want to talk about marketing! Breathe, Joy, breathe.  I think self-publishing has taught me just how much a publisher does and how little I know about it all. Gone are the days when an author could just 'write'. Even with a traditional publisher, there's still an expectation on an author to help with the publicity. It still all feels over

Guardians of History by Debbie Bennett

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So I’ve been conspicuously absent from this blog – and life in general for a few months. If 2023 was the year of health and getting my teeth done, then 2024 has so far been the year of death and the major life-changes that death brings to those of us left behind.  In January I lost my dad after a long, and slow decline into dementia. He’d been existing (I don’t use the term living, because he really wasn’t) for 18 months in a lovely care home, but passed away quietly in his sleep one night – a week before my 60th birthday and the party I’d planned.  My mum was in hospital at the time – she’d been admitted after some blood tests – and we didn’t realise then that she’d never live on her own again. After a terminal cancer diagnosis, she was in and out of hospital, respite care, her own home with carers 3 times a day (and me living with her on and off) and then she declined rapidly over a period of days and was suddenly gone. Overnight. No real goodbyes. My adult daughter and I spent her l

Exploring the Possibilities (Cecilia Peartree)

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One of several virtual writers' groups I am part of is called Campers' Canteen - we first 'met' via one of the NaNoWriMo events and have stuck together now for several years, though not on the main NaNo website, which has apparently become rather toxic - not that I've witnessed that for myself, but I've received several emails from them apologising for things I didn't know had even happened, and sharing their plans and promises to do better in the future. The point of Campers' Canteen is that we mostly communicate with each other during NaNoWriMo events and share our anxieties about writing and (mostly) our regular failures to keep up with our various goals. April brought one of these events and I am happy to say my writing went almost exactly as I had hoped. I finished drafting and editing the latest book in my mystery series (book 27), and it's now live on Amazon etc - see cover pic at the end of this post. But I'm also happy to add that I foun

The Weird and Wonderful World of a Writer – Sarah Nicholson

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I went to see a play last month, written by a local Suffolk author, Suzanne Hawkes, with my friend, Virginia Betts, in the lead role. Pat and Ron – Writers in Crime was an exploration of the friendship between American crime writer Patricia Highsmith… “I write thrillers!” she interjects with an exasperated drawl. …and fellow author Ronald Blyth. He was Suffolk born and bred and they met when she stayed in the county. The play was brilliantly written and acted and I found out much about two authors who I confess I’ve not read. However, the most surprising thing I learned that evening had nothing to do with their literary works, or character creations. I discovered that Patricia Highsmith collected snails. Maybe not too much of an odd fact on its own, but her penchant for these slimy creatures went even further as she used to keep them in her handbag with a head of lettuce when she went out and was even known to stick them inside her bra! She did have more usual writerly hab