I’m a great believer in Murphy’s Law. “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Why? Because humans have such a wonderful creative capacity and, simultaneously, an equally wonderful capacity to muck things up. (It’s just wonderful in a different direction, that’s all!).
In case I had forgotten, I am reminded. I am back in Delhi, the city of my childhood. “Be careful”, cautions Maya, the caretaker who I had known as a young school girl and is now a mother of three daughters in their twenties. Two of Maya’s front teeth are missing, like absent milestones of time, marking the passage of some 40 years. “Be careful of the dogs, big brother”, she warns me.
I go to the balcony and look outside. Hordes of stray mongrels roam the streets. Some have colourful winter coats on. Occasionally, they settle some canine scores with sporadic fights, but are peaceful on the whole.
I had the great joy of being at the Winchester Writers’ Festival on Saturday 15th June and a lovely time was had by all. As ever, I learned a great deal from the courses I attended. I also loved chatting to friends, old and new, including Scottish crime writer, Val Penny, author of the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries, who I interviewed for CFT a little while ago.
At the end of the main talks and courses on Saturday, there was a celebration of the life of the late Barbara Large, MBE in the beautiful chapel at the University of Winchester at 6 pm.
It was lovely hearing so many people share their memories of a lady who did so much to foster writing, encourage writers (especially nervous newbies including me), and who promoted writing/education/reading as much as was humanly possible. It was also nice to meet up briefly with Anne Wan and Mike and Brenda Sedgwick after the simple but stylish celebration.
[Read more…] about Writing Legacy
I make no apology for the pun! Reading aloud is encouraged in youngsters to help them develop their vocabulary and rightly so but, unless you are a performance poet or oral storyteller, this habit is forgotten in adulthood. I think this is a shame. I find it is a real treat to be read to and it makes a lovely connection to the old oral storytelling tradition too.
Editor’s note: A new Saturday Story series by Gopi Chandroth
A short version of this story recently won the first prize in a competition held by the Society for Civil and Public Service Writers (SCPSW).
The SCPSW membership is open to civil and public servants, current or retired, including local government, NHS and the police. Contact Gopinath.email@example.com for more information.
“999 – what’s your emergency?”
“I need an ambulance”, is what I planned to say, but didn’t. Sometimes, the best ideas in life come in a flash. In that brief interlude between hearing the operator’s voice and opening my mouth to speak, I was struck by a thought that changed my life forever, and threw me in prison.
In 2008, I was charged with the first-degree murder of Charlene Smith, a street walker in her early twenties. The jury was unanimous in their ‘guilty’ verdict and I got a life sentence.
[Read more…] about Stolen Murder
In almost every walk of life there are those who are behind the scenes, who are easily overlooked but without whom life would be that much poorer. In any organisation or indeed on a website like this, there is at least one person driving it who makes things happen (take a bow, Janet and Neil).
I guess it is like housework in a way. Nobody notices when you’ve done it. They do notice when you haven’t!
Is that rotten? Oh yes.
Is it human nature to a T? Oh yes.
Editor’s note: A new Saturday Story series by Gopi Chandroth
A short version of this story recently won the joint first prize in a competition held by the Society for Civil and Public Service Writers (SCPSW).
The SPCSW membership is open to civil and public servants, current or retired, including local government, NHS and the police. Contact Gopinath.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In Gorkha district of Nepal, halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara, is a 17th century temple called Manakamana, which literally translates to heart’s desire. It was one of the scheduled stops in my itinerary. The cable car ride up the Himalayan mountain was famous for the spectacular views and the deity at the temple was believed to grant the wishes of those who visited her. Good value for money, I thought as I queued up to pay for my ride. I was tickled by the fares table that announced a two-way ticket for goats at 240 Rupees. I assumed it was a joke.
After boarding, I noticed that the car in front of mine was carrying several goats. So, it was no joke. Anyway, the scenery, as promised, was heavenly. The mountain range in its pristine glory cradled the fast flowing Trisuli river shimmering in the sun. As the cars ascended, the verdant flora changed rapidly. The icy peaks of the Himalayas, like sculpted crystal, refracted the sunlight into the azure sky. Little hutments clung on impossibly to vertical slopes.
[Read more…] about A Two-Way Ticket for Goats
Does it seem like an odd thing to do for a writer to regularly analyze stories? Does it take the joy out of reading? I suspect many an English Literature student, at whatever level, may well say yes to that, but I feel that would be a shame. It certainly isn’t the point of analysis. [Read more…] about Story Analysis – Why Bother?
Over the years, you pick up many useful writing tips and then you need to work out which are the most useful to you. Following on from an earlier CFT post of mine about writing tips, I thought I’d take a look in greater depth at why I use the tips that I do.
In general, I don’t look at those tips for playwrights, given that’s not my specialism, but one that is aimed at them (read your work out loud) is good advice regardless of what type of fiction you write. It also works well for non-fiction given it can help you pick up on whether your prose flows as well as you thought. So how do you deduce which writing tips are the most useful? [Read more…] about Tried and Tested Writing Tips
On 1st December, it was my great joy to travel to London once again to meet up with fellow Bridge House Publishing/Cafelit/Chapeltown Books authors at the annual celebration event. On the way up by train, I enjoyed my usual routine of writing stories on my phone app and getting quite a bit of work done by the time I got into Waterloo. [Read more…] about Celebrations, Crackers, Chapeltown, and Cafelit – London 2018
There are many ways to raise money for charity and often people will do something extraordinary like bungee jumping or having a parachute jump etc (though it is not a good idea to try the pair of these at the same time!). All kudos to those who are brave enough to have a go but this kind of thing is definitely not for me.
The idea of writing a book for charity is much more up my street and this is what Barbara Large, MBE, has done recently. Barbara was the founder of the Winchester Writers’ Festival (formerly the Winchester Writing Conference), which is one of the major writing conferences in the country. Barbara has also run creative writing classes, including at the Dovetail Centre. [Read more…] about Scrumptious Cooking, Charity, and Barbara Large
In this final section of my mini-series, Jennifer C Wilson, Val Penny, Anne Wan, Wendy H Jones, and Richard Hardie continue to share their thoughts on different aspects of writing the series novel. Tonight we look at how to ensure each novel can be read as a stand-alone book, specific things my guests love and loathe about writing series, and whether they know, ahead of time, how many books are going to be in their respective series. [Read more…] about The Joys and Challenges of Writing Series Novels Part 3
Following on from last week’s post about the best and worst decisions made regarding writing, I thought I’d share here some of the most useful writing tips I’ve picked up on my writing journey to date. The great thing about making mistakes is, if sensible, you learn from them. It is true of life in general you learn what to do by getting it wrong first!
[Read more…] about Writing Tips
Don’t worry – this really is a blog post and not something to go into the CFT Events page (though I am sure if Janet could give us advance warning of Judgement Day, she would!).
It is a truth, generally NOT universally acknowledged, that all writers have to submit to some sort of judgement if they wish to be published. (Apologies to the Jane Austen Society though the good lady herself would accept my point I’m sure.) [Read more…] about Judgement Day
This is my look back at the recent Hursley Park Book Fair. Many thanks to Glenn Salter (aka author Simon Fairfax) for organising the Fair. So much hard work (and generally unseen at that) goes on behind the scenes to make these events happen. For an inaugural event, I thought the Fair worked well but more on that shortly… [Read more…] about A Look Back at the Hursley Park Book Fair
Following on from last week’s opener to this two-part series on blogging, I continue to share thoughts on the topic from some of my fellow writers. [Read more…] about Why I Blog – Part 2
It’s funny how certain types of writing remain popular, even though the format in which they are presented may change over time. Keeping a diary was something I did when younger. These days I blog! Most of us who kept diaries had no thought of publication (just as well too, you would have had to have been incredibly lucky here). [Read more…] about Why I Blog
1. The methods by which people write. (The biro is one of the world’s great inventions, as was the fountain pen before it. I would not want to use a quill to write, though you have got to hand it to Shakespeare for his sheer creativity especially given the equipment he had. What would he have made of the typewriter, the word processor etc? His friends, John Heminge and Henry Condell, would have had a far easier time of it compiling the First Folio though and what wouldn’t they have given to be able to access the photocopier!).
2. What people used to write on – everything from cave walls to A4 paper to post-it notes.
3. The methods of publishing writing. We owe a huge debt to Guttenberg and Caxton. What would they make of online writing, where actual printing out is not always necessary, and where texts can be sent by email or scanned and stored?
4. For centuries only the privileged could read and write and then have access to books. I am so glad, in general terms, this is no longer true, though I would love to see a world where good literacy rates and access to books was a “given” everywhere. Sadly, this is still not the case and progress needs to be made on education, especially for girls and women, in particular areas. But that can and should be worked on. Compared with how we were a century ago, has progress been made? Yes – in our part of the world at least but I would like this to spur efforts on to make it true for everywhere.
5. The kinds of writing there are in terms of what is produced – everything from flash fiction to massive fantastical sagas to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Oxford English Dictionary.
Networking is vital for all writers. You make connections, those may lead to taking part in events like book fairs, but, most importantly, you make friends. There is nobody like another writer who will understand the drive to write and its frustrations. [Read more…] about Networking Tips – Allison Symes (with Mandy Huggins)
I am pleased to share news that local author, Richard Hardie, of the Temporal Detective Agency Young Adult fantasy series, will be at Winchester Discovery Centre on 3rd April 2018. He will be running two free interactive story sessions. More details below. [Read more…] about Local Author News – Richard Hardie at the Winchester Discovery Centre