I conclude with contributions from Bridge House Publishing/Cafelit colleagues, discover what two fine Scottish crime writers would save if push came to shove (that’s an apt expression given what they write!), and will finally answer the questions myself.
Any writer will say to write well, you must read well (and widely). Every writer I know is as happy to talk about the latest great book they’ve read as well as what they’re working on. Why would you write if you didn’t love books and stories in the first place? There are two sides to this coin.
Image Credit: A big thanks to my guests for supplying photos. Unless otherwise stated, the book and library pictures come, as always, from those magnificent people at Pixabay.
On Friday 20th September, the Curious Café (at The Dovetail Centre, Chandler’s Ford Methodist Church) will be hosting Claire Gradidge, local author and winner of the Richard and Judy “Search for a Bestseller Competition 2019”.
Claire’s crime novel “The Unexpected Return of Josephine Fox” is set in Romsey in 1941. In the book, Josephine returns to her home town of Romsey after a long absence on a quest to solve the mystery of who her father was.
Image Credit: Unless stated otherwise, all photos were taken by Allison Symes
I’ve recently returned from my annual trip to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, which is based at The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire. I had a fantastic time learning from the courses and workshops, meeting up with old friends and making new ones.
My Swanwick this year started at Derby Railway Station when meeting friends while waiting for the coach to take us to The Hayes. If you ever wondered can writers run out of things to say about writing, I’ll enlighten you now – the answer to that is no!
I was looking last week at the importance of making space. This week I’ll look at this topic specifically from a writing perspective and share a few tips I’ve found helpful.
Janet and I will have seen The Chameleon Theatre Group’s latest production, They Came from Mars and Landed Outside the Farndale Avenue Church Hall in Time for the Townswomen’s Guild’s Coffee Morning, by the time this post goes live. The play is written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Junior and I look forward to sharing a review next week.
This production easily has the longest title of any play I’ve seen but it is a great illustration of one of the prime purposes of a title for any piece of writing. That is, it should give you some idea of what to expect! No doubts here – this title practically screams out “sci-fi spoof” at you! I love a good spoof so this ticks all the right boxes for me.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org 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.email@example.com 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