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Showing posts from October, 2015

Book Review: Girl on the Run by Rhoda Baxter

Rating: About the Author: Author of Please Release Me , Doctor January and Girl on the Run , Rhoda is a former scientist who now works in the field of intellectual property. @rhodabaxter Book Summary: The story follows Jane, the ex-girlfriend of a famous musician, as she tries to flee from the lime light and create a life of her own after she catches him with another woman.  However one celebrity gossip magazine just won’t let her go… Review: The insertion of snippets from the magazine that’s determined to find her and the use of texts and emails through the story was and interesting and clever idea. I was a little apprehensive about reading emails in the middle of a story at first, but I have to admit it worked really well.  It was carefully balanced so it wasn’t overdone, but it was sufficient to give the reader an insight into what was going on beyond the characters verbal conversations. It’s a great story with a stro

The Writing Class: Voices

‘Find your voice’ is advice that all new writers will hear, but what does it really mean? This week’s writing class gave us the opportunity to ‘try on voices’.  We mimicked the voices of other authors by identifying the qualities that make up those voices and in the process learned a little about finding our own. In many ways the concept of a writer’s voice is one of those things that we all instinctively know and yet struggle to define. So here’s my attempt to provide a little clarity. Everyone has their own outlook based on their personal experiences and emotions. This outlook is unique to us. It’s at the core of who we are as individuals. Our outlook is influenced to some extent by people and events. Our parents, siblings, teachers and friends will guide us. Our studies, work and lifestyles will challenge and change us. But even though we may share the same experiences or have friends in common, how they affect us and what we draw from them will be different.

Guest Post: Louise Marley - The Ghosts of Conwy

With Halloween just around the corner I'm welcoming Louise Marley to the blog for a spooky themed post... The Ghosts of Conwy by Louise Marley A tale of ghoulies and ghosties, and four-leggedy beasties … And a monk who likes a pint in the night … There was once a Cistercian abbey here in Conwy, which had to be moved to make way for Edward I and his new castle. But despite Edward I’s best efforts at relocating the monks, it appears some of them might have never actually left. The Abbey of Aberconwy was founded in the 12th Century and built on land donated by Llywelyn the Great. It became the burial place for many of the princes of Gwynedd, including Llywelyn and his sons, but after Edward I conquered Wales and built Conwy Castle, the abbey was forced to relocate to Maenan in the Conwy Valley – and they took Llywelyn’s remains with them! So if anyone was going to haunt the town, Llywelyn would surely be a prime candidate – his revenge for not being allowed to res

The Joys of an Open Plan Office

Usually my working day is accompanied by the low hum of the air conditioning system.  On a good day, when it’s working properly, it’s reminiscent of being on an airplane, and I daydream of being whisked off to somewhere more exotic than yet another spreadsheet.  When it’s malfunctioning though it has a tendency to sound like a spaceship about to land on the roof. Of course this could just mean I’ve been looking at said spreadsheets just a little bit too long… There’s also the usual office noises, which helps to distract me from thoughts of invading little green men. Phones ringing.  Impromptu meetings at the surrounding desks. The random burst of applause coming from the next section as another leaving presentation is made. Or on rare occasions an eerie silence befalls us.  At which point we become accurately aware that everyone can hear our conversations. Last week though there was a new sound to add to the list; the irritating tap-tap tap-tap of table tennis in the next sect

The Writing Class: Autobiographical Novels

This week’s writing class was all about autobiographical novels. These are novels which have been based on personal experiences, but fictionalised until the line between fact and fiction blurs beyond recognition. For a writer one of the most important skills is to create deep and believable characters. Using our own experiences can help us do this. Fictionalising those experiences can (sometimes) make them more interesting and help protect us and others from being exposed in our work. The strongest characters will have emotional credibility. Where better to look for the inspiration for their emotions than within ourselves? As my tutor pointed out, we need to be able to feel what our characters are going through. If we can’t, then how can we expect our readers to? In many ways my characters are an extension of me. Not an exact replica (thank goodness), but an exaggeration of a tiny part of me. An emotion, a hope, a dream, or a real experience can be built upon, exaggerated

Guest Post: Heidi Swain - The Do's and Don't of Social Media

Hello Elaina. Thank you so much for inviting me to feature on your lovely blog and write an indulgent few words on something I am particularly passionate about. I must admit I thought long and hard about what I could wax lyrical about and I’ve settled on… social media . Now I can hear some of you groaning already but love it or loath social media is here to stay and for us authors it now forms a huge part of our marketing and promo experience so I urge you to get to grips with it, embrace it and above all, enjoy it! Personally, as a relentless chatterbox, I love the online author experience and blog, tweet, post to Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram on a regular basis. The opportunity to engage and network with authors all over the world from the comfort of my sofa is fantastic but even more thrilling is the chance to make that connection with readers! My debut novel, The Cherry Tree CafĂ©, was published this summer and as you can imagine I was jump up and down excited to finally

The Writing Class: A New Year

I arrived at the classroom a full 30 minutes early. I take not wanting to be late on the first day to a whole new level. We’re in the room next door to last year’s classroom.  It’s laid out in the mirror image, so it feels a little backwards.  It’s like stepping through the looking glass into a world that’s similar but not quite the same. It’s not just the room that’s different, but the people too. There are only five of us continuing on from last year, so it has a completely new vibe. I’m not very good with change.  I like familiarity and consistency.  I knew that it would be different and yet somehow it was a shock that it was. I knew, but I’d tried to overlook it in the hope that it wouldn’t be true. Perhaps I am spending too many hours writing. Because I can change a characters situation to be what I want just by writing it down, I seem to think that the same works on reality just by hoping.  It doesn’t. By the end of last year I’d just about settled into a state o

The Writing Class: The Long Days Of Summer

I don’t know what happened to the summer. Did we have one? Did I miss it? I don’t just mean in terms of the weather, I mean the whole thing. I had all these plans for what I would achieve over the summer.  However, October’s arrived and guess what? My plans are still just that. Plans. I don’t know why I thought I would achieve so much in July to September.  Did I somehow overlook the fact that I have a full time job and it doesn’t come with a term time only working arrangement? It seems that the notion of my elusive summer of productivity stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t attending my weekly writing class during that period.  Sadly I failed to consider that my class is only 2 hours once a week, so not going to class only freed up one evening for a few weeks. When I look at it that way perhaps I wasn’t as unproductive with my ‘summer off’ as I thought.

Guest Post: Rhoda Baxter - My Journey to Publication

Today I welcome Rhoda Baxter, author of 'Girl on the Run' and 'Please Release Me'. Like most writers, I’ve been writing in one form or another for as long as I can remember. Becoming a novelist was always the big dream, but I am, at heart, pragmatic. I didn’t study English Lit as I’d wanted to. I took my father’s advice and did science, so that I could get a ‘real job’. During the long years at university, I put my writing on hold – apart from the odd film review for student publications. When I got my first job, I went back to writing. At the time, the BBC ran a forum called BBC Get Writing. I learned an awful lot from haunting the Get Writing boards. The three most valuable lessons I took away from it were: Write often. I used to try and do their 8pm flash challenge at least four nights a week. It was good discipline to sit at the computer every day at the same time and just write about something. Anything. Good criticism is not the same as ‘I like it’. If someo

The Skating Diaries: The Next Step

Handmade skating necklace from My second venture into the world of ice skating involved less laughter and a lot more fear.  I was seventeen years older and supposedly wiser, which failed to explain what had made me think that strapping two little bits of metal to my feet was ever a good idea. I pulled open the heavy metal door and, leaving the sunny spring day behind me, I stepped inside.  I stopped immediately.  That practical side of my ten year old self was now my predominant characteristic.  The door clanged shut behind me causing me to gasp as I swung round in surprise.  I wasn’t even on the ice year and I was a nervous wreck. I took a deep breath of the cool air which was heavily scented with Zambezi fumes and indistinguishable chemicals.  I tried to remind myself that I wanted to do this.  However as I forced my feet to shuffle forward it was hard to believe that it was true. Someone turned the stereo on and the Spice Girls blared around the massive rink.