Posts

Shut Up and Write, Kathleen!

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  When JP (not her real name) told me her grandmother would be coming to parents evening, I had no idea that this older woman would become a central character in the novel I now intend to write. Teaching the first Art History “O Level” at St Mary’s High School in Highgate, Jamaica I was (at that time) intent on expanding the students horizons regarding Caribbean artists as well as others listed on the exam that would arrive in a brown envelope from Cambridge. These were the days before Caribbean exam boards. It was also the days before I knew about a strong black culture of grandmothers. When JP’s grandmother made her way into I my classroom I had a feeling it was she who would be doing the teaching.  She eyeballed me straight and I sat down, ledger of her granddaughter’s grades in hand. “I’m not interested first of all,” she announced, “ in JP’s grades. Tell me how she behaves.” With no hesitation I was happy to report that JP was a model student.  Grandma nodded, still not smiling. 

The Honeycomb Maze, by Georgie Tennant

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Have you ever watched an episode of Takeshi’s Castle? If you haven’t, I will struggle to describe, in mere words, the spectacle you are missing. But I will try. It is a quirky Japanese game show, in which contestants compete in numerous humiliating events that gradually eliminate them. The faithful few that make it to the end, have the opportunity to storm Takeshi’s Castle and win a prize – if, by “storm,” you mean drive around in fake cars, popping each other’s balloons. I’m still not completely clear on what the prize is, as I’ve never yet seen anyone win it. Events include: Avalanche, in which the competitor has to get to the top of a steep hill, on a narrow path, whilst avoiding giant boulders being rolled towards them. Bridge Ball, in which the competitor has to cross a thin wobbly bridge to the other side, whilst balls fired at them from a cannon, to try and knock them off. Skipping Stones, in which the competitor has to cross a lake by using stepping-stones. All the stones loo

Dear...

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 I'm stopping in for Rosemary Johnson today - just in case any of you are experiencing a sense of deja vu! I've been thinking some more about letter writing, especially after reading the comments on the post I wrote about this on 14th June. And I've been mulling over the importance of mutual communication, following on from a Facebook group discussion: the to and fro that, like a tennis rally, pushes us into different areas and stretches our thinking. There's nothing more disheartening than spending precious time and emotional energy on crafting a letter or writing a blog, only to get no reply, no reaction. Words are meant to have an effect or, at the very least, they deserve an acknowledgement that they have been read, heard. Those songs, like The Pogues' Fairytale of New York or Bob Dylan's Must Be Santa, which are built on a call and response pattern, lose their effectiveness without it. Letters and blog posts that garner no response are similarly limited. I

Pantsing, Publishing and Portentous Plots - Chat with Maressa Mortimer

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Beyond the Hills - image created by The 3D Book Creator & Canva.com Today I'm chatting with the lovely Maressa Mortimer, who has just published her new book, Beyond the Hills - the second in her Elabi Chronicles series, a follow up to Walled City . Over on my blog I've reviewed the book and asked Maressa some more questions about the story and herself, so do join me over there as part of Maressa's blog tour! I've watched Maressa's writing career with interest and admiration over the past year or so - she's a one woman writing machine, and has published two books and a novella within a year. I really wanted to ask Maressa about how she writes, and reflect a little on the differences she's found between traditional and self publishing, and how those experiences chime with my own experiences.  L: Maressa, I'm in awe of how you've published one book after the other over the past year or so. Can you tell us a little bit about the writing process fo

Voice recognition

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My husband and I are having communication difficulties - not the ones that cause huge rifts in our relationship because we fail to understand what we mean but simply because he doesn’t hear. There are probably times when I don’t too, but his is a long-standing hearing loss that seems to have phases when he can’t hear anything. In order for him to participate more fully in our recent leaders’ weekend, I decided to try an app that puts words into writing so that they scroll up the screen of my iPad whenever I speak. One of the other leaders is exceptionally good at IT and showed me how to set it up - using his own voice - which meant that it didn’t recognise female voices at all. We sorted that out eventually. The four of us started praying. The huge words scrolled up the screen fast and inaccurate, among them came: ‘Claud Blessan as they moo into their new house give them Faye and carriage’  Then I noticed something unexpected. The text began to experiment with alternatives. It

More than kisses, letters mingle souls (John Donne)

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  I fell in love with my husband through his letters. We met in London during the Christmas vacation and had two dates before I had to return. He was studying at the local university and I was two hundred miles away. No mobile phones. No social media. And calls from phone boxes too expensive for student budgets. So we wrote to each other every week.   I remember the cold tingle in my stomach at the sound of post through the letterbox. How I made myself wait as long as possible before opening the envelope. The joy whilst reading. And the disappointment when I reached the end, wishing each missive was longer. He wrote a wonderful balance of chatty news and romance. We got to know each other well through those letters. We shared daily triumphs and frustrations as well as deeply held hopes and beliefs. Little did I know what a solid foundation those letters would form. Letter writing is rather a lost art. But I was delighted to see Paul Eddy’s Facebook post about writing condol

How do you like to party?

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  In case you haven’t noticed, the Association of Christian Writers is celebrating its golden jubilee this year. Fifty years of supporting and encouraging Christians who write – that represents a humungous number of words written, and a huge impact on many people. The Bible talks about a year of jubilee rather than a single moment, so of course we’re going to spin the partying out over a twelve-month period. (Even hardened introverts like me can see the value of having multiple celebrations instead of just one.)   Of course, it’s easy to celebrate when it’s a big occasion or you’re with a group of special friends. Where we sometimes struggle is when it comes to celebrating our writing on a personal level. We’re too good at looking at what we’d like to accomplish and feeling we’ve somehow fallen short. Maybe we play down our achievements because we haven’t won the Booker or had a book published, or we’ve just received our forty-seventh rejection letter of the week.   ·        S