Showing posts from January, 2018

Why blog?

Authors are often advised to have a blog for readers to engage with. There are other reasons to blog. I know I am not the only ACW member who uses or has used blogging as a way of learning to write better. I joined ACW after I had been blogging for a couple of years.

A post on this blog about a writing day mentioned a member, who introduced herself as “Only a blogger.” Some ACW members, who are just beginning to write, might consider blogging as a way of developing a writing habit. By way of encouragement I decided to write about some of my blogging experience.

The amount I have learned through five and a half years of blogging amazes me. Sometimes there are unexpected technical challenges! Learning how to upload photos, provide links to other blogs or websites and coping with changes introduced by WordPress (not to mention the differences between WordPress and Blogger) all keep the little grey cells working.

Through blogging I have online friends in other countries. 

There are challenges

How Much Technology?

Do you research the technology in your books?

I'm not just thinking about modern phones and the like, but also historical technology. Have you got the make of the car right, were there telephones in every house in the period your book's set in?

And it's not just 20th century books that you have to be careful with, it's also historical fiction. When were the first windmills built in the British Isles?

There are also various pieces of technology which we wouldn't ascribe to certain periods, but recent archaeology is showing was available. With each passing deacde, it's becoming apparent that the Greeks had more advanced technology than we credit them with. Mechanical devices to help them navigate at sea for one thing and other machines that caused doors on temples to open automatically, using hydraulics.

Were you aware the first fax machine was designed and built in the 19th Century? That parts of the London Underground were electrified before Queen Victoria died…


Do you find change easy to accept? I don’t always.

I find change easier to accept when it comes to writing though.  I see it as necessary development.

I blog for an online magazine and write flash fiction and love both.  Learning to balance the needs of both styles of writing keeps me on my toes! I also look to improve on what I do for both.  There is no such thing as perfect writing, well not in this life by us anyway, but you can strive towards it, knowing every writer is also striving.  (I find it comforting to know I'm not alone here!).

I look back at things I've written a while ago and see now where I'd write it differently to improve meaning or see where I could've used fewer words.  All you can do is the best at the time for where you are "at" with your writing but this is a journey.  You move on, having learned from past mistakes, and so your writing does get better.

I started my writing life with lofty ambitions to be a published novelist. I'm s…

Where Are We Heading? Driverless Cars and All That by Trevor Thorn

The T Pod ‘concept’ driverless truck on display at the Detroit Motor Show
We don’t have to look very far in the media to come across articles giving opinions about the many developments about to shape our futures. Some are pretty alarmist, some are very carefully reasoned, but all of them are united in the view that we are approaching a period of change even faster than that of the last couple of decades. To many people that will feel threatening. Others will work on the assumption it will affect others but not themselves. And some will make serious efforts to think the social implications through and publish their ideas for wide and wise consideration. These are articles and broadcasts worth seeking out.
I personally look primarily to The New Scientist and the Science and Tech pages of The Observer together with the Science, Tech and Health pages of the BBC’s news site. These last three change daily and are readily accessible to anyone with a computer. They make it clear that many of th…

Learning to Breathe, by Lucy Mills

You'd think that breathing is automatic - and generally speaking, it is! But I've known those who have had to 're-learn' to breathe, for health reasons; and we are often advised to breathe 'properly' - i.e. down below your diaphragm so that it is your stomach that rises and falls as you breathe deeply, not shallow breathing so that your rib cage is the bit that moves.

I suspect you are thinking: analogy alert! And yes, you'd be right, although by all means go away and practise slowing and deepening your breathing - that may well benefit you.

At the moment I am embracing my word for the year, which is 'space' (see my post on that here). I wasn't aware, when I chose it, how I would interact with the idea as much as I have - so far, at least.

After a year of book writing and publishing, I was wiped out, then a virus caught hold of me over Christmas (hence no post from me last month!). As, like some readers of this blog, I have CFS/ME to deal with, t…

Series Potential

By Fiona Veitch Smith
When pitching a book to an agent or publisher, a question often asked is: is there series potential? Although I am a fiction author, I know this applies to non-fiction too. Non-fiction series
A search of any publisher’s website – an absolute must if you are planning on writing a book which you hope will one day be sold – shows that both fiction and non-fiction series dominate their lists. I remember once pitching a non-fiction book to a number of publishers and I was asked if it would fit in with any of their existing series or imprints. I quickly went and checked their lists and discovered that my book might very well have fit in terms of subject matter, but it had been written in a very different style. It was suggested I rework my book to the existing style and re-submit. As my fiction career began to take off at that time, I never got around to the rewrite.
But the experience taught me something: if you want to get published you would be well advised to cut you…

Small Beginnings, by Fiona Lloyd

(With apologies to the ACW committee, who have heard some of these thoughts before!)
What can you do with one of these?

Answer: probably not much, apart from causing extreme pain to a family member if you happen to leave it lying around on the floor. Add a few more, though, and it’s a different story (or maybe even a different storey). A varied collection of bricks – especially when coupled with an active imagination – can result in all sorts of spectacular edifices.

As a child, I loved playing with Lego, although I generally preferred designing things for myself rather than following a set of instructions. But every model, whatever the size, started out a with a single brick.
There’s a good analogy here for our writing: every novel, every poem, every blog post has to start from a single word. Now, you may call me sad, but flicking through a dictionary has me quivering with excitement. Words fascinate me. However, there’s a limited amount to what one word on its own can achieve. (Not that…

Voices from the Past

Long before it became fashionable, my father intermittently kept a journal. He began it in 1937–8 when he was 21 to 22 years old. He was starting on a momentous stage in his life and wanted to record his aims, his progress, his reflections, and (to some extent) his experiences.

Journal page describing Hitler’s speech
I have no idea whether he ever went back and reread what he had written years before. I knew nothing about it until I collected up his papers after his death, thirty-five and a half years ago. There was a great deal that was interesting in the journal, so I began to transcribe it. But it seemed that he hardly threw anything away. Along with the journal I found many pocket diaries, the earliest also from 1937 and 1938. More recently I decided to transcribe the entries from these as well: I thought that they would cast light on the journal. My father’s handwriting was at times almost illegible, so the cross-references help with interpretation. Frequently I wondered if this w…

Swimming in the ocean: a penny-drop moment - by Helen Murray

Well, January not yet done, so is it alright still to be mulling over New Year Resolutions, do you think?

My New Year Resolution, if you can call if that, is to love God more. I thought I'd go for something big this year. Specifically, to try to see what it means to love Him with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind. I suspect this is a life's work, if not more than that, but the last few years have led me here, and I think that everything that's important kind of stems from this, the first and greatest commandment.

Years ago, I read a book by Margaret Silf, called  'The Gift of Prayer: Embracing the Sacred in the Everyday'. I've no idea why but my eye was drawn to it again the other day. I had asked God what I could do to love Him more, and I think He began to answer me my reminding me of the wisdom in these pages.

The author talks about prayer as a belonging, a coming to stillness; it's about listening and learning to live reflectively. …

Valid Voices by Emily Owen

After I’d spoken at an event, a girl came up to me, wanting me to sign her book. She was with a family member, who encouraged the girl to tell me the name to write by fingerspelling it out for me (‘Fingerspelling’ is the sign language alphabet; I am deaf). I was impressed that the girl knew some sign language, and said so, then turned to watch as she spelled out the name.She formed the shape required for the first letter using her right hand. I often try and anticipate words people are spelling after the first letter (something to do with liking words, writing, word games?!) so, before she’d spelled the second letter, I’d already narrowed the options down. I knew the second letter would need two hands to make the required shape. Which is why I was surprised to see her move her right hand towards the top of her left arm, not towards her left hand. Using her right hand, she made the next shape against her arm, as though her arm was the flat left palm I’d anticipated.
It was only then that …

The windows of my mind

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12:2

Each year, in my walk with the Lord I grow in faith and excitement. I find he often works in conjunction with our seasons. I don’t gather in the harvest, plough and sow fresh seed, but sense He does. And it is during the latter time He turns over my life and points out issues that maybe I should have, but haven’t dealt with.Last October I had a growing awareness something wasn’t right, but it took me until early-December before the Lord showed me the windscreen of my mind had been hit, and in gradually cracking it had begun distorting my vision on life.
I didn’t need to know the cause, but the Lord pointed out that I’d allowed that distortion to affect how I saw people, situations and places, and worse still engage in negative opinions and gossip. I sat …

The need for encouragement by Sue Russell

I've been thinking about the ongoing need most of us have for encouragement. I guess as writers we beaver away somewhere - a study if we're lucky, a corner of the kitchen table surrounded by dirty dishes if not, or wherever it is we work - alone, at least in our heads, if not in reality. Especially when we are first setting out on this perilous quest, full of traps and pitfalls and replete with disappointments (I remember them all), we need every shred of back-up and cheering-on. Friends who have faith in us, fellow-writers who like our work even when we are struggling, are invaluable.
Like many others I suspect, I have had moments of asking myself, 'Whyever are you putting yourself through this torment? How can you ever succeed in the current climate/against such competition/ when nobody's heard of you?' It's then that someone telling you that you mustn't give up, your work has value, they like it and one day others will too, can make the difference betwee…

I'm a writer, not a speaker

Yesterday I was interviewed (at my home, since the interviewer turned out to live in the neighbouring 'London village') for what felt like forever, though it was less than an hour, by a reporter from the Radio 4 'Saturday Live' magazine programme. They'd had a feature a couple of weeks ago about treasured garments, and I'd submitted something on my grandmother's black velvet evening top, which my mother brought from Vienna in 1939. They couldn't fit it in that programme, but since my grandmother died in the Holocaust, they had decided to record an interview and use it on Holocaust Memorial Day.

The interviewer (JP, if you're a listener) was very nice, but after he left I realized I was shaking all over, and needed a calming coffee and a long time on Facebook to recover. I suppose it was partly because the topics I was talking about were painful (my family's Holocaust background, my brother's suicide) but also because, although my friends wo…

Too Many Words!

Sometimes it feels like there are too many words in my life.  Perhaps this is an odd thing to say, for someone beginning to consider themselves a writer, but, actually it's not the written ones that I'm bemoaning here.  I consider those to be more of a comforting friend, invited in on my terms. It's the incessant noise of the spoken ones, uttered by others and by the internal monologues in my head, that can crowd in and steal the silence, disturb hard-won peace. 
I would not want to live in a world of complete silence and don't want to convey ingratitude for any of the word-makers in my world. Anyone, however, with any experience of combining marriage, a job, small children, hobbies and church life (or any combination of two or three of the above!) will know how rare moments of glorious, undisturbed silence can seem. 
Small-child-owners, past and present will also, undoubtedly remember their unrivalled skill in relaying very long stories with no apparent sequence or poin…