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Reading Around The World

July 10th, 2020

First, thanks to Esther for last week’s blog. She is, of course, absolutely right. If you want to make it as a writer  then you have to be prepared to persevere, and you can’t sit back waiting for results. You’ve got to keep sending work out – the more you get out there, the greater your chances of success.

When the ‘black lives matter’ campaign started I noticed that quite a few publishers and websites started suggesting lists of BAME authors. I had a look at some of them and felt that quite a few were little more than a token gesture. So, I’ve been thinking about some of my favourite authors – ones that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend – and here they are. There’s no one on this list that I haven’t read at least one of their books and enjoyed it. I just hope you get as much pleasure if you decide to try them. Incidentally, they’re not in any kind of order of preference.

Rohinton Mistry ‘A Fine Balance’ was recommended to me by numerous people and it really lived up to expectations. But be prepared to shed a tear! Read the rest of this entry »




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Becoming A Published Writer

July 3rd, 2020

It was when one of my students had a reader’s letter published that the idea for my latest book started to take shape.

“It’s only a reader’s letter,” she said, “but it means the world to me. I’m published!”

For a few months, she’d been sending work out and either not heard back, or received a rejection. Understandably, she’d started to feel a little despondent and wondered if she was ever going to be published.

Then came that first moment of success. It was swiftly followed by a short filler being accepted. She emailed me a few weeks later to tell me she couldn’t believe the confidence that one reader’s letter had given her. She realised that she could write and now she’d had a few small successes, she wanted more and was going to work on some articles. Read the rest of this entry »




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In Times Like These…

June 26th, 2020

First, thanks to Phil for last week’s post. Personally, I found it fascinating and I think he’s absolutely right when he says: “With memoir you need to dig deep and build your story on a foundation of truth and openness”. That is exactly what you have to do if those about whom you are writing as part of your own history are still alive. You don’t want to hurt people but you have to be true to yourself.

If this post has whetted your appetite for writing your own memoir, then we have just the course for you. It’s very flexible and allows you to have feedback on your personal writing rather than having to do set assignments. But if you are already working on a memoir, then you might want to consider submitting it to the same competition that Phil entered – the Fish Publishing Short Memoir Competition. It’s currently closed but should be opening for the next round shortly; so keep checking their website. Read the rest of this entry »




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Writing Memoir

June 19th, 2020

Everybody has at least one good memoir, a personal story that can reflect the experiences of a single day or span 50 years. My own, one of 10 winning memoirs recently selected for publication with the Fish Publishing 2020 Short Memoir Competition, had a narrative arc stretching from my 19 year old self to the (ahem!) 51 year old I am today. An offhand comment by my mother one afternoon prompted me to revisit my relationship with my long-deceased father, a Dublin foundryman, and to examine how his untimely death had unknowingly influenced me over the years. I uncovered a story that had sadness, humour, and ultimately a little redemption for both of us. I also learned that you don’t just write a memoir, you experience it (or rather, re-experience it), and it changes you a little.

My first bit of advice for budding memoirists is to educate yourself on the prose style and degree of personal exposition involved. I began by reading a selection of long- and short-form memoirs by established authors like Anne Lamott, Alan Bennett, Emilie Pine, David Sedaris and Sinéad Gleeson to better appreciate the writing techniques they employed to inject emotion and drama into their personal stories in order to hook their readers. This was hugely informative and taught me that the best memoirists are fundamentally unafraid to broach their own shortcomings and are frequently prepared to reveal those blush-inducing, and for some, often painful personal anecdotes from their past. Read the rest of this entry »




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National Writing Day

June 12th, 2020

First, thanks to Colin for last week’s post. I’ve been reading a great deal over the past couple of months and it got me thinking about how many of the novels that I’ve downloaded had a quest at their heart.  And I’ve got to agree that it’s probably the majority!

I bet that quite a lot of you are currently working from home and at the same time trying to juggle this with home-educating your children. Not an easy task – I know how lucky I am not to have this extra pressure. So any resources are welcome – especially if your children are interested in creative writing. This year National Writing  Day is being held on 24th June and they say “This will be the fourth annual celebration of the power of writing creatively, inspiring people of all ages and abilities to try writing for fun and self-expression. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite writing activities to help you celebrate at home.Read the rest of this entry »




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