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Keeping Boredom At Bay

March 16th, 2020

First, thanks to Ruth for last week’s blog. I love the humorous way she writes and I think her suggestion of working with a friend is a really good one. Especially in these difficult times when our movements might become more restricted. It’s something that you can do from the comfort of your own home via your laptop or tablet.

And talking about movements being restricted, I  may not be in the 70+ range but I’m gearing up for having to curtail my activities a little. And for me, that means finding some great big, whopping books to read. At the moment I’m reading The Devil That Danced by Aminatta Forna. It’s a beautiful, lyrical book about her childhood in Sierra Leone, the murder of her father by the regime and the country as it has been recently with all its troubles and bloodshed. At 500-plus pages it’s a very satisfying read! I’ve read a couple of her novels, too – The Memory of Love and The Hired Man – and they don’t disappoint. Read the rest of this entry »




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The Novels That Shaped Our World

January 31st, 2020

The BBC has asked a selection of people to choose 100 English language novels that have had an impact on them. They say:

“Stories have the power to change us. We asked a panel of leading writers, curators and critics to choose 100 genre-busting novels that have had an impact on their lives, and this is the result. These English language novels, written over the last 300 years, range from children’s classics to popular page turners. Organised into themes, they reflect the ways books help shape and influence our thinking.”

You can see the list here. I find some of the choices rather odd, but reading preferences are a very personal thing and I’m sure no two people would agree completely. Last year, the Sunday Times printed a list (many of which I had already read) and I am still working my way through the stragglers. It’s been great as it’s introduced me to some wonderful writers that I might otherwise have overlooked. But there are still the odd one or two that I have downloaded to my library app and then deleted after only a few chapters. Read the rest of this entry »




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The Beauty Of Books…

August 24th, 2018

First, thanks to Roz for last week’s post. I’ve just started reading her book, ‘The Devil’s Dice’,  and I’m thoroughly enjoying it!

Talking about reading, I’ve had a bad back for the last couple of weeks, so I haven’t been as active as usual; so that  means I’ve had much more time to read. And have I used that time! Of the books I’ve read there are three that really stand out.

The first is ‘The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star’ by Vaseem Khan. It’s part of a series about a private investigator in Mumbai and his sidekick – a baby elephant called Ganesha. It does for India what the Number One Ladies Detective Agency did for Botswana. It’s not high literature, but it’s well written, heart-warming and makes you care about the characters. And it doesn’t shy away from the problems faced by the less well-off citizens of the country. I’ll certainly be dipping into the series again. Read the rest of this entry »




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Robots Writing

January 12th, 2017

what-is-the-what-blogAs I write this, I’m watching the snow come down, settle and then melt away. It’s a very half-hearted attempt! But it’s certainly miserable for anyone out in it and it’s times like this that tempt even the most industrious writer to have a ‘duvet day’.

My advice is: don’t fight it. The odd day’s loss of production can soon be made up and it’s the ideal time to curl up and have a good read. Most successful authors agree that if you don’t read, you’ll never by a competent writer. Stephen King is quoted as saying: If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Read the rest of this entry »




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Spread Your Talent

August 11th, 2016

tennysonsgif4thestate-blogI was reading an interview in the paper last weekend with best-selling author James Patterson. To date he’s sold more than 350 million books – but he was rejected by 31 publishers before his first novel ‘The Thomas Berryman Number’ was published in 1976. So, if you’ve had your fair share of rejections, don’t despair!

When asked what advice he’d give to others he was quoted as saying, “Writers always ask me how they should market their books. My advice is, don’t worry about that. Just start your next book. Just write.”

Sounds good, but I suspect it only really works if you already have a publisher, are earning lots of money for them and you are famous. For us mere mortals, in an age where getting an agent, let alone a publisher, seems nigh on impossible, I don’t really think it works. Publishers are having their promotional budgets cut all the time and the onus to generate self-publicity is falling more and more upon the author. And if you choose to self-publish, you’ve no alternative but to use every means at your disposal to reach the reading public. The thought of sitting at home beavering away at book after book may sound comforting but it’s not going to get a novice writer noticed. Read the rest of this entry »




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