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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Allrighters November Post



Hello everyone


Lack of a post for a few weeks does not mean there has been no activity.



Events


Tony Riches has published The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham as a follow up to his successful book Warwick. I read and commented on both these as a beta reader.


Authors Online went out of business on 7 11 14. Shame as now one fewer all services self publisher to choose from.


One of the good writing contacts I made through Authors Online was Rodney Dearing from New Zealand. Sad news, I found out he lost his battle with cancer in July 2014.



Writing


Stop, start, progress on editing and restructuring. Good progress on the first book of Look – No Touch converting it from a draft which pleases me to one which may if I decide to publish please a reader. This appears to be the basic difference between what I have written in my draft million words and where I need to end up. Because I know all the stories in my head I need to restructure to convey that information to readers in each freestanding book despite them being interlinked.


Shakespeare story submitted for local writing group Christmas competition. Took far too much time.



Reading


Some good reads.


Freddie Forsyth Fist of God nearly went to the charity shop unread but I read the first few pages and then carried on. Interesting technical background of first Gulf War and Gerard Bull overcame my current thriller fatigue.


Pat Barker’s Regeneration. Viewing the horrors of WW1 from the diaries and writing of real characters.



Purchases


Amongst others - Hard copies of books written by three of my writing contacts so supporting their efforts - MK Tod’s Unravelled, Angela Petch Never Forget and Nick Roteman’s Auburn. I have read the first two as e books but it is nice to have the feel of their books in my hands. Nick's book has an explosive start! He has a good track record of shocking and surprising his readers.



Disposals


Pursuing my idea that for every book I buy - two must go - several bags of books have gone to the charity shops.



Posts


Another post on TIPM this time about a Welsh Book Buying Shopping Spree click to go to TIPM November



Other posts in draft Advent Thoughts and a Visit to Waterstones with a £500 book token.



Good writing and reading to you all.



Douglas

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Winter cometh ...

I always start thinking about winter when football is played in August. At least this year September was good in middle England and Wales - dry and sunny, good to be alive kind of weather.

Made some good progress on the editing front running through some 30 small booklet format drafts of some 18,000 words each. Amazed at what I had written yet again. The full extent of the time I to commit is dawning. Ten years more or from when I started in 2010 perhaps to complete 900,000 words of fiction and 100,000 words of non fiction plus an undefined number of short story books. It is clear my writing which started as a series of scenes and short stories being joined up cannot now be changed fundamentally. I am not worried about this as the 18,000 novella format suits my capacity to work on these booklet chunks. I have decided to make each self contained with a beginning middle and end, although most will interlink through the characters and stories running back and forward.

Met Tony Riches in Tenby with his wife. Nice to meet Tony in the flesh after over a year of exchanging e mails and reading his Writing Desk blog. Click here

Purchased far too many books while in Tenby - three new and twenty one used - priced from 10p to £7.49 each. Many have already been recycled having been read or started and found to be not to my liking. This the subject of November TIPM blog.

Another TIPM post in October with contributions from writing friends. Click here >>  October post TIPM

Attended local writers' groups  The Inkplotters' - see www.leamingtonspawriters.org.uk and also the Bardstown Writers Group in Stratford upon Avon as a guest. I continue to find the task of preparing 1,000 word contributions for reading out aloud at the Inkplotters' useful writing practice in extending the scope and quality of my writing.

Finished reading "A Little Aloud for Children" and Pat Barker's "The Ghost Road" these two the best of recent reading. I seem to have forgotten about other books I have read in the last month including some on Kindle ... so not memorable. I am currently enjoying Ian McEwan's "Children Act", with its wonderful description and law background, and am also finding Pat Barker's "Regeneration" an informative read about WW1.

Best Film watched for some time ... "The Body" with sub titles from Spanish. Great ending and wife LOOKED a real a tease. 

Most shocking event is self publisher writer Russell Blake's encounter with a hurricane in Mexico. see posts 28 9 14 and 4 10 14 click here >> Russell Blake Blog 

Too little too late still EBOLA. Despite all the assurances I fear in six months time it may be out of control across the world especially if it mutates. This has been coming for years and if one sees the insanitary slum conditions on TV in which the people live in West Africa it cannot be a surprise. Even the poorest people in the UK have clean water and sewage disposal. 

Sorry to end on a dismal note. I write and read on ...

Alexander






Friday, 19 September 2014

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – I recall being told.






My writing and reading - 'shelfie'



On 17 September Mary Tod on a post on her awriterofhistory website reports Derek Birks author of Feud, A Traitor’s Fate and Kingdom of Rebels tagged her to create a ‘writer’s shelfie’ with books that are important to her writing. Mary chose ten which seemed to her like a reasonable number, although she says she could have selected a lot more.



To imitate a good idea I will do the same. Thanks - Derek and Mary ... also downloaded one of your books Derek so your post worked. Interesting to compare with Tony Riches recent book  Warwick - The Man Behind Wars of the Roses. My 'Selfie' books must have been in recent use as I found them easily ... a surprise.



My baker’s dozen are as above from - help in my own writing at the top of the pile - down through reference works for writing technique and then books which I would like to have written towards and at the bottom.


More detailed comments to come in a later post



Douglas and Alexander – fact and fantasy twin brothers.




Monday, 15 September 2014

Without a keyboard


One of my regular thought provoking messages which arrives in my e mail account is from Seth Godin. Although I like the speed of the i pad I find the screen based keyboard is a right bind.

See

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/09/without-a-keyboard.html Thanks Seth.
When the masses only connect to the net without a keyboard, who will be left to change the world?
It is possible but unlikely that someone will write a great novel on a tablet.
You can't create the spreadsheet that changes an industry on a smart phone.
And professional programmers don't sit down to do their programming with a swipe.
Many people are quietly giving away one of the most powerful tools ever created—the ability to craft and spread revolutionary ideas. Coding, writing, persuading, calculating—they still matter. Yes, of course the media that's being created on the spot, the live, the intuitive, this matters. But that doesn't mean we don't desperately need people like you to dig in and type.
The trendy thing to do is say that whatever technology and the masses want must be a good thing. But sometimes, what technology wants isn't what's going to change our lives for the better.
The public square is more public than ever, but minds are rarely changed in 140 character bursts and by selfies.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Guardian Self Published Book of the Month

See
 
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/08/the-guardian-legend-self-published-book-of-the-month

This looks to be a good opportunity.

Passed to me by Bubblecow - thanks Gary

Douglas 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Further post on TIPM

Douglas continues his series of articles on writing and reading for pleasure.

“I enjoy thinking about how to write a good novel. It is a huge question and one that is impossible to answer completely; perhaps that is its fascination. So much is required from a novelist:

Originality, imagination, dedication, skill with words, sharp observation, an understanding of people, the time and ability to work alone on one project for months or even years.

It’s daunting.”


Part of the forward to More about How to Write a Mi££ion by Michael Ridpath written in 1996.

Few of the basics appear to have changed in 18 years.

Read rest of post in link ...

http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/09/writing-and-reading-for-pleasure-part.html
“I enjoy thinking about how to write a good novel. It is a huge question and one that is impossible to answer completely; perhaps that is its fascination. So much is required from a novelist: 
Originality, imagination, dedication, skill with words, sharp observation, an understanding of people, the time and ability to work alone on one project for months or even years. 
It’s daunting.” 

Part of the forward to More about How to Write a Mi££ion by Michael Ridpath written in 1996. 
Few of the basics appear to have changed in 18 years.
- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/09/writing-and-reading-for-pleasure-part.html#sthash.ZpQdACPC.dpuf
“I enjoy thinking about how to write a good novel. It is a huge question and one that is impossible to answer completely; perhaps that is its fascination. So much is required from a novelist: 
Originality, imagination, dedication, skill with words, sharp observation, an understanding of people, the time and ability to work alone on one project for months or even years. 
It’s daunting.” 

Part of the forward to More about How to Write a Mi££ion by Michael Ridpath written in 1996. 
Few of the basics appear to have changed in 18 years.
- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/09/writing-and-reading-for-pleasure-part.html#sthash.ZpQdACPC.dpuf
“I enjoy thinking about how to write a good novel. It is a huge question and one that is impossible to answer completely; perhaps that is its fascination. So much is required from a novelist: 
Originality, imagination, dedication, skill with words, sharp observation, an understanding of people, the time and ability to work alone on one project for months or even years. 
It’s daunting.” 

Part of the forward to More about How to Write a Mi££ion by Michael Ridpath written in 1996. 
Few of the basics appear to have changed in 18 years.
- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/09/writing-and-reading-for-pleasure-part.html#sthash.ZpQdACPC.dpuf

Monday, 8 September 2014

Turning-Point a first novel written by my Writing Buddy Calvin Hedley

Link to Amazon to see, read an extract and buy.





1.0 What is the book about? - Extract from back cover



Matthew Pelham’s disappearance, while flying an RAF Harrier, can only be explained through investigations conducted some forty years apart.



The quest involves wartime intelligence services, high politics in the Third Reich and beleaguered Britain, and has incalculable implications for the war’s course and future events.



This book has a special significance for me as I read and commented on several drafts in summer 2013 having been given the opportunity because Calvin is a writing buddy of mine. I paused while writing this post to confirm in my own mind its historical fiction status. I can do so given some detailed scenes in 1940 and machinations of government power and secrecy in the 1980s linked by a Diana Gabaldon type of time shift.



I enjoy fiction with split time backgrounds especially Katherine Webb’s Unseen and Half a Forgotten Story. The time link in Turning-Point is pure magic with subtle implications for the present.



I commend the book as an interesting and memorable read.



2.0 A Writing Buddy



When I started writing in 2010 I began to receive advice and vibrations about needing to find a writing buddy. I still do not like this name but cannot think of a better one. My mother said to me in my teens I would need to find a good woman to look after and be a lifelong friend and companion. Searching for and finding a wife and writing buddy appear to me to be lessons in chemistry in achieving the best mix and least explosive reactions. The prospect of me finding a female writing buddy with potential bad chemistry with my wife left me nervous. I should not have worried as I met Calvin on the setting up of a local writer’s group, we being the two males out of the five founding members who have stayed the course.



I found we shared an interest in bloke’s things, technical matters including war strategy, hardware and technology respectful of the human cost. My poor grasp of the English language continues to be supported by Calvin’s deep practical knowledge of grammar and punctuation. Neither of us hold back on expressing our often blunt views on life and our respective writing. Between us we manage to fill holes in our respective knowledge of the world of writing and publishing.



3.0 My Amazon review



My review is as follows against my own reading criteria for a good read:-



A memorable book which is a pleasure to read – Five stars



Cover 4/5 – I prefer covers that show exactly what is inside a book to draw me in and purchase. The Harrier Jet fighter is spot on with the eye(s) having more subtle significance.



Contents – Four and a half rounded up to a Five star rating.

* Engrossing and interesting – Turning-Point scores highly in this area with many hooks and interesting scenes to keep the pages turning.


* Enjoyment and entertainment – I find wartime books are always difficult to comment on in this area because of the seriousness of the subject. Richard Pelham’s dealings in the 1980s with government power and concealment ring very true.

* Emotional - Not too high in this area. Apart from the mourning of a family for a son and brother, I identified more with the characters of the 1940s at war than those of the 1980s as I often do. Perhaps because I know more about the 1980s than the 1940s.



* Educational – Calvin kept a good information flow going about the horrors and technicalities of WW2 expressed in scenes and recollections of those who served being neatly woven into the story.

* Ease of reading – The writing flows well and allows the pages to be turned making the book hard to put down.

Endings are important to me and generally I do not like the happily ever after variety. The ending of Turning-Point is satisfactory leaving some uncertainties and even after two reads I found a need to go back into the book to check various points again.



I found Turning-Point to be one of my best fiction reads of last year. When I read the drafts in 2013 I thought hard about placing the book relative to others. The nearest references I can recall in 2014 are Ken Follett’s books The Hornet Flight and Eye of the Needle and I gave them each four stars. So well done Calvin - you have overcome much to write and publish a memorable book which is a pleasure to read.



4.0 Note about the author – my writing buddy.



Calvin Hedley has written for many years and Turning-Point is his first novel. Partially sighted since birth, he became totally blind in 1997. He lives in Coventry England with his wife Denise.



Douglas of the Allrighters and Ywnwab!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Reading Report



Introduction



Just because I have not made a reading post recently does not mean my eyes are not tired from a varied month of reading.



Since reading and enjoying The Silkworm in July I have added a number of good books to my reading heap which have edged out other reads, either started or not started. Reading overload looms again at the expense of writing.



M K Tod’s book Lies told in Silence,  an enjoyable read with an ending which left me lost for words,  was commented on in.



http://allrightersreading.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/lies-told-in-silence-m-k-tod.html



In a post on 3 August in a series I am writing for the TIPM Mick Rooney site I concluded:-



Reading One – Write what you enjoy writing as there are so many tastes amongst readers one is bound to find someone who likes what you write.






Selecting Books to Read



Selecting books to read is a similar minefield as well, especially when one gets caught up in reviewer’s ideas such as those which follow.



I hope Michael Henderson will not mind me re-quoting from his Daily Telegraph weekend paper article about John Cowper Powy’s book “A Glasonbury Romance”



“It is far too long for the tale … he has little idea of structure or plot … there are too many, often tiresome characters, and the relationships and connections between them can be hard to follow. The author is also repetitious and makes D H Lawrence seem a model of clarity. There are lengthy digressions that add nothing to the story  .



Yet despite these impediments it is an astonishing novel. Reading it may be like being gripped by a madman but when you are finally released from that grip you will never behold the world in the same way again.”



As a writer and reader I felt totally bemused so went to Amazon Reviews of the same book.



From a high star qualified rating -



“However, it is a very unusual book written from a very unusual perspective, and I would recommend it to anyone with a little patience and time on their hands.”



Compared to a low star rude / crude rating



“In fact, it made me feel sick and I eventually threw it away without finishing it, something I very rarely do. His writing in this is so mannered and constipated, in fact the book itself is like the tortuous undulations of a particularly painful bowel movement. I found nothing in this to give me pleasure, was this the sort of dreary, windy garbage that passed as high lit back in the 60s?”



Overall one to be missed for the time being.



I have been looking at the other reviews made by Amazon Reviewers and again a mixed picture emerges of likes and dislikes often opposed to me in both ways. How wonderful because many tastes to be catered for in my writing.



Reading during the last few weeks.



On a more positive note and a complete contrast to John Cowper’s writing the following have entertained me



  • The biography of James Lovelock The Gaia, fewer henge rows  and "microwave oven" man.






A delightful book found after an inquiry of the Director, Jim Smith, of the NIMR on the Ridgeway, Mill Hill, North London about the future of the building. Its work is to be relocated to the new Francis Crick Building near the British Library next year. This is part of a longer story which will form the subject of a separate post. Jim Smith also kindly let me have a copy of 100 Years of the NIMR. Although much of the science is beyond me the book traces years of social change and solid research achievement. The current NIMR Annual Report is also worth a download and read as a pdf document from their web site. Everyone working there seems to be covered in what seems a family environment.






  • Another pleasurable event this month has been meeting a local author Brenda Littlewood – who writes as JJ Franklin and reading her first crime book – An Urge to Kill. A genre I am not too keen on. However, the book proved a nice read especially as the killer is known from page one – so unusual - and because the setting of the book is Stratford, Warwick Kenilworth and Leamington Spa. The book is a mere 99p as a Kindle download.  Hardly a large return for all Brenda’s work.



http://www.amazon.co.uk/Urge-Kill-1-JJ-Franklin-ebook/dp/B008K7Y47K/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408457470&sr=1-1&keywords=urge+to+kill+jj+franklin



  • Old friends of the family, in both time and age, recommended  - A Higher Call - a true story about German and American pilots in WW2. An interesting and educational read.






  • This Boy by Alan Johnson a frank straightforward read increasing my respect for this politician.



  • Hilke’s Diary Germany 1940 to August 1945 edited by her sister Geseke Clark a friend of my wife. A touching view of life as a child during WW2



  • A couple of recommendations from Tony Riches – The Writing Desk. renatus a novella By Ryan Link and Wrong Flight Home (Wrong Flight Home, #1) by Noel J. Hadley who also has a web site the open part of which contains some wonderfully sharp professional photographs.




·         A little aloud for children continues to amaze. An extract from H G Wells The Invisible Man together with my reading of The Silkworm and also a re read of Worth Dying For by  Lee Child have convince me of the need to analyse their writing to understand what the “magic” ingredient is to these books being so enjoyable to read. Following a recommendation on Tony Riches Writing Desk web site I am using Auto Crit  https://www.autocrit.com/ to tease out weaknesses in my writing. So far my use has shown it to come at editing issues from a different angle. I will have to test out whether the Auto Crit can tease out what the “magic” ingredients may be.



Other



My drift back to reading non fiction rather than fiction continues.



As my last post several books await reading / restarting - Its a Man's World by Polly Courtney, The years of Rice and Salt by K S Robinson and the recent prize winning tome The Luminaries , despite its size, by Eleanor Catton the New Zealand writer.


On non fiction flying craft books Wings on my Sleeve and a book about the Miles M52 by the same author and a beautiful book about the Comet airliner have all been started. Martha Gellhorn Travels with Myself has been started ... a feisty read me thinks.



The Amazon / Hachette dispute continues to be in the headlines. When I started writing I saw myself as a new writer on one side of a mountain range with my readers on the other side. When I am reading mode I look into the mountains for authors. After reading Helen Corner’s description of the traditional publishing route in How to write a Blockbuster and being completely put off by the process what I see now is a situation where both readers and writers will be casualties. Perhaps the way forward is a writers and readers co-operative?



See two Lancasters at Eastbourne - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xDPh_WNXqI

Continued reading to you all. Brrrr…. cold winds of winter are upon us again … I always thing winter starts as soon as the football season starts.



Douglas