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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Reading Report


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.

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.

  • 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 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.


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 -

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.


Monday, 18 August 2014

Header to the old Allrighters' News and Diary Blog

Where is the roaring fire you ask us?

One thing leads to another



This links back to our comments on awriterofhistoryabout airship hangers and the Shuttleworth Collection in Bedfordshire England

Good browsing


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Do you really want to write a book?

We receive several posts about writing everyday and many cover ground already trodden before. Sometimes nothing special but then two come along together as today.

Having made a start in June 2010 and then seen many people with a book in them not being able to start ... the message in this post from Bobbi Linkemer is relevant. Maybe the world has already reached a stage where it is buckling under the weight of books looking for readers ... but then if you write for pleasure it does not matter one can have a good time just writing without caring about publishing so have fun and make a start ... on non fiction or fiction.

Amended extract about not making a start in the plural ...

This is very sad because one of the hardest things to come up with is a good idea. Authors with a good idea, an idea they love, have two of the six elements they need to write, publish, and promote a book—desire and a concept. The other four are a plan, a long attention span, discipline, and support.

From our experience we also had the first two and to some extent, varying each week, the other four. We would add another ... time. Like a good whisky writing needs to mellow and mature so after making a start there is no need to hurry ... enjoy the scenery of a writers journey. 

Thanks to Bobbi for her ideas based on many years experience.


George Orwell

We would like to thank Tony Riches for this reference to his post today on his Writing Desk web site.

As well as his novels, Orwell’s famous six rules for writing, taken from “Politics and the English Language” have inspired writers ever since:
  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
 In our own current editing phase which we are finding hard ... some food for thought.  

On Tony's list of writer's tools he lists Auto crit. we have tried a trial test of 500 words and the results have cheered us up no end  ... with praise like - "awesome, good job, great work" as well as advice to remove many overused words. We am going to investigate use of this facility further.

Tony's most recent book is Warwick - The man behind the wars of the roses. We found the book a good introductory read not knowing much about the period, apart from the bloody battle of Towton on 29 March 1461. We understand more people were killed on the first day of the battle than on the Somme.


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Changes to web site

Twelve months have passed since the Allrighters' web site was set up. Various updates and changes are currently being made to the site including new header pictures and changes in colour schemes. A peacock has returned to the garden in the Norfolk house where the Allrighters do most of their fantasy work. Our peacock is now pictured on a new front start up page to the web site which should appear when you visit or the other international feeds and com. We are getting used to the cries of the peacock in the same way the chiming of the grandfather clock repaired by Henry last year.

As previously advised Mick Rooney of TIPM has agreed to the Allrighters making a regular monthly post. Three posts have been made so far. The link for the third is here and the other links in the previous post below.

These are being made under the Writing and Reading for Pleasure heading as this is beginning to reflect more of what the Allrighters' are now doing. After completion of their 1,000,000 draft words in January 2014 effort has been concentrated on editing and restructuring against a target of one 18,000 word small book a week from the end of May 2014. This Writing and Reading for Pleasure blog has been set up and this will be the one used for most of the Allrighters' new posts. If you receive posts from this and other Allrighters' blogs you will receive an e mail soon asking if you want to receive updates from this new site.
May we wish you a good summer of writing and reading

Alexander and the Allrighters and Ywnwab!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Welcome to Writing and Reading for Pleasure

The Allrighters started writing on June 2010 following a bad dream at 3.00 am in France while on holiday. They set a target of writing a million words in three years and passed this target in January 2014. Plan A has always been to produce a series of well written and produced fiction and non fiction books and as a minimum put them on our book shelf simply for pleasure and satisfaction.

The million word target has proved a good distraction to thoughts of early publishing. A small book of short stories was published, as an e book and in hard copy, in September 2013 for the Tenby Festival and in response to a challenge from a friend "You will never write a book" YWNWAB!

The main Allrighters web site was set up in July 2013. Since completing the million draft words in July the hard work of self editing and restructuring  these words into small 18,000 word books has started.  

Douglas Burcham of the Allrighters writes a monthly blog on the TIPM web site run by Mick Rooney who saved the Allrighters from the clutches of Vanity Publishers in the summer of 2010. The posts are made under the same title as this post.

In July 2014 a peacock was recruited from the garden of the Cross family home in Norfolk England to show off the Allrighters.

Good writing and reading to you all.