Something nasty in the woodshed – REVIEW of Cold Comfort Farm

I suppose quite a few people are familiar with this phrase (the one about the woodshed, I mean), and some people might even know where it comes from – I used it myself just the other day. However, I’d never read Cold Comfort Farm until now, and I regret not having done so before.

As a non-fan of D.H.Lawrence (as a novelist, though I do like a lot of his poetry), I particularly enojoyed the book, and it actually had me laughing out loud on the train as I read it.

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What the f___iddlesticks?

Warning – contains words that some may find offensive (and that’s the point, actually)

Recently I saw a post on Facebook which gave a list of euphemisms sometimes used in the US to avoid using certain swearwords. They struck this Brit as being quaint and amusing (even the term “cuss words”!).

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A “sensitivity reader”?? Sorry, but WTF?

From an article that was highlighted in an email newsletter I received from an editing service where I am registered as an editor:

Sensitivity readers review unpublished manuscripts with the express purpose of spotting cultural inaccuracies, representation issues, bias, stereotypes, or problematic language.

Seriously, do we need this?

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Bee-bee

Just finished a 3k+ word short story which ventures into new territory. The protagonist is a youngish woman, and the situation is one I have never personally experienced.

It’s all from a very intimate third-person POV, and though there are flashbacks, the majority of the action occurs in one small room and one person’s mind – it’s quite claustrophobic.

There’s a lot of swearing and four-letter words at one point. Still not sure whether to leave them there, but they do fit the character and her mood at this point.

The style is closest to my Tales of Old Japanese – a very sparse style –  not too many adverbs, and very little in the way of physical description.

There’s an element of the supernatural here, but there’s also ambiguity here – I hope, and I also hope that it’s quite scary from a psychological point of view (as opposed to people being eaten by zombies or chopped up with chainsaws, etc.).

Oh, and the title, and the image I’ve chosen to decorate this page with? All part of the story.

…she kept coming back to Bee-bee, as she had done for over thirty years.

Bee-bee was six months younger than Anne, and she had been given to Anne by her grandmother, who had died less than a year later. From the start, Anne had instantly fallen in love with the rag doll, who seemed to always have been called Bee-bee. No-one could remember who she was called that, or why.

Now on her fourth set of button eyes, and after many major surgical operations to repair almost ripped off limbs, severe abdominal lesions, and general old age, Bee-bee went everywhere with Anne, whether Anne was on her own or not. Bee-bee was always there to listen, sitting at the head of her bed, whenever Anne had doubts, or when her heart was broken as yet another man walked out of her life.

Now, what to do with what I’ve written… Any agents or publishers interested?

Beginning at the end

Our writers’ group, the Lichfield Writers, gave us an interesting exercise this week. Usually, a writing exercise gives you the opening sentence of a piece. This time, we were presented with the end.

As night turned to day, he started to understand the truth.

I ended up writing a genre which is somewhat unfamiliar to me. I think it almost works.

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The story that wrote itself

Who says blogs have to be simply opinion pieces, and non-fiction? Here’s a piece of slightly weird fiction, based on a dream that I had the other night.

Usually I write using a computer. But the other night, I couldn’t be bothered to go into the room where I keep the computer, turn the thing on, and write down the thoughts that had occurred to me. So I started to write longhand, with a pen – and I don’t mean a ballpoint pen. This was a fountain pen, filled with turquoise ink.

[Why turquoise? you ask. Simple – the local stationery store was having a closing-down sale, and they were selling bottles of turquoise ink for 10p. So…]

Anyway, I wrote and I wrote, and I went to bed, and in the night something very strange happened. Don’t ask me how I knew all of this – I would have said it was a dream, except for all that I saw the next morning, but it did seem to me that I was watching all this from my bed as it happened. Continue reading “The story that wrote itself”

Out of Bounds (Val McDermid) – REVIEW

I knew Ms McDermid’s name, but had never read any of her books until I picked this up in the library. It sometimes takes me some time to get into a new series – a new world, set of characters, and outlook, but this was an exception.

The world of DCI Karen Pirie is just such a new world for me, for a number of reasons.

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Working with others…

Last year, our local writing group, the Lichfield Writers, decided to create a joint project for the second successive year and and The Lichfield Jigsaw Murders is now available. This book proved to be very interesting, not just in the writing stage, but also in the editing phases of production. I learned quite a lot about editing from this exercise. Continue reading “Working with others…”

The Man who Would be Sherlock – Christopher Sandford – REVIEW

This is in some ways a strange book (click here for the Amazon page). Sandford explains at the beginning of the book that this is not a biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, nor is it a minute reexamination of the Edalji and Slater cases – the two criminal cases which Doyle regarded as miscarriages of justice and worked to right wrongs.

However, the book does go into some details of ACD’s life, and also provides a summary of both cases as it concentrates on the almost obsessive side of the man’s life which wished to see “fair play” in all things. Continue reading “The Man who Would be Sherlock – Christopher Sandford – REVIEW”

One year on

It was just over a year ago (in fact, it was about 1:30am on Christmas morning 2017) that I read an email from a friend informing me that my publisher, editor, and friend, Jo Lowe of Inknbeans Press, had died.

The news was not totally unexpected, but it hit me hard, and Christmas last year was very much a matter of smiling on the outside and grieving on the inside. Since then, I have had to pick up the pieces, not only of my emotional life (for I, like all who knew her, I think, was more than a little in love with this lady whom most of us had never met in person), but of my life as a writer.

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