Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, has suggested that the web is making us more stupid – that we are distracted and unable to concentrate on one thing long enough to engage with it properly.

With the information in the headers and the sidebars constantly changing - and the links there to tempt us and encourage side-tracking - most websites actively discourage concentration.

Carr suggests everyone is skimming over the glittering surface of the web. 

Trying to save time and find more information, my style is more like a swimmer: I dip a little deeper but push a lot of excellent information behind me. 

Nicholas Carr’s point is valid, I don’t have enough time to be much of a scuba diver.

When it comes to recreational reading, I cling to real books; this is literally true. 

If the story is gripping, my fingers ache from clutching the cover and I resent the time it takes to turn over. I hold the pages higher and I peep around before I’ve actually finished reading the end of the page.

The reader exists on two plains - there in-body but in-spirit somewhere else instead.

"The novelist is inviting the reader to watch a performance in his own brain." ~ George Buchanan

Do you see yourself as a surfer, a swimmer or a scuba diver, when it comes to the Internet? 

Monday, 22 August 2011




I’ve been working on writing with greater precision. 

I learned to focus on the information I intended to convey to the reader, not how I was going to do it.

The more creative the style of writing the greater the chance of vagueness.

For the writer who can stretch imagery like they're made of elastic ;) this was hell.

Do you have a new writing goal?

Sunday, 21 August 2011


It must be Sunday, I'm thinking about six sentences. :)

With a huge thanks to Danette, the opening of STARRING has been rewritten. 

While I was in America - and not burning my butt, or reading, or a combination of the two - I was working on the new opening. 

I have written the sections joining up the inciting incident that was so extreme it got our hero sent to boarding school with the events that made him decide to run away even though he has nowhere to go.

Chapter 1
Inside Out

The sunlight broke through miserable clouds and almost immediately the puddles steamed and fogged the main window of the tiger enclosure. Glancing around, relieved no one was near, Hari placed his hand flat against the glass and rubbed a circle clear.
The prowling Sumatran tiger closed the distance between them. Showing teeth and a cavernous mouth, the tiger turned its head and lapped at the drops misting the inside of the window. It gnawed at the surface where Hari’s hand still rested.
 “Hey there, Little Brother. I told you I’d come.”

Did you spot the name change?
The hero of the story is/was called Lucas Orme but I've had to argue the case for "Lucas' parents" against "Lucas's parents" too often. 
Am I over-stressing?
I decided the most simple solution was to find a different name for the boy's parents to saddle him with: 
  • They are obsessed with their work on tiger conservation
  • The Malay for tiger is Harimau 

They were more than likely to do it to their son: Hari Orme.

There is a problem with naming the hero of a book about a boy who is sent to a boarding school that aims to ensure an all-round education including magical studies Hari but I can't quite remember what it might be ;) 

Friday, 19 August 2011

I've been learning from the Plain English Guidelines
  • The problems of unclear writing
  • Choosing an appropriate style for the audience
  • Different writing styles
  • Suggestions for clear writing
  • Active and passive verbs
  • Getting rid of redundant words
  • Shortening sentences
  • Making sentences positive instead of negative
  • Revealing hidden verbs

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Waterstones - untouched during the riots.
Do you think the looters figured
the books were cheaper on Amazon? ;)
It's a good job I'm law abiding.

I am horrified by my disjointed blog-posting regime, I plan to get back on track soon.

Part of the problem was the amount of time I spent watching the news when civil disobedience and mob rule tried to become the norm, in England.

I have also spent time writing. Unplugged. It was scary but productive.

We were working on style and voice, I plan to write some short post on some of the things we covered.

Plus points:
It is still the long summer holidays
Having Mum within easy distance is sooo good
There are sliding doors on my wardrobes
I'm writing

Less-plus points:
Arrangements for my son to move to some form of independent living are gathering momentum
My daughter is organising for V-fest and talking about going back to Manchester Uni like it is her real-life (which it is)
My management training course is finished and I've booked up for a writing course ;)

Today's reading in the Daily Mail on-line turned up news only slightly less horrible than 
watching live-streams of greed:

Researchers have genetically engineered goats to produce milk packed with the same protein as silk spiders.

The protein is then milked out and spun and weaved into a material ten times stronger than steel.

I can see advantages in creating lightweight, protective clothing for the Police, I can even see it as a useful device in works of fiction, but – Frankenstein-lives – imagine the researchers taking their work further. It is only a short stagger to imagine them making a few genetic modifications and creating bulletproof human skin just like they made fabric from spider silk and goat milk.

How are things going with you? Are you feeling good about your writing progress?

Saturday, 6 August 2011


Author, Tony Parsons, has moved into Heathrow Airport. For a week, he has been awarded unrestricted access to the busy international airport.
From the air control tower to the departure and arrivals halls, Tony Parsons is allowed to roam the terminals seeking inspiration for a series of short stories.
What an opportunity.
A single glove on a wall; an individual at the end of a busy bench; fractured and fraught families: I find airports painfully full of possibilities.
Just walking through an airport disturbs clouds of possibilities, all emotionally swarming and endlessly buzzing.  
Diverse business are becoming involved in projects where they engage an artist-in-residence.
Imagine the painter James Hart Dyke – sketch book, pen, and camera in his hands – spying on MI6. 
Picture the efforts of artist Neville Gabie as he captures the transformation of east London during the run-up to the Olympics.
London Zoo had an artist-in-residence too but they probably didn’t notice when I went to measure the tiger enclosure to see how hard it would be for Lucas – in STARRING – to break in.
Where have you found inspiration?

Monday, 1 August 2011


Holiday break - part one.

New York was the essence of everything sultry and hot. I took a leaf out of the Tourists' Handbook and ticked off as many as possible ;)  

San Francisco was the essence of extremes, I've never needed to put on and taken off a jacket so often.

Los Angeles sprawled, lavish and splendid - all stars and signs.

I was sad I couldn't fit Carpinteria into my suitcase, I want that town.

I walked the length and breadth of San Ysidro - shopping and footbridges.

Tijuana - over the border, in Mexico - was an extreme contrast.

I apologise to all the places I haven't mentioned yet, I loved every minute of my holiday.

I sat on more beautiful beaches than I can count, read over ten books but wrote only about 1,000 words.

It will come as no surprise that I toasted my head which is a great place for sunburn, almost as good as burning my bum and I did that too ;)

Holiday break - part two.

I'm away again, from today. I'm helping my Mum move house, as she is down-sizing. I'm going to need magical assistance, Hermionie's handbag might be nearly large enough to fit all the stuff Mum wants to bring to her new flat. 

Summer break? ;)

Hope you are having a productive holiday. Have you considered doing Camp NaNoWriMo?