Showing posts from October, 2009

I Hate Halloween

It's that time of year again and I'm afraid I'm coming out of the closet to say Halloween is not my favourite time. The pumpkin lanterns and the arched cats in shop windows with witches' hats are fun. What I don't like is that parents are emotionally blackmailed into buying elaborate costumes for their offspring for the purpose of demanding sweets with menaces from complete strangers at their own front door!

I hate the gimme-gimme aspect, and the fact they are rarely polite - even with Mum or Dad hovering in the background, most don't even bother to say "trick or treat," but just reach out to dip their mucky little mitts into a bowl of sweets I felt compelled to buy for this express purpose!

They aren't happy with a few either, these kids have buckets to fill! - in a nation with a serious obesity problem where the Government is spending public money on viral TV advertising!

And some of them aren't kids, they have real facial hair and a can of …

The OMG Moment

For those authors, and that's just about all of us, who carefully prepare that vital query to the 'perfect agent', agonising over what to say, what not to say, which order to put the information in, should we tell them we won the History prize at school? That our Reading Group loves us? That we have another six wips ready and waiting if they don't like this one?

We even submit the query to a critique group or forum to ask for critiques and advice for the re-writes. In fact, many of us spend more time perfecting our query letter and synopsis than we do the first chapter of our manuscript.

Then we carefully format and prepare the file, compose the e-mail and ten seconds after we press the 'send' button - the OMG moment - when we realise something got sent that shouldn't have, or we spelled the agent's name wrong.

I would love to hear about the funny things aspiring authors sent off by mistake - I'm sure it would make an extremely entertaining novel all…

Jane Austen Is Alive and Well....

Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennett in the 2005 Film Production of Pride and Prejudice
....and living amongst the hundreds of Austenesque Blogs and publications that have come onto the market over the last couple of years.

Many novels use her original characters, expanding them into stories of their own. I first noticed this when a book landed on my mat from Random House requesting a review for 'Lady Vernon and Her Daughter', written by mother-daughter team, Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway. They have expanded the neglected Austen manuscript of 'Lady Susan' and turned it into a Regency story based on the premise that on the demise of her husband, a widow is dispossessed of her home and fortune by a vindictive male relative and has to find a means of survival for her and her daughter.

A cursory search of the web brought up pages of references to publications where the authors have taken Ms Austen's characters and written stories round them. Amongst them being T…

Blogging Is Cool

Not that I am allowed to say that particular 'c' word as I am over forty - but this blogging stuff really works. To an extent anyway, because my booksales haven't hit giddy heights, but I still have hopes.

David Plant, the manager of a fabulous website about the English Civil War, the site I make most use of on my bookmark toolbar, has e-mailed me out of the blue informing me that he is happy to link my blog to the site under 'Links' as his web statistics state I have generated some valuable traffic for him from my blog.

There you go then links do get used, so do keep circulating the blogs and keep chatting - about anything.

And for anyone who is interested in theCivil War of 1642-1646,this is the site and it makes very interesting reading. There is a great timeline, the biographies of leading Royalists and Roundheads and summaries of all the pivotal battles and sieges with maps.

Authors Don't Get Rich

An article yesterday in the UK newspapers discssed the financial situation of the Duchess of York - you remember her, the one who ditched her royal husband but hung onto the title? Well, it seems that her foray into publishing books, her autobiography and childrens books, wasn't as successful as imagined.

Authors always roll our eyes at the 'celebrity books', most of them ghost written and published purely for the recognisable name on the cover. I never did understand the point of that. If they want to write a book, write it - don't hire someone to do it for them? I mean they wouldn't hire someone to have a baby for them?
Oh, hang on-scratch that.

Anyway, it seems the DoY's autobiography, published at the height of her notoriety in 1997, raked in £2million. However since then, she has brought out more than a dozen books - all of which grossed only a little over £127,000. Her self-help book, 'What I Know Now', published in 2003 only sold 802 copies. She ha…

Story Arcs in Historical Fiction

As any author will tell you, conflict is the essence of drama. It’s the primary ingredient that weaves together the other elements of a novel. Without conflict, you don’t have a novel. You also need a structured story arc, with subplots and a solution.

These principles, however, don’t quite fit when writing historical fiction. In history, the action, conflict and plot don’t necessarily follow a straight course, and often there isn’t a clean cut climax to give that satisfactory resolution all readers want when they close the back of the book.

Real life is messy, loose ends don’t necessarily tie up and there isn’t always a happy, or even an acceptable ending because in real life, heroes and villains don’t always get what they deserve.

Where the mists of time separate the author from the facts, who can really know how the characters felt at that time, so a certain amount of licence is required to make the story something a reader wants. True - that’s what makes a novel rather than a biogra…

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