Monthly Archives May 2014

Why I filmed two author interviews

It wasn’t the plan to film two interviews about Ignoring Gravity, the idea of doing it once was intimidating enough. But the weather did not play along with our plans. The plan was, film the book trailer in the morning and the interview in the afternoon. I had planned the interview questions:- What is Ignoring Gravity about? Where did the idea come from? Am I Rose? What is it with trees? Why is it called Ignoring Gravity? Five questions doesn’t look like a lot, my earlier draft versions had a lot more. But a few practice sessions recording my Q&A sessions on my camera lasted more than five minutes. Far too long, judging by author interviews I watched on You Tube. My aim was two minutes. The final versions were 2.30 [interior] and 2.35 [exterior]. I didn’t write a script, I simply prepared by deciding the most important things I wanted to say about my book. Marketing manager Nicky Stephen had ear-marked the location for the interview at our first meeting. “I’ve got the perfect location,” she said. And it was perfect: a huge tree in a beautiful garden, with a circular tree seat for me to sit on. Perfect, because
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Categories: Book Love, Book publicity and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Book review: The Blind Man of Seville

The first time I heard of the Javier Falcón books by Robert Wilson was when the first was dramatized on TV, and unfortunately I missed it. So it was with anticipation that I turned to the first of the four books, The Blind Man of Seville. My first impression was that it was the longest detective book I’d read in a while, but the reason for this soon became apparent: the back story in Tangiers. In a note at the back of the book, Wilson directs his readers to the full-length diaries he wrote for Francisco Falcón, Javier’s late father, artist, Tangiers resident and key character in The Blind Man of Seville. It is a complicated novel, entangling the Spanish legal system, bullfighting, the worlds of art and restaurants, Seville, Tangiers and the theme which lurks just below the surface of everyday Spain: the Spanish Civil War. There is something about the first murder which slowly tips Inspector Falcón towards mental breakdown. Like all detectives, the interest lies in his frailties, how he overcomes them and manages to do the day job, how he outwits the criminal mind. Francisco’s diaries are fascinating; an insight into the Spanish Legion, its time
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Categories: Book Love.

‘Ignoring Gravity’: what the readers say

What are readers saying about Ignoring Gravity? “So much mystery and I haven’t even read from the beginning! Will be doing so on the weekend. Loved the way you described Phyllie’s cup of tea as “poured with a slight wobble and spill” – I immediately saw it so vividly!” Mrsholderslegacy.wordpress.com “Sneaked time off from packing to read this. Totally absorbing… want to know what happens next but also need to go back to the beginning. Packing can wait!” Sheila Williams, Write on the Beach “Just finished Ignoring Gravity. Loved it, and cried at page 421!” Nicky Stephen, Nicky Stephen Marketing “She’s hardly able to tear herself away from Ignoring Gravity to make meals or wash dishes – thought you’d like to know that! Fiction Feedback Synopsis: Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it. Ignoring Gravity connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider
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Categories: My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Writing.

#WritingPrompt Writers’ BLOCKbusters… berries

Here’s a #FirstPara and photo writing prompt from Writers’ BLOCKbusters to help you to start writing today. Study the photograph, then use the sentence below as the beginning of a new short story. “Were the berries edible, she wondered….”  © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other writing prompts:- Wardrobe The Meaning of Purple Between the Train Seats What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words on the page. Those words won’t necessarily be the first line of your novel, or indeed anything to do with your novel, but they will be words to fill that intimidating blank space. And it couldn’t be quicker. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is a collection of three ebooks of writing prompts. Why are they different? Precisely because they are short, easy to use, and flexible. Designed for writers of fiction, any genre, novels, short stories, flash fiction, they are suitable for all genre of fiction precisely because each exercise is based on a subject unrelated to whatever you are struggling with. I am not looking over your shoulder. Ebooks coming in 2019 at Amazon… Writers’ BLOCKbusters: #500 FirstParas Writers’ BLOCKbusters: #500 FlashPics Writers’ BLOCKbusters: #500 WordStorms Can’t wait? Feeling uninspired
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

The reality of adoption

There are two faces to adoption: public and private. Some relatives remain secret, hidden forever, the separated players remaining apart and unknown. Some people struggle with the decision to search, when they do they may be elated or dejected. The story of the birth mother and father is often not heard, somehow their voice can be forgotten in the hubbub of reunion. Some lucky people do have a happy ending. The path is always painful.Adoption can be the making of some people, it can save lives, give a new chance, solve problems and bring happiness to abandoned children and childless couples, a new start to the birth parents who for their own reasons made that agonizing decision. British television is full of programmes about adoption reunion and family history. It started with the BBC trailblazer Who Do You Think You Are?, now a global phenomenon and still going strong. ITV got in on the act with Long Lost Family and now co-presenter Nicky Campbell is hosting a new series concentrating on the behind-the-scenes process of adoption today, Wanted: A Family of My Own. Nicky Campbell’s own memoir, Blue-Eyed Son, was an important part of my reading. “Finding someone, when the
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Categories: Adoption, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Researching.

Applying the rules of art to writing: eliminate the non-essential

“Every work of art should contain whatever it needs to fulfil its descriptive objective but nothing more. Look at the ‘leftover’ parts of every composition. Successful images have no dead spaces or inactive parts. Look at your compositions holistically and make sure that every element advances the purposes of the whole.” Excerpt from ‘101 Things to Learn in Art School’ by Kit White  Every writer has over-written, been carried away with a sub-plot that leads nowhere, given a character its head and let it run away from the plot. When I was writing my first novel Ignoring Gravity, I read an interview with a novelist who recommended asking yourself of a chapter or passage you’ve just written: ‘But what does it do? How does it progress the story?’ If you don’t know, stop and consider. If you do know and it is taking the story in a different direction, you don’t necessarily have to stop, just be aware of what you are doing. There is an argument that says continue writing, that the diversion may be better than the original idea, that the diversion may turn into book two, or a completely different novel unrelated to the first. It is
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Categories: On Writing.

Shelley Weiner reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“This contemporary tale of sisterhood and identity is immediately engrossing. Sandra Danby writes with great empathy and wit.” Shelley Weiner, author of ‘The Audacious Mendacity of Lily Green’  Shelley Weiner was my creative writing teacher for two years when I studied at Birkbeck College, University of London. So this review means a lot. In fact, I’d written an early draft of Ignoring Gravity, when it was provisionally called Finding Rose, before I studied with Shelley. So, until receiving a proof copy of the manuscript this year she had never heard of Rose Haldane. Regular readers may remember a while ago I wrote about Tiara, the novel I haven’t finished writing. Tiara was written on that course at Birkbeck. Shelley will have forgotten about it, but if she clicks here she may recall my melodramatic opening page!  Click here to visit Shelley’s website. Click here to listen to Shelley talk about The Audacious Mendacity of Lily Green Click here to hear Shelley talk about writing, teaching, curiosity and tenacity…. Read my review of The Audacious Mendacity of Lily Green.   Read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Writing.

Book review: Allegiant

The tone of this book, the third in the story about Tris Prior, is different. Influential in this, I think, is the point-of-view which is split for the first time: between Tris and Tobias [Four]. Getting a male perspective is interesting, and I guess Veronica Roth took this approach to add more tension to the storytelling. It certainly highlights the lack of communication between the two. But at times, I lost track of whose thoughts I was reading: not a good sign. The book is full of strong female characters, but not strong in a good way. Evelyn, head of the factionless; Edith Prior, Tris’s ancestor, whose mystery hangs over this third book. The world Tris knew in Divergent and Insurgent has been shattered by violence so she and Tobias set out, beyond the fence to find a new world. Except this is a book, so the new world is not going to be green fields. It is going to be violent and unequal too. Unfortunately this reads to me like an author struggling to string her story idea out across three books, because publishers like publishing YA trilogies and Hollywood likes making film trilogies for teens. Allegiant could have done with
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Categories: Book Love.

Great opening paragraph 55… ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.” ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ by Thomas Hardy Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Lord Jim’ by Joseph Conrad ‘Notes on a Scandal’ by Zoe Heller ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A great 1st para: FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD by Thomas Hardy #books http://wp.me/p5gEM4-7J via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Book review: Eeny Meeny

MJ Arlidge has worked in television, most recently producing crime serials for ITV, and so it is no surprise that this is an accomplished debut crime novel. I found it disturbing from chapter one which takes you straight into the head of one person, looking at another person sleeping, wondering how to kill him. For one to escape their prison, the other must die. They have been imprisoned with a loaded gun and a message on a mobile phone: ‘when one of you kills the other, the survivor will walk free’. For Detective Inspector Helen Grace, this first case of murder is quickly followed by another kidnapping/murder, and another. Hiding her own demons beneath a veneer of efficiency and emotional self-sufficiency, Grace is out-stepped again and again by a killer who seems a master of disguise as well as being that most rare of things: a female serial killer. Grace fits the profile of a modern literary detective: a loner, with a troubled past and full of guilt. The investigation seems to twist and turn in on itself, turning attention on the police, and on Grace herself. I found myself rooting for her, until finally at the end we understand
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Categories: Book Love.

Writing: the Danby way

Every writer has their likes and dislikes, their absolute requirements and the things that would be nice, a treat during a hard day at the keyboard. This is how Sandra Danby writes. □ Start the day vowing to take lots of screen breaks, aim to do exercises to ease neck and shoulder tension. Do none. □ Have endless ideas, too many. Scribble them in notebooks, collect magazine and newspaper cuttings, take photographs, writes notes of things overheard. File them away in one of the boxes in a 4ft tall pile beside the desk. Type up the notes into Word and file under the appropriate novel or generally under ‘Ideas’. Forget them, then re-find them days/months/years later and pounce on them like treasure. □ Keep a notebook in every conceivable size, set aside a cupboard for new untouched notebooks just waiting to be written in. Keep a small spiral-bound notebook and pen in your handbag, an A5 notepad and pen beside the bed, an A4 notepad ready for inspiration to strike while on an airplane or waiting in a departure lounge. Never leave the house without a notepad and pen: the journalist training never disappears. It’s also an admittance of fear,
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Categories: On Writing.

Book review: Gone Girl

I feel like the last person to read this book by Gillian Flynn. I don’t know why I didn’t read it earlier, I like clever thrillers, but somehow I just didn’t get around to it. I was partly put off by the range of reviews of Amazon, I must admit, from 5 stars to 2 stars. This is definitely a Marmite book: love it or hate it. But then the publicity for the film started and I always like to read the book before I see the film, so… I got it from the library. Gone Girl is about the fracturing of a five-year old marriage. We get both points of view: Nick the husband, Amy the wife. Basically one day, Amy disappears. There are signs of a struggle in the house. Nick goes predictably quickly from being lost husband to prime suspect. I have to admit. I did not like Amy from page one of her diary, her language is so OTT and flowery. “I am fat with love! Husky with ardor! Morbidly obese with devotion! A happy, busy bumblebee of marital enthusiasm.” Ugh. Neither was I overly keen on Nick, I guess overall I found it overwritten and
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Categories: Book Love.