Monthly Archives February 2015

How to get ahead: Gail Rebuck

Gail Rebuck: “Never be afraid to say what you think; always have an opinion. Be prepared to fail, but learn from your mistakes. And always do more than is asked of you.” [quote from ‘Grazia’ magazine January 18, 2010] Excellent advice from Dame Gail Rebuck, chairman of Random House UK. Now in charge of strategy, Rebuck had been chairman and chief executive running the day-to-day business, from 1991-2013, so there is nothing she doesn’t know about book publishing. Drill down, and the advice is the same as the other successful businesswomen in the ‘How to Get Ahead’ series: be yourself, work hard, learn from those around you, and be prepared to sell your idea. What’s the best advice about writing you’ve ever been given? Click here to read an article in The Guardian about how the UK publishing world lost key women leaders, including Rebuck, in a matter of weeks in 2013. Try these tips to get ahead:- Sarah Sands Kate Silverton Donna Karan And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Never be afraid to say what you think: advice from Gail Rebuck via @SandraDanby #amwriting http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1b1
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Categories: On Writing.

Cosmochicklitan interviews author Sandra Danby

Book blogger Heidi Bartlett at Cosmochicklitan asks Sandra Danby if the character of Rose Haldane in Ignoring Gravity is based on herself. “Ignoring Gravity is a novel about thinking you know yourself, then finding out that what you know is wrong,” explains the author. “Yes, Ignoring Gravity is my first novel. It is about a journalist, Rose Haldane. Yes, I was a journalist. Therefore I must be Rose? Wrong! Yes, Rose finds out she is adopted. Therefore I must be adopted? Wrong!” Read the Cosmochicklitan interview in full by clicking here.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Is the heroine based on you? #authorinterview by @Cosmochicklitan via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1rd
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

How Donna Leon writes

Donna Leon “What keeps me going is that when I start a book I have no idea of what’s going to happen. I have to keep writing because the more I write the more I discover where the trail is leading. I can’t follow the plot unless I’m writing it.” [in an interview with ‘The Times’, April 15, 2014] Wow, writing a crime novel without a plotline. That must feel like flying an aeroplane without wings. Falling in Love, the 24th Donna Leon novel starring Venice detective Guido Brunetti, is published in the UK on April 7, 2015 by Atlantic Monthly Press. Her Brunetti books have been translated into 35 languages, except Italian. With a television series currently being developed by the BBC, Leon’s Brunetti looks set to become a household name. I haven’t read her novels, now I am waiting with anticipation to start reading from book one, Death at La Fenice, first published in 1992. Have you read them? What did you think? Click here to read the full article at The Times online if you have a subscription. For more about Donna Leon, click here for her website.   See how these other novelists write:- Mary Gaitskill
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Book review: The Humans

I irritated and intrigued by husband by my constant chuckling while reading this book by Matt Haig. It is now on his to-read shelf. I wish I had read it sooner, it was a breath of fresh air. I read it in two sittings over a weekend. If you feel a little jaded with your reading, this is my prescription for you. Professor Andrew Martin is not feeling himself. He has been walking naked through the street and finds humans really odd-looking. That is because the real Andrew Martin is dead, and the human who looks like him is really an alien. The alien has come to earth to delete the mathematical breakthrough achieved by Professor Martin before it does damage to humankind. The alien Andrew just does not get humans, in fact his first source of information on human behaviour is from Cosmopolitan magazine. This is a funny book with a serious message about mental health, about our acceptance of others for what they are, the expectations and selfishness of modern society. Bit by bit, the alien Andrew discovers humans are not as he has been warned; they can in fact be generous, charitable, empathetic and brave. Here’s a
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Categories: Book Love.

Great opening paragraph 68… ‘A Change of Climate’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“One day when Kit was ten years old, a visitor cut her wrists in the kitchen. She was just beginning on this cold, difficult form of death when Kit came in to get a glass of milk.” ‘A Change of Climate’ by Hilary Mantel Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Dance Dance Dance’ by Haruki Murakami ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote 12 And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A great 1st para: A CHANGE OF CLIMATE by Hilary Mantel #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-10z
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

How Emma Hooper writes

Emma Hooper “I’ve got an obsessive nature when it comes to the rhythm of the words and I’ll have sentences that are perfectly grammatically correct, but it has to have just the right amount of syllables.” [ in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, October 17, 2014] Debut novelist Emma Hooper is also a musician, and this shows, she says in her style of writing. Her first novel, Etta and Otto and Russell and James, was published in January 2015. Some of her chapters are very short, just a paragraph or two on a page with lots of empty white space. “It’s like when you play a symphony or a concerto,” she tells The Bookseller, “or even an album, it’s one long piece, but the white space between the songs or between the movements is very important. You need a minute to digest and then move on.” To read my review of Etta and Otto and Russell and James, click here. Click here to read The Bookseller article in full. See how these other novelists write:- Mary Gaitskill Bill Clegg Anne Tyler ‘Etta and Otto and Russell and James’ by Emma Hooper [UK: Fig Tree] And if you’d like to
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

New books coming soon

‘I Belong to No-One’, the emotional memoir of Australian writer GWEN WILSON, will be published in July 2015 by Hachette Australia. Described by the author: “In 1970s Australia, teen pregnancy, illegitimacy and domestic abuse were shameful secrets that women were trapped by.” This is her story of everything she lost, and how hard she fought to survive. Click here for Gwen Wilson’s blog. A new crime series by SALLY ANDREW is planned by Canongate for autumn 2015. The South African-set books combine crime and cooking, based in the rural Karoo region. The first book is Tannie Marie’s Recipes for Love and Murder. Described as reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith. Follow Sally on Twitter. A ‘steamy romantic trilogy’ by TV presenter DEBBIE FLINT is to be published by Choc Lit. The first of the three, Hawaiian Affair, was released in e-book format at Christmas with paperback edition following this year. Flint, a presenter on home shopping channel QVC, started her career on children’s television, replacing Philip Schofield in the Broom Cupboard on the BBC. She helped launch BBC Daytime TV with Eamonn Holmes and hosted her own BBC1 gameshow Meet the Challenge. For more about Debbie Flint’s Hawaiian trilogy, click here.   Post
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Inflicted

Theo is sixteen, and unhappy. He stumbles into the life of an elderly neighbour, Anna. Together they share their secrets and Anna, by telling the story of her own life as a teenager, helps Theo face up to his difficult emotions. This is the debut novel of English author Ria Frances [below] and, despite the unflinching approach to a difficult subject, is I think aimed at teenagers. It tells the story of Anna, a teenager in the Second World War, on the run with her parents from the German army. Her mother dies and Anna is separated from her father as they are taken to Theresienstadt, the city-turned-ghetto run by the Nazis. Anna’s story of hardship is a difficult emotional read, the author does not sweeten the hardships, but the central message is one of hope, courage and love amidst suffering. I wanted to know how Anna’s story ended, even though the adult Anna was telling her own story, because I was curious about her journey from the Czech village of Lidice, to Theresienstadt, Berlin and finally to Sussex in 2010. Curiously, it was Anna’s story which drew me on not Theo’s. I found the ending rather rushed and difficult to
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Categories: Book Love.

Goodreads Giveaway is closed

My giveaway on reading website Goodreads has now closed and I’m thrilled that 1556 people applied for one of the 10 free copies of Ignoring Gravity. Ten books are on their way now to lucky readers in the UK, US and Canada. If you were one of them, one of these envelopes is now in the post and winging its way to you. If you missed out, you can buy Ignoring Gravity now, e-book or paperback, at Amazon UK and Amazon US. Or watch out here for news about the next Giveaway! To join Goodreads, click here. It’s a great way to find new books, share your ideas of books you’ve read, and chat with other readers who like the same sort of books you do.
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Categories: Book Love, Book publicity and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

E-reader or book?

The e-reader or book debate will run and run, I think. For a holistic summary of the debate, read this article at Custom Made, which considers not only the power consumed in using the device, but the carbon emissions used in the manufacturing, sales and distribution processes too. I agree in part with the summary: buy less, borrow more, share more and get a library card. I will continue to read paper books, and e-books on my Kindle Paperwhite. I will continue to buy more secondhand books, favouring charity shops so my £2.50 goes further, and I will use my Kindle until it dies before I replace it. But I will not able to resist a new book by one of my favourite authors, in hardback, so I will buy smart. Buy a Kindle Paperwhite like mine. And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Is the e-reader v book debate over? What do you think? via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1zr #amreading
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler on her sense of accomplishment at writing 20 novels: “I would say it’s like if you’ve ever painted a room and you have to sleep in that room at night and you can see you made a mistake here, and here, and here.” [Anne Tyler, in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, November 21, 2014] Anne Tyler’s debut novel, If Morning Ever Comes, was published in 1967. Her ninth, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant [1982], was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She won it in 1989 with Breathing Lessons. She wishes she could ‘retire’ her first four novels, believing she really got going with her fifth. This is so reassuring to debut authors such as myself. Such is the pressure today to write a best seller from the beginning, that it is easy to forget that a craft must be learned and it can take many years. Hopefully readers discovered her with the first and stuck with her, that’s exactly what happened to me when I read Kate Atkinson’s first novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum in 1995. I have bought and read every single novel she has written since that first one. The pages of my
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Categories: On Writing.

Going back to the Family Records Centre

One of the issues I faced when writing Ignoring Gravity was the change in technology over the years it took me to write the book. Ten long years, during which paper archives went digital, census and registry records became available online. The first draft of the book saw Rose making a trip to Myddleton Street, North London to visit the Family Records Centre in order to get a copy of her original birth certificate. I went too, to research the archive, to follow the process Rose would follow. Recently I retraced my steps, knowing the FRC did not exist, its records long since gone digital. I found it a sad procedure. I’d liked the old building, the anticipation of the Tube journey, turning the corner, walking up the steps, the loud banging of the archive drawers, the friendly atmosphere of family history researchers poring over huge volumes. Recently, with some curiosity, I went back to the very first draft to find the rough draft of the scene where Rose visits the FRC. Here it is:- It was a disappointing building. For something so momentous as the Family Records Centre, Rose had at the very least expected bay windows, Georgian steps
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Researching.

Book review: Kings and Queens

This is the first novel by Terry Tyler that I have read. It is the rollicking story of property developer Harry Lanchester. A property developer you may think, hardly your usual hero type? But he is not just any Harry, he is King Henry VIII updated to modern times. I started reading this after a heavyweight novel and being in need of light refreshment, and had already started then discarded one book on my Kindle after two pages.  This provided the page-turner my weary brain required, the story race along and is an ideal read for holidays, a long train or plane journey, or just when you want to cosset yourself. If you like Tudor-set novels, you will have fun with this. It is easy to work out that that Cathy is Catherine of Aragon and Annette Hever is Anne Boleyn, but I enjoyed recalling my Tudor history – and reading of Philippa Gregory novels – to work out the Tudor equivalent of the modern characters. Of course, as we know the story of Henry and his wives, we can work out what happens to Harry and his, though Tyler puts a modern twist on each story that draws you
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… Amanda Hocking

Amanda Hocking “Write a lot, but read even more. Learn to be open to criticism. And research as much as you can before making a decision about where you want to see your writing career. The internet is filled with information that will help you become a better writer and make better decisions before publishing.” [Amanda Hocking, in an interview with the ‘Huffington Post’, May 1, 2011] Amanda Hocking, who is something of a wunderkind in self-publishing circles, offers sound advice. If you want to be a writer, there are two basic things to do: write, and read. And nowadays there is so much help out there that it is no longer an excuse for a writer to flounder. I googled ‘How to write a novel’ and got 135 million links to click. Some were selling me products [how-to books, novels, computer software], many were selling their services [proofreaders, cover designers, manuscript consultants] but some were good old-fashioned free advice from authors and creative writing tutors. Hocking’s latest book, published in January 2015, is Frostfire, the first in the Kanin Chronicles series. For Amanda Hocking’s blog, click here. Click here to read the Huffington Post interview in full For more
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Categories: Book Love.

#FlashPIC 6 Coffee Shop #writingprompt #amwriting

Today, imagine you are in a coffee shop. Or actually go into a coffee shop and write this exercise from the Writers’ BLOCKbuster series. This writing prompt can be used simply to energise your writing, along with a dose of caffeine, or use some of the following phrases:- Caffeine Kick Mug News Unexpected Connected Networked Gluten-free Sugar kick Listen Spying Unseen © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Arrivals board Red sign pedestrians go Beware danger from high tides beyond 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
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Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

Book review: Seeking John Campbell

This book by John Daffurn is not fiction or a memoir. It is the true story of one man’s hunt for the family of a woman he doesn’t know, which encompasses genealogical research, foot slogging, dead ends and a lot of history. This story starts with the death of this unknown woman, Isabel Grieg, in 1995. She dies intestate. The author found her name on the Bona Vacantia list of estates without heirs. His initial research, prompted by genealogical curiosity, turned into an obsession. This book is the story of that obsession, his fascination with the Campbells and a historical account which ranges from the founding of Argentina, the establishment of a Scots colony in Argentina, through the Great War and World War Two to the present day. At times it is a very fact hungry book and I found myself re-reading some passages. This was not the book I expected, instead of an ‘Heir Hunter’ style detective story, albeit true, it is instead a well-written historical account of three men – each coincidentally called John Campbell – who may be the unknown father of Isabel Greig. In discovering the stories of these three men, the author tells the history
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Categories: Book Love and Family history research.

Great opening paragraph 67… ‘American Psycho’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“Abandon all hope ye who enter here is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Misérables on its side blocking his view, but Price who is with Pierce & Pierce and twenty-six doesn’t seem to care because he tells the driver he will give him five dollars to turn up the radio, “Be My Baby” on WYNN, and the driver, black, not American, does so.” ‘American Psycho’ by Bret Easton Ellis Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘After You’d Gone’ by Maggie O’Farrell ‘To Have and Have Not’ by Ernest Hemingway ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: I want to read more: AMERICAN PSYCHO by Brett Easton Ellis #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-10w  
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Please share…

Please help me to spread the word about Ignoring Gravity. Re-blog on WordPress or Bloglovin’, re-tweet, share on Facebook or Tumblr or Reddit by clicking the ‘share’ button at the end of each post. Thank you! To find out what the book is about, click here to watch the trailer. To hear me talk about how I wrote the novel, click here.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy the e-book or paperback of Ignoring Gravity now, at Amazon UK and Amazon US.
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Categories: Book Love, Book publicity and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Book review: Girl Runner

I was unsure what to expect with this book by Carrie Snyder. I chose it because in my youth I was a runner and the story premise intrigued me, unusual for a novel.  It is fiction based on a real event. The key fictional character, the ‘girl runner’, is Aganetha Smart. She wins the gold medal at the 1928 Olympics for the ground-breaking Canadian team of female athletes. The historical setting is real and is a fascinating glimpse into the barriers which women faced in 1920s and 1930s Canada and society’s attitudes to the strength, ability and success of women. But this novel is not just about athletics, it is the story of Aganetha’s life, of the child who liked to run and how a random chance allowed her to train with a running coach. Eventually she won her gold medal at the Amsterdam games. This is a book about the growth of a girl into a young woman, and from a young woman into an old one, lugging with her the memories, guilt and secrets of her childhood. Running colours Aganetha’s life, her character, and her approach to problems. For Aganetha, running is everything. When feeling troubled as a
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Categories: Book Love.

Past, Present and Future

What did author Sandra Danby do before she wrote Ignoring Gravity? Book blogger A Woman’s Wisdom asks Sandra for her favourite memory from her early days as a journalist. “My editor called me in to tell me I was going on an overnighter to Paris for a press reception. I had never been to Paris. It was 1983. There was no Eurostar, no Channel Tunnel.” Read the interview in full by clicking here.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: What’s my favourite memory? #authorinterview by @bodiciasapple http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1w8 via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love, Book publicity and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.