Monthly Archives March 2015

Is writing a novel like writing a song?

You probably won’t have heard of Dan Wilson, but he is the singer songwriter behind a lot of very familiar pop hits. Most famous, is Adele’s Someone Like You. Is writing a song so different from writing a story or a novel? Here are his 10 Tips on How to Pen a Pop Classic [source: The Times April 24, 2014]:- Write a lot of songs: without concern for whether they are good or bad. “Finish them and move on.” Get in front of an audience: in other words, get other people to read your stories. “It takes the audience – and the terror – to tell you what works.” Forget about getting the number of that famous pop star: Cultivate your friends instead. “Don’t try to find some big dude to help you. Work with the people around you.” In other words, get on and make it happen yourself. Put in the hours, but get out too: “Songwriters spend hours staring at a blank page, despairing, but once you have a way in, all your history and experience comes into use.” Sound familiar? Work hard, but go for a walk in the fresh air too, have a coffee with friends,
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Book review: Girl in Hyacinth Blue

The front cover of this book by Susan Vreeland features a painting by Dutch master Jan Vermeer called ‘The Painter in his Studio’. In it we see the back of a painter, brush in hand, studying a young girl in blue, holding a book, who stands by a window.  This real painting was the inspiration for the story. Scene-by-scene  the story takes you back in time, following through the centuries the owners of the painting which author Susan Vreeland imagines Vermeer was painting . First, we meet a maths master who has a secret. A painting, inherited from his father, which came to him in the Second World War. The painting is passed from owner to owner, sometimes as an inheritance or gift, sometimes as payment of a debt, sometimes stolen. Vreeland tells us the story of each owner, what the painting meant to them and how it affected their lives: for some it means quick money, or guilt, or beauty, or a hidden secret. Effectively this is a series of short stories, linked by the painting. It is a charming tale, set mostly in the Holland of dykes, poverty and farms. The painting illuminates the lives of everyone who
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Categories: Book Love.

Throw Me a Book reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

What did Canadian book reviewer Sandra Antunovic at Throw Me a Book like about Ignoring Gravity? “The idea of what makes people a family. Is it blood relations or in fact the act of sharing ordinary as well as special moments, celebrating each other’s successes and surviving failures, and through it all loving and respecting each other”. To read Sandra’s review in full at Throw Me a Book, click here. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click 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: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @throwmeabook via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1A7
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

I agree with… David Whitehouse

David Whitehouse is not a fan of genre distinctions beyond those that help people find books they will enjoy: “It becomes more than genre, [it] becomes a type of person and it excludes people. That’s not the point. Telling a man on the street that a book is ‘literary’ or ‘commercial’ isn’t helping them find what they want—he would say: ‘Well actually I want something that’s sold a lot of copies.’ [in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, October 28, 2014] Genre has developed from an easy way for publishers and booksellers to categorise a book for retail display and sales management, to a bit of a strait jacket. I’m sure I miss out on some really great books by not perusing the Horror or Science Fiction shelves. And I have never heard a customer saying in a bookshop ‘I’m looking for a great literary novel’. It’s the same when searching on Amazon. A quick search for Jessie Burton’s excellent debut The Miniaturist reveals the issues, it appears in three categories: historical, literary fiction and contemporary fiction. I don’t understand the last category as the novel is set in 1686. Perhaps the tale is wagging the dog now. To read
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Book review: Forever Fredless

This is a sunny ‘what if…’ story by Suzy Turner about a girl who longs for a dream not recognising that her life is offering her something better than that unattainable dream. It is a reminder to appreciate what you have, rather than covet something you can’t have. Kate Robinson falls instantly in love when she is 12. She doesn’t know the boy’s name, they exchange a glance but not a single word, before being whisked away by their parents, destined never to meet again. As Kate grows older, no man matches up to ‘Fred’, as she thinks of him, until a surprise inheritance changes her life and shows her that there are other possible loves in her life than the unknown ‘Fred’. Forever Fredless is a fast-moving chicklit novel which I read quickly on a flight going on holiday. Exactly the book to pack in your suitcase. It’ll teach you about the perils of celebrity, that money isn’t always a blessing, and that teenage dreams are made of clouds… but are still worth believing in. For more information about other books by Suzy Turner, click here for her website. If you like ‘Forever Fredless’, read these other romances:- ‘Stormy
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Categories: Book Love.

Famous people, reading… Bella Lugosi

Was there ever a better Dracula than Bella Lugosi? Those eyes, those eyebrows. It is many many years since I read Bram Stoker’s novel, but I admit that finding this photograph made me want to read it again. And I am not one for horror stories. First published on May 26, 1897, below is the front cover of the first edition, alongside the poster for the 1931 film starring Bella Lugosi. To watch a You Tube clip of the 1931 film Dracula, click here. See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Jerry Lewis Madonna Benedict Cumberbatch   ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker [UK: Penguin Classics] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Bella Lugosi: is he reading DRACULA by Bram Stoker? #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1dX
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Categories: Book Love.

Writing tips: learn to recognize repetition as you write

Develop a second sense for repetition. Not just words, but favourite phrases. If you know you are guilty of over-using a phrase, use ‘find’ on Word and change every repetition to red. Then re-write it. And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Writers’ BLOCKbusters: learn to recognize repetition as you write http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1tU #writingtips via @SandraDanby
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Categories: On Writing.