Monthly Archives September 2017

Great Opening Paragraph 101… ‘A Farewell to Arms’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swifly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterwards the road bare and white except for the leaves.” ‘A Farewell to Arms’ by Ernest Hemingway  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Jamrach’s Menagerie’ by Carol Birch ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ by Kurt Vonnegut Jr ‘Sacred Hearts’ by Sarah Dunant And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2s3
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Download ‘Ignoring Gravity’, free book today

Download Ignoring Gravity, available as a free book today and tomorrow only at Amazon. Click the link below.  Read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Download now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Download ‘Ignoring Gravity’ #Kindle #freebooks http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2Q2 via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

How Sara Baume writes

Sara Baume ‘… something like, it’s a girl-going-mad novel, structured around roadkill and interspersed with descriptions of contemporary art.” [when asked what her next novel was about, in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, November 11, 2016] Every novelist will recognize this panic when put on the spot. The brain empties and your carefully thought-through second novel becomes a blur. At the time she was asked this question, Sara Baume was in Ireland talking to an audience about her 2015 debut and Costa First Novel shortlisted Spill Simmer Falter Wither. The ‘girl-going-mad’ novel, titled A Line Made by Walking, was published earlier this year. Perhaps without realizing, Baume may have been confusing herself as the girl-going-mad with the character of Frankie. It is an autobiographical novel based on a difficult time in Baume’s life; she had graduated from art school in Dublin into a climate with no jobs. The novel is ‘true and not true,’ she explains. ‘It’s based in truth but then there was a point at which I realized that Frankie had become her own person…. She’s an art graduate and she’s trying to be an artist. It beings as an exercise to try and remember the things
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Categories: On Writing.

Family history: Finding your nonconformist ancestor

If your ancestor was a nonconformist and belonged to a church, there are numerous records for you to search. Nonconformity is the term for all non-Anglican protestant denominations such as Baptists, Methodists, Quakers and Presbyterians. In English church history, a nonconformist was a protestant Christian who did not conform to the governance and usages of the Church of England. Broad use of the term was precipitated after the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 when the Act of Uniformity 1662 re-established the opponents of reform within the Church of England. This term specifically came to include the Reformed Christians such as the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Calvinists, plus the Baptists, Methodists and Puritans. The Methodist Revival began as a movement within the Church of England in the 18th century, led by John Wesley [below]. It originated as a weekly club at the University of Oxford where the club’s members lived a ‘holy life’. Ridiculed as ‘Methodist’ by fellow students because of the way they used ‘rule’ and ‘method’ to go about their religious affairs, Wesley adopted the name. By law and social custom, nonconformists were restricted from many parts of public life including access to public office, civil service careers and degrees at university. A good
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Categories: Family history research.

Book review: Shelter

This book is full of trees. The Forest of Dean to be exact. Shelter by Sarah Franklin is the story of two outsiders who find themselves in the forest during World War Two. As they struggle to survive, to learn about their surroundings, how to get by from day to day, each finds a way to live the rest of their lives. Early in 1944 in Coventry, Connie Granger’s life is changed in the course of one night. Escaping the bombing, city-girl Connie takes a job with the Women’s Timber Corps. Unable to follow her dreams, she resents the change of direction.  Sent to the Forest of Dean for her training, she turns out to be so good the manager keeps her on. Meanwhile, in the forest, a prisoner-of-war camp is built for Italian soldiers captured during fighting in Africa. Neither prisoner Seppe, nor Connie, know one tree from another but together they learn to fell trees and work timber. And they get to know each other. The themes of nature, change and new birth are strong throughout Shelter, symbolised not just by the trees but by the growth of Joe, Connie’s baby, and the increasingly fluency of Seppe’s English.
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: I Found You

Alice Lake sees a man sitting alone on a beach in the rain and invites him into her home. He has lost his memory. When Lily’s new husband doesn’t come home from work, she goes to the police for help and discovers he has a false name. A family from Croydon take a traditional English holiday by the sea. These are the three storylines in I Found You by Lisa Jewell. The common denominator is location: a northern seaside town called Ridinghouse Bay. Two inter-connected themes run throughout I Found You. Memory – the fugue of the man on the beach, and the dementia suffered by Alice’s parents – and identity, disguised, mistaken, forgotten. Jewell is so good at writing believable characters, good at exploring human nature in a simple, accessible way. And though there is evil in this story, there is also good, kindness, humanity, heart. The menace is subtle, building slowly from the beginning even when the connections are unclear. It’s just a feeling. Gray watches his younger sister being chatted up by Mark, an older teenager, and feels uneasy: ‘There was something just off about him. Something shadowy and cruel. There were too many angles in his
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: The Orange Lilies

This is a novella, a short book which I wanted to be longer. Set at Christmas 2014 it revisits Christmas 100 years earlier, the first year of the Great War, and follows the story of one man in the trenches with the Royal Sussex Regiment. Third in the series by Nathan Dylan Goodwin about his forensic genealogist Morton Farrier, it is a little different from its predecessors in that it focusses on Morton’s own story rather than that of a client. Morton knows he is adopted but has recently discovered a complicated family secret. So in an effort to build bridges and learn more about his ancestors, he and girlfriend Juliette travel to Cornwall to visit his Aunty Margaret and Uncle Jim. Over the festive break, Morton and Margaret trace official documents telling the story of Morton’s great-grandfather Charles Farrier, who fought with the Second Battalion, the Royal Sussex Regiment. However as records are uncovered, more questions appear. At the same time we are told Charles’s story in 1914, with its own mysteries, contradictions and secrets. Unknown to Morton, old and modern mysteries are inter-linked. I love the formula of the Morton Farrier books, the combination of present and past,
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Categories: Book Love.

My Porridge & Cream read: Lev D Lewis

Today I’m delighted to welcome debut crime novelist Lev D Lewis. His ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household. “Confession, at the risk of being branded an imposter and ritually kicked off your blog: I don’t really have a Porridge & Cream read; the last thing I feel like doing when I’m ‘tired, ill, or out-of-sorts’ is staring at words. If anything, I find those states more creative than consuming; I just want to bury myself under the duvet and let my mind take over. I do have a long list of books I want to re-read, headed by Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (I’ve studied Classical Civilization since I first read it, and it would be interesting to reread with that extra bit of knowledge) but my TBR pile tends to win out. There’s only one book I’ve read more than once for pure pleasure, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household, so I present that as my Porridge & Cream book. It about an unnamed British huntsman who aims his rifle at an unnamed foreign dictator, just for laughs (apparently). He’s chased back to England, retreats into an underground lair and is trapped there by his pursuer.
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

#FlashPIC 23 Deckchairs #writingprompt #amwriting

Dialogue is a writing technique which rewards practice, patience and observation. Reading aloud helps too. So today’s writing tip is a two-hander, two characters only, pure dialogue. From the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series, here is a FlashPIC writing prompt to inspire a conversation for a piece of flash fiction. There are two alternative ways to start this exercise:- 1 Choose your two characters. They could be based on someone you know, a character you have already created, a character you are working on, or celebrities. Mis-matched personalities yield the most conflict and liveliest dialogue. Do not pre-judge whether their conversation will be funny, quickfire, sparse or argumentative. Or 2 Choose the location of your deckchairs and work out why your two characters are there. Do they know each other, have they arranged to meet, or are they strangers? Now, seat your characters in their deckchairs. Each character should, in turn, introduce himself. Find something for them to agree about… And something for them to disagree about. And let the conversation develop naturally. Do not worry about punctuation, simply start a new line to indicate change of voice. Finally, incorporate these characters and their dialogue into a flash fiction story. © ‘Writers’
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

Book review: Deerleap

One day Grace Chalk sees her boyfriend standing at the other side of the street. Except Alex is dead. And so starts Deerleap by Sarah Walsh, a combination of love story [Grace and Alex], detective story [is Alex really alive, if so where is he?] and the nature of blame [marriage breakdown] and grief. Walsh has written an assured story, handling the emotional complexities with a gentle touch making the twists and turns even more surprising when they arrive. When the story opens, seven years have passed since the car accident in which Grace’s father and her stepmother Polly were killed, her sister Rita seriously injured, and her boyfriend Alex disappeared. Alex’s body was never found. Rita has never talked about what happened, she is emotionally vulnerable, spiky and prone to hitting her sister. Grace’s mother still resents being deserted by her husband and Grace worries that her anger will turn into depression and suicide. At the centre of the story stands Deerleap, the remote country house where Alex grew up and where Grace visits her father as he sets up his new home with Polly. It all sounds idyllic, except seven years later, Deerleap stands empty awaiting the legal
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Categories: Book Love.

First Edition: A Passage to India

EM Forster was born in 1879 and was the author of a number of hugely successful novels. Many were turned into films including Where Angels Fear to Tread [1991], Room with a View [1985] and Howards End [1992]. A Passage to India was his last, and most successful novel, but he was to live on. He died in 1970 at the age of 91. This portrait [below] of Forster by Dora Carrington is dated 1924. This hardback first edition [above] is one of the rare examples which still has its dust jacket. Published in 1924 by London Edward Arnold & Co, it is now worth £9,750 at rare bookseller Peter Harrington. The story Set in the context of India during the British Raj of the 1920s, with the growing Indian independence movement, A Passage to India tells the story of four key characters: Dr Aziz, Cyril Fielding, Mrs Moore and Miss Adela Quested. Aziz is garrulous and naive, Adela something of a prig. During a trip to the Malabar Caves, Adela finds herself alone in a cave with Mr Aziz. She panics and flees. The assumption is made that Aziz assaulted her. The story of his subsequent trial examines the
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Categories: Book Love.