It… and the power of fiction

On Friday 13th September, in a small English town, an anonymous clown terrified passers-by. He stood on street corners, holding a bunch of balloons, and stared at passers-by. It must be 26 years since I read It  by Stephen King [first published in paperback in the UK in 1987] but to this day I remember clearly how much that book frightened me.It is the only novel I have been forced to sit up reading all night, not being able to sleep until I finished it… because I was terrified. I didn’t want to finish it, I wanted to throw it away [I
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New books coming soon

Mel Sherratt Self-published author Sherratt has signed a two novel deal with Amazon Publishing’s thriller and mystery imprint Thomas & Mercer. Sherratt has already released Taunting the Dead, the second book Watching Over You is unpublished. Taunting the Dead was first published via the Kindle Direct Publishing programme, reaching number three on the Kindle chart. James Oswald Crime writer, and farmer in Scotland, Oswald is to publish the third in his Inspector McLean series, following on from Natural Causes and The Book of Souls. The Hangman’s Song is scheduled for publication in February 2014. The new deal will see one
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#WritingPrompt Writers’ BLOCKbusters… toothpaste

Can’t get started writing? Try today’s writing prompt from my Writers’ BLOCKbusters collection. Go to the bathroom and take your tube of toothpaste, the type or brand doesn’t matter. Squeeze a little onto your tongue. Don’t swallow or chew, just let it sit there. Now close your eyes, and concentrate on the sensation.Write one word to describe each of the following:- –          Taste –          Texture –          Smell Now run your tongue over your teeth. Write down one word to describe how your teeth feel. For each word, write a sentence including that word. The sentences will be completely unrelated to
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Flash Fiction: ‘An Apple Five Ways: 2/Outdoors’

The list fell out an old book. It was a story torn from a paper magazine and the headline read ’10 things for your child to do outdoors’. Marianne was clearing out the apartment belonging to her elderly neighbour, who had recently died. Evelyn had lived alone and had no family and Marianne, liking to be helpful, found herself sorting and emptying the flat of Evelyn’s life. There were so many books, thick, old-fashioned books with pictures on the covers, so different from the e-books waiting on Marianne’s tablet for her to read. The motivation was absent. But now the
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My top 5… novels in an English setting

Some of our best-loved novels have a strong sense of place. Setting can be an additional character. These are the English novels which, for me, create immediately for me the landscape in which they are set. ‘Waterland’ by Graham Swift [UK: Vintage] “For, flood or no flood, the Leem brought down its unceasing booty of debris. Willow branches; alder branches; sedge; fencing; crates; old clothes; dead sheep; bottles; potato sacks; straw bales; fruit boxes; fertiliser bags. All floated down on the westerly current, lodged against the sluice-gate and had to be cleared away with boat-hooks and weed-rakes.” ‘Tess of the
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Great opening paragraph 40… ‘Norwegian Wood’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“I was 37 then, strapped in my seat as the huge 747 plunged through dense cloud cover on approach to Hamburg airport. Cold November rains drenched the earth, lending everything the gloomy air of a Flemish landscape: the ground crew in waterproofs, a flag atop a squat airport building, a BMW billboard. So – Germany again.” ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov ‘A Passage to India’ by EM Forster And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my
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#WritingPrompt Writers’ BLOCKbusters… coffee

Drinking your first cup of coffee this morning? Waiting for the caffeine to kick in before you start writing? While you’re waiting, try today’s writing prompt from Writers’ BLOCKbusters. Make a cup of coffee – any coffee, anywhere, black or white. Close your eye, hold the cup to your nose, and smell. Write the first five words you think of. For each word, write a sentence. Do it quickly, don’t over-think. You should have five sentences, completely unrelated from each other. For each sentence, write a paragraph. Choose one paragraph, and use it as the basis for a flash fiction story of
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New books coming soon

Sarah J Maas A new trilogy from YA author Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses is a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Aimed at adults and upper YA readers, Mortal, the first of the three books, will publish in the winter of 2015. Maas’ debut novel last year Throne of Glass was shortlisted for Waterstones Teen Book of the Year. The sequel, Crown of Midnight, is out now. Sally O’Reilly Aphra X is a new historical novel from Sally O’Reilly, based on the life of Restoration playwright Aphra Behn. The daughter of a barber, Behn rose from her
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My Top 5… books about writing

When I first made the switch from journalism to fiction, I did what journalists do; I researched, I read books. So here are my top five books about writing fiction, the ones on my bookshelf which I still turn to. ‘Story’ by Robert McKee [UK: Methuen] If the number one book is to be quantified by the amount of underlining and number of Post-Its, then this is my ‘most-used’ book on my shelf. The sub-title reads ‘Substance, structure, style, and the principles of screenwriting’. Yes, it’s a book about writing screenplays, not novels, but it is full of wisdom about
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Aah Snoopy, you are so right… 6

Handling tension, pacing, the positioning of the tipping point: Snoopy understands all this. ‘Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life’ ed by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz  [UK: Writer’s Digest Books] And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Suddenly a shot rang out: advice for #writers from @Snoopy http://wp.me/p5gEM4-sH via @SandraDanby
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