Archives for writing

If best-selling albums were books instead

This week’s Bookseller magazine has just arrived and there is a gem in Bent’s Notes on the back page. Graphic designer Christophe Gowans has re-made rock and pop albums as if they were classic book jackets. My favourites are:- Patti Smith’s ‘Horses’ as a DK Eyewitness Guide to Horses Level 42’s ‘World Machine’ as Catch-22 Adam and the Ants’ ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ as a Wild West book for children ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory’ by Oasis as a religious pamphlet Check out Christophe’s blog. © all photos Christophe Gowans And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Imagine, if best-selling albums were #books instead: by Christophe Gowans http://wp.me/p5gEM4-4Z via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

Great opening paragraph 2… ‘Middlesex’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. Specialized readers may have come across me in Dr Peter Luce’s study, ‘Gender Identity in 5-Alpha-Reductase Pseudohermaphrodites,’ published in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology in 1975. Or maybe you’ve seen my photograph in chapter sixteen of the now sadly outdated ‘Genetics and Heredity.’ That’s me on page 578, standing naked beside a height chart with a black box covering my eyes.” ‘Middlesex’ by Jeffrey Eugenides  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘American Psycho’ by Brett Easton Ellis ‘Astonishing Splashes of Colour’ by Clare Morrall ‘Queen Camilla’ by Sue Townsend And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2q via @SandraDanby #amwriting
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

‘Clap Your Hands if You Believe’, a short story

The sign on the door says ‘Miss T Bell – Consultant’. I pour the third of the four glasses of wine required for courage before I go on stage, then hide the glass at a knock on the door. “Yes?” “Miss Bell, can we come in?” I wave them in and three members of the chorus settle on the couch in my dressing room, tidying the beech leaves of their skirts. “What do you want?” “I’ve read that all fairies were angels in another life,” says the petite blonde. “But Celandine over there has read that fairies are spirits trapped between heaven and earth. Miss Bell, please tell us the real story of Peter Pan, not the pantomime version.” “Ooh, I wish I could meet him,” says the third, wide-eyed fairy, who winds her auburn hair around a finger. Oh dear. I swig half the glass of wine in one gulp. Should I tell the plain truth or embellish it? * Why am I always doing things for him? He never does what I want to do. I turn my back on the wooden walls and with my right toe I prod at the neatly piled fabric underfoot: pink pyjamas
Read More

Categories: My Short Stories.

Book review: All Points North

For me, as a Yorkshirewoman, there are many laugh-out-loud moments in All Points North by Simon Armitage and other moments which make me feel fond of my home county. But the piece that stayed with me longest was the page on ‘Writing’. Writing, he says, is “a form of disappearance. Burglars watching the house from outside for four or five hours would think it empty. There isn’t another human activity which combines stillness and silence with so much energy.” I know exactly what he means. I will be upstairs in my attic study, writing all day, my husband out, my only movement to make a cup of tea and scrounge a handful of fruit and nuts from the snack jar. When I come down at the end of the day, turning off the lights as an unconscious signal to myself not to go back upstairs and start working again, it is not uncommon to find ‘we tried to deliver but you were out’ postcards on the mat, or parcels piled up outside the front door. It’s not that our doorbell isn’t up to the job, simply that when you’re in the zone that’s where you are. If you like ‘All
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

‘Procreation’, a short story

The packet was 20 years old, the use-by date was before the law changed. Jessie tore the Predictor packet into pieces and flushed them down the toilet. Then she shoved the white plastic paddle to the bottom of her handbag and went back to her desk. The Predictor still worked, at least it looked like it did. She’d followed the instructions and it had done everything it said on the packet. The space in the box had turned blue: she was pregnant. Her hand shook as she reached for the computer mouse. The time monitor on her pc had noticed her five-minute absence and an e-mail in her inbox confirmed the deduction off her week’s wages. With a sigh she clicked on camera three and looked at the grid-locked traffic. A red icon flashed and she bent to her microphone. “Driver of LP3A 22B. You have not purchased authority to drive on the A1 between junctions 2 and 3 today, Wednesday August 3rd, 2031. You must pay £1,000 to City Central. After midnight tonight the fee goes up to £2,000. How would you like to pay? I can accept American Express…..” * She’d taken the Predictor from the store cupboard
Read More

Categories: My Short Stories.

‘Useless’, a short story

The cups on the buffet trolley rattled out their accompaniment as the train’s wheels rumbled over points. Mary stumbled as the train lurched to the right and she caught a cup before it hit the sticky grey carpet. Then the train entered a tunnel and a rush of air transported the passengers into darkness, their ears tightened with pressure. Some people rubbed their earlobes, others pinched their nose with two fingers and snorted. A businessman chewed a toffee as he tapped at the keyboard of his laptop, a teenager nodded his head in time to music piped directly into the coil of his inner ear. It all added up to the combined rhythm section familiar to all train travellers. A buzzer heralded an internal train announcement: “My name is Colleen Murphy and I’m your customer services manager aboard this train today to Waverington. I hope you have an enjoyable journey. Thank you for travelling with Northern Rail.” The words faded away with a hiss. The train felt like Mary’s second home. She travelled the same route north every Friday and south again on Sunday, watching the countryside flash by at 70 mph. That was the average speed of the train,
Read More

Categories: My Short Stories.

‘Magic and Mischief’, a short story

‘Magic and Mischief’, a short story The lift doors opened with a clatter but Elinor didn’t get in. For the third time she checked her handbag. Keys. Purse. Cheque book. Paying-in book. Two dividend cheques to pay in, four bills to pay. She ticked the items off her mental checklist. Then she looked again at her keys. Had she locked the door? Oh dear. The lift doors closed empty as she retraced her steps to h’r front door. Twinkle followed. She didn’t need to tug once on the white Scottie’s elegant Smythson pink leather lead, Twinkle went wherever Elinor went. And he knew her routines well. Yes, her front door was locked. As her long fingers, now bent with arthritis, struggled with the heavy bunch of keys, another fear popped unbidden into her head. The fire. Was it off? A tall elegant woman, Elinor looked younger than her age. She was bored by other women of 74 who seemed pre-occupied with the twin domesticities of grandchildren and husband. Elinor, who had neither, had always been comfortable in her own company. She was satisfied with her own internal monologue and comfortably isolated herself from modern society. And she never sought the
Read More

Categories: My Short Stories.