Friday, September 12, 2008


It's that time of year again - we're off to the Lake District for two weeks' holiday. It's a very beautiful area of lakes, mountains, streams, waterfalls, moorland, long walks and pretty villages and we love visiting. I'm even hoping to set a novel up there at some point, so will take a notebook for research and look out for any interesting books. At least browsing the bookshops gives us something to do on the wet days - there's always plenty of those!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New short story

Has anyone else ever tried writing 'flash' fiction, or very *very* short stories? They often have a word count of only a few hundred words, sometimes even less, and I find writing them a real challenge. Just how do you tell a complete story in so few words?

For the last year or so I've been trying my hand at flash, with varying degrees of success. I freely admit that some stories work out better than others! One I'm particularly fond of, which was inspired by a friend's true story, is a creepy little tale of a dog and a beach. I've just posted 'all' 150 words of it on my website if anyone would like to take a peek. I hope you enjoy it. :)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

'Boulevard' review

I've been forgetting to mention for the last week or so, but my latest book review of Jim Grimsley's 'Boulevard' is available to read in Forbidden Fruit. The book, a gay slice-of-life novel set in New Orleans in the 1970s, is an intriguing mix of literature and sleaze, and a window onto the world of gay sex in America before the advent of AIDS. You can find out whether I liked it or not by reading the review in Forbidden Fruit.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Anyone for Tolkien?

Fans of the great JRR might be interested in a little article I've just thrown together and posted up at the Britwriters' Blog. In it I've described some of the locations around Birmingham which Tolkien used in Lord of the Rings, either directly or as inspiration for some of the book's wonderfully atmospheric settings.

As I say in my post, you may not associate the rural Shire with Britain's buzzing second city but there are actually more links than you might expect, and some surprising hidden corners. Pop along to the Britwriters' Blog for more information, and pictures.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Writing through the mess

We seem to have had a constant stream of workmen in and out of the house the last couple of weeks - first to fix the roof, then to repair the boiler which stopped giving us hot water, and lastly to replace the boiler when the old one was condemned. Lots of workmen means lots of banging and lots of mess and it's been difficult to concentrate on anything, but yesterday I surprised myself by writing about 2000 words.

I've put aside the Irish novel for now because I was itching to actually write rather than just ploughing through edits. Instead, I've unearthed a novel (novella? longish short story?) about a reality tv show set on an exotic island, which I started a couple of years ago. I lost confidence in it after 4 or 5 chapters because I wasn't sure I knew enough about the workings of tv production, but I suddenly realised that I could turn it round and write it from a slightly different point of view, which wouldn't need so much of that inside knowledge. It also needed livening up as the first chapter was deadly dull.

By last night I'd finished the first chapter, re-writing it as a scene between Nancy, the main character's agent, and her flat-mate, rather than just Nancy's own internal musings. It reads a good deal better as a result. Now I need to tackle the second chapter, a board meeting at the tv production company's office, which should be a challenge given that our plumber is hammering again. Oh for some quiet time on my own to think.