Our flashy cover
Hooray! It's here! Well, nearly. Please come back on February 1st for a look at the interior. But for now, here's the first glimpse of a book I have been working on with the estimable Margaret James.
I met Margaret some years ago, when I joined Exeter Writers and we soon discovered our shared enjoyment of teaching creative writing.
We both have had the huge pleasure of seeing our students achieve publication, win or be shortlisted for prizes. They have become confident, articulate writers who have learned to use their own special talents to their maximum potential.
And we have learnt from them. This book is not yet set. It is our intention to post chapter instalments each month with a view to getting good feedback. In time we hope to produce the most useful creative writing handbook there is.
It will have a special page of its own HERE (password protected until Feb 1st).
Thank you lovely students. We couldn't have done this without you!
Anyone seen the traveling lemon lately?
Do you recognise that chap on the right? He looks a bit like - no, an awful lot like - Benedict Cumberbatch dressed as a pilot. An airline Captain actually.
Yes, Cabin Pressure is back on Radio 4 for a fourth series and I am a happy bunny. It's written by the chap on the far left, the daft Arthur in the series, but in real life, John Finnemore. I'm writing this blog as a result of reading an interview with him on the Radio Times website. Go HERE. I think it's funny (the bit about the frog) but that's not the reason I'm linking to it. What we get is insight into how he works. Obviously, he's a clever, well educated chap with a sense of humour but he hasn't given up looking, learning and asking questions about his writing. I love the fact he watches TV comedies with a notebook to hand. In particular, take in the section where he talks about plotting and character: the twin pillars of successful writing.
There's also a link on that page to the iPlayer site and the first programme in series 4. I was one of the seventeen thousand applicants for two hundred tickets to the recording. Needless to say, I didn't get any. Some things in this life are a matter of chance and that's all there is to it. Being a successful writer requires chance but more than that, determination. Before that that though, we have to write, keep writing, experiment, fail, cry, learn, write more. We can do this by ourselves but it's often quicker and much more fun together.
Check out Courses HERE and Workshops HERE
ps For Cabin Pressure fans, I only have one more thing to say: 'Yellow car!'
I haven't read this, but I know what it is. Do you?
Last Saturday's Guardian included a feature - HERE - about the best-selling books of 2012. The top three for most of the year were The Amorous Adventures of Anastasia by Ms E L James. No, wait...that's not right. You know, don't you? Who doesn't? After all, Ms James surpassed J K Rowlings record earnings of over £40 million in a single year way back in August. Gosh. That's a colossal lots of books sold.
Perhaps (and let's hope) it's a blip. The world isn't really seeking more sadomasochistic love stories, is it? The article suggests not.
Sex, however, isn't going away. One of the reasons I asked Jane Holland to give a workshop for CreativeWritingMatters is that during my teaching and competition-judging career I have read a considerable amount of writing about sex that is inappropriate, shocking, hilarious, or absent altogether. Worse, is the, this goes here, that goes there, Biology text book writing. Eeek! It's a tricky subject.
Perhaps a lace hankie might be the most erotic thing in your book? Or a pair of handcuffs, if you're Ms E L James. Do you want to write Mills and Boon Spice (sensual and sexual stories for discerning women) or erotic stories to upload onto the Kindle Store. Perhaps you want to avoid anything overt altogether, but are your characters to remain celibate throughout your book?
Go HERE for more info about the Writing About Sex workshop.
I'm arranging another short story course and also a course for writers wishing to take their work to the next level. More info soon!
Here's to a Happy and Rewarding 2013!
Click to enlarge
I'm wondering if the collective noun for writers could be a 'lunch'. I'm sure there have been other suggestions and maybe there is even an official term. I'd love to know what it was.
Here is the South West Chapter of the Romantic Novelists' Association about to tuck into a very good lunch at the City Gate in Exeter. Writing is for the most part an extremely solitary occupation but once writers leave their caves, much jolly socialising takes place. In fact, it's fair to say, they make up for lost time.
I (third nearest, left) went to see The Hobbit afterwards with Su Bristow (nearest left) and Margaret James (next to Su). A formative book of my childhood, when thinking about it, I am straight back in the classroom sitting cross-legged on the floor during story time. I wondered how on earth they would make three films out of a shorter and slighter book than Lord of the Rings, but I can see it will be fine. I was thrilled to be back in Middle-Earth. New Zealand, Howard Shore's score, the casting - all fab. The battles are too long but hey, they'll please the majority of the audience.
I've been woefully bad at writing Christmas cards, so if anyone reading this feels aggrieved that I haven't sent them one, I do apologise!
Dartmouth in December
Yesterday couldn't have been more beautiful for my trip down to Dartmouth. I was delighted to have been asked to lead a workshop by the good writing folk of the town and we had, in my opinion, a very fruitful and enjoyable time. I talked too much as usual and went on too long, but they didn't seem to mind. Thanks to Lindsay for hosting and dropping me off in Totnes, which has hardly changed at all since I was a student at Dartington many decades ago.
My tea-shop of choice back then is still there and didn't disappoint. It features in my latest novel too. I imaged my happy couple sitting at the table by the window and chomping through large slices of Devon apple cake. Except Beth wasn't that happy. She knew that the love of her life had an unopened letter in his pocket that might change the course of their future together. Oh dear. Will we ever find out? I hope so, and still have all my fingers and toes crossed that my novel will be published one day.
If you write about a relationship, sooner or later, your lovers will probably want to have sex. They will! Honestly! They usually do it more than once as well. And if not that couple, then another. Of course, you might decide that you don't want to provide your reader with intimate details but what is enough? What is merely embarrassing or laughable? Jane Holland, until recently Executive Editor for Embrace Books, will be leading a workshop on writing about sex for CreativeWritingMatters on February 2nd. Go HERE
There's only one place left on my short story course beginning on January 11th. It's booked up really quickly! Go HERE if you would like that last place.
PS. It would be really brilliant if you clicked on the Twitter or Facebook 'like' button. Thank you!
What they did next...
Scroll down to find out about our previous winners.