Good news for writers!

Creative Spark is back.

Starting Friday, Triskele Books is offering ten weeks of free writing exercises for you to flex your creative musculature.

For a little refresher, take a peek at last year’s content.

It’s all on the Triskele Books blog but I recommend starting with Week 1 – Emma Darwin and Story Fundamentals.

Terrific advice from the professionals.

Honest to goodness FREE – we don’t even ask you to sign up.

Now that is what you call generosity.

 

Good news for readers!

Behind Closed Doors, the first in the Beatrice Stubbs series, is currently £0.99.

One week only, folks! Signed paperback for anyone who gets the tie reference on the cover.

Or you could just avoid that horrible terror of running-out-of-things-to-read-on-holiday/vacation/Ferien/vacaciones/gwyliau/vacances and grab yourself the boxset.

That way you get Switzerland, Wales, London AND Spain all in one go.

Adventures all over Europe from the comfort of your own hammock.

 

Good news for Bookclubs!

Jane Davis, an exceptional author in her own right (I just managed to resist that pun – hello, Maturity) talks to authors about why their books would make great bookclub reads.

Jane’s works are classic examples of the enjoyable and discussable. Recently, she asked me why Bad Apples would work.

Read the post here but you may want to pour yourself a glass of red first.

(In the picture, that is water. Not gin.)

Incidentally, I visit bookclubs often and can also do a Q&A via Skype.

 

Good news for Cultural Connoisseurs

Follow your nose and root around on The Woolf.

I co-edit this Swiss-lit magazine which features artists, writers, tattooists, composers, performers, jewellers and all manner of creative adventurers.

Plus a Gallery like none other.

Plus original poetry, prose and performance.

Go exploring. I guarantee gems.

 

Till next post, in which I shall tackle a thorny issue – author ethics.

 

 

 

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The Woolf Quarterly held WriteCon Zürich Autumn 16 last weekend.

A wonderful, stimulating day of ideas and discussion where 30 writers came together to learn and share.

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Origami bookshelves by Sarah Buchmann

Lindsey Grant guided her group through the complexities of writing Memoir and Non-Fiction. This is a subject which requires an experienced tutor with an awareness of how traumatic some personal experiences can be.

Thankfully, as an ex Program Director of NaNoWriMo and memoirist herself, she steered a professional course between sharing individual stories and keeping the group focused.

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Memoir & Non-Fiction workshop

In the Fiction Masterclass, Jason Donald packed structure, story, plot and prose into one intensive day.

Tragedy begins with harmony and ends with chaos. Comedy is the reverse.

His insights into Plot v. Story, the difference between the Hero/Heroine’s Journey and the significance of subplots intrigued me.

Main plot carries story, sub plot carries theme

In the afternoon session, we turned our attention to our own writing. Jason asked us to edit 3-5 pages of our work in progress.

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Fiction Masterclass

First we weeded out all the bad habits (every author has a crutch in terms of words, phrases or sentence structure). Next we whipped out all those unnecessary filters.

Felt, wondered, decided, seemed are all filter words which distance the reader.

Finally, participants worked in pairs to create fresh, surprising prose.

This exercise was such a success, I’m sharing it here.

Write down ten words which express emotional states in your story. Eg, frustration, loneliness, jealousy, passion, triumph…

Write down ten words which appear in the environment of your storyworld. Eg, ice, sea-salt, wind, fur, shells…

Take one from each list and combine them into a sentence, using an image featuring the latter to evoke the former. Don’t mention the emotion, just hint at it. Write five sentences, sometimes a question or a negative. Amongst them, you’ll find one you can use or develop.

Hermit crabs scuttled their shells sideways at his approach, as if even they shunned him.

Her smile, sea-salt in his wounds, expressed nothing more than pity.

Swap lists with a partner. Give them your lists and see what five combinations they create.

 

Finally, writing workshops always result in such fabulous goodies!

Origami books, a syringe pen and a dead body pen holder. My kind of weekend.

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I know. Two weeks I said.

Well, I’m back now, so let’s catch up.

Holidays, books, adventures, experiences, interviews, reviews and wild howling savages.

Here are a few snapshots:

 

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Dubrovnik

Chapter One – The Med

Summer is for holidays.

Snorkelling, swimming, diving, dolphins and learning to hold onto a donut.

Turns out I’m a natural, especially at the squealing bit.

Plus memories, tears and a silver celebration.

 

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Two excited people and wine

 

Chapter Two – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Summer is for special occasions.

Opening night, red carpet and one of the best theatrical events I’ve known.

Grab a ticket and watch it all in one day. (Or you won’t be able to sleep.)

Not to mention a great party where I met three of my heroes.

Read my review here.

 

 

Chapter Three – Writing and Learning

spiral

Image by Julie Lewis

Summer is also for writing.

After ditching 20k of Beatrice 6 after Brexit, I have rewritten Lone Wolf and we’re back on track.

But I am also taking time to improve my skills. Every single exercise of our Creative Spark programme has provoked ideas.

Ten writers with ten different perspectives over ten weeks – all of it for free. Have you dived in?

 

Chapter Four

triskele books 28.11.12

Summer is for making plans.

Of the inclusive sort.

On Sat 17 September, Triskele LitFest hits Islington for an inclusive festival of books, authors and genre discussion.

We’re the hosts and we’d love to say hello in person.

 

Chapter Five

Summer is for making plans #2

WriteCon-Banner-Autumn-2016

Swiss-dwellers!

You might want to earmark Saturday 5 November. Tickets on sale now!

http://writecon.ch/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third and last in my recognition series.

Click here for Part One – Structure, Style and Sentence

or Part Two – Individuality, Voice and Interference

Or access both by a mere flick of the wrist, as they both reside below.

Now to round up the nods, I want to talk Language, Passion and Discipline.

 

Amanda and I in Paris

Amanda and I, Paris Dec 2013

Language: Amanda Hodgkinson

On an early foray into online critique sites, I struck gold. Amanda’s analyses were helpful in many ways, especially in use of language. Anyone who read her international bestseller 22 Britannia Road will not be surprised by Amanda’s love for poetry. She became a trusted ally, pointing out how sentence rhythm, word patterns and imagery could all combine to create music on the page and in the mind. In conversations on writing and books, I feel Amanda strips away all pretension and makes me think about feeling.

Her second novel, Spilt Milk, is already garnering high praise. Deservedly so.

 

Passion: DB Miller

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Pile of Books, Zürich

I met DB at the first writers’ workshop I attended in this city and I knew immediately. Here lay talent, style, an alternative look at the world but most of all, passion. Whether writing articles about indie bookshops and the effects of live music or devising a cruelly funny black comedy, DB gives it everything.

Maybe it’s the American background combined with European experience, but DB won’t accept bland. Unless the passion shines through, the ache, the drive, the reason for writing, it’s not worth doing. That goes for everything, from novels to emails. DB’s initials act as a mnemonic for me. Don’t Bullshit.

 

Professionalism: Lorraine Mace

Lorraine at the Triskele launch, London 2012

In both senses of the word, Lorraine represents professionalism and discipline to me. She writes across various genres, she achieves an incredible output, she’s generous with her time and experienced advice, and she’s rigorous in her thought processes. I will always bear her gratitude for creating one of the most beneficial critique sites I’ve ever used and inventing the Daily Word Counter.

She doesn’t accept half-measures and administers an almighty whiplash if she finds you shirking. Quite simply, I’d never have finished three novels had it not been for Lo. Despite associating her with absolute discipline, the other quality I associate with Ms Mace is a great sense of humour.

Read her crime novels under the pseudonym Frances di Plino, and watch out for her children’s novel out soon: Vlad the Inhaler.

 

Ten Things, said I not? Here’s number ten.

Writers need writers. I could have included so many more brilliantly creative and constructive minds: Anne, Kristen, Jo, Julie, Perry, Joh, Bill, Sarah, Chris, Emma, Carl, Kit, the other Chris, the other Jo and all the Triskele team. Whether real or virtual, I need to interact with other scribblers.

I’ve learned a lot from these generous, skilled and talented folk. But I’m far from the finished article. So I still seek writers, still seek to improve and learn. I hope I always will.