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Welcome. Whether you read, write, or both, you'll find something here. Free reads, book reviews, writing contest details and links, and much about the writing process. By all means comment; I'm always interested in the views of readers and writers. Follow the blog and connect with me on social networks; the more, the merrier.
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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Buried Deep, by Penny Grubb, Reviewed.

The wonderfully idiosyncratic heroine, Annie Raymond, appears first in Penny Grubb’s detective
novel, Like False Money. Buried Deep is the fifth book in the series, and this well-imagined detective has significantly developed along the way.

This story holds the reader’s interest from the beginning and never lets go. The reader easily understands Annie; her faults making her a believable creation and endearing her to us as she struggles with the difficulties sent her way. In this book, she has to work with the flawed police detective, Webber. He brings his own problems, prejudices, insights and skills to the tale, building the book into something bigger than a simple crime novel.

Penny has a way of wearing the skin of her characters, even the villains, so that the reader cares what happens. But Annie and Webber are the ones we really empathise with, in spite of their faults, or maybe because of them.

The nature of the crimes in this story will disturb some readers, but crime fiction is designed to make people think, to bring the real world into the safe environment of our homes where we can experience it without personal danger.

As always, with this author’s work, there are shocks, moments of unexpected illumination, many twists and turns, and a complex puzzle to solve. And the developing pace of the story engages the reader as both Annie and Webber are led into great danger. The denouement builds slowly at first, then the pace increases with the tension until it becomes impossible to book the book down until it’s finished. And a satisfying finish it is.

Buried Deep is more than just a crime novel. It is a well-written, engaging, absorbing and truly attention-demanding piece of fiction. If you like your crime enlivened with humour, human failings, realism, and intelligence, this book is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice. #19

English: The Dining Hall 2011
English: The Dining Hall 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Certain words/phrases can induce fairly specific responses in readers. As writers, we all know this, but do we use the power of emotion in our work?

For these few weeks, I’m looking at something subjective: how to choose between emotional and intellectual words for effect. You won’t always agree with me, of course; you’re writers. But, hopefully, my suggestions will get the thought processes going.

In this series I’m looking at the difference between words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that evoke a more emotional response. How you use them is obviously up to you. The point is that the alternatives have the same, or very similar, meanings, but their effect upon the reader can be markedly different. I’ve made some suggestions here, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Intellectual: Container
Emotional: Bag, Jar, Bottle

‘Take care when opening the container in case any of the caustic content we included damages your vulnerable skin, causing you to sue us for failing to consider your safety.’

‘Can you open this jar for me? The lid’s so tight I can’t get it open.’

Intellectual: Dine
Emotional: Eat

‘We will dine at eight and the ceremony will commence as soon as after dinner coffee is served.’

‘If I don’t eat something in a second, I’m going to die of starvation!’

Intellectual: Fidelity
Emotional: Faithfulness

‘Fidelity is an intrinsic quality of the marriage contract, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.’

‘One of the real signs of love in our relationship is our continued and mutual faithfulness.’

Monday, 12 January 2015

Writing and Running for ME/CFS #16

Okay folks; a quick heads-up.

I'm finally in the throes of actually moving house. We're leaving the old home on Tuesday and setting up in the new one on Wednesday. For a couple of days we won't have any phone line or internet connection, so I probably won't be able to do much online until Friday.

As for this week, I managed a single run on Monday, but nothing since, as I have been packing boxes and generally dismantling stuff to get it ready for the move. The same goes for the writing, but all will slowly return to normal as soon as we're settled in our new home. So, please bear with me for the moment.

More later!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice. #18

The Wealthy Man
The Wealthy Man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Certain words/phrases can induce fairly specific responses in readers. As writers, we all know this, but do we use the power of emotion in our work?

For these few weeks, I’m looking at something subjective: how to choose between emotional and intellectual words for effect. You won’t always agree with me, of course; you’re writers. But, hopefully, my suggestions will get the thought processes going.

In this series I’m looking at the difference between words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that evoke a more emotional response. How you use them is obviously up to you. The point is that the alternatives have the same, or very similar, meanings, but their effect upon the reader can be markedly different. I’ve made some suggestions here, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Intellectual: Fearful    
Emotional: Afraid

‘Many people, even those who show courage in other ways, are fearful of expressing a sincere opinion about the activities of those who have extreme religious views.’

‘I’m not afraid of those idiots who believe their version of God is the only one. I’m willing to let them know how stupid they are.’

Intellectual: Inform    
Emotional: Tell

‘We must inform you that you have exceeded your authority in the fulfilment of your duties and you will therefore be eliminated.’

‘When I tell you what I just heard, you’ll never believe it.’

Intellectual: Wealthy
Emotional: Rich

‘It has been calculated that 85 wealthy people own more assets than half the population of the world. Such inequality must surely result in serious consequences for those too greedy to share their good fortune.’


‘Rich people never understand that they got that way because of the efforts of hundreds or thousands of other people who did all the support work that allowed them to do it.’

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Writing and Running for ME/CFS #15

People running at the 2007 20 kilometer road r...
People running at the 2007 20 kilometer road race through Brussels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The running first:
I was due to do a 15 minute run on Monday, but I was driving my wife and daughter down south so we could all visit the new house we’re due to move into shortly. Kate hadn’t seen the place, and we needed to measure up so we could decide where the furniture should go. An overnight stay in a beautifully-located hotel, and a four hour drive each way rather removed the possibility of the run. No matter, I did manage the 10 minute run on New Year’s Day, in spite of the previous night’s celebrations. And Saturday morning saw me complete the 20 minute run. So, I’m still on plan for the proposed run. And, I’ve now entered the ballot for the half marathon I’m intending to run. Should hear whether I’ve got in by about 14th of the month, so I’ll let you all know about that after that date (by which time we should be in the new home!).

The writing:

Still curating the diary entries. But I’m through 2009 now, so just 3 more years of entries to go before I’ll be able to actually start planning and writing the book. Again, this is more likely to be once the house move has completed. Things are moving on that issue and it’s getting a little more manic here now. As my publisher, Dan Grubb, would say; ‘Onward!’.

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Cunning Man, by John Yeoman, Reviewed.

This ‘fictorial’ as the author calls it, should start a trend amongst authors with a desire to help other writers improve their craft. That is precisely what John Yeoman does in this collection of historical mystery stories. He tells a tale and inserts footnote links in the text, these lead to the footnotes, which explain what the writing sample has done, and how. It’s a fascinating and extremely useful tool for those wanting to become better writers of fiction.

The stories? Well, John Yeoman is an author with a very long history of writing both fiction and nonfiction. He’s a teacher and mentor who runs an excellent blog and he knows what he’s doing. These are great stories: amusing, full of historical detail, populated by characters with whom you can empathise and posing mysteries that will keep even the most jaded of readers hooked until the end.

Best read on a Kindle, as that will allow the links to work exactly as planned, but readable on any eReader you choose. I read my copy on an iPad and found the read a great experience.


This innovation, using great stories to illustrate writing practise and inform the editing process, is a great idea, and one I expect to be copied many times. If you love historical mystery, enjoy it as a reader. If you’re a writer seeking advice and inspiration, then read it with those aims in mind. You won’t be disappointed, whatever motivates you to read this one.