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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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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

#BookADayUK; A Reader Event For October.

Books Are My Bag.com are running a campaign to celebrate bookshops. What author could resist
getting involved, in whatever way he might? The event is a collaboration between publishers, bookshops and authors and is the biggest ever promotion for bookshops. All readers love bookshops, of course, but do they promote their local store, assuming they have one? Well, this is your chance to do just that.

The idea behind this campaign is to keep those precious havens of learning, entertainment and fun on the go. If we, the readers and writers, don’t do something to keep these stalwarts of literature afloat, who else will?

So, reader or writer, get into town and take a picture of yourself outside your favourite book buying place on 11th October, and then post it to Twitter, using the #bookadayuk. And follow @booksaremybag.

For a little more fun, you can always get involved with the suggested events for the whole month. I intend to. See the picture above for details.

Today, we nominate a book to curl up in front of the fire with. The idea is you give the title and author and attach the #bookadayuk with a tweet to your friends. You can use other social networks as well. This way, we’ll get loads more people interested in books and reading. Game?

So, a book to curl up with in front of the fire? I’ll avoid the obvious temptation to promote my own work; hardly in the spirit of the event.


Curl up in front of the fire with Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes, a tale of love, loss and betrayal. #bookadayuk

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Epitaphs, by Anthological Poets, Reviewed.

As just one of the seventy-two poets featured in this remarkable volume, I clearly have to declare my interest. Amongst those bards you’ll find university professors, a prince, engineers, social workers, technicians, scientists, teachers and a good number of professional writers and poets. Many of the contributors have won awards for their writing and a most have published in many different forms. They hail from lands as diverse as India, Africa, USA, Canada and the UK. So, this international collection is far from being unrepresentative. I’m honoured to have been invited to contribute.

There are epitaphs here to make you smile, laugh, sigh and cry. The different styles range from the thoughtful to the exotic, the simple to the complex and profound. Suffice it to say that there is something here for everyone.

The fact of death is inescapable, of course. But here we have words to celebrate, express gratitude, proclaim greatness, explain lives unknown and sorrow for those who have left us behind. You may find solace, fellow-feeling, humour and respect amongst the different expressions of grief, loss and love.


Lovers of poetry will find much here to admire and enjoy. For those who are strangers to poetry, this is a gentle introduction to many different poets expressing human feelings in distinct ways. I recommend it unreservedly.

You can by the paperback by clicking this link.

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice #4

English: No skinny-dipping Unusual warning sig...
English: No skinny-dipping Unusual warning sign provided by the East Riding County Council at Auburn Sands near Fraisthorpe, south of Bridlington. Naturist groups have voiced their disapproval at the sign which seems to equate naturism with indecency, and also claim that this stretch of beach on the North Sea coast has long been recognized as a naturist resort. (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 the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at something subjective: how to choose between emotional and intellectual words for effect.

In this series I’m looking at the difference between words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that invoke 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: Aid
Emotional: Help

‘I am seeking aid for my project on the increasing instances of injustice in Western Democracies.’

‘I could do with a bit of help over here shifting this rubbish.’

Intellectual: Gratification
Emotional: Enjoyment

‘There is a great sense of gratification to be had from performing one’s duty to the high standards one expects of others.’

‘Shirley had great enjoyment skinny-dipping on the secluded tropical island.’

Intellectual: Terminate
Emotional: End

‘Due to the nature of your request for a fair salary in exchange for your labours, we are obliged to terminate your employment with immediate effect.’


‘All I did was ask for a decent wage and the buggers brought my job to an end!’

Monday, 29 September 2014

Star Maker, by Olaf Stapledon, Reviewed.

Is this the precursor of much of today’s science fiction? The themes, ideas, stories he covers in this long work are multitude. I’ve read developments of these ideas in so many other works. First published in 1937, it is definitely a work of its time. The style, a narrative without dialogue, is dated and I suspect many new readers would find it difficult. But it is well worth the effort of reading the whole work.

The voyage, unexplained in terms of the ‘how?’, is more concerned with the ‘why?’ and deals with this question very well. Multiple imagined worlds are brought alive on the page, alien life is explored and many diverse creatures described.

The author examines the big themes: war, man’s self-destructive nature, religion, relationships, the natural world, and many more. He looks at potential mental development and attempts to get inside the minds of creatures with greater experience, higher intelligence, different moral stances than our own. There is an undercurrent of analogy to the world in which the book was written; a reflection of the concerns and worries engendered by the burgeoning aggression that would ultimately be World War II.

This is a massive work of intellect and imagination. Yes, there are limitations on the science posed by the lack of knowledge at the time of its writing, but there are also surprising references to ideas we still hold dear.

Those who enjoy science fiction for its ability to examine serious themes, to go beyond the guns and rockets and lasers of the gamers and star warriors, will find a lot to enjoy within these pages. Those who thrive on battling superships and military space academicians will be less excited. But this is a work that may well have been seminal for writers who followed. Within its pages are the seeds of many later stories by other writers, and I wonder how many of those seeds began to grow in the fertile brains of developing talent as they read this book.


I enjoyed it and happily recommend it to those who enjoy science fiction with something to say beyond the obvious.