Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Novel mapping

I spent a lot of yesterday making a map of my novel-in-progress-but-nearly-finished...

It is complicated, but I'm hoping it all makes sense in the end.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Snail Apocalypse!

An article and footage recorded by the University of Exeter showing that snails are, in reality, fast movers.  Well, faster than say the average plant, anyway.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Elmore Leonard's Writing Rules and Alan Massie

Alan Massie writes about Elmore Leonard's writing rules in the Telegraph today.  It's an interesting article - for Alan Massie's take as much as 'the rules' - which were, apparently 'quickly scrawled on a loose piece of paper.'

1.  Never open a book with the weather.  Massie disagrees - mostly this is fine as long as it is not overdone.
2.  Avoid prologues.  Massie agrees - with reservations.
3.  Never use a verb other than 'said' to carry dialogue.  Massie agrees - and points out that even these should be used sparingly.  He says it is important to think about rhythm.
4.  Never use an adverb to modify the word said.   He agrees.  He says they are lazy pointers.
5.  Keep your exclamation marks under control.  Agrees.
6.  Never use the word 'suddenly' or 'All hell broke loose'.  Agrees - show not tell.
7.  Use dialect sparingly.  Generally sound advice, he says.
8.  Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.  Agrees - suggests one line.
9.  Same for places.  Only a qualified agreement with this since some authors are so good at this.
10.  Leave out the parts readers skip.  Massie suggests this should be amended to parts the writer finds boring to write.  

Massie then goes on to consider Hemingway's three pieces of writerly advice:
1.  Don't stop when stuck - always stop when you know what's coming next.
2.  Always read over what you've written (as much is feasible) before writing again.
3.  Don't think about it when not at your desk to give the unconscious a chance to work on it.

Alan Massie's own advice is to always try and hear what the characters are saying.

All useful stuff, I'd say - and an interesting article.  It makes me consider things I'd not considered before, and something to bear in mind for the eventual edit (or diet).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Butterfly Animation

I really like this animation by songwriter Antje Duvekot:

Friday, August 16, 2013

My big fat novel...

... is now 671 pages and 185,831 words long.  Only five chapters to go...after that it goes on a diet.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jim Capper.

Yesterday, a few of us went to the funeral of Jim Capper - a member of Chester Writers -  at Chester cathedral.  It was a fine service with beautiful singing by former members of the cathedral choir. It had been arranged almost entirely by Jim Capper himself and his courageous family did him proud in carrying out his wishes.

Up until the very end he was swapping emails and exchanging work for us to read.  He said the feedback brought him great happiness.  The feeling was mutual.  He was, as mentioned several times in the service, inspiring.  Thank you Jim.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What I'm Doing 40:

What I'm Kindle-Reading
I am having a bit of a short story feste at the moment.  First I read a selection of short stories from Seren, my publisher: Seren Shorts edited by Penny Thomas.  This is free on Kindle at the moment and I highly recommend it.

I already had a couple of the single author anthologies sampled, so when I came to those it was like coming across old friends, but I also discovered several other  writers, a couple of which I liked so much that I bought their collections on Kindle too: viz Emyr Humphrey's Woman at the Window

and Graham Mort's Touch.

Before I plunge into those though, I am going to finish Edith Pearlman's Binocular Vision.   I think the Kindle is particularly well-suited to short stories - more so than it is for novels, perhaps.

What I'm Listening to
Having just finished the Women's Prize for fiction winner May We Be Forgiven by AM. Homes,

I have started on another which is quite different  The Rosie Project by Graham Simsion.

It is set in Australia and centres on an academic who has severe relationship problems.  In fact, he seems to be suffering form Asperger's  - which gives the author a chance to write about the weird behaviour of humans from the point of view of an outsider lurking within.  It's very funny.

What I'm Reading (in fiction)
Two, I'm afraid: Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle

and Everyone Lies by A. D. Garrett.  (Only 99p in Kindle at the moment!)

Both crime novels, and although entirely different from each other, equally gripping (and therefore a very bad move to find myself reading both of them at well as everything else.  I really need to get a grip).

What I'm Reading (in non-fiction).
Having worked my way through a series of Genetics books, it is time for a test.  The test being 'Silkworms transformed with chimeric silkworm/spider silk genes spin composite silk fibers with improved mechanical properties' by Florence Teule et al.  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Transposons!  Piggybac vectors! Transgenes!  All I'm saying is I now understand a lot more than I did (but also realise how little I really do know too), and what I've learnt is exciting and wonderful - part of the extraordinary world going on inside each one of us.

And What I've been Watching:
David Starkey's Music and Monarchy TV and DVD.  A series of four programmes about how English music was influenced by the monarchy - beautiful music and an excellent commentary.  I learnt a lot.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My book in the summer reads offer on Amazon.

For the last couple of weeks my book has been just £1.09 on and $1.67 on

So if you, or anyone you know, ever had a burning desire to know how there came to be a Welsh-speaking settlement of people in the Patagonian desert in the twenty-first century, and have a Kindle or iPad, here is your chance to find out...

And here, again,  is the 3 minute movie I made about the book...

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Trailer for Spirit Houses

This is the trailer for Die Booth's forthcoming Steampunk novel, Spirit Houses.  I very much like this: beautifully simple and very mysterious...