Reading

I read quite a lot. All sorts of books and stories and many of them inspire me to write. I’ve always been a reader although my parents never read to me as a child. It was just my way of escape. Escape from bullies; from having to get up; from having to go to bed; from life in general.

I had a ‘normal’ working-class upbringing by ‘normal’ working-class parents who worked hard to provide me and my siblings with food, heat and a decent roof over our heads. Nothing unusual happened and every day was much like the last one. I think that’s why I read, why I wanted to escape. To slip off into much more exciting worlds than my own. They are all out there, just step into a library and see all those worlds.

I was always being remonstrated for reading under the bed covers via torchlight. My mother insisted that I would go blind as she was an advocate of having as much bright light as possible. I’m no longer a young man and my mother has long since passed away but if she were still here I would have to remind her that I didn’t go blind. Well not so far anyway, but I did so enjoy those adventures with pirates, smugglers and spies. Writers such as John Buchan, Daniel Defoe and Alexander Dumas we’re the stuff of my late night reading. Just another page I would tell myself but that quickly became another chapter until finally I succumbed to sleep until woken at some early hour to get up, wash, dress and grab a piece of toast before off to school to endure education.

I have always been convinced that I learned far more from those wonderful books than I ever did sitting in a classroom, bored by a teacher telling me that my life would be irreparably damaged if I didn’t learn the Periodic Table or sines, cosines and tangents. I have never had to use a slide rule in over fifty one years of full time work or much of what was forced to learn.

So I’ll continue to read fifty plus books a years and write whenever I can. I still love to slip off into those worlds which are far more interesting than mine. I will continue to learn and educate myself by reading. It should be compulsory for everyone.

Rube

via Daily Prompt: Rube

A dictionary definition of rube is:

an unsophisticated person from a rural area; hick.
I suppose that this definition could apply to a huge part of the population of any country in the world. Although, Stephen King, in his follow-up to his seminal novel The Shining, calls anyone who isn’t a member of the True Knot.
It’s not a word in common useage where I live and having just finished reading Doctor Sleep, the aformentioned book, it seems funny to see it as a daily prompt. Funny how life and time have a way of presenting coincidences daily.  As an aside, I found the book interesting and an excellent sequel. It tells us what happened to young Danny Torrance after the Overlook Hotel burnt to the ground and his father (Here’s Jonny – Jack Nicholson in the film) was killed.
Well worth a read for SK fans

Famous Last Words

These are the last words of some of the most famous novels ever written.

Courtesy of the BBC Website

1. “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
2. “Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.”

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

3. “But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”

The House At Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne

4. “He was soon borne away 
by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.”

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

5. “Are there any questions?”

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

6. “And then, while the pretty brunette girl finished singing her verse, he buzzed me through like I was someone who mattered.”

The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger

7. “I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth.”

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

8. “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling

9. “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

10. “Later on he will understand how some men so loved her, that they did dare much for her sake.”

Dracula, Bram Stoker

Clue or Red Herring


Whilst reading a book or watching a film, even a TV drama, I do enjoy picking up on clues. Those little moments when the writer throws in a stepping stone for us to move a little bit closer to solving the old question. Whodunnit?

I like to marvel at just how many of these clues are not really that, but so-called Red Herrings.

Where does the term Red Herring come from?

 According to an entry in Wikipedia

The origin of the expression is unknown. Conventional wisdom has long supposed it to be the use of a kipper (a strong-smelling smoked fish) to train hounds to follow a scent, or to divert them from the correct route when hunting; however, modern linguistic research suggests that the term was probably invented in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, referring to one occasion on which he had supposedly used a kipper to divert hounds from chasing a hare, and was never an actual practice of hunters. The phrase was later borrowed to provide a formal name for the logical fallacy and literary device.>

I’ve always been interested in the origin of expressions we use every day without thinking. Those which have a meaning completely unrelated to its words. There are so many of these we mostly don’t even think about them:

  1. Bite the bulletUsed as a type of anaesthetic, patients would be given a bullet to bite
  2. Break the iceWhen ships were stuck the nearest nation would send their vessels to release it
  3. Mad as a hatterNothing to do with Lewis Carrol’s books but from a disease of hat makers, caused by Mercury used in the process, which brought about strange behaviour
  4. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwaterIn the early 1500s, people only bathed once a year. Not only that, but they also bathed in the same water without changing it! The adult males would bath first, then the females, leaving the children and babies to go last. By the time the babies got in, the water was clouded with filth. The poor mothers had to take extra care that their babies were not thrown out with the bathwater.
  5. Give the cold shoulderIn medieval England, it was customary to give a guest a cold piece of meat from the shoulder of mutton, pork, or beef chop when the host felt it was time for the guest to leave. This was a polite way to communicate, “You may leave, now.”

These are just a few of the many sayings we have in the English language.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

What a gem of a book this is. It’s funny, scary, sad and happy and really well written. I was surprised to find that the author is a woman as the chief protagonist is male. We follow his hap hazard childhood with his gang of friends through to adulthood. With all the stresses and tensions of life thrown into a small Southern English town. Well paced and written and a pretty original storyline which keeps the reader, well this reader, interested and wanting more right up until the last page. It was one of those books I couldn’t put down but feel a bit lost because it’s ended.

To say this is a first book from this author I would suspect there are many more to come. I, for one, will eagerly await the next one.

Reading Your Novel on a Kindle

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I have recently discovered this trick. For anyone who is writing their first, second, third, tenth great novel and are at the stage where they are reading its first/second/whatever draft then this could be for you. I used to have a Kindle tablet but now just use the Kindle app on my iPad and Android phone and it works great on these too.

You can actually send your unedited masterpiece to your Kindle and then read and annotate it, just as you would if it was an ebook you had purchased.

One of the great advantages of using this method is that:

a. It’s easy to do.

b. It looks like a book.

c. It’s in book reading format

d. It’s free

The last item is a real bonus as there is also no paper cost or printer ink. If you prefer to print and read then that’s fine. You could still use this method after you have done that level. The choice is yours. All you have to do is to email to your (Or someone else’s) Kindle email address. Each Kindle account has a unique email address which you’ll find in the settings of the tablet/app. Then you simply attach your novel to an email and send it that address. Sync the Kindle and there it will be for you to work with.

You can find full and detailed instruction on the Amazon website for your individual country.

Why not give it a try? Can’t hurt.

New Year Resolutions

We’re well into January now and all those good intentions should be firmly taking route. Dry January, Gym visits, Smoking patches, and the dreaded Diet , etc means we should all be feeling pretty good about ourselves and our new regimes.

Sadly, for most of us, that will not be the case. My promise to myself (I find it easier not to proclaim my resolutions to anyone but myself.) has already fallen at the first hurdle. My 2018 To-do-list is topped by:

Write a blog post every week.

Second is: Edit a scene from the first draft of my novel every day.

Both of these, sadly, have failed to happen as life, like so often happens, has gotten in the way. So I’ve managed neither of those but I intend to change that and pretend that today is New Years Day and in my new world calendar I’m starting as I mean to go on.

So everything is reset, my new list is on track, I feel inspired and renewed and all is well with the world. Perhaps.