Writing, Kurosawa And Sex And The City: Interview With Me On ‘Losing The Plot’ Writing Podcast

Three posts in three days?! What fresh madness awaits.

I was interviewed for Losing the Plot podcast and had a jolly old time, I think we got on very well. We chatted about writing, writing tips, Kurosawa, The Greasy Strangler and owning up to the embarrassing stuff. Enjoy!

Episode

telephone2

How To Reach Your Word Count Goals

Good day my little cocktail cheeses. I made a tiny video which is hopefully full of good advice on how to reach your goals when aiming for your daily word count. Enjoy, and feel free to visit my youtube for story readings (mine and other people’s), tips and general oddity.

P.S. yep my hair is gone. I have entered the Jazz age!

How To Get Story Ideas – Tips For Creative Writing And Authors

Hello my little slightly burnt quorn sausages which turn out OK once the surface has been scraped a bit. I trust you are well?

I made a little video of tips and advice that I’ve gathered from other sources as well as what works for me, so any writers out there will hopefully find this useful.

P.S. the T Shirt is by Betty Rocksteady, whose novella was published by Eraserhead Press the same time as mine.

My Liebster Award Questionaire (And Nominations)

Hello! The other day my blog was nominated for a Liebster award. I may not have known what it was but I was very pleased as it made me sound intellectual, thus I purchased a pipe, a smoking jacket and crisps.

In actual fact it’s awarded to blogs with less than 3,000 subscribers. I must answer eleven questions given to me by Angela D’Onofrio and nominate 5-11 other bloggers, giving them 11 questions to answer which are at the bottom of this post (and they must then do the same). Here goes!

  1. What was one of your most random, unexpected inspirations? Probably the ones late at night when half asleep. It’s a cliche but ideas always come to me from dreams or sleepy thoughts.
  2. Which book made you realize that you wanted to be an author?
    I always wanted to write, or so my mum says, but the first time I clearly remember thinking I wanted to write my own books was after reading The Witches by Roald Dahl. I was so scared reading about all the horrible things that happened to children that I really wanted to make people feel the same.
  3. Is there a book that you absolutely love that’s the exact opposite of your “usual fare”? (Example: I hoard high fantasy, but have read Augusten Burroughs’ “Running With Scissors” three times.)
    I love Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, all of the sisters fascinate me. Actually it’s quite a gothic story so maybe it’s not so out of character. I laughed like a fool when I read Jenny Lawson’s ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened,‘ you should read it.
  4. Do you ever craft playlists for your writing projects?  (Please share some of the songs you’ve used, if you do!) I go a bit obsessive when it comes to music and writing. For specific projects I often hit on a song that keeps me going and play it on repeat. Sometimes it’s a playlist I find on youtube, but either way I keep the headphones on so I don’t drive anyone batty. Once it was this 20s jazz playlist on youtube. During the story A Piece Worth Millions it was anything by or including the vocals of Anneka Snip, such as this, and while writing Rainbows Suck I listened to Space Boots by Miley Cyrus. All in all a rather eclectic mix.
  5. Which authors do you read when you need to fine-tune your own writing voice? If I need assistance with personal style I try to stick to straight-forward prose about off-the-wall things. I love poetic writing but it’s just not me, so I might choose Alice In Wonderland or Leonora Carrington.
  6. What would your dream workspace look like?
    The Occult, 1920s room at Talliston House, Dunmow, Essex (but with a computer).

    The 1929 Occult Study at Talliston House
    The 1929 Occult Study at Talliston House
  7. Obligatory Writing Beverage of Choice Question! (Bonus points if it isn’t actually stereotypically coffee!)
    Diet Coke! And tea.
  8. CDs or MP3s (or, hey, vinyl or cassette)?
    MP3s. I love the idea that our possessions float in the ether.
  9. What’s your favorite Disney movie? (The former aspiring animator in me NEEDS to know.)
    I’m not really a Disney fan, however at the time I loved Beauty and the Beast, probably because it’s a fairly depressing one. I also quite liked The Little Mermaid. I loved Watership Down more than Disney (apart from that terrible song) because I enjoyed the violence and how much it upset other children. I also went through a phase of watching the Japanese Godzilla and it’s sequels over and over. I was an odd child.
  10. If you had to model your entire wardrobe after any fictional character, who would it be?
    I can’t make decisions so I’ll just say the gothic/rainbow/circus outfits worn by many of Neil Gaiman’s characters.
  11. Is there a theme which persistently creeps into your work, whether you want it to or not?  (Please tell me it’s not just me.) I’ve noticed my tendency to stuff as many bright colours in as possible, plus I seem to be currently pre-occupied with social media. It fascinates me how a person can be famous whilst sitting at home, and how much we bare ourselves to others.

There we have it! My nominees to answer the questions below are:

Leza Cantoral

Eraserhead Press

The Year of Halloween

Anastasia Catris

Betty Rocksteady

And my questions for you are:

  1. When did you first realise you were drawn to the strange and odd
  2. What do you love most about the strange and unusual
  3. What are your favourite books/art pieces/films/TV shows etc
  4. What do you want to say/show by blogging
  5. How easy do you find it to get an audience, and do you have any tips
  6. What are your creative/blogging goals
  7. Who inspires you, famous or not famous
  8. What’s your strangest memory
  9. Do you have a routine when you need to think up ideas
  10. What are you most proud of so far
  11. Have you ever had strong or unexpected responses

Things To Do, Places To Visit, Renaissance Art And Travel Tips For Florence, Italy

Dry your eyes and stash the kleenex at the back of the cupboard, I have returned! I didn’t bring you any presents, no. Is that all our friendship is to you? Well, I did kind of bring presents, this amazingly beautiful and helpful blog post. Next time I shall share with you the morbid delights of the anatomy museum but, for now, Florence’s (mostly) light side.

As our walking tour guide said, Florence is like a living history museum with buildings from the medieval period, the Renaissance and much more. This is true, but to me it also feels like the scene in a fantasy novel or film where the hero is taken through an alleyway in a city and emerges in a fantastical market. All pictures taken by Bill Purnell.

Aqua Flor is a perfumery operating the same way since the Renaissance. Not only is the inside beautiful but the back opens onto a large room with statues, paintings and columns. Plus there’s a poison cabinet, what more could you ask? DSC_0271

The Uffizi Gallery is in the Piazza Della Signoria surrounded by public statues. The inside is a mix of statues and paintings and, when you’re in Florence, always look at the ceilings – you don’t want to miss the frescoes which are almost everywhere. Make sure you reserve a specific time slot, it’s a very popular place and you won’t want to spend hours queuing.

Inside the Uffizi
Inside the Uffizi

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Piazza Della Signoria
The Piazza Della Signoria

DSC_0121

The Boboli Gardens is another place worth a visit. Again you can reserve which means you don’t have to queue. Unlike us, who reserved AND queued. Oh dear! The Boboli Gardens

DSC_0306

For any book lovers who can’t speak Italian, ie. me, there’s the Paperback Exchange. As well as a big range of new books including comics and graphic novels, students bring books back after lessons, so head for a room at the back and you’ll get them for around 5 euros. Hooray!

Me with my haul
Me with my haul

In the Piazza Della Repubblica is one of the prettiest carousels I’ve ever seen. Of course I went on it a few times and no, I didn’t care that I was the only grown up.carousel in piazza della repubblica

Our hotel, the Bernini Palace (beautiful, recommended definitely), was in Piazza di San Firenze and every morning I would step out in front of the building where Leonardo De Vinci began the Mona Lisa. where Leonardo De Vinci began the Mona LisaArt is everywhere, from street art like Clet Abraham’s hacked road signs to statues or painting on almost every corner. Florence art and statues

A beautiful Florentine street

Warnings: Along with the joy, however, are a few important things to remember. The street sellers by the Cathedral are not licensed to sell. As they’re desperate people from war torn countries it’s tolerated but if you’re caught buying from them you’ll be fined. It’s often knock-off goods and if you want a nice leather wallet it’s best to get it from a shop.

Also, Gelatarias (gelato ice cream shops) with high mountains of the stuff aren’t as good as those with tubs. Basically, if you see very tall mounds of gelato, avoid it and go for something with flatter piles.

Bene! We are almost at an end, but before you whisk yourself off into the night have a peek at a very short video of beautiful things I saw on my travels. In it are the Piazza Della Signoria, Aqua Flor, Santa Maria Novella Pharmacia (another stunning perfumery, this time started by Monks) and the carousel among others. Farewell!

The Terrifying World of Author’s Social Media Mistakes and Tips To Stop Them Happening

At the moment I and everyone else is surrounded by heart stopping stories of bizarrely ranting authors, such as the cases of ‘The Author Who Trolled Himself For Four Goddamn Months‘ Stephen J Harper and ‘I Am Not Your Bitch You Are Mine‘ Chelsea Cain. I say heart stopping rather than funny (although in Stephen J Harper’s case I guess you kind of have to see the funny side) because one of the things that literally terrifies me is making people angry, online or in real life. And it’s happened too!  Just an ill-timed joke or comment somewhere and…

Well, OK, maybe not all of us would be so relentless or unpleasant as those writers online recently, but everyone has a bad day and loses focus at some point. I suppose the thing to ‘bear’ (oh dear) in mind is: if in doubt, apologise and move on without going into massive explanations or excuses. Oh, and IGNORE BAD REVIEWS.

I’m always sticking my foot in it but I think it pays just to try to be as polite as possible ALL the time, which incidentally makes you feel quite pleasant and squishy too. If you’re experiencing a day when that’s impossible, STOP! Step back from the keyboard/touchpad/quill made from virgin’s hair. If someone says something mean, write it in your personal diary. Your paper personal diary.

Anyway, here are one or two links on the subject that may be helpful:

How To Create Your Very Own Personal PR Nightmare

10 Social Media Guidelines For Authors

Tips For Dealing With Bad Book Reviews

How Smart Writers Deal With One Star Reviews

25 things you should know about outlining

On my travels today I stumbled upon (OK, someone uploaded to twitter) this helpful and amusing post on book outlining.

Go here, read, come on, what are you waiting for? Oh, you’re still here. Yes, that’s it, that door there. Phew, I know, now they’re gone we can say whatever we want about – oh hi! You’re still here. Er, no, we weren’t talking about anything…