Daily Archives: April 19, 2011

Talking about fiction by Victoria Mixon and Roz Morris is the first of four discussions between Victoria and Roz; the first being on plot and the second ( on character. I certainly look forward to the other two postings… especial when Victoria remembers what the fourth one is going to be about.


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Another blog post I like: the writer’s life only you know

From the great comes, which goes to show that deep down we’re all just human. I once had a Mont Blanc fountain pen… I wonder what happened to it.

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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in articles, blog, recommendations, writing


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Possibly one of the best clips on YouTube

Whilst intending to keep this blog as writing-related only, I just had to share this: as shared on Twitter by author Derek Haines ( As a certain Northampton-based Danish beer company would say, it’s ‘probably’ one of the best clips on YouTube (in my humble opinion anyway). Oh, if only my hound was that good at resisting a plateful of food stuck in front of his nose… actually he’s better than most but even he has his limits.


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The much underrated short story is an enchanting article by Washington DC-based Mark Athatakis about one of Lynne Tillman’s short stories called ‘Love sentence’ from her new collection, ‘Someday This Will Be Funny’. It’s always saddened me that short stories aren’t more popular than they are and was somewhat horrified when David Constantine said at the recent Oxford Literature Festival about Helen Simpson being forbidden from including ‘and other stories’ on her book covers so that they’re mistaken as novels, although (like Annie Proulx, Alice Munroe etc.) Helen is known as a short story writer. You can hear my podcast reviews of Oxford Lit Fest on iTunes, Google Feedburner, Podbean etc. – links on my website or on the ‘Where to find me’ menu on this blog.

Back in September 2008 I attended a Creative Writing Teachers Conference (speakers included the delightful Fay Weldon) and sat in on a workshop hosted by novelist Tibor Fischer. I had (and still have) his short story collection ‘Don’t Read This Book If You’re Stupid (published in the U.S. as ‘I Like Being Killed: Stories’) and asked him how he got it published when it’s notoriously difficult. He told me that he’d been given a three book deal and only signed it on the condition that one could be an anthology, although he admitted that it was far more work than either of the novels as they had to be seven polished stories rather than one, albeit shorter.

Mark’s D.C.-Area Readings section is packed with events in his area to the beginning of August. So if you’re not to far away (sadly I am by about 3,500 miles) there might be something of interest.

If you’re a writer then Mark’s ‘For Authors and Publishers’ might make interesting reading but not if you’re self-publishing your work… if the latter and you do read it, don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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Words of wisdom from Shari Lopatin inc. passive and active voices

Again thanks to Twitter, I stumbled across which reminded me how infrequently passive and active voices are talked about. Phoenix-based Shari has it spot on (although I’m not so sure about “the car his almighty sword” but slicing is a definite improvement to drove and driving). The post is a relatively old one (December 2010) so has plenty of feedback from other writers who are guilty, as I’m sure we all are, of using the passive voice and in the main, not being aware we’re doing it until it’s pointed out to us or it leaps out during the editing process.

Shari admits that she used to hate Twitter but has come to value it and her ‘5 Killer Twitter Tips’ article again has some very sound advice including ‘it’s better to tweet fewer solid tweets, than many useless tweets’ which is very true and from the look of Shari’s home page, her blog is definitely quality over quantity.


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My podcast interview with crime novelist Lesley Cookman

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast’s fifteenth special episode (length 32m10s) launched today, 19th April, featured my interview with crime novelist Lesley Cookman ( Here are the questions I asked her:

– Please tell us about you (how long have you been writing and how did you start?)

– How did you go from non-fiction to crime; is it what you like to read?

– Your eighth novel ‘Murder to Music’ has just been released, what was your experience of your novel acceptances?

– The map of Steeple Martin on your website looks very typically English village; is it exactly as you imagined it or did you get some external influence on the way it ended up looking?

– Has anyone compared it with an Agatha Christie Miss Marple setting?

– You’ve set the books in present time, have you ever been tempted to go back in history?

– Presumably the reason for setting your books in South East England is because you live there are therefore know it well. Libby goes to Cornwall in ‘Murder in the Green’; do you think the coast and murder goes well together and do you envisage anywhere more exotic for her?

– ‘Murder Imperfect’ and ‘Murder in Midwinter’ feature pantomimes, and you’ve even written a ‘How to’ book on the subject ( – how did you become involved in the theatre?

– Did you base Libby Sarjeant on anyone in particular?

– How many books do you plan for the rest of the series and/or do you plan to deviate from the series?

– Your books are available in paperback and ebook; have you found sales have increased with availability or both formats or is it difficult to judge?

– Do you like the covers of your books?

– How much research do you have to do for your books?

– I notice that you have a link to the Romantic Novelists’ Association ( on your blog, do you write any other form or genre of fiction?

– Do you find the editing takes longer than the writing? And which do you prefer?

– What advice would you give aspiring writers? – Considering it’s a heavily covered genre, but has never been so popular, is there a trick to writing fresh crime?

– What’s your favourite aspect of your writing life?

– Have you ever received direct feedback on your writing from your readers; people that you didn’t know already?

– You mentioned in a Facebook post that you’d been a guest at London Book Fair and “felt like a real, proper author”. After eight novels, what do you would need to do for you to be a real, proper author?

– Your website is with links to buy your books on Amazon ( – are there any other way of finding out about your work, to buy your books or perhaps meet you at a book signing?

Links to the podcast recording available on my website’s home page ( and in the ‘Where to find me’ menu on this blog.


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Nothing to do with writing but oh so cute (thanks Marika)

Well, not completely unrelated; it was tweeted by novelist Marika Cobbold ( who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Chorleywood Literature Festival last November…

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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in recommendations, Twitter, writing


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