Books of Influence

I’m squarely in the Blyton camp, but Jan’s blog has almost convinced me to take another look at Captain Nancy.

Jan Edwards

I received a “vaguebook” meme  recently asking folks to “Name fifteen authors who’ve influenced you and that will always stick with you”,  This is surprisingly hard to do.

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The Demon Typos


They seek them here, they seek them there, they seek those demons everywhere. A slight misquotation but it more or less sums up what I feel about typos. My real feelings are unprintable.

The trouble with the little so-and-sos, note again the restrained language, is the way they hide themselves. However, hard you look; however many times you search through your manuscript, you never, ever find them all. Of course the writer is not necessarily the best person to look. We tend to find ourselves distracted by other faults/blips in the manuscript. I always want to start re-writing certain passages; this could be better, or this tighter, or I wish I hadn’t used that word there and so it goes on. Also, by the time I get to the final edit, I know the story so well that I know I will read in missing words, or completely miss the odd lack of speech marks, or full stop.

The only solution to this problem is to find yourself a good editor; one that has a keen eye and can ferret out those imps of Satan.

For reasons that I will enlarge upon in a later blog, Peter Coleborn has just saved my life on this one. If you want an editor who is rigorous and patient beyond belief, then I can highly recommend Peter and his services.

You can contact him at:




Padrick and Podge

I met my oldest friend when we were seven years old. I don’t know what it was that drew us together, but right from the start we had much in common. We certainly shared a vivid imagination. Break times were spent in our imaginary worlds, whether out in the Wild West, where we were breaking horses and riding bareback over the prairies, or in Regency England where we were the bad girls of the family always getting into trouble over some breach of decorum or other.
As we got older, we slept over at each other’s houses and on one memorable occasion spent New Year’s Eve at The Glen, a nightclub set in an old quarry. Quite why she ended up with such a bad hangover, I don’t remember. I do remember the following morning watching her eating scrambled eggs on toast, slathered in tomato ketchup. Every bite and swallow was an act of will, but she was determined to get it down as she was sure it was what she needed to get rid of the thundering in her head.
We grew up, we moved away to live and work in different cities, then different countries. But we were always there for each other. And that’s still true decades later, as it is for all my friends.

After family, friends are the most important people in my life and it is friendship, in particular the long standing sort, that is the basis of “Picking up the Pieces.” Friendship, cake and the mutual support that only lifelong friends can provide.


Naming Your Beasts

Jan Edwards

Names are one of the biggest problems for me with any writing.

Names matter. They attract or deflect by their very nature, colouring our view through our own personal experience. A character names Maude for example may conjure an older woman, possibly Victorian fiction as Maude was a daughter of the old Queen. Or older, given that it was the name of an ancient claimant of the English crown.

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Staying Chilled

Anuk's Cat 3

Professional or amateur? How would you class yourself as a writer? If writing is your main source of income then obviously you are a professional, but for those of us who have to supplement our fees and royalties with a day, or night, job the way we go about our writing defines us.

Or so I read recently.

Professional writers apparently don’t check social media first thing in the morning. They go straight to the file and down to work. Nor do they allow themselves any surreptitious peeks during the day. No glancing through emails or scrolling down Facebook. For them writing fills the time and if they are not writing then they are busy promoting their writing, or researching their next novel, or mapping out another short story.

Amateurs however do all the above. They also spend time justifying why they are not writing, or cannot write that day.

Me? I do both. Some days I write for as many hours as I can manage to hunch over my PC. Then I market my novel, or send out another short story. On other days, however, I spend far too much time communicating with Facebook friends, answering emails, or becoming engrossed in enthralling threads on the various forums I belong to.

Should this be a matter of concern? Should I change my ways? Or is the best thing to do is simply chill out?  Like the cat Anuk Naumann’s painting stretch out and let the world go by and let the writing take care of itself.

Life is more than what you do. It’s who you are, and who you are is not just a writer. It might be a parent, it will be a son or a daughter, a friend, a teacher, an employer and so the list goes on.

I think that the fuller a life you lead, the wider your experience and richer your writing. There’s time for the professional attitude, the amateur one and then the chilling out, the going with the flow and letting the imagination free.

Halong Bay 1