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Friday, 26 April 2013

Rod Dearing on Writer’s Groups

Big Beef Pie Down at the Bird and Baby

During a family visit to Oxford, UK last week my son took me on a pub crawl – well, a pub lunch crawl actually. We dropped in to sample the wares of The Trout, the Punter, the Isis, the Rickety Press and the Eagle and Child. Local beers and good home cooking at each. But it was the Eagle and Child, aka Bird and Baby that really captured my interest. Not only for its splendid beef pie with golden brown flaky pastry and amber pint of St George and the Dragon, but for its history as a meeting place for a group of writers who called themselves the Inklings. It was in the back room of this gorgeously warm and inviting pub that the Inklings, who included JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, met and read out their latest scribblings to their fellow writers. It was so heartening to know that even such great authors as Tolkien and Lewis valued the support of a writer’s group. I went down to the back room and imagined the Inklings doing their readings, getting advice and sipping their ales. The pub staff couldn’t tell me where JRR Tolkien used to sit so I sat down in each available chair in the fond hope that some of his magic would rub off on me!
I’m also a member of an International Writers Group (mainly UK members) which ‘meet’ monthly by email. So while I was in Oxford we met for a three hour luncheon at the house of one of the members. It was marvellous to put faces to names, chat about our individual publishing hopes, swap ideas and get supportive comment on our latest efforts. The meeting was so valuable that we hope to make it an annual event.
Oh by the way, the Bird and Baby building was used as a ‘playhouse’ for the Royalist soldiers during the English Civil War. No doubt they also enjoyed big beef pies and amber ale as well!
Rod Dearing
author of the Cadet Willie McBride series and Brilliant Mr Badger.




Friday, 19 April 2013

Evan Andrew on how Somerset Maugham had it easy!

I am halfway through reading the life of Erich Maria Remarque, (All Quiet on The Western Front, A Time to Live and a Time to Die, etc) having completed the biography of Somerset Maugham, (Of Human Bondage, Cakes and Ale, etc). It is incredible to me, how those two men in the 20th century, even with the sales of only one book when published, had them translated and circulated worldwide, which made them a fortune. This enabled them to start their own art collections, of mostly the Impressionists, that in today’s money would be worth more than most countries’ GSP.

In 1948 Maugham said ‘that now was the best time in the history of books for sales, and that in twenty years’ time there would be a huge decline! Whether he was seeing the advent of television as a threat, or technology as a whole, we don’t know.

Personally, I would think that today worldwide, there are more books published than ever before, be it independently or otherwise, without even thinking of the number of e-books available. As a confirmed reader I couldn’t be happier, however as an author selling my books, it certainly isn’t as easy today as those two gentlemen had it then.

There is nothing though, that can beat the feeling of pleasure and pride, when you get your book hot off the printing press, and hold it in your hands for the very first time.

Evan G Andrew

Author of ‘Shadows in the Night,’ the sequel ‘Shadows of Doubt,’ and ‘The Spanish Woman.’

Friday, 12 April 2013

What's in a Name? Definitions are making my head spin!

BACK TO BASICS? What do you think?
In the first couple of sentences Wikipedia describes IMAGINATION (also called the faculty of imagining) as –
 ‘the ability to form new images and sensations that are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses. Imagination helps make knowledge applicable in solving problems and is fundamental to integrating experience and the learning process.’ Okay?

 It defines FICTION as –
‘the form of any work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imagery and theoretical – that is invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical, cinematic, or musical work.’ Okay again!

 While FANTASY, I guess, is something right out of this world!

 I used to write FACT – generally from my own point of view.
Now I write mainly FICTION – from an imaginary character’s (or characters’) point of view and generally HISTORICAL FICTION.
I understand that in a work of FICTION the fictional characters and/or places are imaginary but any HISTORICAL EVENTS OR PEOPLE must be accurately researched.
These days we also have the category called FACTION. Now I’m not so good!


 This is Jean ‘Angel’ Allen hoping you might have pity on a poor writer today!!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Barbara Algie reflects on the speed of modern speech and TLAs**

Well hello again. How is life in the fast lane? Currently breaking the speed limit is the spoken word by the MM’s of this world (that’s Millenium Mumblers in case you haven’t been clever.)

Why is it that the teeniest toddler with lungs the size of table tennis balls manage to produce a volume of sound rivalling that of a Diva at La Scala yet, later, grow into a race of MM’s? Somebody (I’ve forgotten who it was now) once said a woman’s voice should be low and well-modulated.

Well go tell this to the infants of the world. The art of speaking slowly and clearly is a gift in grave danger of being lost. The English language deserves a better fate than it’s currently receiving from millions of MM’s. Appreciate, preserve and use it in a manner enjoyable to everyone. After all, if you’ve got something to say, do please make sure even the hardest of hearing amongst us are able to understand and applaud your story.

But to get back to speed. Have you noticed how words are being massacred by the AA’s of this world? (Not that sort – the Abbreviation Addicts.) Would you for instance understand me if I wrote ‘I hope you’ve all broken and chucked into the *WPB all those ridiculous *NYR’s you made whilst crawling into bed singing the last line of *ALS’? (Some, devised by texters and twitterers, aren’t quite that easy to decipher.) It was probably a cockney old-time music-haller who started the ball rolling with *TTFN and I must admit it sent a tingle of sentimental delight down the spine to receive an envelope with *SWALK on the back.

But does anybody really have time for letter writing? This not only deprives us of a long distance kiss but is causing the Post Office tremendous monetary problems. Maybe speed is today’s problem.

Slow down – take it easy - smell the roses on the way to wherever you’re going and speak up!

Oh well, until next time, TTFN.

LOL (oh dear, now I’m doing it!)

Big Al


(*Too Hard Basket/New Year Resolutions/Auld Lang Syne/Ta Ta for Now/Sealed with a Loving Kiss/and you all know the last one.)
** Three Letter Acronyms