Dec 19th

Writing the landscape

By Daedalus
I've recently found myself travelling through landscapes shaped by ancient peoples. If they didn't write as we understand it, surely they wrote on the land and their words are still visible.

More on my blog Air and Sea Stories
Dec 17th

To write or not to write...

By Ele

Hello Cloudies. Been quiet of late and kept thinking I should blog about why so, here’s why. Hope you’re all well and it’s so great to read all the writing successes on here. I had my own little success with a short story, but really that’s where my ‘quiet’ begins. Rather than inspiring me to write more, winning a writing competition has tripped me up. Sprawled on an unforgiving floor, I felt overwhelmed by lovely comments – as well as being totally overstretched in my day jobs of being a mum to three children and exhibiting my paintings in various exhibitions, updating and redesigning two websites, as well as two of my own, and designing advertising for two art exhibitions (pause for breath) and occasionally decorating our wreck of a house…. Oh, and trying to being a vaguely ‘present’ wife / friend / daughter / sister. During these past few months I have also been waiting to hear back from an editor about the novel I’ve written. Which was nerve-wracking and slightly mood-flattening.

The upshot? Something had to give and I thought STOP! Not everything because most of my day jobs have people relying on me and well, I love painting and being a mum is not something I can duck out of now! So it was with a swift breath I told myself to stop writing. And the relief was immense. I was letting myself off the hook. Great. Phew. That’ll ease the pressure.

Anyone else thought this? Writing to me is a luxury, an indulgence. I earn nothing from it financially but it costs money (we don’t have) for me to do (attend writing workshops, submit to competitions) if I want to get published or have quantifiable success. I feel like a spoilt brat whenever I think: But I want to write. I love it. I always have. So it’s not precisely true that I could entirely stop writing. That would be impossible. But I could stop trying to get my work ‘published-ready’. I could stop entering competitions. I’m a member of The Golden Egg Academy (to gain editorial advice and attend workshops) – I could stop that. I could just write, like I started out, writing for myself, for my children.

That’s OK then. Blog finished. Well, no. I busied myself in all my day jobs and felt a creeping, clammy doubt. I’d regret it if I stopped. Damn it, I might not for a few weeks, a few months, maybe even a year or two. But I would regret it if I didn’t keep trying.

So, to write or not write… To write, of course, because that’s a given. I might as well say I’ll stop painting. I won’t. Giving up painting and writing would be like giving up being a mum – unthinkable. I might as well tear out my heart and chuck it in the recycling bin. But to write in the hope of getting good enough to be published? That’s the tricky one for me. For now, no doubt until I physically can’t, I will keep trying. Self-indulgent? I don’t know. But I do realise to get your writing out there and published, persistence is paramount.

Anyway, to finish off, here’s me with one of the organisers of the Bath Short Story Award at the launch of the anthology – just to remind myself unlikely successes do happen. If I can do it once… And if you’ve read this meandering blog until the end, you’re persistent, so you can definitely do it too.

PS The editor told me lots of positives about my novel (which of course I’ve shrugged off) but it needs another rewrite (which of course I’d already resigned myself to before I heard back).

Happy writing – oh, and if you celebrate, Happy Christmas too!

Dec 16th

Christmas

By Athelstone
is sort of sneaking up on me this year. Not completely sure why. Work is a little fraught and some of my efforts to get work arrangements in place have proved troublesome, so that's probably part of it. Anyway, with only half the presents bought and a quarter of the cooking practiced, it seems about time to remind everybody of this group and to wish everybody on the Cloud a very happy Christmas.
Dec 15th

Touching Base

By Jody Klaire (JK)
Hey guys! 

Well this week has been a fun one :-) my little furry menace has ventured into the wilderness that is our street (hey, it's cold) and been on the epic safari to the beach twice (he was only sick once...) I also got to meet an old school friend who has written a book herself. I blogged about it because it's refreshing to read a book that is so honest and was actually written by the person and not a ghostwriter.

http://jodyklaire.wordpress.com/blogs-poetry-short-stories-and-other-musings/touching-base/ 

Nicole is one of our greatest ever sportspeople having been the only rider, male or female, to win world titles and an Olympic gold in the same year. I can't even begin to tell you how many obstacles she had to blast out of her way to get there. If the publication trail is not bringing you great cheer, I hope that my little blog may help you.

I also kinda want to say that a year makes a big difference. Last year, at this time, I'd been rejected and told that Brit writers couldn't do American. In January I signed a book deal.  So if you're feeling a bit down,  hang in there, believe and I'm cheering you on. You can do it guys!!!

Big Smiles!
Jk
Dec 13th

Laugh from a beach bar in San Gria...

By Old Fat Prop
The Australian Poetry Competition had come down to two finalists, a university graduate and an old aboriginal.

They were given a word, then allowed two minutes to study the word and
 come up with a poem that contained the word.

The word they were given was ' TIMBUKTU '

First to recite his poem was the university graduate.
  He stepped up to the microphone and said:

        Slowly across the desert sand
        Trekked a lonely caravan
        Men on camels two by two
        Destination - Timbuktu

The crowd went crazy! No way could the old aboriginal top that, they thought.
The old aboriginal calmly made his way to the microphone and recited:


        Me and Tim a huntin' went
        Met three whores in a pop up tent
        They were three, and we was two
        So I bucked one, and Timbuktu

The aboriginal won.
Dec 13th

What about Tommy

By AlanP
Historical novels often cast a story against the background of real events. I think that is largely fair enough when the real events aren’t twisted significantly out of shape to suit the demands of the story. Some historical novelists used to add an afterword explaining, for example, that they have moved the chronology, such as the dates of the Peloponnesian War, around to suit the demands of their tale, which was a stirring adventure and didn’t attribute things to say Pericles or King Archidamus that they simply didn’t do. I don’t think they do that so much these days, but I may be being unfair – I don’t read as much historical fiction as I once did.

The thing is they make movies of these things. Movie makers have to do a lot of stuff to make a film palatable, such as foreshortening events and making it intellectually undemanding entertainment. But, and I have tested this, there are now people that really think that the Siege of Troy lasted a few weeks (Troy – 2004; screenplay by David Benioff from an original poem by Homer), that France attempted to invade England in the time of King John using wooden craft following the design of WW2 landing craft, but were repelled on the beaches in very Churchillian style (Robin Hood – 2010; Directed by Ridley Scott), and that D-Day almost entirely took place on Omaha beach where the enemy defences were massed with the British Army providing a few chirpy cockneys and other eccentrics who strolled ashore on other lightly defended spots, that the day was saved by the heroic 1st and 29th infantry division and that the battle (and the whole war) war ended shortly thereafter (The Longest Day – 1962, written and directed by Cornelius Ryan).

The facts, such as they are, are that Homer, in the Iliad, depicted the siege of Troy as lasting about ten years, but he may have been wrong; that wooden ships made like landing craft would sink like a stone and in any event there was no such attempted invasion and Robin Hood did not forge a temporary alliance between the nasty King John and the patriotic barons to repel it on the beach. There was genuinely massive heroism on the part of the US Infantry on Omaha beach, but the reason they were so badly mauled was because they failed to land their amphibious tanks (something that was achieved on other beaches) and that the fighting was just as bad elsewhere. They were saved by a unit of the US Rangers, who had been landed in the wrong place, consequently they couldn’t achieve their objective and so joined in the main fight. The Rangers aren’t well presented either in that film. In reality WW2 went on for almost another year and for the overall victory the Russian Red Army and the massive United States manufacturing industries must largely be credited.

Then we come closer to home, chronologically speaking and start depicting events within living memory. D Day is just about in that zone, but I have been piqued by The Imitation Game. Let’s start by saying it’s a well-made movie, with first class performances. But its connection with reality is limited.

The following contains “spoilers” so if you don’t want to know the scores it’s best you leave the room now.

Alan Turing was a mathematical genius and his ideas led to the cracking of the Enigma cypher. He is usually credited with the invention of the programmable computer. He was homosexual at a time when it was illegal to be so in this country, eventually discovered to be so in the 1950s, treated most barbarically, particularly for a war hero, which he was, but in any event it was shameful. He eventually dies, probably suicide by cyanide under the influence of the hormones he was forced to take in order to “make him behave normally”, at a young age. He was sorely mistreated

He was irascible, but no-one tried to wreck his machine because they didn’t like him and the base commander did not try to throw him out in favour of ….. no other good ideas to break the code anyway. They all worked very hard and succeeded in doing something that was thought to not be possible. Turing was an absolute genius and he had some marvellous original ideas. Original ideas are hard to have. But the building of the first electromechanical “bombe” machines was done by a large team of designers, implementing Turing’s ideas and to an extent under his direction. It did indeed make it possible to break the Enigma cypher. But the electromechanical bombe was not a programmable computer.

I think that the storyline introducing the Kiera Knightly character is fair enough. She plays a character called Joan Clarke and, in the story becomes engaged to Turing so she can stay at Bletchley. This is not quite nonsense, but not very true either. Turing was known to be gay, those he worked with understood. Joan Clarke was a real person, a great cryptanalyst and a good friend of Turing’s. He probably did propose, out of friendship and because a lot of homosexuals did in those days. (Charles Laughton was completely gay and remained married to Elsa Lanchester for 33 years. It would have been longer except that he died). Joan Clarke most likely knew, but didn't care that much about it. I think that introducing her character is a well overdue acknowledgement of the role played by women in the code breaking effort, even if they exaggerate the drama. She didn’t work clandestinely, Turing didn’t have to smuggle stuff out to her. She ran a large team officially in one of the huts and was well respected.

The first “programmable computer” was the invention, if anyone can say they were the inventor, of a man called Tommy Flowers. He was not an Oxbridge mathematician. He was a Post Office engineer. He invented a programmable computer called Collossus. It was built in Dollis Hill, London and transferred to Bletchley Park sometime in 1943 where they built a few more. They worked on more complex codes than the first enigma and did as much, if not more, towards the success of the D Day landings as the more famous Garbo spies and others, short of being shot at, of course.

Alan Turing is popularly credited with inventing the programmable computer, but despite his genius he didn’t do it. Because of the way stories are written and movies are made he gets the credit for work he was connected with, but that was done by others.

Few people remember Tommy Flowers. I do.
Dec 13th

Happy Birthday to...

By Squidge
...Stories for Homes!

A year since we published this bestselling anthology of short stories and poems on the theme of 'home' in aid of Shelter, the homelessness charity...doesn't seem possible.

There are many cloudies among those involved in the project, and today, we're celebrating being a year on by having a blast - blogging (my own contribution is here  - and Jody Klaire's ), tweeting, sharing on Facebook and generally spreading the word that the book is out there, makes a fabulous present, raises money for charity AND gives you or the recipient of your choice a wonderfully eclectic mix of material to sink your reading bones into.

Don't take my word for it, though - I'm bound to be biased as I'm involved. Read the reviews.

And please, do what you can to help spread the word and raise awareness of homelessness. It's still happening...
Dec 12th

Critique

By simmian
Is there anybody out there who is willing to critique my attempt at a book and likewise I can try to do the same for you please contact me :)
Dec 12th

Festival Business Cards

By Barb
Hello peeps,

As my contact details have changed I need to get some updated business cards from Moo. Being able to design the printing for both sides gives a lot of room to include quite a bit of information.

I've been looking at some that I've collected from you guys over the years and working out what I want. But before I order them I wanted to ask:

  • Is there information that you wish you'd included as you keep having to write it out by hand?
  • Anything you wish you hadn't included?
  • Did you add a picture of yourself? If yes, was this a good idea in hindsight?

Thanks for any input,
Barb 

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