Sep 25th

Books suggestions for a book club read please

By Bren

Hello, can I sneak back onto wonderful Cloud and wish all my friends a Happy Sunday. Big hug from me. You would be surprised how often I think of you.

Its that time again. Book club. I don't know if anyone remembers my nervousness at satrting a book club? Well, I did and I think it has been a great success. I met a wonderful group of people. At first we met in the evenings but now lunchtimes. Some solid friendships were made too.

There have been changes and sad events and we are a smaller group than started but all very happy. On occasions for a few months I was too poorly to meet up and the group met at other homes.

We seem to be choosing two or three books a month as all are keen readers but it is my turn this month to present some sparkling choices. So, I turn to you to ask your advice. Also we are talking and not so much discussing the books in depth as I have not been able to put the effort in. So this week I want to be prepared. :)

To give you some ideas of the kind of books - although I think the are such a variety - we are quite open but I admit to not enjoying some and I hate not getting value.

We have read,

Anna and The Swallow Man - Enjoyed it.

The Snow Child by  Eowyn Ivey - Loved it.

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O Brian - Not so much

The Buried Giant  - Kazuo IshiGuro - lots of it but didn't read the end but had a nightmare about it?

Any Human Heart - William Boyd - I didn't enjoy this.

The Snow flower and The Secret Fan - Lisa See - Ok

All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr (My favourite)

H Is for Hawk - Helen MacDonald

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul - Deborah Rodriguez.

This is just a taste - but I feel we've had too many war stories.

Popular among us are detective stories and we have recently read the follow up to the Dragon Tattoo series by Steig Larsson.

Authors also read this year by me :

Fredrick Nath - 4 of his books

Jody Klaire -     3 so far

Ez Bloke  


Barb Ettridge

Abigail Cocks

Tony LYttle

Sophie Jonas Hill

Barry Walsh

What a lot of reading. Love it.

So, thank you. I look forward to your replies.




Sep 23rd

The night the Zeppelin fell to Earth - WW1 anniversary

By Daedalus

100 years ago tonight marked the turning point in the war against the 'Zeppelin Menace' when two of the giant airships were brought down by the home defence services. People in Essex woke to find two vast metal skeletons lying across the flat East Anglian landscape.

I have a family connection to this, as well as my general interest in aviation history, as a relative was there, and acquired a small part of one of the great craft that remains in the family to this day.





Sep 23rd

Validation (500 words)

By mike

(I have removed all the blogs on the (...) word as it might cause offense. But I rather like the idea of writing a banned book.  I will have to  write it in secret!  There are readers for this  sort of book, but an extremely competitive one! I have not read one of his books for some time and only thought of him yesterday.  Jasper Ffforde - my favourite fantasy writer.) 

    Perhaps writers want a different sort of validation?    I wrote a biography of a grandfather who is validated because he is known for a famous piece of music.  But, in an odd way, he spent most of the latter part of life in a search;  this had been a search in which  the infinite and God are entwined.

     BBC’s Radio 4  are broadcasting a programme called ‘The History of the Infinite’.  It is a fifteen minute weekly talk, hosted by Adrian Moore,  the Oxford professor of philosophy.  Would my grandfather have been validated if he had been included in this programme?   But he could only be validated by a few books that had  been self-published during the second world war.  

   I wrote a long piece on this yesterday but I am just posting a precis of the ending because it is about self-publishing and I had been following Emma’s recent posting,

   This is new stuff.  I had not known about Baird’s television transmission from the Crystal Palace in the 1930’s.   I think there was an article in a newspaper a few years back, (This is only ‘evidence suggests’)   It is difficult to find out  much as Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire.  One of the composer’s daughters had a similar conflagration.   She burnt everything about him in a huge bonfire. But one can find the odd piece and build up a jigsaw puzzle.

    My father recalled visiting the Crystal Palace in the twenties, where his father practiced his profession.    It seems a bandstand -  designed like a small amphitheatre  - had been built in the Palace grounds,  but it was demolished in the 1960’s .   

   Crystal Palace is the site of a T.V transmission mast.  (Crystal Palace is a hill to the South of London. ) But it was also the site of a television transmitter in the nineteen thirties.  Baird had his transmitter in the Exhibition Hall.  All this apparatus perished in the blaze in 1937.  It is recalled that Arnold Safroni taught band-players in  the Palace and it is quite possible that he had seen Baird’s transmitter.

   During the blitz he re-wrote an earlier novel and introduced a television thought screen into the plot. Mad monks could read a human brain by looking at this screen.  Leads attached from a human head, via a dead skull,  are linked to this contraption. (In my opinion the novel belongs to the ‘Gothic’ genre,.  The television thought -screen, whose location is in a subterranean cloister, recalls Frankenstein’s laboratory.)  Did the thought screen recall Baird’s transmitter?  

    Using the dead skull,thoughts could explore the universe searching for God.  The skull was found in the rubble of Gethsemane, (Blitz searchlights might have been influence)    This must be one of the first novels to use a TV in this way,and predates ‘Dead Lazarus’ - a play by Dennis Potter and George Orwell. (1984 published in 1950.)

     Of course, the novel is unreadable and was self-published - or rather self-printed.  The poet was not one to do things by halves and set up his own press. 

     A final travel book was published  after the poet’s death - by ‘The Fortune Press‘  This press  was made famous though Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis.  The author felt he was a posthumous writer writing a posthumous book.   But the self  had died quite a few years earlier and only the id remained.  One wonders if the poet did meet his super-ego? 

   I cannot advise attempting this sort of biography.  Ten rounds with Cassius Clay might have been preferable.  I would like to attempt this again with a great, great grandfather, but it the problems would be even worse.  (Arab problems)


Sep 20th

Squidge's Festival of Writing

By Squidge

We all have the same, and yet different experiences at the Festival of Writing. This was my fifth festival, and it felt a bit different to previous years. Not sure why.

Maybe it was because I didn't do any 1-2-1's...maybe I'd heard a lot of it before...maybe it was just coming on the back of an extremely busy year so I didn't take it in properly...

Whatever the reason, I didn't come away disappointed and I still learnt things to help my writing. 

If you want to read more, I've blogged it on the Scribbles. Click HERE to whiz over there.


Sep 19th

Now & Then – Still Open for Business

By AlanP

Now & Then is the latest in a series of winter short story writing challenges that I have run for the last few years. It’s a bit of competition, bracing because what you write is seen by all members and testing because the shortlist is chosen by the contributors themselves (your peers), but mainly it’s about the writing. There are bounds, rules and regs, but nothing you can’t cope with.

Added to that there’s a small prize; although don’t get excited – it goes to charity. The “winner” gets to choose which one, is all. For avoidance of doubt, there’s no fee; it’s not really a comp – it’s mainly a challenge. In past years there have been some properly good entries; in fact there’s rarely a bad one.

The group is open for new joiners until 2 October, at which point it will become a closed group for members only and the action will start. The simplest way to access the group right now is on the home page under "latest groups". There’s a picture of a handsome chap with a Fedora. I wear a Fedora myself sometimes, and so it might seem appropriate. It isn’t me, but thirty years ago.... it still wouldn’t have been me.

Anyway, come along – why not give it ago. Ask around if you want. Over the years quite a few have swum in these waters.

Sep 19th

Authors for Refugees

By Squidge

In case cloudies haven't picked up on this...

Authors for Refugees is having an online auction until the 26th September. Offers so far include critiques, signed books, school visits, illustration workshops etc (including a 3 chapter MS critique by Debi Alper and several other offers from cloudie folk!) 

Previous auctions have raised tens of thousands of pounds for disaster relief (authors for the Philippines for eg).

Have a look at the site and get bidding - all funds raised will help refugees in this country.

Here's the link: Authors for Refugees. Click on the logo to get a full list of offers...



Sep 19th

The Rewards of Riding the Beast

By Gerry

I was going to add this as a Comment on the ‘Published Debut Novel/ Went Broke’ thread, but it seemed to demand its own space.




I’ve a suspicion we might be telling stories all the time. You see, when I’m on the verge of sleep – just entering or just emerging – I find all sorts of action going on in the imagination, mostly nonsensical but fascinating if I can catch it, which mostly I can’t. Escapes from here or there, climbing this or that precipice, squeezing through some doorway or alleyway, exploring a mansion or maybe the levels of a liner.


All, as I say, nonsensical. It’s as if the mind is determined to keep creating and is just waiting for me to engage. I call this engine idle mode and, although I’ve never ridden one, I imagine the creative mind is like a high powered motor bike.


So when I sit down to write it’s like pressing the gas pedal. We’re off. I want to go somewhere and the mind, constantly creative as it seems to be, sends plenty of fuel to speed me along the swerving bends and swooping straights. Sometimes I might get lost in side roads and need to restart. Sometimes the engine might sputter so I need to walk around – give it a push start, so to speak.


But it’s a glorious ride, even if I’ve not yet arrived at the ultimate. No, the ultimate is when I don’t just ride the beast but navigate it. Then I’m giving all the little course corrections as I go along – a bit left here, bit more description there, bear right here, bit more dialogue there.


This is whole-brain thinking. Left-brain critical allied to right-brain creative. The expansive and the contractive, all wrapped into one, and powered by that amazing inner engine – an engine so determined to tell stories you can read your work afterwards (an evening later, a week later) and say “Wow, did I really write that?”


I’ve not really got round to taking drugs. Alcohol is a bit blurry, mushrooms a bit silly, and the rest a bit mysterious. But I can’t see they come anywhere near this because I wouldn’t be so gloriously in control. The thrill is to ride that great creative engine, not have it ride me.


As for reward, do I want a pay cheque? Well, it’d be nice, but I can’t really imagine being paid to drink alcohol, take magic mushrooms or sniff other substances.


So, like anything else – schoolteaching, nursing, policing – it’s ultimately got to be its own reward. Or I just won’t do it right. None of us will.


A pay cheque wouldn’t half be nice, though.

Sep 19th

Views from a Van - Nomes and Fanny, The Return.

By settlednomad

We are back! After what seems an eternal absence, we are on the move again. The peace and quiet you have all come to enjoy these past few (many!) months is about to be disrupted.

Wind, sail and wake on topaz waters under a magical Greek blue sky have given way to diesel, a 2.5 litre engine and the smell of global pollution on a pot-holed tarmac road under grey miserable British skies. Budgie smugglers have been replaced with jeans and mountain winter-wear. Comfort levels, too, are just a little different these days. Goodbye separate bedrooms, galley, saloon, heads and cockpit – hello all-in-one cramped space. That said and done, we (I) love it. It’s a means to an end: it is a mode of transport that allows us to travel, to explore and to live in relative comfort (all things considered and in the loosest of terms). Fanny still needs persuading that the chemical camping toilet, at the end of the bed, is a good idea. It simply requires an adult potty training mindset. I just nip outside!

Allow me to make a formal introduction: Walter, these are the Cloudie folk. Cloudie folk, say hi to Walter. Walter is a black Renault Trafic van that had a camping makeover done by the previous owner. We have had him since January and have already clocked up more than* 10,000 miles with a couple of trips to France and an extended trip to Greece, back in March/April.

Today, and over the coming days/week(s), we are making our way to Slovakia. Why? I have an apartment there and haven’t been since 2009. In fact I bought the apartment in 2007 and have spent a total of 2 days in it since owning it. In 2009 I spent more time on the road getting there and back than I did in the apartment! This time it is different. We have time on our hands and want to make a concerted effort again with our writing. Our writing projects are slightly different but we are driven by the same motivations and desires to accomplish something.

My focus is fun, informative and light-hearted blogs, like this one (is it?), academic writing for my Uni foundation course and possibly (still undecided) NaNoWriMo. My brief understanding of the NaNoWriMo is that one should aim to produce a novel of 50,000 words by the end of the month. I may have a bash at it but with different expectations of it. If I can finish the month with the set word count and have several booky-type ideas then I too will be a ‘winner’, even if it is limited and on my terms. It’s all writing: it’s all good fun.

So there we have it, folks, a very quick and concise update from the Barfleur – Brittany Ferries’ économie ferry: start as you mean to go on!

More to follow...

* This originally read as 'clocked up over'. However, we decided it sounded more like a Russian gymnast than the correct use of English words. Fanny and I laughed out loud - entertainment is quite scant on this ferry! :-)

Sep 18th

I Published My Debut Novel to Critical Acclaim—and Then I Promptly Went Broke

By EmmaD

A really good piece about the realities of trying to earn your living as a writer.

"... the reality about making money as a writer is you hustle the fuck out of freelance pieces like this one. Or you teach. Or you drive a bus. Or someone supports you. Or you're independently wealthy. The reality is that somehow you have money, and somehow you write ... No one is paying you to write. They may pay you for something you wrote, or promise to pay you for something you have promised to write ... They may pay you to teach, or to ... talk to people about writing. None of this is the same as being paid to write. I would like to be paid to write."


And my take on the question:


Getting Published


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