Nov 25th

Project aborted.

By mike

    I have deleted my  blogs on colonial guilt and will not pursue the project.  This  was  intended  to keep me occupied while being permanently unemployed.  I could research the history of English journalism, or the origin of literary genres instead, 

  The only reason for attempting a dual narrative would have been to support l the Arabs and Muslems who do not want to kill me.  I certainly do not support the random massacre of innocent people.  Just by chance, I recently attended the first nights of two London shows that were both completely booked up.  (You can get discounted tickets on the day) Families were present at both events. 

  But there is another problem with the material which Gerry inadvertently mentioned . This is ‘Orientalism’  I think any academic who deviates even slightly from the current orthodoxy on the matter will get the sack. 








Nov 25th

Vanity publishing

By NickNick

Does anyone have any advice on Austin Macauley. Whilst i am prepared to pay a contribution to publishing, as a new author, some advise against it. This particular publisher seems energetic and sound, but as with all things there is negative discussion on the web. Any thoughts much appreciated!

Nov 23rd

What Next? Dead Babies?


Although I don't usually watch celeb chefs or cooking programmes, I was tempted to spend some of my precious time on what was said to be a History of Cake, presented by Nigel Slater.

Nostalgia fest? Useful information for my wip? It started off OK with some bits of info squeezed in beside shots of the gurning Nigel's gluttoning down of cake. Then it took on a more vicious aspect, particulary concerning the modern phenomena 'Tea Shops'. These were castigated as being 'twee', as things worthy only of our scorn.

What? Slater, you are blithely dimissing people's small businesses! Enterprises they believe in, have created from nothing. If you don't like them, don't go into them. Plenty of people do like the tea shops, they give pleasure and enjoyment - not to mention gainful employment. Huh, you pretentious wanker - shut your gob.

Next, cupcakes came in for it, with Jenny Eclair blasting forth on the montrous regiment of amazingly decorated sponge cakes. Just because you've got a cake for a name, darlin', it don't mean you can mouth off like a latter day Johnnie Knox! You tell us they are aimed at women (mainly stupid ones, if we follow your argument) and are somehow anti-feminist. Well I've got news for you, love - they're aimed at anyone with a wallet who can open it and purchase.

It was towards the end of the show, however, that the programme became nothing short of repulsive.

We were introduced to some woman who makes revolting cakes disguised as bloody body parts, half-smoked fags or sore-infested abominations. Then Slater was shown a large cake realistically depicting a dead badger. WHAT? You've made a cake that looks like roadkill? Like some poor animal whose life was cut short while attempting to cross a road to go about its normal business? Then the woman handed Slater a knife and invited him to cut some off to eat. YOU SICK BASTARDS! I switched off.

Is there nothing these people won't do? Will it be dead baby cakes next or WWI casualties before surgery? And why is the BBC giving free publicity to such sickos?

Nov 22nd

Another view of the writing journey - AA Dhand

By Sandra


Just read this - sound familiar?!The-journey-pain-pleasure-perseverance/c1q8z/5650f8df0cf26ffe7c21012d

What really, really bugs me is that the Master Class mentioned - Graham Smith, up at Gretna - was one I was on the cusp of going to, but didn't, so as well as missing Mike Craven, whose debut novel I really loved, I also missed meeting this writer.

Nov 21st

Punctuate that!

By Tony

It's one of those things, the more you look at it the less you know which is right. Could I please have the benefit of some Cloudie wisdom on the correct way to punctuate the following:

'It’s past my bedtime. I’ll say “Goodnight,” Mr Dillon.’

'It’s past my bedtime. I’ll say, “Goodnight,” Mr Dillon.’

'It’s past my bedtime. I’ll say, “Goodnight”, Mr Dillon.’

'It’s past my bedtime. I’ll say, Goodnight, Mr Dillon.’

'It’s past my bedtime. I’ll say Goodnight, Mr Dillon.’

'It’s past my bedtime. I’ll say goodnight, Mr Dillon.’


There may well be other possibilities; which is correct?

From a seasoned writer who's thoroughly perplexed

Nov 20th

Farewell to the Vulcan - a photographic odyssey

By Daedalus

My latest blog won't be to everyone's tastes. Or perhaps, anyone's. It's a guest blog on the 'Twitter V-Force' site about my many years chasing after the last flying Vulcan bomber in the hope of capturing one perfect photograph.

Link here - Farewell to the Vulcan

Some may find my obsession with old bits of military equipment hard to fathom. I'm not sure I don't. But in the spirit of 'swords into ploughshares', the aircraft that was conceived to carry Britain's nuclear deterrent spent her last eight years of flight as a tribute to a lost generation of British engineers and the young men who might at any time have been called upon to carry out a one-way mission to the Soviet Union. And simply bringing noisy, spectacular pleasure to millions of airshowgoers on weekends up and down the country.

Nov 20th

Keep writing!

By Loretta Milan

Hi everyone! I've had a little break for a while as the summer was hectic and then I decided I must get some momentum behind my writing as I'd been stalling and stallling and stalling. Over September and October, I focused on replanning my novel and that led on nicely to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a great opportunity to get myself motivated to write a substantial chunk of my novel this month.

It's been really tough, and much coffee has been consumed, but I've just hit the 50,000-word mark and am determined to get the rest of the draft done over the next few weeks. This year, I discovered quite a few things about writing consistently and have published a couple of bloposts. One about getting and staying in the mood to write and another about keeping writing even when you get stuck.

I hope you find something useful among these little tips I've discovered along my NaNoWriMo journey and would love to hear how your projects are coming along too!

Best wishes.


Nov 18th

Quick Review: The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman by Angela Carter

By bdcharles

(some adult language/themes)


Over the last couple of weeks, in various places about this site, the name Angela Carter has bubbled up into my radar a number of times. It was first planted there a while ago by a Radio 4 program, and much of what was said about her, and quoted, stuck fast in my mind so I took this as a sign, got myself down to the local library and borrowed the aforementioned novel. I even paid the fine on the last lot, willingly I might add.

I have to be honest; I sometimes struggle to finish novels. I am a little unsure of why this is and what it might mean for me as a yet-to-be-published writer. They say "read", and I try, but I am too easily distracted. Anyway let us just say that that was a moot point with this book. I sailed through it in three days. It's published under the grouping of "Penguin Decades" which, according to the blurb - well, let's see what it says. It says: "Penguin Decades bring you the novels that helped shape modern Britain. When they were published, some were bestsellers, some were considered scandalous, and others simply misunderstood." This sold it for me; I am touched by things that don't quite make it, aren't the right shape, or otherwise don't fit. My one concern was that this would be a rather grey, plodding ride.

Ostensibly the plotline is tried-and-tested; crazy renegade wages a form of conflict on a nameless population from a great distance across wild lands, and the young lackey must go on an odyssey to find and kill him. It's Heart of Darkness; it's Apocalypse Now, and a ton of other dystopian fiction. That definitely helped it in the readability stakes, particularly where I am concerned.

Then there's the prose. If you have ever experienced that phenomenon where you're reading late at night, your eyes are tired, and the text seems to flash in blues and browns and reds, you'll know what I mean. Well, that happened with this book not because I got tired but because the writing is so incredibly, psychedelically intense, that images are seared straight onto the back of your retina. It can be no coincidence that the protagonist's love interest is named Albertina while the Doctor is named Hoffman. Carter - maybe this is the norm for her; I don't know - has let loose the vivid writing but with a fearsome precision. I am sure she has lain there, on the verge of sleep, and a phrase popped into her head, to which she's said: I have to write that! I have to! There's something reassuring about that, for me. It's like a ticket, or permission slip to do the same, or give it a good try anyway.

It is broadly a magic realism novel, which I have heard people sniff much as they might with jazz-prog but: maybe some jazz-prog can actually work. Desiderio's - the protagonist's - unnamed city is beset by a bewildering array of mirages that bewitch the population. He and his superior, the "Minister", are seemingly the only ones not taken in by all this, and off Desiderio goes to try and put a stop to the Doctor's antics. What I loved about this point is that geography, time, normal physics, are all completely thrown asunder. Angela Carter seems to have wilfully played with these notions. One minute we're in seventies Britain, then we're caravanning through a desert - somewhere. Then we're off the coast of the Hague before abruptly being shipwrecked on a South Pacific cannibal island with a ghastly philosophising aristo circa the late 1800s. Any place we are in is a continent between continents, a country of shadows. Every other place referenced is real-world except for where we are. It's disorientating.

The characters pour forth, a zany parade of mythic figures, broken souls and men of vision. Most of them are moral reprobates. They drag Desiderio with them, ever further from his starting point. There are some moments where I thought perhaps Carter was going a bit far - the handjob delivered by the nine-year-old gipsy wife, the rape of the protagonist by a nine-strong troupe of gymnasts calling themselves the "acrobats of desire", the same of his lover at the hands of a herd of centaur, but it all contributes to the intensity of his moral decline. And it's all handed to you in such dazzling text that it's alarmingly easy to forgive. The very air in this novel is charged erotic - which is a key theme of the story.

In terms of other themes, this is where I come unstuck. I often simply miss them. Apparently feminism is tackled but I don't see it. I struggle, when reading, to think in terms of something that the book is an allegory for. My suspension of disbelief is total, and quite frankly that's how I like it, so my appreciation of themes is going to be pretty limited. But the nature and experience of desire, the wild rush of power, is seemingly there. As I said, the fabric of reality is toyed with, flung about, and left for the reader to navigate or not. The power of desire is central, it seems, and its perception-twisting properties. For that is what generates the illusions flung far from Doctor Hoffman's distant castle towards the city. Literally, a vast subterranean fucking-farm that collects bodily fluids, boils them up into a goopy soup and uses the resultant plasm as fuel for his Reichian windmills.

If I were an editor I might have swapped out a few repeated words: heiratic gets several look-ins, as does variegated. Both great words, but, you know, use sparingly for greater effect. Sometimes the same word will be repeated in the same sentence when a better alternative is easily available. There is very spare dialogue; perhaps all together about three pages' worth in 250. It is in its way quite tell-heavy; you don't often get to live the events so much as you do view them in hypercolour, but it is in effect a recounting, as if the protagonist wrote down a journal of his long travels. But with all the chaotic images and jumbles of words that conjured up more of the same, certainly in my mind, it's a small price to pay.

Nov 18th

Starting Out

By Hobbio

I've never written. Well, that's not true any more but for all intents and purposes I've never really written.

That's about to change though, because I have an idea. I have lots of ideas, but this one is different. This one won't go away.


Some background...

I've read all my life, but never had a desire to write. My brother writes, and that was his thing, not mine. On the very few occasions where I tried to get something down I always gave up after a couple of pages when I realised I was just rehashing the latest book I'd read.

That changed when I discovered HFY fiction. For those who don't know, HFY stands for Humanity, Fuck Yeah! and it's all about how great Humans are. Most of it is sci-fi, but other genres have their share too. For the first time in my life I was inspired to write real stories and I actually did it!

The first thing I ever wrote was a short story split into several "chapters", posted on Reddit and following a tramp who gets abducted by a couple of very misguided aliens and his efforts to deal with the situation. It was clunky, and full of holes, and not particularly well thought out, but it got a positive reception.

I then wrote a short story called "What Is A Human", which I've reposted on these very forums for feedback. This story is what gave me an idea for the setting, and although I think I'll move it away from HFY slightly my protagonist will remain very similar to how he appears in What Is A Human.

Which brings me here. I want to work on my technique and get some basics down before I start trying to build a universe and write a novel. I've already had a lot of very good pointers!

I'll blog infrequently about my progress, and I'll be around the forums a lot. I don't work fast, but I get there eventually!

Nov 17th

Silent phones

By Giselle

11:00 pm, Friday the 13th. Despite the date, a perfectly normal day. Business meetings, phone calls, a bit of shopping, ice-hockey practice for the youngest. My husband watches the soccer game, and I putter around, halfway online, halfway doing other things. I remember that I have a washing-machine full of wet clothes and go take care of the laundry, then come see if the game is over.

“They’ve attacked Paris,” my husband says. He flips through the television stations with the remote until he comes to the French all-news station we only look at during national emergencies, like huge storms, killer tides or previous terrorist attacks. I’m not even sure what channel it is; at home we just call it the Catastrophe Station.

The screen fills with images of flashing lights, people huddled on the pavement, policemen hiding behind cars. Close-ups of bars, of buildings. A news commentator is saying something but I look at the text running across the bottom of the screen. 75011. The postal code of one of Paris’ twenty arrondissements. The 11th.

Where my son is.

I grab my phone and look for messages. Nothing. “Check your phone,” I ask my husband. “Do you have news of Maxime?”

“No, why?”

“He’s there! In the 11th.” My son’s university is at Bastille, down the road from the shootings. Every Friday, he finishes the school week with classmates, with a couple of beers in a bar.

I stab at my phone. In the best of times, I’m slow. Now? My fingers touch all the wrong things. Instead of getting my contacts I open my emails.  I try to close my emails and a news app opens, flooding me with information about the unfolding event. The television blares its sirens at me, my husband is asking me questions I can’t hear, my phone isn’t behaving. I close my eyes and start again. Finger on contact. Choose name of son. Push green phone pictogram. I hold the phone up to my ear. It rings and goes directly to voice mail. As usual. “Maxime, it’s Maman. Call me, please. Now.” I hang up. “Send a text,” I ask my husband. My text messages are too long, I don’t like to abbreviate. His are short, to the point. Useful. He texts.

-You OK?

Thirty seconds later his phone pings.


I melt.

-Where are you?

-At the bar.

-No one’s hurt?


-You know what’s going on?


My husband reads me the messages. We look from our respective phones up to the television. I’m starting to get emails and text messages from friends in the States, who are seeing this on their nightly news. I love them dearly, but right now all I can think about is Maxime. What do we do? He’s safe, but should he move? Can we drive out to get him?

The news switches to a map of Paris full of little explosion pictograms. St. Denis. The suburbs. Served by our metro line. Terrorists are still at large. They could be underground. In the metro. In a car. Next to the bar. They could be anywhere, between me and my son.What do we do? News anchors interview crying pedestrians. That’s not helping. I want information. #PleaseTellMeWhatToDo  #IsItSafeToGetHim  #ILoveHimMyHeartIsBreaking.

We’re on our couch, in our living room. He’s in Paris. Alone.

My husband texts again.

-You still with friends?


“Tell him to call us,” I ask my husband. I need to talk to him, hear his voice. I can’t wait. I call my son as my husband texts him to call me. I feel like we’re assaulting him. Voice mail. Again. I just tell him it’s dangerous, not to go outside. To ask his friends if any live in Paris and can he spend the night?

I hang up. Please Maxime, I know you can vote, that you’re the age to drive, to go kill for your country if needed. But please, tonight, can you just listen to your parents?

My eyes keep going back to the television screen. As if watching it helps me be with him.

Ping. My phone.

- I’m with a friend who lives near my school.

-OK, can you spend the night at his place? Or do you want Papa to come get you?

- He said I can stay the night. Everything’s ok. I'm safe.

He sends the same message to his father. I’m limp, but still worried. “Call him,” I ask. “Please. He could be texting from anywhere.” This time my son picks up and reassures his father. Yes, they were in a bar. Now they’re at a friend’s house. Everything’s all right. We can go to bed.

I can’t. I know that parents everywhere are living the same thing I just was. The angst. The “what ifs”. And for those poor parents I sit on the couch, in the dark, watching the news unfold, seeing the death toll rise. 3. 18. 57. 129. Crying, as my husband sleeps. Crying, as I think of how lucky we are. Crying for those 129 phones that are not pinging back as they should.


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