Oct 21st

Handling Criticism.

By Woolleybeans

This reading really speaks to me and my reactions to criticism. I thought is might resonate with a few other people, too.  
Oct 21st

A blues song

By dyslexic of dartford


I can see my breath as it hits the cold night air,

people walking past me never stop to stare.

Lying in a door way, I try to get some sleep.

But I'm so very hungry and I can't feel my feet.

I see you in the evening as you run to catch your train.

I didn't mean to scare you and could you spare some change?

Tonight when you get home and are tucked up safely,

please look out your window and spare a thought for me.

As I listen to the patter of the four A.M rain,

I wish it could wash away my trouble, maybe sooth my pain.

One day I'm go'na get lucky and I'll board that gravy train.

But I think I'll always shiver every time I hear the rain.

It's hard hear in the winter when winds are bitter cold.

What use is a blanket when it goes through to your soul?

Dark in the night time, just as dark in the day.

All I want's an honest living and a place to stay.

I'd like to get away, but I won't be running far,

just back to my door way to lie beneath the stars.

To listen to the patter of the four A.M rain,

I wish it could wash away my trouble, maybe sooth my pain.

One day I'm go'na get lucky and I'll board that gravy train.

But I think I'll always shiver every time I hear the rain.


And you'll be back tomorrow at the beginning of your day.

Have you ever wondered why people live this way?

But you don't even see us and quickly pass us by,

lying on the pavement underneath an open sky.

And you don't realise, you haven't got a clue,

that it's only by the grace of god that it's me hear and not you.  

Oct 21st

Help needed to improve my reader enticement...

By stephenterry

I have one last chore before my Darkness novel is turned into an Kindle offering. I've tried to construct a 'what it's all about in a blurb format' to entice readers, and this is how far I've got. Any suggestions for improvement welcome...

DARKNESS is a retro UK police crime thriller, set in Bridleton (a fictitious town) near Bristol in 1986. When a prostitute is found murdered on a land-fill site, DS Jackie Steel (a sassy, single, 30 year-old woman with a keen sense of justice) is assigned to the case.

The pathologist’s report is grim. The sexually violated victim is carrying an unknown, virulent AIDS virus – and there’s nothing they can do to prevent it spreading.

Jackie is tasked with finding solutions, however, more murders by the same perpetrator start to pile up, and Jackie’s unconventional and assertive interview methods cause major conflicts with her senior officers – some of whom have other agendas.

In a race against time, Jackie is faced with losing everything she holds dear – most of all, her life. And some would welcome that…

BTW - thanks all for cover suggestions - I'm awaiting the final version.
Oct 21st

Talking about clichés

By AlanP
See Tony's excellent blog for a discussion on the subject. Clich és are about pushing buttons. But I wonder who is cynical enough to not have their buttons pushed here:


It's been around a while, but Prop's post just reminded me.
Oct 20th

Brand new Sci-Fi Project; Alice & Bob

By EzBloke
First chapter, first scene, first (very rough) draft.
Looking for what questions need answering because the answers are in my head and not in the piece.
Thank You.
Oh - contains swear words and will eventually (not this piece) contain adult themes.

Alice & Bob

There is nothing unusual about the boardroom table. If anything it is a cliché; it is a long, luxurious, highly polished rose-wood inlaid with symmetrical abstracts of brassy-gold. The table is surrounded by sharp suits dressing vacuous executives of both gender. No, the boardroom table draws no attention.

The view above, out of the long half-tube that makes up the glass ceiling, however, is very different. There is nothing to see at the moment, but soon the nearby rings of Saturn will roll magnificently past.

Alice had switched off, figuratively not physically speaking, some time ago. Her thumb twitched and her stare fixed on the up and coming ring-piece. Not the one currently talking, the one out of the window. This boardroom is pretentious and stuffy, she thought, with absolutely no atmosphere. Literally, she smirked. There is no need; no-one in the room is alive anyway.

Alice flicked her thumb again and turned politely toward the anatomically perfect youthful replication of an ancient movie star. His strong square jaw and piercing blue eyes were famous throughout the solar system. His eyes smiled with good-natured humour in complete contrast to the expletive ridden vitriol that has this drone enthusiastically swishing his long blonde locks.

Whilst the location of this particular boardroom-for-hire, orbiting Saturn, is inspired and she had received a lot of kudos from suggesting it, Alice despaired at the limited remote presence stock provided by the Japanese owners. Her problems began with only half a dozen suitable female options and seven female attendees. It was Mrs Lewandowski from Finance Alice felt sorry for but, she thought, she did look very rugged as an uncomfortable Charlton Heston.

Alice snorted.

Shit! That was out loud. She flicked her thumb and her unit froze solid, staring unblinking at the speaker whilst she endeavoured to stop giggling like a schoolgirl. Unfortunately this took longer than expected and the boss had ambled away from the head of the table leaving Alice staring at an empty wall with an appreciative, albeit disturbing, rictus.

When choosing a suitable representation for herself, Alice was careful. It was obvious to everyone, once his PA had chosen The Jolly Angel mode,l that the boss, Devon, would be her equally famous husband. Which left Alice with selecting an elegant, business-like... "Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting" insetad of the clichéd "Jennifer Aniston". Everyone went for the Jennifer Aniston.

There were other models available, obviously, but it was too late by the time Alice realised how unsavoury the whole exercise was becoming. Who in their right mind would turn up to a board meeting as Britney Spears? Or a Japanese schoolgirl? Although Alice wouldn’t put it past Rodgers in IT. He was one weird cookie that one, she thought.

Crap! Someone was talking to her. Alice flicked her thumb and re-joined the meeting to find “Benedict Cumberbatch” leaning toward her urgently whispering her name.

“Alice!” He hissed, “Are you in there?”

“Yes!” She whispered back. “I’m having trouble with the controls,” she lied.

“Just set it to auto and stop dicking around!”


“Double-click with your thumb, watch your target for two seconds and double-click your thumb again. Then join us in Utah, we’re playing poker.”

“Umm… I’ve never used the double-click thing.”

“Try it. It sets the drone up to, well, y’know, follow the drone!” Benedict grinned.

Alice’s thumb twitched twice and she watched as the boss wandered up and down extolling the virtues of their waste collection robots. She twitched twice again and relaxed in the mistaken belief that she was letting the Cuoco-Sweeting unit work automatically. As Devon spoke of their latest business partnership solving “miasmic” troubles for a Japanese orbital Wagyu farming station, Alice realised that her dramatic jeopardy enunciation had stopped the meeting cold.

“Dun-dun-dungg!” she quipped.

Everyone in the room turned and stared at her. “Shit!” she exclaimed aloud flicking her thumb. “Shit! Fuck!” She shouted wide-eyed, staring down at her dancing thumb. “Why isn’t this fucking thing working?!” She cried. Adding another “Shit!” just for good measure.

Benedict grabbed her hand and yanked it off the table.

“I think we need to take a break, Devon.” He said, interrupting. “Looks like Alice is having tech troubles.”

He turned to Alice and instructed her to nod her head if she could hear him. Having rapidly switched between in and out of control multiple times, Alice had no idea if she was in the boardroom or not. She nodded and a facsimile of Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, over four planetary orbits away reflected this.

“Good.” Continued Benedict, “Now, let’s see if we can get you down into the service bay? Devon, if you carry on, we can replay the rest of the agenda to Alice once she’s back up and running. I think she may have picked a broken unit.”

Alice rose and headed to the far end of the boardroom where steps disappeared downward, under the table. The last thing she heard was polite laughter after a “dumb blonde” comment.



Ta folks.
Let me know - constructively - what you think

Oct 19th

Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves?

By mike

(a blog to replace the previous one)

Yesterday was Trafalgar Day.  Where in London can you hear a gutsy mezzo-soprano sing ‘Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves’  accompanied by a superb choir?  The Albert Hall?  Not even close.  The Festival Hall?  Closer but  this venue is the other side of the River Thames.
     There is a building that is as warm and welcoming as the Globe, where you can have a meal, rub brass, look at paintings for sale, have a coffee in the courtyard and maybe listen to jazz in the evening.  I have a special affection for this building as I discovered my great-grandparents, and other forebears, were married there. 
      Are we there yet?  Like the Globe, the building can be dismissed as something just for the tourists.   It is a church .  You must be there now.  It is St Martin-in-the Fields by Trafalgar Square
       I turned up in the late afternoon and splashed out on a gallery seat - a pew in box - a prime position with a grandstand view of the alter area where the choir and orchestra are seated.  It cost £25.   But there is no need to go to this expense.  A pew in a side aisle can be bought for £9.  The sight lines are not good, but the music fills the church and, like the Globe, period music is performed in it’s period setting. 
    The rain had stopped in the afternoon so I walked down Whitehall then crossed St James Park to Green Park and then on though Hyde Park  where I had a cup of coffee by the Lido next to the Serpentine.  I then circled Hyde Park, heading though the wooded areas towards Marble Arch.  The autumn colours were superb.  I then returned to St Martin’s- in-the-Fields where I supped on a plate of soup, and a slice of bread -  in the crypt.
      The concert followed.   ‘Handel - Hallelujah Chorus’  Arne - Rule Brttannia Haydn - ‘Nelson’ Mass.   Mozart - ‘Requiem’  All sung by candlelight.
 During the interval I popped down to the crypt and drank a glass of wine.
Was Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ well performed?  I closed my eyes and everything was perfectly balanced,  I could be listening to a recording.
     The concert ended early and I went to the ‘Chandos’ in St Martin’s Lane and drank a pint of beer before heading home.  In my bag was “The Age of Wonder’ by Richard Holmes so I had company on the train etc.   
St Martin’s in the Fields is just what a church should be.  It is a place of refuge and single people are made welcome.  ( But the Bible needs to be re-written by a woman)
       You might even find romance there.   A few weeks ago I had attended a similar concert - a requiem for the soldiers of the first world war.  The concert climaxed, literally, with Brahms ‘German Requiem’ sung by an English and a German choir.
      I sat in a front side pew and next to me sat a single woman.  At the end of the concert, she turned to me and said’ What a fantastic concert’
     I replied, ‘What did that have to do with religion”
     She answered, breathing deeply and whispering, “It’s all passion.
 Sadly she then rushed off, - presumably to get a a train and back to hubby. She might well be right.  Brahms was a late romantic and there was  one of those paradigmatic shifts.  He might well be closer to Mahler than Mozart.   But I am no musicologist.
     It is a pity I was on my own.  I think most people would have found the afternoon walk and the concert boring.   But the church was packed as were the parks.


Oct 18th

Film Clichés that are just plain Wrong

By Tony

Someone mentioned the other day (maybe on FB?) about how characters in films always manage to turn on their TV's at the exact moment the news reader is making the announcement they are interested in - like that would really happen.

What other film clichés have you noticed?

Here are my three. The first is rather macabre. When someone dies in a film with thier eyes staring blindly out, someone always passes their hand over the eyes and lo and behold they reappear closed. From my (one) experience it's quite difficult to close a dead person's eyes. In fact I had to give up and leave it to the professionals. You certainly can't do it with a single stroke of the hand!

2) How often, when you awake from a nightmare do you sit  bolt upright in bed, breathing heavilly? Me? Never. When I finally become fully concsiouos after a bad dream I usually remain lying with my eyes closed (because I'm sleepy!) and think, this time consciously, about my dream and then drift off to sleep again. Not very dramatic, cinematically speaking, I grant you.

And thirdly, when someone says something really surprising to you over the phone, do you hold the phone away from your face and stare incredulously into the earpiece? Of course you don't.

Can you think of any other on-screen absurdities that we've come to accept?

Oct 17th

Friday Advice Column

By Old Fat Prop


I hope you can help me here. The other day, I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't driven more than a mile down the road when the engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help.

When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbours daughter. I am 32, my husband is 34, and the neighbours daughter is 22. We have been married for ten years. When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that they had been having an affair for the past six months.

I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was sacked from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. He won't go to counselling and I'm afraid I can't get through to him anymore.

Can you please help?

Sincerely, Sheila

Dear Sheila:

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no dirt in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the injectors.

I hope this helps.



Dear Prop

Lately, when I make love to my husband, he climaxes first and then rolls over and goes to sleep leaving me frustrated and unfulfilled ...

Please help.


Dear 'Alice';

I don't understand the question....

.... is dinner ready yet?


Oct 17th

When is it time to admit defeat?

By karen

How long do you keep banging your head against the brick wall? 

I've been working on my WIP since 2008 - yes, really, that long.  I've come a long way since I first started work on the initial idea.  I have been to numerous workshops and completed Debi and Emma's self-editing course (brilliant by the way, if you're thinking of doing it) and learnt so much it makes my head hurt.  From all that I've learnt I have killed off characters (not physically, just deleted them), created a couple of new ones and worked on a USP but now I'm bored with the whole idea...does that mean a reader would be bored or is it because I've spent so long with my characters?  The first draft was the original idea with a few tweeks now I'm a third of the way through a second draft.  I've already put it to one side and worked on something else after the self-edit course because I couldn't digest all that I'd learnt.  Should I put it to one side again and work on the 'other' idea or even a new idea?  Should I plod on at least to the end of the second draft (will that make it boring for a reader if I'm bored?) or should I finally consign the idea to the bottom drawer and concentrate fully on something new?



Oct 16th

Jody Klaire gives us an unforgettable character!

By John Taylor
I have just finished reading The Empath by Jody Klaire, of this Cloud. And it has swept me away. Her vivid writing overflows with compassion, as Aeron Lorelei, outcast in the worst possible way, and inmate in a mental institution as we meet her, struggles to control gifts I wouldn't wish on anyone. Through her fear, loneliness, humour and sheer guts, the reader is drawn with her every step of the way. And did I mention the plot? No, you can find that out for yourself!
Aeron is a truly unique character, beautifully brought to life by Jody, as are each of her supporting cast, in an atmospheric setting that is itself an actor in the drama.
I have good reason to empathise with Aeron. I tell stories every week with someone who could be her sister, sharing something of that unwanted gift, and trying to help her put a jumble of other people's feelings in a safe place, usually a puppet called Emily, who acts a bit like a lightning conductor for her.
My friend inspired me to start writing, ten years ago, and looking through Jody's character Aeron's eyes, I see much the same picture my character Amy sees, in an entirely different context. Amy is 'resting' at the moment, and plans to re-emerge in my novel-after-next. This is probably a good thing: if they met, there would be fireworks!
Oh, and if you don't read The Empath, you'll never meet Nan and Mrs Squirrel!  http://jodyklaire.wordpress.com


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