Oct 5th

Celebrity children's authors...

By Squidge

There's been a lot of debate around celebrity children's authors in recent months, and it all kicked off again the other day when World Book Day announced their line up of authors for 2018. You can read about the response of some famous names in this article, from the Gruniad. 

As a children's author myself, I admit, I do get a bit narked about celebrity authors who may - or may not - be writing their own books.

I'm of the non-celebrity species of children's author. Although there have been whispers of 'there's Granny Rainbow!' in my local supermarket when I'm spotted by a child whose school I might have visited. Which is a 'yes, but no' kind of moment because although Granny Rainbow and I both have grey hair, I don't have magic potions to hand!

Sorry. I'll get back on track.

I'm very much a non-celebrity children's author. I work very hard to build relationships with readers and with schools, and I make my writing the absolute best it can be for my audience. I can't help feeling that when celebrities decide to give children's writing a go, it belittles the huge effort that professional children's authors - and yes, I class myself as a professional even though I'm not well known or selling millions of copies - put into their craft. I do appreciate that if their books can get children reading, that's a Very Good Thing, of course. But I do wonder whether they'd be so successful at selling their books if they weren't tagged as 'celebrities'...

This article, by Jo Cotterill, sums it up brilliantly from the point of view of a children's author - and says it so much more eloquently than me. 


Oct 4th

Still Baffled After All These Years

By Penworthy

With my current W.I. P. creeping along like an arthritic tortoise who has just done his weekly shop at Sainsbury's, I have decided to have a bit of a sideswipe.

My purpose in taking time to write this blog is to voice a bafflement that has been bothering me for years.  It is a bafflement on two fronts.

First, anyone who has ever read or heard advice on how to write will be familiar - even weary of - the advice "write for your target market".  What is that?  What should it be?  How on earth are any writers supposed to know what kind of person is likely to read their books?  It presupposes that there is only one type of reader for their genre, which could be crossover anyway.  

What kind of person reads a detective novel, for instance?  There is surely more than one.  Who would read fantasy - eccentrics with wild imaginations?  What about historical novels: are they read opnly by people living in the past?  If these are the assumptions, then writers of how-to books and advisers of would-be authors need to explain to authors how their work can be tailored.

Surely, though, the only result of doing this would be to drive writers to total distraction by forcing them to write agaisnt their natural mental inclination.  The result of this would probably be dire.  Not only that but writers would actually be confining their market to a fixed readership, failing to cater for readers who are omniverous in their choice.

Something else that I find puzzling is the advice to read, read, read, other people's books.  Why, other than for pleasure?  A child would certainly improve his or her vocabulary and spelling by doing this but, directed at writers who are adults, it seems to be a way of saying "we want more of the same".  In that case, there is no place for originality and, if this advice had been followed over the centuries, we would all still be writing like Chaucer.

It's all nonsense.  All you can do is write what you want to, doing the best work you can, and hope that at least some people will want to read it - preferably many.

Write for anyone.  Don't even think about a target. Write to your own inclination.  When all is said and done, it's the only way you'll gain real satisfaction and a sense of fulfilment from your writing.


Oct 1st

Unknown, Alternative Historical Facts

By Dolly



  Oliver Cromwell

It's generally agreed upon, that The New Model Army formed by Oliver Cromwell, altered the way armies were formed, and battles fought. Cromwell's tactic of attacking the enemy without warning, brought a sharp rebuke from the Parliamentarians, who considered it to be 'ungentlemanly', because you shouldn't attack someone until they are ready. In their eyes, battles should agreed upon by the two warring factions, who set a date, time and place to go and slaughter each other in large numbers.

Baron Ooozeethinkeeiz: 'My uncle the duke said we can used part of his land for the battle, there's plenty of room., easy get two armies on it.'

Duke Ifiwuzchoclatideeatmeself: 'That sounds alright. When do you want to do it? Only I can't do next week, I've got a few things on.'

Baron Ooozeethinkeeiz:: 'Ok. What about two weeks on Tuesday?'

Duke Ifiwuzchoclatideeatmeself: 'Tuesday....Tuesday, no, I'm afraid I can't do that either, got my sister coming over with her lot. Family thing. What about two weeks on Thursday?'

Baron Oozeethinkeeiz shakes his head: 'No, sorry, can't do that, busy. What about the following Saturday?'

Duke Ifiwuzchoclatideeatmeself: 'Saturday eh? Yeah, that sounds alright. What time?'

Baron Oozeethinkeeiz: 'How about an early start, say around half eight?'

Duke Ifiwuzchoclatideeatmeself: shakes his head: 'I like a bit of a lie-in on Saturdays, you know what Friday nights are like. How about half elevenish?'

Baron Oozeethinkeeiz nods his head in agreement. 'That'll do!'

And off they would go and meet up on the Saturday, around half elevenish and slaughter each other in large numbers.

Cromwell however, made sure his troops were well trained, and pushed them relentlessly, so they would be ready for anything.



'It's always August under your armpits!

This is part of a little known quote from the eleventh century philosopher Harry Stottle, used by Oliver Cromwell, and as far as we know, only once. The validity of the quote comes from two sources, only recently discovered from the descendants of two soldiers from his new model army. One from Henry Scoggins, and the other from James Entwistle who both wrote home at the same time, and although they didn’t know each other, were both present at the time when Cromwell uttered the words.

The incident took place in January, although is difficult to tell from the letters which year it was. It seems that Cromwell had a section of his army on a training exercise, and during the day, there had been a heavy snowfall. The sky had cleared, and as the sun went down, a deep, penetrating frost formed. Cromwell’s new model army was camped in and around Cromwell's home. Some had managed to find shelter in some of the out buildings. The rest had to make do the best they could in the open. Cromwell himself was warm and cosy in front of a big fire, a Sunday roast with all the trimmings, and a jug of mead. It could be said that his soldiers, who were wrapped in blankets and anything else they could find, and gathered round meagre, miserable fires, weren't best pleased with the situation. In fact you could say they were thoroughly pissed off.

Cromwell, realising that the severe cold could affect the morale of his troops, decided to brave the cold and move among them, talk to them, try to raise their spirits, and show them he was one of the boys, just like them. He approached the group that contained Henry Scoggins.

'How are things men?' he asked cheerily.

'They’re not!' scowled one soldier, shivering.

'My things are shrivelled up!' replied Henry. “In fact, my balls are so shrivelled I haven’t got two anymore, there’s only one, and that looks like a midget walnut!”

Cromwell drew himself up, struck a heroic pose, and said grandly, 'Take heart men, be of good cheer, have faith in God and remember, even in the coldest, darkest night, when all seems lost, it’s always August under your armpits!' This is the rest of the quote from Harry Stottle, who was also known to have advised Harold just before the battle of Hastings, (See chapter on Harry Stottle.)

Feeling pleased with himself he strode towards the next fire where James

Entwistle was slowly turning blue. He repeated the performance with similar results. As he walked away, he thought he caught the word ‘twat’, floating in the still night air.


This puzzled Cromwell, who was aware of the word, as he had read it was used by Richard the Lionheart at the battle of Acre, (see chapter, Richard the Lionheart.) and wondered how any of his soldiers could know it. The speech didn’t prove popular, and there is no record of him using it again, which probably explains it rarity, and the slow popularisation, of the word twat!

Oct 1st


By mike

 Last Friday I saw a musical production of ‘ Young Frankenstein‘   It has just begun a run on the London stage.   I must confess I enjoyed the show.  It seemed - to me  - to be a light hearted pastiche of American musicals,   A few weeks ago, Mell Brooks was  interviewed on ‘Today’  . (This is the morning news programme on BBC radio 4)   Brooks expressed an opinion that he could no longer produce such material owing to political correctness.  I notice that his comments have been repeated in newspapers.

     Mell Brooks may well be right. I do not know?   But I must live on a different planet.  Igor makes  it quite clear that big knockers refers to a pair of huge knockers on the door of Frankenstein’s  castle.  The phrase can have no other possible interpretation.  Those of a literary persuasion might feel the musical lacks the wit, subtlety and period resonance of a ‘ccrry-on film.’ A ‘ nice pair’  (pair) is open to far greater critical exegesis,

     Frankenstein was first performed on  the London stage in 1814  - a few weeks after Mary Shelley returned to England from Italy.  She saw the play of her own book!  (‘Mary Shelley’ by Miranda Richardson - pages 334-335)   I suspect Mell Brook’s production is close to the spirit of this early production - it is certainly  not  close to Shelley’s book.   In her biography, Richardson makes the point that the monster had entered into folklore by 1840.

      I wish the phrase ‘political correctness’ would disappear as the issues raised are trivialised.  This is no criticism of Mell Brooks whose intention is clearly to amuse.

      Of course, few Word Clouders can have seen this production, though it was originally staged in America.  I think the papers will review it in a few weeks time. This blog went on for about another 500 odd words giving my view of PC but I have spared you this. 


Sep 29th

Whispers and Glances - Final Call

By Athelstone

Whispers and Glances is a short story writing challenge for Word Cloud members, judged by Word Cloud members. Full details can be found on the Group pages at this link.

The Whispers and Glances group is public at the moment, but it becomes private and closes to new members in one week on Friday 6 October at 22:00 hrs.

If you enjoy reading and writing short stories and mixing with a group of like-minded authors then don't be shy. Take a look today.

Sep 27th

New Year Bomb Day

By Dolly

I see newbie author has commented on Autumn. Personally, I go with the stance that meteorologists take, and that is, Autumn starts on the 1st of September, Winter on the 1st of December, Spring on the 1st of March, and Summer on the 1st of June. There is probably a valid reason for this, although I don't know what it is, other than it tidies things up nicely; everything in its place. However, we are about to penetrate further into the year by slipping into October, and before you know it, the winter blues will be causing havoc.

Now, I have what I consider to be a valid theory for this yearly occurrence, and it's to do with the New Year Bomb and colour deprivation. At the moment we are in Autumn, and as far as colour is concerned, Autumn can be absolutely stunning. After the leaves have gone, the festive season arrives with colourful lights and decorations, so we take little heed of the descending darkness. But, fast forward to January the second and new year bomb day.

I say New Year Bomb day, because that's what it appears to be, a bomb that has been detonated, disintegrating all the colour. Oh, there is some colour left over from the Christmas/New year decorations, but they appear limp and worn out, like a left over, party-goer blinking in the cold light of day, and wishing for nothing more than lying in the sanctuary of their bed, and pulling the duvet over their head with a satisfied sigh. But, have faith Cloudies, Dolly has the answer!


Even in the darkness and depth of rain-lashed Winter, when the biting wind drives the sleet that rattles on your windows, fear not, take heart and remember, it's always August under you armpits!

Sep 24th

Take heed

By Aiyla

Another door closes

Another return to

Emptiness, darkness and pain

Open your eyes; it doesn’t have to be that way.

Open your mind; it should never be that way.

Where there is need, hurt and emptiness breeds.

Where there is need, love is a lie.

Open your heart, reconnect with your essence

Be at one, now, with yourself.

Fill up with life and love who you are

Trust and believe the strength inside

You always were

Always will be



Without another

Sep 23rd

Hello My Lags

By Mat

I thought to re-introduce myself after absence due to the prison sentence. 

It seems today - easy to recall the despair of those early mornings:

‘There’s no internet down the Scrubs,’ said Pepsi the Mexican, and he cackled, leaned from his cot down to my bunk and grey blanket.  How would I survive without my Facebook updates? I thought.

And then ‘Got a burn, mate?’ he said.

‘I got no fuckin burn,’ I replied in his own dialect of the underworld, although I did possess a 12.5 gramme government issue cigar of baccy, the tube up my sleeve.

And over time became a model prisoner, with my buddy eventually, Pepsi,  and his special friend Shirley, and me, the ‘hard bastards’ in the vernacular.  I apologise if I appear a ‘hard bastard’ in my prose.  But there remains a residue of pride that I survived six months on E wing virtually unscathed, such are my skills with the remote control of the toy helicopter.

We were the legendary ‘Spice Girls,’ [if you’ve served time, you will know me, Daddy] among the seventy young and elderly offenders surrounding us, dosed to the eyeballs in their stupors, either asleep, giggling, punching wildly into space or fiddling on their Gamestations.  I might almost describe the experience as a pleasure for me, might consider my so-called crime, the poodle drop-kick as fortuitous.  Forgive my blogging skills that are rusty.  I am yet to resurrect my former lair, the world-famous blog home.  These are early forays in communication.

So, I begin my new job on Monday as a drainage and irrigation specialist.  That’s good.  How are you and how do you plan to spend the rest of this sunny day?

My love



Sep 22nd

Autumn - yes, it's here at last!

By new-bee-author

The weather forecasting people seemed to have been obessed with all things Autumn, Autumnal etc this year. I can't remember them being so pro-Autumn before. They've been reminding us of it for a while now - and at last it's here AUTUMN! Hurray.

Don't get me wrong. I love Autumn, it's just that they seemed to have only just discovered the word and feel they must use it as often as possible. Ah, well - at least they haven't cottoned on to "Fall" yet. Although that may be just a matter of time.

Sep 20th

Random question re Women's magazine publication

By Catasshe

Dear all, 

This may seem a silly question, but a little while ago, when particularly strapped for cash, I started considering submitting stories to women's magazines. (Years ago I had a short story published in The Lady magazine, before they stopped doing a short story slot.)

So, a few weeks ago, I bought a bunch of magazines to check the type of stories they're printing - Take a Break, TaB's Fiction Feast, The People's Friend, Women's Weekly. I was really disappointed by the calibre of the stories, which I can only describe as a bit 'fast foodish'. Some were downright cringeworthy... All predictable. 

However, I have just written something that may be suitable for a women's magazine - being a romance, and light in tone. (Although, maybe a bit too ironic/clever for what they're looking for...)

In short, I'm having a dilemma. I don't feel as though, from a literary perspective, it's anything like as cool to put on the writerly CV that I got into TaB, for example. But, then again, I've read they can pay up to £400 for a short story... and they have a huge circulation.

Does anyone have any thoughts on whether it's worth trying to taylor the stories I'd naturally write to fit what the mags are looking for? Or is this something I might regret long term...? What would a mainstream publisher feel about seeing the women's weekly type mags on your CV?





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