Apr 6th

Going deep...

By Squidge

Have been musing about something called 'Deep POV', which apparently is a modern(ish), conscious choice in how novels are written.

From the examples given in the article, I think I do a lot of the things that are described as deep POV, but I'm not convinced that it's a Thing all on its own. 

It sounds a bit like a combination of the closer end of psychic distance and more 'showing' than 'telling'.

The blog's here if you want to take a look at the articles I've linked to - would be interested to hear opinions from fellow cloudies.


Apr 5th

Yesterday & Signs of Spring

By Jill

Yesterday, happy and walking on air after seeing my GP for a follow up appointment, I decided to give myself a rest from all things in the house, including my writing.

The village in which we live has many lanes/footpaths and I took myself off for a walk around them.  I'd not done this for quite a while and was reminded just how lovely and beneficial such a walk can be.  I met no dog walkers; in fact I had the lanes to myself in which to exercise and enjoy the simple pleasures of Nature.

Solitude: a gift of time to simply be and observe the first signs of Spring.

Two butterflies: one pale lemon fluttering on the peripherary of a small wooded area; one tortoiseshell which, in the blustery wind, collided with my face but luckily did not get entangled in my hair and immediately made its escape to fly off again in its search for nectar.

Fresh blossom and green leaflets everywhere around me and Spring flowers waving in the wind.

The water in the river was high after the rains and it gurgled merrily, echoing my mood.  The ducks dabbled.

My mind turned to a time when we took our three year old first grandson to feed those ducks and I looked ahead to a Summer visit when perhaps our second grandson might like to do the same.  Or perhaps they could both join us for a walk and play Pooh Sticks from the height of the narrow iron bridge, from which that particular path gets its name.

I confess to a slight lump in my throat thinking about those young boys and wishing they lived nearer so that we could enjoy such pleasures more often.

Onwards I walked and came to the ancient village church and the churchyard.  Again, I felt a little emotional as I saw the fresh flowers on so many graves; flowers which must have been put there over the Easter weekend by relatives left behind to grieve.  However, a sense of love, history and spirituality surrounded me in those hallowed grounds.

Finally I reached home and looked around our garden at the flowers in bloom this Springtime and thought of the annuals we may plant for Summer colour and scent.  Perhaps a new wild flower corner to attract more butterlies and bees?

The walk had lifted my spirits further and I marked yesterday as a very good day indeed.  Today, seven o'clock, the clouds of dawn have mostly cleared and the sun has peeped out.  I feel this is going to be another lovely Spring day. 

Apr 4th

On writing the opposite sex...

By Squidge

We've had discussions on the cloud before about whether or not you can write convincingly as the opposite sex, so when this popped up on my facebook feed this morning, I had to share. 


Made me laugh, whilst also shaking my head despairingly...



Apr 3rd

April 2018's best writing competitions and opportunities

By Loretta Milan

Hi. I've put together another handy list of writing competitions and opporunities for writers. This one covers some of the best open during April and early May for novels, short stories, poetry and screenplays. Some are free to enter. 

Check out the list here

Best wishes.


Apr 3rd

Oompapa bands

By mike


     ( A note for someone who might use the Sevenoaks line into London.   If you have an appointment, it is best to catch a train to get to your destination one hour before you need too. Cancellations are frequent.  It does help that trains now stop at London Bridge.  There are  two platforms for trains to Charing Cross and they depart every few minutes.  Catching the Cannon Street train, if the Charing Cross one is either delayed - or late - is an option.  But this all might be known.)


    Either my computer  or world cloud had packed up so this might be a last post.

    This is really for secretspi if she is still around. She sets her novels in a reconstructed second world war.  Others of you are might be interested. This is about a source,

.    Films have always been an interest of mine, though I am no film historian.  

    The soundtracks to films seem a good indication of what music was popular at the time the film was made.   I refer to the incidental music and not the main score.

   It would be difficult to trace the composer or the work, especially if it is not known. Neither the composer - or the work - is credited at the end of the film.

    Brass band music was still played at seasides and in the pits of variety theaters well after the second world war.  The composers of the film scores also tended to score the music in this fashion too - rather jaunty music often played by the brass section.

    If you listen to the film scores of English films made during the war and its aftermath, you do get a cross section.  The music ranges from music hall to classical music and jazz.  English popular music ended in 1957.  This is the year  of ‘Look Back in Anger‘    It is also one year after Suez.

    ‘Rock around the Clock’ dates from 1955 but traditional jazz was very popular before then.  Acker Bilk recorded a version of my English grandfather’s march.  What dated his was the jazz age.  His music really belongs to 1893.

        Brass Band music is still played but it is not as popular as it had been.  I cannot remember their names, but composers and performers have often credited the start of their careers to performing in these bands.  James Galway was one of these performers and began his career playing the fife in a Belfast band.

    .   Brass bands were popular in the North of England.  A film called ‘Brassed Off’  was made in 1996.  If you look at the film score you can see that quite a few regimental marches are performed.  One of these is by Fukic - a German composer.  I have a feeling brass bands might be more popular in Germany than England.  My Dutch grandfather called these  “Oompapa bands‘   The Dutch are not known for their humour,

    Film music is quite popular now and a film is often shown with an orchestra playing a live accompaniment.   

    I recently saw film that was made  on location in the India of 1928.  It has a terrific modern score composed by the daughter of Ravi Shankar.  I think you will only see this film at a university or film club.  It is really for film junkies!  The film is called ;Shiraz’ 

Apr 3rd

A Critical Eye

By BenjamHope

I write a lot on the writing process and would be very interested to hear other people's thoughts and comments as I think it's a very important dialogue to have in a writer's development. Take a look at my other blogs on similar themes at www.benjamin-hope.com.

My most recent ponderings on the writing process:


Objectivity. It’s not really possible when it comes to your own work. You’re just too in it. Of course, you can develop editorial skills and nurture the ability to identify what works and what doesn’t. But that only takes you so far. For those working with a view to self-publishing then, who does one turn to for that truly objective voice? Is it a must to pay out for a professional editorial? There are certainly some fantastic resources available out there: Harry Bingham’s The Writers’ Workshop for one, offers such services. However, whilst they offer lots of great free advice and hints and tips – I would hugely recommend everyone to check them out (and their soon-to-be-launched Jericho Writers initiative) – editorial services come with an understandable charge. We all know you have to speculate to accumulate but where does this leave the writer working on a shoe-string budget?

Well, there are alternatives available. Peer feedback forums are an option that I’ve used. Whilst this isn’t akin to a professional editorial, it does provide valuable insight into how readers may receive your work. The fact that it’s blind feedback also ensures a greater degree of that all-important impartiality. Again, The Writers’ Workshop Word Cloud forum is one place to start. I have used YouWriteOn too which operates on a reciprocal basis: you review one user’s work; you gain a review credit to put against one of your writing uploads. The other benefit to these forums is the development of your own critical eye and editorial abilities. We all know reading is crucial to the writing process, but by regularly reviewing other writers’ work in this context, we are exposed to a breadth of content that we may not otherwise get when sticking to our usual reading habits. I found that by engaging with other’s work with an editorial eye – scrutinizing the narrative voice; language use; development of character; dialogue; setting etc – I have up-skilled myself. This, in turn, has led to greater honesty when it comes to self-editing.

There is a caveat to these sorts of forums though: whilst they are a great (and free) resource, the blind-review construct is a slightly double-edged sword. If you don’t know who is critiquing your work, how much value should you place in their feedback? I have found content (both in the writing I have reviewed and within responses to my own work) to vary hugely, from the insightful to the downright strange. Further, objectivity within feedback can be skewed when the individual confesses to hating the genre of the piece: one individual cited that they would never choose to read steampunk in the first place and so found it difficult to offer much in the way of useful comment. Perhaps that is feedback in and of itself, though I do think one has to consider the context in which the response is framed. Oh dear, I appear to be critiquing the critique…

What’s the answer then? One thing I do, is to revisit the reviewer’s own page to get a feel for their work: how I feel about their prose informs how I relate to their offerings on mine. I have now identified one particular fledgling author whose work I hugely respect. We reciprocate in offering a critical eye on each other’s work and have done so for some time now. Our writing styles/voices are very different though we both write within speculative fiction so I consider his views as the perfect foil. It’s only one other voice, but I value his honesty and objectivity and that can only be a good thing…

Apr 2nd

Picking Brains

By Woolleybeans

No, I am not selecting a new brain from a list of options. There are a number of things I'd like the choice about with my brain, such as uninstalling the anxiety app or the depression malware, but here I'm asking for ideas.

Since moving to the island I have joined two writing groups, and there is a third I have not tried yet. Yes, the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides has more writing groups in its ONE town than I could find anywhere round where I've lived before.

One of the groups is coming up with a list of exercises to do, as I have arrived as they're changing up their format a bit.

So, as some of you are part of writing groups and as I still think more like a teacher of teens than someone workshopping with other adults, any suggestions of tasks/exercises/materials/topics for use in a writing group are much appreciated.

We generally spend about an hour on them, but it could go longer as the total session time is two hours.

Cheers, me dears.

Apr 2nd

My Nightmare

By Mat

‘By God,’ cried the bugler.  ‘The lifeboat has arrived.’

‘Stand aside, child.  Yonder vessel is reserved and exclusive.  Only passengers in the third trimester are invited.  They are writing their novels.  Elderly types with bank accounts to pump dry, our role is essentially to attach a drip pipe, lead, I dunno the word, the sandwich maybe.’

The crewman sniggered into his palm.

‘These passengers - all aboard - they  watch videos and they take all the feeled, and the sensed, and the looked out of their stories.  In my role I remove a had or two.   Oh and plot also, it’s a book from 1913, you should read it. Then on to the next stage -  the dry cleaner places them into stables of the old romantics.

Other old romantics come along and they purchase three copies each.  It’s a dream.'

‘Thank goodness,’ said the cabin boy, the bugler.  ‘I thought you were leaving me behind, thank you daddy.’

Apr 1st

Searching the Cloud - and other places

By Athelstone

One of our members had a previous cloud life and the old profile has been deleted. He was wondering whether he could recover any old posts from that time. Well, in general, posts such as "wall posts" that are linked directly to your profile will have gone. This also applies to your blog posts. For some other posts, such as those linked to another member's profile or to a group profile, the situation seems to be a bit more hit and miss and this also goes for posts made on the general forums such as critiques where much of your past life may remain, and some may have been purged. The situation is complicated because there are different levels of deletion within SocialGo and I've no idea how these work.

However, what is clear is that the site search facility is limited. Sometimes, rarely, it will find just what you want so "Hooray" for those occasions. It does seem to try to follow the site's rules about deletions, so it will seldom find anything interesting for a deleted user or group.

All is not necessarily lost. Google (they say) is your friend. Apart from providing the web space whereon the new Jericho Writers site is hosted, Google has a fine search engine. Once upon a time Google was just a search engine known only to a few and used with numerous switches and keywords. Many of those still work. One of the most useful for Cloudies searching for lost posts is the "Site" prefix.

To limit your search to a single site (domain) you type "site:" followed by the web site address, then a space, then what you want to search for. Here's an example showing a search for my user name.

site:http://writing-community.writersworkshop.co.uk Athelstone

Note that there's no space between site: and the site address. This whole string of words is typed into the Google search prompt. Then hit enter and see what appears. If you can remember unique words or phrases that will narrow down your search then all to the good. Put exact phrases such as "My dog Barky" in quotes to reduce the chances of losing your wanted results in a million hits for "my" and "dog".

Some of your results may still disappoint you and may show you snippets of "raw" results that suggests data is there but when you follow the link you find that it has still been deleted. Immediately below the header link for each result you will see the URL address where the results are located. If at the end of this address there is a cache icon, a little solid triangle with point down, click on this and then on the word "cached" that pops up. This may give you what you want, but not always. In addition, the Google search methods are complex and although the returned results may show you odd pieces of text that are still there on the site, what I called "raw" above, keep in mind that the posts you want may only be available in a sensible readable format if the Cloud's cookery can happen - which it can't if the associated profile is deleted.

Hope this is some help. You can use the same method for any site and if you're interested in refining Google searches, have a look here: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433?hl=en

P.S. You may occasionally hit security warnings around invalid certificates when searching old results. I'm happy to chat about this but it's a bit much for one blog.




Apr 1st


By mike

There was a mention of a mentor.  My mother had been a war bride.  She had one -  if not two - musical degrees.   She studied in Holland during the second war.  Her father had run a music school and also a composed music.  I think these were religious choral works but they were never published. When his daughter came to England, she continued to take lessons, even though my father was not rich.

   These lessons were at a London College with a professional pianist.  I think these  lessons are now called master classes.  Although the piano had been my mother’s  instrument she also played the violin.   She said that she could have got as job in an orchestra but raising a family was a priority.  I think, if you go to one of these master classes, you are already on a professional path and are performing in public.

     My mother’s mentor has a wiki.  I remember his name.  John Vallier.  

      An aunt told me that, when she first came to England, my mother had gone for a job playing the piano at a working men’s club,  The working men were not enamored by her performances of Chopin.  

    My father died suddenly of a heart attack.  My mother soon got a job accompanying ballet classes and, a few years later, started giving piano lessons from home.  Although they might not have realized it, the kids were taught by a professional.

   I don’t know if the same applies to literary mentors?  I wonder if taking an advanced degree at a university might be an option as you could look for a course which is run by a writer you admire? 

   Although my family background is in the Kent farming community, i have printers ink in my blood. Genetically i would be the sixth generation of a writing family.  To research this, I really needed a mentor but I think a university course would have been sufficient.  


    If you are Australian you might stand  a chance.  There is little Australian music or Australian theatre performed in London - though there were a few art exhibitions - particularly of colonial art.   There is a pub in Soho that is frequented by Australians and a few outfitters selling Australian outdoor gear. 

    The majority of shows in the West End are of American origin.  An English musical started a few months ago and one reviewer wrote - a few days ago in the London commuter paper  -“Do people really spend £80 to watch this crap”  The review seems a bit extreme.  I might have gone to see it when it opened, when the seats were cheaper.   


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