Review: The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia MacGregor

As I am ever behind the times, this is a book I've wanted to read since it came out in 2016. Finally! The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells written by Virginia MacGregor revolves around a family and the turmoil that is kicked up when the titular character, mother Norah, returns after six years of absence. Father … Continue reading Review: The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia MacGregor

Prologues: Love ’em or Hate ’em

What is past is prologue. The Tempest, William Shakespeare Everyone seems to have a strong opinion on prologues. Do a quick search online and you'll find plenty of articles advising you to ditch the prologue. As I've been frequently told, editors don't like them. They’re seen as the equivalent of clearing your throat before getting … Continue reading Prologues: Love ’em or Hate ’em

Top 10# Female Heroes of Movies

Spoilers ahead for several movies so beware! Ellen Ripley from the Alien movies (by Sigourney Weaver) Ellen Ripley is probably one of my favourite characters of all times and is one of the first true kickass heroines. It's perhaps unfortunate that the reason for this is Ripley was originally written as a man. But I think … Continue reading Top 10# Female Heroes of Movies

You should be in a Writing Group

I've been part of the writer group London Writers' Cafe for almost two years now and I find it completely invaluable to my writing life. But I know writing groups are often criticised. There’s an infamous Buzzfeed article which always has me in stitches If Jane Austen Got Feedback From Some Guy In A Writing … Continue reading You should be in a Writing Group

Your most valuable tool: But why?

What's the most valuable tool you have as a writer? That's right, it's the 'Write your way to Success' app available on iPhone and Android for the reasonable price of £19.99. Get this app and you too could be the next Stephen King in four to six months. That's right, it's the 'Write your way … Continue reading Your most valuable tool: But why?

Rules are fun! Rules help CONTROL the fun.

How many articles or books listing ‘writing rules’ have you read? How many have you read saying that you should break them? Many of you may recognise the title of this post if you’re ever watched, Friends. Rules are fun! Rules help control the fun. The Guardian has an entire page of writing rules from authors like … Continue reading Rules are fun! Rules help CONTROL the fun.

First draft hangover. What have we learnt?

After four years mulling and a year writing, I have now finished the first draft of my steampunk novel. Whew! I have mixed feelings on it all. It most certainly isn't a masterpiece. There are plot holes, too much telling than showing and a lack of cohesiveness which makes it feel more like a string … Continue reading First draft hangover. What have we learnt?

Are your characters a victim or dodger of karmic justice?

Fiction is written by us. And what we like to see, what we cling to, is the sense that the universe will eventually fix everything. Whether that’s a god, fate or narrative causality, bad people get their comeuppance and good people get rewarded. And when we see terrible characters undergo terrible deaths, it’s okay, even … Continue reading Are your characters a victim or dodger of karmic justice?

The Cloak and Dagger Tour Review

I've got a slightly different kind of review for you all today. Last week, my writing group the London Writers' Cafe arranged for us to all go on The Cloak and Dagger Tour. Now, I've always considered myself a history nut. With my degree in the Classics, my amateur research into the nineteenth century and my general fascination … Continue reading The Cloak and Dagger Tour Review

My week at Swanwick: The Writers’ Summer School

I'm back! Full of inspiration and raring to write. Last week, I was at the Swanwick Writers' Summer School and I had the most amazing time. As a writer, it will probably stand one of the most important weeks in my writing career. The realizations I came to, the people I met and the courage I gathered … Continue reading My week at Swanwick: The Writers’ Summer School

Top 10# Female Heroes of Literature

Elizabeth Bennet by Jane Austen (as depicted here by Jennifer Ehle) One of my favourite heroines. Elizabeth Bennet is a character who has echoed down the ages purely because of how human she is. She's not at all perfect, laden with pride (and prejudice, surprisingly...), refuses to be stereotyped or dedicated to, but remains a woman … Continue reading Top 10# Female Heroes of Literature

I can’t stop buying books. Is there a book for that?

Let me explain to you my relationship with books. I want books. All the books. I haven't got time to read them, but I want them. I'm going to buy them and worry about reading them later. They're wonderful, they make me smile. I want to be surrounded by books I don't have time to … Continue reading I can’t stop buying books. Is there a book for that?

Review: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (Novel)

Ever late to the party, this is one of the classics which I haven't read before. The Book Club I go to decided on My Cousin Rachel this month, partly due to the film now being in cinemas. I'm one of those people who hate seeing a movie based on a book without having read the … Continue reading Review: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (Novel)

The Bechdel–Wallace test and how it can help us

I briefly spoke about the Bechdel–Wallace test in my post about complex and powerful female characters, which you can read here. But as it's such an interesting idea, I wanted to talk about it in depth. The Bechdel–Wallace test was created by the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel. It first appeared in 1985 in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.  Basically … Continue reading The Bechdel–Wallace test and how it can help us

Without hesitation, repetition or deviation

We've all been there. We see a competition for a short story and we're suddenly inspired by the topic. Clearly, cognitive dissonance has already set in, because on some level we know we're going to hate it by the time we've written it. But at the first rush of feeling, ideas like fireworks are lighting your … Continue reading Without hesitation, repetition or deviation

Thanks, Isaac Asimov, but what robots need is Shakespeare

I don't often find something which speaks to my two loves, sci-fi and Shakespeare, but last week the Guardian kindly obliged with their article We need robots to have morals. Could Shakespeare and Austen help? written by John Mullan. It's a great article, you should give it a read. Briefly, scientists are starting to think about how artificial … Continue reading Thanks, Isaac Asimov, but what robots need is Shakespeare

John Finnemore, the spinner of tales.

John Finnemore is one of the best comedy writers currently working. He mostly writes for radio and created Cabin Pressure, John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, and Double Acts. His true talent is one all good writers should aspire to; he invites you to listen to his story, holds your attention for as long as he's asked … Continue reading John Finnemore, the spinner of tales.

STRONG female characters? How about we just write better.

This is a post I'd been working on for about two weeks before the new Doctor was announced, which I wrote about last week. I bumped up this post today as I think it ties in well about our changing view of female characters. Strong female characters, or the lack thereof, has been a hot … Continue reading STRONG female characters? How about we just write better.

Cast off your crutches

I'd be the first to say I'm a naturally apologetic person. I tend to apologise that I'm so apologetic. I'm the person who apologises when someone steps on my foot on the tube. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I've come to realise that it's killing my writing. Everything I wrote … Continue reading Cast off your crutches

Steampunk: The Where and When

This is the next in my series of  Steampunk postings. If you'd like to read the introduction to the kooky world of Steampunk first, click here. And if you’re having any trouble visualising this aesthetic, I run a Pinterest board for all things Steampunk. Check it out here! So you've decided to write a steampunk … Continue reading Steampunk: The Where and When

Harnessing the Completion Principle to enthral and annoy your readers

This post is a continuation of what I was exploring last Monday with my post Viral Fiction, like measles, is worth catching. You can read this on its own though!  This has happened to me and I'm sure it's happened to you. Let's say you've been to see a movie and now you're walking home. … Continue reading Harnessing the Completion Principle to enthral and annoy your readers

Not all Classics are created equal

Does anyone find that they the story, but not necessarily the book? Those occasions where a story transcends its source material to take on a life of its own. Perhaps you like West Side Story, but you’d never read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps you love Bridget Jones’s Diary, but would never read Jane Austen's … Continue reading Not all Classics are created equal

Viral fiction, like measles, is worth catching

Why do some stories hang around and others fizzle out into nothing? Since the rise of the internet, there is no better way to track what we're interested in and what we're not. The story 'Politician exposed for tax evasion' will run its course over a week or two. But the belief that Walt Disney … Continue reading Viral fiction, like measles, is worth catching

Give your character some good old fashion vices

My degree was Classical Studies - Ancient Greeks and Romans. And a lot of what I learned shaped my understanding of literature. You’d be amazed at how much influence 5th-century Athenian literature has had on us, from tragedy to comedy. And probably the most famous know-it-alls of all time, Aristotle, still has a lot to teach … Continue reading Give your character some good old fashion vices

5 books which have influenced me

The Kingfisher Book of Myths and Legends by Anthony Horowitz You know those treasured books which have been with you forever? This is one of my earliest and most beloved books. Back in Primary school, I was a bit of a mystery to my teachers. My reading age was significantly higher than my spelling age, which made … Continue reading 5 books which have influenced me

The Busy Bee

The Busy Bee The busy bee, bright brown and yellow, Flits from flower to flower in industrial glee, With not a care in the world. Just like my neighbour, Mrs Cassidy. The busy bee, ungainly and urgent, Buzzes and bounces against glass panes, Knocking and fussing. Just like my neighbour, Mrs Cassidy. I should probably … Continue reading The Busy Bee

When you forget how to read

Around the beginning of 2016, something awful happened. I stopped reading. I wasn't sure why, but I couldn't pick up a book anymore. I've been an avid reader my whole life and it was pretty startling to realise that three months, four months, six months had gone by without me opening a new book. In retrospect, there were … Continue reading When you forget how to read

Annual Bloggers Bash Award 2017

Last Saturday, I went to the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards. And I think I found my mothership. A few weeks ago, I was chatting over email with Sacha Black and she invited me. As well as the author of the brilliant 13 Steps to Evil (which I reviewed here on my blog), she also a blogger and … Continue reading Annual Bloggers Bash Award 2017