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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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fiction

Here’s Your P45, Mrs Danvers

We recently listened to an audiobook of Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier. There follows a collection of thoughts on the matter, **including spoilers**.

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Merry Christmas, Bonaparte Cuckooclock

IMG_9618Happy holidays, everyone! I wrote you another story with the help of the Benedict Cumberbatch name generator. Hope you enjoy it.

Once Upon A Time there was a lad of eight years who went by the name of Bonaparte Cuckooclock.

He lived in a hollowed out tree in an enchanted forest, but he didn’t see anything unusual in that for it was the only life he had ever known – and a very fine life it was too, dining on cherry blossom and morning dew and never having to go to school.

Note to any younger readers: do not try to subsist on a diet of cherry blossom and morning dew.  You’ll make yourself spectacularly unwell – Bonaparte was a character in a story, and as such his digestive tract was subject to the whims of the author.  You are, one assumes, a human child and as such you need to eat heartier foodstuffs like jam sandwiches and pickled eggs and all those other lovely things children like to eat. Feel free to leave a list in the comments.

Continue reading “Merry Christmas, Bonaparte Cuckooclock”

West Port Book Festival 2011

Everyone in Edinburgh loves a book festival.  There was one in Portobello at the weekend and there’s another just around the corner in the Old Town.  Peggy Hughes (who Twitter users might know better as the Scottish Poetry Library’s @ByLeavesWeLive) was kind enough to write me a guest post about it.

The West Port Book Festival has reached the merry maturity of its fourth year, with another programme of cracking collaborations, tall tales, award-winners, stars of the future, dead people, open mics, and of course cakes. This year we’re popping up in October  – Thursday 13th – Sunday 16th to be precise.  We have flirted with running in different months (August for starters and seconds and June for thirds) and find that variety is the spice of life.

We have lost a few of our sterling venues from previous years.  The Lot, the Roxy ArtHouse and the Illicit Still (scene of the cause of a monstrous festival-wide hangover in year 3) are all sorely missed, while the Owl & Lion Gallery has risen like a phoenix from the ashes and resurrected itself as the Owl & Lion Bindery, further up the hill in the West Port. We’ve got a new bookshop on the block in Pulp Fiction and are comforted by the never-changing Blue Blazer and its energy-restoring ham and cheese toasties. Some things change, but the ideas and vision behind the West Port Book Festival remain.

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The Great Kindle Challenge: Day 4

Today I am going to post a few negative words about kindle at the behest of Twitter user @JacToTheFuture, who is trying to find reasons other than immediate financial impracticality why she should stick to paper.  So here you go, ten reasons not to buy a kindle, which you should listen to as I am currently in possession of a borrowed kindle and have read stuff on it and everything.

  1. Continue reading “The Great Kindle Challenge: Day 4”

Keep Short Stories on Radio 4

Those of you who are on Twitter may already have heard about the campaign to stop Radio 4 from culling their short story output from 3 per week to just 1.  It was brought to my attention by Susie Maguire, an author who tweets (very fittingly in this instance!) as @wrathofgod and has been getting people to sign a petition, here.  There are 3746 names on there at the time of writing, including lots of authors and actors and culturally important types.  And me…

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How To Name A Character

I often come up with character names ahead of their personalities.  Not always, but often.

But when someone else comes  up with your character for you, it’s a little bit harder to name them.  I am in the process of writing book five, and before I started I had a suggestion from the lovely Arielle Bosworth (click her name to go to her blog) that “your protagonist should be a talking sheep who is also a wizard. It could be amazing.”

She went on to explain, quite rightly, that “sheep are entirely unrepresented in the fantasy genre.”  And if I don’t rectify this glaring omission, who will?

However, I had to then come up with a name for this character.  So I thought about it a bit, and decided perhaps I would gain some insight from looking up ‘sheep’ and ‘wizard’ in other languages.  This is what transpired:


I googled the Latin first.  Dead languages are pretty fantastical, after all.

In amongst all the adverts I found my answer – ‘Ovis Aries’.  Naturally the first two names that came to mind that sound a bit like these were ‘Ovid’ and ‘Archie’ – both of which could work.  Ovid, Roman poet who was very popular in the middle ages, unusual first name which could mark him out as special; and Archie, short for Archibald, a fairly old fashioned name meaning ‘brave’ which this sheep will have to be in order to complete his quest.  Whatever that is.

There was only one thing for it – I had to appeal to the internet for help.

And Twitter spake unto me saying:

And I thought ‘hm, the ideas I have for this are less mystical and aloof and probably more suitable for ten year olds.’  So I went on the facebook page to see whether they were in agreement.

And although the writing was rather small you could see that the Ovid tally rose ever further.

So, for the time being at least, that is what my wizard sheep is called – Ovid Archibald McHaggis.  One wonders how characters were named before the days of the internet.

How do you name your characters, other writers?  Do you have a set process, or is it a bit ad hoc, like me?  And do you ever change a character name half way through writing and then have to go back and check them all?

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