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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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Author Interview: Duncan Barrett

The Sugar Girls by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi is a social history of women in London’s East End who worked in the Tate and Lyle sugar factories after WW2.  The book takes the stories of four women as a focal point and weaves in snippets of other people’s lives and memories. I haven’t been reading a lot of non-fiction since leaving university but I really think this is worth a look – especially for young women who don’t realise how much life and opportunities have changed for them since the fifties.

I spoke to one of the authors, Duncan Barrett, about how the book came to be written, stories that didn’t make the final cut, and collaborating with co-author Nuala Calvi.

Continue reading “Author Interview: Duncan Barrett”

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28 Drawings Later – Day 2

I thought I’d experiment with a few character sketches from the play.  First on the list is ‘A kind but poor gentleman’.  I’m not sure exactly how old he is, or whether he wears a hat…  So I drew a couple of kind men.  In hats.  Hats make the gentleman, probably.  I imagine him sort of shabby but refined although that patently doesn’t come over in either of these, they both appear quite well to do.  OH WELL.  This is why we do research.

Kind But Poor

Got An Agent Yet?

As regular readers are hopefully aware, I am trying to write a book every month with a vague future aim of publication and possible literary stardom.

One question I am asked on an occasional basis (by two people, but they have asked multiple times so I deem it pertinent) is “HAVE YOU GOT AN AGENT YET?”

The answer to this is no, and I can tell you for why.

Continue reading “Got An Agent Yet?”

Sci-Fi Suggestions

I have to go back to work tomorrow, after a full 12 days off.  That’s 12 whole days where I have not written a word of any of my 12 books. How apt.

There may come a time (I’m guessing Sunday) that I feel guilty as hell for such negligence, but right now I’m confident it was The Right Thing To Do – for my sanity and for the sake of the project. Plus:

LOOK HOW MANY BOOKS I READ IN THAT TIME!!

Admittedly four are aimed at young children, which I am not, and are very short.  Also I actually started One Good Turn quite some time ago, so technically only read half of it during the 12 day period… but the thought of having had the time to read six books makes me happy.

Now I must get back into the habit of writing them.

You may remember that the fast approaching month of August is dedicated to sci-fi, for which I have a concept that is actually rather dark, but potentially a bit good.  As ever I have yet to name any of the characters, and if you have any suggestions for classics of the genre I should have a look at please leave a comment (either containing a title or cliff notes on the text) below.

Not Another Article on Self Publishing (it is, though)

There’s a lot of hype around self publishing at the moment, related at least in part to John Locke (an American author, not to be confused with the father of liberalism or the bald sociopath in Lost) becoming the first self-published author to sell a million e-books for the Kindle.  He’s put 9 titles out, the latest of which is How I Sold 1 million e-books in 5 months.  A cynical man, then…

If the internet is any judge, people have mixed feelings on self publishing.  This is because there’s a perception of it as a vanity project, as you’ve probably heard.  I’m not sure who specifically thinks that, but I’ve read several blog posts assuring me most people do, and explaining why they are wrong.  What a bold premise…

Continue reading “Not Another Article on Self Publishing (it is, though)”

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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