How to write a really bad novel

Lovers of “illiterary” fiction no doubt will have heard of the Bulwer-Lytton competition, in which entrants have to write the most awful first line of a novel that they can possibly manage. This is in tribute to the late Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose rather dark and stormy novel, Paul Clifford, (as I’m sure you remember) began like this:

small__3459918218“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

 –Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

I understand that the competition is still going strong, so do check out the Bulwer-Lytton website to catch up on the latest pearls of awfulness in various types of fiction. [Read more…]

The Machines Have Won – a scary short story for Christmas

Today we welcome American author and family history expert writer / researcher Tom Bartlett. Originally from Boston MA he now lives with his family in Milton Keynes (my UK home town) and very kindly has shared this funny-yet-slightly-scary original story … a writer’s perfect nightmare. And if you know the Boston MA area, you will recognize some of the places Tom names.

The Machines Have Won - a scary short story for Christmas

The machines have won … but have they, really?

Cameron tilted his head forward from its reclined position in the driver’s seat, and lifted the remote in his left hand up to his line of vision. With unhurried ease, he moved his right hand to the remote and punched the blue button. [Read more…]

Book review: Heightened Emotions – An Oxfordshire Wedding

Back in September 2014 I reviewed the first book in this family saga trilogy, “Mixed Emotions – an Oxfordshire Affair” by exciting new novelist Antonia Abbott, and made my feelings known about her irritating yet utterly riveting heroine – or perhaps anti-heroine – Susie Rowlands.

Book review: Heightened Emotions - An Oxfordshire WeddingHere’s what I said about the fragrant Susie then …

“Novel writing experts often say your protagonist in a story should be a likeable character. However most of the way through this entertaining book I wanted to grab the beguiling young Susie Rowlands right out from the page and slap her for being such a spoilt, featherbrained little bitch. [Read more…]

Book publishing scams – three stinky examples

If you are writing either a nonfiction or fiction book (or want to) and are thinking about how to get it published, here are some red light warnings of just three of the scams that abound in the book publishing industry.

HTWB book scams

[Read more…]

Book review: Mixed Emotions – an Oxfordshire Affair

Book review: Mixed Emotions - an Oxfordshire AffairNovel writing experts often say your protagonist in a story should be a likeable character. However most of the way through this entertaining book I wanted to grab the beguiling young Susie Rowlands right out from the page and slap her for being such a spoilt, featherbrained little bitch.

She is the classic Trust Fund babe who messes up in almost everything she does, but because she is pretty, appealing and knows how to flutter her eyelashes, gets away with quite a lot … until she pushes her indulgent parents one step too far. Then she gets the lessons she needs to learn, none of which she bargained for. [Read more…]

ChickLit that isn’t ChickenSh*t

Please welcome counsellor, psychotherapist and former journalist Rhiannon Daniel with what I hope is one of many delightful guest posts. Here she shares her typically lively views, on ChickLit … one of fiction’s most “popular” genres…

medium_4408892521Anna Karenina, which I reread earlier this year, is, technically, ChickLit.  Tolstoy, considered one of the greats of his era, often lapsed into waffle but among that stuff about trains, peasants and the intricacies of old Russian ‘society’ was a literary bodice ripper. It left everything to the imagination, yet it worked.

The Brontës were endlessly examined, interpreted and worshipped, but would have sold fewer were it not for their pulsating sexual tension.

I once thought that I might write for that flagship of modern ChickLit, Mills & Boon. They sent me twenty pages of instructions. [Read more…]

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