As we’ve previously discussed, every story belongs in a family – or genre. Every genre contains key ingredients without which the consumer of the story will be left hungry.

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Tories, troubles and trolleys

Here’s how it looks from my corner of the sofa: In 2015, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, called a referendum for the people of the UK to vote whether to remain in the EU or to leave it. This was an election promise he’d made to appease the Eurosceptic element of his own party […]

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An apostrophe to the apostrophe

  You’ll have heard about him, no doubt. The anonymous gentleman in Bristol who has been correcting grocers’* apostrophes throughout the city with neatly-cut strips of masking tape. There has been a drearily predictable upsurge of approval for this man and his actions. “At last!” people everywhere are crying, “Someone is taking a stand against […]

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Ambiverts and where to find them

If you spend any time at all in the Myers-Briggs community, then you’ve probably noticed – as have I – that a frequent complaint about this otherwise fairly robust system is from people who find themselves categorised as either Extraverted or Introverted whilst feeling like they’re actually a mixture of both. These people often style […]

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Farewell, then, to Ines and Bob

  Ines O’Halloran and Bob Rattigan. Protagonist and antagonist respectively and both very dear to me, despite their egregious character flaws. In my head, they’ve always looked like Jennifer Lopez and John Cusak. I expect they always will. There’s no reason, now, why that should alter. Today is Monday 9th January 2017. You know that, […]

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Merry Christmas

To paraphrase the immortal Dave Allen, enjoy the holiday season and may your Gods go with you – whatever flavour they happen to be.   Normal service will be resumed in the New Year. Anna x

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Selling out

So, I’ve been exploring the murky depths of the self-publishing world this last two weeks or so. Whether you’re a traditional author or a committed self-pubber, you can’t ignore the phenomenon. It makes sense to find out about it, as far as you can. It makes particularly good sense during this month of December when […]

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Three Caterpillars

(with apologies to Roz. She knows why.) In the Spring, three little caterpillars hatched out onto the dark, glossy leaves of a laurel bush. They took a good look around. “Where are we?” asked Green. “This must be a mistake,” said Red. “There’s nothing here.” Blue was sniffing leaves, prodding them with a tentative foot. “Um, […]

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Apples and Oranges

If you squeeze an apple, it will not give you orange juice. You can squeeze it harder, it will not give you orange juice. You can keep on squeezing as hard as you can, you will never get orange juice. But you will destroy the apple.  

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Descartes and the Killer Bees

(The original, much longer, version of this post first appeared on luckyottershaven.com a couple of weeks ago. My heartfelt thanks to Lauren for publishing it.) René Descartes is regarded by many as the father of modern western philosophy. For most of us, he boils down to a single, famous phrase: Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I […]

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High Society

I was asked today what I thought would be the Conventions and Obligatory Scenes for a “Society” genre story. It was something of an epiphany to me to learn that every story (even the vaguest, noodliest, high-falutin’-est literary work) can be fitted, more or less accurately into a genre. And that each genre has elements […]

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Forming Fractals

  A change of tack, for this blog post. I’ve spent much of the last two, three years writing two full-length works of fiction – one screenplay, one novel. Both have their virtues, neither is perfect. Neither has had any discernible success and both need lengthy rewrites. I have plans for these rewrites but, for […]

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Being and Nothingness*

Take a painting. Or a tapestry. Or a sculpture, an intricate glass chalice or a wood carving. Any of these may be fabulously, uniquely beautiful, iconoclastic, inspiring and thought-provoking. A lot of their desirable quality must surely come from the way they command our physical senses. The look, yes of course the look, but the […]

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Sympathy vs Empathy

Sympathy and Empathy arrive at Sui’s house to stay for Christmas. Shortly after their arrival, Sympathy says to Empathy, “I’m just popping out to the shops for a second. Do you want anything?” Empathy grins. “Did you forget her Christmas present?” “No,” laughs Sympathy, “but there’s no air freshener in the bathroom.” “Yes, I spotted […]

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Fair trade

This week I’ve had Milo Minderbinder on my mind. Minderbinder is Joseph Heller’s magnificent creation – an entrepreneurial genius of a mess officer who bought fresh eggs in Sicily for one cent, sold them to Malta for four and a half cents, bought them back for seven cents, and finally sold them on for five […]

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Face paint and foot drop

  My husband has a faint memory of being taken to see The Black and White Minstrel Show at Margate’s Winter Gardens°. It would have been 1970, or thereabouts. I can remember the same show on BBC1 during my childhood. It aired until 1978. It’s hard to imagine now, isn’t it? The very concept is […]

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Fuzzbeed quizzes

Do you find most Facebook quizzes a little challenging? Do you think that they are just that bit too complicated to be really useful? We think so too. So we asked our own personal expert to write some better ones, especially for us – and you! Deceptively simple, these will get straight to the heart […]

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The perfection paradox

Too many people make a virtue of their perfectionism (often along with their assertion that they always finish what they start, which is another symptom of the same disease, I think). They sometimes try to be self-deprecating about it but you can bet that a perfectionist never doubts that they hold the moral high ground. How can […]

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The new opium

Ain’t today’s technology marvellous? It makes things so easy. I mean, did you ever try recording a cassette to another cassette? Double-ended DIN plugs and Sellotape over the punched-out bits – pur-lease. Cassettes may be having a bit of a moment (Vinyl Revival? Don’t Forgette the Cassette!) but, let’s face it, it’s a dead cat […]

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The boys from Brazil

  I love data*. Whether it’s important Big Data that helps us improve the way we care for the seriously ill or tiny pieces of data that tell me how my diet’s going, I love it all. Data keeps you engaged during times when engagement can be hard to maintain. On the return school run, […]

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Bitcoin FAQs

I’m hearing a lot about bitcoins. What are they? That depends who you ask. There is debate as to whether bitcoin is a currency or a payment protocol. Wikipedia says it’s a software-based online payment system. The US Treasury calls it a decentralised virtual currency while the People’s Bank of China has decided that it’s […]

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All that jazz

Wikipedia defines jazz thus: “a genre of music that originated in the Southern United States as a combination of European harmony and forms with African musical elements such as blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation and the swung note.” It would be hard to beat that as a description of a world sprung from inclusiveness and […]

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Estival Festivals

We were at a bijou festival last month. We live in the Peak District so we do a lot of this over summer. This one was the L’Eroica Britannia, the inaugural British version of the Italian cycle race, where everything (be it technical or sartorial) must date from 1987 or earlier. These cyclists looked molto […]

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Swear it isn’t so

  I love to swear. At least, I thought I did but I have recently realised that all I really do is use a limited number of brisk, age-appropriate adjectives. Wikipedia defines a swear word as one that “is generally considered in society to be strongly impolite, rude, or offensive.” Clearly, this is not an […]

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Caught on the horns of a cupcake

  Personally, I blame The Great British Bake Off. I may be wrong; one must remember that association does not necessarily imply causation. But in my world, at least, there has been a veritable surge of people hurling themselves onto the home-baking band wagon. The one does seem to have followed the other. I suppose […]

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