The Importance of Reading Books

Please go and like the original post, thank you.

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Life doesn’t happen in chapters — at least, not regular ones. Nor do movies. Homer didn’t write in chapters. I can see what their purpose is in children’s books (“I’ll read to the end of the chapter, and then you must go to sleep”) but I’m blessed if I know what function they serve in books for adults. — Sir Terry Pratchet

I’m aware that this title appears to be advertising the bookshop of Berkshire’s leading commuter town, but it’s been drawn to my attention by no one that I’ve been so busy blogging about writing books that I’ve not looked at how to read the blasted things. Every reader knows how to buy  books – see a previous blog : https://lifeassistanceagency.com/2018/12/28/how-to-buy-books/ –  but reading them is an art form itself.  In a modern world of boxsets, bagels and Brexit it’s a wonder anyone is reading, yet the literary…

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How to live with Writer’s Block.

By Tom, about writer’s block – please go and like the original, thank you 🙂

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”
Charles Bukowski

What awful timing, or perhaps it’s related. My new novel UnfinishedBusiness is published and I’m struck down by what feels like something I don’t want to name, no, not a STD, but writer’s block. Despite a launch party last night that included four Spanish women without  word of english to their name arriving to buy a signed copy of the novel for one of their brothers, I’m looking at Unfinished Business with the sense it was a fluke; never to be repeated.

I can’t recall if I’ve written about writer’s block before, I must’ve blocked it out, which is exactly the sort of crap joke that suggests it’s time to step away from the keyboard and do something else. Anything. Just stop writing. Mind you writers aren’t capable of much else, unless it’s the…

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Publication Day for Unfinished Business

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It’s Publication Day for Unfinished Business – how exciting! – so here’s (another) pic of me holding the book a bit earlier today, because that’s definitely what the internet needs.

If you missed my (looong) post about the novel the other day, here it is again: Being a Bookworm and a Beta Reader is Beautiful

You can order Unfinished Business here: Unfinished Business on Amazon

A couple of pics that didn’t make it in the last post: yes, I know, I’m shameless – but this book is soooo good I’m quite happy inundating you all with photos.

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How useful are Writing Prompts?

This, by Tom, is brilliant and v. funny – please, *please* visit his blog and like the original post, thanks 😊

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“True life is elsewhere. We are not in the world.”Arthur Rimbaud

#Writingprompts, if their 20,000 Instagram usage suggests, are very popular, although some way off #cutekitteninbucket.  I’ve never been a fan of writing prompts. They sound too deliberate, like intending to do shots before you’ve left the house instead of spontaneously deciding eight tequilas is a good idea from the moment you reach the pub.  To be fair life is a writing prompt, as anyone who’s written a To-do list with testify. However, I was recently exposed to the most fantastic inspiration for writing at my local B&Q. No, I wasn’t lost, nor was I asking directions to the nearest record shop.

These days there are hash tags for everything, although there’s an odd sweet sense of fresh territory when coining a new one on Instagram and #DIYWritingPrompts was a new one.  At least it was yesterday. Imagine being…

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Unfinished Business: What’s So Good about Sequels…?

Please visit Tom’s blog to read and like the original post, thank you 🙂

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Most authors will be familiar with having finished writing a novel. Sometimes it’s completed for as long as 24 hours before another rewrite is underway. That’s fine. That’s how novels are written, but my 79,000 words of Unfinished Business have been sent to the publisher. There are no more late night edits to be undone in the morning. It will be bound up in proofs the next time I see it, safe from any more changes. It seems a long time ago that a friend suggested I write a short film and I came up with the idea of a retired 80s wrestler who morphed into a character even bigger than Ricky ‘Nasty’ Bashcraft, or Giant Haystacks.

Just as its proprietor Scott Wildblood needed a wingman The Life Assistance Agency now has a companion, as there’s nothing worse* than a novel sitting alone, full of friends and enemies bouncing off the…

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What’s the best thing about being a Writer?

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Ernest Hemingway

With New Year intentions often to write a novel in a year, or in some cases a month, this is a good time to consider what’s so bloody great about being a writer. I do wonder if some people get writing confused with reading. One is a strangely magical experience, which tingles otherwise untouched parts of you, like sausage rolls but without the guilt. The other is the challenge of typing whilst simultaneously wringing your hands and swearing quietly.

Perhaps it’s despair at such sudden disappearance of Yule Logs from the shops after Christmas that drives people into the collective arms of writing groups, or perhaps it’s just to emulate all those fantastic books read during the holidays. But don’t be rash, those rather delicious afternoons with nothing to do but…

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Happy New Year and thank you all.

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.” – Shirley Temple

It must be Christmas because I’ve just spent half an hour trying to remove sellotape with forensic levels of care from the wrong part of the parcel I was wrapping without tearing the paper.

James Bond is on the TV and he’s already seduced a woman with nothing more than a one-liner and a ruffled hair do. I was caught up in the timelessness of it until I spotted one of Ken Livingstone’s hated bendy-buses crossing Westminster Bridge. The weather is mild and damp. The fridge is full of food that no one is allowed to touch, and the tree in the living room needs its own security force to keep inquisitive children away. It must be Christmas

I want to…

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The Absolutely Best Advice on the Internet is…

“Life advice is something people once went to pubs for, alongside flat beer and sticky carpet. Being regaled with ancient wisdom from bedraggled men escaping their wives at the bar was once a rite of passage for younger folk, who now deliberate whether to like pictures of restaurant food on social media with a thumbs up or an emoji instead…”

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Remember this, folks – I am a Hillbilly, and I don’t always bet the same way I talk. Good advice is one thing, but smart gambling is quite another. 

Hunter. S. Thompson

Perhaps it’s because everyone is an expert these days, but people have an opinion on everything. The most liberating thing to say is, ‘I can’t comment because I don’t fully understand it.’ I’ve been supporting a football team for 20 years and still don’t understand the point of substitutions in the 90th minute. To be honest I’m beginning to wonder what the point of football is full stop, but that’s another blog. Advice is much the same, dished out like Sunday newspaper supplements without much thought as to where it all ends up.

Live every day like it’s your last‘ is the sort of advice that flies about like a flu bug: impossible to pin down…

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How Writers Survive Bad Reviews.

“If there is one thing that writing teaches an author, other than how easily the semi-colon might be misused and how gleefully people love to point it out to you, it is to prevail. Writing gives purpose to an aimless day and teaches resilience….”

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” Mark Twain.

There is so much focus upon writing, on the magic tips and tricks that at times the real skill is neglected. And that is the art of disallowing poor feedback or bad reviews from ruining your day, and your ENTIRE BLOODY LIFE AND EVERYTHING THAT HAS LED TO THIS DISASTROUS MOMENT, which is pretty much what neighbours heard when I read my first 2-star review of the Life Assistance Agency on Amazon. Ironically writers chase these reviews because it helps with algorithms and sales, although no one has yet provided a coherent answer as the relationship between the two without ending up sounding like a conspiracy theorist. And what reviews don’t help with is your mental stability. Or do they?

(Yet) another great thing…

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How to Write a Short Story

Personally, I love short stories, but I’m very selective and only those from the masters of the genre make the cut (I’m very partial to Maugham myself) But anyway, this blog is a lesson in how to write sharp prose – worth reading just for that.

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.”

Edgar Allan Poe.

Short stories? Well they must be so easy, they take 20 minutes to read and surely not much more time to write. It’s nothing like the himalayan trek without sherpas, supplies or basic knowledge of mountaineering of the novel. No need to be worrying about 500 page story arcs, or where you’re going to find all those words. You don’t waste time getting the angle of trees shadows at 4pm right, you get to the point. Writing short stories also avoids batting off enquiries from family members as to why you haven’t finished yet. Just sit down, knock one out, and then start writing (boom).

Short stories used to be the scaffold to any fledgling literary career. They are snappy, cool, quick, concise, well-balanced and elegant. Other than these things what’s not…

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