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Writing RetreatsIn four weeks’ time, I will be looking out over the sparkling waters of the Sound of Mull from a squishy sofa in the conservatory of a small Hebridean hotel.

I’ll have a notepad and pen in my hand and I’ll be lost in the colours and sounds of the sky wheeling with gulls and hopefully sunshine, or quite possibly rain.  I won’t care which.  This is time for me and for my writing.

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My Favourite AuthorIf you were to ask me who my favourite author was, I’d probably stall for time before attempting to change the subject.  I don’t do favourites.  Some people make up lists of their top books, films, music, actors or pencil sharpeners and rank them in order.  I’ve never been able to do that.  For me, I either like something or I don’t.  Trying to quantify them beyond that is hopeless.  What I choose to do

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Writers BlockDo you, like me, ever suffer from writers block?  You know, those periods when you gaze, for what seems like hours, at a blank piece of paper or a blank, opened Word file on your computer screen.  No matter how hard you try you can’t think of a thing to write and the more you try, the more hopeless it becomes.  Yes, this is what’s affectionately known as Writer’s Block.

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Books or KindleWe’ve just moved house.  It’s been quite an undertaking – hubbie and I have accumulated a lot of debris (aka, crap) in the two decades we’ve been together and, when you add kids to the mix, the stuff we have could fill the Albert Hall.  Snowboards, tents, kites, George Forman grills – items we use irregularly but can’t get rid of, as well as the day-to-day clutter that comes with modern living.  Play Stations.  Wii’s.  Gadgets galore.

But the thing that our hardy group of helpers complained about when assisting us with the move was the books.  Boxes and boxes of them.  Hubbie has a large collection of law books and tomes about gardening.

The kids have boxes of “Thomas” books, “Julia Donaldson” books, “Little Miss” books,

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Write What You KnowI was looking at a writer’s blog the other day and she was promoting the maxim, “Write About What You Know”.  The argument is that your writing will come easier and be more realistic if it is based on your personal knowledge and experience.

This is a theme often promoted at Writers’ Workshops.  On the surface it does seem to make good logical sense.

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From Mind To MatterLittle did I know, at the age of ten, when my poem was published in what was then “Girl” comic (for which I received the grand prize of a ten shilling postal order) that one day I would write a novel.

In 2006 I had the beginning and the end of a story.  The main characters were already real to me.  The need to put down on paper the

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Tell Me A Tall Tale - Mongol Rally EbookSo there has been some progress with our plan to try and turn our Mongolian odyssey into some sort of interactive book type thingy.

We, and I can now include my fellow team mates from Back Man! Turn Her Over, Drive! (thanks for keeping it under your hat until I had a chance to talk to them), have agreed that the world is in need of, in fact could be desperate for, an interactive book describing the fun,

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What Are Your Writing EssentialsEveryone has their own ritual and set of things they like to do to relax.  Writers are no different – we need certain conditions in order to create.  Here’s my list of my “writing essentials”.

1. Tea.  Tea, tea, and more tea.  I’ve been a proper tea-belly since I was in my late teens when I started studying for my A-Levels.  I’d sip it all day in the study area of the sixth-form

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History Repeating in Fact and FictionMy son is six and, at the moment, is addicted to history.  He loves finding out about the First and Second World Wars, the Titanic, Ancient Greeks, Ancient Egyptians, the Kings and Queens of England.  We have dozens of Horrible Histories episodes saved on our recording-thingy-planner-digibox, and it’s one of the Boy’s favourite programmes.  I have high hopes for him – he’s going to be the next Simon Schama or, at the very least, a

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Heavy Words - What People Are Saying About Novel LengthThere has been some discussion recently about the appropriate length of a novel.  This rather odd topic became current following the selection of Eleanor Catton’s “The Luminaries” as this year’s winner of the Man Booker prize.  The fact that this book, at 832 pages, was the longest to have won the prize provoked much discussion about whether a book can be too long.

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