Friday, 23 January 2009


Okay, I found a new site I want to share with you.

Funny everyday life quotes

If you fancy a belly laugh, make over to Jinxed and put it on your bookmark. I think it's great.

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - Jinxed.

Malia and Sasha Obama and their fashions

To be the daughter of the most powerful man in the Western world has to be a taxing affair. However, Malia, 10 and Sasha, 7, the daughters of America’s first couple Barack and Michelle Obama, shoulder that responsibility unconsciously.

Malia and Sasha Obama's clothing

From the time it was suspected they were headed for the White House (no adverse credit remortgage there), the daughters have been grabbing the interest of the world, with the inquisitive searching the Internet to discover more. Fashion accessories are what people want to know about.

It seems the media is insatiable

How tall

Since inauguration, searches on the web about the two girls escalated over 500%. The inquisitive want to know such mundane things as, "how tall is Malia Obama (5'6")," "Sasha Obama age (7)," and "find letters to Sasha and Malia."

Malia, Sasha and Fashion

The inauguration weekend embarked the girls on a new course to celebrity with frantic searches on everything from "Sasha and Malia inauguration outfits," "Malia and Sasha Obama pictures," and "Sasha and Malia Obama and Jonas brothers."

The girls, who have their very own fashion press, sent the hits sizzling on the website of fashion accessories store, J.Crew, causing it to crash, after it was revealed that their coats came from the online store. It seems their clothing taste is uppermost in a lot of people's minds.

Wow! I wish Malia and Sasha said they liked Without Reproach, maybe readers would show a little more interest ….

**** Malia and Sasha **** Malia and Sasha ****

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - Malia and Sasha Obama and their fashions

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Underfloor heating rules, Okay!

Villas with no insulation.

If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ll already know that Spanish winters can be damn cold – not necessarily because of cold days – but because villas have little insulation and at night the temperature dips – ugggh!
When will they catch up - well maybe they are doing - but not in my villa - and the construction of concrete beams forming the ceiling, means that I can't get into the roofspace to lay any - well not without major building work.

Keep away from shade .

Winter time in Spain can bring beautiful sunny days – and when it is, it's warm providing you’re out of the wind and of course, away from shade.

When it's sunny, I absolutely love my little courtyard. A coffee with a splash of brandy goes down well around midday

.But come evening …. Whoops! Where's that sun gone. Who stole the heat .... Hells-bells, get out your thermals, lads.


Gas central heating has become very expensive to run -it's all bottled stuff around here - delivery man has a field day when it's cold.

So, I’ve had a high-efficiency eco wood burner installed to help out . You know the sort, has an insulated firebox, an auto vent on the stack to prevent heat being lost up the chimney, fans to circulate heat around the room..... all high tech stuff.... different to the open fire I knew as a kid.

I love it – thought it was the bee’s-knees–

- until I visited a friend’s home.

What a lovely snug place he has – I couldn’t understand why it felt so comfortable until he pointed out he'd had underfloor heating installed. Wow – what a difference.

My memories (showing my age now) of underfloor heating are of electrical elements buried in several inches of concrete – and not a lot of efficiency. They were heated in the middle of the night by off-peak electricity, which made it lovely in a morning but dreadful in the evening. I never saw the point. .

Lower, yet snug.
.These modern underfloor heating systems such as the one in the picture from HandyHeat Floor Heating Systems, of Nottingham, UK, seem great. Not a bit like I recall. They're warm all day.
The air temperature is actually several degrees lower than my place - yet it feels more snug. Something to do with - warm feet cool head - I've no idea how - but it works.

Reproduced by kind permission of HandyHeat

Underfloor heating seems the way to go, so I might just give it a whiz – if I can sell enough books that is..

Story Characters - 7 Cool Secrets
Book Strategy - Tactics To Promote Your Book
Plot Of The Book - Mastering The Art Of Plot

Underfloor-heating Underfloor-heating Underfloor-heating ***

End of post - Underfloor Heating rules, okay!


Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Fifty years of Jack Higgins

Congratulations, Jack.

Novelist Jack Higgins, observes fifty years of writing this year - wow!

Eight years ago, Mr. Higgins, 79, was diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease. It made him tremble so much that about two years ago he was on the verge of quitting writing.

However, whilst visiting a friend, he accidentally banged his head, and was admitted to hospital - and miraculously his tremors disappeared.

He was lucky

He commented, "In a way it is a bit like Lazareth. It has been a blessing late in life -- this unprecedented cure. People have got in touch with me who have got this crippling thing to say what can they do. I can't tell what to do. I was just lucky."

Jack Higgins has written in excess of 60 novels. His 1975 novel "The Eagle Has Landed" was made into a smash hit movie and established him as an international best-selling author.

May you have another fifty years, Jack. I wish you well.

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - Fifty years of Jack Higgins

Friday, 16 January 2009

An interview with author, David Coles

David Coles

  • I’d like to introduce you to author, David Coles. Hi David, let's start with a short take - so readers can get a general feel for who you

Hi AJ, I’m half of ‘David Coles & Jack Everett’ and half of ‘Everett Coles’ – between us, we have four published books, printed, eBooks or both, one is currently out of print. There are a few short stories out there written by me alone.
I’ve retired from the daily grind. Now I seem to work harder at writing than I did as a computer systems analyst & designer, a profession I’ve spent most of my working life in until a takeover made me redundant – let go, as US parlance has it – and I spent the last five years at the sharp end writing software for a UK bank.
I still write computer programs for fun. I have a great interest in simulating artificial intelligence – not real AI but cheating at it. I sometimes spend an inordinate amount of time on such projects.
All our novel length works carry a joint author name – whoever is the principal writer, whoever came up with the idea. After discussing the plot and sequence, Jack writes the first draft with me following on a week or so behind, re-writing and adding 10%-25% extra material, checking facts, researching and polishing. Once that process is over, the manuscript goes back and forth four, five, six times for proofing, checking phrasing, use of words and so on.
The usual stuff: married, four grown up daughters, a pet laptop, a home in Yorkshire, England.
  • What compelled you to write your first book?
I started off writing short stories and was fortunate enough to come first in a science fiction magazine competition, it was published along with my address. Jack Everett, now my co-writer, lived in the next village, he gave me a call and it was he who ‘compelled’ me to write our first book. We never sent it anywhere, it was pretty rough but writing it was a laugh a minute – the Romans hired an itinerant tribe of Irishmen to dig a tunnel under the English Channel!
  • And have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes. From about fourteen, anyway. My first attempt was hand-written in pencil, the editor was courtesy personified.
  • So tell us a little bit about your books. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about.
Our most recently published book is ‘the Abbot and the Acolyte in Death & Taxes’, the first in what we hope will be a series. A medieval mystery set in southern France in and around a real abbey in a real village using real geography – a theme we hope to continue in any sequels. The Abbot is a traveling auditor for the Papal office, a job he was given because he was a nuisance. In Death & Taxes, he rescues a youngster from a dreary monastery and together, they eventually solve the murders of twin monks, one big clue being provided by a goat which could eat almost anything. The story is gently humorous, as true to medieval life as possible and, we hope, true to its genre.
The first story we had published was a fantasy in the classic tradition. The hero was a thief, manipulated into performing a quest by a sorcerer who held the love of his life imprisoned. The hero succeeds only to find that though the woman was real, the love which drove him was purely artificial and vanished in the moment of success.

  • Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?
Our latest book has just been accepted by Libros International and will be going through editing very shortly. ‘Jihad’ is a political thriller, it describes the changes in society and political scenery following a huge act of terrorism in the UK. It is not a nice book, despite individual altruism and understanding, the UK is not a nice, fair’s fair, place to be. There is light towards the end, however; signs that a more liberal outlook is returning.
  • How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?
AJ, that was pretty good. Early 1980’s and we knew that, for that instant, we were the newest author in the world.
  • I know just what you mean, David. Just what is it that inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
Other books, even the jacket blurb on a new book in the store can conjure up a complete idea for a story. And conversation, especially of the ‘what-if’ kind.
  • The main characters of your stories - do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?
Absolutely: not necessarily the self that I see in the mirror nor the person that others know because inside my mind, I am at least a head taller, ten pounds leaner, with a full head of hair and an awesome intellect.
A little less tongue-in-the cheek: it’s still ‘yes’. There’s no one an author knows better, no one else he can be so certain of and for those of us who still try to be a better person, the author knows too, how that better person should react to situations.
  • Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I probably admire Jack Vance’s writing most of all. His stories are filled with weird characters, odd situations, new ideas, sweet and sour plots. But Roger Zelazny has always been a favorite, particularly the way he handled the first person view-point in his stories.
As for a writing mentor, I’m quite proud of the fact that I spent two separate weeks being tutored by the English fantasy author, David Gemmel and the humorous fantasy writer, Terry Pratchett. These weeks were organized out in the Norfolk farmlands and were something out of laugh-out-loud fantasy themselves. Damned hard work though.
  • And what about now, who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?
As with writers I admire, Jack Vance and Roger Zelazny are favorites. But there are so many others and I notice in making the list, that so many are from way back, in no particular order…
Theodore Sturgeon, Hal Clement, Neil Gayman, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Richard Morgan – not a complete list, just a few.
  • Hey, let's get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?
‘His stories were entertaining, some were beautiful.’
  • And I’m sure they will. David, location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?
I grew up in the English countryside, in Lincolnshire. Born in 1941, my Dad was wartime ground crew at an airfield, some of my earliest memories are of being bundled into the boot cupboard next to the chimney breast when German bombers were trying to hit the airfields.
Older, it was a terrific place to grow up in. Acres of fields and woodlands to play Cowboys & Indians, Robin Hood, Cops & Robbers and yes, to re-fly sorties against the wartime enemy.
Older still, not so good for careers, my family moved to the county city of Lincoln. I still go back to school reunions, though.
Favorite place to live? Maybe the Greek Islands, but a new language at my age? Maybe not.
  • Do you watch television? If so, what are your favorite shows? Does television influence inspire your writing?
Usually very little TV, apart from the news. I have watched some of the longer series of whodunits where the attention to detail is so good and I have to admit that I’m quite a fan of the US series ‘The Closer.’
  • What about movies?
I go to few movies, just the exceptional ones. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was superb both in its adherence to the books which I read in hotels as a roving trouble shooter in the 70s and for the beauty of scenery and the armour, weapons and clothing. Attention to detail again: dirty fingernails, unshaven chins, and red-rimmed eyes until they reached a place of rest.
A similar attention to detail is evident in ‘the Golden Compass’ and here, Philip Pullman asks some intriguing questions.
  • Is there anyone you'd like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?
Primarily, my wife. Although Jan is an academic and her writing is educational, we met at a writers’ circle. Both of us were fairly recently divorced, a situation that we quickly put an end to; the registrar who checked our divorce decrees looked up at us and asked ‘You sure the ink’s quite dry on these?’
  • Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you'd go back and do differently now that you have been published?
Do it earlier. We published our first book and then got tied up with growing families and shrinking incomes; doesn’t do creative stuff much good. And it was all so much easier then, finding a publisher, getting on the shelves, publicity: lost opportunities.
  • Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it?
Quite definitely. The Abbot in ‘Death & Taxes’ was supposed to be a stuffed shirt taking all the credit for the work done by the Acolyte. He turned out to be a mathematical genius, prepared to stand up to his superiors and rather more forward-thinking than good religious were supposed to be.
  • Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?
If there is any lesson or moral, it is on what shaky ground the Christian Church is built, but it’s not an in-your-face issue.
  • It's said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher is can be gruelling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece?
I’ve no problem with editors. I’m as liable as the next person to miss a typo or a dangling participle. Pete Moore did an excellent job for us on ‘Death & Taxes’, there was only one point of slight contention, which concerned ‘breath smoking in the cold air’ – Pete thought it anachronistic, we worked out a different form of words.
The only time I was disgusted was a story years ago, which finished with the main character up to the neck in a Jurassic swamp. I said the ‘sun stank into the west’ – the editor took out the ‘T’ in ‘stank’.
  • David, is there anything you want our readers to know. Such as where to find your books, any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and writing.
There’s a personal page on my web site that gives a little information about me, probably no more than there is here, though. Just for the record; I’m atheist, politically a little left of centre, mostly against war and very against nuclear weapons, pro-scientific and consider the intelligent design movement on a level with flat-earthers. Anyone else I can offend?

Books available…
Merlin’s Kin YA fantasy
Kindle eBook and paperback at Amazon (Archimedes Presse)
The Last Free Men Historic (Roman period)
Kindle eBook at Amazon, soon to be paperback (Virtual Tales)
Death and Taxes Medieval Mystery – 1st in series ‘the Abbot and the Acolyte
paperback at Amazon (Libros International)

Books at publishers…
The Tourist Psychological Thriller eBook (Virtual Tales)
Bright Shadows Fantasy from the last days of Earth eBook (Virtual Tales)
Jihad Political Thriller paperback (Libros Internl)

Books in progress…
Deceits Thriller – secret service hunts Machiavelli’s modern descendant
Last Mission WWII – German attempt to steal an atom bomb at Los Alamos
Faces of Immortality SF Interstellar Crime

Web Sites…

  • That’s been an interesting interview. I always enjoy an insight into how other authors work and think. David Coles, thank you. I wish you all the best for the future.

  • Next post on Tell Me a Story

Looking for a good read? Try:-

Past Sins - Contemporary fiction

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Dust in time!

I had an e-amil off my friend, Jack Chambers, and thought you might like to share it. I've no idea who wrote it in the first place - you might. If so, let me know and I'll put the credits in. I absolutely love it though.....

Dust if you must.

Dust if you must,

but isn't it better, to paint a picture or write a letter,

bake cookies or cake, or plant a seed,

ponder the difference between want and need?!

Dust if you must,

but there's not much time, with beer to drink,

rivers to swim and mountains to climb,

music to hear and books to read,

friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must,

but the world's out there

with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,

a flutter of snow, or a shower of rain.

This day will not come around, again.

Dust if you must ,

but bear in mind, old age will come and it's not that kind.

And when you go - and go you must -

you, yourself will make more dust!

Share this with all the wonderful friends in your life. It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.

Post script - Just in case you don't see the comments - Janet Jarell has kindly left a message -"A poem written by Rose Milligan of Lancaster, Lancashire, England. The poem was first published in the September 15th - 21st edition of The Lady (magazine) in 1998." - Thank you for the information, Janet. And thank you Rose Milligan for the poem - excellent

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post on Tell Me a Story - Dust if you must

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Mamma Mia .... a new play by Catherine Johnson

Benchmark lending or pure genius

Mamma Mia!

21 years after her original play was presented at the Bristol Old Vic, Mamma Mia! writer Catherine Johnson is coming back to the opening of a new piece of work.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge is the setting for the Bristol playwright's most recent piece, aptly named - ‘Suspension’.

Mamma Mia! She's Drawn back

The site’s executive chairman, Dick Penny, asked if Ms Johnson would write the play to introduce the Old Vic's new programme, Ms Johnson has been constantly drawn back to Bristol Old Vic since 1988, when she was successful with a playwriting competition.

After her initial success, Catherine Johnson went on to become the theatre's in-house writer and has since continued to write and present plays for them. Mamma Mia! How success breeds success - no benchmark lending here ... I wish a little would rub off on me and mine.
Catherine Johnson, I wish you all the luck in the world.

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - Mamma Mia .... a new play by Catherine Johnson - benchmark lending or pure genius

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Cold nights in Spain

Well... I'm beginning to think we might as well be back in the UK.

Ice on car

The weather here in Spain is pretty vile at the moment. Perishing cold, wet, overcast - you name it, it's here. The car was iced over at 21:30 last night - and I was scrambling around in the dark trying to find things to wrap around exposed pipes on my above-ground, 3000 litre, water deposit, (it's there because we suffered the water being cut off so many times when we first arrived).

This morning I purchased pipe lagging and was fitting it in driving, icy, sleet - not very funny!

The problem is, villas over here aren't insulated like houses are in the UK and winter can be damn cold. You can't even get into the roof-space to lay insulation. The floors are either marble or ceramic tiles (the builders think it's summer all year round), so we lay rugs wherever we can.

We have a high efficiency woodburner which helps out - in fact I love it - but it doesn't compensate for the fact that the rest of the rooms are cold. We have central heating, but bottled gas makes it very expensive to run, so we only have them on in the evening.

Weak financially

The Euro is so strong against the pound that it's now one-for-one, which means I've had a 20% cut in finances PLUS the cost of living is up, so I'm effectively 25% to 30% worse off compared to this time last year - so all in all, the UK is looking quite attractive at the moment....

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - Cold nights in Spain


Author, Neale Donald Walsch, steals writer's work

Conversations With God

Spiritual writer, Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling series “Conversations With God,” posted a Christmas 2008 message on the religious site, claiming it concerned his son’s nursery school play.

Whilst watching a dry run, apparantly a group of children spelled out the title of a song, “Christmas Love,” with each youngster holding up a letter. One girl held the “m” upside down, so that it appeared as a “w,” and it read as if the children were spelling “Christ Was Love.”


It was an uplifting Christmas story from a writer celebrated for his religious teachings. The only problem is it never happened to him. It was all lies.

Mr. Walsch’s story is identical to a story from a writer named Candy Chand, originally published 10 years ago in Clarity, a spiritual magazine, and has been circulating on the Web ever since.

Mr. Walsch now says he made a mistake in believing the story was something that had actually come from his personal experience.


When confronted with the news, he claimed, “All I can say now — because I am truly mystified and taken aback by this — is that someone must have sent it to me over the Internet ten years or so ago. I must have clipped and pasted it into my file of stories to tell that have a message I want to share.”

And all I can say, Mr. Walsch is - bullshit. Go write your own stuff.

Writers have a hard enough time, without people like you stealing their work.

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing
End of post - Author, Neale Donald Walsch, steals writer's work

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Nora Vincent and her Voluntary Madness

Voluntary Madness

Psychiatric ward

Remarkable ideas expose themselves in innumerable ways, but Norah Vincent came up with the inspiration for her latest novel in the most unexpected of environments, a psychiatric ward.

Depressive breakdown

Formerly a columnist for The Los Angeles Times, Vincent had a depressive breakdown whilst in the closing phase of research for her book, Self-Made Man.

"The experience entailed disguising myself and then living, dating, working and recreating as a man,'' Vincent said. ``I became a man, at least as far as the people around me knew, but of course I remained a woman, and that psycho-emotional contradiction in terms pulled me apart at the seams. . . .''

On her second day in the hospital, Vincent dreamed up the idea for her book, Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin

Wow! The length some authors go to in researching their books never ceases to amaze me. I thought I'd dug deep holes whilst writing my own novel, but Nora .... She takes the crown.

My hat is off to you Ms. Vincent. Long may you entertain.

  • Next post on Tell Me a Story - New Year.

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - Nora Vincent and her Voluntary Madness


Friday, 2 January 2009

New Year's day, at the Peñon, Calpe.

New Year's Day - Calpe.

I have to confess that after New Year's Eve, all I wanted to do on New Year's Day ... was nothing...

I compromised by going to Calpe for a stroll around the Peñon. The resort is only about 20 minutes away - so not too bad.

It's a lovely walk, but you have to turn around and come back the way you went in - no problem. The scenery is worth it.

In the end, tired though I was, I was glad we went. Had a couple of drinks at one of the restaurants at the harbour then headed home for a rest....

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing

End of post - New Year's day, at the Peñon, Calpe.