Thank goodness our digital kids still enjoy the simple things…

I had a real eye-opener yesterday as to the way technology – much like fashion – can go full-circle, jump through a digital hoop and land straight back in our laps… Literally in this case.

Let me explain:

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.59.10I was out on a day trip with my daughter’s choir, which is a group of children aged between 6 and 11. During lunch, one of them pulled out an Etch-a-Sketch – you remember, the classic 1970’s toy on which the manufacturers claimed you could draw the Mona Lisa, but in reality all any mere mortal could achieve was a set of uninspiring straight lines and perhaps a squiggly tree if you were exceptionally talented.

Nevertheless (and putting bitter Etch-a-Sketch memories aside), I was amazed to see the rest of the choir crowding around a girl who was playing with this very same toy. A toy unchanged for over 40 years. This little red box, with only two knobs to control it and possessing the ability to draw just basic pictures in black and silver was causing quite a stir.

But why was I amazed…?

Well, if you imagine she was holding an iPad: a piece of hardware that can play movies, FaceTime friends, do a weekly shop, store and play an entire music collection, plus search the web for pretty much the sum total of knowledge that the Human race has managed to compile… well if she were playing with that, most of the other kids wouldn’t have paid it the slightest bit of attention.

The Etch-a-Sketch, however, which by most standards cannot come even close to an iPad, seemed to fascinate the children who all wanted to have a go.

And so, as someone who was born in the 70’s, who owned one of these simple toys and is concerned about the next generation’s thirst for louder-faster-higher, I took great comfort in that.

Can anyone else think of simple old toys that are making a comeback in this super-fast digital age we live in?

Thanks for reading.

How To: 7 Steps to a Great Writer Blog


Some great insight for those of you who are querying agents while trying to keep your blog going too.
Thanks a lot Carly Watters (once again) for the original.

Originally posted on Carly Watters, Literary Agent:

Screen Shot 2012-04-26 at 4.18.09 PMI love it when writers link to their blogs when they’re querying me. I know not all agents agree, but if I’m interested in a query or a project I’ll definitely be looking you up. So what do agents look for when we’re going through writers’ blogs (which are different than author websites)? Here’s a glimpse into my thought process.

How To: 7 Steps to a Great Writer Blog


My biggest pet peeve is writers who set up a blog but don’t keep it up. I know things get in the way (life, marriage, kids, day job, etc) but the most important thing is some sort of schedule. I’m not saying you have to blog everyday, because you certainly don’t! What I am saying is try to create a pattern: once a week, twice a month, twice a week–whatever you can manage.


What querying…

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Where has everybody gone? A blogging question…

Hi All,

I have a question for any bloggers out there:

My email inbox seems to have gone really quiet over the last week or so and I don’t know why. All of you guys that I follow don’t appear any more, even though you are posting (I know, ‘cos I’ve gone and checked). I have also checked my WordPress reader and all settings seem to be unchanged.

So, why am I not getting notifications of new posts from other people?


Has this happened to you and can anybody shed some light on what may have gone wrong.

In the meantime, sorry If I’m not commenting/liking, but I didn’t realise you were posting. I’ll get things fixed soon hopefully.

Screw you and go cork yourself: a debate about wine

Am I a wine-snob? I don’t think so; not really. I am a cheese-snob, a bit of a film-snob, and most definitely a book-snob. But wine? Not so much. I can down a ropey bottle of plonk with the best of them and still enjoy it.


If the wine is furnished with a screw cap as opposed to a cork… well, then I’ll turn up my nose, mumble something derogatory under my breath, and walk away. Well, at least that’s what I’d like to do. In reality, I’ll just mumble something derogatory under my breath and drink it anyway (I won’t be happy about it, though).

But why? What is it about screw-cap wine that invokes this reaction in me?

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My first adventure into sic-fi… (sic)

Following an auto-correct glitch one day, I was suddenly faced with the prospect of a new sub-genre: ‘sic-fi‘ (you see what happened, yes?). Anyway, I thought to myself that ‘sic-fi’ — or ‘sick-fi‘ — may make for interesting writing and decided to try my hand at a little sic-fi flash fiction.


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Learn from my mistakes… please: Three things not to do when querying agents.

So I’ve now finally entered the part of my adventures into publishing where I begin to query agents. It was never a part that I looked forward to, and I’ve already gone and made some catastrophic blunders.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 12.46.52

I know that a few others who read this blog are around the same stage as me, so I shall share with you said blunders as a reminder to… well, to not make the same mistakes.

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The Secret to Writing Good Characters


Here’s a great post from a blog that all aspiring authors should be following. Thanks a lot Carly Watters for the original.

Originally posted on Carly Watters, Literary Agent:

Ben Wiseman Illustration NYTCharacters make or break a novel, especially for agents. When agents get 100s of manuscripts submitted per month, what is it that draws us to some books and not others? Characters.

What agents look for in a main character:

  • Degree of likability
  • Interesting
  • Honest
  • Have a strong and unique voice
  • They feel like they had a real life before the book started and after the pages are done
  • No coincidences
  • Motivation for what they do
  • That we meet them at an interesting point in their lives
  • Most importantly: They must have a secret. What are they hiding?

All strong and interesting characters carry a secret with them. A secret that is slowly revealed to the reader. A secret that some find controversial always helps. A secret that the character has to explain and is the reason why they do what they do and why they are the way they are. And

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