Tuesday, May 31, 2016

New Memoir course starts this week


Have you got a story that needs to be told? A big event from your life? Do you want to explore how to plan it, write it, print it and sell it? Do you want to know how to become an author, with a book for sale?
I’m running my next memoir course starting at 6:30 pm on Thurs June 2nd 2016. There’ll be 7 one hour sessions, the venue will be in North London/near Turnpike Lane station (At the Big Green Bookshop). See My Memoir Course at Meetup for costs and enrolling.

Each week I’ll cover a different aspect of memoir writing – topics will be:
1. What’s your story about? Your voice... 2. Story-telling, the Narrator, plot and structure. 3. Character, description, dialogue. 4. Let’s look at genre, culture, background. 6. Truth, lies and libel. 7. Editing and thinking about publishing?

I will be at the Big Green Bookshop one hour before the course starts for those who want to ask questions and pay.  Payment for the course is in advance.  There will be a refund opportunity at the end of the first session if you decide the course is not for you (although £10 will be deducted from the full amount)

I'm looking forward to hearing your stories...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Oh you people, I see God in the flowers, And you see Him in the graveyards.

'They accuse me of atheism!
Oh you people, I see God in the flowers,
And you see Him in the graveyards,
That is the difference between me and you.'


Omar Mohammad Batawil was a 17 year-old freethinker from Yemen, who shared his thoughts and criticism of religion and religious scholars and institutions on his facebook page. He was accused of apostasy and murdered on April 26th by an Islamist group.

I decided to write about this a few weeks ago and now I can't remember why.  Was it because this young man's death was so shocking.  Partly, Most of all I think it was the beautiful simple words he left behind.  Today they are rioting in France :



'The demonstrations as well as work stoppages, notably in the aviation and public transport sectors, were the latest actions in a protest wave that began two months ago.

Opponents of the reform, billed as an effort to reduce chronic unemployment - which stands at 10 per cent overall - say it will threaten cherished workers' rights and deepen job insecurity for young people[Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article].


10% unemployment and they riot in France.  In Zimbabwe, the economy, destroyed by Mugabe makes it now the second poorest country in the world.  For 10+ years now unemployment has been at 90%.  YES that's 90%.  That's why 82% of the wild animals ranging the reserves and plains there have been destroyed -  hunger and starvation of the human population. Animals are food or tusks.

Meanwhile Syria, once beautiful has been decimated, the ancient monuments of Palmyra bomb blasted and traumatised people are fleeing to the West, looking for sanctuary.  Women and children have seen torture and beheadings and the ones that have made it to Europe are damaged and traumatised.

And in the midst of all this Omar Mohammad Batawil, a 17 year old from Yemen,  writes beautiful words and is murdered for them.   He sees God in the flowers and so many of us see God (whatever version you choose) only in the graveyards.  Maybe that's when we notice our spiritual selves, when death confronts us.





Monday, May 09, 2016

Smells, Sights, Sounds, Describe

The smell of summer rain on grass after a warm day, seeing the colours of the new leaves in my garden (red maple, crab apple blossom, pale greens) as spring moves forward, hearing the soft breeze rustling the leaves of the trees in a wood, the slightly metallic smell of exhaust fumes on a busy London street, seeing the pollution haze over the city, hearing the sound of a lorry rattling past on a busy London street, the smell of onions frying, coffee brewing, cigar smoke, hearing a helicopter circling overhead, seeing a red umbrella on a grey cold wet London day, a lake reflecting the willows on its  banks ...

It's easy sometimes when you're writing a story to forget smells, sights, sounds.  But they bring a scene to life, bring the reader there - I bet when I mentioned frying onions you could smell them. That's all you have to do, mention them, no long flowery detail and it's like freshening up a room with a new pot of paint.  

And I nearly forgot one of the senses - taste - why are cooking programmes so popular - we watch them and salivate with the celebrity chefs - imagine eating a slice of those beautiful cakes, like works of art  - in Bake Off, light sponges or pastries that would melt in your mouth....

So next time you're reading a book or writing a scene - look out for SMELLS, SIGHTS, SOUNDS AND TASTES.  If you're the writer put them in - just a sketch, a light touch and see how it transforms the scene.  Or if you're the reader, look out for them and how lightly or detailed is the description. What's the effect on you the reader? Try it - describe a flower, the taste of candyfloss, the smell of the sea ...