Saturday, 30 April 2011

Wordpress versus Blogger

When I started blogging last year I chose the google blogger platform because it was really simple to set up.

During my short time as a blogger I have read both blogger and wordpress blogs. I am torn on which one I prefer. I like blogger because I can generally make it work. I'm not the most technologically minded person but I can figure bits out. I like wordpress because I've seen some fabulous themes and clean layouts. To me it seems to have a slightly more professional presentation about it. I'm definitely not saying there aren't any great blogger blogs out there, it's simply my perception.

My other perception is that wordpress is more difficult to work and get your head around. This again isn't necessarily true.

My blog is a work in progress. When I first started blogging it didn't look like this. I'm still learning what it can do and little changes keep happening. I have contemplated making the switch to wordpress but I wouldn't know how to or if I could transfer all my posts over as though it's a continuing blog. I don't know if there is a better one to use. I've definitely come across more blogger blogs than wordpress and that is something that keeps me tied to this platform. It's popular. I see people using it and using it well.

What do you prefer, wordpress or blogger and what exactly are the differences?


I've heard more and more about Vlogging recently so thought it a good topic to look into for my Very late V post of the A to Z challenge.

Vlogging is short for video blogging. Pretty much as we all do here on our blogs, but via the medium of video rather than the written word.

You can add a video (vlog) to your already established blog or you can create specific vlog accounts. YouTube contains a lot of vlogs.

You may ask what the purpose of a vlog is if you are already blogging. Well, for writers, it is an extra medium in which to promote your work and your brand. As people we take information in better, in different formats. Some people will take and hold onto information if they read it in written form, some prefer interactive learning and others will take on board information more easily if it is in a visual format and this is where vlogging comes into it's own. So if you really want to expand your author platform (or any other platform you are wanting to promote) then it's worth looking at vlogging. It's a growing format.

You probably won't see me vlogging in the near future though as I'm a little camera shy. I'm carrying a little more weight than I'm happy with and I absolutely hate to hear myself recorded speaking. If you don't have these hurdles in front of you though, it's worth checking out what's happening in the ever growing vlogging world.

Thursday, 28 April 2011


Life has a habit of getting in the way of the best laid ands that is what has happened towards to end of the A - Z challenge. 

As well as my own health and exhaustion to fight against, this week my mum has been taken into hospital. Nothing too serious as yet. A gallstone, enlarged duct and liver infection. They're keeping her in and plan to do an MRI next. I think she's hoping to have it out. 

I've been worried and unfocussed and this has meant the challenge has slid further and further down my list of priorities. I'm close, I can feel it. I can also smell it. 

So as they say, best laid plans of mice and men.... 

I may or may not make the end of the challenge but I'm still Here!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


I'm really not keeping up with this blog challenge. I'm sure the letter T should have been posted in the middle of last week or something equally as ridiculous. Anyway, what else is there for T other than Twitter.

We all blog. Look, I see you here. Well as all of you know, though I'm sure not all of you use, Twitter is another social networking site. Another platform for you to use for whatever benefit you see fit. The difference between the blogging platform and twitter is that twitter is much faster and more social. With only 140 characters to use you have to be succinct and to the point. Tweeting can be done on the go a lot easier than blogging can so any worries about time constraints can be forgotten. Really it is that easy. Two minutes while you wait for the kettle to boil. Three minutes in the ad breaks of your favourite tv programmes. Twitter is made for busy people.

The key things to remember are to play with a couple of different twitter clients and see what feels right for you. I tweet from my phone and rarely from my computer so I have a couple of twitter apps which I tried until I found one I was comfortable with.

The second thing is a profile picture. You are more likely to be followed if you have a profile photograph of yourself rather than the rather bland twitter egg. There are lots of twitter spam accounts out there and people are suspicious. Be real and you will be welcomed with open arms.

And finally, interact, reply, have fun. It's not just an endless stream of what you have been doing throughout the day. It's about interaction, connecting and conversing. Twitter is quick and fun. Play around with it. Watch others and see the etiquette taking place but enjoy talking to people.

If you're on twitter or finally taking that step to joining, look me up. My twitter link is on the right hand bar.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Sandra Jenson - Author Interview

Today's blog post is an interview with published author Sandra Jensen who has several short stories published and is working on her novel.
Welcome to Life in Clarity Sandra, it's a pleasure to have you here. I've read a couple of your stories on the ether iPhone app and really enjoyed them. What genre would you say you write in?
If people ask I tend to say literary fiction. I have one or two short stories that are more 'commercial' in tone. But in truth this question usually stumps me and I've just gone to Google to see what other genres my work could fit into. Here was one definition of literary fiction: "Often the protagonist lives an emotionally intense (if rather unpleasant) life, based upon someone's actual experiences." I'd say that probably fits several of my stories! I don't try to write in a particular genre, however. I've written stories that could be defined as magical realism, I've written one unfinished and very bad science fiction novel. I mostly read literary fiction so I certainly am influenced in this direction.

And the novel you are working on, can you tell us a little bit about it?
The novel is set in Sri Lanka during the early 80s. There are two main protagonists: Helen a naive young woman from London who is unwittingly swept up in the turmoil of the country’s civil war; and Raghunath, a young man she is attracted to. Raghunath is imprisoned on suspicion of being a member of the LTTE, a Tamil Tiger. Essentially the story is about the consequences of thoughtless actions. It's about complicity: how we may not be the person directly responsible for horrific events, but if we stand by and do nothing as they unfold, what then? As per the definition above, the story is loosely based on an experience I had while travelling in Sri Lanka in 1984.

The novel sounds amazing Sandra and I for one will be picking it up on release. I wish you so much luck with it. Are you a full time writer or is it something you do along with another job and with this is mind, how do you write, routine, or an as and when writer? 
I am a full time writer (which is not quite the same thing as making a living from writing, of course!). However I do find it difficult to keep to a routine, to write every day. I have to force myself sometimes. I run an on-line writing group, and I use this to motivate me. Last year I set an assignment for the group I called "a page a day" which basically meant just that: write one page a day, of whatever comes up. No plans, no ideals, just a page. No matter how awful the writing, for a month. When I'm not engaged in other writing I try to do this assignment, but even so I find it difficult, but when I do, it's an amazing practice, and has produced quite a lot of usable and publishable material for me, including my first competition win for a flash piece.
But, even when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing and I'm always engaged in the 'world' of writing in one way or another.

What are your writing aspirations?
I take it step by step. I would like to get my novel finished, and, of course, published. I also have a completed short story manuscript I'd like to get published, but I've been advised to hold off on sending this out until I have a novel accepted by an agent, at least. I have been contacted by three agents who read my short stories in literary magazines, and they are interested looking at a longer work. So, I need to get that novel finished! And then I presume another novel, and I have a couple of ideas for this, but I also like writing short stories and flash fiction. I will see when I get there! At the moment the novel I'm working on feels like an insurmountable mountain, even getting to a second draft would make me happy.

What does your work area look like and can we have a photograph?
I should send you a photograph I took recently for a newspaper that was looking for photographs on the theme "mess"! But instead I'll send you one of how it looks when it's tidy. I have a lovely view as I write: I look out onto a river which runs around the property. The wall behind my desk was painted by an artist friend. It's very quiet and isolated where we live, and this isn't actually working for me any more, so we are thinking of moving to a city, possibly London.

If you could sit down with someone living or dead and chat with them for an hour, who would it be and why?
Two people come to mind: my father, who died when I was seven. I wasn't close to him then, but I would like to know who he was, and to tell him how I'm doing. I think he'd be proud. He liked to write poetry. The other person is my childhood hero: Alexander the Great. He was my hero because of Mary Renault's novels about him, which I devoured over and over again when I was younger. Because of those novels I went on to study Greek and Classical Civilization at university, and perhaps they even influenced the fact that I'm a writer now. Something special happened for her with those particular stories, it seemed as if she almost channelled the time period, the characters. I would love to see how close to the 'truth' she was!

And finally, do you have any advice to anyone reading this who aspires to write but maybe hasn't taken that first step yet?
I aspired to write for most of my life. I always thought I'd 'grow up to be a writer', but growing up seemed to take a long time. What finally helped me - in my late 30's - to fully dive into writing was meeting a particular teacher, Barbara Turner-Vesselago, who teaches an approach called Freefall. I did a writing retreat with her, which more or less changed my life. It was her, and this approach, that 'turned on the creative writing tap' for me. I still go to her retreats, nearly every year. So I suppose I would say the best thing is to find support. If not a teacher or a mentor, a supportive writing group. I do feel most of us need lots of encouragement, it's such a lonely activity, one whereby you bare your soul over and over. Sometimes writing is very difficult, very painful, even if you've written for years, even if you've been well published. So the important word is 'supportive'. I know so many people who were told they couldn't write, and just gave up. It's so sad really. So keep looking for the people, and the environments that help you to write. Perhaps take a course, or do a retreat, or start a small informal writing group where you can share your work with each other.
And the other thing is to keep reminding yourself that it does take practise. Since we all 'write', I think it's easy to assume that we can therefore write fiction or memoir or poetry and so on, just like that. But it's a skill, no different to architecture or painting or playing a musical instrument. It takes time, support, and lots and lots of practise - even just one page a day will work miracles!
Start small. Don't think about a novel or a memoir or a book of short stories, don't even think of writing a whole short story. Just one sentence describing the colours outside your window is more than enough. And then, another day, write another sentence... write what your body feels, sees, hears. Word by word, sentence by sentence. Soon enough something will grow, will lead you into a larger piece or story, but let it happen when it wants to, don't force anything. It's important to sit at your desk (or wherever you'd like to write) and make the time to write, even if you don't actually do anything.
There is a lovely book by Brenda Euland I'd recommend to all aspiring writers - all writers actually - called "If You Want To Write, a book about art, independence and spirit". She talks about how inspiration works:
"Inspiration comes very slowly and quietly. Say that you want to write. Well, not much will come to you the first day. Perhaps nothing at all. You will sit before your typewriter or paper and look out of the window and begin to brush your hair absentmindedly for an hour or two. Never mind. That is all right. That is as it should be,--though you must sit before your typewriter just the same and know, in this dreamy time, that you are going to write, to tell something on paper, sooner or later. And you must also know that you are going to sit here tomorrow for a while, and the next day and so on, forever and ever."
Well, it seems I have a lot to say on this subject! Perhaps because I still struggle with it, every day. Each new blank page is like taking a first step, as if I'd never written anything before.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. I know the life of a writer is about prioritising time so I appreciate it. It's been a pleasure to have you here. Thank you Sandra.
You can find Sandra in the following places -
Diving Deeper, online writers group
Barbara Turner-Vesselago's Freefall writing

Saturday, 23 April 2011


What are you currently reading? I'm reading two books at the minute. It's something I've started doing since I got an ereader for Christmas. It's handy if I can't sleep as I don't have to turn the light on, yet on the other hand I can't take it into the bath. 

Reading crime thrillers helps to stir my creative juices. It gets me enthused about the first draft I'm writing and sometimes getting me enthused is no mean feat. The first draft is hard work. Reading is inspirational though. I read great work. Watch how characters grow and fall and grow some more. 

I also read chick-lit and love it's easy escapism. I love the humour. So what happens is. I have a crime thriller running and a chick-lit at the same time on different mediums. You can see what they are on the side bar. 

What are you reading and what do you get out of it? 

Thursday, 21 April 2011


Today's A-Z blog challenge post is more of a question/open invitation to fellow bloggers.

I am currently in the middle of my first draft of my novel. It's a long drawn out process and I'm no where near reaching the point where I should be querying agents. So in the name of having a well rounded blog I'd like to ask if there is anyone currently querying agents who would be interested in writing a guest post for May on the querying process and how its been for you on a personal level.

If you would be interested in this either leave me a comment with some contact details or drop me an email. Address in the side bar.

I'd love to hear peoples experiences. How is it for you?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


Firstly, I have to apologise for anyone following the A-Z challenge as I know I'm a day behind with it. I haven't been feeling great and as well as not being up to date, I haven't visited many blogs either. I hope to rectify this over the next few days. I hope to catch up.

However, if you are here reading this, then I'm taking it that you enjoy blogging, you enjoy reading the blogs of others and enjoy sharing your own thoughts, experiences and knowledge. If so, then you also want your blog to grow a steady and consistent readership. It's one thing to draw traffic to your blog by participating in blog challenges like this, but getting readers to return and to comment on what you post, requires that little extra and not just the usual advice of consistent blogging and good content.

People return because they like what you say, but they also return because they like you. Providing good content is a given requirement of blogging, but you also have to add yourself into your posts. Be a person, show who you are and when people comment, read what they write. Actually read the comments, not just skim them and count the amount of comments you have. When you read the comments, respond to them. Think about your answers. Direct your responses to the person commenting, it shows you are listening and interacting. The blogosphere as I have learnt, is a social place. Be sociable and put some of yourself into it and be personable. People will return if you respond to what they have to say.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Ordinary Angels - Book Review

Although most of Zoe Pendergraft's friends are dead, that means nothing to her. After all, they died long before she meet them. What does matter is the angel who took her dancing and turned her world upside down. 
But grim reality intrudes when she finds a body, and the Higher Angels accuse her of the murder.
Knowing she's the only one who can stand against the Higher Angels, Zoe uses any means necessary to save her friend all the while, wondering if the tempestuous love she's feeling is real. 
The blood on her hands forces Zoe to question herself, and her angel to question her.

Contains strong language and supernatural sizzle.

I finished this book Sunday night after being unable to put it down. I absolutely loved it.

Books around angels and magical beings etc are not usually the genre of books I usually read. I tend to read lots of crime thrillers and more recently I have ventured into chick-lit.

I picked up Ordinary Angels because I follow the author India Drummond on twitter and her blog and "knowing" who the author of a book is really interests me, so on the release of her novel I downloaded myself a copy of the ebook.

I found it really well written. I became invested in the characters and by the end I was wanting more. I'm not sure if a sequel is planned, but I would definitely pick it up.

The main love interest of mortal Zoe is an Angel called Alexander. Though he was of course lovely. I personally preferred the strong free angel of Thomas. There is murder, mayhem, romance and some wonderful descriptions of magical worlds and items.

I lost myself in Ordinary Angels and would absolutely recommend it. Even if you don't normally indulge in angels and fantasy. A thoroughly great read!

Saturday, 16 April 2011



I was struggling with what topic to choose for the A to Z challenge for the letter N and pondered over nightmares. The pondering stopped when my son earlier this evening (when I wrote this) had a night terror. 

Night terrors scare me. My little man sits bolt upright in his bed, eyes open and screams as if something is terrifying him in the corner of the room. He can't be pacified. He doesn't even know I'm there. I talk quietly and soothingly and try to add positive touch to this by stroking his back. Eventually he just quiets down, lays back in his bed and sleeps. Usually in the morning he has no recollection of this. I however am left most definitely shaken and stirred. I've gotten somewhat used to them but when he first started having them I think I was as actually scared and spooked out as he looked! 

I think he may have got this bizarre trait from me. I don't suffer night terrors but do have nightmares. Dreams I recall and dreams I wake up from occasionally by screaming out. 

What do my dreams tell me of my unconscious mind. To me, it's as active as my conscious mind. It feels as though my brain never stops whirring. Awake or asleep. 

Do you rest peacefully after a busy day or does all the power in the human brain just refuse to shut off and keep working through the issues, thoughts and story telling you've been doing through the day? 

Friday, 15 April 2011

Mark Dark - Author Interview

Today' blog post is an interview with fellow Ether author Mark Dark. I'd like to welcome Mark to Life in Clarity and thank him for taking the time out to answer my questions and for giving such a great interview.

Mark, you have a short story published on the ether app called Man or Mouse. I read it last night and loved it. Your surname does tend to describe your story well. Is this the type of writing you enjoy?

Haha, Dark? I guess so, yeah. And humorous too I hope. I've really only found out what my writing's like since I started sending it out. They say we don’t know ourselves until we’re around others. I think it’s the same with writing. What we write and what other people read in our writing can be different depending on the reader’s life experience, right? That psychic space between text and reader. When I started putting stuff out for competitions and critiques people came back saying the same things: macabre plots infused with dark humour. The film producer who optioned the feature film of Man or Mouse, when pitching it to Film 4, described my writing as having 'echoes of Martin McDonagh - dark, raw and blackly comic.' McDonagh wrote the brilliant In Bruges, so I was pleased with that! With other critics saying the same thing, I learned something about my writing that I wasn't aware of before.

My biggest influences as an adult are Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) and Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) who write in a genre that's been described as transgressive fiction, which is fiction that pushes the boundaries of acceptability, which transgresses  the norm, challenging us to face the darkness within ourselves. I also love Steven Berkoff's work, the playwrite. His version of Oedipus set in London's East End, Called Greek, which I saw on stage when I was 18, has been deeply inspirational. He writes from the gut, visceral, with no fear. I had writers block for over 10 years because of my fear, because I was afraid of what would come out. Conquering the fear of the words inside me was essential to breaking the block. It was reading writers like these that pushed me to face the monster within. Finally I started experimenting with 'dark' prose and wrote Teething Pain which deals with the relationship between desire and violence, which smashed the block to pieces! So now I let whatever comes out, come out. With no fear. Although writing's still scary ! 

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing since I was young. It’s my first love. I trained as an actor because I have too much energy to sit and write all day. Acting allows you to shout and scream and roll around and jump and fight and let it all out. I think though now I’m finally learning to channel that energy into my writing, to shout and scream and fight on the page. I wrote my first novel between the age of 15 - 18 called 'A Friend Called Me', which was heavily inspired by my favourite childhood author S.E Hinton, who wrote the amazing The Outsiders and Rumblefish when she was just seventeen, about youth and gang culture in the US. She also wrote as a boy, which was cool. Her writing was so relevant to us English kids too, especially with Pink Floyd's 'we don't need no education' blasting out of our speakers. There was a great buzz about her books around school, and then of course Coppola made the films. Rumblefish has stood the test of time and has become a cult classic. The Outsiders is studied in schools.

So yeah I wrote a lot as a kid. Sometimes my English teacher would let me sit out of normal lessons to write stories and plays and stuff, and then he'd read them out to the class. Looking back at it I’m sure it was just a way of getting rid of me! The rest of the teachers just sent me out. I was pretty destructive at school, rebellingAt least the English teacher let me do something creative instead of just making me stand outside and face the wall! English was the only lesson I liked at school because I could express myself. My destructiveness was rooted in fear and anger, and was actually a cry for help. Now I cry through my writing. But when I wasn’t writing, it came out in other ways, drugs, violence, etc. That’s why creative expression is, in my opinion, the solution to violent youth culture. Kids should be heard, and not just seen. Dance, music, singing, poetry, drama…art is the answer to apathy,anarchy and anger.

I left home at 16, left Bristol and moved to London to be an actor. That’s when I started getting involved with drugs and crime and gangs, hanging out in Mad Frankie Frazer’s bar and doing coke and eventually crack. It was just like being in a movie for me – a real life Goodfellas – except is was real! My writing stopped. I never picked up a pen again until I was free of that life-style in my late twenties. However, although I was writing it wasn't truthful, the block remained and I had to smash through it gradually, chipping away at my own fear like freeing a chained monster from a deep dark cave. Now the monster's free and roaming wild.

What are your writing ambitions?

Many people who've read Man or Mouse suggested developing it into a longer piece, so I'm currently working on the novel to release at the same time as the film. Another ambition is to finish this collection about my period in London gang culture called Crackipedia. It takes ages for me to write anything. I wish I was quicker! Who was it that said 'writing a fast read is a slow process?' They were right! I bashed out over 10,000 words for Man or Mouse before cutting it down to 3,000. Someone said that 'writing is like sculpture' - it's the process of elimination that reveals the story - that's certainly my case. But I hope to to have Crackipedia out next year.

Are we going to see Man or Mouse on our small screens then? That would be great!

Big screen hopefully! Just before it won the Writer's Forum short fiction prize it was optioned as a short film by producer Andrew Bonner who was nominated for a BAFTA for his short film Bye Child. His next short Icicle Melts starred Greta Scaachi and was also critically acclaimed. The idea was to make the short film of Man or Mouse as a taster for the feature film, but now we're hoping to go straight for the feature. We're in contact with production companies and are looking for the right director. It's the story of a teenage boy, lost in the world and searching for a father figure, desperate to prove himself 'a man'. He finds his 'father' in the boss of a violent gang of vigilantes, realising too late that he is not the father he was hoping for. But as with most gangs, there's no way out. Soon he's put to the test and taken on a 'hit' to prove his loyalty and his 'sonship'. Of course it all goes horribly wrong. The film has been described as Oliver meets Snatch! We're hoping to attract some super-cool actors. If all goes well Man or Mouse could be in cinemas next year. Watch this space!

Where do you like to work and can we have a photo of your working space?

I live in Cambodia at the moment and here in Phnom Penh there are many ultra-cool cafes and coffee shops with free wi-fi- so that's where I like to work. I love the constant whirl of people and the buzz of life around me. If I sit at home alone I go crazy! If I really need to concentrate, say for a final polish, I tend to find a quiet corner. But anyway, when I'm really in deep with the story and the characters, the world could explode around me and I'd still be typing away. I seem to zone out. Plus, in cafes, there's a constant flow of pretty faces, colourful characters and caffeine on stream!

You very obviously have carved out your own style. When you're not working on a piece of writing, what genre do you like to sit down and read for fun?

For fun I like to read thrillers and literary fiction. I've just finished Chuck Hogan's The Prince of Thieves, which is the book the movie The Town was based on, but the book is very different. It's a story of a bank robber who falls in love with one of his victims. It's a really great story. The film was astounding, full of intricate sub-plots, layers upon layers of character complexities, intense suspense and plot twists, and the book has all that and more.

I've also been reading Lee Child and Mark Billingham. However, one of the most captivating thrillers I've read recently was Derailed by James Siegel. It’s brilliant film too. The story is awesome. The novel kicks A.

Another awesome book I've read recently is Vernon God Littleby DBC Pierre. It's written in 1st person as a 17 year old boy accused of a Columbine-style high school massacre in a small US town. Acerbic, caustic, hilarious. It was his first novel and totally deserved winning The Booker. The writer sees the world in brilliant and profound metaphor. It’s so original. If you want to read a master of metaphor at work and at the same time laugh your pants off, read this. The Booker judge compared his freedom with language - his ability to create new and dynamic idiomatic expression - with Shakespeare. What a writer to be compared to!

I just read The Life of Pi too, which shocked me. Phew! just wasn't expecting it. The first 100 pages trundle along like aold train, slow and tedious really in its set up, but then suddenly the ship sinks, and the world becomes a vicious, brutal murderous fight for survival as the boy protagonist is stuck on a life boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with an orangutan, a zebra, a hyena and a tiger. And, put it this way,the animals are not friends! Really. I’d never ever read anything like this: rich, poetic, detailed, deeply disturbing prose describing things like a hyena eating a still-alive zebra from the inside out. *Shudder*.

I'm also reading Cambodia Year Zero about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge in S21 or Tuol Sleng, a school that was turned into a prison, interrogation and torture chamber. One of my characters in Man or Mouse, Trippy, in the movie version,is obsessed with political dictators and has a diatribe at the disinterested Dogface comparing Hitler's genocide with Pol Pot's. Funny how our reading can sometimes regurgitate into our writing in the strangest possible ways!

Another book which inspired me recently was The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. So subtle, I actually thought I wasn't emotionally involved in the story of Arrow the young female sniper at all, until my tears wet the final pages. That's great writing.

If someone were to play you in a movie, who would you like it to be?

Well, since I trained as an actor I suppose it would have to be me! But if I wasn't available due to my hectic schedule, or if I demanded too much money, or if they refused to give me my own personal hairstylist, I suppose Brad Pitt would have to do ;)

All that's left to say is, thank you Mark. That was a great interview and I will be watching with interest the news on the film front!

You can find Mark at the following places – Blog
                                                                Ether books.

Thursday, 14 April 2011


I am one of the most disorganised people I know. If something isn't written down it's very likely I will forget it. Thats where lists come in to save the day.

I have lists for everything. I have a to-do list at work. Then on my phone I have multiple lists in various formats. I have a list of jobs that need looking at in the house, items I need to remember to buy and a bucket list. I have a list for topics for blog posts and a list for things I need to remember/avoid or do in my novel. I have a to-read list on Goodreads and I employ lists to keep track of tweeters on twitter.

As I write this I can see how much my life is run by lists and I didn't realise just how much until I started typing. Now I have a list of lists.

Are you a list user and how so?

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Wow, this A-Z challenge is harder than I thought it would be. Maybe it's because I'm feeling drained this week. To anyone waiting for a response to a previous post, I will do them, I'm just shattered today and will hopefully sort myself out tomorrow.

Today's K post is more of a question to all bloggers. It's not restricted to writers and their blogs, but anyone who blogs about a subject.

My question is around knowledge.

At what point do you feel you hold enough knowledge on your chosen topic to give your point of view and opinion on it? I find this a particularly difficult area as an aspiring novelist, as I'm on a steep learning path. I'm not sure I have any knowledge to impart and if I don't then I'm soon going to run out of blog posts to write!

How do you get to a point where you feel comfortable with your knowledge?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Today's blog post is a post with relevance to the letter J and that J is Judgement. Judgement is the name of a piece of flash fiction I entered into a competition back in January and found out in January I had been longlisted. I have never been listed in the few competitions I had entered and when I say few, I think this is my third. My first failed to get there in time! My second, I heard nothing further from and this one was a longlisting. I'm so pleased with this and though it's not crime, I thought I'd share the piece of work with you. 


"What do you think?" 

"You need to lose weight. Your belly overhangs your belt and your hips are too wide" 

This hurt like a fist squeezing my heart, made all the more difficult knowing it was true. 

"your eyes aren't level, your nose is too wide and that extra chin makes you look as though you're being strangled." 

I knew I shouldn't go back for more but I couldn't help myself. This relationship was everything to me. I couldn't keep away, I needed the answers and honesty, no matter the cost. 

"What did you do to your hair today? It's not a good look on you." 

I put my hand up to my fringe, pulling it into place. Frustration and anger at myself welling in unison. My judge was honest and would never lie. I was at such a low every time we met. Eventually I started to avoid her. I spent time with other friends. We would laugh and it felt good. I became happy. I loved life and I didn't even think about her. 

One day we passed in the hallway. I was laughing at a joke when I saw her. I looked my old adversary in the eye. She matched my look. “OK” I smiled, “you have me, who is the fairest?” 

"You are. Your smile lights you up, brightens the room and all those around you." 

I smiled again and moved away. The mirror never lies.

Monday, 11 April 2011


My crime novel work-in-progress is being written in the first-person. I. This I believe is usually frowned upon in novels with third-person narrative being the preferred means of storytelling for agents and publishers.

First person narrative is where one of the characters is telling the story from their point of view and will talk from the, I did/felt this, viewpoint.

The most popular and preferred narrative is third person, either third-person omniscient or third-person limited.

Third person omniscient is an all seeing all knowing narrator who informs the reader of things the characters wouldn't necessarily know.

Third person limited narrative however, uses the thoughts of one character to tell the story but in third person tense, so he/she did/felt rather than- I felt.

Though in the main, my work is told through the eyes of the female Detective Inspector, there are scenes in-between the main narrative that is third person limited. This tact is used varyingly dependent on who the scene is focused on and what I want to convey.

My main character can't be in all places all of the time so for added texture - giving a sense of who the villain is- I've opted to use both first and third person. I will see how this works at the end of the first draft but I'm getting a good feeling about it and think it works.

What are your thoughts on first-person narratives?

Saturday, 9 April 2011


On Wednesday my little man had his six month check up with the consultant paediatrician, Mr M. He reviewed his notes from our last visit and the letter from the Ehlers-Danlos clinic saying they wouldn't diagnose him but would see him in a year. It was at this point that I explained how unhappy I was with the service at the EDS clinic and how if little man had this disorder I wanted it diagnosing due to potential further health problems. 

Mr M then asked how little man was and I said he was ok, but he'd had problems with his knee a couple of weeks ago as well as the usual occasional leaky capillaries which are the norm for him.  He then checked little mans joints. His knee first. His knee is really hyper mobile and Mr M even moved it side to side in it's socket. His thumbs, though not quite touching his forearm on testing did go a lot further than your average child. The rather wonderful Mr M then said little man is very stretchy, believes he has EDS and is writing yet again to the EDS clinic. 

I felt heard and I felt that this past year hasn't all been fished out of thin air by my overactive imagination. 

No one wants this diagnosis but if it's there you really need to know. 

Now we wait for my appointment in June and little mans in the summer. It's a long wait. 

Friday, 8 April 2011


Books are a passion. I love how drawn into a book you can become. Willing on the protagonist to obtain their goals. Laughing out loud and getting strange looks when you do. Wiping away tears when noone knows why you are so sad. Books take you into another world and carry you along on the ride.

Goodreads is a great place to share this passion. Books are added to bookshelves, be they read, currently reading or to-read. You can write and share reviews and reading book reviews written by friends has often led to my putting that book on my to-read shelf. My to-read shelf grows by the week.

I have even read books that I may never have otherwise read simply because of a great review  

If you're a bit if a bookworm then add me as a friend on goodreads and lets open up our to-read lists. Click on the image to add me and happy reading!

Thursday, 7 April 2011


Today's A to Z blog challenge blog post is short and sweet as will be tomorrows. I've had a busy week and keeping up with the challenge has been more difficult than I imagined. Even with some pre-planned and written posts. Just getting on the computer and sitting down and doing it has, at times felt too time consuming or exhausting.

I haven't had time to check out other blogs on the list through the week but plan on hopping through plenty at the weekend.

Today's post is Facebook. If you're a Facebook user, please feel free to add me. I get on intermittently but do use it. It's a great sharing platform. Don't be shy. Add me! (Just click on the image)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ether Books

A few months ago I had my first short stories published. I was absolutely thrilled as you can imagine. They were published on a brilliant iPhone, iPad and iPod touch app called Ether Books. 

Ether publish short stories by seasoned and new authors, for people on the go, who want something quick to read. It was founded by Maureen Scott whom I am honoured to say I recently interviewed. This is the interview, where you will find out more about Ether and the great woman behind it. 

Thank you for joining us at Life in Clarity, Maureen, I really appreciate your time.

When did you initially get the idea to create such a brilliant app for readers who like short stories? 

Read this link below; it pretty much gives you background about why I set up ether. I have been in mobile for 12 years and as soon as decent smartphones started shipping I could see that people would adopt reading on them. But I think book content is too long! Hence ether and our "15 minute reads." Small but perfectly published....

I love my iPhone. In fact I would be gutted if I somehow lost it. The Ether app is so perfect for it. There are other smart phones out there and more people who can read on the go. Are there plans to put Ether Books out there on other phones? 
Ether plans to support Android devices by the end of 2011. I ran one of the first ever Mobile Developer Programmes from 2001-2005 when I worked for a Mobile company called Openwave. We supported WAP developers for anyone out there who remembers the WAP handsets! Openwave came up with the original concept of having the Internet on your Phone. I worked with many of the mobile internet pioneers who created the mobile content industry long before Mr. Jobs of Apple fame tipped over the apple cart (sorry, I couldn't resist) with his iconic iPhone. The iPhone changed the mobile industry almost beyond recognition and we are big fans of the Apple devices.

Android represents opportunities and challenges for us; every device manufacturer implements the Android Operating System in a different way, which causes big problems for small companies like Ether. Google, who own the Android Operating System, have promised to improve Android so that is is implemented by device manufacturers in a consistent way. It means we are going to wait longer to support Android devices.

There are some big name established authors with stories on the app. How did they feel about making their work so acceptable in a world that needs it's stuff now, on the go and short?
We approached literary agents to secure rights for the short stories and essays from many of our famous writers including Hilary Mantel, Alexander McCall Smith, Louis de Berniers, Conn Iggulden, and Shaun Hutson to name just a few of our famous writers. The agents were very interested in working with Ether; we represent a new digital channel to market for these writers and their work. Hilary Mantel spent 12 years writing her story "The Heart Fails Without Warning," it was previously published once in the Guardian newspaper. Hilary Mantel has been tremendously supportive of Ether, you can see her interview with Telecom TV on the Ether WEB site. She pretty much sums up why writers are so happy to work with Ether.
Now we are also working directly with new writers. We want to discover the next JK Rowling, and publish the material in "episodic" format. We think it makes it more fun for the reader and it perfectly fits the context of mobile reading. Consumers want to be entertained and we have some great reading content for that spare 15 minutes.....

Where do you see Ether Books going in the future?
 I have spent the past 12 years in the mobile industry. I like to talk about the three "Cs" that represent what Ether is all about. The three "Cs" are Content, Context, and Community. Consumers prefer to consume "short" content when they are on their mobile phones. The best analogy is that consumers prefer watching a YouTube video instead of a full length film on their mobile phone! The mobile phone screen is small, and the context of usage is that people are in a hurry and want something now because they have a spare 15 minutes. This "immediacy" and desire for instant gratification suits our content perfectly. It is also very convenient to have a library of great reads in your pocket! One of our writers Toby Litt summed it up by saying "short stories and mobile phones are pretty much made for each other."
The Community aspect of Ether is also really important. We have an invitation-only Community of Ether Writers, a place our writers can communicate with each other and test ideas for new work. In the future we will be growing the Facebook Ether Community Group and we hope to connect our Ether Writers directly to their fans.
We have a lot of plans for the future, and are very excited to be publishing so many new writers!

What is your favourite genre to read when you're not working? 
I'm always working...
The book I am reading now is called "Do bugs have bottoms?" It was one of the World Book Day books and I am reading it with my little girl.

It's really good! I am learning a lot!

Where do you work and can we have a photo of your working space??
Right now I am working from my kitchen table! I often work from Starbucks. When we have a huge audience of readers I am going to offer Starbucks free ads on Ether since their WiFi is great and perfect for small start-up companies. So --- I want you to insert a logo of Starbucks!

If you could do or be anything in the world now, what would it be?
I would have a team of 20 people working NOW for Ether. We have so much to do and there are so few of is a constant challenge and frustration for us. There are 5.5 billion mobile handset users around the world and I am not going to be satisfied until we get our Ether Writers out to the masses around the world.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about Ether and share a little if the person behind it. We sometimes forget that someone is behind the technology and work so this has been great. Thank you! 

You can find the Ether Books website Here where you will also find a link for the Apple app store

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Dreams and aspirations

I work hard at my day job. I really enjoy what I do but I have dreams of other things. 

I'm currently working on my first crime novel and this first one is, I hope, the first of many. It's to be a series. My protagonist is a female detective. A dedicated determined woman, but a woman with flaws and one who will go on to live with the repercussions of what she will live through in this first novel. 

I've written pages of information on her and the other characters. I know them. I know the characters are strong enough to go forward into other novels. 

The first draft is hard work and its not a quick process. I have to find the time between working and family, to write. I'm not in a race, I have no deadlines given to me other than my own personal goals but my dream is to complete this first novel, have an agent and publisher like it enough to publish it and to write more. Let the characters grow and evolve and have readers who love them, faults and all. 

This is my dream. What do you dream of?

Monday, 4 April 2011


In the spirit of Aprils A - Z blog challenge, todays post is titled Celestial for the angel legal system in author, India Drummonds book, Ordinary Angels which is released today.

Today's post is an interview with the lovely India Drummond 

It's an honour to have you on Life in Clarity India. Thank you for agreeing to the interview.

Thanks so much for having me!

So as I've already mentioned Ordinary Angels is being released today. How are you feeling about that?
I’m excited, a little nervous, happy… just generally walking on air. It’s been a long road, but I feel like I’ve just arrived at the best part of the journey. In many ways, this is just the beginning.

What is Ordinary Angels about?
It’s an urban fantasy / paranormal romance novel in which Zoe Pendergraft falls in love with an angel, frees a soul from necromancers, releases a ghost trapped in the Void, and saves his living grandson from demons.

How did the idea come about?
Well, the idea of writing about angels came from a flippant remark my husband made once. We were having a sort of play-argument, in which he said, “I’m a perfect angel.” I replied with a derisive snort and told him that if he is what angels are like, we’re all in trouble. But it got those writerly wheels spinning, and the idea of “real” angels took root and grew from there.

Tell us about the path to publication
Oh gosh, it started back in university in my writing classes. I started sending short stories off for publication, and this was before I even owned a computer (no one had them at home back then—ages ago!) It’s been a long road with bumps and breaks, but each one of those obstacles taught me something important.

How long have you been writing prior to being accepted by a publisher?
I started writing stories when I was nine or ten. I actually remember (vaguely) that first story, and how empowering it was to be able to communicate my feelings in a different way. Now it’s more about craft and storytelling, but I still find it empowering.

When you're not writing, what genres do you like to read?
I really love mysteries and thrillers. There’s nothing like a good murder. But I also enjoy epic fantasy, science fiction—really anything with a good story.

Do you have a favourite book and if so what is it?
I don’t think I do. Every book I’ve read has taught me something, and I can’t say any one lesson or experience with a book has been better than another. Each one is different.

What does your workspace look like? (can we have a photo?!)
No way! My husband once took a picture of my computer space and compared it to his, mostly because he was so smug about his own tidy habits. Me, not so much. I know where everything is, but it’s not necessarily where anyone else would expect it to be. =)

If you weren't a writer what would your dream occupation be?
When I was young, I really wanted to be an archaeologist. But then again, that’s about stories too, isn’t it? I don’t think I could get away from storytelling in some fashion.

And finally if a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you and why?
I think I’d like it to be a highly fictionalised account where I got to be a kick ass secret agent. If that’s true, then let’s go for the whole fantasy life and have me played by Angelina Jolie. In real life, I’d probably get Roseanne Barr.

All that's left to say is thank you again, I wish you all the best with Ordinary Angels and I can't wait to read it!
Thank you so much for having me! It’s great to be here!

India can be found on -              Her website

Ordinary Angels can be found - Amazon UK
                                                Amazon USA

ISBN-10: 1616502584
ISBN-13: 978-1616502584

Saturday, 2 April 2011

B - Bucket Lists

What is a bucket list you may ask yourself. A bucket list is a list you make of all the things you want to do before you kick the proverbial bucket. There was a very poignant film created called The Bucket List with actors Jack Nicholson and Samual L Jackson and it prompted my own bucket list.

My list comprises mainly if places in the world I want to see, but does include other things.

Here is just a taster of my quite large bucket list-

1. Write a novel and have it published (with all the steps in-between)

2. Get a degree in earth sciences

3. Visit Iceland and stay in an ice hotel

4. Walk on the great wall if China

5. Visit New York

6. Swim with dolphins

What six things would you put on your bucket list?

Friday, 1 April 2011

Blog Challenge Commences!

*trumpet roll* or whatever that trumpeting noise is called...

Today is Friday 1st April, which is day one of the A-Z blog challenge, with today's post being A related.

A - attribution. I happily attribute this blog challenge to Arlene at Tossing it Out.

It's not too late to join in. Pop over, sign up and meet new bloggers. You don't even need to be concerned about lengthy world changing posts. Just look at the length of this one. I do however, intend to make some interesting and interactive blog posts so be sure to pop back. Happy blog challenge month!!