Beautiful Writing

William Boyd: my advice for budding authors

16 September 2015

From The Guardian

With 17 novels, a James Bond reboot, short stories and multiple screenplays under his writerly belt, is it an odd question to ask why William Boyd writes? He answers quickly and wryly: “It is a good question and a hard one. Basically, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”


At a Guardian Live event for his latest book Sweet Caress he spoke to critic Alex Clark about his career, peppering his reflections with advice for would-be writers.


1. Can you write?

So far, so obvious. “You have to be able to write well,” Boyd said. “Not stylishly. You have to be able to express your thoughts in a manner other people can understand. You could write simply – something like James Joyce’s Dubliners, with a very limpid prose – or you could write a Finnegan’s Wake. But you have to be able to write: if you can’t, stop.”


4. Do you have the stamina?

“There are rare examples of authors nailing it on novel one, but a whole creative career is a long haul. It takes so long to write a novel, so if you don’t have the stamina, don’t do it,” Boyd said. “I know a lot of poets who think about becoming novelists, but then say: ‘But I can write a poem in an afternoon.’ You can’t do that with novels.”


But I write with confidence – I never wonder what will happen next. Iris Murdoch said there is a period of invention and a period of composition – I have borrowed that for myself.”

Read the rest here.

From Guest Blogger Randall


17 May 2015

A poem by William Blake.


Blake’s poem provides the lyrics for one of England’s most familiar hymns.


Maine bed & breakfast owner will sell her inn to anyone for just 200 words.

12 March 2015

From Someecards:

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a historic bed and breakfast in Maine, that’s an oddly specific dream. But good news! Now’s your chance to fulfill it, as long as you have $125, a postage stamp, and a gift for words.

. . . .

Janice Sage, the owner and innkeeper of the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant, wants to retire. Rather than sell the inn traditionally, however, she is holding an essay contest to find the person who will treat the old place right. She is charging $125 per entry, and hopes to attract at least 7,500 contestants, netting her the $900,000 estimated value of the property.

Where did she get the idea to hand off the inn that way? That’s how she got it.

Back in 1993, the Center Lovell Inn was owned by Bil and Susie Mosca. They held an essay contest, charging $100 per entry, and Janice was the winner. The contest attracted a lot of media attention at the time, including a feature on The Phil Donahue Show. Janice doesn’t have the media power of the Donahue behind her, but she does have the Internet. What do you say? Do you want to help make her rich, and have a chance at owning your own piece of history in the process?

The Center Lovell Inn was built in 1805, and features two outbuildings, as well as scenic views of Kezar Lake and the White Mountains. There are 10 guest bedrooms, a 40-seat dining room, and ghosts, probably. Probably lots of ghosts.

Link to the rest at Someecards and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Re-reading a modern day romance classic.

3 October 2014

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon.

From Stephanie at Fangs Wands & Fairy Dust:

I read a lot and always have.  But it is a testimony to the excellence of this book that I can remember when I first bought it, and where in the now defunct bookstore I bought it. Furthermore, I remember going back there again and again waiting for the next book in the series.

I always thought I remembered a lot from my first reading. But, even reading through the last couple of books in the series, I realized I had forgotten an awful lot of the details, had some out of order, and thought different characters did different things. So about a week and a half ago I began rereading the story.

There has been a lot of contention since the series came out about whether it would stick to the book in plot and character. And, I have to say that it has really kept to the book, the last couple of episodes in this first season took some not unwelcome liberties, but all in all it has.


There is a lot less Jamie in the first few parts of the novel.  He doesn’t appear nearly as much as I seemed to recall. I’ve chalked it up to wishful thinking on my p[art as who wouldn’t rather Jamie than his gnarly uncle?  And the paradox of marriage to someone who has not yet been born is still really, really interesting.

This is a long book but really worth the time and money. It is in all likelihood at your local library in a couple of formats.  I think it is well-written, engaging, gripping and un-put-down-able — even after the second read.  And, I enjoyed reading it even as I watched the series.

I admit to having read Outlander when it was first released. In fact I’ve read the entire series. The characters are so real to me that I’ve had mixed feelings about any translation to either the big or small screen. The Starz series has managed to win me over, despite some lingering trepidation. Dear Ms. Gabaldon, it’s been 23 years, yet Claire and Jamie still have the power to enchant.

Read Stephanie’s perspective here.

Julia Barrett

There’s an old joke

1 April 2014

There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.”

First line of Annie Hall

I Am “Flippish”.

16 October 2013

The Filipino American International Book Festival.

“Filipino American authors and artists have come together to share their stories at the second Filipino American International Book Festival.  Hosted by PAWA, a Northern CA based 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization and independent publisher of Filipino American lit.  PAWA’s main goal is to create and encourage literature and arts for the preservation and enrichment of Filipino and Filipino American historical, cultural and spiritual values.”

At the San Francisco Public Library, October 19-20.  Read more here:                  Leslie V. Ryan- Author

Julia Barrett

It was proposed to establish a nation on new principles

4 July 2013

For visitors from outside the United States, today is Independence Day, celebrating the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, signed on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia.

From President Calvin Coolidge’s “Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence” in Philadelphia, July 5, 1926:

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. . . . It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world.

Serious Fiction and Legitlit: Creating a Hybrid Home

28 January 2013

From Jennie Coughlin:

Print vs. Ebook

Traditional vs. Indie

Genre vs. Literary

Serious vs. Fluff?

Critics, readers and writers all like debating about fiction and where it’s going. One interesting sidelight to the Traditional/Indie debate has been the discussion about what works in print versus in ebook. Some genres are hugely popular in ebooks. Erotica leads the way — no covers to hide from people while reading in public — but romance, supernatural and other popular genres also do well in ebooks. Meanwhile, literary fiction doesn’t. Unless it’s popular literary fiction — akin to what Don Maass has dubbed 21st Century Fiction — and then it does well in both print and ebooks.

Blogger and critic Porter Anderson has been talking recently about the rise in “shirtless” fiction — romance, romance and more romance. For Porter, it’s akin to the 25-cent paperbacks people can buy by the bag at library book sales and used book stores. Easily read, easily discarded. He’s been pushing what he’s calling #legitlit and #seriousfiction — stories that make you think. Is that literary fiction? That might depend on who you ask.

Read the rest here- Interesting.  Welcome to Exeter.

Julia Barrett

Is Your Research Showing?

24 January 2013

Love this.  From Diane O’Connell – Is Your Research Showing?

“How do you know when to stop research? And how much research should actually go in your novel? Not knowing when to stop incorporating your research, or not knowing when the facts you’ve ferreted out of the library start to encroach on your story is a problem for many first time authors. As novelist Sean Pidgeon expressed in a recent New York Times article, “The true challenge, as I discovered in due course, was this: how to leave most of it out?”

Read the entire article here:  Write to Sell Your Book

Julia Barrett


She’s a poem in motion.

22 January 2013

This is not what you think. Beauty, grace, artistic expression, athleticism. You have to watch the video in its entirety. Anything we, as authors, can learn? Work that core? Never say never? Nothing is impossible?

(Oh, if the video doesn’t load I’ll reload it.)

Julia Barrett

Next Page »