Dodgems of Love

Grandma is one of my favourite people on earth! She is really short, and probably as round as she is tall, but she’s an amazing tower of strength. She is a proper matriarch of the family, that always wants to know how all the family are doing all the time (with 8 children, 19 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren it’s not an easy task!), but she just wants to know everyone is doing well, healthy and happy.

I adore her and granddad’s story. A chance meeting on the dodgems may not be a fairy-tale romantic setting for most, but for them, it was to be the start of a relationship lasting 60 years and counting. Grandma met the love of her life, Peter, at Bridlington’s arcade in 1953 and they married after a year of courting.

When Grandma tells the story she says, her and a friend walked through the amusement arcade and granddad was on the dodgems having the time of his life.

“We looked at one another and he came over and we have never been separated since. He was the one.”

The secret to that special connection that creates a long and happy marriage?

Is to never let an argument rumble on. Grandma’s advice. “We care for one another and never let the sun go down on an argument.”

We think this translates to Granddad accepting that Grandma is the boss! But whatever it is it clearly works. Things may have changed in this day and age but I think their story still shows you just never know when and where you might find your happily ever after.

How to Write Historical Fiction: 7 Tips on Accuracy and Authenticity

Balancing Authenticity with Accuracy.

1. Have fun with the research, but do your homework. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Borrow some good reference books. Become comfortable with the time period. Try to understand both the larger scope of the period, while examining aspects of daily life. This will help create an authentic backdrop for your novel.

2. Let the characters engage with the historical details. This goes along with that “show don’t tell” truism writers are told all the time. Rather than just dumping a bunch of facts on the poor reader, let your characters interact with these details with all these senses. Let them smell the offal dumped onto the cobblestone streets. Let them squint in the fading light of the tallow candles. Let them feel the tingling sensation as the physician places a leech on their bare skin.

3. Allow your characters to question and explore their place in society. This will help reveal the larger political, social, cultural context of the time. What were the expectations for women? For sailors? For criminals? How did people from different parts of society interact with one another?

4. Use the internet wisely, to inspire and inform. The internet can be a researcher’s best friend, especially for arm-chair time travelers. Need to know how long it would take to walk from the Louvre to the Eiffel tower? Use the walking feature on mapquest. Need to see the inside of the Hagia Sophia? Check the dozens of tourist videos on YouTube. Sometimes I’m amazed by what the internet can’t answer. Certainly, the internet is a treasure trove of interactive maps, images, videos, and historical documents, which can be both informative and inspiring.

5. The internet can be bad, bad, bad for historical research. Unfortunately, the internet is also full of flawed information, lies, plagiarized material and half truths. (I’m looking at you, Wikipedia! Which I do use, but cautiously). Check all “facts” against at least two sources when possible. If a story or definition is repeated nearly verbatim in more than one source, there’s a good chance someone simply copied the information without verifying the accuracy. This is how a lot of bad information gets passed along and taken as “true.”

6. Don’t fret the details; let the story be told. Strive for accuracy, but when necessary, make your best informed guess and move on. And if you have to fudge something, well, that’s what the ‘historical note’ at the end of your novel is for!

7. Love the process, because readers will still find errors. And they’ll let you know about them. It doesn’t matter if those errors happened in editing process (as several of mine did. I collapsed some scenes together, and voila! A perfect recipe for timeline and geography mistakes). You can triple-check facts, hire copy editors and proofreaders, scrutinize every word for inconsistencies and mistakes, and I guarantee something will still slip by. At that point, you just have to laugh, thank your reader and move on.

But what do you think? How do you balance historical authenticity and historical accuracy as you tell your story?

I Came Across this useful article today on writers digest, by author Susanna Calkins (author of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate). I did click the share button but apparently it doesn’t translate to wordpress very well so I have extracted the tips to here. But please visit the full article using the link below.

How to Write Historical Fiction: 7 Tips on Accuracy and Authenticity.

Astronomy Myths and Legends- The Tale Of the Lucky Red Moon

It’s an odd world at the minute – did you know?..

 On April 4th 2015 there will be a blood moon?

A blood moon is a total lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes in the shadow of Earth so the light from the sun is blocked by our planet. The light refracts differently in the atmosphere and, as it hits the moon, it appears red.

Total lunar eclipses are rare – only about one in three lunar eclipses are total. About four to five total eclipses can be seen at any place on Earth in a decade.

Lunar eclipses usually do not occur in any specific order. However, every once in a while, four total lunar eclipses happen in a row. This is called a lunar tetrad. The total lunar eclipses happen 6 months apart. There are at least six full Moons between two total lunar eclipses in a tetrad. This will be the 3rd blood moon, with the fourth set to occur on September 28th, 2015.

I think in this modern world, I still like the old world ways, myths about knights, witches and dragons, when people actually listened to nature (and each other). So for those wanting some of that:

Myths & Legends..

There are many myths and legends surrounding the blood moon, many surrounding werewolves, it’s said they can’t resist the feeling of a blood moon calling them to the hunt. It has greater “pull” than a normal moon and thus, makes it near impossible to resist. Whenever it happens, if a werewolf is awake, or asleep, he will know, and he will answer the “call”.

For more visit:-

Astronomy Myths and Legends- The Tale Of the Lucky Red Moon.

If you want to know when your town will see it visit –

http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2015-april-4

Another Writing News Flash –

I am thoroughly enjoying the homages made to great writers which are appearing on the news and in the media at the moment. Last week I published a post on how  Google marked the 200th birthday of Irish gothic tales writer Sheridan Le Fanu has rekindled my passion for good “classic” horror stories.

conan doyle prophecy

Then on Friday an article on Arthur Conan Doyle’s eerie vision of the future of war was published on BBC news. The article focusses on a short story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about the threat of starvation in Britain – caused by enemy submarines – and the need for a Channel Tunnel. During the War this story almost became true when Germany began attacking merchant ships headed for Britain. The need for a tunnel was then realised.

In fact, a few weeks after the story’s publication, the House of Commons was set to debate the idea of a tunnel. But the day before it was due to take place Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo. The debate never took place.  It wasn’t until 1994 – 80 years after Conan Doyle’s story – that today’s Channel Tunnel finally opened.

But it really brings to life the Byron quote (found in his 1823 poem Don Juan) is “Truth is always strange, Stranger than Fiction.”

This brought to mind the great Fahrenheit 451, a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. Over the course of several decades, people had embraced new media, sports, and a quickening pace of life. Books were ruthlessly abridged or degraded to accommodate a short attention span while minority groups protested over the controversial, outdated content perceived to be found in books.

Could Ray’s eerie vision of the future be closer than we think? I suspect not as although paperback reading itself may not be as popular as it once was, the quest for knowledge continually grows. With the introduction of the kindle and similar devices sales of books have increased. This article from 2012 quotes the following sales figures – overall growth of 89.1 per cent in digital sales went from £77m to £145m, while physical book sales fell from £985m to £982m – and 3.8 per cent by volume from £260m to £251m.
book & kindle

I wonder how many other books that have seemed far-fetched have come closer to the truth than we first realised…

Opportunities

Hello Everyone,

There are quite a few new opportunities out there at the moment, if anyone is looking for a new challenge…

BBC Script Room
Send your stage play for assessment by readers at the BBC when The Script Room window opens from 15-29 September. They say: ‘We read all scripts as a calling card of a writer’s talent. This is not a free script-reading service, but a means by which the BBC seeks out the best new writing talent, offering writers without a track record, representation, or contacts the opportunity to have their work considered by the BBC.’ Shortlisted writers will go forward to access a range of development opportunities with BBC writersroom. Script Room 8 is specifically for comedy/drama stage plays. There are strict submission guidelines, which you are advised to follow. Deadline: 29 September For more information, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/opportunities/script-room-2013.
Join the revolution
The Manchester-based magazine for creative writing, Black & BLUE, is currently seeking submissions on the theme ‘Revolution’. They are looking for revolutionary writing in any form, from poetry to dramatic sketches, not to mention diary entries, fabricated transcripts, memos and love letters. Send your submissions to revolution@blackbluewriting.com. Deadline: 14 September. See http://www.blackbluewriting.com for details.
Story Tyne
North Tyneside Libraries is encouraging people of all ages to enter its free annual short story competition, Story Tyne. This year entries are being invited on the theme of ‘The Great War’. There are four age categories in the competition: adults, young people aged 13-16 years, children aged 9-12 years, and children aged up to 8 years. Entries in the adult category should be no more than 1,500 words, and entries in the children’s categories no more than 750 words. Waterstones vouchers will be awarded to winners and runners-up. Closing date: 27 September. Entry forms are available from North Tyneside libraries or can be downloaded here.
The Writer’s Prize
Seeking the best ideas across the Radio 3 and 4 networks, BBC Radio has joined forces with BBC Writersroom to hold The Writer’s Prize. The award is the opportunity for a Radio 3 or Radio 4 commission and the prize is open to a range of ideas and approaches from any writer, anywhere in the UK. It could be a 45-75 minute drama for Radio 3 or 4, although the majority of opportunities will be for the Radio 4 afternoon drama slot, which lasts 45 minutes. They say: ‘We are looking for original, surprising multi-character narrative scripts for radio. We are not looking for monologues or adaptations.’ The award will be judged by Jeremy Howe (commissioning editor, BBC Radio 4 Drama), Kate Rowland (BBC creative director, new writing) and award-winning writer Katie Hims. Opens 15 September, closes 29 September. Apply online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/opportunities/Writers-Prize.

Time to get scribbling 🙂 …

Today Google marks the 200th birthday of Irish gothic tales writer Sheridan Le Fanu

google

Extract From Wikipedia

..Le Fanu worked in many genres but remains best known for his mystery and horror fiction. He specialised in tone and effect rather than “shock horror”, and liked to leave important details unexplained and mysterious. He avoided overt supernatural effects: in most of his major works, the supernatural is strongly implied but a “natural” explanation is also possible. The demonic monkey in “Green Tea” could be a delusion of the story’s protagonist, who is the only person to see it; in “The Familiar”, Captain Barton’s death seems to be supernatural, but is not actually witnessed, and the ghostly owl may be a real bird. This technique influenced later horror artists, both in print and on film (see, for example, the film producer Val Lewton’s principle of “indirect horror”). Though other writers have since chosen less subtle techniques, Le Fanu’s best tales, such as the vampire novella “Carmilla”, remain some of the most powerful in the genre. He had enormous influence on one of the 20th century’s most important ghost story writers, M. R. James, and although his work fell out of favour in the early part of the 20th century, towards the end of the century interest in his work increased and remains comparatively strong.

Inspiration

This image has inspired me. I have always had an interest in horror novels (and movies), particularly those that expose the readers imagination to cause the horror effect. I remember reading the shining by Stephen King when I was around 11/12 years old and then going on holiday with my dad were the hotel had hedge creatures! I spent a large amount of the holiday keeping an eye on the hedge animals for suspected movements, the slightest breeze putting me on high alert and holding onto my dads hand (something that was very uncool at that age).

For me, James Herbert was the modern master of this type of writing. I raced through his novels soaking up every word and loved the feeling of falling asleep with the lamp on in case something made a noise in the middle of the night. Both “the magic cottage” and “the secrets of crickley hall” being particular favorites’ and I love re-reading these every few years.

I love that this type of creepy horror and it is coming back into fashion with writers such as Susan Hill and Jonathan Ayecliffe recovering this genre from neglect. I’m sure most readers of horror will agree imagination beats gore every time.

Time for some more horror reading…and maybe a little bit of writing too.

A Letter to an Unknown Soldier

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick post for those that might be interested in entering the following writing project:-

A Letter to an Unknown Soldier is a new kind of war memorial – one made only of words, and by thousands of people. On the hundredth anniversary of the declaration of war, organisers are inviting everyone in the country to write a personal letter to the unknown solider who stands on the memorial on platform 1 of Paddington station in London. The project will be eventually housed as a national archive in the British Library. Find out more at www.1418now.org.uk.

I think it’s such a beautiful idea and hope you all enjoy the challenge too!

KL Caley