Perils and Pleasures of Penmanship.

Writing is such an odd occupation, requiring peculiar minds combined with unusual personalities. All writers are weird; that’s a given. We know we’re strange, some of us peculiar to the point of near insanity, others merely eccentric. We’re definitely an odd bunch. But there’s a strange beauty, a wonderful schizophrenia about writing, especially when the …

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NSA, by Benny Neylon, Reviewed.

This is satirical, dystopian science fiction taking a brutal swipe at the media, politicians, conspiracy theorists, security experts and the military. All of it richly deserved. The writing is good, characterisation is thorough, creating archetypes rather than indulging in stereotypes as is so often the case with books of this type. The humour is hard, …

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Until Death Do Us Part, by Lynda Hilburn, Reviewed.

Humour with vampires: those who love the genre will really get their teeth into this. (Sorry, unforgivable bloody pun! – And again!) This is a well-constructed short that manages to pack in the conventions of the vampire world. I love the idea of the psychologist treating vampires for their problems. This story is told from …

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IQ84, by Mike Dickenson, Reviewed.

Mike Dickenson’s ‘IQ84’ is a timely satire on American values and culture. Written in the style of a humorous pulp thriller, it captures the banality, self-obsession, materialism and superficiality that characterise the USA for so many of us who live in the rest of the world. The recent populist backlash against the establishment that has …

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I’d Like to Know: Why? #1

For some time, I’ve been tempted to run a series of questions here. I’ve serious issues I’d love to open for debate, silly matters that might cause amusement, trivial irritations that cause me grief, and fairly vital matters that demand answers. I’m opening the series with a minor peeve. It might result in some relief …

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Silent Plight, by Jill Province, Reviewed.

A fun story, this. The writer’s dilemma: freedom of expression and the associated poverty of writing what you want, or fame and the shackles the publisher will attach to your imagination? Required to write a formulaic tale to a strict deadline, the hapless author finds life gets in the way of creativity as family vies …

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Looking for the Best Word? Tip #18

This series offers help for writers to make their work more varied, accessible, interesting, accurate and effective by exploring similar and dissimilar words. It also helps language learners understand some of the finer points of English usage. A good thesaurus gives substitutes for the idea of a word, but not all suggestions are true synonyms. Context …

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Letters From Hull, by Linda Swift, Reviewed.

This collection of letters written by an American novelist to her family and friends whilst living in Hull, England, during 1999/2000, is, essentially, a very personal book. Having said that, it’s also a book for everyone interested in the cultures, habits and attitudes of both nations. I came across it via Facebook; one of my …

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Yes, I Named My Daughter Gaylord Focker, by Joseph Joel, Reviewed.

An unusual book, in that the longest ‘chapter’ containing prose is the introduction by the author. However, this amusing preface says all that’s needed to introduce readers to the lists of absurd, improbable, insane and downright insulting names that parents have saddled their offspring with and some companies have labelled themselves as. The phrase ‘A …

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Around the World in 80 Tales, by Dave Tomlinson, Reviewed.

There are stories from much of the world here, though the bulk concern East Asia, Australia and South America. The author uses simple everyday language to convey his adventures in often exotic locations. The style is easy and peppered with humour, humanity and the occasional caution. This is travel on a budget, so we’re treated …

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To Hull and Back 2015 Anthology, Edited by Christopher Fielden, Reviewed.

As I contributed one of the 26 stories contained within the covers of this collection, I feel I can only make my comments public here, on my blog. As a reviewer who has signed the True Review Pledge, it would be unethical for me to review it elsewhere. However, I feel I have a right …

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Featured in a New Anthology.

A short while ago, I entered a short story into a contest. As usual, I then forgot all about it. A few days ago, I received an email to tell me my story, whilst not a winner, had been shortlisted and was to feature along with 25 others. It’s a collection of humorous stories written …

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