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Scouting in the Big Apple

June 1, 2017

A bestselling author friend of mine was visiting New York City yesterday. She decided to pop into the brand new brick-and-mortar Amazon store in The Shops at Columbus Circle. She was on what we authors tend to call an “scouting” trip. (Undercover for, Where is my book placed?) And look what she found! It’s been 18 months since publication, but out on display in New York City’s new Amazon bookstore: my book. Be still my heart! This author gives this placement a five-star review! Thanks, Amazon. More here about the store.    

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A Garden Gift

December 18, 2016

My three kids — who are now 13, 16 and 19 — ask what I want for Christmas. “I don’t really want anything,” I say (every year). “That’s not an answer,” they reply (every year). “Write me a letter or a story,” I tell the youngest. “Sing a song you wrote,” I suggest to the middle child, a talented mezzo soprano.  “Just make something that can’t be bought,” I say to the oldest. This year I have a new idea: “I want our family to work in the back garden one whole day together,” I said to them in our Exeter…

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Writing

Running Against the Grain

August 14, 2016

Most mornings this past week, I slipped on my running clothes and headed for the Derbyshire hills.  The sky was cobalt. The sun lit fields into gold.  With the world looking like Van Gogh’s “Wheatfield with Crows“, it felt like a retreat into art. And in many ways it was. I was teaching Creative Nonfiction at the Swanwick Writers’ Conference where several hundred writers of all levels gather in August for an immersion in courses by established authors, to make friends and to have fun with theatre, music and more. And each morning as I tied my running shoes in an…

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Flipping the script

July 25, 2016

It was an honour recently to give a keynote talk at an awards ceremony at Exeter College. ‘You choose the topic,’ the administrators said. Once at my desk, preparing a 20 minute talk or writing a book proposal looks the same: putting pen to blank paper is like a first-date between two meth addicts — a manic loquacity of ideas and free associating. (I’m not on meth, just to clarify.) Convention would have yielded a talk on key traits needed for success in life. Steadfastness! Hard work! Nose to the grindstone! Pat and predictable talk.  And a conflicted one, too. I only need look back and remember how…

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Books

Swanwick Writers’ Conference

July 15, 2016

The Swanwick Writers’ Conference is about three weeks away. Six days of thinking about writing, talking about writing and listening to talks about writing.  Actual writing? Hopefully. Possibly. Don’t plan on it. But who cares. A worried tweet from a first time Swanwicker gave me pause for thought this week. I’m not one for much blogging but occasionally it comes in handy. I thought she, and others who might also feel uncertain and tentative about their first experiences in Derbyshire, would like a virtual hug, if you will. So to Swanwick goslings, Swanwick is a laid-back, come-as-you-are holiday, in a way.…

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