Tag Archives: books

The art of Muslim flirting

She’s definitely winking. Picture from a post about Muslim TV sex counseller Heba Kotb on a different blog. (Warning – Some of the comments are graphic. But you’ll be quite safe on Nadia’s blog.)

The art of Muslim flirting. Such a great title. Sounds better than – here’s a round up of interesting blog things. Which is what this really is.

But it begins with Muslims flirting. Nadia El-Awady reveals all here and gives some top tips. Don’t be creepy, but do try arm wrestling Continue reading

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What publishers really mean in their rejection letters

You see Barbara? It's not all dogs here.

Not that I’d know myself, you understand. Well, er, except maybe a wee bit… I guess it applies to agents too.

Jonny Geller‘s piece in the Guardian this week pulled back the curtain of euphemism and laid bare the squatting toad of honesty. He’s been tweeting the real meaning of phrases that publishers use to say Get Stuffed under the hashtag #publishingeuphemisms – glib phrases translated below:

“this is too literary for our list” (it’s boring)

“the novel never quite reached the huge potential of its promise” (your pitch letter was better than the book)

“sadly we are publishing a book similar to this next spring” (it too has a beginning, middle and end)

“You should join Twitter” (we are not spending a dime on your publicity) – that one came from the US

“we all fell in love with the book” (my assistant took your manuscript home and has now lost it)

“do you think we need the back story? (I hated the first twenty chapters.)

 “In a way I think the back story IS the story” (I hated the last twenty chapters.) Continue reading

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After dark, the books come out to play

If you like books – real books – you may love this wonderful beautiful lovely short film. It’s about what books do when there’s nobody looking. (I saw it at Blue Milk.)

The shop is  Type bookstore in Toronto. Grayson Matthews  composed the music. Click on the link in the video for more details.

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RIP books v RIP publishers

Bang! Straight through the paperback. Bang! Publishers bite the dust too.

Originally I was kicking myself up the backside to get my book published while books still exist – the corporeal paper kind that is.

Now it seems as though “terrified” publishers may pre-decease their products – if this alarming/alarmist article by Guy Adams in the Independent newspaper is correct.

As celebrities choose Amazon, is this the end for publishers?

Who needs publishers? Not James Franco, the artsy Hollywood star, who has just signed a deal to write his first novel; and not Amazon, the vast online retailer which beat the traditional giants of the industry to secure the high-profile author Continue reading

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Thank you Culture Northern Ireland

Thank you Culture Northern Ireland for giving me a £100 Amazon voucher (for winning a writing competition completing a survey). And thank you Gerry Anderson and politician Gregory Campbell for helping me spend it. Well, to be more precise – they had a row. But Continue reading

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The day I met… My Nemesis (and discovered his secret)

I’d been dreading this moment – yet also girding my loins for the encounter.

Remember how this  The Day I Met… business all began? The incident involving the little girl, her hat, the bestselling writer and his eye for a pretty lady? Well… As the weeks and months passed, and summer danced into autumn, I knew that some day I would have to face him once again…

My nemesis Continue reading

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Haters unite (No heeltaps!)

A pint of Rebellion - Too warm? Too cold? Don't care? Care too much?

Does shared hatred bring us together more than shared enthusiasm?

A character in Reginald Hill‘s book Pictures of Perfection suggests “that when a politician wants to really unite the electorate, he looks for a common hatred rather than a common enthusiasm.” Is he right?

I go through three stages with Reginald Hill’s writing. I begin by finding it a bit contrived, then some flash of humour trips me up into enjoyment and by the end I find myself relishing the surprises and satisfaction he offers. So I commend Pictures of Perfection to you – though I think The Reckoning would have been a better title.

But back to the hating. Two characters – police officer Wield and bookseller Digweed – overcome their initial antipathy through shared whisky and a discussion about what they hate. It’s a pretty good list.

“Snobs.  I don’t like snobs. How’s that for starters?”

“Excellent. No quarrel there. My turn. Little Hitlers. People who turn a molehill of authority into a mountain of obstructionism.”

“Fair enough. Politicians.”

“Spot on. Undertakers.

“They’re only doing a job,” said Wield defensively.

“Of course. But do you like them?”

“No,” admitted Wield. “Beer that’s too cold.”

“Beer that’s too warm.”

“People that don’t care about beer.”

“People that go on too much about beer Continue reading

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She’s lying…

This is a roundup of lies, good news and alarums.

Starting with an adventure in Slovakia. Or was it Czechoslovakia? It’s all a little confused.  Renée Schuls-Jacobson at Lessons for Teachers and Twits knows all the juicy details. She’s been writing about how she and I first encountered each other face to face in her excellent post entitled – I’m Lying About How We Met.

Here’s a taster. It’s icky. 

Blackwatertown and I met on a chilly day in Bratislava as we fled hand-in-hand across an icy river. We’d had to spend an uncomfortable night hiding in a chicken coop because we couldn’t find a proper hotel. Covered in feathers and fowl feces, we carefully made our way across the creaky ice. I am forever grateful that he was willing to share his single mitten.

Next, something to make you oscillate with optimism or boggle with bitterness Continue reading

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Best bookshop in the world? Best one afloat anyway.

The Book Barge - pic from the Guardian

It is hard for me to dislike any bookshop. If it stocks books, that’s usually good enough for me.

But some establishments rise far above the rest. It could be because of their ambiance or their range of stock. Maybe it’s the expertise or hospitality of the staff. Or perhaps it’s just the comfy seats. Or something else entirely.

This one – The Book Barge – is extra special.

It has books. And it’s on a barge. Floating. From place to place along the English canal network Continue reading

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Competition – You set the rules

I have some books I’d like to give away – old (1947), new, mystery, thrillers, Irish,English, French & poetry. From Pepys and Proust to McGilloway and Haddon – via 1970s London Mystery paperbacks.

But how should I do it?

A competition maybe?

But what? Any ideas?

We’ve done embarrassing stories recently – Sorrygnat and WiseWebWoman came up with a couple. Anyone else fancy chipping in. Perhaps a prize should go to the most excruciating anecdote?

Or should it be something new? Best joke/story?

Like this one – Speeding in Wyoming

A young woman was pulled over for speeding. A Wyoming State Trooper walked to her car window, flipping open his ticket book.
She said, “I bet you are going to sell me a ticket to the State Trooper’s Ball.”
He replied, “Wyoming State Troopers don’t have balls.”
There was a moment of silence. He then closed his book, tipped his hat, got back in his patrol car and left.

Or Continue reading

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