Showing Tag: "tips" (Show all posts)

Tomorrow Came Early

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Friday, May 5, 2017,
They say tomorrow never comes, but they forgot to tell the scientists who have just developed a way to do something in real life that I had as a central discovery in a story I recently finished set in the near future. That'll teach me not to procrastinate! To be fair to myself the length of time it took me to get from the original idea to the finished story was due more to making several false starts than slacking off. After a lot of trial and error, I finally came up with an experiment that ...
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Keep On Keeping On

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, April 10, 2017, In : Inspiration 
It took a couple of days longer than I'd planned, but Discord's Child and Discord's Apprentice were finally unleashed as paperbacks from CreateSpace and Amazon last Monday (3rd April). There was a last minute hitch–the discovery that moving one little hyphen had had a knock-on effect throughout a whole chapter. I could have left it, I've seen other novels with words hyphenated across pages, but once I'd spotted it, I would never have been happy knowing it was there. Anyway, the paperbacks a...
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Running Late

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, February 27, 2017, In : Coming Soon 
My blogging schedule has gone out of the window once again. My apologies. I have a really bad habit of seriously underestimating how long it takes me to do things, especially if they involve a computer. A big tip to anyone involved in writing or publishing is to work out how long you think you'll need to do something, double it and then add at least a fortnight! I'm hoping I'm back on track now, but as soon as I finish keying this in, I'm going to recross my fingers. It hasn't helped that I'v...
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What Lies Beneath

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Tuesday, December 13, 2016,
I recently visited an art exhibition that included a portrait section. Among the works included were several of celebrities that had clearly been done from photographs, either film stills or publicity shots. They were skilfully done, but they got me thinking about what a portrait is.
    There are many paintings and drawings of people–real people, not simply figures painted from the imagination–that are not classed as portraits even though their physical features are recognisable. To be a ...
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Connecting

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, In : Inspiration 
Last week I responded to a request on a writers' forum for people to relate the catalyst that inspired a novel. I wrote about the incident that eventually led to Monkey-tail, which is awaiting a rewrite. I was on holiday with my husband in Cornwall when we saw a man fishing without a rod in the sea from the rocks. He constantly cast and drew in the line, so that my husband said he looked as if he was conducting the sea. I was rewarded for the tale by someone sending me a poem by William Carlo...
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To Cut, or Not to Cut

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, February 15, 2016,
Editing your own work is one of the hardest parts of writing. The trouble is, you know the story, so it's hard to tell whether you've given the reader insufficient detail or too much. Asking someone else to read it is always a good idea–preferably more than one person. Failing that, put it aside for a few weeks, if possible, so you can come back to it fresh.
    There are various 'rules' to stop your work being slow, which is usually taken to mean 'boring'. Generally, writers are told to cut...
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Good News, Bad News, Better News

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Saturday, October 10, 2015, In : Coming Soon 
Today I've got good news and bad news. First, the bad news. The excellent Writing Short Fiction site, which is full of news and tips, may soon be no more due to the ill-health of the man behind it, Bruce Harris, who has decided he needs to save his energy for his own work. Unless someone offers to take it over in the next week or two, it will go. Find out more at http://www.writingshortfiction.org.
    The better news is that Plasma Frequency Magazine is probably going to be resurrected. The m...
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Feeling Rejected?

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Thursday, July 16, 2015, In : Inspiration 
Nobody likes being rejected, but believe me, there's hardly a writer on the planet who hasn't had to cope with rejection from time to time, so if you want to be an author you'd better learn how to deal with it.
     There are usually three stages to coping with having the work that you've sweated and fretted over unceremoniously rejected. The first is distress or depression. You feel that your work, and therefore you, are useless, worthless, unlikable, talentless... the list of negatives you ...
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Free Summer Reading

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Saturday, July 4, 2015, In : Coming Soon 
I'm off on holiday next week. If I don't melt in the predicted heatwave, I might find myself a shady spot in which to enjoy a glass of something long and cold while I read or people watch. To celebrate and give everyone else a chance to enjoy a summer read, I've enrolled Discord's Child in Smashwords' summer promotion which lasts until 31st July. You can download the novel free by using the coupon number you'll find on the page. 
    I hope to return inspired by Renaissance and ancient archit...
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Apologies and Rewards

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Saturday, June 27, 2015,
My apologies to anyone who has visited this blog recently hoping to find something new, only to be disappointed. I hope to make up for that now, not only with a round-up of what's been happening lately, but also with the relaunch of my website, which I hope you will agree, is brighter and a lot easier to use.
    You may notice that some things seem to have disappeared from the menu and other things have taken their place. Let me assure you that all the previous information is still there, it...
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Almost Zero Hour

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, May 31, 2015, In : Coming Soon 
I hesitate to mention it, but today is the last chance to pre-order Discord's Apprentice. Tomorrow is not only the first day of summer and my mother's birthday, it's publication day for the second novel in The Exiles of Ondd series. The reason I hesitate to mention it is that it makes me feel as if I'm being pushy or boasting, two things that were definite no-nos when I was brought up. However, the fact is that even when they have a traditional publisher, these days writers are expected to do...
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A Life in Fifty Words

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, March 16, 2015,
Could you sum up who your are in 50 to 100 words? The chances are, if you have something published you will be asked to. Many magazines like to include a short paragraph about the writer after their work or on a contributors' page. Having a few basic sentences ready can save a lot of time.
    You need to show a little of your experience or what makes your writing different. There's no room for a CV. The information you include will probably be similar to what you would put in a cover letter,...
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A is for Alphabet

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, February 22, 2015, In : Inspiration 
Sometimes subjects to blog about are obvious, for instance, when there's news of a publication or event. At other times, it isn't as easy. The trouble isn't that I can't think of anything, but that there are so many subjects, it's hard to pick one. Today, I have come up with a solution. Starting next week, I shall choose a subject to blog about according to the alphabet. I've already made a list, and I have enough ideas to keep me going for at least the next five years! They are the usual mix...
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Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo...

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, February 15, 2015,
Life's full of difficult decisions. Lately, I've had lots of different writing-related tasks to do, and I've found it hard to know what to tackle first. Time to make a list! I have a story waiting to be written, a feature half-researched, work to rewrite, a story to key-in, potential markets to check and marketing to do. Thankfully, nothing has a deadline, but that leaves no clear favourite to start with, so I've put together a series of questions that might help me to avoid wasting time dith...
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Blind Luck

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, November 16, 2014, In : Competitions 
You never can be sure what the consequences of submitting work to a publication or entering a competition might be. It might seem straightforward: your work is either accepted, or it's rejected. However, even when the editors or judges don't select your submission/entry you might still end up a winner.
    After my story, 'Salvage', appeared in Daily SF, Paul Coles of Beam Me Up Podcast asked if he could broadcast it. Of course, I grabbed the offer, and I'm privileged now to have had dramatis...
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As If I Would

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, October 27, 2014,
I've made a dreadful discovery: I've developed an addiction to 'as if'. It happened while rewriting the latest incarnation of Discord's Apprentice. Every other sentence has 'as if' in it, and the ones that don't, have 'seems' or 'like'. It's funny how you can fall in love with certain words or phrases and not notice how often you use them.
    I suppose 'as if' is a result of wishing to 'show not tell'. Instead of writing: 'He gestured as if grabbing something out of the air...' I could put: ...
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The Clock is Ticking

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, October 19, 2014,
Woohoo! At last I've started the next stage of the rewrites of Discord's Apprentice. This novel's turning into a real marathon. I thought it would take six months at most, but fate has a way of making your plans look silly. Setting myself unrealistic goals doesn't help. I inevitably think I can get more done than I can. The result is, I miss the targets I've set myself and if I'm not careful, I feel a failure. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
    Before I go further, I'd like to say that I ...
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One Little Word

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, September 8, 2014, In : Inspiration 
People who don't write usually don't understand how those who do can agonise over a word. Would it be better to use a name or a pronoun? Is 'indicate' a better choice than 'show'? It isn't only a matter of getting the grammar right, or even of making sense, but a need to convey a mood, capture character or to be beautiful or striking. Does a word have the right rhythm? Will it maintain the pace and flow?
    A single word might have to fulfil several functions, such as showing a character's at...
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Don't Fight It

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, July 28, 2014, In : Inspiration 
It's been almost too hot to think. It's hard to plot stories or craft beautiful sentences when you're wilting. Not that I'm complaining. Who knows how long the lovely weather will last? I would encourage everyone to avoid spending all day at their computer, if they can. Slap on the suncreen, don your sunglasses and possibly a hat, and set your chair up in a shady spot outside.
    You can write just as well with paper and a pencil. Should the piece you intended to work on become a sluggish tri...
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Waste Not, Want Not

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, July 20, 2014, In : Inspiration 
Researching a novel can be fun or frustrating, but it's always time consuming and, all too often, the facts that you find the most fascinating never make it into the finished work. That doesn't mean that the hours spent checking websites, hunting out books and talking to experts are wasted.
    The more background information you have, the more confidently you can write. You'll know your characters better and won't have to waste time rewriting because you've placed them in impossible situatio...
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A Room with a Different View

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, July 14, 2014, In : Inspiration 
When you go on holiday, it isn't unusual to see people taking photo after photo, barely taking the time to focus. In fact, they're so intent on getting the shot that they don't even really look at the things they're taking photos of. When they look at them afterwards they probably have trouble remembering that they were there.
Writers are always told to carry a notebook with them, and I second that, but there's a danger of becoming like those photographers. Somehow a balance needs to be found...
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Awkward Characters

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, April 27, 2014, In : FantasyFiction 
Discord's Apprentice was steaming along nicely this week, but then it got hijacked by one of the characters. I don't know where she came from and I'm not at all sure she should be allowed to stay. What's more, I'm not even sure whose side she's on. Now, she's painted herself into a corner, and I can't see yet how to get her out.
    No doubt, I shall have to backtrack. It could be that if I try thinking myself into another character, I'll find a more logical way for the story to progress. It c...
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Poet of the Day

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, April 7, 2014, In : Inspiration 
The literary world is currently celebrating the centenary of William Stafford. This remarkable man wrote a poem every day for more than four decades, including the day he died. Even if a proportion of his prodigious output was duds, his discipline meant that over his life he published more than 22,000 poems in 65 volumes of poetry and prose. 
I'd be happy if I could keep up that regime for even a year. That would be 365 poems instead of my usual handful. As it is, I struggle to create a tweet...
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Irritating Adjectives

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, March 9, 2014, In : Linguistics 
Let me be transparent about this, I have a robust dislike of two adjectives that it seems no spokesperson can be interviewed without using in almost every sentence. It doesn't matter whether it's the police, a local councillor, a representative of the National Health Service or a head teacher, they all insist that they'll be introducing robust measures to ensure greater transparency in future, or demanding the same from someone else.
I suggest they look these words up in the dictionary. Not o...
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Save Now

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, March 2, 2014, In : Coming Soon 
For one week only, you can buy Discord's Child and Artists & Liars and save 25 and 50 per cent respectively on the usual price. Smashwords is running Read an Ebook Week until midnight Pacific time on 8th March 2014, and I'm happy to be taking part along with a host of other authors. 
I started publishing with Smashwords in June last year, and I've found them really author-friendly. Their formatting might be a bit of a fiddle to begin with, but once you've mastered that they make it really eas...
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My New Favourite Number–Eleven

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, December 15, 2013, In : Inspiration 
This week I was privileged to be invited to give a talk about being a writer to a school reading group of around 20 11-year-olds. I alternated between excitement and terror beforehand. It's a long time since I was 11, and I was unsure of the right level at which to pitch what I said. I was also conscious that most of my audience wouldn't have met an author before and might be expecting someone far more witty and glamorous than me. If I disappointed them, I might turn them off writing forever....
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Crossing Borders

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, September 30, 2013, In : Inspiration 
Fiction that crosses genre boundaries is increasingly popular, so much so that many sub-genres are popping up, such as steampunk, paranormal romance and Western science fiction. Reading Map of Bones by James Rollins recently, I was struck by how easily the plot could have been adapted for a fantasy novel. Map of Bones is a fast-paced action-packed thriller involving secret societies, undercover agents with special abilities and a race to stop an evil sect from gaining ancient knowledge that w...
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Keep It Simple

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, August 26, 2013, In : Reviews 
I've been reading some classic stories, courtesy of Paul Hatcher. The Pedestrian is by Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451. A man takes a walk on a November evening. The writing is evocative, yet spare. There isn't one wasted word. The tale itself is science fiction, and as with all good SF (even the stories that are full of aliens) it concerns the human condition and where we might be heading. The story was written in 1951, which makes it uncannily prophetic.
The second tale, August H...
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How Strange!

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, August 18, 2013,
Following on from what I wrote last week about how coincidences that have happened in real life seem too far-fetched if used in fiction, did you hear about the Chinese zoo where the lion turned out to be the keeper's pet chow-chow dog? It took a small boy to point out that lions didn't bark. The story made me think straight away of Hans Christian Anderson's fairytale, The Emperor's New Clothes. The reason that Anderson got away with such an improbable tale was primarily because readers unders...
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Happy Coincidences

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, August 11, 2013,
Here's a definition of 'serendipity' from the Oxford Dictionary: "faculty of making happy discoveries by accident". This week, I've made a few serendipitous discoveries, not least how well my view of how creativity involves talent, hard work and (you guessed it) serendipity chimes with that of Paul Hatcher, an artist who combines all three. You'll find his work at http://thedrawingsofhatch.blogspot.co.uk and http://thehouseofhatch.blogspot.co.uk.
Although serendipity is a great thing to find ...
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Revisiting the Past

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, July 14, 2013, In : Inspiration 
If you have time to sit outside and make the most of the summer weather, and you can't find anything you fancy on your bookshelves, try reading some of your old work. Don't fancy that? Why not? If you don't think it's worth a second look, why should any other reader? Okay, so you already know what happens–or at least you think you do. If you haven't looked through a story, poem or whatever for some while, you could be surprised at how differently you remember it. Not only will you be coming...
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Idiot!

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, May 19, 2013,
You'd have to be a real amateur to send your work out without keeping a copy, wouldn't you? That's what I've always thought, but maybe I won't be so judgemental in future.
When I received a letter from The Letters Page magazine thanking me for responding to their call for handwritten letters about writing letters (got that?), I was really pleased that although the editors hadn't chosen it for publication, they did 'enjoy the sensitive discussion of correspondence and the strong sense of place...
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Generations

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, May 12, 2013, In : Reviews 
Today, I have good news and... good news! The latest Iyessi song is now on my Discord's Child page, and my flash story, 'A Matching Pair', which came third in the Bowers Gifford & North Benfleet Residents' Association competition, can be read on the association's website. It's great when your work appears somewhere new and you can feel that it's being read by people who otherwise would never come across it. Will it last generations? The odds are against it.
Even authors who write the bestsel...
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Playing Games

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Saturday, April 27, 2013, In : Inspiration 
There's a saying that the more you do, the more you can do. This is why it's important to practise writing every day, if possible. You don't have to actually get words on a page, although jotting notes down will help to take your thoughts further, and give you something to come back to. Playing 'what if?' using characters you see in the street, topics that are in the news, conversations you overhear and situations you come across all serve to get your imagination moving and the ideas flowing....
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Sounds Like...

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, March 31, 2013, In : Linguistics 
Pif! Paf! Which is the elephant and which is the mouse? There's no real link between the sound of most words and what they mean (with the exception of onomatopoeias such as 'buzz'), but that doesn't prevent people from making sound associations. Writers can use this tendency to advantage, especially in poetry. You can use sound association to create a mood, or to subvert it. If you've used 'm' to create associations with 'mother', 'milk' and 'mild', subsequently using 'murder', 'mayhem' or 'm...
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Chicken or Egg?

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, March 11, 2013,
Writers are usually advised to target their work at a particular market. Up to a point this makes sense. If a magazine only accepts certain genres or lengths, or has a dislike of present tense narrative, it's usually wasting your time and theirs sending them things that don't fit. Most competitions have strict rules and often have a theme, but are more flexible with regard to style. How far should you go in adapting what you write to fit the requirements of editors and competition organisers/...
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Handle with Care

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, January 28, 2013,
Sooner or later it's bound to happen. Someone discovers that you're a writer and presents you with your manuscript asking for your opinion. It would be easy to see this as an imposition. After all, you have your own work to get on with and someone else's project is yet another reason to procrastinate. Instead, take it as the compliment it is.
How you tackle the task you've been given depends on how experienced the writer is, how long or complicated the manuscript is and how well you know the ...
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Be Excited

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Tuesday, December 4, 2012,
When you write to commissions you don't get to choose the subject you write about. Sometimes it can be something you've never been interested in. Instead of turning work down (and if you do, be prepared never to hear from that customer again), do your research.
Always ask the customer/editor whether there's a particular angle or aspect that they want you to focus on. You need to be enthusiastic otherwise your writing will be dull and won't hold the reader's attention. Speaking to people who a...
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Point of View

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, September 23, 2012,
When you return to a place after a gap of years it can seem smaller and far more ordinary than how you remembered it. The same applies to re-reading books. The imaginative tale you remembered can now seem derivative, the creative prose clichéd. It's disappointing, and might deter you from revisiting these old 'friends', however there is an upside. Books that you once found incomprehensible or uninteresting might now reward you if you read them again.  When I first read 'Ping' by Samuel Becke...
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Beautiful Cornwall

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Wednesday, August 29, 2012, In : Inspiration 
I'll soon be off to beautiful Cornwall again. As well as pasties and clotted cream teas, I'm looking forward to rambles down narrow lanes gathering blackberries, going for a hack over the downs and the exhilaration of walking the coastal path. When I get back to the car or the holiday cottage, I'll make notes. In the past, these have come in handy for all kinds of things–characters, descriptions, plots–even poems. One Cornwall-inspired sonnet, won me second prize in Northampton Literature...
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Bunking Off

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, August 19, 2012,
When you have to juggle writing with a day job it can be hard to find time to focus.  I've often seen it recommended that you should turn down invitations and become a virtual recluse if that's the only way you can make time to write.  
Of course, you need to be disciplined, but if you shut yourself off from the world you lose touch with it.  Not only do you risk forgetting how to make conversation (and therefore how to write dialogue), but you can all too easily lose perspective.  If nothing...
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Poets Prepare!

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, August 6, 2012, In : Competitions 
If there are a few typos in this post, it's probably because I'm trying to write it with my fingers crossed.  I have three entries short-listed in separate competitions, and I'm on tenterhooks waiting for the results.  Of course, none of them might progress further, but if Andy Murray can win a gold medal, then anything's possible.  (Go Andy!)  If they don't, being short-listed is no dishonour, and at least I've taken part.
Last year, I entered the Salopian Poetry Society's annual open compet...
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In the Picture

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Monday, July 16, 2012,
I've recently returned from Barcelona.  I had a great time doing touristy things–visiting the Sagrada Familia, going on the telerifico de Montjuic cable car, roaming around Parc Güell, strolling down La Ramblas etc.  There was one touristy thing, however, that I didn't do.  I didn't insist on someone taking a photo of me every time I set foot in a new place.
Some people not only have their picture taken, they preen and pose as if they're on a glamour shoot.  All they appear to be intereste...
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Problems? Opportunities!

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, June 17, 2012, In : Inspiration 
This week I went to see Royal & Derngate's production of Euripides' The Bacchae, which is part of the theatre's Festival of Chaos. It was an innovative production, not least because of the way it made use of the venue–the former print rooms of the Chronicle & Echo, by setting the play in an underground car park. I don't know whether the adaptation was written to suit the venue or whether the venue was chosen to suit the adaptation, but it proved that it's possible to perform drama anywhere....
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The Fruits of Success

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, In : Competitions 
June has been encouraging so far. My story, 'The Adult Prodigy', has been accepted for Nameless magazine; I've had the proofs of 'Heavy Air' for the Bridge House anthology, so that should be out soon; one of my poems, 'Masters of the Air', came fifth in Mary Charman-Smith's competition and another, 'DNA', was shortlisted. I say all this not just to show off, but because it reminded me that sometimes competitions have prize-giving events, and while these are fun, they can also be nerve-wrackin...
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Puppy Diary

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, In : Inspiration 
Yesterday was Harry and Sophie, our bichons', fifth birthday. They are such a huge part in my life, that now seems like the ideal time to look back at when they first came to live with my husband and me. (Before anyone coming to this blog looking for writing tips turns away in disgust, there is a writing angle to my reminiscences.)
From the first moment that we brought Harry and Sophie home, I decided to keep a puppy diary of all their funny ways, their personalities, the mischief they get up...
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No Contest

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, May 6, 2012, In : Competitions 
I had to cancel my cover competition.  The last minute rush I had hoped for never materialised, and without entries there is no contest.  It was really disappointing.  I'd expended a lot of time, effort and money promoting it only to receive less than a handful of entries.  In fact, I received a better response to my post on a Kindle forum announcing the flop.  Initially, I was inclined to think it was a total waste, but I'm beginning to see there are things I can learn from it.
My advice to ...
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How to Win

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Sunday, April 1, 2012, In : Inspiration 
Writing is supposed to have therapeutic qualities.  Setting things down on paper is meant to help get them out of your system. I'm not sure how true that is.  Reading through what you've written afterwards might make you see how ridiculous you or your worries were, on the other hand it might keep old grievances alive.
For writers, there's always the benefit of being able to use your outpourings on paper in future work.  Writing about arguments can be particularly satisfying.  You can make you...
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Sound Advice

Posted by K. S. Dearsley on Saturday, March 24, 2012, In : Inspiration 
In An Essay on Criticism Alexander Pope writes: 'The sound must seem an echo to the sense.'  He continues:
'When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow:
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.'
It's still great advice, and I endeavour to follow it.  More than that, I find that it isn't only the words that change tempo, but the speed at which I write them.  If I'm writing somethin...
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About Me


My writing career began as a freelance feature writer for the local press, businesses and organisations. Now a prize-winning playwright and short story writer, my work has appeared in numerous publications on both sides of the Atlantic. I write as K. S. Dearsley because it saves having to keep repeating my forename, and specialise in fantasy and other speculative genres.

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