Blog

 RSS Feed

  1. The tranquil lakesilovers-4603346_1920de of Bracciano near Rome is one of the settings for my book If You Loved Me -a story of love, loss and a cat called Leonardo. Amy, my heroine, visits it with her lover, Davide. They sit in a lakeside resturn and eat grilled lake fish, coregone They take a ferry to Trevignano. 'She fell in love with the place as they stepped through the medieval gateway to wander the old streets studded with flowery window boxes, meandering from the quay up the hillside. On the upper piazza, she stood and gazed as if she could never have enough of the breathtaking lake views.' Back in  Bracciano, as the sun sets, Davide kisses her.

  2. I am a compulsive plant shopper. Find me near a garden centre and I cannot resist adding yet another variety to my already packed garden. And as for rescuing marked down plants and reviving them with some TLC…call on me.  My bargain buy this past weekend was three marguerites, those lovely, daisy-like flowers last for months. 

    Planting them, I was reminded of something the great garden designer Gertrude Jekyll had to say: ‘a garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness.’

    As is often the case, this led me on to consider how this might be applied to writing. Here patience is definitely a virtue. Many a great idea has failed to germinate by being hurried. Many a half decent manuscript has been put away in a drawer when the writer lost faith in it. 

    To go back to the analogy of plants: It takes time for roots to reach down into the soil for sun and rain to nurture them until finally they burst into bloom.

    hanna-balan-hmHl2x3MKmI-unsplash I'm contemplating going back to an earlier project. Not, heaven forbid, re-working the text, but writing a new text built on the same ideas and situations. And one of the advantages of doing things this way is that the researched material has mulched down. The stuff I found out needs to become stuff I just know, so that there's no longer any difference between them: all compost?

    Making compost is a mixture of turning it over, and leaving it be, and maybe that's true of writers’ compost too. hanna-balan-hmHl2x3MKmI-unsplash

  3.  

    After a long country walk on Easter Saturday we repaired to a pub for a welcome drink. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and the garden was full of people. One couple in particular caught my attention. I became mesmerised by their way of eating. She had ordered a burger, he a pot of mussels. They shared a plate of chips. I watched as she cut her burger in half, handed it to her partner who took a large bite and handed it back. The bun was liberally laced with salad, which dribbled from her mouth as she gobbled it in. Ignoring the cutlery, he plunged his hands into the pot to retrieve mussels, which he slurped greedily, afterwards licking his greasy fingers. The same fingers scrabbled among chips and shovelled them into his mouth.  A horrible sight to behold.

    However, as a writer, I began to think that the way a person eats can speak volumes about their personality. Claude Monet who features in my book Monet’s Angels appreciated good food. Someone once asked him which was more important to the artist: his palette or palate. In my book he is expansive about life and eats with gusto, whereas his stepdaughter Blanche, who has sacrificed her own talent as a painter to care for him, often picks at her food. 

    Probing further into this relationship between character and food, I found there are behavioural food experts. One of them, Juliet Boghossian who founded Food-ology, says that our eating habits are highly instinctual and even if we try to fake them, the real ones will reveal themselves in the end. All you need to do is carefully look at the way someone eats to reveal a few of their character traits.

  4. I don’t know about you but when the sun is peeking through the window and the garden comes alive with spring flowers, I find my concentration waning. I stare at the keyboard while my body is straining to be outside. The other week was like that here in the UK. The pub garden where I sat for an after walk drink was packed. Winter white limbs were exposed and, I must add, Covid rules were shed along with quilted coats. 

    However, aware it is important to flex the writing muscle, I decided to take one character from my current work in progress and introduce her in a flash fiction story. I felt my attention span could cope with that.

    Flash fiction is, in fact, very popular at the moment. Perhaps it is, as Randall Brown, award winning flash fiction writer of Mad to Love, puts it:

    “The world – shattered and lying in shards – has grown tired of its pieces being glued together to create the illusion of something complete. Instead, the world hopes someone will pick up a single fragment and create out of it something whole, something that fills that compressed space with the entirety of all that there is,” 

    The form was popularised in the nineteenth century and perhaps the best-known flash fiction story is from this time (supposedly attributed to Ernest Hemingway). The entire story is six words long: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” There was such a wealth of emotion packed into these words it inspired many writers to try their hand at the genre.

    If you explore further you’ll see that these stories share a number of characteristics.

    They are brief, compressing an entire story into a few paragraphs. Commonly used word limits range from just six words to around 1,000 at the longer end.

    The story contains a complete plot. A common mistake is to think flash fiction explores an emotion or memory

    There is often surprise in the form of a twist ending or unexpected last line. It aims to persuade the reader to think deeply about the innate meaning of the story.

    Writing flash fiction can be an exercise in creative restraint, it can teach you to show not tell, how a few words can do the job of many, whether you intend your work for publication or just as an exercise. 

    Can YOU write a story in 10 words?butterflies-1053542_1920

  5. Perhaps it is because I'm left handed thst I find it much easier to inhabit the right side of my brain. I shrink from the down to earth filling in forms or reading instructions. This tendency has extended to my writing and my attitude to structure. I've always been a panster, allowing my characters to 'tell' me what happens next. The problem with this method is, if they suudenly decide to take a break, one is left panicking. So when two people who know what they're talking about mentioned 'structure' I decided to look into it. 

    Most books on your bookshelf will have a well-plotted narrative structure.  Why have I shied away from using story structure? I suppose I believed, mistakenly as it turns out, that it was too rigid or predictable.  But it’s merely a blueprint, not the story itself. It charts the major moments of conflict that give a story shape, but still keep the flexibility required for unique storytelling.

    Today I’ve been working on the initial point of Act one The Hook, which captivates readers by introducing the protagonist and teasing the story’s conflict The Hook is the first scene or sequence in your novel, designed specifically to captivate readers. To be effective, a hook must do three things:

    • Introduce the protagonist.
    • Establish the protagonist's everyday life.
    • Show the protagonist dealing with an everyday conflict.sculpture-5352872_1280fairytale-4886293_1920
  6. At a time when many of us long to travel, myJenniferPulling[Book]-2 latest book conjures the sights, sounds and flavours of Rome, transporting you to places only the locals know.

                In If You Loved Me-A story of love, loss and a cat called Leonardo Amy comes to Rome to sell the apartment bequeathed to her mother by Marco Giordano. But a sense of connection causes her to change her plans and stay on. This decision will define her life as she falls in love with the ancient city and the enigmatic Davide. She enters a world of cats and eccentric cat ladies and long hidden family secrets as the tale of her mother’s youthful romance unfolds. 

    The story evolves through a subtle pay of shadows cast by decisions taken and those avoided. Caroline and Marco’s love is threatened by his narcissistic and unyielding mother and the joy of their early days is clouded. Amy, in the present, is troubled by the mysterious nature of Davide’s career and his extended trips to Naples. Through her calls home we meet Caroline as forceful mother, determining Amy to forge her own path, for better or worse. She considers her dilemma when she is asked by her friend, Paolo: ‘what are you willing to lose if you stay here?’ Yet there is a surprise awaiting that will change Amy’s destiny.

  7. Are you one to make the usual New Year resolutions…to eat more healthily, exercise cut down on the vino?  But what about the writing muscle? Dare I say it might have become a little lax during  all the Christmas festivities? And are you finding it difficult to exercise it again? Author Natalie Goldberg didn’t believe in writer’s block. Her advice was to just pick up a pen and write.  For those who’d like a little help to tap back into the flow of writing, here are a few tips.

     selina-thomas-abLzJ6QXN20-unsplash1.) Step away from whatever you’re writing and do anything that's creative: Paint pictures, write poetry, make a collage, or if you’re male, build something in the garage. Work on another creative project for a few hours or days and then go back to writing. Jumping to other projects really activates creativity. The key is to keep exercising the creative part of your brain.

  8. I've been reading the excellent Elizabeth George's book 'From idea ro Novel' It is a book I'd recommend to anyone who is interested in writing or in one author's process. And what a process: research 'onthe spot' if possible, character analysis, point of view and structure are just a few of the steps she makes before the actual sitting down and writing. George admits she has little imagination. she arms herself with a blueprint that evades the dreaded 'what comes next?' Her daily life is very disciplined and, as she saya, unless someone has self discipline, determination and staying power they may never write a book that sees the light of day. selina-thomas-abLzJ6QXN20-unsplash

  9. We humans are a peculiar lot: we work so hard to make our world, our environment safer… and then we actively seek out things that will make us afraid. We hunt down the darkness and we revel in it. Why? Because, this way, we can control it. Books in particular let us pour our fear into them before we have so much of it sloshing around in our heads that we drown in it. Stories that frighten us or unsettle us - not just horror stories, but ones that make us uncomfortable or that strike a chord somewhere deep inside - give us the means to explore the things that scare us… but only as far as our imaginations and our experiences allow.bomarzo-1938087_1920

  10. gabriella-clare-marino-LevQUTYXyaI-unsplash

    At a time when many of us long to travel, my latest book conjures the sights, sounds and flavours of Rome, transporting you to places only the locals know. More than that: for one day only, November 27, you can read If You Loved Me – a story of love, loss and a cat called Leonardo for just 99p/99c. It will be available at this giveaway price on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Apple. One little favour: if you enjoy escaping with me to another filled with sunshine, colour and intrigue, please give me a review.

     

  11. BBF

    If you’re looking for Christmas presents that will provide hours of enjoyment, pay a visit the Brighton Book Fair (20th November 10 -4) I’d love to welcome you there and talk to you about my books and how I came to write them.

    Its at Brighton Unitarian Church New Road Brighton BN1 1UF.

     

  12. amirali-mirhashemian-v2z6Yhp_6Gc-unsplash

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I’ve discovered something I never knew before: October 25th is World Pasta Day, a day to celebrate the versatile deliciousness of one of the most popular Italian dishes. It all began in 1995 when 40 pasta producers decided to form a World Pasta Congress. Today, the date is essentially about exploring the many different varieties of pasta and falling in love with it all over again.

    Controversy remains about the true origin of pasta. Some say it was first made in China, others claim the early Romans created it using a flour and water dough recipe. There is another theory dating its origin as far back as the 4th century BC. Pictures on an Etruscan tomb depicted people making a dish that looked very like pasta.

    Walk down the pasta aisle in any supermarket and you’ll likely come across spaghetti, penne and macaroni. Italians know there is a huge variety out there. From the stuffed ravioli of the north to intricate shapes of the south, each region of Italy offers its own unique pasta shape, indeed 400 forms with many different names Garganelli, Strangozzi, and Fileja to name just three.

    Thus in Italy, people eat no less than 26 kg of pasta per head per year. In other countries where people have been drawn into the argument that low-carb or gluten-free diets are best, consumption has lately declined. But according to dietician Frankie Phillips: ‘Pasta can be a really good part of a diet. It has next to no fat, is a good source of energy and contains quite a lot of different B vitamins.'

    Of course, it depends on how large your portion is. When I lived in Sicily I was often amazed by the great mounds of spaghetti some people managed to consume. It was also considered a ‘magic’ food for children and no bambino would grow up healthy without eating it daily. No wonder some of the little darlings were chubby.

    Personally, I love pasta and cook it in various ways, one of my favourites being Pasta alla Norma, which involves tomato sauce and aubergine (eggplant) finished with a sprinkle of smoked ricotta. So I say, World Pasta Day and beyond, let’s commemorate this scrumptious gift from our ancestors and treat ourselves to some pasta love.

    My latest book: If You Loved Me –a story of love, loss and a cat called Leonardo is set in Rome and my characters certainly enjoy their food. I also use meals as settings for important dialogue.

  13. Shoreham Art Gallery

    I’d love to welcome you to Shoreham Gallery, Shoreham by Sea, for the public launch of my book If You Loved Me – a story of love, loss and a cat called Leonardo.

    I’ll be on hand to answer questions about the book and sign your copy.

    Dates for your diary are Saturday 21 August and Saturday 28 August from 11am – 2pm.

    Shoreham Gallery is located on Brunswick Road in the centre of town and is just across the road from the train station.

  14. Monets Shadow

    For just one day: 5 August, I’m offering the ebook version of Monet’s Shadow at the giveaway price of 99p/99c.

    It will be available in Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.

    Don’t miss this chance of an enthralling read.

    Grab your bargain copy on 5 August.

  15. colosseum-792202

    At a time when many of us long to travel, my latest book If You Loved Me – a story of love, loss and a cat called Leonardo, conjures the sights, sounds and flavours of Rome, transporting you to places only the locals know.

    I will take you on a sensuous journey in the company of my heroine, Amy, as she enters a world of cats and cat ladies at the famous cat sanctuary Largo Argentina. Romance and intrigue: the great escape from today’s grey world.

  16. Newsletter

     

    Would you like a regular treat of free short stories, interesting articles and special offers? Sign up to my mailing list and read stories like this:

    She moves along the ward, straightening a pillow, checking a water carafe is filled. She switches off the dim reading light above Mr Edwards’ bed, he has fallen asleep over his book. As she reaches the end of the room, she pauses, gazing along the rows of beds, alert for any sound but there is none except the tick of the large clock above her head. She returns to her table, picks up her pen and starts on her report.

    She loves this time, it never bothers her to be ‘on nights’: the dreaming ward, the green shaded lamp on the table, her pen moving smoothly across the paper. Now the bustle of he day is stilled there is time to collect her thoughts. There is such a contrast to day duty… Laura thinks as she writes: Warwick Ward, Bed 234, Mrs Evans. Nothing by mouth op 6 am…then it is all a flurry of temperature taking, doctors’ rounds, meal times and visiting hours.

    The night has its interruptions too, but usually at a different tempo. Someone cannot sleep and calls for help. She will go to the kitchen, make a cup of tea, and then sit by their bed until they finally drop off. Sometimes, of course, there are big dramas and then the hours of darkness heighten the fear: the jagged sound of the emergency bell, the doors of the ward flying open and the resuss team turning night into day.

                Laura writes: Warwick Ward, new arrivals Stella Dyson and Helen Wells Beds 253 and 242.

                Tonight is tranquil and she hopes it will remain uneventful. She glances across to the empty bed at the far end of the ward. Today young Hayley Randolph went home. She has been here so long it seems strange without her.  She remembers when the teenager was admitted, the deathly pale face, the closed eyes and the weeping mother. She remembers her conversation with Mr Anderson.

                ‘We’ll do our best but it doesn’t look good at all.’

                The days when she lay still and silent with the drip in her arm and Laura and Maggie turned her to prevent bedsores, wiped the marble brow, said her name softly. Then there was the morning when she opened her eyes and smiled and from then on the gradual improvement. Somehow, and against the odds, they had pulled Hayley back from the brink. It was times like these that reminded Laura why she had taken up nursing. There were tears in her eyes as she said goodbye and watched the youngster leave. 

    Read the rest of the story when you join my mailing list.  

  17. Did you know there is a wonderful art gallery in Shoreham by Sea?  It might not be very large but it is packed full of beautiful pieces of art. There is something for every taste from jewellery to paintings,Shoreham Art Gallery exquisite bags and ceramics. It is well worth a visit to marvel at the huge amount of local talent there is.

  18. I am all set to welcome you on Saturday to show you my latest book and answer any questions about how I came to write it.

    At a time when many of us long to travel, my latest book conjures the sights, sounds and flavours of Rome, transporting you to places only the locals know.

                In If You Loved Me-A story of love, loss and a cat called Leonardo Amy comes to Rome to sell the apartment bequeathed to her mother by Marco Giordano. But a sense of connection causes her to change her plans and stay on. This decision will define her life as she falls in love with the ancient city and the enigmatic Davide. She enters a world of cats and eccentric cat ladies and long hidden family secrets as the tale of her mother’s youthful romance unfolds

    I will be on hand at the Shoreham Gallery Brunswick Road, Shoreham by Sea to launch my book. Saturday21 and Saturday 28 August 11am -2pm. Please do come and say hello. Check out my website www.jenniferpulling.co.uk

     If You Loved Me cover