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.
1.) 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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, exquisite bags and ceramics. It is well worth a visit to marvel at the huge amount of local talent there is.
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