Monthly Archives: January 2014

Telling_Tales_Cover-188x300…is published by Thistle and now available as an ebook for Kindle and all Kindle apps. The second of what will eventually be a trio of concise writing handbooks, Telling Tales is a step-by-step guide to crafting short fiction of all kinds, and is based on my Cardiff University Adult Ed class of the same name.


You can read all about both it and the companion guide,NOVEL, by clicking here.


Or leap straight to Amazon and grab a copy by clicking here….


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tellingtalesAnd then there were two…

The companion to my first writing handbook, NOVEL, Telling Tales is again based on one of my Cardiff Unicourses and the title is, I hope, self-explanatory… Herewith the blurb;

The passing on of stories is as old as mankind, and the urge to tell them, for many of us, runs deep. Those of us who find ourselves afflicted by what many writers liken to a disease, will know only too well that the true writer can’t NOT write – many of us tend to do so compulsively. And even if we’re not all scribbling furiously in cafes, a la the fabled J K Rowling, then we’re often to be found, miles away, staring into space, while engaged in doing likewise in our heads.

This step-by-step course on creating sensational short fiction is for everyone. Written by bestselling author Lynne Barrett-Lee, and based on her face-to-face course of the same name, Telling Tales will guide you through the whole writing process, from the basics – where to start, how to create characters, how to plot and to write sparkling dialogue – to the business of polishing and editing your fiction, before taking the next step – getting it out there in the world. It assumes nothing: it doesn’t matter whether you already have some experience or are a complete novice, because writing fiction, at any level, requires just three vital things: a desire to create stories (that disease mentioned earlier), an imagination (if it’s rusty, no matter; it will be nurtured) and most of all, a sense of adventure. In other words, nothing the average person can’t muster, if telling tales looks like becoming an affliction for you too…

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Last time on ‘Majorly Inconvenient London Breakdown’: You left us illegally parked in Hammersmith, at an arrestingly jaunty angle, following the inexplicable electrical meltdown of my car. Rob, the RAC man, had just imparted the crushing news that it wasn’t just serious – it was very, very serious, and that “lady, you’re going nowhere today”.

This week, on ‘Majorly Inconvenient London Breakdown – The Aftermath’, I offer a handy cut-out and keep guide to car breakdown management, plus a couple of key points for consideration.

DO, when waiting for the breakdown truck to arrive, try to find productive ways to pass the time. Sitting ‘with a face on’ might feel cathartic initially, but far better to do something productive, such as scraping the icky goo from around the base of the gear knob, or venturing into the glove compartment for a spot of rationalization. Why not even try to make a game of it? Score 1 point for a broken ballpoint, 2 for an aged tax disc, 3 for a pack of evaporated ‘dashboard wet wipes’ and 15 for a Werther’s Original. (With a bonus 200 if you pick the fur off and consume.)

DO try to use the equation T = Y + ¾  (where T = time of arrival and Y = estimated time of arrival) when computing if it’s safe to leave your vehicle and trek to the nearest fast food outlet. Add a further ½ if making your calculation a) on a Saturday, b) on a Sunday,  and c) if the operative at the end of the phone starts calling you ‘my love’ a lot.

DON’T forget that this only applies in the first 79 minutes of your period of incarceration. Once you get the ‘ten minutes away’ call, accept that this will mean a) 20 minutes, or b) they are there. And you are not.

DO accept that while downloading a ‘handy’ app which will track your towing vehicle’s distance from the scene of your breakdown in ‘real time’ will provide a source of fun once you’ve run out of ideas of amusing posts to put on facebook, instagram, twitter and vine, it has no basis in reality.

FURTHERMORE, DO understand that the use of Postman-Pat-style van icon in said app is part of a mind-altering algorithm installed to elicit feelings of warmth towards the driver of said truck, rather than an accurate representation of their physical location. They LIE.

DON’T forget the power of positive thinking. Saying ‘at least we got Nan to Heathrow BEFORE we broke down!’ is always a better option than saying ‘How the **** are we going to pick up dad from Heathrow tomorrow?’.

DO resist the urge to open your bonnet/owner’s manual and attempt any diagnostics yourself. Doing so might lead to dangerous complications, such as you offering a smorgasbord of mechanically impossible nonsense such as ‘I thought it might be the dynamo’ and causing you  (okay, me) to become a laughing stock.

DO wax lyrical, especially if  travelling with minors, about the joy of journeying 140 miles in the cab of a giant tow truck – paying special attention to the ‘fun’ of being all squidged in together, the ‘exciting’ atmosphere engendered by it smelling of wet dog and the ‘character building’ business of going a very, very long way very, VERY slowly, with lots of exciting and child-friendly topics of conversation up for grabs, such as ‘most recent fatal RTA I attended’ and ‘ways in which poor restraint management can catapult a Range Rover off the front/back/side of a tow truck’, which is obviously much more fun than sleeping.

And, finally, speaking of the building of character, a suggestion for a New Year’s resolution that I definitely aim to embrace.  And it is to be generally more inconvenienced. The terms ‘first world worries’ and ‘middle class problems’  are greeted with derision with good reason. I have not been so inconvenienced since around 1987, when I broke down in a far flung location, in December, with a seven foot Christmas tree, a ten month old  baby, no buggy, no coat and no mobile phone. Biology has seen to it that most of the harrowing details are now a blur, but, boy, did it focus my mind. I was only inconvenienced that time. I was only inconvenienced this time. But being inconvenienced is a reminder of how just much we take for granted. Which has to be a good thing, yes?

Happy New Year. X

Missed part one?  Click here…


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