Let’s talk peace!

Leafing through my Latin dictionary (as one does) I came across the word pax. I think we all know that the word has something to do with peace, as opposed to war. These days the word is largely used in reference to children’s games: ‘Pax’ as in wanting to call an end to a game, or declare immunity from any consequences of a game. The word is often called out while crossing fingers, and /or holding up one’s hands. Even in this context, the word has an old fashioned feel to it, and doesn’t appear much in the dialogue of modern books for children.

Pax is still to be found as part of a Latin tag in more literary or historical books. For roman soldierexample:

  • Pax Romana – the long peace of the Roman Empire brought about by the impressive strength of the Roman military.
  • Pax Britannica – a similar state of peace imposed by the British on members of its colonial empire (when there was one!).
  • Pax in Bello – peace in war, whereby fighting continues, but at a reduced rate.

Pax, from these examples, would seem to be used in association with more bellicose activity. Not so the ‘pax vobiscum’ (Peace be with you) that Christ is reported to have said to the apostles on the first Easter morning.

 

45paxPAX was the name given by the Romans to their goddess of peace. The Greeks called their goddess of peace Irene, from the Greek eirenikos (peace). The word eirenic / irenic, meaning tending towards conciliation, or promoting peace, is clearly linked to the name Irene. Not so the word ire, and all its angry associations!

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Anthology or collection?

Tom Hanks, the movie star sometimes dubbed the ‘all round nicest guy in Hollywood,’ has just published a collection of short stories, called Uncommon Type – some stories. And – really quite annoyingly for those who like popular figures to have feet of clay – it’s been well received by the critics. Not content with being a household name as an actor, the man is now going to be hailed as a writer of considerable talent too.

Short stories have increased in popularity recently and his new publication won’t have set back this resurgence. But why is Mr Hanks book of short stories called a collection and not an anthology?

My Collins dictionary describes an anthology as ‘any printed collection of literary pieces, songs, works of art etc.’ This sounds pretty much like calling an anthology an, er, collection by another name. However the crucial difference, as the dictionary also states, is that in an anthology the stories and poems are written by various authors and a collection only solstice logo (1)includes the work of one author. This is the distinction used by my publisher. Hence, a number of my Shakespeare character stories have appeared in anthologies, alongside the work of other authors, that Solstice Publishing have produced in the last couple of years. But this year, when they published these stories in the same volume as several more that I alone had written, the ensuing publication was called a collection – CAST OFF.

Links:Cast Off

 

 

 

Meet author Josie Montano

Josie Montano is an award-winning author, and has just released her sixtieth book in over Josie 120 years within the publishing industry. She has been internationally published, translated into Italian, and writes under two pseudonyms – fiction under the name of Montano, and resources on Autism under the name Santomauro.

Josie also dabbles in freelance having had a variety of differing articles and regular columns published. Her play ‘The Great Escape, Italian Style’ trod the boards at the Gympie Rush Festival. She has contributed to technical handbooks, narrative scripts as well as co-edited an international journal. She has been short-listed for a variety of literary awards and acquired many achievements over the years. These include a residency with the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust, and she has been a presenter with ‘Out of the Box’.

She grew up in rural Australia within a strong Italian community. From the age of nine, she self-published her own books for borrowing at the school library, and received her first rejection letter from Golden Books when she was thirteen.

 What is the title of your latest book?

STUFF THEY DON’T TEACH YOU AT SCHOOL. Everything from acne, after-parties andJosie 2 alcohol to wannabes, waxing and zits – this is a thorough A to Z dictionary handbook for teens full of the stuff that really counts but doesn’t get a mention at school.

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

Challenging: making deadlines! Putting your work out there for people to judge, criticise or/and love.

Rewarding:  seeing your labour of love in book form, holding that first copy in print, having readers love your work – it’s all worth it!

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Keep writing, EVERY DAY! Rub shoulders, network, attend conferences, workshops, writing courses etc, to hone your craft. Don’t assume you ‘know it all.’ Even after 60 published works I am always refining and learning.

 What are you working on at the moment?

Josie cartoonI always have a few pots, or should I say stories, on the boil. I have been contracted for three upcoming picture books and, a total contrast, I am also on a deadline for a contracted, non-fiction, resource on Autism and relationships.

 What do you like to read?

I can vary from a soppy trashy romance, a children’s book, a classic, to a soap magazine. I recently created a ‘Classics’ bookclub so we can read the classics eg: Brontes, Jane Austin, Ernest Hemingway etc.

 Where can readers find you?

http://www.booksbyjosie.com.au

https://www.facebook.com/Josie-Montano-Author-88023619410/

 

 

 

Could you punch a puppy?

We’ll get onto puppies in a minute. First I want to talk about clichés and jargon. A cliché, in case you need reminding, is any word or expression that has lost much of its force cauchythrough overuse. The word comes from the French – clicher – to stereotype. Jargon is specialised language for self selecting groups etc, often characterised by pretentious syntax or vocabulary. (Possibly from the Latin or old French for ‘confused talk’.)

The language of business is full of clichés and jargon. Some phrases, that might have sounded quite fresh and clever at the first conference where they were used – going for the low hanging fruit was an original concept once – soon become another piece of overused jargon. When working in one office some years ago, my colleagues and I frequently used to try to get as many into a meeting as possible. Rather sad, maybe – but it was our idea of fun on a slow afternoon. I remember being particularly fond of ‘putting an idea in the lift and seeing what floor it came out on.’ (No I’m not quite sure what it means, either). A colleague enjoyed ‘running that one up the flagpole.’

A few months ago the jobs website, Glassdoor, polled 2,000 workers for their most hated phrases. The day after the results were issued, The Times wrote a leader using some of their choicer pet hates. Apologies if it sets your teeth on edge, but I thought the article was so funny (especially the bit about the kimono – a new one for me) that I’m going to re-produce a couple of paragraphs. My justification for putting such an excerpt on this blog is as a reminder that writers need, first, to recognise jargon and clichés when they see them. And then avoid them like the plague  (Oops!)

… Time is short so we won’t try boiling the ocean. Rows and rows of ducks need to be lined up so that, going forward we can, er, go forward. There is a whole strategic staircase to be mounted here. So never mind mere blue sky thinking, this is an invitation to be part of a thought shower, where we can all throw some ideas at the wall and see if anything sticks. Once that is done we can take a helicopter view of the situation, and cascade what we observe. …                                                                                                                                              … What mental toolbox do we need to become true language champions? Radical change

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(despite my grim look, no dogs were harmed during the preparation of this blog.)

means having the courage to open the kimono (sorry about that), revealing and then peeling the onion till we uncover core values. At that point we must drill down until we reach granularity. Of course this may mean dealing with some sacred cows. But all change is loss, and even if the optics are bad, you sometimes have to be prepared to punch the puppy. … (Not literally, I am assured; punching a puppy means doing something unsavoury for the good of the company.)

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, and would like to read more of my work, please take a look at my Amazon author page. There is usually at least one free story on offer, so you can try before you buy. 

 

 

 

Meet author Adam Zorzi

Adam was born in Venice, but educated in New York City and continues to live there. His passion is travel and he counts himself lucky to have a job that gives him that opportunity. He writes non-fiction for work – proposals, reports, and studies.  He started writing fiction about 5 years ago to entertain himself, took a creative writing class, and joined a writers’ group when he felt he had something to share. That made writing fiction even more fun and challenging for him. He takes every advantage of living in NYC with its concerts, art, and films. People-watching, he says, is a great source of inspiration.

What is the title of your latest book? adam 2

Auld Acquaintances (234 pages, Solstice Publishing, $16.99) is my first holiday paranormal romance. Set in Williamsburg, Virginia, a Colonial ghost who discovered her husband’s betrayal at a New Year’s Eve party, and promptly hurled herself out of her bedroom window, tries to stop the wedding of a contemporary couple who plan to wed on New Year’s Eve. She has reason to believe the groom is a cad. The couple, who are both university professors, refuse to believe a ghost could be the one who is interfering with their plans by stealing jewelry, destroying bridal party gowns, and poisoning a wedding guest. They believe someone in their circle of friends and family and colleagues is playing a cruel practical joke. They don’t really doubt each other, but someone is standing between them and marriage. Because it’s romance, there’s a happy ever after ending.

Your readers might find some of the holiday customs sound familiar. Williamsburg was established as part of England’s Virginia Colony in 1623 and is home to the College of William & Mary—the second oldest college in the United States—named for King William III and Queen Mary II. The historic colonial district of Williamsburg has been preserved as it was during its pre-Revolutionary War period and attracts a large number of visitors adam 4during the holiday season for colonial music, decorations, and activities.

I also have a short story Low Country Boil in the latest volume (No. 6) of the Solstice Publishing horror anthology Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. It’s not gory horror. It’s more what if? What if persons entrusted to protect the county don’t, and what are the consequences? The story follows a law enforcement transplant from Maine to a county in the southern United States and how adjusting to her new environment isn’t great for maintaining law and order.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 I’ll start with the most rewarding. Freedom of expression. No matter what is going on in the world or household, I create a world, populate it with characters I find interesting, and tell a story that intrigues me and sometimes quietly draws attention to issues important to me. I enjoy researching backgrounds for settings and characters and discover all kinds of new and often irrelevant information. It’s an education. Most importantly to me, it’s fun. I truly enjoy it.

As for challenges, I sometimes write myself into a corner. I don’t plot meticulously beforehand so I have to reroute the story. There are also times when I know exactly what I want to happen and it simply doesn’t read properly on the page. I keep writing that scene until it flows and move on.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

 Write. Write anything. Get used to expressing yourself on the page. Try different word counts— 5,000 words tells a different story than 1,000. Write the same story from different points of view (POV). Try a new genre. Don’t wait for an assignment. Write letters to the editor of a publication about a story or a letter to fictional characters.

You can’t talk/sell yourself into being an author. You have to have something on pages for an editor, agent, publisher, reading group to read.

What are you working on at the moment?adam 3

A paranormal beach read. I never expected to be a paranormal writer, but my characters usually have an eternal love. If one of them dies, it’s reasonable to me that they would try to reunite.

I’m also working on a four-part family saga that isn’t paranormal. It’s set in places I enjoy visiting and want to create characters who live there. One family member works in the Orkney Islands and another in Mallorca.

What do you like to read?

Autobiographies. I like hearing how a person tells their life story. I’m not interested in any particular industry. I’ve read books by sailors, actors, singers, business leaders, scientists, and political leaders. I rarely read biographies because someone else tells the story often from a scholarly or salacious POV.

I also read mystery and suspense. Right now, I’m enjoying Nordic crime series. One, by Kati Hekkapelto, is set in Finland and another, by Ragnar Jonasson is set in Iceland.

 Where can readers find you?

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A new review of the Cast Off collection

Paperback copies of my latest collection of short stories, Cast Off, took several weeks stonefest 17more than expected to arrive in the UK. It seems that once one thing goes wrong, other problems pile in. Unblocking the problem with the printers took a lot of ineffective emails from me, and some targeted (but effective) work from my publisher, Solstice Publishing. However, I now have a pile of shiny copies in my possession and must start some serious promotion. To start I am giving, verbatim, a review of Cast Off that was posted last week, as it tells you from a reader’s perspective what you can expect if you purchase a copy.

Cast OffCast Off by novelist and playwright Margaret Egrot is an ingenious concept for a short story collection. The thirteen stories are all inspired by female characters from Shakespeare’s plays, offering new perspectives and twists on characters often overshadowed by their male counterparts.

Some of the stories are set with the world of the play themselves. These develop female characters who barely feature in the original work. One such example is the witch Sycorax, an offscreen presence in The Tempest, who Egrot brings to life in Ban! Ban! Caliban! by narrating her backstory.

Other stories depict a more prominent Shakespearian character, such as Othello’s Desdemona or Measure for Measure’s Isabella, yet offer their version of the events in the play. a midsummer day's dream

Further range is found in A Midsummer’s Day’s Dream which is a contemporary story with four students in place of the traditional leads; The Tangled Knot presents Twelfth Night’s Olivia from the comical voice of the Clown; whilst Is Not This Well? features an actress criticising the Bard himself for his misogynistic treatment of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew.

As you can see, no two stories are the same, despite the intrinsic Shakespeare theme. The diversity of the collection is testament to Egrot’s vast talent and a guarantee that you will never get bored as you turn the pages.

Be assured, as Egrot writes in her foreword, there is no pressure to be familiar with Shakespeare’s work to enjoy these stories. However, any fans of the Bard will gain an extra kick of enjoyment from spotting direct quotes from Shakespeare’s work, hidden within the stories like a DVD Easter Egg.

Cast Off is proof that Shakespeare’s legacy is alive and well. Egrot reinvents the source material with a fresh feminist perspective and injects plenty of original ideas into her homage to Shakespeare’s overlooked heroines.

Links: myBook.to/CastOff

http://www.simonfairbanks.com/blog/review-cast-off-by-margaret-egrot
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Meet author Simon Fairbanks

I first met Simon when he and fellow authors from Birmingham, UK, came to give readings from their latest works at The Big Comfy Bookshop in my home city, Coventry. I had gone along to check out the shop as a potential venue for my own writers’ group and this seemed as good an opportunity as any. It was a very successful evening. Simon and his colleagues proved to be a great bunch, and the bookshop is a truly welcoming and atmospheric place in which to hold a writers’ group meeting. Simon 145kb

Simon is a fantasy author living in Birmingham. His first novel, The Sheriff, was released in March 2014. The following month, it was chosen to participate in the One Big Book Launch. The next book in the series, The Curse of Besti Bori, was released in October 2015.

His debut short story collection, Breadcrumbs, contains twenty-one short stories, including a new adventure starring the characters of The Sheriff.

Simon was also one of ten writers selected for the Ten To One project. Their collaborative efforts resulted in the novel Circ.

What is the title of your latest book? 

Simon 2 My most recent novel is The Curse Of Besti Bori. The jungle cloud of Besti Bori is in quarantine. An infection has consumed the cloud, turning its peaceful people into monstrous splicers. Now a team of archers watch over its borders, ensuring nothing enters and nothing leaves.
That is until Sheriff Baran visits for a routine inspection. His sky-horse is mysteriously drugged and he plummets into the darkness of the cursed jungle.
Now, Sheriff Shaula must return from her self-inflicted exile to lead a rescue mission into the most dangerous place in Nephos. Armed only  with  a team  of  warrior fairies,  Shaula  must  battle  her  way  through hordes of splicers to retrieve the stranded Baran. However, Shaula soon learns that splicers are not the only danger lurking in Besti Bori.

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 The biggest challenge is finding the time and motivation to write, alongside family commitments, a full-time job and the temptation of Netflix!

The most rewarding moment is holding your printed novel in your hands, knowing that all those months of grafting, writing and editing are now contained in a neat little package adorned with your name. I love sliding my finished novels onto my bookshelf in between famous authors!

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? Simon 3

 I strongly recommend joining a writers’ group. I joined the Birmingham Writers’ Group in Autumn 2011. They helped me progress from a complete novice to a self-published novelist in less than three years – The Sheriff.

Writing is a solitary activity but you need camaraderie, accountability and feedback to stay motivated. An organised and supportive writers’ group is worth its weight in gold.

 What are you working on at the moment?

 I am currently editing my second short story collection, provisionally titled Breadcrumbs 2. I just need to write one more novella and the collection will be complete.

 What do you like to read?

 My three writing heroes are Terry Pratchett, Stephen King and Agatha Christie, thankfully three of the most prolific writers you can find! My favourite books of all time are His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I am very excited about his follow-up trilogy, The Book of Dust, which begins in October of this year. Generally, I read two books a month: one traditionally published and one self-published.

 Where can readers find you ?

NB: You can also find a short story by Simon in the Christmas anthology, Festive Treats, along with my short story, Mary’s Christmas. This is available as a free download from my Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO