Monthly Archives: February 2012

Style tips from the Oscars ?

Olympia Le-Tan clutch bag held by Michelle Williams. Who is famous.Candice: Now we all love abit of Oscars action… Ok well I do, especially all the red carpet glamour. One year I’d like to be doing my acceptance speak saying ” only two years ago I was glossing the doors on the landing on this day…”. Instead I sky plus the coverage and watch the red carpet section to see who is wearing what. Now regular readers will know my writing partner is not known for his style tips. Confusion still regins over some of the outfit descriptions I have written in the past.

However,today I received an interesting email. ” Did you know Michelle Williams went to the Oscars with a bag that looked like a book, can you blog about that.” Hang on, this is the man who knows nothing about fashion, where has he found this information, thinks me. Well apparently he read it in the Metro.

However, my research comes up with something quite different. Yes, the lovely Miss Williams does like a nice book clutch. She’s recently been seen with an Arthur Miller and the Catcher in the rye. The first a nice reference to ‘My week with Marilyn‘ I imagine. But for the aforementioned Oscars bash she didn’t carry one. Someone failed in their research, oh Metro style editors.

But exploring this further, a book as a clutch bag, interesting choice. The bags are made by Olympia Le Tan, and retail for around £1000. Sell the number of Harry Potter’s JK has for that value per book and you’d be one rich author! By why a book as bag, is it in case you get bored during the ceremony? Stick a few in the middle of the dance floor on a night out and you wouldn’t pull, they’d think it was a bunch of librarians. Or is it just an American trying to look intellectual… I don’t know myself but perhaps this is the future of the printed book… Forget publishing one, it’s all about where you can put your lipstick!

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A cunning plan…

Top new book by JK Rowling. Yes, really. Honest.Phil: I’ve cracked it. As soon as I read that JK Rowling is going to pen her first book for adults, I knew what had to be done.

Up and down the country, people will be trying to hack Ms Rowlings computer, desperate for the first read of the new novel. All we need to do is leak our story under her name and wait for the deal. What publishing house could resist ?

Then, once she admits she didn’t write it, we reveal ourselves as the true authors. You lot can back us up (a free copy of the book AND lashings of cake for anyone willing to testify) and the printing presses can start working overtime.

Or maybe, we need to start a rumour that JKR is writing under a pseudonym. Yes, that might work. All I have to do is write:

nolanparker is the new and especially secret pseudonym for J K Rowling

hold on, to be on the safe side

The harry potter lady J K Rowling is writing under the soodunim nolanparker

let the interweb pick it up and sit back to wait.

What could go wrong ?

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The return of the peplum

Peplum FrillCandice: Nearly a year ago to the day, Phil wrote a post about not understanding the women’s clothing and particularly being stuck by a “peplum frill”

Now, at the time of writing, a peplum was something that was a severe throw back to the 80’s.  Think shoulder pads, big hair and mobile phones that needed their own carry case.  However,as is the way with the world of fashion, I open my weekly copy of Grazia magazine and find the peplum has returned.  A quick look round the shops and I can see them everywhere.  Slightly less pronounced than last time as they no longer are accompanied by those massive shoulder pads but still there.

So now comes a quandry.  The peplum was a sarcastic decription on the style of one of the characters, and a way of defining her so that readers could just jump in and see what she was really like.  But, nearly two years since conception, suddenly a style tip which made someone seem abit backwards is now making her the height of fashion.

This is must be a common problem with authors, as the wheels of publishing move slowly.  Referencing current events can date things  as politics, fashion, music etc all change so quickly.  What do authors do – not reference things so current but lose the strength of their story, or keep in the reference and rely on that fact it will be set in one place and time.

I’m loathed to take my peplum description out.  Hopefully with the addition of blue eye shadow, the soundtrack to “The Breakfast Club” and the peplum being a on a shiny pastel suit it will help to keep our character stuck in time.

But hang on, what’s this in Grazia, “Blue eye shadow on the return…”  ARGH!

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Decision to make ? Well dig in !

Cake selectionPhil: Over the last couple of months, regular readers will know we’ve been talking about our second book. It’s very much at the planning stage but as this is the fun important bit, we’re not rushing.

In my head, there are a couple of possible storylines. They are similar but the tale encounters different twists and turns along the way. What I didn’t know was which one would be good and which absolutely brilliant. The only way to find out was to dig in a write some stuff to see how they turned out.

Obviously I wasn’t going to write two entire books and then discard one. For one thing I’m too lazy and anyway, they will (in my head) both be such great works of literature that to lose one would deprive the world too much. Can you imaging the great and good of the Guardian book supplement in tears ? Newsnight review abandoning anything other than wailing and gnashing of teeth at cultures great loss ?

So, I decided that a couple of decent length synopsis would do the job. Each starts and finishes from the same point – we have a story arc to fulfill after all – but I played with the journey in some major ways.

In this respect it’s a bit like looking at a cabinet full of massive puddings in a pub and not being able to decide if you want the banoffee pie or the strawberry cheesecake or the custard slice. The most satisfactory solution is to have a go at all three, then you are confident you’ve eaten the best one. Anything else leaves a lingering regret that perhaps the pie wasn’t as good as the others.

So, that’s what I did with the writing and as I worked my way through both options matters became a lot clearer. By the time I’d finished I had a pretty good idea which version was sweetest and most fulfilling. One option seemed a bit thin whereas as I wrote, the other developed into a full-flavour and very satisfying result. Just to be certain, both were packed off to Candice with no indication which I prefered. It didn’t matter – we both liked the same one and for the same reasons.

This sort of literary experiment is new to me but works very well. It’s another stage in the process of becoming a writer. It’s, yet again, more than just writing.

(Note for gluttons: Those cakes can be found at the Woodfield Farm Pub in Doncaster.)

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How Geek can you go ?

Phil: Pondering a bit of story I’m going to write, I found myself in a quandary between creating a realistic character and writing something impenetrable to the majority of readers.

The scene in question involves our man from IT, Kelvin. In the scene, he is being introduced to the bridge of an experimental lifeboat. Now modern lifeboats are  a mass of navigation instruments and electronic displays that allow the crew to monitor all aspects of the boat as well as working out where the heck they are in a stormy sea, all from the relative comfort of a specially sprung chair. Our hero’s eyes light up on seeing all of this and he says, “Wow, it’s like the bridge of the starship Enterprise !”

But would he really say that ?

At first I wondered about shortening it to “Wow, it’s like the bridge of the Enterprise !” because he would know that the vessel refered to was a starship and thus the word is redundant.

Then something in my head says that Star Trek is far too mainstream for someone living in the depths of the IT department. After all, it’s a popular television show that even girls have (apparently) watched. Should we go for something more obscure ?

How about “Wow, it’s like the bridge of the  Millennium Falcon !”. Good, but maybe not. A gurl once watched Star Wars so it scores limited geek points.

Maybe “Wow, it’s like the bridge of the Discovery One !”, but the 2001 reference is probably a bit out of date. Anyway, we already have a character called Dave so I’m afraid I can’t do that.

What about “Wow, it’s like the bridge of the Liberator !”  (Pause for certain gentlemen to enjoy the memory of leather-clad Sally Knyvette) (Non-nerd note: I am referring to the classic late 70’s BBC TV series Blakes 7. If you needed that I’m answering my own question)

Or “Wow, it’s like the bridge of the Serenity !” (Non-nerd note: Refers to the American series Firefly which was basically Blakes 7 badly done by Americans.)

Or “Wow, it’s like the bridge of the Nostromo !” (Non-nerd note: This was the space ship from the film Alien. Good geek points for knowing this I think)

Or “Wow, it’s like the bridge of the Dark Star !” (Non-nerd note: Space ship from the film of the same name. If you didn’t need that hint then slice you in two and the work “Geek” runs through you like “Blackpool” runs through a stick of rock)

I should probably stop typing now.

You’re all looking at me like I’m odd aren’t you.

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Love is in the air !

There is no greater love than that of girl for cake...Candice It’s not going to be a long post, this, as I have returned from a cinema trip to see Girl with a dragon tattoo and I’m pooped. However, the whole thing got me to thinking about the whole ‘love thing’ and how it is portrayed in literature and on TV.

Now the film I’ve just been to see is not a good representation of this at all, but the one I went to see yesterday might be closer. Though it was War horse and that’s not man woman, it’s man horse ! However, bestiality aside, the whole things left me abit cold as I like strong characters and strong relationships and that film gave me neither, just soppy bits and a funny red skyline (see the film and you’ll understand) I do wonder if Spielberg has shares in kleenex.

When reading my customary holiday read, chick lit, I get really annoyed if the main female character goes all woosy when she gets a bloke. It winds me up so much I sometimes can’t finish the book. So when it comes to Nolanparker style you know you are going to get a good, strong female character. It doesn’t mean she’s perfect, not by any means, but her scrapes along the way make her more human, but not a walk over.

Think Pride and Prejudice rather than Mills and Boon. However, on this famous day, would any of these ladies be getting a Valentines card? To be honest I’m not sure, possibly because any man in their life might think they wouldn’t be interested, and I think they are more likely to be senders than receivers, it’s a control thing !

On that note I’ve recently found a new TV show that I like, called ‘lost girl’. The premise is interesting and the main female character, plus side kick, have guts but don’t always make the right choices. I suppose, if we were to even move from novels to scripts, this is the kind of person I would write. Think Buffy for the noughties. Not sure if Bo from Lost girl, or Buffy, would be that interested in Valentines day, they’d probably be too busy saving the world!
So, who’s your favourite strong female character ? And would you send her valentines card?

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Do we need to win friends to influence people ?

Wine glasses - Empty onesPhil: I went to a book launch last night. It was a bit random – an e-mail arrived inviting me for no better reason (I think) than that I lived in the area. Still, I thought, it might be interesting not having been to a launch before what with the publishing world being too blinkered to pick up our efforts so far.

On arrival, I picked up the obligatory glass of wine and looked around. There were a few people turning up and gradually the room got busier. The problem is that while everyone else was having a good time chatting, despite my best efforts, and admittedly I’m not brilliant at this, I wasn’t. Assuming that I’m on my own at this sort of do, it’s usually simple enough to spot another lone soul and go and talk to them. Except there weren’t any. Seriously, I was the only person who didn’t know someone.

Earwigging conversations, I worked out that the marketing people had very sensibly got in touch with local writers groups. They had turned up en masse. I have never been anywhere so cliquey. You know things are bad when people won’t even return a glance. I mean I’m not George Cloony or anything but I might as well have been carrying a bell and shouting “unclean”.

Now neither of us belong to a writers group and have never felt the urge to join one. To be honest, they always look a bit terrifying. A room full of writers desperate to get published and hammering away at various potboilers. Get a bit of success and while they might on the face of it appear happy, as soon as you are out of sight, pins will be stuck in your effigy.

But is this right ? Has anyone out there got any experience of writers groups ?

Did they help you ? Does one person take over and dominate ?

On one hand I think it might prompt me to get a move on with stuff, on the other membership will turn what is fun into a chore. Perhaps I will be filled with inspiration, or too many ideas will turn me into a ball of frustration as I can’t focus on the story we want to tell. Maybe at a group, we would meet someone useful in the quest to get published, or (more likely I think) do these people avoid groups like the plague for fear of being bombarded with half-writen manuscripts and demands for feedback.

As for the launch, I drained the glass and bailed out. Next time I go, I want to be the one at the front with my name on the cover.

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