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Foley's blogs

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blogging about my books

Danger

Books Posted on Tue, September 10, 2013 16:46:35

I think, as adults, we are well aware of the dangers in life. From
the little, and almost, inherent fact that bees and wasps sting; to driving a car with a seat belt
fastened or risk fatal injuries – danger lurks in everything we do.

Today I happened upon a wonderful book (and website) that
catalogues the dangers humans expose themselves to throughout their lives.


The Norm Chronicles – Stories and Numbers about Danger
is a humorous
guide to living well and staying safe. While some look to newspaper column
writers and agony aunts to help them with their problems, this guide follows
the character ‘Norm’ throughout his average life, giving the probabilities of
bad events occurring day-to-day.

The calculations made by authors Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter ring
true and seem very practical, yet also prove that most of life’s dangers are
also avoidable. For example, “SMOKING: It’s as if every 2 cigarettes take
a half hour off your life expectancy. But! If you stop smoking at 40, you add
9 years to your life expectancy.”

So invariably, the notion of common-sense is still an important aspect of life
that sadly not all humans possess. Thus the adage that sums it up well, “Common sense is not so common” – Voltaire, A Pocket
Philosophical Dictionary
.

Alas, I was very happy to learn that women still have a longer life
expectancy than man, even if the gap has closed as a wife can now only expect
to live four years longer than her husband…what a relief!



Back to Reality

Books Posted on Wed, September 04, 2013 10:35:59

I’m back from my summer hiatus, refreshed, renewed and invigorated – it’s wonderful what two weeks ‘off’ can do for a person’s soul!

Thankfully, I avoided social networking, newspapers and TV. But sadly, I have returned to news of the Syrian unrest and closer to home, once treasured TV personalities in court, charged for offenses to children. Sickening.

I’m not sure if avoiding the world and the internet was the best idea. I missed reading e-mails from my friends, texts keeping me up-to-date with family news and phonecalls from fellow authors. I’m out of touch with some of my favourite television programme storylines and have missed hearing Chris Evans’ jolly tones on the radio.

However, I’ve read some wonderful books that have fed my thirst for new story ideas and exciting characters for my books.

Room has captivated my heart, especially as it is written in the voice of a five-year-old boy. Not wanting to give the plot away, and although it is fiction, the theme of the book is very relevant to today’s society. Very creepy!

Another, initially ridiculous, book that caught my eye on holiday was The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year. Hilarity ensues when a wife/mother/lover is determined to stay in bed for a year after her family life falls apart.

What I would give to stay in bed all day!



For the Pleasure of Reading

Books Posted on Wed, July 31, 2013 12:56:20

As we’re into the swing of
summer in the UK, one thing I know many of us worry about is keeping busy. If
you are a parent with young children excited by a six week school holiday you
may need to think about other options to entertain them when the weather at
home turns wet or if they need to cool down in the shade, at the side of the
pool.

Obviously, as a
children’s writer, I would suggest they get their little teeth into a good book
(buy To be Young here). Not only does it help them to slow down and
conserve energy, reading aides personal growth and widens their imagination. If
they are approaching their teens, then they are more than likely to be more inquisitive
and curious, so allowing them to read a book can answer the unanswerable
questions of growing up.

If your child is younger and a pre-schooler then it is important to help them read or even better, to
start off reading to them. Studies show that reading to your children benefits their speech and communication
skills, strengthens the bond between you and them and also encourages academic
excellence. The National Literacy Trust has found that reading for pleasure is
an important gateway
to personal development,
and to social, economic and civic life (Holden 2004).

Reading for
pleasure not only affects children in a positive way, adults can also feel
great benefits when they read literature. As an adult, I find reading a
relaxing way to unwind, but as a writer see reading as research. For those
teachers, lecturers and other professions who are also blessed with six weeks off
work this summer, distract yourself with one of my books. From romance to
thrillers, there’s something for everyone in their quest for a good summer read
this year.



Tweet Geek

Books Posted on Tue, June 18, 2013 20:27:03

It has been announced this week that the Oxford English Dictionary have added an array of new words to their latest Dictionary. For an obsessive online fan and author like myself, this is good news for book-lovers, Tweeters and writers alike.

The words “tweet”, “geekery”, “crowdsourcing”, “e-reader” and “dad dancing” are the most recent phrases to make the cut for the renown Dictionary.

Strangely, most of those words still annoy spell-checker, even as I write, the threatening red squiggly line highlights the offending words. Yet I now feel relieved that “e-reader” and “tweet” have made the edition as I so frequently use them.

I do think “wingsuit” is my favourite addition. Although, I am not sure I would be happy to try it!



Book Prizes

Books Posted on Thu, June 06, 2013 17:08:54

The latest Women’s Prize for Fiction has been won by American, AM Holmes with her sixth novel May We Be Forgiven. Holmes’ piece of dark and violent satire, set in America revisits the American Dream but flips it on its side culminating in a thrilling end.

Actress Miranda Richardson judged the entries, which included one of my favourite authors, Zadie Smith. Just last week, Richardson also judged the BBC Radio 2 500 Words short story competition, aimed at children. She joined host Chris Evans and his One Show co-presenter Alex Jones at the Hay Festival, set in the dreamy book-lovers paradise of Welsh town, Hay-on-Wye.

I was amazed how many of the young children managed to conjure up such brilliant stories in only 500 words. It is wonderful to think that many of these youngsters will join me and write professionally in the future.



Getting Published

Books Posted on Tue, June 04, 2013 12:05:59

With
the start to this wonderfully sunny week I have decided to work on my
creativity. I have been deliberating over the ways to get published and have
found the Top Ten Tips in Grazia Magazine very helpful.

Of course, I
know that creating a fantastic, tell-all first chapter is important as it
allows potential publishers, agents and editors a good glimpse of what else is
to come in my books. However, I do realise that I must save some interesting
content for later in the book and ‘keep writing’.

I also find that
I write whenever and wherever I can as I may have ideas that come to me late at night or
very early in the morning, therefore I always make notes and keep a notepad close to hand.

With my children’s
books and short stories, I mainly take inspiration and ideas from my children
and other family members. Other children’s books, magazines and television
shows are also a great source of research.

All in all, I hope I can encourage you to develop your creativity and get started on a new book. Remember, to write from your heart and ‘not for the market’ so that a publisher can enjoy your original content.



The ‘Book’ Apprentice

Books Posted on Thu, May 23, 2013 13:16:16

I’m an avid fan of Lord Alan Sugar and his version of The Apprentice, not so much the US version with Donald Trump and his bevvy of celebrity advisors.

The whole premise of the UK version is glossed with a classy mix of wannabe Apprentices, albeit a bit cocky, who all have a potential business venture that they want to share with Lord Sugar. In the past, the opportunity to be Lord Alan’s Apprentice was frightening prospect – imagine having to make teas and compose letters for the former Sir Alan?!

Yet now, the new idea of working with, rather than for, Lord Alan is a greater prize. I feel that going into business with Lord Alan would be a much better idea as the main business plan would be solely your own, it is just a shame that there aren’t many creative wannabe Apprentices out there.

As much as I loved last night’s farm shop episode, as an author, I would love to see a task that would incorporate writing. In the past, choreographing a TV advert is as close as The Apprentice has got to being creative with words. I would love to see an upcoming writer feature on the show, representing the lone writer who struggles to get noticed.

In the boardroom many of the contestants struggle to convey their desired message to their potential boss. Maybe, if they took a bit of time to practice their pitch and write down their ideas, maybe Lord Sugar, Karen Brady and Nick Hewer would take them more seriously. I know I spend hours lamenting over words so maybe I should be brave and apply for the show now and prove that writers can in fact go into business with Lord Alan.



Kidnap Victims

Books Posted on Mon, May 20, 2013 16:12:52

Over the weekend whilst relaxing in the sun, I came across a harrowing story of kidnap, and rescue, in the news. The story of an Philemon Semere, a Eritrean refugee freed from his captors in Egypt’s Sinai desert made me reflect on one of my characters, Katie Smythe.

In my book Shout For Love, Katie is kidnapped by a terrorist group in Turkey, whilst on her honeymoon with new husband, Declan Black. Although she was not savagely hurt like Philemon, Katie did present emotional scarring that came from being separated from the love of her life, Declan.

A similar theme of hope is threaded through both stories, and for Philemon it was the feeling of hope that made him persevere to survive. Even as he was beaten, burnt and threatened with death, Philemon carried on and was given more hope when he was allowed to telephone his family by his Bedouin captors, “I have no enough food. Have no enough water. Always hit by sticks and burnt by fire and electricity. My body is burning. Please help me!”

Katie was given hope in the shape of her new husband, Declan, when he set out on a mission to find her, by undercover means. Thankfully, both stories end happily; Philemon, although badly hurt, was let go from his kidnappers after a ransom was paid off by his family; Katie was released after the dangerous lengths her husband went whilst undercover.

These heroic accounts of bravery allow us to have faith in man-kind.



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