Daily Archives: 05/02/2013

Sibel Hodge – Don’t Let Life Get You Down

Read Sibel Hodge’s Don’t Let Life Get You Down

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Don’t Let Life Get You Down

Posted by sibelhodge on Monday, January 25, 2010 Under: Lifestyle

We all have days where nothing is going right, or moments in our life that drag us down. The important thing is how we deal with the stresses and upheavals that living in the modern world places upon us. So if you have that sinking feeling, just remember that today’s bad news could be tomorrow’s opportunity. Repeating positive motivational quotes and mantras help me get through the the rough times. Here are some of mine…


Life is full of should haves. You can’t change the past, but the power to do anything is here, now.

Make the most of all your opportunities today. You never know which one will pay off.

It’ll be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, then it’s not the end.

Laughter is a great stress management tool. Devote time to laugh throughout your day.

Success is just a state of mind. If you believe you can do something then you can … but maybe not always the way you first thought.

Your potential is from infinity to beyond.

Don’t try to fail by failing to try.

Live for today, dream of tomorrow, learn from yesterday.

You are unique, so use your unique talent to your advantage.

Everything You touch is a success.

The meditations above, plus many more, are included in my new book Healing Meditations for Surviving Grief and Loss


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Tracey Alley’s World

Tracey Alley on The Scorpion and the Frog

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I’m certain that practically everyone has heard the parable of the Scorpion and the Frog so bear with me while I repeat it for the few who don’t know it.  “The land is flooding and the only way out is to cross the river.  A scorpion says to a frog “take me over the river on your back please” and the frog replies “I can’t.  You’re a scorpion and you’ll sting me”.  But the scorpion pleads his case by saying “I wouldn’t do that because then we would both drown.  Trust me and take me over the river on your back.”  The frog can see the logic in the scorpions argument and agrees to take the scorpion across the river on his back.

Half way across the river the scorpion stings the frog and they both start to drown.  The frog cries out “Why have you done this?  Now we’ll both die?” and the scorpion replied “Sorry, it’s my nature.”

It sounds silly but it really represents a very valuable,  important lesson that all of us must learn at some time in our lives.  The simple fact is that human beings can pretty much be divided into two groups – scorpions and frogs.  Life can be very, very hard for frogs – it’s their nature to be helpful, kind and giving.  This means they often get hurt and sometimes, a lot of times, they get hurt very badly simply because there are scorpions amongst us.The scorpion is a ‘what’s in it for me?’ type of person, while the frog is a ‘what can I do for you?’ type of person.  Thus you can see how easily a scorpion can take advantage of a frog.  They are also, by nature, very credible chameleons who do not show their true colours immediately and can easily pass for a fellow frog – to push that metaphor to the limit 🙂 – thus they can use and abuse other people until finally the real frog realises he’s been stung.  And that hurts.

These people will act like your best friend [or lover, room-mate, neighbour etc] and they will, initially, seem incredibly believable.   Depending on how good these people are at disguising their true nature they can fool you for a very long time – slowly but surely bleeding you dry emotionally, financially or otherwise.  And when you finally feel the sting and realise how you’ve been used the pain and hurt is quite devastating.

We all instinctively want to believe the best in people.  If we’re a frog – it’s in our nature.  Unfortunately not everyone is worthy of trust or respect or love.  By no means is it a bad thing to have a generous and giving nature.  To want to help people, to want to have relationships – these are good, wholesome desires.  What we do have to learn, eventually, though is to be a little more discerning about other people.  I don’t mean we should become cynical – that only means that the scorpions amongst us have won.  

Instead just watch people’s behaviour and really listen to what they say.  All people, no matter what our nature, ultimately give ourselves away.  Our realattitudes, thoughts and desires will be shown in the things we say and the way we behave.  Having a little protective shell around your heart will go a long way towards helping you to not only recognize the scorpions but to avoid being hurt by them.  And always remember – you can never change another human being, you can only change yourself and the way you choose to respond.

So to all my frog friends out there – be careful who you give your heart to and keep an eye out for scorpions both for yourself and for the other frogs you love 🙂

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Faith Mortimer on Genres

As a Reader or a Writer, does Genre sometimes confuse you?


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Good day!

Over the years I’ve found the subject of genre to be rather puzzling, especially as nowadays the line between genre often appears to ‘bleed’ between two, three or even four different genre. Genre is a French term and although it can be used as a “kind” or “sort” of virtually anything, the most common usage is of course for categorizing stories by television, film, theatre and prose and applies to both fiction and nonfiction books.

But because genre is nothing more than a loose, fuzzy logic way of categorizing these things I often find it difficult to place a certain book or film in one category and if you’re honest I’m sure there are many people who feel the same way.
A book genre is a particular class or type of book. Books can be divided into a broad assortment of genres, and people often use genre as a criterion when selecting a book to read and because of this, if you’re an author, ensuring your book is correctly listed is most important.

The two broadest genres are fiction and nonfiction. Fiction books involve events and stories which although perhaps based on truth, have not happened. Nonfiction covers topics which have a basis in fact, ranging from history books to home baking.

Within each basic division, there are a number of categories, and in some cases as I’ve already said, a book may span several genres and this is where it can become even fuzzier.

Some commonly-used categories of book genre in fiction include: romance, young adult mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, literary fiction, fantasy, and science fiction. Children’s fiction can also be divided into a different category, such as into picture books, young adult novels, and so forth.

Nonfiction can include things like art, history, politics, gardening, science, travel, sociology, biography, nature, and reference among many others. Nonfiction books like fiction books can also span multiple genres. For example I’ve just read a book written about a game park in Kenya (nature and research), which also covers travel within Africa. The book could be considered a nature book but it is also a travel book, since it involves a discussion of travel in a foreign country. Divisions can be found within each subcategory, as well: art, for example, includes art reference books, books about art history, books which showcase particular types of art, and so forth. Getting fuzzier?..

For many people, book genre is a very important factor in their decision to purchase a book. I write and I love reading mystery murder novels. But I’m not a huge fan of vampire or horror books which scares me witless! However, people sometimes find when they push outside the book genre they are familiar with they discover topics and authors which they grow to love.

Within book genre there are ‘conventions’, which are the many elements fans expect to find in a novel of that genre. For example, in my murder/crime novels my fans will expect a body to turn up pretty early in my books…and sometimes expect multiple bodies to appear!

These conventions are important when it comes to writing a successful novel. If I stumble across a group of readers who love and regularly buy Agatha Christie-type murder mystery books, then it makes good commercial sense to write something that is original and yet still follows the same basic pattern as all the others. Why would I waste the opportunity of tapping into this market by writing something completely different?

Genre fiction is also known as popular, commercial or category fiction and is nowadays sold as mass-market books. It also (usually) places a greater emphasis on plot and less emphasis on characterisation, ‘fine’ writing or the theme exploration itself which is more literary fiction. Then there’s mainstream fiction; another avenue to explore…as this is when a genre novel reaches beyond its usual audience and is bought and enjoyed by readers who don’t normally read that type of fiction.

Because mainstream fiction is genre fiction which breaks the rules…genre fiction follows a well-known pattern

Let’s take a crime novel then…and use examples of genre fiction V mainstream fiction

Conventions say in genre fiction a body should show up in the first few chapters, and preferably in the first few pages – in mainstream my murder isn’t committed until halfway through.

Conventions dictate that the guilty should be brought to justice by the detective or sleuth in the closing pages – in mainstream my murderer gets away with it and an innocent man is arrested in his place.

Conventions dictate that the bulk of the plot should be devoted to the detection of the crime – I spend a large chunk of my novel describing the detective’s troubled sex and home life. The question is have I written a detective novel at all? <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=””>Well yes and no…

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       in the sense that it rips up the convention rule book for that

particular genre

       and really couldn’t be marketed as a part of that genre.<li “<span=”” class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”li “>mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>


     in the sense that it features a murder and a detective or sleuth attempting to solve the crime.

The solution therefore, is to market my novel to a more general audience, one which won’t care about all the traditional conventions of detective fiction having been broken; they welcome a break with tradition. Or it could be classed and marketed not as a detective crime novel at all, but a novel about a man’s troubled sex life and the murder could be on the side almost!

This makes it mainstream fiction – but if the quality of the writing and the profundity of ideas explored put my novel into the <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=””>prize-winning league, it would probably be considered as literary fiction.

And so mainstream fiction is…

It is genre or literary fiction which happens to sell well.
It is genre fiction which breaks the conventions.
I’ve made a short list of some of the principal fiction genre…there are plenty more!

      <li “<span=”” class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”li “>mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Children’s,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Chick Lit,
    <li “<span=”” class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”li “>mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Commercial Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Contemporary,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Crime,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Erotica,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Family Saga,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Fantasy,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Dark Fantasy,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Gay and Lesbian,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>General Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Graphic Novels,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Historical Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Horror,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Humour,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Literary Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Military and Espionage,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Multicultural,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Mystery,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Offbeat or Quirky,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Picture Books,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Religious and Inspirational,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Romance,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Science Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Short Story Collections,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Thrillers and Suspense,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Western,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Women’s Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Young Adult.

Within each principal genre there are many sub-genres which are constantly changing as readers likes and dislikes change.

So I might write in my murder mysteries…Detective Fiction, Police Procedurals, Private Eye Novels, British plot, Women sleuths, Hard-boiled.

And what if my novel spans several genres?!! For instance: murder and romance? I have to decide which to focus on…what is the main theme and thrust of the plot? Is it murder or romance? It is important to recognise my specific genre as all novels within that genre will have similar characteristics which my fans will recognise and expect…I must keep these fans happy! My crime fans will expect the murder to take the main plot, not the romance. Indeed I could lose fans if I did this.

I have to decide whether I want to write the conventional way with genre fiction or as mainstream fiction as I certainly don’t want to fall between the two…I might lose my audience if it’s not conventional enough for fans of that genre and if it’s too much conventional genre it might not appeal or attract a mainstream or literary audience… I could end up with no audience at all! Another fuzzy dilemma!

Out of interest, those people who buy one fiction book a year, about 49% buy a book in the mystery, thriller and crime categories. The next most popular is science fiction (25%), and romance at 21%.

I hope I’ve clarified one or two things as I’m sure many people get confused over genre, especially new writers. There are some interesting sites on Google that go much more in depth regarding genre. One site is wiseGeek, which runs a series of questions and answers and I did use one or two ideas from that site as examples. There’s plenty more if you’re really interested.

Thanks for reading this post and as ever a huge thanks for my own fans of my mainstream murder/mystery/psychological/adventure/drama fiction books! Your continuing support is tremendous and this last week has been phenomenal!

Thanks and happy reading, whether you’re a fiction fan, non-fiction, eBook or paperback lover!


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New Times New Words

Seb Kirby on


How I Write


Typewriter image 

Well, first I think that’s a very personal thing and that every author will have their own take on this. There’s no right or wrong way. As W. Somerset Maugham said: ‘There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no-one knows what they are.’ 

Basically, I prefer the Stephen King approach as set out in his ‘On Writing’. You know, the book he wrote after he was hit by a truck when he was out walking to clear his mind after a writing session. The truck that nearly killed him. You get the idea that he felt he had to put it all in that book, just in case. 

I take his approach to be something along the lines of: If you’re not surprising yourself when you’re writing your book, how can you hope to surprise your readers when they’re reading it? So, I try to be excited at what’s coming out as I write and let the novel plan itself. With this approach, you don’t start with a detailed, worked-out plot or anything more than a part-glimpsed plan, you really do let the characters tell you what should happen next. 

Generally, I don’t believe in heroes. I wouldn’t want to trust one. I get more from ordinary, flawed, people in situations that take them out of their normal lives. Then things get interesting as you see how they struggle with what seems for them the impossible. And I want to resolve things in the end in their favour. My way, if you like, of righting some of the wrongs, albeit in a small way. 

There are two of Stephen King’s aphorisms that I take seriously. The first: ‘The road to hell is paved with adverbs.’ So, where at all possible I don’t use them. The second: ‘Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.’ I never use a dictionary or a thesaurus. 

Finally, I’d emphasise the importance of the ‘polishing’ stage in the writing process. Once the words have formed themselves out of the characters’ wishes, once the story has been told, the real work begins. Writing and rewriting, working and reworking the text to give it as much shine and polish as you can muster. And there’s then always the hope in discovering another of the goals suggested by Stephen King – that seldom achieved ‘gem’ where you contribute a striking and novel turn of language that lights up the whole show. 


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