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Book Review: Watling Street by John Higgs

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When the Who Do You Think You Are magazine gave me the opportunity to review Watling Street by John Higgs, I jumped at the chance.

British history, especially history from the point of view of the people, has always been one of my favourite topics to read. Add to that, the chance to get a free book and what's not to like?

I initially received a paperback proof copy of the novel  but a few weeks later, courtesy of Higgs' publisher Orion Books, a beautiful hardback copy arrived too, this time full of maps and photographs that hadn't figured in the proof copy.

The colourful cover perfectly captures the contents of this book with its witty combination of the past, national identity and more recent pop culture (the Tardis is my personal favourite).

According to the accompanying press release,

Watling Street is a road of witches and ghosts, of queens and highwaymen, of history and myth, of Chaucer, Dickens and James Bond. Armies from Rome arrived and straightened this 444 kilome…

Photo Inspiration for July

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I haven't posted photo inspiration for a few months now (sorry about that) so I thought I'd return to it with a summer shot.

This is a seaside telescope, all ready for someone to pop in a coin and have a look.

Who do you think might use this? Are they alone? What are they looking for? What do they see through the lens?

Choice Words for July

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I'm on the countdown to the school summer holidays and I know that once my two are at home all day, my writing time will be eaten into by trips out and requests for food, drinks or to watch one of their latest animations or memes. So advice on how to keep writing thoughout those six weeks is always welcome.

Julia Munroe Martin's article on Writer unBoxed, Survival Pack or How to Keep Writing No Matter What is ideal.

And just as a little extra for you this month, Em Lynas' article Who Is Driving Your Story? is well worth a read. Have a look.


What I'm doing this month - July

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Yes, you've guessed it. July is going to be another busy month for me, doubly so because my children's summer break begins towards the end of this month - argh!

Murdering The Text

The June target was to complete all the changes to the Murdering The Text website before July started. Did I do that? No!

To be fair, I got a lot of the changes finished but two things happened to stall my progress.

One, as I made the changes, I thought of better ways to improve the website so the planned changes took longer.

Two, I came up with more changes to make. They're all good ideas but they'll take extra time to put into place.

So the 'new' plan is to finish the changes to the website before school breaks up for the summer.

There's a slight complicating factor though - I've come up with a new marketing plan for the website. I want to start it right now but I know that I need the website to be as good as it can be before I begin to attract new peeps to it. I desperately…

Watching the Midsummer Watch

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This last weekend, I persuaded my family to head into Chester to watch a local parade.

The Midsummer Watch, obviously linked to midsummer's day, is one of Britain's oldest festivals apparently, dating back 500 years to medieval and Tudor Chester. You can find out more about it here.

According to an extract from the  Book of Days,

The pageants became general in the reigns of the Tudors and Stuarts .. and have, like their predecessors the mysteries, their relation to English drama; not only were they composed for the purpose of flattering and complimenting their princes, but a moral end was constantly kept in view; virtue was applauded, while vice was set forth in its most revolting and unpleasing colours; and the altercation between these two leading personages often afforded the populace the highest amusement.

The day was sunny and the square outside the town hall wasn't as busy as I thought it would be, although there was a cheerful, family crowd waiting for the parade to…

7 ways to cope with hot weather when you work from home

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Summer is here. The birds are singing, the grass is rampant and the temperatures are rising. Joy, joy, joy.

Well, not if you work from home like me. Weekends are wonderful but my working week is dominated by the heat. My husband moans about how cold the air conditioning at his office is, while I melt as I type away at home.

So, how do you cope if the weather is gloriously hot but you're a home-based worker?

Stay hydrated

I'm a big coffee drinker but in this weather that amount of caffeine really doesn't help. In hot weather, I limit myself to a mug of coffee first thing (for me that's around 6.00 am before the rest of the household stirs). After that, I stick to water.

Now I know what you're saying, "water is boring". I can't completely disagree with you there. It doesn't taste of anything. I add a little variation by dabbling in sparkling water on occasion, and if you like you can add a dash of lemon juice, but it's the water bit that's g…

Choice Words for June

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One of the dilemmas that many unpublished, or even published, writers fall into is how to cope with differing advice. One agent says this about your manuscript, another says something completely different. One publishing company expresses their slant on what is market-worthy fiction, while a competing publisher disagrees. Even editors and writing coaches don't see eye-to-eye.

Who can you listen to? For me, the answer usually lies with other writers, the people who have gone through the grindmill and hammered it into submission. One such writer is Chuck Wendig, novelist, screenwriter, and game designer.

For me personally, his website terribleminds is a delight to read and darn-right useful too. A recent offering - A Hot Steaming Sack of Business Advice for Writers is just what I needed at the moment. Have a read.