Happy Valentine’s Day!

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ODE TO A WREN

A graveyard squats beyond a wall
Where they bury dreams with rocks.
As child, as adult, those dreams once called
And on those caskets knocked.

Each year a thinning wail would stray
From walls bulged thicker, taller.
Each day my prayers, more distant, play
In silence to the caller.

Until that sleety autumn noon
When quiet cloaked my pleadings,
As thorns and claws and hooks of Moon,
Tore love from spirit’s bleedings.

Now death puffs its heartless chest
On bones through broken soil,
A waxen, tuxedoed dinner guest
Slurps grinning at the spoil.

Time tried but failed to fix
My endless melancholy,
A constant acid reflux mix
A three-legged border collie.

Okay, so the dog makes zero sense,
I bet you can’t do better,
Onward then with the suspense,
As I struggle with every letter.

One day the calendar did turn,
And a wren, of fluffy breast,
Who’d dined on creepy-crawly things, and a worm
Flew by to build a nest.

The graveyard scared the birdy so,
It jettisoned its eating.
A deluge white as driven snow
Spattered barren soil in greeting.

And in that spattering, a seed was sown
It germinated quickly.
Then roots and trunk and branch were grown.
The plant grew tall, and thickly.

It burst the walls, it let in light,
The voice of hope returned.
The dreams with their attendant might,
Bore fruit in all I’d yearned.

Now love has settled where all was lost,
I’m no longer a complainer,
Remember—whatever the cost—
Keep hold of hope. That’s a no-brainer.

The moral of this poetic crime,
Strained from slurry, compost, grit?
No one’s more certain than I’m
That good can come from s**t.

 

A Valentine’s Day Poem…from Ben to you.

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(Ode to a Wren, Ben Starling, 2016)

A Day at Amazon Academy

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I just spent a fascinating day at the launch of the Amazon Academy in London, on Wednesday. The location was the HQ of their new fashion label (yes, they do clothes too!) in Hoxton.

Amazon laid on a range of lectures and expert-led panel discussions to demonstrate what’s on offer which included KDP (Kindle), Alexa and Amazon Marketplace workshops. There were guest panels in the morning and break-out sessions with Q&A in the afternoon. It wasn’t just for authors – there were also experts who spoke on Amazon Web Services (for serious techies and programmers) and a new service that targets entrepreneurs in the food and beverage space. Professional, entertaining, friendly.

img_3774The company is forging ahead with interesting ideas and isn’t resting on its laurels. The event was a well-planned, precision-executed taste of corporate America before a taste of vegetarian (other diets catered for too) lunch.

Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, told an amusing anecdote about arriving penniless in London from India in 2001. He spent weeks working on a business plan which he took to the bank hoping for a £10,000 loan. He was turned down. He returned a few days later with a request for £20,000 for a car…which was approved. And guess what he used the money for? He quickly added that the bank has been paid back in full!

img_3771Lessons learned? The company treats its writers as valued customers. Despite its size, Amazon demonstrated a human face and will continue to trial the Academy concept.

As a writer, what did I take away with me? Lots of great tips!

In particular, I learned from the mouth of author/entrepreneur Mark Dawson:

  • have at least one free book on offer;
  • build a loyal following via interaction;
  • have a well though out and researched marketing plan before you begin to spend your budget,

and from the Founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Orna Ross:

  • develop your own email distribution list as one of your key pillars in your marketing plan,
  • speed up your operation by using a database manager like Mailchimp and
  • don’t start spending money on advertising until you have at least three books out there.

So far, there have been two other Amazon Academy events on this side of the pond: one previously in Dublin and this one in London. And there will be one more in Newcastle coming soon! After that, Amazon will review feedback to see if they will do it again.

And I, for one, hope they will.

Jodi Bartle: On Writing & Gender

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I am a woman, and a parent, and I write a blog about my life in London with my family.

big-ben-london-eye-1215522-639x1005It started as a way to connect with family and friends who were in New Zealand – a distance a little too far for people to come and spend time with us and to see where we live and work. Too far to meet me for coffee and compare pregnancies and toddler notes, first days at school and the millions of triumphs and tragedies that season an inconsequential life.

gender-symbols-1-1245741-1279x914Initially writing about this stuff was a way of remembering and being remembered by people back home. What it has grown into is a confessional, a catharsis, an outlet for me to rage and laugh and despair. I wonder how much of this writing as therapy comes from my central starting point – that of my gender.

scrabble-stock-xchng-4-1557505-1599x1200-1Women have always shared with each other; certainly, the women in my family have been able to talk about many things in unabashed, frank ways. I remember Southern Hemisphere summers spent on the coast in a caravan, and my mother and her sisters playing Scrabble together late into the night. And talking. Talking about everything and everyone.

Silences when the vowels got too few and the dictionary was hastily riffled through to find a made-up word that, with luck, might exist, but this silence was temporary. We fell asleep on camp-stretch beds in the awning lulled by the quiet hum of their long, single, wavering conversation together.

friends-and-family-1361132-1599x2132Women, I think, are encouraged to talk, to use words before fists, to confide and console and share with one another. Little girls have confidantes and these stay with you – best friends get told secrets and things are written down in a diary, and this early introduction to communication means women have outlets to express themselves in a way that I think boys and eventually men do not.

Openness and vulnerability are thought dismissively of as soft feminine traits – the opposite of the kind of front most men have been taught to project into the world. And it makes me sad, because the freedom I have to write frankly, to share explicitly, to receive intimacy back from anonymous readers and long-held friends is sometimes the only way to bear the load of being a grownup.

51_jodi-boysMy ability to write honestly about a painful marriage impasse, the exhausting and unrelenting toughness of parenting, the jolts and joys of family life in a city that pulses with noise and distraction like a faulty neon sign: writing about these things has made me a better thinker, a better friend, a better partner.

3-balloonsMaking these truths public, sometimes even the regrettable, shameful ones, has connected me to many other people who wish to communicate freely and frankly too.  My years of writing has given me a strong and distinct voice and an audience who reciprocates by sharing their stories with me.

Recently I wrote about losing a baby. Writing about the experience served a dual purpose – practically and pragmatically I could head off the well-meaning but painful enquiries into the size of my bump and due dates and indigestion, but more importantly I could write about my heartbreak honestly and tell my story in my words. I needed to.

coffee-1575043-1599x1066I wrote about the shock and the sadness and the physical and emotional emptiness after. I wrote about what is so often secreted away and, in the process, made it real and tangible. Other women wrote back to me and shared their stories too and thanked me for telling the truth about what happened and how it had felt. So this was good, a good thing to do, and I was thankful that I had a place to say what I needed to say.

But how do you grieve and heal when you have no place to share? My husband lost a baby too when my pregnancy suddenly had to end.

What do you do when you cannot write about rage and sadness? Who do you say these things to? Who knows how to listen? He is an articulate, caring, kind man and he is grieving, but he has never been given the tools or an outlet to express intimate,

difficult, internal things.

spring-notebook-1615550-1599x1066I am so glad that from a girl, I was taught to talk and write and state and share. The women in my family empowered me to use my voice and now words both help and heal me.

For my sons, I can only do my best to teach them that they can and should have their own voices; voices that must be heard because there is freedom and strength in that, regardless of gender.

jodi-bio-pic-2Jodi Bartle is a New Zealander in London who writes The Harridan, a blog about her family of five young boys, one tired husband and a dog. She likes Tom Ford and his lipsticking ways, large doses of wine, and overpriced clothes that she won’t ever wear from sample sales. She cooks, runs, yells at kids, reads, and chronically overshares. Find out more about Jodi and her work at www.theharridan.wordpress.com, on twitter at @JodiBartle and on instagram @harridan1.the-harridan-title

September Ben-isms

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So who hid a tub of Haagen-Dazs triple Belgium chocolate macadamia nut and Icelandic toffee brittle cappuccino Cornish cream with special reserve 1814 Napoleon brandy and smoked goat snot sprinkles ice cream in my freezer? And why is it looking at me like that???

There is a bike on the roof of the house opposite. Can only mean one thing: ET is staying there.

Sprained fingers? Torn nails? Bloody knuckles? .44 magnum. Sherman Tank. Nuclear weapon. How far would YOU go to open that recalcitrant pistachio?

As our favourite Vulcan might have said, “It is summer. It is cold. Therefore I have a summer cold. Entirely logical, Captain.”

Theory of the Day – older people are always complaining that time passes quicker as you get older but here’s my MATHEMATICAL PROOF they are wrong: if you become a father when you are 24, when you are 25, your son/daughter is 1 and 1/25th of your age (or 4%). If you live to 100, your son/daughter is 75 and now 75% your age. That means the young are constantly catching up so time must be passing faster for them. 😉

MY SOLUTION TO THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CRISIS: the Mexicans build a wall around the Donald (I think they’ll be happy to pay for it).

My Tesco “Baby Plum Tomatoes” taste of absolutely nothing. Is that three breaches of the Trade Descriptions Act?

I was sitting in a park in Soho last night, and David “Haymaker” Haye – former World Cruiserweight and Heavyweight Boxing Champion walked right past. I looked at him. He didn’t look at me. I stared. No eye contact in return. Nothing. He must have been scared… No other explanation possible.

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When Ben Met Sally…

sally

My friend Sally…

The thing is, I have many writing spaces: one is at my desk, and all the others are in the shining places I find as I walk out the twists and turns in my next plot. I pass canals and dogs, flower-bowered London paths, red buses and street markets. One day a few years ago, with the inevitability of a midday caffeine low, my steps led me to a beloved coffee shop. And inside, I met Sally…

To read the full story of When Ben Met Sally, visit his guest post at Sandra J. Jackson’s blog.

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BEN blue_actors headshot sq_AUG2015Ben Starling is passionate about gender equality, marine conservation and boxing, all central themes in his work. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades. He boxed competitively until recently and continues to coach. Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy. www.ben-starling.com

Bestselling Author Alice Kuipers on inspiration, writing & commitment

Alice

Welcome, Alice and thanks for joining us here. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? At what age did you decide you wanted to be a writer and how did you get started?

LOTRDThank you very much for hosting me! I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I started to take it more seriously when I was about twenty. I wrote several books, none of which were published, before I wrote Life on the Refrigerator Door, which was published in 30 countries. It was published as both a YA and an adult novel, but I felt that YA suited me well.

What attracted you to the YA genre?

Alice bksI love writing about that age when everything is possible and anything can happen. I’ve published three other YA novels and two picture books since then, and I have a new YA novel and a chapter book series coming out in the next year or so. My books continue to sell in lots of countries, and I’m lucky to be able to write for lots of different age groups.

Could you describe your writing process? Where does your inspiration come from?

I’m lucky to be able to work full time as a writer, although the only commitment I make to myself as a writer is to read every day. I have four children, so, while writing every single day isn’t possible, I can always find time to read–even if it’s the middle of the night.

I love the rush of getting a first draft done and normally I plan to write a thousand words a day when I’m in that phase. Then I have a lot of reworking to do afterwards. My inspiration comes from all sorts of places–books I’ve read, the newspaper, my kids, that quiet inner voice that asks the question ‘what if, what if, what if…’

Michael Crichton once said: “Books are not written–they’re rewritten.” How many times do you re-write before passing your work on to an editor?

Best ever_KuipersOh, I’m always rewriting. I spend much more time editing than writing and the number of drafts I have to do is a ridiculous. I think I wrote my first picture book–all 674 words of it–over three hundred times. It takes me ages to get things right. And then I send my writing to an editor and the process begins all over again–the editor has their own voice and ideas and that part of the process is crucial to making any book the best it can be.

I feel like there is only one opportunity for a reader to read a first draft of a book, so I want to make that first experience of my books as good as I can.

You have written, lectured, taught in class and online, and co-authored an app. How did you find your way to developing a video writing course for authors? What made you think of this format in particular?

QuickStart 3The video course seemed like a natural progression from all the other teaching I do. I’ve been teaching online at University of Toronto for a few years now and I love the online format–it means that I can be working with students when my children are sleeping.

The way this course works is the content is all there ready for you as soon as you want to start–so many people want to ignite their creativity and now with this course I hope they can.

What key things did you consider while developing QuickStart Your Writing?

I wanted to make to process of writing accessible to all the people who ask me how to become a writer themselves. Everyone has a story to tell and I know how hard it is to find the confidence and time to make that happen.

The course is designed to be done at the pace of the person using it and hopefully it’s filled with ideas as to how anyone can get their words on the page.

QuickStart 1

What was the most difficult part of producing this course? The easiest?

It’s always difficult to find a quiet moment in the house I live in to make the video content. I’m making another course now and it’s a rare time that all the children are out and I’m not going to be interrupted.

The easiest part was also the most fun part–talking about writing. I could talk about writing and how to get started writing all day long.

What should writers think about before deciding if this product is right for them? Is it more useful for fiction or non-fiction?

computer-keyboard-freeimageAnyone can go onto the site and have a look at the sample lectures before deciding to come on board. I would think that it’s more useful for people who write fiction as that’s my passion, but the ideas about how to make time, how to make a space, and how to find ideas, would apply to any aspiring writer, whatever type of writing they do.

What are you working on today? What new projects do you have planned for the future?

I’m editing. Again. And I’m working on a new course with an organization called Children’s Book Insider. That course will come out in the fall. I have ideas for two new books and I also need to write the second book in my chapter book series, which will be a pleasure to do once I’ve finished the edits of the new YA novel.

Sample promptI’m enjoying my new Instagram feed where I upload an image writing prompt every day or so. And I love making my newsletter with writing tips and book recommendations for anyone who loves books as much as I do.

The publishing world is changing fast – where do you think it will be in five years…and where will you fit it then?

If I’m lucky, I hope I’m still publishing as many books as I am now, but even if I’m not, I’ll still be writing them. Writing is something that brings me a lot of joy. Having readers is an honour and a thrill, but, just as I was writing long before I was published, I’ll still be writing as the years go by.

Who are your favourite authors? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Every month I send out a newsletter where I talk about the books I’m reading and share book recommendations from other writers too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARight now, I’m reading The Summer Before The War by Helen Simonson, and I just finished The Long Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan. I’ve been loving Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, which I’ve been reading with my four year old daughter, and I really enjoyed We Are All Made of Molecules, a YA novel by Susin Nielsen. I sit around and drink cups of tea, thinking big, writerly thoughts. Actually, that’s a joke!

What do you do when you are not writing?

I have four children and the oldest is six, so I basically try and keep my head above water, and make sure they are fed, watered, loved, entertained, not causing havoc, etc… When I’ve finished this, I have to take my daughter to a birthday party, then play with my youngest two and somehow edit a novel in there too…

One thing I love to do is to cook. Last night I made cinnamon buns for the first time after a weekend with the kids by a lake here in Canada. If only the baby hadn’t kept me up until one in the morning last ‘night’, I’d actually be refreshed, relaxed and ready to tackle the work ahead of me.

Thank you so much for asking such great questions. I hope to see some of you on the course. You can find me here at alicekuipers.com, at my newsletter or writing prompt feed, at my writing course QuickStart Your Writing, or on Twitter @alicekuipers and Facebook.

Kuipers_headshotAlice Kuipers has recently authored and produced an online writing course that covers ideas, inspiration, discipline, planning and commitment for writers.  It includes top tips from a top author for writers of every genre.

Alice was born in London. She moved to Canada in 2003. Her first novel, Life on the Refrigerator Door, was published in 28 countries and won several awards. Since then, she has published three further award winning YA novels internationally, most recently, The Death of Us. Her fifth YA novel comes out in 2017.

Kuipers has four small children and she began writing picture books for them. Her first picture book Violet and Victor Write The Best Ever Bookworm Book was selected as an Amazon best pick for December 2014. Her second, Violet and Victor Write The Most Fabulous Fairy Tale, is on the Winter 2015 Kids’ Indie Next List.

Alice bksAlice’s website is full of tips and hints for writers. You can find her online at:

 

What’s Jutoh? And how it began…

boxshotmediumI was fortunate enough to learn about Jutoh from a fellow author just before I published my first book. It’s a game-changing software program for self-published authors that creates ebooks for Epub-using platforms and Kindle, in a re-flowable format. Along with Scriven, this is the one other author tool I could not imagine living without.

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“Re-flowable” means it reshapes to fit all devices.

Re-flowable – what’s that? Re-flowable means that no matter whether your readers use Kindles, iPads, iPhones, Android tablets, phones, Macs or PCs, your work will always “reshape” itself to fit the screen of the device they prefer (as opposed to having to scroll around from side to side to see each page).

DSC02093Jutoh also enables authors to publish a high quality product on any ebook distribution site, including Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBooks, Google Play and Kobo. And it creates PDFs suitable for sending to print-on-demand services. What’s not to like?

Julian Smart, co-author of Jutoh and the tech genius behind it, kindly agreed to answer a few questions about this software.

Welcome, Julian and thanks for joining us. You have a degree in computer science, a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and have developed software for many different kinds of applications, including a sonar navigation system for autonomous underwater vehicles – how did you find your way to developing software for authors? What made you think of this application in particular?

JulianThank you very much, Ben! It’s an honour to be invited.

My main inspiration has been my wife, Harriet Smart, who writes historical novels. In 2002 I was made redundant by the Linux company Red Hat UK, at which point Harriet and I designed our first writing tool, Writer’s Café, which had been brewing in our minds for some years.

Editing Screenplay

Editing a screenplay in Writer’s Café

Writer’s Café focused on early parts of the writing process, with tools for planning stories and exercising the writing muscle. As the ebook became a practical and commercial possibility thanks to Amazon and others, we realised that there was a gap in the market for a tool to easily create ebooks for self-publication, without resorting to writing HTML and CSS code.

There was plenty of scope to offer alternatives to word processors, that offered ebook-specific tools, optimisations and structuring that conventional word processors don’t cater for. Harriet’s writing needs have definitely driven and shaped the tools I’ve been writing for the last 14 years, and I’m glad to say she’s still an enthusiastic user of Writer’s Café and Jutoh, planning in the former and writing all her novels in the latter.

boxshotmediumWhat key things did you and your co-author, Harriet, consider while developing Jutoh?

Simplicity and flexibility are two major considerations, often tricky to keep in balance. Jutoh is used by a wide range of people, from authors who know just enough word processing to get by, to publishing houses with demanding expectations of how Jutoh will fit into their existing workflow. So Jutoh must neither overwhelm nor limit.

I try to keep advanced settings hidden until needed, notably with the ‘configurations’ concept which allows the user to control more esoteric facilities such as conditional inclusion of content according to distributor or format.

One of the features of digital publishing is the large number of pitfalls and ‘gotchas’ due to variations in the way e-readers handle content, limitations of HTML and CSS compared with word processors, display size differences and so on.

paper-people-1316581-638x459So Jutoh has an extensive warning and error system to help the user identify problems in their books, and there is also a help system with instant keyword search for the manual and a 200-article ‘knowledge base’ comprising short answers to specific technical questions. So this way Jutoh tries to clear some of the fog surrounding the mysteries of ebook creation, and Jutoh’s own behaviour.

How long did it take for you to develop Jutoh?

Editing Jutoh user guide in Jutoh

Editing the Jutoh user guide in Jutoh

I can’t remember exactly when I started working on Jutoh, but probably a year or so before the first release in 2010. However, I had a big leg-up reusing code from some of my other tools, including Writer’s Café. Complex software is never really finished, and I have been improving Jutoh and adding features since version 1, so another answer to the question is ‘the last 7 years’.

boxshotmediumWhere does the name Jutoh come from?

All the names we tried to come up with that had writing connotations sounded horribly cheesy, so we opted for an arbitrary word made up of the first letters of our names: Julian, Toni (our daughter) and Harriet. This had the advantage of being an available domain name.

What was the most difficult part of designing this software? The easiest?

Editing Tables in Jutoh

Editing tables in Jutoh

Hardest: tables! Jutoh’s text editor is written from scratch, and implementing all the parts of table layout, import, export, and editing with all the required property dialogs, was a massive job. During much of this I was bedridden for 9 months and as a distraction I worked feverishly on table support for Jutoh 2.

Easiest: probably the tab-based document management system, since much of it had been written for Writer’s Café.

Are there any famous authors using it?

Most conventionally-published authors will leave ebook creation to the publisher, but there are many quietly successful ‘indie’ authors using Jutoh who will be familiar within particular genres, such as Stephanie Bond, Ruth Harris, Freda Lightfoot, Holly Lisle and Barbara Freethy. Other notable users include the publishing guru Jane Friedman, and ‘Early Edition’ TV series creator Vik Rubenfeld.

What should authors think about before deciding if this product is right for them? Is it more useful for fiction or non-fiction?

I would encourage authors to consider if they are happy giving control of the editing process to a third party, who charge per book and make it harder for you to make corrections and changes later; books-freeimagesand whether they want a high-quality result compared with a simple-minded document conversion.

If retaining control appeals, and the author doesn’t mind a little work in getting to know new software, then Jutoh should fit the bill. Since a demo is available, authors can determine whether it suits their way of working before purchasing.

Jutoh can be used for both fiction and non-fiction; although most users are probably novelists, users have also created highly technical, large books with Jutoh, making use of features such as bibliography tools, indexing, footnotes, cross-references, pictures, and tables.

It has been used to create interactive Epub 3 tutorials, children’s books, memoirs, cookery books, photography books, travel guides, self-help books, manuals, and medical textbooks. Jutoh is of course used to create the Jutoh user guide!

Are any special skills required? Do most users have a technical background?

CreatingEbooksUsingJutoh_CoverKnowing how to use a word processor is a good start, together with a little patience for where Jutoh diverges from a conventional word processor. Formatting for digital publishing requires a little more precision and care than day-to-day word processing, and therefore good habits may need to be learned, such as using named styles consistently.

Most users aren’t particularly ‘technical’, if by technical you refer to programmers or web site designers. But obviously there is some skill in using any reasonably interesting piece of software.

life-saver-2-freeimagesJutoh comes with lots of documentation to help get the user up to speed on what formats are supported, how to use Jutoh, troubleshooting problems, and so on, and of course we are very happy to help users if they get stuck.

Have you created any other tools for authors? Or do you have any new products planned for the future?

I’ve mentioned Writer’s Café; my other software has been mainly for programmers, such as DialogBlocks (for creating user interfaces) and HelpBlocks (for creating manuals). Right now I’m temporarily reducing my focus on the nuts and bolts of software development to think about the next phase.

mp3-player-1416240-639x452I’m interested in the use of digital books by the visually impaired, and am looking into support for DAISY digital talking books. Jutoh can already be used to create MP3 files using text-to-speech, with features that allow you to improve speech quality and also preview audio for all or parts of the project.

Editing Speech

Editing the speech sample project, a leaflet optimised for text-to-speech (MP3) and large print output

The sample file Patient Advice Speech Sample demonstrates a medical information leaflet with speech optimisations that can create files for Epub, Kindle, ODT in normal and large-print versions, and MP3 speech. I’d like explore how authors can deliver their books to visually impaired readers more easily – the current self-publishing infrastructure, such as Amazon’s Kindle platform, is not yet adapted to this, and bolt-on audio hardware for Kindles is only a stop-gap measure.

There needs to be a better route for authors to add custom pronunciations and specific content for people listening via text-to-speech readers. Epub 3 has been rather a damp squib as an update to the DAISY format, with few devices or applications taking advantage of speech markup features offered by Epub 3. So there’s much scope for improvement in this area, and I will be looking at how Jutoh can help.

alfie07When you are not developing tools for authors, what do you do?

I enjoy playing ball with my cat, prowling around antique shops with my wife, renovating old properties, and checking out interesting architecture. I watch far too much TV drama – there’s so much quality stuff these days, it’s hard to keep up. My wife calls it ‘research’, so she has an excuse.

Who are your favourite authors? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Harriet book

Grrr. A bear-faced plug for the latest Northminster Mystery

I confess I spend more time reading articles online than reading books; I tend to consume stories in TV and movie form, but I’m a big fan of the Northminster Mysteries by one Harriet Smart.

I’m also promising myself the time to read William Morris’ sci-fi novel News From Nowhere as Morris is a significant part of our decorative schemes.

And my all-time favourite questions: If you had a supernatural power, what would it be? If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?

I would be Sash-Man, sporting astragalled specs, a white sash and the ability to instantly transform plastic windows into traditional wooden windows (sash-and-case where appropriate). The UK housing stock has been comprehensively ruined by tricksters selling ugly plastic windows that rip the soul out of old buildings, and only a superhero – or a benevolent dictator – could fix this mammoth scandal.

JulianJulian Smart was born in Nottingham, UK, and has degrees from the universities of St Andrews and Dundee. While working for the University of Edinburgh, he created the open source cross-platform GUI toolkit wxWidgets, used for nearly a quarter of century by individuals and organisations all over the world, and the bedrock of Anthemion Software’s applications. Julian has also worked for Red Hat UK, and the Scottish Crop Research Institute.

In 1996, Julian and Harriet founded Anthemion Software to create tools for programmers and writers, including the productivity software Writer’s Café and the ebook editor Jutoh. Julian is based in Edinburgh with wife Harriet, daughter Antonia, and cat Alfie.

You can find out more at www.jutoh.com and www.writerscafe.co.uk

Note: Just in case you are wondering – I (Ben) have not received any compensation for highlighting this product here. It’s a great tool for writers that I have found useful and am happy to share it as one of my favorite finds.