Monday, September 29, 2008

NOT a librarian

I got told off for referring to myself at work as a Librarian. Apparently I'm a Library Assistant or I Work In A Library. I am NOT a librarian. Librarians have to have a master's degree in Library Information Science or something, which I definitely do not have, so by calling myself a Librarian I'm Failing to Recognise Achievement.


I have worked there for almost nine years though. If Lorraine Kelly can be awarded an honorary doctorate from Dundee University for her services to charity surely I can be awarded an Honorary Librarianship for services to oldies demanding bus timetables and James Patterson novels?

In the spirit of things, I was looking for a suitable photo to go with this post and stumbled upon the following...

What the hell?

If we carried on like this in our branch, we'd be called something else entirely.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wife in the North

I'm probably a bit late to the party on this one, but I read Judith O' Reilly's wonderful memoir at the weekend and decided to recommend it for my newspaper column this week. Looking for an image of the book cover, I stumbled across her blog and this post and was surprised by how mean some people can be - to the point that she felt the need to respond to her detractors in this way.

What is wrong with them?? Have they even read her book? What stood out for me was the quality of her writing - almost poetic at times. It's billed as 'hilarious' - which it is in parts - but it's much more than that and I'd urge anyone who hasn't already, to give it a whirl.

I wonder if it's envy because she got her book deal in record time?

On that note, I started wondering if any publishers might be interested in a blog about a demented library assistant wielding books by day and words by night, while eating her own body weight in golden-syrup sandwiches?

Non? What about, a mother-of-three driven to the edge (of her chair) juggling thirteen different novel ideas with the varying demands of her family and dog, while keeping her grey hairs at bay?

God, I lead a boring life. But surely as a so-called writer I could at least make it sound interesting....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lightbulb moment

Had one of those illuminating moments while reading this article by Robert Harris on the Guardian website. (I don't spend all day reading that pesky website by the way. Honest.) Over the years he's been given advice that's really helped him, and I must say there were a few tips there that helped me see my WIP in a different way.

The first tip he was given is that you should always know how your novel is going to end. A novel "recounts something that has already happened; therefore you cannot just make it up as you go along." The advice helped him finish his first novel, Fatherland.

Sounds blummin' obvious when you think about it, but it really helped clarify something for me.

The second tip was that "the shape and style of a novel is determined by the thought you give it beforehand: that the way you approach your material is at least as important, maybe more important, than the material itself and that this process of settling on an angle of attack may take months, even years of frustration and false starts, during which many writers - and certainly most writers' families and friends - believe the author may be going slightly mad."

Well that certainly rings true. Especially the months and years bit. Oh, and the slightly mad part.

Thirdly, "you develop a tolerance for your own crudeness. And patience with your own crap. Belief in your crap, which is just 'stay with your crap and it will get better. Come back every day and keep going'."

Or, it might just stay crap...

Sound advice methinks. Although much better advice would be "stay away from the Guardian website Clarkey, and get on with it."

Friday, September 19, 2008

What's your story?

I love this idea, pinched from the Guardian website of arranging some of your book titles so that they tell a story. Like I need any more distractions. However after much over-excited fannying around I managed to come up with the the rather badly photographed ...

Not rocket science, I think you'll agree, but fun nonetheless. Of course it depends what's lurking on them there bookshelves, but I'd love to see what you lovely lot can come up with.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ask a silly question

I've just noticed that lovely Lane has beaten me to this topic (great minds think alike etc) so I changed my template in a fury. Not really. More as a distraction. I couldn't think of anything else to blog about you see. My mind isn't that great.
Anyhoo, I had a look at my stats today (as you do) and under Keyword Analysis noticed that the following Google searches had led people to my blog...

what is putty face in plastic surgery gone wrong ??

sun hat hip hurray youtube ???

karen clarke writing - well, that makes sense

grime name generator - hmm, don't know about that, but my mafia name is Stella the Assassin. Apparently

colin firth
- That makes sense too

grannies wearing slips - What the...?

where to buy bloater paste - Pur-leeze. I feel sick.

brande roderik
- Well. She looks no better than she ought to be. Appeared in a film called 'Bunny Whipped.' Need I say more?

i was born under a wandering star lines - I wasn't born, my grandma knitted me. So there.

I sincerely hope they all found what they were looking for.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Who wants to be a millionaire...?

..."I do!"

Here's a hypothetical (and rather attractive question). If you were to inherit one million pounds, which was dependent on you spending it within 48 hours, what would you do?

Sadly, this hasn't happened to me. Do you think I'd be blogging about it if it had? Actually you're right, I would.

It might be happening to one of my characters though, and I'd love your input. Theme: can money buy you happiness? money vs. meaning, can you buy meaning? etc. Apparently, making big decisions in a short space of time clarifies who you are. I'd love to have such a dilemma, but suspect it would be more difficult than it sounds.

In my mind, I can't get further than rampaging round Waterstones, having liposuction, buying Colin Firth, paying off mortgages and opening my own petrol station (20p a litre).

Could it be done??

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm hooked

This is SO addictive. It came via Caroline Smailes, whose new novel Black Books is out today (looking forward to reading it) and it's a genius idea for those of us who like our procrastination simply packaged.

It's taken me to blogs I would never have discovered, and for that reason alone I could do without it, frankly. I'm up to my neck in lovely blogs already. I don't need any more, for heavens' sake. Plus, I keep running back to the PC with random choices (Fish or Chips. There's another one.)

Give it a go, you'll see what I mean.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dreamz 'r us

I had a very vivid dream last night. I bumped into Calistro in a school corridor. She was clutching a batch of bright pink folders and I said to her, "You don't know me, but I'm from the blog and my name's Karen." (Karen from the blog. Jenny from the block. No, doesn't quite work.) Anyway, she shook my hand politely and said, "the Novel Racers are around somewhere if you want to go and say hello," pointing down a corridor. Excited, I set off at a fair old lick, flinging open doors and peering into classrooms (why classrooms??) but could I find them? Could I heck.

What does it all mean? a) I'm a nut-job b) I should lay off the peanuts at bedtime c) Calistro's recent good news, along with my own increased writing output is starting to affect my remaining brain cell.

Answers on the back of a postage stamp please.

In spite of such nonsense, I've been awarded these teacups by lovely Debs who hangs about in a shed all day, but is quite normal (I think), so thanks for that, Debs. I never say no to a decent cuppa - or even an indecent one - although I don't do whole milk. Has to be skimmed, semi-skimmed if there's no other option. Apart from that I'm not at all fussy.

I'm going to pass it on to Fionnuala for making me chuckle (love that word) and reminding me that Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens v. soon, Helen with best wishes to Smudge x and L-plate for posting one of the oddest photos I've seen in a long time, and getting back on the horse writing wise, recently.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Call me deluded (I don't mind - I've been called worse) but sometimes, late at night before the sleep fairy descends, I imagine what sort of dedication I'll write for my book when it's published (I told you I'm deluded.)

There's a prime example in Agatha Christie's "The Secret Adversary, " which reads, To all those who lead monotonous lives in the hope that they experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure,' which I rather like as it seems to embrace all her readers. Another favourite is Spike Milligan who dedicated, "Silly Verse for Kids," to his bank balance.

I'm not so keen on those over-emotional acknowledgements that mention everyone the author's ever encountered, including the neighbour's dog, although I suspect if I was ever published I'd be so grateful I'd be emoting with the best of 'em.

Thomas Wolfe (not the Bonfire of the Vanities one) apparently dedicated his 1935 book, "Of Time and the River" to a great editor and a brave and honest man, who stuck to the writer of the book through times of bitter hopelessness and doubt and would not let him give in to his own despair." Undoubtedly another category I'd fit.

I realise though that it's a good opportunity to thank everyone who's supported you, and to reveal something about yourself. Personally, I'm torn between something Oscar-speechy, something devastatingly witty and clever, something simple and down-to-earth and something confusing that's open to interpretation. A riddle perhaps, or a symbol. Maybe an anagram. Or something retro like, Karen woz 'ere. Or something fun. A crossword puzzle? A quiz with a prize for the best answers?? A date with the author if you can guess what she was wearing when she wrote the final word???

There's only one downside. You apparently have to write a book first...