Blogs

FORTHCOMING BELLA DOCUMENTARY (6th January 2017)

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Bella In The Wych Elm documentary from Jayne Harris coming 2017
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ARTISTS 4 SYRIA  (26th October 2016)

Click on the image above to buy this amazing collection of prose and verse as part of the campaign to stop the bombing of innocents in Syria. It’s only £5 and all profits are going to the White Helmets to fund humanitarian rescue work on the ground in Syria.

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THE WAY FAMILY OF MEVAGISSEY (23rd August 2016)

A family archive is in preparation for a major birthday but having got a lot of biographical stuff together I’d like to fill the gaps so I’m seeking more information about William James Way and Elizabeth Sarah Hunkin (both born 1869) and their children born 1892-1910 – James, Willie, Ada, Myrtle, John Claude, Sidney, Martin, Fernley and Ruth – as well as their children.
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GREAT BADGE! (18th July 2016)

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BUYING ONLINE (29th May 2016)

We have been repeatedly asked how to buy our books online and until now the answer was Amazon – which is fine for Kindle eBooks but with four paperbacks on sale, we needed an alternative. So now you can BUY DIRECT FROM US!  ‘Abuse Cocaine & Soft Furnishings’, ‘Copper Trance & Motorways’, ‘Gutter Verse & The Baboon Concerto’, and ‘War Shadows’ – 3 unusual true stories from the Second World War including ‘Bella In The Wych Elm’.  A fifth title ‘What They Don’t Teach In Writing School’ is also due in the next month or two and we also keep stock of Lee Benson’s ‘Jottings and Scribbles’.

Just please email your order together with your name and address to:  andrew.sparkeshop@virginmedia.com and make your payment by clicking on the BUY NOW button below which will allow you to use your own PayPal account or any credit or debit card. Prices stated for post and packing are for UK delivery only. For non-UK residents please email first and we will supply the specific postal cost.

Available Titles
Abuse Cocaine & Soft Furnishings £5.99 + £1.50 P&P
Gutter Verse & The Baboon Concerto £5.99 + £1.50P&P
War Shadows £4.99 + £1.25 P&P
Jottings and Scribbles £5.99 + £1.50 P&P
Copper Trance & Motorways £5.99 +£1.50 P&P

Buy Now Button
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INDIE LIFE (19th May 2016)

It’s been great to see the evidence of so many other Indie minded writers on social media lately. Three years on from refusing to hawk my first novel around, ‘Abuse Cocaine & Soft Furnishings’ is out there earning sales alongside three other paperbacks and a raft of Kindle eBooks, I own APS Publications and publish for six other authors, I facilitate two writing groups and http://www.andrewsparke.com is slowly building traction. Above all else though I love writing, my business, the control I have over all the creative aspects of what I do, pushing myself to learn new skills and even getting up in the morning. Going on the Guardian’s Indie Publishing course and starting this journey are among the best moves I ever made and it’s fantastic that so many others are enjoying the same things.

PS David Wake in his recent charming rant about the shortcomings of traditional publishers reckoned that the only outlet for the following genres is Indie Publishing:

Near-future SF. (Traditional publishing is too inefficient.)
Novellas. (Too short, even if you could get twice as many on the shelf.)
Poetry. (No market for them, apparently.)
Local interest books. (All decisions made at head office.)
Books in more than one genre. (Where do I put this? Ah, yes, the returns bin.)
Books the marketing department doesn’t know how to market.
Books by authors, whose previous two books in the trilogy sold well, but not in the J. K. Rowling or E. L. James league.
Books that you really, really want, but you’ve been busy and missed the three month window of opportunity and they’ve all been returned to the publisher on a sale-or-return basis and have now been pulped.
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IMAGES (17th April 2016)

If we are not blind, we owe it to ourselves to see…
If we do not see, how can we show others?
In showing others what are the tools at our disposal?

We can use the power of language and describe in words…Or we can make pictures.

Most people carry in their pocket or handbag a device with greater power to make pictures than a professional photographer had at his disposal 15 years ago. That device is a mobile phone. So we don’t need to leave the business of noticing and making pictures of the things we find of interest around us to the technical expertise of the camera specialists.

This collection published on 23rd April 2016 is intended to persuade anyone and everyone to make their own set of impressions of their world. No pretence here of perfection of images. Only the casual art to which carrying a ‎mobile or a small compact camera or even an iPad around can lead.

You can and should compel yourselves to do the same and show the rest of us your world.
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FASCINATING MONOCHROME (4th December 2015)

I uncovered a box of old family portraits recently and one of the by-products of scanning them into my laptop was a conversation with Aftab Rahman about the esteem in which portraiture was held in the days when having a photograph taken was an expensive and far less commonplace affair. Along with a love for hands and what they tell you about a person, I have always been fascinated by faces and this began to push me towards a new project. So now I’m calling on anybody who wants a particularly interesting black and white or sepia image from their family archives 1880-1945 considered for inclusion in a collection I’m putting together to get in touch (JPEG and short description to andrew.sparke@icloud.com) Ultimately there may well be more than one volume.
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FILTHY PLACE NAMES IN THE UK (24th November 2015)

Apparently there’s a new map available showing all the explicitly odd places you could have as your address from Upperthong to Brown Willy. Or you could find yourself living in any of the following: Nob End, Penistone, Cockyard, Gusset, Flash Bottom, Ballfields, Cockintake, Nether End, Cock Alley, Rough Bottom, Bushy Gap, Cockplay, Hairy Side or Twathats. And that’s just a small selection. Don’t you just love the English language?
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HAPPY ENDINGS AND NEW BEGINNINGS (22nd October 2015)

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Congratulations to my friend Michael Schluchtmann and his wonderful bride Tatiana Demishova. Now there’s just the matter of the book about life in Greenland you absolutely have to write for us!

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GAMES & GAMING (2nd October 2015)

My offspring at their respective ripe old ages of 25, 22 and 17 know far more than I ever will about gaming but for all that they’ve largely missed the classical age of board games with perhaps one exception. They do play the current, speeded up version of Risk. What they don’t know are the games my family played when my sisters and I were growing up or those which kept us away from our studies at university: including Chess, Halma, Contraband, Penalty, Lexicon, Careers, Kingmaker, Decline and Fall and of course the one game I still make time to play online, Scrabble. Actually there is one other game I have been known to tackle with my best friend but that’s another word game, Bananagrams.

At the risk of sounding a grumpy old git, I have no time to play any form of computer game at all. As a way of draining time away from productive labour like writing they’re unparalleled and I’ve adamantly ignored all attempts to get me to pick up and learn to use a joystick or controller. But the one revelation for me has been that a Scrabble game can be conducted a move a day over weeks if necessary against an online opponent and yet the game looks and feels the same as the board version, hefting the letter tiles in your hand excepted.

I have a problem however which is that my principal opponent is even better with words than as both lawyer and author I pride myself on being and worse still she has the luck of the devil in the letter selection she gets more often than not. So I’m fighting dirty from here on in. I’ve been reading Scrabble help books late into the night and I’m nearly ready to turn around the established statistics of a 52:45 win ratio in her favour. Although…is there another book in there somewhere?
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JAMES RHODES ‘INSTRUMENTAL’ (21st May 2015)

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Wednesday 20th May 2015 – British Supreme Court overrules injunction obtained by ex-wife preventing publication of autobiography containing details of serious sexual abuse suffered by writer on grounds that it might upset their son. Lord Toulson said “Freedom to report the truth is a basic right to which the court gives a high level of protection, and the author’s right to his story includes the right to tell it as he wishes. There is every justification for the publication. A person who has suffered in the way the appellant has suffered…has the right to tell the world about it. And there is the corresponding public interest in others being able to listen to his life story…”
A victory for freedom of speech and an author’s right as well as a powerful message of de-stigmatisation for survivors of sexual abuse.
There are days when I’m proud to be British, a lawyer and an author.

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THE WATER DIVINER(25th May 2014)

I watch a lot of films and rarely recommend one whole-heartedly. Tried to be impartial because so aware it plays to my love of history, my interest in the Great War and my fascination with Turkey. But it is a great film. It doesn’t duck the horror of war but the emotional elements are subtly delivered and Russell Crowe doesn’t put a foot wrong. Definitely going to see it again.

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The Water Diviner [DVD] [2015]
The Water Diviner

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WRITING IN THE SUN (24th May 2014)

Seven days and 9,000 words…a good working week in the sun! Just wouldn’t want you to think it’s all about word count. As Monty Python rightly observed, getting them in the right order is almost as important.

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WRITERS BLOCK (3rd March 2014)

I suppose everybody who takes a serious stab at writing stories and books gets blocked at some point or another. Just had a couple of months when the distractions of skiing and even decorating have overwhelmed any urge to write…Had to give some thought to strategies to overcome loss of momentum and motivation. Rediscovered two things that really help me.
First is to go to the cinema. Preferably to see something very different to what I’m writing about. There will almost inevitably be something in it that sparks a new thought so I keep notebook in my pocket and a readiness to adjourn to a corner of a nearby coffee bar afterwards, from which I may not emerge for an hour or two, clutching some feverishly scrawled scene or dialogue in my hands if I’m lucky.
The other method is to undertake an everyday task and then write it up as though my main character was doing it. I may never use it as such – I mean it was not important to the story that James Bond brushed his teeth or Captain James T Kirk changed his underpants but what they did next may well have been. Anyway my characters aren’t superheroes so maybe a trip to the dentist will end up in the book if only because something that was said there was germane to moving the plot along. Can always edit it down later but for now there’s another 1,000 words and the story’s rolling again.
Just one word of caution. Only use this domestic stuff in the final manuscript if it adds something to the story or to understanding and identifying with the characters. Sounds obvious doesn’t it but I saw something recently from Hanif Khureshi about how many creative writing students can write brilliant English but can’t tell a story to save their lives. The story has to be the thing. Everything else is boring!

imageJames Bond wishing he’d cleaned his teeth and changed his underpants this morning!

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THE SELFISH ART OF WRITING (4th May 2013)

A friend wanting to write said she was struggling with inspiration for her book and asked how I was able to keep going. I’ve been where she is most of my writing life except when I had a deadline for a textbook and just had to get it done. I’ve now applied that to my fiction output and discovered the secret for me is to treat it as the job of work it is. Satisfying work but work nonetheless. I set a fairly soft goal of 500 words a day, Monday to Friday, and let whatever inspiration happens come from the act of writing rather than sitting and thinking. Not every day’s output is useable and I do stray into my weekends off sometimes but the result since early January, when I sat down with a plot outline and not much more, is 40,000 words already and a clear view of how I can finish the story of ‘Abuse, Cocaine and Soft Furnishings’ in say 70,000 words or 220 pages. I’m certainly now convinced that waiting for inspiration is the recipe for never completing anything.
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SELFISH STUFF (31st March 2013)

Been a writer all my life as part of my professional career but have now been able to abandon textbook authorship and editing to create a space in time to write a couple of novels and a book of poetry. I now have my own imprint, APS Publications, and this year will see the first outcome of my new venture. I know I can write but the tough bit for me to learn is how to use social media to get my work (e-book or hard copy) into the hands of a broader readership than just my friends and colleagues, lovely as they all are. So advice from all sources gratefully received. My fiction is about people and relationships in difficulties, which like life itself means its hard-nosed in places and hopefully amusing on occasion. If I can do it anywhere near as well as a William Nicholson choosing to write in the first person I’ll be well-pleased with myself. A couple of other self-published authors tell me I ought to set up an email database of interested souls so if you’d like to be on it please contact me on andrew.sparke@blueyonder.co.uk

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BRUM RADIO INTERVIEW (26th April 2016)

Great opportunity for me to talk about writing and indie publishing on Dave Massey’s show. The interview runs from roughly fourth to thirtieth minute.

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