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February 2014

Book Review: About Writing and How to Publish by Cathy Glass

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
about-writing-cathy-glass-cover About Writing and How to Publish by Cathy Glass is a guide to creative writing that both published and non-published writers/authors alike will find useful. It’s split into four sections: About Writing, What to Write, Publishing and Self-Publishing.

The About Writing section covers lots of important aspects of writing including the importance of a writing routine and editing what you write.

The What to Write? section covers different types of writing such as articles, poetry, short stories, diaries, memoirs, biography, non-fiction, novels, plays, children’s books and ghostwriting.

The Publishing section covers Agents and Publishers as well as submission guidelines.

The Self-Publishing section covers independent presses, print on demand (POD), ebooks and marketing.

The great thing about this book is that it’s very precise and to the point. It’s a quick read, which I read in one evening. However it also meant that Glass covers the topics far too briefly for me. Advice around double spacing, using arial font and font size 12 was reiterated often.

Cathy Glass is a bestselling author who writes inspirational memoirs based true life stories. These stories come from her experience as a Foster Carer. You can see some of her books on the Amazon widget below.

About Writing and How to Publish isn’t a comprehensive guide, but it does have some great tips and is available to buy on Amazon.

Review soon,


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Book Review: Henry Darger, Throw Away Boy by Jim Elledge

By Amazon, Books & Authors, History, ReviewsNo Comments
henry-darger-throwaway-boy-jim-elledge-cover I’m going to admit that I’d never heard of Henry Darger before I read Henry Darger, Throw Away Boy.

Henry Darger (1904-1973) was an Chicago-based artist, who was completely unknown in his lifetime. He created pieces of art that depicted children. In some of the art children were innocently enjoying life and in others they were being horrifically tortured. Darger also completed two fantasy manuscripts entitled The Realms and Crazy House. Many critics dubbed Darger as a mentally unstable individual who may have thought about harming children.

But as Jim Elledge uncovers in Henry Darger, Throw Away Boy that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Elledge has spent a decade researching and writing this book which gives a comprehensive insight to the life of Darger. It is well researched, which is indicated by the extensive bibliography and notes sections.

The book starts by describing the poverty, dangerous street life and Darger’s lack of supportive loving parents. Darger’s mother died in childbirth and his father was an alcoholic. It is suspected that Darger was sexually abused on a number of occasions throughout his childhood. This commonplace abuse, did make uncomfortable reading at times. His behaviour, even as a young child was feral which is understandable given the emotional trauma he experienced. His bad behaviour led to his father putting him in a religious mission and later an asylum institution.

Darger escaped the institution and became a Janitor in a hospital. He began to create his art and write his manuscripts, as a way to fictionalise his traumatic childhood experiences. In his manuscripts he wrote about a number of secret societies, all that have one mission: to protect children. He fell in love with a man (Whillie) and continued to work tirelessly on his art over the decades that followed. But after some early criticism, he didn’t feel able to share his work with the world. It wasn’t until after his death that his landlord discovered the work.

Essentially Elledge tells the story of a gay man filled with fear and shame because of societies attitudes towards children, child abuse and gay people. Glossy pages show some of Darger’s work, but more would have been welcome.

Elledge brings Darger’s story to life through his engaging writing style. If you’re into gay art – in all it’s forms, you’ll love Henry Darger, Throw Away Boy which is available to buy on Amazon.

Review soon,


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Book Review: Rags & Bones Edited By Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
rags-and-bones-marr-pratt Rags & Bones is an anthology of classic stories retold with their own twists. It’s successful authors include: Melissa Marr, Tim Pratt, Carrie Ryan, Charles Vess, Garth Nix, Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Rick Yancey, Margaret Stohl, Kelly Armstrong, Kami Garcia, Saladin Ahmed & Gene Wolfe.

This eclectic mix of stories are short stories at their best. They all have an element of fantasy about them. It was a captivating read, were the vast majority of the stories excelled. There was only one that I felt I had to force myself to read on.

My three favourite stories were:
1. The Cold Corner by Tim Pratt
TJ was a Chef on a TV cooking competition, when everything went wrong. He came fourth place, there was some media fall out and he split up from his boyfriend.

With his life and head in a mess, he jumps at the chance to travel to his home town – Cold Corner for a family reunion. He hasn’t been one in years, normally avoiding them. But once in his home town, he discovers many copies of himself, all living different lives.

What I loved about this story is that TJ is just a normal guy, who happens to like men. His gayness isn’t made into a big revelation or issue. It is written brilliantly and is a great credit to Pratt (the author) who happens to be straight. This is the only story in Rags & Bones were any of the character’s sexuality is identified.

2. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
This story was inspired by Sleeping Beauty, so you can guess what it’s about. It is an absolute page turner, which is down to the writing and has some unexpected twists.

3. That the Machine May Progress Eternally by Carrie Ryan
This is the superb opening story in Rags & Bones. It tells the tale of Tavil the above grounder, who finds his way into the machine society below. The Machine runs everything in this underground society: it supplies the air, food, water, mental stimulation (through computerised intellectual discussions), deals with the waste, everything. Over time, Tavil becomes dependant upon The Machine, until it begins to fail. I loved the transformation of Tavil in this story.

All of the authors have great credentials. At the end of each story is an author’s note identifying which classic story inspired theirs, why they love it and what it means to them.

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales is available to buy on Amazon.

Review soon,


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Import: 5 Chat-Up Lines You Should NEVER Use

By Journalism, Love & RelationshipsNo Comments

Gay Hearts

Some chat-up lines work and others really don’t. Here’s 5 chat-up lines you should NEVER Use:

5. You have 206 bones in your body. Want one more?
It’s crude and it’s not even clever.

4. I’m calling the police because you stole my heart.
Really cheesy, to the point of being cringeworthy.

3. Are your pants a bit tight or are you just happy to see me?
Confidence is good, but cockiness (no pun intended) is not. The not-so-subtle subtext implies you’re just after one thing, which you probably wont get using this line.

2. You know what would look good on you? Me.
Nobody wants to go out with somebody who has a bigger ego than themselves. This line screams that they are egotistical.

1. Do you come here often?
This line is too ambiguous. Depending upon where you meet, this could have all sorts of subtext. I once had a guy say this to me in the waiting room of a sexual health clinic. I walked on by and thankfully never saw him again.

My advice would be to avoid the one-liners all together. Start the conversation with a simple ‘hi’ or ‘hey’ and stick to genuine complements.

What’s the worst chat-up line anybody has ever said to you? Leave a comment below.

Published by: The Gay UK on Tuesday 18th February 2014.

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