Juste Pour Rire

spinning the wheels

God bless my parents, they let me watch a lot of stuff as a child I probably wasn’t supposed to. The greatest of these was what I fondly called The Brick Wall Show. To the uninitiated, or those of you who prefer to call things by the names they are actually called, The Brick Wall Show was, in fact, An Evening at the Improv. It ran on A&E from 1982-1996, during a time now referred to as the first major comedy boom. The premise was dead simple: Comics doing 5-10 minutes of material in front of an expanse of unadorned masonry—hence “The Brick Wall Show”. And I was obsessed with it.

Laughing is pleasurable, of course. It feels great to have a hearty guffaw, and children laugh more than any other subgroup of human, according to science (probably). It makes sense I would gravitate toward it. My love…

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Review: CRASHING HEAVEN – of Puppets and of Punk

I first encountered CRASHING HEAVEN a couple of years ago while interning at Conville & Walsh. When I wasn’t breaking champagne glasses and accidentally sending out mass-rejection letters I would read and report on submissions. Here I was free to spew forth many passionate and ill-informed opinions.

A few manuscripts stuck in my memory after I left. One of them was a powerfully imagined corporate dystopia, a vision of decay with one foot in operatic cyberpunk and the other in a rain-soaked detective noir thriller from 1940; real ‘he was in a dark place, between two gams and a Smith & Wesson’ material. Continue reading

A Rude Letter to Ryan Boudinot

(Note: before publishing I asked myself whether this letter was too mean-spirited and unprofessional to publish. Then I imagined what it would be like to read Ryan’s article after having been one of his students and stopped worrying.)

If I had more money I’d buy one of those days-passed-since-last-incident counters for the wall above my desk, so that I could record the frequency with which self-congratulatory internet thinkpieces send me into a frothing rage. Today’s candidate is a twelve-hundred word article about writing, by internationally-renowned bestselling author Ryan Boudinot. Really? Never? Well, I suppose you’re just not interested in real writing by real writers, then. Ryan is a real writer, and luckily for you he’s happy to explain why. Continue reading

10 things I learned writing 50,000 words in 30 days

Good ol’ Kim on the sweaty horror that is NaNoWriMo.

Just Another Magic Monday

Long time, no blog – sorry, everyone! I assure you I have a legitimate excuse, and it’s this:

All my ‘spare writing time’ has been taken up writing a 50,000-word novel in the space of a single month.

That means a month of planning and getting my head around a brand new story for most of October, and then writing an average of 1,667 words every day in November. And that’s not including the words I write for my day job.

For those who aren’t aware, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, happens every year, and it exists purely as a challenge for writers. If you write 50,000 words of a novel in that month, you’re a winner. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written something awful, or if you haven’t finished your story, or even if it’s not a novel – the point is that you’ve written something.


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Rejection and the Power of the Writing Group

More from Joanna Barnard – I think I need a writing group after reading this.


Last week, I gave a proof copy of Precocious to one of my fellow Hog’s Back Writers. Having heard most of the manuscript at our twice-monthly meetings, she’s delighted that it’s going to be published and commented:

“You know, this would’ve happened without us.”

I thought about this. It’s true that by the time I brought Precocious to the HBW table, it was already reasonably polished. I’d started writing it a whole 3 years previously (or 14 YEARS, if you count the short story that was its inception. What can I say – I’m a very slow writer) and it had been through 2 drafts and many tweaks before my fellow Hogs heard it.

However, I knew instinctively that my friend was wrong, that I absolutely would not be where I am now without my writing group, and I can think of at least five reasons why. Here they are:

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Circadian Rhythms and Life Admin: Trying to Write

Thoughts on daywalking, house entropy reversal and time dilation from award-winning novelist Joanna Barnard (hi!). If you don’t post again next week I’ll know to report you legally dead.


As part of the hangover from corporate life, and possibly as a response to the widespread New Year-induced compulsion to self-improve, I’ve set myself a few goals for 2015.

Write a second novel, of course – that’s the main one – and read at least 50 books. It’s kind of like having SMART objectives, but for fun stuff.

I’ve also decided to write something on this blog at least once a week. In the year that I’m increasingly thinking of as my ‘sabbatical’ (since one of the few things about writing on which most people seem to agree it’s that it’s virtually impossible to make a proper living from it), this blog can serve as a diary for me to look back on. It probably (hopefully!) won’t resemble the teenage diaries that I’ve kept for twenty-odd years and plundered for ‘Precocious’ – wow, it was scary re-visiting my fourteen-year-old self…

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