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It is my great pleasure to introduce the thoughts and the working life of Val Portelli. Over to you, Val.

This is the first in a new series in which we look at some of the different facets of writing. There are plenty of ‘How To’ books, webinars and blogs available on the mechanics of being an author, but I thought it would be fun to approach the subject from a different angle.

If you are a writer, it’s likely you stick to one style or genre, but have you considered the difference in mind-set between say, writing a children’s book and writing erotica?

With a dystopian novel, how much is research or history, and how much is imagination? Cosy mysteries and strong female protagonists solving murders are very popular at the moment. Do you need to have had experience of living in a small village, or to have been in the police force to write them accurately?

What about short stories or working with another author? Do your styles match? Who takes top billing? What if you disagree? Do you have to know the other person in real life? How does it work if you live far away from each other, or even in different parts of the world?

It’s a fascinating subject with endless variations, and over the coming weeks I hope to introduce different guests to talk about their own personal experiences on a particular aspect. Feel free to comment or ask questions. The world is our oyster. Now there’s a thought; is that a widely used phrase?

Research seems to indicate American audiences are more likely to suggest a typo if a British author uses ‘colour’ rather than ‘color,’ but English readers accept either spelling. What about readers in Australia, Canada or India? Do they have a preference? A British author trying to infiltrate the wider American market was advised to use American English, but there is a danger that unless you are “multi-lingual,” you might not even realise you’re using the ‘wrong’ word or spelling.

Did you notice the alternated double and single quote marks? Another source of contention, or is that old-school versus modern, or even house-style? If you introduce a foreign phrase, how do you handle it? Should you put it in italics, provide an explanation, or assume the reader will resort to an online translator if the context doesn’t make it clear? What about different dialects? A phrase common in one part of a country might seldom or never be used in another area. Set your book in a different era and ‘Ye Gads, sir, thou does talk crapola.’

Since joining the author community, I’ve made many friends from all over the world. Some are authors, some are book bloggers, editors or readers, and many are all four. Writers might be ‘Indies’ (self or independently published,) some traditionally published, some hybrids, (having some of their books released by the major publishing houses and self-publishing others.)

In the non-fiction category inspirational books are very popular, particularly in these unsettling times, or an author might only intend to ever write one book, perhaps how a family member overcame adversity, either illness or conflict.

Appealing to the senses:

A friend mentioned the importance of a book appealing to all the senses and stirring a reader’s emotions; think of those gorgeous full-colour books showing a recipe for chocolate cake, or try not to weep at the story of an ill-treated animal, and you’ll understand what she meant.

Grandparents can take delight in reading their favourite childhood books to their own grandchildren, and are instantly transported back to when they were young themselves.

‘Summer Changes, Winter Tears,’ is classed as a romance, but it brought back memories of the sights and smells of a different country, new experiences, the feel of warm sun on the skin, and the butterflies in the stomach when you fall in love.

‘Weird and Peculiar Tales,’ co-written with Paula Harmon, was an opportunity to let our imaginations run wild and write Fairy Tales for Grown-ups. Of course dragons, unicorns, fairies and mermaids exist – you just have to be able to see them.

‘Spirit of Technology’ involves the development of a relationship when you are unable to physically touch someone. Although it was written a while ago, it is particularly appropriate in the current situation when self-isolation means contact is often restricted to Skype or Zoom.

To find out more about Val just hit the link below and do scroll down to leave a comment.


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