The Most Influential Blogger Award

A big thank you to Don Charisma who awarded me this badge.  most-influential-blogger

In case you’re not one of his gazillion followers, Don lives in Thailand and posts, among other things, amazing sunsets. He took a break from Photoshop to spread a little blog love among his legion of blogger friends, and I turned out to be one of them.

Just goes to show you don’t have to be influential to be an influential blogger, but it helps to know someone who is. If you check out Don’s blog you’ll soon see what a thoroughly bloody nice bloke he is too. Being British, he’ll know exactly what that means.

Now I’m passing on the same award to 10 more bloggers. Whether they’re the kind of blogger who accepts awards or not is immaterial. They’re getting a mention today because they’re influential to me.

Fellow writer Debbie Young: she’s prolific, smart, resourceful, warm, supportive and all the other things you could wish for. I’m in danger of using up a whole dictionary to describe her so why don’t you just check out her blog ? And if you have anything to do with type 1 diabetes, her book Coming to Terms with Type 1 Diabetes is a must.

Australian-born Jessica Bell, author of non-fiction, literary fiction and poetry. She’s also an artist, musician and designer, which quite frankly is way too much talent for one person. Her lovely blog is the Alliterative Allomorph.

Queen of self-publishing Catherine Ryan Howard whose blog Catherine, Caffeinated dispenses laughs along with sound advice.

The Write Romantics

The Write Romantics

The fine people at The Write Romantics.

They’re all members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writer Scheme, and they also run a great virtual book club for romantic fiction. 

Mary Lane who blogs at New York Cliche. It’s an American-sized slice of life and it makes me long to hop on a plane across the pond, which I don’t do often enough.

Another Australian, Eli Glasman, author (published and everything!), whose blog is witty and thought-provoking.  His debut novel The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew is about a homosexual boy in an orthodox Jewish community and will be out soon. As it were.

Anne Wainscott who blogs at The Writing Well.  She’s an accomplished story-teller and I’m looking forward to reading the historical novel she’s currently working on.

Michael La Ronn, the author of Decision Select novels. Not your everyday contemporary fantasies, because in Michael’s stories the reader gets to decide what happens.

The Lancet’s student blog, where you can find out what medical students think of issues such as bereavement and the demise of the traditional stethoscope.

stethoscope

Doctor and writer Richard Smith, who contributes to the British Medical Journal blogs. I might not necessarily agree with him, but he’s always got plenty to say.

Finally Don asked me to include a YouTube video of my current favourite song. You came so close, Lana del Rey, but Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons had the edge with their classic Beggin.  It’ll be in the CD player as soon as I pick up the rental car at Newark airport next month and head south on the NJ Turnpike to see my US family.

 

Advertisements

Hospital Tests: Has the Doctor Got it Right?

The department is in the bowels of the hospital. Appropriate, thinks Sanjay.

Sanjay is a character from my novel. I’ve let him out today for another hospital visit. There’ve been plenty of those in the last 18 months but today he’s got hope. He’s got hope the tests will be normal, and that he’ll be out of the door again before he loses the will to live.

As usual Sanjay passes the giant pebble on his way into the hospital. It is not a pebble so much as an expensive sculpture. Today it looks as if a dog has peed up against it.

UCL pebble

This hospital is one of the very few in the country that does this special ultrasound scan, a fact which pleased Sanjay’s mother. “See, beta? Now they know you are special.”

Not so Sanjay’s father, who took it as proof that bloody doctors don’t know what they are bloody doing and are just using his son as guinea pig.

One thing puzzles Sanjay: what is this scan exactly? He always asks questions but he’s rarely any the wiser. The doctors either reply something like “We’re going to take pictures of your squidgy bits” and give a smile that suggests he’s a couple of rungs below the village idiot.

Or else they give him a jargon-filled spiel, sometimes accompanied by a scribbled diagram on the nearest scrap of paper that comes to hand. surgeon's diagram

Once it said TOMATOES MILK WINE DRY-CLEANING on the back.

“Oh God, beta. Suppose they give you needles with this scan?” says his mum.

Sanjay shrugs. He doesn’t mind needles, but he’s not too fond of tubes up the behind. He had that once, when he’d passed some bright red blood. Luckily the test turned out normal.

He trusts the doctor who referred him for today’s scan. Just like he trusted the doctor who told him his colonoscopy was normal.

But what if the doctor had been wrong? And what if it wasn’t just the beetroot?

beetroot

Maybe the junior doctor had misread the result or had looked at someone else’s notes. Then Sanjay’s bowel cancer might go untreated, while someone else would get an abdomino-perineal resection that he didn’t need.

Abdomino-perineal resection: ‘complete surgical removal of the distal colon, rectum, and anal sphincter via simultaneous anterior abdominal and perineal incisions, resulting in a permanent colostomy’

a.k.a. ‘taking away some of your squidgy bits and popping your back passage onto your tummy’

Bummer.

Lots of people could be wrong a lot of the time, thinks Sanjay as he enters the revolving door. When you consider it, there are so many different ways of getting something wrong. But only one way (or at most a small handful of ways) to get it right.

Sanjay jabs the lift button and muses on his 36 years of life.

A Mini Blog Tour for Spring

The best thing about blogging? Connecting with other people. I’ve said that since I started, but this is the first time I’ve been asked along to a blog hop.

Yes, it’s the Writers’ Blog Tour, in which writers talk about what they write and how they do it. Sara Rose Salih invited me. Sara’s blog is a treasure trove of all things teen fiction, and no wonder. She’s the author of a new juvenile fiction series, Life As We Note It (check out the first book, Tales of a Sevie).

The tour has a lot in common with a chain letter, because you pass the same four questions about writing on to three new writer-bloggers, as I’ll do at the end of this post. So here goes.

1. What am I working on?

I’m writing a sequel to my novel One Night at the Jacaranda, which is about dating. Readers tell me they love the characters, so I’m taking some of my favourite flawed people (and theirs) into new adventures. Like the first book, it will be a racy read.

Tower Bridge

Yep, the location is London. You might also notice that this is taken north of the Thames. People from north London rarely venture south of the river unless they really have to, but let’s see what happens as the story unfolds.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?

My genre is chick-lit (‘commercial women’s fiction’ if you’re la-di-dah). But One Night at the Jacaranda has more than one protagonist and is written from multiple points of view (memo to la-di-dah types: it’s an ‘ensemble novel’).   Crucially, many of the voices are male, so it appeals to male readers too.

Another contrast with most chick-lit is that there’s very little physical description of the characters, other than the fact that Dan is bald, Simon has a comb-over, and Karen’s body is a bit saggy (after four kids, who’ve had thought, eh?).

What they do have is dark secrets, so there are some serious issues, but the overall tone is still upbeat, in keeping with the genre.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I’m an established journalist and non-fiction writer, but I’ve always yearned to write a novel. Why I wrote this particular story, I really don’t know. The idea came to me on a Continental Airlines flight after my father died, as I’ve described elsewhere in my blog.

And now that I have developed such memorable characters, I’m going to help them live as long as possible. Well, I am a doctor!

4. How does my writing process work?

I write best on the sofa with pencil and paper. And cat.

cat on a sofa

To get me started I might need music and a coffee.   Uh-oh. The pencil’s a bit blunt.

sharp pencils in 60s mug

May as well sharpen all of them, right?

Once I have installed myself again (and the cat), I may spend as long as 10 minutes writing before the phone rings with something urgent for me to do.

Out of this highly productive routine I end up with reams and reams of material, most of which has to be re-written several times before I pass it on my husband and some writer friends for their opinion. I might also float some of it on this blog to see what you think.  And that’s how I do it.

Time to pass the baton on to three talented bloggers.

L.K. Watts writes an eclectic range of books. Her first two stem from her worldly adventures in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. These fresh and funky books reflect L.K.’s personality perfectly. She’s travelled the Trans-Siberian Express in Russia and Mongolia and has done a ten-week stint of conservation volunteering in Ireland.  Author LK Watts

When she isn’t out making the most of life and living it to the max, she writes women’s fiction. Her debut chick-lit novel is her third book to be released.

But do not be fooled. L.K. is currently writing something that will make the most unshockable person gasp.

At the moment L.K. lives in the U.K with her partner and two adorable dogs. Her blog is LK Watts Confessions.

Anne Wainscott comes from a family of story-tellers. She’s an author and blogger at The Writing Well as well as a storyteller-for-hire right here. Author Anne Wainscott

Her 2004 mother-daughter memoir A Breath Away came after losing her mother to smoking.

She’s currently finishing her first historical novel, Torrential, a re-imagining of a flood that destroyed her hometown of Dayton, Ohio, a century ago.

You can also find her on Twitter.

Michael La Ronn is a fantasy author who writes Decision Select Novels, which are a modern reimagining of the Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks. He also writes traditional novels, short stories, poetry, and non-fiction.Author Michael La Ronn

He is a former musician and loves jazz and other obscure genres that no one’s ever heard of. His upcoming book, Festival of Shadows, will be released in June.

Michael lives with his wife in Des Moines, Iowa.

You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Why not go look for them?