Monthly Archives: January 2011

A guest post from author Linda Gillard

Linda Gillard now lives on the Isle of Arran, after spending six years living on the Isle of Skye and a short time in Glasgow. Having been through three careers, as an actor, journalist and teacher, she wrote her first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY, which was published by Transita in 2005. Linda’s second novel A LIFETIME BURNING was published in 2006, also by Transita. Her third novel, STAR GAZING, set on the Isle of Skye and in Edinburgh, was published by Piatkus in 2008. STAR GAZING has been short-listed for three awards, including the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Novel of the Year and was voted “Favourite Romantic Novel 1960-2010” by readers of Woman’s Weekly magazine.

More about Linda and her books can be found here.

I met Linda through my work bringing Transita and BookCrossing together, which got Transita’s books well-known and BookCrossed (and purchased!) all over the world. Linda is a generous author – generous with contact with her readers and with connecting with the wider public. She has given talks and run hugely popular writers’ workshops at BookCrossing Conventions, as well as appearing at local meetings and maintaining contact with her fans. I have been privileged to read several of Linda’s novels in manuscript form and am looking forward to a long and happy association with Linda and her novels.

Linda Gillard

When starting out as writers we have to learn the difference between something being true and something being convincing. Student writers often think a faithful, unflinching account of real-life events and feelings is enough to make something readable, even publishable. This is not the case. This kind of writing is therapeutic. It may be truthful, but it probably isn’t publishable. It might not even be readable!

Arguably, all writing is therapeutic to some extent and most writers begin writing therapeutically, but we need to move on from there if we’re to develop our writing skills, especially if we seek publication, because truth is stranger than fiction.

If you find this idea difficult, think about raising money for a charity and the photographs or news footage you might use in your campaign. You wouldn’t use material so upsetting that people would turn the page of the magazine or switch channels. You want to disturb, but not repel. Unvarnished truth might not serve your purpose.

This isn’t a cop-out, it’s careful mediation. If we record “undigested” truth in therapeutic writing, its therapeutic value exists only for the author, not the reader. We aren’t writing for an audience, but for ourselves. This might be a good starting point for fiction but it cannot be the ultimate goal because truth doesn’t necessarily convince readers or editors!

When I wrote my first novel EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY (Transita) I wanted to use my own experience of mental illness as my raw material but I decided to fictionalise my experience completely. (This was no hardship – it was bad enough living my life; I certainly didn’t want to write about it! But I did want to tackle the issues.) I managed to avoid some common first-novel pitfalls by thoroughly “digesting” my experience, to the extent that the story was no longer recognisable as my life, the heroine no longer recognisable as me.

It was only after I’d finished the novel that I realised I’d rejected veracity in favour of emotional authenticity. This is in my opinion an essential creative process if the raw material of our lives is to be transformed into readable fiction. Paradoxically, fiction can tell truer truths! If a reader is to believe (or suspend disbelief), truth must be edited and presented in the best form to do the job.

This is what good fiction is: true lies.


Posted by on January 19, 2011 in Blogging, Guest posts, Writing



New books!

I had an exciting package of books arrive from Amazon yesterday – half for Libro’s reference section and half for ME (spending some of my vouchers I’d been saving up). I thought my clients, potential clients and Friends Of Libro might be interested in what Libro now has on its bookshelf…

I really need up to date reference materials to use for Libro, especially if I’m going to be blogging about usage, so now I’ve paid my tax for 2009-10 I have used some of my profit for these. Note: yes, there are online versions of many of these, but they cost as much as the hard copy to access PER YEAR, while the new editions don’t tend to come out yearly. So, for the time being, I am using printed copies, although this may change in the future.

Concise Oxford English Dictionary – 11th edition (luxury edition) – I realised my current Oxford Concise was bought with money I had for my 18th Birthday and is the 7th edition. Oh, and luxury means I get a bookmark and there are fingerholes in the text block so you can access each letter easily.

R.M. Ritter – New Hart’s Rules – this is the companion to the wonderful New Oxford Dictionary For Writers and Editors (which I actually adore as it has all those words you’re not sure how to spell or use!) and explains the rules of punctuation, etc. It comes highly recommended by my copy-editing peers.

Chicago Manual Of Style – 16th edition – this is the American be-all and end-all of rules on everything from typesetting to the most obscure parts of speech and uses of punctuation. I do have quite a few US customers (having worked for an American company, I am bi-lingual in American and British English, and really enjoy the differences and similarities), and this is really useful. As well as FASCINATING! I actually have two copies of this in the house at the moment, as I borrowed my library’s copy to check how useful it would be.

Norm Goldstein – The Associated Press Stylebook – another one for my US customers, this is a guide that a lot of PR agencies and other media people use.

What’s your favourite reference book, and why?


Posted by on January 13, 2011 in Organisation, Reference materials


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More blogging for 2011…

I’ve been reading a lot of information in various networking groups I belong to, about the value of blogging regularly to keep in touch with clients and colleagues, spread the word about your services, etc. So I’ve decided to try to update the Libro blog at least twice a month.

Which is 26 topics I need to think of.

So, kind readers – why not suggest something (polite!) I could write a blog post about? Maybe a tricky point of grammar, my favourite punctuation mark, what I actually do day-to-day… please do add a comment and I’ll take inspiration from you!

Also, look out for guest posts by my friends, associates and clients! If you’d like to contribute a guest post yourself, please get in touch. The post will need to be on a topic vaguely related to what I do, or business in general, and I’ll probably run my proof-reader’s eye over it before I publish it, but you’re welcome to make a suggestion and have a go, even if you’ve never blogged before!


Posted by on January 6, 2011 in Blogging


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