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Wannabe writers and aspiring authors are always looking for writing tips. I've bought books, attended classes, read blogs, listened to podcasts, and printed pointers from the web. But as with the forest for the trees idiom, it can be hard to find useful tips among the wealth of well-meaning advice.

When I was five-years-old, my parents separated, and my little brother and I moved in to live with our grandparents. While our Nan embraced her two young grandsons with warm grandmotherly arms, our Pop could be standoffish and a little scary, especially when angry with a couple of "naughty boys".

In mid-October 2018, I posted my 200th #bookcovers and #firstsentences photo and quote to Instagram (posting as @tallandtrueweb). The series is an eclectic mix of fiction and nonfiction books, all from my bookcase. To celebrate (a little belatedly) here is another selection of posts from Instagram.

Kristel Thornell’s On the Blue Train is a novelisation of the eleven days in 1926 when, in a mystery worthy of Poirot, Agatha Christie disappeared. The novel opens with Agatha outside Harrods. She is confused and cannot enter the store, unable to "even recall what she needed to purchase".

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A faded photo of my dad from the 1970s inspired this microfiction. He had a faraway look in his eyes and a Mona Lisa smile on his much younger face. As art lovers have done for centuries with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, I wondered what was on my dad's mind when the photo was taken?

To celebrate the introduction of 280-character Tweets by Twitter, Meanjin Quarterly ran a microfiction competition. The rules were simple: tweet a 280-character story and include the hashtag #meanjin280! The top ten stories to be published on the Meanjin Blog and the authors paid $1 a word.

"Fiction writers, magicians, politicians and priests are the only people rewarded for entertaining us with their lies." ~ Bangambiki Habyarimana

It's a warm, sunny day and I'm strolling along Brighton Promenade during my lunch break. The seagulls are circling and squawking and the sun's shimmering on the flat blue-green English Channel.

My class had a lesson on "conservation" at school the other day. Miss said that this was where people reused old things or used new things more carefully. She said conservation was important to stop the world from getting more dirty and to help make it healthy again.

"And now the piece de resistance," the old Colonel announced, leading his guest into a sunlit garden. "What do you think?" he enquired, waving his walking stick at the garden's centrepiece. Two life-size marble figures stood face to face, their hands caressing each other, their lips fused in a kiss.

Reach lovers of good fiction on Tall And True

Nonfiction

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When I was five-years-old, my parents separated, and my little brother and I moved in to live with our grandparents. While our Nan embraced her two young grandsons with warm grandmotherly arms, our Pop could be standoffish and a little scary, especially when angry with a couple of "naughty boys".

Dahab sits on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, 80 km northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh on the bottom tip, 148 km south of Israel and Jordan, and across the Gulf of Aqaba from Saudi Arabia, whose desert hills are visible from the beachfront on sunrise and sunset.

"When you deal with nonfiction you deal with human characters." ~ Marya Hornbacher

There were many grammatical errors, typos and howlers over the ten years I published my dog club newsletter. In my defence, I caught most of them during the final read … after I’d photocopied it! Oh, how I wish I’d had my editor and proofreader friend, Grammarly, back then.

As a kid growing up in Perth, W.A., in the 1960s and ’70s, I didn’t learn about the Vietnam War from classroom history lessons. Vietnam and the broader Indochina War were on our radio and TV news every morning and evening and in the front page headlines of our daily newspapers.

To help overcome writer's block and start writing the first sentences of A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway is said to have reminded himself: “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

Reach lovers of good nonfiction on Tall And True

Reviews

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Kristel Thornell’s On the Blue Train is a novelisation of the eleven days in 1926 when, in a mystery worthy of Poirot, Agatha Christie disappeared. The novel opens with Agatha outside Harrods. She is confused and cannot enter the store, unable to "even recall what she needed to purchase".

With the spread of the Internet, PCs and digital devices, and DIY websites, blogs and ebooks, the barriers to publishing are lower than ever before. However, the barrier between writing and good writing remains high. With the Mini Style Guide on your desk, you can be a good writer and a good editor!

"When you're tired of book reviews, you're tired of life." ~ Lev Grossman

When Writing NSW asked if I would like to review On the Blue Train by Kristel Thornell, a novel about the eleven days in 1926 when Agatha Christie disappeared, I thought it would be an interesting assignment and a chance to learn more about this famous author and to perhaps finally read one of her books.

Jennifer Mills sets Dyschronia in the run-down coastal town of Clapstone. Sam is twenty-five years old. The town views Sam as an oracle and depends upon her visions for their survival. And yet a great catastrophe has occurred: the sea has disappeared, seemingly taking with it Clapstone’s last hope.

This ancient-world whodunnit, A Roman Death, is set in 45 BC. Julius Caesar is at the height of his power, yet disquiet grows under his dictatorship. The Ides of March looms and Rome will soon descend into turmoil. And yet Caesar's is not the only Roman death!

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