Wednesday, 25 April 2018

I'm updating my site and moving to:

Too many reasons why, mostly because I'm trying to simplify my life with a new website: and Facebook:

My blogs will remain, although some of them have already gone on to bigger and better things appearing in the book:
This is the press release.

 ‘FINGS AIN’TWOT THEY USED T’BE’ Award-winning author Barbara Spencer hits back at the absurdities of life and growing older in the 21st century in a charming new book

 Dedicated to the more mature echelons of society, and delightfully illustrated by Katie Beltrami, who just happens to be young, Barbara Spencer’s Age and the Antique Sideboard, takes a nostalgia-filled stroll around England in which there are some extraordinary goings-on. Exhibiting a somewhat 'pithy’ sense of humour, Barbara shares short stories and anecdotes from her travels as well as her personal life. When questioned, as to why she had decided to take this step, she replied: “I’ve always been good at making children laugh and thought it time to have a go at the rest of the world. After all, a book that makes you laugh versus a pair of socks for Christmas? No contest.” Notwithstanding a successful writing career as a childrens and YA author, Barbara has always had a desire to wax lyrical about the absurdity of life. “Whilst travelling from some far-distant school or book signing I began scribbling down my thoughts,” she explained. “Now, of an age to remember the past, I thought, why not? There has to be heaps of people around like me … well, not exactly like me but near enough to enjoy and remember how life once was.”

Do join me at my new blog:

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Monday, 14 November 2016

Picking a Christmas Winner

A Dangerous Game of Football was published in 2008. A fantasy adventure about a boy footballer (he and his pals play for Aston Villa Youth Team), it has become a great favourite in primary schools, for two reasons … it’s a real page turner and it’s most important character is a camel, called Bud. 
Until last year, Bud was definitely my favourite comic character from all of my books … and I have written twelve. He is bad tempered, sarcastic and  miserable most of the time. He is also magical and quite, quite wonderful, saving Jack Burnside’s life time after time.
Now relaunched as A Dangerous Game, of course there had to be a second book and a third, simply because the sorcerer Mendorun is still alive. And while he lives, no one is safe because he aims to become the most powerful sorcerer on earth. In the 3rd book of the trilogy, The Lions of Trafalgar, you will meet Capstick, one of the lions that Jack brings alive with magic. Of course, he doesn’t actually mean to do it. At least, he doesn’t mean to bring ALL four lions AND Nelson to life. 
Lord Nelson is super-fun and definitely my all-time favourite character from all my books and Capstick – has he replaced Bud as my all-time comic character? Maybe – but then I think of Kitty in The Amazing Brain of O C Longbotham and wonder?

With Christmas on the horizon and lists to Father Christmas, check out my website: Click the button on your favourite book and read a taster.

Visit my website Barbara Spencer.

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Saturday, 15 October 2016

New Writers for Ebooks

For the longest while I have been reading Ebooks on my computer and quite frankly hating ever minute. I suppose seated at my 'main frame' computer whilst writing simply compounded the problem. To be honest the only book I actually enjoyed during this exercise was by Seumas Gallagher - a thriller - Killer City. I worked out later on why I enjoyed it so much because the writing was tight, it was the perfect length and the terse style suited the electronic format.

So with the idea of conducting research into the problem I decided to buy myself a Kindle. I confess the difference was notable and reading became instantly easier, as my Kindle has a case which gives the impression of being a book, and I could read it anywhere in the house.

However, I discovered the problem remained. Cutting my teeth on children's books where the action is story driven, I presume my natural inclination is for books which are story driven and where the story is very tight.

So much of what I am reading at the moment is fantastic prose (totally drool worthy), far in advance of anything I could produce. But the story mainly consists of scenes. I sometimes get the impression that the scene is only there because the author liked the writing. And then the action moves to another scene later on with little or no connection between the two.

My other gripes are that for me ... and I stress the words, for me, because many avid Kindle-ists will disagree ... the action is too big and too loose, and the books are too wordy. And reading it on a Kindle without the delightful experience of flicking back and forth through pages, searching for the end of a chapter, the book seems endless. I am a great believer is 'less is more.' My first children's book (A Dangerous Game of Football) I was asked to cut 10,000 words.

I don't write like I used to, my aged mind no longer skips over fences and I now plod. But if I had to pass on words of wisdom to new writers:

Think our your story before putting pen to paper - don't write scenes and then look for somewhere to put them.
Cut out every word and scene that does not add value to the story.
If you are writing for Kindle, don't go on and on and on for 50 chapters, unless the story is so story/action driven, it simply cannot end earlier. Do not think you have to write a long book. Better 70,000 good words than 100,000+ that flounder
If you are writing for the Ebook market, look where the greatest number of sales originate. Apart from well-established writers whose books are avidly read in whatever format they appearl, there is a huge appetite for novellas, because they are the perfect length for a reader on Kindle. Short romances also have a vast audience.For me writing ebooks is more designing the book for the vehicle it sits on ... which is why I still love paperbacks.

Visit my website Barbara Spencer.

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Monday, 10 October 2016

To review or not to review ... a very difficult question

A sort of blog!
I am not doing any reviews at the moment because I am confused as to the on-line criteria for judging a book and would love some guidelines.

My background is mainstream/traditional. My children's books have followed this route, the criteria for success being paperback sales and acceptance by the establishment. Not reviews because it's rare for young children to write reviews. So my attitudes and judgements tend to be mainstream and unfortunately somewhat old-fashioned.

The rules I apply to all books, whether traditionally published or not, are broken into 4 categories: presentation, linguistic ability, (grammar and style), a credible and cohesive story line, and general enjoyment.

Should I continue in this way? Should I judge an ebook at the same level as a paperback traditionally published?
I honestly don't know.
For instance, if the typesetting is poor, do I ignore and still give 4* because the story is okay? If sentences and grammar leave a lot to be desired, what then? If the story meanders ...?

What are the main aims of our writing to self publish? Are we just writing for fun and want to be judged on the enjoyment factor? Or are we seeking to be judged on the same platform as books from a traditional publisher?

There remains a vast level of snobbery in the book world. However, what is becoming apparent is that there are two book worlds which don't meet except occasionally. Traditional or mainstream with paperback as the main focus or self-published ebooks on line. Which one are we wanting to belong?

If we want to be accepted mainstream by the public at large, society of author, teachers, booksellers, etc. we have to comply with the four criteria I stated above.
If we only seek an on-line presence and readers en mass, are these criteria still relevant?

And this is my problem ... when reading a book, I don't know what the author is seeking to achieve with his/her writing and therefore I don't know how to judge it. 

Visit my website Barbara Spencer.

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Saturday, 3 September 2016

They are showing That's Entertainment on the TV and for the first time, I find it painful viewing.
Why on earth? Because it reminds me of an era of innocence that was my and many others  childhood. I know someone will leap to the defence of today and insist that advances in medicine, education, the Internet have rocketted evolution into the stratosphere. Maybe. But when I look about me, I am driven to asking, is this world really as fantastic as we are brainwashed into believing?
Fifty years ago , we experienced a dual blessing; contentment with our lot because we were igorant of anything different and a real childhood. A childhood of playing with friends out on the road, roving through parks and woodlands, our parents unafraid that anything would happen to us. I was brought up in Birmingham and remember being dug out of a snowdrift taller than me, my mother drying me off, and putting socks on my hands so I could go out again. Of course there was poverty and child cruelty - that has not changed, if anything it has worsened with time, not improved, because many of today's parents think only about enjoying their life, and never give a moment's thought, that having brought children into the world they are now responsible for them.
And the movies ... okay, so I hear the cries of, 'it was all a sham.' But, hey, it was a magical sham, that sent us home wit light hearts and beautiful dreams.For me, it was always musicals, addicted to the voice of Frank Sinatra and the dancing feet of Fred Astairs and Gene Kelly. And Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
When I went to Amsterdam with my granddaughter, we visited Anne Frank's house. On her wall were her Hollywood pinups, the pages torn from movie magazines. If I remember Ray Milland was one.
I hear cries of, what about the Internet? Really, is it such a blessing? No one disputes that it is an amazing creation. Yet because of this amazing creation, our high streets have died, banks are closing their doors, and our children are rapidly forgetting how to read. I mean how can you compare Treasure Island or Heidi to minecraft and zapping monsters with explosives, guns, knives and grenades? Already alarm bells of ringing as to their affect on the mental health of our youngers, with millions addicted to mobiles phones, which never leave their hand. I swear my granddaughter showers one-handed! And really, does it help to know about the death and destruction taking place in Syria when there is nothing we can do? All it does it corrode our happiness with guilt that we are not doing more.
Our present world has much to offer, but I still prefer the technicolour version of fifty years ago.

Visit my website Barbara Spencer.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

'Stayed up all night reading.' Book 1 of the Deadly Pursuit Series, the fast paced thriller by Barbara Spencer is on Kindle Countdown for a couple of days at 99c (99p in the UK)

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