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The tattooist of Auschwitz: Heather Morris 

Book blurb

I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart.In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.
My review,

I’m an emotional coward with regards to my reading or, is it just I’m a coward? Whatever the reason I tend to avoid books that I know will upset me. The boy in the striped pyjamas will forever be just that; just a boy and never a book I’ll read; or a movie I’ll ever watch. However another book, ‘I am David’, is my favourite book of all time. It’s also about a boy, a boy in a  war torn world. A boy with a happy ending.

So why did I pick this up? I think it held echoes of another favourite of mine, a book with a girl called Lara. (Dr Zhivago). And that’s what I feel is part of this book’s magic. It weaves wisps from the past into something unique, something wonderful, something memorable. This isn’t a quick read. This isn’t a book you’ll fly through only to relegate to the mists of time. This is a book that will linger because it holds both dreams and tragedy within its pages. A book better than the sum of its parts because at its centre are the horrors that we can’t bear to think about and yet we must if we’re ever to grow as a society. Magnificent. 

Available here 

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How to self-publish: Active v Passive Voice 

This used to confuse me until I sat down and worked it out. The one thing I found the hardest was why we, as writers are being dictated to as to the best way to write. But it makes such a difference. Just look at these two sentences and the position of the subject in relation to the verb. 

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty about verbs and subjects. Let’s just say that if the subject acts on the verb it’s active as in Jane singing. 

And the most important of all? 


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How to Self Publish: Part Two – Editing (redundant words)


‘Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very…’ Mark Twain

‘I spent all morning taking out a comma and all afternoon putting it back.’ Oscar Wilde


Editing is a veritable minefield. a foreign land to writers but one they have to negotiate all the same. Whether you’re thinking of Traditional or Indie as a route for presenting your work to the reader (You, potential agents, future fans) the following applies. As it’s such a large area i’m going to break this section down. I’ll start with redundant words.

What are redundant (or over-used) words?


Words that may not be necessary to your work and, in fact, words that might hinder the reader’s enjoyment.

Look at these two sentences. they’re nearly the same but which is smoother?


This list isn’t exhaustive and will change from writer to writer. Know your own personal word demons by taking time to notice which words you repeat. There are programmes that can help you but even by just reading aloud you’ll be able to pick up some of them.

Next time: Passive voice


How to self-publish. Series links

Episode one: Writing tips and tricks

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How to self publish: Episode One

New year.

No New Year resolutions but a plan to blog more. It won’t last but while it does here goes…

How to self publish.

It’s never been both easier and harder to be an Indie. Let’s get cracking…


Episode One

  1. Write a book. Okay, I make that sound easy but, in truth, it’s not that difficult. There are a raft or people, groups of people, books and courses both online and face-to-face eager to help. The most important thing here is you producing the best words you can.

Whilst these blog posts are all going to be about self-publishing I’m going to start by kicking it off with some tips and tricks on writing. These are strategies I use in my own books. Tricks and tips I’ve learnt along the way from all over the place. No matter what book you read, or which famous best-selling writer you listen to, the same fact has proven true time after time. The best books break the rules but there are some givens. I’ll start with the best piece of advice ever.

Key Tip (1) Start late, leave early.

I don’t know where I heard this first. I’ve heard it many times. Start your book, your chapter in the middle of something. Draw your reader in so they forget everything. Nothing should exist for them except the words on the page. Leave early at the end of a chapter. Make the reader want to carry on with the next part of the story. PTQ (Page Turning Quality)

Key Tip (2) Start your book with a hook.

It’s not good enough to start with a sunrise or someone lying in bed thinking (please don’t contact me with those best sellers that start that way, they are examples, only that). You have 10 seconds or less to hook your reader (for reader substitute Agent, publisher) after that they are going to delete the extract. No, they are going to delete you.

Key Tip (3) The most important key on your computer is the delete one.

Write carefully, edit freely. Most books (adult) are between 50,000 (category romances) to 120,000. You’re writing a book, not a doorstop. How many words are needed to tell your tale? What is the length of comparable novels available? Do your research.

Key Tip (4) Don’t hate the adverb, it has its place.

A book without any (there are some) is a book missing a trick.

‘Show not tell’. How I hate that phrase because, to the new writer it is meaningless drivel. What the hell does it mean anyway? I think in the broadest sense it means that new writers, and not just new ones, are at risk of not using the English language to its fullest capacity. The second most important key on the writer’s computer is the thesaurus. By changing just one word in a sentence you can make half the words obsolete and end up with something amazing. I’d prefer to read a shorter book over a longer one, a book in which the writer has prioritized his word choice over his word count.  I repeat; this is not a post on how to write. Google ‘show not tell’ and ‘adverb use in writing’ for more.

Key Tip (5) Read. Read as much as you can and cross genre.

One famous writer said recently he writes one book a year and reads 300 (it wasn’t me but it could have been).

Next post: Editing. Can you edit your own work. Tips and tricks. Why I now employ an editor.