It’s amazing the stories you can see outside a window.

To be fair, it has to be a window with a view of somewhere fairly busy. If you had a window in the middle of Dartmoor for example, the view would be amazing, inspirational even, but you wouldn’t get a lot of ideas for characters.

Bus windows are good. You see people for a brief moment and that snapshot can be enough to trigger something off. Why is she all in red? Why does he look so angry? Why did those two stop holding hands when the other one came up? What is that dog so angry about?

But from my window onto the street, especially as I overlook a bus stop, I can see entire stories. I can hear the couple arguing, I can see the children playing their games, I can see all those conversations drivers have.

Get yourself to a window and have a look. There’s a world of stories out there

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad


Writer’s Quote for the Week by Christine Duncan

“Write what should not be forgotten.” Isabel Allende.

To Be A Really Great Writer You Must…

I see it a lot. ‘To be a really great writer, you MUST do this’

Well, no. Really great writers don’t tend to follow the rules. Think of Joyce, or Kafka, or the Brontes. All wrote stories that were utterly different to what had gone before.

Rules help. They are good guidelines. If you’re not sure quite how to express yourself the rules can show you the one and give you a path. But if you feel really strongly and passionately that the rules are wrong for you, break them, because what makes a really good writer isn’t the rules, it’s the passion for the story.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Taxes and Writing by Christine Duncan

I spent the weekend finishing my Federal taxes (next up, the state form) and I have to say, there is no way this is the promised simplification of the tax forms. I have an additional 5, count ’em, 5 schedules to fill out now. Ugh.

But as a writer, this is a great time to organize yourself for the year. Make sure you are recording all of your expenses, and recognizing all of your income (yes, those book sales at the back of the room where you are doing a talk count.) Make it easier on yourself by getting a separate bank account for your writing and making sure that all of your income and expenses come through that account. Next year, you will thank yourself.

Also take the time to read up on the tax changes as some things that used to be deductible have changed, such as meal and entertainment expenses. This is not light reading but it could save you some hassle.

Now that I am finished with at least the Federal form, I am going to treat myself. I need some chocolate!

International Women’s Day

When I was a teenage girl, I struggled with what kind of woman I wanted to be. This was the rise of feminism, but I was told no decent woman wants to be a feminist, look at them, with their hairy legs and ugly clothes. I was told I should be quiet, and ladylike and always polite and always give way – like the girls in the books I read. Katy Carr, be more like Meg and Amy, not Jo. Be nice.

But as I reading expanded, I read the Brontes, and their fierce cries of female independence, I read Judy Blume and the girls struggling just like me and I read Jane Austen and the women who wanted their own choice and independence (though that message had to be dug out by me – our teachers didn’t mention it) and Jackie Collins where women demanded they be in charge – and also swore and had lots of sex.

Because of them, I stopped trying to be what I was supposed to be and took these writers characters as paths I could follow and an example of what I could do. They showed me how to be a woman and how to choose and even forge my way though life.

So, on International Women’s Day, thank you to all the female authors showing me what a woman could be (and that includes Jo March!). I’d be lost without you

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Writer’s Quote of the Week by Christine Duncan

I have always loved this quote. I love writing when it takes twists I don’t expect. But then I never have been the type of writer who plots.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Robert Frost

Project No 4 – Or Is It 5?

I’m in the middle of writing a book, editing two short stories and gathering notes together for something else. So what’s the sensible thing to do? Start writing another book of course!

I didn’t mean to. A first line popped into my head. That became a first paragraph – waited for inspiration to stop – it continued. And then I got through a whole first chapter – and continued.

I can’t seem to stop. And I don’t think I should. I think while the inspiration burns, I should keep it going.

And as for the other work – it’s still there, it’s still in my head, but I think a small break might help. Going to it now would feel like a chore while I want to work on the new idea.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad