Welcome to the book blog of writer and creative writing tutor, Diane Paul.

Thanks to the publishers and kind PR people who send me books and releases about their clients' books for review. Press releases and review copies of fiction and non-fiction are always welcome. (No sci-fi, fantasy or erotica please.)

Due to the barrage of requests from self-published authors for reviews, I'm unable to deal with them all, although I'm sometimes drawn to non-fiction for the subject matter. And because I love print books, the smell, the touch of the paper and the sight of the words, I don't have an electronic reader or review e-books.

E-mail to: bookblogforbookworms@keywordeditorial.com for the postal address.

My writing website: http://www.keywordeditorial.com/

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Can you help with facts about ADHD?

ADHD:The Essential Guide Update

Developments move so fast in the health world and three years have flown since my guide on ADHD was published. Since then, new facts have come to light and synchronicity keeps throwing me in the direction of people involved in this area, so my file is constantly growing. So much so, that I think it's time to revise and update, so whatever else is out there that my research hasn't turned up, I'd like to know about it.

Talking of synchronicity, last year I was visiting some friends who live in a country park near Manchester and was suddenly attacked by the symptoms of a debilitating virus. My friends run a B&B business, letting out beautiful black and white timbered cottages in the grounds. Staying there at the time just happened to be a homeopath, who not only helped to get me on my feet again but turned out to be a representative of The Handle Institute, an American organisation that stands for Holistic Approach to NeuroDevelopment and Learning Efficiency. In fact, there was a whole bunch of them from all over the world attending a conference.

The Handle Institute

HANDLE's practitioners use a holistic non-drug approach to help people with ADD, ADHD, autism, dyslexia, Tourette's Syndrome and many more. Their work will, of course, be featured in the new edition of my book and they do have representatives in the UK.

How you can help

So, if you know of new research or developments in ADHD, would like to get a mention for your work in this field or have your case history included in the next edition, I'd love to hear from you. Or maybe you have tips that work for you and you'd like to share them with ADHD sufferers and their carers/families or even teachers. If so, please contact me NOW at diane@keywordeditorial.com


For more details about The Handle Institute, log on to http://www.handle.org/ or email support@handle.org/ And if you're visiting Manchester and would like to drop out of the rat race and immerse yourself in nature in a picturesque olde-worlde enclave two minutes from civilisation, contact me and I'll put you in touch.

How to obtain ADHD:The Essential Guide

ADHD:The Essential Guide can be obtained from bookstores, Amazon or direct from the publisher, Need2Know Books at http://www.need2knowbooks.co.uk/, tel: 01733 898103.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Write a book in record time and be the Next Big Author

I intended to have a go at this but things got in the way and although I churned out two chapters in the time it took to change a duvet cover (which is quite a long time here) the story began to morph from Mills & Boon into Edgar Allan Poe before I knew it. That's what happens if you let your characters take you over. However, all may not be lost and although the Next Big Author closing date is 31 May, here are a few examples of famous authors who penned books in a hurry and became Big Authors.

Big Authors

Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange: “The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate: written a quarter of a century ago, a jeu d’esprit knocked off for money in three weeks, it became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence.”

Mickey Spillane: His most famous Mike Hammer Novel, I, the Jury, was written in nine days. It sold seven million copies in three years.

From The Guardian: “Alexander Dumas had a 100-louis bet (a decent sum in 1845) that he could write the first volume of Le Chevalier de Maison-Rouge in just three days. Powered by a steady supply of coffee (his manuscripts are splattered with it), he pulled it off within six hours to spare with scarcely a crossing out .."

In 1941, Jack Kerouac dashed off 200 short stories in eight weeks, thanks to a regime of benzedrene pellets.

Stephen King took just three nights to finish The Running Man while hooked up to a Budweiser drip.

Noel Coward wrote Private Lives in four days...J B Priestley wrote An Inspector Calls in ten days - 'all plays should be written in a burst of explosive energy.' Neil Simon wrote Come Blow Your Horn in three weeks.

So Edgar Allan Poe it is.

How to Enter

You only have to write the opening chapters. The competition is supported by publishers Bloomsbury, Random House, Orion, Little Brown and Hodder and Stoughton.

Log onto www.thenextbigauthor.com for details of how to enter via the competition rules on the left hand side of the site’s homepage.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Complementary Therapy practical guide

Need2Know Books has carved quite a niche in the health and education field with its Essential Guide series. A new wave of Lifestyle titles includes everything from Gardening to Gap Years and Walking to Weight Loss.

Complementary Therapies

A recent title covers the basic field of complementary therapies, authored by freelance health writer Antonia Chitty and hypnotherapist, life coach and Reiki Master, Victoria Dawson.

As more and more people are turning to complementary therapies and natural health clinics are springing up all over the UK, anyone who finds the range of therapies a bit baffling can find out about the more well-known ones in Complementary Therapies: The Essential Guide. 

Therapies covered

Among those covered are:
  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Massage
  • Osteopathy
  • Reiki and
  • Reflexology
Chapter content

Each chapter gives the basic facts, together with research, advice from the experts and case histories from clients. The authors cover each therapy's history, which is enlightening. Who knew that massage was used during the first World War to help shell shock victims, or that homeopathy has been used in the UK for the last 200 years. I remember when there were only two practising in Manchester. They've multiplied since then and there are schools and training courses for them.

You can learn what the treatment entails and the types of complaints each therapy is used for and what the contraindications may be. So if you have a serious heart condition, you're not going to have hypnotherapy. The various uses for children, older people and pregnant women are outlined.

Anything missing?

Masses of complementary therapies abound and I could think of one or two main ones that were missing, such as nutritional therapy, which is important when so many people are becoming intolerant to so much of the food we eat, such as wheat or gluten generally and the additives and colourings used by food manufacturers. IBS and coeliac disease appear to be on the increase, so we need to find out what we can do to regulate our diets and eat more healthily. Other therapies, Reiki for example is only one of many 'touch' therapies available and Shiatsu, Bowen, Feldenkrais, Rosen and Rolfing are types of massage from dozens in existence that are popular today. But perhaps they are a subject for a different book.


To order a copy you can call 01733 898103 or email sales@n2kbooks.com. To see the full range, visit the website on http://www.need2knowbooks.co.uk/ Antonia's website is http://www.antoniachitty.co.uk/ and Victoria's is http://www.vadconsultancy.co.uk/

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Zafon's first novel for young readers

The Prince of Mist

Shadow of the Wind author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon launched his writing career in 1992 with a novel for young readers. The Prince of Mist has been translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves and it's a young person's twist to selling one's soul to the devil and reaping the consequences.

Books for young adults

Zafon's first four novels were aimed at young adults and in an attempt to reach readers of all ages - 'storytelling transcends age limitations' - Phoenix Paperbacks have produced this edition. It is basically a young reader's book all the same and, having enjoyed Shadow of the Wind so much, I'd mistakenly bought it as Waterstones displayed it among the latest adult releases. If you don't care for books about magic, ghosts and teenage adventures, then beware that you don't make the same mistake.

It's an easy read that can be read in one sitting and it concerns the adventures of three teenagers. A fourth lands in hospital in a coma quite early on and plays no further part in the story, which made me wonder why she'd been included in the first place other than to get the parents out of the way. While they're at the hospital, 13-year-old Max Carver and his 15-year-old sister Alicia become friends with the lighthousekeeper's grandson, Roland whose gramps has a creepy story to tell. But can they believe him?

Creepy clown

The Carvers have moved to the coast where their father reckons they'll be safer as it's 1943. Nothing could be further from the truth as Max begins to have odd dreams and stumbles on a walled garden containing statues of a circus troupe, a sinister stone clown and a star engraving, which pops up in various situations he encounters later on. The lighthousekeeper tells them about Cain, the wicked magician who is seeking his revenge and I couldn't help but think how much more vibrant these passages would have been if they'd been shown actually happening.

An exciting read

I didn't find it scary as other reviewers say they did but then I'm a cynical old bat who spends her working life appraising other people's writing and can't get out of the habit of suggesting areas for improvement. However, it was an exciting read and I didn't have too much trouble whizzing through its pages, even though I haven't been a teenager for a very long time.

You can learn more about Carlos Ruiz Zafon's writing on his website: http://www.carlosruizzafon.co.uk/
His next book in the young readers series, The Midnight Palace will be released on 2 June 2011 and it's set in Calcutta in the 1930s.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Madame Proust and the Kosher Kitchen

I borrowed this book from the local library in an effort to support the service, along with Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna, which I gave up on quite early. The librarian said her husband said it all came together towards the end. Unfortunately I didn't get that far and if a book doesn't hook me at the beginning, I'll never know how great it turned out to be.

Three-tiered plot

I persevered with Madame Proust's 1890s unpublished diary and learnt a lot about son Marcel in the process - her smothering love for him and his repressed homosexuality, his asthma attacks, (the physical reaction to his repression no doubt) and the louche lifestyle to which he was attracted. Author Kate Taylor recreates the times well through narrator Marie Prevost, who lives in Canada and carries out her research in Paris. But I found the backtracking and timeline switches hard to follow and became confused with the various characters in a three-tiered plot that didn't work. The constant time changes prevented the plot from moving forwards and this interfered with the flow for me.

Meanwhile, Sarah Bensimon, who lives in Toronto with foster parents, returns to her birth family's apartment in Paris after the war to search for them. People are reluctant to talk but she finds a witness to their murder in Auschwitz. In Toronto, she develops an ultra kosher kitchen and cooks kosher versions of French cuisine. I couldn't figure out what this had to do with the story although the title is ambiguous as it implies that Madame Proust  kept a kosher kitchen. She was also Jewish though, which makes Marcel so and Sarah's son Max, like Marcel, is stringing along an adoring young woman called Marie. Both Maries are thwarted when they learn the truth. I'm not sure why the men needed to be Jewish as the story would have stood as well had they been Catholic or Hindu but I was hoping to learn more about the French collaboration to transport their Jewish population to Drancy, transit camp to Auschwitz during the war and this wasn't forthcoming.

I'm not sure what the kosher kitchen had to do with anything or other authorial discussions about language for example or the Dreyfus affair. I think it was about different types of love - unrequited, motherly and gay. However, it was well written and researched and I enjoyed the author's take on Madame Proust's unpublished letters.

Madame Proust and the Kosher Kitchen is by Kate Taylor and published by Chatto & Windus, 2003.