The dangers of dialogue, tags that is.

So I have been doing quite a bit of critiquing lately, I actually really love it, too much perhaps. What I particularly enjoy about it is the benefit for my own writing, I have learnt almost as much reviewing others work as I have writing my own.

One of the things that really stands out for me as a problem area is dialogue, I have already written one post about it  this time it’s not the actual dialogue itself but the words that attach themselves to it in some cases inextricably that are causing no small amount of irritation.

The, she said, he joked, she flirted. STOP! When I read I want to be there – unless it’s something particularly scary, then I might want to just be nearby – I do not want to be in a TV style live audience. What is she talking about I hear you cry. Well when I am avidly reading through you well constructed prose I find it very disturbing when some one jumps up out of nowhere holding up a sign saying LAUGH. Which is exactly what the dialogue tag, he joked, says. We do not have a little man in real life interpreting people’s mannerisms, tone and body language and telling us what it means, we do it ourselves, so why do we feel compelled to do it in our writing. Have faith in your readers they were intelligent enough to pick up your writing!

Dialogue tags



Book reviewing the middle ground…

If you haven’t got anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. (Thumper’s mummy, Bambi)

This old saying is tattooed across my brain, but when it comes to book reviews things get tricky, I want to tell the truth but I don’t really want to harshly criticise someone’s hard work.  If you read a lot of reviews its clear that most people only write reviews about books they feel passionate about (not a bad thing), they either loved them and want to shout it from the roof tops or  they hated them and want to thoroughly chastise the author, the publisher or anyone remotely involved with said novels production, even the cat that may have strolled across the laptop at some point is not spared castigation (true story, I read that in a review somewhere). I just can’t do that, no matter what, the author spent hours months probably even years writing that book, and for that alone they should be applauded.

Try not to tread on toes today that may be connected to the ass you may have to kiss tomorrow (Mr Wood-ism).

On top of this moral pressure only to say nice things, is the concern that as an aspiring author I don’t really want to upset anyone who may otherwise have been there to help me in the future. People are ultimately going to find it hard to be objective about your work if you reviewed theirs and said they had the literary talent of a woodlouse, however true that may be. Ah, but shouldn’t people know if they have less talent than a light shy invertebrate, well yes, maybe, but as most of these people have been picked up by an agent had their book sold to a publisher, reviewed in multiple edit runs, beta readers, so on and so forth perhaps discretion is the better part of valour! 

So what’s prompted this moral examination of book reviews, well I read a book, unsurprisingly enough, and I liked it. So? I hear you cry, I liked the book it was okay but I LOVED the premise, I even liked the story but for me the execution wasn’t there, it just fell a little flat. The characters didn’t behave as you’d expect, the writing was a little stagnant holding me back from the story and stopping me from really getting on board with the characters. The whole thing was unique but it just didn’t deliver and it made me cross, frustrated that this book wasn’t as good as I’d wanted it to be, fur coat and no knickers spring to mind, all bark and no bite, you get the idea.  I wanted to rant and rave and give it a miserable review, but I will read what she writes next, I want other people to read it as well, I want to read her stories, I just want them to be better. So what do I put in a review, after some reflection I decided I needed to wander into that relatively barren land of the three stars, the must try harder zone.  So I am firmly pitching my tent in the middle ground, I am going to make the effort to write more reviews of the books I didn’t love or hate, hurrah for the three stars!

Hurrah for three stars

Bozo – Living up to a name.

My earliest memory of Boz (as he was affectionately known), was when we went to see him at the farm, I remember crying all the way home cause I didn’t want him I wanted the black one instead. As it turned out he was the best dog a family could ever wish for.

My second memory of him is of my mum running through the living room holding him out in front of her leaving a trail of poo behind her, early training was a challenge. Next was teething and terrorised toes ensued. He grew into the most enormous yellow Labrador I have ever seen, though he never really grew up. He ate anything and everything, if he got upstairs he could merrily spend an afternoon devouring everything from corn dollies to water games, shoes were fair game, as was the bamboo furniture, the handles on the kitchen units, he even had a go at eating his way through the kitchen wall.

He never got the hang of fetch but we loved him, even when he sat on your knee till your legs went numb. Walks were never dull, recall was hit and miss and he had an embarrassing tendency to pitch invade the local football teams mid match and steal the ball. He was equally despised by the local fishermen as he leapt off the jetty into the water, top bombing!

I remember playing football in the park, the ball on the floor as I prepared to kick it through the goal, Bozo came running up behind me at full crack heading for the ball, I can still see my feet in front of my face as I seemed to hang horizontally in mid air before crashing back to earth with a bump, ouch!

Sadly the old saying live fast die young applied to Bozo, he died of cancer aged seven, we were all devastated, but he’s never been forgotten. Not even by the neighbours son who he dragged clear across a field on his stomach because my dad had said, “yes you can hold the lead just don’t let go”. I now have three little boys of my own and a chocolate lab called Holly who is blessedly better behaved than Bozo was, but he was one in a million and totally irreplaceable.

IMG_1339 Holly, and some un-terrorized baby toes.


This post is an entry into the Tots100/Swell UK competition.

Disposable technology?

Today my iPhone has failed me, the little circle button has ceased to operate, navigation is no longer an option. In my despair I contacted my phone operator via their online chat and was told to take it to an O2 store. With littlies in tow I did exactly that, to be informed it would cost me to repair or replace as it’s out of warranty. A conundrum indeed, time left on the contract, but no functioning phone. This is the second phone I’ve had on this contract the first went faulty and had to be replaced.

So I’ve been having a bad run with technology of late, my Kindle has also passed on, and that was my second one as well. In fact, I have gone through a Kindle every 12 months. Amazon won’t replace the second broken one as the first one was a replacement just out of warranty. I don’t really want to buy another one either if they are going to be costing me £150+ a year just for the unit. I can buy a lot of paper books for £150!

This got me thinking. How long is this stuff meant to last? 12 months, 2 years? If this technology I am buying is disposable I’d like to know, as quite frankly I won’t bother. Has anyone else had similar problems or do I omit some weird technology frying electromagnetic wave?


The Big Huahuqui / Huaquero Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of Huaquero Gareth Worthington is holding a giveaway prises in clude a limited addition V doll, believe me you want one it is too cute. So head over to and get entering.

Happy Holidays – Hidden Talents?

I have just crash landed back to our suburban shoe box after a glorious weeks holiday down in Cornwall. The sun shone the children went feral and I discovered a new talent…..  So for those of us now suffering the post holiday blues I thought I’d share some pictures and we can all be miserable together. But these raise some interesting questions…

Day 1: Sand crocodile at Treyarnon Bay – best sculpting sand by far!


Day Two : Mermaid at Trevose Bay


Day Three: Turtle and a dragon at Harlyn Bay lovely beach rubbish sculpting sand


Day Four: Baby Elephant at Trevose Bay


So what is the point of all this shameless blowing of my own trumpet, well simply, I had no idea I could do this!  So this got me thinking, what other talents are we capable of that we just haven’t discovered yet? Maybe if I had spent more time on the beach when I was younger I would have turned out to be a famous sculptor.  What if Tiger Woods never had a golf lesson? What if  Slash had never had a guitar lesson? So is finding out talents luck? Should we be actively hunting them down? Either way, in essence, get out there and try  something new you never know where your talents may lie, unlike me yours might be in something incredibly useful!


Huaquero by Gareth Worthington: 5 Stars


Just as you thought you could catch your breath after finishing the first book Huahuqui, the sequel, arrives and throws you right back into the action. I was really looking forward to this book and I was certainly not disappointed. The pacing is just as fast as the first book, this author once again showing his flair for mixing fact and fiction seamlessly. But, where this book surpasses the first is in the depth of the characters. We really get to see more of their personalities what makes them tick and some of the events that made them who they are. Even more impressive is the way Worthington has weaved this information into the story without detracting from the pace. I had mixed feelings about the ending (keep a tissue handy), you’ll know what I mean when you get there, but it absolutely fit the characters and I love an author who stays true to their characters.
I thought this was going to be the end of the story but fear not I have it on good authority (Gareth himself) that the third book (Huaca) is on its way and after reading the epilogue it sounds like a must read, dark and intriguing. I would highly recommend both books, especially if you’re looking for short punchy holiday reads, make sure you put on the sun cream before you start, because you won’t be able to put them down!

Huahuqui by Gareth Worthington 4 Stars



Well what can I say this is a whole lot of story in not a lot of book, this debut novella is jam packed full of action, intrigue, conspiracy, a pinch of potential romance in the offing, and if that isn’t enough a man sized salamander (not as weird as it sounds). The breakneck pacing keeps you hooked, whisks you through the story, neatly weaving together the different threads to a satisfying if somewhat open conclusion. So why not 5 stars, well it’s pretty simple although the story is thoroughly absorbing the fast pace didn’t leave a lot of time to get to know the main character / characters, this was accentuated by it being a novella but (there is always a but) there is enough good character development to make me care what happened to them and want to know what happens next. Thank fully you won’t have to wait long as the second book Huaquero is out now!

In summary this is a solid 4 star novella but probably could have been a 5 star novel! Would I recommend it? Absolutely, there is some major potential in this new author, Huahuqui would certainly make an awesome movie and is well worth the time spent reading it!

ISBN: 0957252900


Resonance by J A Belfield


After finishing Blue Moon I was desperate to read Resonance, so imagine my elation when an E-Arc arrived in my inbox! I promptly devoured this delectable little novella. The story continues on where Blue Moon left off, with, Josh trapped in the sleep of the dead despite the best efforts of Jess and the pack. Revelations abound despite the books diminutive status, family history is clarified, a whole new plane of existence is introduced and a sneak peek of what’s to come is scattered throughout. My only minor gripe is, the pace has been so quick (all the books) that we haven’t really seen Jem reflect much on her situation. How she’s gone from the meek abused wife to strong astral projecting werewolf, killing at will with little remorse. There are big changes afoot for Jem so maybe we will see more of that then. This series is one of my favourites, and I can’t wait for the release of Ethan’s book Caged, I am absolutely positive it will be well worth the wait!

Some things are better left unsaid……..

Writing natural dialogue can be difficult, which, is weird when you think about it as most of us spend a considerable amount if time talking. Depending on which study you read we actually use in the region of 15000 words per day, women a few more, men a few less, but either way that’s a whole lot of chatter. So with all this practice we should be experts right?

Apparently not, but we aren’t alone, even the “experts” get it wrong.  Recently I was watching Arrow, I saw the trailer, all dark and mysterious hunky guy, bow and arrow, comic book type excitement. Woot! I thought, I am going to love it. After a couple of episodes despite still loving the premise the dialogue was killing it for me.

A great example being when our rich hero, pays for an injured guy on death’s door to go to a better hospital. He then meets the guys wife as she’s getting into the ambulance, she launches into a monologue of, “Why thank you for transferring my husband from Mercy general hospital to the critical care ward of Starlight city private hospital, where they have the most advanced medical care and well-respected surgeons” ( I may have paraphrased a little, but you get the idea).  Okay so, I see the writers were trying to point out what a grand gesture it was, but really? No one talks like that, especially someone supposedly terrified by the potential loss of a loved one. Perhaps a sincere, “thank you” would have sufficed, some things are definitely better left unsaid.

For those of you who are still struggling, take heart, it’s not necessarily what you say but how you say it. 93% of any message is conveyed via non verbal means (Dr. Albert Mehrabian, Silent Messages). So break out and liberally apply those action tags people and show me what your characters are saying.

Piechart communication

Previous Older Entries

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.