Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Hi there,

It is blissfully cool today as the weather normalises after the intense heatwave we had last week. In our garden, the mercury hit 41.4C in the sun and 37C in the shade. At one point, our bedroom was 34C, and pretty much all we could do was lie there and sweat.

Never have I been so glad for a chilly grey day in the middle of the British summer.

Suw’s News: And the winner is…

Last week, I asked you (and folk on my Twitter) to choose a perk and you chose very clearly indeed, with 68 percent selecting my parallel worlds short story, The Gates of Balawat.

All I need to do is prepare the ebook and it’ll be ready to go. I’ll do that as soon as I can, but there may be a bit of delay as, very excitingly, all our belongings are scheduled to arrive this week. I expect there’ll be a bit of chaos as we try to fit the contents of a four bedroom American house with a giant basement into a three bedroom British semi with a tiny loft. I suspect some storage might be required.

Read this: The Passion Economy

I recently spent a weekend reading The Passion Economy by Adam Davidson, on the recommendation of my friend and fellow Ada Lovelace enthusiast, Valerie Aurora. I initially borrowed the ebook from my library, but after the first chapter I knew I had to buy it outright.

The Passion Economy helps small business owners develop a strategy for growth that focuses on finding and serving a small, high-value niche. It’s a fantastic book and it’s make me rethink everything, from the work I’m doing for Ada Lovelace Day to this newsletter and whatever comes next.

Davidson draws a clear distinction between passion businesses and commodity businesses – the latter being those businesses that compete on price and survive through high volume sales. Unfortunately, I think a lot of authors allow themselves to stray into commodity territory: their books become fungible, interchangeable with any other book in the same genre. The key, according to Davidson, is to create a small but passionate market and superserve them. It’s a very similar outlook to the 1,000 True Fans theory that I talked about in Issue 09.

If you’re even vaguely entrepreneurial, this book is essential reading. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Stop, look, listen: London Writers’ Salon, Ep 17 – Natalie Lue

Natalie LueI enjoyed this conversation with Natalie Lue, author of the Baggage Reclaim blog. Lue started her blog in 2005 and has since spun off a podcast, three books, online courses and an audio series. It was fascinating to hear how she has developed her business and some of the challenges she’s faced along the way, including how she deals with her inner critic.

There are a lot of lessons to learn from Lue, particularly in terms of how she’s diversified her products to move into new content delivery niches such as podcasts and courses. This sort of thing is, of course, easier to do if you’re in the non-fiction arena, but it would be an interesting thought experiment to do for fiction too. What else can your content do for you?

Read this, too: Past Lives of the Paragraph

It had never occurred to me that the humble paragraph could have a history, let alone an interesting one. So I started this 20-minute read, Past Lives of the Paragraph, with some degree of skepticism, only to be utterly drawn in and then surprised: The paragraph as it is taught, in American schools at least, is only 130 years old. Indeed, the ancient Greeks didn’t even bother with spaces between words, let alone using line breaks to separate conceptual units of text.

But this history isn’t just interesting, it’s full of insights into how we can improve our writing style. It’s helpful to pay attention to how paragraphs begin, develop and end, even if you don’t subscribe to the idea of paragraph requiring a ‘topic sentence’ followed by supporting and then concluding sentences. I was never taught that at school and I don’t think that way, but I do consider carefully what belongs in one paragraph and what should perhaps go in the next or the previous paragraph.

Paragraphs are not just about grouping sentences that explore like ideas, they are also about emphasis and pacing.

Shorter paragraphs, like shorter sentences, create a sense of speed and urgency, even rudeness. Longer ones create a more thoughtful, sometimes even ponderous feeling. But all paragraphs need to feel complete, and to end on a note that satisfies.

Subscribe: Refind

I discovered the previous article on Refind, which will send you an email of interesting links based on your preferences. Apparently it learns from what you click on or give a thumbs up to, so it should improve its suggestions as I go. I’ve only been using it a few days but it’s already got a pretty high hit rate.

If you want to try it out, feel free to use my invitation link.

It me

Lifted from Ironclad Creative on Twitter and featuring filmmaker Taika Waititi.

I’ve never felt so seen.

Obligatory cat photo

Grabbity and Copurrnicus lie sleeping, their heads touching.When we first adopted Copurrnicus, we had no idea that he was a feral kitten. We learnt that the hard way, not least through his habit of interacting with the entire world through the process of biting it.

He and Grabbity have not always got on well and I have had to do a lot of relationship counselling over the last three and a half years. By last autumn, I thought we were pretty much sorted, but their relationship deteriorated badly whilst we were away for Christmas. In March, I was seriously considering rehoming Copurrnicus, because he was bullying Grabbity so badly. The idea of not bringing him with us to the UK just broke my heart and many tears were shed before I vowed to keep fighting for him.

We managed to resolve their problemsin April (or they resolved spontaneously, it’s hard to say), and the move itself has actually brought them closer. Here they are, asleep, heads touching – something I frankly never thought I’d see. Copurrnicus was the one who initiated this. Grabbity was already asleep when he came over and snuggled up next to her. Awww!

Well, that’s it for this week! I hope that, no matter where you are, you’re enjoying some reasonable weather!

All the best,


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