About Me

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I am an aspiring writer living and working in Hull. I working on a novel, as well as writing short stories to keep my writing skills fresh. I decided to start a writing blog to connect with other writers. So please, take a look around and leave some comments - I'd love to read some of your writing blogs too. Nari X

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Bag Books: Beyond Paper and Words

Our experience of reading is quite straightforward - we go into a bookshop or library, buy or borrow a book, find a comfortable chair and immerse ourselves in the world created by the words.

However, for many people, this experience is not easy or straightforward. For people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, the words read from a book alone mean little. For some, even the pictures hold no interest. So, should we write off books as an experience some of our fellows just can't have?

'The Captain's Hat'
I was made aware of a charity called Bag Books through an appeal on radio 4 back in May. Bag Books have a team of people creating a different kind of storybook for those who cannot enjoy a traditional book. The books themselves are unbound large pieces of card, each page with a different object that represents that part of the story. Specially trained storytellers read each page, whilst involving each person individually with the object. This can mean assisting someone to push a button, feel a texture or produce a sound.

Through this wonderful charity, children and adults with learning disabilities can experience the world of a story in a way that is engaging, fun, and encourages personal development.

The other day, I was reading a story to a client. The book had pictures, which she was quite interested in, though her eyesight hindered her a little. So I encouraged her to feel the textures of the pictures, used different tones to communicate the atmosphere of the story and made some of the sounds in the story. She loved getting involved with the story using her other senses. It's amazing how the way in which you present a story can have such a profound effect on how it is received.

This experience made me realise just how important people like Bag Books are. They provide awareness of the needs of those with learning disabilities whilst also providing for them and bringing alive the story telling world. Visit them at and see for yourself the wonderful work they do.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Foody Friday: Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

This soup is a good winter warmer, and a 'feel-better' soup that will kick the cold right out of you. Sweet potatoes contain beta carotene which is good for the immune system, and red pepper also contains vitamin C, well known for it's antioxidant qualities.

These quantities can be varied according to how much soup you want. I'm a big believer of making soup in bulk, then, once cooled, freezing it in portions for a quick, easy, late-home-from-work meal.  

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

1 Red Pepper, sliced and seeded
1 Medium Sweet Potato, peeled and diced
Half a large onion (or 1 small one), finely chopped
Vegetable stock
Oil to fry
Chilli powder
Black pepper

1. Prepare the vegetables s directed.
2. Heat the oil in a big saucepan and fry the onions for about 3 minutes, then add the pepper. Fry for a further 4-5 minutes.
3. Add the diced potato to the pan and fry just for a couple of minutes while you make up the stock in a jug.
4. Remove the pan from the heat before adding the stock to the pan, to avoid spitting of hot, angry oil, burnt pans and fires. I speak from experience.
5. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a low heat and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent anything sticking to the bottom.
6. When the vegetables are tender, turn off the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes. Blend in a liquidiser until the soup is smoothe.
7. Season with pepper, chilli powder and paprika to taste, depending on how spicy you want it, then blend it again.
8. Transfer back into the saucepan and heat again for a few minutes before serving.
Best served with some nice crusty bread, or brie toast.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Modern Rewrite

How cute is my dragon?

One of the most used exercises in creative writing classes is the modern rewrite - taking a classic story, myth or legend and rewriting it in a modern setting. We were given this as one of our first tasks at University, and I still have the half-written story I came up with. I wrote about Argus, the giant with a hundred eyes, as a modern-day security guard. With this sort of story there is naturally some level of humour in the principal, which I found by giving Argus a short, tubby, ordinary human partner. He offers charisma. And doughnuts.

Of course, there have been several rewrites and modern interpretations of old myths and fairytales in the film world recently; There was Red Riding Hood, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and The Huntsman, and Beastly.

I write about this because I am currently working on my Local Preacher Course unit assignment, which calls for us to write a parable of sorts, reviving the modern message that can be taken from a Bible passage.

We have also previously studied Narrative Sermons, which is one of my particular favourites. You take a story from the Bible, choose one of the characters (the least noticed or thought about the better) and rewrite the whole thing from their perspective. These go down really well in family and evening services.

Anyway, I digress slightly. One of the books on our reading list for Uni was 'the Seven Basic Plots' by Christopher Booker. Now a lot of people were outraged, even offended by the suggestion that most if not all stories written follow one of 7(ish) basic plots. Surely we are more original than that?
But we can't deny that most of our stories have a particular structure to them, and a lot of the tried-and-tested basic plots that work well crop up again and again. Detective novels do it quite shamelessly. 
Because the fact is that so much can be done within the basic structure, and if the basic structure works, why not use it? 
And this, I believe is why many of these classic stories keep rearing their heads - because they work. They capture storytelling at it's best. 

Do we need to keep updating these classic stories? Surely, they are classic for a reason, and work best in the setting in which they were first written. However, kept as they are, many modern-day readers/film watchers would not be able to relate or understand the true meaning or depth of the story. This, of course, is most prominent when talking about modernising parables. We modernise them to introduce the ideas, messages and lessons into the world in which we live, not one we only read about. It brings the story to life for us.

So, what do you think?