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Just what’s around that next corner? It’s behind you… book review of ‘Wild Guesses and Dreams’ by Rick Hoegberg.

In the years Before Covid, Before the Credit Crunch and even before Punk, there was the summer of 1973: the time when we young boys would skive off PE lessons, be oblivious to girls and the state of the nation and muse: what lies beyond Watford?

Fast forward through the next 50 years and whilst the names and faces, the times and places may differ from continent to continent and from generation to generation, what binds us all, wherever we are in our world, are the big existential questions we all face as we grow up: who am I? Where am I from? Where am I going?  What does my future hold?  What’s just around that corner?

Rick Hoegberg’s book, Wild Guesses and Dreams is set within the comforting rural and fading industrial landscapes of the British Canal system of the early 1970s.  It charts the unsteady courses that Rick and his chums navigate to answer these questions which they do by building a small cabin cruiser, Zehranadilla, and then setting out on various intrepid adventures, ostensibly to ask, what lies beyond Watford? 

Hoegberg retells many charming and alarming incidents from the voyages of Zehranadilla, and deftly paints what life was like in the not so fast lane for the lads and lasses in those halcyon 70s days when the oil crisis and national strikes were just whispers in the wind, to be given no more consideration than the question of where the next beer was coming from. 

But more than just a youthful travelogue revolving around copious underage drinking, nautical mechanical challenges and fending off hostile swans, the book also explores in its own wistful way how friendships grow and fade and how young people can develop agency and begin to control their own destiny in a world which is so easily disrupted by adults: whether they be well meaning parents, obsessively disciplinarian teachers or canal workers intent on doing no more, no less than their jobs are worth.

By now, we young people of Hoegberg’s generation are reaching the age – if we’ve survived – where we’re asking ourselves, what did we do with our time then? Did it enable us to find out who we were, where we were going and what was just around our corners? Or did we let those moments slip by, ignorant to the opportunities that life presented to us sometimes from the most unexpected directions?

A deceptively innocent exploration of the questions Hoegberg and his school chums asked of themselves in those BC times, Wild Guesses and Dreams prompts us all to understand our pasts better to ensure the young people we see growing up before us are better able to answer those questions for themselves. 

Our BC Years are soon turning into their LWC (Living with Covid) Years and they will all need all the help they can get to prepare for what’s behind them, in front of them and around those increasingly threatening corners.

Wild Guesses and Dreams is available on Amazon here.

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This Courting Life: how to deal with the ‘L’ word

My next book, dear reader, builds on the stellar success of my first publication.

Where my first volume gave you invaluable instructions on how to win at Dumbledon, develop a personality and lead your local club to previously unimaginable heights, my second volume in what is shaping up to be a truly encyclopaedic compendium of skills, insights and wisdom from the outer reaches of the tennis universe, focuses on the even harder challenge: the second grand slam.

It also offers some seriously sought after advice  on perhaps the most elusive of all holy grails: the mysteries of the heart.

Philosophers have mused lyrical, musicians have waxed musically and scientists continue to try in vain to define the phenomenon of that thing that beats erratically under our Fred Perry singlets with their data, spreadsheets and formulae about the mysteries of the L word, but it is fair to say that none have come close to the experiences of the ageing tennis player.

There may be musical scientific philosophers who have applied the might of their unique knowledge to the L question but I am oblivious to them.

There is nothing quite like hearing about the experiences of the ageing tennis player when it comes to the L word and this book, dear reader, is guaranteed to transform your life (for the better) when it comes to assessing your prospects in the L department.

So, let’s continue our journey together with the immortal and prescient ‘Love All’.

Next stop: Melbourne!

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The Courting Lives of an Ageing Tennis Player: meet the creative team

“Tennis belongs to the individualistic past – a hero, or at most a pair of friends or lovers, against the world.”  (Jacques Barzun)

What we’re raising funds for

Having successfully published our first book, Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player in 2021, we are now following this up with the book’s sequel, The Courting Lives of an Ageing Tennis Player,  which follows the trials and tribulations, the dreams and delusions of the central character, Lord Andrew John Paul George Ringo Murray of Kirkintilloch.

We’re building on the successful creative collaboration with our illustrator, Paul Warren, and further develop our audiences and readers and build a series of ‘Confessions’ books which simultaneously entertain and provoke audiences across the world.

One day, we’d like to see the books cross over to film or television: and we’d love it if you were part of that journey!

But we need financial support to turn our text and images into a professionally designed and produced high quality, full colour paperback book, utilising the services of our designers, Creative Triangle and their printing team.  Financial support will also enable us to promote the book to existing and new audiences and help catapault the books into an exciting new future!

If you’d like to invest in the project, please visit our Kickstarter crowdfunding page here.

There are plenty of rewards available, whether you want to invest just a fiver or push the boat out and name the launch of the book after yourself or your loved ones!

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The Courting Lives of an Ageing Tennis Player: launching on 1 February 2022

We’re delighted to let you know that the creative team that bought you Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player will be launching the sequel on 1 February!

Get ready for The Courting Lives of an Ageing Tennis Player!

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Court Life: Last Plane to Transcentral!

I awoke with a start. My flight to Melbourne was finally being called and the assembled herd of tennis goats who had been kicking around impatiently in the waiting lounge finally stirred their stumps and joined a ramshackle queue, nudging, snorting and shuffling their way forward, keen to get on the plane before anyone else.  Even off court, they could not resist the competitive urge to be first on board, first in their seats and first to order their free inflight Pimms.

“Let’s face it, nothing can substitute for just plain hard work. I had to put in the time to get back. And it was a grind,” complained Andre Agassi to Billie Jean King.  She nodded, sympathetically, kicking her tennis bag along the floor as the queue slowly shuffled forwards.

(More here…)

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Court Life: one trial, many tribulations

Continued from Court Life: the best of enemies, the best of friends?

May it please your Lordship. Gentlemen of the Jury, it is my duty, which I am called upon to discharge with more pain than I have ever executed any professional duty in the course of my experience, to explain to you the facts, and to explain to you the law by which a capital offence is to be imputed to the prisoner at the bar.

Gentlemen, undoubtedly when any body contemplates such a wretch as that is, of so tender years, and recollects that he stands at this moment, one may certainly state on the brink of eternity, to be rescued from inevitable ruin only by your verdict; the sensation of such a person must be undoubtedly very painful.

Read more here…

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Court Life: the best of enemies, the best of friends?

Continued from Court Life: it’s No Vacc for Novak!

Noli’s disingenuous claim that somehow our long-standing animosity could be interpreted as amiability grated all the way to the airport.  Ever since we had encountered each other across the net of Wimbledon’s Centre Court all those months ago, he had never fully come to terms with how his game fell apart on that fateful Sunday afternoon in sunny SW19.   He had been up by a set and a break but then it all unravelled.

“Terrible. I feel terrible.” He was heard gasping as he stumbled off court whilst I basked in the affection of the world’s press and its pooches.

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Court Life: it’s No Vacc for Novak!

Continued from Court Life: 100 Days

I am used to waiting.  I have waited a lot in the years leading up to my inauguration as Chairman of the club so am no stranger to the waiting game.  But after five hours of being perched on my head honcho cushion, without seeing a tremble of my tepee curtain became, as you can imagine, dear reader, a tad irksome.

Where are my people and why are they are taking so long? I muttered to myself as I perambulated around an ever decreasing circle on the floor of my teepee.  Do they not realise who has called them?  Do they not realise who I am?  Do they not know what is at stake?

Just at the moment I had come to the centre of my tepee with no-where else to perambulate, my mobile phone rang.  At last I thought, they have finally seen sense and are going to ingratiate themselves with their grovelling apologies.

“Hello!”  I snapped. “What’s taking you?  We have a lot of business ahead of us!  Setting up a a brand new regime doesn’t happen just by itself you know.”

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Court Life: the first 100 days

It is often quoted that it is in the first 100 days of a new regime when the newly appointed leader in charge has the narrowest of opportunities to prove themselves, set their stalls out and start laying down the law.

100 Days? 

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Advice from the NOP Werkshop: how to start a novel by Gianna Schorno

Gianna Schorno was born and raised in Zurich, Switzerland. Her origin is Italian among others, and she has always been a bit of a nomad. She decided at a very early age to explore the globe.

Her knowledge of various languages and her keen interest in getting to know different cultures took her on many travels around the world. She has also lived in various countries, including Canada, Turkey, Ecuador and Peru. She currently lives in the UK.

In this blog, she very generously shares her insights on what it takes to write your first novel. We hope you find her advice of interest!

Firstly, if you are multilingual/bilingual, choose which language you are planning to write in. Which language do you feel most comfortable in? This might not be your mother tongue, but another language. (The novel can be translated later through a publisher).

Step two I would consider the most important. It is basically like writing an essay at school. If you already know what topic or perhaps life experience you want to write about, you think of a plot. That’s the most important step as this is your basic storyline, what should grip your readers. Then you divide it into 3 main sections: introduction, main story, and conclusion (this can be a short chapter like an Epilogue). This will be your structure.

Once you have established that, you’ll think of the characters you want to create for your story. If you write about real events or your own life story, it’s a little easier. If you create a story from scratch, think about what personality your characters you create should have. You can base that on real people or a combination of people you know. It’s also good to have a “goodie” and a “badie” in the story, so that good and bad is represented. If you set your story during a historical event, it’s important that you get the facts correct. Meaning, that real events have the correct dates and it’s set in the respective country and area. With regards to the chapters, you can worry about that later. You don’t have to name them, you can just name them as Chapter 1, etc. for the time being.

With regards to a title for your story, you can decide that later, or it could happen that it will come to you during the writing.

So, once you have written the plot and you are happy with how the story should flow, you have created your characters and you have made your research, if necessary, you are all set and you can get started!

If you decide to write a comedy story, then I would consider it best to use one’s own experiences from for instance the school days, childhood days, maybe between siblings, so-called embarrassing but funny events from the past, or just general normal life experiences or travels, evenings out, etc. and tie them together. Look at comedians such as Micky Flanagan, Peter Kay, Billy Connolly and get an idea of what they have used and how they went about telling them.

Good luck!

Gianna has published several novels, available from various sources:

Amazon

Austin Macauley Publishers

Barnes and Noble

Blackwells

Dymocks

Foyles

Tredition

Waterstones

WH Smiths