October 25, 2014




The organisations BBFC and the NICAM, among others, watch movies and award an age rating to each of them in order to protect viewers from unsuitable and harmful content. It gives the audience an indication of what to expect.



I have accepted these colourful warnings as much as I’ve come to accept the counting of calories and allergy warnings on food packages. They give me the heads up what I’m about to eat, and it is up to me to act upon them. Film ratings receive just as much attention, only when I’m in doubt do I pay attention to them. And that only happens when I find the film description too ambiguous and the genre ranks on my can-go-either-way list.



It was the article Trigger Warnings that made me consider this whole rating issue. In short, it comes down to awarding trigger warnings to basically all kinds of information that might have a negative effect on the receiver. The example used is about a book that inspired its reader to behave like the character.

Films have inspired people to act accordingly, certain books (either with or without the capital B) have influenced the readers. But somehow it never occurred to me that novels might be considered harmful, offensive or suggestive.

There are of course genres that inform readers what kind of book they are about to read, or not, in case it’s not their cup of tea. However, readers aren’t warned about the content. There are no colourful signs on the cover to warn the unaware reader about the shocking use of language – like in Kelman’s How late it was, how late – nor are they warned about the use of drugs, like in Welsh’s Trainspotting.


Open application

Are books in need of a rating system? Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary.  But, in case it’s decided otherwise, I hereby offer my services to read books and rate them accordingly. I don’t mind making a living out of that at all.





October 14, 2014

Literary Essay Submissions

Cecile’s Writers Magazine now accepts Literary Essay submissions. That’s right, from the father of the literary essay – Michael de Montaigne – to pioneers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walter Benjamin, or even more contemporary essayists like Susan Sontag and Elif Batuman, we here at Cecile’s Writers wish to offer this form of writing a home on our platform.

So please have a look at our submission guidelines and send us those essays on the topics that have intrigued you. Let us join in on your curiosity and share in your beautiful writing.

CW Team

October 10, 2014


‘A nice book’ is my answer to requests for a present on the traditional Dutch Sinterklaas feast, Christmas and birthdays.  The good thing is that all three events take place within two months.  So the number of books on our shelves usually rise between December and January, and should be rather stationary throughout the rest of the year.  In other words, the growth of books ought to be rather limited.

Rather limited.  Hm… I’m just not sure yet in what universe that would apply to me.  Not this one, that’s certain!

Besides the festivities in December and my birthday in January, there are the monthly visits to the bookshop (I do try to keep myself in check) and the book fairs that take place far more often and closer to home than is good for me.  Oh did I mention the couple of weeks before we go on holiday as well?  That’s the official period when my husband and I can go all out on buying books.  After all, one has got to read something during the holidays.

So the number of books increases.

And I like it.

A lot.

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October 4, 2014

A Life of Their Own

There used to be a time that all my books fitted into one bookcase.

And that single bookcase was not even filled merely with books; there were folders filling up the bottom shelf; a collection of archaeology for kids’ magazines; my collection of cat figurines and on the top shelve stood a dark blue box with a silver mirror, brush and comb.  It all started very innocently, even when the process was fully ongoing I was blind to it.  The perfect take over.

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September 13, 2014

Hopes and Impediments by Chinua Achebe

Hopes and ImpedimentsWhere does one begin with the mesmerizing writings of Achebe?  Perhaps with his magical formula:

Simple English + Intellectual Insight + Close Analysis = Beautiful Writing

I think this sums him up, not only of this essay collection, but of his fiction as well.  The 14 essays that make up Hopes and Impediments are primarily from reviews first published in well-known literary magazines or lectures given at universities.  The style is so accessible that even at 170 pages, the book is a quick read.  It would be an added bonus to be interested in African literature or on any of the authors discussed in the reviews, but this is in no way a prerequisite.

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August 23, 2014

Flexible Instruments: Writing in Different Genres

About our guest blogger:

Joe L. Murr has lived on every continent except Antarctica.  He now divides his time between the Netherlands and Finland.  His stories have been published in magazines such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Chizine, Noir Nation and here at Cecile’s Writers, and are forthcoming in Helsinki Noir (Akashic Books) and The Summer of Lovecraft (Chaosium).  For more stories and ruminations, visit www.joelmurrauthor.com

Flexible Instruments: Writing in Different Genres

Every act of definition means imposing limitations.

Case in point: consider “genre fiction.”  Take a moment.  Define it.

All done?

Now define “literary fiction.”

Okay.  Keep those definitions in mind.  Let’s roll.

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August 9, 2014

Killing off Suspense

how-not-to-write-a-novel1There are some books that you hear a lot of people talk about, but you never get around to reading them until years later.  One of those books for me was How Not to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark. Whenever I got together with a group of writers, this book would always pop up in conversation.  I quietly listened while they said things like: Continue reading

July 26, 2014

Applying Dutch Grammar to English Words

A few months ago, I wrote about my son’s First (Bilingual) Words. Right now, he combines words to make (very short) sentences, and with sentences come verbs. I’ve noticed that he is already applying Dutch grammar to English verbs.

In Dutch, many verbs (in simple form) end in –en, especially the words in my son’s vocabulary: spelen (play), eten (eat), vasthouden (hold), dragen (carry). He now applies the Dutch –en to English verbs; I hear him say things like “I go playen” and “I not liken”.

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