Friday, 23 December 2016

Book Review - My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal

My Name Is LeonMy Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished reading this engrossing novel by author, Kit de Waal.

At first I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the language and tone because of the opening lines but the story promised more so I kept going. I became more and more involved in Leon's world as the story progressed.
I loved the casual way in which de Waal increases the intensity of the story until a high point towards the end and lets the reader float gently into a satisfying conclusion.

The lives of each character is cleverly woven into the story and we are never in any doubt about their motives. The characters leap from the page as if they were sat right in front of you. The dialogue was realistic and raised your understanding of the characters - none of it was wasted.

Description of scenes and settings are enhanced by some colourful and sometimes poetic language, setting the perfect atmosphere and breathing life into every episode of Leon's journey.

At times I felt as if I was reading a story that has lived and breathed with this writer for a long time because there is a loving and caring touch between the lines that I found most compelling. It is a story that is likely to live with me a long time, especially since some of the history and culture of the West Indian characters resonate with me.

Kit de Waal is a delightful writer and this is a story I could see on the GCSE English syllabus in time and, hopefully, the first of many from this author. Read it now.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Food of Love - Book Review

The Food of LoveThe Food of Love by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the first title I’d read by Amanda Prowse and the quality of writing would encourage me to read others by her.

The subject matter has been covered several times before so it is always risky to want to write about it again. From reading Prowse’s account of how anorexia infected the lives of one family you would almost believe that she has had personal experience of the illness in some way, which makes the Food Of Love a very compelling read of a well documented topic.

I found the author’s writing style delightful. The beginning goes at a slower pace than the last third but didn’t stop me wanting to keep turning the pages from the start.

The story is told in the third person through Freya (the mother’s) point of view. It encourages a debate in your mind as you read because you are allowed to decide whether you are in agreement with Freya’s decisions or if, as mother, you would handle the situation differently. I like that in a novel. If an author has you questioning a character’s motives then she has a captivated reader and that can only be a good thing.

I didn’t get a very good sense of place or setting throughout. Was I in a town or a village? I was never really sure. And it could be because this was a ‘to be published version’ but I didn’t like that verbs weren’t contracted and a few times I wasn’t convinced that when Lexi spoke (or her sister come to that) that she was a teenager. Her language was a bit wooden and towards the low points of her illness, the language didn’t sound authentic for a girl her age.

I also thought it was a mistake to call a girl with anorexia and dyslexia – Alexia. Weird.

If you can ignore that and you want to indulge in a well written, heartfelt piece of women’s fiction then you couldn’t go far wrong with this book.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Book Review - Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Stay With MeStay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was given this NetGalley copy in return of an honest review.

This has to be one of the best books I've read all year. It's so rare that I give a book five stars but by the end of the book I found myself turning the last page and whispering, 'That's amazing,' so five stars it is.

I was drawn into the intrigue of this book from the very first chapter and as I continued to read I was fooled into thinking that this story was not going to go any further than the married couple, Akin and Yejide's problems trying to conceive a child. But as I kept going I became more and more absorbed by the cultural backdrop and the beautifully articulated prose.

Set in Nigeria between 1985 and 2008, Stay With Me tells the story of a couple who meet in their early twenties, their marriage and the problems they encounter with meddling in-laws when they are unable to have a child. But the book goes deeper than that. We learn so much about what motivates our two main protagonists as Adebayo weaves a set of engaging plot twists played out by fully formed and colourful characters. All the of the supporting roles stand out, you really feel as if you have stepped into the world the author creates.

I like the use of foreign words, the writer doesn't lose you by using them and she doesn't hold back in introducing the reader to what might be different culture to the one we are used to.

The middle and end of the book I found the most gripping so there was a nice build up of intensity there that I really appreciated by the end of the book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction that is true to life, honest, well thought out and thoroughly entertaining. I will look out for more books by this author.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Book Review - Underground Airlines by Ben H Winters

Underground AirlinesUnderground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this fast paced, well written book by Ben H Winters. As the first of his I've read I will certainly be looking into other work by him. The dystopian world he creates in which slavery is still in existence is so skilfully crafted you could almost imagine it to be true. Winters shows great imagination and a flair for imagery, scene setting and character development.
At first I found it a hard novel to get into but that might be because it is not the kind of novel I usually go for. I think if you like crime or thrillers or psychological dramas, then you won't be disappointed in this one.
You might ask, then, why I didn't give this a full five stars. It was simply because I seemed to become aware in shift in the voice of the narrator. I'm not sure if this was intended or just imagined by me, but I wasn't convinced at the start of part two if I was following the exact same protagonist I'd set out with at the start of the novel.
That said, I'm sure this will be a winner with many readers. I recommend it.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The SI Leeds Literary Prize - Shortlisted!

While casually doing a send and receive of my emails, and chatting on the phone, I discovered that I was on the shortlist for the SI Leeds Literary Prize!

Well the conversation I was having fell by the wayside; I was hyperventilating, having trouble with my speech and getting blurred vision. I had to hang up. I read the email over and over - I'd read it right. For the first time ever, I was on a shortlist.

The email came on a Saturday and on the following Monday I was due to join the rest of the other five shortlisted writers for an author Q&A and reading at Rich Mix Cultural Foundation! I was so nervous on the Monday the only meal I had was breakfast and for someone who gets hungry and eats every few hours, that's a big deal.

The other five people on the shortlist were fabulous writers and the work they produced sounded exceptionally good. I'd love to read them all one day.

Writers to watch out for!

This is the shortlist. (The first on the list is about to be published so look out for it!)

Dark Chapter – Winnie Li
Deadly Sacrifice – Stella Akinade – Ahmadou
Marmite and Mango Chutney – Amita Murray
Our Staggering Minds – Harkiran Dhindsa
Recognising Strangers – Jamilah Ahmed
When Skies Are Grey – Fran Clark

Image result for main space rich mix cultural foundation
Our readings and Q&A took place in The Main Space at Rich Mix

The SI Leeds Literary Prize

The SI Leeds Literary Prize is the prize for unpublished fiction by Black and Asian women resident in the UK aged 18 years and over.  Everything about the SI Leeds Literary Prize aims to act as a loudspeaker for Black and Asian women’s voices, enabling fresh and original literary voices from a group disproportionately under-represented in mainstream literary culture to reach new audiences.

We will be at another event at Southbank on 9th October as part of the London Literature Festival  

And the actual 2016 Prize Award Event is at Ilkley Literature Festival on Wednesday 12 October at 7.30pm

Can't wait.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

My #Writing Plans

Writing a novel is hard. Trust me on that. All those weeks and months of writing and re-writing is enough to turn anyone ga-ga. And not necessarily in a good way - because I'm assuming there is such a thing as "good" ga-ga.

So anyway, I'm well on my way with writing projects under my pseudonym but I haven't yet made plans to write my next novel as me quite yet. That might be because the ink hasn't quite dried on When Skies Are Grey and I have yet to start the daunting task of finding an agent or publisher or deciding about self publishing for this one.

But it got me thinking about what goes in to writing a novel and how I need to get my mind going when an idea finally comes.

A Sense of Purpose
I had very definite ideas about what I wanted to say in both Holding Paradise and When Skies Are Grey. They were both set in more or less the same era and I wanted to go down a path in recent history that, although taken many times, gave meaning to the things I learned about those days and stayed with me from childhood.
So in the same way, I need to think about what my goals are for my next book, what I want to achieve, what message I want to put across and how I want my reader to feel after reading my novel.

My Leading Player
For both of my last novels my main protagonist was female. I have to decide if I want to do that again this time. As a woman I assume I will give a female character depth and greater appeal. But having said that I have written in the voice of men too and it is something I could explore to a greater extent. (I'm reading a book in which a white man narrates as a if he were black and I'm totally convinced).
Most importantly my protagonist must have purpose, they must have desires or goals and something about their character must drive them to do the things they do. What will my protagonist learn by the end of the book, if anything, and how will they change? So much to consider.

Plotting a Path
Whatever my story is and whoever my characters, I have to make sure everything hangs together with a good plot. I know I'll need to think up some top notch conflicts for my protagonist and the odd obstacle to prevent them from reaching their goals easily. All of this should bring life to my character and move the story along.

Dear Reader
Most of all I want to make my reader happy. After although we write the books we want to read, we love for others to read and enjoy our book, so I'm going to think hard about my cast of characters; make them jump off the page if I can.

If I can do all that I might just have a good novel up my sleeve and have a fantastic time writing it ... until the re-writes of course!

What's your writing process when writing a novel?

Friday, 19 August 2016

Book Review - The Loving Husband

What they say:

For fans of Apple Tree Yard and The Silent Wife, The Loving Husband draws readers into a marriage where nothing is as it seems...
For better, for worse, to love and to cherish, till death us do part...

Fran Hall and her husband Nathan have moved with their two children to a farmhouse on the edge of the Fens - a chance to get away from London and have a fresh start.

But when Fran wakes one night to find Nathan gone, she makes a devastating discovery. As questions about her husband and her relationships start to mount, Fran's life begins to spiral out of control.

What is she hiding from the police about her marriage, and does she really know the man she shared her bed with?

What I say: 

I just finished reading this novel and decided there were only two reasons I read it to the end. One, because I was given the copy via Net Galley for my honest opinion and two because I wanted to know how the author was going to end what I thought was a convoluted yet annoying plot.

I don't read many thrillers but for me this one was not up there with some I've found really entertaining reading. As I've seen some three to five star reviews for this book out there, I must have to conclude that this one was not for me.

Firstly I felt nothing for the main protagonist, Fran, but annoyance. Fran's reaction to the discovery she makes about her husband in the first few pages didn't ring true and the constant need for the author to refuse to let her complete a sentence until very late in the book made it hard for me to get a sense of who this woman was, what she felt and what made her tick.

As far as supporting characters went, I found some of them cliched in the way they spoke and were described. Some of them I believed but I was not convinced by the character 'whodunnit' at all.

I'm one of these people who sits and watches films and notices when someone has a full cup of tea in one shot and has finished it in the next and by the end of the same scene there was no cup at all. I mention that because on a few occasions there were these little inconsistencies that just added to my annoyance.

To mention some of the bigger things that either didn't ring true or were far fetched would be to add spoilers so I can't say more on those.

Mostly the pace was too slow for me except for the ending which I whizzed through because the intrigue built quite well.

If you choose to read this book, you will enjoy the author's use of POV and time. But beware because Kent sometimes moves from past to present quite rapidly, blink and you'll miss it. I did like that touch as well as the way we saw through Fran and Ali's eyes - neatly done. You will also enjoy the strength behind Kent's ability to describe settings.

But in my honest opinion this is not the best thriller you are likely to read.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Book Review - Behind Closed Doors

What They Say:
 
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

What I Say: 
 
Every now and again I can't resist reading a book that everyone is raving on about and, because the price was down on this one, I thought I'd give it a try. Sadly I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the end, though. I read it quite quickly partly to get it over and done with and because behind the unbelievable and improbable plot lines there was a decent enough story that did have me intrigued.

I did like the writer's style which was easy, well paced and relatively light reading. I did enjoy the fact that the writer kept you guessing. So although you were expecting everything to resolve itself and for the victim to finally escape her fate, you couldn't guarantee that she would.

I liked the characters at first. They seemed to be well rounded but the leading male seemed to have me less and less propelled to believe his charming on the outside but psychopathic on the inside nature and the back story of how he became the way he was seemed an easy option to take and did little to build the tension as I'd heard it all before. Maybe that is unfair to say because after all what makes a person a psychopath? I suppose I just wish the author's take on it had been a little more original.

That said, I also stopped believing in the main protagonist because for an intelligent woman I can't believe that she was taken in by this man.

The supporting characters were convincing and went a long way to improving my involvement in the story.

All in all I would not discourage anyone from reading this book but in my opinion I think this debut is overrated - but that happens quite a lot doesn't it? I bet this will be a block buster film next year :)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Writing Competitions and Thick Skins!

Recently I found myself rushing to meet deadlines in order to enter some writing competitions that I'd earmarked. I'd entered a few in the past and, apart from one Highly Commended for a short story, I have never won or made the short list - until today!

This is my celebratory post and a pat on my own back for having my second novel, When Skies Are Grey, make the long list for the SI Leeds Literary Prize for 2016! I'm extremely proud and excited, I can't stop smiling to myself.
I'd vowed to knock the competition entering on the head after these recent entries because I need to concentrate on all the writing projects I have in the pipelines or on the go. Only recently I was asked to ghost write a memoir, and you may remember I'm planning to write a book series under my pseudonym. I'm up to my eyes in word counts!

But since making the long list I feel like a writing competition Ninja - I'm going to enter everything! - Well, not really. I'm sure the feeling will pass. I mean apart from all the above mentioned writing projects, every time I didn't make the cut as far as prizes went, I felt hurt. I still don't have a thick enough skin to handle rejection like a Ninja would. It takes a while to get over the disappointment, I'm afraid. So I'm going to revel in the fact that, for once, I don't have to pull myself together and self help myself into believing I can still write after a panel of judges didn't pick my story.

The short list has yet to be announced. I just hope I can survive the nerves until the end of September. I'll be buying an extra supply of moisturiser in case I need it for all that extra thick skin.

I'm keeping everything crossed until then but making the long list has meant a whole lot to me.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Summer Reading

I'm looking for inspiration. I'm after my next read and I'm not quite sure what it should be.

After finishing my last book, a pretty average novel called A Year Of Being Single,

I was on the look out for something to really get my teeth into.

I read through all the samples that had been sitting on my Kindle for ages (neglected because I had a lot writing and writing jobs on the go) and ended up deleting most of them. On a second look at the descriptions, I wasn't convinced I'd like them after all.

Waiting to be read on my Kindle I have a mixture of literary fiction, thrillers, women's fiction, romantic comedies and books that tell me how to market my own books on Amazon. A word of warning, I've never bought a single book from Amazon that ever helped me crack the world of book marketing so for now I'm sticking to fiction!

So what will it be? In contention there is:

Jill Mansell - You And Me, Always

Laura Barnett - The Versions of Us

and Amulya Malladi - A House For Happy Mothers

If you've read any of these, please let me know. I've got a long train journey ahead this weekend and that just calls for a good read doesn't it?



Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Never Ending Journey

It's amazing, isn't it, the tracks of our journey we leave behind that lead others to finding us. Two years ago, when Holding Paradise was first published, I wrote this article on Books By Women and since the article's publication I was in contact with quite a few inspirational women writers and I also received lots of comments from other writers, telling me that I had inspired them!

Isn't that amazing?

Especially when I think back to the start of my writing journey and of how I'd hoped it would pan out. Admittedly, it hasn't worked out the way I'd intended but that didn't mean I stopped writing.

The article I wrote (see link above) was called Squeezing It All In - Making Time For Your Passions so no prizes for guessing how that related to my writing journey. As I said, the journey was a little different than anticipated and it was a lovely comment I received this morning, two years after publishing the article, that put a huge smile on my face.

Although I have not published another book in my name since Holding Paradise, I have gone on to publish two books under a pseudonym, both have gotten into the top 100 on the Amazon Sales Ranks, getting as high as #5 in one category. I've ghost written several books and novelllas, and though I relinquish any rights over them once they are published, I know that at least one became a bestseller on Amazon, too.

And while I was squeezing in the above, I was still having a life and being part of a family and, not to mention, writing two more titles under my own name.

So what of the Fran Clark journey? Is she still an inspiration? And why does she speak of herself in the third person in this paragraph?!

Well, the journey continues and one day the track will show itself in the form of the novel I have bubbling at the back of my mind somewhere, in amongst all the other things I'm still trying to squeeze in!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Now That I've Written My Second Book...

What Next?

On the subject of my second novel, When Skies Are Grey, I thought I'd finished writing it last year. But after sending it out to a bunch of agents and having a few beta readers on board, it didn't look like it really was - it needed more.  I wasn't discouraged, I still have a lot of faith in the story so I went in for another re-draft. And I really think I've nailed it this time *she says with fingers crossed and a furrowed brow*

I haven't drafted up another list of agents quite yet. Firstly I've entered my novel into a competition and now it's a waiting game to see how I fair.

And while I know there are probably a few billion other writers hoping for some good news on the competition front, it doesn't hurt to hopeful.
I'll eventually get round to drawing up a fresh list of agents but, in the meantime, I'll keep on writing and keep on thinking up ways to market my book.

What do you do in between writing projects? Do you take a break or get straight into drafting your next book? Do you feel drained after you've written those two magic words THE END?

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Book Review - Baby Doll

I recently finished this review copy from NetGalley and wanted to share my opinion on Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
They Say:
Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.

For eight long years she's been locked away from the outside world. During that time she's changed from a girl into a woman. She's had a baby.

And now she has seized her chance and escaped.

Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know - to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend - and her freedom.

But is it possible to go back?

Lily's perfect life as a teenager doesn't exist any more. Since she's been gone, her family's lives have changed too, in ways she never could have imagined.

Her return, and the revelation of who took her, will send shockwaves through the whole community.

Impossible not to read in one sitting, Baby Doll is a taut psychological thriller that focuses on family entanglements and the evil that can hide behind a benign facade. 

I thought:

I was taken in by the description of this book and I have to say it started with great promise. I was sucked in straight away and looked forward to picking it up each day to see what came next. But that thrill only lasted until what should have been an exciting climactic ending. Sadly, for me, that did not happen. The book should have ended a good twenty or so pages before it did. Instead I was faced with a drawn out few chapters of what happened to everyone once the ‘big thing’ happened. I prefer to have a quicker resolution after the big build up, quite frankly. I don’t want to wait ages before I can have my cigarette.
This book is described as Adult Fiction, but given some of the language and how the story itself pans out I would imagine this would be suited to the YA/Thriller genre if such a category existed.
As this was a galley version of the book I’m hoping that the editor takes another look at this as there were a couple of times I wasn’t sure if the ‘voice’ of the character was using bad grammar or if it just wasn’t picked up along with the handful of minor typing errors.
The book read like the first book of a young writer which after a while bored me somewhat.
That said, I think the writer created some believable characters here and if you are a fan of changing POV’s that are each headed up by the character name, then this could be for you. This was one of the things that made the book seem juvenile to me and I’m not a fan of that style.
On a positive note the writer tried very hard to make something different of the hostage who becomes free situation. I liked her plot twists with the sisters and the boyfriend they both desired. I liked that there wasn’t an easy happy ever after with so much devastation caused in this family since Lily went missing. And I really loved the bond of the twins. I understand the writer is a twin and she seemed to be writing from a position of authority when she described how the twin sisters interacted.
Sometimes I thought there were insightful views and a commanding style when it came to expressing how a scene made a character feel and the psychological effects the trauma was causing. But it almost seemed as though the author ‘borrowed’ those tasteful passages from someone else because the language didn’t always stay in that style.
I have been very critical of this book because I do prefer something that is perhaps more literary. But having said that I think this could be a very well received book by the vast audience that YA novels have and I hope the writer has success with this book and continues to develop her style.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Book Review - A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

Amidst the bloghopping whirlwind that was the A to Z Challenge 2016, I've not only been catching up on some new and entertaining blogs, I've been entering writing competitions and reading this book:

A Diary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

What They Say:

LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016

A BBC RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB PICK

'Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Piano Teacher, in the best way.' InStyle

Amaterasu Takahashi has spent her life grieving for her daughter Yuko and grandson Hideo, who were victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.

Now a widow living in America, she believes that one man was responsible for her loss; a local doctor who caused an irreparable rift between mother and daughter.

When a man claiming to be Hideo arrives on her doorstep, she is forced to revisit the past; the hurt and humiliation of her early life, the intoxication of a first romance and the realisation that if she had loved her daughter in a different way, she might still be alive today.

What I Thought:

I’ve been waiting to find a book that would have me gripped from page one until the very end and A Dictionary Of Mutual Understanding was the one that did it for me. Finally I can dust off that fifth star and award Copleton’s heartfelt novel a meaty five stars.
I have to admit, from the first page I wondered how Copleton would turn the simple premise of a scarred man arriving at an old woman’s door out of the blue, claiming to be her long lost grandson, would pan out and if I would care whether he was or not. But that’s because I’ve read a few books in a row that have had a flat plot when the story promised so much.
This is an intriguing story and Copleton did not let me down with a plot that was simple but realistic and compelling at the same time.
I was sold on her use of language more than anything. She was not afraid to use ‘flowery’ language in her descriptions and even in dialogue. I believed everything the characters said and on several occasions could see this book as a film because it came at you and didn’t stop delivering.
I enjoyed the movement in time. I was only a little confused when Amaterasu ‘spoke’ on her daughters behalf through a diary, but I only had to be as sharp as the writer when this happened and got used to the change of voice very quickly.
Copleton, by all accounts, seemed to be well equipped to write this story given her life experiences. You would find it hard not to imagine that she was an ageing Japanese survivor of an atomic bomb because she spoke with such a convincing tone on an obviously well researched subject. But at no time did this story ever sound like a history book as some writers of historical fiction can do at times. Copleton knows her stuff and she knows how to write good fiction.
I was moved to tears towards the end of the novel and once I’d finished I wondered if this book had been nominated for any kind of literary prize. Checking back I saw it had been longlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016 – and it’s not surprising.
So if you’re looking for a book with characters that were fully formed, dialogue that sings from the page, tension and drama in all the right amounts, then you’ll find it in A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding.

This book is published in July but available to order on Amazon.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

Émile Zola

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


Z for Zola

“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”
― Émile Zola


Just had to have this one as well:
 
“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”

― Émile Zola



It's the end of the A-Z Challenge for 2016! Hope you enjoyed my posts and I'm sorry I couldn't visit every blog, but well done - we made it!


Friday, 29 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

A photograph of William Butler Yeats on 24 Jan...
A photograph of William Butler Yeats on 24 January 1908 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


Y for Yeats

 “Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.”
W.B. Yeats


Thursday, 28 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


X for X-rated

Having been a ghostwriter of erotica, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
  • Don't get wrapped up in blow by blow (forgive the pun) detail of the act itself. Remember to bring out the emotional dynamics between the couple. How does the situation make them feel?
  • Remember the 5 senses and draw on them to create your atmosphere.
  • Keep an eye on the trends e.g. BWWM and move with the times.
  • Never say throbbing manhood - ever again! Or any of the overused terms for parts of the body. You're a writer, use your imagination and come up with something new.
  • Write to stimulate the reader's brain as well as getting them excited physically. Know your readers - they do want some good story content

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers

 

V for Voice

The writer's voice is what makes a piece of writing distinct, gives it personality and style, or a particular tone or point of view. Some naturally have one that just comes out on the page, some of us have to develop it over time. Whatever the case, make sure you have your voice for a particular piece of creative writing. The cool thing about voice is that you can adapt it for the piece or you can use it as your brand as a writer.

This is a book I found really useful when developing my writer's voice:

Try it and see what you think!
 

Monday, 25 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


U for Ursula

"Thanks to “show don’t tell,” I find writers in my workshops who think exposition is wicked. They’re afraid to describe the world they’ve invented.… This dread of writing a sentence that isn’t crammed with “gutwrenching action” leads fiction writers to rely far too much on dialogue, to restrict voice to limited third person and tense to the present."

- Ursula K Le Guin


Saturday, 23 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers

T for Targets

You've got big dreams, you want to write a sci-fi series of ten books, so right here is where you start setting some targets and getting there without all the sweat. (Okay that was supposed to be a play on the Fame series for anyone who remembers it).

But seriously, imagine you want to write a book series? How many words can you write per day, per week, to make that happen and over what time scale? When do you want to see your first in the series published? Choose a target that is realistically achievable by you and won't leave you stressed. i.e, it fits in with your life, family, day job etc.

Remember targets don't have to be like the one above. You can set yourself a target to:
  • write 1000 words of your novel each day
  • blog twice a week
  • enter at least 5 writing competitions in a year
  • produce ten short stories in ten months
 Whatever your long term goals - targets can help you make them possible. Good Luck!

 

Friday, 22 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


S for Synopsis

It still amazes me when I hear writers using the words blurb and synopsis interchangeably. They are so different that if you mix up the two you could be jeopardising your submissions to publishers and agents and you could have some real long winded blurbs on the back of your books.

A synopsis is the summary of your book's storyline, written in a clear, factual, yet gripping way. In a synopsis you tell the literary agent or publisher exactly what happens from beginning to end - especially how it ends because a synopsis is not a teaser like the blurb; publishers and agencies want to see that your storyline works.

You only need the main plotlines and you don't have to cram the name of every single character. It must be as long or short as the agent or publisher wants it to be so check their submission guidelines. Generally a page of typed A4 is good. You may need a long version  and a short version on hand.

Lots of writers hate this part of the wrting process and here is a site I've found particularly helpful when it comes to advice for writers: http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/Synopsis.html 


Retailer sample of Corrigan's autobiography Th...

 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


R for Rowling

English: Created by modifying this image Itali...
 “Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.”

- J K Rowling


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


Q for Quoting song lyrics in a book

Did you know that any song published after 1923 is not in the public domain? Therefore if you are quoting song lyrics in your novel, especially if you use them to create an atmosphere, introduce it as a main scene or go so far as quoting more than a few words from the song, you may be breaking all kinds of copyright laws and you could have major music publishers or collection agencies on your door demanding money or a letter from the copyright owner's lawyer!

You might use song lyrics in all innocence but be warned - you need to seek permission from the appropriate bodies and that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

This is one of the better sites I've found to explain your position as a writer:  http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2015/03/how-to-use-lyrics-without-paying-a-fortune-or-a-lawyer/

The title of a song, or book, come to that are fine. Make up your own lyrics if you must have some!



Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


P for Pitching

Taken from Hannah Ferguson (literary agent for The Marsh Agency) 
What to Avoid:
  • I've been writing since I was four years old
  • Take up valuable pitching space saying - my friends, my mum really likes it...
  • Anything irrelevant - see above.
  • Sending presents.
  • Trying too hard to please in your cover letter. Just be yourself.

Do This Instead:
  • Bullet points are brilliant - cover what your and your books selling points are.
  • Write your cover letter in the style of you.
  • Write a blurb rather than a synopsis - it's snappier and more succinct.
  • Remember you'll need more content for a non-fiction book along with a more structured book proposal.
  • Tell me why you are especially fit and qualified to write the book you're pitching.

Begging Hands

Saturday, 16 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


N for Notebook

A writer's friend. Don't leave home without one. You'd be amazed how many great ideas come at you when you least expect it. You could be out shopping, having coffee with friends or you might have a brilliant line that comes to you before you can get the laptop on. I went around for ages without one, never listening to that one small, simple, but useful piece of advice.
Your phone or a recording device could be just as handy but not always convenient.
Some writers believe it is the best way to write their first draft. If you write by hand you can't hit the delete button, that way more ideas are saved and you never know when you might delete a gem and have to keep hitting the pesky Undo button to get it back.



 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


K for Keep in Touch

Writing is by nature a lonely pursuit, but only in that it's just you and your notebook or laptop. But when you raise your fingers off the keys or give your pen a rest, remember that there are hundreds of writing networks close to your home that you should be getting involved with.

Go to writing workshops, festivals, talks and events whenever you can. There is nothing like building or being part of an author community for support, feedback, advice and more. If you live in some remote town where no one owns a pen let alone writes, even for fun, then try the internet for writing communities. Here are a few to get you started:
 Join in! 


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


J for Journey Planner

Build a road map for your story. Know what journey your characters are taking on and then let your imagination run free in the story telling. You don't have to stay on the same road you set out on, very often you might find a better route. Enjoy the ride!

 

Monday, 11 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


I for Isaac Asimov

“I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing—to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics—Well, they can do whatever they wish.”

- Isaac Asimov

Saturday, 9 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme : Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


H for Hemmingway

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. – Ernest Hemingway - See more at: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-quotes#sthash.C4J7bwtE.dpuf
"It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way."

- Ernest Hemmingway


It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. – Ernest Hemingway - See more at: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-quotes#sthash.C4J7bwtE.dpuf
It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. – Ernest Hemingway - See more at: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-quotes#sthash.C4J7bwtE.dpuf
It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. – Ernest Hemingway - See more at: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-quotes#sthash.C4J7bwtE.dpuf

Friday, 8 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]


My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers


G is for Genre

My top 5 tips on genre:
  1. Write in the genre you love not the one you think will sell. You won't be putting your best foot forward. Plus genre readers are discriminating and they'll spot a fraud.
  2. Decide on your genre and read extensively within it and anything that crosses over. Read the good and the bad.
  3. Target literary agents who have represented a writer you admire in your genre. You'll often find the agent's name in the acknowledgements in the book.
  4. There are formulas to writing genre fiction, learn them but then make the genre your own by taking it to another or experimental level. Try something no one else has done.
  5. Remember genre fiction is plot driven - work hard on plot lines. Make them tight with no loose ends or gaping holes. A strong plot will make you stand out as a 'fresh' voice in your genre. 
 

Thursday, 7 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers

 

F

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
 - Ray Bradbury

Image result for First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!– Ray Bradbury