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.