The Writer’s bible

I’ve read many, many articles, webpages and books about writing a novel and I’ve come to realise that most of these people don’t seem know what they’re talking about! They have been filling my head full of useless, vague, repetitive, patronizing etc etc information that are supposed to help, but in no way do.

….but, (thank god!) I’ve struck gold with one book. It’s called The Fire in Ficiton by Donald Maass. He is a genius, and unlike other books on writing, this one really has the answers. It is the missing piece to the puzzle and I guarantee it can help YOU! There’s so much valuable help, insight, knowledge in this book, it’s the only one you’ll ever need. At £11.69 is a bargain, though what you get for £11.69 is priceless. I wish I found this book a long time ago, I would’ve saved myself a lot of time and money.

Go buy this book for yourselves, then buy a copy for every writer you know!!

What’s in a name?

I always assumed that if ever I managed to get something published it would be in my own name, but now I can’t think of anything worse. I’ve had a couple of piece flash fiction published in ‘my’ name but I don’t expect anyone I know to ever read them.

In a perfect world, my books would be filling up the shelves at Waterstones and on Amazon, my name would be in big striking letters all over the front cover… but in this sad reality, I don’t want my friends or family to know what I’ve written.

I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of what I have written or what I want to write but I also don’t want to be judged by people, that I believe don’t understand what really makes me tick. My stories are personal and I feel vulnerable committing them to paper but I want people to read and enjoy them. I want judgement/criticism from readers not people that know a small side of me.

My family have never took any interest in my hopes/dreams/goals and have always trivialize those things that are important to me. My friends take much more interested but I still wouldn’t want them to know either. If they knew, I’d feel restricted and feel like I had to write a certain way or censor my thoughts.Is it normal to feel this way?

When my book is complete I’ll most probably use a pseudonym but I’m interested in other’s opinions, feel free to vote.

I don’t know how long it’s been…

I’m finally coming to the end of the third draft of my book. I feel like I’ve reached a huge milestone but at the same time there’s miles and miles of late nights and endless buckets of instant coffee to get through.

I’ve heard of these writers that can knock out a book in a few months, not with several drafts to go but a little tweaking.(not jealous at all! lol) How many years of experience/how much talent will it take to get to that point?!

Nearly a year on, I’m fitting in as many writing hours as possible into everyday and I’m actually getting somewhere. It’s like the first time I’ve seen my work as an actual story. The 76,000 odd words have turned themselves into what I believe is a legible story, but now I’m worrying that no matter how much sweat/blood/tears/coffee rings(I finally understand the true meaning) have and will go into completely the book, it still might not be good/interesting/satisfying enough to potential readers.

Fingers crossed that this time next month I’ll be significantly closer to completion rather than discovering I need another couple of drafts to get it up to scratch. Wish me luck…..or patience.

The Best Day of Someone Else’s Life – Kerry Reichs

I’ve just finished reading this book another that I found with the help of a review from A good book about a woman who attending an extreme number of weddings, in the beginning enjoying them and by the end struggled with her own ideas of what romance/love etc should be and deciding she doesn’t want to get married herself.

Overall it was funny and different but what I like the most was when I got a part of the way through the book I noticed their was a talking cockatiel, his favourite saying “Road trip, don’t forget the bird”, this rung bells in my head. I remembered that I had read a Kerry Reichs book before. I thought maybe she had a thing for birds but as I got further into the story I realised that although the characters were different, the story was about a member of the same family from the other book I’d read. I looked into it and going by the characters ages this is the first book and ‘Leaving Unknown’ was the second.

I loved the idea that the two books were linked and have never known anyone else to do this in the same way. The book isn’t a sequel, it focuses on the sister of the girl in the other book. Completely different lives and stories but it made me feel closer to the story having kind of deeper insight into their world and lives. I already knew bits and pieces about some of the characters from the other book, it was weird, but nice and even though I read the books in the wrong order, reading about the character from the other book, through the eyes of the character in this book was kind of like catching a glimpse of someone long after their story had finished.

The first book ‘Leaving Unknown’ or ‘The good luck girl’ as it’s named in England, is funny, quirky and the main character is so loveable. The story is of a girl who decides she is going to take a road trip to a load of strangely name places around America. It’s a good story but nothing like I expected. I was gripped from the beginning, though all through it I felt there was something odd about the character, something that was hidden or held back.Then later in the story the character relieved something that came completely out of left field. It niggled at me but I liked that for once (I presume this was deliberate) the reader wasn’t meant to know everything about the main character, we find out at the same time as the other characters instead of knowing the whole time and wondering when the characters will find out themselves.

It wasn’t exactly a twist but more of something that wasn’t expected but at the same time, thinking back over the character’s behaviour, the way she is and the way she thinks, ‘the not twist’ completely makes sense, and then I felt guilty for ever thinking her ways were good/funny/quirky and lighthearted when looking at the whole picture they really weren’t

Read it, it’s great. It was the first girly book i’d picked up in a long while and it was a refreshing change from the English chick lit I was reading at the time. I was impressed and I’m itching to spoil it for you but then you wouldn’t go and read it and it’s really worth reading yourselves.

World Book Night – The Night

We looked forward to giving out our copies of ‘Northern Lights’ at an event we specifically chose to attend, we were told other people would there giving books out that night too. I thought it would be so much better to give them out at the event where people came out on a Friday night to be apart of World Book Night and to get hold of a book rather than of handing them out to passers-by who may only take the book because it was free.(I heard about this happening a lot).

I had visions of a great night handing out books, talking about them, meeting people etc etc
What it actually happened went like this, we arrived at the venue and the person in charge of the event took our books into another room while the ‘entertainment’ took place. We stood up for two hours watching a great gospel choir that sung briefly,followed by a bunch of miserable looking 12-year-old girls and their dance teacher(?) ‘dancing’ around, out of time to the music, repeating the same few moves throughout five difference songs. Their teacher seemed to crave the attention and completely overshadowed the girls the whole time. They were a professional dance club but if it were my child I’d have asked for the membership fees back.

After that was final over the audience was bored to tears listening to two local quiz teams answering questions about Dr Who and children’s TV shows.

Finally,as an after thought the book giving was announced. People soon woke up and proceeded to crowd into a small room where all the books were laid out. We were kind of pushed to one side as the staff took over, even though we were supposed to physically hand the books out to whom we chose. There was about 48 copies of 15 different titles and only one other ‘giver’ stayed, the others dumped their books and went home. This really annoyed me, there were hundreds of people who applied to be givers and were turned down and these people couldn’t even be bothered to do it.

The whole point of World Book Night was for people to give others a book they might not normally read/buy or people who don’t read at all and for them then to pass them on, encouraging someone else to read them. Instead, much to the annoyance of the woman in charge(she told people they could only take one book each, i thought this was unfair since there was about 600 books and about 150 people who would like to read more than one of the titles) people just helped themselves because the books were free. Their children mostly under 12 were allowed to take what they wanted and neither the staff nor their parents stopped them. It was such a waste of books, apart from our title none of the others were suitable for children and I imagine they will end up in a cupboard or thrown away.

Loads of books were abandoned even with people loaded them into their bags but I’m glad we managed to rescue some of ours and kept some back. Some of ours are being sent to local care homes in hope they will brighten someone’s day, some have been given out in the break room of a local hospital and the rest i think will find homes as we go….

I’d be interested in hearing about anybody else that had a disappointing experience with such a great event.

The end is near…. i can almost see Friday

I’ve almost completed the second week of a new job. My everything hurts. The people are nice and the hours are good, the dog isn’t left for too long and technically I have time to work on my novel. Technically! It takes an hour and a half and three buses to get home, I eat lunch and walk the dog(or else he walks me) I get home with all good intentions, spending all day thinking about writing/editing/reading about writing and then just as I sit down in front of my laptop my brain pulls down the shutters and turns out the lights.

I’m trying hard not to make excuses, neither getting up at 6am or being on my feet for a good portion of the day!

I hate starting a new job, I’ve done it so many times within my temping days, I always feel so paranoid I’ll look stupid if I don’t take in everything I’m taught. It’s seems that even when you’re new people just expect you to remember everything and just get on with it. My job is fairly simple(a plus because I was hoping to save my brain power for my book) and by far the least complicated role I’ve ever had and that’s fine by me because it’s not for forever but I don’t want my colleges to think that this is all I do/know. People assume that since I look young, I am and have little experience and I just want to reel off my employment history just to prove what I’m capable of but I hold my tongue because I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging or offend people who have roles that are less complicated/important than my previous roles when they are in positions above me.

The other thing that gets to me is time. I’m supposed to have plenty of it since it’s part-time hours but it speeds by before i’ve realised anything has happened. I’m trying extremely hard to fit everything in and I’m wondering how people with kids and other commitments make it work when I can’t seem to balance writing, dog, cooking and cleaning. The changes in routine are crazy, I’m overwhelmed at how a new routine has completely thrown me. I feel really out of control trying to fit things in as and when and feel like I don’t know if I’m coming or going. This new intake of knowledge is surely pushing stuff out the other side since I’m coming home and doing a decent impression of a zombie.

Second draft – It’s all up hill from here…

Shouldn’t that be downhill? I had this strange notion that once I’d written the first draft of my novel everything magically fall into place and just flow. I have no flow! Every time I open my document I’m overwhelmed by how bad things are looking and get stressed that it’s just not good enough. I’m going through my ‘novel’ chapter by chapter, slowly improving what I originally thought was good and made prefect sense but doesn’t, I’m surprised at how quickly my draft it’s starting to flesh out without much effort, I imagine the backspace button on my keyboard will be worn away long before the final draft.

The problem I’m having is complicated, I have an idea in my head, I have a scene, dialogue etc but when i come to work on my novel it all seems to dissolve. The pages just don’t seem to be flowing with ease like they do in ‘real’ books. I read something and wonder why I’m not writing dialogue in the same way. I have dialogue that I’m semi happy with(at this stage)but struggle to find convincing ‘action’/thoughts to lead/follow the speech. It all seems very wooden. How do you naturally do this? How do I make the scenes come to life so you can really visualise them? I’m having scary visions of having to go through the whole draft and then add all this later since I don’t seem capable to write it convincingly at the time.

I can’t seem to get past this, all I can think of to do is plow on or I’ll never get anywhere but at the same time i feel like I’m going through chapters ‘improving’ them except not really finishing each one since I’m not convinced the dialogue is good enough.

Any pointers will be greatly appreciated.

“Welcome to my world”

I’ve just finished reading Miranda Dickinson’s Welcome to my world and I loved it. It’s been a while since I’ve felt really satisfied after reading a girly book. This chick lit book isn’t so much about romance like the rest and it’s not all perfect characters with perfect lives. It was a good story, the characters are charming and a little different from the norm in this sort of genre, they were interesting and real. They were definitely different from the bog standard 2D characters i usually find myself reading about, but all the same I felt like I really knew them.The setting wasn’t a big city where everything is exciting and perfect but it’s a place you can imagine clearly even if you’ve never been anywhere like it. It’s a place that feels like home, the characters invite you in and make you feel welcome.

What i most enjoyed about this book was the fresh description. Although, I’ve not read anything I thought had boring description, the words on these pages really stood out to me. It’s the first time I’ve read a book where I’d really noticed the descriptions/metaphors/similes(not because i don’t normally) I kept finding myself thinking ‘that’s a really good way of writing it’ or ‘i wouldn’t of thought of putting it like that’. I loved how original those were(though i can’t think of any off the top of my head. Will add some at a later date) and how easily I was able to see what the author was showing me.

I really recommend reading it and if you’re not into chick lit, read it anyway because it’s a great example of originality, it’s been a while since I’ve read about someone or some place, written so well I could almost reach out and touch it.

I went back through the book, below are a few snippets of description that I particularly enjoyed reading.

“Large spots of rain began to pepper her head and shoulders, catching the light from the street lamp as they fell; a shower of shimmering crystals splashing around her as she remained frozen to the spot.”

“The sun was beginning to dip behind the early evening clouds, gilding everything in rich golden light.”

“Brazilian rainforest canopies, throwing spotlights of pure gold onto the forest floor hundreds of feet below.”

“Outback Australia, its surface cracked by the scorching sun and peppered with skeletal frames of weather-beaten trees..”

“When their lips meet, its like a billion shooting stars colliding, filling every atom of darkness with shimmering light.”

World Book night 2011

I came across World Book Night on The Book People’s website just after Christmas. Luckily the deadline for applicants had been extended so I….well my fiance applied on our behalf.

For those who haven’t heard of it, World Book Night follows a few days after World Book Day, that’s usually run in schools. The kids are given vouchers and/or a free book to encourage reading. When I was at school it was just kicking off and I definitely looked forward to getting a free book since I didn’t get enough pocket-money to be able to walk into Waterstones to purchase a book. Since, it’s really bugged me how a lot of kids no longer use the vouchers or bother collecting the books, I’d love a free book! Finally, there’s something similar….better even, for kids, adults, for everyone.

On 5th March one million books will be given away for free across the UK and Ireland. 20,000 applicants were selected to be the ‘givers’ and will distribute their chosen book. Each applicant was asked to select a title from a list of 25 books that they’d already read and wanted to share with others.

I think it’s a great idea, though I’ve read a lot of comments from annoyed booksellers that don’t agree.
I really wanted to get involved but shamefully I’d not read a single book on the list. My fiance had read and enjoyed Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. So we picked that and luckily have been chosen as givers ourselves. I’m sure it’s a great book, I’ve been told a bit about it but I’m kicking myself because I’ve since come across two other books that I’d like to read that happen to be on the list.

Anyway, the aim is to encourage people who are ‘reluctant readers’, people with less access to books or just someone you think is deserving and would appreciate it.

I was on Facebook the other day reading through the comments and people have some really good ideas of how they will distribute their books. Some people will be taking theirs into hospitals, handing them out to fed up commuters on the London Underground,some are having parties or carefully handpicked students/people who would really appreciate a book. Some made their selection to increase awareness of related things such as Autism with the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I think it’s an amazing idea and wish I’d known more about some of the other books to have been able to do similar.

There’s a lot of annoyed people who weren’t picked to be givers.It’s disapointing that some of them had really good ideas and specific plans for the books. Others just thought they deserved to do it more than the next person. It’s about the books and who gets them, not the person giving them, people should keep that in mind.

We’re hoping to give half our books out at my fiance’s work since there are people working there from all walks of life and also (if they let us) join an event happening a few towns away where they are already giving out books. There are events up and down the country to draw more attention to the whole night, unfortunately not near us. It’s worth checking out your local one or attending the celebrations in Trafalgar Square on 4th/5th March. It’s gunna be a good one….!/worldbooknight?v=info