Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Review: The Tiny Wife

There are some books that you want to save for a special occasion and The Tiny Wife is one of them. Knowing this was on my Kindle kept me going through the long tunnel of a very long, frustrating book.


The Tiny Wife is an enchanting short novel from Andrew Kaufman, author of My Friends Are Superheroes. The book opens with a robbery but the robber isn't after money. Instead he makes the customers and the bank workers each hand over one object of sentimental value. The narrator's wife hands over a calculator that she has used to calculate house costs and if she could afford to have a child. Another hands over their house keys. The robber has taken bits of their souls and tells them to regrow or they will die.

The robbery frames the series of capivating stories as the reader learns what happens to the victims. One of the women turns to sugar and is eaten by her family as a way to pacify them. Another has their lion tattoo come alive and chase her through the streets, someone finds God under their sofa and then loses him. The narrator's wife, as well as having to deal with a shaky marriage, starts to shrink.

Kaufman's ideas and writing are very imaginative. The Tiny Wife is heartbreaking yet heartwarming. It's a book about hope and finding that there are always ways to reignite your soul.

The silhouette illustrations through the book reminded me of the fairy tales illustrated by Jan Pienkowski that I used to read as a child. They capture the tone of the book perfectly.

The Tiny Wife is an enchanting fable and modern fairy tale. It is definitely one of my books of the year.

You can buy The Tiny Wife from any bookstore or online store.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Sit Down And Write The Story

I came across this a few months ago but I'm afraid I saved it on my hard drive and forgot to remember who posted it. I need this at the moment - I have a review half written across two notebooks and my computer and there's a short story (a long short story) needing some attention too. And there are another two short stories needing some edits and re-jigs too.

The main reason for not writing that much is the face that I won an iPad the other week and I have been playing with it ever since. My mantra at the moment is 'I'll just play another game of solitaire and then I'll do some writing...' but you know how things go - solitaire sucks you in and spits you out two hours later.

I might do a Kindle vs. iPad - but can they really be compared with each other. One is a tablet computer with eReader functions and another is an eReader with limited internet browsing functions. I know one thing - I won't be ditching my MacBook anytime soon.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Trends in Literature

I should have posted these a few weeks ago but I have been writing and rewriting and submitting. I am only now catching up with blog posts.

Here are a few bullet points from a talk given by The Society of Young Publishers back on the 25th October 2011, in a very cramped room in London. It was really hot and crammed with bodies so most of this is from memory and people who 'live-tweeted' the event.

Trends in Literature
Society of Young Publishers
25th October 2011

The panellists were Jo Rodgers (Literary Agent), Carrie Duffy (Author), Kate Bradley (Commissioning Editor, Harper Fiction), Emma McArthur (Bookseller), Kirsty Schaper (Commissioning Editor, Bloomsbury) and Sam Copeland (Literary Agent).

  • It’s the job of an agent to ignore trends – you can’t predict trends.
  • If you spot a trend then it’s probably not worth trying to write for that trend because it could be over by the time the book is over.
  • Series publishing is on the way up – easier for readers to stick with what they know – Mills and Boons are on the way up.
  • Recurring characters / sequels are the next big thing.
  • Richard and Judy have changed people’s perception of reading. More people want a challenge when reading.
  • Publishing is all about connecting the author with their readership.
  • Debut novelists need to build up a readership / have fans like long-term novelists. The best thing to do is have an internet presence e.g. blogs, Twitter, reviews, Facebook page. Need to be interactive / approachable.
  • Brands aren’t important to agents – they just want the publisher to be enthusiastic about the author. Publishers are concerned about brand but people aren’t ‘imprint’ loyal.
  • The panel believed that Amazon can’t do what Publishers do i.e. nurture careers.
  • Trends are unpredictable.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Review


My review of Nancy Holder's and Debbie Viguie's Unleashed: Wolf Spring Chronicles is now live at The View From Here Magazine

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Favourite Authors - Margaret Atwood

Happy belated birthday to Margaret Atwood who was 71 yesterday. She is one of my favourite authors. I love all of her books. I am trying to not rush through her back list - I want to take my time. She writes novels, shot stories, tweets, blogs and writes non fiction. I'm glad she hasn't decided to retire. 


My first Atwood was Cat's Eye. It was the first book I read after my A-Levels. I got it out of the library the afternoon of my last exam and battled through it's stale smoky smell. After that I got back into reading in a big way. 


My favourite quote from Cat's Eye is this one: 


“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”  


In Happy Endings, a short story, Margaret Atwood references both the mechanics of short story plotting, and the effects of gender stereotyping in Happy Endings. A story that unravels and also reveals more as it progresses.


Lots of her books deal with crisis of identity, finding a place in society, memory. She has strong female characters in her novels who have to battle against cliched ideas of gender and politics. Her characters are pro-active and want to fight back against preconceived ideas.  


I like the way that each book is never the same. She writes across genres and bends the rules. One novel will be a historical tale and then she will write a spec-fiction book. I want to be able to bend genres like that. I'm not much of a fan of writers who always stick to the same genres for their own writing career. 


My favourite short story collection is The Tent
My favorite short story is Happy Endings.
My favourite novel is either Cat's Eye or Handmaid's Tale

Friday, 18 November 2011

How To Survive When You Have Fallen Into A Writing Black Hole

I’m not sure what it is about this time of year but around October time and into November I find writing really hard. Ideas don’t want to budge. Stories get stuck in draft zero. Stories written months ago now seem stupid. Rejections feel like a punch in the stomach. I started questioning myself – why should I be writing, I can’t write, I should pack up all my writing bits and pieces and hide them in the loft. I had fallen into a writing black hole. Maybe it’s the nights getting darker, earlier.

So this year I have been filled my notebook with tips and tricks to stop myself from being sucked all the way into the black hole:
  • Don’t over think ideas.
  • Struggling with an idea? – Take a bath, relax, let the idea roll around in your head. Have the notebook on stand-by.
  • Don’t feel like you need to write a story chronologically. The story might operate with a beginning, middle and end but you don’t have to write within the structure. Cut, Copy and Paste are your best friends.
  • Not everything you write deserves to be published.
  • Writing is subjective.
  • Stuck? Read Writing Down The Bones.
  • Keep a writing diary – write down what you achieve even if it’s only ’50 words written’ or ‘read ten pages of book.’
  • Sometimes playing Eye of the Tiger can really help. Don’t punch the laptop screen.
  • Once you're ready to write then keep the word counts small and build up - try 100 words each day with anything else being a bonus. Expand word count.
So what have I been doing? Well, I have been writing a brand new chapter 1 for my novel. I am hoping this chapter will set up the character and the world in a better way than the now defunct chapter one (which now becomes chapter 3). I have been reading. A lot. And my first review for The View From Here Magazine should be appearing over the next few weeks. I have some ideas that need teasing out. I’m hoping they will become flash fiction pieces and short stories.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Department of Extinct Objects

Just a quick post before bedtime. I have a flash fiction piece, The Department of Extinct Objects, up at Referential Magazine.

Here's the first sentence:

There have been confirmed reports from the Department of Extinct Objects, that the last known book, a tatty, circa 1990s edition, of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which was being cared for by Beatrice Ingles, aged nine and three quarters, has gone missing....


You can read more by following this link > The Department of Extinct Objects

Thank you Jessie and Referential Magazine.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Batteries Not Included For The Apocalypse

My flash fiction piece, 'Batteries Not Included For The Apocalypse' is now available in November's edition of Static Movement Magazine.

Here's a snippet to tempt you:

Douggie didn't want to be rude but the end of the world was boring. The apocalypse was more like a bird watching film rather than the sandy wastelands of Mad Max .


You can read the rest by following this link > Batteries Not Included For The Apocalypse.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

For Books' Sake

For Books' Sake is a book website, founded in 2010, for independent women who love reading. For Books' Sake help give women authors and readers a platform to have their voice heard.

I am currently over there talking about my favourite authors, favourite literary characters and books in the Five Minute section. Those questions were really hard to answer!

You can read by answers over here > Five Minute Friday: Jessica Patient

For Books' Sake are also looking for more Five Minute Friday participants.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Review: The Fall - Claire McGowan

The Fall
Claire McGowan
Headline, February 2012

Earlier this month Claire McGowan was offering proofs of her debut novel on Twitter. I jumped at the chance as I love reading her blog even though I rarely read psychological crime novels. And you know what, I enjoyed The Fall.

The Fall is about a murder that takes place in a nightclub and the after effects of that incident. A former banker, Dan is arrested as his credit card is found at the scene. But Charlotte, his girlfriend, along with Keisha who was at the bar that night with her boyfriend, have to face reality and unravel the truth. The tag line to this book is 'What would you do if the man you love was accused of murder?' This is a book about Charlotte's fight to find the truth.

The three different perspectives told from Charlotte, Keisha and Hegarty, the arresting police officer, show the reader the way an act of violence can change ordinary lives. McGowan creates the split narrative in a very convincing way. Each character has their own voice and conflicting opinions on what is the truth. Ultimately the truth will tear the characters away from each other.

Through the course of The Fall, both Charlotte and Keisha need to let go of their past. Charlotte needs to escape from her cotton-wool, middle class lifestyle to face the realities of surviving on her own and taking control of her life. Keisha needs to face up to her life and responsibilities with her family and escape her violent boyfriend and get her daughter, Ruby, back from the authorities.

The Fall is very topical in the way it looks at how the recession effects live, sometimes for the worse, the way the media reports the 'truth' (especially around Dan, the banker), the gang culture in inner London and opinions about the police.

McGowan's writing style is very engaging. The reader may think they know what way the plot is heading but McGowan turns it around and hits the reader with something unexpected. The Fall held my attention with its twists and turns.


The Fall comes out in February 2012 and will be available online and offline.



Sunday, 16 October 2011

Guest Post: Scott Pack: How Not To Be A 21st Century Writing Dodo

Scott Pack aka Mr Harpercollins / Friday Project aka Steve Stack aka the Author of 21st Century Dodos has kindly agreed to pop over to Writer's Little Helper and talk about the Internet being an important tool for writers. You don't want to become a 21st century Dodo!

***
I am on a blog tour.
If you don’t know what that is, allow me to explain. Pretty much every day in October I am appearing on someone else’s blog to promote my new book, 21st Century Dodos. I have posted a video of my son unicycling while reading an extract, chosen three literary dodos, shared a picture of my copyright page (of which I am justly proud) as well as answering questions, sharing extracts and other delights. The idea is that by spreading myself across the Internet I am also spreading the word about my book.
Beats spam mail, that’s for sure.
And the Internet is an important tool for writers today. OK, so my blog tour isn’t going to sell millions of books but it will get the word out to a whole bunch of people who may not otherwise come across it. Especially those readers in Israel, USA, Ireland and New Zealand, places I am unlikely to visit in person for signing events.
I think it is vital today for writers to have an online presence of some kind, ideally a few kinds. I run an imprint of HarperCollins and most of my most successful authors are very active through blogs, Twitter and Facebook. They are able to interact with their readers, get to know them (if they want), support each other (very important, that one) and keep themselves in the public eye in the gaps between books.
Now, I realise such activity isn’t for everyone but find me an author who has no online profile and I will show you either a) an author who was already big before the Internet exploded or b) doesn’t sell all that many books.
And with many authors now turning to self-publishing, especially digitally, there is even more reason to be online every day. It is where your future readers are, it makes sense to spend time there.
But not until you have bought a copy of my new book, of course!

***


You can buy a copy of 21st Century Dodos from Amazon and other online/offline retailers.

My review of 21st Century Dodos is here.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Book Reviewing For The View From Here Magazine

Now this is some good news after two short story rejections this week. Mike French, Senior Editor at The View From Here Magazine has asked me to do some book reviewing for his online magazine. Reader, I said yes!

My reviews will appear alongside a lot of great writers and publishing wizards. There is Claire King, her novel comes out in 2013, Jonathan Pinnock his book, Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens,  was reviewed here a few weeks ago, Elizabeth Baines writes the great 'Fiction Bitch' blog, Simon Trewin, Literary Agent, who looks after two of my favourite authors - Steven Hall and Scarlett Thomas, Literary Agent Annette Green and Publisher and blogger, Scott Pack, his book, 21st Century Dodos, was reviewed last week and he will be here on Sunday with a guest post.

Look, it's real I'm on the Crew page > here. There's a real-life picture of me!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Review: 21st Century Dodos


Steve Stack's new book 21st Century Dodos, published by The Friday Project (an imprint from Harpercollins) is an affectionate farewell to the many inanimate objects like your beloved VHS player and collection, cultural icons like your local lighthouse keeper and other general bits and bobs like minidisc players (I literally saved up my pocket money for months to buy one only to be told by the guy in the local record shop that no produced albums on minidisc) and Smash Hits Magazine. Most items are on the verge of extinction and many have vanished already. For the first time we have an endangered list and it is up to us to save these objects in our lofts and basements.

21st Century Dodos will make a great present for anyone who says 'in my day' and/or like to sit on the toilet, reading. The short chapters make it ideal for toilet reading. I didn't actually experiment with reading the book on the toilet because I didn't want to have a ring around my bum as the book pulls you into a nostalgic frenzy.

21st Century Dodos is funny and I guarantee you will be reading out extracts to your partner, the person sitting next to you on the bus or your pet snail. I don't remember the days when you have to use tapes to load games on computers but my boyfriend did and he loved that section of the book!

I found this book really inspiring too - I am currently writing a series of stories called 'The Department of Extinct Objects' and I now have a few more ideas. One will be published at Referential Magazine in the near future. Thank you to Scott Pack (the real Steve Stack) for sending me a copy, ready for his visit later on in the month. You can buy 21st Century Dodos from Amazon and other good book outlets.

*
You can now access all of my previous reviews by clicking on the 'review' label on the right-hand side.


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Three, Two, One And A Coming Soon

Good news - one of my short stories will be re-published by Eunoia Review February 2012.

Three short stories out in the field, waiting that red cross or green tick.

Two competitions entered and patiently waiting the results.

One agent has the first three chapters of my novel.

Coming soon - Steve Stack AKA Scott Pack AKA Me and My Big Mouth will be on the 16th October as he continues his blog tour for his book 21st Century Dodos.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Reviews: Mrs Darcy Vs The Aliens / Made In Britain

Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens - Jonathan Pinnock

'The truth is out there, though it is not yet universally acknowledged’

I recently won a signed copy of Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens, published by Salt’s science fiction and fantasy imprint, Proxima Books.

I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and it was fun for the first couple of chapters. But honestly, it was a cut and shut job. A sprinkle of zombie sentences within the original story. But Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens by Jonathan Pinnock is different. Firstly, Mrs D is a sequel to the events in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen but with aliens. Mrs Darcy and her merry band of companions’ swashbuckle their way through alien shape shifters to help save the planet but more importantly save her sister. Think Mulder and Scully with Elizabeth Darcy as Scully and Mr Wickham as Mulder. There are regency bonnets galore alongside the ghosts, ghouls, tentacles and a pigeon named Colin. Mrs D is a witty and intelligent read. There are lots of in-jokes for the Austen fans – a mad man named Mr Firth, the housekeeper Mrs Dench, etc. Even Jane Austen makes an appearance and there’s even talk of the wet shirt scene too (I think a few mums at the back might have collapsed, please prop them up at the bar).

You can buy Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens from Amazon and other good, yet undead bookshops. You can find out more about Jonathan Pinnock on his website.


Made in Britain - Gavin James Bowers

I recently downloaded the Kindle version at a bargain price of £1.99. Made in Britain is published by Quartet Books.

Made in Britain is gritty, close to the bone, showing the real state of affairs in England and the life choices of young people. The novel centres around three northern teenagers: Russell who lives with his depressed mother, Hayley who lives with her father and whose mother dies of cancer, and Charlie, who lives with both of his parents. His father bullies Charlie’s mother. All three characters are coming to the end of compulsory education and need to face up to the opportunities (or lack of) available to them. These families are not the Haribo kind. Dysfunctional, grim and the lack of hope. Bowers succeeds in showing us the realities of the working classes (or as one character refers to ‘underclass’) in this tough economical world.

You can buy Made in Britain from Amazon and other good bookshops.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

I Really Should be Writing but...Call Centres

Cancelling my dongle internet has turned into a complicated operation. It has taken me over five days to actually get an answer from their call centre. I have tried in the evenings, in the mornings and lunchtimes. All Precious writing time.

I finally got through and this is want happened:


ME: I would like to cancel my mobile broadband, please.
Phone drone: Would you like an iPad for 16 pounds each month plus 400 pounds for the ipad?
ME: No thank you. I would like to cancel my mobile broadband.
Phone drone: We have looked at your usage and we can offer you a discount – how about 8 pounds each month?
ME: No thank you. I would like to cancel my mobile broadband.
Phone drone: why?
ME: I now have normal broadband.
Phone drone: What if you want to go outside with your laptop?
ME: I have my phone.
Phone drone: What if it breaks. You will have no internet. You will be stuck with no internet.
ME: That’s fine. I would like to cancel my mobile broadband.
Phone drone: But you. Will. Not. Have. Any. Internet.
ME: I can cope.
Phone drone: We can transfer your account to someone else and you can pay for the internet for them.
ME: No thank you.
Phone drone: Do you want a new dongle?
ME: No thank you. I would like to cancel my mobile broadband.
Phone drone: Do you want pay and go mobile broadband.
ME: I NEED to cancel my broadband and my account.
Phone drone: So, you want a full cancellation?
ME: YES!
Phone drone: Oh. *puts me on hold, again* Okay, the contract finishes on 23rd October and we’ll send you the final bill. *hangs up*

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Hilary Mantel and Her Writing

Back in 2010 I saw Hilary Mantel read an extract from her Booker-winning book, Wolf Hall at the London Book Fair. I had already read a great interview in Mslexia (writing magazine) and really wanted to give Wolf Hall a try. And the usual thing happened - what happens in London Book Fair, stays at London Book Fair and I forgot about my promise to myself to try some Tudor historical fiction. 

A few weeks ago my Dad got me a copy of Wolf Hall from a charity shop. It's now on my to-be-read pile on my desk and will be read after Mrs Darcy Vs The Aliens.

On Saturday, The Culture Show (BBC) did a special on Hilary Mantel. She is a very intriguing writer and She did a good job to explain endometriosis as I know that it is a very serious condition that not many people know about. I know people who have this condition and when they explain it, people scratch their heads and just blame it on 'women troubles.'  

I loved her approaches to writing:
  • Trust your readers.
  • Concentrate on sharpening your memory.
  • Cut each page you write by one third. 
  • Work out what you want to say and write it in the most direct and vigorous way you can.
  • "Do I take my own advice - not a bit."
  • Mantel never wants her reader to feel settle - she doesn't want the reader to guess what the next sentence contains.
  • Layers beneath every interaction. 
  • On rejection - series of doors slamming
  • "Everyday I write I feel like a beginner" - there are no guarantees. 
  • Have to endure barren days. It can be slow as if it is the end of the world. 
  • A chapter can exist and you need to grab it quickly. 
 If you live in the UK then you can catch the programme on iPlayer for the next couple of days, over at the BBC website. 

Here's a taster from YouTube. 






Thursday, 15 September 2011

Time To Get Back To The Writing

Having a sprained rib cage hasn't been fun. I'm now an expert in daytime property programmes, could put an estimate on your antiques and can tell you about the right ways of keeping chickens. You never know there could be short story in all of this!

To be honest, I haven't written anything new for a while. My notebook is starting to fill up with ideas. I really want to create an ebook full of previously published short stories (by me, obviously) so they can be all in one place. I want the ebook to free because all of the stories have been published before and I don't want to rip off people! I have read a lot of articles on the Internet about creating ebooks so it will be fun putting the knowledge into practice! I have already started editing the stories and polishing them to within an inch of their lives. It's funny when they were originally published I considered them 'finished.' Now I am finding phrases that I don't like or titles that need changing. Is a piece of writing ever finished?

I have another idea for a series of link short stories, which could end up as a short story collection. Hold on, don't we call linked short stories 'novels' nowadays! This one is definitely a short story collection.

I have several short stories out on submission at the moment. Fingers crossed. There is also a competition I have quite tempted to enter too!

So, time to get back to the writing.

(Image found on a google search for typewriters).

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Fat Girl


Jessie Carty's enjoyable poetry collection, Fat Girl (published by Sibling Rivalry Press) exposes the insecurities we have with our bodies and how we are perceived by others. Carty looks at the question - what is reality when it comes to body image. Fat Girl is accessible and thought provoking. She challenges the reader, with her well-written and honest poems to reflect on their own body image.

Carty's poems are honest, truthful and themes I can relate to in my own life. I was once a fat girl too and I remember being called 'Thunder Thighs' and the embarrassment of swimming. At times I found myself nodding with agreement.

Carty can write entertaining poetry, which can be seen in Fat Girl: The Superhero, and most of them could even be enlarged to flash fiction and short stories because I want to know more about Fat Girl: The Superhero.

Carty looks at the struggles that we all have with feeling uncomfortable in our own skins and does this by creating humorous poems with serious undertones. This is demonstrated in Fat Girl at the OB/GYN - 'Mom told the doctor I needed the pill./ She was sure my love/ of twinkies would translate / to my fat thighs opening at any touch.'

My personal favourite poems from the collection: 1990s Fat Girl, Fat Girl at the OB/GYN, Fat Girl: The Superhero, Fat Girl on Fashion, I'm Trying Weight Watchers, Ill-Fitting. 


You can find Fat Girl over at Amazon or you can find Fat Girl over at the Sibling Rivalry Press website.
Jessie Carty's online home is here: www.jessiecarty.com

Sunday, 21 August 2011

How The Duvet Provides An Important Role In The Submission Process



Submitting short stories and flash fiction while wrapped in a duvet is probably the best method for the official submission process. The duvet is hugging you, whispering, 'It'll be okay if you get a rejection, remember it's subjective,' or will be shouting, 'This will be an acceptance. I can feel it in my stuffing.'

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I Went To Pick Up A Prescription And Came Out With A Kindle

Last week I went to the supermarket to pick up my prescription and came out with a Kindle. Unfortunately, Kindles are not available on the NHS.

I feel very 21st Century at the moment.

My books on my bookshelves aren't scared or worried - I'm still going to buy them some new friends every now and then. I still want all my favourite authors in physical form.

My Kindle is great - I have downloaded free eBooks, home brew eBooks and also paid for some books too. Knowing about the 'Page Break' function in your Word processing programme is essential. One of the downloaded eBooks looked a bit messy because the author had obviously used the 'Return' button to create new pages but it didn't translate over to the Kindle - they just produced big gaps on the screen.

Even going outside can't ruin my reading enjoyment as the screen isn't like a laptop or iPad.

I'm not sure if this ideal or even a curse (especially for a book-nerd like me) but it takes less than 60 seconds to download a book from the Kindle store to the device.

I strongly recommend the wifi and 3g version. I know it means saving a few more pennies but it is worth it. The 3g is a one off payment and is available worldwide. Having the 3g, for me, is essential as I'm still surviving on internet via a dongle. Also, when we go on holiday I won't have to take a whole suitcase devoted to books.

They also have an 'experimental' feature which allows you to browse the internet - it does struggle if there are a lot of images - so if you know the mobile address alternative then I would recommend using that as a way to access any sites.

I'm finding my reading speed is quicker and I'm munching my way through books at a rapid speed (maybe this is due to the fact that I'm in bed reading all day because I can't stand to watch another property programme).

You can also have newspapers and blogs sent directly to the Kindle too - a feature I would definitely use when on holiday (I need to go on holiday to use these features!).

I am going to be looking into publishing with Kindle over the next few weeks/months and also having my blog available on the Kindle too. - Will report back.

Anyway I should stop before I start sounding like an advert.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Flash Fiction Acceptance

Just a quick post to let say I have had an acceptance from Referential Magazine. My little piece of flash fiction will be appearing in the near future.

Referential Magazine is an online magazine with a difference. Each piece is inspired by another piece of poetry/story/photograph on the website. So if you're a poet, short story writer or even a photographer then you should consider having a look at the website and get inspired.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Review - The Radleys

I have never read a vampire book. Hold on, I might have back when I binged on Goosebumps and Point Horror but to be honest, I can't remember most of those plots. That period was one huge book blur.

Anyway, I read 'The Radleys' by Matt Haig the other week and really enjoyed it. The Radley family live in a detached house in the suburbs, have respectable jobs, have two children - one girl, one boy, have the people carrier parked on the drive way. From the outside, they are the perfect middle class family. But the parents have a secret. A big secret. They are vampires. Their teenage children find out and it all starts to fall apart.

The short chapters are great and make it very hard to put down the book. I kept promising to read just one more chapter and then another one and then another one. Extracts from the 'abstainers handbook' are funny too.

Think American Beauty but with vampires and a mixture of British middle-class repression.

You can buy the book by clicking on the below link.


The Radleys

Friday, 29 July 2011

Review - The End of the Alphabet


The End of the Alphabet

Do you like Amiee Bender's quirky plots? 
Do you like Raymond Carver's sparse writing style? 
Do you like Andrew Kaufman's novels? 
Do you like the alphabet? 

If you answered yes to more than one of the above questions then you will love CS Richardson's short novel, The End of the Alphabet. Ambrose Zephyr is obsessed with the alphabet. Around the the of his 50th birthday, he fails a medical. The doctor tells him he has only a month to live, give or take a few days. In the time that he has left, he decides to travel with his wife, Zipper Ashkenazi, to places he has always wanted to go, in strict alphabetical order. This book is quirky and charming and definitely not sickly. 

This is a great short novel and people who like the above authors will love this book. 

Monday, 25 July 2011

A Shower of Writing Links

Lets not talk about the fact that I went back to the doctors and have another round of antibiotics. It's worse than a broken MP3 file. All I will tell you is that it feels like someone is repeatedly punching my ribs. And it is highly likely that I will turn into an antibiotic.

There have been lots of great articles appearing on the internet recently:

Blake Butler over at HTML Giant tells us about the '22 things I learned from submitting writing'.

Kirsty Logan shows us the ideal covering letter. Cover letters.

Michael Amos provides writers with a helpful PDF on organising your novel on Microsoft Word. A novel approach to Word.

John Harding gives a few pointers to help get that publishing deal. A few tips to help you get published.

The New Yorker looks at the Art of Writing. Words, Words, Words.

Elizabeth S. Craig talks about the '8 things you need to know about living with a writer.'

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Ultimate Desk Search

Today I am over at Hazel Foster's place talking about the history of my desks. Hazel is currently running a brilliant series called The Ultimate Desk Search.

You can read my post by click on the next sentence : Ultimate Desk Search - Jessica Patient

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Gone Coughing

Sorry for neglecting you little old blog. I can see you have spiders hanging from the corners with huge webs full of dead flies. Not nice at all. 


Originally I had a long blog post about mucus, being sick, coughing, more coughing, the number of tissues used compared to the number of cough mixtures I had drowned my sorrows in. 


For the past four weeks I have been suffering from bronchitis. I have been to the doctors over six times and to the hospital twice. The doctor banned me from work and the gym. My duvet became my best friend forever. 


I am still suffering with costochondritis - inflamed cartilage around the ribcage, which then rubs the lining of the lung. 


Anyway, I'm off to have a nap - the pain killers have kicked in and my eyelids are h-e-a-v-y. 

Monday, 27 June 2011

Review - Not so Perfect

The other week I won a Nik Perring's 'Not so Perfect' short story collection over at Dan Powell's blog. It went straight to the top of my mental to-do reading list. And over the weekend, I devoured the whole thing. I gulped down the 22 stories and even re-read some of my favourite ones. My particular favourites are 'When You're Frightened, Honey, Think of Strawberries' and 'The Mechnical Woman.'

This pocket-sized book is ideal for lovers of small handbags. I really love the square coaster shape. I have been thinking of putting all of my published pieces in one place and I think a small square book would do them nicely.

Most of the characters are on the fringe of society and are mostly looking for acceptance or who are wanting to find a way forward with their lives - a stalker watching a mother in a library, a woman who vomits animals, a shark boy who has to always move. In a few carefully chosen words, Perring can make the read care for a character who vomits lemurs.

I like short stories where things are hinted at but not fully told. This collection does that.

Not So Perfect is ideal for someone who only wants to dip into a one page story, maybe while they wait at the doctors or waiting for a train but it is also ideal if you want to read a book from cover to cover.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Editing in Wonderland

Some times editing this novel is very much like Alice in Wonderland. You tell the long chapters to 'drink this' and then they start shrinking. Descriptions shrink and then head off to the naughty bin and boring speech disappears.
You tell the short chapters to 'eat this' and they start expanding at a rapid rate. The characters start talking and a whole section about a major part of the plot needs adding because one silly little sentence isn't going to cut it.

I'm over half way with the redrafting of this novel. A lot of the chapter openings are being sliced and diced. I need to get to the important stuff. This version is definitely going to have a smaller word count. But I think this is a good thing.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Days Out For Writers - Out Of This World Exhibition

Last Sunday, on a drizzly morning the Mister and I drove off to Cockfosters (parked the car for £1 all day!) and got the tin can to Kings Cross and then a quick walk to the British Library, trying to dodge puddles and people dragging suitcases on wheels.

The Out of This World Exhibition at the British Library is a showcase of science fiction through the ages. The atmosphereic room (along with sci-fi sound effects) is split into catergories, helping to link together books with a simliar theme. Future worlds, alien worlds, parallel worlds, virtual worlds, the end of the world, perfect world led us through a visual reading list of books right back from 2AD, right up to the present.
One book was even about getting to the moon by Swan. Brilliant. Even the Brontes tried their hand at writing science fiction. Something I didn't know until I went to the exhibition. And their writing - blooming heck - so so so so tiny. I remember being told off at school when my writing took a shrinking pill but their writing is very 'Honey, I shrunk my notebook'.

Even some of the ideas expressed by writers back in the 19th Century and early 20th have come true - going to the moon, the internet, communications, etc. As yet, no time travel machine. Even the tardis was there but it seemed the doctor wasn't - maybe be he was trapped in one of the reading rooms.

It was great to see some of my favourites on display - Margaret Atwood, Philip K Dick, George Orwell, Huxley, Time Traveller's Wife.

I found the exhibition very inspiring. I now want to read 'The Female Man' and 'Zoo city.' Even the mister felt inspired to read more fiction. It was fasinating to see how literature from the past has influenced our modern world about science fiction - whether in books, art and film.



The exhibition is on until September.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Short Story Playlist

Short Story Playlist is a Tumblr site I have set up so I could put the links to some of my favourite short stories all in one place. In the past I have printed them off and kept them in a folder and then lost the folder either due to moving or my over zealous spring-cleaning. I then used my favourites tab to collect them but that just cluttered up my browser. So Short Story Playlist will keep them in one place and I will end up with my own ultimate collection.

I'm also going to put some of my writing quotes on there too.

It's a work-in-progress.

The link is http://jessicapatient.tumblr.com/

Feel free to recommend any of your favourite short stories.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

I Really Should be Writing but...

'I really should be writing but...' is a new blog series. I am currently reading 'Taking Reality by Surprise' and one of the exercises in the book is called 'I've always wanted to write but..' which looks at the things we put in the way to distract us from writing. The exercise is meant to confront and dismantle the blocks that stop us from writing. 

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Box Sets

Coming home, slumping down into the cozy chair, pulling down the blinds to block out the evening sun and chain-watching episode after episode of Mad Men, BSG, West Wing or what ever Amazon has posted to you. Before you realise it, it has gone half nine and the washing-up still needs doing, you need a shower and your eyelids need some major shut-eye.
Box sets are addictive. There is no need to wait for next week's episode because it's waiting for you on the main menu. After staring at a computer screen at words all day and then torturing your muscles at the gym, your body needs to have a sit down. The eyes are craving something that doesn't involve an ISBN. You do want to write because there is a new desk upstairs and it's your novel. You know it has been rejected by one or two agents but one of those offered some really great feedback so you should be spending every minute polishing and pruning to send it back to them.
But the box set pulls you in with its four episodes per disc. Watch every one and you get a prize. Its the satisfaction of knowing that you can chain-watching without needing a break. While upstairs, chapter thirteen is in need of a major-major-major redrafting and chapter fourteen needs a read through before adding paper notes.
You come up stairs after watching Don Draper drink ten billion whiskeys, still win the girl and get an award for an ad campaign that he wrote down on the back of a fag packet. You give your manuscript a little pat and promise to work on him tomorrow. You promise one episode. Because you need to wean off a box set slowly...


*

If you want to write your own 'I really should be writing but...' post then feel free to either write a guest post for here or send me the link. I would love to know your distractions. 

Friday, 27 May 2011

Help Wanted: A Superhero Is Needed

I know that someone can help because I have watched great documentaries such as Heros, and X-Men and I have read great non-fiction like All My Friends are Superheroes. So I know super heroes exist.

If you know one then please let me know. I am looking for someone to push the 31st May 2011 back for at least two weeks. It really is important. I want to enter a writing competition but this story is being awkward. First the short story wanted to be a flash fiction piece. Then it wanted to be a nine page story. Now its in limbo. I don't have much time. One minor character is wanting a bigger role and another character wants to wear tin-foil hats. Don't even get me started on the cat who is actually wearing a tin-foil hat. I really need to lasso this story and train him. Even the ironing seems more appealing at the moment.


So let me know if you have contact details for this sort of superhero.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Florence and Giles

Florence and Giles – John Harding


I don’t normally do horror books. I think the reasoning for this is my binge-reading antics over Goosebumps books and then the Point Horror ones when I was younger. I didn’t want that Point Romance rubbish. I needed the hard core stuff and I needed one at least every other day. I read all of the ones in the school library and would haunt the shelves each lunchtime, hoping to find a title that I hadn’t read. I even worked my way through the local library’s collection of spooky teen books.

I heard about Florence and Giles via Twitter – a lot of people were recommending it and there was also an offer on the Kindle version too. However, I don’t own an eReader (I’m still divided over them) so I went to a real-life bookshop (yes, they still exist) and got a copy for full price. If a book gets two thumbs-up then it has got to be worth the full price, right?

Florence and Giles is about Florence, a 12 year orphan, living in her Uncle’s remote New England Mansion in 1891, with her younger brother, Giles. The reader is sucked straight into the captivating narrative; following Florence’s unreliable perspective as she learns to read, secretly, after her absent Uncle bans her from books. In the dusty, neglected library, she devours books by Shakespeare and Poe. Because she is teaching herself to read, Florence’s language expression is great – “I would wasp her picnic". Sometimes it is confusing but this is adds to the atmosphere and is also questioned by the other characters.

I like the way Florence stands up to the stereotype of women from the turn of the century, by defying her uncle, being a strong character, and standing up for her beliefs. I could see Florence becoming a Suffragette in her adulthood. All though I think the adorable nature is to lure in the reader because she can be very scary too. At night she sometimes sleepwalks around the isolated, crumbling mansion (complete with strange figures in the mirrors, portraits watching every move and unexplained noises AND a boarded up tower) and has recurring dreams about a mysterious woman trying to threaten her younger brother. Other times she pretends to sleepwalk so she can find out about her past and her family.

After the sudden violent death of the children's first governess, a second, creepier teacher, Miss Taylor, arrives, and reigns over the mansion. Florence becomes convinced that the new governess is a malevolent spirit who means to do Giles harm. She sets all to do anything to protect her little brother at all costs. The ending is chilling and ambiguous – I’m not going to tell you though. I like a book that leaves the reader asking questions at the end.

I wanted to try and write a review without using the clichés of page-turner, spine chilling and gripping but I really am struggling but Florence and Giles is all of these things.


You can buy the book from Amazon. Florence and Giles .

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Time Management for Time-squeezed Writers

Stephanella Walsh from The Creative Identity sends out a newsletter each month, The Creative Times. I don't normally do newsletter - I like to browse the website. Also I need room in my inbox for emails from my bestie mates - Sainsburys, Tesco and Amazon who email me every day. Sometimes several times a day! See, I told you they were my best friends forever.

But Stephanella's newsletter is great - there are always links to her past articles from the website, links to writing comps and links to great writing/creativity websites. This month there is a link to Word Saucery about time management for writers. Click this sentence to read the article. This article is really interesting and is worth some of your precious internet time to have a read.

Some of my favourite points included:

  • Writing a little every day - build 'writing hunger'
  • Write in your head - 'incubate ideas'
  • 'Be kind to yourself - without letting yourself off the hook.' 
  • Writing down ideas even you don't know what to do with them - they could help later when you're stuck for ideas. 
  • 'Let go of perfect'.

Friday, 6 May 2011

New Writing Desk

We have now parted the junk in the spare room. (A bit like Moses with the Red Sea. But it wasn't the Red Sea - it was spare car parts, boxes, and bags of clothes AND neither of us are called Moses). In the corner, my new desk, a present from my lovely boyfriend for my birthday, has been assembled, following the novel-length instruction book. I now have a home for my laptop (no more warm lap or back ache) and also my printer (the leads are still missing in action).


On the left is a partial short story. Originally it was meant to be a flash fiction piece. At the moment it reches over 1000 words. On the right is my new notebook too. Not much in there - just an idea for a non-fiction piece and also notes for the current short story. 


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A Catch-Up

“I really should blog” was a phrase I kept saying during the Easter/Royal Wedding break. But what to blog about, well a few things:

Watching
Finishing the West Wing complete box set – we started this back in September 2009 (I only remember this because we were on holiday in a cottage in Edinburgh but the TV there was so tiny that we gave up) and the other night we watched the final episode. West Wing looks at the politically life-span of a Democrat president and his senior staff. Definitely a happy ending for all of the characters. I know feel like I know more about American politics than British politics. When ever I see an American politician/White House worker on a news item I always sit there and work out their counter-part on the show.

We also finished Battlestar Galactica. I got the box set for my birthday. BSG is set in a distant galaxy; where a human race live on a series of planets know as the twelve colonies. In the past, the humans had been war with robots (originally created by the humans), known as the Cylons – who have human-looking robots and also the traditional, chrome looking bots. They attack all of the colonies with nuclear bombs. Only a few ships survive and are guided by the only surviving Battleship, Galactica, in search of a fabled planet know as earth. I am a big Stargate fan and also like Star Trek but BSG is by far the best science fiction series I have ever seen. Huge themes are tackled – religion, cults, genocide, death, ambiguous morals, politics and terrorism. Every character has flaws and there are no set goodies and badies – they smoke, they drink (a lot), have sex, argue. There are no aliens, no saving planets, no stand-alone episodes – there are long story lines that go across several episodes, series, and entire series. Humanity is on the endangered list. Even non-science fiction fans would like this.

Reading
I read a Charles Yu’s short story collection – Third Class Superhero. (I believe it was published before his novel). I really enjoyed reading the short story called Third Class Superhero – it could actually make it into my top ten short stories. All of the stories have similar themes – no father presence, identity, soul less jobs, mothers, the need to express feelings.

I am currently reading Nicole Krauss’s Great House. (I won it via Twitter). I can’t make out if it’s a novel or a short story collection pretending to be a novel.


Novel progress
Over the holidays I planned to redraft a chapter each day. That would have been a huge chunk of the novel. But in reality, I only managed two. At first, I thought I would make it. First day, chapter seven. I read through it. Seems good. A typo. A few confusing sentences. delete a small paragraph. Add another paragraph. Yeah, awesome chapter eight! You are the best!

I left the notes sitting for a few days before pulling them out again. I read through the chapter again. eeek. The beginning went on for pages. Things weren't explained. A hole here, another hole there. eeek. The opening was crap. I really want to type up those notes and pretend it was okay but that nagging feeling made me stop. So, a major rewrite of the whole chapter took up another four days. But at least I like it now. Not so much fluff at the beginning and more details in the middle and beginning.

Chapter nine was all over the place. The major character kept thinking about the same things and moving into different rooms. Too confusing for a chapter. So the character was cut back to two rooms, some more internal thoughts, more character interaction because my two major characters who meet for the first time and improving the dialogue.

So the lessons learnt - being honest with your own writing is the best policy, editing chapters can't be rushed and don't trust a chapter if it says 'I'm awesome.'

Short Story
I had an idea. It involved robots. A boy and his obsession with the girl across the road. I thought it was going to be a piece of flash fiction. It turns out the idea wants to be a short story - So I am currently making notes, expanding and also deleting a few parts.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Genre Wars: Literary Fiction Against Science Fiction

Writers, do you wonder why other writers/agents/editors/friends want to know what genre your writing falls into? It’s so they know which regiment you will fall into if there were ever a genre war. If you written a novel with bits of different genres and can’t work out which army you should fall into, well, you need to make a decision or you’ll be sent to a writing camp and made to write until you have a definite genre.

You would have thought the crumpling publishing industry would make authors join forces and live in harmony. Chicklit authors would be hugged by fantasy authors. YA authors would be welcomed into the inner circle. Literary authors would sit around the camp fire with science fiction authors, laughing at some lame publishing joke. But this is delusional.
The simmering friction between literary fiction versus science fiction is now national news. Science fiction / Horror / Fantasy authors have sent a letter to the BBC asking why their genre doesn’t get the same coverage as literary fiction. You can read some reports here, here and here. “When two tribes go to war” went around, in a loop, in my head as I jumped between articles.
A war is definitely going to happen.

The war will look strange to any one not familiar with genre clichés. Yes, clichés will be the main weapons of choice. No one wants to use new metaphors for a war. They want to save fresh prose for their epic novels.

Other genres will be involved, but will mainly watch from the sidelines. Chicklit authors will promise to run the refreshment tent but will either fall into a champagne coma or get bored and go shopping. The Lad-lit crowd will probably be running bets on who will win, who will get the first red card, which side will swallow a troll.
The location will need to be a huge empty space, maybe the pages of a blank book. The guttering of the pages will be no-man’s land.
No hand sake at the beginning – just in case the other side try to break those essential typing fingers.
The science fiction writers will fire first. They will send hundreds of trolls into enemy territory to bite the ankles of literary authors. After bandaging up the wounded, literary fiction authors will send over child narrators with squeaky voices, until the ear drums of the science fiction writers pop. Science fiction authors will send out an air-based strike. Battle star ships will use their cannons to fire out space opera books. Characters, whose names begin with X or Z, will parachute into enemy territory and try stealing plot lines about council estates. A mushroom shaped cloud of purple prose will silence both sides. No one will know who fired the weapon. Many will probably think it was the science fiction writers because they normally fight until they have a dystopian landscape, resembling the landscape of many novels.

Of course, like a playground game, no body will die. They will be made to suffer a course in their most detested genre, then made to read at least fifty books of that genre and finally, write a novel in that genre.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Books Still Exist and 'Bigging-Up' Writing Courses


Books still exist. I went to London Book Fair and there were books – and guess what – there were publisher stands – so I can’t see the publishing business becoming extinct just yet.

I went to a seminar about up and coming illustrators. This area has always fascinated me – I have actually have written two picture books but they are in that ‘bottom of the drawer’ and will never see the light of day – One of the panellists was saying now her illustration degree didn’t prepare for the picture books. I could relate to this with my writing degree. You can have a writing degree – but once you’re out in the real world, still writing, you realise that you need to set your own deadlines, there are more things to learn all the time. A writing apprenticeship doesn’t end once you have the certificate saying you have taken a writing course. I have learnt, about flash fiction, writing for the Internet, social networking, blogging, public performance, submission process, finishing a novel, and rejections. Nobody tells you that to be a writer you need motivation by the lorry-load, determination by the trainload and discipline by the boatload.

A few winners of the new illustrators prize gave ‘big-ups’ to art education. Which, with the rising costs of course fees, writing courses need to be ‘bigged-up’ too. Doing a writing degree allows you time to explore the rules (so you can break them), peer reviews, advice from established writers, time to write, deadlines, friends, guidance, hardening of creativity skin against the rejections.

I don’t think people come out of writing courses, all writing the same. I found on my writing course that we were specifically told to find our own style, tone and voice. We may of all have the same assignment but every piece of writing was different.

I didn’t come from a high-income family. In fact I had to delay my entrance to university to have a gap year and work, work, work just to pay for the accommodation. I had to even work 25 hours each week during term time (good for writing inspiration) just to feed my stationery habit. If you want to do something, then don’t let money stop you. It might delay you but don’t let it stop you from achieving
I might have a huge student loan (thanks to high inflation) but it comes out of my wages and doesn’t bother me. I would not have learnt about properly structuring a short story, of the principles of novel writing, or met like-minded people. I would not have this blog either or published pieces. 

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

I have just finished reading a great book. A really good four star type of book (Five being ‘top notch’. One being ‘send to the pulp machine immediately’). Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake was a birthday present from my parents, the other month. We were in the local bookshop and to tell you the truth, I let out a gasp. The bookshop doesn’t normally have books that I like in there (quirky, cult-ish, surrealist, etc.) The quote from Jodi Picoult didn’t put me off either. My Mum did say, are you sure, because I know you found Picoult same-y after two books?
 
I had heard about Aimee Bender through Nik Perring’s blog after he interviewed her. I loved the interview and went away and read some of her online short stories and checked out her website. Quiet Please is a great one. The Rememberer is a good one too.

Anyway, back to the book.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is about Rose Edelstein, who, on the verge of turning nine, bites into her Mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she can taste emotion. She can taste the emotions that people are trying to cover up. And her brother… but that would be a spoiler. This book is about growing up, relationships, facing the real world, fear. The way that the fantastic is told in a normal, everyday setting, as if having a ‘power’ was normal is brilliant. The story is told in a subtle way and convincing too.


I see, via Goodreads (On you on there? It’s a social network site for book lovers – I want to stalk your reading tastes – please join!), that a few people felt disappointed that there was no indication between dialogue and the story. It’s experimental, people, move with the times. I like a book that challenges me to take more time over the words and makes me sit up and pay attention.


Bender’s writing style is sharp. She tells the story in a beautiful way without getting sentimental. The descriptions of the food are mouth-watering and reminds me of Nigel Slater’s Toast.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

You Are The Next Big Thing

You have become obsessed with refreshing your email, so much that you have RSI in your mouse-clicking finger. Click. Refresh. Click. Refresh. Zero new emails. Click Refresh. Then you remember that you only have one short story submission out in the ether at the moment. You checked on Duotrope Digest’s website and the minimum time of response is thirty days plus and you only sent the story the other night. Have a think. Make mental note to only check emails twenty times in the next hour. Click. Refresh. Zero new emails. Lips are sore. Refreshment is needed. Can’t believe stupid body needs watering. Off to kitchen. Pour out a glass of water from the jug. Run back up the stairs as the Macbook doesn’t like being left alone with the HP laptop because of previous ‘bullying issues.’ Click. Refresh. One new email. Internet slowing. Whack the side of the screen, hoping it will speed things along. A slight hesitation – the email is in your spam box. See the subject line – Next Big Thing. Open immediately. ‘I am writing to you because you are the next big thing. You really are going to be huge.’ Stop reading the email. Take a breath. Give self a tap on the back. You have finally made it. Someone has recognised your talents. You don’t recognise the name of the person who sent it. The name is definitely not on your ‘Literary Agents to stalk and then send 100,000 novel on the human condition’ list in your moleskine. Maybe it’s an Editor bypassing the whole publishing structure. Re-read the sentence ‘You are the next best thing.’ Let out a cheer. The cat stirs. 'Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore,' you say to the cat. The cat isn't called Toto and you don't even live in the USA. Scroll further down the email that keeps boasting about how grand your will be and how all the hotties will flock to you. Then you stop. Take a step back from the Macbook. They are selling you Viagra.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Newspaper Clippings

A while back (actually quite a while back) I went through a phase of cutting out interesting newspaper headlines/clippings that either inspired me, sounded intriguing or insightful. Most of them were writing focused. I remember having them up on my wall at University. A few helped with story ideas.
I came across them at the weekend while I was unpacking and came across these two.

I like the quote 'The novel did not grow organically. It was force-fed and boosted with steroids.' Editing sometimes feels it like you're giving your novel a steroid boost just to get it to the next level and maybe finally reach that stage where you can say, yes, it's finished. Injecting new descriptions, an extra dose of dialogue, a smaller dose of 'tell the reader everything at the beginning' pill. But you wouldn't want a first draft to be pumped with drugs though - you want it be natural, raw and flow because it will be the foundation.


Sorry about the poor quality photographs - I only have my Blackberry camera to hand.

Monday, 21 March 2011

At Least The Books Are Unpacked

I have been moving hosue and unpacking for the past week. If the Mister didn't have so many car parts and I didn't have so many books then we would have a ship-shape house. At the moment the car parts are balanced in the spare room, my desk is still in its box and the microwave has disappeared. But we're getting there.

I nearly had a breakdown over a flat pack bedside table and swore at every screw for the bookcase. We have three now - yipee. One was already built, another one took me thirty minutes to build and the last one took me over two hours. I have the blisters to prove it. Anyway, I won and now the books are in their new home.



I have found the time in between ironing curtains and break our new hoover to send out a flash fiction piece to an online magazine and also enter a short story in a competition. The redrafting of chapter three is also in progress - slowly but I will get there.

I'm currently reading Toast by Nigel Slater. I have had the book for years but the television adaptation that was on over the Christmas holidays finally inspired me to pluck the book off the shelf. Bilmey, what great descriptions about food - makes me hungry. I can also see why fans of the book were annoyed with the adaptation - the film has left out a lot of detail.

I haven't quite finished the book yet but it has inspired me to finally sit down and write a fodo article I have had in my head for months. Just need to find some time.

Also, don't you think these look good  (click here) - mini books that fit in the pocket. A bit like Polly Pocket but for booklovers.