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Writing Wednesday: Books about writing

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When I was growing up we didn’t have the internet, I think we got it when I went to secondary school (comp, we called it). But before that we got our information from Encarta (do you remember that?) which was an encyclopedia on the computer, there was another one but I can’t remember it. Other than that we had to go to the library and look for a book if we needed information (the library, not the bookshop, how times change) and when I decided I wanted to write the library was where I found my first books about writing.

I probably read a lot over the years but I have no record of what books I read and can’t remember -there was no goodreads back then. The first books on writing I actually had were probably free with writing magazines:

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How To Write A Blockbuster was also in the library and I often dipped into this book. It’s got plenty of interesting information, a character profile template and basic info on active and passive writing (show don’t tell) but it doesn’t really go in depth. ‘Write Away’ has helpful advice (a list of jobs for characters) and there’s a section at the back with pictures of places that have inspired the author’s settings. It feels more like someone talking to you than just facts like How To Write A Blockbuster

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On Writing is part autobiography and part writing book,  it’s one people often recommend and I keep meaning to reread, had it first from the library. The Writer’s Journey I bought for a couple of pence from The Works years and years ago (was it The Works then or still Bookends?) it’s a book about structure, there’s many plot structures out there and this is one of the well known ones that feature in a lot of popular films. I haven’t read much of this book but looking at it now it is interesting, it looks at specific films e.g. Pulp Fiction and breaks the scenes down into structure, helpful for writers who love to plot. Very intensive!

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I don’t very often get time to read my writing books again, but they are helpful when I need some advice. They were all we had before smart phones with goggle at your fingertips ready to answer your questions. I bought the first two in this picture after seeing them advertised in magazines. Della Galton writes articles about writing for Writers’ Forum and this book is a great one for short story writers, it starts looking at the market which if you want to sell to magazines is important. But if you don’t it’s still helpful. It gets straight to the point and gives you the essential info with advice from other writers. Writing the paranormal is a good book to help avoid cliches and build a paranormal/fantasy world, I recommend it!

The Positively Productive writer I bought hoping it might help me to be more productive, it started to but I wasn’t meeting my goals. I am more productive now thanks to advice from writers online. This is one of those books that seem to offer so much but I find I learn more from writers giving advice on blogs or videos (youtube) which are free

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I’ve bought way too many writing books over the years, The Five Minute Writer was a book swap, like the tiny book  (free with a magazine) it is full of exercises which can be helpful, I can’t rememeber when I last looked at these. I like Back To Creative Writing School by Bridget Whelan, when I used to be stuck writing I started to use these exercises often to help keep me going, it’s on my Kindle (there’s more writing books on my Kindle).

I recently bought Editing The RedPen Way by Anne Rainbow and I’ve been working through it as I try to edit a short story, I’ll have to review it at some point. I bought the two books of editing in the picture above and paid about £7.99 for each one but they disappointed me as they did not deliver what they promised. They both seem to give a lot of detail about how to write (self editing book mentions tenses and naming characters) but  do not really give me the editing information I needed.  Maybe I just expected too much of them, they have a few helpful things in there but I felt they were just telling me how to write not edit. Editing The RedPen Way  costs £2.99 and gives you a list of questions and things to look for whilst editing, which I am finding more helpful.

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The Weekend Novelist is very indepth and gives you a list of what to do and when to write that novel if you only have  weekends to write. I haven’t read this for years, I work weekends. There’s a lot in there but I’m not a planner and I don’t like following strict plans/rules. I’d rather have a goal to meet, or tasks to do that I have set myself but that’s not to say this book might not help someone else.

Your Writing Coach by Jurgen Woolfe: where How To Write A Blockbuster novel has plenty of information but doesn’t go into detail, this book does. There’s exercises and links at the end of each chapter. I’ve often dipped into this book. It has some good tips for when you get stuck and a good chapter on characters. Recommend it!

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No Plot No Problem is the book to help you if you want to write a novel in a month, National Novel Writing Month is in November, I did this twice ages ago and it really helped me silence my inner critic. The book is great for Pantsers (people who don’t plan but write by the seat of their pants) and I enjoy reading it, it’s a morale boost.

Wonderbook, I never got around to finishing this book. I need to read it and review it, it has some interesting advice and the art work is amazing. Love it. Jeff Vandermeer is an amazing imaginative writer!

I have a lot of ebooks but I won’t mention them all: Write Your Novel From The Middle by James Scott Bell is another book for people who don’t plan. The idea is if you know the middle you can work backwards and think how to get there.

 

Most of these books I’ve bought because I’ve been stuck and hoped they would help me. Or I thought I was worried my story would not be good enough and I wanted to know as much as I could before I sat down to write. Now I find so much information online: blogs, websites or youtube videos and it’s quicker than reading a book. I also have found forums and quotes from writers helpful motivation and support.

Although I don’t read them, I don’t want to part with these books. I want to reread some. There are always recommendations for books on writing but we are all different so what may help one person might not help another and vice versa, we all have different obstacles and strengths.

Update: wrote 5 days last week only short bursts and managed 3,100 words. I’ve struggled to find time this week and am wondering if my blogging should’ve taken a break in order to get some writing done. I have a few blog posts to write but no time at the moment.

What books do you own/recommend? 

Netgalley, review

The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan

I was given this book in e-book format from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. It’s expected release date is: 19th April 2018.

Description from Netgalley:

The best lives leave a mark.

Mara’s island is one of stories and magic, but every story ends in the same way. She will finish her days on the cliff, turned to stone and gazing out at the horizon like all the islanders before her.

Mara’s parents – a boxer and a ballerina – chose this enchanted place as a refuge from the turbulence of their previous lives; they wanted to bring up their children somewhere special and safe. But the island and the sea don’t care what people want, and when they claim a price from her family, Mara’s world unravels.

It takes the arrival of Pearl, mysterious and irresistible, to light a spark in Mara again, and allow her to consider a different story for herself.

The Gloaming is a gorgeous tale of love and grief, and the gap between fairy tales and real life.

My Review

The Gloaming is the story of the Ross family: Sidhe, Peter, Islay, Mara and Bee. It’s also about the island where they live which often feels like a character and not just an amazing setting. It has the feeling of a mythical story with a hint of magic always there.

The story is mesmerising and kept me riveted- eager to discover what happens next. The story begins when the girls are in their late teens and the events unfold as they get older. Sometimes we’re taken back into the past, back when Signe and Peter met and other times to the first time that they came to the island, these little snapshots of the past flow seamlessly into the story and allow us to know everything about the family.

The Gloaming is one of those immersive stories, a world that you fall into, like a dream and just like a dream it leaves you wondering. I enjoyed everything about this novel, the characters and their story, the island, the magic and the way the story is told, flowing along with dips into the past. With one exception: the very end chapter entitled: ‘After’ for me this chapter or afterthought spoilt the ending. It presents us with a few ideas of what would happen next, after the story ended. I feel it is unnecessary because with any end we always wonder what happens next. I think the story ends perfectly without this chapter and it feels like an intrusion into the story.

However I’d still recommend this book as I enjoyed every moment of it.

writing

Writing Wednesday: Finding the time 

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Update:

Last week I typed up the first few chapters of my novel- it took longer than I thought! I also started rewriting/editing a short story. By the end of the week  I wasn’t happy with how much I’d done because I didn’t finish either task. And this week it seems that I won’t have much time either. I didn’t write any new material for the novel I’m working on but I did end up writing a new short story. 

So far this week I have written approx 698 words out of my 2,000 a week goal. It’s early in the week though and I’m hoping that I will find the time to write more. It can be hard to find the time or the motivation to write sometimes, especially with work so how do you do it?

Finding the time to write

I’ve heard/read a lot of advice over the years,  I read once that you should find an optimal time of day to write, that some people may write better in the morning others in the evening etc But if you don’t have a 9-5 job, or you don’t have your work hours set each week then having a writing routine is difficult.

This should be the only writing rule or advice you listen to (once you got the basics): find what works for you look for advice and help by all means but remember that we are all different and what works for one person may not be the best for you. 

Here’s my thoughts on how to find the time to write:

  • Write in your dinner break at work or on the bus on the way to work (this doesn’t work for me as I need quiet)
  • Write before breakfast or during breakfast instead of watching tv/radio
  • In the bath (haven’t tried it, I read in the bath but books get wet )
  • Get up earlier than normal or go to bed later to get some writing done in the extra time
  • What can you sacrifice? If you’re really honest, how much time can you gain for writing? You could not watch that tv programme or you could limit social media. Could you even put off household chores until the writing is done?
  •  If you have a word count goal figure out how long it will take to reach it and then you could either write it all in one sitting or write in blocks of say fifteen minutes or as much time as you can spare.
  • If you are really stuck then you could do it next week and take a break! No procrastinating now!
  • Be kind to yourself too. Do what you can and celebrate every little achievement (I’m being a hypocrite here because I need to do this!)

If you really struggle all the time then maybe you need to think about what is stopping you from writing. Is it that you are too busy? Is it a lack of confidence or a overzealous inner critic? (If it’s the inner critic NaNoWriMo helps a lot)

Maybe it’s life and you need to work that out first before you can devote time to writing. I often hear people say they don’t have time to read, sometimes it’s true, but people use it as an excuse rather than admit that they don’t really want to or like reading (which is fine! But why lie?!)  So is writing something you really want to do? Maybe you’ve always wanted to finish a novel but things get in the way?

Or maybe you’re not enjoying it like you used to and you need a break. I used to find writing a chore because I was so focused on being published and meeting certain goals and I got stressed. I took a break and changed my focus and found the love for writing again.

Sometimes you just need to be motivated:

How to get motivated/inspired

  • Take a break, sometimes a day off or even a week is all you need. The mind needs time to refresh 
  • Listen to music when you write. If you’re writing a love story listen to a love song. Or if you’re writing a horror some scary music can help you to get into the right frame of mind (youtube!)
  • Read a good book- books can be inspiring, after all isn’t that how we became writers, from a love of reading? Don’t just read the books they say everyone should read, read out of your comfort zone, read funny books, fantasy books… Any good book can be inspirational
  • Daydream or think about your story when you’re doing something else. I often do this before a writing session it takes the pressure off when you sit down to write.
  • Writing exercises/prompts can also be a good way to kick start your imagination. Whether it’s exercises online or just scrolling through images or reading a newspaper for a prompt or idea
  • Set a timer and write anything (even if you think it’s rubbish) until the timer goes off. This has helped me when I’ve been stuck in the past, goggle has a timer if your phone doesn’t

And above all be kind to yourself you know if you have time or not. There’s no rush.

What’s your tips for finding the time and being inspired?

 

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*NEW * Writing Wednesdays: I am a Writer!

I’ve finally committed to making this blog not just about my love of books but also my love of writing. I’m feeling brave 🙂 I’m calling it Writing Wednesdays to remind myself to post every Wednesday, feel free to comment and link me to your writing blogs. If you have any advice you’d like to share then let me know I’d love to have a guest blogger.

I’ll update on where I am with my writing goals- being accountable means I’ll be even more motivated. I’m thinking it’ll also be about sharing advice and writing book reviews and maybe the occasion musings about writing. My first post is an introduction so you know more about me as a writer. (let me know if you want to know anything specifically once I start talking about writing I find it hard to stop).

I am a writer.

Ever since I was in year 3 of Primary School I’ve wanted to be a  published writer. Yes, PUBLISHED writer it’s only recently I’ve learnt to say that I am a writer and I want to be published. I never felt that I could call myself a writer before because despite all those years of wanting to be a writer I don’t have much to show for it. One paid for writing course, a free futurelearn writing course and a course I was given for free after winning a writing competition. Oh, and a lot of pages and pages and files of unfinished stories and novels.

Although:

I won a writing competition ages ago, you can find my story here http://bridgendwriters.webplus.net/opencompwinners.html

 Looking at this is a reminder of how long ago it was! 2015! 

 It was strange because my first success is a sentimental story when I usually write odd things! 

I’ve let life and a lack of self-confidence get in my way over the years, even though my competition win should’ve given me a confidence boast I’ve always struggled when it came to rewriting my stories and let my inner critic put me off from finishing my stories. NOT ANY MORE!

When did I know that I was a writer?

I think there’s a difference between wanting to be one and feeling that you can actually say that you are. It’s probably about confidence. For me it’s the difference between wanting to be one and actually writing. It’s waking up in the middle of the night with an idea, it’s taking a break from writing and having bad dreams and ideas pop into your head at inconvenient times until you get writing. And being productive and getting things done or at least trying. Goals can help.

 My goal this year is:

To finish the first draft of a novel I’m working on. I will get it done! Bonus goals: to finish my short stories and send at least one off somewhere, even if it isn’t success.

Weekly goal:

2,000 words a week for my novel.

How am I doing so far?

It’s was going ok until last week which was a struggle. But I still carried on writing! This week I’ve been working on one of my short stories, if you follow me on twitter you may have seen me mention that I’ve been trying to get it finished for a long time. I’m stuck with my novel but I’m hoping that if I start typing it up it might give me some inspiration to get back into it. Because it’s not in order if I type it up and get order I think that will help. Come back next week (or follow me on twitter) to see how I’m getting on and do share your goals and achievements.

 

 

 

 

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The Sunshine Blogger Award

The Sunshine Award 2018

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately so no books to review, but I’m going to work on updating my blog pages and work on some new posts.

But I was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by Kate Carter, a lovely lady who blogs at The Tustin Girl  her blog is all about helping people.

The 4 Rules: 

  1. Thank blogger (s) who nominated you for the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo in your post and / or blog!

So here’s the answers to the questions I was asked:

 

  1. Why did you start your blog?

    I was reviewing books for the website Lovereading as part of a review panel for some time before I decided to start blogging. I started on blogger but it was a while before I really got into it. I can’t remember the why exactly. It might’ve been because I found Netgalley, which gave me access to so many ebooks in exchange for an honest review.

    I also loved the idea of sharing my thoughts about books and helping to get these books noticed.  I moved to WordPress last year and since then I’ve realised how much I enjoy blogging. It’s connected me to so many other bloggers too.

  2. What is your favourite way to unwind and relax?

    Sometimes I find it really hard to relax. My favourite way is to read a good book but if I’m not in the mood I love watching films or catching up with the many tv series I’ve started. For me the best way to really unwind is to do some yoga, it’s like a moving meditation and it helps to let go of anything that is bugging you or just relax those tight muscles.

  3. What would your ideal job be?

    I’ve always wanted to be a published writer although I see it more of a career than a job.

  4. What is your favourite film and why?

    This is a hard one, I have a lot of films that I love and watch again and again. If I had to pick one it would be The Lord Of The Rings (although technically that’s three) I seen all when they first come out and then went and read all the books. I remember being there until midnight watching The Return Of The King and the queue was massive! I had them on VHS! Now I have the extended edition on dvd (have to get blu-ray one day) I never get tired of watching it, amazing story, characters and the bits of humour. I try not to watch it on tv though I’ve just realised that they cut bits!!! How dare they!

  5. Which option would you pick between having a good, stable job with a good pay or doing something you love for very little money?

    I thought this would be a hard question but my own experience of work makes it easy. I‘d rather do something that I love than have a job just for the money.  A teacher told me once that if you love your job that you never work a day in your life. For me it’s more that if I was doing something for the love it would make me feel so happy and that I am achieving something. Working just for the money may not leave you happy, and for me at least it’s all about being happy and feeling fulfilled. I’ve worked in retail since I left school, if I didn’t need the money I wouldn’t be there, who would really? If it wasn’t for my amazing and fun colleagues I’d probably not like my job  (customers are lovely sometimes but.. it has it’s moments) I always feel like retail is somewhere I ended up not somewhere that I chose to be but that’s a whole other story.

  6. Where would you most love to live and why?

    Tenby in Pembrokeshire, South Wales. I have always said that I’d love to life here although I wonder if the novelty would wear of. This is the place I spent more of my childhood holidays, the place we’d visit every Easter Sunday. It’s a lovely seaside town, it’s only downside is everyone loves it and it’s so popular it can very busy and hard to find a place for peace and quiet. But it’s like a home from home and it always makes me happy to visit Tenby. I’d move there now if it wasn’t so far from my family- my Dad says I’m like a homing pidgeon 🙂

  7. What is your biggest fear?

    I don’t really know how to answer this question. When you suffer a bereavement you always fear losing those you love. But this is a normal fear that everyone has. My biggest fears are based on irrational thinking or a fear of failure when it comes to my writing, a fear that it will never be good enough.

  8. What has been your biggest struggle, to date, with your blog?

    Finding the time to post and to finish books in order to review them. It’s hard to fit it in with work and my own writing goals as well as spending time with loved ones. I’ve trying not to put pressure on myself but to learn to blog when I can and write posts in advance so if I don’t have time I have something to post.

  9. Which quality do you admire most in people and why?

    I admire people who work hard to get what they want in life and don’t let anything get in their way. People who are not afraid to go out there and get out of their comfort zone. I also admire people who no matter how hard life knocks them down they always have a smile on their face, I know someone like this (probably most of the people I work with) and she makes me wish that I didn’t find it so hard to be that happy myself. I wish I was less of a misery guts sometimes haha.

  10. Which famous person (alive or dead) would you most like to be like and why

    I’d love to have the talent of my favourite authors who make perfect immersive writing seem so effortless.

  11. What is your goal for 2018?

    To finish the first draft of the novel I’m writing.

 

I’d like to nominate the following bloggers:

Rachel T

Lia

Dorka

Kristina

Ash

Cait

Rachel B

Lucy

Jill

I hope you don’t mind being nominated and don’t feel like you have to. If anyone else wants to join then don’t forget to tag me so I can see your answers 🙂 Here are your questions:

  1. Other than reading (and blogging) what is your passion in life?
  2. If you could give someone a piece of advice based on your life experience what would it be? (What advice would you give your younger self)?
  3. If you could meet any fictional character in real life who would it be?
  4. What’s your favourite place to eat and your favourite meal?
  5. Marmite: love it or hate it?
  6. Which fictional world would you most like to visit?
  7. Which real place would you most like to visit?
  8. Do you have a favourite quote?
  9. What’s your favourite tv series of all time?
  10. What book would you recommend to everyone and why?
  11. Were Ross and Rachel on a break?
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Review: Thin Air by Michelle Paver

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Thank you to my book fairy on readitswapit for sending me this book!

I really enjoyed it.

My Review

I could not put this book down!

Thin Air starts by introducing the main characters and their plan to climb Kangchenjunga. It is an effortless read the characters are believable and the dialogue is realistic (writers take note) and I feel it is true to the era of 1935. At first I felt like I was reading a classic adventure story, (I haven’t read any of those or any books about mountain climbing but after reading this I am intrigued) until the tension started to build!

It’s not instantly chilling but the tone is set right at the beginning and continues with mentions of superstitions surrounding the mountain and the previous expeditions. For me it starts to get quite spooky when Dr Pearce finds a grave of one of the previous climbers.

I love the slow build of tension and the way you’re never quite sure if it’s really happening or if it’s just altitude sickness. And I loved the way that the jungle was described, most people would probably describe its colour and vibrancy in a positive way but Michelle Paver describes it as having a “steamy smell of decay”.

The atmosphere in this novel, the description of the silence on the mountain is probably what makes this story so wonderfully tense and chilling. You do feel as though you are right there and can hear exactly what Dr Pearce hears and feel his fear.

This is a short book and I enjoyed it so much that I read it within five days. I usually prefer a longer book and do feel that maybe this could’ve been longer. However it’s good to read shorter books now and again, you can read more and it’s handy for those who may not have much time to read.

Thin Air is a spooky read, intense, atmospheric and one of those books you just can’t put down! I recommend it.

Just spotted it for only £2 in my local The Works store after I read and reviewed. 

https://www.theworks.co.uk/p/new-fiction-books/thin-air/9781409163367

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Review: Paisley Shirt by Gail Aldwin

Paisley Shirt by [Aldwin, Gail]

Description from Amazon:

‘Paisley Shirt’ is a fascinating collection of 27 stories that reveal the extraordinary nature of people and places. Through a variety of characters and voices, these stories lay bare the human experience and what it is like to live in our world.

My Review

True to the description ‘Paisley Shirt’ offers a variety of short stories: ‘Accidental Brother’ is a sad story of soldiers invading the lives of innocent people, a story that will open your eyes to the lives of the characters and make you think long after reading.  ‘Games’ was one of the stories that had an end that left you thinking. Some have surprising endings like ‘At The Restaurant’ which was funny. The characters vary as much as the plot of each story: people in a hostel, a lady visiting a different country, a teenager and a ‘Aethopian Maid’ to name a few.

Each story is a snapshot into these peoples lives that strike a chord within you. The writing is very immersive and engaging, I love the descriptions and how much Gail Aldwin can convey in such a short space of time.

I enjoyed these stories so much that I finished the book in one sitting, I turned the last page and was shocked that it was the end, because the stories were so engrossing and the writing itself so eloquent I could not stop reading.

There were those that I did not understand, two entries: one about ‘Breastfeeding’ which was information about breastfeeding and one called ‘Packing’ that featured a list of items. But don’t let that put you off because this anthology is a delight to read and it may just be me 🙂

This is one of those times when I really can’t explain how amazing the writing is, you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

You can buy this as an ebook on Amazon, here it was published on 03/02/18 I received an ARC direct from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Gail Aldwin is a prize-winning writer of flash fiction, short stories, and poetry. Her work can be found online at Ink, Sweat & Tears and Slamchop and in print anthologies including What I Remember (EVB Press, 2015) Dorset Voices (Roving Press, 2012) and The Last Word (Unbound Press, 2012). Gail works collaboratively with other women writers to develop comedy for the screen and stage. With the Dorset Writers’ Network, Gail supports isolated writers in rural communities. She is an experienced teacher who delivers workshops to young people and adults in community settings. You can find Gail @gailaldwin and http://gailaldwin.wordpress.com