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Thoughts on Writing: Things I am not good at

I know we are all our own worst critic, no idea who said that. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and I always worry about the things that I am not good at and how it will affect my writing. I’m sure every writer does.

Novel Writing Problems:

  • Thinking of characters names, they are often called ‘friend’ or ‘name’ until I can think of one.
  • Thinking of place names- I had a lovely place name then I realised it didn’t mean (in Welsh) what I thought so now I don’t. I could spend ages looking for names but that’s time better spent writing
  • I have no idea where the places are in my story, ok yes, I know where they are, in this village but I can’t draw a map and this is something I definitely need to fix so it doesn’t end up being a huge error in the book- but I’m still discovering my world so that might be something I could put off until the edit
  • I am so disorganised! I am not a planner and I don’t write in order. I keep everything in a file on my laptop and an actual file.
  • I don’t write in order! This is a problem because I’m sure I’ll miss something important or end up with reams and reams of notes trying to remind me of something
  • I worry too much!
  • Although I am inspired by pictures I find it hard to picture my characters in my head completely. I have pictures on a pinterest board (no, it’s secret) that represent them. I have basic description just nothing specific like shape of face/nose. This is either not important or something I can work on later

So some of these problems are things I need not worry about (worry about worrying) until the edit. But I can’t help but feel that I really need to get a handle on these things, or find solutions. But when you are stuck for time you really want to be moving the story on and not spending hours deciding on a name (because I can’t make decisions either)

I started keeping a chart with details of my minor characters, but I forget to update it! When you’re in the zone/writing flow you are too scared to stop unless the words stop.

Short story problems:

  • Having an idea and a start but no ending or middle.
  • Having too many ideas for one story
  • Getting stuck in the editing stage and not knowing when to stop

My actual problem:

  • Trying to write a novel and finish short stories to send out to magazines/competitions (giving myself too much to do)
  • Worrying too much and being negative (sorry!)
  • My brain doesn’t work sometimes

Solutions:

  • Stop worrying
  • Prioritise
  • How do you know when to stop editing?
  • Find more solutions

 

Share your thoughts, don’t be shy.

Happy Writing!

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Book Haul and future book purchase

Awhile ago I stopped buying books in order to clear more space. I’ve done well it’s three months later and the only books I’ve had were from my Ninja Book Subscription and a Book Fairy (I wish real book fairies existed). I’ve read three of my tbr/Beat The Backlist books and my Book Fairy book. You know what, I am a book addict I don’t need to justify myself. I’ve seen a lot of books I wanted to buy and well, I’ve held off long enough.

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I couldn’t really buy one book, and once I bought one well, it’s 3 for £5!!!

Skin by Ilka Tampke

I read the blurb on the back and I had to buy this book! Have you ever read the back and first pages of a book and knew you had to buy it? Couldn’t leave the shop without it? (Foxlowe was one of those and it was an amazing book) Well, this was like that.

It’s set in Celtic Britain, I’ve always been fascinated by this era and love the pagan beliefs from that time. “I had no skin. I was half-born, born in body but not in soul.” I read the first few pages and was hooked so I’m looking forward to starting this. 

Ailia has never truly belonged, for she has no totem, no ‘skin’. Without skin, she is not allowed to learn the traditions of her ancestors, or to marry.

But this is Celtic Britain, and the dark power of the Roman Empire is gathering in the distance.

As Ailia’s people prepare to face a brutal enemy and an uncertain future, it is Ailia who must embrace the extraordinary power which lies within her… and who must stand, alone, to protect the people she loves from the end of everything they’ve ever known.” – from GoodReads

Ink by Alice Broadway

Just take a look at that beautiful cover! You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. The blurb on the back, just this sentence: “The truth will get under your skin” grabbed my attention and within the first few pages I was intrigued. The character’s father is dying and  they  prepare his skin for when it’s taken off his body and made into a book “But  the next time I saw him, his life had become pages” that’s how they remember their loved ones. Weird things like that always grab my attention, unique fantasy stories,  and the blurb which was on the inside cover sounded good.

“Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever. When Leora’s father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life. But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.”- GoodReads
Spark (The Skin Books #2)

It’s part of a series I’ve seen pictures on twitter of the next book and it’s just as gorgeous  (Just realised the continuing theme of skin in both these books, coincidental, odd.)

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while, it’s been sitting in that book shop for some time and I’ve resisted for so long. I love horror, I used to read nothing but horror but haven’t read much recently.

“Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre — his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, etc. — so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it.

The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker’s sanity” – from GoodReads

Recently Discovered/Future purchase

I entered a Goodreads giveaway to win this book, but it’s quite cheap on Kindle, I’m not going to buy it yet – you never know I might win the giveaway- since I bought these three but it’s a definite to buy in the future:

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Forsaken by J.D. Barker

“When horror author Thad McAlister began his latest novel, a tale rooted in the witch trials of centuries past, the words flowed effortlessly. The story poured forth, filling page after page with the most frightening character ever to crawl from his imagination. It was his greatest work, one that would guarantee him a position among the legends of the craft.

But was it really fiction?

He inadvertently opened a door, one that would soon jeopardize the lives of his family.

She wants to come back.

At home, his wife struggles to keep their family alive. Secretly wondering if she caused it all…a deal she made long ago. A deal with the Forsaken.” – Goodreads

The author J.D.Barker has been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and picked by the Soker family to write a prequel to Dracula! I loved the description of the book and downloaded a sample onto my Kindle. That hooked me, the writing style is perfect and I really want to read it. If I wasn’t currently reading three books!

 

So there we go. Since I started blogging and being on twitter I never have a problem finding books to read (just deciding which one to read next, three amazing books there!) And don’t get me started on the crowdfunding, I need to post about that! Thankfully Goodreads exists so I can keep track of all these books. Now off to read some….

review

Raven Black by Anne Cleeves

Raven Black (Shetland Book 1) by [Cleeves, Ann]

Raven Black is a riveting novel: when you turn the page to find out what happened next the viewpoint changes to keep you guessing and keep you reading. I could not stop and finished reading within four days.

I don’t read much crime but this book has convinced me to read more. I usually prefer slower paced stories with a depth of setting and character that is not the norm for crime novels. (I could be wrong!) But I needed something different, something faster paced and this was perfect.

It begins with the viewpoint of Magnus who ends up being the prime suspect and you think surely it can’t be him because he’s a viewpoint character. The mystery/narrative  twists and turns so when you think you know whodunnit another piece of evidence gives you food for thought. The pace of this novel suited me perfectly and I enjoyed the constant suspense and mystery. In the end I thought I knew who the murderer was and I was convinced but then something happened and proved me wrong. I loved this.

I loved the compelling characters and the atmosphere of the story- the island setting of Shetland. It felt more than just a whodunit/mystery because of how realistic the characters and their lives were (it had the depth that general fiction has as well as an intriguing mystery). I would like to continue reading this series at some point to find out what’s going to happen in Inspector Perez’s life. I didn’t think I’d ever want to continue a crime series!

Raven Black is an excellent crime novel that keeps you guessing and you won’t be able to figure out who the murderer is. Trust me.

 

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Writing Wednesday 

So I haven’t done much of anything this week, my boyfriend has had a week off from work and we rarely get a day off together.

Today we went out for the day. I love visiting places, getting out and taking a walk can be inspiring. Good writers’ block advice: take a break, take a walk. Hopefully somewhere to get your imagination firing

This is my favourite place, Tenby in South Wales. I’d love to write a book set here. (someone already has). The setting of  my current work-in-progress was inspired partly by Tenby.


What places inspire you?

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Thoughts about reviews and reviewing

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It’s hard trying to decide what book to read, you read the blurb and the first few pages -stare at the cover for a while- and sometimes it grips you and your decision is easy and sometimes it’s not. So it’s helpful to read reviews and see what others thought before you decide to make a purchase and sit down for some time with this book. (Yeah, you know this already you’re reading a book review blog)

This is where it can get tricky! I’ve been put off reading books because of the negative reviews. I didn’t read Discovery of Witches for a while because I read the reviews of people saying why they didn’t like it. I didn’t want to start reading and end up reading something I don’t enjoy. But I kept hearing about it and in the end I read it and loved it! I went on to read the other books in the All Souls Trilogy and this is my third time rereading it at the moment. And I am excited for the tv series!

A Discovery of Witches: Soon to be a major TV series (All Souls 1) (All Souls Trilogy) by [Harkness, Deborah]

Completely the opposite: I read some amazing reviews for some books and started to read them and then realised after reading a few pages/chapters that I didn’t enjoy the book and could not understand why everyone else was giving it such amazing reviews. It’s so frustrating starting a book and then realising it’s not something you’re going to enjoy.

Everyone is different. And what we enjoy at one point we might not enjoy another time, sometimes I like to read fat books with a long story, description and atmosphere, literary fiction or general fiction:  Kate Riordan, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Kate Morton to name a few writers who write gripping and immersive novels. I like to read stories with detail about the characters, where you get to know them, like A Discovery of Witches. Other times I need a change and I’ll read something completely different. After you’ve read so many of the same genre for a while you need a break, so right now  I’m reading Raven Black by Anne Cleeves, I don’t usually read crime but I’m riveted.

I prefer books by the writers I’ve mentioned and Discovery of Witches to fast paced thrillers, where the sentences are shorter and the book is over within a day or so because you have to find out what happens next, I find some of these books exhausting to read but I do enjoy them don’t get me wrong. I loved Did you see Melody? by Sophie Hannah 

But then some of the people who wrote the negative reviews for A Discovery of Witches may prefer faster paced stories and that might be why they wrote the bad reviews. So you can’t really rely on reviews to decide to read a book and you can’t really rely on reading the first few pages.

Yes, I just admitted that on my review blog!

All you can do is take a chance. Try a book for yourself. Tell others what you think. I review books to share my views and get the word out about books I love. I tend to read more reviews on blogs now they seem more reliable than the one sentence reviews on merchant sites.

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And there’s one thing that I can’t stand and that I will not do. I hate it when people go through a book and tear it apart point by point in their review. They didn’t like the book so they write a scathing review which may seem constructive to them but all they’re doing is criticising and putting it down. Book bullies! By all means say why you didn’t like a book but I don’t think people have to be so horrible about it, after all someone wrote that book, they actually spent months and months writing and editing it, (even the stinkers) and some people may love that book! I have read one of these type of reviews for my favourite book and I responded to it which was not a good idea, this reviewer in question wrote lovely reviews for some books but when she wrote negative reviews she seemed to change. She swore in her reviews and she basically attacked the book!

I will always give an honest review. I don’t always write bad reviews, it’s easier to leave negative reviews and be harsh on merchant websites but when you have a blog you don’t really want to be overly negative about peoples work. Maybe it’s because being a writer myself I feel for them. (maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m too nice) Even though badly written books make me so angry (it’s my opinion, just my opinion) there’s books out there that haven’t been published or are not that popular that are amazing but then books that are published that are absolutely terrible. But that’s another point entirely I guess.

To get to the point: I love reading reviews to decide what to read next but I like to make up my own mind too. I love reading reviews on blogs just for their own sake. I love sharing my love for books and finding out what others enjoy.

Have you ever read and enjoyed a book that had negative reviews? Or vice versa, tell us in the comments 🙂

 

 

 

Netgalley, review

The Stranger by Kate Riordan

Publication date: 22 March 2018

Description from Net Galley

One of Red Magazine’s top ten books . . . ———- Cornwall, 1940. In the hushed hours of the night a woman is taken by the sea. Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in? In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall. Each is looking to escape her past. But one of them is not there by choice. As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface. And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . . In a house full of strangers, who do you trust? ———- ‘A beautiful and intriguing page-turner, where the secrets of the past cast long shadows. Cornwall springs to life in vivid colour’ Dinah Jefferies

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I had an email from the publisher telling me about the availability of this on Netgalley and I jumped at the chance to read it! I love Kate Riordan’s books, she is one of the authors I’ve discovered thanks to reviewing ARCs! I have reviewed her two previous released The Shadow Hour (Netgalley) and The Girl In The Photograph (loverreading review panel) and loved them.

My Review of The Stranger by Kate Riordan

I can’t really explain how I felt on reading the first few pages of this book, I was so happy to be reading another breathtaking Kate Riordan novel.

The Stranger is engaging from the start, it’s a tense and suspenseful story. The story begins the night Diana Devlin goes missing and then jumps to six weeks before, the mystery unfolding as the day of her disappearance dawns closer and closer.

It’s told in the form of Diana’s diary and the third person viewpoints of other characters in the novel. It’s not just about the mystery of Diana’s disappearance: as the story unfolds we learn about the secrets of Penhallow where Diana is staying and the lives of the characters that live there. You can’t help but get drawn into their lives and want to know more about them, even when you get to the final page you wonder what happened next?

I love the impact of the countdown to Diana’s disappearance and how the author gets into the characters heads and we learn so much about them. I love the setting and atmosphere: a Cornish village. I loved this book!

 

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Writing Wednesday: Camp NaNoWriMo

Participant 2018 - Facebook Cover

Ages ago I participated in National Novel Writing Month, if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a crazy time in November where you write 50,000 words in a month.  I managed to win this twice in 2011 and 2013, successfully writing the 50,000 words, be it 50,000 of absolute drivel but that’s the whole point of NaNoWriMo quantity over quality.

I loved doing NaNoWriMo, it’s exciting and you prove to yourself what you can actually do when you set your mind to it. It helped me to silence my inner critic and just write. But now I prefer to work at my own pace and not have the pressure of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.

That’s where Camp NaNoWriMo comes in: in Camp NaNoWriMo you set your own goal and decide what you want to do. You don’t have to write a novel but can work on some short stories (or anything you want!) You can set a goal or word count for writing or you can set a goal of hours-helpful if you are editing. You join a cabin which is a little chat room where you can talk about writing and help each other reach your goal.

I’ve joined this twice in the past, apparently according to my stats I was a winner in 2015-  your a winner if you’ve reached your goal.

I’ve joined up for this April because I’m writing anyway,  so why not write with others? My username on both sites is the same as my twitter handle JenWales (I can never think of good names). I’ve got my cabin sorted- it’s with people from a writing forum group who are also finishing their first drafts. My goal is: to write 5,000 extra words a week during April, I wanted it to be a challenge too.

If you ever feel like you can’t complete a novel or your writing project/goal then maybe consider joining  NaNoWriMo in November or if you prefer  maybe you could join the camp, there’s one in April and another in July. The support from other participants is great, it’s fun and who doesn’t love chatting with other writers!

 

Update: Last week I wrote 1,5550 out of my 2,000 goal. I seemed to be writing less lately but I wrote a total of 2,528 words yesterday!

Last week I was working on editing a short story so I’m blaming that for the lower word count. This week I can’t seem to edit but my writing productivity has increased, you can’t really tell your brain what to do, can you?