Monday, 5 December 2011

Christmas Has Fallen...(Giveaway)

 Christmas has well and truly set in at home, the family's presents are being wrapped (I cannot wait to see my nieces and nephews faces), my friend's Secret Santas have been drawn, the list for the Blogger's Secret Santa I'm participating in are out, and carols are being sung around Christmas trees at work. (Well they will start again (the first carol show was back in September) now Tennis is over and once Gary Barlow has done his thang.)
 And a special gift arrived from the lovelies at Big Book Little Book Blog :D :

Such a gamer.
 This has to be the best month of the year, when do the games begin?

 So it has been one of those years, but I'm here to dwell on happier things. Way back in October something rather amazing happened.
  On Wednesday 26th I was lucky enough to get the chance to meet one of my favourite authors Cassandra Clare.

 Now in celebration of the release of Clockwork Prince this week (who else is excited? Jealous of others who've read it already?) and because Christmas is coming soon, I am going to give-away a paperback copy of City of Fallen Angels. And it's SIGNED, I carried this book with me to the signing (along with all my others) and the wonderful Ms Clare signed every single thing for me. Look:






  It is a second hand copy, I've only read it once. (That was after it arrived late through my letter box and I had to devour it to see what everyone else was talking about.)
  This is going to be international, since it's Christmas I wanted anyone to be able to enter, and this is open until midnight (GMT) Monday 12th December.

 Now all you have to do is post a comment with an email address. Because this is my first giveway, maybe my last, (and I haven't had luck with form thingys) I will be putting everyone's name in a hat (actually it will be a mixing bowl) and my Mum will be drawing the winner.



I think that's all, any questions just ask and I'll reply in the comments.



Now let us sing a song, Last Christmas anyone?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

My Stage...

  I always wanted to perform, I can't remember a time when I wasn't forcing my cousins to dress up and put on shows for our parents, where we would put on a play I wrote or pretend to be the Spice Girls and give a concert (And because I was the youngest, I was Baby Spice).
  Sometimes I would even cook dinner for my parents, set up the front room like it was our own restaurant, then pick out fancy clothes for them to wear at dinner while I ate mine in the kitchen. I used to love doing that, designing the menus and setting up the table.
 One year me and my brother made my Mum roses for Mother's day; I'm pretty sure she still has them saved in a box somewhere.
 I even wrote a musical about Hercules when I was about 8 or 9, I read out what I wrote while my brother and Mum took turns to type it up on our typewriter. Then I gave my lyrics to my piano teacher who wrote the score. Then my Dad took me to see my headteacher, it turns out he had asked her to read the script! It never was performed, but the script still waits patiently somewhere in my room (I'm sure if I re-read it, it would seem awful, but I'm proud of it none-the-less).

  When I left Primary School my ambition was to be a actor/singer/writer/dancer. I wanted to do anything and everything creative. I took Drama and Music GCSE, and when we had to write a short story for English Literature it reminded me how much I loved writing. 
 Then I found out I got into the school of my dreams, the performing arts school I had been dreaming of going to since I was 13, and I was going to study theatre, learn the craft of acting from professionals.
  Those two years I spent there, from the ages of 16 – 18, were honestly some of the best of my life. I had my greatest friends from school still in touch with me, and I made lots of new ones, and we had the best experiences we could possibly have. I can't even recall exactly how many times we performed.
 One of my highlights had to be when myself and a friend created our own show and had it performed; we were the writers/directors/producers/set designers/costume makers – everything. We got together a group of our friends and put on an amazing show, using multimedia. We even were allowed to paint the walls in our performance room (which I had to be in at 8am one morning to do).
  I don't regret anything from those two years, going to that school was the best decision I have ever made.
  Then, a few weeks before I got my final results, my Dad sadly passed away.

  And over time, words have become my performance outlet. Now every day I remind myself how good it feels to express my stories and characters through the words on the page, and to see people enjoy what I've written is the greatest buzz of all.
  I would like to go back to acting one day, but for now I'm loving this journey I'm on.
  At the start of this I was completely unprepared for how hard I would have to work. How difficult world building can be, how tough you have to be during revisions, how straining and frustrating querying can be – but do I give up? No. I can't give up, not when I've found something I believe myself to be good at, something I think I really have a chance at.
  That's why I keep going, taking rejection and criticism on the chin and work harder to improve. This year has taught me a lot about writing, and a lot of it has come from the fantastic bloggers I've found. And as much as this years been tough in so many ways, I realise there is so much to be thankful for.

  And on one last note, if anyone wants to check out a favourite blog of mine: Big Book Little Book, they are a great tips and reviewer site who are running competitions in the run up to Christmas.
 Check them out if you can, and I'll be back soon with some special Christmasy posts. 
 For now I hope you're all doing well, and looking forward for this special month that is December. 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

My Pal

I wanted to take some time today to talk about this four legged guy I knew. 

  He was medium height, with glossy black fur and dopey dark eyes that could speak a thousand words.
  He liked to pull up part of the flooring and blame me and my two legged pal Rae.
  In his old age he became partial to barking at his own shadow, howling whenever my Mum was out.
  Once during a party he fell in a pond we didn't know existed in a neighbours garden.
  He liked to lounge in the sun, curling himself up small so he could lay in the rays that streamed through our windows.
  When he realised my sister's dogs were coming to stay he hid his toys; to this day we have never found them.
  My young nephew would like to imagine he was a horse, and my pal wouldn't even lift his head when my nephew pulled on his ears to go go go.
  He was known for dressing up as a fairy.
  In his old age everyone thought him meek but my Mum had to chase him comically down a hill, bringing the traffic to a halt behind her. I waited at the top of the hill with our bags.
 Whenever you were sad he would comfort you.
 I'm quite sure he liked other boys.
 Before coming to our home he lived with an aggressive female; I think she put him off other ladies for life.
 He was gentle, he was loving.

 His name was Oscar, my old boy, and on Friday 25th November 2011 he went to sleep, forever. 

Oscar lookingvar. (His nickname).
  
 He had 17 fabulous years, 119 in dog years.
  Oscar, my sweet pal, thank you
I'm not quite sure what we're gonna do without you tap-tapping around here.
  I hope it's sunny enough up there for you.

Proof of his liking for wings.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tea Anyone...?


        Hi guys, *waves frantically*.

 There's no internet at my house at the moment while we switch providers, so I'm writing this from a computer at Uni. My essay sits on a word document somewhere on the screen, almost finished.

 Anyway, just wanted to pop by to see how everyone is doing? Any news I've missed?

 If you want, pull up a seat and we shall have a cuppa while we're here. Sugar? How milky?

 I'll be back soon (I hope) with something more interesting to talk about, my blog posts have been saving themselves, but for now if anyone feels like it then do pop over to Big Book Little Book's Blog. I was an entrant in their Harry Potter competition, and I spoke about my love for Book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban.
 They are such a great blog, one of my favourite reviewers here.

 Anyhoo, I hope you all have enjoyed the catch up and tea (one day I shall get a real cup to all of you fabulous people) and have a good weekend.

Till next time, =).

Friday, 11 November 2011

Bah to Bluegh

  It's been one of those weeks, not unusual. I don't have much faith for it to get better before the end of 2011. (Bring on 2012 - as long as it is improved.)
  But I've decided not to be negative in this post, instead I'm going to list five things to be thankful/happy for. (Especially since today honours those wonderful heroes, and this is inspired by the lovely Meredith at Fairy Tales and Cappuccino. who posts 'Five Random Thoughts on a Friday.')

  1. Writing. Ok, this might be obvious but I've been thinking a lot about love this week, and writing is my love. Even if I never get anywhere, I know that I will write, it seeps out of me and I can't control it. 

  2. Thank god for reruns of Malcolm in The Middle. When I was younger I never found it funny, but this past year it has brought so much laughter to my house. It's mad, hilarious and scarily truthful. 

  3. Random messages from friends that say things like like; I miss your face; I've been thinking of you – you know what that means – *bursts into song* 'You are always on my mind...' Oh they make me laugh, and feel contented. 

  4. DOWNTON ABBEY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL!!! Do I need to say more? Doctor Who and Downton Abbey on the same day? With good food and games? Sigh. 

  5. Quote of the week: 'She is involved in work her soul must have' – Alice Walker
    (I am getting that engraved on something, anything. Because it warms my heart.)

  I hope you've all had a good week, and you crazy NaNo folks have found it productive.
  Here's to a glorious weekend.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Books Make Life Magical

  Beth Revis, author of the amazing Across the Universe which I ranted about here, is hosting an extraordinary give-away. It's amazing, honestly. She's giving away 19 signed YA books by people who've helped her in all various ways on her journey, plus lots of swag, and there's even runner up prizes. Best-give-away-ever. 

  
 And to enter you have to write a post about the one book you are most grateful for. 

  Argh, what a question? There's so many books I've read in the past 12 months that I'm grateful for, let alone all the books I've read throughout my life.

 But then, after I let that moment of panic settle, I knew there was only one series (ok not one book but I can't pick one) of books that I know have made my life more magical.
  Harry Potter.
  Two words, one name. Whenever anyone hears them they think; lightening bolt; he-who-must-not-be-named; glasses; wands; Hogwarts. (Ok I could go on, but you get the idea. Plus I don't need to tell you what you think of when you hear Harry Potter)

 I first read Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone when I was 10, in my last year of primary school, right before heading off to big school (scary times).
  I was hooked from the word go, and it wasn't just me, but my whole family.
  Every Harry Potter film we've watched together, every time the DVD's (or video back in the day) has been released we've watched it together, analysing it.
  Right before the Deathly Hallows book was published, we spent a whole day discussing the possible outcomes for the plot, making predictions and bets. And then after I'd finished reading (i.e. having my heart torn out and stamped on) I rung my brother, who was crying and said he hadn't made it to the end because he was grieving for the loss of one amazing house elf. (And yes, we also sobbed in the cinema, doing that whole, I'm-not-really-crying-about-something-I-knew-was-coming.)

  Basically, I've grown up with these books, as the characters matured, so did I. They've seen me through so many stages of my life.
 I remember being 15, sitting in my Mum's swinging chair in the garden while I spent 4 hours devouring Harry Potter and the Half-Blood prince. I had to re-read the ending a hundred times, because I was crying so much. (I actually screamed, 'HOW COULD JK DO THIS AFTER THE END OF THE LAST BOOK! DOES SHE HATE HARRY THAT MUCH?!?!?!')
  My Mum had to come outside and ask me to keep it down, 'No spoilers before I've picked it up please.' Although I think my tear stained face ruined that.

  So yes, Harry Potter has become a part of my life, helped me realise the type of person I want to be, reminds me why I want to write and share my stories.
  And the one greatest thing about these books, in the words of JK herself, 'Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.'

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Experimenting...By Force

  It feels like ages since I lasted posted. (Well it's been a week, feels like forever) And it seems things are as hectic as ever. My brain seems to be all over the place. I can't seem to get it straight and focused.

 Besides all the stuff that's been going on with my family and friends, (some good, some bad. My friend's baby was christened, it was a short but sweet ceremony. Me and my friends were prepared to be in there hours.) I've been quite hectic at university.
  
 Any who read a previous post, I was meant to start reading Atonement for one of my classes. I'm happy to say I have, and that I'm actually quite into it.
  I love how the characters are so clear and vivid, and although the story may be a little slow and perhaps confusing (the confusion has come from the class discussions), I just love how real his characters are.
  I'm so glad I've finally found a reason to pick this up.

 In other reading I also finished the first two books in the Iron Fey series, they are everything I expected them to be. I'm currently reading My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece, I have to say at first I was wondering if I would enjoy it, but I'm hooked. It's very honest, and I find that extremely compelling.

  I have started working on my essays, the deadlines are looming! Eek. (And when I mean started...I have made bullet points.) And each week I also have to write a completely original piece of writing for my Prose class. I thought this might be easy, I have ideas and write all the time. 
 Then we were asked to write an essay. The question; Is it ok to eat animals? That was all we were given to work with. Eventually I managed to pull some ideas together, but my it was hard.
  I enjoyed the piece we had to write the week before. A memoir in third person.
 'Musical screams blasted from the state of the art speakers, repelling off the century old walls. Amie winced and stepped backwards from the vast moving lights, which were making nonsense patterns on the wall.

  She wondered what dear Albert and Victoria would say if they could hear this kind of music, not that she really felt it was music at all.'

 That's the start of my piece. It was fun to refer to myself in the third person, I don't know why, it just made me giggle.

  I've also had to start writing a ten page play. I have no idea what I'm doing with what I'm currently working on, although that isn't necessarily a surprise.

Charles: So it's true then? The old man, he's gone.
Beat
Rosa: Yes.
Beat
What are you doing here? I thought you were honeymooning in the Alps, or was it on a safari?
Charles: Hawaii actually, our flight was cancelled.
Rosa: Hawaii? There we are then, shows how much attention I pay when my brother blabbers on. Where is your new found wealth? Sorry, wife.

  That's the start. I'm sticking with this idea at the moment, but I've got a few weeks, so everything could change.

  (Also...all the above required writing is making me sad for my WIP. I have lots of revisions to be working on, and I know they are missing my attention, but me and my laptop have a deal. Work first, WIP later. It's working...sort of.)

  In other news today I met Cassandra Clare. *Excited Face* She is the author of the best selling the Mortal Instruments and the Infernal Devices series. And author extraordinare. Also Sarah Rees Brennan was there! She is extremely funny, I'm looking forward to reading The Demon's Lexicon, and her other books.
  Cassandra did a Q & A, and Sarah was there to ask the questions pulled from the cauldron and make us all laugh.
  I got all my books signed, which made this week infinitely better.
  And I also may have a give-away occurring soon, to do with Cassandra Clare & the signing. Stay tuned.

Lastly, I was passed on this award by the wonder CD Meetens. Her blog (One Little Spark - A Writer's World) is such a great read, and I love this award. So cute. (I will be passing this on, just it's getting late now and I have rambled on for some time. =] )


Hope everyone's been well, I've been trying to keep up on blogs, if I've missed any let me know.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

On Being Critiqued

 A wonderful and temporarily heart-wrenching thing happened to me the other day; my work was critiqued. 

 And not by my Mum, who is a sound, encouraging reader who helps me progress, but by a stranger.

 As soon as I sent the first few chapters off my heart did that flutter thing, and I wondered if I would be able to open her reply.
  Lucky for me I did.

 She pointed out my flaws in my writing, which I was either unaware of, or subconsciously ignored.
  At first my heart sort of stopped, and my stomach fell out. All my hard work suddenly seemed wasted. I've been developing this story since the start of 2010, when the snow in my garden inspired me to write the piece of work I'd been longing to.
 (And if anyone sees my first drafts then I think I would die of embarrassment. Oh the shame, what was I thinking? How could that possibly be my best work?)
  
 I, eventually, proceeded to show my Mum the email, who pointed out the positives to me. (There were some brilliant positives – once I began breathing again I smiled with pride, and blushed too.) Then we had a long discussion, where I cried.
  The one thing my Mum said to me that sticks out in my mind is, 'You being critiqued is good for me too, I'm learning to see what I should have seen before. It's fantastic,' she went on to say, 'This advice is great, but as she (my critique partner) says, and so do I, ultimately the story is yours to tell. Tell it how you want to.'

 After that we went out for a while, and I didn't really think much about it. Or at least I tried not to. My thoughts couldn't help but mull over how much work I had to do (it really isn't that much, but my mind seemed to disagree), and how little time there was to do it in (that part still feels true).
 When I arrived back home I took another look at the edits, and set about reworking the first few pages.
Already I feel so much more fulfilled and satisfied with my work. It feels richer and cleaner, and now I am aware of my weaknesses and strengths, I have things in mind to work on.

  Seriously, this stranger will never know how much I owe her. And my Mum. Two amazing women, who's acquaintance with me is at opposite ends of the spectrum, but right now I am valuing them both in high esteem.

  When I started this year I wanted to share my work with others. I am so happy I took the plunge. I feel so much more knowledgeable, it's an indescribable feeling when someone says your story is worth telling. It's just my craft needs some work.
  I know it will take time (sigh) but I need to continue to learn patience if I want my writing to be the best it can be.
  So yes, getting critiqued is hard, but the rewards are splendid.

 Besides, you wouldn't want any old thing out there would you? Not when you are capable of so much more.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Best Ways To Procrastinate

Dear you,
            would you like to sleep? Yes, well then you are going to have to stop with this procrastinating business. Honestly it really isn't healthy.
Because instead of going to sleep at a reasonable hour (I know with work it is sometimes difficult, but that doesn't excuse the other 4 nights out of 7) you are doing what you should have been doing in the day.

You see that copy of Atonement on your beside table? Yep it's just on top of the reading packs for the other modules, and the poetry textbooks – YOU MUST READ. Put down the Iron King, or whatever other book you decide to 'take a look at'. You can read them when you have done your essential reading for the week.
Just think, you've wanted to read Atonement for sometime, and now you have to. See how good that is?

And you know when you go on the internet to check your accounts? Or trains times. AVOID YOU TUBE. That place will be your downfall. I know there are wonderful singers and songs on there, and montages of Doctor Who that you feel you must watch, but please just add them to the Watch Later playlist and they will wait for you.

Do not even get me started on your nails. Do you have to paint them? Do they really need it? Ok, well I tell you what you can do; you may paint them, however you are not to remove the nail varnish and repaint them unless you have a good twenty minutes or so.
If you do not have that time because you're meant to be either sleeping; or eating; or showering; or doing ESSENTIAL reading; or going to uni or work; then leave them. Do you really care if you wander the streets of London with a bit of chipped nail polish? Nope, didn't think you'd mind.

Even doing this here letter-to-self-to-post-as-a-blog is taking up your time. And I know re-reading that WIP is engaging and lots of fun, but it's not going to go anywhere. I thought we had a deal? One hours reading/work = one hours reading/writing. See how easy it is if you just focus and commit yourself.

It's ok, you'll get there. These things take time. As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day.
(They also say you can sleep when you're dead – but I want you to IGNORE that. You need your sleep beautiful lady, bags do not become you.)

Now I bid you farewell, and leave you with good will and faith.

I said bye.

Seriously, bye.

Ok, you can watch one more video before you go.


Cries.

Friday, 7 October 2011

What a Week.

On my last blog I ended wondering where this month would take me, well it seems it has already taken me to a hundred different places.

First day of uni went well, I actually felt as though I had some knowledge to participate with. Perhaps that time off I had, and all the reading I accomplished, did me some good after all.
Then I came home, and things went slowly downhill. I felt my chest tighten, and my temperature shot up. But I went out to the pub anyway to celebrate my friends birthday, gradually feeling worse as the evening progressed.
Next morning I decided to take myself to the Doctors, and it turns out I have bronchitis. Bloody brilliant. So he gave me a prescription, my poor body has seen more drugs than ever this past year, and off I went.

The rest of the week I trudged through, trying to ignore the pains and not cough. Very difficult.

I did however have some good times too. I paid a visit to waterstones...it could have ended very badly (look at the treasure cove below) however I behaved and left empty handed. 

 Please excuse my shaky pictures...I only had my phone with me, my lovely cameras were at home. 

While I was there I did discover these little gems.


If anyone wants a closer look at this (and clearer pictures) go here.

Now I had never heard of Flipback books before. According to the tag line they are 'a whole book in your pocket.'
I did resist temptation, but I think I might have to invest in one just because they are so cute! And if I ever saw my book compressed into something so small, then I would squeal with delighted excitement.
Small things, small things.

I went to work, but as a show patron rather than staff, to watch the wonderful Idina Menzel perform. She is one of my all time favourite musical theatre actresses.
She sung For Good, from one of the best musicals Wicked, acapella. Without the use of a microphone, and she filled the Royal Albert Hall completely. It was honestly spell binding.

Also this week, in between uni stuff, I went back to look at one of my WIPs.
Oh god I love this story, but I am a little ashamed of the writing.
I wrote this about a year ago, and it feels weird to say that my writing has progressed so much since then.
So I've set about rewriting it, although I am going to take my time with it. There are a multitude of other stories I want to work on, but I think I should try to stay away from them.
I can already feel my uni assignments creeping up on me. 

Although that didn't stop me paying a trip to the library today.

I have started The Poison Diaries already. At least we know it wasn't a wasted trip.  Actually, I couldn't find the book I was after. A Million Little Pieces by James Fray. Sad face.



I know, tut tut, but who even knows if I will get round to reading them all.
I just couldn't resist the shining covers that were calling to me. Sigh.

How has everyone else's week been?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Sunday Thoughts

It's been quite a hectic few days. (And not just because of the Doctor Who finale, and the judges houses stage of the X Factor) I can't even tell you why, but it almost feels as though everything has been happening all at once. 

I've been spending some time with my friends, which has been good. (Perhaps not so for the liver, poor thing has been put through the mill lately) The birthday season has started again, so there's been a lot of celebrations. And my friend's 3 month old daughter is being christened later this month, which is very exciting. She is an absolutely beauty. 

I've been preparing for University. I started this by purchasing myself a wireless printer, which I adore.
I do love gadgets and technology, even though I'm not great at handling it.
I can finally print from my laptop! Goodbye days of emailing myself my work, then using my Mums computer to copy and paste into a new document. Hello time saved.
Little things like that make me happy. 

Now the eve has arrived before my first lecture and I am so nervous. I didn't get my modules till late last week, so I haven't had enough time to find my reading materials. Gah.
I like to build these things up in my head and over complicate them, usually I am wrong and I wonder why I worried so much in the first place.
I really hope that's the case with this first week. I suppose only one way to find out. 

Also this week I've been thinking a lot about words, more specifically the number of them.
I bit the bullet and submitted some work to be critiqued on a blog. By complete strangers. It was a little painful, but wonderfully enriching.
Yes, being critiqued is hard (especially by people I don't know and have never met) but I feel it is needed for writers to grow and learn.
When starting my novel, I had no clue about word count. Honestly. I just thought it was a fun number for me to know.
Then I did some research on books and querying.
I really didn't have a clue. 
My novel was way too long. After reading some good articles from other authors and agents on word count in novels, it lead me to the decision to break my story into two. And I think it's strengthened the story, one of the best things to have come out of this year.
A good place to start if you're looking into this is this great entry on agent Jennifer Laughran's blog. It also lists some great examples of books on the market, from early reader to YA.

So this evening I end this blog on a wondrous note. Wondrous apprehension. You know when you've made some decisions, then a lot of things have happened, and you just hope it will work out in the end. That's sorta where I am this evening. I feel full of so much and I know I'm about to get even fuller. (Especially with knowledge - I hope at least.)

I hope you've all had a good weekend. And here's to the start of October, can't wait to see where we all are at the end of it.
You never know what could happen.

I also want to leave you with this beautiful cover of Wherever You Will Go, discovered from an advert for Twinings tea. 


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Storytellers & Dreams

A theme I've seen floating around the blogsophere of late is, why do we write? What drives us?
And it got me to thinking.

I've always written since I was small. My Dad was a great storyteller, and he was once close to having his own children's books published, but unfortunately his illness got worse and everything sort of fell through.
Although he never lost his passion.
When I hit my teenage years he would bend the ears of my nieces and nephews, and they loved it just at the same as I did.
(I was an aunt quite young, my first niece was born when I was 7 - it is the result of being the youngest of 8 siblings.)

So I guess my Dad is a quite a big driving force for me. When I was about 10 I had a piece of homework that was to write a summary of a story we had been told in class. And since we weren't given a specific length to abide by, I wrote the longest, 13 pages! Which was like me writing a novel in comparison to my classmates.
I remember my teacher (who I adored) telling my Dad that she stopped marking half way through because she was so engrossed and astounded. My Dad smiled and said, well she does like to ramble on.

Then I sorta got distracted from writing, well actually I didn't.
I was always writing snippets of stories and fan fictions through my teens. However it was always a back burner while I went out with my new 'cool' friends (who have stayed my closest friends since - best in fact) and dived into my time at college where I studied theatre.
My whole live seemed to be more or less devoted to those two things.
(And writing was always the hobby that didn't cost me much, except the price of pen and paper, and since money has always been tough it seemed like the best pastime when I couldn't afford to go out.)

Then a week after I turned 18, my Dad sadly passed away. And even though he had been ill most of my life, it was a tremendous shock when he departed.
Even now some days are harder than others.
I was a bit lost for a while, trapped somewhere with only my grief and mind for company. Those were some dark days.

One day I got to writing a story about a young girl who loses her Dad, and she meets a guy who she begins to fall for, but it turns out he has a big secret. Bigger than anything she could ever imagine.
And needless to say that story became free counselling sessions for me.
I do still one day to hope to share it with others when I finally finish it.

That story also gave me something else, it made me realise how much I love writing, and why hadn't I thought about doing something with it before?
It opened my mind, my imagination to stories I didn't even know I had in me. I found the fantastical tales I had always longed to write, but never thought myself capable.
And I've been writing everyday, with a passion, ever since.

It also helped strengthen the relationship with my Mum, because of those words we both understood the pain we were sharing, without the need to say it out loud.
Now she is my first reader, greatest critic, and the person who encourages me each and every day to follow my dreams.
One day I hope to help her achieve hers.

Then I embarked on learning more about becoming a professional writer, the world of agents and publishing.

And as much as I long to see my words in print, want others to read about the worlds and characters I've created, I will never lose the love and inner peace writing has given me.

There will always be work, mainly my poems, that I will keep for myself because they mean so much to me, but there is so much more of me I want to give and share with others.

Is there a reason you write? What keeps you going?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Christmas Is Coming...Share The Love

It seems to be that as soon as we've finished one Christmas there are advertisements and such for the next one. My dinner and silly amounts of Christmas treats havn't even been digested yet.
Although, Christmas is my favourite time of year. I get to share it with the people I love, and the amount of food you can eat is incredible. And the sweets and biscuits seem to go on and on and on, well into the New Year. (New Year however I am not so keen...well I might enjoy this one if it brings a more successful year.)

Anyhoo, I wanted to say that over on Maryann Nixon's blog, Words on The Shelf, she's holding a great secret Santa.
Basically you say the top 20 books you want, then she will randomly give everyone a list and address. You can be as generous as you want with your giving.
I think it's a brilliant idea, and I am going to take part. I think it's a great way for everyone to share a bit of that Christmas joy by the gift of a book (or two if you so wish.)

And it's open internationally, as there are lots of way to send books very cheaply of for free.

Just follow the links above if you want to join in and fill out the form. I am already certain this Christmas will be a good one =]

Hope all are having a brilliant weekend, I am going to hide from blogger for a while to do some writing.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Character In Us

During revisions of my first novel I made lots of important notes that would help me with later books in the series. Some of the most important notes I made were about characters, and during the process I realised how much of myself I put into them.

I took time to think about all my stories, focusing on the heroines, and made a list of what I gave to them.

Now it might have been something like freckles, I have them in abundance so tend to give them to most of my characters too. Then I noticed that I had given away some of my personality traits, my likes and dislikes.

Examples; a whole world was created due to my love of snow; in another book my characters main trait is how tongue-tied she gets in situations.

This is probably why I am so connected to the people I create.

Of course I have characters who are nothing like me, and I love them all the same. My stories would be so boring otherwise, and they wouldn’t reflect this wonderful diverse world we live in.

As writers is it common for us to give our characters a piece of ourselves? JK Rowling gave Harry Potter her birthday. Is it a conscious decision? I know that for lots of mine I didn’t even realise I was doing it till later on.

Just an interesting thought that I’ve been left pondering over, and I wondered if anyone else thought it a good or bad thing?

Personally I like the idea because not only will I share my words with others who read my work, but aslo a piece of my soul.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Yes I Read YA...And?

I intended on writing something else today, but yesterday I saw these comments on author Zoë Marriotts blog, and I had to share my views.

Because the pictures are bit small here is what was said:

Anonymous said...

This isn't really a comment on your post (but it is awesome by the way, I hope that Big Secret Project can someday see the light of day) but I have a question that I'd like to ask; I thought I'd ask you because you're one of my favourite authors and you're really nice so I thought you would be able to answer without thinking I'm being stupid or something.
I've just started college; I'm 17 years old next month. I'm taking English Literature because it's my favourite subject, but I feel like a baby because I discovered yesterday that most people in my class read 'adult' books and I'm still in the YA section. Is it stupid that I feel like crawling into a hole and dying, to never pick up a YA book again? I feel like such a baby, should I stop reading YA and move on to 'older' fiction?
Sorry, I know you're not an Agony Aunt but I didn't know who else to ask.

Zoë Marriott said...

Anonymous: This is absolutely the right place to ask this question! Talking about books and reading and writing is what we do here. I'll do a Q&A post Monday next week and post my reply then, OK? But in the meantime, please don't feel that you want to crawl into a hole and die! Most of my best friends and the smartest people that I know (including fellow writers!) spend between 50-90% of their reading time on YA novels. Including me! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

And then I responded with:

AmieSalmonYAWriter said...

Anonymous...I do understand what you mean. When I was in a training session for xmas temp at a book shop, people seemed to look down at me for being a fan of YA/even children books in general. I do however also read 'adult' books as well; I am a fan of literature no matter what the age label.
I do think there is a big judgment against YA books, but I don't understand why. I've read so many 'teen' books that are just as beautiful, well written and full of great drama/comedy. Sometimes even more so than a book aimed for the older reader.
Don't feel pressured to read something you won't enjoy it. Be true to your own personal interests.
YA is a great place to be at the moment. I mean look at Zoë’s writing, her (or yours if you read this Zoë) books are some of the most intelligent I have read.

Now I want to add on to what I said. I do think there is a stigma against YA books, especially if you are an older reader and fan.

What is wrong with reading what you love?

As I said above, the YA books I read are so imaginative; intelligent; funny; full of great characters; stellar writing and are just simply amazing.
I mean lets take everyone’s favourite; the Harry Potter books. They are children’s books that go on to become YA as the characters grow older and the stories become darker. They have one of the most diverse audiences around, and are universally loved. No one looks down on if you've read them and adore them.
Twilight Saga is another one with a range in ages, and yes I admit I have gone off them a bit now because of the hype around them, but people love the books because they have a great core story.
I hate that people don't think you're smart just because you enjoy reading something that's aimed at teenagers. Or think just because you have a large collection of Mills & Boon books that somehow means you can't read a hard hitting historical fiction.
I don't stare down at 30-year-old guys who read comic books, because they have great stories in them. And if I could draw something like that I'd be happy to have such a devoted audience.

YA is one of the most exciting markets to be a part of at the moment; it is full of some of the most talented writers around. They create these amazing wonderful worlds that are so gripping and feel so real.
They write books that interest teens, who are largely seen in the media as 'hooded yobs' who go around vandalising and drinking and having sex.

I'm not saying just read one genre, if you want to grow and learn not only as a writer but also as a person then read as much as you can. But please don't go dissing someone for their taste. If you respect mine then I shall respect yours.

I think I got my point across there. Any thoughts?

This Journey…

I’ve been away for a few days; I spent a long weekend away with some of my girls. I think my livers glad to be home and have a breather from the wine, although I did manage to get in some great exercise with swimming and lots of laughter. Those are some of my favourite things.

Now I’m back home, back to reality. I am about to embark on my first term at university, studying creative writing. Those who know me will know that this is not the first time I’ve started uni, but unfortunately losing my Dad and then being ill has made completing my academic studies somewhat difficult.

I am nervous. I am quite a shy, nervous person on first impressions. I often find it hard to find the right words, and then never know what to say. (For those who are my friends, they know me as quite the opposite.)

I am also not particularly looking forward to having little time for my own reading and writing, that isn’t related to my course. Although, I am looking forward to some challenges. I am trying to remain focused and enthusiastic.

For most of this year I’ve had a lot of time to think what I want to do with my life, what I want out of it. Yesterday I made some goals that will take me up to the end of next year.

Sort of like an early resolution list:

  • Pass a term of uni.
  • Query for book 1.
  • Complete first draft of book 2 & other main project.
  • Loose weight.
  • Purchase a wireless printer.
  • Have driving lessons.
  • Be more financially stable.
  • Save.
  • Decorate my bedroom.
  • Go on holiday / book next dream destination.
  • Keep reading.
  • Experience new things.
  • Laugh.
  • Dance.
  • Make sure Mum is happy.
  • Keep writing.

I’d like to think they are all achievable goals, and I really want them to happen.

My Mum said to me that she felt it was about time I took some time to do what I want, and because I know seeing me happy will make her so, I have agreed to try.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Frexing...Wow


Amy has left the life she loves for a world 300 years away.
Trapped in space and frozen in time, Amy is bound for a new planet.
But fifty years before she's due to arrive, she is violently woken, the victim of an attempted murder.
Now Amy's lost on board and nothing makes sense - she's never felt so alone.
Yet someone is waiting for her. He wants to protect her-
and more if she'll let him.

But who can she trust amidst the secrets and lies?
A killer is out there - and Amy has nowhere to hide.
(Blurb from back cover.)
(Oh and when it says she has nowhere to hide - it's actually true.)


I don't know what I expected when I wanted to read Across The Universe. It has a very pretty cover and the blurb has a great hook.
The one thing I was sure about was how different this book would be to other things I've read.
I was not disappointed.

Immediately the first few pages had me feeling exactly what Amy, the protagonist, felt. And in that first chapter you were left asking yourself the question, would you? (And that happens a fair amount in this book I've realised, which I love.)

I will admit that for the next couple chapters I had to tell myself to keep going, but that's only because I'm not great with description. Although the map in the back of the book really helped me visualise, and then after that I was totally hooked on the book.

There were so many themes in the book that I hadn't expected, I don't want to say what because I don't want any spoilers.

One of my favourite characters was Harley, he was tickling my funny bone and pulling my heartstrings all in the turn of a page. He is such a beautiful character, he has stayed with me long after I put the book down.

Also I think the characters of Eldest and Doc were fantastic. I felt towards them everything I was meant to. That was probably because the voices of Amy and Elder were so strong.

This book was brilliantly rounded, with clear defined characters and a well thought out world/concept. You really believe and understand why everything in the book occurred. And it really made you think and feel.

I never thought a book, set on one place could be so engaging.

Once I finished it I had to read it again, and I think I will pick it up over and over because there feels like there is so much left for me to discover.

I am SO excited for the sequel, A Million Suns, out early next year. (And look how beautiful the cover is.)









If you haven't read it I urge you to pick it up.

Wow.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Hello Monday....Now Decisions

Hope all have had a good weekend, and took some time for remembrance yesterday (I read through Meg Cabot's blog, but warning it will make you cry.)

Mine has been rather lovely.

On Saturday night I held a quiz night for some friends, I was the master of proceedings. I had rounds such as taste test, memory games, name the song/artist/film with music clips and some local and general knowledge. My friends/contestants seemed to enjoy themselves.

Then last night I stayed in, experimented by making a beef&sausage red wine pie. My Mum said she really enjoyed, now that is a compliment. And then we caught up on Saturday night tele.

I spent most of Friday prepping for the quiz (actually I've been gathering questions and such since the last one I held a while back) then I was going to spend the Saturday morning/afternoon finishing it off. Unfortunately that didn't happen, which isn't unusual.

I slept in late Saturday, due to being up to some ridiculous hour listening to One Day (which is really making my laugh). Then I had to pop out to get some shopping, and while I was pushing the trolley around I had an idea for a short story.

When I got home I quickly set about writing this story, thinking it would be quick or I would just write down the idea. I ended up writing over 4000 words, and finishing the questions after some of the first of my gang arrived at my house.

This isn't particularly unusual, I often find words distracting me. I can't help it, and it's a reason I am in love with writing.

In other news I have started reading Across The Universe by Beth Revis. The first few pages stirred some pretty big emotions in me, so I am hoping for good things from the rest. It's something that feels a bit different to other stuff I've read.

I also am going to be spending this week getting ready for a weekend away with some of my girls, it is a late 21st birthday present. We are off to a holiday park to stay in a caravan, and I am really excited to get away. Although a bit sad to be leaving my Mum home alone. I've asked my dog to take good care of her.

Now I am going to spend this week agonising over what to pack, I've been told I'm not allowed to pack alone. If I could I would probably take my whole bedroom away! I always pack for the what ifs. And I always have to take a few essentials like one of my beds cushions, at least one notebook and a game.

However the biggest decision I've got is what book to take with me. (I am defiantly going to take 2 just in case, if it gets good nothing will stop me finishing it.)

I am probably going to finish Across the Universe before the weeks out, so am leaning towards starting The Iron Fey books, and maybe Divergent. But I do really want to read Case Histories, or maybe Unearthly or even The Help or this other humongous fantasy I've got.

This could take me a while to decide, the option is so unbelievably varied. (And no need to worry about what notebook, the girls have promised to buy me a special one when we're down there - now that's love.)


Friday, 9 September 2011

10 Things


My last post was meant to be my only one for today, but I see this Tag thing going around where you post 10 random facts about yourself, so I thought I'd do it. It is just another way the internet stops me from doing anything else, although I do rather enjoy it.

(I discovered this from a rather funny post here, by A.J. Mullarky)

  1. I only wear black trainer socks, I have no idea why. There use to be a time where I hated them.

  2. I am the youngest of 8 children, I have one brother and six sisters. I have 18 nieces and nephews, although I am not in contact with all all my siblings. (Imagine how expensive Christmas would be.)

  3. I have two pets. One black Labrador dog who goes by the name of Oscar and is 16 years old, and a goldfish called Sooty who is at least 10 years old. (Yes he is named after the puppet. It was my favourite show as a child and I won him at a Christmas fare when I was young.)

  4. I love taking pictures, I own two cameras (one of which is a big beautiful black thing) and I have plans to buy more. You can see some of my pictures scattered around this blog. (Two are from New York; one of me and one my best friends, one of a bird in the snow. Two are taken on my holiday to Berrick-Upon-Tweed; one from the garden of a castle on the isle of Lindisfarne, and the other is my Mum and two of my nephews in Edinburgh.)

  5. I don't have a favourite song, because there are so many to choose from.

  6. I work as a steward at the Royal Albert Hall. It's exists because of my favourite royals, it's always breathtakingly beautiful, and I've been paid to watch some of the most amazing shows. (Cirque Du Soleil, The Fray, a number of Proms, Eric Clapton, Swan Lake.)

  7. I think I prefer watching TV shows to films. (Although I do love them.) Glee & Doctor Who are my favourite shows in the world.

  8. I love Disney films, probably some would say I'm obsessed. I've watched Tangled 20 times in the past few months.

  9. If I didn't write at least one line of something a day, I would probably combust.

  10. I come from a large family, have a great relationship with my Mum, however I have a fantastic group of friends. They are my family too.


That was fun to play. Now you're meant to tag someone but I wasn't actually tagged for this, so if you wanna share some things about yourself then go for it.


Have a good weekend =)

Hello New Friend...

On my way to work a couple days ago, I started a new story. I was thinking, oh god another one, doesn't that make the total 30 or something? (Actually I'm not even sure, I've tried to avoid counting them.)

But the character voice was really strong, and so sure of herself, yet I knew she was vulnerable in other ways. I couldn't just wave her off.
Out came the notebook I was carrying to work with hope of spending some time on a different story, and I began writing down what came to my head.

These are some random extracts from what I've written:

I suppose I've never been like other girls, well not ones I knew anyway. I didn't really share their interests or dreams.
The friends I'd made in year 7 weren't really what I'd call friends, not like the ones I'd seen on TV who were so lovingly loyal. I stuck with this small group because I had no one else, and it was better than eating my packed lunch in the corner of a classroom, waiting for a teacher to catch me.
That defiantly wasn't my best week.

The group I'd fallen into were seen as the 'rebels'. I defiantly wasn't what you called a misfit, but they never seemed opposed to that. Besides, it did them good to associate with me.

That was another thing about school that I hated, I blamed it for taking away the one friend I really cared about. And then that bloody place took away my passion for music. I had never really felt pressured to be good until I went there.

It sucked every last note I had, until I began playing so mechanically that I went home crying. I even went through a period where I was skipping lessons all together.
I suppose I did have a bit of rebellion in me after all.

"Look, here comes vacant Violet," Alisha smirked. I tried not to look too quickly in her direction, but I didn't want to prolong the feeling that came with seeing her. I loved that rush.

Violet was anything but vacant, the other girls had given her that name because she never said anything, and spent most of the lessons looking out the window in a day dreaming haze. That and they were jealous of how beautiful she was.

I suppose I always knew I was gay, even when I had to kiss Kay's older brother in a game of kiss or dare on her 13th birthday. I guess...I guess I just simply knew I liked girls.

There was no big moment of revelation or shock, no fighting it. My Dad even sat me down one day and asked me outright if I was a lesbian.
"Yes," I shrugged. He just nodded and smiled in a sort of contented way.
"Your aunt will be pleased," he said. My Dad's sister, Aunt Hilary, was gay, and extremely proud. I suppose you could say that explains my relaxed attitude over my sexual orientation. Some might even say it's genetic, but what should any of that matter? I am what I am as that song goes.
And every time Violet smiled at me, I couldn't help but wonder if she was what I am too.

Those are just a few things about this character that came into my head and I really enjoyed writing her.

I shared what I wrote with a good friend of mine, and she asked me if this was related to a short story I wrote some time ago. I said that wasn't the intention, then I began to think about that story. Somehow without even realising it I knew the stories were connected.

I wrote down a couple ideas and they all seemed to fit with other random ideas and notes I had jotted down somewhere, hoping I could use them later.
Now this story has been born, and although it will probably just be something I work on when an idea comes, I love it already.

Has anyone else ever had these moments, when you're so intent on working on one thing but something new manages to wangle it's way in, and you sigh but there's excitement rumbling in your belly? (Ok that last part might just be me, though you know what I mean.)

As I have said in a previous post I am always doing it, part of me is surprised how I've managed to finish any story. (That was one of the most satisfying feelings ever.)

Now after sharing that I leave you, wondering which story my fingers will want to write for first.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Words Speak To Me

When I was younger I used to love going on long car journeys (actually I still do). Mainly because it meant I was going somewhere exciting like Hastings, Chartwell or Batemans, or any another of my favourite seaside towns or national trust venues. It also meant that we could listen to an audiobook, which when I was really little was played on by cassette, and later by CD when we updated the car.

(A very funny time was when we were on our way to Blackpool. I had a whole box of cassettes on my lap, and then the car broke down on the way up. We got a courtesy car, which had a CD player in. We had to buy one CD, the hits from 1996. I still own the CD and it makes me smile.)
So I've always associated fond memories with audiobooks, they remind me very much of my parents who introduced me to many wonderful stories and characters via the spoken word. I wanted to share some of my favourites, because this week I've recently downloaded a couple new stories. (Another development in audiobook technology.)

First and foremost, I love dramatisations. Love love love them. I have rented the dramatisations of His Dark Materials at least eight times from the library, I guess I really should purchase myself a copy of it soon. However I think my most favourite full cast stories are mysteries, especially when they involve the detective Paul Temple.

Paul Temple is a marvellous English crime novelist/detective created by Francis Durbridge. He solves all sorts of mysteries, sometimes going internationally to do so, and is often (if not always) accompanied by his wife Steve. And their lives always end up being endangered.
My first outing with Paul Temple was that of; Paul Temple and The Conrad Case. (Yes it was on cassette) I love the sound of Peter Coke's voice, it is like music to my ears. And I especially love the era created in this piece; there's fast cars; cocktails; jazz; fashion; murder; novelists; nod to movies. It is a fabulous story with many exciting twist and turns. I can't express my love for it enough.

I have The Time Travellers Wife on my iPod. If I had to summarise this in as few words as possible; I cried in the middle of the station, at rush hour. I didn't care, it was so powerful (even though I knew the story) that it just hit me. I don't think I have ever had my emotions so powerfully evoked like that before. Although I just downloaded One Day, and even though I don't think I'm going to shed tears for quite the same reasons, I know it's inevitable.

I own an abundance of Doctor Who audiobooks, because it is my favourite TV show. I love how they tie in with the stories shown on screen, it allows you to imagine other adventures for yourself that the doctor and his companions have enjoyed. They also prove how talented the actors on the show are.

And also I do have a couple dramatisations too, featuring the 'old' doctors. Jon Pertwee is my favourite of them all.

I also love readings/ dramatisations of Cadfael stories, written by Ellis Peters. The readings are read by Derek Jacob and he has a beautiful commanding voice.

There are of course those of Emma, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice etc. I love having some of the best love stories read to me.

I also have many different versions of the Narnia stories. I mean many. I had to tell my Mum not to get rid of any because they are all unique. I still don't think she's convinced but I think she knows it's better this way.
My favourite Narnia story is the Magicians Nephew, I think it is the most magical and interesting story of all.
My first introduction to Narnia was watching the 1989 BBC production of The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (I am terrified of the Maugrim in that show, I still have nightmares about him and get shivers if I see his picture. That fear is courtesy of my siblings).
In the Magicians Nephew I loved finding out how the world was created, and it has all those little things that of course tie in with later stories.

Now I have to mention the story that has become a tradition in my house to play every year in the month of December, although I'm going to confess I did listen to it the other day. Simon Bates' Save Our Santa.

Santa gets thrown in prison by taxmen Greedy and Grab for not paying his taxes. Yea of course we all know Santa shouldn't pay taxes. So Santa's young assistant Rupert marches to London with an enormous band of children and they ask the Queen for help.
It is very short, very sweet and the songs are extremely catchy. I just love it, when I hear it being played I know Christmas can't be far behind.

These are just some of the things that delight my ears. I think audiobooks, especially now they are available on all types of format, they are a great way for wonderful stories, new and old, to be shared with a wider audience.


Also there is currently an offer going around to get a free download from audible. Just type in Google; free audible download. Then you have 14 days to cancel your subscription, so I feel it's win win. Or you could accept the other of £3.99 for three months and get 1 audiobook download a month. (And if you purchase certain ones that will more be than enough - the unabridged One Day is over 16 hours long.) And then you can just cancel before the subscription fee goes up. I highly recommend.


Monday, 5 September 2011

Why Doesn't My Story Work?

So after completing my (still hopeful) final draft of my novel, I decided to give myself a well deserved break. Then I realised that meant I had free time, and got me thinking. My eyes wondered over to the countless notebooks, and I started to go over each story in my mind. And I couldn't get one of them out my head, it was shouting at me the loudest, begging me to come back.

A few months ago, during the time I was quite ill, I got to thinking about a story. One line popped into my head, and quickly after that the characters and their tale came to me very powerfully and strongly. I knew I had to write it. So I began, getting each of their details down while I could.

I managed to complete ¾s of it before I got stuck. I wouldn't call it writers block, but I couldn't move on and had to abandon it before I fell out of love with it.

Then I went on to do the revision of my other novel, feeling refreshed and excited, yet also ready to be somewhat brutal about the work.

Once I'd finished I spent these past weeks doing more research on querying/getting published. And during this research I stumbled across many authors blogs and interviews which I hadn't seen before, and I read a great piece of advice. (I can't remember the exact location of it, so if you know who said it please let me know.)

The author said she didn't believe in writers block. She said that she feels it means something has gone wrong, so go back to the place where you got stuck and fix it from there.

This immediately made me think of the novel I abandoned deeply upset. I thought about what made me so cross with it, and I realised; the structure was wrong. It wasn't working, it wasn't conveying the story I wanted.

That's why I made the tough decision to change the structure of the book, but I have not lost any of the original story. Now I'm once again excited to be writing about these characters I love.

I often read in authors interviews and such about how their novels started as one thing, and ended up with something completely different as the final product.

I always thought that must be such a hard decision to make. However after going through my own experience I realise that if it is for the better, then it must be done.


What's In An Anniversary?

Sometimes I wonder why an anniversary is more significant than any other day. Why should we hurt more on a specific day of the year? Why should the pain by any greater, when it can hurt just as much on other 'ordinary' days.

Today is my Dad's birthday, he sadly passed away a little over 3 years ago.

I've always said that I don't believe in significance that hangs over a certain day, but this year has seemed to prove me wrong. I don't know if it is because it has been a particularly trying year, or if maybe I've just been thinking about it more with the free time I've had.

However for some reason last month, on the anniversary of my Dad's passing, I found myself becoming really emotional.

And it wasn't just me. My whole family seemed to be feeling it, there were more statuses this year than last. And even one of my closest friends, who was there by my side when times were toughest and very close to my Dad, sent me a text about how she was particularly feeling the weight of the day.

How can one day manage to take a hold of people like that? I wonder if it almost forces us to feel such a way, other wise we are guilty of not caring.

Of course I care, if I didn't then most days wouldn't be so painful. Most days, the pain of missing him hurts so badly I have to force myself not to think about it.

I have been in a place where dwelling so much has put me in a dark place, one where I was unable to see anything else. The days all rolled into one and I separated myself from those I loved. I do not want to be in that place again, so I try every day not to be.

Yes I believe that grief never fades, even after years have passed the loss can still feel just as raw, but time can help you find a way to deal with it.