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


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.


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.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Forever Maggie Stiefvater

Sometimes a writer comes along and the only way to describe them is; magic. To me, and probably countless others, JK Rowling is the epitome of that, but Maggie Stievfater has her own brand of magic.

I can probably, I use probably strongly, understand why people don't like The Wolves of Mercy Falls series. However there is something about Maggie's writing that is so addictive that you don't even realise you've read forty pages. She writes with effortless beauty.

Every time I've picked up one of the three books I've been ill, but they have been the perfect escapism for me. Shiver introduced to me a great love story, Linger added more drama and depth and two more great characters.

Throughout each book I've been able to dive into these characters who are perfectly moulded, flaws and all. I think all the characters are great, in their own non-functional, broken way. They managed to find respect and love for each other, even though really they are opposites, and find a way to work together and attempt to get through the drama facing them all.

Nothing much in the way of action occurs in the series, except for me it doesn't feel so when you are reading it. Yes it's about two people fighting hard to be together, however it's also about human emotions. The book explores how we deal with grief and strive. How it can be hard to find the power to say yes to life, but when you do, you realise it's brilliant. And I will say that Maggie never loses the humour that most of us need to make it through a day.

There's a great scene in Forever between Cole, Sam and Grace and a raccoon. It seriously amused me so much I had to read it again. I love how all of Maggie's books do that, make you laugh without even realising it.

I love this series, for many reasons that I sometimes find it hard to explain. Even when I finished Forever, I read through the author's note and acknowledgements and just stared at the cover, wondering how these books had taken a hold on my heart.

I love Maggie's Lament & Ballad. I thought I loved Lament more, but I have to love James in Ballad. I feel as though I can identify with parts of his traits and personality, he is such an extraordinary character. One that still lingers in my mind even months after reading the books.

I am not only looking forward to Maggie's upcoming novel, The Scorpio Races, but I am extremely excited to read anything that comes from her next. I'm ready to devour it all.