Archive | January 2011

Really Good Books

I was thinking earlier it would be really good to do a blog today. Then I started wondering what I could write – it’s not like I’m actually writing is it. So that would leave… reading. I’m really enjoying the book I’m reading now Jeff Abbott’s A Kiss Gone Bad, and the thought of that led me to… I’m reading a lot of really good books at the moment.

In 2009 I only read 17 or something books, and only a handful of them really stood out. I think I tried to do a top ten books I read that year, but didn’t have a top ten. There just weren’t enough good ones there.

Last year was the opposite. I read 45 books, and enjoyed a huge number of them. So, what better way to spend a blog, than with my top books of last year. I was thinking top ten, but going through my list, I’ve actually made a top twenty. Hope it’s not too boring:

YA:

  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (I only read this to prove to people I wouldn’t like it. I loved it. I think it’s my favourite book of the year)
  • Avalon High by Meg Cabot (When I was researching YA novels before writing mine, I knew I had to read one of Ms Cabot’s books – the queen of teen and all that)
  • Summer Dreams Winter Love by Mary Francis Shura (this was my favourite book growing up, and I wanted to read it again. It still had that magic)
  • Della Says… OMG by Keris Stainton (I loved the sound of this when I started following Keris’ blog, and was lucky enough to get invited to her launch party where she signed the book. After all that I was so glad I loved it)

Chick Lit:

  • Love Lies by Adele Parks (I got given a small booklet on the street. It was the first two chapters. I couldn’t read just that, I had to get the whole book and read it.  But then I love Adele Parks so would have had to get it at some point anyway)
  • Foursome by Jane Fallon (This is the best book I read in this category. I loved everything about it, and will definitely be on the lookout for more books by her)
  • Husbands by Adele Parks (what can I say? I love the lady, I had to read more than one)
  • The Happy Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman (I got a copy of this from the publisher to review. I was pretty scared I wouldn’t like it then there would be loads of pressure on me to say something nice about it. Luckily it was great – it was Rowan Coleman, of course it was great)
  • The Baby Group by Rowan Coleman (ditto the great comment above)
  • What My Best Friend Did by Lucy Dawson (another that is in my top three of the year I imagine. Great. Not sure if it’s really chick lit, but I think it belongs here)
  • Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell (I read this when it came out ten years ago,  but after winning a ticket to an evening with Lisa, I thought I should re-read it before I went. So glad I did, I’d forgotten how good it was. And Lisa Jewell – she’s awesome and funny, and has a great story of how she got published. I like the idea that mine could go the same way…)

Thrillers:

  • Until It’s Over by Nicci French (my step mum gave me this, saying she loved it. Well, so did her step daughter)
  • The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner (Although this is only the second book of hers I’ve read, I am a huge Meg Gardiner fan, and this is my favourite book. Can’t wait to start on her other series of books)
  • Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay (Again second book of his I’ve read. Again this is my favourite)
  • Random by Craig Robertson (I got this free from the publisher because of doing the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. It’s his debut book, and it’s brilliant)
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo & The Girl Who Played with Fire both by Stieg Larsson (I only picked the first up because of the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. I was so glad I did. I watched the movie too – it sucked)

 Sci-Fi:

  • The Caves of Steel by Asimov (I read this on recommendation from the other half. He thought I should read something DIFFERENT, so I did. I didn’t want to enjoy it, but I did. I want to read the rest in the Robot series)
  • 1984 by George Orwell (It’s a classic – I had to read it at some time. This was the year. It totally deserves the hype it gets)

I really hope 2011 is as good for books as last year was. I’m on book three, and so far it’s certainly shaping up that way!

What were your favourite books from last year?

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Old Book, New Book and Still No Writing

I finished Stephen King’s On Writing last week, and have now started reading another book.

On Writing: what can I say? I loved it, I learnt loads, and it really really made me want to write more. When I say more, I couldn’t really be writing any less at the moment so maybe that should say ‘it really made me want to write.’ Honestly when he was talking about writing, I was getting really excited about it myself.

I just don’t know what my problem is. I really want to, but there’s just something stopping me. To be honest over the last few days it has honestly been time. Tonight is my first night at home since last Thursday (after being ‘stranded’ in hotels earlier in the week because of a power cable problem causing no electricity in the flat, and a very busy social life) so when I got in tonight (an hour early thanks to a site visit finishing early) I had domestic stuff to do. Sigh.

My plan to try to do some writing during my lunch hour is being wrecked at the moment by being so busy at work. Yesterday I stopped just to get a sandwich from the canteen and to write a really quick blog. Maybe 15 mins max. Hopefully I’ve cleared enough stuff to enable me to have a lunch break again, and get into the habit of writing then.

I’m going to try really hard to do some tomorrow night. I’m not going out, so should be able to do some. It’s Fiction Friday the day after, so I can do that piece. Maybe something else.

That went a bit off topic of On Writing didn’t it. I’d love to be able to share half of what he said in it, but I’d much rather suggest you go read it if you haven’t. My step mum loved it and she’s not a writer, so even if you’re not a writer I’d suggest you go read it. If you do want to read about anything in it, I couldn’t help but blogging about a few things a week or so ago, so take a look at this.

As I said earlier, I’m now reading another book. This is really exciting as it’s the first book for my A to Z challenge and for my Mystery and Suspense Challenge. Jeff Abbott’s A Kiss Gone Bad (as you can see from my side bar). A for Abbott because I’m going to read the books in the order of the alphabet. So far (about page 20) I’m enjoying it. Which is good considering I’d never heard of it, and only really picked it up because it was cheap and fitted the model of Thriller & Suspense novels for my 2010  challenge. I’d heard of Fear and Panic (two of his other books), but from the names I thought they were horror so stayed well away. Obviously I can’t say how much I’ll like the rest of the book, but from the bit I’ve read, I’m glad I picked up this book!

I’m looking forward to this 26 book challenge for the A-Z challenge. But, I have a little problem. I’m reading A. Jeff Abbott. But, on my bedside table, I have another book. A book whose author’s surname also begins with A. Damn. It’s Cecelia Ahern’s The Book of Tomorrow. It’s been on my TBR list for ages and I finally got it for Christmas. I don’t want to wait until I’ve read 26 other books before I read it. So, I’ve decided, not all the books I read this year will be for the challenge. I’m hoping to read more than 26 anyway, so it doesn’t matter too much. I do like the fact I’m going to go A-A-B… and so on. I’m almost tempted to do a double A-Z challenge (2 As, 2 Bs, 2 Cs etc), but I’d like to do something other than read this year, and I don’t know if I’d be able to if I was trying to read 52 books. Not when we’re pretty much done with 1/12 of the year!

Right I’m off to watch a film. I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking I should be writing not watching a film. But I’m not going to. After all the housework I’ve done, and how busy I’ve been at work the last 2 weeks, I think I deserve a bit of R&R! Tomorrow. I promise.

Back in the Dark Ages

I promise I’m not getting into bad blogging habits again, or non blogging habits if you think about it – I’ve just had a crazy weekend/early week where I’ve just not been able to blog.

On Sunday we got home from a night at a friends with me all excited about the day ahead – run and blog were on my agenda. Until we walked into the flat and found we had no electricity. NO ELECTRICITY! Hand on my heart, I did not realise how much we rely on it. We had no heating because although it’s gas, it needs electricity to light it (stupid if you ask me), ditto hot water. We have a pump to get water into the house, and that works on electricity, so had no water either. And then just no light, power etc.

At first I was ok. I thought it was a great reason to read rather than do the other things that take up my time – watch TV, movies, play on the internet etc. But then I got reminded it was winter and therefore gets dark before 5pm. It was about 3.

So, we checked into a hotel. We literally had no choice. In a hotel I couldn’t write, or read in fact. There was too much room service food to get and movies to watch. He he.

It’s now Tuesday afternoon, and I’m pretty sure we have electricity back. I haven’t heard otherwise, so I guess that’s a good sign.

So, hopefully today/tomorrow I can get back into  a routine. You know the routine of not having a routine. I’ll get there. Soon! Promise!

Fiction Friday – 21st January

 The prompt for today from Write Anything is: Your character  realises that someone they admire is imperfect. I’ve used the same characters this week as I did last week – Madison and Lucy from the YA novel I started during NaNo last year ‘The Dating Project.’ (remember it’s unedited)

‘What did you say?’

‘I said she’s a stupid little ho-bag.’

‘Ho bag?’

‘Yeah, like a tart. Slut. You know?’ Madison nodded. She wasn’t asking for an explanation of Lucy’s terminology (although that was weird), but she couldn’t believe Lucy was slating someone.

Ok so she’d only met her two days before, but up until then, she’d been so nice to everyone and about everyone. Madison had really started to look up to her. But now she was calling someone a ho-bag? Some that she used to be best friends with? It shocked Madison.

‘We are talking Sarah Greenwood aren’t we?’ Madison had to clarify. She hadn’t heard the whole story of why Sarah wasn’t best friends with Lucy and Emily any longer, but where Madison came from a friend was for life, whether they stayed best friends, or moved on to other friends. Mind you, Madison came from a tiny little town an hour or so outside of Texas, there were only 10 kids there around her age, so you had to be friends with everyone, or you’d be friends with no one.

‘Yeah. I mean it’s not like I care about Josh any more. And I know he doesn’t care about me. But parading around in front of me with him? That’s just slack. I wouldn’t do that with what’s his name? Dirt bag ugly guy from the garage down the road?’

‘Derek!’

Madison nearly jumped a mile as Emily came round the side of the wall her and Lucy had been sat on. They were on the edge of the playing field, and the sun was out so there was lots of noise – boys playing football; girls sunbathing in the early autumn sun, music blaring from someone’s phone; a few first years running round, probably playing kiss chase or something.

‘Jeez Em, you’ll give a girl a heart attack creeping up on her like that.’ Lucy took the words right out of Madison’s mouth. As Em sat down on the opposite side of Lucy to Madison, Madison tried to stop this negative feeling she was having. She felt it whenever Emily was around. She was quite sure she didn’t like her, but couldn’t work out why? Madison had gone out of her way to be nice to her – she was the new girl, of course she was going to be. But Em treated her like a great aunt or something, politely and not getting too close. Maybe they just needed some one to one time to get to know each other.

‘So you’re talking about Sarah then?’ Emily asked.

‘Yeah. Can you believe the little bitch?’

‘You know I actually can. I always thought she liked Josh. He obviously doesn’t like her, it’s just a way of getting back at you.’ Lucy scrapped her toe along the ground, kicking at the long grass with every swing.

‘You think?’

‘Defo. Look. He’s going to get over this whole break up thing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you were really good friends before you got together, once he gets over the hurt of rejection he’ll want to be friends again.’

‘And what do I…?

‘And until then you stay strong. Ignore him when he’s being a dick. Ignore that fat cow Sarah – she’s nothing on you. Soon, very soon, he’ll stop the nasty comments, he’ll stop hanging off other girls in front of you, and everyone will be able to get back to normal.’ 

Madison had to give it to Emily, although she pretty much ignored Madison when she could, she was a really good friend to Lucy, saying just what she needed to hear.

Madison looked up at the guy walking across the field in the far distance. Even from this distance she knew it was Josh and her heart knew it too. It started beating double time and her legs felt weak. She looked back over to Lucy who was now reading something on her cell phone, and tried to slow down her heart and gain the strength back in her legs. Lucy may have dumped Josh, but she sure wasn’t over him. And Madison wasn’t the kind of girl to jump in where another girl left off. Especially not someone as nice as Lucy. Because even though she’d discovered Lucy wasn’t a saint, she was still a really nice girl, and, Maidson hoped, a great friend.

Writing this was quite interesting – the novel is written in Lucy’s first person, so I’ve not really explored Madison’s thoughts too much, and definitely hadn’t put into words how she feels about Emily and Josh. I’m now wondering if I should write more from Madison’s POV. Although as she’s American and I’m English, I might find it pretty hard.

Anyway, I’m digressing. What did you think? I know I went away from the prompt, but I just got carried away. Don’t you love it when that happens? Please let me know what you think, good and bad comments welcome.

Still Thinking

I’m still thinking about my goals for 2011, so I’m not going to post them quite yet. As I finished the blog about it pretty late last night, I’m pretty sure I’m going to allow myself a little more time.

I’ve just had lunch in our canteen. I was going to try to read while I ate, but a Jacket potato apparently requires two hands, and I hate bending books back (generally my books have a maximum of one or two creases down the spine when I’ve finished them – my current book Stephen King’s On Writing has none and I’m on page 261 of 367 – result!). Instead of reading, I listened in to someone’s conversation – for writing purposes of course (!). On of the ladies (who I know is a big reader like me) was saying how she’ has just started a ‘fun’ way of getting through her to be read books. The first book she’s reading is by an author whose sirname beginning with A. Then she’ll go to B, then C etc. until she gets to Z. If there are more than one with any letter she’s going to read just one on the first time round, then go again.

How much do I love that idea. I’ll tell you how much. I’m going to set myself an A-Z challenge this year. 26 books, each one by a different author beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. I guess it can totally tie in with the Mystery & Suspense Challenge (12 books in that genre). I’m really excited now I’ve had this idea. SO excited.

I’ve just realised I can’t be the only one who’s thought of this can I? No, I can’t. A quick google search led me to A to Z Challenge. Becky (the organiser) has set three ways of doing the challenge A- 26 Authors alphabetically B- 26 titles alphabetically and C – 52 books, authors & titles. I’m sticking with my 26 authors. When I’ve finished this, I’m going to sign up, then that’s me, up, up and away! How exciting.  

The only downside to this idea, is that I’ve been planning my next book for a couple of weeks now. And the author’s name doesn’t begin with A. WAIT. I’m being stupid. YES IT DOES. Abbott (as in Jeff Abbott) certainly begins with an A. OH YES!!!!

Right, I’ve got 5 or so minutes left of my lunch break. That’s just enough time to have a quick peak at the Fiction Friday prompt for this week and make a start. Result.

2011 Draft Goals

I feel like I need some goals for the year. I’ve not really had a chance to think about them though, so I thought I’d have a rambling blog thinking about it as I write.

Fiction Friday: This is something I really enjoyed doing most of last year. If you’ve not seen it before it’s over at Write Anything. Every week they give you a prompt and you write for at least five minutes from it. Last year, it was pretty much doing this every week that taught me how to write short stories. Honestly. Before I started ‘playing’ I couldn’t comprehend how to get a whole story in a few hundred/thousand words. My entries started as a snap shot of a much bigger story. After a while I found I was completing whole stories.

Fiction Friday used to make sure I wrote at least once a week. For half the year that was pretty much all I was writing, which is why I’m really keen to carry on with it this year. Although, I’d like to write a lot more than once a week this year.

Blogging: Last year I got so into blogging. I loved it. Then I got a new job where I couldn’t write during work time. Suddenly my blogging stopped. I miss it, but haven’t found a routine that gets it back in my life. I need to find that, whether it’s a couple of days a week during my lunch break, a couple of evenings a week which I dedicate to it, or a mix of both. Maybe even at weekends. I HAVE to get back into it. Hopefully if I do, it will be another thing to inspire me to write – I can’t write a writing blog if I’ve nothing to write about. Right?

Editing: I feel like this year should be the year I learn to love editing. Or if not love it, tolerate it. I think the only things I’ve ever edited are two stories I used for magazine submissions, and my writing course work. I’ve one finished novel that needs editing, and two half written that will, at some point, need editing.

Last year I had a plan to write a story each week (unedited) for Fiction Friday, then the following week, edit it and submit it to #FridayFlash (a Twitter thing where you post edited stories) on the Friday. I think that’s a good plan to get me into the editing frame of mind.

Writing Course: I had totally forgotten I was doing a writing course until Stephen King mentioned writing courses in On Writing. On the tube this morning I tried to remember how far I’ve got on it, but I can’t. At all. I need to work on this more this year. I’ve now been doing it for nearly 2 years, and I’m not even quarter of the way though. That is disgraceful. I HAVE to work on it this year!

Website: I happen to know someone who knows someone who creates websites for a living. And apparently would be quite happy to design a website for me. I like using WordPress, but I’m quite into the idea of having my own website – under my real name. There’s a way of linking WordPress to another website, so I’ll do that.

Get Published: Ok, so I’m cheating on this one, I am going to get something published on a website – a short story I wrote last year. It’s a first step, it’s quite  a new website, for chick lit short stories, but regardless of how new it is, I’m getting a story published. That’s cool. And a great start to the year. A great enough start that it’s going to push me to sub more stories.

Finish a novel or two: I’ve got two unfinished novels. Two unfinished novels that I want to do something with. I’ve been writing ‘Holiday’ for about two years (longer if you count the year or so it was floating round my head) and I started The Dating Project for NaNo last November. I can’t get to the end of next year and still have them unfinished. I feel this year is also the year I find a better name for ‘Holiday.’

Join a Writing Group: I’ve been wanting to do this since I started this blog and writing properly(nearly two years ago) but have always had a reason not to do it – fear, lack of time, working hours etc. THIS year I’m going to do it. No excuses or reasons not to.

Write another novel: I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo twice now, and ‘won’ twice. That means I’m going to have to do it again. 50,000 words, 30 days, November. Bring it on.

Read some books: I’m doing a Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2011. The challenge is to read 12 Mystery or suspense books in the year. So that’s 12. I want to read much, much more than that though. Last year I read 45. That’s so much better than the 17 the year before!

So there we have it. My ideas of what I could have as goals for the year. I’m going to have a think through about them then make some definitive goals by the end of the week.

I do have a problem though. I always only feel like I can only have one project on the go i.e. only work on my writing course, or only write a novel, or only edit a novel (the last one being hypothetical as I’ve never actually done that). Which means I need to decide what to do and when. And focus on that. I guess this goes back to setting writing time for myself.

Right, I’ll be back soon(ish) with some goals. Eek!

Fiction Friday #190

Just a very quick piece here, I don’t even know if it really makes sense because it’s so short, but I started it at the beginning of the week and thought I’d get a chance to carry on and didn’t.

This is two of the teenage main characters from the novel I started during NaNo last year (it seems so weird saying last year when it was only a couple of months ago) Madison and Lucy. Only in The Dating Project it’s Lucy’s first person POV, but this for some reason went 3rd.

The prompt for yesterday was: Sometimes lies can have serious consequences. Describe a time when a lie had major consequences for your character. And this is what Lucy and Madison did with it:

‘It’s a shame because I think you two would have made a good couple.’

‘Us two?’ Madison almost shrieked. ‘Why us two?’

‘Wooh there Maddy, calm down. I know you don’t like him but I just felt there was something there between you.’

‘Bu… Wha..’

‘Why are you so surprised I think that? I asked you if you liked him for a reason.’

‘What reason?’ Madison grabbed Lucy’s arm.

‘Comeon. You Americans aren’t that thick. I asked you cause I thought, oh ok, I knew he liked you.’

‘BUt… Why didn’t you say anything?’ X looked at Madison puzzled.

‘I kind of thought I did. You told me you don’t like him.’

‘But I do!’ Madison shouted. A couple of people at the table behind them turned round and giggled. Madison ignored them. ‘Oh no. I can’t believe if I had have told you I like him, I could be going out with him instead of that bitch Jenna.’

Lucy threw her hands up in frustration. ‘So why did you say no?’

‘I didn’t realise HE liked ME. I thought it was just general chit chat and didn’t want you to know that I’m some loser that fancies people that don’t fancy me back.’

‘But he does. Or did.’

Madison put her head in her hands. ‘I know,’ she muffled through her fingers. ‘I know.’

I know it’s pretty short. And I know it’s not really MAJOR implications, but to Madison it is. Please, let me know what you think. Oh, and remember, I play by the Fiction Friday rules – this is unedited.