Tag Archive | chick lit

Books, Books and More Books, And Not All of Them Mine!

 

About two months ago, we bought some new shelf things for the living room, each one made up of 40cm x 40cm cubes. This was in addition to the 4×4 (cubes) shelf unit we had already, in total we now have 40 of these 40x40cm cube units.

When we only had the 4×4 (so 16 units) I was really happy because 6 of them were entirely mine. Mine for what you ask? Do you need to? Mine for books! I had 2 shelves of cookery books, then 4 of fiction books. It was amazing. And if I’m honest a little bit of a lie.

As we only had 16 of these, I couldn’t fill all 16 with books (which I probably could have done), so I double layered the books on each shelf. Yes, it meant that you couldn’t see the back ones, at all, but that was fine, I sorted it so that the ones I haven’t read were at the front, and the ones I have read, but want to keep were behind – piled high. Yes, even my favourite ever books were hidden behind unread ones. Not ideal, but I was happy. I had a shelf of chick-lit, and shelf of thrillers, and 2 of various genres.

My boyfriend only had 2 shelves of books.

I couldn’t complain.

Then we bought the new shelves. 24 new cubes. Boy did I get excited. This meant that I could stop double layering my books, and have my favourite ones out on show again – didn’t it? Well, no, because there was another really exciting thing that I’d forgotten about – more books in our storage unit.

Obviously we got them out, and spent a great afternoon sorting them out onto shelves. I coupled in genres, colours, sizes, etc. It was great. My books had to mingle with HIS books on some shelves, but it was fine, because they matched. He then had more than his 2 just to himself. Somehow, I didn’t get any more space, and all the cubes were filled up. Hmmm. How did that happen? It was fine though, I was happy with my six shelves, and part user of another three. He had five, then was a part user in the three I was part using.

Then today, he went to the storage unit again. And found another box of his books. I don’t know how he managed that, I was sure we’d been through them all (part of me wonders if he just went to a shop and just bought a box of books?).

Tonight he moved stuff around, and created a spare cube which he proceeded to fill with the books from the storage unit. Wait a minute, if there was enough space for more books, why were mine so cramped? Remember, the new shelves came about 2 months ago, I’ve bought a lot of books in that time.

So now, I have my 4 shelves of fiction books. I have 2 of cookery books, and them I’m part using three. He now has part use of three and six of his own.

Hold on, that means we’re even. How is that fair? I’m the writer, I’m the one that HAS to read (because writers read), and if we’re going to be honest – I’m the one that reads. He doesn’t. Not much. He’s read 1 this year (one I gave him to read, one of my books, not even one off his shlef). I’m reading my 17th.

How is that fair? Really? I’m sulking a little. He’s got a whole load more of them for other things too – xbox games, cds, lego, dvds etc. All in all, he’s got sole use of 13. I have 6. This is not fair.

Conclusion? Well, we need more book shelves. Totally need them. Of course, we can’t get any more book shelves, because the flat just isn’t big enough. Therefore, we have to move. We need a bigger place, where I can have more of my books out on show (did I mention there’s another half box of books of mine in our cupboard because there isn’t space for them on the shelves). Now… if I can just convince him of this… ‘Honey…’

As I’ve been talking a lot about my boyfriend this blog, I may as well carry on…

He, along with three friends are raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust by driving from England to the Ukraine via 10 other countries – dressed as the characters from the film Anchorman. If you’d like to help them get to their goal please donate here. If you’re interested in the ridiculous costumes, and crazy antics they’re going to be getting up to, take a look at their blog.

Better, But Still Not Very Good

Well, this check in, for the first time for WEEKS (I am not kidding), I can actually report that I’ve done some writing. Not, much but some. I have my buddy Laura to thank for it.

So how much is not much? A piddly amount – 791 words. I guess that’s not that few, but it was in 1 day. Just one day. Oh dear.

Laura and I were texting the other day, and she encouraged me to try to write JUST 50 words. 50? That’s nothing, I could do that. So… I… didn’t. I got home that night and just didn’t have the energy. The next night though, I did.

I’d made a decision that I was going to read the first 3000 words of the novel that night, and that would be my work on it for the day. 3000 words because Novelicious have a competition running where you have to enter that much of your chick lit novel. Prizes include novel critiques, Kindles and books. I read through it, liked some of it, hated some of it, and… nearly cried ’cause it was so sweet. Ahhhh.

I think it’s got potential. If I could just finish it and edit it…

After reading the first 3000 words, I got an idea for a scene later on (possibly the last scene). I’d already turned the laptop off, so I grabbed a bit of paper and pen, and started plotting it. Then before I’d got too far, instead of planning, I started writing it. What I wrote wasn’t as good as what I’ve got in my head for this scene (I’ve been going over it again and again in my head for the last couple of months), but it’s words, and words are editable. Brilliant.

I’m going to do some writing now, but after this I don’t really know how to decide what I should do. I want to finish writing the novel, but I need to edit the first 3000 words. I should really finish writing it before I start editing, but maybe I should just edit this bit, then go back to finishing writing it.

What I’d really like to do is stop writing, read it and start editing it. I really, really want to do that, but I think I shouldn’t. I think I should get it all finished, then read and edit. What my problem is, well what my problemS ARE, are: 1) I’ve missed out a massive side story that I need to wiggle back in, I’m going to have to change, or add a lot to add it back in, and it was a good side story, so I want it in there; and 2) that I don’t know how I’m going to finish it.

These two points make me think that I should go back, read it and start editing. I just don’t think that’s how it should be done. Of course, everyone’s different, and so maybe that way would work for me? Or maybe I’m just saying that cause it’s giving me the get out clause I need to stop writing now. I just don’t know.

What if I carry on writing it, finish it, and then when it’s time to edit it, I don’t want to? Should I just be editing now while I want to – because I’ve never actually WANTED to edit something, maybe this is a sign I should do it while I want to? I just don’t know.

Ah well, it’ll work itself out, somehow. Closing date for the Novelicious competition isn’t until the beginning of April – maybe I could finish the novel, and edit those 3k by then… You never know!

In other news, my mum is thinking about re-starting the writing course she’s got – the one I’m also doing (supposedly). That’s made me think about picking it back up (because you know, I can’t decide whether to write or edit at the moment, so why not throw another thing on the pile?). It would be good to do that, but if I’m completely honest, I don’t want her to finish it before me (even though I started it a LONG time after she did – we’re both rubbish and left it). Sigh. I don’t know.

I’ve just had a thought. When I was at school, during GCSEs, I managed to juggle 9 subjects, during A-Levels four, then at uni a few modules at once. Why now can’t I juggle two things? OK, so I admit juggling writing and editing the same project probably isn’t a great idea, but why not juggle writing/editing with the writing course? Some might suggest that if I don’t ‘have time’ to do 1, then I really shouldn’t be telling myself to do two. They might be right. AGH. Guess what? I just don’t know.

Seeing as I don’t know anything at all, I’m going to go. If anyone had a great idea about what I should do, please, let me know your thoughts.

Oh – I have 3 other goals for this ROW80 round: exercise, reading and eating well. Um… I’m walking a lot. Reading a little, and eating a lot (I know it’s supposed to be eating little, but never mind). Maybe this week will be better! Fingers crossed please guys!

Chick Lit Reading Challenge 2012

Looky what I found a couple of days ago (probably the weekend actually, just not had a chance to do this until now). Chick Lit Challenge 2012. It’s like the Mystery & Suspense Challenge I’ve signed up to, only, obvioulsy, with chick lit novels not thrillers. Woop! That is so my kind of challenge.

12 novels, all chick lit. 2 HAVE to be debut novels which are released in 2012. Woop!

AND there’s prizes each month.

I totally didn’t have to think about this before I knew I’d sign up. I can’t wait. I’m going to have to cause I have a few books on my immediate TBR pile, but I don’t want to have to 😦 Oh well!

If you’re interested in taking part, or want to know more about it, check out Chick Lit Plus’ sign up page here.

Writing, Writing Group and My Name in Print

Obviously we’ll start with the most exciting – my name in print. Now, when I say my name in print, I mean it literally: ‘Helen Jackson’ not something I’ve written. Which would be awesome, but not yet (like how I say yet!? That’s optimism for you!).

A few months ago I got offered the opportunity to read a draft of a soon to be published novel. The author wanted comments on it. Of course I jumped at the chance because I’d loved her first novel and had a feeling I was going to love everything else written by her.

I was shockingly honest. Telling her what I did like and what I didn’t like. I’ve never done anything like that and the idea of doing it scared me immensely. How could I, a writer, and reader, but with no other credentials than that, give advice to A PUBLISHED AUTHOR? Well, somehow I did (thank god I liked it eh!) and she was very grateful.

How grateful? Well… if you turn to the acknowledgements page of Keris Stainton’s new novel ‘Jessie ♥ NYC’ at the 3rd paragraph down you’ll read ‘… Helen Jackson… for reading an early draft and giving fabulous feedback’ WOOP! How exciting is that. A properly published book, carrying MY NAME! That is the most exciting thing that’s happened to me this week… maybe this month (year?)! WOOP!

As I’m mentioning it, I really should recommend the book (and not just cause it’s got MY NAME in it). It’s a brilliant novel, I fell in love with Jessie and Finn is great, and the story is wicked, and you know, it’s set in my favourite city in the world! I’m now having an internal argument with myself about reading it. One half of me thinks I should stop reading what I’m on now to read this (the finished version) the other half is saying I can wait a couple of days. I don’t know which will win.

Moving on.

This morning, I saved all the parts of ‘Holiday’ I have to a memory stick to take to work. I was planning on going to my writing group tonight, but hadn’t decided what to read yet (I knew it had to be from Holiday) so thought I’d decide after work, before I left for the group (there’s not time to go home first). When I got to work, I realised I had left the memory stick at home. I know, I hear that – doh!

Luckily when I was having a writing spurt last year (or the year before? I can’t remember) I used to email bits and pieces to myself. So I found some. And among that ‘some’ was the perfect part for tonight.

The people at the group enjoyed my piece. I think they’re interested in the story, and seem quite excited about it. I really should go more often, as it makes me want to write more and more. I guess positive feedback does that to you doesn’t it. The negative feedback is great too (too much repetition here etc).

I’m starting to feel more… settled in the group now. After I went last time I wrote a huge long blog about what it was I didn’t like about it vs the little I did like (unfortunately it got ‘lost’ when I tried posting it, so it never saw the light of day) – the negatives totally outweighed the positives. BUT I liked the boost I got from people saying they liked my work, so wanted to go back.

I’m glad I did. I think my main issues with the group have been resolved. Or in part anyway:

I have been a little wary of commenting on other people’s work. I’ve not done this before (ok, so I’ve said in this post I’ve done it before – by via email is so different to face to face). Before now, I’ve not really been sure of what to say, or indeed, how to say it. Practice. I think that’s the only way I’m going to get better at this. Today I was less worried about it than last time. I expect next time I’ll be more confident. I’m getting there.

The genres other people’s writing are totally different to anything I read. This has kind of put me off, I feel like maybe I should belong to a group who have more chick lit/romance writers (any other than me would be a start). But, this could open my horizons to other genres. Already today I found myself really interested in a story that previously I’ve been a little bored by. This could be a positive thing.

The genres other people’s writing are totally different to anything I write. This worried me a lot. Surely I’d want romance writers to comment on my writing? Right? Well, no, not necessarily. I want help with the nuts and bolts of the writing, the grammar etc just as much as the content, so in that respect it doesn’t matter what other people write. Plus, I’m discovering there’s something really satisfying in hearing men who don’t read chick lit laughing at, and being interested in my words!

I know there’s other things that were putting me off the group before. But you know what? I think I’m starting to enjoy it. Enjoying it, and getting something from it – that has to be good!

Very quickly now, cause I’m really tired (which is what happens when your other half decides he can’t sleep at 5am and starts getting up and coming in and out the bedroom! Shouldn’t complain – he brought me breakfast when it was time for me to get up! Result!)

Today, I’ve done some EDITING! Not any old editing. Editing of Holiday. That’s a 1st. I realised earlier I needed to at least tidy up what I was going to read at the group, then when I got into it, I edited the hell out of that passage. Well, maybe not the hell out of it, but made significant changes/adjustments. You know what? I didn’t hate it! Maybe one day I’ll start enjoying editing. We can but hope!

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?

Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 Round-Up

Around Christmas I wrote a blog and in it had a big long moan about how badly I thought I’d done in this challenge. After that I sat down and worked out what thriller or suspense books I’d read throughout the year and was shocked to realise I’d actually read 11. Wow! I then thought about all the other books I’d read over the year, and went over to the host of the challenge Book Chick City to see what other people had read. shockingly someone had reviewed Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. I wasn’t too sure if it was a thriller or suspense, but as someone else had used it, guess what? I’m really happy to use it.

So that means… I completed the challenge. WOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO! The thing I haven’t done is review all the books yet, but I will get there. Here’s the list of them – the highlighted ones are linked to the review. The unhighlighted ones will have a review as soon as I can add it.

There you have it, my 12 books. I’m really happy I did it. I think the challenge pushed me to read more thrillers than I would have normally done, because I tend to favour chick lit and romance. I don’t know why I do that, I really love thrillers.

One of my aims of doing this challenge was to introduce myself to new authors. I certainly did that. The first book I read, a Sandra Brown book, I only picked up because of the challenge. I was so glad I did – I totally love both of her books I read during the challenge. I can’t wait to read more of hers.

Nicci French was introduced to me by my Step Mum. Again because I told her about the challenge so she gave me that book. I totally loved it, and will be looking out for more Nicci French books this year, and in the future.

Simon & Schuster sent all the people in this challenge an ARC of one of two novels. I was so happy I got Random by Craig Robertson. I hated the goreiness of it, but loved that at the same time. Last time I saw his update on Twitter, he was writing a new book. When it gets published I’ll be first in line to read it.

I honestly wouldn’t have read Asimov if it wasn’t for this challenge and my boyfriend convincing me it would work really well for the challenge. Sci-fi? Me? Nah! But, yeah. I actually enjoyed it. So much so, I’m going to read the other books in the Robot series. I don’t think I’ll read any others of his though, Sci-fi does still… I was going to say scare me, but I think it just doesn’t interest me that much. Hopefully he’ll (the boyfriend) will bully (!!) me into reading more of Asimov, or maybe another sci-fi writer – and he’ll find something easy-reading that I’ll ‘get’.

I’ve had the Judith Cutler book (and another) for years and didn’t pick it up in all that time. This challenge made me pick it up. I’ll definitely be reading the other one I’ve got of her’s (Dying to Fall) and probably the rest of that series.

That’s it. All the others I think I would have read anyway. But that’s pretty impressive – five authors that now I’ll be looking out for, that would have pasted right by me without the challenge.

I’m really impressed with how much I enjoyed the books I chose for this challenge. Looking at this list, I can genuinely say I loved each and every one of them. How good is that?!

I only have one small regret to come from this challenge. At the beginning of 2010 I looked around the internet and got recommendations of authors from people/places (including other people taking the challenge) and got a list of authors I wanted to read. But, I didn’t read any of them. That upsets me. But I’ll get over it. Just because the challenge is over… doesn’t mean I have to stop reading thrillers & suspense novels.

Plus… You never know what other challenges will be round the corner in 2011…

Alomst Published

I got an awesome email yesterday. Well semi awesome. It was from the editor of the website my story is going to be published on – woop! Before it can be published I’ve got to make A LOT of changes. When the email first said that I was worried – what’s wrong with my story? But then thinking about it, it totally makes sense, I’m new to this, they know so much more than me, of course there are going to be things they think I can improved. I’m actually really happy that they want me to change things, rather than just rejected my story!

So this week and the weekend, I’ll be making changes to that story. You know, as well as writing my words for NovelPI, plotting for my NaNo, the writing course and work for this family business I’m helping with. Not that I like to put too much on myself or anything. This is going to top priority though – it’s kind of going to make me a published author isn’t it. Woo hoo!

I’m still reading my really good book. Still thinking it’s really good.

I was so proud of myself last night. I really wanted to take a reprieve from NovelPI – 250 words seemed like such a high hill to climb. I’d totally got it in my head that I wouldn’t do anything, until I had a tiny flash of inspiration which caused me to start writing! When I paused for a breath, I found I’d done around 350 words – now that’s what I call a result.

There’s loads of ‘How to NaNo’ and advice on getting through the month on the internet at the moment. I really need to find some time to read through some. I’ve booked a day’s holiday next week, so hopefully I’ll get lots done then!

Tomorrow night I’m going to my first ever NaNo event. I wanted to go to a lot last year, but my operation, illness and birthdays stopped it. This year I’m determined I’m going to go to a couple of write-ins. Plus the starting party tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to meeting crazy people like me who are taking on this mammoth challenge!