Tag Archive | Jane Fallon

Weekend Update on Reading, Writing and Life

I have this strong urge to do a blog today and post it today. Without the internet (which is coming soon I’m promised) I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to pull it off, but we’ll give it a shot! *I didn’t so I’m posting on Monday – all still stands though*

Writing:

Well I’m trying to get through ‘Holiday,’ and the deadline I’ve given myself to finish it is 31st October. This is to coincide with the beginning of NaNo, so I don’t leave it on 1st November and take another six months to get back into it – as has been the case for the last two years.

I’d really like to see it finished because I think it’s the one that has more legs than any other (definitely The Dating Project that was my NaNo novel in 2010, and a little more so than Italian Infatuation, which is the only novel I’ve finished, but as it was done in NaNo 2009, it needs SO much work that quite frankly, it scares me).

When I was at the Jane Fallon event on Monday, a few people asked me if I’ve sent the first few chapters off to an agent. Of course I haven’t because the first few chapters of ‘Holiday’ aren’t finished (chapter one is acutlaly just notes, damn), and because when I submit Italian Infatuation I’ll do it directly to Mills & Boon, not through an agent.

But it kind of got me thinking. If I could finish and the first few chapters of ‘Holiday’ (and think of a better title) I could do that. It would be scary as hell, but I’ve got to do it at some point, so why not early next year (with finishing the first draft of it, NaNo, hopefully NYC and Christmas there is no way I could get it done this year)?

I have made a little realisation though. I don’t think I’m going to get it finished by the end of October. Reason being that most of it is stored on my laptop. Because I’ve been writing it a little at a time, different scenes at a time (not consecutively) there’s about 14 documents that make it up at the moment. Some are finished, some aren’t. Unfortunately I don’t remember which ones on my laptop have been finished, and which haven’t.

And my laptop is still dead (ish). We were going to go to the boyfriend’s dad’s in a few weeks – he’s a computer expert so could  have seen what was up, boyfriend thinks it’s the cable, but not sure – but now we can’t afford to. As we can’t afford to go there, we definitely can’t afford to get my laptop fixed this month. November, definitely, but not October. Which means, unless I can find every document somewhere else (which I think is kind of possible – Ubernote, different email addresses?) I can’t do it this month.

Part of me is annoyed by that, but another part of me is a little relieved. It means I don’t have to hurry with this goal of finishing hanging over me! Yay! Only, I do want to finish it. I really really do. Or have it as done as I possibly can. So I am going to try. ROW80 Round Four (A Round of Words in 80 Days) starts again tomorrow. I’m in again. I thought I had goals for it, but I think I might be re thinking them. I’ll update tomorrow, but for today I’ll leave the writing section of this post saying I’m going to do my best to do as much of ‘Holiday’ as I possibly can by the end of October. I promise you and I promise myself.

Reading:

Last weekend I had to read The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon before I went to the party on Monday. It was great, I loved it, and I will get a review up as soon as possible (it’s half written, so I just need to finish it). Since then I’ve been out so much that I’ve not really had a chance to read much more.

The book I’m on is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a non-fiction story of how Rubin took a year to get happy. My cousin went to US this summer and came back raving about it, and said I HAD to read it. Fine I said.

Then I read the intro and it was all about how to make yourself happy. Acutally no, it is all about how she did it, it’s not a ‘You should do this… You should do that…; it’s more ‘this is what I did and it worked for me because…’ I read that and was like ‘Nah, this isn’t for me, I’m happy.’ But then I thought I’d give it a go.

I’m only of February, but already I’m very glad I’m reading it. January was about Boosting Energy and February is about Remembering Love. It is very American in the way we think very differently about some things to the way they do, but I don’t think that’s always a bad thing. I think this book is brilliant because it’s making me think a lot about what I’m doing, and made me realise that I can be happier than I am (away from this, I’ve actually realised I’m not that happy, I just think I am. But more of that later). 61 pages in and I’ll definitely be recommending it. Already I know a few people who I think will benefit from reading it.

The A to Z Challenge

I’ve not written much about this recently, but it’s going pretty well. The next book I read will be T. Although I’m only half way through O and about quarter of the way into L, but I’ll probably ignore those, at least I’ve started them. It means I’ve only got 7 books to read until the end of the year. Which is ok. Only, I’m not really gong to be reading in November (I need to focus on NaNo not reading) and I’m currently reading another book. So that gives me Oct and Dec to read 8 books. It’s not a totally unobtainable goal, but it’s going to be hard.

I have enjoyed this challenge, it’s introduced me to some authors I never would have found otherwise (some good, some not so good), and it’s made me read some of the books on my TBR pile that I probably wouldn’t have got to otherwise. So I’m glad I’m doing it. But, I totally hate it too. As it’s 26 books in a year, I know it doesn’t give me much scope to be able to read much else. SO there’s loads of books I’ve got that I’m desperate to read, but know I can’t because of this silly challenge. And you know now I’ve started and got this far, I HAVE to finish. I’m really looking forward to January when I can read what I want when I want. Also, I’ll be able to buy more books – I haven’t been allowing myself to unless it’s a book I really really want, or it’s one of the next letters.

I am however, making a list of the books I want to buy in 2012. Yay!

Life

Quick little bit about life cause I’ve just realised how long this blog is.

I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever been, but can’t seem to stop eating, and after weeks of thinking about it I’ve realised it’s because I’m not really that happy. My relationship is brilliant, so brilliant that I’ve been on such a high from that, that I haven’t really noticed how unhappy I am in other aspects of my life.

Job – I hate it , with a passion. I hate getting up and going to work, and I’ve never had that before. Money – for the last few months, and the next few weeks, we’ve been totally broke. Which obviously has been getting me down. Weight – I’m too fat, which you know, has been making me eat more. Exercise – I’m not getting enough.

Now that I’ve identified these, I’m making a plan to get them back to a good place. For instance I talked to my boss last week about moving up, and he agrees I’m ready, so we need to find a position that’s available and talk my way into it. I’m making plans for the other areas too.

What I’m hoping is that when I’m happier myself, it will lead to me writing more because I won’t want just come home and slump in front of the TV all night. And there was you thinking this way nothing to do with writing weren’t you!

Have a great week everyone. Those of you starting ROW80 tomorrow – good luck. Or, and there’s a Twitter party on 5th October for ROW80 – all day (ET time, Eastern Time is that? US timezone anyway) under the hashtag #ROW80. Go have a look, join the party. Yay!

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A Blogger’s Night with Jane Fallon

I said to someone this morning ‘I love my secret blogging life.’ It’s so true.

Last night I had the utter privilege to get on the invite list for Jane Fallon’s new novel (The Ugly Sister – brilliant – review to follow) blogger’s party.

It was basically a chance for book bloggers to get together, meet each other face to face (which we never do, we consider ourselves friends without even knowing what the others look and sound like!), chat and to meet Jane Fallon. It was so much fun. Oh, and did I mention it was at The Ivy?? Yeah… I know!

A few years ago I ‘met’  a girl called Laura who hosts an awesome site Novel Kicks I can’t remember how, maybe Twitter, maybe her blog, maybe mine? Last year we nearly met in the flesh at a Lisa Jewell event. I say nearly because although we sat next to each other, we had no idea who the other was, until the next day when we were both tweeting about it! Doh!

Laura emailed me last week and asked if I’d be interested in a Jane Fallon party (Jane Fallon as in the author of Getting Rid of Matthew, Got You Back and one of my all-time favourite books Foursome) because she’s releasing a new novel The Ugly Sister later in the week. Uh, wow, YEAH! She spoke to someone at Penguin who decided I was worthy of getting on the invite list. To THE IVY!

So I met up with Laura, who is just as wicked in real life as she is through Twitter and on her site. We had a quick drink (and dry off – it poured with rain just as I left work), then headed over to The Ivy. Luckily we managed to avoid getting drenched by passing taxi’s al la Bridget Jones and got there.

The people from Penguin were so friendly and welcoming, as were the canapes and champagne! After a while of chatting to Laura, Elle from Trashionista, and other fun people, I got introduced to Jane, and you know what? She’s lovely. Really nice, genuine, down to earth lady, who has read my blog (Hi Jane if you’re reading again *waves*).

Because it was more of a party than a book launch, there was no speech by Jane, no Q&A session and no reading from The Ugly Sister. I was a little disappointed when I found that out, but in actual fact it was better, because it gave everyone a chance to talk to Jane in person, rather than firing questions out of the audience and maybe having a three minute chat while she signed our books.

Jane was so encouraging and genuinely interested in my novel (novels actually) and what I write, and she said exactly the same as Lisa Jewell had, that she loves editing. There must be something in it if everyone keeps saying this. I need to get off my backside and edit Italian Infatuation. After I’ve finished ‘Holiday’ and done NaNo that is. Hmmm.

I can’t remember all the things we talked about, but I spent a lot of the night just chatting to her. The thing that I always take from events like this, is that authors are just like you and me, they just finished their novels and got them published. Once upon a time Jane was just a woman with an idea – just like me now.

Another great, really inspiring thing is that according to her bio, Jane is 20 years older than me (you wouldn’t think it to look at her), but her first novel wasn’t published until 2007. It’s quite a nice reminder that you don’t have to be in your early 20s to get your book published.

As I thought would happen, I’m now desperate to write my novel. Obviously a lot of chat last night was with non-published authors about writing etc, and it’s just made me want to write. Someone asked me when I find the time to write with a full-time job, and it made me realise that I never make time for writing. I just do it when I can (when I remember more like!). I think this is something I can improve on to become more productive. Maybe set aside 2 lunchtimes at work a week, and 2 hours 2 evenings a week. Maybe even a couple of hours each weekend. It’s not much is it? Not if it helps me achieve my dream!

All in all, I had a brilliant night. Thank you Laura for getting me on the invite, thanks everyone at penguin for hosting – it was great to meet you all, and all the other bloggers. And of course Jane – keep up the good work with the novels – I’m looking forward to the next party 🙂

The Ugly Sister is (brilliant) out 29th September. I’ll review very soon.

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?

Foursome by Jane Fallon Review

Rebecca, Daniel, Alex and Isabel have been best friends since university. Rebecca married Daniel, Alex married Isabel and, for twenty years, they have been inseparable. But all that is about to change… When Alex walks out on Isabel, Rebecca thinks things can’t get any worse. But then she finds out the reason why and she’s left harbouring a secret she’d rather forget… And there’s more upheaval to come in Rebecca’s life as her emaciated, neurotic, self-obsessed colleague, Lorna – her arch nemesis at work – suddenly becomes a regular feature in her social life. Rebecca’s once-happy foursome is now a distant memory and with hearts broken and friendships fractured, it seems that change is never a good thing. Or is it?

I pretty much only do book reviews for books for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge, but loved this so much I feel like I need to tell the world (or at least my readers).

I read Fallon’s first novel Getting Rid of Matthew and really enjoyed it, so wanted to read this as soon as it came out. Months later I gave in to the temptation to buy it, then a few weeks after that I started reading it.

Less than 48 hours later I had finished it. I honestly cannot remember reading a book so fast. It was great.

The MC Rebecca is so real, she’s great. Fallon has this great way of making one aspect of her personality a bit of a bitch, but instead of not liking that you love her for it.

It’s written 1st person which I love because I think you get more into the story, you discover things as the MC does, I think it helps to draw you in.

The story is captivating. The couples have been friends since uni but that all changes when Alex leaves his wife, then more revelations come out.

About halfway through I thought there couldn’t be that much more to it, but then there was a twist that took it off again. I was really worried the ending would be all cheesy and predictable which would’ve wrecked it, but it isn’t (cheesy that is, I’m not going to tell you if it’s a predictable ending or not!), it’s a great finish.

Basically – if you like chick lit/romance READ IT. It’s in my top five books EVER.

Monday’s Awesome Achievement(s)

The strangest thing happened to me today. I was idly moving icons on my desktop when I stumbled across Italian Infatuation (my novel). For some reason I opened it, and decided to split it into chapters (which it wasn’t before).

I read somewhere (probably in my course actually) that the best place to make new chapters was when the scene changes. For some of the novel that’s not possible, for instance the wedding goes on for about 10,000 words – perhaps that’s quite a long chapter!

Now, most of the chapters end at the end of scenes, but there’s a few that end mid scene, but at a climax or when something exciting happens. I’ve now got a novel with 14 chapters. Result.

The problem is, a lot of the stuff in it is going to be deleted. So the chapters might change. Still, I’ve done some editing on it. That’s a real result.

I also went through and wrote down what happened in each chapter, so I get a bit of an idea on the pace etc. I don’t think I’m too happy about how it moves and where certain things are, but I’m not too sure. I guess I’ll see when I read it through again.

After I did all this, I made a plan with my next steps (don’t get excited, it’s not a great or very in-depth plan). First, I’m going to reread it. While I’m doing this I’m going to make notes on things that don’t work, where I need more of something or a description of something else etc. Then, I’m going to edit it one chapter at a time.

I did quite well with editing Chapter One (I’m totally giving that capitals like it’s its own entity!), and I think it’s because it’s just a small bit of writing (just over 4k). It’s less scary than 48,000. It’s bite size. I think it was during GCSEs they recommended we split our revision into smaller ‘bitesize’ pieces, well, that’s my plan for the novel. And I think I can do it that way.

When I woke up this morning, I had no idea I’d be so productive. Well, I did have an idea, but I thought it would be on my writing course – I even put my course work in my bag. Unfortunately it’s stayed there. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow! And I really can’t compain that I’ve done the editing.

I’ve started reading Adele Parks’ Husbands. Knowing it was Adele Parks I knew I’d enjoy it – surprise surprise I am! I was a little worried reading it straight after Foursome by Jane Fallon, because I thought it was a little unfair. I loved that one so much, is it fair for anything to follow it?? But, it’s doing a pretty good job!

I’ve decided I need to expand my reading material. Until last year I’d read my novel on the way to work, then one of the free London papers on the way home. Then they stopped making the one I like. I tried the other free one, but can’t stand it. So, I started reading my novel on the way in and out of work. Which to be honest, has been great. But, I’ve realised it means I don’t know what’s going on in the world.

My new plan is to read the Metro on the way in to work in the morning (I like that – I just hate getting the print on my hands early in the morning) and my novel on the way home. It means I’m not going to get through so many novels, but I think it’s for the best.

When one of our work computers crashed, I lost a load of files. One of which was my ‘Italy research’ file for Italian Infatuation. Last night I was tidying up my room, and only found all that research printed out. It made my day.

Getting Close

It’s just over 24 hours until the Mills & Boon New Voices deadline. Ahhhhhh. I keep saying I’m getting scared, but I think it’s just words. At the moment I’m feeling a little apprehensive, but nothing major.

I’ve finished draft three, and am pretty happy with it. Except for the fact I need to add in a description of the villa – which I’ve been putting off for ages.

I’ve spent too much time today reading again. I’m now on page 300 and I only started the novel yesterday. Needless to say I’m loving it (Foursome by Jane Fallon). I am going to recommend it to everyone I know. As long as it’s got a good ending. Which I have no doubt it will.

I’m out tonight, but when I get in later I’m going to give the chapter another read through. Maybe I’ll write these two descriptions of the villa. Maybe I’ll leave that until tomorrow. I really shouldn’t.

The last couple of days I’ve spent ages trying to motivate myself to edit, then suddenly at about 11pm I get it and rock through it. If only I could be like that during the day. I’ve been a little tired today because of it.

I got an email today from ErgoFiction to remind me about the Search Term Challenge. Closing date is 14th October… That’s getting close too.

I’m going to a family party on Sunday. I’ve been debating whether to drive over there or get the train. I think I’m going to get the train, that way I can spend the two hours each way reading or writing (maybe even doing my writing course – although doubtful!). That’s so much more appealing than driving. Although that might be because I’m reading a great book. It’ll be well finished by Sunday though!

Books: Editing and Reading

I read through the second draft of chapter one of Italian Infatuation yesterday. It’s ok. There’s a couple of bits I really like, but then there’s some that suck. Badly. But that’s fine, I’ve got two days to edit it.!!

The thing that worries me, is that I don’t really have time to take time away from it then go back with fresh eyes. I wish I’d heard about the competition longer ago, although there’s always the fact I work better with a fast approaching deadline, so would I have started it even if I knew about it a while ago?

That aspect of my personality really annoys me. It’s like I can only do something if I know I have to do it – soon. I think that’s why NaNo worked so well for me last year, I had such a small time frame to write the novel in, that I couldn’t procrastinate, or put it off till later.

I finished one of the books I was reading over the weekend. The writing really annoyed me because there were a few sections where it got the name of the person it was referring to wrong. Seriously! At first I thought it was me getting it wrong, but I checked back and it was definitely the book that was wrong. It drove me mad. I almost wanted to stop reading it because of it, but, by that point I’d really got into the story, so HAD to finish it. I don’t think I’ll be reading another one of her books though.

So, with that book finished, it was time to start another. Well actually I had a debate with myself over this. On one hand, I have two books I’m desperate to read (Foursome by Jane Fallon and Husbands by Adele Parks), but on the other hand, if I’m  not reading a book, I’m much more likely to spend time editing Italian Infatuation. With this in mind, I chose Foursome to be my next book and put in my bag when I left the house this morning. I told myself that I’d think more about whether to read it now or start on Wednesday – after I’ve subbed by chapter.

I bet you can see where this is going. I sat down on the tube and had a look at it. Just a quick look to remind me what it’s about. Then I opened it, you know, just to look at page one. Actually no! It was to see which year it was published (this year). THEN I looked at page one. And the rest as they say, is history.

The whole of my morning and lunch breaks were spent reading it – I’m now on page 73 and worried how I’m going to edit this damn chapter ’cause the books so good. As I kind of thought it would be – I totally LOVED Getting Rid of Matthew.

Foursome is written 1st person which, like I’ve said  before, I love cause you really get to know the character, how she thinks and what makes her tick; but also discover things the same time as her so it’s like you’re going through the action yourself.

I found really interesting is that it took me until about page 30 to realise it’s in the present tense. The reason that’s interesting to me is I was reading a book ages ago (can’t for the life of me remember which one) and I struggled with it being present – sometimes things sounded a little stiff, or unnatural. So, here’s a lesson to me: If I’m writing in the present tense (Holiday) it has to be good, and flow naturally.

So me being naughty and starting the book has been useful. You know, for a project I’m not actually working on at the moment. Grrrrr!

This morning instead of editing, I went through my inbox and deleted about 10k emails. I’ll be using the same email address for my new job, so wanted to clear out some rubbish I’ve had for over a year. Obviously this took time. And HAD to be done when I’ve got a deadline looming!

I’ve also made a list of the things I really need to do. Funny how I find so much to do when I should be doing something else!

If I’m like this now, I’m going to be a nightmare if/when/if/when I get a publishing contract. 🙂

Ok. Project edit – draft three here we come…