Tag Archive | Maggie O’Farrell

Avon Books, New Books, Giving Books, Reviewing Books and BOOKS!

Books, books, books! Oh, how I love books 🙂

I missed the ROW80 Check-in yesterday, but I’m going to skate over that and go on to do this blog about books in all the forms in my life at the moment.

The reason I missed the check in yesterday, other than because I didn’t get a free minute at work, was because I was out in the evening at a meet the authors event at Avon Books. As a reviewer for Novelkicks (more about that later), I got invited along with Laura (I think Laura had more to do with it actually, thanks Laura). Check out some photos posted on Novelkicks today here – including a rare one of me (and there’s one below – what’s come over me today?)!

There were lots of Avon authors there – Laura Ziepe, Sophie Hart, Gill Paul, Julia Williams, Fiona Gibson, Claudia Carroll, Paul Finch, and Erin Kaye, and loads of other bloggers. Along with a few glasses of wine, and a cupcake, we had a really nice long talk with Fiona Gibson about books and writing, and chatted to Gill Paul and Julia Williams. Unfortunately the night flew, so we didn’t get a chance to talk to any of the others. It’s so nice talking to authors, and thinking that one day… maybe… I could be one of them…

Massive thanks to everyone at Avon for a great night.

We walked to the underground with Julia, and got talking about the Romantic Novelists’ Association, of which she’s a member. Talking about it with her and Laura’s made me so excited about going to events in the next few months, and of course the Summer Party.

During my long conversation with Fiona, she recommended Pear Shaped by Stella Newman. I started reading it on the loooooooong journey home last night (it always seems longer when you get on, and stay on 1 tube, rather than changing, Hammersmith to Whitechapel seemed so long on just one tube, 35 minutes isn’t really,  but it’s all the way from west to east London, it FEELS it!). I then read it on the way to work today, and home, and then sat and read it during dinner, and after. I’m on about p130. Needless to say, it’s really good. I’m looking forward to her new one (Leftovers) already, although I’ve got a little wait, it’s not out until April.

 

                 Avon Cupcakes…. Mmmmmmm                                             Fiona and Me

During another conversation yesterday, I got talking about Stephen King’s On Writing. Fiona agreed with me, and countless other people I’ve spoken to in the past, it’s the best writing book out there. Talking about it, made me want to read it again. After this one, I’m going to. I really can’t wait. I know it will inspire me to work more on my novel.

My second book review for NovelKicks has been posted today – The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. I read it months ago, way before Christmas and loved it. It was really nice reviewing it now because it reminded me how good it was. Lots of people have recommended Last Letter From Your Lover by her, so I’m really looking forward to reading that soon.

And finally, something I’m really excited about. When I’ve read books, unless I really, really love them, I have to get rid of them. Not have to as in I can’t stand having them in the house, but have to as in the flat isn’t big enough to hold all the books I’ve read in my life. I usually give them to charity shops, but at the moment, we don’t live anywhere near a charity shop, and I’ve got too many to be able to carry if I went to find one.

Last week I read something about donating books to libraries. I’d never even thought of doing that. What a fabulous idea. So earlier in the week I emailed my local library to see if they accepted donated books. They do. The library is about 5 minutes walk from my house, so in the next few days I’ll take them over.

I’m so excited that other people will get to enjoy some really good books I’ve read. I do feel a little guilty that a charity is losing out on a little money there, but I’m supporting my local library. There’s something about that which makes me feel warm and fluffy 🙂

Ok, so that wasn’t finally. I’ve got more to say. In our kitchen, we have a shelf above the sink. It’s mostly filled with saucepans, frying pans, and a wok, but right at the end I’ve had a stack recipes. Unfortunately not in a book, but lots of loose papers. Each time I see a recipe online I like, I print it out. Or in a magazine, I cut it out. Or at a friend’s house I copy it down. Or sometimes I make one up, and if it goes well, I write it down. There’s a BIG pile of loose recipe sheets.

Or should I say there WAS. Tonight I put them in a folder. I separated them to Sweet and Savoury, and then alphabeticalised (possibly my made up word, I thought I had a better one, but can’t remember it!) them. So proud of myself.

That’s probably enough book talk for one night. Have I procrastinated enough tonight so it’s now too late to do any editing? I don’t think so. That’s both good and bad.

No, just time for one more thing! You know, just to make sure it IS too late for editing!

I went to Waterstones in Piccadilly today to buy tickets to a couple of author events. Maggie O’Farrell at the end of this month, and Lauren Oliver next. Very excited about both, but LAUREN OLIVER!!! Author of Before I Fall, one of my favourite books of 2012, and top 5 ever; and Delirium, which I read the other weekend, and stopped me doing anything else. Words cannot explain how excited I am about that!

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Feeling Good

I had one of those really horrible Mondays at work. Loads of people had complaints, I didn’t really know how to deal with some, and didn’t want to deal with the others. People kept interrupting me, and then I had to go to another site and wait for a telephone engineer. Thought that would have been ok, but my internet wasn’t working well, so it took me about 20 minutes to write a 3 line email. RAR!

In the end I decided to give up at 4.30pm. I left the engineer on site, and went home, with the plan to do half an hour more work when I got home to make up for leaving early.

I got home and started the long process of dying some clothes. I’ve never done it before, so was pretty scared (still am). I had to wash the clothes, dye them, then wash them again. After the dye they looked awesome (just re-dying some faded black clothes, but they looked awesome and BLACK again – woop!). I now need to take them out the machine and wash the machine again. Without clothes, to get rid of any residual dye. I’m scared the black on the rubber is going to stain – worrying as 1) we live in a rented flat, and 2) the machine is almost brand new. Ah well. My black cardigan is black again 🙂

So, then tonight got good. I found a link to an author event (only Lauren Oliver, whose novel Before I Fall was one of my favourites of last year, and Delirium, her second, I read in 1 day last weekend), which I knew I had to go to, so I emailed off to get a space on it. Then I remembered I hadn’t emailed about the Maggie O’Farrell one at the end of the month, so I did that. Then, seeing as I was booking my diary up, I went through the RNA events listing page to work out which events I could go to.

I dropped an email to my friend Laura, who’s also a member of the RNA (New Writers’ Scheme like me) to encourage her to come too (not as easy as she’s not in London). I’m really pleased that I’ve now got a whole load of writing events in my calendar for the next few months. That, along with the work course I’m doing at the end February and most of March, I’m going to be mega busy! Can’t wait!

I then spent a lot of time on LinkedIn looking through people I know, and inviting them to be, well, LinkedIn. Then I did some work emails, thus catching up on when I left early.

I felt like tonight was going really well, and it was only 9pm.

Then, I planned to do some editing. OK, I admit it, I’m not editing yet, I’m reading and noting how the story goes – plotting in reverse. This will show me what I’ve done and where I’ve gone so I know what what works, what doesn’t, so what needs to stay in, what needs to be removed and what needs to be added. Yesterday I was on (double line spaced, printed A4) page 94. I’ve got 150 pages altogether.

Instead of this, I got dragged (by myself) into cleaning the bathroom. It’s now spotless. And it was still only 9.30pm (it’s a tiny bathroom, I just faff!).

Then I started the ‘editing’ process. And now I’m another 12 pages down, and you know what? I’m feeling pretty good about the story. On the whole, it’s working. There’s a lot that needs to be added, some that needs to be taken away, but for a first draft (and for one that was mainly written in NaNo), it’s ok.

It’s when I get a little further and I have a decision of which way to take it, I’m going to get stuck. I went one way, but I think maybe it was the wrong one. I’m not sure. I guess I’ll have to just see. I think if I plot from when it could go either way, to the end, I should be able to see which works better.

I hope.

I’ll tell you what is terrible though. My spelling, grammar and punctuation. But, I wrote it as I was going along, I didn’t let myself go back and read it, or even look at it, so things like that will be bad. They’ll get better in the edits, once I’ve sorted the big problems. Plus, my mum did a proof reading course last year, she’ll sort it out for me.

This editing process has made me realise how much I must have written in December 2011. I wrote just over 50k for NaNo, and yesterday I read the bit where I finished NaNo. I know it was that bit, because I had a small amount of time left in the NaNo writing event, and I really wanted to get it done that night (28th I think). I stopped punctuating, I stopped speach marks, I changed names to letters… and it worked because I finished with just 1 minute to go that night. Phew! Editing it is going to be a pain though.

That was yesterday though, I’ve still got another 50 pages to write. Out of 150 pages, 2/3 were written in NaNo. December must have been a good month! Maybe I did some early last year, I can’t remember. Still, I’ve written loads more than I thought, after NaNo. Yay!

So there we are. I’ve done all this tonight, and written a blog, and it’s still only 10.40pm. I feel like I should treat myself to something to celebrate? I’m thinking maybe starting to read a new novel? I can’t let myself do that though. I need to concentrate my reading on my novel, not someone else’s. What else could I treat myself to? Not food (I haven’t mentioned I’ve been ‘fasting’ today. I didn’t manage 500 cals, but 715. Not great, butnot terrible). Maybe I’ll go wash up.

Rock and roll kids!

Nearly forgot. Laura from Novelkicks said tonight that she loved my review of The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes and will be posting it on the website soon. My second review. Yes!

It’s been a great evening!

A to Z Reading Challenge 2011

Ok, so I’m a little late doing this, sorry, but better late than never eh!

In late 2010, I heard some people talking about reading novels from A to Z. I thought, what a brilliant idea, and decided to set myself a challenge of doing exactly that in 2011. As I was writing a blog about it, it occurred to me that other people may have the same idea. I googled A to Z Challenge and found this site – A to Z Challenge I didn’t have to start one all by myself!

I started with no plan at all, except to read the A to Z (author surname) in order, and stick pretty much to just those 26 books. In 2010 I’d read about 24 books, so knew I wasn’t going to be able to read many more than the 26.

Of course as time went by and I made my way through the challenge, I found there were other books I really wanted to read that either were a letter way further down the line, or that had a letter I’d already read, or already planned what I was going to read for it. I let myself read a couple of other novels – but only if I REALLY wanted to needed to.

I did cheat a little. Kinna. I didn’t actually finish 26 novels. There were 3 letters that for different reasons I didn’t finish the novel.

Letter L was Girl with a One Track Mind by Abby Lee, I started it and was enjoying it, but it was all about sex, when this girl had it, where she had it and how much she thought about it. Nothing really wrong with that, but I do most of my reading on the tube, I felt embarrassed reading it on the tube, so picked up M, and told myself I’d read L at home. I never got round to it.

Letter O was a really good book – The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell. I got it from the library (a god send, I couldn’t have afforded 26 books in 1 year on top of the ‘really want ones’), and took it to Sweden when I went. I’m not sure if it was on the flight, at the hotel, or our friends’ house, but somewhere I lost it. Typical. I ended up having to pay it in the end anyway. I’d gone on to P while I was away, and just never got the opportunity to go back to it. At some point, I would like to buy it, or borrow it and finish reading it.

Letter Z was a hard one, which I started before a few other letters. I unexpectedly finished the novel I was reading on a Sunday and didn’t have a chance to go and get the next letter. Boyfriend came to the rescue and gave me a Z – Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny. It was sci-fi which isn’t my choice, but I’d borrowed a couple off him in the years previously which I quite enjoyed. Lord of Light was not another one though. I just couldn’t get into, or really understand it. I gave it 50 or so pages, but couldn’t go on. When I gave it back to boyfriend, he said he’d had a hard job getting into it. Sigh.

So, I didn’t make 26 novels, but I started them all. In my book I finished it – yay!

Also, I didn’t review all, or add any of my review to the site, but to be honest, I didn’t find the website too easy to navigate, and lets face it, all I need is a little excuse and I won’t do something. I guess technically if I didn’t check-in, I didn’t really do it. In my mind I did though!

I’m really glad I did the challenge, I read a lot of authors that I’d never had done otherwise, and you know me, I love a challenge. But, I’d never do it again. I found it WAY too constrictive, and because I knew I couldn’t really read many other books, I felt guilty when reading one that wouldn’t go towards the challenge. There were times when I just HAD to read other books – like The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon and Faking It by Lotte Daley – and there were many, many more times when I wanted to read another book, but just couldn’t. There were also quite a few letters where I was so torn over which novel to read. M was a good example, I had about 3 books with the letter M on my TBR shelf at home. So what did I do? I went out and bought another. Typical! It was New Moon (Twilight) by Stephanie Meyer.

I discovered some brilliant authors because of the challenge though – Jeff Abbott, Allison Brennan, Ilana Fox Rob Ryan, Nancy Taylor Rosenburg and Minette Walters. Weird – most of the new good authors write thrillers… what does that tell me? I say I prefer women’s lit (chick-lit), but it’s a close call. I did discover new chick-lit authors, but when I discovered them, I read them out of sequence and out of the challenge because I just HAD to read them there and then (Ali McNamara and Lotte Daley)

I know all the books are listed on my ‘Books’ page, but here’s a list of them – from A to Z. Just for fun, I’m putting a comment and rating out of 5 after each one – not something I usually do. The ones which I have reviewed have the links to the actual review.

A Kiss Gone Bad by Jeff Abbott – brilliant. Can’t wait to read the other ones in the series – 4.5/5

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern – Prefered her earlier stuff, but still pretty good – 4/5 (I couldn’t choose between the As, so read them both)

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay – Loved it, love his work – 5/5

Fear No Evil by Allison Brennan – So happy I discovered her. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series 4.5/5 (ditto the comment re A for B)

The Famous Writer’s School by Stephen Carter – Not what I imagined. 2.5/5

Ex-Girlfiends United by Matt Dunn – Little slow 2.5/5

Past Mortem by Ben Elton – Good, he’s done better, but still good – 4/5

Spotlight by Ilana Fox – Didn’t expect to, but loved it 4.5/5

The Love Verb by Jane Green – As usual loved it – 4.5/5

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes – Slow 2/5

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro – Couldn’t get over the cultural difference – 2/5

The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell – Once got into it, really enjoyed – 4/5

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson – Loved every second – 4.5/5

Girl with a One Track Mind by Abby Lee – what I read was good. I will finish it at some point 3/5

Twilight: New Moon by Stephanie Meyer – Not as great as Twilight, but still good. 4/5

One Day by David Nicholls – Took a long time to get into it. Had me crying like a baby at the end though. 3.5/5

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell* – I need to finish this – 3/5

Still Thinking of You by Adele Parks – as always a brilliant read from Ms Parks  4.5/5

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen – took ages to get into the story – 2.5/5

Trans Am by Rob Ryan – fast paced, gripping – 4.5/5

Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton – loved. Better than her first (and, you know –New York) – 4.5/5

Mitigating Circumstances by Nancy Taylor Rosenburg – Brilliant 4.5/5

Die for You by Lisa Unger – Not what I expected in a really good way. 4/5

The Birthday Present by Barbara Vine – slow, slightly boring. 2.5/5

The Sculptress by Minette Walters – Excellent – 4.5/5

The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai by Ruiyan Xu – Really enjoyed it 4/5

Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto* – again, couldn’t get over the cultural differences 2/5

Lord of light by Roger Zelazny – just couldn’t get into it – sci-fi really isn’t my thing – 1/5

All in all, it was a good year, but I’m glad it’s over and I can read what I want to read, not what’s next on the list!

Sweden and ROW80 Update

I’m actually writing this on Tuesday, and I’ll post tomorrow when I’m at work, you know, with the internet.

Yep, it’s nearly a month later, and we still haven’t sorted out the internet at home. We suck. And now I don’t think we’re going to be able to sort it until we get paid – 10 days away. Oh well.

So I went on holiday to Sweden. I wasn’t sure how much writing, if any, I’d be able to get done, because we were staying with friends, so I wasn’t sure if I’d get any time to myself. As it is I did. Not loads, but some is better than none.

On Friday, the weather was lovely. Just before we had a Crayfish Party (traditionally Swedish where they eat Crayfish and drink lots and lots of Schnapps) I got some time in the garden, in the sun, to myself. I managed 100 words. It wasn’t many, but it was some. I’m happier with some than none.

On Saturday, we went to Stockholm and stayed in a hotel, so I was more confident for some time to write. It came at the price of missing out on going to the gym, but I got 200 words in.

On Sunday I wrote another 250 words.

550 isn’t all that much, but, I was half expecting to get none done, so I’m really happy. I also wrote a scene that I knew was coming up, but I wasn’t  looking forward to. I wasn’t really sure how one of the secondary characters would react to some news, but it turned out to be a brilliant reaction, that makes the scene, and the one before, totally worth having. I was getting a little unsure of the reason of having it. I’m really happy.

I just need to type the words up now and add them to one of the many many documents that currently are ‘Holiday.’ When I say many, I think at the moment it consists of 11 documents each compromising of between one and eight thousand (does that add to 35 ish thousand?). I can’t wait until I have bits to fill them in and it becomes just one long document.

I also need to back everything up. About a month ago, I emailed the whole thing to myself, but I’ve done a few thousand words since then so should really do it again.

Or even better, copy it to my boyfriend’s harddisk. One or the other.

It will have to be the harddrive actually, seeing as I don’t have internet – doh!

Finally, I’m doing well on the A-Z challenge. I was on O (Maggie O’Farrell – The Hand that First Held Mine) when I left London, and took P (Adele Parks – Still Thinking of You) with me. I planned to at least finish O to get to P. I got to P ok, but only by being an idiot and leaving O somewhere (strongly though to be the plane!). Uh, oops! It’s a library book as well. Damn. Will have a big fine then (replacing it), and then have to re-borrow. I don’t know how I do these things!

Right, now I’m back, I really need to get back into a regular writing pattern. After all I’ve got less than three months to write roughly 36 thousand words. I can’t do that by writing 550 words a week! 

PS – I keep forgetting to apologise for not visiting many blogs at the moment. I know there are lots and lots of people who deserve some visits and I’m not giving. I promise as soon as I get the internet back, or I get less busy at work, I’ll start visiting again. Until then, keep up the good work – you can do it. OR, don’t worry you’ve not done well till now, there’s still time to catch up!!!