Tag Archive | Mary Francis Shura

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?

Without FB & Twitter… What Am I doing?

It’s 4.30 PM. Now I don’t have Twitter or Facebook at work, you’d think I might have done some writing today wouldn’t you. Uh… No! I have no idea in fact what I have been doing. How does that happen?

For the last 20 minutes I’ve been doing something pretty productive. I’m kind of plotting one of the ideas I’ve got for NaNo. I’ve got a couple of ideas for the title, so until I decide on one, I’m going to call it DD. This is the young adult one. At the moment I’m loving the idea. I think it could really work.

I think it’s going to be 1st person again and the MC is 16, maybe 17. I’m getting her worked out in my head. And her best friend. The other girl that’s going to hold a pivotal role in the novel, I’m not so sure about. One of my problems with her is that she’s American. Language and slang are going to be a problem. I wonder if watching hours of American TV could be classed as research…? Friends/How I Met Your Mother here I come. Ooh, I could probably watch the Gilmour Girls too, that’s got a teenager in. Oh! And Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Or maybe I should find something more modern, with teenagers, so the language is up to date. Or, maybe I shouldn’t use TV at all?!?

I’ve not started on the plan for the other novel, maybe I’ll get as excited about that as this one, but at the moment I doubt it. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing this one in November. I think I decided that at the weekend, but I’m not sure. Not 100% anyway. Not yet.

This does mean that I need to read some YA novels before November. I don’t have any at home to be read… so I think I need to visit the library. Woo hoo. Uhm, I mean, oh no!

Well, that and… buy a new book! I just snuck off to buy a book (hooray for Amazon). It’s Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. There was a lot of hype about this when it came out, and I really wanted to read it, but never got round to buying it (or wouldn’t let myself with such a huge TBR pile of books at home). Now I have an excuse. Excellent.

On Amazon I also stumbled upon a book called Before I Die (by Jenny Downham). I nearly bought it, but then told myself buying two books that revolve around death probably isn’t the greatest move. Maybe I’ll get it next month or something.

I’m really enjoying Summer Dreams, Winter Love. I thought that it might not be as great as an adult as it was at 13, but I think it is. It’s really good to be reading just before I write a YA novel anyway. It’s shown me that there’s not that much difference between YA and adult romance (except some of the things the characters do!). It’s all about emotion and falling for someone. That’s almost the same however old you are. You still get the rush when you see them/kiss them etc. It’s just how you handle it is different.

It’s now 17.30, and I’ve still not done any writing today. I should be shot, seriously! I’m going to do some now, then when I get home later too. Or maybe I’ll do some plotting (for Holiday) instead. I think it would be easier to start writing if I knew what I was about to write! Who would have thought I’d be a plotter not a panster when it comes to writing??

Reading, Books and the NaNo Sign-up

I’ve done it again – read another book without updating my side panel. Well, I was reading Husbands by Adele Parks. It was great (it was Adele Parks, of course it was going to be great!). What I liked the most (looking back) was that the ending wasn’t predictable, I love that.

I’ve now started reading a book I’ve been thinking about re-reading for ages. Summer Dreams, Winter Love by Mary Francis Shura. It was my favourite novel as a teenager, in fact it’s the only book I ever remember reading more than once (I think I must’ve read it at least a hundred times!). I was a little worried about picking it up, what if it’s not as good as I remember it being? That will be my favourite book wrecked!

However as I’m hovering round the idea of a YA novel for NaNo, I thought now is a great time to read it!

What has really annoyed me about it, and I’d forgotten, is that there’s writing all over it. When I was a teenager (maybe about 14) I lent it to one of my friends, who proceeded to write notes all over it – joking notes to me from her and another friend. They ruined my book! Not happy. It’s only in pencil, so in theory I could rub it out, but then there’s the risk of creasing the pages etc. How can someone do that to a book?!

Needless to say, I never lent her another book!

So, NaNo! I don’t know what to do. I guess I have ideas, so that’s good; but I have two ideas and am not sure which to go with, not so good.

Months and months ago, my boyfriend came up with a rough idea for a novel. He thought he wouldn’t be able to write it, so told me about it. I loved it, and wrote a rough plan of what could happen, and gave it a totally rocking title. It’s been going round my head ever since, so maybe now’s the time to do something about it?

But…

I’ve got this other idea. It’s a YA, kind of romance/friendship novel. I know a few things about it, and keep thinking up more. I’m really quite excited about this (except the title’s not as good as the other one, in fact I’ve not even really decided on the title yet).

The problem with both is that I’ve not done enough reading in either genre recently (forget the book I’m reading now, I really should be reading current novels, not 20 year old novels!). The problem with the black comedy, is I’m not sure I can write funny. Another problem with both of them is that I don’t know what’s going to happen.

I want to know what’s going to happen because when I wrote Italian Infatuation last year for NaNo, I had a plan of what was going to happen. It wasn’t in that much detail, just: Day 1: blah; Day 2: Blah blah,  etc. As I wrote, I filled in the detail but always knew the overall picture. That maybe why I’m not doing as well with Holiday (I NEED to change the title of that, I hate it) – I know what happens at the end, but no idea in the middle, not even roughly!

My plan to decide which one to write is to sit down and plan them both. From that I hope I’ll see that I’ve got more for one than the other, and will hopefully be more excited about one. Hopefully.

I’ve just been on the NaNo website, and signed up again. That’s it, I’m in, no getting out of it now. Not that I was going to anyway. From 1st December last year (the day after NaNo finished) I knew I’d do it again. There must be something wrong with me.

Let me know if you’re stupid enough to sign up as well, and we can be buddies (I’m Newtowritinggirl!) 🙂

We’re on day 4 of Novel Push Initiative. I’ve successfully completed days 1-3 – woop! I signed up to 250 words a day, and just like last year, I’m doing loads more. I can’t check how many I’ve done, but I must be on 1,000 plus. In just three days. Result.

You may ask why I can’t check? Cause Twitter’s blocked here at work. NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo! And Facebook. Facebook I think is a great thing, I check it far too much at work, and seeing as I’m about to start a job where I need to work, I’m happy with that. But Twitter???? What am I going to do without my daily (ok, almost hourly then) Twitter fix?? This just goes to prove I NEED to get one of those phones that have excellent internet etc. I’m tempted my an i-phone, but someone very close to me hates them with a passion, and has made various threats if I get one… Hmmm… My current contract’s not up until November so I’ll look then I guess. Oh yes, just in time to be a NaNo distraction – excellent!!

Books, Writing and One Big Moan!

Guess who’s the idiot who took her laptop home for the weekend, and left it there? Yep, that would be me *takes a bow*. The worst thing is, I didn’t do anything productive with it there (unless a couple of hours of gaming are counted as productive?). Saying I’m annoyed with myself is an understatement. Grrr!

So that means I’ll have to do all my blogging and writing at work for the next… well until I can get it back. Don’t really want to post it, maybe courier it, but that’s going to cost. I can’t even go home for the next few weeks cause I’m busy and having to work etc. Grrrrrr.

I don’t know if I can move on from how mad at myself I am right now. A couple of other things are adding to how mad I am today and I just feel like everything’s getting to me – I want to go back to bed, and it’s not even 11am 😦

*

A couple of hours haven’t improved my mood, so I’m just going to have to plough on regardless. And pray for tomorrow to come quickly!

I went rooting about my mum’s loft at the weekend. She wanted me to look for something, but in the process I found a couple of boxes of mine. In one box… was… books! Woop! Most of them are books I don’t care about and will chuck out to charity or something, but there were a couple I’m really excited about.

The first is Summer Dreams Winter Love by Mary Francis Shura. It’s the only book I can think of that I’ve read more times than I can imagine. It’s from the teen series Point Romance (I don’t even know if that exists anymore). I know to ‘get’ a genre you need to read current novels, but this is one I really want to read before I start on my YA romance.

The other is Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I don’t know why, but this series of ‘Anne’ books has stayed with me since I read this first one when I was very little. I wonder if it’s because my Gran introduced me to them (she died about 15 years ago now).

I was talking to my step mum at the weekend about writing. She asked if I’m working on anything. I hate admitting that I’m not. I feel like I don’t have a purpose without a project. I keep wanting to get Holiday in order and start on that again, but just don’t seem to have the motivation at the moment for some reason.

It might be because I’ve got NaNo coming up in a few short months and don’t want to get too into anything before I start that. Last year I took part in a novel push initiative in October where you had to write 250 words a day. I totally rocked it and ended up writing about 15k or something. Bu then when I had to put it down to start Italian Infatuation for NaNo, I was gutted.

I think I need to stop thinking about what I should be doing, and actually do something! That would be a good idea!

Nothing to write

(But bet I can ramble for a while regardless!)

Something I have been meaning to blog about recently is when I first knew I wanted to be a writer.  I’ve read a few people’s blogs where they’ve been talking about how they’ve always known that’s what they want to do. I don’t think I’ve always known I want to write, but I can’t for the life of me remember when I decided I do.

As a  kid I was constantly reading.  I always had a book around me and if I wasn’t out playing I could usually be found in a corner with my head stuck in one.  This continued all the time I was growing up and into adulthood.  The only reason I don’t read as much now is that I just don’t have the time. 

But writing, really no idea when that decision came to me.  Recently I found some scribblings, which kind of formed an idea for a novel, written I think when I was at uni, or when I lived in America (which was my year out from uni).  That kind of surprised me as I thought the 1st solid thing I had written was after I left.  I wonder how much writing I’ve done over the years and don’t remember.  I wonder if there’s loads of stuff somewhere I’ll stumble across one day.

During GCSE English Language classes we used to do ‘timed writing’.  Our teacher would give us a topic or line or something and we would have the whole lesson to turn it into a story.  I used to love that; I got my best marks in English for those stories.  I wonder if they’re somewhere at my mum’s house?  In the loft somewhere?  The time that sticks in my mind the most was when our prompt was ‘You’re not bringing that in here’.  My teacher went mad at us all for not thinking of something more original than a lost animal (mine was a puppy – driven from a longing for a puppy when I was little I’m sure).  I often think about what alternative story could have come from that line, but always come back to the lost puppy idea.

When I was a teenager my favourite book EVER was Summer Dreams, Winter Love by Mary Francis Shura – from the Point Romance collection.  I’ve just looked for it on Amazon (to get the author’s name) and the reviews say exactly what I thought every single time I read it – it’s the best romance book ever.  What many people reviewing it also said is that it’s a book for all ages.  I’m 90% sure I’ve still got it at home and have always wondered if reading it as an adult would wreck the memory of it for me.  It would seem not.  I have to find it and read it.  I read it for the 1st time as a young teenager who had no idea what this love thing is, and it really brought it to life, making me want it so much.  I wonder how good it is now knowing 1st hand how it is. 

I always say my reason for wanting to be a writer comes from feeling moved by other people’s writing, and wanting to do that to someone who’s reading my text.  Summer Dreams, Winter Love is possibly the 1st  book I ever read that did that, definately the 1st I remember (and we’re talking 15+ years later here!). 

I think that’s enough reminising now.

There’s an article in this month’s Company magazine about how to earn £50k plus during the recession.  The first person who is given as an example is a lady who’s just had her 1st book published and has signed a three book deal.  It was a really nice story, proving anyone can do it (she had another career and wrote it in the evenings).  It put a little spring in my step this morning!

Hoo hoo, I’ve just discovered a Jane Green book I didn’t know about.  ‘This Christmas’ is a collection of three short stories one by Jane and the other two by other people.  Another book to add to my to read list.

Last week I sent my friend a copy of the short story I wrote recently; she’s also interested in writing and said she’d like to read it.  She loves it.  She thinks I should turn it into a full length story.  She (quote) ‘was hooked after a couple of paragraphs’.  Go me.  That’s given me a lot of confidence in myself.  Other than my mum, I don’t think I’ve ever shown anyone any of my writing, maybe I should…

For a girl that had nothing to write, I sure as hell found something – I think this may be the longest blog I’ve ever done!