Tag Archive | Romance

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!

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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…

Inception and Other Things in My Head

I went to see Inception last night. Had I have watched it two years ago, I would’ve just thought it was a great story. Now that I’m writing, I think it’s so much cleverer. I mean, just imagine having the thought in the first place, then developing it into so much detail, and on so many levels. It’s almost like five stories in one, all interconnected. It properly blew my mind – so much so I’m still thinking about it now. And am desperate to see it again.

I wish I could write thrillers, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t. I’ve never tried so I guess I don’t know, but I just can’t imagine being clever enough to think up all the twists that you’d need to keep the reader captivated. Saying that I do have an idea for a thriller that I might write at some point. Maybe. At the moment I’m happy with Romance and Chick Lit.

I’m determined to read a load of my writing course modules done today. I’ve had my booklet next to me all week, but have only made it to page 5. I am making notes though, so it will be a slow process. While I’m doing nothing for most of the day, it’s stupid NOT to be doing it.

Did you read my blog yesterday? It was ‘taken over’ by Kate from ‘Holiday’ as part of Blog Takeover Day held by Sally Quilford at Quillers. I loved this idea so much. Especially as it fitted in with my Fiction Friday pieces at the moment featuring Kate and Dan. I was tempted to do it from Dan to get into his mind to show he’s not all that bad, but as Holiday is written in 1st person it was too good an opportunity to ‘practice’ Kate that I had to go with her. There’s some great over takeovers that were done from other people: characters, pets and even laptops. If you get a chance I’d strongly suggest popping over to Sally’s blog to read some of them (when you’re done here of course 🙂 )

It’s a week today that the results of Rowan Coleman’s Short Story Competition are revealed. Although I have no doubts I won’t come anywhere near the top five – it was my first competition entry after all, and the standard of the other writers that entered is SO high – I do occasionally have little day dreams that I win. How nice would it be. I’m determined that one day I WILL win a competition, or at least get close. Practice, practice, practice.

Which reminds me, the deadline for the Bugged Project is this weekend. This is the one where you make a story from something you overheard on 1st July. I can’t believe it’s been a month and 12 days since I ‘bugged’ and I’ve only written the first draft of half the story. I really need to get it done before leaving work tomorrow, because I doubt I’ll get a chance over the weekend.

Ok, right then. Writing course!