Tag Archive | Still Thinking of You

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!

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A Friday Blog – Actually About Writing

I did some writing last night. Woo! I was going to start this saying ‘I did some writing last night, not a lot but some,’ but then I realised what I was thinking.

I wrote 504 words. For some reason my brain calculates 504 words as not a lot. My daily goal is 250 words (5 days a week), so I’ve more than doubled my daily goal. In one day. That is nothing to be sniffed at. When I think about it that way, I’m a lot happier about it!

I also achieved something. I finished the scene I’ve been working on for the last… um… quite a while actually. I started it thinking it was just going to be a little filler scene that it wasn’t going to serve much purpose other than showing the MC is starting to get over her ex. It’s turned into another serious plot line. Not a massive one, but another sub plot. That’s a good thing. Will be interesting to see what happens next.

I’m now back to the problem of – what do I write next? Obviously I need to stick to ‘Holiday,’ but which scene do I move on to? I’ve got the problem that there’s a five or six week gap between the scene I’m on now, and the bit before they go on holiday. Nothing much happens there, so I don’t think I need to do any more than one scene, but it’s going to be a decision of when that scene is.

Will it be the next morning? That would be quite good, but maybe I could tie it in with something else a few weeks later. Maybe I could change the end of the scene I’ve just written and then have the next one two weeks later, then pick up where I’ve written before. Wow, this is tough!

There was me thinking it was taking me so long because I’m lazy – not because it’s tough (does that show how out of the writing loop I’ve been, if I’ve forgotten how hard this writing thing is??).

Anyway, there’s something I’ve been meaning to blog about for ages, but keep forgetting.

In this novel, there is a lot of drinking. My MC is a late twenties single girl living (I’d like to say the dream, but seeing as it’s chick lit, she really isn’t) in London. She works hard and plays hard – including a lot of drinking. She then goes on holiday, which obviously includes a LOT of drinking.

A while ago I started worrying about this. Is heavy drinking really acceptable in chick lit? Can I remember any other books where they did a lot of drinking? No, I can’t. Does that mean it’s not acceptable? If it isn’t, do I care? This is my novel… but then I don’t want to alienate readers thinking Kate is a piss head. Which is isn’t really, she just enjoys life. This went on and on.

And then… while stressing about this quite a lot… I read Still Thinking of You by Adele Parks. Ahh, good old Adele – they drank all the way through the book. Yay! I think I just needed someone else to say – look doing this is ok, and I found it by accident.

For all I know, there could be tons and tons of chick lit with drinking. I could have read it, but you know sometimes you just can’t think of any? That was me, for weeks! I’m so glad I read STOY.

What I have changed about the novel is the number of people I had the MC sleeping with. There’s her ex (the obligatory going back because she thinks it means she’s getting back with him), there’s the ex ex – her best friend, because, well you know, they have to for the story to work. Then I also had a scene where she had a one night stand.

It was supposed to show that she was getting over her ex. Actually, that’s a lie. I wrote this scene once about being hungover and the character not really remembering who it was she was waking up next to, and it worked really well in this story so I added it, and found a reason to.

But, sleeping with 3 men in one novel? A bit too much isn’t it? I think so. Kate – I think she still wants to have this other guy (especially because he’s someone semi famous – and pretty hot), and I still want him, but only because I think it’s a great scene.

What is ‘Holiday’s’ loss, will at some point be some other novel/stories gain I’m sure – I’m sure it will get used somewhere at some point. Maybe I could base my NaNo novel on that scene? The MC’s housemate had such a good reaction to someone she had no idea about. It was brilliant. Even if I do say so myself!

Right, should go do some work.

Have a great weekend all – get loads of lovely lovely words written!

Sunday 14th ROW80 Check-In

Another check in day, and another check in (again writing up on Sunday, and I’ll post when I get internet tomorrow). Awesome. Just a shame about the writing.

I’ve done nothing. Nowt, nada, nothing.

I don’t know why, but I just can’t seem to get into it since I’ve been back. I was ill last week, so not feeling that up to it, but it was more than that – I didn’t even think about writing. Yesterday I should’ve done some, but again, I didn’t really think about it until it was too late and I headed out to a wedding. Today I’ve been hungover, then since I started feeling better I’ve done a full roast dinner, and baked a cake.

I was also going to go on a diet this week. My boyfriend said I had to have no excuses on eating bad things – I always make excuses to be able to let myself have a chocolate bar here, muffin or something there etc etc. I’m just the same with writing. I find a reason and go with it. I need to have NO EXCUSES this week with writing and the diet. NO EXCUSES.

I think I’ll start tonight by typing up what I wrote in Sweden last week, that should work by reigniting my interest in the story. I hope.

Although I’m not writing, I’m reading! I’m still going with the A-Z Challenge, and have just finished P. Of course, I’ve not finished L or O and have had to miss Q. L is a book that I’m a little embarrassed to read on the tube – Girl with a One Track Mind by Abby Lee. It’s chockablock full of sex, and I don’t want people reading that over my shoulder, I’d be so embarrassed. I’m reading it at home, but it’s taking a while.

O is the book I left on the airplane. I need to go to the library to get it replaced, then re-borrow it, but until I get paid, I can’t afford it (rubbish eh!). That’s on my list for next week, then I’ll get back to O sometime.

I’ve missed Q completely cause I finished P last night and really want to start another one on the way to work tomorrow. I’m a little torn on my R though.

I’ve got a choice of Trans AM by Rob Ryan, or Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger by Heidi Rice. I’ve had Trans AM for years and not read it, it sounds really good, and I’ve not read a thriller for ages and really fancy it. But then I went to a Mills & Boon workshop with Heidi Rice a few months ago, so kind of really want to read that too.

Writing this I’ve just realised which one.

It has to be Trans AM. SSSS is a book I should read just before I edit Italian Infatuation, to get my mind into the Mills & Boon place. Trans AM then. Can’t wait.

P was brilliant. It was Still Thinking of You by Adele Parks. Of course it was going to be great, I’ve enjoyed every single thing I’ve read of hers. I want to read another of hers – now! In some ways I’d love this A-Z challenge thing to be over!

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!!!