Saturday, 28 August 2010

Book Review: Three Times A Bridesmaid by Nicola Marsh

30th book down, only 10 more to go!
Three Times A Bridesmaid...Three Times A Bridesmaid... by Nicola Marsh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book.  It's the kind of complicated romance I like. A girl needed a pretend date to hide behind and get her friends off her back... And then the flirting happens, and she's thinking is he acting or is he genuine? 

I love it!  It's a little close to something I've been writing myself, so it was interesting to see how this author did it.

Again, as a tender romance, it still had its moments of hotness, without actually making it to the bedroom.  And sometimes the playing hard to get is so much more fun to read than when they eventually get there. 

Bryce is a wonderful, charming and funny hero, knowing exactly how to push Eve's buttons.

My only teeny tiny criticism about this story, was sometimes it got confusing who was speaking.  The author could have done with clearer speech tags at times, (she tended to not use any) but it didn't spoil it.  The sexual tension it oozed made up for it! 

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Friday, 27 August 2010

All This Writing Mullarkey

Upon reading this blog by Sue Moorcroft, author of All This Mullarkey among others, I'm not sure whether to feel scared or inspired.

Following the links, I also read  this blog written by Sue Moorcroft, which is about her working life as a writer.  I was grateful for the honesty of it actually.  The reality of being a writer and what I would like to achieve.  I'm not sure I'm capable of achieving what Sue has, but my goal is to earn enough from writing I can give up my 'day' job (9 hours a week at my local shop). So a regular £300 a month would be nice!

I believe I have the right attitude to writing. My betas (and friends) gained from my fanfiction writing have nurtured me into that easily enough, and to be honest, I enjoy writing so much it really isn't hard to give up things such as TV.  Not when it's only Big Brother or X-Factor to contend with.  I'll have film night with hubby, which we usually do on a Saturday with a good bottle of wine, (I do need to give him some of my time after all!) and if something like Heroes or Dr Who starts up, I'll watch those.  I haven't even finished watching Desperate Housewives, and I know John Barrowman is in it! (Might have to ask for boxset for birthday/Christmas me thinks).  But I just don't have time to watch TV and I'm not actually bothered by it.

I'm reading more. I set myself 40 books for the year and so far I am reading my 30th.  They've ranged from romance (Mills and Boons & Chick-lit) to vampires and a thriller.  All here if you want to know what I thought of them.


A Wedding at Leopard Tree Lodge

The Collaborator

Dead and Gone

From Dead to Worse

Christmas Angel for the Billionaire/Under the Boss's Mistletoe


Teresa's favorite books »

Since having children, I've wanted something that would work around them. I seriously believe you can't have kids and then not let them change your life, or rule it to some extent.  If I didn't feel like that, I might as well not have had them.  So, yes, even the days where they drive me completely crazy, I had them, I have to deal with it. They come first. So I wanted something that fitted around them, making sure I was here when they come home from school.  I've looked at selling cards, make-up and even kitchen equipment but knew I'd be useless, and not motivated enough to actually make money out of it.  Plus that would be evenings working and that's when I write!  I started writing as a hobby in 2006 and have always loved it, never looked back.  In fact I wish I'd found it years ago.... all those afternoons bored in an office when I had no work to do, I could have been planning a story....  Last year I decided to join The Writer's Bureau to see if I would try to make writing pay.  It hasn't yet, it's still early days, but I've had one piece published in the local paper, and two 'tips' in Practical Parenting.

As both of my children will eventually be at school, then yes I will gain more time, but until then (and I don't want to wish it away) I have to work my writing around the little time that I get.  Starting the social networking now can't be a bad thing, it could be seen as sewing the seeds, or slowing spreading my roots.  Look at the advice I've already received, even today with Sue's advice about short stories.  These are definitely more doable with two children to contend with, than maybe trying to fit in writing a novel.  And if or when they get printed, they'll put me in good stead for my novel(s).

So the scary bit.  Where does Sue find her time? She tells me sleep is for wimps (honest she tweeted me!).  But I want to also concentrate on my running so that I stay fit.  Will I begrudge myself going out for that hour when I should be writing?  Rapidly approaching forty, and my body shot to bits from having two rather large babies, I'm fighting to regain my figure.  I need to exercise, especially if I'm choosing to sit in front of my pc the good majority of my day.  Maybe you think that's vain, but I can't be walking along the red carpet when one of my novels makes it as a Hollywood movie, facing Bradley Cooper as my hero, and Sandra Bullock my heroine, looking like a beached whale!

Okay - I know that's not going to happen, but I'm a writer. I want to prove I have an imagination, plus Sandra and Bradley have already done a film together - not that I've seen it (yet).  And, healthy body = healthy mind, right? It will help with my writing.  Besides, it could take twenty years for me to get published... so I need to make sure I live that long!

Then there's the housework.  I'm not untidy, but I'm probably not the best cleaner in the world either.  Do writers earn enough to pay someone to do it for them? (Because dear God, that is my dream).  Is housework for wimps too?  Maybe as the boys get older I'll get them doing the chores... they already like doing the vacuuming... I suppose they've got to earn their pocket money some how.

And then there's my baking... 

So I sit here inspired that it can be done, and that there is hard work ahead of me.  Even if a day job could be easier, I'm not interested.  I know it already bores the hell out of me and I get frustrated with the incompetences of it all.

But I'm also scared, too.  How am I to fit it all in?

Monday, 23 August 2010

Book Review: A Wedding At Leopard Tree Lodge by Liz Fielding

A Wedding at Leopard Tree LodgeA Wedding at Leopard Tree Lodge by Liz Fielding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was another great story by Liz Fielding. I love the way she writes, it's sensual and tender, and that sometimes makes it more exciting than reading a Mills and Boon in the desire/heat genre.

At first I wasn't so sure on Josie's 'look', but it grew on me.  I enjoyed the snappy dialogue.  What I do like in romance is the conflict, and the fights, and this had it.  The teasing and retorts between one another worked for me.  It had a lovely setting to add to the romance.  Gideon's character was instantly likeable, and some nice comedy with his bad back.  He was strong but not overpowering or too forceful.  

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29 out of 40 read :D

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Book Review: The Collaborator by Gerald Seymour

The CollaboratorThe Collaborator by Gerald Seymour

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not sure if I can give this five stars or not.  But this really was a great read.  It was amazing in some ways... but it's not a book that makes you feel fluffy and lovely inside.  This is about hostage situations, containing violence and torture.  It's smelly, bloody and grim.  The author really put you in Eddie's place and it read like hell (poor Eddie). 

To me, it was grim in places, as this is about an Italian clan (mafia), and gets a bit graphic in how they punish people, torture etc.  I think it was quite graphic early on, and I was worried it was going to get worse, considering poor Eddie and what he's got himself into (and that's not a spoiler because it's on the blurb on the back) but actually it didn't... well, it was bearable or readable depending on how you look at it.  (I think I can read vampire blood and gore, and not really be affected because in my mind vampires aren't real.  But this comes across as very real... I'm wary of going to Naples!).

It's just edge of seat reading, whether Eddie will survive or not.  And I can't say any more than that otherwise it will spoil it.

It's told in third person, from many character perspectives, but enough to build the story and their characters and the tension.

And I actually liked the ending.  A lot.  Not how I expected it some sense, but the author did a good job in satisfying my mind.  It's left open, yet there is some finality to it.  I was satisfied.

I can't stand it when there really isn't an ending and it's left open for the reader to decide.

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Right, now I might go read some thing light and fluffy, because that was heavy going in some sense.  Great read though!

28 books down.... 12 more to go!

Monday, 16 August 2010

What's In A Name?

You know, I'm not sure how other authors do it, or if they get hung up on it like I do, but I think it was easier naming my two sons than it is to choose names for my characters.

I mean, my two boys are going to carry those names for the rest of their lives, and it seemed simple in comparison to trying to name a fictional character! 

I think my main worry is that if I choose a name randomly, has my subconscious picked it out from somewhere, and this person actually exists, I've read their name, or spoken to them, or they are in someone else's book.  I want to just say, that if I do choose or use a name, and someone thinks it is linked to them.  It is not.  I seriously just go with names I like.  I try to avoid names of friends/people that I know and try to use names that I actually quite like, but I have met a lot of people over time, so I'm bound to stumble on one of them.

Admittedly, Helen Fielding did give 'Mark Darcy' his name from Mr Darcy out of Pride and Prejudice, because she liked Colin Firth.  And was so pleased that they got Colin Firth to play Mark Darcy in the film, Bridget Jone's Diary.

Some times an actor or actress does inspire me for a look.  I'll keep them pictured in my head, so that's a rough guide to how my character will look, and I might take the first name of a character they've played, and put it in my story... though they will be a completely different character - obviously!  And I'll reminding myself that if Helen Fielding can do it, so can I.

I like to choose what are in my opinion pretty names for my heroines and strong masculine names for my heroes.  And names that I don't like, tend to go to my bad guys, the antagonists.  I also try not to go too unusual.  I don't want my reading thinking 'how do I pronounce Aoife?'  Because I don't know either!

I have been known to use spam names, though that doesn't happen so much since I've switched to googlemail.  (Hmm... maybe I should set up a hotmail account just to get spam?).  Once, I got a spam email from a Carlos Flores, and I turned him into a great Italian-American bad guy.

One of my writing buddies did give me link to the Random Name Generator.  This is just great, but sometimes too obscure, and I do wonder if the names sound too American. But it has helped me for inspiration.  I tend to use this to get my surnames.

So, at the moment, I've been going through the baby name book that I used to choose both of my son's names out of.  What's really useful is that it has a chart; the top fifty names for girls and boys over certain periods in the UK and in the US.  So if my character is in his thirties, I look down 1975 and choose a name from the list.  If I want him older, then I go down the 1950 line, younger 1998 (that's the most recent they do). 

But even then, sometimes I'm still not happy, and worry that if I've chosen a name that someone's used or actually is called that name.  Or my subconscious is playing tricks on me.  I swear, it is not deliberate, it's just the character in my head suits that name.  It is just a name.

If anyone has an easier suggesting for picking names and not worrying about it, I'd gladly take that advice.

Same goes for place names, company names... It's the hardest thing about writing.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

I Am Working - Honest!

As my blog does state I'm a writer (just not published yet), I thought maybe I should cover a little on this subject.

I got into writing about four years ago. I wouldn't say I was one of those people who state, 'I've always wanted to be a writer' or anything like that. But as a child I did used to write lots of letters to cousins, pen pals and even my grandma. And sometimes, I'd have this itchy finger kind of feeling where I knew I wanted to pick up a pen and physically write, but I was never sure what of - so usually doodled, or practised my signature lots!

On our honeymoon, we met a wonderful American lady, and I think I came out with something bizarre, like I usually do, and she commented that I had such a wonderful imagination I should be a writer.  I'd never even thought about it back then.

I used to have (out of pure boredom at work) some stories buzzing around in my head.  It was more a daydream than anything and I'd get this story further and further, and replay it over, fine tweaking it to make it better inside my head.  I've now made notes on it, because you never know, some of it might come in handy now, after all.  I didn't realise this is what writer's do.  But you do, laying in bed first thing in the morning, or last thing at night is a good way to brainstorm characters, plots, predicaments and stories.  I currently have a tall, skinny vampire woman with long, black hair walking around in my head, and I haven't thought what to do with her yet!

So how did I get into writing four years ago?  Well, at first I'd joined some forums of interest, and spent my evenings chatting away to people with similar interests as me and mad about the same thing - a certain television programme.  In fact it was great to talk about this programme with people as fanatical as me.  I wasn't weird, or I'd found equally weird people, depending on how you look at it.

Then I was introduced to fan fiction through this forum.  One of my 'cyber' friends on there wrote fan fiction, I started reading it and loved it.  There is so much fan fiction on the internet for practical every television programme or film that's been aired.  Some has more fans than others.  I'll warn you, there are some really terrible writing out there with it, but also there is some great stuff.  Great writers!  Fan fiction uses the character provided from the show/film and if the writer has done her job well, you'll be able to 'see' these characters in her writing.  Sometimes stories expand on something that was in the programme or it will send them on a whole new adventure.

So I got reading, and bunnies (what we call in the trade) started bouncing around in my own head.  My cyber friend (and she knows who she is!  She's to blame!) convinced me to post it on a forum/board that was designed to help enhance your writing and story telling.

I'd only started posting my first story in June/July 2006 - she had me enrolled in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) by November.  The aim is to write a story or at least 50,000 words of it in a month (November).  Luckily, I was pregnant with Kieran and had the excuse of putting my feet up (well, my bottom was sitting) and Ben was young enough he still took naps in the afternoon.  So I did do it.  I wrote 50,000 words in one month!  It needed a lot of editing afterwards, but that's the whole point.  It actually taught me that I am best at bashing out the story, then going back and editing it through and adjusting it to make me look clever.  It set me up for good writing habits.

From this whole process of writing fan fiction, four years on, my writing has improved considerably and I know roughly what genre I like to write.  I've received fantastic advice and help, and have two exceptional 'Betas' (who I hope aren't bored with me).  Last summer, after constantly thinking what I work I could do around my children and life, and enjoy it (these get rich quick schemes weren't revealing themselves), I decided to follow this writing path more seriously.  I knew that I still needed some help with improving my writing skill, and how to go about the whole process of getting published etc. and so I enrolled in the online Writer's Bureau writing course because I knew it would help me with all of that.

Writing Fan Fiction doesn't pay.  It would be illegal for a start, as they're not your characters.  This course is currently taking me through non-fiction, which is the quickest way as a writer to earn money.  But my goal is to write a novel, and hopefully (fingers crossed) get it published.  But even through the non-fiction channel it's teaching me to research etc.  It's all good practise.

I'm 37 this year and I want to have finished this course by the time I'm 40 and have my first novel written - not necessarily published.  I don't see myself being the next J K Rowling, I'm realistic, but I would love to have a book published.  In the mean time, I intend to enter short story competitions, and send off articles and letters as my assignments provide.

I love writing.  I sit at my desk in my study (which really needs a good tidy and organisation so it's more my zone) and type away all night.  I definitely prefer writing fiction compared to non-fiction but I want to stick with the course as it's designed because I feel the end result will be better.  I'm not actually sure I have time to properly work on a novel until Kieran starts school either.

It's a busy month, this month, with assignment 5 finished and I've even sent the outline to the magazine, I  currently have a short story competition I want to enter through Writing Magazine.  That closes 15th September, and my (same) cyber-friend has convinced me to enter the Mills and Boon New Voice competition.  I just so happen to have a fan fiction story that I can convert to an original story.  Plus, I still have some stories to write for my fan fiction fans - yes, I have at least two!

And you need to write, let it rest, then go back and read through and edit.  It's a long process.  So trick is to have a few things on the go - which I have!

I found with my fan fiction, even if it's just one person who reads my stories and leaves me positive feedback, I get a real buzz!  Even if I never get published, I'll never be bored.  I've found a hobby for life.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Book Review: Dead And Gone by Charlaine Harris

This review does contain slight spoilers of the book, but I've tried to be as vague as I can.

27 books read - 13 to go!

Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, #9)Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh no, I've finished this and have no more to read.  (Gotta wait until Book 10 comes out in paperback... I suppose).

I loved this book!  I think this could be one of my favourites out of the whole series - although I loved them all really.

Great escapism! Funny, steamy romance and some sadness in this one as we have to say goodbye to some characters.  Charlaine Harris is not afraid to kill off characters.  She's also not afraid to put poor Sookie through the mill.  A little bit more 'horror' in this book, though done tastefully enough not to make you squeamish but to give you a good idea.

There was enough of Eric to satisfy the taste buds.  I am falling for Eric faster than Sookie me thinks!

And Bill - oh my God at one point I was soooo worried about that vamp.  I still am actually.  I'm a fan of Bill's.  Some think he's boring, but you just know he loves Sookie.

And Niall's fleeting words - exactly, Sookie, which Vamp is he talking about? Although I think it applies to both, I think I know who he was referring.

Maybe I would have liked a little bit more of Sam at the end.  It's so obvious he loves Sookie and wants to free her from the Vampire's hold.  Although Eric's intentions are good, but selfish.  Eric is trying to mean well.  Sookie would probably be a lot safer without their hold... although in this book, the Vamps really do prove their worth.

There was some good stuff talked through with Sookie and Eric too.  I was so glad to read that she doesn't want to be 'converted' at all.

So... now I wait, like the rest of you.  Not sure what I want to read now.  How will anything else compete?

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