Tuesday, 28 June 2011

More Writing Success!

Back in February 2010, part of my Writer's Bureau coursework, I sent a letter to Writing Magazine. It was my first letter to them. I got a reply saying it was being considered for the letters page, then over a course of emails, they asked if they could use if to for their marketing material. Of course I said yes! But never saw anything of it ... until now.

The other day an internet friend emailed me to say I was quoted on the subscription renewal form for Writing Magazine! She scanned it in and sent it over to me. (Thank you, Laurie.)

So I'm going to take this as another success of my writing being published. Okay, so I didn't get paid, but my name is out there!

So look out, if a subscription form comes through your post.

Now I must get back to reading July's issue... August will be here before I know it. As I pay for this magazine by subscription, I read it from cover to cover (only lately I've been slacking). There are a lot of useful information in this magazine. I've tried books from authors I wouldn't have heard of before (Gerald Seymour) and have added books to my to-read list, too. I haven't made money from writing yet, (but then I need to send stuff out and I haven't been lately) but I am sure when I do, it will be thanks to the Writers Bureau and this magazine.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Bargain Books

Is it just me, or do you guys do this too?  Now that I'm so hell bent on becoming a successful writer and have been reading till my eyes hurt, (and love it - best bit about writing if you ask me!) every time I pass an old book stall or a charity shop selling books, I've got to browse.

I never used to be like this before. 

Well, today, helping out at the school fair, the book stall landed near the cakes and teas and coffees stall, and I sort of took it over. I instantly held back Harry's Game by Gerald Seymour. I've read The Collaborator, and though maybe not the genre I write in, I'm trying not to solely read romance - as change is as good as a rest, right? And it's good to see how others write descriptions etc. Or at least I think it is. I enjoyed The Collaborator, so thought I'd try this one out. It's his first book.

I then spotted two Oxford dictionary of quotations (Modern Quotations and Humorous Quotations). There was one on political quotations - I left that one! lol!

I also picked up D H Lawrence, The Rainbow. It's a classic isn't it? And all the money went towards the school. I paid 50p a book - definitely worth it!

I keep telling myself I'll borrow books rather than buy them... then I see them cheap at a book stall, or free on Kindle. At this rate though, I'll never make it to the library

Anyone else picked up a book bargain lately?

Friday, 24 June 2011

Book Review: Wild Justice by Liz Fielding

WILD JUSTICE (Beaumont Brides)WILD JUSTICE by Liz Fielding

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. I am likely to write spoilers and so for the sake of my blog (when I paste this over) read no further if you don't want them.

*** spoilers below ***

Firstly, it's by one of my favourite Mills and Boon authors, Liz Fielding, and it has sex on the page! And very good that was too... uh, hum.

It was written very much in Liz's style. I wasn't disappointed in that. Generally, I really enjoyed this story. There is a real spark of conflicts between Fizz and Luke - these two know how to love and hate one another. I would have probably given it four stars, but it has a couple of things that niggled and frustrated me as I read.

Firstly Fizz doesn't find out (or realise) that Melanie is related to Luke, to the point it felt contrived. Fizz is an intelligent woman. She would have worked it out sooner - or someone really would have said something quicker - that Melanie was Luke's niece. Fizz believes Melanie is Luke's much younger girlfriend.

It was a nice conflict, to stop Fizz's feelings for Luke, but for me it went on a little too long. There was so much else going on to get these two at each other's throats, this didn't need to be so overdone.

Another niggle for me was Fizz's quick forgiveness of Luke. Luke has stood there, hell bent on revenge, and demoralised her, implying terrible things to her character he's misinterpreted. A week later, he turns up, as if to carry out his threat. They start fighting, then the next thing, they are (at last) making love. I liked the love-hate relationship, but felt Fizz let Luke in too quickly after some very cruel words. For me, he didn't work very hard to earn his forgiveness. Seriously, what he implied about Fizz, she should never have let him near her again!

I'm not sure if I believed this quick turn around in trust. I wasn't sure if as the reader I was deliberately being confused that Luke was still up to tricks in seeking his revenge, or he was truly trying to win back Fizz's love.

Otherwise, I enjoyed these two squaring up to one another - they had some wonderful battles. This book contained a lot of passion and emotion, plenty of conflict - which I love. I will be looking out for the other two books to this Beaumont Brides Trilogy.

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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Clearing The Cobwebs

I decided I needed to blog to get me writing again, to get me back into the swing of things. My head feels fuzzy!

I've had two weeks holiday, then a wedding (friends), a minor operation (my son's) then a funeral (my Grandma - might blog about this more another day), and now I am back and raring for the return of routine.

The house feels a mess, and however much I look at my study, I can't find a solution to the mayhem. Actually a new bookshelf would solve some of the disarray ...

I'm supposed to be writing Perfect Isn't An Option as part of the May - You Write Your Novel challenge - 80,000 words in 80 days... and it's come to a halt. I've got till the 19th of July, so at this rate I'm going to need to be typing over 2000 words a day to reach it. (I'm starting to think I will fail this... but I will continue to complete the novel, so that's not failure, right? Just might not get it done on time.)

However, returning from the holiday, I've managed to get myself an editor appointment (Yay! Although really nervous about this too...) and have been concentrating my efforts on The Wedding Favour.  And that's what I need to do right now, because as soon as it's out of the way, I can get back to Ruby and Steve, and his quest to find his love with Lydia.

I also have a Writer's Bureau assignment practically finished that I want to send off too!

To top it all off, today I read an article in Writing Magazine (June - still haven't got to July!) and I have a humorous article called Patience In A Bottle which I would really like to find a home for. Because it would be a good little article for September and the start of school term. (It's about if Mum's could buy patience in a bottle - Gosh, do I need it!)

Seriously, my head feels like it's going to explode with worry and stress, because until these things are completed they'll swirl around my brain and weigh my shoulders down.

Okay, so great chatting, now just going to polish three chapters, a synopsis and come up with a writing CV...

Friday, 17 June 2011

Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Firstly, this review will contain spoilers. This book is a classic, so it is likely you have read it. Normally I do try to avoid revealing much of the book, but I can't help discuss this one.

For Goodreads I can tick a box, but my blog (when I paste the widget over) will not hide the content. So if you have not read Wuthering Heights and intend to, and don't want spoilers, read no further.

*spoilers below*

I was sadly disappointed with this story. For some reason I was lead to believe this was a romance. It was a tragedy in my eyes. I did not see the romance in it. How Heathcliff behaved because he loved Catherine does not make it romantic.

I can't give it three stars, because I'm not actually sure I liked it. Yet I wanted to read it to the end, so maybe Emily Brontë achieved something with this story. So, it's more 2 and a half stars. To be fair, I liked the idea of the story, I felt compelled to read to the end even though I did not like the characters.

Most of the characters were dislikeable - especially Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, who this novel is really about.

In fact, I find Catherine the more wretched of the two, because she tortured Heathcliff and upon her death, he was out to seek revenge and did manage to make everyone's lives miserable - because he loved her! 

Catherine married Edgar Linton because she didn't think Heathcliff was good enough... yet really she loved Heathcliff and not Edgar. But she played the two against one another. Heathcliff wasn't a particularly great character returning to haunt Hindley Earnshaw (Catherine's brother and his sort of step-brother) and changed poor Hareton (Hindley's son) to the poor, uneducated thug he became. Thankfully, Hareton is restored and there is a happy ending for him, with his cousin, Catherine Linton Heathcliff (as she was forced to marry Heathcliff's son Linton).

Yes the names get abit confusing! I was confused sometimes who the narrator was talking about.

So, the only two characters I liked and empathised with were Nelly (Ellen Dean), the housekeeper and servant to the families. She, who could see the whole picture, see even why Heathcliff was as he was, even though it was not condonable, always did her best to do things right. Though she was placed in the middle of a rock and a hard place at times. Nelly is our main narrator telling the story to a minor character who is also a narrator at times, Mr Lockwood.

The other likeable character is Miss Cathy, the next Catherine in the story (Catherine's own daughter) because her heart was good really. Her behaviour at times was acceptable to the conditions she endured when moved into Wuthering Heights under Heathcliff's orders. But she showed backbone, and her behaviour proved that all that were around Heathcliff showed their worst side.

Heathcliff is unforgivable. I disliked him because he could not love his own son, that he could marry Isabella to vex her brother, (who was married to 'his' Catherine) and be poisonous to her. He could not even love the daughter of his love, even though she were not his. It was his intent to make everyone miserable and diabolical in behaviour - hence not many characters in this book are likeable.

I actually liked Edgar Linton in the end. He didn't care what Heathcliff did or took, he only cared for his daughter's welfare and whether his nephew (Linton Heathcliff by Isabella) would be strong enough to console his daughter after his own death - which he was not. Linton turned into a whining, betraying, weak wretch.  

I am not overly sure what killed Heathcliff. Madness? Starvation? Are we led to believe Catherine was visiting him in some ghostly presence (hence his happy expressions)? Or could it be like anything else in the early 19th century, you could die easily of the slightest thing? I do find Heathcliff's death weird. Maybe I would have preferred it if Hareton and Catherine had conspired and killed him. Heathcliff deserved to be avenged.

I would gladly read Jane Eyre over and over again. It moved me, even brought tears to my eyes. This book, I had no real care for what happened to the characters, only Ellen Dean and Miss Cathy at some stage.

Another thing I felt difficult to read with this book was Joseph's dialect. It was very much 'what not to do today' in writing. And I can see why. It took me forever to read it, to decipher it, to the point I'd skip over some of it.

I quote:

"Yon lad gets war und war!" observed he [Joseph] on re-entering. "He's left th' gate at t' full swing, and Miss's pony has trodden dahn two rigs o' corn, and plottered through, raight o'ver into t' meadow! Hansomdiver, t' maister 'ull play t' deveil, to-morn, ..." and it goes on!

The odd sentence was all right, but sometimes even Joseph went on a bit! Jane Eyre was so much easier to read compared to this book.

I will also state that the edition I have on my kindle (and is not necessarily the same as I've linked to Goodreads for my review) is a poorly edited version. There are some punctuation missing etc. But I did downloaded it for free, so I won't complain.

So to summarise, Heathcliff is far from a hero in this story. There are no redeeming qualities in his character. If there were, I never saw them. You'll either love this book, or hate it.

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Phew! That was a long book review! 21/40 books read this year so far!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Another Day, Another Blog

Today I managed to read a bit more of Writing Magazine - June edition! (I know, I've got July sitting here. Bloody August isn't far away the rate time passes.)  Anyway, I digress, it made me think of a blog topic - Clichés.

'Under The Microscope' is a new article they've been printing, where wannabe authors send in the first 300 words of their manuscript to be critiqued. I am considering being brave and sending in The Wedding Favour actually.

In the June edition the story is titled 'Prominence' by Neal Schafer, and a lot of the points in this article raised how the author used too many clichés. I didn't realise some were clichés! (Blushes.)

I must admit this is something I am afraid of as a new writer. I'm petrified I'm writing clichés I'm not even aware of - but my Beta's soon point them out when I do. And I think I get them muddled with metaphors, paraphrases, idioms etc. (Though some of these can be clichés too).

After googling, I did find this useful site: Clichés: Avoid Them Like The Plague which might help us newbies in steering clear.

But what if your character says a cliché - is that okay, because it's their character? We must all have sayings we say every day, or regularly - I know I do! And so, if a character used a cliché in their dialogue (or even thoughts), would that make them seem realistic too?

Or do we steer clear at all costs? (That, believe it or not, does not come under the cliché link above lol!)

So do you fall into the cliché trap? Have you learnt how to get out of it? Do I need to study and memorise the contents of the above link?

Some seem ludicrous to me - I mean, E-ticket? How is that cliché? When booking my dad's ferry crossing earlier today, I was emailed the E-ticket. That's what they're called.

Right, well, I've given my two cents, and will probably have plenty of pain and suffering, leaving me as poor as a churchmouse.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Book Review: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, #11)Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although it was great to get back into Sookie's head, and having read (not that long ago) 'A Touch Of The Dead' made it easier, I still couldn't quite give it four stars.

Not one of Harris' best, it felt like another of her books, there to set way for the next one. I think at times it lacked emotion, we were told Sookie was pissed, but couldn't really see it.

If you're a Sookie fan, you should enjoy it but it's not likely to be your favourite. (Mine is still Dead To The World). 

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20 books down of my 40 to read! Half way there!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Book Review: Tempted By Trouble by Liz Fielding

Tempted by Trouble (Mills & Boon RIVA)Tempted by Trouble by Liz Fielding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've become a big fan of Liz Fielding's writing over the past year, and she never disappoints. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Liz has a way of making her two characters sizzle on the page with sexual and sensual tension.

There are great amounts of flirting in this book! Who doesn't love flirting?

Being a Riva, I did wonder how far the 'sex' would go. This again is very much a Liz Fielding style book - it's more a Cherish/Romance rather than a modern/heat, but if you like Liz's style, you'll love this book... in fact this could be her hottest one (I've read) so far.

Where the book lacks 'sex', it still has its sizzle. It does not disappoint. There was so much tension, these two characters needed the ice cream to cool down - and so did I!

I loved both characters with their flaws, and how Liz got them together with a wonderful, unique third character - Rosie the vintage ice cream van.

Tempted by Trouble is a witty, sexy and fun read, with moments of effective emotion.

And as a friend (Becky Black) has commented, I am just LOVING the Riva book covers.

(On a side note, I went to a wedding recently (yesterday) which had an ice cream van there - and I thought of Liz and Tempted By Trouble as I ordered my ice cream).

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Friday, 10 June 2011

I Am Alive Really

Just a very quick blog! I'm now back from my hols and not too much heavier due to all the Cornish ice creams - amazingly enough - and need to get back into the swing of writing. I did manage to do quite a bit of reading where I could on holiday, but no writing. I didn't even get a chance to brainstorm over Perfect Isn't An Option - too exhausted usually. Brain could only handle reading... or a few games of Angry Birds.

I returned to find my RNA conference pack waiting for me, and I've sent off my workshop choices. Very excited that Liz Fielding has a workshop. I've also got a ten minute appointment with Jane Holland of Embrace. (My first choices were already booked up). I've got to send off the first three chapters of The Wedding Favour and a one page synopsis, plus a writing CV! Now I am panicking!

I am slightly worried that The Wedding Favour might not quite fit into Embrace's categories - hence Jane wasn't my first choice... It might fit Red Velvet, if any, although too many words at the moment for one thing. But I really would like to get some professional advice, and this sort of thing would cost me a lot of money otherwise. Rachel Lyndhurst convinced me to do it, so it's all her fault!

So now I'm panicking about that, and I've got piles and piles of washing, but can't do any of it as off to a wedding this weekend. (Must take notebook and make notes... Romance, romance, romance...)

Oh and I need to go buy a new dress, so I can mingle with all these glamorous writery types at the Gala Dinner.