Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Once More Unto The Bookstore (or, how I accidentally ended up with a book blog)

I've always loved books. I started with my mother's Enid Blyton collection and some great big books of fairy tales from the 1920s/30s, which I originally believed had belonged to my father but now I think they were probably my grandmother's. (You can read more about the books which influenced me as a writer here.)

I devoured every book I could find, some quite unsuitable for my age; I read Shirley Conran and Jackie Collins while I was still at school. On one occasion I remember borrowing a book from the school library and taking it back the next day, and the teacher refusing to believe I could have possibly read it so quickly. I felt quite offended!

Of course the thing about reading a good book is that I immediately want to tell everyone about it - how great it was and why they really should read it themselves right now. Although the drawback to that is I'd end up having to loan out my own precious copy and, as you know, I've never been great at sharing. The other drawback is that most of the people I know in real life don't read the kind of books I like. So here I am, reading all these great books and having no one to tell ...

During the summer one of my Twitter friends, Terry Tyler, told me about her idea to encourage people who would not normally write a book review to post one on Amazon. You didn't need your own book blog, or be any kind of professional or regular reviewer, to take part. To help spread the word, the reviews were hashtagged on Twitter as #August Reviews and promoted by other book bloggers, including Rosie Amber. And I gave Terry a whole load of reasons why I couldn't take part:

(1) I'm a writer.
(2) I know too many other writers. 
(3) I could never give another writer a one star review (which I might be likely to do, as I'm far too honest for my own good).
(4) I've never been able to get on with Goodreads.
(5) I love reading books and having to write a review afterwards would be too much like doing homework.

Ironically, last month I needed to teach myself Wordpress for another project. I had to set up a new blog and blog about something. What could I blog about? Books, obviously!

September turned into October and I went through my Kindle to dig out all the spooky books I could find, intending to read them in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Mainly because I have a really bad habit of downloading cheap and free books, and then not reading them. (Any author reading this, and thinking of running a free promotion, bear that in mind - people are more like to read your book if they've paid for it!) 

As I read each book I wrote a review - and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. When the Wordpress project came to an end I was loathe to let my new blog go. So I moved it over to Blogger and carried on for a bit, just to see if I could.

If you want to check out the new blog, it's called Once More Unto The Bookstore. I'm only reviewing books I've enjoyed and that I've bought myself, because I'm a writer not a book blogger. If you're interested to know what I'm reading, I'd love to see you over there. And if not, this blog will still carry on as usual with me talking about myself.

Some things never change.

Related Posts:

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Images Copyright: Shutterstock (girl reading) and Fotolia (book)

Monday, 5 September 2016

Summer Update

September already? Well, I hope you had a lovely summer! Here's what I've been up to ...   

Book Launch for Trust Me I Lie

My latest novel, Trust Me I Lie, came out at the end of June - and a huge thank you to everyone who bought it. I celebrated with Novelistas Ink in the usual way ...

There are more photos on the Novelistas' News Page.

And you can read an extract from Trust Me I Lie either on my website or on Wattpad.

Guest Blog Posts

Being Anne: The Enduring Appeal of Fairy Tales

My Reading Corner: Creating an 'Unlikeable' Heroine

Author Interviews

Becca's Books: Do I base my characters on anyone I know? Are there any particular themes I like to use? How do I choose my settings?

With Love For Books: Which of my own personal experiences end up in my book? If I could choose to be one of my characters, which one would I be? Where do my stories come from?

Simona's Corner of Dreams: What was the inspiration behind Trust Me I Lie? Did I always dream of being a writer? Which books have influenced my life most?

Upcoming Promotion

Finally, I'll be running a price promotion to celebrate my birthday at the end of September. Keep a lookout for A Girl's Best Friend, which will be FREE to download from 20th September to the 24th September 2016, inclusive. All details/links here:

Never miss a post! See that little box in the left-hand column, near the top, that says 'Follow by Email'? If you add your email address, you'll receive my latest blog post almost as soon as I've written it.

Photos Copyright: 

Trust Me I Lie book launch: Cheryl Lang and Juliet Greenwood
Little Red Riding Hood: Fotolia

Monday, 8 August 2016

8 Tips for Writing in Cafés

It's the summer holidays, and while my children are no longer at that age where they expect to be entertained every minute of the day, there is that expectation that mum will be the one driving them to where they expect to be entertained every minute of the day. Which is how I found myself working from a café for two mornings last week, instead of my nice snug study.

It certainly brought back memories. When the children were younger I would regularly take them to one of those indoor play centres. They would go crazy sliding through twisty plastic tunnels and getting lost in ball pits, and I'd drink lots of coffee and write. Much of Breathless was written this way - but it did help that I'm the kind of person who can screen out background noise as I work!

But even I was surprised at how much I managed to achieve last week. I'm not sure if it was the coffee, a different environment or just being away from the Internet - probably the latter! So if you feel the need to get away for a few hours, just to write, here are my tips:

(1) Choose a café where you are already known, or one that's part of a large chain where you'll blend in with everyone else.

(2) Go during a quiet time so you're not seat hogging, and sit in a quiet area so you're less likely to be disturbed or asked if you're writing a book - although this is a good opportunity to hone your elevator pitch!

(3) Order plenty of drinks to keep the staff happy enough that they won't turf you out, but don't go mad because it'll get expensive. Preferably, use a café that has a loyalty card scheme - after a few visits you'll get a free drink!

(4) Sit facing the room unless you want people reading your draft sex scenes over your shoulder. There's no greater temptation than an open laptop. 

(5) If you're the kind of person who can't write in a noisy environment, try revising or proof-reading instead. In the old days I used to cart around a huge A4 lever arch file with my manuscript in it, now I copy my work onto a Kindle. Alternatively, just print out a few chapters.

(6) Consider using a (shock horror) notebook and pen. A notebook doesn't need charging, you don't have to worry about it being damaged and it's far more portable. But take more than one pen, in case it runs out, and ensure that it's comfortable to write with.

(7) Don't expect to write perfect prose. In fact, don't expect to write anything at all. Start off writing notes, like a long synopsis. With any luck you'll find the notes will get longer and turn into snatches of dialogue or description and then whole scenes. Before you know it, you'll have drafted an entire chapter.

(8) But if you find writing fiction in a café doesn't work for you, try something else - outline a new story, or write a blog post or article instead.

And if all else fails, get out your camera. You never know when all those Instagrammed coffee shots are going to come in handy ...

Related Posts:

A Room of One's Own
Getting Noted
My Writing Process
Seeking Inspiration
Where I Write (written for Novelistas Ink)

Never miss a post! See that little box in the left-hand column, near the top, that says 'Follow by Email'? If you add your email address, you'll receive my latest blog post almost as soon as I've written it.