Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Book Review: Deadly Beauty by M.K. Elliott

Today I share my review for Deadly Beauty by M.K. Elliott

Sex, Vampires and Lots of Passion

This is a well-written novel with a very specific and often highly controversial plot. It is, essentially, all about the sex. More specifically, sex between vampires, both homosexual and heterosexual. I enjoyed reading it, and it was hot stuff, but also very violent. I also liked that it was a British story, set in familiar places and locations.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Book Review: A Menu of Death by Lucy Pireel

Today I share my review of A Menu of Death by Lucy Pireel

A haunting, gruesome, good read!

I really enjoyed this book, and because it is small, it only took me a few hours to read. It is an anthology of short stories that explore themes of domestic abuse, murder, psychopathic tendencies, and good old-fashioned ghost stories. My favourites were A Dollar’s Worth and Reunion. I also quite enjoyed Bloodwork, although that did disturb me quite a bit! If you enjoy classic horror then I recommend you read this book, and it is certainly a great addition to a Halloween book club…

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Book Review: Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

Today I share my review of Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

A delightful read!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. It was a birthday gift from a friend, and I did really enjoy reading it. At first I was unsure because I felt like the author was simply showing off her own academic knowledge of books, and I wondered about why she shared such lengthy extracts from other stories to fill her book. However, after the first chapter I really got into the stride, and I delighted in the language she used, how she demonstrated her sheer love of reading, and then she proceeded to explain that actually, all of these traditional writing rules are made to be broken, but sometimes they can be used to good effect. This book made me feel good about my own writing, because I can see my talent compared to the extracts I read. It also gave me some new authors and stories to explore, and there is an extensive reading list at the back which I will take great pleasure in ticking off (although it might take many years to succeed!) All in all I recommend this book to readers and writers alike, especially if you take pleasure in wordplay.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Book Review: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Today I share my review of Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts

One of my all-time favourite books!

This massive tome was allocated as the summer read by my local book club. I had not heard of it previously, but I am so glad that I read it! I know when I am on to a good book if I find myself reading it during the day while my children play, or taking it in the car when I am a passenger. I just had to read this whenever I found time. The prose is delightful, with a wonderful feast of words that delight the senses. And the author really takes you into his world. I have never visited India, and I know very little about these distant countries, but now I really want to visit after reading Shantaram.

I will not give too much detail about the story, because I could write a whole book just discussing the narrator, the text, the themes etc. Suffice to say I feel a huge sense of achievement for reading the book because it is huge, and I enjoyed every word. None of it seemed excessive, or waffling, which I have found in previous large novels. The only negative I can offer is the sheer volume of characters and sub-stories involved. They did cause some confusion, but ultimately this story will stay with me for a very long time.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Let's Get These Stories Written!

During the past four years I have been on an exciting journey as I became a wife, a mother, and a published author. It has taken me until now to realise exactly where my writing career is likely to advance. I hadn't really considered the possibilities of how to earn a regular income and how to make my business viable. I am still figuring that out. True to my creative nature, I try not to think about facts and figures unless I need them in a story. I much prefer the freedom to follow my heart and go where my spirit takes me.

But, needs must, and we live in a society that is reliant on monetary income. It is time I returned to the land of paid employment. At the moment I am still working out how to do that as a self-employed businesswoman. My business is writing. I just have to establish which forms of writing I want to focus on. I had tried a little freelancing, and I secured a few jobs writing blogs for obscure websites in countries I have never visited. The pay was low, and after almost a year I decided it wasn't really worth my time and effort.

I have four published novels, and three published short stories that are all widely available for sale both online and in bookstores. My problem is advertising them effectively when I have literally no budget and no means of marketing beyond what I can manage for myself. It is very hard to rely on word-of-mouth sales when my friends and family rarely talk about books. I am still trying to get the word out, but I am not what you would call a vocal person, and I find it quite difficult to confidently sell myself to strangers without feeling nervous and self conscious.

Anyway, aside from that, I need a regular income. My book sales barely cover the cost of a pad of paper at the moment, and the freelance article writing I had considered just doesn't sit right with me. Now I have decided to start entering story competitions. I have entered a few in the past; indeed that is how I got my very first short story published, in the teen anthology Devils, Demons and Werewolves. But then I trailed off. I entered a few more competitions without success, but then allowed myself to be distracted. Now I need to get back on it, so to speak. My stories must be written, and I will earn some money from them so I can promote my novels and support my family. Let's do it!

Friday, 22 August 2014

A Summer of Books #amreading

Today I am basking in the joy of reading! I mean, I do that most days, but I admit during recent months even my reading capability seemed to deteriorate in the face of domestic challenges and dramas. Anyway, all that has changed now with the experience of one fantastic book. And I am so happy and feel more enriched for the pleasure of reading it.

The book in question is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I hadn't heard of it before this summer. It was assigned by my local book club to be our big summer read. And what a big book it is! The paperback that I borrowed from my library has 933 pages, and very long chapters. Personally I prefer short chapters because it makes the book easier to read around children, but I persevered, and am so glad I did. I was hooked right from the first chapter, but a full review will follow when I've had time to digest the story.

That is part of the joy I rediscovered. It isn't just about reading a good story. The book was substantial, well written, and very detailed. I savoured the choice of words, the education given by the author, and simply the feel of a good, solid book in my hands. My reading friends will understand! It is something that cannot be put into words, but I suppose a close analogy is that of the devoted football fan. Where a fan will follow his or her team all around the world to experience the joy and drama of a match, so a reader will give up everything in order to finish a very good book. It will stay with them. It will draw them in to a whole new world, and for days after finishing, the reader stumbles around in a state of almost-reality, still living the life of the protagonist and the world of the story.

I am in this place right now. I can't think straight, because I am thinking about the book. The characters are my people, my friends, and I feel a part of that world, even though it talks about a place that I have never physically visited. That is the result of a true story teller. And I hope that people who read my novels feel a similar connection, and follow a similar journey as they connect with my Redcliffe characters. Oh, and this week you can see me over on the blog of fellow author Diana Rubino. Check me out!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

My #amwriting Journey: Taking Time for Inspiration

My writing has slacked off again recently. I am not too concerned about this, however. We are, after all, in the middle of the national school summer holidays, and I have been focusing time on being sociable with friends and family. I have also been distracted by my children, as always. But I actually feel better for not putting pressure on myself to write every day. I mean, yes, when it works for me, I quite happily get up earlier in the morning or stay up later at night to type a few more pages on my work in progress. But when I am not physically writing, I am gathering inspiration.

Sitting on a bus a few days' ago, I looked at my fellow passengers, and I watched the world go by from the window, and I began to process and store little snippets of prose for later use. I didn't even write any of it in my notebook. I was soaking up the atmosphere and energy, rather than forming specific sentences and structures. I believe this is just as important for a writer as the actual process of creating a manuscript. If you don't feel the work, you will not give it your full attention, and the finished piece will never be quite substantial enough. Take some time to feel the energy of your writing, and the structure will be far more solid in the end.

Have a fabulous week my writing friends!