Friday, 23 December 2016

Monday, 28 November 2016

Quest to visit Hobbiton


I've recently returned from a holiday in Australia and New Zealand, where I had the chance to go to the Alexander farm in Matamata, New Zealand - also known as the film location for Hobbiton, Middle Earth! This place was top of my bucket list for sites to visit when in New Zealand, and I'm happy to confirm it surpassed my expectations. I loved how the village sprawled over the lush landscape and the attention to detail given to the set dressing.

I also had the chance to go to Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop in Wellington, where a lot of the special effects for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were done.











Sunday, 16 October 2016

Quest to read a further 100 YA books (Part 2)

Time to add some more books I've read to this quest!  (Part 1 is found here.)

21) Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
22) The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
23) The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
24) Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks
25) If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
26) A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond
27) The Giver by Lois Lowry
28) Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
29) The Look by Sophia Bennett
30) Stella by Helen Eve
31) The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
32) All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
33) Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin
34) Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
35) The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
36) Panic by Lauren Oliver
37) Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender
38) Vivian versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle
39) Vivian versus America by Katie Coyle
40) Poison by Bridget Zinn


Friday, 16 September 2016

Time to celebrate

Time to light the fireworks in celebration - my latest WIP (a YA fantasy) is done! Hoorah! I'll be reading this draft all the way through tomorrow, and hopefully won't have many tweaks to make. Then - it'll be sent out to betas. (Scary!) :o)

I'd like to have some chocolate to celebrate, but look how late it is!  (Nah, it's never too late for chocolate!)

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Writing tips for my 7-year-old nephew

Aw, my sister told me this week that my seven-year-old nephew wants to be an author, and did I have any writing tips for him? My immediate thought was 'Learn to touch type' (I'm very pleased I did!). Since then, I've thought of several more tips for him, which I'll list below.

1) Learn to touch type.
2) Keep a diary/journal. If you want to become an MG or YA writer, to have access to a seven- or ten- or fifteen-year-old's thoughts will be invaluable. (Plus the whole process of getting used to writing regularly.)
3) Do your best at school. Learn everything you can.
4) Take an interest in lots of different things. You don't have to pursue them right to the end of whatever course they take, but it will give you a broad range of topics to write about later.
5) Try new things for the experience.
6) Read a lot. Read a lot. Read a lot.
7) Find another career to support yourself until your writing takes off.
8) Save and back-up your files regularly, and email drafts to yourself.
9) The first draft can be rubbish. THAT IS OKAY!! The subsequent drafts are where the story takes shape and the magic happens.
10) Get your butt in the chair and WRITE.
11) Persist. Don't give up.
12) Keep a notebook with you (& especially on your bedside table) to jot down ideas while you remember them. Write down the date, too.

Anybody have any other tips?


Saturday, 30 July 2016

Stuck deep within my revision cave

View from my revision cave (if only!)
I'm stuck deep within my revision cave at the moment, making slow but steady progress on my latest manuscript. The novel is looking decent (well, the bits I've revised so far), and I'm aiming to get this draft finished by the end of August. Better get cracking then, eh? J

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Quest to find some Setting Thesaurus books

I'm delighted to host a blog entry for Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, authors of several fabulous writing thesaurus books. 'The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression' is an invaluable resource for me, and I also have 'The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws' and 'The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Attributes' on my bookshelf. Angela and Becca are now adding two new books to their writing stable, and here they are to tell you a little more about them:

writershelpingwriters_logo_300x300px_finalThere's nothing better than becoming lost within the story world within minutes of starting a book. And as writers, this is what we're striving to do: pull the reader in, pull them down deep into the words, make them feel like they are experiencing the story right alongside the hero or heroine.

A big part of achieving this is showing the character's surroundings in a way that is textured and rich, delivering this description through a filter of emotion and mood. It means we have to be careful with each word we choose, and describe the setting in such a way that each sight, sound, taste, texture, and smell comes alive for readers. This is no easy task, especially since it is so easy to overdo it—killing the pace, slowing the action, and worst of all, boring the reader. So how can we create a true unique experience for readers and make them feel part of the action while avoiding descriptive missteps that will hurt the story?

Well, there's some good news on this front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds that a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers. In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus: Antiques Shop.

And there's one more thing you might want to know more about....

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking...if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Quest to add more libraries to my collection

Seaton/Colyton tram
I was on holiday last week, visiting friends in Seaton, Devon. We took a tram ride to Colyton on one of the sunniest days of the year so far, and I was surprised (and pleased!) to find this small town had their own library. It was closed, so I was unable to check out their YA section, but I took a picture of the building for posterity.
Colyton Library


Seaton also has their own library, and they had a great selection of YA books. For a moment, I thought I'd be able to borrow some until I remembered it was Dorset that was joining the Libraries West Consortium and not Devon. Ah, well - maybe in years to come?

Seaton Library



How about you? Do you like to visit libraries when you're on holiday?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Quest to read a further 100 YA books (Part 1)

If you've read the last blog entry, you'll know I've already achieved this quest. But it's still fun to list the books I've read, right? Here are the first 20:

1) Starcrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce
2) Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce
3) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
4) The Declaration by Gemma Malley
5) The Resistance by Gemma Malley
6) The Legacy by Gemma Malley
7) The Poison Boy by Fletcher Moss
8) Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
9) Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma
10) All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry
11) Say My Name by James Dawson
12) All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
13) The Fault in our Stars by John Green
14) The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke
15) I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
16) Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
17) Divergent by Veronica Roth
18) Insurgent by Veronica Roth
19) Allegiant by Veronica Roth
20) Four by Veronica Roth

As Shelfari is closing down, it doesn't look like I'll be able to add these 20 books to my virtual bookcase, which is a great shame as I enjoy seeing all the covers at a glance!


Monday, 28 March 2016

How many books did I read in 2015?

A bit late to the party, I know, but it's about time I gave a report on how many books I read last year (for my own records, if nothing else!).

I'm stoked to say I smashed last year's record of 137 books with a new record of...

One of the libraries I visited in 2015
*Drum roll*

*Drum roll*

*Drum roll*

167 books!

I know! I couldn't believe it either!

I borrowed (and read) 87 books from 10 libraries (no new libraries to add to my collection this year though, sadly) and 23 e-books from the virtual library. I read 44 of my own books (but I still have a huge dent to make in my TBR pile) and did 13 beta reads.

I seriously doubt I'll get anywhere close to topping that this year (or even matching it), but that's nothing to be ashamed of, right?

How about you? How many books did you read in 2015?


Saturday, 6 February 2016

National Libraries Day 2016

Today was National Libraries Day, and I braved the wind and rain to visit my local library in support. The librarians were gearing up for a Gruffalo storytime for children just as I arrived. I didn't stay to listen (I wasn't the target audience!), but I did borrow three books: Dark Room by Tom Becker; Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais; and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I'm hoping they're going to be great reads!

Did you visit your local library today? Did you borrow any books?

Monday, 25 January 2016

RIP Jareth the Goblin King and Severus Snape

In the space of a week, we've lost two great British legends to cancer.

David Bowie is known more for his music than his acting, but he'll always be Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth to me. (Another film of his I'd highly recommend is The Prestige, which I forced my 14-year-old nephew to watch last month. "Batman & Alfred are in it. Why yes that *is* Wolverine. Gollum too. Oh & Black Widow.")

I've dug out my movie lobby sets for Labyrinth in tribute:
RIP David Bowie a.k.a. Jareth the Goblin King



The second British legend is he of the velvety dulcet tones, Alan Rickman. There are too many memorable films he's appeared in, so I'll list a few faves: Truly, Madly, Deeply; Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves; Sense and Sensibility: and, of course, the Harry Potter series.
RIP Alan Rickman a.k.a. Severus Snape