Wednesday, 2 September 2015

IWSG (September)

Wow, can you believe it's September already? Seriously, where did the summer holidays go? And really that's where my insecurities lie at the moment.  The last couple of weeks I have been working really hard on my writing and achieving a word count far in excess of my  usual amount. It's been great, I've enjoyed being able to make writing my priority for a while, I've felt like a true writer in every sense.  If you read my celebrations post last week you will know I have even set up a special writing area in the spare bedroom. So, why the insecurity?  

I start back at my regular day job tomorrow and I'm not sure I'm ready to let go of the full time writer in me! I know I will still write and have even thought hard about setting aside specific times to maintain the momentum. But it will be different and I know that sometimes it is hard to write in an evening when you're tired. So I'll see how the next month goes and hopefully I'll be back next IWSG to tell you I was worrying over nothing!

Thanks as ever to Alex J. Cavanaugh and this months co-hosts;
Heather M. Gardner   
Dolorah at Book Lover 
Murees DupĂ©   

Friday, 28 August 2015

Celebrate the small things ...

I'm celebrating a busy and productive writing week. 

  • I have outlined and planned a new writing project.
  • Written about 10,000 words of said project
  • And set up a new writing space in the spare bedroom. I think this is going to really help me over the coming weeks as I return to the day job after the summer holidays. I can leave all my things out and know they are going to be there when I return! It is quieter and away from the general hustle and bustle of the rest of the house and with a nice view from the window. Only problem now is what to do when guests want to stay!

This post is part of the weekly celebrations hop.

Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
 L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Happy weekend

Friday, 21 August 2015

Celebrate the small things ...

Hello lovely followers. Sorry I disappeared again for a while, it's that time of year for family, friends and of course writing!

I have also spent a fabulous few days in Oxford with hubby. It was a bit of a spur of the moment thing after we had been visiting family and we decided to detour for a couple of days. I have only visited this lovely city once before, and that was for about two hours in the freezing cold, so I have been wanting to go back for a longer visit for ages.

It is full of all sorts of history, and some amazing building and architecture . . .

A couple of pictures taken around the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The eagle eyed amongst you may recognise just a glimpse of a Harry Potter movie set. Whilst some filming did take place here, the films were so successful, purpose built sets were later used as it was much less restrictive.

Hertford Bridge (often referred to as the Bridge of Sighs due to its similarity to the Venetian bridge).

Blenheim Palace (just a few miles outside Oxford). Home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winstan Churchill. 

And some famous literary haunts . . . 

The Eagle and Child public house was a frequent meeting place for an Oxford writing group called The Inklings, whose members included none other than C.S Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien! We had lunch here so I could soak up some writerly vibes!

Not the best photo but the quote reads :
"My happiest hours are spent with 3 or 4 old friends in old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs." C.S. Lewis

A couple of other notable literary connections include, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) better known as Lewis Carroll author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (1872). He came to Oxford as an undergraduate student and later became a tutor. He remained there for the rest of his life.

Philip Pullman, award wining author of the His Dark Materials Trilogy, (The Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) studied and made his home in the area. The Northern Lights was made into the film, The Golden Compass. 

Just a few names here, but I could go on!

I have recently treated myself to this . . . 

 I fell in love with this cute bag!

This post is part of the weekly celebrations hop.

Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
 L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Happy weekend

Monday, 10 August 2015

A mid summer check in .....

Thought I would drop by the blog and let you know what I've been up to recently.  I'm still likely to be a bit sporadic around these parts for another week or so as I am taking every opportunity to focus on my writing at the moment. I even have the germ of a new idea fizzing about my head and a new character that just won't go away! I want to sit down and make some notes and see if it can lead somewhere. I think it could be interesting.

Anyway, outside of writing and continuing with some submissions what else have I been doing on my summer break so far?

Well, I went away for a week with the family to Menorca. We had a great week, relaxing, sightseeing and generally re-charging the batteries. Here are a few pics.

The little cove was beautiful and the sea so clear it was almost like swimming in an aquarium. The down side was that there were about 180 steps back up! In the heat we certainly got some exercise, which was probably a good job as we fell in love with this delicious local cake and ate far too much of it!

 Ensaimada is a traditional product of the Balearic Islands. A dough mixture of flour, eggs, sugar, yeast, milk and lard. We particularly liked the one filled with a creamy custard. It is surprising light and easy to eat! My daughter is actually trying to recreate this in the kitchen as I type! I wonder what it will taste like?

I am looking forward to catching up with some old friends at the weekend. Old in the sense I have known them like .... forever not that they are past it or anything! (Just in case any of you happen to read this!)

Finally for today, I would just like to officially wish my blog buddy Helen Maslin huge congratulations and lots of luck on the recent release of her debut novel Darkmere. A YA ghost story published by Chicken House. Helen is a wonderfully supportive lady and her success is well deserved. I'm sure she is headed for great things. Check it out on Amazon or goodreads

A Castle. A Curse. A dangerous summer...

Friday, 24 July 2015

Celebrate the holidays!

I'm definitely celebrating making it to the end of another busy school term! I now have a few weeks away from the day job which will allow me the chance to reconnect with my writing schedule, which has sadly slipped a bit this last month.

I have decided a short blog break is in order, probably a couple of weeks. I will be back in August to let you know what I have been up to and how the writing is going.

Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
 L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 

Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Happy weekend

Friday, 17 July 2015

Celebrate the small things

Tonight I am off to see a Beach Boys tribute band in a cave. Yes, I did say a cave! I have never been to the venue before, there are a bunch of us going so it should be fun. I'll tell you more about it next week.

In the garden my hydrangeas are looking lovely. As many of you know, I am partial to a bit of folklore, and the hydrangea is not a plant I have investigated before, so I decided to do a little research. Should an unlucky man or woman fall victim to a witch's curse, the hydrangea could be used to break it. On a lighter note, it represents friendship, devotion and understanding. I just think they look pretty, especially with their mass of huge blooms. Late in the season I like to cut and dry the dead heads and use in Christmas decorations.

We are still getting rhubarb from the garden. It has produced lots this year and I have frozen some, made crumbles, and given quite a bit away to friends. I have also made some rhubarb gin which should be ready in a couple of weeks. I looked at it in the cupboard last night and it has gone a lovely pale pink colour. 

I hope you've all got some lovely things to celebrate and be thankful for this week. Big or small, it's good to remember them. 

Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
 L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 

Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Happy weekend

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Synthetica by Rachel Pattinson

Today I have pleasure in welcoming UK author Rachel Pattinson and her debut novel Synthetica to the blog. Rachel is here to tell us about her intriguing YA novel and to give us a glimpse into her life as a writer.

Visit Rachel's blog HERE to find out more.

Hi Rachel, Can you tell us a little about yourself...
Hi there! Thanks for having me today! I'm Rachel and I'm a Young Adult sci-fi author. I'm 24 years old and I'm an English girl, born and raised. I love tea, cake, Lord of the Rings, bread and butter, and rain. You have to learn to love the rain if you grow up in the north of England.

When did you start writing?
 I don't remember a time when I wasn't writing. Even in primary school, I remember folding up coloured pieces of A4 paper to make a book, scribbling a story in the first few pages and then abandoning it (that habit hasn't actually changed that much – only, I now use a computer rather than random bits of paper). Making up stories has been the only thing that's been constant throughout my life – I've never doubted I'd become a writer one day, but it's only in the past few years that I've decided to take that ambition seriously. I first started writing novels three years ago, when I was about to graduate from university. It was while I was waiting to hear back from the hundreds of job applications I'd sent out that I decided to write my first novel and see what became of it. I've stopped and started a lost of books over the last few years, but I finally feel like I'm ready to take my writing career seriously.

What made you decide to write Young Adult science fiction?
 I've got to be honest with you – it's a genre I kind of accidentally fell into. All my previous attempts at writing have been YA dystopian/apocalyptic novels. I never set out thinking that I'd end up writing science fiction. Don't get me wrong, I love science fiction films and I love reading other YA sci-fi books – learning about new technology/civilisations and the way in which these things impact on society have always fascinated me. But it wasn't until I was a good halfway through writing Synthetica that I even realised I was writing sci-fi. I just thought I was writing a 'futuristic' YA wasn't until I had to define it in a category for my query letters that I realised it was, in fact, sci-fi. And now, I can't seem to stop thinking of other science fiction stories to write...

Tell us a little bit about your book, Synthetica...
 Seventeen-year-old Anais Finch lives in a world where everyone is born beautiful, where every dream is a possibility - and where their every move and every piece of personal information is recorded by an ID picochip inserted behind their right ear. When technology giant, Civitas, finally announces the launch of their highly anticipated Scholarly Learning Programs, which allow people to download and learn any subject instantly, Anais can hardly wait.

But not everyone is pleased with society's progress, and not everyone wants to fit in. When Anais witnesses a brutal murder on an innocent citizen and is implicated in the crime, she becomes determined to uncover the truth, especially when others like it begin to occur all over the city. But it may already be too late for Anais to stop the man who calls himself 'the Hacker' before he commits his most appalling crime yet.

What inspired Synthetica?
 The idea for Synthetica came about while I was watching The Matrix with my better half. It was the scene where Neo downloads the ability to learn martial arts and for some reason, this sparked a thought in my mind – what if programs like this were available for everyone to download? What if you could download knowledge about any subject you liked directly to your brain? And then, what if someone hacked into these programs and used for their own means? It took a couple of months for me to get all the details of this plot worked out, but once I had, I knew this was a book I simply had to write.

How did you come up with the title Synthetica?
 The title simply came to me while I was outlining the book. I don't know what inspired it or why, but to me, it just felt right. This book is set in a world which only cares about physical and material possessions – your DNA can be changed so you can have the exact look you want, everyone keeps up to date with the latest fashions and looks (which change almost daily), everyday objects must be bought new and changed regularly –  and to me, the title embodies the traits of this world perfectly.

Who was your favourite character to write about?
 This is a hard one to answer! Although I love all the characters in Synthetica, there are two in particular that I couldn't wait to write: Clay Winterbourne and the Hacker. I loved writing Clay's chapters because he's such a misery guts and he's got such an intriguing background, that I could have a lot of fun exploring his reactions to certain situations. He's not used to being around people and suddenly he's thrown into this situation where he not only has to interact with people, but he also has to go back to the Imperial City and try to face his personal demons head on. He's turned his back on the city that framed him for murder, but he has to decide whether he's stubborn enough to refuse help to someone who genuinely needs him.

And the Hacker – well, who doesn't love writing about villains? I always knew I wanted the Hacker's POV dispersed throughout the novel, so we could get a sense of his motivations and why he was committing the crimes he did. It was a challenge to get across his personality in such short scenes, while also making him a bit of an enigma. The Hacker continued to surprise me throughout the book – I always knew he was going to be a sociopath, but I found myself constantly wondering exactly how far he'd go to achieve his goals. He's a man who genuinely has no regard for human life, which makes the stakes all the higher when Anais encounters him.

Is Synthetica part of a series?
 Yes! It's part of a trilogy.

What can we expect from the rest of the series?
 The second book in the series is mainly about dealing with the fallout of Synthetica. The Imperial City is in chaos, and the second book is not only exploring the consequences of both the Hacker's and Anais' actions; it'll also bring in other characters from the first book, so we can see firsthand what their reactions to the Hacker are. Anais now has to process  everything that happened to her, but she doesn't end up doing such a good job of handling her emotions, unfortunately. The Hacker is still determined to claim the city as his own, and now that he knows who Anais is, he's going to make sure they meet face to face. It's a lot darker than Synthetica - there are parts of the book that have broken my heart already.

I'm still outlining the third book, but it's going to bring everything to a head. Anais and the Hacker are both determined to bring each other down and now, they're set to collide in a big way. But with the future of the entire Imperial City at stake, neither of them can afford to lose. I can't wait to write this book – it's going to bigger and darker than anything I've done before.

Would you ever consider writing in any other genres?
 At the moment I'm happy writing YA sci-fi. I love writing for the YA market, but I wouldn't say no to writing in a different genre, perhaps a dystopian or a fantasy. I've got a couple of ideas for a fantasy series, but I don't know if it'll come to anything yet. I don't see myself moving away from writing for young adults any time soon, but never say never!

What are your current writing projects?
 At the moment, I'm currently having a lot of fun writing the sequel to Synthetica, which I hope will be published before the end of the year. Just a word of warning - if you thought Synthetica was dark, it's nothing compared to what's in store for book two *evil cackle*.

I'm also currently outlining an idea for a standalone novel, which I'm working on during my breaks from the world of Synthetica. Nowadays, people seem to put a lot of emphasis on the amount of 'likes' or attention they get on social media (myself included), and this got me thinking – what if you took this concept and applied it to a situation where it actually mattered how many 'likes' you received? For example what if in this world, the amount of 'likes' you had decided whether you lived or died...? I'm super excited to explore this idea, although at the moment I'm having a hard time getting the characters of Synthetica out of my head!

What advice would you offer an aspiring author?
 Don't give up. I'm not going to lie - writing a book is hard. It takes a lot of perseverance. There are times when you're halfway through writing your first draft and you suddenly realise everything you've written is awful, or you've written in a character that doesn't work with your plot anymore, or you've just spotted a gaping plot hole. It can be disheartening, but remember, no first draft is perfect. Just keep going, and eventually it all comes together. First drafts (and second, and third , and fourth drafts...) can always be rewritten and restructured, so just remember to keep writing. You can change the words you've written, but you can't change anything on a blank page.

Finally, if you could invite any three book characters to dinner, who would they be and why?
 Aragorn, without a doubt. He'd be top of my list. He was pretty much my first book crush (and remains one to this day) and I'd love to the chance to get to interrogate him about Middle Earth in person. Secondly, I'd have to say Jaime Lannister. I started off absolutely hating him in GOT, but he's now one of my favourite characters. I'd love to get inside his head and ask him whether or not he'd ever get together with Brienne (and if he's going to do everyone a favour and get rid of Cersei). I was going to choose a different book for my third character, but there's so much I want to know about GOT, that I'd have to invite Sandor Clegane as well – another one of my favourite characters. He's got such a messed up sense of loyalty, and I want to know why he stuck with Joffrey for so long, and yet. Why he wanted to save the Stark girls. Hm, I've just noticed that all these characters are flawed in some way...I guess that just goes to show how much I love my messed up characters!

Thanks for having me today! It's been great!

You're welcome, Rachel, I wish you every success with your writing.

About the Author
Rachel Pattinson graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a BA Hons in Publishing Media. Born and raised in the north of England, she shares a love for anything to do with tea, cake, bread and butter, rain, the dark, lakes, fells and Lord of the Rings. She now lives in Norfolk with her partner in crime, and is currently working on several new projects, including the sequel to Synthetica.

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