Monday, 30 April 2012

The Hunger Games Trilogy

Following on from my post on, The Hunger Games, I can now report that I have finished the trilogy. As I mentioned previously this is not my usual genre of choice but I have thoroughly enjoyed it and would happily dip into another dystopian novel. If anyone has any recommendations please let me know. The second book, Catching Fire, takes up the story when Katniss and Peeta have left the arena and are embarking on the enforced Capitol 'celebratory tour.' Needless to say there are lots of rather unpleasant shocks and surprises in store for our victors. I won't reveal too much information on plot as I wouldn't want to spoil the story for anyone yet to read it. In the final instalment, Mockinjay, we are introduced to the infamous 'District 13' in detail. Is it the answer to all their problems or just another twist in the tale? During this final book we also see a different side to some of the familiar characters and the reader is sometimes left asking who the good guys really are. Whilst the phrase 'happy ending' might not exactly fit here, the trilogy is concluded to a satisfactory ending and the reader is left with a sense of  a brighter future for the residents of Panem.

And what am I reading now? Well after all that rather bloodthirsty action I thought I'd dip my feet into something a little more contemporary - Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Second Drafts ... and the third and fourth!

Have managed to spend several hours today editing my teen fantasy novel, The Children of Arrosay. I can happily sit back this evening in the warm glow that comes from a productive session of writing. My second draft is one step nearer completion. The first draft was too over cluttered with main characters so I have concentrated on editing two characters out and making those that remain much stronger. I think it is working and the overall storyline much improved. There will be a third edit and possibly a fourth but I am enjoying getting to know my characters inside out. Hopefully this will shine through in the final cut. It is true that much of the real work of writing takes place in the editing process. But I believe I owe my story the time to evolve and grow and therefore it is time well spent.

It is a wild and storming day in Cornwall today. I set my laptop up in the conservatory overlooking the garden. I have been kept company by the howling wind and rain pelting down on the glass roof. Not to mention the rather loud purring of a cat! It was all quite atmospheric actually and I will certainly work in here again warm and dry but surrounded by the elements of nature!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Happy World Book Night 2012

Today across the UK, Ireland, Germany and the US almost 80,000 people will give away over 2 million books in the hope of spreading a love of books to new readers around their communities.

To those of us who love the written word the thought of not having books in our lives on a daily basis is alien. The books on this year's list are a brillant mix from contemporary fiction to classics. Hopefully, by the giving of one of these marvellous works, the amazing world of  books can be brought to a whole new group of people.

I wasn't able to sign up as a 'giver' this year myself but to all of you out there who have, hope it goes well and you have loads of fun. I would be interested to hear some of your stories if you would like to share them.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Birthstone Unicorns

If you have visited my blog before you may well of seen me chatting about a series of manuscripts I have written under the title  The Birthstone Unicorns Series. A series that had landed me a UK agent but which sadly to date has proved unsuccessful in securing a publisher (see my post So near and yet so far, for further details). My series consists of 12 separate manuscripts, one for each month of the year, and combines a fantasy element of unicorns and elves with birthstones and their particular properties and associated characteristics! For those of you unfamiliar with birthstones, each month of the year has a different gem. The gem represents different qualities or character traits. April's gem is the diamond - so if your birthday is this month lucky you! I will be adding a post  to my blog each month giving details of the gem for that month and a few lines about it. See if you can recognise any familiar characteristics for yourself, family or friends!

I think the series has great commercial potential, I know it would appeal to many girls in the class I work in. I can visualise the book covers - a beautiful white unicorn with a golden horn and sparkly jewels - how could anyone resist! Collect your own birthday or enjoy all 12 stories in the complete series. I hope that I may find a publisher who agrees with me in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Less is more ...

How as writers do we ensure we allow our readers the luxury of working things out for themselves?

Sometimes it's too easy for us to describe or explain every little thing, but this not only insults a reader's intelligence but makes for a boring story. When we read we want to engage with the characters, feel their highs and lows as if experiencing them ourselves. We all use our own imagination and knowledge to create a scene in our heads when we read. In reality our image may be different from the one the author saw but this does not make it incorrect or mean that the writing is poor. As a reader, I love it when you get to the 'ahha' moment in a book. When you suddenly understand the relevance of that funny little comment on page 20 or the real significance of the main protagonists over reaction to something that happened much earlier. It's the pleasure of that slow unravelling that surely makes a good story.

With this in mind are the things we don't write what make a story come to life?

As writers we all know about the over use of adjectives and adverbs. I know I have fallen prey to this on numerous occasions. You write something, it seems brilliant, you re read it and think OMG, have I just swallowed a dictionary or what! This can often be in stark contrast to my day job as a teaching assistant. Here I often work with groups of 8 or 9 year olds on their creative writing. Then I have to encourage them  to use a sickening amount of adjectives and adverbs in their stories. Phrases like, "That's a lovely story Lucy but let's see if we can really describe what that dog looks like?" All the adjectives under the sun suddenly trip over themselves trying to get out my mouth and into Lucy's writing! But I try to leave it at school in the classes designed to widen a child's vocabulary and hopefully instill in them a love of words that will last a lifetime.

So my lesson this week is going to be less is sometimes more. I am not going to be afraid of describing the dog as black and leaving it at that!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Happy Easter

Have you all eaten too much chocolate yet?  I've been quite good so far, cooking a family meal this evening so trying to save room for that!

Surprisingly managed to write for a couple of hours this afternoon. I have been working on a chapter of Arrosay, I think my female character is really starting to come to life now. It's great when all the hours of work start to pay off and you get that knot of excitement in your stomach that compels you to keep going! I could quite happily sit here for several hours yet but the sounds of family life are echoing up the stairs now so think I must stop being unsociable for today and go downstairs and join them. My characters will have to remain on their cliff hangers until tomorrow.

Have a lovely weekend everyone x

Saturday, 7 April 2012

In the footsteps of Agatha Christie!

Have just got back from a nights stay on the wonderful Burgh Island, in Devon. We went with several other members of the family, to celebrate my husband's 50th birthday and my daughter's 18th in true 1920's style. For any fans of the Art Deco style this place is a must see (although sadly not cheap!). All the rooms are furnished with genuine pieces of furniture and are named after famous people who have visited and have connections with the island's history. We stayed in the Mountbatten Room. It was funny trying to see our teenage daughters working out how to use an 'old fashioned telephone.' In the evening my husband and I got a chance to put our ballroom dance lessons into practise and twirled round the floor to applause.

This was actually our second visit to the island as my brother in law got married there a few years ago. On that occasion I was lucky enough to stay in the Beach House. The old haunt of Agatha Christie no less. More contemporary than the main hotel but the most fabulous views out to sea. You can lie in bed, or the freestanding bath, looking out at the ocean. Inspirational! I can see why Agatha Christie loved it so much there, I would love to position my laptop in front of that view, I'm sure the words would fly off my fingers! Walking along the cliffs it is very easy to imagine Hercule Poirot tottering along towards you in his dapper suit and shiny shoes, muttering about, "his little grey cells." The island was the setting for, And Then There Were None, and Evil Under the Sun.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

April Fool

Well, didn't get fooled for the first time in years today so must be getting wiser in my old age!!

Able to sneak a couple of quiet hours this afternoon to write, inbetween nipping to the local DIY store and cleaning! Have been working on my fantasy teen read, Arrosay. My main focus at the moment is characterisation. How to create the character everyone remembers long after they have finished reading. Not any easy task, but rewarding when you finish a section, sit back and read it and something inside you says, 'Yes, that's it!" Not quite there yet but hope to continue with it tomorrow, maybe my eureka moment will come!