Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Checking in and catching up

Ahhh I feel so much better after a holiday and a short techno-break. I've blown week old dust off my laptop. Normally it's scorching red hot through over use, but I've behaved very saintly over the past two weeks and devoted all my time to my lovely family. They say couples fall in love all over again on holiday and you can see the logic: take away the washing up/loo seat arguments and bam, the romance comes back.

Gossip update: - Feel awful after slating Jane Green's latest, Beach House - she's now following me on twitter. Must stress again that I am a massive Jane Green fan, I just prefer her earlier works. Spellbound here I come!

Adele Parks has just sent me a blank email! Hope she resends one with a message! Contacted her to say how much I was enjoying Love Lies. Adele must be the luckiest lady alive right now. Not only does she live in domestic bliss with the top job of a chick lit novelist, but she got a team of scantily clad muscle men to hand out magnum ice creams to ladies on the streets of london. Somehow this promotes Adele's new book. Not sure I get the link, but nice work!

Top holiday read: -Melissa Hill, Before I forget

Romance of a character with head injury - all is not what it seems. Melissa Hill has the knack of bluffing and double bluffing, I love the way it's impossible to second guess where the plot is going. Plenty of surprises along the way. She's top of the literary charts for a reason, and it's on offer at Asda for £3 as part of their book club

OH is working this weekend, leaving me free to visit my fave dress agency. Designer-clad lovelies of my home town bring in designer clothes to be sold in the shop on a 50:50 basis. On my budget, it's a great way of getting affordable quality clothes and accessories (My eye is on a Mulberry) and not having to worry about Topshop syndrome (bumping into a constant stream of girls wearing the same piece).

Friday, 17 July 2009


To get myself into the holiday mood, I read Jane Green's, The Beach House, set in the beautiful US island of Nantucket. The story follows three love stories (one gay, oh how modern!) and an older bohemian-esque lady who owns the house. The three love stories entwine. A bit conveniently, I thought, but it's a nice enough read if you are looking for a nice enough read. Not that many people are. The drama is short lived.

I absolutely loved one of Jane's earliest novels, Jemima J, a hillarious tale of an overweight girl who photoshops a picture of herself to send to a hottie she's met on the internet. All goes well until he suggests she visits him in California. She sheds weight to become that girl, the answer to all her problems, or so she thinks. The ending is shocking, and I'm not one to blanche at drama easily! Beach House and Jemima J are poles apart. I know it's inevitable that ones writing style changes over the years, it's just a shame because I love the raw, breezy and comical style that propelled her to the top of chick lit.

Assuming this flu shifts in the next 24 hours, I'll be holidaying in Cornwall. on my reading list: -

  • the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Schaffer

  • Stephanie Meyer's Twilight saga books - I do chick lit, I do pop fantasy, but never ever do I combine the two as vampire chick lit is wrong.

So I'll be away for the week - enjoy yourselves!

Monday, 13 July 2009

How to...

...write a better blog. I've noticed a few apology posts around the Blog World for blog neglect as of late.

Check out bubble cow's fab-uuuu-llll-ousss how to blog tips

Am I a weird writer?

I mean, weird in terms of writing style, not content??

My job is mainly office based and sometimes it feels as though I'm glued to the computer 24/7. I know I'm supposed to get away from the screen for breaks, I just don't do it. I would have to set an alarm on my phone to tell me to get up and away, and sometimes I do and it's successful, but most of the time it's just Another Thing I Have To Do.

Emails pop onto my screen like a monsoon between the hours of 9.30 and 18.30. There I am, sat there as if compulsively watching a train crash over and over. Perhaps the next email might explode in my face if I don't answer it in the next twenty seconds? hmm

I have a test-dummy style headache by the time I get home. The last thing I want to do when I get home is to pull open the laptop. But I do. And I blog, I twitter, I facebook. Addictive and entertaining, but neither of which are going to help me write my novel.

So, I pull open a beautiful notepad with a pretty and uplifting cover. Bargain or value note pads are the stuff of the devil as far as I am concerned. I'm a note pad conossieur and only Paperchase, Smith's or Waterstone's finest arty pads will do.

My technique is probably also a bit weird to some of you. I write the plot at a fast pace, getting the main points down first - like an extended synopsis. I'm addicted to the drama and I feel closer to the characters when I'm concentrating on the juicy bits first of all.

I number the parts of my 'extended synopsis'. I read and re-read, then read some more.

I add 'flesh' to the novel by matching each sub-scene to the part of my extended synopsis, kind of like writing by numbers.

This system allows me to revisit earlier parts and cut/add as I wish. It works for me because I need to be able to see the beginning, middle and end to decide which bits are just filler, and are likely to bore the reader to death.

I came up with this system through trial and error and it suits my needs. I don't think my book would get written if I had to use a laptop everynight. And day.

Obviously, I will have to type it up at some stage. I know writers like to be noticed by publishers/agents, but a handwritten novel isn't going to make the cut!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Credit Crunch Writer's retreats

Looking for a fix for flagging motivation, or semi-writer's block? It's time to step away from the computer...just for now.
Find a last minute spa or boutique hotel for peanuts on my favourite website. I also use this website for booking spur of the moment weekend breaks
A well-known website, but do check out the 'Top Secret' hotels and get a 5 star hotel room for next to nothing. The name of the hotel isn't revealed until your booking is confirmed, but you can check out the hotel facilities, user reviews and location beforehand. So fun!

Lit Fests
Hit the peak district and visit Buxton Lit Fest at the same time. Gorgeous location and a great line up of authors.

Can only do a staycation?
Try these imagination-boosting retreats: -
  • Lock the bathroom and soak in a tub filled with Sainsbury's coconut bath foam
  • A Yoga class. Try the Yoga DVD for dummies, if you're scared but curious.
  • Only have an hour? A spa pedicure. Check the internet for offers as nearly all beauty salons are promoting summer offers


You know those days where you don't feel like blogging, but want to post a gratuitous picture of your feline best friend just to let everyone know you're still alive?


Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Blogger seems to be frazzled...

...rather like the weather! Feel disconnected without having access to all your lovely blog updates :(

Will be posting on credit crunch writer's retreats later tonight, so stay tuned!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Heat wave!

Wow it's hot today!

Exciting news - I will be collaborating with a fantastic new Chick Lit website to bring you all my chick lit reviews in the near future. I'll let you know all the details once my reviews have been posted on the site.

Chicklit Sanctuary is not going anywhere! Expect plenty of creative writing tips, tried and tested by moi, news and ponderings. Think of it as a writer's comfort blanket, or family sized bar of galaxy.
I'll leave you with a little tip: - sign up for twitter if you haven't already. Follow lovely authoresses such as Sheila Flanagan (who's just had a 6 hour lunch break), India Knight (she's always twittering, it's a miracle if she ever gets another book out), Jodi Picoult, Judy Astley, Kate Harrison, etc and get insights into what life as an author can be like!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Jennifer Weiner's tips

Jennifer Weiner (most famous for writing the book behind the film In Her Shoes, staring Cameron Diaz), knows a thing or two about chick lit writing. Read her tongue in cheek piece, So you want to be a novelist?

Tried and tested top editing tip!

I've had success with an idea I came up with for editing, so I thought I'd pass it on.

Audio record yourself reading aloud your first draft and listen to it repeatedly in the car, on the way to work, or dashing around town (works better if it's just you in the car).

Seriously, this works! Hearing the story spoken aloud helps you assess plot consistency, whether the characters are likeable or realistic and also allows you to judge how your story may sound to a reader. I stumbled across this idea, through listening to the Radio 4 plays and book of the week items. Commuting is dead time to me, but it's also valuable alone time and a great opportunity to rehash ideas in my head.

Now for some techie options you might like to try: -

  • If your computer has the function, voice record yourself and burn it onto a CD that can be listened to in the car. Or put it onto MP3
  • Beg, steal or borrow (or buy from argos, circa £20-30) a dictation machine and turn it up loud!
  • Use the voice record function on your mobile and press play before setting off on your journey, or transfer it to your PC via USB and burn it onto disk.

If, like me, you have a long daily commute to a full time job and can only write in your precious spare time, it's worth a go.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

News from planet chick lit

Is it possible to OD on creative writing tips? I'd say so, today. Flexing my procrastination muscle, I've been knee deep in creative writing tips, course materials and inspirational advice and it's actually putting me off writing.

Yes crazy, I know, but I believe there is a fine line of how much prep you should do and how much time is 'enough' to spend away from your novel. Take for instance now. My confidence is down with writing, all the tips seem like threats - a gold standard that I'm nowhere near...arrgh. There are times when seeking advice is a great idea, but if you're lagging behind there's no other way than to get writing, see what you've got and then maybe seek some guidance.

If I've not written at least 500 words by my next blog post, severely tell me off!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Sterling Short Story Advice from an editor

I know there are plenty of short story writers out there - essential reading for you all can be found here

It's a masterclass in short story writing by one editor that's so good, I just had to pass it on!

Deadline looms!

AArgh nothing like a deadline to make the blood pressure soar. Hopefully this is more to do with the adrenaline rush I'm expecting when I finish the 50s piece and less to do with the competition deadline!

Funny how, what started as a piece of writing taken on just for enjoyment has now ended up giving me the jitters.

It's crunch time with the PhD, I've taken on more research staff and things are less than perfect at home. But enough with the excuses. I've been told repeatedly that getting a PhD is less to do with academic brilliance, and more to do with the ability to overcome fear and boredom and get the piece done. Similar to novel writing - numerous false starts, nails in the confidence coffin...

Karen's blog title nailed it in one - GET ON WITH IT!!!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Follow me on Twitter!

I'm now on twitter! If you twitter, come follow me - I'm Ainsina!

My list of people I'm following on twitter includes:

  • Wordy blog's very own Tamsin
  • Bonkbuster goddess turned MP Louise Bagshawe
  • Barack Obama
  • The cast of The Hills, inc. Spencer Pratt
  • Paula Abdul
  • Paris Hilton

Oh the lives of the oh-so-glamorous!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Scarlet Magazine

Thought I'd report on my latest passion, Scarlet Magazine dubbed "the magazine for women who get it" and "the UK's hottest womens mag". Definitely not for the tame spirited (something I've yet to struggle with), I'd describe it as p&rn fiction for women! In case you're not already a reader, or have secretly been desperate to take a look at a copy (you can buy online issues via the website if you don't want copies laying around the house!), let me explain.

Scarlet is packed with sex life tips ('Foreplay' and 'Features' sections), a centefold of sex fiction ('Cliterature'), as well as Style, Health& Beauty and Travel sections, that you'd find in any other women's mag but with more of an emphasis on raunch. The advice section raises a few eyebrows as well - are these people for real? Who knows!

Being one who tries most things, I'm working on a cliterature piece. They openly advertise for contributors in the mag. Just be sure to use a pen name. Any suggestions anyone?
I'm all about diversity. Only I could go from debutante curtseying to Cliterature in merely a week!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Lauren Conrad - LA Candy

The recent craze of celeb (ghost) novel writing seems far from over, especially with THe Hills star Lauren Conrad's latest offering being released on general sale from 16th June.

Lauren is beautiful. She has an enviable fashion career and shows real promise having released her own fashion range. She makes great Reality tv fodder. I really wish she'd write a blog, as I'm sure her exploits at red carpet events and fashionista job would keep millions hooked. Of course I know the reason she doesn't blog (and 500 words or so on her website every 3 months does not count); where would the money come from?

But are you just slightly curious to see how she's got on with the novel writing? Check out an excerpt here It will make your eyes pop! I'll stop now before I say anything libellous.
Never mind the writing, I'm visiting the hair salon this afternoon to get her perfect shade of caramel! And if she wouldn't mind donating the dress in the picture, that will do nicely once I've lost the required 2 stone.

Monday, 8 June 2009

New Writers Festival, Nottingham

It's lit fest mania at the moment - festivals are popping up all over the place and it can be difficult to know where to start, especially if you're a lit fest virgin. Most attendees are the wannabe published, so what better than a lit fest that's aimed at new writers?

Find out about the New Writers Festival here, it's free. You might even want to consider joining the group.

Claire Dowling - Going it Alone

You're 39 years old, TTC (trying to conceive in forum-speak) and your husband has just announced he's leaving. What do you do? Well, Millie logs onto the internet and books a sperm donor holiday in Alicante. Of course!
Throw a few stumbling blocks into the mix (finding a spanish donor to compliment her irish looks, a holiday romance) and you get a brilliantly juicy novel that's a treat to read.

Author Claire Dowling has published a whole range of chicklit commedies. She's had a colourful past, after training as an actress, she turned to scriptwriting and most recently, novel writing. She has a sense of humour that had me laughing out loud at some points.

If you see any of her novels on the shelf, be sure to give them a flick!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Coming out

Well hopefully that got your attention! No, I refer to coming out in the debutante sense. The other half and I spent all of Saturday wandering around luscious Chatsworth House, Derbys. I was in my element as two of my favourite movie-book combos (Pride and Prejudice, The Dutchess) were filmed there. The gardens are just gorgeous and wonderful to pad around. Keira Knightley's wedding dress from the Dutchess is on display in the house. That girl is skinny enough, so imagine coming face to face with her corset - it's exactly what you don't want to see after tucking into a jumbo ice cream cone. I lie - the detailing and beading on the dress are just amazing.

Chatsworth have a niche collection of books written by authors with some connection to the place, some of which you won't find in mainstream booksellers. By now I was positively hyperventitlating, having exhausted the shelves of waterstone's and desperately looking for some new reads. The otherhalf just sighed and collapsed on the lawn. I'd threatened that there would be trouble if he disturbed me whilst flipping through all the books.

My prize from the day was The Last Curtsey By Fiona McGregor. I love looking at lost customs and lifestyles and it's set in my favourite era, the 1950s. Fiona Mc Gregor, one of the last debutantes to curtsey to the Queen, takes us through the rise and the fall of the debutante era. She has her eyes firmly open, and is aware of the jokes and fun pointed at the debs, but she also brings in just the right amount of nostalgia. Looking at the photos in the book makes me wish I'd been a deb - the archetypal pushy deb mum, doing her utmost to ensure a good marriage, would have been handy in my early twenties to save making some dubious man-choices!

The Chatsworth bookshop also introduced me to the Mitford Sisters. Now, these ladies seem a whole load of fun! Reading about the well behaved debs in The Last Curtsey had me craving some scandal and rebellion - and the Mitford sisters deliver.

I've kicked off with reading The Mitford Girls by Mary S. Lovell (Paperback - 18 Jul 2002) - a factual account. The girls have been described as appaling, outrageous..and completely entertaining, which just sounds fabulous. Perhaps these ladies are the true pioneers of chicklit? Nancy turned to fiction-writing, so I'll be enjoying Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford (Paperback - 25 Nov 1999) and Don't tell Alfred.

I'll let you all know how I get on. And I hope you all have wireless, you should all be enjoying the weather before it turns tomorrow!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Platinum by Jo Rees - read the first chapter

Erm, I've been informed by Random House that you can read the first chapter of Platinum by Jo Rees here If you like your fiction racy and fancy, or want to dip into the lives of the gliteratti, then this is probably for you. Be warned, it's not for the faint hearted or prudish. Both of which I now think applies to me!

Think delving behind the scenes of a hello shoot.

My feeling is this book reads well on a sunny day today - it's a bonafide piece of beach fiction!

Plus, there's a chance to win a holiday in St Lucia on the love platinum website!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

I mentioned earlier that I was saving the end of this book for a perfect afternoon. Well, whilst all other dedicated bloggers were editing or writing, I grabbed a bag of peanut m&m's, a cool drink, donned my sunnies and headed out onto the patio with my copy of Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton.

Like an old friend, I didn't want to say goodbye and read the final page as I'd had a great time reading it. I nearly passed out with joy when Rosy Thornton emailed me asking if I'd read a copy of Crossed Wires and post a review here. I was even more delighted when I found out she was a fellow academic writing chick lit (Cambridge no less!). This is one in the eye for anyone who uses the term chick lit with a sneer, thinking it's fluffier than the fluffiest marshmallow. As an aside, it maddens me that some people think that 'girls' are drawn to chick lit and need talking down to with simple plot lines, monosyllabic prose and huge font. Rosy has a unique voice, peppered with anecdotes from academic life and deals with touching emotional concerns. She's also done two things that I previously thought were impossible: -
  1. come up with an intriguing plot line around car insurance claims
  2. spun a fictional story from her academic area
Crossed Wires is a tale of two lonely single parents from very different places, backgrounds and dare I say it, classes. Mina and Peter, despite the surface differences come together after an accident of geography and find they have common ground, emotionally. I like the subtle drama - I was constantly wondering how their paths might cross again. What I was most touched by was their ability to trust a stranger, to open up to each other when they were closed to everyone else in their lives.
Being a nosy psychologist, I loved the way Rosy's knowledge of human geography has helped her craft characters and settings. Knowing the demographics of an area is a fantastic way of thinking about the sort of lives people might lead, which makes me wish I was studying geography again! 
Rosy's style is unique because you feel as though you're learning something, without being lectured - fiction is great for expanding your perspectives and getting a glimpse into different lifestyles. Rosy has a sub genre of her own - self improving, but without the heady boring tome-style that some authors insist on dumping on us in the name of education! I'm off to amazon to seek out Rosy's other two novels because I'm so thrilled that chick lit has an academic pioneer!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Melissa Hill's writing tips

Follow this linky  and go to the "writing tips" section in Melissa Hill's website. I'll be putting a print out of her tips above my desk, with highlights!

Now go and enjoy the sunshine!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Save Salt!

For anyone that missed it, Caroline Smailes posted a plea to save Salt Publishing on her blog: - 

As many of you will know, Jen and I have been struggling to keep Salt moving since June last year when the economic downturn began to affect our press. Our three year funding ends this year: we've £4,000 due from Arts Council England in a final payment, but cannot apply through Grants for the Arts for further funding for Salt's operations. Spring sales were down nearly 80% on the previous year, and despite April's much improved trading, the past twelve months has left us with a budget deficit of over £55,000. It's proving to be a very big hole and we're having to take some drastic measures to save our business.

Here's how you can help us to save Salt and all our work with hundreds of authors around the world.


1. Please buy just one book, right now. We don't mind from where, you can buy it from us or from Amazon, (from The Book Depository), your local shop or megastore, online or offline. If you buy just one book now, you'll help to save Salt. Timing is absolutely everything here. We need cash now to stay afloat. If you love literature, help keep it alive. All it takes is just one book sale. Go to our online store and help us keep going.

UK and International

2. Share this note on your Facebook or MySpace profile. Tell your friends. If we can spread the word about our cash crisis, we can hopefully find more sales and save our literary publishing.

Remember it's just one book, that's all it takes to save us.
Please do it now.

With my best wishes to everyone
Chris Hamilton-Emery

Salt Publishing

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Partner in crime

The other half and I watched the film version of Khaled Husseni's Kite Runner on Tuesday. I was pleased to see that he enjoyed it so much he marched upstairs straight after to read a Thousand Splendid Suns, which according to our local book seller (who's in no way sexist), is a girly version of Kite Runner.
Feeling pleased the other half had been bitten by the reading bug, I tried my hardest not to interrupt him with pointless questions every two minutes as he does when I've curled up with a book...but couldn't resist anyway. The other half, like a lot of the general population, mentioned he sometimes wishes he could write a book. "Well, not actually write one" he elaborated, "but just, you know, come up with the ideas and stuff. Plot twists and things. But I couldn't do what you do - spending hours tapping away on that lap top of yours". That's right, he'd rather spend hours immobile in the presence of football games.
Attracted more than average attention from Waterstones sales assistants yesterday: 'Did I need any help?' Oh the fun of watching them get away quick enough when they saw the copy of Immodesty Blaize's saucy Tease in my hands. I spent a mouth watering 40 mins choosing a new book (mouthwatering because the waft of costa coffee and choc croissants was beckoning). Even Louise Bagshaw's latest release wasn't enough to tempt me.

After much pondering, I went for Melissa Hill's Wishful Thinking and finished it in less than 24 hours. I love the chick lit genre because it is so diverse: Melissa delivers her novels by creating suspense and drama, hence the speedy reading time. I almost feel guilty for reading her work so quickly, as she obviously poured months, if not years into this. Most importantly, I loved the book and if you love mystery and twist-in-the-tale novels, you should definitely pick up one of the Dublin authors novels. The story starts with a train crash. We then go back in time by 4 months and look into the lives of three women. It's so gripping I can't reveal any more than that!

A victim of Wishful Thinking myself, I thought that given my other half's ambition to be some kind of pseudo ideas-scriptwriter (but without actually doing any of the writing), I could use him to supply some plot lines for me. He's great at spotting twists in films, long before most people have found their seats in the cinema and opened their chocolate. Perhaps I'm guilty of wishful thinking again by thinking he might feel less left out or threatened by all this solo reading and writing I do. He seemed thrilled with the idea of reviewing my drafts and being my Chief Plot Advisor! We'll give it a go....but any suggestions of shoot outs at the nail bar  or parachuting out of helicopters to be first in the sale queue will be rejected (he's into Action)!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

See me write

After a month of patiently waiting since placing my order on Amazon, my copy of See Jane Write was gently pressed through my letter box at the unearthly time of 6.50am by UPS. I sent a curt enquiry email to the Amazon seller just the previous night. Where the hell was it, I'd been dying to read this guide to writing chick lit for ages. Perhaps UPS sensed my PMT through the email, hence the very low key arrival? And the scorch marks on the drive where the delivery man had beat a hasty retreat?

Preview See jane write here . PMT aside, I was cheered by this fab guide to writing chick lit (as recommended by Karen, after I reviewed Will write for shoes). It's not just beautiful to look at, it's beautiful inside. I particularly like the American can-do positive theme throughout this mini course. Thank god, they address some of my bug bears of writing - it's nice to know it's not just me. I've read it time and time again now, but it really does seem that most writers go through an 'it's crap' stage. Even Sophie Kinsella, which is reassuring.

I've had the book a few days and have heeded plenty of their advice already, particularly about making excuses not to write. The authors show you how to self-diagnose barriers to writing and how to dig yourself out of them.  With my excuses blitzed, I'm now setting myself realistic goals such as getting 500 words down a day. I wish I could write full time, but keeping a roof over my head and 5 holidays a year is more of a priority right now. Plus, significant people have battered me into submission to register for a PhD and I'm too much of a scaredy cat to tell them where to go.

Perhaps it will surprise some of the regular readers to know that my current writing project has only the vaguest whiffs of chicklit. It's actually a novella set in fifties midlands and centers around two families whose lives and secrets clash and twist around one another. I love the fifties - the more research I do, the more I feel as though I've been given a chance to live in the decade. Any excuse to wear 50s replica heels, cupcake skirts and to roller-up my hair! 

The 50s novella is actually for a local writing collection, hence the bags of research to ensure I've added the relevant local themes. I do have a mainstream style chick lit novel on the back burner. I might be able to multi-task with reading, but it's near impossible to write more than one piece of fiction at a time - too many characters competing for head space! 

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Good Grief

I'm practically in mourning - I'm nearing the last 50 pages of Rosy Thornton's Crossed Wires. Whilst it's fabulous enjoying a book so much that you're living and breathing the plot lines, feeling the duck and dives of their emotions, it can be devastating when you know the end is in sight! With such good reads, I have to stand back and give the book a prominent place on my dresser. I might start reading  another book to distract me from my potential loss. Crossed wires is winking at me every time I go into my bedroom and I'm not ready to finish it yet. I guess the sign of a good book is the pseudo-mourning process that it evokes.

On another note, I want Jill Mansell's life. She admitted recently her full time writing career consists of chewing wine gums, spying on rugby players during their training session and marvelling at how many other writers have blogs. Once she's exhausted these displacement activities, she gets on with the writing. I love her.

My review of Crossed Wires is on it's way - once I feel strong enough to say good bye

Friday, 15 May 2009

8 Things about me...

Yay - I've been tagged by Bookish Blonde to do my own version of 8 things! I'm using her adapted version of the questions, because I like them.

I hereby swear to be entirely truthful!

Eight things I like:
  1. Reading in bed with a butter-saturated croissant
  2. Laughing
  3. Post-work out glow
  4. Next door's cat
  5. Self help and pop psychology
  6. Diary writing
  7. Lavender
  8. Hot baths with scented oils, candles and fluffy robes waiting patiently on the heater
Eight things I did yesterday:
  1. Got ready for work in my quickest time ever - 30 mins
  2. Went to a diabetes conference, complete with fancy lunch
  3. Saw Angels & Demons, washed down with diet coke, salted pop corn and peanut M&M's
  4. Made spag bol
  5. Finished reading Tell Me Something by Adele Parks
  6. Ran 3km, cycled 3 km
  7. Enjoyed a Radio 4 program on 'Perfectionism' and thought of all the people I knew who fitted the bill!
  8. Washed the duvet covers

Eight things I wish I 
could do:
  1. Stop worrying 
  2. Give up work and write fiction full time
  3. keep everyone happy!
  4. Have infinite energy
  5. Stop shopping as a way of controlling my emotions
  6. Speak spanish
  7. Stop trying to read the future
  8. Eat whatever I like and feel fine

Eight things I 
don't like:
  1. Bitchiness
  2. Bullying
  3. Flakiness
  4. Selfishness
  5. Rudeness
  6. Stupidity
  7. Cowardice (not in the WW sense!)
  8. Ex Boyfriends
I hereby tag (apologies if you've already done it): - 

  • Karen (get on with it)
  • Emerging Writer
  • Fiction is Stranger than fact's Helen

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Marian Keyes has just finished her latest manuscript!

Hot off the press from Bijoux Girls by Penguin: -

Another juicy piece of gossip - Marian has just delivered the manuscript of her brand new book! It's called The Brightest Star In The Sky, we're all tearing at the pages trying to get chance to read it, and we've also just seen the very beautiful, very sparkly book jacket. It's not published until October, but watch this space for an exclusive advance peek, or keep up with Marian here.

Whirlwind reviews

Without even ill-health as an excuse, I've decided it's high time I post mini-reviews of my holiday reads. Hold onto your seats, this is going to be a whirl wind tour: - 

  • Fiona Neill, Secret Life of Slummy Mummy. First prize read of the holiday! Based on a newspaper column of the same name, this book had me in stitches on my sun lounger. It's a sweet tale of slummy mummy and her allies as she struggles to gain domestic order, something she's found more challenging than even her previous career as a producer on Newsnight. SM dodges one disaster after the next until it all comes crashing down on her in a fast paced finale. Perfect reading for laughter therapy after a hard day.
  • Pushed to the Limit by Katie Price. An even more curious read in the wake of her recent split with Mr Andre. They've split before! Juicy gossip enclosed - as well as hard hitting stories about Harvey's accidents, Peter's meningitis and the death of her nan. After reading this, it's hard not to have a soft spot for the working mum with ambitions higher than her heels. It appears that being a bestseller, TV presenter, merchandise range,  reality star (even in the US), platinum album seller (just!) and of course, the original glamour girl, aren't enough. She's got her eyes on films, businesses, the lot!
  • How to lose a husband and gain a life - Bernadette Strachan If you've not heard of this super talented lady, go out and get a copy of Diamonds and Daisies or Handbags and Halos, now! She's funny, in the same vein as Marian Keyes is (perhaps it's the Irish in Bernadette). I hope this is the break out novel for Bernadette, she deserves it. Now go and have  a muster around her website and see what you're missing.
  • Copper Beech by Maeve Binchy - ahhh a comforting slice of Ireland, served by the Queen of Irish Chick Lit. Gorgeous characters grow up before our eyes in this small town novel. 
So there are my 2009 recommended summer reads. So far. I'm aware that these other gems from some brilliant authors are about to, or have hit the shelves and will be getting a coveted place on my bookcase: - 
  • Adele Parks's new 9th novel out in July 09! I'm in her little black book and will post details of the new novel as soon as I get the email
  • Sophie Kinsella - Twenties girl (July 09)
  • jane Green - Girl Friday (11 Jun)
  • Fiona Neill - Friends, lovers and other Indiscretions
  • Lisa Jewell - the Truth about Melody Brown
  • Jenny Colgan - Diamonds are a girl's best friend
  • Holly Mc Queen - the fabulously fashionable life of Isabel Bookbinder
  • Freya North- Secrets
  • Lucy Diamond - Hens Reunited (Aug 09. Takes the prize for best title!)
Katie Price releases a new work of fiction, Sapphire in July. The book blurb sounds promising and I've previously enjoyed two of her novels, but Angel Uncovered was a flop. I dare say Katie will do some sensational PR around the book and will do a book launch dripping in glamour and tasty male models, making Sapphire a bestseller as well!

Friday, 8 May 2009

I have the flu and I'm delighted!

Picking up the thread from my last post and Suzanne's comment, I thought I'd continue to prove that 'normal' doesn't exist.
I'm thrilled I've got the flu, because it means I can lie in bed finishing off 'Tell Me Something' By Adele Parks (if you've ever fancied a bit of italian here's your chance to do it vicariously) and Niamh Green's Confessions of a Demented House Wife (Domestic Tragi-comedy, the best vintage in my opinion). I don't believe for one second that I'm the only one who gets a secret thrill when they're too ill to get out of bed....

Now open wide and say 'lazy bones'...

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Just a thought...

I've read in one of the many creative writing textbooks that I own that you should never forget that fictional characters are not real people and they don't respond as real people would. It suggests that you should think of what a normal person would do (Oh how I love the sweeping generalisation of "normal"), and then write the opposite.

This is fine, but most of the people I know don't react in a normal way. What kind of benchmark is that?! I'm going to wind up writing 90k words on commonplace behaviour if I apply this tip! I'm going to chew this over now, at the gym. Again, another place where it's hard to find "normal' people. Trotting along for hours at a time on a machine in front of unforgiving mirrors is not a normal behaviour by any stretch of the imagination.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Thinking outside of the plot No2: I don't want to know!

"I don't want to know"

I say this in relation to reading. Some authors are better than others at 'show, not tell'. The best selling novels I've enjoyed of late have been the ones that are more akin to reading tea leaves - what they're not telling me is the key to fostering intrigue. Easier said than done to create, I know! 
It's time to rake over my manuscript and see where I can be more elusive.

Friday, 1 May 2009

I'm home!

Just read my previous post and howled! The point of a weeks' holiday is to relax, yet I dragged my exhausted body back to the UK last Sunday

Enjoy the picture of the laguna and water caves, one of Lanzarote's many delights

Noteworthy things to report: -
  • I've completed the 'Evening class Creative Writing' audio CDs and work books
  • I've used the fabulous material to deepen my characters and have been experimenting with creating intrigue
  • I've ordered See Jane Write - a chick lit guide
  • I've read: -
  • Pushed to the limit by Katie Price,
  • Secret life of a Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neil
  • the Beautiful game- A Wags tale by Clare Chervin
  • How to lose a husband and gain a life - Bernadette Strachan
  • The Copper Binch by Maeve Binchy

Those were the good reads and I'll post a review on the must-reads later. I was let down by: -

  • Angel uncovered by Katie Price (character depth somewhat lacking, plus too many similarities with her autobiogs - which were fab)
  • Sadomasichism for accountants by Rosie Barnes

Friday, 17 April 2009

TGIF, Thank God It's Friday

..because I'm off to Lanzarote on Sunday! A much needed break, I'm getting so exhausted under the strain of researcher duties, PhD and chicklitting. 
My beach outfits and grooming/hair were sorted ages ago. What I'm having trouble with is selecting beach reads from my to-read list.
To date, I've selected Katie Price's Pushed to the Limit (her 3rd autobiography!!) and novel Angel Uncovered as holiday reads.
Say what you like about this lady, she sure knows how to sell books. I could read these books under the excuse of research on how to write a chick lit best seller, but I'm reading them because Angel, Crystal, Whole New World and Being Jordan were catchy reads. I've become a fan of her brutal honesty and passion for drama. I like her naughty side and I like the fact that she wears her heart (and bitchy streak) on her sleeve.
I feel much lighter, spiritually, now that my Jordan-loving confession has been aired. Now I'm free to choose the rest of my holiday reads. Oh, and I hear the UK will have temperatures of 17 and 18 degrees next week - so you'll all have sunshine too!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

One chapter to go!

I wish! That's one chapter to go until I have three solid sample chapters to proffer to agents. The synopsis and book blurb is sleek and polished. It would get my literary cravings going, but then, I'll read anything.

Having been working intensively on this project in the last few weeks, I'm feeling confident enough to bite the bullet and begin approaching agents. Once I have a draft I'm happy with, I'll be sending it off before I can talk myself out of it. As per normal for me with poetry. I have an entire folder on my computer of un-submitted poems. Come on girl,  is it too hard to post them off to even just the local paper?!

I'll also be turning in a book review to trashionista soon. It's done and dusted, I just need to find the inner courage to press send.

Discovered Cathy Kelly just last week. My partner is Irish and he has some very unsubtle cravings for home, leaving me with a craving for Irish Chick lit. I'm currently tearing though Always and Forever. It's set in a health spa - just reading about the heavenly treatments and luscious grounds puts me in a deep sense of relaxation. And whoever put  the Galaxy chocolate stickers on Cathy's books needs a stern word - I'm going to have bed sores and chocolate coating of my own by the time I reach the final page. Coincidentally, I had an email from Ragdale Hall spa, advertising 33% off spa breaks this morning. That's a sign!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Ways in which your fictional characters can let you down...

Have been thinking about the contrary beasts that are the 3 main characters in my draft novel. Technically, they are my flesh and blood. I'm fond of them, but the ways in which they've let me down (so far) include: - 

  • Not suiting the names I've "christened" them with (choosing names I like is probably not the best strategy)
  • Choosing unsuitable careers (as above)
  • Poor taste in men (again, as above)
  • Having 'off days' (read: boring!)
  • Having personality traits that render them transparent and predictable
Hmm, sounds a lot like myself!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to you all!
I know Easter isn't all about chocolate, but I feel slightly put out that I've not eaten any yet. I remember having Easter egg for breakfast as a child - what's happened to my stamina?!

Church bells are ringing out - wonderful!

Friday, 10 April 2009

An email from Adele Parks!

OMG! Almost fainted when I saw Adele's name in my inbox. And there's a new book on the way...I 'm so excited!

What a fantastic note to receive!

Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me and being so complimentary about my work. Even with eight published books under m y b elt, I can never get over the thrill of people reading m y b ooks, let alone bothering to write to compliment me on them! After months, locked away in my office, it’s easy to forget at some point the novel will actually see the light of day and be enjoyed. Hurrah. I’m very grateful to you.

You’ll be pleased to know that I’ll be a brand new  book in July too. It’s called Love Lies So a reall y b usy year for me; I can’t wait!! Love Lies is going to be a paperback too (so it fit’s easily into suitcases when you are going on hols!) Look out for more information about the new book on my website, I’ll post something very soon.

I’ve added your name to my Little Black Book so now you’ll be among the first to hear about every thing new I have hitting the shelves!

I'm so glad you find my work entertaining and I hope you always do find it worthwhile.

Ver y b est wishes,




Adele Parks

Author of:

Tell Me Something


Young Wives' Tales


Still Thinking Of You

The Other Woman's Shoes

Larger Than Life

Game Over

Playing Away

Happy Families

Excuse for procrastinating

A blood donor service parked up next to my gym yesterday. I was mightily disappointed to find out that I couldn't donate due to low iron levels! No wonder I've been so tired. The lovely nurses have given me some excellent advice on boosting my iron levels, so that I will be able to donate in 3 months.
Today's top tip is a practical one - Tea reduces iron absorption. Try avoid it just before, with, or after meals. This is exactly where I've been going wrong. I've even be known to yawn on the rowing machine, despite hitting the hay early.
I'm officially out of excuses for laziness now.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

God, I feel inspired.

You might recognise the "God I feel inspired" line from Holly McQueen's Isabel Bookbinder series.
I'm having THE ideal day off....a small lie in, buttered hot cross buns in bed, internet shopping for holiday clothes and experimenting with make up artist tips from the MAC website to update my look. 

Peace, perfect peace and the house all to myself. Settling down for an afternoon of writing now.

 Pleased to report that the Audio Creative Writing course is providing me with plenty of food for thought. I feel more confident about some of the science behind writing and it's a relief to know that I haven't been going far wrong til now. Local colleges are advertising their summer evening classes in the papers this week- usually this fills me with guilt, thinking I must attend a self-improving course such as CW, or I will grow brain flab, or worse, struck with lazyitis. Instead I can spend what would be Evening Class Night sharing some red wine, chocs and a DVD - hurrah!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Book Groups

In a half-hearted attempt to grow up, in the literary sense, I joined the book group at work a year ago. A year ago, the only non-chicklit I'd read included Narnia and the Borrowers series.

The wisened souls of my book group have introduced me to some great titles: - 
  • A thousand splendid suns by Khalid Hosseni
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  • On Chesil Beach by Ian Mc Ewin
As well as the downright weird: - 

  • The Handmaidens Tale by Margaret Atwood (eek! Crazy tale set in the future - women (if they're lucky) are selected to 'breed', or become un-women)
  • Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen (Crazy tale of Portia who falls in love with cad and holidays in Dorset, The End)
The latest selection is 'When will there be good news' by Kate Atkinson. I've heard positive things about this one and I'm about to curl up in bed with it whilst the other half watches the Damned United in action.

I'm slightly scared of my fellow book group members (think old school secretary), so I won't be thrusting the shopaholic series on them in revenge if I don't enjoy Kate's novel! 

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Miss Chicklit Sanctuary

Ok how long have I been blogging with 'male" on my profile for?! To clear things up, I'm female, although I appreciate my profile photo is a wee bit tiny! However, cannot help thinking now that a male chicklit addict would be much more interesting...but never mind

Above: Myself with Ireland's finest
Below: Myself after cocktails in Cyprus.

Tried and Tested writing tip!

I've been buried in my copy of Novel in a week this weekend (see a few posts down) and have picked up a fab tip! I'm so pleased with this nugget of information that I'm sharing it here. Well, it's perfect for those of you who're just passed the ideas  stage of your novel, but will also work if you've got the curse of writer's block.

Begin with writing the scenes that you've got a vision of. 

Writing the most salient images that you have is an easy way of getting started, or adding to the bulk of your story. Novel in a Week reminded me that you don't have to write in any particular order - you're free to write whichever bits you feel like! 

Brilliant! I've found that by writing the scenes that are most potent in my head, my writing has picked up face quite dramatically.

But then as you probably know, writing anything is a good way of getting on with it!

Friday, 3 April 2009

My double life

Dunno who's noticed, but when I'm not devouring chick-lit, I'm pretending to be a research psychologist. Being an academic suits my binge-reading streak; I read everything and when my colleagues aren't looking, I delve into the world of pop-psychology.

The academic world is (harshly) snobby about pop-psych and self help - probably because they wouldn't be caught dead reading it and therefore know zilch about it. This is a shame, as there are plenty of great ideas to latch onto in this genre and the minds influence on the body is well documented in academic research (e.g. there are strong links between depression and heart disease, stress and colds and we all know an emotionally stressed chronic over-eater)

Like anything, there's good and bad in this genre but the pick of the bunch is 'Heal Your Body' by Louise L Hay The book is a handy compact handbag size and offers advice on how you can improve your health through changing certain thoughts. I referred to my copy today; I can barely speak thanks to these painful mouth ulcers and metaphysicist Louise suggests this is due to an inability to deal with fear. So true - the research project I'm working on has run into problems and I'm finding so fearful of how the team will get through and have become a stress junkie. Louise names the emotional cause of most common ailments, such as fever (anger), and chronic illness such as cancer (resentment). There's an A-z guide to the causes of nearly every illness, as well as advice on the kind of thoughts you should adopt to overcome the illness.
From my psychology training, I know that the brain will believe anything you tell it - whether it's true or not.
Anywhoo, just thought this book tip was worth sharing (:

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The glamorous (Double) life of Isabel Bookbinder By Holly McQueen

Picked up this little gem at lunchtime and it too much inner strength to put it down and calmly return to work.
Isabel is everything a debut novellist shouldn't be...
1) She has a pristine Smythsons notebook in which she's hesistant to write in for fear of spoiling it
2) Her main reason for writing a book is so her dad will stop giving her a hard time about wasting her life
3) She's confused being an author as being a celeb, complete with champagne lifestyle and red carpet affairs.
4)...she doesn't have a title, or even an idea for a novel.

and yet the book is so much fun - and not in a smug way! Holly McQueen has penned some of my inner most fears of being an author ( such as, am I dreaming too much, or worse, is life as an author going to be the stark opposite of Isabel's fantasies i.e. a career of rejections, writer's cramp and caffeine overload, with only the postman as a colleague).

read all about real author Holly and Isabel B at this gorgeous website have fun with the outifit designer - perfect if you have a quiet moment or are in need of some procrastination!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009


I'm keeping it clean here, don't worry!
I seem to be going through a phase of reading bonkbusters. I'm currently padding through the un-putdownable Kept Woman by Louise Bagshaw and beginning to worry slightly that I'm addicted to the smut and gorgeous characters. Louise has a fantastic talent for creating characters that we secretly want to be, if only for a day, and certainly only until it all goes inevitably pear shaped for the poor heroine.  Rich Bitch characters are always fab - you join them on designer spending binges we can only dream of, they eat at the finest restaurants and date hunky but super successful men - the kind of men you couldn't have a relationship with as their heart is secured by money alone.
As good for the soul as chocolate.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Review: Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

This is the first time I've read a Jennifer Weiner book. She's the queen of US Chick lit thanks to Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, which was made into a film, staring cameron Diaz, no less.

Certain Girls is the tale of a mother from a conservative Jewish family who writes a racy bonkbuster. She makes the fatal mistake of semi-basing the novel on her own life, naming and shaming her drug taking sister and cad of an ex. Even more cringe-worthy, she writes about her utter shock at getting pregnant, how it's the end of her life as she knows it and had never planned for it....and then her 12 year old daughter reads the novel 12 years later (and so have the rest of her class at school!). Cue fireworks between mother and daughter. The soul searching and impact on the relationship is touching, realistic and gripping.

As ever, I won't give away too much as this is a fab book! Now, I'm off to blockbusters to rent a copy of In her shoes! Long reign the US Queen of Chick Lit.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

First comes writing, then hopefully comes creativity

As per the advice on my Creative Writing audio course, I'm doing my best to get into the habit of writing daily. Writing any old thing. Anything from diary entries, scribbles in notebooks and random thoughts to actual novel prose, plotting and blogging. I'm realising it's an easy habit to get into - anyone can find 5 minutes to spare and it feels fab to get some, any, words down on paper.
So that's my target - to write something for myself everyday (excluding emails, writing that I do for work etc).

I'm also bringing my 3 chapters by May target forwards. I want to finish the chapters by mid April, lock them away, enjoy my holiday and then come back afresh to put in some last minute touches!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

All partied out

Have you ever tried to read after a few too many glasses of wine? Well don't, the book will make no sense at all and you'll be wasting your time. I've forgotten about the characters characteristics, forgotten where the plot is going....pretty much like having a drunken conversation - you might as well be conversing with a cardboard cut out.

I'm in danger of writing a drunk Bridget Jones-esque post, so I'll sign off now and get some healthy water down me.
Hope you're all having a fabulous Saturday night, whatever you're doing

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Read all about it!

As we all know, the first rule of writing is to read, read, read. There is a Waterstones store two minutes walk from my office. This is Bad News.

The pretty victorian shop front, the cheerful staff, the 3 for 2's, author events and....the inviting scent of italian coffee and croissants wafting downstairs. For three out of 5 days yesterday, I ventured in.

This weeks purchases were....

Sadomasichism for accountants by Rosy Barnes - check her and her blog out here. This is Rosy's first novel and with my Other Half being an accountant, and not your usual stereotyped version, I thought it'd be worth a look for teasing material alone. BTW Other Half is not into SM, was not alluding that at all!

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner - US queen of chicklit's latest offering

Wedding Season by katie Fforde

and most fitting of all titles, An offer you can't refuse by Jill Mansell (firm favourite!)

I'd dumped the bag of purchases behind the bookcase in our living room, as an alcoholic hides their bottles around the house, so i have to keep any new books hidden from the OH ('you'll never read them all! We'll never get to see you!"). 

Must be more careful in future, it took him precisely 5 minutes to find my contrabands!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Creative Writing Evening class in my car

My CD copy of Creative writing arrived from Waterstones online yesterday, which has revolutionized my drive to work! No longer do I have to pollute my brain with saccarine sweet trashy pop - now I can get my intellectual fill and momentarily stop stressing about how little writing I've actually done, because this counts! Ok Ok I know the name of the game is to write, write, write, but in my defence, listening to a creative writing course in the car is a good use of "dead" time.
The course is delivered by an academic. It's nicely broken up into 5 minute snippets, after which you're encouraged to do the exercises in your 'work book'. My variant on this is to turn on the radio and speak my thoughts aloud (first checking that the window isn't rolled down and that there are no pedestrians at the crossing - my communte isn't so much a drive as a crawl through a never ending sea of traffic lights).
It's early days but I'm happy with it so far - I just hope the narrator won't get too techie!
This mornings task was to reflect on books you've read that stand out for you. I thought of Louise Bagshaw, queen of bonkbuster, who I entirely blame for getting me hooked on chicklit. The financial penalties and demands on my relationship from binge-reading have been immense, but i always come back for more!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A Novel in a Year

Just bought a copy of 'A novel in a year' by Louise Doughty in Oxfam. Read my library's copy a while back and it's full of useful advice and exercises to get the brain ticking.

Had a random thought - did the previous one careful owner of my copy finish their novel (in a year), or give up entirely, before donating their copy to Oxfam?

Monday, 16 March 2009

And because we all love a happy ending...

Pleased to report that my relationship malfunction has been resolved! For all you romantics out there, you'll be as pleased as punch to hear that yesterday was spent leisurely walking around a local country park, followed by a Sunday pub lunch and a candle lit dinner at a restuarant. Had such a lovely time, that were you to read about it, you'd think it was too perfect to be real! So speaks a cynic.

On another note...

My novel is gathering pace! I'm pleased with the vision I have of my three characters - at least one of them I wouldn't chose to be friends with, but I'm enjoying creating her all the same. It's the perfect way to get my wicked side out, without actually inflicting it on anyone. She's creating so much emotional carnage, but is able to escape the blame so far. One of those perfectly likeable people on the surface, but rotten to the core as soon as a desirable, but unavailable, man comes on the scene. Anyone else out there have a passion for a fictional bitch?

Saturday, 14 March 2009

All dressed up and no where to go!

I'm going to be brave and give myself a deadline - end of May for the first three chapters of my first manuscript. I'm roughly halfway there and it's achievable given that I'm working on a novella for a local writing competition. I've taken a long hard look at my daily schedule and have factored in an entire hour at the end of my working day, dedicated to writing. On top of my evening stints, this should be enough. Feel free to slap my wrists (with black nails today, feeling feisty) if I don't make it. 

How gorgeous was the weather today? sigh I love the dawn of spring. Fabulous thing about writing is that it's possible to be spring all the time, in the made up world. Sadly, This Charming man by Marian K's character Marnie, mentions that everyone says spring is their favourite season and implies it's a bit cliched. I don't care, it's lovely. A warning that summer is on it's way.

Anyway, with regards to the title - there's a slight relationship malfunction in the house! I'm lying low in  the study; my only company being my pink laptop and some choc cupcakes that my best friend has brought over - what a legend! 

So...I feel it's a good time to escape to the world of my three made up characters. See what "the girls" are up to, lie low and let real life calm down whilst I'm away. 

Friday, 13 March 2009

Bargains of the week!

Thought I'd share some purchases this week that I'm particularly pleased with...

Tessa Stimson Omnibus - The Adultery Club; The Infidelity Chain

A bargain two books for £2 (Asda, or any two for £3) from one of my new favourite authors (see post on Who is Tessa Stimson?).

"The Adultery Club

the club that no one ever intends to join...A wife,a husband, a mistress. Whose side will you be on?"

"The Infidelity Chain

Six lovers. Two affairs. One betrayal. Who's the weak link?"

You probably also haven't failed to notice that This Charming Man by Marian Keyes is out in paperback this week - get it from a supermarket or Waterstones this week for the bargain price of £3.99

My second (sort of purchase) was the half price Creative Writing CD boxset by Chris Sykes. Inspiration struck - I could put my one and a half hour daily commute to good use by taking this course in the comfort of my own car. Sadly, I wasn't the only one to have this idea, probably because it's been cut in price from £50 to £25 until 1st April at Waterstones. I'm on the waiting list - once they receive copies from the supplier, it'll be mine!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Thinking outside the plot!

This is a new blog feature of mine and will be a regular.  Thinking outside the plot are bite-sized commentary on plot lines and character types, to get us all thinking. As regulars know, I'm a reading-junkie so most of my thoughts are generated from my current reads. Thinking outside the plot is also driven by my nocturnal mind churning, where I do most of my thinking for my writing (it's one of the few times I get any peace).

Drum roll please....

Thinking outside the plot


Dancing, in modern chic literature, doesn't work. Save it for music videos. Put it in chick lit and the end product is usually cringe-worthy Dad Dancing. I'm not talking about sumptuous period debutante balls, positively dripping in glamour and romance. I'm referring to the chick lit staple - there's usually a dance scene somewhere.
Think cringe-worthy alcohol session. She/he's been dumped, there's been an affair, a change of image. Cue: dance floor.

It's my view that it's impossible to do a good dance scene in a chick lit novel. It's impossible to have the character appear young, funky and fresh, which I suspect is the aim. 

Lloyd (thinking of you, Adele Parks, p123) is the best supporting example I've come across most recently. He is described as a "surprisingly good dancer", despite being a thirty-something civil servant. My mental image of Dad Dancing, which is possible at any age by the way, was further enhanced when it goes on to explain that "Lloyd didn't actually recognise any of the tunes that were playing. He might have been 'with it' once, but he'd stayed the same and 'it' had moved on...Lloyd was a fast learner. He closely watched the younger dancers and mimicked their moves in a convincing manner". This dancing scene only propelled him, in my imagination, into one of those sad middle aged businessmen in suits that hang around outside Girls Aloud's dressing rooms (which has been a complaint of theirs in interviews!).

So, axe the dancing scenes. If you refer to a character as a good dancer, no one will take your word for it, it needs proof. Provide the proof and you risk boring the reader with blow by blow moves, or looking like a Dad dancer, as above.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Update of my (Sick) Bedtime Reading

It's good to be back, having been out of action and away from a computer for the last 2 weeks, thanks to a chest infection. Perhaps the worst piece of news is that I missed Adele Parks, presenting just a few mere metres away from my work place on 5th I've made do with reading her novel, Still Thinking of you (published 2004). So far, so slow...I'm not warming to the middle-classed Guardian reading trendies that parade as characters in this one. Having said that, I love Adele and will persevere.

I've begun a new literary love affair with Katy Regan, columnist of Marie Clare, who's just brough out One thing led to Another, a tale about 28 year old Tess who ends up knocked up by her best friend and struggles to cope not only with the demands of pregnancy, but the demands of her friends that have decided this is the perfect opportunity for her to officially get together with her best mate, Jim, after years of bed hopping. If only things were that simple...

Absolutely loved this read and will be passing it around my friends for its humour (falling on a soft toy with the voice of Prince Charles whilst in flagrante with a French hottie) and emotional intelligence.

The book is a fictionalised version of events that have actually happened to Katy, who happened to pregnant thanks to her male best friend (still just friends). She keeps a blog about how life is panning out for her with her son. I'll be adding her blog to my "follow" list asap!