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 http://www.adeleparks.com/meet-adele.htm 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!