Monday 30 April 2012

In April...

... I read:

... Received rejection number 4 for Book 1

... Started Planning Book 3

... Made Easter Bunnies

... Made Apple Crumble as part of my Saved by Cake Challenge

... Met my Great Niece, Jasmine for the first time (and she's gorgeous)

The Most Popular Posts at the end of the month are:

Rejection Number One

Marian Keyes & Mercy Close

Saved By Cake Challenge

Christmas Songs Quiz

Novelicious Undiscovered 2012

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

In January

Birthday & Chinese New Year

Idol Hands by Cynthia Hill

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Planning Book 3 - Junk Mail

Book 2 is still on hold in its virtual drawer before I start the second draft next week. I've been doing a lot of planning for Book 3 (and enjoying lots of free evenings, mostly spent watching telly).

At the weekend, a small catalogue was posted through my letterbox so I decided to have a quick flick through before shoving it into the recycling bin. While looking through, I found myself thinking Ruth (the main character in Book 3) would wear that. And that. That's perfect for Ruth!

Either I have too much time on my hands or I'm a little bit obsessed (either way, I need to get out more) because I started tearing out the clothes that Ruth would wear, ready to make a little 'mood board' for her.

So now even junk mail can provide inspiration for writing!

Monday 23 April 2012

Saved by Cake Challenge - April

I have decided to challenge myself to bake a different cake/biscuit from Marian Keyes' book, Saved By Cake, each month, between March and December. I am a beginner at baking and use the same recipes over and over again so it'll be nice to try something new. I will take photos and post them on here each month - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Apple Crumble

I've done it again; cheated. Like last month when I made cherry rock cakes instead of the usual sultana ones, I made an apple crumble instead of rhubarb.

I'm not a huge fan of rhubarb (unless it's in the form of a rhubarb and custard sweet) and nobody else in my family will touch anything as exotic as rhubarb (The Jellyfish won't eat any fruit apart from bananas, strawberries, grapes and the odd apple and The Partner, well, any fruit is a miracle).

So I opted for apple, the safest option.

Waiting to go into the oven
In the recipe it said to add ground ginger to enhance the flavour of the rhubarb and, as I wasn't using rhubarb I was unsure whether to use it or not. I already had some in the cupboard so I thought sod it and chucked it in. It wasn't bad having the ginger flavour but I don't think I'd put it in next time (The Partner disagreed but, as I'd be baking it, I overruled).

The apple crumble was really easy to make. It was a case of peeling the apples and adding sugar and ginger before tipping them into a dish, making the crumble (weighing ingredients and rubbing the butter) and shoving it on top before putting in the oven.

served with custard
I checked on my crumble a few minutes early, which was lucky as the top was starting to go a bit too golden but it didn't matter. The crumble was lovely and everyone enjoyed it (even if The Jellyfish only ate the actual crumble as she didn't like the apple - so bloody fussy).

The apple crumble gets the thumbs up from me and I'm sure the fans of rhubarb won't be disappointed with the original recipe. I will be making it again. Yum.

For more Saved by Cake Challenges click here

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Planning Book 3 - 1st Person vs 3rd Person

I'm still planning Book 3. I probably would have a lot more done by now if it wasn't for the pesky Draw Something and her seductive powers of distraction (I'm mamajhearts on there if anyone wants to play, by the way).

Before I started plotting the book and it was just an idea in my head, I thought I would write it in the first person. I wrote Book 1 in first person and Book 2 in third. But as I've been plotting the book and getting a sense of the whole thing, I think it will be better in the third so that I can really get into the heads of a couple of the other characters rather than seeing everything from Ruth's point of view.

I used to prefer writing in the first person as it seemed easier but I've enjoyed getting to know everyone on an equal level while writing Book 2. I don't think it would have worked if I'd wrote it in the first person.

Friday 13 April 2012

Women & Children First

As the weekend marks 100 years since the Titanic sank, I am reading Women and Children First by Gill Paul, which is available on Kindle for 99p.

From Amazon:

The Titanic was the most magnificent ship ever built, offering every possible luxury to her passengers – yet on the night on the 14th of April, 1912, she sank in the North Atlantic, leaving the lucky ones floating in wooden rowing boats, and the rest struggling for their lives in the icy water.

This novel follows the fortunes of Reg, a handsome young steward who works in the first-class dining room; Annie, a gifted Irishwoman who is travelling to America with her four children; Juliette, a titled English lady who is pregnant and unmarried; an American millionaire and his wife who are trapped in a poisoned marriage; and a mystery passenger who never shows her face in public.

The sinking of the Titanic not only steals lives but blows apart the futures of those who survive. Coming to terms with the shocking events, survivors form new attachments, make decisions with tragic consequences, and watch all their old certainties crumble. How can life ever be the same again when you have heard 1,500 people dying in the water around you?

What are you reading at the moment?

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Book 3 - How Do You Plan Yours?

I used to start writing a book with the briefest of outlines. I had an A4 ring bound notebook that contained my notes and ideas for stories and and anything from a few lines to a few pages was the extent of my planning and off I went.

I didn't really do planning beyond the basic concept because the more I plotted, the less interested I became in the story. It was like I'd told the story to myself so writing it was no longer fun.

This obviously didn't work. I did finish some 'books' but they were never any good and the thought of working on the mess I'd end up with was too daunting and I'd either give up or send a load of crap out to agents (to be kind to myself, I was young and didn't realise then it was a load of crap).

When I wrote Book 1, I did a bit of planning - far more than I was ever used to but it really wasn't much - a few notes jotted down on post-its for the next part I was writing. With Book 2 I did more. I planned each scene, from the beginning of the book to the end and, surprising myself, it was still fun to write and knowing what each scene I was supposed to be writing was a great help. I had none of those moments where you sit in front of the computer thinking what now? There was a bit of staring at the screen (hey, I'm not perfect, you know) but it was different. I knew what the scene was supposed to entail, I just had to work out how best to write it.

So, with Book 3, I'm back with the planning. Even more so this time. At the moment I am detailing each plot line so that I can weave them together into scenes later on. I'm hoping that by putting in some work now, it'll be easier when it comes to writing it. That's the plan. Let's see if it works.

How do you plan your books? Or do you not plan at all? What works best for you?

Monday 9 April 2012

My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson

Kamryn and Adele were best friends and only one thing could tear them apart: a man. That man was Nate, Kamryn's fiance, the only man Kamryn had opened herself up to. But eight weeks before the wedding, Kamryn is devastated to learn Nate and Adele had a one-night stand. A one night stand that resulted in Adele's daughter, Tegan.

Kamryn called off the wedding and severed all contact with both Nate and Adele, moving from London to Leeds to start again. Two years later she receives a note from Adele. She is dying and wants Kamryn to adopt the child fathered by her ex fiance.

My Best Friend's Girl is a moving story of how both Kamryn and Tegan cope with the loss of Adele and adapt to becoming a family unit.

This is the third Dorothy Koomson book I have read after The Woman He Loved Before and The Ice Cream Girls, both of which I loved. My Best Friend's Girl felt different to these books, which shared a similiar theme but it was just as beautifully written. It was heartbreaking at times and, as a mum, I found some parts hard going but it didn't hinder the story at all. In fact, to me it proved how well written it was.

I did feel a little annoyed with Kamryn at times and wanted to give her a good shake and tell her which man I thought she should be with but she was still grieving, both for her friend and the breakdown of her relationship with Nate, which she had pushed aside for years so it was understandable that she was so confused.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Happy Easter!

I hope you are having a lovely Easter with lots and lots of chocolate!

We've had fun in the run up to Easter by making bunnies out of foam and making an unconventional Easter bonnet out of them.

The Jellyfish entered it into the competition at school and Brownies but it didn't win. Fix, I hear you say? I agree. I'm not a sore loser at all...

The Jellyfish had a sleepover at Brownies last weekend and they did lots of Easter crafts and baking. While she was there and Boo was out with The Partner, I decided to make some bunny treats for the girls.

The girls haven't seen them yet so I hope they like them!

Later on the girls will do their egg hunt (either indoors or out, depending on the weather) and we'll give them their pile of Easter eggs and their mini egg bunnies. I'm going to attempt to make an apple crumble for my Saved by Cake Challenge so fingers crossed it works out.

What are your plans for Easter?
Whatever your do, I hope you have a great day :-)

Thursday 5 April 2012

Planning Book 3 - Naming Characters

My finger has been pulled out and, after enjoying a week (*cough* little bit more than *cough*) 'off' from writing, I have started planning my next book. I won't actually start writing it until Book 2 is finished and being submitted to agents but I may as well plan this one while Book 2 is in its virtual drawer for a month.

I love this stage of writing; inventing new people and lives, discovering what is going to happen to them. In Book 3 I have a main character, Ruth, and her two love interests, Billy and Jared, plus a couple of minor characters. Their names came to me really easily but sometimes it can be difficult to find names for characters.

Sometimes I have a character name and build the person up from that but other times I only have a character and have to find a name that 'fits'. There are loads of different ways I 'find' names, from popular names of the year a character was born (looked up online), name generators (also online), television credits, songs that happen to be on the radio while I'm trying to think of a name or newspapers/magazines.

But the simplest way is using a Baby Name book, like the one at the top of this blog post. I've had that book since I was about 12/13. I bought it for the bargain price of 50p when a bookshop was closing down in town and I've used it for my stories ever since. Funny that it never helped when I had my first daughter. We looked through that book (and another I got free with a baby magazine) and couldn't find a name we both liked. Her name isn't even in the book so my poor Jellyfish was called Baby Girl for a couple of days.

Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent. Do you find it easy to name your characters? Or do you have ways of hunting them down?

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group

The idea of the Insecure Writers Support Group is for writers to blog on the first Wednesday of the month about their fears, struggles and triumphs they have experienced with their writing.

Last month I wrote a bit of a whiny what if it never happens blah blah blah post so this month I thought I would be a little more positive.

Last month I finished the first draft of Book 2, which is quite an achievement for me as I have canned a lot of stories way before this stage either because I simply didn't have it in me yet to finish a whole novel or because I let self-doubt win and I abandoned projects.

So not only have I finished one book and started submitting it (another achievement because putting it 'out there' is bloody scary), I'm on my way to finishing another book.

And not only that, I've started planning Book 3 while having some time away from my completed first draft and feeling pretty good about it, even if it is only in the very early stages.

Monday 2 April 2012

Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor

Lucy Brown couldn't be happier. She is about to marry Dan, a man she loves and who has been there for her when she really needed him but on the eve of their wedding Lucy has an accident and dies.

After the accident, Lucy wakes up in Limbo and is offered two choices: leave behind the man she loves and go up to heaven or go back to Earth as a ghost. Lucy chooses to return to Earth but before she can go back to Dan, she must complete a task.

Lucy's task is to find love for Archibald, a computer loving geek. While carrying out the task she shares a house with two other dead people trying to complete their own tasks; Claire who seems to thrive on being a bitch and trainspotter Brian.

Lucy has just 21 days to find Archibald a soul mate so she can be reunited with Dan. Along the way she discovers her best friend, Anna is trying to steal Dan's heart so it's vital for Lucy to succeed and become a ghost so she can be with Dan forever.

I read Cally Taylor's latest book, Home for Christmas and loved it so I was keen to read her debut novel, Heaven Can Wait. It sounded like my kind of book and the supernatural slant was intriguing. I wasn't disappointed. It was classic chick lit with plenty of humour, particularly Lucy's confusion with the LAN party. I was willing her to succeed in her task and really warmed to the other characters, particularly Brian and Claire.

I didn't want to put the book down but I also didn't want it to end, which is a pretty good sign of a great book in my opinion.