Books and Reading Thursday: Tackling The List!

I have been absolutely terrible at reading lately. There are no excuses for it really, though I have been spending nearly every minute of my time working on Diving in Deep, so it’s not just ‘cause I was being lazy 😀

The thing is, I love reading! So I really need to get back to it.

I still have a goal I want to reach this year, and I am determined to do it. Also I have a backlog of review requests I need to get through, as well as a whole load of books I am really looking forward to reading.

I said in a post early this year that I was going to organise my reading list, and I did the first 5 books and that was brilliant ‘cause I actually got through them.

And then I didn’t organise the rest and that’s when my reading tapered off.

So, guess what?

I’ve set out a bit more of my list in hopes I can start reading again.

1. Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff (Book Review Request)
2. The Fifth Watcher: Worlds Apart Series – Book 1 by Melissa Barker-Simpson
3. The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding
4. Serenity: Those Left Behind
5. The Clique by Valerie Thomas (Book Review Request)
6. Seeking Solace by Callum McLaughlin
7. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
8. Grá mo Chroí: Love Stories from Irish Myth by Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty
9. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
10. Chef d’Amour by Brenda Margriet (Book Review Request)

Yes, I have organised 10 books on the list this time, and I’m a slow reader so that should keep me going for a while.

Hope everyone else is having fun with their reading! 🙂

What are you currently reading? Any good book recommendations?

Progress Report:

Status of Diving in Deep: Finishing touches!

Books read towards challenge: 4/50
Currently reading: Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff

Books and Reading… Not Thursday! :D

I’m a day late, sorry!

Still, here’s my first book review of the year! Yay, I’m finally getting somewhere on my to-do and to-read list 😀

Thyme in a Flask by Glen Quarry

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.*

Goodreads Summary: Jon Chandler is a seventeen-year-old youngster presented with a difficult quest-to find a magical flask, destroy it, and then somehow find his way back home.
As Jon reluctantly accepts his responsibility, he is accompanied by the haughty yet beautiful Dorthea, who constantly challenges him. At least his best friend, Samuel, a gentle giant-all eight feet in stature and 480 pounds of him-doesn’t get under his skin like Dorthea does.
But there’s a fine line between love and hate, and Jon and Dorthea hover on it constantly!
Samuel is left behind as the quest leads Jon and Dorthea into a parallel world, where few living people have ever gone before. How can they locate a flask that has been missing for sixteen years?
Along the way, they encounter demons and wizards who will test their strength and ability, and they find they must solve several riddles before they can return home. What they learn about themselves and about life is far more priceless than the magical flask.

From the start this book had a very old-time, classic, fairytale feel about it. I think that kind of writing, which I haven’t read in quite some time, felt almost like being sucked in as though it were a bedtime story.

The writing was engaging, and the story was filled with great settings, a variety of sub-plots, and interesting characters.

I have to admit Samuel was probably my favourite character of the lot 😀 He had a sort of down-to-earth personality which I hooked onto immediately.

But the writing throughout this and the feel of that classic fantasy just held my interest until the end.

It is one of those stories that I enjoyed but can’t really talk about for fear of giving away spoilers as there was so much packed into this book! You can be certain of plenty of fantastical creatures and memorable moments throughout though.

I will admit I found it a bit overwhelming to keep up with so much to begin with, but the further I got pulled into the book, the easier my mind just flowed with the story and I found my imagination going into overdrive there was just so much to think of.

It is a more in-depth book, one you probably would have to give a bit of time to (at least for me anyway), but the flow and writing were easy to read, which certainly helped to keep me going and wanting to find out more about the array of characters and plots within this novel.

Overall, it’s a great read with a real fairytale, class fantasy feel about it. Anyone who enjoys this genre should definitely give this book a look!


Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 37,524 (+2832 since last check-in).

Books read towards challenge: 3/50
Currently reading: Snow Hill by Mark Sanderson

May E-Book Review: Infertility, Infidelity and Insanity by Arran Bhansal

Sorry it’s late, but here it is! 😀

Infertility, Infidelity and Insanity by Arran Bhansal

Goodreads Synopsis:

“Good and bad things happen to everyone. It may not seem fair, but it’s what happens.”

Arran is 34 years of age, living in Henley-on-Thames, married, second generation Indian, father of one, washed out, and depressed. He agonizes over the choices he has made and the impact they’ve had on his life. Hating what he has become, he arranges to meet Judith; a counsellor he hopes will help him make sense of the confusion in his mind.

In his sessions with her, he describes how he met and married Becky against the wishes of his family, the disastrous marriage that followed and the IVF cycles they had to endure. He reveals how he met Lauren, and began a passionate affair.

Desire and obsession soon take over, and Arran enters a world occupied by one thought – to be with Lauren at all costs. His insanity takes its toll and threatens to destroy his life and those closest to him. Can he outrun disaster? Or was it always going to catch up with him in the end?


**I was given this book in exchange for an honest review**

Arran is a great blogger and his book was already on my to-read list when I was asked to review it, so I felt very lucky to be given the chance!

Right from the start I was drawn into this book. It was as though I was sitting there with him and he was telling me this story personally. That was a real strength of this book, it felt raw, real and personal. You were drawn in and the style of the writing meant you felt as though you were listening to someone tell you their story, rather than reading it.

The descriptions were vivid, you got an instant sense of characters and settings and that helped draw you into the story further the more you read.

It was really captivating writing.

There were a few grammatical issues, but those were easily overlooked as you were drawn into the story so much you weren’t jarred out of it by those errors.

It was definitely a journey, and by the end you were left feeling drained, but in a good way! All the emotions the book took you on meant that it was a really great read that will certainly make you feel a rollercoaster of emotions.

Another thing I liked was the dialogue. It felt very realistic, like normal people chatting and not characters.

The time jumps back and forth were easy to navigate and easy to follow, which is good as there were a few of them. It was nice to be able to visualise in my mind those different times and the characters going through all the events.

And, blimey, what an ending it had! 😀

If you pick up this book, which I would recommend, be sure to be ready to be taken on a ride of emotions!




When is enough, enough?

Photo by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

Photo by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

I was sat down doing my final read out with my mum and sister, and I was saying how I was looking forward to getting these books finished so as I can get them out and go back to writing again. I don’t want to rush them, but I really want them to be done as the amount of edits are taking so long.

Then my mum asks, ‘Are you just editing and editing so as you don’t have to put them out there?’

‘Of course not, I really want to get them out and into the world,’ I scoffed, gave a nervous laugh and then thought, hm, maybe she’s not so wrong.

Am I just editing, doing a read out, editing some more, doing more read outs, all because of my complete nervousness of putting my work out into the world? Some kind of strange procrastination?

I am excited to get my stories out there for people to read, I am incredibly proud of what I’ve produced and I think they are strong stories that I hope people will enjoy. But they’re still my babies, my babies I know that people will be looking over with a critical eye, and my babies that I know there are some people will not enjoy.

And that is a terrifying thought!

I want people to enjoy my books. I don’t need them to change people’s lives, but I do want people to put down the book and think, ‘Yeah, that was a really good read’. And the longer I put off actually getting my work out there, the more I can convince myself that people will think that 😀

I know I’ve talked about being nervous before, but the closer I get to finishing, the worse I get. These are the first books I’ve ever finished, and I put a lot of work and heart into them. It’s scary to know that once they are out there, I have no control over how people view them or what they will think.

But, it’s just another fear I need to overcome. A big one, but one that I will be better for getting over. Yeah, some people may not like them, but others may really enjoy them. How am I going to know unless I put them out there? I’ve got to take the risk to reap the reward.

As I was saying to my mum, part of the worry is that I really want writing to work out as a career for me. I have tried many different things in the past, but writing is something I love with a real passion, and I want to be able to live off of what I produce.

But how will I know until I take the first step.

A career from writing is a very long term plan, and I have got to start somewhere, right?

Saying that, editing is finally drawing to an end and I have only one book left to edit, then it’s just the formatting, blurbs and covers to get up together. The time for the release is really starting to draw near!

Were you nervous about publishing your works? Did you worry what people would think of them? How did you get over those nerves? Any advice?

Progress Report

Publishing status:
> Stolen- Formatting. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, formatting, marketing).
> The Queen’s Jester- Formatting. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, formatting, marketing).
> Third Manuscript- Final edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, formatting, marketing).

May E-Book Review: Book read. Review written.

Info about the Blog and Schedule

I thought I would do a quick post today about my posting schedule and generally let people know when I’m around 😀 I will also add it to my About page and Contact and Connect page.

Posting Schedule:

Tuesday (Romance Weekly)

I do my end of month, self published eBook reviews at the end of every month, but apart from that and my Romance Weekly post, I have no set posts that I do every week. Just whatever I am feeling, though still writing or reading related 😀

If you want to get hold of me through email or facebook or twitter, etc, I am around during the week, but I take the weekends off.

I don’t even turn my computer on during the weekends, so if you email me or contact me and I haven’t gotten back on a weekend, then I will most likely do so on the Monday 😀

If I take any other time off, I will be sure to let you all know (like I did at Easter), just so as no one worries that I might have disappeared!

I comment on other’s blogs during the week, but again not on a weekend.

I will do honest book reviews if asked, just drop me a line 🙂 I have end of month reviews planned for next couple of months, but still post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and wherever else you would like. But again, just so as everyone knows, I will only post honest reviews, plus they’re not as great as some others, as I am still learning how to write reviews properly!

If you have any queries, let me know! Back to normal posts Friday, just thought it was probably time I let people know how the blog works 🙂

Progress Report

Publishing status:
> Stolen- Formatting. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, marketing).
> The Queen’s Jester- Final edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, formatting, marketing).
> Third Manuscript- Final edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, formatting, marketing).

May E-Book Review: Read. Review written and ready.

How was it for you?

I found a link on Pinterest today that seemed quite relevant to me at the moment.

It’s called Ten Questions to Ask a Friend Who Just Read Your Novel, and it’s a great set of questions to ask more casual readers, rather than those who maybe you are asking to proof your work for errors and things.

I really love the idea of using friends and family as the first line of readers before your book goes out for publishing. I know that is a big no-no in the writing business, but I think writers should use every resource they can get. Luckily, my family and best friend know how much I want to succeed in my career so they are very honest with me.

They don’t worry about hurting my fragile writer feelings, because they know in the end it will be worth it if it makes my books better! 😀

Whilst I’ve been doing my final read outs of my books, I’ve been trying to think up questions that I can ask at the end. When I print off my manuscripts to give to my readers, I always include a front sheet stating things I want them to look out for, and looking back on them I realise I ask them to look on a lot of editing and technical stuff. I make them look at it critically, which is exactly what I want and need, but I also need them to read my book as a reader. I need to know if they enjoyed the story and characters itself.

Examples of my lovely front sheets :)

Examples of my lovely front sheets 🙂

But when I went looking for suggestions on questions to ask readers, a lot of them were focused on the technical side of things, such as: Were there many typos? How was my grammar? Etc. Which is important I know, and those are the things I always ask, but the questions in the article I found were different; rather than technical questions, they were more focused on story and character, and that is after all the most important part, right?

After having all my edits back on the technical side and working for so long on editing grammar and punctuation it was nice to be reminded to focus on story. And although my technical ability needs to be great (which is important to me), I also need to remember to look at my story as a reader and not just a writer. When I read a book, especially one I’m really enjoying, things like adverbs and how many commas a sentence has doesn’t matter very much. What matters is the story and the characters.

The technical side of my writing can be as brilliant as it wants, great editing and formatting, but unless the characters are relatable and real, and the story is fun and read-able, then all that lovely editing will count for little 😀 So, I’m going to make even more use of my readers, and ask them these new sets of questions and anymore I can think of (if you guys have suggestions, I would be very grateful!).

Are there any questions you always ask your readers? Do you wrangle your family and friends into reading your books before publishing? 😀

Also, I have finally got a Tumblr account for any of those who want to follow and connect 🙂 – awriterslifeformeblog. It will be a writing focused blog, with updates on my books and writing, as well as inspiration and tips.

Progress Report

Publishing status:
> StolenFinal edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).
> The Queen’s JesterFinal edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).
> Third ManuscriptEditing, 2/3 copies back from readers. (Still to do: Final edits, cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).

April E-Book Review: Book read. Review ready.

My plans! My beautiful plans…

How can it be so close to the end of April? When did that happen? 😀

As April is quickly dwindling away I realise I am probably not going to get my books published before the end of the month, but that’s ok. You got to go with the flow with writing, right? And I would rather wait until May and publish great, well-edited books rather than shove them out before they’re completely ready.

Even though they’re novellas, I want these books to be remembered for the quality of both writing and editing.

So, I’m going with the flow. (Hyperventilating slightly that I’m off schedule though, I really like being on schedule! :D).

Anyway, next week is my week of final read-outs. I will sit down with others and read through all 3 books aloud for a final-final edit. I have read and edited these books so many times I could probably do it by heart now!

So, today and the rest of the week I will be going back to editing Stolen and The Queen’s Jester thoroughly, yet again. I put them away for a good while so as I could come back to them with fresh eyes and wow!

It’s really weird picking up a book I wrote a while back and re-reading it now 😀 It’s fun, just odd.

I’ve learnt SO much since writing Stolen, from reading all of your blogs and tips, and looking into articles on making my writing better. It’s nice to come back to the first book I wrote and go over it again now with what I’ve learnt. I think it’s going to make a big difference, and that was part of the reason for publishing these 3 books at once at a later date, so as they are all released to a high standard and not rushed.

It feels like I wrote these two books so long ago, and it’s nice to return to them now and read over what I’ve written and achieved. I have a renewed excitement for getting my stories and characters out into the world and hoping that readers love them as much as I do 🙂

It’s also great to be able to take all my new knowledge on editing, writing, formatting and all the great tips I’ve gained and apply them to these books. They are really whipping up into shape now!

Also, as I have now almost finished doing everything on my third manuscript, I will be changing my progress report to update on my publishing status. I don’t know if you guys enjoy the progress report I do at the bottom of posts, I hope you do 😀 But it’s a great way for me to keep up with where I am and note down a record of it to look back on 🙂

Have you ever read back over older work and been excited about it? Do you enjoy re-reading books you’ve written? How is your progress for this month?

Progress Report

Publishing status:
> Stolen- Final edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).
> The Queen’s Jester- Final edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).
> Third Manuscript- Editing, 2/3 copies back from readers. (Still to do: Final edits, cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).

April E-Book Review: Book read. Review ready.

The Attack of the Blurb!

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter! 🙂

Thank you for sharing your links and recommendations in my last post, definitely a great list of new books and authors to take a look at!

So, over the Easter break I thought a lot about writing (which I wasn’t supposed to be doing 😀 ), and thinking about what I need to do in order to prepare for self-publishing my books. One of the things I realised I could go on and get ready were the blurbs for my books.

Easier said than done! 😀

Looking around and doing some research on what others have written for their books I realised there are lots of different approaches, as there are with all things writing related. Some people recommend not using questions in the blurb as it can make it sound as though the writer might not know the answer themselves, for example:

Kate and Jack have a difficult journey ahead. What will they face? Will they take on these dangers together- or fall apart?

Not great, but you get the idea 😀

Others say you should use questions, as it gets the reader intrigued.

In general though, a blurb has to be a short, snappy introduction to your book that hooks the reader’s interest. I think of it as the cover should entice the reader to look at the book (I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, but everyone does!), and the blurb should be the thing that makes them want to read it.

Some of the best advice I found was to write a summary of your story, including everything: characters, plot and even the ending. Then pick out all the most interesting and important bits, condense it and fit it into a blurb, like they do for movie trailers.

Again, easier said than done.

Another tip I found was to think about the layout of the blurb, a chunk of text might not be as appealing as lines that are split and easy to read (much like the advice given for writing a blog post).

But as I’ve been trying to come up with a great blurb, I realised I need to think of it not as a writer but as a reader. What would get me interested in a book?

I need to know certain things if I am going to consider buying a book:

– Genre and tone
– An idea of the plot- What is going to be going on throughout the story?
– Main characters

If I pick up a book and the tone of the blurb makes it sound like a fantasy, but it turns out to be contemporary I’m going to be disappointed, even if it’s a great book. That’s not a good way to build up a good relationship with a reader.

Now I’m trying to go back over all the books I have bought and see what it was about those blurbs that got me interested in them.

I recommend checking out this article-How to Write an Effective Blurb. I found it had some great advice, and I will definitely be following some of the points she has talked about.

So, in summary, a blurb needs to be short, set the tone of the book, give an idea of the plot and characters, all whilst engaging the reader’s interest enough to purchase and read the book. Wow, not too much to ask then!

What is it in a blurb that makes you buy a book? How do you go about writing a blurb for your own work? Do you have any advice or tips?

Progress Report

Status of Third Manuscript: 2 out of 3 copies back from readers.

April E-Book Review: Book read. Review ready.

Quiet, please…

'Quiet' by elycefeliz on Flickr

‘Quiet’ by elycefeliz on Flickr

On Tuesday when I posted my Romance Weekly post, I had to ask my readers not to read that post at all.

Why? I hear you ask. Well, I shall tell you 😀

I hold back any details I possibly can about my stories and books from my readers and people in general whilst writing. I do this because I find it helps motivate me to keep going, because I have that constant excitement about what they will think of the book, and can’t wait to talk to them about it when it’s done.

It keeps me writing.

By the time they have read the book, I’m about ready to burst with the need to discuss it! But, for me, it’s the best decision. I think if I talked about the book whilst writing, I might lose interest in actually getting it down onto paper because I’d already talked it into the ground (which I can do, trust me, I can chat for hours!).

Also, I find that if I give my readers no knowledge at all about the book, then the editing and comments are better for it. If I told them what the book was about, or details on it, then they might understand things in the book due to prior knowledge, where as those scenes might appear complicated to another reader who doesn’t have that prior knowledge.

Though I do have to admit, I talk to my dog about the story and use her as a platform for talking problems out. She’s a good listener, sometimes, when she’s in the mood!

So, if you ever wondered why I am so tight-lipped on the subject of my books whilst writing them, that’s why 😀

What keeps you motivated to write your story until the very end? Do you like to discuss your books whilst writing them?

Progress Report

Status of Third Manuscript: With my readers. 1 out of 3 copies back.

April E-Book Review: Book read. Review ready.

Once More with Feeling

When I read books, in any genre, I do like it when the writing feels in tune with the story.

I’ve read quite a few Regency romances and I like when they feel almost like they could have been written in Regency times. Not just the dialogue, but the whole feel of the writing in general.

Or fantasy books, the writing flows as though the story could have been written in a different world.

Am I making any sense? 🙂

I like this ‘feel of the story’ when I read, so I try to do it when I write. My first story, Stolen, is set in a modern time so I write pretty much without any difference. My second novella, The Queen’s Jester, is a whole different story. It is set in a fantasy, medieval-based kingdom, so I tried to tailor my writing to suit that. I wanted the writing to feel rich and sumptuous to suit the setting of castles, gowns and crowns.

To achieve that feel I used more descriptions, and I used words that had deep, more elegant flow. I didn’t overpower the book with fancy stuff, but I wanted that feel in there. Along with the fact I used things like, ‘cannot’ instead of ‘can’t’ and ‘will not’ instead of ‘won’t’ etc. I didn’t do this to inflate word count, I did it on purpose, so as the story felt it could have been written in times where they just didn’t use language in that way.

Now, compare that to my the book I am currently working on, and it’s a big shift again. It’s set in a time period where the rich lived well, and the poor did not and unlike my main character in The Queen’s Jester, my lead in this book isn’t one of the privileged. So, the tone of this book is harsher to give the feel of the character’s struggles and what they are going through. I used less rich description, harder words, and also my sentence structure changed to give the feel of an old-timey kind of reading.

I don’t want to overpower the story and distract from the writing, but it’s definitely there in my books.

I probably overthink these things too much 😀 It most likely has no affect on the reader at all, as long as the story is good and the characters are compelling. But to me it matters, so I put it in my writing so at least I know it’s there, and that’s what I wanted as a writer.

Is there anything you do as a writer like this? Do you notice when books are written in different styles for different genres? Am I just overthinking it all? 😀

Progress Report

Status of Third Manuscript: Sent to my readers!

April E-Book Review: Book chosen.