Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Review of 2016

Well, what a year! I can't believe the calendar is about to flip over and 2017 is about to start. Where has the year gone and what have I been doing?

Well, I started the year with some ridiculously over-ambitious plans. In a post on Planning 2016, I seem to have believed that by now, I would have:
  1. got a second book out there (currently called 'Adapt or Die') by autumn 2016
  2. converted a half-written book to a fully written one that's ready for publication in spring 2017
  3. converted another half-written book to a first draft
  4. got a third thriller to the publishers, ready to come out in summer 2017!
Well, that didn't quite work out!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Book Finds: December 2016

We all love it when someone recommends a new author or a new book to us. Well, I try and do one post each month where I tell you about books I've found and loved. Some of them might be bestsellers, but most of them aren't. What would be brilliant, is if you all share your 'find of the month' in the comments. Deal?

This month's finds are a week earlier than usual this month. Hopefully there's something here to curl up with over the holidays.

What do I have for you this time?

Annalisa Crawford: That Sadie Thing and other stories

"That Sadie Thing and other stories is an intense and emotional journey through the relationships that define our lives: a couple breaking up on a rainy night; a woman finding comfort from eating lunch as her best friend lies in hospital; a runaway longing to go home; a teenager oppressed by her father, and many more."
I'm not always a great lover of collections of short stories - I often read a couple and then abandon the collection, however much I might enjoy the ones I've read. I absolutely adored these though! They focus (generally) on small snapshots of people's lives and are beautifully written and poignant. I was moved to tears by some of them. Give it a whirl - there will be at least one story in there that you just love.

Karen Campbell: This is Where I Am


"When recently widowed Deborah Maxwell is assigned by the Scottish Refugee Council to act as mentor to Abdi Hassan, a Somali refugee, the two are drawn into an awkward friendship. They must spend a year together, meeting once a month in different parts of Glasgow. As recently-widowed Deborah opens Abdi's eyes to her beloved city and its people, he teaches her about the importance of family - and of laying your ghosts to rest. All Abdi has brought with him is his four-year-old daughter, Rebecca, who lives in a silence no one can reach. Until, one day, she starts talking. And they discover why she had stopped..."
I think I first heard this on Radio 4's Book at Bedtime and then bought the book. I was glad I did. This is gorgeous, heart-warming, moving and funny - often all in one page. It made me think about how people view refugees and how refugees view us.

Karin Alvtegen: Shadow

"In a nondescript apartment block in Stockholm, most of the residents are elderly. Usually a death is a sad but straightforward event. But sometimes a resident will die and there are no friends or family to contact. This is when Marianne Folkesson arrives, employed by the state to close up a life with dignity and respect. Gerda Persson has lain dead in her apartment for three days before Marianne is called. When she arrives, she finds the apartment tidy and ordered. Gerda's life seems to have been quite ordinary. Until Marianne opens the freezer and finds it full of books, neatly stacked and wrapped in clingfilm, a thick layer of ice covering them. They are all by Axel Ragnerfeldt, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, with handwritten dedications to Gerda from the author. What story do these books have to tell, about Gerda, and more importantly about Ragnerfeldt, a man whose fame is without precedent in the nation's cultural life, but seldom gives interviews? Shadow is an utterly compelling novel about the lengths and depths people can be driven in order to achieve fame and acclaim, and the effect that this has on those closest to them. It is a story of dark family secrets, and the power of writing, involving murder, betrayal and the holocaust, which will keep readers gripped until its final thrilling revelations."
 This was an excellent read - I devoured the book in a day. It was a really interesting concept and the characterisation was superb.

Other book finds:
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A Positivity Journal

A what?

A positivity journal. Somewhere to keep reminders of any and all positive things relating to my writing. These might be reviews, comments people have made, and ... dare I hope ... letters of acceptance.

This idea grew from advice that some great friends gave me when I was feeling particularly low and full of self-doubt. The wonderful Bea Henderson (see Meet the Author last week) suggested that I: "Print out any good reviews and affirmations and post them around your computer."

I don't have a lot of space around my computer and I didn't want to block my view of the garden by posting things on my windowsill or on the windows (it's Scotland and winter... we get little enough light at the moment!) so instead, I am going to keep them all in a positivity journal.

My husband has bought me this one for my Christmas present:

Picture from https://www.theonlinepencompany.com/

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Meet the author: Bea Davenport

Bea Davenport
This month's author under the spotlight is Bea Davenport. I met Bea at a Crime Writers Association lunch in Edinburgh and we've kept in touch since then. I'm delighted that Bea was happy to be grilled by me!

When did you first start writing novels? And what made you start?
I’ve always scribbled since being very young, but I never had the courage to show anyone my work until I did my creative writing PhD. It was only then I realised I might be writing something worth reading. I’d always had this idea inspired by something in my journalism background and eventually I got it all down on paper and it became In Too Deep. I was really lucky to have my first novel published, after it was shortlisted in the Luke Bitmead Award.

Do you have any regrets over choosing writing as a career? If so, what are they?
I sometimes regret that I didn’t put my work out to publishers earlier.
Also, I sometimes wish I could write full-time – I have day jobs teaching journalism and creative writing and they take up a lot of time and head space. But when I am being sensible, I remember that I probably wouldn’t use all that time writing anyway. I’d probably fritter it away.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Giveaway closed

Many thanks to all of you who entered for the giveaway of a signed and dedicated copy of Frank Muir's book, Blood Torment. The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been contacted.

If I don't hear back from the winner within the week, I will draw another name.

Sorry if you didn't win this time, but there will be more competitions coming up.