Month: June 2015

Chapter 56 – Editing Process

An interesting post on the editing process and using feedback from betas from a writer’s point of view.

Northern Chapters

I’m currently in the middle of doing revision for the sequel of the Awoken Dragon and I wanted to share some of the process with you!

WondersOfTheDeep_by_Steve_Jurvetson My face when I edit. Inspired by an awesome movie about sea vampires. Picture by Steve Jurvetson

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Writing a Novel: Books for Writers #Writing Tips

hawthorne

This post came to mind when I was browsing Amazon for Rosie Amber’s Friday Five Challenge. I decided to have a look at books about writing and was amazed at how many there were. Overwhelmed, I abandoned that category and went on to ‘Horror’, but it did get me thinking about how a would-be writer, or a writer who wants to improve, would be able to wade through all those books and manage to find something that would actually help.

So I browsed my own bookshelves (they contain just slightly fewer books than Amazon!) and my Kindle, and picked out the books that have helped me write. Some I read years ago, others only recently. I’ve kept it to five – I do think that a lot of books repeat the same information. Anyway, I hope these help.

1) For new writers, old writers, published, self-published, not published, in short for any writer, I cannot recommend this strongly enough:

stephen king

Amazon.co.uk     Amazon.com

This is a fabulous book. Part memoir, part masterclass in writing, it’s entertaining, thought-provoking, eye-opening, sensible and inspirational, all at once. Of course, Stephen King could make anything entertaining. Basically, writers need to read this book.

2) If you’re serious about writing you need to read. It’s how writers learn. This wonderful book, by the rather aptly named Francine Prose, shows you how to use that reading experience to improve your writing.

prose

Amazon.co.uk    Amazon.com

Looking at words, sentences, paragraphs, narration, character, dialogue, details and gesture, Prose shows how you can learn from the masters. There’s also a list of ‘Books to be Read Immediately’ (it’s a very long list).

3) I’ve been following Cynthia Harrison’s blog for a while now and was intrigued to see that she’s written a book on writing.

cynthia

Amazon.co.uk    Amazon.com

Straightforward, engaging, encouraging and accessible, this book is full of helpful exercises and prompts to get your writing going. The new edition includes a section on e-publishing, very helpful in today’s writing world.

4) I’m often described as pedantic. Fastidious even. Fussy. Well, at least when it comes to grammar. It frustrates me that correct grammar and punctuation don’t seem to regarded as important, that a lot of people don’t have a grasp of the rules that we need to make sure our writing is understood. So obviously I love this book.

truss

Amazon.co.uk    Amazon.com

I read it first many years ago. I know there are other books like it, but I think it’s still the best one out there. Grammar does matter, the rules are needed, and Truss explains why. And she has a sense of humour about it. Unlike me.

5) So that’s the creative and technical side dealt with. But once your book is written, there is another book that you should definitely invest in.

w a

Amazon.co.uk    Amazon.com

Aimed primarily at the UK market (sorry!) this guide is full of useful articles, including information about self-publishing, as well as over 4500 media listings. Invaluable. On my Christmas list every year.

Wednesday Wing….Creating a Slide show on your blog #wwwblogs

Really useful post from Rosie Amber:

Rosie Amber

Welcome to my new feature called Wednesday Wing where I’ll be passing on

observations, tips and information to readers I’ve made a note of.

Rosie's Notebook

Today I’m passing on a tip about creating a slideshow on your WordPress blog. This can create a new dimension to a post.

It can be inserted into a post or set up with a widget on your side bar.

A slideshow as part of your post (using pictures already in your media library)

  1. When writing your post, go to the “add media” button on the top of your draft.
  2. At top left of screen click on “Create Gallery”
  3. Click on all the photo’s you wish to use in your show from your media library
  4. At the bottom right of the screen, click on “Create New Gallery” – the chosen pictures appear and can be moved in a new order, add captions if required.
  5. At the right…

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#RBRT ‘Piano from a Fourth Storey Window’ by Jenny Morton Potts @jmortonpotts

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I reviewed ‘Piano from a Fourth Storey Window’ for Rosie Amber’s book review team.

piao

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com

Set in Brighton, this lovely, beautifully written, at times funny novel tells the story of the romance between eccentric bookshop owner Lawrence Fyre and teacher and ex-Jehovah’s Witness Marin Strang.

The title of this novel is from a song lyric – ‘love is a piano dropped from a fourth storey window and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ The quirky title is spot on for a quirky read although Marin is the right place at the right time when she meets Lawrence.

Their relationship is the backbone of this story and it’s unusual because they are unusual. Their relationship is touching in its honesty, in its realistic ups and downs, its misunderstandings and its genuine warmth. I like Lawrence and Marin immensely, and the parts of the book that gave detail and insight into their pasts were, for me, the most enjoyable aspects of this novel. Lawrence’s relationship with his sister is brilliantly portrayed and is really touching to read, as is Marin’s strained relationship with her father.

There were, however, some aspects that I was less keen on. Lawrence’s imaginary audience, the ‘ladies and gentlemen’, didn’t really work for me and neither did the imaginary servant ‘Lolita’. The sections involving these characters were rather drawn out and didn’t add much to the story – it’s quite a long novel and I felt that these sections were unnecessary and could have been cut.

I also felt that some of the minor characters weren’t fleshed out enough and verged on the stereotypical.

The author also switched tenses a great deal. I wasn’t sure if this was stylistic or a mistake – if it was stylistic, then it really didn’t work for me.

That aside, this was, on the whole, an enjoyable read – and one that I’d recommend.

4 stars

#FridayFiveChallenge @rosieamber1 ‘Tenderling’ by Amy Cross

Welcome to the Friday Five Challenge

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five challenge only takes five minutes, so grab a cuppa and join in!

biscuits

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions on small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

The Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

I’ve been reading some great short stories this week courtesy of the latest copy of Mslexia, so thought I would have a browse of the short stories available on Amazon. I’m keen to step out of my comfort zone, and horror isn’t a genre I usually go for (unless it’s Stephen King) so I decided to see what gory tales were around. This cover caught my eye -its simplicity stood out and I like the stark image. The title doesn’t give much away.

Tenderling

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com

Price: 0.99 in the UK and $1.50 in the US

Book description:

When Cally Taylor and her parents moved into their new house, they assumed the previous occupants had left. 
At first, Cally is the only one who notices the strange sounds in the middle of the night, and the tell-tale hints of another presence. No matter how hard she tries to convince her parents, they simply tell her to stop being so scared. Slowly, however, the presence starts to make itself known in other ways.
After a horrific experience with her mother, Cally learns that the creature hiding in the house is a Tenderling. Unfortunately, she also learns that the previous owners of the house were killed by the Tenderling, which already seems hungry for more victims.
Tenderling is a horror story about a little girl who realizes that she’s the only one who can save her family from a terrifying fate.

Reviews

Eight in the UK – four 5 star, three 4 star and a 3 star, so not bad. Seven in the US, four 5 star, two 4 star and a 2 star. The majority of the reviews are really positive. The two star review gives no details as to why the reviewer doesn’t like the book so is no help at all.

Would I buy or pass? BUY

Analysis

To be honest, the blurb didn’t grab me. It’s a bit clumsy and that made me worry about the writing. But the reviews were good. So I decided to have a look inside. As the clock ticked to the end of the five minutes, I was still reading. And now I want to know what happens.  And at 99p for 112 pages (so a long short story) it’s worth a go.

If you want to join in the Friday Five Challenge, pop over to Rosie’s blog to find out more.

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Alison reviews Fallen On Good Times by @RewanTremethick #wwwblogs

My review of 1920s Noir/urban fantasy ‘Fallen on Good Times’ for Rosie Amber’s review team. 4 out of 5 stars for this smart, funny read.

Rosie Amber

Today’s team review comes from Alison, she blogs at alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Alison chose to read and review Fallen On Good Times by Rewan Tremethick

22373650

Fallen on Good Times by Rewan Tremethick

Fallen on Good Times successfully melds two worlds – the world of 1920s Noir with its hardboiled, smart-talking PI Laslo Kane and the urban fantasy world of ghosts, werewolves and vampires. It’s a clever idea and a clever book, full of humour, action, mystery and witty one-liners from the hero Laslo, a man whose ineptitude as a ‘normal’ PI has brought him into a world where the rules don’t necessarily apply. Add to this a case that sets him against the Mob and an ex-girlfriend he’s still in love with and Tremethick has gathered together all the elements of a fast-paced, exciting and unusual read.

The settings work really well and are as authentic as a twenties city under prohibition…

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The Black Hours by @Alison_Williams #SundayBlogShare

Love this review of ‘The Black Hours’ from writer Luccia Gray.

Rosie Amber

Today’s team review is from Luccia she blogs at http://lucciagray.wordpress.com

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Luccia chose to read and review The Black Hours by Alison Williams.

18752098

Chilling Historical Fiction

The Black Hours is not an easy novel to read because it’s based on the true story of a cruel witch-finder during the English Civil War, in the 17th century.

Alison Williams thrust good and evil upon me disturbingly, because at the beginning, evil is shown to have the upper hand. I was outraged as I was taken inside the vicious witchfinder’s sick and manipulative mind, which enabled him to enlist the help of the landowners, magistrates, other members of the clergy, as well as some spiteful townspeople. I was shocked by the plight of the hopeless good people like poor Alice, who was constantly in the throes of a dreadful situation, because she was almost alone, poor, and helpless.

I was appalled and angered…

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#FRIDAYFIVECHALLENGE @ROSIEAMBER1 ‘Love by Deception’ by K C Barnard

Welcome to the Friday Five Challenge

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five challenge only takes five minutes, so grab a cuppa and join in!

biscuits

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions on small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

The Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

This week I went for ‘Biography and True Accounts’ and clicked on ‘Women’. So many dreadful ‘celebrity’ biographies. Then I saw this:

love by deception

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com

A beautiful cover, looks very professional and definitely caught my eye. The title doesn’t give much away, although I was a little put off by ‘A harrowing true story of love and betrayal’, but the cover had me intrigued enough to investigate further.

Price: 0.99 in the UK and $1.51 in the US

Book description:

***WARNING*** Contains graphic details of sexual violence and strong language. Some readers may find Love by Deception disturbing, discretion is strongly advised!

Love by Deception shares a compelling true story of how meeting the wrong men can bring not only heartache, but real devastation in the most brutal of ways. K.C. is a successful woman in her thirties, thriving in every part of her life, yet failing miserably with matters of the heart.

We follow her turmoil as we unravel K.C.’s disastrous relationships covering a seven year period when time and time again, she becomes the unwitting, and unwilling victim to four extremely deceptive men. Whilst each man was different in his own way, they were all cruel and conniving . Therefore, she has been given the insight into the effects of verbal, mental, physical and sexual abuse.

Although she has the world at her feet, and a jet-setting career working in the prestigious world of international VIP Aviation, for a Middle Eastern Prince, her ability to find a decent man seems impossible. During the most harrowing times she highlights the importance of life-saving friendships and her determination to never give up hope. Amidst all the drama, K.C. is determined to never allow any man to break her humorous spirit, and to continue her quest to find love with an open and tender heart.

Reviews

Ninety-nine in the UK – pretty impressive for a self-published book. A whopping 177 in the US – 64% 4 and 5 star, but 14% are 1 star. The positive reviews are all very positive – many point to the honesty of the author and her bravery and the fact that she wants to share her experiences in order to warn other women about how easy it is to become embroiled in an abusive relationship. Disappointingly, many of the negative reviews criticise the author for the fact that she goes through a series of abusive relationships, and for her ‘naivety’ at getting herself into these situations. One reviewer calls her ‘nuts’.

Would I buy or pass? PASS

Analysis

I was tempted, just because the negative reviews annoyed me so much. It’s very easy to judge other people when you’ve not been in their situation. And I applaud the writer for sharing her story and for her good intentions and do think it’s really important that women who suffer abuse tell their stories if they can. But I honestly don’t think I could bear to read it – I’d find it far too upsetting. Do really love that cover though.

If you want to join in the Friday Five Challenge pop over to Rosie’s blog to find out more.

#BookReview ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed

wild 2

I had this book on my Kindle for a couple of months before the film came out, then decided I’d better read it before I watched the film (I hate to watch films before I’ve read the book). I couldn’t avoid the hype though, so had huge expectations.

I’m not entirely sure those expectations were realised. There are undoubtedly places where this is a very good read, and Strayed was incredibly brave (if a little naive) to walk the Pacific Crest Trail alone as she did. There are moments of real emotion and tension; I related so much to the way Strayed felt when her mother died – the way this was depicted was incredibly realistic and emotional for me. I could imagine her pain too, when her boots hurt her feet, when she ran out of water, when she felt threatened and vulnerable alone on the trail. And Strayed writes with an honesty that some may find difficult – she certainly has elements to her character that aren’t easy to like. At times she comes across as selfish and self-indulgent but she doesn’t shirk from that. The way she treats her ex-husband is dreadful, and many readers will find one particular scene, involving the death of a horse, incredibly upsetting and disturbing.

For me at least, there was something lacking in this book. After a while, as I’m sure the walking did for Strayed, it all became rather monotonous. The writing lacks the emotional depth and insight that I was expecting and I found myself skipping forward as Strayed hiked further along the trail. And like Strayed, I was counting the miles to the end so I could stop reading.

All in all I was left feeling slightly disappointed. Still haven’t seen the film.

three stars

Find a copy here

#FridayFiveChallenge @rosieamber1 ‘The Asylum for Fairy-Tale Creatures’ by Sebastian Gregory

Welcome to the Friday Five Challenge

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five challenge only takes five minutes, so grab a cuppa and join in!

biscuits

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

Determined to leave my comfort zone this week I went for Mythology and Folk Tales, and then clicked on fairy tales.

Another very mixed and eclectic bag – but this caught my eye:

 asylum

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com

And it’s only £1.89 for the kindle edition ($2.87 in the US).

Book description:

Once upon a nightmare…

Long ago, in a land where imagination meets the darkest nightmares, they built the asylum. Surrounded by a forest of thorns, it holds the most twisted minds in the fairy tale kingdom: a terrible collection of evil creatures and forgotten souls. Imprisoned within its walls, they are doomed to spend forever after telling their tales… and serving as a warning to others.

Now, you are invited to accompany Blood Red Riding Hood into the depths of this strange place – where you will meet its even stranger inhabitants. But be warned: walls this thick were built to withstand the darkest magic… so once you’re inside, you might just find yourself living horribly ever after… and wishing you were indeed in a land far, far away.

Reviews

Nineteen in the UK, mostly favourable. The one and two stars flag up poor writing and editing, which, considering it’s published by Carina (Harlequin’s digital imprint) is a bit worrying. Twenty-four on Amazon.com, again, mostly favourable.  One reviewer points out numerous typos and mistakes.

Would I buy or pass? PASS

Analysis

I’ve always thought that fairy tales are weird. And of course, they’re supposed to be. Hans Christian Anderson’s story of the little girl who couldn’t take off her red dancing shoes and who danced and danced until she begged the executioner to cut off her feet absolutely terrified me as a child.  When I think of the story now, I’m struck by just how gruesome and cruel it is. So this book does appeal – promising as it does a glimpse into the minds of those much-loved fairy-tale characters. The reviews concern me though – I don’t want to spend money on a book full of typos. So, getting very close to the end of my five minutes, I downloaded a sample. Even in this small sample there are typos and the writing is really awkward and overdone in places. It’s a shame, because this should be a good book, but it seems the editing process has let it down. Which just goes to show that having a publisher doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality. If I was Mr Gregory, I’d be rather cross.

If you want to join in the Friday Five Challenge pop over to Rosie’s blog to find out more.