Wednesday 29 June 2011

Reading by Example

I read regularly. I read books I can hold in my hands and fairly recently, I've started reading ebooks. My kids see me reading and they also see me writing. My love of books and the written word is there in plain sight.

Now it's too late to have much influence on the teenager. I can't encourage her into much at the moment, but it would appear, by the simple act of doing these things in front of him, little man is picking it up.

He's fetching books home from the school library and not just fetching them home, but reading them. I found the teenagers old set of Mr Men books a couple of weeks ago and moved them into little mans room. He's now reading a minimum of two a night. He loves them.

The phrase, lead by example seems to alive and well in our house and I'm so pleased.

Then again, when I asked the teenager if my book was published would she read it, she replied "maybe one day."

Monday 27 June 2011

Crushing Crisis of Confidence

I'm nearing the end of my first draft. It's so close I can taste it. It's likely I will complete it by the end of this week.

You would think I would be excited by this, and don't get me wrong, I am - but - I can see there is a lot of work to do when I start on the second draft and its scaring me.

There needs to be further character development done along with character arcs (I read that phrase somewhere. Do I sound knowledgable?) where my characters need to go on their own personal journey with a beginning and conclusion. I need to figure out how much history to put in about how the victim got to where she was and how to deal with one of the secondary characters who has her own issues. I then need to build up the characters of the other secondary and supporting characters and make them real. On top of all the character (have i said that word enough yet) work I have to decide if there is enough action or if the story is too procedural and I have to fix the plot holes I already know about.

These are issues I know without even having read through the work yet. It's starting to strike a massive fear in me that this is too huge an undertaking and I'm not fit for the role.

What in earth made me think I can do this? Really. I so want to create a good story but the enormity of what I've undertaken is currently quite daunting and is freezing me up a bit.

Have you ever been overcome with a fear you couldn't achieve something and how did you overcome it?

Saturday 25 June 2011

Little Man Heart Update

I thought I'd post a quick update on how little man's hospital appointment went on Wednesday when he went for an echocardiogram.

Firstly, everything was fine. His heart is fine. The issue is, with him being stretchy - with the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, it's possible heart valves can be a little stretchy so not work as well. He doesn't have this issue, though they did say it is likely they will check him again at some point in the future.

Secondly, little man was really good about the whole thing. He loved seeing his heart on the screen and the blood flowing through it in blue and red and he loved hearing it beat. He listened intently as he was told that the animal with the longest pointiest heart is the giraffe with a three foot long heart.

Below is a picture of little mans actual heart.

Friday 24 June 2011

Why I'm no Longer Writing Short Stories

In my blog bio and my twitter bio for that matter, I have the information that I write short stories.

I have had a couple of short stories published and have been listed in the Brighton Cow short story competition. I was thrilled with this. What writer wouldn't be? To do a piece of work that is loved and have someone validate it in such a way. I know many writers who have taken the love of the short story and done really well with it. They have multiple pieces published and been listed or won writing competitions. It really is a great feeling.

I however, have stopped writing short stories for now. My dream from childhood has been to write a novel. As a full time worker in a day job with two children I just don't have the time to work on my novel and write short stories as well. I had to make a decision. I have taken the decision that I will focus on my novel.

I'm not snubbing the short story or it's writers. I love short stories. In fact I really love flash fiction. Pushing the ability to tell a story in so few words. I love a good short story. You get a quick fix with the ending so close, but I'm now in for the long haul and my nose is to the grindstone of the novel length story.

I have a dream to write and have published, a series of crime novels with a female protagonist. What I'm working on at the moment is my first step towards that dream. I intend to work hard at it which is why the time I have for writing, has to be given solely to the novel.

Maybe I should change my biography. Not completely. I'm proud of my short story work, but I think I just need to alter it a little to show my main focus as aspiring crime writer novelist.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Why I Love Chick Lit

It's very obvious from my blog design alone, without the need to read my profile information, that I write crime. No it's not wine running down my header, it's the delightful stuff crime novels are usually made about and that's blood.

I love crime thrillers. I love the darkness of them - though I haven't opted for the use of a dark theme for my blog as many crime blogs do - I love the thrill and the chase, the speed and the unknown. I love the good guys in a crime thriller, those good guys who by default of dealing with the darker side of life, usually have their flaws. And I love a bad guy who gives it their all. I think you get my drift now on why I read and write crime thrillers.

Now here's my admission, if you didn't by chance read the title of this post. I love reading chick-lit. It's a very recent guilty pleasure I've come across.

It really has been a recent development in my reading world. Two things happened at the same time which took me from my thriller to-read list to, to this other previously unknown place of chick lit.

One - I was clearing out my teenagers wardrobe when I came across a Meg Cabot book. Size 14 is not fat either. Well I absolutely loved the title. I'm not giving you any guesses as to why.

Two - being an active twitter user and a new starter writer, I have connected  with or followed (read stalked) some authors who write in this genre so I have read their books.

When I read them I actually found myself laughing out loud and then thinking I was glad I didn't travel on public transport or I would look rather odd.

So, the thing I love about chick-lit is the very real feel good factor about them. I love how I'm made to actually laugh out loud or even cry with real emotion and I love how devastatingly easy the words just seem to flow from the thoughts and minds of the people within the book yet I know how not true this is. It's not easy to write a novel. Yet the words just flow giving a realistic impression of the jumbled thought processes that go on in our heads at times. That's the real thing I love about chick-lit. The authors who make it sound so easy in my head when I know it very probably took a lot of blood (not that I'm obsessive about that) sweat and tears to make it that way.

I now have as many chick-lit books in my waiting to be read pile as I do crime thrillers.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Monday 20 June 2011

Little Mans Echocardiogram

Following on from our Ehlers Danlos Syndrome diagnosis last month, little man and I have had various referrals to multiple hospitals for tests and support. The first of these is Wednesday when little man goes for an echocardiogram.

At first the prospect of this upset him. He said he would close his eyes as he didn't want to see inside his body. After explaining how cool it would be and showing him an old ultrasound photo of himself he seemed happier with the idea. (he's a little scientist in the making).

He's ok. Did I say I was ok? Nope. Not very ok. It's my little man and they're looking at his heart. I'm his mum though, it's my job to worry. If I don't worry I'm not doing my job properly, right?

I know it's just precautionary. They do this for everyone with this diagnosis. The odds are good that he won't have a problem, but then I wonder what the odds were we'd have this crappy genetic thingy anyway.

Once it's done I will be fine. There's just one problem though. I don't know when we get the results or who we get them from. The referring consultant was from the diagnostic clinic and they don't do follow ups. I hate waiting as well. I just want to know.

Once this is out the way I will wind back the neurotic mother routine.

Saturday 18 June 2011

New Haircut and Photograph

Today's blog post is a short one. My head is pounding and I have arranged to meet a friend that I haven't seen for a while. The two things don't go well together but I'm not cancelling on her.

Anyway - short blog post - I had a change in style last weekend. I dyed my hair and had a fringe put in. I thought I'd share the results. I'm really happy with them. I can't believe it took me so long to do.

Here's the new look me.

Friday 17 June 2011

Google Blog +1

I've recently noticed a new feature that has appeared at the bottom of blog posts and that is a new colourful button with the phrase +1 at the side of it. It confused me at first and I didn't dare click on it to see what it would do for fear of making my blog implode or something.

I wasn't the only one who had been wondering about this new colourful addition to the blog and as someone posed the question on a writing group I use on Facebook. The question was then very kindly answered and the mystery has been solved. So for anyone still wondering, you can find a full explanation here on the google blog, but basically it's like a Facebook "like" button and will bring posts up the google ladder in search terms.

I hope this helps *thinks I may have confused more than helped*

Thursday 16 June 2011

Writing is.....

This blog meme has been handed to me by the lovely Patricia from Journey Through the Pages. It's simply, Writing is.....

I'm not sure where to start with this. I've never really considered where I stand with writing or what it means to me. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love doing it. I'm adoring watching my novel progress and I can't imagine walking away from it, or any of the future ones that are already invading my head space.

My head is constantly filled with thoughts and ideas about where to take my characters next or what their personalities are like. But saying that, I'm not one of those writers who say they would die if they couldn't write.

I suppose Its that I haven't thought that much about not writing, so I don't come out with such dramatic sentences. Writing is something I do and something I love doing. I will continue to do it. Even if this book doesn't make it, I will write the next one. I don't feel compelled to write them, it's just there. I have laptop, will write. Simples.

I now have to pass this Meme on to three fellow bloggers. They are;

Talli Roland 
Lindsay at Tiptoe Kisses and
Katie at Reading, Writing and Life

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Review - Girl 4 by Will Carver

Product description

Detective Inspector January David has always put his professional before his private life, but the two worlds are about to clash horrifically as he visits his latest crime scene. He is confronted by a lifeless figure suspended ten feet above a theatre stage, blood pouring from her face into a coffin below. This gruesome execution is the work of an elusive serial killer.

Three women from three different London suburbs, each murdered with elaborate and chilling precision. And as January stares at the most beautiful corpse he’s ever seen, he detects the killer’s hallmark.

But Girl 4 is different: she is alive – barely. And January recognises her…


This book is written from the viewpoint of several people. Each person having their time to talk. Murder victims talk about what it was like for them before their death and Detective Inspector January David tells the story from his viewpoint, on the trail of a serial killer. This very serial killer even gets a voice.

The chapters are kept short to accommodate this style and it keeps things fairly fast paced.

It took me a few chapters to get used to the chopping and changing of viewpoints on such a regular basis, but once I had, I found I really enjoyed the different style I was reading.

The climax is lengthy and I couldn't put the book down for the last 100 pages. I'm not sure how I felt when it ended as it wasn't what I expected, but I will definitely buy another January David book.

If you're a crime reader and you want to try a different style, I'd recommend giving this a try and pushing past the first few chapters if you struggle with the style - though you could easily take to it straight away. It's a great read.

Tuesday 14 June 2011


Todays post is part of a blog hop created on a writers group I use on Facebook. You can find the details and the link on Gladiators Pen.

It's a monthly blog hop, on the second Tuesday, where a different topic is suggested each month and participants can write a post, however they see fit, on that particular subject. This months subject is inspiration.

So, what do I have to say about inspiration? I suppose it is something that is personal to all of us. We as people, tend to be pretty different to each other and we work in completely different ways.

We learn in different ways and this is shown by the Flemings VAK/VARK model which suggests there are four ways of learning;

  1. Visual Learners who prefer to see images and diagrams
  2. Auditory learners, who prefer to be told how to do something 
  3. Read/Write learners who does what it says on the tin and,
  4. Kinesthetic /Tactile learners who need to learn hands on. 
For me, I feel that these two things can be linked learning and inspiration. 

I for instance am a visual and auditory learner so I find my inspiration tends to come from watching people and situations, and listening to the interactions. Seeing how people genuinely interact with each other and not how we expect them to act. 

For example in a crime scenario, how you expect someone to act, isn't usually the way you are going to get it. Humans are unique and you need to remember this when writing. 

There is a very good video clip out there in the World wide web somewhere of a couple of police officers interrogating a victim of rape and because she wasn't crying and getting upset as they expected, they really grilled her and called her a liar. Now this was many many many years ago and things have changed drastically since them, but it's a good example of how people don't do what you think they might. So whatever your learning style, employ it for inspiration. 

Look at people if you are visual, interact with them if you are kinethsetic, listen to them if you are auditory. But you're writing about people and if you want real in your writing, then employ your learning style to get that realism and find out who people really are for your inspiration. Use what you have to your advantage and all that; watching, listening and interacting will bring you some real life characters you can work with.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival

A couple of weeks ago, I booked to attend the Theakstons Crime Writing Festival at the end of July. A four day festival held in Harrogate filled with some amazing names. The likes of David Baldacci and Tess Gerritson will be there, as well as Martina Cole, Lee Child and Val Mcdermid to name but a few.

The event is filled with guest speakers and panels and you can either book the individual sessions you are interested in or buy rover tickets which mean you can go to any on the particular day you have purchased for. I have bought a rover ticket for the entire event which means I can go to all the sessions. It will be a long weekend. The events start about 10.00 am in a morning and go on into the evening. The last speakers doing a 10.00 pm slot. I've booked the time off work and the following day as well so I can recover. I intend to see all that I can.

I'm so excited, but in equal measure I'm anxious. I've never been to an event like this before. Crowds of people who all know each other from previous festivals and book events. This is my first step into this world and it's with trepidation as I don't feel I really belong.

What will be great though, is the opportunity to meet people with shared interests. People with an interest in crime thrillers. I talk to many writers through twitter, blogging and Facebook but there are only a handful who are writing crime. I love it with a passion and a whole weekend filled with wonderful guest speakers will really drive me forward in my own work with fire in my belly.

I wanted to stay in the accommodation where they were hosting the event but I was a little late booking so I have an equally nice hotel a five minute walk away.

Expect a blog post filled with photographs following the event!

Do you attend writers events and if so which ones have you attended, or what is on your wish list?

Friday 10 June 2011


I realised yesterday, after making a difficult mistake, that I haven't discussed my work in process on the blog. The first drafting of my crime novel.

The mistake I made I imagine, is a pretty common one to writers. Especially pantsers. Those writers like me who don't make reams of plot notes before writing and just sit down and write organically letting the story unfold of it's own free will.

The opposite of a pantser would be a plotter. A writer who plots the story as they go. They know what each chapter should look like before they write it and have lots of notes to keep track of where the story is going.

Being a pantser has been going quite well for me, until now. I have a full synopsis written so have general directions but I don't plot each chapter or blocks or chapters. I sit and I write. I know there is no right and wrong way, but as I explain the mistake, it could appear I maybe shouldn't be working this way. Now corrected, I will continue to write as I have been doing, because this is what I'm comfortable with. It's what, most of the time, works for me.

The mistake? - I wrote a couple of short chapters and when finished I realised that the girl I had just had arrive from school at the time of the incident had actually been discussed as a missing child earlier in the work.

I was so frustrated with myself. Things were going well and I was in a flow with my word count and the direction I was heading in. I then felt as though I'd just put a great big flashing STOp sign in the way.

The solution - I had to walk away from the work for an hour and do other things, letting my brain process what had happened and attempt to figure the right direction to go in, for this to be resolved. Eventually I sat back down at my laptop and worked the girl into the right place.

I know I need to write a chapter list of who is doing what and where, for what I have written so far. If I do this then I can keep track of where everyone is and still sit and write freely as I forge ahead.

It was a difficult, but luckily short, learning curve and one I hope to not have to repeat again.

One more thing about this first draft I haven't yet said - I have set myself a target date to complete it of 21st July. Then starts the next stage. Second drafting.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how do you deal with plot errors?

Tuesday 7 June 2011


Kate tagged me in blog post. A set of questions made to learn something about the poster. These are my answers;

Do you think you're hot?
I know how this question is supposed to be interpreted, but does anyone actually think they are hot, in that way?

Upload a picture or wallpaper that you are using at the moment.
This photo was taken during a visit to the Natural History Museum for my little mans birthday.

When was the last time you ate chicken?
Last night. Chicken fajitas. Yummy!

The songs you listened to recently?
I generally listen to the radio in the car, so all the usual stuff that is played on there.

What were you thinking of as you were doing this?
I do a lot of thinking on my drive to and from work. It takes me an hour each way, so it's plenty of time to do this. Currently a lot of my thought time is on my novel and I get a little frustrated that I can't make notes of what I'm thinking because I'm driving.

Do you have nicknames? What are they?
Sorry, no nicknames. Boring I know.

Tag 5 (It did say 8 but I shrank it a bit) blogger friends:

Monday 6 June 2011

My New Home Office

Following the post about making my own writing space at home, I thought I'd share a photo of the new desk in the freshly cleared out spare room. I'm loving the peace of my own office and I'm loving the space the desk gives me to spread my notes out around me, as well as the drawers to shove them all in, to give the impression of tidiness and calm.

I give to you, my shiny new home office!

Now let's see if it can help me weave some magic.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Book Review - Broken by Karin Slaughter

Good reads blurb - 

A woman's corpse is discovered in the waters of Lake Grant, and a note is found which seems to point to suicide – but Sara Linton has never been a woman to settle for obvious solutions. The principal suspect in the case has requested – desperately -- to be able to speak to Sara -- but when she turns up at his cell in the local police station, the suspect, Tommy Braham (whom she had known as a boy), is unable to speak to her. Tommy is dead; he has been savagely beaten, and his wrists have been cut. Scrawled in blood on the cell wall is a poignant message: ‘Not me’. Sara, personally involved now, is distrustful of Lena Adams the detective in charge, so she gets in touch with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and asks (as she has done before) for the help of Special Agent Will Trent (Karin Slaughter readers will be well aware of the intriguing relationship between these two). The duo begins to suspect that a murderer enjoys the covert protection of the close-mouthed inhabitants of Grant County, who have fashioned a skein of non-communication. But, as the Bard observed, murder will out...

Review -

I've read the Karin Slaughter series since her debut with Blindsighted, which I loved and I've loved every day since. There are usually multiple gruesome murders to resolve and always something a bit iffy running around behind everything and I love this.

What I really love about Karins book are they are well written and character based as well as following the plot, the crime and all the procedural stuff but through the eyes of the very real people with very real flaws or ghosts that effect them. Its not just a matter of having a murder and watching the procedural stuff work through it, having characters with histories and failings you feel closer to them and in return to the book.

I loved this book and if you have read any of the previous in the series you will love this, but if this is your first Karin Slaughter, it may be a little confusing because past events are big drivers. I could see where newcomers may become a little disorientated. It's written so well, a new reader could go and read it, and enjoy it, but I love this author so much, I'm actually advocating you go and read the previous books in the series!

Great crime, great people and people you cared about or at least had an opinion about, what else do you need. Get yourselves into Karin Slaughter if you haven't already.