Browsing Category

Books

Books, crime, Just stuff, reviews, what I think, Writing

On expanding my literary horizons…

Until recently I’ve been pretty disappointed with some of the reading choices I’ve made. It makes me cross to invest hours only to be utterly disappointed 80,000 words. There’s some real pap out there, which makes me wonder in a competitive market how it ever made it into print. Last year I decided I needed to pull myself away from the crime fiction I love and expand my reading horizons. What else is out there that I’m missing? And I found it hard to have literary conversations with my writer buddies as my own reading list’s so restricted. And if a crime were to happen on my estate I’d be the prime suspect. Save for notes in the margins and highlighted passages of kill scenes, my bookshelves probably paint a picture of a twisted crime fanatic. Er… yeah, that’s me.

My bookshelf

My bookshelf... or at least some of it

So, not only was I going to try new genres I was also going to try new authors; it’s a habit of mine to find an author I like, read everything they’ve ever written, find another author I love and repeat. So my bookshelf is limited and my knowledge needed growing, especially if I’m to pursue my own hope of one day being a published author. And I don’t think the poem I had featured on page 187 of a poetry compendium really counts, does it?

But this year my reading choices were poor, or at least for me they were. It’s all subjective isn’t it but, for me, I like books like I like my movies; they need to have a point and be believable.

I read some bad chick lit, so bad I couldn’t bring myself to review it (research for my own novel, a genre I have a love-hate relationship with); and some ropey crime-type stuff (I couldn’t help myself  with the crime but the untried authors thing didn’t work for me. Even Patricia Cornwell’s latest, an old fave of mine from years ago, left me disappointed and a little bit angry.

But the last three books I’ve read have left me in awe. Amazing storytelling ability with an emotional depth that not only tugged at my heart strings, it pulled them tort to the brink of snapping.

And I came to realise that books, the ones that are really, really good, aren’t the ones that keep me turning pages because I want to find out whodunnit, or who the serial killer’s next victim is, or what that little bit of evidence is likely to reveal, but the ones that connect with me emotionally, striking a match in me, a warmth, a glow; something that makes me look into my soul and see my life from the inside out. Deep huh? Yeah, sorry, I don’t know what came over me, but these books move me, sometimes to tears, with their true-to-life characters and the stories that unravel around them.

The books I’m talking about – and I’m lucky to have read them back to back – are Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson, Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton and The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell.

All three were completely amazing and two of them, the latter, forced tears from my eyes which is a tad embarrassing when reading on a crowded beach. Thank God for sunglasses! The former moved me in another way, in the realisation that the things we take for granted, like our memory, make us incredibly vulnerable if we were ever to lose them. Who could we trust if we lost everything? Who’d have our back?

Anyway, reviews of the above are all in my book review section on this blog but I just felt it worthy of giving them an extra mention.

And am I pleased to be stepping away from the old forensic pathologist/detective with a ‘tude style novels? I’ll always be a crime lover and continue to try new authors and support the ones I love, but it’s been refreshing to read something different and experience new ways of writing and expression. I hope my own writing with improve because I’m better read. After all, variety is the spice of life… and I do like spicy.

Next up on my reading list is Hunter by Tom Wood, The Hating Game by Talli Roland (reading on kindle app and been meaning to get round to for an age) and this Platform Book Club choice, A Balance To Survive by Lisa W.B.

Books, Just stuff, Writing

Finished the novel yet? Er, gimme another 90 years

Edit Ruthlessly - image by by Dan PattersonA dictionary of the extinct language of ancient Mesopotamia has been completed after 90 years of work, according to the BBC. Wow, 90 years. At the rate I’m writing, my own novel won’t be complete for another 90 years and, unless some life enhancing drug is made in the next half century, I’m pretty sure I don’t have 90 years left.

The first draft was easy, my motivation was to write THE END after 80,000 or so words and there, draft number one is complete. I did a sort of edit – let’s call it edit 1.5 – and now I need to do a thorough edit, edit 2.0, the kind of edit that means cleaning up the inconsistencies, tightening and developing the plot, kicking out characters and making my protagonist just a tad more likeable.

Oh, now doesn’t that sound like a lot of hard work to you? Yes, yes it does. But don’t feel sorry for me – there are squillions of writers out there working on their books in a bid to get published (I just typed, punished instead of published – Freudian slip?). They’re at it day and night,  slogging over prose, paragraphs and pages. Because they’re passionate and they want their name in print.

I want it too, but do I want it badly enough? Hmmm. I know that once I sit down and start reading my script, ‘cos it’s been a good long while since I did that, the enthusiasm will come flooding back and I’ll return to my writerly ways – and the numb hand I get from using the computer too much. But I keep delaying it, it feels too much like homework now and there’s always a distraction. So, my mid-year resolution is that I’m going to start work on my writing – either on this script or the beginnings of a new idea (and I don’t have many of those!) by the end of July. This is TOTALLY achievable and if I haven’t popped a post up to say “Yay, I’m writing again!” by then, feel free to kick my cyber arse into literary purgatory.

 

Picture by Dan Patterson via Flickr under Creative Commons Licence

Books, Five for Friday, Just stuff, Life in general

Six for Saturday – new stuff

Meant to post this yesterday as a Five for Friday but I’ve just thought of a sixth, perfecto. I moved house (again) last month and a new house brings new changes. So here are my Six for Saturday…

Bury Field, Newport Pagnell

This is what you see at 6am!

1) Early riser – since the move and following a week off to get settled, a new work-day routine commenced. We’d always walked the dog for 10 minutes before work anyway but now we’re up and at ’em by dawn and 6am spells an hour-long stroll for Ralphie the cocker spaniel. Me and hubbles take it in turns to get up and take Ralphie out and with more walking options nearby, it’s been a pleasure. I’m no morning fan but there’s something energising about being up early and taking in the fresh air – that a look at that view (pictured). Plus, we have a very happy doggy on our hands. There’s also less of a rush. Before it was wake, shower, dress, quick walk and run out the door. Now we have time to watch BBC Breakfast, enjoy a cup of tea or slice of toast and actually wake up properly before we start the working day. Here’s hoping it lasts!

2) Recycling – I have always recycled but not as much as I could have. The logistics of the new house make it a bit easier to recycle more, so I’m now equipped with a rainbow of bins, bags and boxes so I can recycle the right things in the right places. I’m also trying to generate less rubbish – old clothes etc that I’d once throw out are now taken to recycling banks or dropped off at charity shops. This has also been reinforced at work with a scheme which saw our office bins replaced with paper trays. I won’t bore you with the ins and outs but I now have a small trek on my hands to dispose of an apple core at work and empty my own paper tray. But it’s a good thing – encouraging recycling and exercise at the same time, plus people have to take responsibility for their own rubbish, not put paper in the catch-all bin because it’s near to them, but take a short walk to the paper recycling bin.

3) House proud – a new house that you’re comfortable in and proud of makes you want to keep it that way. My husband has developed a new affection for the vacuum cleaner and we’re making an effort to tidy away after ourselves instead of letting housework pile up.

4) A haven for writing – I now have a study, shared with hubbles, which is a haven for working or writing. In my case, writing. Hopefully I’ll be picking the novel up again very soon and making a dent in the second round of edits if I am ever going to get it in shape to start pitching for an agent. But I suspect it will be more a haven for blogging as I’m finding that more enjoyable than the novel, for now, not least because publication in much quicker than easier than getting a book on the shelves! But I think having a clean space – not shared with a spare bed, the weekly washing and everything else we can cram into a room because it doesn’t have a home of its own – will make a difference.

5) Dressing to impress – as the fitted wardrobe in my bedroom isn’t nearly big enough to house all my clothers and shoes I’ve been allowed to turn one of the other rooms into my wardrobe and book room. Two large bookshelves filled with books straddle a huge wardobe, home to clothes, shoes and bags. With more organisation – and all my clothes now hanging neatly rather than stored in ad hoc piles around the house – I should, in theory, mean I can find what I want, see all my options and therefore dress a little better. It’s easy to forget about that neat D&G handbag when it’s buried at the back of the wardrobe or the killer Carvela heels I’ve only worn once because they live under the bed. And maybe my outfits will be inspired by the books which surround me as I dress -big pants a la Bridget Jones one day, medical scrubs courtesy of Kay Scarpetta the next, or sexy and chic thanks to Trinny and Susannah another. As if!

Sky remote control and TV6) PS I just thought of a sixth thing – making that Six for Saturday, yay! Another change is that I now have Sky. Oh, how I’ve missed Sky. BT Vision was the best option available at the last place but poor signal, jumping movies and no HD was never going to replace Sky. Love it.

 

[twitter-follow screen_name=’robynbateman’ show_count=’yes’]

Books, friends, Guest bloggers, Writing

Wunderbar! On getting published in Germany…

My good friend, awesome colleague and super talented writer Tracy Buchanan – AKA Buchy (pronounced Bucky) – blogs about what it’s like to get published in Germany…

Sternenwandler front cover

The book

When I wrote my debut novel Shimmer, I never dreamed it would be popping its publishing cherry in Germany. But just as David Hasselhoff and Bananarama struck a chord with our friends overseas, Shimmer seemed to really connect to German publishers. So, on Valentine’s Day this year, it hit German bookshelves as Sternenwandler (translated as Starshifter).

Tracy Buchanan

Tracy Buchanan

So what is it German teens are getting excited about? Shimmer tells the story of a girl called Tori whose life takes a turn for the weird when she’s saved from the local thug by a horse that morphs into a boy. That boy is Cam, a dude with a genetic mutation that means he can morph into any person or animal he meets. They start really falling for each other but, as Shakespeare once said, the course of true love never did run smooth. Their relationship is tested as Tori contends with her parents’ abusive relationship and Cam struggles to control his abilities – there’s nothing like morphing into your girlfriend’s dad to ruin the moment! Then events start spiralling out of control when Tori discovers her dad captures people like Cam for a living…

So, what’s it like being published in Germany? The same, I imagine, as being published in the UK apart from the fact it’s pretty hands-off from an editorial point of view if your book is in English. Piper Verlag hired a great translator, Vanessa Lamatsch, and she got on with translating the book brilliantly. Beatrice, my editor at Piper Verlag, is a dream to work with and kept me posted with the book cover design and blurb. Then when the publication date approached, we discussed marketing plans: Piper sent out copies to bloggers and we made deleted scenes, playlists and more available via the Piper Fantasy website and these went out via their eNewsletters. And I launched a friendship eCard which you can see on my German website (designed by the fabulous Westfourstreet) and check it out below…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4iPbmBgNDM]

So, what’s next? Hopefully an English or US publisher will love the look of Shimmer too and we’ll see it on the bookshelves here. In the meantime, I just finished my gothic romance, Jar of Hearts, which I’ll be querying agents with soon! To keep posted, visit my website at www.tracybuchanan.co.uk and if you speak German, you simply MUST buy a copy of Sternenwandler here or I’ll mess with your genetic code and turn you into a shapeshifter (actually, that’d be quite cool…)

Auf wiedersehen!

Posted: June 2011

Books, friends, Guest bloggers, Writing

Wunderbar! On getting published in Germany…

My good friend, awesome colleague and super talented writer Tracy Buchanan – AKA Buchy (pronounced Bucky) – blogs about what it’s like to get published in Germany…

Sternenwandler front cover

The book

When I wrote my debut novel Shimmer, I never dreamed it would be popping its publishing cherry in Germany. But just as David Hasselhoff and Bananarama struck a chord with our friends overseas, Shimmer seemed to really connect to German publishers. So, on Valentine’s Day this year, it hit German bookshelves as Sternenwandler (translated as Starshifter).

Tracy Buchanan

Tracy Buchanan

So what is it German teens are getting excited about? Shimmer tells the story of a girl called Tori whose life takes a turn for the weird when she’s saved from the local thug by a horse that morphs into a boy. That boy is Cam, a dude with a genetic mutation that means he can morph into any person or animal he meets. They start really falling for each other but, as Shakespeare once said, the course of true love never did run smooth. Their relationship is tested as Tori contends with her parents’ abusive relationship and Cam struggles to control his abilities – there’s nothing like morphing into your girlfriend’s dad to ruin the moment! Then events start spiralling out of control when Tori discovers her dad captures people like Cam for a living…

So, what’s it like being published in Germany? The same, I imagine, as being published in the UK apart from the fact it’s pretty hands-off from an editorial point of view if your book is in English. Piper Verlag hired a great translator, Vanessa Lamatsch, and she got on with translating the book brilliantly. Beatrice, my editor at Piper Verlag, is a dream to work with and kept me posted with the book cover design and blurb. Then when the publication date approached, we discussed marketing plans: Piper sent out copies to bloggers and we made deleted scenes, playlists and more available via the Piper Fantasy website and these went out via their eNewsletters. And I launched a friendship eCard which you can see on my German website (designed by the fabulous Westfourstreet) and check it out below…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4iPbmBgNDM]

So, what’s next? Hopefully an English or US publisher will love the look of Shimmer too and we’ll see it on the bookshelves here. In the meantime, I just finished my gothic romance, Jar of Hearts, which I’ll be querying agents with soon! To keep posted, visit my website at www.tracybuchanan.co.uk and if you speak German, you simply MUST buy a copy of Sternenwandler here or I’ll mess with your genetic code and turn you into a shapeshifter (actually, that’d be quite cool…)

Auf wiedersehen!

Posted: June 2011