Category Archives: blogging milestone

Sunday Post – 5th November 2017

Standard

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

This was the first full working week since I recovered from the flu, so Monday and Tuesday saw me teaching as usual. I am now on the last lap of the final edits for Dying for Space which is the sequel to my debut novel, Running Out of Space, and am planning to release it on 14th December. So I am in the process of preparing for the blog tour – Lola is once more organising it for me to run from 14th-31st December. And I was a bit startled to realise when about to publish my usual Friday Face-off blog, that it was my 1,500th post…

On Wednesday I returned to Pilates and Fitstep, taking it easy, which was just as well as I was horribly unfit and Friday found me stiff in places I didn’t even know I had muscles. On Thursday, Mhairi came over and offered her usual awesome help and companionship. On Friday evening Himself and I actually had a date night – we went out to The Dragon, our favourite restaurant and afterwards returned home to snuggle up on the settee and watch the final two episodes of season 7 of Game of Thrones. Oh my goodness – what a finale! It was raining yesterday – of course it was as we were due to pick up the children. My daughter invited us to stay for brunch, which was wonderfully good. On the way home we swung by Worthing for some shopping and in the afternoon my sister came over for a meal and we sat and watched Strictly with Oscar, aged 7, passing judgement on the dancing and the judging.

Today, I will be spending most of the day filming Tim’s script in a converted barn for the medieval scenes. We are nearly at the end, so fingers crossed it doesn’t rain and the light levels are good. I hope everyone is also having a great weekend.

This week I have read:

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway
Gnomon, which took Harkaway more than three years to complete, is set in a world of ubiquitous surveillance. Pitched as “a mind-bending Borgesian puzzle box of identity, meaning and reality in which the solution steps sideways as you approach it”, it features: a detective who finds herself investigating the very society she believes in, urged on by a suspect who may be an assassin or an ally, hunting through the dreams of a torture victim in search of the key to something she does not yet understand; a banker who is pursued by a shark that swallows Fortune 500 companies; Saint Augustine’s jilted mistress who reshapes the world with miracles; a refugee grandfather turned games designer who must remember how to walk through walls or be burned alive by fascists; and a sociopath who falls backwards through time in order to commit a murder.
This took me some time to complete, but it was worth slowing down my normal reading speed to savour the dense prose and keep track of the characters. An unusual, rewarding read with some surprising twists and a poignant, powerful ending.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.
This is another quirky, unusual read which defies strict genre classification. It’s a lovely, warm-hearted tale that nonetheless avoids sentimentality. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

 

 

 

The Prisoner of Limnos – Book 6 of the Penric and Desdemona novella series
In this sequel novella to Mira’s Last Dance, Temple sorcerer Penric and the widow Nikys have reached safety in the duchy of Orbas when a secret letter from a friend brings frightening news: Nikys’s mother has been taken hostage by her brother’s enemies at the Cedonian imperial court, and confined in a precarious island sanctuary.
This little gem is yet another excellent addition to this entertaining, unusual series and takes the story that halted at the end of Mira’s Last Dance onward, encompassing yet another exciting adventure.

 

Ironclads by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Special limited edition sceince fiction hardcover novella by the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author. Only 1000 copies.

Scions have no limits. Scions do not die. And Scions do not disappear.

Sergeant Ted Regan has a problem. A son of one of the great corporate families, a Scion, has gone missing at the front. He should have been protected by his Ironclad – the lethal battle suits that make the Scions masters of war – but something has gone catastrophically wrong…
This supposes that in a post-apocalyptic world where resources are scarce, corporations are involved in the inevitable wars with the top families encased in top-of-the-range armour that makes them almost invulnerable. Needless to say when the dirty jobs are handed out, it’s the regular grunts that end up having to pick up the pieces…

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 29th October 2017

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of World of Fire – Book 1 of the Dev Harmer Mission series by James Lovegrove

Teaser Tuesday featuring Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang + Mello and June at It’s a Book Thang host the final leg of the blog tour for Running Out of Space

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring Artemis by Andy Weir

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Mongrel Mage – Book 19 in the Saga of Recluce series by L.E. Modesitt Jr

My 1,500th Post… Friday Face-off – Much as I love you, I cannot permit you to maul this particular coat – featuring Frederica by Georgette Heyer

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Hostage Heart by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Gerry Rafferty: Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2017/10/31/gerry-rafferty-her-father-didnt-like-me-anyway/ Once more Thom at The Immortal Jukebox presents a gem of a tune, complete with knowledgeable analysis.

Pirates for Halloween? https://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/pirates-for-halloween/ Viv discusses this ongoing blight that steals income from authors – and how it can also cause other serious consequences..

Halloween Special: Petticoat Loose https://inesemjphotography.com/2017/10/29/halloween-special-petticoat-loose/ In amongst this marvellous scenery lies a spooky tale…

10 of the Best Seduction Poems https://interestingliterature.com/2017/11/01/10-of-the-best-seduction-poems/ As the weather cools and we start snuggling up together for warmth, we reflect on other ways to generate some heat…

When I’m Almost Done Reading a Good Book… https://powerfulwomenreaders.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/when-im-almost-done-reading-a-good-book/ Yes… I think we’ve all been there.

Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site and may you have a great week.

Advertisements

My 1,000th Post – Shoot For the Moon Challenge 2016 – May Roundup

Standard

I was all set to write a special one-off post about this being my one thousandth blog –moon but I really couldn’t think of anything to say, other than thank you very, very much for taking the time to read and comment on my reviews and articles.

So how have I done during May – have I managed to keep within touching distance of my very ambitious targets for this year?

• I’m now on the last lap of the third major edit of Breathing Space. It’s taken quite a long time, but I’ve been quite pleased with it, so far. It’ll be interesting to see if the closing scenes work, as I’ve had several goes at them to ensure the ending is sufficiently satisfying – though it will be leading into a crime series with my protagonist, Jezel Campo, solving the murder mysteries, so I’ve left a dangling plotline that I can pick up again in Bloodless. I’ve also been working on the blurbs for all three books and I’m finally happy with them.
Challenge – To have The Sunblinded trilogy published during 2016. Still on target…

• I read 13 books this month and reviewed 11 of them. Five were new releases, but I’ve gone a bit mad this month with all the NetGalley arcs I’ve stacked up for review, so will need to keep on top of it all. There’s a good chance it will all come crashing down about my ears… Though I got carried away because I’ve been having so much fun reading books I wouldn’t necessarily have picked up off the shelves. Only one, so far, has been an utter disaster – which is very good going, given that I’ve read 66 books so far this year.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2016 and widen my reading to include more authors new to me. So far, I’m comfortably on target for this particular challenge, as during May I read another 6 authors I haven’t encountered before.

IMG_0153Overall, it’s been a good month. My classes are going well at Northbrook, though I can’t believe we are now nearing the end of this academic year. Tim is now thriving with the one to one teaching he is getting and we now have a solid plan as to what we’ll be working on next year. I thoroughly enjoyed going to Lesley’s book launch at The Kew Bookshop last week, and will be reviewing The House With No Rooms next week. I wrote just under 14,000 words for my blog and just over 6,000 words on teaching admin during May, bringing my overall writing total this year to just under 114,500 words. Sadly, none of those were new manuscripts – but once I decided to publish my novels, inevitably editing has to become a far greater chunk of the workload than the initial writing.

Here’s hoping everyone has a successful June and that the weather starts to act as if summer has arrived!

Shoot for the Moon 2016 Challenge – January Roundup

Standard

Mhairi Simpson, and I have set ourselves some crazy writing-related goals over the last several moonyears with variable results. But I have found the experience so very helpful in keeping my focus throughout the year, it was a no-brainer as to what I’d be doing as 2015 sputtered to a close in a flurry of fireworks. So what goals have I set for 2016?

• Publish the Sunblinded trilogy
As some of you know, I was all set to go with this target, having planned to release Running Out of Space in time for Fantasycon 2015 at the end of October – and fell at the last hurdle because I had major problems formatting the book to a suitable standard. And then was ill throughout November with a dreadful cold that would not lift – chiefly due to exhaustion.

However, my clever son has sorted out the formatting issues for me, so I’m hoping to have both Running Out of Space and Dying for Space released together in the first half of 2016, followed by the final book in the trilogy, Breathing Space, in the autumn. I have learnt my lesson, though. No spreading the word about release dates until I have everything set up and ready to go!
It was huge breakthrough to understand what went so wrong and why – not something I’m going to bore you with, seeing as it’s an arcane techie niggle. But it means I should not run into the same problems again!

• Write the first draft of Bloodless, my space opera crime novel, featuring Jezell Campo, my protagonist who features in The Sunblinded Trilogy
I have the plot outline sorted out and I’m going to have a go at writing this one, while editing Dying for Space and Breathing Space. It may not work as I’m the ultimate monotasker, but I won’t know until I try, will I?

• Complete Chaos in New Cluster
This is the novel my writing pal, Michael Griffiths, and I started in 2014. We still haven’t managed to finish it, but perhaps this will be the year when we can get it completed. It’s not a priority as we both have plenty else to be getting on with.

• Complete Picky Eaters
This is the novella that mushroomed from my short story, published at Every Day Fiction longer ago than I care to think. Another story that wouldn’t rest in my head until I completed the whole tale… While reading it to the grandchildren over the Christmas holidays, I realised there were another couple of plotpoints that needed tidying up, so I have it pencilled into my editing schedule during the summer when I’m not teaching, to have a go at getting it to a publishable standard. All being well, I intend to see if I can self-publish it at the start of December.

• Edit Miranda’s Tempest
This is one of the successes of last year. This novel has been burning a hole in my brain for the best part of a year, after I made a couple of false starts. When teaching The Tempest, I always felt that Miranda sailing off to marry Prince Ferdinand was never going to work – she’s been running around an enchanted island in her father’s cutdown robes since she was a toddler, which simply will not prepare her for surviving life as a 15th century Italian princess. And I finally managed to complete it while I was ill during November, given that I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t seem to concentrate on reading. I now need to knock it into shape so I can send it out to some agents.
I am working through it right now, as it still won’t leave me alone. I’m more than halfway through the manuscript and so far have lost 8 pages as I’m tightening it up and ensuring the language is appropriate for the Shakespearean period. It’s a balancing act to keep the feel of the language without too many forsooths and I prithees cluttering up the narrative drive…

• Submit Miranda’s Tempest and Unearthly Things Above
While submitting my work still happens in fits and starts, rather than the smoothly rolling process I’d planned in theory, it hadn’t been completely discouraging. A number of agents requested to see the full manuscript of Mantivore Dreams and said nice things about my writing. Meanwhile Netted is under consideration by a publisher. I don’t want to say more at this stage, but I plan to send out Miranda’s Tempest and Unearthly Things Above as soon as they are suitably shiny and good to go.

• Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
As 2015 was the second year in a row that I nailed this challenge, I’ve decided to fine-tune it. While I don’t want to extend the number of books I read and review, I am going to apply for more Netgalley ARCs and read and review more new releases. There is a real buzz about doing this – and as reading is my main hobby, increasing the excitement and fun can only be a good thing. I’ve also already signed up to the Discovery Challenge, thanks to Joanne Hall’s thoughtful post – read it here – which is to read and review at least one female author I haven’t read before per month, then report back in a specific blog, which should keep me on the ball…
I wrote 12 reviews during January, which came to just over 10,915 words. Half the books I completed were by authors I hadn’t previously read and five were new releases. I don’t think for a second that I shall be able to sustain those shiny stats – the slew of new releases were affordable due to Amazon vouchers and book tokens as Christmas gifts. But I am hoping to be able to continue to read and review at least two female authors new to me every month.

• Propose and plan Creative Writing courses for the academic year 2016/17
I have next year’s courses sorted out, but during the second half of the term I will be submitting them for approval to Northbrook College. I really would like to have the course notes and plans written by the end of the summer holidays, and so long as I work hard, that should be doable.
So far this term is going well – although a number of students have gone down with various bugs and illnesses and I’ll be glad when they have all recovered!

• Work on the teaching syllabus for TW
Since taking on teaching my friend’s son, County have given the go-ahead for the current situation to prevail. So we are now getting organised to start teaching him the English GCSE syllabus and I will be taking responsibility for the planning and delivery of both the English Language and Literature. This is hugely challenging – but also extremely exciting as only a few years ago, no one would have thought he would be in a position to consider taking such qualifications due to his autism.
This is, obviously, going to take priority as it becomes necessary.

• Continue to improve my fitness
I suffered a major back injury back in early 2005, which left me with ongoing sciatica that meant I was a constant visitor to the Physio. Doubtless spending hours in front of the computer aggravated the situation, but I found I couldn’t go on long walks, swim or spend an undue amount of time gardening. Then last year, Mhairi suggested I get a TENS machine to see if it would improve the nerve pain during yet another flare-up that was making my life a misery. It worked! Last June, I spent the day at Kew Gardens for my birthday treat, walking up the stairs in the Palm House and around the grounds without so much as a twinge.
I’ve now been signed off by the Physio and am on my second course of Pilates – yay! Himself and I have also started hiking again, albeit gently. But it’s marvellous – I feel I’ve got my life back. My ambition is to resume my regular swims, which I used to enjoy and increase the distance I can walk. And in case you’re wondering how this impacts my writing – it’s huge. I used to battle through the nerve pain to write, and now I don’t have to, it is such a wonderful relief…

Those are my 2016 Shoot for the Moon Challenges. Wish me luck!

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – How Did I Do?

Standard

Thanks to the success of this form of goal-setting, concocted by writing buddy Mhairi Simpson and moonme one New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago when we were slightly the worse for wear – this has now become an integral part of my writing process. The theory is that I set myself some crazily ambitious targets and while striving for those, achieve more than I would have done, had I been more sensible. Um. Yes, I know… But it made sense at the time, when you consider we were both rather the worse for wear – and it has proved to be a very successful strategy for improving my productivity. Question is, did I achieve my targets for 2015?

• The Challenge – Publish Running Out of Space
Nope. This was a decided fail and when it happened, felt like a devastating blow. I had intended – and announced – that I would self publish Running Out of Space, Book 1 of The Sunblinded in time for Fantasycon at the end of October. And I was fully geared up to do so – but fell at the very last fence due to a major glitch in getting it formatted. It was a nightmare, with the clock ticking and convinced it would only take one more major effort, I pulled three 20-hour days in a row trying to get it right. Only to face the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen – unless I shrugged my shoulders and let those occasional bolding/italicization errors remain. I was tempted. Truly. But when I went back to the uploaded version on my Kindle, I felt vaguely sick every time I flipped through the pages and came to those particular passages and knew that feeling would intensify tenfold if I took the decision to publish with those errors in place. So I took the decision not to do so and set off for Fantasycon without having Running Out of Space live and available. It hurt. So much so, that I woke up on the last day of the conference with a heavy head cold that lasted six weeks – and I think the fact it lasted so long was due to exhaustion, both physical and emotional.
However, I take comfort from the knowledge that I made the right decision – and that if I had gone ahead and published Running Out of Space with those errors in place, I would have bitterly regretted it.

• The Challenge – Complete first draft of Miranda’s Tempest
Yes – I managed to achieve this one. Ironically when I was so ill throughout November, I couldn’t sleep much or read – but the one thing that alleviated the misery was writing. So I dived back into this world which has been burning a steady hole in the back of my brain since I started it over a year ago and couldn’t get it right. I went back to the beginning and did a major rewrite, then powered on until I completed the manuscript. It is the most ambitious book I’ve attempted to date.
When teaching Shakespeare’s The Tempest as part of the GCSE syllabus, I always wondered about poor little Miranda. She has been running around an enchanted island, playing with spirits since she was three-years-old. And now, engaged to Prince Ferdinand of Naples, she is sailing off to become a 16th century princess in an Italian court. I never saw that one ending well… So I wrote her adventures, first as a short story, and then when the idea still wouldn’t leave me alone, made a start on the novel. I feel delighted I’ve managed to finish the first draft and am currently working on fine-tuning it, ready for submission.

• The Challenge – complete Chaos in New Cluster
This is the book my pal Michael Griffiths and me started writing a while ago, now. We are really, truly now on the last lap – but Mike has a new baby, so it is not a surprise that this one is still on the backburner. But the nice thing about this project is that it has been written in amongst all our individual writing activities, so if it takes a tad longer before it sees the light of day – so be it. It’s a bonus any way you look at it.

• The Challenge – Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
Done. Actually, I wrote 108 reviews, after reading 121 books, so I only achieved it by the skin of my teeth. This is the one target I haven’t bothered to strive for – I enjoy writing book reviews and I read for pleasure. It was a target I’d set in 2014 and achieved, so there was no point in changing it. But if I hadn’t met it, I wouldn’t have been unduly worried.

• The Challenge – Propose and plan Creative Writing courses for 2015/16
Done. I didn’t manage to get the courses written during the summer, as I had wanted, because I was busy on the final edits of Running Out of Space. In addition I was also very busy Grannying, which tends to drive a coach and horse through all my writing schedules. But I had a successful teaching year, with some new tweaks to make the classes more interactive which have proved popular and I’m pleased to say that both current courses are full.

• The Challenge – Submit Mantivore Eyes and Netted
Those of you kind enough to closely follow my blog will know this has been a major block for me – I am reasonably productive, but not terribly good at getting my work ‘out there’. I resolved to submit my work to at least 50 agents. And no – I didn’t achieve those numbers, BUT I did send out both manuscripts and received a number of nicely worded rejections along the lines of ‘this one isn’t for us, but please bear us in mind for your next project…’ and both manuscripts are currently under consideration.

Overall, despite the mess-up with Running Out of Space, it was a successful year for my writing. And the very good news is that my clever son managed to untangle the formatting issue for me over the Christmas holidays. As for my 2016 targets – I will be posting those at the end of January.

My 750th post…

Standard

I started this site waaay back in 2009 when someone told me that if I was serious about being a fiction writer, I should have a blog. So I got one.

Sarah writingMy earliest efforts were reflections on some of the quirkier news stories from around the world and I enjoyed writing them. However they took quite a lot of time and effort, and I realised that if I was going to have a hope of building up any sort of readership I’d need to be posting regularly at least twice a week.

Back then, I had a publisher and confidently expected to have my first science fiction book unleashed onto an unsuspecting public. But things didn’t work out. Time slid by and Running Out of Space was mired in editland. Meanwhile the ebook revolution was shaking up the publishing world and eventually my publisher came back with the news she would only be releasing it as an ebook. I decided I didn’t want to proceed with that deal, so we amicably parted company. Family life intervened in a big way and while I never stopped writing and teaching, I didn’t continue submitting my work.

But I did keep going with the blog as I really enjoyed writing book reviews. My main hobby is reading – I love it. It has certainly helped to keep me sane through life’s highs and lows. No matter how dire it gets, I can always open up a book and escape between the covers and when I emerge again, I’m always a bit more energised and excited by a well-told story. And now, I could share that excitement with other like-minded people, who visited my site, read my reviews and comment. I think we forget just what a very recent phenomenon blogging is. The term wasn’t coined until the late 1990’s, although there were a fair number of folks actually engaged in the activity before then. Raised in the era where reviews were confined to newspapers and magazines, the opportunity to share my reactions with an audience from around the world who are interested in the same books – who can immediately comment and respond – still seems miraculous.

It’s taken me a lot longer to get my books ‘out there’ for a variety of reasons. I realised there were technical issues I needed to address with my writing and when I was poised to plunge back into submitting my work, again I was engulfed in some fairly gnarly family stuff that took chunks of my time and energy. I’ve often been frustrated at these delays. But during all that time, I’ve been writing reviews about mostly science fiction, fantasy and crime with occasional forays into other genres as the mood has taken me. I only write about books I’ve enjoyed as I don’t bother to finish those I don’t.

Meantime, I’ve met and befriended a number of people online and had the huge pleasure of meeting some of them at cons. Back in 2009 if anyone had told me that some six years later, I would still be blogging without a book to my name I’d have been horrified. But now, when I reflect on all the people I’ve met through blogging and reading other people’s blogs, I’m glad it’s worked out this way. Many, many thanks for taking the time to read my reviews – and those of you who regularly visit and comment, your companionship during the long solitary hours spent at the computer is much appreciated. Here’s to the next 750 posts…

My Liebster Confessional…

Standard

Many thanks to Gloria Chao for kindly nominating me for the Liebster Award – I’m delighted to receive it. The official description for the Liebster Award is as follows:-
The Liebster Award originated in Germany. The German word Liebster means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. In short, this award is given to the upcoming promising bloggers who have some worth-reading content and certainly have less than 200 followers as a recognition of their talent and as a way to greet them “welcome”. This is a small act of inspiration that might change a blogger’s whole point of view, just like it changed mine. The Liebster Award is an award for Recognition. You would not get any money, or cup, or medal, or certificate; just a recognition which will give you a spot-light mark in this crowded blogging-market!

Another thing about this award is that this is a “Pay it forward” award, like a chain-reaction. Once you have accepted the award, you have to search for other bloggers, who are emerging as new buds with some really promising content which you find worth reading. You can accept it, or you can let it go; no harm done….However, if you want to accept The Liebster Award, you have to follow six simple rules which are:

d8ca2-rules2bfor2bliebster2baward

The lovely thing about this award is that it seems to sum up the spirit of so many of the fascinating and inspiring blogs I read.

These questions are the ones Gloria has set for me, as one of her nominees, so I’ll do my best to answer them…
1. If you met your main character (or the main character from your favorite novel) in person, would you be friends, enemies, or frenemies?
The main character of my trilogy I’m currently working on – Jezell Campo – is opinionated, strong-minded, brave and rather damaged… I think we’d probably be frenemies.
2. What is the most unique part of your manuscript or blog?
Everyone who reads my manuscripts says it’s my voice. It’s very distinctive, apparently – though I have toned it down quite a bit since I started writing.
3. What is your career now, and what is your dream career?
I work as a part-time Creative Writing tutor and editor, which is a lovely job as I have a wonderful bunch of students. However, my dream career is to be a hybrid author. By the end of the year, I hope to have self-published my space opera trilogy The Sunblinded and have acquired an agent for my YA dystopian science fiction novel, Mantivore Dreams.
4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
It has to be Alderney, which is one of the Channel Islands. I love the sea and am lucky enough to live very close to the coast, but Alderney is simply beautiful. I spent a wonderful holiday there as a girl and have often dreamt of living there.
5. What inspired you to write (either your manuscript or your blog)?
I’ve always known that at some stage I’d write a book – and then, about 15 years ago I simply had to make a start. The story spilled out of me and I couldn’t have stopped if I’d tried, and by the time I realised the hardest part was learning the craft of writing, I was thoroughly addicted. As for my blog – I’ve always loved reading and discovered that I also enjoy sharing my experience of the books I’ve devoured in my reviews. Which has also become something of an addiction…
6. What is the hardest lesson you’ve learned so far in your writing journey or life?
To walk away. Or better still – run. I wish I’d learnt this earlier – I wasted far too much of my life being profoundly unhappy.
7. What is the best advice you’ve received?
The advice came from my beloved Grandpa, a brave, intrepid man who I loved dearly and provided me with most of the really useful advice in my life. But the best tip he ever gave me was, “Don’t ever say never…”
8. Who is your closest confidante?
My husband, John, who is my hero and constant helpmate. Life would be a drab, monochrome affair without him
9. What’s your favourite blog and why?
Oh, I’ve FAR too many favourites to be able to pick out a single example – my friend Mhairi writes with fluency about her own issues and how we can boost our creativity; but all those below have something awesome and individual to offer, ranging from John’s wonderful site on old films, through to Jeanne’s quirky take on books.
10. Books, tv, or movies?
Books, books, books… I could quite happily cope without ever seeing another film or TV programme – but the prospect of never picking up another book again would destroy me.
11. How do you make difficult decisions about your characters or settings? Any trouble “murdering your darlings”?
I have an inbuilt BS sensor that quickly picks up when my narrative has taken one left turn too many, when I need to backtrack and ensure everything gets back onto solid ground. I’m something of a conflict junkie, so occasionally overload my poor suffering protagonists. So I regularly commit wholesale slaughter for the sake of pace and clarity, because my darlings are nothing of the sort. They are overwritten padding designed to help me visualise my world and have no business littering up my final draft.

Eleven Random Facts About Me…
1. I LOATHE being cold. I’m with the Vikings – Hell is a frozen wilderness.
2. I’m very bad at working out my left from my right – it took me 3 goes at my driving test before my driving instructor realised what the problem was, so made me lipstick an L on my left hand before I took my fourth test. Which I passed…
3. My parents lived in Zambia when I was a girl, so I flew on my own for the first time aged eight from Gatwick, to Ndola, stopping off at Entebbe to refuel and nearly missed the plane because I insisted on finishing my free drink.
4. I like most foods, but a fair number plain hate me – chocolate gives me migraine, chilli blisters my tongue and I’m dairy intolerant. You’d think this would mean that I was on the slim side of svelte – sadly it’s not the case…
5. I’m terrible at multi-tasking.
6. I LOVED having my children around when they were little and always came home and cried on the first day of term when they had to go back to school.
7. I hate housework – and as I get older I care less and less what people think about the state of my house.
8. I’m really good at reciting tongue twisters like ‘She sells sea shells on the sea shore’ and ‘Betty Botter’.
9. I contracted a mild case of TB as a baby which left me with scarring on my lungs – apparently… (I haven’t personally had the opportunity to check).
10. I’m fond of most insects and especially like spiders.
11. I’m addicted to strong tea. I particularly enjoy Assam and would sell my soul for a nice cup of lapsang souchong – or smoky barbeque flavour, as I like to call it…

My Eleven Nominees for the Liebster Award
1. Independent Woman
2. Book Minx Reads
3. J.E. Nice
4. thepickypagesproject
5. Reality Refugee
6. Noirish
7. Necromancy Never Pays
8. Into Another World
9. Past Offences Crime Fiction
10. The Avid Reader – Books! Books! Books!
11. The World of the Teigr Princess

High Fives…

Standard

Today I’m not blogging about my latest enjoyable read, for a change. I’m blogging about blogging, because this is my 555th post. And if your jaw isn’t dropping – mine surely is.

post-milestone-500-1xI haven’t written all those blogs, as I also reblog articles and reviews that I’ve really enjoyed and think my readers might also like. But even so, this year I have already written nearly 80,000 words on articles and book reviews. Come to think of it – mostly book reviews. I started up Brainfluff back in 2010 when someone suggested as a writer, it would be a good idea to establish a blog – so what to write about? It probably won’t come as a shock if I reveal that I don’t lead the most exciting life. Which is just fine by me… I had far too an eventful childhood, teenage years and twenties. Routine and a steady existence where I know what will be happening next week and the week after that gives me security and the freedom to let my imagination roam wherever it wants.

However, it does mean that my life isn’t crammed with noteworthy incident. Not that it’s boring – I spend a chunk of time looking after grandchildren and I also teach Creative Writing at Northbrook College, both of which are fulfilling and enjoyable. But my students and family are entitled to expect their conversations and interactions with me kept private. And while I read a number of historyoftheworldexcellent, well written blogs by the likes of Vivienne Tufnell and Mhairi Simpson about their personal reactions to the world around them – I simply don’t have the knack of writing about myself in such a generous, open manner.

However when not writing, I read. So far this year I’ve read 119 books and started another 20 I didn’t finish. And when I close a book for the final time, I often feel buzzed and a little sad my time in that world has come to an end. These days, that means writing about my feelings and reactions to it and posting it on my blog. While I don’t have a problem with negative reviews – provided they don’t descend into a personal rant they can be very useful to the reader – I find it far more enjoyable and easier to write about a book when it fills me with enthusiasm. In fact, it’s become something of an addiction – I really enjoy sharing those books that have affected me.

And my most-read article? I’m still scratching my head as to why it’s so popular – particularly as it is one of my early publications back in the days when one man and his dog tended to stray onto my site looking for something else. Brainfluff’s most-read blog is my review of Julian Barnes’ The History of the World in 10½ Chapters – which has notched up 2,128 views to date. And unlike most of my early reviews, many of which have NEVER been read – the visitor rate to it just goes on growing.

Thank you to those of you who take the time to read my reviews, follow my blog and comment on the content. From starting it to get myself ‘out there’, I’ve come to really value the process of sharing my love of books, occasional films and live shows with other like-minded people. While the community of bloggers I’ve met online include many talented writers who are a joy to read. To all of you – high fives!