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28 Dec 2011

RTW - My top 5

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What were your top five favourite books of 2011?
1) The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
This book is exactly why I want to write about ghosts in the future for YA.  The market needs a book like this - eerie, tense with a terrifying villain who can even scare you with her presence when she's not even around.  There are scenes in the book where Arthur Kipps hears a ghostly carriage and then screaming and crying but he never sees it.  He just hears it close by, hidden by the fog and I found that frightening because it's never seen.  We know the presence is there but where exactly? Is it happening right next to you or far away?
2) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This has to be a favourite purely for how much it surprised me.  I'll admit I'm not really a fan of classics.  I've tried to make my way through Austen's books before and others like Wuthering Heights but I've never been able to get into them.  I'm ashamed to say I just gave up on them after a few pages.  Then we had to read Austen as part of our 19th Century module earlier this year when I was at university.  I began reading it and found myself enjoying it.  I appreciated the satire Austen used and I loved Lizzie as a heroine with her sharp, cheeky tongue.  The girl knew how to banter.  Although I still don't see the appeal of Mr Darcy I liked the novel nonetheless.  May give Austen a second chance in the future.  :)
3) Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett
The witches are my favourite characters in the Discworld and I liked how he used fairy folklore with A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I have a book on the folklore he's used in Discworld and I was reading how he went back to old tales of fairies and elves etc where they weren't mischievous but downright dangerous and threatening.  I'm a sucker for the old stuff so this book only increased my admiration for Pratchett, not just with his humour but with his research and how he used legends and actual texts to create something so original.  Totally in awe of this guy.
4) The Time Machine by HG Wells
Wells also popped up in my 19th Century module and last year during the first semester we had to read The Island of Dr Moreau.  The book actually gave me nightmares.  I wanted to read more of his work so I got The Time Machine to see what that was like.  And I loved seeing what the future had become yet that simple fear of what the night brought had still stuck.  The ending was great even though I wanted more from it.  I won't spoil it but it's left to your imagination to decide what has happened. 
5) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I just liked the general silliness of the story sometimes with the answer to the meaning of life and Marvin the depressed robot.  It was fun without feeling like I was reading a hardcore sci-fi book full of terms and slang I didn't really understand.  And I do love the trip to the pub just as the earth is about to be destroyed. When there's a crisis, find the nearest drinking place!
What are your top five books of 2011?

24 Dec 2011

Christmas Love...

Merry Christmas everybody! It's such a magical time of the year that turns me into a kid again and as much as I love Christmas day and can't wait for it to arrive I also love the build up to it.  There are so many things I love about the holidays and December so here's a list of my top five things at Christmas:

1) Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty McColl
This has been my favourite Christmas song for years.  As soon as I hear it I'm dancing around the kitchen and singing along with it (almost forgetting about the baking I'm doing!). 

2) Christmas baking
I love cooking but something about Christmas gets me in a crazy baking mood.  I take one step into the kitchen and I have my apron on and ingredients out ready to cook some goodies. 
This year I made my first Christmas cake and attempted mince pies too for the first time.  The cake was a success but I had trouble with the mince pies.  Apparently they taste fine but looks wise they're messy and the mincemeat leaked. 

3) The Muppet Christmas Carol
Blame the kid inside me.  I love this version of A Christmas Carol, not just because the awesome Michael Caine is Scrooge but also because the Muppets are involved.  They were my childhood and I cling onto childhood loves.  Hook taught me to never let go of your youth. 

4) Doctor Who Christmas Special
Christmas now means Doctor Who specials.  It always make a nice end to the day after filling up on Christmas dinners, treats, and puddings.  They're usually quite silly - last year there was a flying shark and this year it's Narnia inspired.  Fun to watch. :)

5) Decorating
I love decorating the flat at Christmas.  I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to decorations.  Everything has to be red, green, and gold and we have a tiny little tree as well with mini baubles and tinsel on.  I have Christmas spray all around the flat and it always looks cosy and warm this time of year.  I love the way it looks and makes me feel.  I'm just happy the whole time!

Is Christmas your favourite time of the year? What's the best thing about the holidays for you?

21 Dec 2011

RTW - Book Buys

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
Where do you buy most of your books? No one is judging!

Unfortunately in my town there aren't many places to turn to for books.  We used to have a huge Borders that I'd have to be dragged out of because I spent so much time in there.  I could always rely on Borders to have what I was looking for.  But now that's closed I go to Waterstones, the only proper book store in the city centre where I get most of my buys from.  It's three floors of book paradise with a Costa Coffee inside and have a section dedicated to Stephen King books.  How awesome!

But I also love looking at the book stall in the city Market where I go crazy on bargain books.  I got Dracula the Undead for £1.50 straight after it's release.  When you're on a budget head to a market!

And if I'm really low on cash, the boyfriend is usually a good source to borrow from. His bookcase is full of sci-fi and fantasy and also has most of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels.  He's my personal library!

19 Dec 2011

Starting out

As you know and can certainly tell, I'm completely new at blogging.  I'm still getting the hang of it and making that slow step into the community.  I'm searching for topics of interest that I can talk about, getting an idea of what regular features I can do and a possible schedule.  I'm joining in with RTW Wednesdays on YA Highway to help me get the confidence to just join in and speak.  I'm slowly getting this blog organised which I hope to do this holiday once I'm over the worst of this cold. 

I thought it'd be nice to hear other people's stories on blogging and how much they're enjoying it.  What made you start? Was it to talk books or writing or films etc? To stay in touch with friends or make new ones? I'm interested in hearing your story whether you've only just started or have been doing so for a while now.  :)

Mine started because of NaNo.  I wanted to join in with a worldwide experience of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month and I wanted to share my experiences.  Now that it's over it's purely to talk about writing and love for the YA market.  I did a degree in English and Creative Writing where I befriended other writers and we talked a lot about writing, showed each other our work and gave feedback.  I loved it because I was sharing my top passion with others, which I couldn't do in High School.  Now that most of them have moved back home for work and to save money I miss having people nearby to share writing with.  So that's why I started blogging.

15 Dec 2011

RTW - All He Wants For Christmas...

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What would be the ideal holiday present for your main character (or favorite character)? 

Seeing as I put him through hell in the story I'll choose Caleb from Beast Inside and find an ideal Christmas present to him.  And I got the best one for him.  Caleb's a sci-fi fan, very into fantasy and science fiction but not really much of a horror fan.  He'll watch them but he's a total wimp - everything horror he watches ends up scaring him senseless and his mind will run away when its silent and night.  Suddenly everything around him is a monster waiting to kill him.

So his favourite is sci-fi.  And he's not much of an outdoor person.  His socialising is spent inside on social networking sites and trying to get to reach level 90 on an RPG game with Joshua.  So something to take him away from the computer but not forcing him outside...

Any Doctor Who series would be perfect for him.  Classic or New Who.  It's fun, cheesy sci-fi with bad effects and insane explanations of time and space.  Everything is just timey-wimey and wibbly wobbly with an eccentric and danger magnet Doctor. 

It's fun and something to watch over the holidays.  One downside to the present - his tendency to procrastinate won't improve.  Can't see any work being done over the holidays with this in his possession.

7 Dec 2011

RTW - How Far Would You Go?

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
How far would you go to get published?
So how far would I go to get a book published? I know for definite that I would not give into a trend, changing the genre or writing a plot that is popular.  I'll use my NaNo project as an example.  Now, it probably looks bad because it's about vampires.  Honestly, I'm not jumping on the vampire band wagon.  I just wanted to write about a folkloric creature that has fascinated me since I was a young girl.  But I would refuse to change the lore I put in, how they look, how they transform etc.  If I'd get asked to make the vampire sexy, less corpse-like, and bring in a LI I'd say no. 
It depends on revisions.  Like I said, if they wanted me to change the entire atmosphere of the story I'd do my best to fight for the horror genre and keep it that way.  But if there were suggestions such as working on a character or adding/taking out a scene I'll work on it with them and see whether or not it'll improve the story.  I'm always willing to take on suggestions.  But not on changing genre. 

1 Dec 2011

NaNo - yay or nay?

Final word count: 50,128

NaNo is finished and done with.  Congratulations to anyone who won and took part - it's a wonderful achievement!

This was my first year taking part so it was quite a new challenge for me.  At the end of the day I'm really proud of learning how to discipline myself and letting myself write the story.  The inner editor was ignored.  Mostly.  But with pros comes some cons.  I like the challenge - it was really good for me.  However, I have to admit I'm just as glad finishing it than I was signing up to it. 

Towards the end the deadline did make me feel quite tired and I was ready to have my evenings to myself again.  It was hard for me to balance work, writing, house chores and squeeze in other things like getting my clothes and lunch ready for tomorrow and getting a bath and hair wash.  I felt a little bad because I was writing so much and felt like I was completely ignoring my boyfriend - not finding much time to spend time with him.  My left wrist is also in a lot of pain from writing so much in the last few days.  It hurts to bend.  Now I feel a little relaxed and able to get more things done on a night.  I can also enjoy focusing on Christmas now and getting ready for that.  So those were my cons.

The pros? I've come away with a finished first draft, ready to edit and take my first steps into polishing up a novel for querying in the future.  An amazing sense of achievement for taking on a challenge that doesn't fit to my writing style and getting on with it. 

What I've learnt? NaNo definitely doesn't fit to my writing style.  I'm slow but I hope I'll be a little bit faster in the future.  I'll also be happier working on the next W.I.P at my own speed. 

I'm still glad I've done this.  However I'll admit that I'm uncertain about whether or not I'll do it again next year.  Maybe I'll have disciplined myself more by that time.   Who knows?

I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on NaNo - have you done this year or another? Any good? Did it put you off signing up again?