Liebster Award

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Yay! How exciting to have Bookgirl nominated for a Liebster award. Another blogger describe it as a “Virtual Hug”; I like that.

I wish to thank fellow blogger http://ejmcgrorey.wordpress.com for nominating me. You are wonderful! It ‘s is so nice to have people say I’ve read and liked what you’ve written.

The Liebster award is a way to spread the word about new blogs you love, so I’ve joined the list and I hope to share with you some fantastic blogs and some random facts about moi!

The Rules

 

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.

5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)

6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

 

The answers to the 11 question provided by 90,000 wordshttp://ejmcgrorey.wordpress.com/

  1. What are you hoping to achieve with your blog?

Meet, Entertain and Inform.

  1. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given on blogging/writing?

Perseverance

  1. What was the last concert you went to?

Robbie Williams with the added support of Duran Duran -bonus!

  1. What’s your biggest dream?

That I was Buffy, slaying evil vampires – oh, you mean that type of dream.

I’m at the Academy Awards giving my much rehearsed acceptance speech for best screenplay.

  1. What’s the best TV show you’re currently watching and why?

I still love The Amazing Race. I would love to go on that show.

Except if they have a gross eating challenge then I’d have to hand that over to my partner.

  1. Why do you write?

I have a strange compulsion where my hand has its own free will and makes lots of scribbles on pieces of paper; it’s a condition really. No piece of paper can be left blank.

  1. When was the last time you wrote a letter and who was it to?

Yesterday. It was to my son’s teacher. This alone keeps stationary makers in business.

  1. On the weekend, if you’re not writing, what are you usually doing?

This is allocated family time. I’m all theirs.

9. Coke or Pepsi?

Neither, they are both evil conglomerates haha.

10. If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go and why?

Harry Potter world, I have a few spells I’d like to cast.

11. How would you describe yourself in three words?

I am stubborn.

Next 11 Random facts: Hmmm if you go to my about page I’ve already shared 7 so therefore i owe  only 4.

1. My eyes are sometimes blue, sometimes green.

2. I find the reality shows “The Housewives of… ” a fascinating anthropological study.

3. I’m obsessed with the traffic report.

4.  I’m a girl who hates shoe shopping.

Five blog I nominate are:

http://forgottenmeadows.wordpress.com

I love this blog because she post beautiful poetry that brings sunshine to my day.

http://rhondablackhurst.com

I nominate this blog because her words come from the heart and i always appreciate what she has to say.

http://catamesbury.wordpress.com

Cat is a talented and generous writer and her posts are always a highlight of my week.

http://fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

Love FictionFans blog, excellent reviews with entertaining writing and pics as well.

http://lakmi.wordpress.com

I nominate Lakmi for her meaningful words, that are both touching and beautiful.

My eleven questions I ask these bloggers are:

1. Name the superhero power you would most like to possess.

2.Which author, alive or dead, would you like to meet?

3. What book was your favourite as a child?

4. Which book do you wish you wrote?

5. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

6. If you had to choose another occupation what would you be?

7. What’s your favourite genre?

8. What was the worst book to film conversion?

9. What was the best book to film conversion?

10. Why did you start blogging?

11. Have you enjoyed the blogging experience?

 

In Memory of Maya Angelou

I was saddened to hear the passing of one of my favourite poets today, Maya Angelou. In memory of her, I wish to share one of her poems that I love.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Maya Angelou

THE Agatha Christie Mystery

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This post is a little bit of fun. There are so many interesting author stories out there I thought I’d delve into the 11 day disappearance of crime novelist, Agatha Christie. For those of you haven’t heard this before I hope you find it as intriguing as I do and for those of you who have heard it then –sorry.

It was a cold December night in 1926 when Agatha Christie kissed her daughter goodnight and stated she was going for a drive in her Morris Cowley. The following morning the car was found abandoned, by a lake with the hood up, inside, were her fur coat and a small suitcase.

Mrs Christie’s disappearance became the hot topic around dinner tables, bus stops and even parliament. Theories where coming left and right, some pointed to foul play at the hands of her unfaithful husband others at publicity stunt. If it happened to a crime writer today I would definitely say publicity.

Her disappearance had fellow writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey) on the hunt. Sir Conan Doyle even consulting a psychic. 15,00 volunteers and 500 police scoured the land, waterways and searched by air.

 

Mrs Christie was found 11 days later, at a spa Hotel in Harrogate, when a musician at the hotel recognized her. She had been staying there under an assumed name (more on this in a minute) since the day after her disappearance. This created more speculation as Mrs Christie claimed she had lost her memory. This may be the case, as she was under a lot of stress at the time. Her mother had recently died and her husband was leaving her for his mistress. Prior to the night of her disappearance Agatha had told friends that she was going to take a break in Yorkshire (which happens to be where the Hydropathic Hotel is located). On the night of her disappearance though Archie Christie (Agatha’s husband) had already left to go to a friend’s house to meet up with his mistress miss Nancy Neele. This is the curious part, the name Agatha used to check into the hotel was Teresa Neele.

Doctors diagnosed amnesia, but journalists (suspicious bunch they are) and police weren’t convinced. Mrs Christie had plenty of money on her person and it appears to be a highly unlikely coincidence that she would choose to register under her husband’s mistress’ last name.

Over the years expert have come forward claiming, evidence of a nervous breakdown and a stress induced condition known as “Fugue “ state (stress amnesia) in 1999 author Jared Cade interviewed Agatha’s brother- in –law who pronounced that Agatha created the hoax to spite her adulterous husband Archie.

Whatever the real reason she sure created a stir. The today the Hydropathic Hotel in Harrogate is known as The Old Swan and is now the fitting meeting place for the annual crime writing festival.

 

 

 

 

Book Cover Design 101

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Author: “Make my cover look like a bestseller”

Designer: “ No problem how’s this?”

If only it was that easy.

How do you choose a book? This question has been poised numerous times and the most common answer is “by its cover”. The cover design of a book has always had an important role in it’s marketing, and choosing the design is a complex process. With a growing number of authors self – publishing, understanding the psychology behind this choice is crucial.

Unfortunately in traditional publishing an author’s opinion isn’t always listened to, especially if the vision for their book does not match the publishers marketing strategy. There have been cases of authors leaving publishing houses due to disagreements on the cover art. This rang true to me recently when another blogger recommended the book Selection by Keira Cass; I had previously dismissed this series solely because the cover art projected an image that was ‘girly’ and ‘prissy’. I have now read the book and feel the cover has done the book an injustice.

In the traditional publishing world, there are whole departments devoted to cover design. The publishing houses give a brief to a designer, which usually stipulates that the design should articulate the contents of the book. You’d think this was obvious, but a book might be more suited to a more conceptual design.

A self- published author can be left in a quandary as in how to approach this subject. Authors can emulate the process that the publishing house use, but the main thing is to take time and consider carefully, what you want, as it is your brand.

Some suggestion to get you thinking:

 

  1. What is the image/feel you wish to project? E.g. A “Literary” novel cover is often understated, serious and elegant, withy heavy weighted paper and considered fonts.
  2. Decide on your budget. Can you afford to hire a graphic artist? If you have a large budget then Chip Kidd is the designer you want, probably no.1 in book cover designs at the moment. Have a look at his gallery www.chipkidd.com/gallery If you have a small budget approach some design schools and see if a students work catches your eye and negotiate with them.
  3. Look at current trends I personally do not like this. Remember when “Twilight” became a phenomenal success and every book following had a black cover with a single image.
  4. Do some market research, get a group of beta readers and have them read your book and give feed back on a selection of cover designs.
  5. Research psychology of colour and the emotions it creates.
  6. Research graphic/art techniques. For example the eye is drawn firstly to the top left hand corner of an image and then moves in a clockwise direction. This might affect your placement of images.
  7. Look up The Golden Mean/ Fibonacci Sequence used by artists for centuries. Many advertisers also use this technique.

 

If anyone has some suggestion on cover design please share.

Five books all writers should own

 

Every writer needs his arsenal of writing weaponry. After the obvious hardware such as pen, paper, computer, (duh!)the most useful purchase is a selection of helpful books. You’ve bought the dictionary and thesaurus (I hope), and if you’re a fantasy writer you may have bought a Lexicon of Myths and Fairytales or a crime writer may have bought a book on criminal investigation procedures, but what other books can help the aspiring writer. I’ve listed my top five and maybe some of you can share books or websites you’ve found helpful.

1.Elements of Style – William Strunk and E.B White

One piece of advice I remember from my studies of journalism at university was never leave home without this book.It is, by far, the best book written on grammar. Every journalist has it in their briefcase/ backpack because it contains wonderful little grammatical reminders that may have slipped our minds. (Unfortunately, the older I get, the more my mind slips)

2. On Writing – Stephen King 

I’m sure most writers have stumbled upon this book. Stephen King’s advice is straight up, no fancy pants talk. He just tells it like it is. I found this book to be practical and inspiring. When I’m feeling out of my depths I like to pick it up and have a flick, I always find something motivational. Here are some of my favourite quotes:

 

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

 “Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

 “Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.”

 

  1. The Australian Writer’s marketplace

When I graduated from University this was my first purchase. It’s a compendium for writers listing details for submission and contact details for agents, magazines and newspapers, competitions and events, organisations, writers’ services, scripts and courses. My copy was heavily dog-eared, and I purchased many revised editions. This is centred on Australia, but a website that contains a fabulous array of publishing opportunities, for mainly the USA, is: http://www.everywritersresource.com/lists.html

 

  1. The Writing Book –Kate Grenville

This is a practical guide, using exercises, to get the writer started and heading in the right direction. It contains practical advice on character development, plotting, writing dialogue. I found Grenville’s book to be the best in this genre, but I also like Holly Lisle’s online courses “How to Think Sideways”

 

  1. If I Tell you I’ll Have to Kill you – Edited By Ian Robotham

This book is a recent addition to my collection and I’ve just finished reading it, so I thought I’d add it to the list. It is a collection of discussions from some of Australia’s best crime writers. Each writer explains, their writing process and the ins and outs of crime writing and how they came to be a writer. It is interesting (and often humorous) to read the various ways that writers go about their work, some are plotters and some are ‘go with the flow’ writers. This is a good read for all, not just those interested in the crime genre.

 

 

Writing Just for Money

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What will you write for money? Are you purist and only write for art sake? Or do you sell your soul and write for Penthouse?

When faced with bills I’ve looked under every crevice and nook for writing possibilities. I once tried to sell an article on Pere Lachaise (a famous cemetery in Paris) to an onboard airline magazine. I should have framed the response letter. It went something like this “we are sorry, but your subject matter isn’t exactly the what people like to read while flying in a tin can thousand of miles in the air” not my finest moment.

I’ve written about castles in Scotland, Monument valley in the USA, pink polka dot dresses, three legged dogs to triumph against adversity. I’ve written about talking pigeons, Interior colours, bell- bottom pants, and manic depression. The problem is making a living, as a writer is hard, it pays diddly squat. Not to undermine visual artists out there, but I’ve seen artists paint a painting in a day, then sell it for thirty thousand US dollars. I’ve seen a writer struggle for two years on a novel and given a five thousand dollar advance. (Side note, I do know plenty of struggling visual artists, I was just using the example for effect, sorry for any offence)

I wish I could say I only write when I feel the artistic tug, but the practicality is most of us have to force our words out, some for a looming deadline others for a daily word limit for their novels. The thing is, we do it regardless.

Why do we do it? Answer- passion.

 

Answers to Book Titles Game

In the previous post I posted a book title game where I changed some well known novel titles with some truly awful alternatives and readers had to match the titles. Thankyou everyone for your patience in waiting for the answers as I took a little break over Easter.

The much anticipated answers are:

  1.  Did he, or didn’t he do it? – F. Gone Girl
  2.  A Very Unusual Cake – D. The Help
  3.  Here Piggy, Piggy – A. Charlotte’s Web
  4. Colour Coded People – C. Divergent
  5. A Spoilt Girl Learns a Lesson -Almost – B. Gone With the Wind
  6. Nerds Rule –  E. The Rosie Project
  7. Marry My Daughters – H. Pride and Prejudice
  8. The Very Ordinary Nick Carraway -G.  The Great Gatsby

Hope you had fun and maybe this has inspired you to take a look at some books you may not have previously.

 

 

Book titles game, if you’re game.

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Some of the most famous book titles almost never made it to print. Here’s a look at some classic novels and what they were going to be called.

 

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was originally titled The Last Man in Europe.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was originally titled simply Atticus.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was originally titled First Impressions.

Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises was originally titled Fiesta.

Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace was originally titled All’s Well That Ends Well.

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was originally titled Strangers From Within.

 

After looking at these I decided to create my own list. (This is what happens when the television networks take my favourite shows off air, without any notice.)  I thought I’d have some fun and create a game with some truly awful alternative names to some famous books. See if you can guess which title belongs to which book. The answers are below just match the number with the letter. I’ll give you the answer to the first one to start .  1 – F

Have fun.

 

  1. Did he, or didn’t he do it?
  2. A Very Unusual Cake
  3. Here Piggy, Piggy
  4. Colour Coded People
  5. A Spoilt Girl Learns a Lesson- Almost
  6. Nerds Rule
  7. Marry My Daughters
  8. The Very Ordinary Nick Carraway

 

A. Charlottes Web, B. Gone With the Wind, C. Divergent, D. The Help, E. The Rosie Project, F. Gone Girl, G. The Great Gatsby, H. Pride And Prejudice

What’s in a name?

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I was thinking about pen names the other day, as I about to embark on a new project and wondered whether I should use one of my pen names. I have a little cache of names I use when writing for newspapers, my reason being that I don’t want my fiction work associated with my journalistic work. My choice of names are pretty boring, I’m not doing the star checking into a hotel thing and saying I’m Katniss Everdeen or Mr. Darcy, I’m just initialising, middle name etc. Many famous writers have used Pseudonyms or pen names for many reasons.

The most annoying is for sexist or gender bias reasons.

The Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, were first published as Currier, Ellis and Acton Bell, when the publishers finally met their writers they were shocked to see they were women. Louisa May Alcott, before writing Little Women, published stories under the name A M Barnard. We may excuse this by saying it was Victorian times, but as many are aware Joanne Rowling was asked to asexualize her name as the publishers believed a book about a boy wizard wouldn’t appeal to it’s audience if they knew it was written by a women. J.K Rowling also later went on to write The Cuckoos Calling as Robert Galbraith. Rowling states her reason being to “go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre to work without hype or expectation”

Some writers want to simplify their names.

Joseph Conrad was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski.

Lewis Carroll was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

Mark Twain born Samuel Longhorne Clemens.

Some writers want to distance themselves from previous works.

Agatha Christie, being a successful suspense writer, used the pseudonym Mary Westcott to write 6 romance novels. In reverse Nora Roberts, the successful romance novelist wrote under the name JD Robb for her suspense novel series. The Booker Prize winners Julian Barnes and John Banville wrote crime /thriller novels under the names Dan Kavanagh and Benjamin Black.

The two, which I find the most amusing, are Benjamin Franklin who wrote for a newspaper under the name of Mrs. Silence Dogood. –He must have had a sense of humour. The second is Theodor Geisel; he was the editor of his universities newspaper until caught with alcohol during prohibition. To continue writing he invented a pseudonym. He took his middle name Seuss and to annoy his father, who wanted him to be a doctor, he added the title, hence the birth of Dr. Seuss.

I’ll leave you with a puzzle, who published early works under the name of Boz?

Is the beginning the end?

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The start of a novel can make or break a book for me. It has to grab my attention with the very first line. As everyone today, I am too time poor to hang around hoping the book will get better. Am I too harsh? If an author has not put everything into their opening sentence then where is the respect to the reader? But here lies the problem, what makes a good first sentence? Every reader has different taste and I know what I like and if the writing is good,  I’ll stick around and give the book a fighting chance.

I recently attended a talk by the author Alexander McCall Smith. McCall Smith discussed the importance of a great opening line. He then delighted us with one of his favourites from The Tower of Trebizond by Rose Maccauly.

“Take my camel dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.

Has the reader curious. No?

My favourite is a little more subdued, from the master himself, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Whenever I read this I wonder whether Dickens sweated over every word, rearranging, rewriting, putting in a comma and then removing it again or was he hit by inspiration and it flowed in one sitting. Here it is, for your pleasure.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair

My son wanted to add his favourite, it’s the opening line of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit

“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit”

What is your favourite opening sentence?