Friday, 31 May 2013

Weekly Inspirations #15

Image from Animal Talk
Here is a round-up of my favourite links from the past week. Have a great weekend.

Inciting Incident(s) via

Rescued Lion thanks woman via @wherecoolthingshappen

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Emotions and Actions via

Christine Presents: Crib Sheets via

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Motivation and Reaction via

Synchronicity via

Readers via

Be the One who Keeps Going | Creative Juicer via

Guest Author John Yeoman: Three Great Tips From An Old Crime Writer via The Other Side of the Story

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Review of The Mountain City Bronzes by Madeleine McLaughlin

Cover links to Amazon

Description (From Amazon)

When Kevin learns of his mountain town's evil past, he must struggle to understand his father's part in it and how it affects himself.

My Review

I found the description of this book to be very vague but it is hard to describe anymore without giving away too much. That being said, I do think it should be made clear that this is a very short story (it took me about 10 minutes to read) and would perhaps be better as part of a collection of short stories rather than as a book on it's own.

The main character is very well formed and you can really get into his head, but the story is a little predictable. Other reviewers mentioned they found it scary and from that I was expecting a horror story, but I actually find it quite mild.

Overall The Mountain City Bronzes is an enjoyable, if short, read. I give it 4 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Showing A Character's True Nature

"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him." James D. Miles

Image courtesy of Dave Robinette /
This is a great quote to bear in mind when you are trying to show the the true nature of one of your characters, whether it's your protagonist selflessly helping other's, or your antagonist killing someone he no longer has need of.

That being said, be careful not to make it cliched. How about switching it around? No-one is truly bad all the way through, or good and selfless all the time. Give your characters more depth by having you antagonist save a child or help the homeless. Maybe your protagonist bumped into someone and knocked coffee all over them but didn't even stop to say sorry, that someone could have been the antagonist and is the spark that sets him on a path of revenge. Ok, a revenge story based on a spilt coffee may be stretching credibility a little but you get what I mean; everyone has their flaws and their saving graces, it's your job to find them in your characters and then exploit them.

Now over to you - how do you show the different facets of your characters personalities? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Weekly Inspirations #14

Image from Animal Talk
I haven't been as active on social media this week due to a two day migraine early on and then concentrating more on my fiction writing, but these posts are definitely worth a look. Have a great weekend.

Writers on Writing, Famous Quotes via

The Creative Rebellion Pledge

Things A Scene Needs via

Plotting visually:You've got to see it to believe it via The Kill Zone (PJ Parrish)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Review of The Caged Graves by Dianne K Salerni

Cover links to

Description (from NetGalley)

The year is 1867, and seventeen-year-old Verity Boone is excited to return from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, the hometown she left when she was just a baby. Now she will finally meet the fiance she knows only through letters! Soon, however, she discovers two strangely caged graves . . . and learns that one of them is her own mother’s. Verity swears she’ll get to the bottom of why her mother was buried in “unhallowed ground” in this suspenseful teen mystery that swirls with rumors of witchcraft, buried 
gold from the days of the War of Independence, and even more shocking family secrets.

My Review

Loved it.

I devoured this book in a day because I simply could not put it down. The characters and the setting are all really well fleshed out and came fully alive for me and the mixture of mystery and romance was perfect. This was one of those rare books that really swept me along and caught me up in the story so much that I forgot all about being a reviewer and just immersed myself in the story completely. I honestly cannot find a single thing to criticize about this book and now want to go and read everything else Dianne K Salerni has written.

I give The Caged Graves 5 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Creative Rebellion Pledge

I am suffering from the mother of all migraines and also have a sick child to look after so I am going to give myself a break and not write a post myself today. However, so that you haven't have a wasted trip I am going to give you the link to a very cool post that I read over the weekend by Justine Musk. If you don't already follow Justine on twitter and on her blog then I suggest you sign up right away. Here's the link:

You do hereby swear to engage in acts of creative rebellion

Let me know if you take the pledge, I have and found it very inspiring and motivating.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Weekly Inspirations #13

Image from Animal Talk
Here is a round-up of my favourite links from the past week. Have a great weekend.

25 Things You Should Know About Outlining via

Theme: What is It? And How Do We Develop One? via

What If? A Method for Developing Ideas via

3 Ways to Join the 'Compose' Community - Compose Journal via A new online literary journal coming soon

Wednesday;s Writer's Tip brought to you by Janet Lane Walters - Tag lines via

Flexing writing muscles by Barbara Edwards via

IWSG: Comparison is the Thief of Joy via

How Fear Helps You To Write Better | Write to Done

Cat and Owl Best Friends via Animal Talk Incredible, you have watch this video!

Demons via

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Review of The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood by Sandra Ramos O'Briant

Cover links to amazon

Description (from amazon)

When Alma flees with her young lover to Texas to escape an arranged marriage with a much older man, she sets in motion a drama that will put the sisters and their legacy at risk. Pilar, a 14-year-old tomboy, is offered as a replacement bride, and what follows is a sensuous courtship and marriage clouded by the curses of her husband’s former lover, Consuelo. She will stop at nothing, even the use of black magic, in her effort to destroy the Sandoval family. The Mexican-American war begins and the Americans invade Santa Fe. The sisters are caught in the crosshairs of war from two important fronts-New Mexico and Texas. Their money and ancient knowledge offer some protection, but their lives are changed forever.

My Review

I have to be honest and say that the first couple of chapters of this book bored me. I could see there was a good story in there and a set of intriguing characters but I wasn't connecting with it. There is a chance that, had I not agreed to write a review, I would have given up and not read further. Boy am I glad I'd agreed to review it because, after those first few chapters, I really enjoyed it and I came to care about the sisters and their stories. With different chapters told from the POV of each sister, their individual voices and personalities really came through. They are all so different and go through so much, yet the bond between them is unbreakable and gives them an inner strength we could all do with.

There were odd moments that pulled me out of the story, such as the use of unfamiliar spanish words that I had to look up. Most of the words I could intuit the meaning from the context, but others I didn't have a clue and without looking them up the sentence or paragraph was confusing. Some of the references to the war also pulled me out of the story and sounded more like the recounting of facts rather than an integral part of the story. 

The last few chapters were really emotionally charged and had me up well into the early hours because I just had to keep reading. Unfortunately the ending seemed to just fizzle out and left me a bit deflated. I can understand it was done to set up for the sequel but I think a bit more could have been done with it.

If only one of the problems I have mentioned was present I would have given this book a solid 4 stars, but because there were three issues that affected my enjoyment I have had to knock one star off. For that reason I give The Sandoval Sisters' Secrets of Old Blood 3 stars.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Get Writing: A Timely Reminder

Image courtesy of nuttakit /
"Inspiration usually comes during work, not before it." Madeleine L'Engle

These are wise words, and ones I sorely needed to hear/read this week. Last month was so busy with the A-Z Challenge and everything else I had going on in my life that my fiction writing didn't so much take a back burner as get put in cold storage, and it's taking some time to thaw out.

As I mentioned in A to Z Reflections post last, my macbook decided to give up the ghost and I am having to make do with an old windows laptop from the stone ages. Although all my writing is saved in the cloud (thank god!) it is all in Scrivener files and I don't have that on this laptop. I'm waiting until I get a new macbook next month and then I can install it on there. Anyway, I have been kind of using this as a way of justifying why I haven't been doing any writing this month, that and the fact that I am totally lacking in inspiration at the minute.

Reading this quote though made me realise that the inspiration is never going to come back until I start putting in the work. It's one of those things that we all know as writer's but conveniently forget every now and then. I don't need access to my old writing to be able to produce new writing, and even if this computer is slow and takes forever to boot up, there is always good old fashioned pen and paper.

So, this week I am making a concerted effort to get back to my writing so that I am in the right place when my inspiration does finally come back.

How about you? Do you find yourself making excuses when inspiration is lacking? How do you snap yourself back out it? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Weekly Inspirations #12

Image via

Here is a round-up of my favourite links from the past week. Have a great weekend.

Dream a Little Dreamleton The Write Angle via

22 of the Best Quotes on Writing Evervia Positive Writer

Should You Maintain the Same POV Distance Throughout the Novel? via

what we talk about when we talk about purpose via

Fixing a Bad Beginning and Pacing Mysteries (and Probably Other Genres, too)via

Quotes on Writing: Maya Angelou via

How To Maximize Your Word Count And Write More Every Day « terribleminds: via

You Will Never Amount To Anything via First Today, Then Tomorrow Inspiration for us all

How to Rise Above the Struggle of Becoming a Creative Professional | Positive Writer

Chapter Anatomy via

That is the Questionvia Writer Unboxed

Writing Journal: The Struggle to Write via

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Review of Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life By Dani Shapiro

Description (from NetGalley)

Everything I know about life, I learned from the daily practice of sitting down to write.”

From the best-selling author of Devotion and Slow Motion comes a witty, heartfelt, and practical look at the exhilarating and challenging process of storytelling. At once a memoir, meditation on the artistic process, and advice on craft, Still Writing is an intimate and eloquent companion to living a creative life. 

Through a blend of deeply personal stories about what formed her as a writer, tales from other authors, and a searching look at her own creative process, Shapiro offers her gift to writers everywhere: an elegant guide of hard-won wisdom and advice for staying the course. "“The writer’s life requires courage, patience, empathy, openness. It requires the ability to be alone with oneself. Gentle with oneself. To be disciplined, and at the same time, take risks.” Writers —and anyone with an artistic temperament —will find inspiration and comfort in these pages. Offering lessons learned over twenty years of teaching and writing, Shapiro brings her own revealing insights to weave an indispensable almanac for modern writers.

Like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary, and Stephen King’s On Writing, Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing is a lodestar for aspiring scribes and an eloquent memoir of the writing life.

My Review

I loved this book.

Written in a conversational tone, this book is not so much about the craft of writing, but one writer's thought's and feelings about the writing life; what it takes, and what it gives back. Not only is this book full of inspiration, it made me feel connected to a wider community of writer's by showing we all share the same fears and doubts, and the same inexplicable need to write. While reading I was torn between wanting to take my time over it so it wouldn't be over too quickly and being unable to put it down. I can see myself turning to this book again and again.

I would highly recommend 'Still Writing' to all writer's, but especially to fans of 'Writing Down the Bones' by Natalie Goldburg and 'Bird by Bird' by Anne Lamott.

I give Still Writing 5 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Reflecting on the A to Z Challenge 2013

I did it. I somehow managed to complete the A to Z blogging challenge. I only started this blog in January so this was my first year taking part and I am so glad that I did. Don't get me wrong, it was tough, really tough, but I have discovered so many great blogs to follow as well as gaining a few followers of my own.

Things that went well:

  • I managed to make it through the whole month without missing a single post (although a couple did come later in the day instead of early morning as normal).
  • I gained some great followers.
  • I found some brilliant blogs that I am now following.
  • Before this challenge the comments on my blog were few and far between and it was beginning to feel a little lonely over here, so getting comments and feedback on every post was a huge confidence boost for me.

Things that didn't:

  • April was a busy month, I went on holiday for a week, my husband was called back to sea early (he's in the merchant navy) leaving me to plan and host a party for 30 screaming 4yr olds all alone, I was ill for a whole week and my 4yr old was ill for the following week. Although the holiday was planned and all my posts for that week prepared in advance, everything else was unexpected and I was constantly playing catch-up.
  • Catching up on the comments that were left while I was on holiday has taken longer than I expected (see point below, and if I haven't got to your's yet, I promise I will soon).
  • I returned from holiday to discover my laptop had died and have been unable to revive it. Luckily I still have my old laptop but it is slower than slow so each time I try to open someone's blog it takes about ten minutes to load and frequently crashes while leaving comments (I will hopefully be getting a new one next month).
  • I didn't manage to visit as many other blogs as I would have liked during April (see point above), but I am continuing the make my way through the list.

Would I do it again?

Definitely. It may have been hard work, but it was worth every minute. I will hopefully be a little more prepared next year though!

How about you? Did you take part in the challenge? How did it go for you? Will you be taking part next year? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you.