Monday, 29 November 2010

Book Review: Before I Fall

You know when you walk into a bookstore, glance at the stack of books on the tables, wander through shelves, walk back to the tables...and then you see it, -that dust jacket that calls to you?  You pick it up, turn your fingers over the front cover, through the blurb, and flick through the first few pages before committing to buying it.  Something about the dust jacket got me interested; the blurb pulled me in further.   What would you do if you knew that today was the last day of your life?

The whole concept of knowing when you are going to die -deciding how you would spend that last day, -really clicked with me.

Sam Kingston, is 17 years old, lives with her family in a small town in Connecticut, she belongs to a popular clique at her school and the story evolves around her,-her group of friends, her family, and the last day of her life...which just happens to be Valentines Day, being played through over, and over.  I have to be honest, after the first chapter I immediately thought of 'Mean Girls', 'Heathers', and, 'Ground Hog Day'.  You cannot help the comparisons.  It took me a couple of chapters before I really got hooked and then, - well I couldn't put the book down.

The story opens up slowly like a flower, it reaches out and wraps you up in its petals.  Through dying, Sam discovers her own flaws, and that of her clique, that being popular isn't the most important thing in life - that her friends aren't perfect, that doing the right thing means being true to yourself.  Mid-way through the book, I realised that this wasn't just another YA novel, there was more to the plot than just a high school love story, you will have to read it to understand that.  There's a tightening of the heartstrings too - the little snippets about her relationship with her sister had me in tears, as did her subtle attempts to make good with her mother.  And the make-out scenes with her old friend Kent? -Well, they just made me smile.  And here's the other thing about this book - you keep willing Sam on to do the right thing - and you hold your breath towards the end, not knowing if she dies or gets a reprieve.

Lauren Oliver has really written a great YA story here, I recommend this to anyone who is a YA reader or writer, and even if you're not -my advice is stick with it, you may be pleasantly surprised.  The ending is worth it.   


Before I Fall is available on Amazon.com and you can find Lauren Oliver here




A/N:  Less than 28 days till Christmas - can you feel the excitement building? This week is going to be a Book Review Week for me.    Happy Monday Lovelies!

Friday, 26 November 2010

A Splendid Sunshine Award

      

Thank you to the lovely Margo Kelly who bestowed the splendid Sunshine Award to my blog recently, I'm feeling quite chuffed and honoured.  I am very thankful to all my blogging buddies who I've met online since setting up my blog in April this year.  And, indeed my twittering lovelies.  If you are on twitter, do let me know, -I love the quick easy banter there - as well as it being a great resource for writers and publishing.

I'm passing this super award onto this wonderful souls!

Elaine AM Smith
Doris Plaster
Elizabeth Briggs
Donna Hole
Manzanita
Melissa J Cunningham

***

Congratulations to all!  And have a lovely restful weekend everyone!


A/N: 
Happy Thanksgiving to my American blogging buddies where ever you live in this global village, personally,-I do miss the turkey and pumpkin dinners with my old friends in Tokyo.  

This week, I've continued with  my revisions, much harder than I'd initially envisaged, but I am determined to finish this story!  In between hot chocolates and chanting for snow, finding my little one's Xmas play costume, attending kiddies party and phew! ...walking the dog, -I'm hoping to get on with the editing over this weekend.  How about you?  What's on your calendar this weekend?




Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Rumour has it, that we may have snow before this week is out.  I'm secretly hoping for it, -in bucket loads.  I love the fluffy white icy stuff and all the craziness that it brings.   I adore that feeling of freedom, of being a child once more, -what is it about snow that makes us lose our inhibitions?  We throw snowballs at complete strangers, build snowmen and slide blissfully down slushy slopes, on a wee piece of hard plastic with all the kids in the neighbourhood!

Why do I love the snow so much?  Because it provides me with all these wonderful moments in time, where everyone is smiling, and no-one thinks of tomorrow, we're all too busy enjoying the day, -the 'now.'

When it snows, you can...

Fantastical Fashion
Take an early morning stroll,
before anyone rises,
Close your eyes, breathe in the fresh crisp air...


Light the fire; snuggle up with friends.

Or your beloved one...

Indulge in wickedly delicious
Hot Chocolate!

Light a candle in every room...


Curl up with your latest favourite book.

Lose yourself, in your own writing...


What's your favourite thing to do when it snows?


Photocredits via weheartit

A/N:  Building snowmen, snuggling by the fire, reading and writing have to be my absolute favourites.  *sigh*  Bring on the white stuff, dear Snow Goddesses!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Revisions: Don't Look Back

Ever feel like you're in the middle of a combat course without an instructor?  I'm getting through my revisions, the first three chapters were a dream; the next three have been harder to push through.  The irony is that I have actually written in more words in the last chapter versus what I've edited out. So this week it's a reminder on editing.  I'm pulling on my full metal jacket, army combat boots... okay, the heeled ones and heading back in.   What have I learnt over the past three weeks?

1.  Don't ever look back.  Edits serve a purpose, to get your book in the best possible shape, ready for the next phase of the publishing journey.   If you delete a line, a paragraph - don't take it personally.  It's for the greater good - save it into an edits folder if you think you may use it for another story.  Otherwise, move on.

2.  Don't 'dilly-dally'.  Indecisiveness can lead to time-wasting.  Oh wait, I know we're experts at procrastinating but to wield that sword through your unwanted chapters - you need to make some big decisions.  What to keep; what not to keep.  That is the question.   If a scene is essential to moving the story on, keep it.   If not, well - see number one.

3.  Read your work aloud!  Yes, don't be afraid - it won't bite you.  Remember it's your work, you want people to read it right?  Read it aloud; listen to the story.  Do you love it?  Does it need some tweaking? Go ahead and tweak.  Much tweaking makes perfect!

4.  Don't kill me here my green friends!  I find that printing off my work helps.  I don't do it that often, but it is good to read your work - printed out on paper.  Marvel at the words you've written, and take a good old fashioned red pen and start striking through them.  It's therapeutic!

5.  Set yourself realistic deadlines for editing, enjoy life and take time to relax.  Don't become a grain of rice in a pressure cooker.  You need to have a clear head to write, edit, revise.  Above all, relish that fact that you've moving towards your goal of finishing your story - and getting published!  We all want that right?  Now, go get 'em!


Is there a method to this editing madness?  What's yours?

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Morning After...

 The night before at the cocktail reception at the Dior Boutique at Westfield, London.
Cheers Lovelies
Canapes anyone?


















It was a lovely evening, I thoroughly enjoyed it!  We had an army of dashing waiters, impeccably groomed carrying champagne laden trays and exquisite canapes; I feasted on the tiny cubes of white truffle risotto, tiny weeny lobster and melt in your mouth lamb.   Delicious, she says licking her lips! More please!   In between quaffing the bubbly, munching on culinary creations, and checking out everyone's cocktail dresses, I did find some lovely fillers for Christmas stockings for everyone  *sigh*   We can put them on our wish list right?  

Snowboots, perfect for the long
walk home.


Perfect scarves for Winter!
The Fab Lady Dior in Pink!
Of course, a hand massage
and cocktails.
Glittering Snowflakes
Can I get this tree delivered,
please? 

What's on your wish list?

A/N: Photocredits yours truly, snapped on my iPhone during the evening.  
It's been a super busy week, hence my late Friday night post again.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend.  Our neighbours have thrown down the gauntlet with Christmas lights already, I feel a competition coming and a trip to the local hardware store for more fairy lights!  Happy writing everyone!!   


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Do You Believe In Fairy Tales?


I must reach my tower before Nanny realises
 I've been out clubbing all night
Once a upon a time, in a little village town there lived a young lady who was clever and funny and very pretty.  Nearby in old London town lived a lanky young prince who was very handsome and equally witty.  One day he decided he would read some books at St Andrews, way north in Edinburgh town.  Well, of course their paths were bound to cross.   Wait a minute, this isn't a fairy tale.  There's an air of excitement across the land, and unless your name is Sleeping Beauty, you may have missed it - this wee announcement! Everyone else, no excuses! *sound the trumpets*  All this talk of blossoming love and the royal wedding has got me' dreaming of fairy tales!  
What do I love about fairy tales?
Sugar n spice and all things are really nice,
Fluffy cotton tree tops  on pink frosted trunks,
Pretty princesses yearning to be found,
Fairy godmothers with magical wands,
Handsome Princes riding to your rescue,
Turretted castles in faraway places,
Beautiful gowns with matching crowns!
Eternal love = 4 EVA bliss
Passionate embraces, 
Loving kiss 
Happily ever after
Do you believe in fairy tales?
Photocredit via Princess and Carriage pics via weheartit; Prince pic via photobucket
A/N: I do love a good wedding! And, in case you're looking for everlasting love, the word is that at St Andrews, one in ten of their students find their future partners. *deep sigh* 

Monday, 15 November 2010

Weekend Parade

The great thing about living in London isn't the weather; Lord, we know that, though chatting about the rain is a pastime you do pick up very quickly.  And, it's not the River Thames, as great a lady that she is.  Nor is it the smattering of cosmopolitan accents you hear on the tube.  London is a wonderful place if you're looking for free entertainment.  There's galleries, festivals, museums, cathedrals, to name a few.

This weekend, I grabbed my SLR baby and wandered along to the good Lord Mayor's Parade.  Brollies were not needed but if you wanted to shoot at least one decent image, you needed a portable step ladder, a lens as long as Pinocchio's nose and elbows as sharp as knitting needles.  Well, in certain vantage points.  Luckily I didn't resort to such unladylike behaviour!  Moir? Certainement pas.   I just happen to stumble across the path of several riders and their steeds getting ready for the parade.  Ahem, port and fruitcake at the ready chaps?

I know I've said this before but seriously if you are writing historical fiction, this city is perfect.  In less than three minutes, dashing across backstreets, more men ran me off the roads on horses! The Queens Household Cavalry, the Lord Mayor's gilded carriage with the most magnificent coachman, and many other troops in resplendent finery.  It was breath taking.  I did manage a few pictures in between the gaping and the fruitcake.  Some are before, after and during the parade, they may just inspire a new story.  Enjoy!






The Queen's Household Cavalry



The Lord Mayor's Carriage




Roman Gods










Christ's Hospital
(My favourite image of the day)


 Roman Soldiers stand guard

The Lord Mayor's balcony in the background

Photocredits yours truly

A/N:  Well the parade was fabulous, I didn't make the evening fireworks though, it was time to get back to writing.   How was your weekend?


Friday, 12 November 2010

Wanted: One Perfect Cocktail Dress

 Last week I received a lovely surprise in the mail.  Isn't it lovely to still get letters through the post?  The only person who still writes to me in long hand is my dear Mama, and a handful of old school friends.  A stark white envelope arrived in amongst the unsavoury windowed variety, I almost tossed but at the last minute decided to open it.   Inside, was an invitation to a 'Cocktail Reception' no less; my stars, I am pleased.  Well, of course I'm going to take full advantage of it.  I've asked one of my oldest BFF to accompany me; it shall be FUN!
Of course the next question is - what to wear?  I had to turn to my darling fashion muse here, and she came up with some stunning inspirational frocks.   Here's five perfect cocktail dresses for Friday.


Elegant Pink

Dreamy Blues

Sassy Lady in Red
The Palest of Greens

Vintage Dior ala Audrey


Which one would you choose?

Photocredits via we heart it

A/N: Real life has kept me super busy today, I am finally able to make my Friday post...just before bewitching hour.  Let's hope no-one turns into a pumpkin.  Friday night, time to unwind, unravel, relax and recuperate.  Happy weekend all!