Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Best of 2011


This has been  great reading year for me. I’ve read a lot of different types of novels and have discovered some real treasures along the way.

The stats
Young Adult Books: 35
Adult Literary Fiction: 8
Crime Writing:  3
Non Fiction: 2

My favourite books of 2011
Gayle Forman – If I Stay
Courtney Summers – Fall for Anything
Lisa Schroeder – The Day Before
David Nicholls – One Day
Veronica Roth – Divergent
Jandy Nelson – The Sky is Everywhere

Anyone read any of these books? Did you love them as much as I did?

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Reading long books


I’ve always avoided reading long books, and by long books I mean anything more than 400/450 pages. The few I had read when I was younger (besides Harry Potter) seemed to drag on, and because I thought it took too long to reach the climax, I’d lose interest half way through.


I admit that most of the books on my TBR shelf are larger books. And I have been trying to get through them lately. And my latest discovery is that larger books don’t necessarily take longer to read nor do they all drag on. 

One Day, Of Marriageable Age, Afterwards, Seven Types of Ambiguity, Shot in the Heart.

These are all long books that I have read and loved. And that's only naming a few.

With longer books, you spend more time with the characters and get to really know them; you get attached to them. You have longer to spend in a world  you're loving. And if you're loving the book, it doesn't really take that much longer to read than a smaller book, because you just can't put it down. 

I vow to read all the long books on my shelf. 

Anyone else a big-book-phobe?

Monday, 7 November 2011

7 days down, 23 more to go.

It's hard to believe that it's been only been 7 days. A week ago I had nothing and now I have something. Something I'm already feeling proud of. 

At the beginning, I really struggled with thinking large. I'm so used to writing short stories and keeping things minimal, that I found it hard to expand on things. My first few chapters started pretty short, only 1-2 pages (but the entire novel is written in the form of letters so I wasn't too worried about the length of them). And now they are going up to 3.5 pages. I can feel myself exploring everything more, tapping into my characters head and seeing things how he would see them. When I'm ahead on my word count and can afford to spend some time 'leisurely', I want to go back and re read those first few chapters, because I know there were will be heaps of room to expand them. 
It's at 11,000 words today. 

I lost the weekend because I was out in the country (which usually would be a great place to write, but not so much when you're on a romantic weekend away). We drove out two hours into a small town called Daylesford. We had a room with a private spa, we went to a cocktail party, to an antique and farmers market, wine tasting and lunching on the mountains. 





Happy writing everyone

Thursday, 3 November 2011

oh uh October

So, October wasn't my best reading month. I read this book that I absolutely loved - The Sky is Everywhere - right at the start of the month, and then I couldn't read anything for a week after because I was so attached to the book. 


Jandy Nelson - The Sky is Everywhere
Sue Saliba - Alaska
Rosamund Lupton - Afterwards
Lauren Strasnick - Nothing Like You

Alaska was beautifully written (and my god what a ridiculously amazing front cover)  but I thought the main character was stupid and I hated the way it ended. 
Same as Nothing Like you. I really enjoyed the book but the ending ruined it for me completely. Yes, the girl got what she deserved. But after being on a long journey with TWO boys involved, I just wanted her to end up with one of them, and she didn't. 


But... The Sky is Everywhere goes into my top books (obviously since I can't stop blogging about how much I love it) and Afterwards was also a fantastic read which I would recommend. 



Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Only day 2 and there have already been tears.

Day 1 of NaNoWriMo was a lot harder than I thought. 
I had done so much planning and research. I was excited. Nervous. Totally ready to start NaNo. 
But by 2 in the afternoon, 2,100 words later, I had come to the conclusion that the story was told from the wrong perspective and was just all wrong. It was going no where. 


I declared failure, teared up in disappointment and curled up in bed all sad. Luckily for me, I have the sweetest, most supportive boyfriend, who told me that he wouldn't let me give up. He brainstormed ideas with me until 1 in the morning (I was thinking a YA with an awesome love story, and he was thinking Navy Seals and government invasion). Finally we found an awesome idea that I was really excited about. (ok, so it's a combination of love and military ... but for all those who have read my blog, you should all know that I have a weird obsession with the army). And since my boyfriend is such an army and history addict, he's pretty much done all the research for me already! 


I woke up super early and got to work at 7am so that I could sit in the coffee shop downstairs and write before work started at 8:30. I got 1,500 words done and am REALLY happy with my new story. It was telling itself. Honestly, I hardly had to do any work, just move my fingers. It was the greatest feeling ever and I've been smiling all day since. 


I'm going to write a bit more before bed but will wake up early again and have a repeat of yesterday. I just write better in the morning for some reason. 


Anyway, here are some hints on my new story. 
An excerpt will follow shortly. 





Not necessarily in that order. 

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I had strong emotions over

So I have decided to participate in the Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday. I started reading some of the entries people had posted and have a good list jotted down of books I'd like to read now. Hopefully my list could inspire some people with some reads. 

TTT3W.jpg
  1. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson -  Lyrical. Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Fall-in-love-with-main-guy. Seriously, this author knocks everything on the head; writing, characters and plot.
  2. One day by David Nicholls - I have to admit I cried my eyes out in the movie. But you definitely got a better sense of the relationship in the book. I think it was a combination of both that really made me love One Day. 
  3. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen - I'm not going to lie, I definitely had a lot to relate to this book. Just made it all the more raw and emotional for me. There were some inaccuracies I found, but overall a really good psychological exploration into abusive relationships. It's absolutely heart breaking what damage love and manipulation can do. 
  4. If I stay by Gayle Forman - Ok, if you're not crying at some point in this book, you've got to be crazy. What an emotional journey. I was just as lost and confused as the main character. 
  5. Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton - I finished the book and had to curl up in my boyfriends arms for comfort hugs. A long book on a harrowing journey. I knew the ending was coming, but it hurt like hell to read. A definite must read. 
  6. Stolen by Lucy Christopher - I absolutely love love love this book and thought the author ended it really well. I couldn't stop thinking about the characters after, questioning the ending, and questioning how the psychological issues that were affecting the main character, were affecting me too while reading. 
  7. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers - The girl was just so broken. I didn't cry but it was a hard read. I definitely had to go and give my dad a big hug afterwards. 
  8. Sisterhood Everlasting by Anne Brashares - ok after following the girls through four books, I was definitely attached to the characters. Was not prepared for what happened in this book. Especially the twist at the end. I loved it and hated it. And have decided to pretend I never read it. It's too sad to be true (well, as true as fiction can be). 
  9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusac - War. Family. Prisoners. Death. Books. OBVIOUSLY emotional. 
  10. What it Used to be Like by Maryann Burk Carver - Raymond Carvers life told by his first wife. I finished to book while at work and had to take an extra half an hour lunch break because I couldn't stop crying when I reached the end. 

Monday, 31 October 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 1

So I'm about to start writing! Pretty lucky that November 1st fell on a public holiday in Melbourne. I don't have to work today and want to get in with at least 5,000 words. Then after today I want to write around 2,000 a day. Wish me luck! 


I'm so anxious!! 
Usually I write short stories, and edit as I go. This will be a huge learning experience. 


Anyway, I don't have a title for my story yet. 
It's about:
  A Girl called Holly whose training in competitive Martial Arts
     A Boy called Jae who turns up in her classes
         And his secrets of a previous life.
Who is this new kid? Why does he have to be so handsome? And why can't he even tell Holly his full name?




Anyone else doing NaNo? 
          

Monday, 24 October 2011

the.best.book.ever


I am about to make a very radical statement.

I discovered my favourite book of all time. (ok, well, it's in the top three)

The book that makes me want to quit writing because I know I can’t write like that.

The book I couldn’t put down, but never wanted to read because I wanted it to last forever.

The book that wouldn’t let me read another book for a week after because it was still resonating.

The book where I started marking my favourite lines, but realised there were way too many of them to ever keep track of.

The book I wanted to reread IMMEDIATELY after finishing it.

The book I WISH I wrote myself.

The book I love so much, that I don’t want anyone else to read because I want it to just be mine. But at the same time, I want everyone to read it because it’s. just. so. fabulous.

Honestly, I have no critique of this book. It hit all the right spots. 

Has anyone read a book like this??

Goodreads says about The Sky is Everywhere:

"Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding."


Friday, 21 October 2011

I have returned


Blog! How I’ve missed you!


The truth is that life has taken my sleep and my words and has left me almost robotic, studying and working. (oh, and I moved houses!)

The fact now is that uni has finished for the year (half way to being a qualified publisher/editor), I’m settled into my new home – photos to come – and I’m returning to blogging.

NaNoWriMo is coming up in just over a week and I’m frantically planning my novel so that I’m ready to write my little heart out. My characters have started having conversations in my head at the most awkward times. I’ve been in the shower, driving my car or watching a movie, and have had to stop, pull over or jump out and write their conversation out. It’s taking on a world of it’s own.
I’ve been doing a lot of research lately, too, however I’m a bit worried that the company I need to research won’t help me with information, which could throw me off slightly, but hopefully isn’t too detrimental.


Here is what I’ve read in August and September. Not as much as I’d hope but I was overseas, had exams and was moving houses…  I have 8 books in the mail from Book Depository though, which is exciting.

Simone Elkeles - Perfect Chemistry
Simone Elkeles - How to Ruin a Summer Vacation
Courtney Summers - Cracked up to be
Sarah Dessen - Dreamland
Sarah Ochler - Twenty Boy Summer
David Nicholls - One Day
Jenny Han - It's Not Summer Without You
Veronica Roth - Divergent
Jenny Han - We'll Always have Summer

Here is a quote I found recently, from one of my favourite writers of all time, Etgar Keret. 

(interviewer) DH: Last night at the reading you said something very interesting. You said you were interested in “creating something out of something” as opposed to “creating something out of nothing.” You said, “Anyone can create something out of nothing.” First of all, am I interpreting this correctly, is this directed against the Judeo-Christian creation myth? Did you even have that in mind? 
(Etgar Keret) EK: I was talking about the artistic mechanism. Creating something out of nothing means making something up. But when you make something out of something, you take things that are already there, like an emotion, and you turn it into a narrative. The nature of literature is not to invent things, but to articulate what is already there. When you read a good book you don’t think that the author is making up lies, but you say, “Oh, yes, I know what he is talking about.” The fact that you know this means that it isn’t made up. 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

I explain a few things

I do apologise for my absence. I miss blogging desperately but life has been insane the past few weeks. 
-work is really busy. 
-Uni has started back up again two nights a week after work,
-assignments are piling up
-mum is away and suddenly it's a lot harder for the house to stay clean, and
-I'm going overseas next week and have lots of preparing to do. 


BUT
I do have a list of the blog posts I want to write, and the list is building, which is a good thing. 
I want to get some writing and blogging done while I'm away - I'm going skiing in NZ. Yay!


In other news, I won a blogging award! Julie's blog From Pen to Paper is such a creative, thoughtful and inspiring blog about writing, reading, life and the industry. 


Anyway, I love the website postsecret.com and thought I'd post some of my favourite postcards. They're great story inspirations, too. 








Friday, 5 August 2011

July - Winters inspiration.

July has been a convoluted mess of early mornings, late nights reading, sitting by the fireplace or curling in bed with my sweetie. 


I wrote the first draft of my new short story called Not The Usual which, in a nutshell, is about a woman who becomes obsessed with taking furniture that she finds on side walks. It was a strange story to write, not my usual style, but I really enjoyed the process. 


I have another writing project in mind, which will be a gift to my boyfriend. 
Imagine a little book, folded and sown by moi. Gorgeous paper throughout - I found this incredible paper shop the other day - and every page with a haiku that portrays a favourite or significant moment in our relationship. 


I also FINALLY figured out a way to start the story I've been trying to write for almost two years. So I'm just going to force myself to sit down and write it. No more procrastination and not being able to start writing because I don't know the first paragraph. I'm just going to do it!


Also, another story of mine got published in a very cute little zine called Hands Like Mirrors, published by Susie and Stacey whose blog you can follow here






Books I read in July:


-Ann Brashares - Sisterhood Everlasting
-Lisa Schroeder - The day before (which you can read my thoughts on here)
-Loretta Ellsworth - In a heartbeat
-Jenny Han - The Summer I Turned Pretty
-Harlen Cobem - Live Wire
-Jessi Kirby - Moonglass
-Martin Lukes - Who moved my blackberry?

Sunday, 31 July 2011

We all love bookshelves


I'm moving out of home in the next few months and the most exciting part of that is thinking about where I'm going to put my books. I used to want a book room, where all the walls were covered in books, and in the centre was a desk to write. But I also like having my books in constant view. I think the right bookshelf is like a piece of art. As soon as I find a bookshelf as cool as the ones below, I'm going to invest in it. Alternatively, I love the look of books just coming out of everywhere. 


















What kind of bookshelf do you want?

Sunday, 24 July 2011

How I write



Planning

I’ve always been a big story planner. I can’t start writing until I know the beginning and end, and I like to know the main events and conflicts that happen in the middle. In terms of characters, I only tend to start writing knowing their names - the rest of them comes with the story.

Sometimes, though, it’s the character that comes to me, already pretty developed. I write down everything about them and build a story from that; from knowing who they are and putting them in a situation that I’d like to see them deal with.

Planning involves pages full of notes, snippets of dialogue and sentences, words that I like for the story, and the tone of voice of the piece.

Writing

I’ve been trying different writing methods.

In the past, I used to write a couple of paragraphs, read over them and have to ‘perfect’ them before writing on. If I wasn’t happy, I couldn’t continue. This writing technique got me into a lot of trouble: lots of unfinished stories and wasted time.

Lately, I’ve been writing writing writing and not editing anything until the end. The only reading over I will do is of the last few paragraphs, just to capture the tone and moment before continuing on. Sometimes, I will make some small tweaks and fix obvious spelling or grammar issues, but nothing more. And that’s been working really well for me. The story I just finished, I sat down in three different sessions over a week and wrote the whole thing out.

Most of the time I write on my laptop but sometimes I do enjoy writing by hand. I just find that my hand doesn't write as fast as I'm thinking. Often, I'll be writing on the computer with a notebook next to me so I can jot down words and events as I think of them. 

Editing

I like to leave stories after they’ve been written for at least a week, usually two weeks, without me reading it. That way, I can look over it with a clear mind and pick up a lot more issues with it.

I print it off and go over it with a coloured pen, marking all the spelling and grammar that needs fixing, plot parts to watch out for, words that need switching and areas that need re- working.

For paragraphs that I’m not 100% happy with, I will open a new document on my computer, and re-write that paragraph, sometimes with the other one next to it, sometimes just working from scratch.

Sometimes, if there are issues with where to start or with the flow, I will print out the story, cut it up into chapters and shuffle it around on the floor.
Editing usually involves a lot of cutting and adding.
And it usually results in quite a few drafts.

How much do you plan before writing?
Do you write in sections and edit, or get it all out before editing?
Any particular methods of editing?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The excitement of a new story


You ever get this feeling? When you’re going about life as usual and suddenly the excitement of something hits you – maybe a new love interest, a holiday coming up, or for me, the buzz of new clothes or books – and you get butterflies in your stomach?


I get that with new story ideas. 

I’ve decided to write a NaNoWriMo this year (I finish uni in October so no excuses of assignments being due). I’m kinda nervous and excited because I’ve never written anything that long before. I usually write short stories and the longest one has only been 15 000 words. So this will be a challenge. But I’m definitely ready.

I have 4 months to plan the story and get myself ready for writing. No pressure and no looming deadlines. 
Slowly, things keep revealing themselves to me: characters are developing, and events and dialogue come in to mind. These skeletons of characters are growing skin and muscle and personality. I’ll be at work or driving and suddenly something new hits me. 
My story just keeps falling into place.

I have constant (excited) butterflies in my stomach.

I’m not going to say too much about my idea, only that
      I have to talk to the police and the Australian defense force for research,
          I know it will be YA,
               It will involve letters from one character to another
                     And a mysterious older boy named Cade.


Anyone else get butterflies in their stomach when they have a new idea bubbling away? Anyone plan on doing NaNoWriMo?

Friday, 15 July 2011

What a beautiful, beautiful book

I just finished one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. 


The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder is a YA about a girl called Amber, who wants to spend the day alone on the beach. She meets Cade there, a boy who is doing the same thing. The reader doesn't know right away why the two characters want to spend the day alone, but their reasons are slowly revealed. 


No 'blurb' can do this book justice. 


The Day Before is a verse novel, written up entirely in joining poems. I read El Dorado, by Dorothy Porter a few years back, which was also a verse novel, and I loved the idea of it. 
It worked so beautifully for this story and I really felt like every word was contemplated and perfectly placed. 


The story was thought-provoking, and powerful. The characters were so real, the conversation so natural, that I never doubted anything for a second. 


The book made me smile and cry. It was one of those books I loved so much that I never wanted to put down, but at the same time I loved it so much, I didn't want to read because I wanted it to last forever. Which is a feeling Lisa describes in the book itself, making a parallel between reading, and the way Amber felt about Cade.


I recommend it to everyone.