I’m inspired!

We all need to experience at least one inspiring thing every day. Inspiration makes the world go around. Small things inspire me… the sunshine, a smile, a piece of music by Mozart. So thanks to writer Julie Stock for nominating me for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I am inspired every day by things I read in the newspaper, in novels, online, and am pleased my blog inspires Julie in return. the very inspiring blogger award - logo 28-7-14Please click here to read seven facts about Julie and learn more about her novel.

The rules for this award are:-
Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
List the rules and display the award.
Share seven facts about yourself.
Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
Optional: follow the blogger who nominated you, if you don’t already do so.

Here are seven new facts about me… short, sharp and sweet!

[photo: northyorkmoors.org.uk]

[photo: northyorkmoors.org.uk]

Danby is a small village [above] on the North Yorkshire Moors…
… near Danby Low Moor [below]

[photo: wonderfulwhitby.co.uk]

[photo: wonderfulwhitby.co.uk]

Middle name? I don’t have one.
My best subject at school was Geography.
The subject I loved most at school was English
I call a spade, a spade.
When ‘down south’ I am told I have a Yorkshire accent, went in Yorkshire I am told I ‘talk posh’. Can’t win!

Now the blogs which inspire me…

Crime novelist Christina James who writes about DI Yates. In the Family and Almost Love are published in the UK by Salt Publishing.

Short story writer Sally-Anne Wilkinson has a childhood love of the Narnia Chronicles. Read more at Writing – Beginning and Beyond.

Poet Beth Winter, whose lovely blog Eclipsing Winter includes poetry and prose.

Phases of the Moon is a poetry anthology by Louise J Hastings, published by Winter Goose Publishing. phases of the moon by louise hastings 29-7-14Crime writer Gary Dolmam is from North Yorkshire, like me!

The Red Pearl Effect by Scott Corlett is the first in the Sam Quick adventure series.

Mike Sutcliffe writes poetry for fun.

Libby: another poet, another Yorkshire woman! Check out her blog, Libbypoetry.

Ian Probert is not an award-winning author, but he has written lots of novels including Internet Spy and Rope Burnsrope burns by ian probert 30-7-14Marlene M Bell: whose first romance novel Annalisse is the first of a series.

By day, Laura Evans edits The Zoological Society of London’s magazine Wild About. By night, she writes novels.

Iain Parke is a crime writer, his novels include the ‘biker lit’ Heavy Duty People about the Brethren Motorcycle Club.

Jenna Brandt blogs about writing, blogging, poetry, and her romance novel Window to the Heart.

Scottish writer Emma Gwynn writes and blogs about love, romance and passion. Her favourite genre is Mills & Boon/Harlequin because they are tightly-written, fast-paced with great dialogue.

Paris Baker from Jersey, Channel Islands, is writing her first novel. She blogs about writing, films, life and Jersey!

Silvy’s review of ‘Ignoring Gravity’

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby[1]

I wish that could tell you more but I can’t. I could tell you, just … there are many things that this book keeps as secret… that will be revealed [at] the end.
Silvana @ Books Are My Life

Click here to read the full review at Books Are My Life.

Book review: The Cardturner

the cardturner by louis sachar 6-5-14This is a book about bridge. The card game. And it’s also a book about relationships. Alton, a seventeen-year-old is tasked by his mother of ‘keeping in’ with his rich blind uncle Lester Trapp by driving him to bridge club in the hope that Trapp will remember their family in his will. What starts as an arduous weekly task becomes a new hobby for Alton as he is caught up by the game of bridge, his uncle and the mysteries of his life.

It is a story about friendship between the generations, all brought together by the game of bridge. Alton doesn’t care about his uncle’s will, he just wants to play bridge better. And get to know his cousin Toni better too. Alton is his uncle’s cardturner, he sits beside him at the bridge table and plays the cards his uncle tells him to.

I am not a card player and I have to say I skipped some bits, but Louis Sachar [below] allows you to do this: he bookends ‘bridge technique’ sections with a line drawing of a whale so you know you are safe to skip a bit and won’t miss the plot. For this reason, this novel is more suitable for older teens than the younger teens who like Holes.

[photo: louissachar.com]

[photo: louissachar.com]

Like Holes, it is a charming book. It shows that your assumptions about things you do not know can be way wrong; Alton soon finds out that bridge is not a game played just by old people. He also discovers that old people can be cool, that they were young once and had their own romances and challenges. Just when Alton starts to understand Trapp, to appreciate him, and to get better at bridge, the plot takes a twist which forces Alton and Toni to make a choice.

Watch Louis Sachar talk here about The Cardturner and how his daughter thought her dad was just like Trapp.
To visit Louis Sachar’s website, click here.
Click here to read The Guardian’s review of The Cardturner.
For the basics on how to play bridge, click here.
To read my review of Holes, click here.
 ‘The Cardturner’ by Louis Sachar [pub by Bloomsbury]

Writers’ BLOCKbusters… run

Try this word storm from Writers’ BLOCKbusters to help you put the first word on the page today. wordstorm - run crumbling elastic 21-11-13Look at the three words above and, without thinking, write the next words that come into your mind. Write until you can think of no more words, you may have 10 words or 50. Allow the words to come into your mind without prompting, they will seem unrelated to each other.

Now use these words as inspiration to move you onwards. You should find that your mind has taken you way beyond the subject of ‘run’ and that you write about a completely different subject.
© ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby

Book review: Love and Eskimo Snow

Love and Eskimo Snow by Sarah Holt 28-7-14This is a novel about the nature of love and its different forms. It begins with death. Bea Bridges is killed in a car crash. The story of her childhood is told retrospectively, interwoven with the love lives of three other women – Missy, Claire and Elizabeth – from childhood crush to first kiss, friendship, first love and lust.

I waited for the women’s’ lives to connect, were they all connected with the car crash? When the strands did combine, it wasn’t what I expected.

It is an interesting study of the different types of love. Bea: the unqualified, un-questioning love of a child for her parents. Missy: a nurturing love for her boyfriend Lee who is a trifle chauvinistic about her needs and his needs. Elizabeth: who meets fellow student Joey and loves him as a brother and best friend. Claire: sexual attraction, masquerading as love.

It is a cleverly structured debut novel, Holt [below] is a former journalist, with an intriguing title. The Sami Eskimos have around 200 different words for snow: wet snow, slippery snow, icy snow. Holt doesn’t find 200 meanings of love, but she does examine how love varies from relationship to relationship, person to person and context to context. How do we learn to love? From watching our parents’ relationship? From our peers? And do we ever learn to recognise the type of love we are feeling at a particular moment?

[photo: valleypressuk.com]

[photo: valleypressuk.com]

There are some poignant moments. Bea as a child had nightmares of being buried alive, so her father gives her a silver-coloured plastic key which she keeps in her bedside drawer. As an adult she still has that key, but it is not put into her coffin.

The loose ends of the story are connected by Bea’s mother as she reads her daughter’s journal after the funeral. And then wishes she hadn’t.  A reminder that there are no convenient answers and this is not a ‘happy ever after’ ending. The novel defines a genre label. It has romance, yes; relationships, yes; but is it a romance novel? Not quite, there is a deeper message to the plotting.

To read the first two and a half chapters, click here.
‘Love and Eskimo Snow’ by Sarah Holt [Valley Press]

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby.
There is a twist at the end which unexpectedly gave me the shivers as I contemplated history repeating itself.” 
Thanks to Ali at ‘A Woman’s Wisdom’, for this thoughtful review of Ignoring Gravity. 

A gradual coming together

I think it was Stephen King who said his ideas come in bits and pieces over years, all nonsense, until one day something clicks and he adds together a bit of this and a bit of that, and he has the outline of a novel. It’s a bit like that for me, a gradual coming together. Stephen KingThanks to Cay at Life of Chi, for nominating me for this blog tour about how we writers, write. She is 150,000 words into the first draft of her novel, and still writing!

How do you start your writing projects?
My current project Connectedness is the second novel in the series about Rose Haldane, identity detective. Having solved the mystery of her own adoption, she is asked by a famous artist to find the baby she gave away for adoption. I knew before I finished the first book about Rose, Ignoring Gravity, that I would write more about adoption. Connectedness is not a sequel, although there are some continuing characters. So oddly there was no actual ‘start point’, I just started jotting down thoughts in an ‘Ideas’ document. At that point, the book was called ‘Rose2’. Then when I found myself at a natural break in the writing of Ignoring Gravity, I sat down one afternoon with all the disassociated ideas, newspaper clippings etc and tried to make sense of the muddle. I fancied the idea of writing about an artist, and it all went from there. The action is partly set in Malaga, Spain [below], chosen because it is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso.
Click here to read about how I researched the Malaga strand. Malaga - Old Town 24-10-10How do you continue your writing projects?
Once I’ve got past the ideas stage, I write a timeline. This is pretty much a ‘this happened then that happened’ format, once I’ve done this I have a clearer idea of where my story starts [which is never at the beginning of the timeline!]. I decide on my key characters and whose viewpoints I want to tell. Then I write a rough storyline for each viewpoint, then a more detailed version. After that I sit down and write one viewpoint at a time, I’ve found I cannot switch voices and remain authentic on the page. So I write one at a time, and then splice them together.

How do you finish your project?
Once the first draft is completed, I put it away for a while and do something else. Usually I am researching adoption for another novel in the Rose Haldane series, or something totally different for a free-standing novel. Then one day when the current novel is no longer fresh in my mind, I sit down and read it from beginning to end without making any notes. This way, I notice all the glaring problems: did I start the novel in the wrong place, is the timeline confusing, do I need to subtract or add a viewpoint, does the ending make sense?

Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.
My tip is to not get fixated on writing for a particular genre or like a successful author you admire. It’s great to read loads, all writers should also be big readers, but leave that behind when it comes to writing your own story. Tell the story that fascinates you, get it down on paper, don’t get delayed by trying to make it like something else. Readers want to read original novels.

I am Passing the Pen to Sabrina Garie, whose new book Life Reignited, the second book in the Divine Temptation series, is published on September 3 by Ellora’s Cave. Book one in this series is Thirteen Nights. Sabrina and I met as fellow contributors to the glorious anthology about mothers, The Milk of Female Kindness: an Anthology of Honest Motherhoodlife reignited by sabrina garie 31-7-14“Life Reignited is a sexy paranormal novella in which the hero and heroine are seasoned,” explains Sabrina. It is part of an Ellora’s Cave series called VaVaVaBoomers that focuses on love over 50.  Phoebe is an Amazon warrior, Sander’s a human scholar. Lovers in their youth, they find themselves working together when the Norse gods requires their expertise on ancient runes. They will have to prevent a conflict between the Greek and Norse pantheons or lose each other again—this time permanently.”

Click here for more about Life Reignited and Thirteen Nights at Sabrina’s website.