Writer’s journey – How did it all happen?

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This is  my writer’s blog about me and my crazy journey to becoming a half decent author.

Well how did I start writing? It was quite odd really. I used to write as a teenager. At the time I had a ginger tom cat called Chester, Mr. Popularity, everyone loved him. He liked to venture afar and we would often have to rescue him. I remember one occasion in particular, my brother and I ended up trudging through the woods, in Blackhall in Edinburgh, to pick him up from a house in the vicinity. He ended up at the most peculiar places. One time he chose to visit a house with thirteen cats!

I told you he liked company. So it seemed natural to  write about cats,  and I kept a diary. My dad was and still is one of my other great sources of inspiration.  He has travelled extensively to the Far East, and Middle East and is a wonderful raconteur.

As far as my writing is concerned the inevitable happened.  I was the typical teenager. I got distracted. I found boys, discos, parties, and my writing suffered. Somehow I didn’t pick it up again for a very long time. This is a regret. A massive regret. But what can I do? I can’t travel back in time, I don’t have a Tardis. So I just have to accept that the time is right now.  You see, I’m still this young girl at heart, just stuck in an older and maybe wiser body. I have experienced more, travelled more, lived more, so hopefully that will make me a better writer.

Several events came together to ignite my desire to write again. First of all I read a lot.  At the time I was reading Dorian Gray and it was definitely a novel that captured my imagination and set my mind free. Also my eldest daughter was studying GCSE Art and I took a sudden interest in art and photography. I’m not saying that I can paint or draw, though I wish I could. No, I enjoyed watching her artistic development and I enjoyed sharing ideas with her and encouraging her.

All of these influences helped me to write my first book, a YA fantasy set in Cambridge, which I hope to publish soon. The female protagonist in my novel is a teenage girl who paints a puzzle of art. But it is by no means a novel simply about Art. She expresses her sadness, and discovers her magical powers, through the medium of painting and well the rest you will find out when you read the book. Lets just say that an awful lot happens and I think that it will keep you entertained!  Well I hope so anyway.

Also I know this sounds crazy but my other source of inspiration was a black cat, a  throw back to Chester.  I had never seen this strange black cat before and suddenly he just started appearing in our garden. There was something different about him. He appeared  like a miniature panther, all glossy and splendid, looking for attention, with his mesmerising eyes, I fell under his spell. He liked to show off, he would disappear into thin air, climb to ridiculous heights, or chase his tail around the garden like a demented clown. He just had to play a part in this book too. Lets just say he has a subsidiary part to a main character, who is male, young and very interesting too, just like him. That was the beginning. Looking back I am amazed that from just a few initial thoughts my idea just seemed to grow and grow. Now my debut novel, is nearly ready for the final edit. How did that happen? I couldn’t be happier in fact if I had a tail, I’m sure I would be whizzing around and around chasing it with excitement!

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

My Gallbladder Operation

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I was a bit apprehensive when I received my appointment letter for  my Gallbladder operation. The date was set as Monday 13th of October, being a bit superstitious the number 13 just didn’t do much to alleviate my fears. On the day of the operation my husband was driving me to Addenbrookes in the early hours of the morning when he suddenly said, “Oh No.” I thought his outburst was most probably due to an announcement about bad traffic ahead, but no of course it couldn’t be that,  the NHS were on strike! So as we drove to the hospital I had no idea whether my operation would go ahead as planned. The superstitious no 13, lifted his ugly head and smirked.

I was admitted, given a bed, and everything seemed to be going as planned. The doctors and nurses checked me for everything under the sun, diabetes, high blood pressure, and my medical record was clarified and re-checked over and over again. One thing surprised me, the check for nail polish and makeup, whatever was that in aid of? This one might seem irrelevant but believe me it is not. Your nails and skin are a means to verify that enough oxygen is reaching you whilst you are under. So leave the make up and nail polish at home ladies, oh and any gents too who are so inclined!  I met my anaesthetist and was somewhat perturbed when I saw that she was very heavily pregnant. She made a comment about coming in as a patient herself in the next two weeks. Please don’t have your baby today, I silently prayed.

I hadn’t eaten or had any fluid since the night before and my operation wasn’t scheduled until around 3 o’clock. A very chatty member of the hospital staff waited with me while I perspired anxiously.  I told him all about my writing journey and my completed book. Then I was called in. No going back. I woke up around 4.20pm and just before I stirred I could have sworn that I was on my computer writing my latest blog post about my experience at the hospital! Trust me to think about writing whilst I was under the surgeon’s knife. Fortunately I didn’t embarrass myself too much, I was a quiet patient, but the guy in the bed next to me was a challenge to say the least. He just wouldn’t stay still when he awoke. The nurses had a difficult job restraining him. I suppose even the quietest of guys may react badly to a general anaesthetic.

I didn’t stay in recovery for long and was quickly transferred  back to the original ward. It was a bit of a lonely night as I was all by myself on the ward. Mind you it wasn’t as if I was up to much socialising I had enough trouble going to the toilet! The next morning one of the nurses casually suggested that I might like to wash my face and freshen up a bit. I must have smelt pretty bad and this was her polite way of saying I needed to wash. I really wished that I’d packed some nicely smelling deodorant but all I had was a functional roll on. Still, I was so glad I had packed a dressing gown, a must if you are going in for an operation.

Then a new batch of patients arrived waiting for their operations. I was struck by their positivity and cheerfulness. I felt guilty eating and drinking as they were unable to indulge in either of these pursuits. The aroma of my food must have been distressing. Nevertheless, we were drawn together by this strange experience, it was a club of sorts but not one you would normally want to join. An elderly Italian lady made a big impression upon me. She had been for countless operations before but she just smiled, and talked endlessly. I have never heard anyone talk so much! Even though everything must have been a bit of a challenge for her, she had a walking stick, suffered from dizzy spells, yet she didn’t complain. Even after she returned from her operation she still had so much to say! She gave me a lovely wave and wished me well when she left to go home. I just hope she will be fine too, her arm was limp after the operation and I wonder whether it is fine now? She made light of it, joking that she didn’t think the alien arm belonged to her. I couldn’t believe she was released within a day, what a tough old cookie! Not like me, I stayed overnight, was hardly able to walk after the operation, and had a raised temperature for the first night. An eighty three year old with a walking stick,  definitely put me to shame!

Overall surgery is not an experience I would like to repeat in a hurry, but the nurses and doctors did a sterling job. NHS staff shouldn’t need to strike to get a 1% pay rise, they deserve every single penny.  I’m relieved that my short stay at Addenbrookes is all over. Hopefully now  I’ll be able to eat normally again, a favourite pastime of mine. I can’t wait to tuck into a long awaited Chinese Buffet!

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Oh and now my Gallbladder is gone I may never suffer from indecisiveness ever again, apparently in Chinese medicine, quoting Wikipedia, ” the Gallbladder is a Yang (Fu) organ; its paired Yin (Zang) organ is the Liver. The pair is associated with the element of Wood. While the Liver is associated with the emotion of anger, the Gallbladder is associated with indecision or decisiveness.” So no more procrastinating,  time to get my book published!

My Kyrosmagica review of Garth Nix’s Lirael

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Goodreads synopsis:

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Now, two years past the time when she should have received the Sight that is the Clayr’s birthright, she feels alone, abandoned, unsure of who she is. Nevertheless, the fate of the Old Kingdom lies in her hands. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil.

In this sequel to Sabriel, winner of the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Australian Science Fiction, New York Times best-selling author Garth Nix weaves a spellbinding tale of discovery, destiny, and danger.

My review:

This wonderful trilogy was introduced to me on Goodreads via the Hot Key books Old Kingdom READ-ALONG.

It is quite fascinating how Garth Nix fast forwarded the essential elements of the story many years into the future, rather than continuing Sabriel and Touchstone’s more youthful story. We are introduced to Lirael, a young woman who wants desperately to be accepted as a Clayr,  yet she is lacking in one important quality that the Clayr must possess. Each year she grows older but the ability to see into the future, which is a coming of age gift of the Clayr, bypasses her. Lirael can’t help but feel excluded, an outsider, overgrown, useless, lonely and ultimately desperate.

Unable to bare her wretched existence a day longer she decides to commit suicide by flinging herself off of  the glacier, a  dramatic attention seeking act! But she is thwarted  by her own fear and by an unexpected interruption. We are re-introduced to the Abhorsen Sabriel, and King  Touchstone but the two main characters of the previous novel play a much smaller part in this second novel.  Instead of killing herself Lirael  discovers a sense of purpose in the quiet duties of a Librarian, learns Charter magic, and creates the magnificent Disreputable dog a Free Magic creature infused with Charter Magic. If you loved Mogget, an ancient Free Magic cat construct  of unknown origin bound by a red Charter magic collar to serve the Abhorsen, you’ll love the dog. These two furry characters are just so amusing. Loved them both! Their banter is just so on point.

So the adventure continues and what an entertaining ride it is. Along the way we meet Sameth, Sabriel and Touchstone’s son, who is overwhelmed by his princely duties as Abhorsen in waiting. He would prefer to construct toys to catch insects than stare into the eyes of evil Necromancers and who can blame him? He feels inadequate, and the efficiency of his sister Ellimere  just makes him feel even more useless and paranoid.  There are interesting parallels between Sameth and Lirael, but the way in which they deal with overcoming obstacles are quite different. Lirael is without a doubt the stronger character. It is interesting how Garth Nix writes strong female characters but his male characters tend to be a bit lacking and not quite up to the task! All in all, I really enjoyed the character of Lirael, I warmed to her straight away. Sameth was a bit pathetic at times but he grew on me! Even when he tries his best to escape trouble he just seems to walk deeper into its clutches!

The ending came as a bit of a surprise but maybe I should have seen it coming!

Overall, I would highly recommend Lirael to readers of Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, and Adventure.

My rating:

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More writers resources, Memes, and Blog Hops

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Continuing on from my previous Writers resources, Memes and Hashtags:  http://kyrosmagica.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/writers-resources-and-memes/

Here are some more Writer’s resources, Memes, Blog Hops,  Challenges, and Promotional ideas that have caught my eye:

Writer’s resources

Lots of helpful writer resources worth checking out on Elsie Elmore’s blog: http://elsieelmore.com/writers-

and more on Abby Reed’s blog: http://abbyjreed.com/resources-for-writers/resources-a-helpful-list/

Great tips from author Shannon Donnelly about common dialogue mistakes: http://www.romance-ffp.com/the-seven-most-common-dialogue-mistakes/

Lots of tips from Derek Haines on promoting self published books: http://www.derekhaines.ch/justpublishing/10-ideas-to-promote-self-published-books/

Lots of information about WordPress. http://apanache.wordpress.com/about-me/wordpress-tips/

Different blogs that host writing prompts: http://kattermonran.com/2014/10/07/the-world-is-a-stage-and-it-is-time-to-tell-your-story

Memes:

Novel Nostalgias is a weekly feature/meme held every Thursday at Gwen & Kate’s and Along the Same Lines As… is a weekly feature/meme held every Sunday at Gwen & Kate’s Library. http://gwenkatelibrary.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/gwen-kates-1-year-anniversary/comment-page-1/#comment-318

Blog hop:

Why I write blog hop

This blog hop was  created by http://follyandbloom.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/the-folly-bloom-blog-hop/

I originally found it via Amandas nose in a book! http://amandasnoseinabook.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/why-i-write/ why I write blog hop.

Word Porn!

Words that you just don’t come across on a daily basis but that doesn’t stop them from being beguiling:

http://ramblingsonthewall.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/word-porn-wednesday-basorexia/

Bookish and Not so Bookish!

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts #9   http://lipsyy.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/bookish-and-not-so-bookish-thoughts-9/

“Bookish (and not so bookish Thoughts) is a round-up of your week, in and out of book world. A place to store your thoughts, and basically anything you’d like to share on your blog.”  Hosted by http://bookishlyboisterous.blogspot.co.uk/

Sites about professional paid book reviews:

http://www.apennyearned.co.uk/reviews.html

http://www.friendsandmoney.co.uk/paid-reviews.php

http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/reviews/index.php?title=Reviewer_Vacancies

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/about/careers/

Challenges:

To Be Read Pile Challenge. “The Goal: To finally read 12 books from your “to be read” pile (within 12 months)” http://tasseledbooks.com/2013/12/17/2014-tbr-pile-challenge/ Hosted by http://roofbeamreader.com/tbr-pile-challenge

Around the world in 12  books challenge, different levels of participation available at : http://www.giraffedays.com/?p=18795/

Feeling Thankful?

Thankful blogging thoughts: http://serinssphere.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/10-things-of-thankful-15/

Thunderclap:

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“Thunderclap is a tool that lets a message be heard when you and your friends say it together. Think of it as an “online flash mob.” Join a Thunderclap, and you and others will share the same message at the same time, spreading an idea through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr that cannot be ignored.”

Thunderclap promotional device:  https://www.thunderclap.it/faq

My Friday Image Dhammakaya Cetiya

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The Dhammakaya is a symbol of World peace. It is  a Buddhist parkland and sanctuary, located at Pathum Thani Province in Thailand.

Find out more about it at  http://www.peacefulweb.com/dhammakaya-pagoda.html.

And Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Dhammakaya_Centre

Isn’t it an amazing sight? To give you an idea of the scale of the endeavour the outer shell is decorated with 300,000 Buddha images.

Image : http://pixabay.com/en/photos/dhammakaya%20pagoda/

The Psychology of Colors in Marketing (Fiverr Blog)

marjma2014:

Reblogged from MM Jaye writes. The psychology of Colours in Marketing.

Originally posted on MM Jaye writes...:

We all know that colors trigger spontaneous visceral reactions. Personal preferences should be factored in (I’ll never switch to Vodafone—I do not like red as the predominant color anywhere) but there are staples as shown by the awesome infographic presented in the Fiverr Blog.

What connotations are hidden behind Purple? And what should you expect if you go for Red? I chose Blue here as I wanted a tie-in with the Aegean blue featured in Fate Accompli, my upcoming debut novel (to be released in November), but it turns out that blue exudes a sense of security and trustworthiness. It’s beautiful too…

To read the whole article click here or on the inforgraphic.

From Fiverr Blog

Very shareable, non?

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Victoria Schwab’s The Unbound

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she’s struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn’t easy — not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she’s really safe.

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She’s sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she’ll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

My review:

Once again, Victoria Schwab has charmed me. In my opinion this is even better than the Archived, which is some compliment considering that The Archived was a 4 star read, and well sequel books must be so hard to write. I totally relate to this as I’ve finished my first novel and I’m now at that point when I should be thinking about writing the sequel, but it is so hard to begin. Where do you even start? I love the way in which Victoria Schwab effortlessly managed to re-introduce the back story, and all the characters, and added some new ones too. This book is a wonderful read,  it has been a great help and an inspiration to me.

I  was amused by her own self-reflexive review on Goodreads :

Writing this book gave me hives. Finishing it gave me an ulcer. Revising it made me hypertensive.

I am pretty sure it nearly killed me.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t hurt you to read. At least not in the same ways it hurt me to write.”

Well it didn’t hurt me, I did wince a bit in certain parts, but that was only because lady you can and do deliver a story with a punch.

I’m developing a bit of a fan thing going on here for Victoria Schwab. It all started with Vicious, then progressed onto The Archived and now we have The Unbound. Wherever will Victoria take me to next?

What did I like about the Unbound?

The DIALOGUE                                            faces-63516__180

just buzzed with ACTION!

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You could just hear her protagonists talk, see their gestures and movements. The action was full on and at times it made me flinch but in a wow that’s incredible way. Wesley was super cute. I really enjoyed his character in the Archived but somehow in The Unbound he just evolved into super cute Wes, caring, patient, and well just there for Mac.   The romance really develops in the sequel, in fact it smoulders and then sizzles at the end, so be prepared! Mac is such a wonderfully strong female character. After all that has happened to her, she is allowed to crumble, to question her nightmares, to fear where Owen is taking her. But she does it in such a believable way, she manages to pick herself up, and in this fragile state she has the courage to take on Agatha, now that’s brave. What else did I enjoy? Without doubt I admired the almost detective like feel to the second novel, and the way in which Mac touches other people’s lives, and her sense of guilt when she discovers what has befallen these innocent people when her instinctive acts of kindness have unexpected consequences.

My favourite Quotes:

“The funny thing about armor is that it doesn’t just keep other people out. It keeps us in. We build it up around us, not realizing that we’re trapping ourselves.”

 “It’s okay to not be okay,” she says. “When you’ve been through things—whatever those things are—and you don’t allow yourself to not be okay, then you only make it worse. Our problems will tear us apart if we try to ignore them. They demand attention because they need it.”
“And when he presses his lips into the curve of my throat, I can feel his tears on my skin.”
“Caring about someone is scary, Mac. I know. Especially when you’ve lost people. It’s easy to think it’s not worth it. It’s easy to think life will hurt less if you don’t. But it’s not life unless you care about it.”
“People are made up of so many small details. Some—like the smell of cookies baking—we can recreate. Or at least try.”
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Would I recommend it?

Of course. Yes, I’m most definitely a Victoria Schwab  fan. I’d recommend it to readers of  Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance. Well, just about anybody that enjoys a really good read.

My rating. How am I going to rate this?

You guessed it!

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Authors website: http://www.victoriaschwab.com/

My Friday Favourite White Versus Iridescent Peacock

peacock-386304_640 Contrary to popular belief the White Peacock is my Friday Favourite image from http://www.pixabay.com. I’m standing up for the understated proud bearing of the White Peacock. Very unique. The guy below is doing his best to make him feel a bit like a delicate bundle of suspended cotton wool, appealing  in a fluffy sort of way, but is the iridescent peacock stealing all of the attention? Mr Colourful.  Come on, white’s cool too.   Huh Mr Show Off!

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Stranger at Sunset ~ Goodreads Giveaway, Price Drop, and Gifting

marjma2014:

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Stranger at Sunset – Eden Baylee. Goodreads Giveaway.

Originally posted on :

Stranger at Sunset is now available in print, and I’m giving away a signed paperback, hosted by Goodreads! This giveaway is open worldwide from Oct. 1-15, 2014. Enter by hitting the graphic below. While you’re there, you can also add my book to your “to-read” shelf if you haven’t already. Sign up, you have nothing to lose!

If you win, I’ll write something really nice in your book just for you. ;)

Goodreads giveaway SAS

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Over the next while, I’m experimenting with pricing. There are many factors that go into setting a price for a book. After much research, I’m dropping the price of Stranger at Sunset from $4.99 to 99 cents for a limited time. This sale will only be available on Amazon and is effective immediately.

My book continues to be sold on  Apple | B&N | KoboSmashwords at the regular price until further notice.

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