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 children’s/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!

Update: I HAVE SOMETHING WICKED TO TELL YOU, ABSOBLOODYLOOTELY, I’M CURRENTLY QUERYING AGENTS/PUBLISHERS RE: MY NOVEL.

SO STAY POSTED.

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AND THE MOST AMAZING CAT’S PYJAMAS.  XXX

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THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners.  If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear on this site, please contact or e-mail me with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed. Photos courtesy of Google and Bing images.

Recipe: Thai Fish Cakes

marjma2014:

These look yummy, Thai Fish Cakes, spicy love reblogged from Jennyinneverland.

Originally posted on Jenny in Neverland:

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Now we made these Thai fish cakes months ago but at the time, it didn’t occur to me to do a recipe post about them. We made them again the other day because honestly, they are the most amazing things I have ever tasted! I am salivating just thinking about them so there’s no way I couldn’t write a food blog about them and share the recipe with you all. these are perfect as either part of a main meal or even on their own as a snack.

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#Read #Authors – #Copyright #Infringement #Notification…

marjma2014:

Reblog of Chris the story reading ape blog’s post about authors copyright infringement. Worth keeping a copy of this so here it is.

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog:

copyright-culprit

I have been hearing from a LOT recently that more SCAM BOOK SITES are appearing online in ever increasing numbers…

What can YOU do about it?

If you are an author and YOUR book(s) are being offered without your permission – issue DMCA Notices (SEE BELOW FIRST)

If you are a readerPLEASE DO NOT USE THESE SITES!

It may be tempting to get books FOR FREE or at greatly reduced prices but…

They may be a click farm looking for your email

and you will be infected with a virus.

*****

AUTHORS – VERY IMPORTANT!!!

DO NOT SEND THE OFFENDING SITE A DIRECT NOTICE.

If they are on Facebook – Use Facebook’s reporting form to remove their link source from Facebook’s server.

My attorney warns me not to click on them, but to send a form letter to their server.

You can find out their server here:

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My Friday Post: Spring in the Woods

This Friday I thought I’d take you with me on a walk in my neighbouring Country Park woods, they are so beautiful and I regret that I don’t often take a moment to stop and really marvel at the beauty that is right on my doorstep. When the children were little we were always at the swing park, indulging in the delights of sunny picnics. But now my youngest daughter wouldn’t be seen there with her mother! That would be so embarrassing for her. She is fifteen so it’s to be expected! If she still wanted to hang out with me, I’d be wondering what was wrong. So, undaunted I decided to go on my own on Tuesday. Yes, I did just that, and was so glad that I did. It was a beautiful sunny day. Everyone was out enjoying the sunshine, eating ice creams, children were playing in the park, office workers were sneaking out for a crafty short break, and who could blame them? It was a glorious Spring day. I hadn’t realised just how warm it was and I was overdressed, in fact there were a few young men stripped to the waist, sunbathing, enjoying the sunshine. Definitely brightened up my day! I was tempted to snap them too, with a camera of course, but wasn’t sure how they would react so I’m afraid I only photographed the trees, a monument, and some cheeky shadows!

Have a wonderful Friday, hope the sun is shining wherever you are. Enjoy your weekend.

Please feel free to connect, I love to talk about books, writing, haiku, photography, food, art, theatre, you name it, anything cultural and fun,  I’m there.

Twitter @Marjorie_Mallon

and here:

Tumblr: http://kyrosmagica.tumblr.com/

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kyrosmagica

and here!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/20419289-marje-mallon

Haiku Prompt Challenge #40 New and Time

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RonovanWrites Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt Challenge #40 New&Time

 

This weeks Haiku Prompt challenge from Ronovan Writes really appeals to me as I have a bit of a fascination with time. Time always seems a thoughtful, contemplative topic to me so both of my haikus are more serious in nature.  The first haiku ends on an a more positive yet sad note with – new life replaces old, as opposed to new life surrenders. It’s amazing where a few lines of haiku can make your mind drift off to! Quite unintentional, but interesting how both of my haikus end.

Below is my photo of the Corpus Christi Clock in Cambridge, a popular tourist attraction. My first haiku is inspired by this weird and wonderful timepiece.

 

New Life Replaces Old

Clock ticks on gossamer wings

Time runs its cruel rollercoaster ride

New life replaces old

 

Clock ticks on gossamer wings, time runs its cruel rollercoaster ride.

Time runs its cruel rollercoaster ride, new life replaces old.

Now on to my second haiku:

New Life Surrenders

 

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The parched land crumbles

Time can’t wait for falling rain

New life surrenders

 

The parched land crumbles, time can’t wait for falling rain.

Time can’t wait for falling rain, new life surrenders.

 

© Marjorie Mallon 2015 – aka, Kyrosmagica.
Words good or bad, are my very own!

My Kyrosmagica Review of The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

My review:

I’ve been meaning to read this novel for ages. I was delighted to listen to Maureen Johnson, and Leigh Bardugo at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last August talking about Alternative Worlds. In fact there is a write up of this wonderful event on my blog on the 25th of August under the heading Author interviews and Talks. So check that out.

In my opinion The Name of The Star, (The Shades of London #),  really captures the reader’s imagination about half way through the story. Up until the half way mark it’s a little slow, bogged down by the detail of introducing the setting and the characters. But, on the whole it is quite an engaging story, and Maureen does a great job keeping us entertained with her little witticisms. Luckily the pace livens up in the second half of the novel,  and elements of the story are revealed that make it a much more exciting tale, so watch out for that! I would say the writing style is not complex, it is more middle grade, yet the topic is YA, which makes it an easy, fast read.

Rory is from Louisiana but has been sent to Wexford Academy, a boarding school in London. Despite the culture shock, Rory settles into Wexford without too much difficulty. Although she does feel somewhat challenged by the emphasis on sport, particularly hockey. Still, everything else seems to be going well, and she likes her new roommate Jazza.  Her boarding school happens to be in the same area that was terrorized by Jack the Ripper in 1888. Weirdly it seems as if Jack is back in town, and wants to greet Rory. “It was as if the news itself wanted to reassure me. Even Jack the Ripper himself had reappeared as part of the greeting committee.” There are CCTV cameras all over London, yet this isn’t deterring someone from carrying out copy cat Jack The Ripper murders.  With the murders comes a new flat mate, Boo, who seems very different from Rory’s flatmate Jazza, and everything begins to change. I liked Maureen’s choice of name, Boo, for Rory’s new flat mate, very witty!

It’s a new twist on the Jack The Ripper story and on the whole it works well. The characters are well crafted, particularly Rory, the main female character, and for the most part the story line is believable, (bearing in mind that this is about ghosts!) Though, I did wonder a bit about the method used to zap the ghosts into oblivion possibly this stretched the powers of believability a bit. Though, Maureen Johnson likes to be humorous so maybe she was thinking of changing channels on her TV when she came up with the idea! No, more about that, I don’t want to spoil it for you. The book appears to be well researched, you get the sense that Maureen Johnson tiptoed around London snooping around to find out all she could about the various parts of London where Jack the Ripper struck.

There is a touch of romance in the story, Jerome the love interest, seems to be obsessed with Jack the Ripper, in fact he encourages Rory to sneak out of Wexford through a broken window, to  a roof top vantage point at Aldshot,  hoping to see something. Jerome sounds a bit daft, and fool-hardy, typical teenage boy material. Later on the way back Rory does indeed see something, or possibly someone, but her flat mate does not, adding to the mystery. I had the sense that Maureen Johnson didn’t intend that this romance was to play a big part in the novel, in a way it seemed to be a bit of light-hearted relief for Rory, a snog with obsessive Jerome, seemed to take her mind of the Ripper’s devilish plans. You can’t blame the poor girl.  If you are looking for a well developed romance this isn’t it, this feels more like a bit of a light-hearted temporary diversion, with a very satisfactory snog as a compensation.“Kissing is something that makes up for a lot of other crap you have to put up with…It can be confusing and weird and awkward, but sometimes it just makes you melt and forget everything that is going on.”

Favourite quotes:

“Fear can’t hurt you,” she said. “When it washes over you, give it no power. It’s a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.”

“And if we get caught, I will claim I made you go. At gunpoint. I am American. People will assume I’m armed.”

“I decided to deflect her attitude by giving a long, Southern answer. I come from people who know how to draw things out. Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death.”

“The English play hockey in any weather. Thunder, lightening, plague of locusts…nothing can stop the hockey. Do not fight the hockey, for the hockey will win.”

“Walk really, really carefully. It’s not complicated, but if you mess up, you’ll die, so pay attention.”

“It was almost funny. Life seemed downright accidental in its brevity, and death a punch line to a lousy joke.”

“Something about her suggested that her leisure activities included wrestling large woodland animals and banging bricks together.”

Recommended for readers of Young Adult, Mystery, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Horror.

My rating:

4 stars – The beginning is a bit slow probably a 3.5 star beginning but it picked up pace so I award it 4 stars overall.

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Ten Word Story: Cavernous Potato Hunger

potato-540386_640This week I’ve been inspired by Esther Newton’s ten word story challenge to write a story with the words Potato and Friday, she originally posted this challenge on the 2nd of April.

https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/5373/

So apologies for being so slow on the uptake Esther. I’m kind of behind on the date of the challenge but never mind. I had a go at this one anyway. Here is my belated ten word story:

Friday Hunger dug a cavernous potato hole in his stomach.

You might want to have a go at her current challenge: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/my-weekly-writing-challenge-46/

Esther’s looking for ten-word stories, with the words: discombobulated, fabulous, bacon and unicorn.

Sounds quite a challenge!

First of all let’s take the word discombobulated, quite a mouthful isn’t it? Doesn’t roll of the tongue with ease but I do kind of like the word, it means to confuse, disconcert, upset, frustrate. I kind of think the discombobulated idea suggests a touch of humour, and poor old Mr Pig may have to chat up a fabulous unicorn or else he might end up as bacon!

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Here goes:

A discombobulated pig courted a fabulous unicorn who ate bacon.

When reviews really matter…

marjma2014:

Absolutely believe that reviews matter. Don’t you? Reblog of When reviews really matter from Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Originally posted on Daily Echo:

Image source reddit.com

 “Bilbo Baggins was a Hobbit who lived in his Hobbit hole and never went for adventures, at last Gandalf the wizard and his Dwarves persuaded him to go. He had a very exiting (sic) time fighting goblins and wargs. At last they get to the lonely mountain; Smaug, the dragon who guards it is killed and after a terrific battle with the goblins he returned home — rich! This book, with the help of maps, does not need any illustrations it is good and should appeal to all children between the ages of 5 and 9.” Rayner Unwin’s review of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

In 1936 a ten year old boy was given a book by his father. This was not just any book, nor just any boy… Rayner Unwin was the son of Sir Stanley Unwin, founder of the publishing firm George Allen…

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My Kyrosmagica Review of The Gift Of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

 

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Goodreads synopsis:

Penang, 1939. Sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton is a loner. Half English, half Chinese and feeling neither, he discovers a sense of belonging in an unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. The enigmatic Endo is bound by disciplines of his own and when the Japanese invade Malaya, threatening to destroy Philip’s family and everything he loves, he realises that his trusted sensei – to whom he owes absolute loyalty – has been harbouring a devastating secret.Philip must risk everything in an attempt to save those he has placed in mortal danger and discover who and what he really is. With masterful and gorgeous narrative, replete with exotic and captivating images, sounds and aromas – of rain swept beaches, magical mountain temples, pungent spice warehouses, opulent colonial ballrooms and fetid and forbidding rainforests – Tan Twan Eng weaves a haunting and unforgettable story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love.

My review:

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng is a story set in Malaya in World War Two told through the eyes of Philip Hutton, a young man who feels like an outsider in his own family.

There are many aspects of this wonderful book (Nominee for the Man Booker Prize Longlist 2007) that I really enjoyed:

 The main protagonist Philip doesn’t feel that he belongs in either culture, being half Chinese with a  Chinese mother, Khoo Ui Lian, and a British father. His Grandather Khoo is estranged from the family too. In time his grandfather takes Philip to the Leong San Thong Dragon Mountain Hall temple built by the clan association of the Khoo. His grandfather accuses Philip of “the great human capacity for choosing not to see.”  He predicts that his choices will never be the completely correct ones,” and “That is your tragedy.” But growing up of mixed parentage, “that is your strength.” I related to this in some ways, as I am also of mixed parentage, my father is Scottish and my mother is a Eurasian from Malaysia.

Philip is not close to his siblings Edward, William and Isabel therefore it is not altogether surprising that he is attracted  to a Japanese man, Endosan, an outsider, who appears to be so powerful that he says: “Now you will always remember me as the man who taught you to touch heaven.”

The references to martial arts – Under the influence of Endosan’s (Mr Hayato Endo) tutelage in Aikijitsu, Philip becomes very close to him, so much so that he trusts him with details that maybe he should not. He must make one of two horrendously difficult choices either to work with or against the Japanese during the occupation of Malaya.

It is a novel about choices and consequences, Philip takes a different path from his friend Kon, even though they started off on a similar route both learning Japanese martial arts. Ultimately, the choices that the two young men make lead them in conflicting directions. Even though Philip isn’t close to his family he does want to protect them and his father’s business from harm. But, his good intentions do not have the desired effect, in fact his ploy seems to work against him in many ways, destroying lives, and making the divide between himself and his father and sister much greater. Later he tries to make amends, fearful for his life and his family’s life after witnessing the terrible atrocities carried out in the Kempeitai cleansing campaign.

The Gift of Rain acts as a confessional told through the perspective of an aging Philip confessing his life story to an elderly sick Japanese woman who has appeared at his doorstep unannounced. Both Michiko and Philip share a love for Mr Hayato Endo, and therefore Philip feels comfortable sharing this story with her, as he believes she if anyone will understand why he chose the path that he did. There is a sense in the story of everything in life being connected, a continuum of many lives in which Philip will meet Endosan again and again.

Tan Twan Eng weaves a tale of dreadful cruelty entwined with cultural niceties that breathes life into the story, one only has to experience Goro’s cruelty with the piano playing episode in the book to see this  strange partnership in action.

Tan Twan Eng uses the themes of delicate butterflies and fireflies, and a family portrait taken before Philip’s brother goes off to fight to suggest the fragility, and wonder of life. At a particularly sad, and heart-wrenching point in The Gift of Rain, we are told that: “I never saw any butterflies.”

It questions what we consider to be fair and just in a war. It is a world in which the family chauffeur will eventually feel justified in betraying a member of the family, as he considers that:  “This is justice.”

There is a sense that those pre-war days were magical and life cannot ever be the same again: “But those were magical days just before the threads that bound the world became unravelled. ”

I love the fortune teller aspect of the novel, and the concept of the gift of rain. The fortune teller in the Temple of Azure Cloud told Philip: “You were born with the gift of rain. Your life will be abundant with wealth and success. But life will test you greatly. remember –  rain also brings the flood.” She also says: of Endo-san: ‘He’s a Jipunakui – a Japanese  ghost. I do not read their futures. Beware of him.”

I love that it is set in Malaysia. Particularly at this time in history as I have heard stories from my mother passed down from her family about Malaya during the Japanese occupation. Tan Twang Eng depicts the setting so wonderfully that you just feel as if you are there and it does make you wonder what would you would have been prepared to do to keep your family safe if you were in Malaya at that time.

So a thoughtful novel which I really enjoyed from start to finish. I would highly recommend it to readers who enjoy Historical fiction, Cultural, War, and Asian literature.

 

My rating:

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5 stars.

 

This blog claims no credit for any images posted unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to their respective owners. If there is an image on here that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear on this site please contact me and I will have it removed.

 

Haiku Challenge No. 39 Vie and Reach

https://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/ronovanwrites-weekly-haiku-poetry-prompt-challenge-39-vie-reach/

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Just recently I watched a wonderful documentary called First Position about six young dancers from around the world, as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world. The Haiku challenge vie and reach, seemed to be a perfect match for the hardworking, dedicated ballerinas who strive so hard for much coveted perfection.

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Ballerinas reach

Giddy  balletic new heights

Vie for perfection

Ballerinas reach giddy balletic new heights

Giddy Balletic new heights vie for perfection

The second haiku incorporating nature came to me quicker than the first:

Reach high for the stars

Whatever you do try hard

Vie for the moon too

Reach high for the stars whatever you do try hard

Whatever you do try hard vie for the moon too

Link:

First Position Ballet Documentary:  http://www.balletdocumentary.com/

This blog claims no credit for any images posted unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respective owners. If there is an image here that belongs to you and  you do not wish for it to appear on this site please contact me and I will have it removed.

Are you a “Professional Reader” at NetGalley?

marjma2014:

Very informative. Post from Heena Rathmore P. about Netgalley a site for professional readers to request galley proofs of new books

Originally posted on Heena Rathore P.:

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Do you love to discover new books? Do you review and recommend books online, in print, for your bookstore, library patrons, blog readers, or classroom? Then you are what we call a “professional reader,” and NetGalley is for you. Registration is free, and allows you to request or be invited to read titles, often advance reading copies, on your favorite device.

-NetGalley

First of all, lets clear what NetGalley really means. In publishing world, galley is the uncorrected or in some cases corrected copies of the books that are not yet printed. And when these galleys are provided on the internet as e-books, you have what we call as NetGalley.

NetGalley offers a wide range of books for reviewers, journalists, librarians, professors, booksellers, and bloggers.

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