I don't think I'll be able to post again until after the Christmas weekend is over - let the craziness commence! - so here's my Christmas post.
Christmas and I have a fond relationship. My family celebrated it when I was little, right until I left for university, in spite of the fact that none of us were Christian. It was just... you know. Christmas. Songs and decorating a tree and presents and goodwill to all. It was just so much fun. Now I celebrate Christmas with Steve, which is just as fun. And, for the first time ever, I had a white Christmas last year and it looks like it's heading that way this year too. So, apart from the chaos and the bitter cold and the endless things to do, this really is one of my favourite times of the year.
And hey. Snow is gorgeous, right?
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you have a warm, safe and wonderful weekend!
Monday, 20 December 2010
But you're not writing! You're still stuck on Day Three of New Novel and you haven't gotten any further! Why aren't you writing?
Sangu, really, have you misplaced your eyes? It's almost Christmas! I have presents to worry about. Wrapping paper. Not to mention I - that is, we, both of us - are getting married in about six weeks. Possibly less. I'm too panicked to count. There is Too Much to Do!
Oh, I see. So now New Novel's being neglected for that stupid wedding. And Christmas. Hmpf.
Do shut up. I can't just ignore Real Life the whole of the holidays. I want to write, I do. But table plans aren't going to make themselves.
Why can't people just find an empty seat and sit down?
Clearly you're the unintelligent half of me.
I prefer reckless, thank you very much. Risk-taking. Fun, even. And look. It's been another half hour and you still haven't written anything.
Clearly you're also the half of me that isn't at risk of carpal tunnel.
Thursday, 16 December 2010
This is why.
What is that, you might wonder? That is a box. A box of books. A box of books that my publisher sent me because they are awesome. Yes, blog-folk. A box of Balzer + Bray books. I get to read books published by my publisher. I get to read. Happy dance!
And while we're on the subject of books and publishers, you might also be wondering what Steve and I did to celebrate when we found out WOVEN was going to be published. Well. We bought and built this-
-and are now looking forward to filling it up.
And that is one of the many reasons why I love being an author.
Monday, 13 December 2010
I've decided to start a blog feature where I talk about my favourite book of the year and month and invite all of you to mention yours too.
And as we're smack bang in the middle of December and the year's nearly out, I thought I'd kick this off with my Book of the Year.
Now, obviously, this is hard to do. I read a lot. Steve likes to tease me about it. He claims he can go to work and come home and, if I've been home that day, I'll probably have finished two, maybe three, full-length novels while he's been gone. I only wish I had the time to read like that, but he's not far off the mark. I can read very fast and I get through books like water. So choosing a favourite book from every single one I've read this year is incredibly difficult. But I've done it.
My 2010 Book of the Year is Tabitha Suzuma's Forbidden.
Bear in mind, this is the year I read Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, which I loved. And Lucy Christopher's Stolen, which is amazing. And this has also been the year two of my blog-friends (Alex and Talli) have released debut novels, both of which I adored. And this is the year I read countless other novels I've keeled head over heels in love for. So, you know, Forbidden had a hell of a lot of tough competition.
But ultimately, it wins.
I can't stop thinking about this book. I can't stop raving about it to anyone who will listen. I might wish it ended differently, because I'm a sentimental sop, but I also just love this book to pieces.
Fair warning to the faint of heart: the crux of the story and conflict is incest, so if that bothers you or squicks you out, you might want to tread carefully. But it's not the creepy, locked-in-a-room kind of thing you immediately associate with an incest story and, even if the concept bothers you, I'd strongly encourage you to try this anyway, because it never, ever feels like Incest with all the connotations that conjures up.
It's a love story, between a teenage brother and sister, the two eldest siblings in a family of five who have to look after the younger ones because their parents have as good as abandoned them. Naturally, there's a lot of the Greek tragedy in this novel, and it plays out beautifully. At no point did I find Lochan and Maya, the protagonists, disgusting. I thought what happened between them perfectly natural given the circumstances.
The characters are spectacular, the writing incredibly moving, and if you don't feel every single thing these characters feel along the way, I'll be stunned.
I could go on about this forever. But I think I've made my point. This is one of those books you can't stop thinking about for days after you've put it down.
What would you say your Book of the Year has been?
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Agatha Christie, Thou Canst be Funny
You can be funny, even when you’re writing a grim gritty dystopian (i.e. The Hunger Games trilogy). There's always room for humour. A bit of comic relief.
One of the things I love best about an Agatha Christie mystery is the amazing dry wit in her writing style. No matter how grim her novels get, how poignant, how sad, there is always room for something amusing - something to laugh at. Reading her novels always reminds me that you don't have to do anything when you write. If you're writing about war, you can have small, funny, poignant moments. If you're writing hilarious chick lit (sorry, women's fiction), it can be sad sometimes. There are no rules.
Everything is a mess of emotion. In real life, even when you feel like you never want to get out of bed again, something ridiculous can and will make you laugh again. That's how it works and blending emotions together in a novel can make it feel that much more real.
Daphne du Maurier, Thine Words Count
I talk about her all the time because she is really such a great writer. Daphne du Maurier showed me just how incredible a page, or paragraph, or entire novel of beautiful writing can be. Sure, without plot and character it falls flat, but when you've got that backdrop and your writing is then superb, it's just... awe-inspiring.
Have you ever read a book and thought 'wow, she just described that feeling exactly the way it feels. I've never been able to put it in words like that' or 'I wish I'd written it like that'? That's what du Maurier does for me. Her writing made me want to rethink every word I wrote. It made me stop being lazy with words and try to use them beautifully.
Her writing makes me read it over and over. I never get tired of its beauty or the way it so truthfully captures elusive images and feelings. And really, you can't ask for much more than that.
Jane Austen, Thou Shalt Not Be Boring
I apologize to any Austen fans, but I've just never, ever been able to get through one of her novels, no matter how many times I've tried. (And I have. I really have.) I love adaptations on film and TV, but the actual novels bore me to tears. I personally find them so tedious and so long-winded that they make me physically groan.
But whether you like Austen or not, the general lesson stands, right? As writers, we can't be boring. As readers, we know we'll put a book down the moment it bores us. Tedious chapters, long sections of unnecessary description, preaching - these are all writing sins that easily occur but can be easily avoided if we edit judiciously and have a second and third pair of eyes read our work.
So who have you learned from, and what did they teach you? And as a reader, what do you wish you could tell writers to avoid or do more of?
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Today is the day of awesome blogger and debut novelist Talli Roland's websplash, and I'm thrilled to be able to participate and help out! Talli is a really lovely person, an amazing blog-buddy, and - as if that wasn't enough - the extract she posted from her novel totally made me salivate for more, so you can imagine how happy I was that I could finally buy the Kindle edition today! And, of course, it's a bonus that I get to help her rankings too.
So, help Talli's debut novel The Hating Game hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.
No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.
About THE HATING GAME:
When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?
Doesn't that sound fantastic? I can't wait to dig into my copy! I plan to post a review once I've finished it.
Congratulations, Talli, I hope you have an amazing day!