Thursday, 24 November 2011

Inspired by...

THE LOST GIRL is on Goodreads! I don't even have a neat bit of preamble for that piece of news - it's just so exciting! Do pop over and have a look. Things really feel like they're kicking off and although there's not a whole lot on the book's page yet, it's there and it feels so real now.

 In the wake of the listing, and the announcement on Bookseller, I've had a bunch of people on Twitter ask me questions about the book. And, of course, one of those questions has been about the inspiration behind a book. Authors inevitably get asked how we/they came up with a story. I love hearing the answers. We seem to get ideas everywhere. It's amazing.

So, how to find these ideas?

1. Dreams. Stephenie Meyer famously said Twilight was inspired by a very vivid dream.

2. Song lyrics. Music always helps me! Sometimes a certain line or phrase, paired with a certain bit of music, will send me racing for my laptop.

3. Other books. Ideas can be pilfered freely from classics, myths, fairy tales, poems, other novels. Ideas are rarely brand new. THE LOST GIRL owes a great deal to Frankenstein. More often than not ideas are recycled, revamped, reused, re-a-lot-of-things. But there is a very clear line to be toed here. There's a difference between being inspired - and just plain old copying.

4. News, movies, conversations. Pay attention to what's going on around you. You never know what might set a story-spark ablaze.

5. People. It's amazing how a certain characteristic in a friend or a stranger can send you into a frenzy of excitement. An author I know once tweeted that, while out at the supermarket, she saw a stranger with such wild, moody eyes she couldn't resist writing a story about him.

Where do you find your ideas?

And a little reminder: the 300 Followers Contest ends in six days! PRIZES IN THE OFFING! Please do tweet, blog, just generally get the word out if you can - I'd so appreciate it!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Where are we going from here?

Things don't stay the same for long - and thank heavens for that, or we'd all find ourselves climbing the walls with boredom! And that's true of this blog too. With my baby due in three weeks, and chaos bound to ensue, I thought now was a good time to talk about what you can expect from me/the blog in the immediate future.

I have no intention of vanishing off the face of the blogosphere! Just to get that out of the way first. I've never done the baby thing before so I have no idea what to really expect, but my plan, right now, is to take maybe four weeks off blogging once the baby's born.  (After I've bored everyone with oodles of super-cute baby photos, obviously.)

After that, for a couple of months, I hope to spend a day on here every now and then, scheduling posts and generally catching up on things.

I still plan to visit my favourite blogs and I will always return comments so those things won't change.

Wow. Actually putting all this into a post makes it so official. Like these changes are really real. Can this be? Am I really going to have offspring? Am I never going to have a lie-in on a Saturday again? Ack.

PS. In other news, rather excitingly, I got a mention on the Bookseller and various other blogs this week! Random House Children's Books (UK) sent out a press release about some of their recent acquisitions and THE LOST GIRL features alongside three other debuts - all of which sound amazing!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Covers, Trailers and False Starts (oh, my!)

It's amazing how much more there is to publishing a book than writing a book. Now obviously the author doesn't do all of that other stuff - with a traditional publisher there are editors, copyeditors, sales people, designers, and so many more - but it does still come as a surprise to me to step back and realize just how much of my work time has involved doing things that have little or nothing to do with actual writing.

For example, I recently had a sneaky peek at the US cover concept and design for THE LOST GIRL... 

...and yes, it was every bit as exciting as you might imagine it would be! I've been dying to see a cover for months so it was definitely an OMGIMIGHTFAINT kind of moment. It's early days yet so I'm not allowed to say much about it, but I will say it looked beautiful

And it also felt surreal. For so long this story has only ever been in my head and in words. To see it turned into images and colours like that, by somebody else entirely... well. It made my head spin.

I've also been working on a book trailer. Not exactly writing work, is it? But I really want to create something lovely for the book and so far I'm just bouncing ideas around, visualising possibilities in my head, and making lists of clips/footage I'll need to get my hands on. It's fun (for me, anyway, it might not be every writer's cup of tea) but it's also stressful and hard work and I haven't even got to actually acquiring or editing any footage yet! But it does just show how much of my Writing Day passes by without any writing happening.

But I do write. Or I try. I scribble things. I work on new ideas. But lately I've had a series of false starts. Ideas I've brainstormed and gotten excited about, only to find that they fizzle out when I try to put them onto the page. Or stories I've started that I like, but just don't love, and I find that I go back to the same four chapters and reread them and can't make myself go on. 

It's disheartening. It's disappointing. And it's like a physical itch because I want to write, I want to be working on something new, but nothing feels right at the moment. But I guess that makes me feel hopeful too. Because I'd know it if it felt right. So I know these false starts, these brief sparks of ideas, they're just not it. 

At least not yet. And that's okay.

What's gotten you excited or frustrated lately?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

If I had Siri, I'd...

Last week I blogged about my fantasy checklist. My mother's response was to send me straight to Youtube and to Siri, a virtual personal assistant on the new iPhone who can pretty much do anything for you. She sounds awesome. Okay, so she can't do my cooking and taxes, but maybe one day...

Apparently she has some really funny comebacks too. Like, if you tell her you love her, she tells you you're the wind beneath her wings.

There's my bit of tech envy for the day. Have you discovered anything fun lately?

PS. Don't forget to put your name down to enter the Big 300 Contest - only a few weeks to go and I'm giving away prizes if I make it to 300 followers!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Book Review: String Bridge by Jessica Bell

This is a big month for Jessica Bell, whose literary novel String Bridge releases in Kindle and paperback, and I'm so excited to be part of her blog tour! Here's a little bit more about Jessica and her book-

Jessica Bell is a literary women's fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter who grew up in Melbourne, Australia, to two gothic rock musicians who had successful independent careers during the '80s and early '90s.

She spent much of her childhood travelling to and from Australia to Europe, experiencing two entirely different worlds, yet feeling equally at home in both environments. She currently lives in Athens, Greece and works as a freelance writer/editor for English Language Teaching publishers worldwide, such as HarperCollins, Pearson Education and Macmillan Education.

In addition to String Bridge, Jessica has published a book of poetry called Twisted Velvet Chains. A full list of poems and short stories published in various anthologies and literary magazines can be found under Published Works & Awards, on her website.

From September 2012 Jessica will be hosting the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca, home of Odysseus.
You can find her online here.

As for String Bridge, this is from the Amazon blurb-

Greek cuisine, smog and domestic drudgery was not the life Australian musician, Melody, was expecting when she married a Greek music promoter and settled in Athens, Greece. Keen to play in her new shoes, though, Melody trades her guitar for a 'proper' career and her music for motherhood. That is, until she can bear it no longer and plots a return to the stage--and the person she used to be. However, the obstacles she faces along the way are nothing compared to the tragedy that awaits...

The book is available on Amazon, Amazon UK and Barnes and Noble. It also, rather excitingly, has its own soundtrack (composed by Jessica - I KNOW, is there anything she DOESN'T do??), which you can find here.

And what did I think of this book?

Read it. I don't want to say too much about the plot because I don't want to give anything away, but String Bridge is painful, and exhilarating, and the 'tragedy' so tantalizingly teased in the blurb? Oh boy.

Characters are important to me and I wasn't disappointed. I didn't always like Melody or agree with her choices, but I rooted for her. And I hated her husband from the off. It's a huge point in the book's favour that these characters make it feel real.

I will admit that, personally, this isn't a genre I often read. And I know why: it's because I sometimes struggle with literary fiction and there were times I struggled a little here, with small sections where I just wanted more to happen. But I never wanted to stop reading.

Finally, music plays a huge role in this story and I loved that about it. From the title to the main character Melody's name to the huge impact music and love of music has on the plot, it's not just a device: it's an inextricable part of the story. Often books play on a passion without really making that passion a living, breathing part of the story; sometimes, though, that passion comes through and it does here. You may not always like Melody - or you may, I don't know, I can only speak for me - but you'll understand her because Jessica makes you understand how she feels about music. That's what, to me, really made this book shine.

Big congratulations to Jessica!