Sunday, 14 April 2013

What Shall I Read? Help!

So, folks, I really need your help!

I've been in a big reading slump lately and I can't seem to break out of it. I've been reading brilliant manuscripts written by my pals but every time I pick up a review copy I can't get into it. Arghhh. I'm really in the mood to lose myself in something and that's why I need your help.

I've put together a little stack of books I've been sent lately so please, please let me know which one you think I should read next. Help meee get out of this slump!

Hunger - Melvin Burgess // The Hit - Melvin Burgess // Mila 2.0 - Debra Driza // Soul Shadows - Alex Woolf // Angelfall - Susan Ee

So, what's your pick?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Cover Reveal: Fortunately, the Milk - Neil Gaiman

So as you may (or may not) have seen the cover of Neil Gaiman's next book for children (Fortunately, the Milk) was revealed on his blog last night.

What do you think?

I love it! There's so much going on that makes me want to leap into the story. It's exciting, it's vivid and I know it's going to attract so many readers to the story. Illustrated by the fantastic Chris Riddell (who worked with Gaiman on The Graveyard Book), Fortunately, the Milk is going to look just as amazing as the story is sure to be.

For anybody who can't wait to snap this one up - it's due out in the UK and the US on September 17th 2013. So. Far. Away!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Writing Rambles: All the Feels

I haven't been reading too many novels lately. Well, I have but the ones I've been reading aren't published yet. I say 'yet' because I'm convinced they all will be. I'm working my way through three books my friends have recently finished writing and I'm absolutely blown away by their talent. And jealous of it. Very jealous!

As I can't review these books (until they are gloriously snapped up after hefty bidding wars, obviously) I haven't got too much to share about what I've been reading lately, so I want to focus on the writing side of things. I've been meaning to blog more about my own writing for a long time now and, well, there's no time like the present. Because I'm incapable of starting a series of posts without giving them a wonderfully cheesy title I give you... Writing Rambles.

Today I wanted to talk about my personal process when it comes to writing about feelings. Specifically, romantic ones.

The first novel I wrote had no love story in it. I was pretty proud of myself for accomplishing something I didn't think I'd ever be able to do. Since then, however, I've been all about the love. You see, I'm in love with love. I always have been. It's a running joke between me and my friends that if I had a fetish it would be love. Saccharine, isn't it? And because I'm so in love with love I find myself writing about romantic feelings a lot.

On the whole I try to keep myself separate from whatever I'm writing, obviously, because nobody wants to read a novel's worth of catharsis. But the one time I'm happy to let myself run riot is when I'm writing about that beautifully painful period just before a new relationship blossoms. You know what I mean; when every song you hear becomes about them, when you run through perfect scenarios with them in that hazy five minutes last thing at night when you're halfway between waking and dreaming. That's my favourite thing to write. The wanting, the daydreaming, all of it.

And it has to be right. It has to be spot on. Most people have felt this way at some point in their lives so my main aim is to make a reader think back to the first person they fell for. I want to take them right back to that time, I want it all to flood back and stir old memories. When my characters are feeling this way, I want my readers to feel this way too.

I listen to music a lot while I'm writing, particularly when I'm writing about love. For me, music and writing have always been entwined and the right melody, the right words, can be the thing that flicks a switch and gets me in the perfect head space to articulate what my characters are feeling. I always have a playlist full of songs like this (usually titled 'Emo', fun fact for you there!) and there are a few gems that I know will always, always inspire me (hello 'Honey and the Moon').

Music aside, I have my own memories that I draw on when I need to. Without going into enough detail to shame me if any 'real life' friends read this, there is a wealth of angst that I keep locked away in the ol' feelings vault that I can trot out when I need to put my protagonist through a bit of longing.

It's the funniest things that can trigger old memories or make long-forgotten feelings bubble up. For me, it can be something as small as the memory of a boy who once walked me to work on a Sunday morning because he wanted to spend an extra twenty minutes with me. Or the one who always kissed me twice on the forehead rather than once because he knew I thought once was bad luck. Going back even further, it could be the boy who asked me out by sending me a song and telling me to listen to it (for reference, I was fourteen and the song was I'd Do Anything by Simple Plan. I thought it was the most romantic thing that had ever happened to anybody, ever).

Things like that last one, I laugh about it now and I can barely even remember the person in question but being able to conjure up how I felt at the time really helps me with my writing. Being boy-obsessed and melodramatic does come in handy sometimes. Occasionally. In this situation only.

Those three things I mentioned up there are all insignificant little details that wouldn't mean anything to anybody else but to me those memories are so intrinsically linked to the relationships they spawned that they take me right back to the 'he's so dreamy, I can't stop thinking about him, WHEN IS HE GOING TO KISS ME?' fracas.

So unrequited love, failed relationships and love near-misses aren't all bad. They can provide excellent fodder when you need to channel some feelings while you're writing. HASHTAG ALL THE FEELS.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A Lesson in Backing Up

A couple of weeks ago a blogger's/writer's/general human's worst nightmare happened to me: My laptop died. The hard drive was completely dead, there was no chance of recovering my data and everything was lost.


Let this be a lesson to all of you.

Back. Your. Shit. Up.

I had every photo I've taken for the past ten years, every novel I've ever started, the three I've finished, over 10,000 songs, an archive of both of my blogs - everything. Everything was on there. I could have lost it all but I've been burned by wily hard drives before so now I back up like a demon.

I have an external hard drive I keep all of my music and writing on, as well as a media server that houses my music, photos and document back ups, I have a USB stick dedicated to my writing and another one for my photos, I have a Dropbox account and I also back my writing up in a million other places. Okay, it's not quite a million but I probably have about fifteen back ups of my writing - this is not an exaggeration. It might sound excessive to some people but when my hard drive died it caused nothing more than a mild annoyance and £80 for a new one, which is absolutely nothing when I think about what could have happened.

Seriously, people, BACK UP YOUR STUFF. You'll thank me, I promise.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Business As Usual

Hi hi hi! You might have noticed I've pretty much been MIA for most of March. I haven't realllly been tweeting much and blog posts have been *ahem* thin on the ground. And don't even get me started on my email inbox. But it's a new month and I'm officially back to blogging as normal.

March was an...interesting month. I'm going to be honest and say I didn't get a whole lot of reading or writing done, which is why blog posts have been pretty much non-existent but I have an amazing stack of books lined up ready to read this month and I can't wait to tell you all about them. I've also had a few breakthroughs with my novel so expect a few writing posts as well.

Thanks everybody for putting up with my sort of absence last month - I really appreciate that people are still reading and commenting even though I pretty much failed at blogging in March! Still, real life always takes precedence and I've had a few bits and bobs to sort out in my personal life that have meant blogging needs to take a back seat. And too many nights out. Too. Much. Rum.

April shall be a quiet month of reading, writing, reviewing and detoxing. You can count on it.