Tag Archives: Twitter

The Books that Made Me

The Books That Made MeIf you’re a Twitter-er like me, and if you have any connection to anything writing/books related like me, you’ll have spotted the new Waterstones project “The Book That Made Me” (I did tweet an article about it if you’re curious, and there are links further down this post). The idea is that you share your story about what book has most affected you (in 100 words or less, so keep it short and sweet). High-profile authors, politicians and variant celebrities have already donated their opinions – from Madame Bovary to Little Women to Emil and the Detectives. Continue reading

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The Big Announcement!

Searching for SuperwomenSo there’s a reason I didn’t post yesterday, and it’s not because I was being lazy.

No, instead I waited to post today so that you only have ONE NIGHT TO WAIT!

Yep – that Secret Project is Secret no more.

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Cloud Atlas

Cloud AtlasCloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Sceptre: paperback published 2004: 529 pages

‘Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies…’

Six interlocking lives – one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer and enthralling vision of humanity’s will to power, and where it will lead us. Continue reading

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What is a Writer?

Vernon Richards, 1945.Sometimes, telling people that I’m a writer comes back to haunt me. If I don’t get the immediate enquiry about what I’ve written, it’s the breathy admission that they could never write. I’d like to think that anyone can write, if they simply put their mind to it – after all, writing only requires literacy to begin. Continue reading


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Rumour Has It – Thomas Pynchon

Gravity's RainbowHe’s notorious for secrecy, for being a recluse – refusing to have his picture taken, dismissing eBooks, and so on. No one in the press really quite knows what he’s up to and what he thinks. Which is why, on spotting this article on The Independent, I had to Google it – just to be sure. Continue reading

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Can I Write Horror?

The ShiningSo it turns out my (still unnamed) character wants to have a horror story written. Before I even go any further, let me explain that I have never – and I mean ever – written horror. I wouldn’t even know where to start!

The most horror I’ve read is probably Stephen King. I’m not a great horror reader. And as for horror films – it takes me years to build up the courage to attempt to watch one. Continue reading


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Writers Retreat

I’m an expert at procrastination. I am the queen, the overlady, the mistress and the expert of procrastination. Seriously, I dare you to find something (other than eating chocolate) that I can’t put off by at least an hour.

Even writing.


My very life blood.

The stuff I eat, speak, dream, and live for.

Yep. I can procrastinate over writing too. In fact, I’m probably the best at this kind of procrastination – I can literally put writing off for weeks on end… Okay, months. I have proof – that incomplete, barely-there, insulted-looking novel that I keep wittering on about it proof enough that I’ve spent the last few months expertly avoiding it.

I need to find a writers retreat. I need to get out of the usual life – and all its available distractions – and ignore everything and everyone so I can just get on and write. It might not necessarily be a proper, organised one. It might just be somewhere I can go to be completely alone. No distractions.

Current distractions include:

  1. TV
  2. Internet (Facebook and Twitter and WordPress inclusive!)
  3. Phone
  4. Friends (no offence guys, you’re just far too entertaining to ignore, and that’s a compliment really)
  5. Family (living at home is hardly conducive to a quiet environment)
  6. Food (a whole drawer-full of goodies can’t be ignored)
  7. Cat
  8. Weather … well, when it’s this sunny anyway
  9. Books … I know, these technically shouldn’t count, but they do stop me from writing
  10. Running. It might be for a good cause, but my God it takes FOREVER

I don’t stand a chance, when I’m just so good at avoiding writing. I need to hike up the Alps and find a hut with a cosy room and an endless supply of tea and nothing to do but write. I need some time off work, and some time to myself to really concentrate on writing. I know I’ve been saying this a lot – just get down to it and concentrate, learn to be disciplined, blah, blah, blah. But I think I need to go to the extreme – and literally go away from everything. Sitting at the family room table, surrounded by the detritus of everyday life, or huddled against my pillows on my bed, doesn’t really help with finishing the novel. Mainly because I get distracted by everything else.

I need to get gone.

But first, there’s that TV programme I want to watch, and I’m sure there was some crisps around here …

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The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden

The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente

Spectra Books: paperback published 2006: 483 pages

Secreted away in a garden, a lonely girl spins stories to warm a curious prince: peculiar feats and unspeakable fates that loop through each other and back again to meet in the tapestry of her voice. Inked on her eyelids, each twisting, tattooed tale is a piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own hidden history. And what tales she tells! Tales of shape-shifting witches and wild horse-women, heron kings and beast princesses, snake gods, dog monks, and living stars – each story more strange and fantastic than the one that came before. From ill-tempered “mermaid” to fastidious Beast, nothing is ever quite what it seems in these ever-shifting tales – even, and especially, their teller. Adorned with illustrations by the legendary Michael Kaluta, Valente’s enchanting lyrical fantasy offers a breathtaking reinvention of the untold myths and dark fairy tales that shape our dreams. And just when you think you’ve come to the end, you realize the adventure has only begun…


I was harangued into reading this by the ever-fabulous Lunameth. And I’m glad she did! I think the word “lyrical” is the best way to describe these stories – because, essentially, they are a lot of short stories bundled into one long thread. Which is what I quite enjoyed this book – little bite size pieces that were each enjoyable in themselves, but even better strung together. I really don’t have much more to say on the matter because it’s a book that has to be read, not talked about. If you’re a fantasy writer, you MUST READ THIS BOOK. It gave me more inspiration than any writing exercise book ever could. If you like fairy tales, fantasy novels, short stories or even lots and lots of description, this book is for you.

Downside? It felt like it took forever to read, because there were just SO MANY stories. And sometimes they got so insanely descriptive I had to re-read a few pages just to make sure I understood what was being said. Also, it ends on a cliffhanger.

Rating: 7/10

Next book: Well, what did you expect? The second season of Game of Thrones is on TV (massive addiction, and E at work is my geek-buddy so we talk GoT every Tuesday over tea) so it really just had to be another George R.R Martin book. This time it’s Book Four in the series (the fifth volume), A Feast for Crows. Seeing as the last book was so traumatic, I really hope he stops killing people in this one. Just for a bit. Maybe have a marriage or a cute baby or something. Or a unicorn galloping over a rainbow with glitter in its mane… y’know, just to lighten the mood a bit.


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Banana Loaf

A certain someone… okay thewastedhours… suggested I do a gluten-free recipe blog. As I am gluten-free, and have friends who are gluten-free, and (more importantly) have friends who aren’t gluten-free and always get stuck with what to feed me, I could see her point. Well, rather than start a third blog, I thought I’d occasionally throw in some quick recipes here, on the days all I have time to blog about is something quick and easy (because I’m coming down with the female version of man-flu – which is much worse). First up: my banana loaf. Which worked so well even the people who could eat normal cake ate it with gusto.

Gluten-free Banana Loaf

250g gluten-free self-raising white flour
1 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
120g butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp maple syrup
6 bananas, mashed
100g brown/demerara sugar

1. Preheat an oven to 175 degrees C / Gas mark 3. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan or 2 (12-hole) muffin tins.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs, maple syrup and mashed bananas until well blended. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture; mix until batter is just moist. Pour batter into prepared tin.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean. If using muffin or cupcake tins, bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Serving Size: Makes 15 slices or up to 24 muffins

Number of Servings: 15

Quick and easy snack

Do you love goat’s cheese? Well, my latest gluten-free snack is ideal. Get yourself some shop-bought gluten-free ciabatta bread, load up with some red onion chutney (or, my favourite, Tesco Finest Caramelised Red Onion Relish) and slices of crumbly goat’s cheese and grill for a few minutes until the cheese is slightly melted. Homemade yummyness.


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Getting Back to Basics

I’ve been a bit lax in my writing these days. Every now and then life seems to take over from writing and disrupt absolutely everything. It’s a churn of 6.30am starts and 11pm finishes, rushed lunches of the same-old-same-old, staring at the computer screen and the clock and the computer screen again. Days blur into weeks, with brief blasts of weekends filled with busy-doing-nothing and family time, and then before I know it, another month has gone and I haven’t written a single word (save for my blogs and marketing emails for work). My beautiful Oxford notebook sits forlornly under a film of dust, the ideas fading on the pages and the characters twiddling their thumbs hoping one day I will decide what to do with them. Life has pushed aside my grand ideas of a bestselling novel, for mundane bits-and-bobs and the general viscera of normality.

My poor little novel. How sad it looks on the pull-out shelf of my desk (because the main bit of the desk is covered in beauty products and make-up and half-watched DVDs). I feel guilty every time I look at it. So why don’t I just get on with it, you cry. Stop the self-pitying rumblings of the aspiring (lazy) writer and DO IT. Which is, essentially, exactly what I should be doing. I’ve just secured a permanent job (in publishing, no less – yay me) so I don’t have to worry so much about the hand-to-mouth-will-I-get-paid-next-week temping stuff, I’m living at home so I get my dinner cooked for me (spoiled, I know). I’m currently broke, so socialising shouldn’t be an issue. There is one small problem.

For starters, I’m lazy. Not just “I’ll do it later” lazy. Just really, truly lazy. As in, I’d be happiest in bed all day doing nothing. The only reason I manage to blog so often is because it’s habit and I can’t let people down. Everything else gets pushed aside by the Great Laziness. So, okay, I can motivate myself to write every now and then – it’s been proven in the past. I can do it now, right? The next step is actually fitting it in to my life. I’m not amazingly busy. But my evening seems to get eaten up by everything else. Not only that, but it’s fantastically easy to distract me. I could get distracted by a butterfly. Honestly. The tiniest thing. So now I need time to do it, to put aside the Great Laziness, AND find somewhere to do it that will be minus butterflies, Twitter, offers of tea, something on the TV or anything else that might possibly move me from the concentration that’s needed for writing.So. Here’s the plan; I am going right back to basics. After school, you always put aside time to do your homework (or at least were meant to). So, why not do the same? Every day, after work, I will have an hour to myself to do some writing. I will tame this beast that is (was… could be) my novel. I will grab it with both hands and forge it into something more than a collected piece of dust, paper and forgotten characters. Nothing will stop me and I will conquer the world! To me, the basics really are the basics. There’s nothing fancy about writing – there’s no magic (though it might feel that way when it’s written). So why try to create a situation that’s not going to happen? Why sit there and say “I’ll write when I get a bolt of inspiration”? Just write. Just take that writing and show it who’s boss.

Bring it on, you novel… thing… whatever… you!

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