7 Sins Saturday · Just For Fun · Random Musings

Seven Sins Saturday – 7 Authors I’ve Never Read – But Maybe Should

Any of the Bronte sisters

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I’ve heard Wuthering Heights is a big complicated mess of ugly personality characters, and I don’t even know the plot of Jane Eyre – but they’re classic British female writers from t’north of England so I feel I owe it to them, as a British female writer from t’north, to go back and actually read some of their novels.

John Green

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Ok so recently I bought The Fault In Our Stars at a charity shop, and maybe like a week later everyone was screaming because of the recent news he’s got a new book coming out. I’ve heard bits and pieces about John Green which may or may not be entirely favourable, from personal conduct to quality of stories, but he’s such a big presence in YA I have to at least read something from him.

Roxane Gay

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I read a teeny excerpt in one of those “books coming out in June” or whatever things and I enjoyed it, but I haven’t ever read a book from her. I know she’s an incredibly influential writer, and her stark observations on modern day women and the situations surrounding them are second to none. I’m actually excited to read from her.

Margaret Atwood

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YAS MY FELLOW SCORPIO LADY! The Handmaid’s Tale is EVERYWHERE right now and I keep hearing how Margaret is exceptional with her storytelling. I feel so guilty I haven’t read anything from her. I will amend, I will amend.

Ursula Le Guin

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ANOTHER FELLOW SCORPIO. Maybe I should do a list of Scorpios. SFF Queen. Duchess. Whatever. I need to read her books, because she genuinely seemed ahead of her time and absolutely breakthrough in terms of storytelling and subject matter. I’ll actually look for a book RIGHT NOW.

Robin Hobb

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……that’s a lot of books. Queen of Fantasy, yeah? Forshame that I haven’t read any of her books! I think it’s a distilled need in me to avoid her novels, simply because when I was a kid I skimmed the blurb of her books in the library and didn’t really ‘get it’. I’ve still had no real interest to delve in to a fantasy world – adult fantasy worlds always seem so bloody complicated to get into – but I will definitely have to try and sample some of her work soon.

Terry Pratchett

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Holy heck. Now I may have told a teeny lie here – I have actually read some of him, mostly in Good Omens which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman. The only thing is, I found Pratchett’s chapters almost unbearable to get through not because the writing or plot was bad, but because the rhythm was so staccato. It didn’t flow, it jarred me out of the story, and I couldn’t relate to the characters. It was the same when I read the first few pages of a Discworld novel I can’t remember, and the footnotes at the time weren’t cute or funny, it was more like an essay. I will try him again one time, but my previous experience has kinda put me off.

What about you guys? Any recs from these authors, or any ‘classics’ you need to read?

Random Musings · Uncategorized

On Remakes – Like Dirty Dancing

So I recently saw an article about Dirty Dancing. More specifically, its remake, which is being completely butchered by film critics and probably fans of the original alike.

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I’ve never really understood remakes, if I’m honest. A film which was popular 30 years ago and still is to this day maybe for relevance or simply *feelings*, doesn’t need a remake. If you tried to remake Back to the Future you’d get speared in the gut by fans, I’m telling you.

I’d be one of them. And God help the people who decide Lord of the Rings needs a refit, because I WILL LEAD THE CHARGE.

If it aint broke, don’t fix it.  Stop meddling. If it works, it works. The reason the original film was or remains a success or cult hit is probably because some quintessential magic happened while it was being made, and to try and recreate that – just to put a modern spin on it or design it in tone for a ‘modern audience’ – won’t achieve the same effect.

It’s like trying to rewrite a book that’s popular. If someone took Throne of Glass characters, or Six of Crows characters in 10 years’ time and wrote the same story – it wouldn’t work. We already have that story, done extremely well, by the person who was supposed to write it. Yeah we get retellings, but mostly this is from ideas or legends, folklore and mythology which is about 100 years old or more. But remakes are usually step by step, point-for-point story rehashes for megabucks with current stars from a relatively recent decade.

I know there’s an argument within this subject, and it suggests that since this is a visual medium, it can be interpreted on the screen in so many different ways. That’s true! No artist has 100% the same vision.

But…. why not allow that artist to do something different?! Or if you MUST do Dirty Dancing why not put it in the Jane Austen era, or put it like The Terminator, JUST DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT WITH IT.

Take the Rocky Horror Picture Show – that shit is ICONIC. But they made a remake for the ‘modern’ age (which in itself will be old in 5 years) and it was too clean, too cookie cutter, too knowing what it was trying to emulate. Maybe it was a love letter, sure, but it wasn’t needed. To my mind, it added nothing from this ‘modern age’ that the original lacked, apart from maybe being more sensitive to gender identity.

Remakes aren’t needed. It’s the same with sequels – people are getting tired of them. Even Hollywood has recognized it! In an age which is already oversaturated with rip offs and similar ideas, there may be struggles to find original concepts but don’t ADD to that struggle by basically cleaning up something which was made iconic WITH GOOD REASON just because you want to cash in on the media furor.

It won’t work, it won’t be remembered (well it might be, but not for the right reasons) and it won’t give the audience the fresh blood they truly desire.

// rant

Random Musings · Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday – Summer Reads

The weather is heating up (for half of the world), so what books remind you of summer and are your quintessential summer reads?

Sense & Sensibility

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I read this on the beach in Ibiza and ever since then it’s reminded me of hot, sunny days and glorious endless sands while salsa or trance music played in the background. It’s also a gorgeous, perfect summery-type read for the hills of England and the sweeping countryside and Colonel Brandon is my everything.

Harry Potter (any of them)

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I remember for some reason I used to re-read Harry Potter when I was out in the garden on sun loungers, or just at my window smelling the gardens outside. It didn’t matter where, and when the last book came out I was on holiday, desperately trying to avoid spoilers from the girl who ate dinner across from me and SOMEHOW HAD THE BOOK THERE ALREADY?!

Anyway it’s always good to read Harry in summer.

The Raven Cycle (any of them)

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Set in summer but read in winter, I fully intend to appreciate the descriptions of hot days and wasp/bee weather while I’m out in the garden this year. A gorgeous, spooky story set in gorgeous, spooky hills and I love it.

Neverwhere

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I read this in late summer of 2012 I think, about August / September, and I read it everywhere – on the bus, at breaks at work, morning when I woke up, before I went to bed. I barely even SAW summer when I was reading this. But it’s the perfect dark-ish fantasy to get into on light days, or to read as the sun goes down.

Getting Rid of Matthew / Pip

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These are just like ultimate chick flick, speed read relationship stories that were hilarious but also just beach page turners. You didn’t really have to think about the plot much, but the characters were vivid. I can’t remember which one was actually set in a nice summer area? I think it was Pip, which was bright and breezy and fun. But they’re ultimate lazy garden book trash if you need that sort of thing.

Leave me your recommendations for this summer!

Random Musings · Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday – 5 Authors I Want To Read More From

Talk about some authors that you’ve only read one or a few books from, and you NEED to read more!

 

Neil Gaiman – So far I’ve read two short story books and three novels by this man. I know there’s many more – such as STARDUST and ANANSI BOYS and other glorious things like NORSE MYTHS. Or is it GODS? I can’t remember. Point – Stardust was a film which stayed with me for a long time, and I have never read the book, so I need to resolve that.

Leigh Bardugo – QUEEN. Unfortunately I’ve already read her back catalogue so I’m unable to read any more but I’m so excited to follow her career and devour her books on release!

Becky Chambers – I know the sequel to A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is out, but I haven’t managed to get my hands on it yet. I’m hopeful to do that by the end of this year. What I am not sure of, is whether she’s got another book coming out, and if she doesn’t this needs to be remedied – pronto. I need more books!

Maggie Stiefvater / Victoria Schwab – I COULDN’T DECIDE. But these to me are masters of word craft and making me FEEL things. They also have intricate world building and just… yes. I haven’t read all of either’s previous books so I’m going to work my way backwards.

Jane Austen – CONFESSION TIME – Never made it through Pride and Prejudice. Couldn’t do it. I didn’t like any of the characters. But Sense and Sensibility? Hoah yeah I loved that, I devoured it on a beach holiday. Possibly because I saw the film which remains one of my favourites. I tried Mansfield Park too. Didn’t work out. But she has many other classics I’ll have to try.
Book Things · positive posts · Random Musings · Writing Advice · Writing Method

Top 3: Tips For Making Your Writing Life Easier.

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Now, a lot of these things will just be general common sense, but I understand as a writer, we can sometimes lose sight of what is reasonable. We put so much pressure on ourselves, even the slightest slip can seem like we’re doomed to failure. So here is my top 3 list of things which has worked so much for me, and which you can use to hopefully feel better about your writing journey.

 

1. Find a routine that works for YOU.

There’s a lot of hoo-haa about having to write every day. It’s true, if I write a little each day it keeps the mental demons at bay, for if I go a few days or longer without putting fingertips to keyboard or pen to paper, I feel like there’s a backlog of words trying to get through. This does not make for a happy Jade, but the second I write again, it’s like someone removed the grey clouds and everything goes back to being normal.

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But writing every day sometimes isn’t plausible, and writers shouldn’t feel guilty if they’re unable to do 500 words or so each afternoon. There’s so much additional stuff to worry about in today’s society, more responsibility which divides our attention, it can be really difficult to maintain a groove which allows for savoured writing time.

While you shouldn’t ignore the hard work which goes in to writing, it’s probably going to work a lot better if you put in that effort at a dedicated time where you know you can manage an uninterrupted hour to focus on your MS. For instance, if you know you generally have a quiet morning on a Wednesday, or that most of your errands take up your Saturday morning, work around it.

Short version: Don’t worry if you can’t make it every day. Do what you can. A stressed writer is not always a good one, so give yourself a break, as long as you keep going afterwards!

2. Create a System for Recording your Ideas.

Now – this can take many forms and it depends on how you get your ideas. Some get them by asking “what if?” scenarios and writing a concept, other writers may just have flashes of inspiration and have to write it on a napkin. Personally, mine can strike any time, without warning, like lightning, and often I’ve had recent ideas in my sleep. But whatever your method, try to figure out how you can record these ideas without losing those inspired tid-bits of story.

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My main advice is, don’t be like me and have 500 separate word documents (okay, maybe an exaggeration, it’s like 100) per project with single paragraphs, sentences, speeches, ideas for scenes, linking passages of time – and then name them something which doesn’t make sense, and worse – don’t put them in a folder all together, meaning you lose hours trying to find that one bit you remember writing months ago.

Ideally, if you write an idea on your phone, put it with the rest of the stuff later. Or create a ideas pile where you can easily flick through to see what your brain told you yesterday. If you have an idea while napping, keep a dream diary.

3. Create REASONABLE Goals.

Unless you are some form of far superior being who turns coffee into words at a rate of 100 per minute, you will not be able to write a cohesive novel of 70,000 words in 5 days.

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That’s why NaNoWriMo gives people a month to do 50k, and even then not everyone makes it.

As mentioned before it’s easy to feel pressure to perform well, and to the best of your ability, or else feel like you’ve failed. So, the only way to keep the demon of self-doubt at bay is to make sure you’re not stretching yourself, and within the routine you’ve already procured, see what you can achieve.

Start small, maybe? A chapter completed in 2 weeks. 100 words before you shut down the computer and go to bed. Then you can see how far increasing it gets you, like 1000 words a week, or something similar.

It’s better if you sort of leave timing out of agenting, editing, etc while you’re writing because there is no guarantee at all how long any of the process afterwards takes place. Focus on what you can control, and that is definitely how much you want to write by such and such a day.

I had the unfortunate thing of moving a deadline for myself, not because I didn’t put the work in when I could, but because Real Life had decided to throw everything at me in one lump sum. So prepare for life’s little surprises by reducing the amount of stress you’re creating for yourself. If you miss a day, you won’t feel like you’re missing “finalize 5 chapters” and have to rush to catch up.

Be kind to yourself!

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Talk to people. Other writers, ideally. Build up a tribe of like minded individuals who get you, acknowledge your struggles, support you, and support them in return. This is invaluable. What you’ve experienced, you can share your wisdom. Vice versa. Writing careers are solitary only when you’re *actually* writing. The rest of it requires a heck of a lot of patience, and understanding friends to make it bearable.

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The writing community is amazing, supportive, and there for you. Reach out if you need to! ❤

 

 

Random Musings · Top 5 Wednesday

#T5W – Books / Shows I Felt Betrayed By

Top Five Wednesday is a fabulous group on Goodreads where, every Wednesday, we get to run down our top 5s of various subjects. This week –

Beware the Ides of March! What books (or characters) did you feel betrayed by, for whatever reason…big or small.

So, it’s pretty difficult to really think of something I felt truly *betrayed* by. I have that more in TV shows than in books, thankfully. But I will list here the 3 books and 2 TV shows I felt let down by – bar number 1, which I DID feel betrayed by, since it was supposed to be my ultimate series.

5. Merlin – Their Treatment Of Mordred *spoilers*

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Above is Alexander Vlahos, as adult!Mordred, and Bradley James as Prince Arthur.

Merlin was my favourite TV series for a long time, (especially series 2, the most consistent) despite occasional dodgy episodes and acting from some guest stars. The leads, particularly Colin Morgan as Merlin, were incredible. Then, in the final season they introduced Adult Mordred – be still my beating heart – who was a fascinating, wonderful character. The fact he was destined to kill King Arthur, and that Merlin
was shunning him instead of helping him, despite Dreddy boy being the absolutely adorable puppy faced dude, and so loyal / appreciative of his Knighthood…. why would he turn against Arthur, the person who believed in him? What could POSSIBLY cause him to do a 180? Though he was criminally underused it was a question leading up since SERIES ONE when he was played by Asa Butterfield.

And how did the writers get him to finally turn his loyalties against the Knights, Arthur and Camelot?

A woman. A woman we had NOT seen, had not heard about, and whom the writers just introduced at the last second, so that he had a reason to be angry when she’s promptly killed by Crown Law for trying to blow up the King.

NOW LISTEN HERE. FIRSTLY women are not just created to be fucking killed off for a man’s game, that’s old now. SECONDLY the audience didn’t give two flying fucks if the character was killed, nor did we understand Mordred’s heartache, since you a) didn’t introduce even a mention of her by Mordred who was supposedly in love with her all this time, b) threw her in an episode as the most single-handedly unsympathetic character because she wanted to kill off Arthur, a beloved lead, for rushed reasons, and c) WAS SO UNDER-DEVELOPED IT WAS SHAMEFUL.

Image result for merlin mordred and arthurMordred could have been SUCH a complex villain, and it would be so much more interesting to have him turn against Arthur or Merlin for more sensible reasons other than “oh shit, yeah, we have to make Mordred bad at some point, better give him a doomed love interest!”

Second thoughts, this has to be #2 or something. Just imagine it’s #2.

ALSO THEY DIDN’T DO THE BIG REVEAL TIL THE LAST EPISODE WHERE WE DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO TRULY REVEL IT ok I’m done, I’m done now, ok.

*breathe*

4. Ember in the Ashes

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Less betrayed, more… let down? There was so much melodrama I didn’t know where to look, and then the characters seemed, as my Mother puts it, “thinly sliced” so they didn’t really hit me in the feels. I DNF’ed this one. I understand people adore this book, but it wasn’t for me. I didn’t get the point of it.

3. Rebel of the Sands

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Another disappointed, let down moment. I couldn’t imagine this world, the romance felt contrived, and I wasn’t invested with why she wanted to get to this masterful, mythical city. Again it felt a bit melodramatic, though I know it’s popular. A classic “it’s not you, it’s me” moment. I DNF’ed again.

2. FREQUENCY – Raimy’s Fucking Actions

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Now, this series was ***amazing*** until the point the female lead COMPLETELY IGNORES EVERYTHING SHE HAS LEARNED UNTIL THAT POINT AND GOES AGAINST EVERY SINGLE IDIOM OF REASON KNOWN TO MAN DUE TO STUPID ‘HELL WITH IT’ IMPULSES SHE’S ALWAYS MANAGED TO CONTROL.

I haven’t even watched the next episode of this. I was just… like… “WOMAN!” Why did they write this wonderful, strong, determined and rational woman as someone who goes against the knowledge she’s had? She basically put ALL her eggs in one basket, relying on her father to complete his mission 20 years ago,  (it’s wibbly wobbly timey wimey). Like.. WAIT until your father has said he has successfully done it before you ruin your present life!!! JESUS.

I got so annoyed, it kept me up at night. I’m not kidding.

Even the fucking TV poster is ripping off Twelve Monkeys, COME ON.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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I know this is probably going to be a shocker for some people, but I really didn’t like the ending to Harry Potter at all. I was about 18 or so when I read this I think, and I was SO prepared to get into it. I just… didn’t feel it.

My disillusionment started around Half Blood Prince but worsened with this. I was confused, it didn’t make sense, a lot of it seemed to digress into pointless tales, I did NOT understand the point of the Deathly Hallows at all, while it made a pretty cartoon in the movie I still didn’t get it, and generally I felt like I’d lost half my love for all the characters. The only bit of it I liked was the beginning, where they’re at the wedding, then they’re in London fighting bad guys and almost getting run over by buses.

Maybe one day I’ll do a re-read of this with a fresh, unprejudiced mind. But it’ll take a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Things · Random Musings

It’s arrived!

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With A Conjuring of Light set to be delivered next Tuesday (waaa!) I have this lovely baby to get me through cold evenings until then.

Also lookit the cute little bookmark I got free from Wordery! I wanted the one about magic but they had these cute new ones for Valentine’s day and it’s so sweet.

I’ve managed 38 pages of this so far and the focus on Ronan is VERY welcome. Intrigued by the Gray Man as well. I don’t like him. Obviously. But Maggie seems to write villains so twisty you can’t help but get entwined.

To sum up my reading experience this year so far, and probably to sum up all that’s to come, I present to you this gif –

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