Wednesday 30 May 2012

"Who Said This? Guess The Character!"

Technically - and actually - it's Wednesday, and according to my schedule I get to talk about me today. However, as I'm still plodding along and not writing very much at all, I'm handing over to Rachel Morgan of Rachel Morgan Writes who has just released her third book in the Creepy Hollow series, Traitor. Over to you, Rachel...

For anyone who's hung around my blog for long enough, it's no secret that I like playing around with little voting widgets. I've asked people to vote for or against prologues, for an awesome book cover or a cool, catchy title, and I even managed to incorporate poll widgets into one of my entries for the Writers' Platform-Building Campaign!

Another thing I love is book quotes. When I'm reading, if I come across a line I love, I type it into a memo on my cell phone. Then later I go find the quotes on Goodreads and add them to my favorite quotes! So when I published my own books, it was a great source of amusement to me to add my own quotes to Goodreads (yeah, okay, you can make fun of me if you want!).

So today I'm putting together my love of polls and my love of quotes. Below are some quotes I've taken from well-known novels. Hopefully you've read some (or all) of these books. If not ... well, just take a wild guess as to who you think said each line!

The last quote is from TRAITOR, my newly released novelette in the Creepy Hollow series. Violet is the main character, Nate is her boyfriend, Ryn is the guy who pisses her off whenever he can, and Aria is the classic 'mean girl'.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince



The Lord of the Rings


That was fun, right? Right? (Please say yes!) I'll leave the answers in the comments after you've had a go at guessing the correct names :-)

Kick-butt faerie girl + cute human boy who shouldn't be able to see her 
= trouble for both of them!

The Creepy Hollow Series

Rachel's Links

Monday 28 May 2012

Love, Actually

Internet Movie Database entry
I stumbled on today's post a little bit, because I'm feeling a bit burnt-out - not from blogging, just in general. So I thought I'd share one of my favourite feel-good films.

I love this film for so many reasons. It's British. It's set at Christmas time. It's got a cute child in it.

It's also got Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson and Alan Rickman.

It's got eight (possibly nine... ten...?) interlinked stories. It's got Hugh Grant's dance. It's got a great musical number at a wedding.

I can watch this film at any time of the year, curled up with a glass of wine and a big box of chocolates. And even writing about it is making me feel better.

What's your feel-good film?

Friday 25 May 2012

Friday interview with Kyra Lennon

Today I'd like to say hello to Kyra. You probably all know her - she was a huge presence during the A-Z Challenge, both with her comments and her hugely successful diary series of posts.

So, Kyra, what’s the best thing about being a writer?
I think the best thing is having the chance to exercise my imagination. It's probably not as good as it used to be, but the more I write, the more it improves! I also love the writing community. Everyone is so supportive of each other, and I love being a part of that.

And the worst?
The fear! Confidence is not my strong point, so I am always second guessing myself about whether my work is good enough.

What’s your writing routine like? Do you have one?
Haha, if only I was that organised! I don't really have a strict schedule, but most of my writing is done in the evenings. When I was working a "9-5," evenings were the only time I had for writing, and it's still my most productive time of day.

What are you working on at the moment?
Ooh, I have lots happening at the moment! I'm just polishing up what will be my first novel, Game On, and that is my main priority. I 'm also in the planning stages of a YA book about one of the characters from Game On, plus I'm working on a joint project with Clare Dugmore.

Why do you write?
This is a big question! I've always enjoyed writing, so I think it's just part of me. I stopped for several years, and in that time, it was like something was missing. When I got back to it, everything fell back into place.

Do you have a day job?
Kind of lol. I'm a freelance writer, and I work from home so it doesn't really feel like a "proper" job! But that's how I earn my money, so I guess it must be! I mostly write entertainment news, and articles about TV shows, but I also dabble in dating advice and UK travel too.

And, now a really random question: what’s your earliest memory?
When I was around three or four, my nan lived in London and my mum took me there for my birthday ... or rmaybe it was Christmas. Some occasion when there are gifts involved, anyway! I was given a really cool tea set with cute tea cups and plates which came on a little serving trolley with pink trays. I thought it was the coolest thing ever!

Throughout the A-Z Challenge, you kept me – and I’m sure many others – captivated with your diary entries from characters in your novel. How far into the novel were you when you decided to write these diaries, and did it help you finish the novel?
The story was complete, and in the editing stages when I started the A-Z diary entries. The idea came to me on the first day of the challenge, and I wasn't sure it was a good idea but it seemed to work out pretty well! Writing the diary entries gave me a chance to share some of the characters' backstory that wouldn't be included in the book. I thought I knew all there was to know about my characters, but I learned even more by delving a bit deeper into their pasts!

Which character(s) did you like the most, and why?
Aside from Leah, I got a real kick (excuse the pun lol) out of writing Radleigh McCoy! It was a lot of fun to write from his arrogant, slightly sexist point of view. There were a lot of interesting reactions to his posts! I also have a soft spot for Bree and her ditziness.

Radleigh was my favourite character, actually!
When will we be able to read the novel?
I'm hoping that it won't be any later than September. I'm aiming for July or August at the moment, but there are still a few things that need to be ironed out. I will keep you updated! 

Thanks, Kyra, for allowing me to practise my interview skills on you!

Kyra blogs at Write Here, Write Now. If you haven't already, please pay her a visit! 

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Some more awards...

The lovely Lisa from Diary of a Square Toothed Girl, has awarded me a Kreativ Blogger and One Lovely Blog Award . Thank you so much Lisa!

And Tara from Tara Tyler Talks has passed me a Kreativ Blogger and The Versatile Blogger award in such a fantastic way, that I know I'm not going to come close, so I'm not going to try to be as kreativ I'm just going to answer the questions that came from Lisa's awards. Sorry Tara!

I've had all of these awards before, but because I've recently gained a lot of new followers, I thought I'd accept them properly, and maybe even pass them on in the correct fashion too!

So, here goes: some questions, followed by - hopefully - ten random facts about myself.

What is your favorite song?
So hard, because I love music so much. I'll plump for Wetsuit by The Vaccines, as my song of the day, although that's closely followed by Norgaard, also by The Vaccines. The fact that I'm currently listening to their album has in no way influenced my answers!

What is your favorite dessert?
Anything with chocolate in it. I've been known to select restaurants based solely on their dessert menu. 

When you are upset, what do you do?
I go and sit in my bedroom. No, I'm not twelve, I just happen to have a really nice, peaceful bedroom. If it's a really bad day, I'll get into bed too!

What was your favorite pet?
I had a rabbit called Mufti when I was about 14. He lived in the house, in a two-storey hutch, and he followed us aound the house like a dog. He was a sickly rabbit, unfortunately, and didn't live as long as he should have :-(

What do you prefer to wear, black or white?
They are just colours that belong with other colours, so I don't even have an opinion of them.

What is your biggest fear?

What is your attitude mostly?
I believe everything will turn out okay. It might be tough getting there, but we are all destined to have our needs met.

What is perfection to you?
Yesterday afternoon was pretty perfect - lunch by the sea, at a great pub, with Hubby, in the sunshine.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Meeting a friend for coffee, even though I've got enough housework to occupy an army, and I'm still struggling to get words down on the page. Or having lunch with Hubby!

Ten Random Things about me: 
  1. I'm not that interesting, so some of these may be repeats of the 'random facts' I shared last time.
  2. Sometimes I can't be bothered to get up, so I'll listen to the same CD on repeat all day.
  3. I love buying nail varnish - really bright colours - but only for my toes.
  4. I ran away from home when I was two. Mum gave me the bus fare, then had to chase me up the road to bring me back.
  5. I'm very bad at walking in high heels. I prefer trainers.
  6. I'm very bad at Scrabble. I play against Hubby, on our board or on Facebook, and he usually wins.
  7. I used to have a crush on one of the Cbeebies presenters (UK) - I was quite gutted when my kids outgrew the channel.
  8. I have five tattoos - and would definitely like more.
  9. I hate the process of being tattooed - I'm really not good with pain. I implement the breathing technique used during labour.
  10. I'm a very bad cook, and Hubby does most of it. 
And I'm passing these awards on to the following people... (I'm selecting from my newbies, because I can't remember which of my ahem... oldies I've given them to in the past!) Feel free to choose which award you want. 
 (For info: All the awards started as 7 interesting/random facts, so I'm not sure where the questions deviation came from!)

Kate @ The Suddenly Kate Show
Lizy @ Lizy-Expat-Writer
Elizabeth @ Use Your Words

I'd love to pass this award on to lots more people, but all that clicking and pasting makes my wrist hurt... (and yes, I am aware that this is a lame excuse... many apologies!)

Please come back on Friday for Kyra Lennon's visit to my blog!

Monday 21 May 2012

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Find this book on Goodreads
I just want to say a quick apology for not visiting many blogs recently. Lots of stuff going on, not enough time to do it! Hopefully, normal service will return shortly. In the meantime, thank you for visiting me!

My Monday blogs are not designed to be book reviews. Instead they highlight books (and sometimes films or music) which hold a particular meaning for me, or influenced me, or just made me think. I hope you enjoy!

For those of you who are relatively new to my blog, you probably missed my mentions of this book. For those who've been around for a while, you probably couldn't avoid them!

I loved this book. I told everyone about this book. I wanted to have written this book.

If you've never heard of it, it tells the story of Rose who finds that she experiences the feelings of the person who made the food she's eating. In the case of manufactured food, she can even tell the area the food was made. She makes this discovery when she eats a slice of lemon cake her mother has made - her mother is not a happy woman.

From then on, Rose learns a lot about her mother she'd rather not know, and with the help of a friend, she searches for the most factory-produced foods she can find - the food without feeling. Later in the book, we learn Rose isn't the only person in her family to be afflicted with a strange gift.

What I loved more than anything about this book is that at no time did Bender try to explain why this was happening to Rose. It just was. I've written short stories where I've dropped readers into something and not given an explanation, but I was never sure whether it would work in a full-length novel.

That, though, is the point which seems to divide the reviewers on Goodreads. Some people love the fact it's a quirky read and makes you do some of the work - you have to make a few decisions yourself as to what you think is going on. Others hate it because there's no explanation, and to some extent no ending - they feel cheated that the story isn't fully opened out, and doesn't fit into the world they already know.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Is there a book you'd recommend for being slightly abnormal?

Friday 18 May 2012

Friday interview with My Kids!

Right, I announced my new schedule last week, which gave no time to have a proper interview ready in time. So, taking inspiration from someone who interviewed their husband (I thought I knew who it was and was going to link - but it wasn't the person I thought it was, so I can't - was it you?), I thought I'd ask my kids what it was like to live with a writing mum.

Note: I imagine husbands are a lot more verbose than kids -I will not interview children in future!

What do you think about me being a writer?
#1 Son (aged 12) - Um, okay.
#2 Son (aged 8) - Cool.

What's it like living with me when I'm writing?
#1 - You don't talk much.
#2 - Not that much fun.

Would you like to be a writer when you're older?
#1 - No, even though I'm writing a book right now. (#1 Son is writing a Batman fanfiction - it sounds like it's going to be a trilogy!)
#2 - Not really.

What do you want to be when you're older, then?
#1 - Singer.
#2 - Drummer.

Um, yeah, thanks boys! :-) I hope that gives you a huge insight into my subjects for this week. Please tune in next Friday when I have an interview with Kyra Lennon lined up!

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Day 2 of my schedule... and I'm staying on track!

So, this is a photo of me, pretending to write!

I'm posting it because maybe by looking at it I'd remember I am a writer and actually, you know, do some writing. (A bit like people who are trying to lose weight putting a photo of themselves at their ideal weight on the fridge door!)

It's not like I don't have anything to write - I've got a pile of stuff I can do.
  • I have a novel is waiting to be read through and completely re-written in a slightly different voice (don't ask!)
  • I want to re-write my first ever novel (well, actually, I want to take the characters and setting, but completely change the story.)
  • I woke up in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago with a great first line, which is now scribbled on the back on an envelope waiting for me to do something with it!
  • I've also got a marketing idea for Cat and The Dreamer that I need to get on to, as well, for those days when writing seems far too hard

See, lots to do. And what am I actually doing...
  • Watching Homes Under the Hammer
  • Considering doing the ironing
  • Breathing after taking part in the A-Z Challenge and the First Loves Blogfest

Yesterday, however, I submitted an entry to the Bridport Prize, so I haven't been completely useless. And I'd actually like to research a few more competitions, because I have several short stories that I'd love to get out. (I find searching for magazines - real or online - is hard work, so I tend to avoid doing that, even though that's how I got my first stories published. Note to self: submit to magazines again.)

If anyone has some motivational tips to share with me, I'll gladly receive them! I'm in need of having a butt-kicking to get myself into gear.

Monday 14 May 2012

First Loves Blogfest

Welcome to the first day of my new schedule! As you might notice, I'm already breaking it... sort of. Although - as Alex pointed out - I'm mentioning a film, a book and a song (and a man), so you can take these as today's recommendations, a three-for-one bonus offer on my first day!
Click here for the Linky List!
So, here it is, a blogfest I've been really looking forward to, straight out of the head of Ninja Captain Alex - the First Loves Blogfest, where he invites us to post our first loves – first movie, first song/band, first book, and first person. Four loves, one blogfest! How great!

First Movie: An easy one to start - Fiddler on the Roof. My mum loved this film, not least because her parents were Ukrainian - they moved to England before she was born, and as a result she had no connection with her heritage. She loved watching this film and pointing out to us kids how similiar things would have been for them. It feels like we watched it every couple of months. I'm sure it wasn't that often - but it was a regular occurrence. (This video is 7:30 minutes long - so I don't expect you to watch it all - especially as the song will get stuck in your head!)

First Song/Band: There are two. From a very young age I used to rifle through my parents music collection. They had eclectic tastes, to say the least. Please let me add, both of these songs are much older than me :-)  The first band are The Beatles, which for a first love is quite cool, isn't it? This song was my school leaving song when I finished GCSEs (Year 11... or 5th Year as it was for me then) which is why I've chosen it above all their other amazing Beatles songs.

The second band were Boney M - not quite so cool, and I warned you my parents were eclectic!

First Book: The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart. And I'm afraid that's where I have to leave it, because although this was my favourite book, and I read it a lot, I cannot remember a single thing about it. If anyone loves this book as much as I did, please remind me why!

First Person: I don't know whether the intention of this blogfest is to embarrass myself by telling you about my first crush on a classmate/neighbour... but no! The first person I remember loving (well, in a very innocent way, because I was about 6) is David Essex. Perhaps that's more embarrassing, I don't know! I first saw him on The Cannon and Ball Show which probably won't mean much if you're outside the UK. It was a comedy sketch show, that's all you need to know. I couldn't find the right clip on YouTube, but the gist of the sketch was David Essex has a lisp, and they were taking the mickey out of him for not being able to say certain words properly. I felt sorry for him, because I couldn't understand why they were being so mean - I didn't get that it was supposed to be funny!

So, just for me, here's a great song! I still love that smile...

Anyone want to share their first loves with me? Are you taking part in the blogfest yourself?

Thursday 10 May 2012

Making changes

Being involved with the A-Z Challenge recently has made me realise I quite liked the structure of knowing what I needed to post next.

So far, this blog has been pretty ad hoc. Which I love. But I'm also aware that my followers (I gained 46 during the challege and another 7 afterwards - thank you so much!) might prefer a regular idea of what to expect. So I'm going to try for a... deep breath... schedule! (I'm already breaking out in a cold sweat - does that word remind you of school too?)

The reason I've avoided a schedule so far is that in an ideal world I would have no structure. I love being able to just write a random blog at four o'clock in the afternoon, or at midnight, about anything that happens to pop into my head. After the Challenge though, and having a firm idea of what my posts were going to be - and knowing what was expected of me - I'm at a bit of a loss to remember how my blog felt before April.

So here's my schedule:

Monday: Recommending books (and films). My theme for the challenge seemed quite popular, so I'm going to continue with that. I will highlight books I love, although they won't necessarily be new releases. These posts may contain books published in the last century, or even the one before that! They will be books that maybe you've overlooked, or have meant to read but never got around to it. I was really struck by how many people bumped up books on their TBR list because of one of my posts!

Wednesday: All about Me, Me, Me! A round-up of my writing, problems, progress on current WIPs, news about Cat and The Dreamer, and - hopefully - sharing new writing successes.

Friday: Interviews and guest posts. Yep, something new for me, and where I need your help. I've dabbled with interviews and really enjoyed it, so... if you'd like to be interviewed or have an idea for a guest post, please contact me: annalisacrawford [dot] writer [at] gmail [dot] com!

Having said that, next Monday - 14th May - I'll be taking part in the First Loves Blogfest, so I'm already breaking my schedule. And also, I currently have no one lined up for any Friday posts - because I literally made this up as I wrote - so I'll be winging that until I find people to fill it up!

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Introducing The Backworlds by M. Pax

So, you guys might already be aware but...

The Backworlds is here!

The first story in the Backworlds series by M. Pax. A vision of how humanity might colonize the galaxy some day in the distant future.

The Backworlds
After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks
Other links to more outlets can be found at either WistfulNebulae or MPax

The Backworlds is an ebook and a free read. All formats can be found at Smashwords and Feedbooks.

It’ll take a few weeks to work its way down to free on Amazon Kindle. It will also be available on B&N and iTunes. Sign up for M. Pax’s mailing list to be notified the day it does go free on Amazon, and when the book becomes available at other outlets. You’ll also receive coupons for discounts on future publications. NEWSLETTER

M. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, and at Wistful Nebuae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.

The sequel, Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge, will be released in July 2012. It will be available in all ebook formats and paperback.

I'm sure you'll all join me in wishing Mary great success with The Backworlds and the sequel!!

Monday 7 May 2012

Reflecting on the A-Z Challenge

Yay! I did it - I completed the challenge! Phew. It was hard. The hardest part was checking out all the new blogs as they kept clocking up in Google Reader. Just when I thought I was getting on top of them, I'd find new blogs to follow and the number of posts would increase again.

I didn't get as far through the list as I'd hoped, so I hope - over the next few weeks - to stop by a few new ones. Finding new blogs is a fantastic experience!

I had almost 3000 page views last month which is double what my blog usually receives (apart from a very anomalous March which got a random 4600 views ???), I've gained 46 new followers and I'm following roughly 60 new blogs. That's not bad, is it?

My theme was the books that have inspired me, which I thought was a good theme for my first time - pretty easy. I also assumed everyone would know the books I was referring to - how wrong was I!

Apparently the books and authors I've taken for granted, the books and authors that I've known about almost by osmosis since I was a very young wannabe author are books and authors that lots of people haven't heard of before.

Few people had heard of Fay Weldon; fewer still knew that Daphne du Maurier wrote short stories. Even Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison were new authors to some - and I thought they were standard! Quite a few people were astonished at the variety of my choices, and I learnt a lot about my own reading habits, as well as everyone else's.

I don't know if this is the correct use of the reflections post, but I thought I'd explain how I choose new books and maybe inspire you to read slightly outside the genres you're used to.
  • Avoid bestseller lists and award winners
  • Visit a bookshop if possible. Browsing on Amazon inevitably leads you to the same authors and genres, especially with their recommendations list based on previous purchases
  • When you're in the bookshop, look at the covers - choose a cover that doesn't look like any of the others (you'll recognise the covers of books in the genre you usually buy, avoid them)
  • Be curious about unusual titles
  • Look for authors you've not heard of before. First time authors are you in a year's time, you now, or you five years ago. Wouldn't you love the thought of someone stumbling across your book without prior knowledge and be drawn to buy it?
  • In the UK, Waterstone's employees hand write recommendation cards which are useful. Is there the same scheme at Barnes and Noble maybe? 
  • Give yourself a time limit. You want to buy a book, you've got the money in your hand - look around for ten minutes and then pick one up. Do not second guess!
  • Read the last book your partner/best friend/sibling bought. 
This isn't an exhaustive list - I've been known to smell books, surreptitiously of course; I've even read over people's shoulders on buses and made a note of the book if I've enjoyed that snatched paragraph. I particularly try to avoid series, I'm just not keen on them, I prefer standalone books - but this also means I only have more than one book of five or six authors on my bookshelf!
I would love to hear from anyone who tried a new author based on my A-Z posts. I'd also love to hear if you go out tomorrow and buy a new book. Mostly, though, I hope some of you enjoyed the books I recommended!

I'm really looking forward to next April! 

Friday 4 May 2012

Tagged again :-)

So, the thing about playing tag is that sometimes you get tagged back again. This always used to happen to me at school because I wasn't fast enough to run away, or - occasionally - because didn't realise we were still playing (yep, I was one of those kids who could get side-tracked by a passing cloud - I still can!)

Teralyn at A Writer's Journey tagged me during the A-Z Challenge, so I thought it would be a great post for today. Thanks, Teralyn!

I did The Lucky 7 Meme here, and now I'm going to do it again with my current WIP.

If you haven't heard about this before, here are The Rules:
  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. No cheating.
  4. Tag 7 authors.
  5. Let them know.
 Okay, you know that bit about not cheating? Well, I had to. This excerpt comes from page 76, because 77 gave too much away. The character's name has a significance, so apologies if it seems weird here, it's explained in the story. Anyway, here it is:
       How dare she! How dare she! Miss Isla Pertwee, of all the people at this atrocious place. How dare she make him look so foolish! In front of everyone.
       They’d laughed. At him! They’d turned and pointed and laughed, and then – worst of all, the very worst thing of all – they’d tutted, disparagingly, and walked away. From him! From Abraham Zephaniah Andrews!
            Now, right now, as he sat there at that table by the window, people were whispering about him from behind the shelves, peering at him through gaps in rows of books. 
I'm not going to tag anyone because after so many of you have just completed the A-Z Challenge I know everyone's feeling a bit shellshocked and trying to get back down to Earth. Consider yourself tagged if you'd like to share an excerpt - it's quite liberating sharing something so brief!

Wednesday 2 May 2012

IWSG: What would Jane Austen do?

Back in September 2011 when the support group started, I was pretty insecure about my writing. Actually, I still am - name me a writer who's totally confident and capable all of the time. I bet even J.K. Rowling had a bit of insecurity when she announced her first adult novel.

Since that first post, I've had my book published (if you didn't know this, just take a look at the top left corner of this page!), so everything feels a bit different. I was always confident enough to tell people I was a writer - everyone I've ever met probably knows I'm a writer - but now I feel like one!

It's this distinction that has made me think about the direction of this blog. After a successful A-Z challenge, it's the perfect time to consider what I really want to say, and how I want to say it.

Should this blog be for other writers, a sort of writers group where I can ask for help and know that people are around to provide it?

Should it be for anyone who happens to pass this way via my book, someone who might be wanting to know a bit more about the author?

Should I really have two blogs, providing both, or a web page, or do more on Facebook, or join Twitter?

And do you know what my answer is - I don't know!

I started this post with the intention of announcing I wouldn't be taking part in anymore IWSGs, but I'm now unsure about that too!

Okay, guys, this is where you jump in with all that useful advice!