About Me

My photo
I am an aspiring writer living and working in Hull. I working on a novel, as well as writing short stories to keep my writing skills fresh. I decided to start a writing blog to connect with other writers. So please, take a look around and leave some comments - I'd love to read some of your writing blogs too. Nari X

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Review: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

My Mum recommended this book to me, because it's related to my job, and she had liked the book so much herself. It did come with a warning, though. It will make you cry.
Suffice to say, it did. 

So, the story: a twenty-something girl, Louisa, lives a simple, small life in a small town. But when she loses her job at a cafe, everything starts to change. She starts working with Will, a quadriplegic who was the victim in a motorcycle accident. This is the story of what happens when their two worlds collide and how their relationship grows and develops. It becomes not only about making Will happy, but encouraging Louisa to break out of her small-life box and fulfill dreams she didn't even know she had.

I won't say I was instantly hooked, because I wasn't, and I won't say I instantly loved the main Character, Louisa, because I didn't. I don't know why exactly, but it took me a chapter or two to get into. But I soon couldn't put it down. When we met will, I think was when the book realy came alive for me. 

The book is so beautifully written, with humour, real human emotions and heartbreak. It speaks so well of human relationships and the struggles that Will and Louisa encounter in relating to each other to begin with. In a sense that is what makes my initial reaction to the book quite fitting, because I learned to love the characters as they learned to love each other.

What I loved about this book was it's ability to make me laugh and cry in the same breath, making strangers on the train peer round their newspapers conspicuously. JoJo Moyes has so beautifully woven a tale of heartache, juxtaposed with humour that serves the same purpose as a cup of tea and a rom-com after a difficult day. It helps you to cope with what you are reading, which I foud very thoughtful of JoJo. 
As well as laughing and crying like a madwoman on various illegal substances, I also found myself shouting at Louisa, at Will, even at minor characters towards the end. I would tap Rob on the shoulder, dragging him out of A Feast For Crows, and say, 'Rob, I'm very cross with Louisa. Why the hell is she doing that? She's just... What a.... Humph.' It was at this point I established that I couldn't tell him, because he just had to read this book. 

But you see, I like that. I like the fact that I was shouting at her, because it showed how into the story I was, how much I put myself in her situation and thought about what I would do. I also ended up resigning to the fact that maybe I would do the same as her.

There were some geeky moments in which I turned to Rob (getting an irritated sigh back) and told him about a small error in research, like the legalities of crushing tablets, or explaining that what Louisa should have done was park the car close to the pavement and get the wheelchair out on the tarmac. There was also one paragraph which started, 'the thing you have to understand about being a carer is...' and I had to read it out loud to Rob because it rang so true to both of us. Spending so much time with one person, tending to their needs, caring for them, putting all of your attention on them, means that their moods affect your moods. And perhaps that makes us unprofessional, or perhaps it shows just how deeply we care about a person.

I definitely recommend this book, it is very well written and grasps the whole spectrum of human emotion in one sitting. I was not brave enough (or fast enough) to read it in one sitting, though i think it would definitely benefit from it. In a sense, having the breaks that I did gave me time to calm down when I should have still been reeling for the next chapter. 

I think it has been good to read a book that deals with disability, as like I said previously, I have been wanting to try writing something that deals with disability, and I think I've learned a lot from how JoJo tackles the issue. 

Thanks Mum!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Hang on...

This is the second part of the blogfest; Hookers and Hangers. You can see my first post here.
Now I'm afraid my hangers (last lines) aren't as good as the others. I suppose this a good excercise because I haven't really thought about last lines much. Honestly, most of my chapter breaks have just come when I've thought, 'probably time for a new chapter', and this exercise has really made me think about where and how the chapters are ending. Here they are, anyway.

1. Ana looked up as he approached, and the Captain knew without hesitation that this was going to be the right decision.

2. ‘I think we should go back and find out why she’s here,’ said Visha. When Jonny hesitatd, she added, ‘I’ll race ya!’

3. ‘Do you know what they do with them up there?’ Jenna nodded grimly. Ben hesitated. ‘Does Visha?’

It has been fun taking part in this blogfest and reading through everyone's entries, so thank you to all who have taken part and commented on mine too. 
This has really made me think about the way I structure chapters, although that's just making me want to edit more.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Everyone loves a good hooker...

Today is the first day of the Blogfest: Hookers and Hangers hosted by Falling For Fiction, so I thought I would take part. 
The idea is to post as many first lines as you like from you WIP from each chapter. Here are my first five hookers from The Poison Maiden:

1. Her scream pierced through their ears like a banshee.

2. She heard them calling her name. They were coming for her.

3.The streets were heaving as the two children made their way back through the village.

4.The sun was creeping lower by the minute, so they hurried. 

5. Jonny dragged his feet as he moved away from Visha's door. The realisation was beginning to crystallise under his skin.

What do you think? Any advice?


Continuing the theme, I thought I would share a few of my favourite first lines from my favourite books.

- 'The horn sounded. Arlen paused in his work, looking up at the lavender wash of the dawn sky.' - The Painted Man, by Peter.V. Brett

- 'My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6 1973.' - The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold.

- 'Carlos Missirian was his name. One of his many names.
     Born in Cyprus.
     The man who was sat at the other end of the dining table, cutting into a thick red steak, was Valborg Svenneson. One of his many names.
     Born in Hell.' - Black, by Ted Dekker.

Does anyone have any other favourite first lines/paragraphs from books?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

That Editorial Itch...

In my last post I spoke about setting myself smaller goals and working on other things as well as my novel, nomatter how small. Well, this evening I have written a letter to Good Food Magazine, and I intend to post it tomorrow. I buy Good Food quite a lot these days, and I love to cook (and eat), so I thought, why not? Besides, the star letter prizes are quite extravagant. 
It's a small achievement, but for a while I have been wanting to write another letter to a magazine, considering how well my letter in Writers' Forum went down.
It might sound odd, but it has really helped me to reassess  my writing style and was really refreshing.
Having to get your point across in a way that is concise and yet captures your voice with a limited word count is a great way to focus and hone your words.
Believe it or not I found myself editing my 90-odd word letter, refining it until I was perfectly happy, and this I found really refreshing. 
I think I'm itching to edit my novel. It doesn't feel right not going back over everything every time I write and scrapping loads, refining each single scene. I feel dissatisfied with what I have written because I know it could be better. 
Ok, I'll come out with it. I'm considering a cheeky editorial session. Would anyone judge me horribly considering I said I would push on until I had a first draft?
Is there any such thing as a partial first draft?

Friday, 6 July 2012

Goals, Projects and Writing What You Know

Rob and I watching the Olympic Torch arrive in Hull

Excuse me while I blow the dust off this blog...Now there's an abstract concept.

I have been plodding along with The Poison Maiden and pondering over some smaller projects which might prove slightly more satisfying. You see, while novel writing is thorough and wonderful and at the end is a great achievement, that end seems a long way off just yet.

I was wondering why I seem so discontent in my writing recently, and it occurred to me that I have had no smaller or stepping stone achievements to work towards. My goal for my novel is a first draft. Great, but considering this is my first fantasy novel, that isn't quite as easy as just tapping it out. 
Perhaps a better way to work is to set smaller goals, even if just story points to reach, or story chapter breaks. At the moment i'm being really quite unstructured in my approach to writing. 
I also realised that I have nothing else I'm working on, other than my previous YA novel which is on hold for a while. So perhaps the reason I'm feeling discontent in my writing is because I have nowhere else to go with it when I struggle with PM. 
So I started to think of ideas for short stories, and the ideas I found myself having were mostly to do with work and what I deal with every day; disability. 
Thy say you should write what you know, so it seemed like a good place to start. I have worked with many clients who have brought me into their world and shown me a glimpse of their experience. 
I have started a few stories, based on thoughts I have had at work, things I've witnessed, things that have bothered me, things I have learned, and people I've met. The difficulty I'm faced with is writing what I know without writing specifically. It would be relatively easy to write a short story about someone i work with, or something that happened, but I can’t for too many reasons. Also, I think that would detract from the originality of the writing process.

The idea of writing what you know is to draw on your experiences, not to write an autobiography or a biography for someone you know. There is so much about human nature, about the sensory experience, independence and social interaction that I have learned through work, so much that I could draw upon. And yet, I am struggling. 
Disability is such a complex thing to convey, and as I said, I'm finding it difficult not to write specifically. 
Still, I shall keep working on the ideas i have had - at least it's something else to keep me busy if I'm fed up of PM, and it is another channel in which I can put my experiences at work.

Does anyone else find a similar problem in 'writing what you know', or more specifically, in writing about disability? Any advice?