The Graduate

I know you’ve all been sitting there hitting refresh every five seconds, but I am shocked to learn that it is over a year since I posted here.  I’m not going to excuse it – life got in the way as it tends to.  Anyway, as of today I am officially a graduate.

I got my final OU mark today (90% on my exam and a distinction overall) and am in line for a First class degree.  Go, me!  It’s been a long four and a half years with many tears and tantrums along the way, but I’ve done it!

As soon as I opened the email, I burst into tears as relief and happiness washed over me.  This particular module was a tough one.  As well as the immense workload, Ive had a busy, busy year. I started a new job last October, re-entering the world of full-time employment which added to the pressure.  We’ve set a wedding date (eeeek) finally and so that has taken up time in venue hunting, dress shopping and the million and one other things that go along with it. Every deadline seemed to coincide with something major – two deaths in the family, a huge bus crash which resulted in a broken wrist on deadline day (the day I said ‘Oh, it’ll be fine, I’ll just do my bibliography and conclusion when I get in from work…’ ha – yeah.  The references ended up in no logical order with typos and the conclusion was, to quote my tutor ‘odd’).  Then there was the bout of pleurisy.  It’s been a fun year.

I apologise for blowing my own trumpet – actually, that’s a lie.  As much as it goes agaisnt my character, I am bloody proud of myself.

Now my degree is done (did I mention that?) I’m starting to write more.  I’m reading for pleasure more (18 books in the month since my exam) and of course, planning the wedding of the decade.


REVIEW: Self Publish Your Book by Jessica Bell

downloadThere are so many ‘how to’ writing and publishing guides on the market and like any self-respecting procrastinating writer, I have read a lot of them.  This guide from Jessica Bell is by far, my favourite.

Every step from formatting to cover design to actually getting your book out there is covered in step-by-step detail.  Jessica manages to spell it out in simple detail without being condescending.  I love the bullet points; not only can you tick off items as you do them, but it breaks down what can seem like huge tasks into bite size, manageable chunks.  I’m not the most technical person, but I managed to follow each and every step with ease.  A quick example: before reading this book, I spent days (probably more like weeks) messing around trying to format my book.  With this book, I had it all finished in one day. That is how good this book is.

I seriously cannot recommend this book (or the others in the In a Nutshell series – I have them all) enough.  If you’re serious about self-publishing, you have to buy this book.

The book is availble now in Kindle or paperback format.

REVIEW: ‘Normal’ by Graeme Cameron

normalUsing the point-of-view of a serial killer, this debut novel offers a fresh approach to what might otherwise be a little bit tired in the way of premise.  The (unnamed) protagonist is your average man.  Normal.  He smiles at strangers.  He helps people.  He’s just normal.  Aside from the fact that his hobby is murder.  He has an elaborate cage in a special cellar built under his garage; yet he treats his captives with an almost kindness.  As far as the storyline goes, there isn’t much that hasn’t been done before. The first person narrator, however, makes it creepy as hell.  The worst bit?  He’s actually really quite likeable.  Yep.  I found myself rooting for him as the police closed in.  I was on the side of a serial killer.  Now, that is terrifying and that is what makes this book stand out from the crowd.  When I finally finished, I felt slightly shell-shocked.  What does it say about me that I feel such empathy for such an evil man?  I actually think it says a lot more about Cameron that he can create a humanness in such a vile character.

Quite a lot is left to the imagination in Normal.  It does get quite gruesome in parts, but these parts are understated.  The gore isn’t spelt out to the reader, rather dropped in in a scarily matter-of-fact way.  Several times, I stopped and went back to re-read bits, convinced I had mis-read the first time.  For the main character, his murdering lifestyle is ‘normal’ and it becomes that way for the reader, also.  It is also darkly humorous in parts.  I would laugh out loud, then catch myself and think ‘why the hell am I finding this funny?’. It made me question my sanity in a way few other books ever have.

It’s really difficult to say much more without giving away the entire plot; so I will leave it with this:  this book is possibly the most psychologically scary I have ever read.  It probably won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I do recommend it to anyone who loves a good thriller but is looking for something fresh.

Best Twentieth Novel

For my final assignment on my current OU module,I have to choose the best novel of the Twentieth Century from a shortlist of four plus one not studied.  Picking which midule text to cover is always difficult enough, but picking my own – impossible!

There are far too many amazing novels I could use.  Just scribbling down ideas off the top of my head yielded two sides of A4 paper.  I’m trying to think logically, finding a novel to fit with the argument I’m tattoed girlmaking and one which I can find an abundance of critical resources on, but my heart is getting in the way of my head.  Just for a change.  Writing the essay will be a piece of cake after the hell that is making my choices.

In other reading news, I have been on a bit of a Joyce Carol Oates binge, reading ‘The Accursed’, ‘The Gravediggers daughter’ and currently ‘The Tattooed Girl’.  I love and am in complete awe of her writing style.

In kind-of-reading-related-news I have discovered wfgaudio books.  I’ve never really got on with them, my mind has a tendency to
wander and listening isn’t the same as reading.  But, I have been listening to books as I clean or walk to work and it does make it more enjoyable.  I have just finished listening to Joyce Carol Oates’s ‘Blonde’ a fictional biography of Marilyn Monroe which I absolutely loved.

I have also been reading Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ for an assignment which I am enjoying a lot more than I imagined I would.

What is your favourite Twentieth Century novel?  What have you been reading?

Golden Opportunity

Exciting news: ‘Golden Opportunity’, a short screenplay I was working on a while back is being produced.  The original short story, by the fabulous PJ Kaiser, was part of the eMergent Publishing anthology ‘Nothing but Flowers’ and I adapted it for the screen under the expert guidance of producer/director Devin Watson.

The trailer has just been released and it looks amazing, even if I say so myself.

I have loved every second of working on this project.  Writing for the screen was both challenging and exciting and I have loved watching it all come to life over the past few months.  I have yet to see the finished product, but I literally cannot wait!

Want to see more? Head on over to the Facebook page and give it a like for up-to-date information, behind the scenes photos, stills from the footage and more!


Reading challege

Anyone who has read my last posts, will be glad to know that I am done with my Virginia Woolf assignment – yay – and have dodoes
moved on to Philip K Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ and Allen Ginsberg’s poetry collection ‘Howl’.  I love them both and am having difficulty deciding which to concentrate on for my next assignment.

In non-studying reading, I’ve been enjoying some lighter books.  After reading Kate Atkinson’s ‘Case Histories’, I’ve revisited ‘Life after Life’ and ‘One Good Turn’.  I love Kate Atkinson’s books and plan to buy more.

casvacAt the top of my TBR pile is ‘A Casual Vacancy’ by JK Rowling.  I bought this shortly after it was released but never read it.  I watched Sunday evenings television adaptation, though and am desperate to read the book before the final part airs. It is sitting on my bedside table waiting for me tonight.   I’m also planning to re-read ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ ahead of the sequel being released this Summer.  As much as I love re-reading books, I’m always a bit anxious about re-reading a firm favourite in case it doesn’t live up to its memory.  This happened with Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’ last year.  It was one of my favourite books of my late teens.  I had a bit of a Plath-crazy phase and read everything I could get my hands on. I built up the ‘Bell Jar’ so much in my kambmind that when I re-read it in my thirties, though I loved it, it wasn’t a patch on the version in my head.

I move house this week, so I envisage lots of procrastination time for reading.

What are you reading?

Reading Challenge: Week 5

I really seem to hit a bit of a slump, here having only read one book for this week.  Usually I turn to books and reading more when I am stressed or tired – I suppose its escapism – but at the moment I’m struggling to focus for long enough to really get into a story.  I have re-read Virginia Woolf’s Orlando another gazillion times.  See a pattern here.  I’m due to study Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ after my deadline next week, so expect a slight shift.
Anyway, this weeks book was ‘Card School’ by Andrew Milner, which I loved.  It isn’t a book I would normally pick from the shelves, but many of the best books are discovered that way.  I will post a link to the full review very soon. I will say, that this book get bonus points for being set in a boarding school.  Ever since I first read Enid Blyton, I had a bit of an obsession with boarding school, which I suppose never left.

What have you been reading?