October is halfway through and NaNoWriMo is creeping closer. I can’t believe it is that time of year again but the pumpkins are lined up ready for Halloween so it must be. I have that familiar rush of excitement I feel when a new project is forming. Yes, instead of ploughing on with The Ellfaenian Journals I am using Preptober to plan a new WIP. It has been brewing for a long time but it is time to do it. Based on my favourite character, Willow Anderson from the journals I can’t wait to tell her story.
Inspired by a teacup and prompt from my local writing group, she has evolved from a small player to a fully formed personality influencing my life. After all, if you are researching tea you have to try them. I have become obsessed with teacups and saucers while my hubby has discovered the joy of loose leaf tea again. Our (or should I say his) teapot collection has bloomed in recent weeks. Every time he goes to a car-boot he comes back with a bargain. I am a colour magpie and attracted to all things bright but brown Betty teapots make glorious cuppas bordering on perfection. They have converted me to love them. Expect more tea related posts as Willow, a witch from Whitby gets further into my head. She loves the stuff.
My characters are waiting for November to begin while my Pinterest boards are flowing with inspirational settings. Unlike before where I planned the plot to the nth degree, I aim to be more fluid and go with the flow; an experiment to see which style works. It is also a different genre, romance so wish me luck. I will need it.
I returned to the forest this month but it wasn’t for the relaxing stroll of forest bathing but a heart stopping race against time to stop a killer with DI Helen Grace.
Book Review: Down in the Woods by M.J Arlidge
Down to the Woods by M.J Arlidge
Title: Down in the Woods
Author: M.J Arlidge
Publisher: Penguin UK – Michael Joseph
Genre: Mystery and suspense, thriller
Release Date: 20th September 2018
If you go down to the woods today
The last thing Tom Campbell remembers is camping in the New Forest with his girlfriend, Melissa. Now he is helpless, alone and consumed by fear, hunted through the woods by a sinister, masked figure…
When Tom’s body is found, displayed with grisly relish, Helen Grace takes the case. But before she can catch her breath, a second victim is taken – a serial killer is on the loose.
You better not go alone…
Something dark and deadly stalks the forest. Helen and her team must race against time to catch the perpetrator, before more blood is shed.
But the hunt will take Helen back into the eerie twilit woods – and this time she might not make it out alive.
I love crime thrillers but M.J Arlidge is one of two writers I eagerly wait for the next instalment. DI Helen Grace is a complex character and has been through the wars since she first arrived screeching into the fiction world on her motorbike in Eeny Meeny. This novel is menacing, creepy and unnerving with heart-stopping chase scenes deep in depths of New Forest which send shivers down my spine even now. There is a good balance of the investigation and the familiar characters’ personal lives. As the series continues, DI Helen Grace evolves and it is a joy to read as is catching up with Charlie who is juggling with motherhood and pressure of a violent case. This series has not faltered.
Would I recommend?
If you love gripping suspence and not shy from grusome crime add this to your TBR list now. It is perfect for the run up to Halloween for the setting alone.
According to WordPress this blog is two years old – gulp. How did that happen?
I started this blog to document my writing journey but looking back, I don’t seem to have achieved as much as I planned. My current WIP remains incomplete at 50,000 words, I only have a handful of worthy short stories and my writing routine is still hit and miss but I have
found new friends. Some of these are amazing writers and support me in all aspects of life.
gained confidence in my writing
discovered how friendly the writing community is on Twitter and Facebook especially #Turtlewriters and #FictionCafeWriters
completed Camp Nanowrimo twice.
As Nanowrimo approaches it is time to prepare and with the help of preptober prompts from Emma-Louise at Read, Write, Inspire maybe this time I will manage it.
It’s time for some flash fiction. This was written for my writing group after being given the prompt:
Choose a well known fictional character. Write why they did what they did.
While everyone chose well known characters from literature by Charles Dickens, the only characters I could think about were from children literature including Eeyore from A.A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.
The Story of Eeyore’s Tail
Crushed against the wall Eeyore looked up at the small child next to him to see her eyes tightly closed. Maybe if he did the same, he would be invisible too instead of hiding behind a musty settee in the parlour listening to the stampede of feet on the wooden floor in the hall. Doors opened and closed, whispers silenced until all he could hear was the countdown from the hall.
Ten. Nine. Eight.
When Louise chose him from her menagerie of toys to attend Alexander’s birthday party he was so excited and proud he thought he would burst his seams. Instead of the colourful toys and her pretty dolls he, a round cloth donkey with his drab grey coat, had been seen at last and was the envy of all in the nursery. The party was all anyone could talk about; there was speculation on whether there would be ice cream as well as jelly, whether jelly really wobbled as described in the books Nanny read and what the cake would look like. Louise chattered endlessly about the dress she would wear and the need for matching new ribbons. All the toys worried about whether Alexander would receive his much desired catapult and if they would in turn be used for target practise but Eeyore hadn’t cared because it was him who would see the party first hand. Now, all he wanted was to be in the toy box with the others. Anywhere but here.
Seven. Six. Five. Four.
He could feel Louise’s heart beat faster and he prayed they wouldn’t be seen.
Three. Two. One.
“Coming ready or not”, bellowed Alexander. His loud footsteps faded into the distance and Louise took a deep breath.
It started so well. Eeyore was in awe with the scene in front of him; bunting decorating the room, every child wore party hats, the table was spread with birthday treats and was that the infamous jelly he could spy? Louise was ushered in and Eeyore watched as the gift she gave Alexander joined the growing mound of presents in the corner. The children all sat down in a circle before passing a parcel to each other unwrapping layer after layer of paper when the music stopped until it revealed a prize for Louise and the first tantrum from Alexander ensued. Consoled with the promise he could open his presents calm reigned again but Eeyore felt the first tingle of apprehension. He tried to remember all the gifts he saw but his mind went blank when the dreaded catapult was unwrapped. The nursery toys would not be happy and neither was Louise. She held him tighter and tighter. Further party games followed with Alexander being declared the winner until it was time for hide and seek.
Eeyore froze as a thunder of shoes headed their way and the door creaked open.
“Found her” Alexander loomed over them causing Louise to squeal and run off without him. Eeyore felt himself snatched up roughly before he hurtled through the air from boy to braying boy. “Let’s play pin the tail on the donkey” one suggested. The small toy quivered in fear. It silently screamed when they ripped his tail from his body. He wanted Louise. He wanted the sanctuary of the nursery. With a scarf tied over his eyes, a boy was turned round and round. It was only when the donkey saw his tail and a large pin in the lumbering child’s hand he knew what was coming. Over and over the pin jabbed into him to the sound of the boys raucous laughter.
“Time for food” a voice called. The children retreated. Left alone and discarded in the corner of the room, Eeyore began to cry. He never saw the cake nor knew whether jelly really did wobble and when he returned to the toys he refused to talk. His humiliation and shame of losing his tail was too great. Eventually he lay forgotten at the bottom of the toy box, shunned for his aloofness until one day he found himself in a different nursery with a boy called Christopher Robin. His life began again but he never forgot that day and he always hated birthdays.
I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult so was very excited to recieve an advanced copy of her new release A Spark of Light. Thank you NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the opportunity to read this.
A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
Title: A Spark of Light
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughon
Genre: General Fiction
Release date: 30th October 2018
Whose choice is it?
The masterful new novel from the Number One bestselling author of Small Great Things.
The Center for women’s reproductive health offers a last chance at hope – but nobody ends up there by choice.
Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.
Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real: a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.
Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people – the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment – to this point.
And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.
This is another divisive novel by Jodi Picoult told sensitively as it tries to deal with all sides of the abortion debate. It is honest, gritty and hard-hitting and doesn’t shy away from the heightened emotion abortion evokes and the physical aspects of the procedure. Some may find parts distressing and a trigger. The plot revolves around the stories of the women and doctor at a women’s centre in Mississippi when a gunman attacks – these include a 15-year-old girl, her aunt, doctor and nurse. Each have their own reasons for being there that day and all different characters. Unusually, it is told in a reverse chronological order taking you from the end of day to the beginning. This could have been an awkward format but Jodi Picoult’s style and talent carries it off. My heartstrings were pulled because I felt an attachment to all characters whatever their beliefs and was on the roller coaster of emotion with them as the terror unfolds. It is a story about life and should read to start a conversation.
After all, as Jodi Picoult says
“Honestly, I do not believe we, as a society, will ever agree on this issue. The stakes are too high, and both sides operate from places of unshakable belief . But I do think that the first step is to talk to each other—and more important, to listen. We may not see eye to eye, but we can respect each other’s opinions and find the truth in them. Perhaps in those honest conversations, instead of demonizing each other, we might see each other as imperfect humans, doing our best.”
A Spark of Life Jodi Picoult 2018
Would I recommend?
Yes, whatever side you are on this novel shines a light on the shades of grey in the abortion debate which divides many in all countries. It is not an easy read but you come out of it a different person.
Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.