All about Books

Weekly Update: 15th Jan Books 

It’s the beginning of another week and more books are being lifted from my TBR pile. After last week’ s reading of The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan, and Jennifer Gilmour’s Isolation Junction these are the books I plan to read:

  • The One by John Marrs. This has been out a while but I have patiently waited my turn on the library reservation list. I first heard about it on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 Book Club and the premise of dating based on DNA testing had me hooked.
  • Clipped Wings by Jennifer Gilmour. After reading Isolation Junction, which is a fictional account of domestic abuse (eye-opening, worrying and uplifting book) I decided to try her second book. This is a collection of survivor’s stories on their experiences of domestic abuse.
  • Forget her Name by Jane Holland, in time for next week’s blog tour.
  • Write Smart, Write Happy by Cheryl St. John. I am jumping into this after receiving a digital ARC from NetGalley. Will I be a happier writer and will my technique improve once I have finished it? I will find out soon. 

What books are you opening this week?

Happy reading!

Writing journey

Blue Monday, Domestic Abuse and Free Book – Isolation Junction

Christmas is over and bills are hitting the door mat in anticipation for Blue Monday. It can be a hard time for everyone but it also causes the risk of domestic abuse to escalate. Domestic abuse happens behind closed doors but the statistics are eye opening. In 2015/2016 affected 1.2 million women and 651,000 males*. It can happen to anyone. It is not dependent on age, class, race or gender.  Author Jennifer Gilmour has popped over to talk about  why she is offering her debut, Isolation Junction, free for 5 days at this time of year and how it came about.

Jennifer Gilmour speaks about why she is giving her novel away for FREE

Author Jennifer Gilmore

My name is Jennifer Gilmour and I am a survivor of domestic abuse, I have published two books both with a focus on raising awareness about domestic abuse at their core. Whilst both aim to raise this awareness one is written as a work of fiction whilst the other is a compilation of survivor stories and therefore non-fiction. Both work in different ways to educate and raise awareness of this insidious and unacceptable behaviour.

Over Christmas, incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police rise. Assault and domestic murders increase 25% during the festive period with a third of them been on Christmas Day itself. Bombarded with images of the perfect nuclear family gathered around the gold baubles of a Christmas tree, it can be easy to forget that Christmas is a time of coercion, punishment and violence for many women** and men.

Now I know it isn’t Christmas anymore but January can be just as bad be-cause all those credit card bills come in alongside your usual direct debits. There is even a day in January called Blue Monday and this year its on the 15th. The date is generally reported as falling on the third Monday in January, but also on the second or fourth Monday, or the Monday of the last full week of January.
The formula uses many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.
Can you imagine this formula and applying it to an abusive relationship?

For 5 days my debut novel, Isolation Junction is going to be FREE on Amazon Kindle, this is the first time ever to happen. It’s the week before Blue Monday, I wonder if those reading will be inspired to take action?

I ask you all to share the link and break the silence surrounding domestic abuse.

 

UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LX4HLT0

US link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX4HLT0

 

Synopsis of Isolation Junction

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

 

If you need support you can contact National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000 247 or check out Jennifer’s page http://jennifergilmour.com/support/

** https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2015/12/it-s-hardest-time-year-why-domestic-violence-spikes-over-christmas

All about Books

Weekly Reading Update 8th Jan 2018

This is the first weekly reading update of the year. One of my 2018 goals is  to check in weekly to share my current reads for the week and hopefully hear what you are reading too.

I have just finished an ARC for Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood, a fantasy YA with elements of a twisted fairy tale. I will post a review nearer to its publication date next month.

I have started Jenny Colgan’s The Endless Beach, also an ARC and would love to pause time so the to-do list can be forgotten so I can just read undisturbed. Her books always demand my attention once they are started.

Thank you NetGalley and publishers for allowing me the opportunity to have a sneak preview at books. I am so grateful.

Though I have read Murs Lafferty’s I Should be Writing, I am dipping in to complete the exercises.

Also Jennifer Gilmour’s debut novel Isolation Junction has been downloaded on my Kindle along with her second book Clipped Wings. If you can head over there now – Isolation Junction is available FREE for 5 days (8th – 12th Jan 2018) to raise awareness of domestic abuse. We will also hear more from Jennifer later in the week but in the meantime why not pop over to download your copy.

UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LX4HLT0

US link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX4HLT0

What are you reading this week?

Happy reading and writing!

 

work in progress, Writing journey

Addicted to words

September has brought the distinct warm light of Autumn that transforms the rural landscape from pleasant to stunning. It is one of my favourite seasons with the trees changing colour, temperature dropping slightly so snuggling up with a good book and cup of tea is even more pleasurable.

My reading pile  has expanded dramatically in the last couple of days after listening to a talk at York Library by Mark Edwards and Rachel Abbott. There is nothing quite like listening to enthusiastic authors to give you kick to finish your own story. I couldn’t resist a signed copy of one of their books as well as a jazzy pen from Mark Edwards. The flashlight on the end will be very useful while I burn the candle at both ends in the attempt to reduce my expanding TBR pile, write reviews and Amber’s tale while visiting relatives.

The problem with writing regularly is once imagination is allowed some freedom, it is a hard beast to control. I have been told not to read or use my phone (scribble notes for writing, research and  the dreaded lure of  social media ) all the time while I am away. The thought of not having a book in my hand or ability to write when needed, makes my hands tingle and heart panic. I am addicted to words. Being a bookworm was bad enough but now the joy of writing has been rediscovered, it has become harder.  Past experience says if my imagination is contained and kept into reality for too long without a release, it has an inspiration explosion. Ideas flurry, plot bunnies come out in force and sentences materialise fully formed. Not being able to get these out in a tangible form makes me angsty, fidgety and it is all consuming. I am not a good house guest. Everyone wants to socialise and I long to hibernate with my phone and its writing apps. Like a secret smoker, I make excuses to be out of the room, snatch a few minutes to jot things down but I am  inevitably caught. Judgemental tuts and the rolling of eyes always follow making me feel like a naughty school child.  Other hobbies such as knitting, sewing and crochet are seen as acceptable in company but sadly writing and reading are not. Silly thing is, I am more grounded and less likely to drift off into daydreams if my hands know I can do something about the random thoughts that pop up.* I wonder if sketching and drawing stickmen is classed as anti – social too. If there is ever a time for writer’s block to loom, it is when I am in the company of others.

My local  writing group has  begun again after its summer break so I can indulge in   two blissful, guilt free hours of writing, coffee and cake. These treasured hours keeps me sane and I may share some  ramblings and flash fiction with you soon.

*Please tell me I am not the only one who feels like this. Maybe things will change and my addiction will become more accepted if I ever become a real published writer.

 

 

Writing journey

NanoWriMo and more

More than half way through Camp NanoWriMo and unbelievably I am ahead of my target of 10, 000 words. To some it is a teeny target but in recent months getting any words written has been a challenge but now, I am writing daily, even if a few words. It helps so much because my imagination has been released; bringing new ideas, stronger characters and different scenarios even when I am away from the PC. I wake up excited of the scenes I have seen and become frustrated if the opportunity is not there to scribble things down in the detail I would like. Maybe I am a writer after all.

Last week, my husband finally turned our tiny spare room into a study for me. It still has the bed for when visitors stay but it also has an old oak bureau my husband has fixed. Having my own space with things to hand which do not need packing away at dinner or bed time is bliss especially when you are surrounded by books. I am feeling grateful and lucky.

One of my characters in my WIP resides in Whitby so as a family we tootled over the moors, enjoying the fantastic scenery to visit this atmospheric seaside town with its cobbled streets, unique shops, wonderful book shop* and scrummy fish and chips. The perfect house and shop for my character wasn’t found but my imagination has developed one just for her. If I could bring one place out of my head into reality, it would have to be Willow’s shop nestled in an unknown street of Whitby. I would spend a fortune so maybe it is wise to leave it there.

As my story develops and other characters visit there I will have to go there again for research. After all, it would a shame not too.

 

*when this book is finished, it would be my dream to do a book signing in The Whitby Bookshop. It may be small but it has a wonderful character with its spiral staircase, helpful staff and lots of bookworm goodies as well as the stars of shop – the books!

 

Happy writing

Writing journey

The Joy of Illustrations

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I love art and adore illustrated books. Maybe it is a throwback from being a child holding a picture book in my chubby hands, in awe of the story coming alive in the drawings next to the words. The relationship between the author’s words and the artist’s imagery, when they compliment each other is sublime. They become so entwined that you can not think of one without the other. If you see the drawings of Quentin Blake, you automatically think Roald Dahl or if you read the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh, the sketches of E.H Shepherd form in your mind. When I read the words of Tolkien I see the art of Alan Lee followed by scenes from the Lord of the Rings films; a rare case where the producer manages to capture the essence of the novel in its cinematic splendour.

 

20161119_114844 (2)I grew up immersed in several books by Brian Froud and my treasured possession is the illustrated version of The Lord of the Rings and these have heavily influenced how I see my current novel in my mind. As a wannabe writer, I always had images of how I would like my book to look like. Forget planning wedding dresses in idle times in class at school, I was planning my book. I wanted illustrations to bring compliment my story, art to make my book become more than a tale to be read but an object that calls to be placed on the bookcase. My artistic skills are not up to bringing my images alive but luckily a close friend Debra McFarlane has, so we spent our time on wet, cold break times huddled in the art room discussing stories and sketching characters. Maybe one day, I will write a novel worthy of illustrating.

An artist I have come across recently who I love and has the style I envisaged as a teenager is Emily Hare. The world of unique creatures she has created is a wonderful example of how the alchemy of words, drawings and imagination can form magic on the page. Her Kickstarter campaign ends shortly but it is worth looking at. It is already successful and I eagerly wait to hold her book in my not so chubby hands and immerse myself in the world of Strangehollow just as I did with Froud’s Labyrinth.