In this week's installent of our regular rummage around book bloggers' bedside tables, we're visiting Victoria from Victoria Loves Books. Based in London, Victoria is an avid reader of all genres and maintains hope that she will, one day, attend Hogwarts. Over to you, Victoria.
My nightstand is a very special place. All of my books stare at it longingly, wishing they could be one of the lucky titles to have been given a spot there. Why? Because only my very favourite books make it onto my bedside table.
1. The hardest part about writing the first draft of a novel is writing the first draft of a novel. Just write it, don't stop, don't edit, don't think. Just do it. Try and turn off your inner editor and you will be surprised about how creative and inspired you can become if you aren't always trying to perfect chapter one. Also, I find that you can never write the best opening to a book until you have written the end, so don't try.
2. Write every day. This is hard, I know and hey, it's my job, so what do I know about real life? Five kids, two of them toddler twins, that's what I know about real life. So whatever else is going on in your life, make time to write. You have to do it. You won't finish that first draft until you do.
3. Write a plot, but don't feel like you have to stick to it. Remember that first draft? The other very easy way to get stuck is to lose your way. I write what I call a road map; if you know where you are going then it's fine to off road it when the mood takes you, but you don't want to get stuck down a dead end because you are lost.
I adore coffee. So much so, if I could find a way to have it flow through my veins via an intravenous line, I just might consider it. It seems fitting then that the place I do most of my writing is at my … local coffee shop. It has everything a writer needs: a table, a chair, an outlet to plug in my laptop and, of course, free wifi. But, most importantly, it has coffee!
For the record, I do have a dedicated space at home. It is a lovely space: a bright and airy bedroom, which has been converted to an office. It’s filled to the brim with books and a treadmill that I’ve been meaning to actually use for years now, but so far has been serving as a drying rack from which to hang some of my wet laundry. And while I do a lot of my writing there in the evening, after the kids have gone to sleep, nothing beats my designated corner at my favorite coffee shop for those early morning sessions.
In the age of self-publishing, when people (including me in the past) have queried whether you need a publisher, I have to admit that after the launch of my paperback book last week, my eyes have been opened to what a publisher does.
Initially I struggled with my publishing deal. It was an alien concept for me to hand over control of my book to a team of people. It’s quite strange, as with self-publishing you know exactly what is going on with your book, with a publisher you often don’t know what’s going on from one week to the next. It’s hard to adjust and understand that your book baby is one of many undergoing nurturing at a publishers, and you’ve got to try not to be the pushy parent and let it go.
I’ve gone through the whole process now, editing from editors notes, proofing copy edits, pre-publication build up and finally, seeing the book hit the shelves, and I’ve become more relaxed. I’ve started to see what the editorial team, e-book team and marketing department does and how hard they work. I’ve started to learn that just because I don’t hear what’s going on, doesn’t mean to say nothing’s happening in the background!
Boarding school pranks, midnight feasts, crime solving kids, equine competitions and half-human, half-plant hybrids living in the basement. Long before Twilight and The Hunger Games dominated the market, and before we had the internet to distract us after school, these were just some of the storylines that kept us up late at night with a torch under the duvet.
From Malory Towers to Goosebumps and Judy Blume in between, join us as we pay homage to 25 book series we loved as kids and teens.
1. Malory Towers by Enid Blyton
While the first book of the Malory Towers series was published in 1946, girls of all ages have delighted in them for generations. Perhaps the most iconic of all boarding school stories, we grew up with Darrell and friends as they competed in hockey matches, crept out of their dormitories for midnight feasts by the rock pool and played tricks on the poor French mesdemoiselles. Oh, how we longed to be one of the gang with a trunk of our very own to pack before term started. We might have circled boarding schools in the Yellow Pages once or twice too, in an effort to drop hints to our parents.
2. St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton
Another boarding school, which pre-dated Malory Towers, the St. Clare’s series consisted of nine books absolutely brimming with madcap schemes, pranks, games and 1940s jollity. We followed twins Pat and Isabel O’Sullivan, hot-tempered Janet, steady head girl Hilary and mischievous Bobby all the way from their first form to fifth, and might have wept a little when we discovered the series ended there rather abruptly.
For those of you who are struggling with the dark days, you will be relieved to know winter solstice is nearly upon us. From 21st December, the days stop getting shorter and become longer again. But that still means a few more weeks of getting dark at 4pm (and a few weeks afterwards too!). Don't let the darkness go to waste. Embrace it. Light a fire, switch on your reading lamp, make a cup of something hot and chocolately, grab a cake and read one of these winter themed books.
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy – Set in a country house hotel on the west coast of Ireland this is, sadly, Maeve Binchy's final novel.
A Winter's Tale by Trisha Ashley – Sophy Winter is a hard up, single mum, who unexpectedly inherits a crumbly mansion in Lancashire called Winter's End. But along with inheriting the house, she also inherits an eccentric family and debt. And the attention of Jack Lewis.
Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones – Krista is a travel journalist who finds herself in Quebec to report on the Winter Carnival. For ten days Krista is immersed in ice palaces, husky dog-sledding and maple-syrup. Then the mysterious and handsome Jacques appears on the scene...
The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse – Freddie Watson lost loved ones during the Great War and at times, he also lost his mind. He has spent much of his time in a sanatorium, but in 1928 he is traveling through France, still trying to come to terms with his grief. There is a snowstorm and his car spins off the road. He staggers out the car and into a village, where he meets Fabrissa, who has a tragic story of her own too.
The Winter Lodge by Susan Wiggs – Part of the Lakeshore Chronicles series of books by Susan Wiggs. Jenny runs a bakery at Willow Lake. Then one winter she loses everything in a fire. As she sifts through the remains trying to work out what to salvage, she also has the attention of Rourke McKnight, her lifelong crush.