Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Write to be Published

Write to be Published by Nicola Morgan

Along with every other English-speaking writer with a smidgen of sense I've been a fan of Nicola Morgan ever since I discovered her wonderful blog. When I first found it, I was busy writing womag stories and doing ok at getting them published, so much of her advice on writing novels and approaching agents or publishers was not so relevant to me. But I loved the blog anyway and kept going back.

And now, just when I'm embarking on editing my first completed novel, with a view to sending it out into the big scary world in a few months time, the wonderful woman distils her blog's advice into a handy paperback which you can read in the bath.

It's simple - all you have to do is "write the right book in the right way, send it to the right publisher in the right way and at the right time." Then they'll publish you. Nicola takes you through all the steps of this process. There's no guarantee - you do have to be able to write, and there's a mention of some necessary fairy dust which I believe you need to sprinkle into your submission envelope - but if you follow the advice in this book you'll definitely increase your chances.

I've just read it cover to cover - including the acknowledgements at the end which includes womagwriter! Cheers, Nicola! I'm going to re-read the bits on editing your book soon when I get going with the edits. And I'll re-read the bits about submission when I get to that stage.

A very helpful, easy to read and enjoyable book for anyone who likes to write and wants to be published.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Started Early, Took My Dog

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

This is the latest in the Jackson Brodie series of detective novels by Atkinson. I've read a couple of her earlier novels, including her first two and the first Jackson Brodie book. Bought this while browsing in WHS one day.

It's a complex plot so I'm not sure I can summarise it here. Back in 1975 a small child who'd witnessed a murder went missing - the whole episode was hushed up. WPC Tracy Waterhouse was one of the police who found the mother's body, but despite her efforts she could not find what had happened to the child. Now, Brodie has been asked to find an adopted woman's roots, and he stumbles across the story of the murder and thinks there might be a link. But someone else seems to be following up the same leads as well. Meanwhile, Tracy, now a middle-aged spinster, somehow finds herself abducting a little girl to fill an aching gap in her life. Brodie himself acquires a small dog in an unconventional way - lots of small displaced creatures throughout this novel.

The story twists and turns and ends in a satisfying way.

I found myself struggling to get into this book for the first 100 pages or so, but then it rattled along at a good pace and I enjoyed the second half. I think this was because of Atkinson's stream-of-consciousness style. She starts a scene, then wanders off to tell some backstory, then wanders off that backstory to tell some other backstory and it can be pages later that we get back to the scene. This worked well (if I'm remembering correctly) in her first novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum, because the theme of that book was all in the backstory - what had happened before. But at the start of this book I found it a bit annoying. We needed to know Tracy's character, but did we need to be told how her parents met?

If you're a fan of this author you'll like this book. And I will certainly read more of hers - overall I do like them. One thing I noticed was the complete absence of cliches. Wish I could do that.

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Ann Barrows

What an utterly delightful read this was! Bought on an impulse in WHS. It's all told by letters. Main character Juliet is a writer, time period is just post-WW2. Juliet enters into a correspondence with first one member then many members of a Guernsey book club, and eventually her curiosity takes her to visit the island as she decides to write about them. There are some fabulous quirky characters in this novel - the type you want to know more about after the book ends. There's a satsifying love story, and you get to learn lots of history of the German occupation of the Channel islands during the war. What more could you want from a novel, apart from to have written it yourself?