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Nervous!

You’re going to get two posts today, lucky people, and both are book (or writing) related!

Firstly, tomorrow is my first Creative Writing class and I’m nervous for several reasons:

1. I am very shy around new people, and given the amount of time my ME/CFS makes me spend on my own, I’m not very good at socialising.
2. I have no idea what a class like this consists of, so don’t know what to expect.

I’ll try and update you tomorrow, if I don’t just sleep for the remainder of the day (it starts at 9.30am which, as you know, is not a good time for me). Oh, and the outfit arrived for ‘Paige’ for the cover of my Kindle edition of Karma – hoping to get that sorted out in October (along with another OU course). Must keep the mind occupied when the body wants to hibernate!


September: Creative Writing

I noticed that, locally, there was a Creative Writing course running. I had a few doubts about it:

a) It cost £65 – a LOT of money to me, that could possibly be better spent elsewhere (though it averages out at £6.50 per class)
b) It begins at 9.30am, a few miles away from here – I don’t function well before 10am (but my mam promised to give me a lift)
c) What qualifies someone to teach Creative Writing – would I even benefit from going there?

I contacted the community centre and they asked the tutor to email me. She has run these courses before, for several years, but never at this venue. I got the impression that she would make the classes interesting (although I don’t like the idea of reading work aloud).

I thought that the classes might challenge me, in more ways than one, so decided to sign up. It is a rare opportunity for me to meet new, like-minded people, and I am hoping it might make me enthusiastic about writing again (one of these days, I’d love to be motivated enough to complete NaNoWriMo). I’m quite nervous about it for all of the reasons I had doubts about signing up. Hoping it’s worthwhile.

With regards to my eBook (the Kindle version of Karma), I had ordered a suitable outfit on eBay, which my pretty cousin was going to model for me, but it hasn’t arrived. If Royal Mail are reading this: over a week is unacceptable for a first class parcel. I fear I will never see it.


Book 2: Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge

Teacher, Teacher!The second book I chose in the Reading Challenge was ‘Teacher, Teacher!’ by Jack Sheffield.

The story (or is it a memoir) is based on a year in the life of a newly appointed headmaster at a small village school. It’s an unofficial account, based on the Headmaster’s alternative log book, of the ups and downs of school (and village) life. It captures the essence of residing and working in a Northern village, in the seventies.

Where to start? If I judged this book by its cover, there would be two problems:

1. The cover is very unappealing (and, dare I say, dull?)
2. The tagline describes this book as ‘hilarious’ – this gives the reader certain expectations, and I’m sorry to say, I was disappointed. Very disappointed.

While this book is not hilarious (I would expect to laugh out loud at a hilarious book), some of the characters and situations gave rise to a smile. I’d describe the book as warm and gentle, rather than humorous. I really wanted to like this book, as Jack Sheffield is a very good storyteller; unfortunately, his story just did not appeal to me and I found it rather slow. I didn’t really want to read on (not that there was much follow-through from chapter to chapter – it’s more of a collection of separate incidents, I felt). I rarely give up on a book, though, and did finish it. I was relieved to do so.

I feel it harsh to criticise the book so much, as don’t think that it was aimed at me. If I remembered the seventies, I’d probably be able to relate more to the scenarios within, and to the characters. I must say that I did shed a tear at a particularly touching moment or two, which shows that the author is very skilled at conveying emotional situations (or that I’m a softy where children are concerned) – but I didn’t particularly care about the characters themselves. I felt disconnected from them. I also didn’t appreciate the excess use of the Northern dialect – I understand that Mr Sheffield was trying to emphasise the sense of being in Yorkshire, but it was just too much (and as you know, I’m from Up North, myself).

I think that someone in their fifties or upwards, who was either at primary school in the seventies or had children at school during this time, would get more out of this book than I did. This book is the literary equivalent of your favourite male relative sitting you down and relaying tales of his younger days. I’d give this book 6 out of 10: well-written but I wouldn’t read more of the series.


Book 1: Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge

икониrachel.jpgMy first book to review is Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson. I selected this because it looked like the kind of book I’d pick up in a shop, if I felt like trying a new author.

The premise of the book is that Chelsea, the main female character, is a wannabe actress, struggling to find more than the most mediocre of parts. She comes to Seattle to work as an assistant to a recouperating NHL star, in order to raise funds for a breast augmentation. She needs to keep her job to gain a bonus and fund her operation, whereas he makes it clear that he doesn’t need help and attempts to get rid of her.

I believe that this is one of a series of books and, maybe, I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read the other books and had a sense of background to those involved. The book almost lost me at the first chapter, as it was quite heavily ice-hockey based. I understand that this has a big following overseas, so can understand people being drawn to it, but there was just too much ‘sports talk’ for my liking. Thankfully, the story was also about relationships and being drawn to people you shouldn’t be. Without spilling too many beans, I found the change in circumstances believable, but not in the space of time given in the book. It felt very rushed. Unfortunately, the characters felt a little flat and I didn’t have a sense of their individual history, so it was hard to feel involved in their relationship – it felt I hadn’t been given the chance to ‘know’ them by the author.

My one pet hate, and I’ve noticed this in a lot of US novels, is the littering of pages with brand names – Gatorade, Vicodin, etc, etc. This happened throughout this book and it felt like advertising!

In essence, it was quite a raunchy book (not quite erotic fiction, but almost) and it was the perfect read for a holiday: fairly engaging, a bit naughty, not too much thinking required and a satisfying conclusion. I’d give this book 6.5/10.


‘I’m part of the Transworld Book Group!’

свети илияbook-group-logo.jpgI’m very excited to be part of the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge.

I absolutely love to read (as anyone who’s heard my radio interviews will know, usually in the bath – how many times do I wish I hadn’t said that) so I’m really looking forward to reviewing the four books I have chosen from their list. I will be reading and reviewing the following books:

Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson
Teacher, Teacher! by Jack Sheffield
The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas
Crippen by John Boyne

This seemed like a good mixture of topics, and I can’t wait to get started.


e-book

свети минаI’ve done some research on the e-book situation and it seems straightforward, except for one thing: the cover.

I know the saying goes ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ but I think we all do, and a rubbish cover will put us off picking a book up. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hated my book cover, so I’m not too upset that I can’t use it (I may own the copyright to the book, but certainly not the cover). However, it does mean that I need a whole new cover before I set up my e-book.

I have an idea, but I don’t have the skills to make my own cover (I think a graphic artist does it…but not for free). Don’t have the money to pay someone else to do it, so I’m at an impasse (is that the right word – am tired so not sure). When I solve the problem, I’ll let you know.

Finally, I have a new computer that a) works b) is light enough that it will sit on my lap for a little while and c) the screen isn’t too bright. I’m hoping that it is a keeper and it lasts a good while. Realised lately just how much I rely on my computer!