Thursday, 28 February 2013

First drafts and business cards

I had a set of business cards made last year, each one reading:
Sophie Gonzales
writer, blogger
Having posted regularly for over a year and a half, I can safely categorise myself as a blogger. But a writer? Well, unless you count creative writing assignments for university, not quite!

I have reasons for not writing creatively as much as I should be, but none of them are of significant value. I could always blame that controversial illness named Writer's Block (which, according to my course materials, does exist), laziness, or time. But, honestly, I think my most sincere excuse would be fear.

Take right now, for instance. It's a dark evening, and I'm sitting on a comfortable sofa with my computer on my lap. The lights are dimmed, the fire is calmly heating the room, my budgerigars are sat quietly, and the silence is perfect. But I'm still finding the construction of this particular sentence difficult; apparently because I'm thinking about it too much (and you're reading the version that's been edited five six seven times)! This is what annoys me about my writing process. The finished product always sounds reasonable, but it's the composition of a first draft which presents problems.

Don't think too much about what you're writing. That's what they seem to keep emphasising to us. When you have an idea, pursue it with reckless abandon you can edit after you've written down a hot mess. In theory this sounds like a fantastic plan, but in practise it's tough for me to do (especially as I'm a person who tends to over-think every aspect of life!). I'm terrified of making mistakes.

Luckily, though, studying the process of creative writing seems to be helping. Thanks to an encouraging tutor who is great at giving constructive feedback, and engaging study materials, I'm learning. Each assignment teaches me about a new aspect of my writing; whether it's avoiding clich├ęs or how to paint a more interesting picture.

But it's this last one which seems to have really brought out the 'artist' in me.

I have just studied a unit on poetry which, at first thought, scared me. During previous university modules I've studied poets and Elizabethan playwrights, but I have never been able to understand iambic pentameter. I didn't hold onto much hope when I began to study it again, yet this time it appeared to be explained in a way which made it pretty easy to understand. And what a massive relief it was! Suddenly I felt a weight lift off my shoulders.

I managed to get through the rest of the unit with relative enjoyment, and felt liberated when I realised that I actually understood a substantial amount. I then went on to construct a poem for my assignment that, regardless of what my tutor says when she returns it, I am very excited about. It might even find its way onto my blog!

Now I'm beginning to feel much more confident about writing. I've been making an effort to write my journal pretty much every night something I haven't done on a regular basis for years. I can find inspiration in the smallest, most seemingly insignificant objects. A sentence will materialise in my head, and I'll have to rush to find a pen and paper to make note before I lose track of it. And I can automatically see aspects of the world in narrative form. My brain may have found the right switch!

So this is where it starts. From now on, I must make an effort to write complete nonsense. I have to string sentences and observations together to make a story or a poem worth reading. My business cards will feel validated!

How about you? What does your writing process consist of?

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Vangretta Curse Series by Christina Mobley

Please welcome Christina Mobley who’s here promote her young-adult fantasy creation, The Vangretta Curse series.

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During the last year I released the first book in The Vangretta Curse series, Elementris, and this month I am kicking off the blog tour for book two, Exposure (released March 20th). The blog tour and release party will be on Facebook and there’ll be games, giveaways, and we’ll meet some new authors. I’m planning to give away a few e-book copies of both books, some Elementris inspired jewelry, and a few signed copies too. You are all welcome to join in the fun and invite your friends!

To take part, visit: http://www.facebook.com/ChristinaMobleyAuthor

Elementris is available now. The main character, Ava Vangeretta, is a strong-willed seventeen-year-old with an extraordinary gift and a big decision to make. Think Mother Nature/teen witch. At the moment, the Kindle edition is on offer for 99c on Amazon.com, and 77p on Amazon.co.uk.

Click here to buy on Amazon.com
Click here to buy on Amazon.co.uk

Here's the blurb for book one, Elementris:
There are people born in this world with a powerful connection to the earth itself...
They have an unbreakable and extraordinary bond. Every seven years, five people are born on the same day, at the exact same time. The elements bind them; earth, fire, wind, water, and spirit. They call them, Elementris.
Ava Vangeretta is seventeen years old and different. Unlike most born of the element, she was born alone. She has the power of all five elements. Ava is the first True Elementris to be born in many years. As her eighteenth birthday approaches she is faced with a choice. Give up this rare gift and live the normal life she has always craved or accept it and challenge the current True Elementris in a battle to the death!
Ava's past haunts her as she struggles to decide. In her present, the seasons are colliding together, storms are destroying lives, and love is a dangerous curse. The current True Elementris is behind it all and she will do whatever necessary to keep Ava from making it to her eighteenth birthday. Ava's decision threatens the lives of the two people she cares about most. Can you choose between love and friendship?
Get ready for the storm...
Blurb for book 2, Exposure:
Hidden behind a continuous storm, in the heart of the Bermuda Triangle, there is a secret and powerful place. Element Island’s mysteries are as great as its beauty. Ava Vangeretta’s life changed forever after she arrived on the island; she became the True Elementris.
Now Ava is faced with a new challenge. The powerful gifts protected by those born of the element could be revealed. Temptation gives new life to an old curse, danger draws near, and the lines between friend and enemy are blurred as secrets are revealed. Ava will do whatever it takes to protect those she loves, but can she prevent exposure?


About the author
Christina Mobley is a married mother of four who spends her days caring for her children. She grew up in Florida, living on the banks of the St.Mary's river, and as a child always had a fascination for storms and the power they wield. The Vangeretta Curse series was inspired by that fascination.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling


It's the summer holidays and soon Harry Potter will be starting his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is counting the days: there are new spells to be learnt, more Quidditch to be played, and Hogwarts castle to continue exploring. But Harry needs to be careful - there are unexpected dangers lurking ...

J.K. Rowling continues to surprise and delight with the power of her rich, demanding and action-packed storytelling.(via Goodreads)

I'm sorry to say that I struggled with The Goblet of Fire. This will seem very trite, as I've said it no less than fifty times by now, but I think my pre-knowledge of the story has very much affected my enjoyment of the Harry Potter world. I don't know if having watched the films many times is the only reason for this, or if it's also because I'm not 'clicking' with Rowling's narrative, but whatever the reason I wish I could undo it!

Nevertheless, even though my read didn't go completely well, there were still aspects of it that I enjoyed, such as the introduction of many new and interesting characters, and the never-ending wisdom of Dumbledore (I've bookmarked a couple of pages so I can revisit his quotes!)

But I'm not giving up on the Harry Potter series, and I'm still planning on reading the remaining books. Perhaps, though, I'll take my time, read them alongside other books, and leave my ratings on Goodreads instead of reviewing each one on my blog.

Rating: 3 / 5

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Royal Mail celebrates Jane Austen

Last Monday signified the bicentennial of Jane Austen's most influential novel, Pride and Prejudice. Published on January 28th 1813 by Thomas Egerton, it was the second of her works to be launched upon an unsuspecting society (the first being Sense and Sensibility).

To commemorate this special anniversary, the Royal Mail is releasing a series of Jane Austen stamps later this year (which I can't wait to get my hands on!).
As you can see, each individual stamp illustrates a scene from one of her novels.

They're released on 21st February in the UK. If you live overseas and don't want to miss out, you can also buy a set via Royal Mail's website.

It'll be exciting to see how many other Austen-related special issues and events present themselves over the year! Are you doing anything to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice?