Sing That Song Girl…

With The Brits oh, I mean The Bryts (I’m so old school…) held last night, I got to thinking about how powerful and inspiring music can be.

Music connects with me in a way not much else can… except…books!

Music reaches into my soul and shines a light into places that are often left in shadow. Maybe it evokes a memory or a feeling. It plays around with parts of me that don’t surface as often as they should.

Recently I set myself a challenge to create a soundtrack for each piece of writing I either completed myself or read. It has been an entertaining and enlightening experience! My musical taste is eclectic to say the least, and I have spent hours pondering whether a character in one of my short stories is more into rock than jazz! If truth be told I would probably want all of my characters to like jazz, but that’s a whole other blog post!

So, what pieces of wisdom did I manage to garner from my quasi experiment? Above and beyond the obvious fact that both mediums tell stories and the sheer good fun of it all?

I’ve learnt that in order to be brave you must be vulnerable. It could I suppose apply to any art form, but my drugs of choice are books and music. They are as interconnected in me as blood and DNA. They exist to compliment each other not to compete. Buried within the words of both is a truth, shared just with me. The wordsmiths have been brave. They  have laid out their vulnerability for all to see. The least I can do is try to hear and understand.

To Be a Good Writer…

Sage advice from the man himself –

To be a good writer, I believe that one has to read a lot of books. Fifty a year would be a good place to start, but twenty five would work... Stephen King.

I shall be putting this good advice into practice over the holiday season.

Merry Christmas everyone x

Fickle February and a Few Good Reads

February will see my loyalties scattered to the four winds, hence the title. I shall be reading, writing, party planning, dog walking, pregnancy managing (the dog, not me), working the day job, traveling, encouraging (the kids – exams… nuff said), and possibly making a few cakes! Sadly I have planned no holidays in February, I must be slipping! As you can see I will be busy!

Today has already been productive. And it’s not even 10 am. I have been to the beach and it was glorious. Yes, past tense. We had to make a run for it as the rain decided to make a guest appearance. I now sit, Cappuccino in hand secured behind the wheel of my car with a lovely view of sea mist. Was it worth the extra early start? In short, yes… if the dog’s happy then I’m happy, my house is simple like that! She is wet from surfing the waves and the car is filled with the smell of fragrant coffee and  ‘eau de woof’.

January came and went. We had buckets of rain, a plethora of mud and enough wind to take the wood from the trees – branches mainly, which are now nicely drying in my shed – kindling anyone?

On the plus side, I didn’t need to water the garden, I now have my very own mud bath (the envy of hippos everywhere), and enough wood to start as many fires as is practical. Continue reading “Fickle February and a Few Good Reads”

2017 My Year in Books

So many books, so little time will always ring true for me. My Magpie tenancies are definitely of the bookish variety. I am reading more books now than ever before and it’s wonderful! I undertook the GoodReads reading challenge and am doing a rather smug happy dance as I have completed it. This year, I have read 40, yes that’s 40 books! Pop on over  to Good Reads to see my complete list.

I’m reminded of that wonderful poem by Eleanor Farjeon, but rather than sleeping anywhere like the cats in the poem, I’m have done the equivalent with reading! Whether an inflight magazine, a thrilling novel, or just simply a set of instructions for a new mop (don’t ask…). Each has got me thinking in different ways – yes, even the mop instructions!

Reading so much does have a downside… I have fallen victim to the good, the bad, and the downright ugly! Luckily, for me, 2017 has been more about ‘the good’ than anything else. It is these books that I wish to highlight as we turn the last few pages of 2017. So, if you’re looking for a good read look no further. My taste is eclectic and broad, each one of my mentions has something different to offer, hopefully you will find something to spark your interest. My goal for 2018 is to challenge myself further, not only with the amount I read, but also the genres I choose. It will be an exciting year as I peer into those far flung, least visited corners of the library….

I have very thoughtfully listed my top reads for 2017 below …. with buy links…..my gift to you 🙂 You can thank me later:

Robert Bryndza – Cold Blood

Lynne Fellows – Magic O’Clock

Celeste Ng – Everything I Never Told You

Ruth Hogan – The Keeper of Lost Things

Iris Chacon – Finding Miranda

J.F.Kirwan – 66 Metres

Rachel Caine – Stillhouse Lake

Viveca Sten – Still Waters

So, I’ve shown you mine, now it’s your turn. What books have you enjoyed reading this year?

Here’s to 2018 being a year filled with health and happiness, and plenty of good reads.

I have written this post on my phone whilst travelling, so apologies if the formatting is a bit ‘special’.

What Are You Reading?

I blinked and seem to have missed most of the month of May. It proved to be a busy time in the Fitton household. In between having my head stuck in a book and writing, I hardly came up for air. Apart from going to work and walking the dog –  two things I have to do otherwise I’d get fired! Oh, and keeping the fridge full for exam stressed teens, that is ongoing! Who knew food shopping could be such a source of inspiration?  My birthday at the beginning of last month seems like a lifetime away. It can’t be June, can it?  During the month of May, I wrote and read my socks off. I managed to read 7 books, write over 7,000 words and entered 3 short story competitions. Not bad for someone whose day job involves a lot of travel eh?  Oh, and I made some mean meringues – more on those later. I’m really not looking for a pat on the back (well apart from the meringues, they were rather good). What surprised me was the number of books I read. Usually, I find myself at the other end of the spectrum, we’ve all been there, right? – End of the month and you are still trying to get beyond page 50 of book one? Thought so. Last month, however, marked a change for me. I added early mornings to my late night reading ritual and… ta da… more books read. Rocket science it was not. I even had time to make those stellar meringues everyone is talking about…. I confess… it’s me, just me talking about them. I’m sure others would have talked about them had they lasted long enough. Remember the crazed… sorry, stressed teens? Nuff said. Now, where was I?… Ah yes…books. The number of exciting new books around is staggering. I have been pleasantly surprised and found myself marveling at the beauty of the language, and the complexity of the plots. My taste is quite eclectic, I read pretty much any genre. Sadly, Not every book last month was a winner. They fell into three distinct categories – the good, the bad and the ugly. No, I’m not going to divulge which ones got the rotten tomato award. Suffice to say, more were good than bad! So, onwards I go, armed with a Kindle full of adventure. So what am I reading this month? Here’s what’s on my list so far:

Hear Me ~Julia North

Stillhouse Lake ~ Rachel Caine

Finding Miranda ~ Iris Chacon

If I am to match or even better last month I need some suggestions. Ahem… (clears throat loudly).. This is where you come in. What would you recommend adding to Junes list? What are you reading? As I said, eclectic taste, so please pop your suggestions in the comments below and I shall give them a go.

Oh, the meringues? Yes, I promised you more, brace yourselves….  Meringues

 

READ AN E-BOOK WEEK MARCH 5th – 11th 2017

Read an Ebook Week is a global celebration of ebooks. For one week only gain access to thousands of free and deep-discounted ebooks from the world’s biggest indie authors. Now in its 8th year, read an e-book week offers readers the opportunity to discover new authors at discounted prices. All the books featured are reduced in price or free! To purchase my books at a discount please click on their images below. To access the full catalogue click on the bird graphic below. Happy reading!

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Have a Spare 10 Minutes? Do Something Amazing For an Author….

How do you choose which books to read ? For me, it is a combination of word of mouth and checking out the books reviews.

As a indie author, it is hard to get your voice heard in a world of ‘buy me’ noise. Trying to raise your lone voice above the big publishing houses and their vast budgets is an uphill struggle. Some days it can feel as if all I’ve done is beg people for reviews – How many times can you ask readers to leave a review before you feel as it you’re stalking them? It can be very disheartening!

Some sites won’t even let you advertise your book unless you have a certain number of 4/5 star reviews. Did you know that over 85% of Kindle readers use reviews to ascertain if a book is suitable for them? The importance of reviews can not be overstated. It’s great publicity and helps like minded readers to connect. Ever seen those ads along the bottom of your Amazon screen ‘recommended for you’ or ‘based on your history you may like this’? These are not random choices put there by chance. They are cleverly calculated algorithms, based on reviews. It is all too easy to leave a review for something you didn’t like, I know I’ve done it! But… what about the things you enjoy, the things that exceed your expectations? How many of us leave reviews for the books we’ve enjoyed?

The more reviews a book gets, the higher its visibility and ranking. The higher its visibility and ranking, the more people will read it. The more people who read it, the higher the sales. More sales = more reviews. So you see, it really is not rocket science!

In an effort to redress the balance ever so slightly, I challenge you to do two good things this week. If you have recently read a good book – tell someone else about it. Secondly, leave a review on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be war and peace, just a few lines about why you enjoyed it. You don’t even have to use your name it can be anonymous. Your good deed will be gratefully received by all authors so go on be brave… you can do it! Do something amazing for an author this week.

 

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Thursday Thoughts

At this time of year it is so easy to get caught up in….well, in everything! I become reflective and start to look back at the year as impartially as I can, looking for the good, the bad and the could do better moments. As a writer I am very fortunate to be able to spend time doing what I love. My thoughts turn to those who, for whatever reason are not fortunate, whether through war, deprivation or ill health they do not wish to look back. This year has been tough for so many people. With that in mind I would like to draw your attention to a few charities who are doing some outstanding work.

Give a Book

Give a Book is a UK registered charity. It was set up in 2011 in memory of writer and playwright Simon Gray who loved to read and to share his reading. The organisation facilitate the gift of books to selected charities and other organisations.

How it works: Donations are used to source new books at cost price, then package and post the books to selected charities. Every donation you make buys and distributes a book to someone who – for differing reasons – might need one. Every £5.00 donation Gives a Book.

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Book-Cycle

“All life should be granted an equal opportunity for expression.
Freedom; being our highest ideal is governed by the
parameters of the environment and the liberty of others.”

Book-Cycles main aims are;

The Advancement of Education for the Public Benefit

To improve literacy and the love of learning, Book-Cycle is committed to providing free access to books and information both in Britain and abroad.

The Reforestation of Britain

To take responsibility for the books we read and give something back to our surrounding flora and fauna, Book-Cycle is committed to the planting of trees, the creation of permaculture and the extension of mutually beneficial habitats.

The Dissemination of the Knowledge and Practices of Permaculture

To give fairer access to the principles and practicalities of self-sustainability, Book-Cycle will endeavour to provide free information and examples of such practices in a local context.

 

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“One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others” – Lewis Carroll

Please give generously and have a happy, healthy holiday season.

 

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