Tag Archive: books


Day six is over and for the next few hours NaNo will take the back seat to my US election all nighter.

Most of my writing for day six got done before seven am. I couldn’t sleep so got over 2,000 words done before going to sleep. No more words after that unfortunately and I already know that day seven is going to be a wash out as I will be exhausted from all the election watching.

Day six was focused almost entirely on chapter development again. I had several characters that weren’t well rounded enough and I wanted to make sure they were fully rounded before I carried on and took the story much further.

I’m starting to get to know my characters a lot more and I think that is really important for me as a first time writer.

I took a massive step forward in terms of research today as well. My main character grew up in a children’s home and so far I had just been stumbling through the background of her story. I decided to finally phone my Nanny and ask her for help. The thing about my Nanny is that she rocks, she grew up in a children’s home and I think that gave her so much more love to give to her children and grandchildren.

I had wanted to ask her some questions about growing up for a while but wasn’t sure how to approach the subject. The main character of my story is inspired by my Nanny, she’s strong, independent and loveable. Although this story isn’t the story of my Nanny it definitely would never have come about if she wasn’t so amazing.

She was happy to help me with my research and I learned so much, both for my story and about my Nanny’s childhood. I didn’t think it was possible but she’s even more awesome than I originally thought.

I will have to go back and do some rewrites because a lot of my story is factually wrong but it will be worth it in the long run.

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Goodbye day four!

Today was by far my most productive day and it just happened to be the first day I let go of the stress that comes with reaching 50,000 words in 30 days. For the past three days I had been obsessed with reaching the daily target so that I could keep on top of all the writing and win.

That tactic wasn’t working for me so instead I chose to stop caring quite so much, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo because I want to win, I’m doing it because I love the characters I’ve created and I want to do them justice. It is no longer about hitting word targets, it’s about creating a realistic world for the characters I love. Whether or not I reach the overall target I will still have words that weren’t there before and that’s the real achievement.

I spent day four focusing more on character development than the emotional heartbreak of sending families to war and orchestrating suicides that the previous days brought. That in itself will probably bring more emotional heartbreak in the long run; I have an eight year old boy in my story that was originally only there to give a sweet and believable reason behind why one of the main characters is disabled and therefore can’t go to war. Today this little boy took me by the hand and showed me his world, he has become part of the beating heart of this world.

Ok reading that back I believe I have truly gone insane. Don’t worry, as I said in my first NaNo post I will be committing myself after this so you don’t have to.

Day four has been the most positive of my experience so far, I am actually enjoying my characters now and I’m finally writing for me instead of for the word count. Saying that though I am still proud that I’m catching up!

Word count: 6,030

Day three is over and I haven’t quite caught up myself where I should be by this point

I went to my first write-in at Mono in Glasgow. Mono is a really nice little vegan cafe, I even tried some food. I’ll admit that I missed meat but the falafel wrap and Cajun wedges I had we’re still quite good.

The write-in was a mixed experience for me. On one hand it was really nice to be surrounded by people that are all in the same boat as you and that forced me to actually do some writing. On the other hand, there was already a full table by the time I got there and they already seemed to know each other so I was stuck on a really awkward table with just a couple of other people and my girlfriend who I’d dragged along for moral support and so she actually did some of her dissertation. It felt a little bit lonely when there was a table full of people all laughing and comparing ideas and then us by ourselves.

I started to feel sick after a while and the noise level had risen too much for me to concentrate so we left. I didn’t manage to get any more done after we left either because I ended up feeling too sick and falling asleep.

My story itself is progressing quite nicely. I like some of my secondary characters more than my main character but I’m sure that will change soon. I was also quite an evil writer, I ended up sending a father and four of his sons to war leaving just his wife and youngest son at home by themselves. I also orchestrated a suicide that left a little girl parenthesis and that scene was in the first ever flashback I’ve written!

I’m glad I chose to take part in NaNoWriMo and I’m not regretting it. Yet anyway.

Word count: 3,767

50,000 words. 30 days. Don’t worry, I’ll be committing myself to an asylum so you won’t have to.

It is now technically day 3.

I originally planned to get this one story out of my head that has been there for well over five years but another story came along at the last minute and waved frantically. The other one was content enough to wait some I’m letting this one out.

Day One: I didn’t do anything. I left the house for uni at 8am and I didn’t get home until half 5. I then took some painkillers for a migraine that almost made me go hulk on my fellow classmates and slept. I woke up when Rhianna came home from work around 7pm but the rest of the evening was spent with me writhing around in pain and wishing someone would invent a permanent migraine cure.
Word count: 0

Day Two: I overslept. I checked the mail. I spent a lot of time on Glasgow’s NaNo chat room. I finally started to write around 6pm. My girlfriend came home around 7pm and then we spent a lot of time creating a name bank for all the possible characters that might make an appearance. I then drew a blueprint for the house my main character lives in. I also disabled the most likeable character.
Word count: 1,668

Will do a day three update later on in the day.

I never understood what people meant before about characters writing themselves. I initially had a plan for several of my characters that has completely changed. Also story lines have come out of nowhere for characters that I never gave any thought to in the planning stage beyond how they would interact with my main character.

I think the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is not knowing enough about World War 2, especially Scotland during World War 2 so I’m having to do a lot of research as I go. I know some of my points probably won’t be historically accurate but I’m trying not to edit too much as I go along. December is for editing. November is just about getting the words on the page!

Also, two of my characters changed their own names. I was convinced that my main character’s best friend was going to be called Mary. I’d decided that before any other names. As I’m writing her name for the third or fourth time it just switches to Ellen. I had no control over that and it wasn’t until I was reading what I had so far that I even realised she had switcherooed her own name! My main character also changed her name but I had more input on that one. Ruth just didn’t fit her. She kept telling me it wasn’t her so when I came across the name Roberta she yelled “that’s me! Call me Bobby for short!”

Yes, I am aware I’m coming across crazy talking about my characters as if they’re real but you go try and write a novel, you’ll eventually sound just as bad. It might take you more than the two days it has taken me though!

I wish I was a Hufflepuff

It is no secret that I am obsessed with Harry Potter. It is a slightly better kept secret that I pretty much went to Hogwarts. My school had four boarding houses, insane teaching staff and some really good friends.

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Unlike Hogwarts you weren’t put in a house by a magical rhyming hat but by gender and age (Hogwarts had a much cooler system). Like all the other Harry Potter obsessives I’ve taken all the sorting hat quizzes it the results always baffle me. I constantly flip flop between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, on a day when I answered the opposite of what I felt I even managed Slytherin.

I understand that most people want to be Gryffindors, most geeks want to be Ravenclaws and most bullies want to be Slytherins but what about Hufflepuffs? Why are so many people against Hufflepuff House? Especially those obsessed with sparkling Cedric Diggory, does no one remember that dear old Diggory was a Hufflepuff?

The more I watch or read Harry Potter the more I realise I would want to be in Hufflepuff. Not because of all of the typical ideals held up by all houses but by the pressures in each of the members of those houses.

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Imagine the pressures on a Gryffindor, you are constantly expected to be brave and chivalrous. You have to live up your housemistress, Professor McGonagall, and you have Harry fricken Potter to constantly overshadow everything good you might do!

What about those in Slytherin? The pure evil in your house is immense, you would have to be constantly cunning in order to attempt to impress your housemaster, Professor Snape, and then you would have Draco Malfoy constantly sneering at your pathetic attempts to do outdo his levels of meanness. Although not all of them are evil, Horace Slughorn was a rare nice one.

Ah Ravenclaw, you are my second favourite house but the pressures your students must feel seem immense! On one hand you have the beautiful Cho Chang as your housemate and Luna Lovegood could be your best friend. On the other hand even a mean Slytherin, prefect Gemma Farley, commented that Ravenclaws are so competitive when it come to academia that they will even backstab each other in order to get top marks. That is pressure that I would never be able to handle.

Hufflepuff on the other hand is underrated, it is always thought to have had the least powerful witches and wizards because of the house founder’s policy of accepting anyone. In reality, Hufflepuff has produced the smallest number of dark wizards and witches than any other house and, second to Gryffindor, the largest number of students staying to help defend Hogwarts against Voldemort. Hufflepuff doesn’t lack in cool students, Tonks was a Hufflepuff, that’s right, Tonks, the incredibly cool witch of awesomeness that was Tonks. There is a lack of pressure to be great on Hufflepuffs, but sometimes the lack of pressure produces greatness.

I wish I was a Hufflepuff.

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The Book Thief stole my heart

Everyone knows the story: the concentration camps, the air raids, the casualties. Everyone knows the story of how one man set off with the intention of ruling Europe and creating a master race. Everyone knows the story of the bodies he left behind him. However, no one knows the story of Death.

The only certainty in Death’s existence is that everyone else dies. He has witnessed every period of history and the worst of human existence. Always present in the most horrific times of man and some of the most touching. Death is there to take the souls and rarely sees the life but with one girl he gets to see her story.

The exact number of souls that death carried during World War Two isn’t known but around 60million people came to know his arms as he cradled them.

Markus Zusak grew up listening to stories of Nazi Germany and knew there was a tale to be told. His mother had lived in a small town that witnessed bombings and parades of captured Jews marched through it. The personal story that Zusak has known since childhood helps to make The Book Thief one of those rare books that will captivate you and change the way you look at books and the power of words.

Narrated by Death, the book is both heart warming and heart breaking. It shows the true power of words. The power they have to transform; to take countries from peace to war; the power they have to save lives or take lives; and the power they have to change the lives of a book thief, an accordionist and a jewish fist fighter.

Starting with the death of a young boy on a train to Munich as he and his sister make the journey to live with foster parents, Death notices young Liesel Meminger and stays to watch her. Two days later she buries her brother and commits her first act of book thievery. The Gravedigger’s Handbook is dropped by an apprentice at the cemetery where her brother comes to rest and unleashes an appetite for words that will follow Liesel for her whole life.

Surprised to open their door to just one child, Hans and Rosa Hubermann take in the book thief and more than they ever expected. Liesel is a difficult child, losing her brother and being forced away from home leaves her with nightmares and it is only the close bond she forms with her new Papa that makes her behave.

As she begins to settle in to her new home Liesel sees a quiet, caring man that always smells of tobacco and paint and a loud woman constantly surrounded by other people’s laundry. As her new Mama throws insults around the room she starts to feel safe and at home.

The strange lemon haired boy next door sprints his way into Liesel’s life. They form a lasting friendship built on first love, bicycle rides and mischief. Rudy provides a large portion of the heart that makes this book leave such a lasting impression. An impression only matched by a Jewish fist fighter.

During the First World War a young Jew saved Hans from death and causing his own, prompting Hans to promise the Jew’s wife that he would owe her a debt of gratitude for life. Years later a Jewish fist fighter turns up on his doorstep asking for refuge and clutching the Hubermann’s address like a lifeline and praying Hans would remember his mother and father.

Death follows these characters as they spend every day with only a thin veil between themselves and his arms. He watches them as they come across moral dilemmas they put themselves and those they love in danger. He watches them as words come to define their lives and books help them to live while carrying the danger that they could die.

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

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The time has finally come for me to admit out loud. I might have to check myself into a loony bin when I’m finished writing this because I never thought in a million years I would ever, ever admit this to anyone. I like Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in the Twilight series. I don’t like any of the others and if I did I would admit it only once, here. But yes Breaking Dawn, it is the one book I like out all of the sparkling vampire rubbish.

I can’t justify why I like the book, I hate, hate, HATE the vampire legend that Stephanie Meyer uses. I am a very big believer that vampires are supposed to be evil, disgusting creatures that see humans as a source of food and this sparkly rubbish that she spins infuriates me but there is something about the last book of the series that made me read it in one night. I borrowed it off someone from work and didn’t sleep until I had given it back the next morning in a happy state.

I think there is one main part of the book that turned it around for me and made me fall in love with the book. The scene where Bella gives birth/transforms. It is well written and gruesome, really gruesome. It could make the final film watchable if it is done right, which I doubt because they wouldn’t want to up the rating and alienate the tweenage audience. This scene made me sick yet was by far the best bit in the book. And the rest isn’t half bad either.

Ok so I have admitted it. I am handing myself in to the loony bin tomorrow and fully expect the complete mocking that I deserve. Go on, mock me.

Although I warn you, if you do mock me I will set a real vampire on you…

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The shortest book I’ve read

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The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy is the shortest book I have read. It is a collection of short stories and poems. Written an illustrated by Tim Burton, the book is darkly funny and contains a kid that is also an oyster and a woman with a pin cushion for a heart.

The book is easy to get through in minutes yet is also a book that will be picked up time and time again. As is anything else that comes from the genius mind of Tim Burton, the Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy is just simply amazing. See Nightmare Before Christmas for proof.

The longest book I’ve read

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The longest book I have ever read is the Lord of the Rings, while technically three books I did read the copy with all three books in one so I shall allow myself this cheat. And many other cheats.

The first film had just come out when I was 11 years old, and while I was much more amused by the first Harry Potter film which had come out at the same time I was fascinated by the world that Tolkien had spun.

I picked the book up at 11 and I am fairly certain that I didn’t finish for years. Other books came and went but this one was always there to be read between them.

I enjoyed going on the journey along with Frodo, Sam and the rest. As I was reading it was one of the most enjoyable books I have read but since finishing it a few years ago I honestly can’t tell you what happened outside of what I remember outside of what I saw in the films.

I think I have probably read books that are longer but the Lord of the Rings is the one that took me the longest and definitely felt like the biggest in my small 11 year old hands.

The book character most like me

The greatest of all the books have a main character that you emphasise with and feel for and want to go on that journey with them. I have had this experience with so many books that I don’t feel like I should compare myself to a main character. I think it is a much nicer compliment when someone else picks up a book and sees you when they read a certain character.

My mum and first step-dad used to call me Hermione Granger. I like to think that it was because I have always been smart and brave but in reality it must be because I have always been a little bit of a goody two shoes and dork. I almost never got in trouble during the first few years of boarding school because I was terrified of being told off.

Then as I got older and cared a little less about being well behaved and more about spending time with my friends and defeating the lord of all evil so did she!