Monday, 19 August 2019

Book review: Eyes of the Galaxy by Jolene Skvarek

⭐⭐ out of 5

I so wish I could give this book more stars, but the first two chapters are pure backstory that could easily have been
dripped in throughout the rest of the book and just when I was getting into it, it finished!  Very disappointing.

This is obviously the author's very first book because there was waaaay too much description and very little speech until
at least chapter three (of nine) and it would have been so much better if it had started at chapter three and had another
couple of chapters at the end instead.

The author says that the book is aimed at 14-18 year olds, yet the main character is 15 so I can't see an 18 year old being
willing to read, let alone enjoy a book with the main character being so much younger than they are.

On top of that, it needs a lot better proof-reading and then editing 'cos there were several missing/wrong letters/words
that could and should have been picked up and corrected before it was published.

It's an OK book with a potential, it was just published before it was totally ready was all.  Sorry.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

3 or 4 days later and...'s all planned out.

A week ago it was going to be a totally different novel but I couldn't even plan out a single chapter let alone fifty, so I gave up after three days and came up with the idea for this novel while I was in bed four days ago.  Three days later and it's all planned out, just gotta leave it be until 1st November so that I totally forget everything and write with a fresh head.

Amazing what I can achieve under self-imposed pressure lol

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Are you left handed?

Don't suppose any of my blog readers are left-handed are they?  If you are and you don't mind me picking your brain about it, could you let me know so that I can make sure that what I'm planning and intending to write for this years NaNo pretty please?  There won't be any kind of personal questions for a change, it'll just be about your left-handedness and how you've dealt with it is all.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Just realised

Good job I checked... the MS I was going to write for NaNo 2019 has already been written (back in January this year) and is waiting to be edited!

I've started planning out this years NaNo novel but I'm really not happy that there's only 10 weeks to plan it all out in... I know that sounds like a long time, but I prefer to leave it at least 3 months between the initial planning and the initial run-through to check to make sure that it makes sense then another couple of months after that (minimum) before I start writing.

Not at all happy right now.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Book review: Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts by Charles Kowalski

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

Before I even read the first page, the length of the title really put me off.  Why not just call it “Simon Grey” or even “Simon Grey’s march” and have the rest of the title as a sub-heading if at all?  That would, potentially draw the potential reader into thinking “Who’s Simon Grey?” or “who is he marching with, for and against?” and they might lift the book off the shelf and have a read of the blurb on the back or even the first page of the first chapter.  The title, IMNSHO, needs to hook the reader and get them asking questions about the book so that they want to buy it and immediately start reading it.

Ghost stories usually deprive me of sleep for days if not longer after I’ve read them.  The first chapter’s ghost descriptions weren’t too bad though… if the descriptions carry on like that throughout the rest of the book then I might actually get some sleep tonight lol

Up to chapter 4 now and it’s really good so far.  Could easily have done without most of the first chapter but I’m really getting into it now!

Thankfully the ghosts aren’t described like I was dreading which hopefully means I’ll be able to get to sleep tonight.  You’re a great story-teller, just needs a lot less back-story at the start of the book is all.  Sorry to keep going on about it, but that’s just the way I am with books… first impressions and all that jazz.

The joke in chapter 16 about the wall is terrible and exactly my sort of humour lol  So bad it’s good lol

Just a small point, but the age range this book is aimed at wouldn’t have a clue what inches are in chapter 16… if the author had used centimetres instead then the child reader wouldn’t have thought twice about the measurement but reading inches would make them sorta go “huh?  What on Earth are inches?” which would interrupt the smooth flow of the story.

Wow.  After an iffy start to the book that made me slightly unsure if I’d ever get to the end of it in one piece, I’m glad I did.  When the author got into his stride of what was happening, his writing had me glued to my computer until the end of each chapter when I went for a wee.  I started reading at 8.30am and it’s now 5.50pm and I don’t know where all the hours have disappeared to!

Site updated with video's

Just bitten the bullet and put four video's up on the site (2 on the visitors section and 2 in the members bit).  Can't believe that I've finally admitted for the first time ever why I'm so camera shy.  It's only available for my members, so if you want to know the reason then apply to join and pay up so that you can satisfy your curiosity as well as getting unlimited access to me and members only things in the shop as well as on the site  😜😏😉

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Protagonists v Antagonists

Feel free to laugh at this blog post if you want to, but it's a genuine thing I struggle with, so the answer and a way to remember the difference is what I'm asking for with this post. 

Protagonists and antagonists - they are both necessary in every story you write, I know that much, but are protagonists the main character and antagonists the supporting characters or are protagonists "goodies" and antagonists "baddies"?  What if the main character is a baddie?  Are they the Protagonist because they are the main character or the antagonist because they are a baddie??

Like I said, feel free to laugh.

From your belly if you must.

I promise it's a genuine question though, that I've struggled with since I started writing with the hope of one day being published... the other stories were purely an outpouring of creativity for nobody else's eyes but mine.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think?  Please?

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Book Review: "Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School" by Ian Whybrow

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5
This has just arrived and I love it!

Exactly what I wanted for my lil nephew! Dinosaurs and the very first day of school with no friends, which all children are worried about on their first day, especially if they don't have any friends from pre-school!

The main character gets anxious when his bucket of dinosaurs are left outside but he makes an incredibly shy new friend when Harry shows the boy who is shy where the toilets are.  They bond over Harry's dinosaurs riding the boy's digger et voila - a friendship is formed on the very first day!

The children in Harry's class start getting to know each other until one of Harry's dinosaurs lets out a big raaah which sends the classroom into chaos with all the childrens' pictures being blown everywhere.

It's also great that the pronounciations of each dinosaur is right at the front of the book as well as at the back... gets the reader out of a right pickle if they don't fluently know how to pronounce each type - I certainly don't!  lol  It's fun and helps children to start learning how to spell and pronounce new-to-them words without them even realising.

A must-buy for your little one who is about to start school!

Monday, 15 July 2019

Book Review: "I Am Too Absolutely Small For School" by Lauren Child

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5
I have to admit that I was feeling pretty sceptical about this book, purely because of the title.  I was thinking that the child would be fidgiting and picking their nose out of boredom before even opening the front cover.

I was wrong.

So wrong.

It's a great book that really does cover the entire first day at school and the normal worries that all children have about their first day.  Lauren Child handled it soooo well though... WTG Lauren!

It's a must-read for every child who is about to embark on their first day at school, just be prepared to answer the inevitable question about what 'absolutely' means is all lol.

Book Review: "Starting School" by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5
I had high hopes for this book after it started so well. 

The first few pages were about the first days and weeks in school which is exactly what I had hoped for, but then it sped on to show how the next three weeks go on three pages.  Hallowe'en is one sentence then it describes the feelings that everyone feels before the end of term and the Christmas play. 

It all feels a bit rushed to me... why not just concentrate on the children's first week in school instead of starting off so well then rushing through the rest of the term?

Sorry, but I feel this book only deserves three stars, which is a pity after it started so wonderfully.

Book Review: "Starting School" by Caryn Jenner & Arthur Robins

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a good little picture book but it's not entirely about the first day or even the first week... it starts off that way but quickly drifts into the longer term... might only be a few weeks, but a week is a very long time to a young child when they don't know what to expect in a totally new situation.  If the book had concentrated soley on the first day then it would definitely have deserved top marks but I'm knocking the star off because it isn't totally about the first few days.

If your child is nervous about what to expect from school then definitely get this book for them, just don't expect it to be fully about their first day like I was thinking is all.

Book Review: "How Do Dinosaurs Go to School" by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5
Love this picture book!

It takes the child through the entire day at school in a light-hearted and reassuring way.

If your child is about to start school and you're both scared about it, get this book to comfort and reassure you both.

I bought this for my lil nephew who is starting primary school in September and he loves dinosaurs, so I reckon he'll love this book... maybe have a read of the first page with the names of all of the dinosaurs to make sure you can pronounce them all before you share it with your child though... I can only pronounce the Diplodocus dinosaur lol  Maybe you could encourage your child to teach you how to pronounce each of them to send their self-confidence soaring?

A definite must-read for all those children who are starting Reception or Year 1 to help them feel more at ease on their first day!

Book review: "Don't Go to School" by Maire Zepf

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

I'm guessing this is an American book rather than a British one because it's "mommy" instead of "mummy" throughout which might confuse the children listening to the story.

It also makes it sound like the child will be playing all day instead of learning things so it might make the child assume that they will be painting and drawing and running around and listening to stories all day, which will give them a huge shock when they are expected to sit down and behave and learn things that they've never even heard of before, let alone tried.

I appreciate that the author wanted to make school seem fun and full of play which it might be in America but, IME, in the UK the children are expected to learn from 9am to 3.30pm with only an hour at lunch and two fifteen minute play-times a day, which weren't even mentioned in this book.

Maybe it's a first day at NURSERY school that this book was aimed at rather than Primary school which I was hoping for.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Book Review: "Glub & Charlie and the Trolls" by Olive Sharke and Arthur Sharke

⭐ out of 5
Oh dear me.

This is supposed to be a chapter book for 7-10 year olds.

It doesn't have a single chapter in it, it's way too short and there are 45 words in the first half of the book alone that there is no way a child would read and the word "surreptitiously" on the very first page would make them put the book down and never pick it up again.  Had you even heard the word "surreptitiously" when you were 7 years old?  Did you know what it meant by 10 years old?  I know I certainly didn't!

I'm feeling especially generous with this, but there are 99 words that a child would either not know how to pronounce/read at best and/or not even understand or have heard of at worst.

The authors seem to have written the book without even thinking about which words they knew, read and understood even as a ten year old, let alone as a seven year old!

Don't believe me?

Here's the list:
fantastic chemistry
beduveted horizontal
truffle detection
stubbornly remained
eventually succeed
Canine Gazette

We are only 50% of the way through the entire book here, but hopefully you're starting to see what I mean.  Let's get on with the second half's words:

beautifully groomed
felled tree
straining and whining towards
complicated, especially

See what I mean?

It's all very well wanting to stretch a child's vocabulary, but almost 100 words in only 54 pages including the cover and copyright page and adverts for their other books at the back.  That's almost two words per page on average!  There were a few pages without any of those words on, but there were usually at least two of those words, usually more, per page.

If your child has a strong reading ability, big vocabulary and loves looking words up in a dictionary, then they might get on OK with this book, but most children won't even make it to the second page.  Sorry.

Book review: Glub's Schooldays by Arthur Sharke and Olive Sharke

⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a disappointing book, that's not very well thought out with the numbers and graphics.  A five year old is only just starting to learn what numbers look like (so 1, 2, 3, 4) so being suddenly being thrown into the spellings of the numbers (one, two, three, four) would confuse them at best.

I like the rhyming but the graphics above need to be a lot better to encourage and support a child who is only just starting to recognise basic letters and very short words (you, me, mummy, daddy etc).  It's a good idea, in theory, just far too advanced for the child who is only just starting to learn to read.  It would have been better as a picture book and pre-school instead of school but the images would need to be a lot better for that.

I know from experience how disappointing it is to be rejected time and time again from publishers, but the authors have given up and published something that really isn't up to publishing industry standards unfortunately.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

March Hamilton open submission windows start tomorrow!

March Hamilton are starting their open submission windows tomorrow, so if you're BAME then you've only got 12 hours to put the absolute finishing touches to your covering letter, synopsis and submission (it's different depending on whether you're subbing under 10k words or MG/YA) ready to send off.

Good luck to you all!  😄

Friday, 5 July 2019

Just renewed my SCBWI membership for another year

Been a SCBWI member since 2011 and I've just renewed for another year.  They've added something new to the renewals this year though... you can renew for up to 3 years at a discounted price instead of just the single year last year!  Can't afford to do that this year, but if I'm re-awarded PIP then I'll put £15 a month aside so that I've got enough for the 3 year renewal next year then put a fiver a month aside to cover it three years later.

It's expensive but soooo worth it, I reckon.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

If you were a member back in Spring this year...

...if you'd joined before Spring this year, you would have had several additional weeks to prepare for this, but March Hamilton have several open submission windows again this year starting in 4 days time, so get them manuscripts polished and your synopsis gleaming ready for the most appropriate one for you!

Good luck to you all and don't forget about where you heard about it first when you're rich and famous!  👍👌👍

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Book review: "Screamcatcher: Web World" by Christy J. Breedlove

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

What a great book!

It had me hooked right from the very first page and I just couldn't look away!
Just a warning though, do NOT read chapter 8 around the time you're eating meatballs... waaay too similar looks! lol

It's easy to give me nightmares from reading things and there's a risk of me having nightmares tonight from several of the graphic descriptions in this novel but I'm still glad I read it.

It's a YA fantasy read and you shouldn't expect to stop reading it for more than a few minutes at a time (other than for essential bathroom breaks) because it's so well written.

Each chapter was read in about half an hour and I don't know where the day has gone... it was early this morning last time I looked at the time and the world has been spinning while I've been in this wonderful fantasy world!

I recommend you buy the e-book version and set aside about 9 solid hours when you won't be interrupted... you won't be able to put it down when you've made a start on it!

Buy this book and set aside the majority of a day to devour it in one session. You won't regret it!

Friday, 24 May 2019

Just subbed to The Future Bookshelf

That's the submission done and dusted.  If you're subbing to them too, I wish you luck!

Thursday, 23 May 2019

In the UK? Unagented? Write for YA?

If you answered "yes!" to all those questions in the title up there 👆👆 then you'll be wanting to know about a publishing house that is looking for under-represented authors who write for YA and above.

The URL you need tomorrow is this one - go get 'em!

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Book review: Manners fit for the Queen by Anne Wan

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a great book for the older end of picture book listeners, but some of the word choices (Etiquette, improve, disgusting, nervously, expecting, elegantly, delicious, splendid) may not be understood by toddlers and even the older picture book listeners would prolly struggle too.  It's a good way to start discussions about what the words mean and to encourage good table manners (the mirror is an awesome idea!) but I'm knocking off the fifth star purely because of the word choices.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Which are you?

Just seen this on Facebook.

I tend to flick between "True Plantser" and "Neutral Plotter" but I used to be a die-hard "Lawful Pantser" until the end of my first NaNo and haven't looked back since!

Which one or even two are you?

Friday, 10 May 2019

Book review: Bridge of Lies: Adventures of Letty Parker by Misha Herwin

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t impressed with the first couple of chapters or with the swearing (f**ts was written in full and uncensored several times which I wouldn’t want a 10 year old to read and ask what it meant) but when the author got into her writing it really flowed and I didn’t want to stop reading it!

If you’re a parent who is looking to start a discussion on swearing in fiction then maybe you won’t mind, but it’s aimed at pure, innocent, 10-12 year old children rather than adults who already know the word and maybe I’m being too fussy about it, but the swearing spoilt it for me unfortunately.  That’s why I’m knocking a star off.

If you can look past the swearing and you want an easy read with a mature-for-her-age (I started out thinking she was in her 20’s) main character then definitely get this book, but parents, please give it a read through yourselves first before just handing it over to your child.

Some of the phrases used, especially at the start of the book, were a bit tough to latch on to because they were laid on so thick and seemingly all at once but again, when the author got into the flow of her writing it just got written so fluidly and naturally!

Keep writing, Misha… you’ve got a wonderful way with words when you get into the head of your characters!