Her name is Pixie, she’s a cavalier King Charles spaniel. On the pictures, she’s 8 weeks old, but she’s now 11 weeks old, and boy has she grown! She’s my first dog, so I’m probably doing everything wrong, but she’s a proper ray of sunshine in the house. The kids love her and fight to play with her. My little girl treats her like a doll though, so we keep telling her to stop carrying the dog all the time. Puppy doesn’t seem to mind however…
Pixie is a greedy girl, very curious and stubborn too. I’ve only heard her bark 3 or 4 times, and each time, it was a single bark. She’s totally silent at night, which we all appreciate.
I’m now covered in dog’s hair since she loves cuddling on my lap, and my writing is suffering too because I tend to favour playing with the puppy rather than sit down at the laptop. Naughty me. But how could I resist those big brown eyes???
So I have finally managed to get over the shock, grief and anger at my diagnosis of advanced cancer. I know my life has now considerably shortened, but I am able to take each day as it comes and enjoy the present without thinking too much of the future. I’ll be on treatment forever, but I now know that this isn’t the end for me yet.
Now, onto something less depressing hey?
I’ve bought myself a small desk that fits perfect in the corner of my bedroom. I plan to make it a cosy, pretty place with beautiful crystals, colourful pictures and maybe some flowers too. I am SO ready to start writing again!
But hi-ho, hubby decided to re-do our son’s bedroom now, from the flooring to the walls, so the little (well, not so little, he’s eleven!) one is sleeping on a mattress in our bedroom in the meantime. Right behind my new desk. That I then haven’t been able to use since I bought it last week.
I’m maybe halfway through “Recipe for Disaster”. I re-read it, and boy, it shows it’s a first draft! But I’m going to carry on with the story regardless, and will self-edit once the story is finished. I’m still unsure about the ending though. It will be a happy one of course, but I’m not sure yet how to get there.
I’ve also realized I need to change a couple of things, like the nationality of a secondary character, as well as his job.
It’s funny, my novels are all set in the UK, but somehow, there is always at least one character who isn’t British in them. Forever Hers had an Irish guy and an Italian girl, Forever and One Week had a Caribbean girl and an American girl, and Recipe for Disaster has a Chinese brother and sister, as well as a Spanish man, though he’s the one who I need to change the nationality. I now need him to be English.
A few tidbits about Recipe for Disaster:
the story is set in Kent, England
the main characters are twenty-eight and thirty
the story is only told through the woman’s point of view
the man is an insomniac. And he’s scared of storms…but there’s more to this that meets the eye. Hence the single POV. Dun dun dun.
I’ve also written the blurb, but I want to show it to at least one beta reader before I expose it to the whole wide world. I wouldn’t want to repel prospective readers with an unclear/boring blurb.
I hesitated a long time before posting this. I kept it all quiet the first time, but now, I just don’t care anymore, because…what’s the point.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was told this week that the cancer was back, in my lungs and in my bones.
And this time, it’s terminal.
I’m 39 and I have from a few months to a few years to live. It’s very uncommon for people to live 5 years (less than 1%).
I am married. I have two children, who are 6 and 10. I’m never going to see them grow up, and my youngest might have few memories of me. The children are going to lose their mother, my husband is going to lose his wife. I feel like I am abandoning them, and that destroys my soul more than the fear of dying.
So at this point in time, my writing career, which until now had kept me sane in the ever present fear of the cancer returning, is a dream I’ll never be able to achieve.
I was writing my third book. I’m not sure I’ll ever finish it.
I will also never write the final volume of my series.
Maybe I will find my strength back after a while and manage to take each day as it comes, but at the moment, the thought of going through chemo again and through all the horrid, horrid pain both mental and physical, knowing that it might not even work and buy me some extra time, just saps all my optimism and energy.
So maybe this is my last post. Maybe not. But I am going to spend most of the time I have left with my family, rather than behind a computer.
Live your life to the full. Dare to live your dreams. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.
Since I’ve been trying to be more involved in social medias, I have noticed a few trends.
The first one is that internet is dominated by the younger generation: if you’re under thirty, you were probably born with an electronic device in your hands. You can whizz through internet and computers alike with the nonchalance of a seasoned pro. Us older people (I’m in my thirties…and not for very long) are still figuring out the technicalities and getting used to expose ourselves on such a grand scale. Of course, I AM generalizing, but you can see my point.
Hence the second trend. The YA genre is exploding right now, its popularity driven by I believe, the young adults themselves who roam Goodreads, Twitter and the likes and heavily promote, write and enjoy this category. The fantasy genre is also very successful and appealing to them at the minute. All other genres, thrillers, mysteries, romance etc…aren’t as exposed. Even the erotica genre, which 50 Shades of Grey propelled in front of the masses, seem to run out of steam.
I do understand that like everything else in life, literature goes through fashionable cycles. The dystopian world is hot (Hunger games, Game of thrones), as is fantasy fiction (Harry Potter). Look at Goodreads Most popular books of 2016, you will find an overwhelming number of YA and fantasy.
The majority of bloggers are also under 30, and will tend to pick and choose a story appealing to their age group. From here, two conclusions came to me.
Most readers (me included) tend to prefer a book where the main character is close to their own age. Me for example, I avoid any story involving a high school student, or an over 50 character, because they both are at a stage in their life which is harder for me to identify with, so I favour the 25-45 age group. I admit though, that I would rather opt for an older character than a younger one: the retiree over the university student.
What happens in social medias does not always apply to real life. Look at The best selling fiction of 2016, and you’ll find some recognizable names, the ones that have managed to pierce through the bubbles of YA (Girl on the train, After you) but also a plethora of titles I’ve never heard of. And YA/fantasy, besides Harry Potter, is nowhere to be seen.
So in all the noisy advice that us indie writers should “build our platform” within social medias, websites etc…it seems that unless you write a genre popular with the under 30’s, the task is going to be more difficult.
The young generation seem to be the most open to self-published authors and willing to give us a chance. Some of them will even agree to read and review a book that isn’t necessarily top of their best loved genres. I have to include each one of the bloggers who have reviewed my books: they are all young and FANTASTIC. I am ever so grateful to them.
The over 30’s, because they spend less time on the net, are harder to reach. Those will prefer buying their books in a bookstore, will visit the library more often, and will also favour the traditionally published books.
I believe the gap isn’t as wide as it used to be, and more and more “oldies” (oh dear, I AM one O.0) are broadening their horizons and taking the plunge at creating their own blogs, or searching through social medias to find the elusive literary pearl they wouldn’t have heard of before otherwise. And as the 20 year-old readers and writers of today turn 30, they will bring forward their values with them.
I hope the young generation will carry on reading, writing, blogging, and browsing in their 40’s.
And I hope the older generation will carry on opening themselves to the new literary world developing in front of them.
Of course I have generalized people’s behaviour. But I would love to hear from you, as a reader, or as a writer. What prevalent trends have you noticed yourselves?
FOREVER HERS He was supposed to change her life. She changed his.
Feisty twenty-four year old Holly, or Miss Greedy as her friends call her, receives a wooden cube as a gift from an enigmatic elderly lady who happens to be her mother’s new neighbour in Lossiemouth, a small Scottish fishing town.
What she doesn’t expect, is for the cube to contain Blayne, a Spirit of Saoradh only she can see and touch. Blayne is a playful, headstrong ghost with no recollection of his human past and an ability to grant Holly’s wishes whenever she calls for him — as long as said wishes don’t raise any questions from the public that is. So a shiny new car might be out of the question, but the possibility of a flat stomach, a consistently spotless house or a perfect daily hairstyle more than make up for it.
Through their incessant banter, Holly and Blayne grow closer while fighting against their mutual attraction since they have no possible future together.
But when the painful reality of Blayne’s existence is revealed, Holly will realize that it’s not always the girl who needs to be saved. Find Forever Hers here: Amazon US, Amazon UK
“This book was such a pleasant surprise. I liked the sound of the original premise, I haven’t read many books about spirits/ genie’s, so the blurb made me curious and I eventually decides to give this book a try. And I am glad I did as it was an enjoyable read. I easily got lost into the pages while reading. It was a well written and original story.” Lola – Lola’s reviews
“Excellent, quick read without plot holes and with well-developed characters. Enjoy!”Jill-Book reviews by Jill Corley
“In the end, this book is not your typical ghost romance book; Instead, this spirit grant wishes and the female is saving the male character. Personally, I love when they do that in books, it’s so much fun for me to read about a strong female character saving her man or saving the day.” Zara – The bohemian housewife
“The first thing I have to say is WOW! I was gripped from the very moment Blayne appeared in Holly’s bedroom. Their chemistry was undeniable from the get go and led to some very funny, sweet and sexy moments. Their playfulness added a cute and lighthearted twist and allowed me to fall into their story effortlessly.” Chantelle-Emma,beta reader
“Overall this book is fantastic. As a first time author I really think Ms. Cairn has done an excellent job and I can’t wait to read more of this series. I would definitely recommend this book to all lovers of PNR.” Cassandra, Nerd Girl Official
“This book is awesome!! I started reading this book and the characters seem to develop really fast and I found myself having problems putting the book down. The story moved along fast and I really enjoyed it. I think anyone who likes romances, or paranormal stories of any kind would really enjoy this book. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.” Alice, Paranormal romance authors that rock
So far, I’ve used an avatar related to my paranormal romance series Spirits of Saoradh, but since my third book is a contemporary romance with no link to the series, I thought I’d make a more generic avatar. I don’t have Photoshop or any sophisticated software; I could only play around with Paint and Word, so don’t expect anything too glamorous.
Avatar 1 will fit with my website straight away, the other two would require me to change everything (I don’t mind though).
I’ve made 3 different versions, with one that I liked most, but when I asked my hubby and my mum, they both preferred the one I was the least keen on. So here is where you come in 🙂
Please vote for your favourite design. Any additional comment is welcome too, such as “the font needs to be bigger/different” or “the background should be pale blue instead of white” etc…
Knowing that again, I am very limited with my design tools…but hey.
I’ve been writing for over a year and a half now and I have learned a few truths about the craft that haven’t been raised in the many blogs and articles I’ve read. So for all the budding writers out there, here is a preview of what’s to come.
Writing a book will take longer than you think
If you’re an average human, your free time is limited. Between juggling your job, going to school, looking after your children, nurturing your friends, running a household, getting on top of your homework, shopping, appointments, club activities…writing takes second place. When you can at last put your butt on a chair and type away, it’s bliss. Words seem to trickle at first, then the flow increases until you reach the zone, where ideas fly and your concentration is absolute. You could write for another eight hours straight. You can’t. Because five minutes after you enter the zone, it’s time to go to work, or to school, or to bed, because it’s 1am and you have to get up early the next day.
Your masterpiece will take three times as long as you imagine to finish it.
And that’s just the first draft.
You’ll become obsessed with some verbs
Regardless of the usual is/are and has/have, you’ll notice that the same verbs will pop into your mind whenever they fit into a sentence and you’ll have to force yourself to think of synonyms or rewrite the sentence to avoid repetition overload. For me, those words are offer, display, place, rest, retrieve and pull.
The Google synonyms tool will become your best friend
I use it. All. The. Time. You’ll recognize every single word and will cringe for not thinking of them by yourself.
Many readers are fickle and opportunistic
Unless you’re traditionally published, some will expect your book to cost less than a quarter of a cup of coffee but provide a HarperCollins quality cover and story. Your book will be downloaded mostly when it’s free, and participants of a giveaway will never read your book because they were only interested in free stuff. Don’t expect a gazillion reviews (good or bad) for your book either. Bloggers are drowning in requests and the average reader will not post anything.
Harsh, isn’t it? Thankfully though, there will be some who will recognize your hard work and will enjoy your style. The hardest part will be how to reach them, when the market is overflowing with so many book offers.
Also, treat the bloggers who agree to read and review your book like precious gems because what they do is hard work too. Being chosen by them is a privilege, not a given.
You will envy every author
Not just the rich and famous writers. But anyone. You’ll read an article about how Mrs X has won a deal with a publisher and you’ll envy her. You’ll hear about a ditzy celeb who wrote her memoirs and you’ll envy her. You’ll see the great ratings on a new author’s Goodreads page and you’ll envy him.
I’ve yet to meet an arrogant author, so I guess we’re all in the same boat.
I wish it helped.
You will take bad reviews personally
Okay, this one might just be me. But expect the honest words of a reader/beta reader who didn’t like your book for whatever reason to sting and hurt and make you think of giving up the entire thing. I’ve read that after a few bad reviews, you learn to grow a tough skin. You won’t. So be warned.
You’ll follow the advice given by others. Then you’ll follow your own rules
The internet is full of advice. For example, authors are supposed to write every day. They’re supposed to follow a tried and tested plot line, avoid adverbs and -ing words. They have to show and never tell. They mustn’t ask friends or family to beta read or give their opinion. They must be present on all the Social Medias in the universe and create their platform.
The advice might be great when you start as it provides you with some useful tools, but in time, you won’t beat yourself up anymore for not writing at 5am every day. You might find that your best friend is more insightful than an unknown beta reader. You’ll realize that social medias are overtaken by millions of wannabes with the same goal as yours. So you’ll swallow the initial dejection and will just concentrate on enjoying the few friendly people you’ll meet along the way. As for adverbs, repetitions etc…you’ll notice them in every published book and will smile each time you do.
What have you learnt yourself that you hadn’t expected?
Books can have two different endings: one with an epilogue, which will details a far future, or one without, which will remain in the present, or the near future at most.
What I like about epilogues
You don’t have any questions left, everything gets answered. You know what happens to the main protagonists years down the line, what colour their new cat is and how their career and personal lives have progressed. Sometimes, you even get details about side characters. I appreciate this too, because I tend to have a soft spot for side characters.
There is no confusion about the ending. Sometimes, the author will leave an open or unclear ending, which readers can interpret differently. With an epilogue, there are no arguments possible.
It provides closure. The story is all finished, all wrapped up, so it makes it easier to move onto another one. The satisfaction factor is high.
It can give you a glimpse or opening onto the next book, if it is a series, and wet your appetite.
What I don’t like about epilogues
The lack of mystery. I like to be able to imagine what happens in the future of a character I love. It allows me to remain in the world created by the author for longer, as I ponder on all the possibilities.
I might not like the future described in an epilogue. Let’s be honest, we all have our tastes, preferences and ideas on what should happen to a character down the line. If the epilogue doesn’t fit what you had imagined, it is a cruel blow.
Some epilogues are pointless. Need I say more?
The epilogue cliffhanger. No. Just no. I cannot stand cliffhangers, unless the next book is available already. And even then, you’ll hear me groan.
The story is wrapped up, and my journey with the characters is finished. Epilogues can make me a little melancholic at the idea of saying goodbye to characters I have loved.
In conclusion, I would say that I like epilogues, as long as they are useful and flawless. I don’t even mind the all singing, all dancing cliché where everyone lives happily ever after, but it needs to show that the author has worked on it as much as on the rest of her/his story. Lazy epilogues ruin everything.
What’s your view on epilogues? Love ’em or hate ’em?
I’m in a romantic mood today, so I thought I’d talk about real life love encounters.
My own story first:
I met my husband in a hotel in Ireland, where I was working as a waitress. He arrived a few weeks after I did, as a chef. He went out with another girl there first and as soon as they broke up about a month later, he started dating me. So I was the rebound girl, or at least I thought I was. Neither of us were looking for long term love, but life had other plans, since 16 years later we’re married and we have two children!
For the anecdote, we gave our kids Irish names 🙂
I love my grand-parents love story:
My granddad was from a rich and influential family who owned lots of land in their area. As the eldest, my granddad was set to inherit big, so when he started seeing my grand-mother, who was from a modest family, his family turned against him and my grand-ma. My granddad followed his heart though and he married the girl he loved, despite the inheritance being withdrawn from him. They had 14 kids, and my grand-mother never re-married after his premature death at 54 🙂
A friend of mine met her husband at sixteen, at school. He was her first and only love, as they are now married with four children. They actually tied the knot early, when she was twenty-one, and I remember thinking “wow, she’s my age, and she’s a wife already!”
My sister-in-law also married her first love.
My mother’s sisters married two cousins. Might as well keep it in the family, right?
Another aunt was pursued by two brothers. She admitted she chose her now husband because he was the tallest of the two lol.
Married or not, how did you meet your other half? Let me know in the comments 🙂
I’ve noticed that many reviews for books included pictures of what the reader imagined the characters to look like. Because after all, besides general details such as hair and eye colour, indication of build, and other obvious characteristics (freckles, beer belly etc…), it is difficult to describe someone to reach a consensus. Try and write about a blue-eyed, dark haired, slender woman, and some will visualize Katy Perry, others Zooey Deschanel, Megan Fox, or that unknown woman on the internet. Those women don’t look alike in real life. In books, they can be one and the same.
With some books, it’s fun to associate a true picture to a written face. It helps with making a character feel more realistic and within reach. I’ve found myself both as author and reader, scouring the internet to find the perfect representation of those characters in my head. Scrolling through hundreds of faces, until I found the one that fits. It’s strangely satisfying.
But because we all have our personal picture of what a character should look like, when a book is turned into a movie, the chosen actors rarely fit the bill. Sometimes, we can’t quite put our finger on why, but we know the face isn’t right, and it can spoil the entire film. Hence why I think people are usually disappointed by a book made into a movie, even if the plot has been respected.
And then there are books, most books in fact, where I don’t really visualize anyone. I know that said character has curly black hair and is thirty, but the picture remains blurry. It doesn’t spoil the story at all. Even when a character has a distinctive feature such as a stutter or a missing arm, I will “forget” about it. Which proves to me that I don’t need a real picture to appreciate a book.
In this day and age where internet is easily accessible and where faces from all around the world can be found at the touch of a button, it spurs on a lot of readers to search for the perfect real-life portrait of their favourite characters. But at the end of the day, I think it’s all just a bit of fun.
Do you look for pictures that fit your favourite literary hero/heroine? Or maybe your imagination is detailed enough to satisfy you? Or do characters remain blurry in your mind?