Happiness is an agent?

I have to say, 2010 is going brilliantly so far (snow/ice escapades aside!). Since Spring 2006, I've had a pretty rough time and I've not been the happiest of people, but I think my luck and general mood is finally turning. {^_^}

And tomorrow could be one of those monumental days, for I am meeting a literary agent! I know it's going to be a useful experience, and I'll tell you all about it!

What else? I hit the landmark of 5,000 tweets today, and I've stuck to my 12 books a month limit, despite having 44 books in my possession that I've never read before! However, I may have to impose a Cinema 2010 limit as have been to the cinema 8 times this month!! ;)

Hope you've all had a fab start to 2010 - how's your January been?

How do you write?

I've never really been able to explain how I get ideas for books. I know sometimes that I take ideas from things I have seen and experienced, but mostly I just sit down and the words pour out from nowhere.

So, when I read Barbara Stoney's biography of Enid Blyton a few weeks ago, I was very pleased to discover that Blyton wrote how I write. She terms it her "under-mind":

... My hands go down on my typewriter keys and I begin. The first sentence comes straight into my mind, I don't have to think of it. I don't have to think of anything. The story is enacted in my mind's eye almost as if I had a private cinema screen there ... I don't know what anyone is going to say or do. I don't know what is going to happen. I am in the happy position of being able to write a story and read it for the first time, at one and the same moment ...

I don't pretend to understand all this. To write book after book without knowing what is going to be said or done sounds silly - and yet it happens. Sometimes a character makes a joke, a really funny one, that makes me laugh as I type it on my paper - and I think, "Well, I couldn't have thought of that myself in a hundred years!" And then I think, "Well, who did think of it then?"

That pretty muchs sums up my writing process, but how do you write? Do you plan? Or do you have the under-mind?! -x-

Cinema January - February 2010

As I have the rather useful Cineworld Unlimited Card - worth it if you live near a Cineworld - I see a *lot* of films. As well as recording what books I read this year, I'll also list what I see at the cinema with a wee comment. :)


1. Sherlock Holmes - Seen on 03/01 - Surprisingly enjoyed. Loved the rapport between Watson and Holmes. 9/10

2. Nine - Seen on 09/01 - Disappointing. Had no empathy with main character, felt there was a distinct lack of plot, though some of the set designs and costumes were gorgeous. 4/10

3. Daybreakers - Seen on 10/01 - Slightly OTT with the gore. Interesting concept, but more could have been done with the plot, especially the ending. 6/10

4. Up In The Air - Seen on 15/01 - An original film which had some superbly wonderful dialogue. My favourtie line: "I googled you; that's what us modern girls do when we have a crush." {^_^} Clooney, Kendrick and Farmiga were all brilliant.  9/10

5.Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll - Seen on 16/01 - Colourful, chaotic, frantic, GENIUS. Dury's tale deserved to be told; Serkis as Dury masterfully delivered. 10/10

6. Avatar 3D - Seen on 18/01 - The Anthropologist in me found the plot repugnant; the Disney Princess in me found the plot a rip-off. Purely because it is visually stunning, it gets 5/10

7. The Road - Seen on 21/01 - Very bleak and quite harrowing in parts. Masterful delivery from Viggo, but the child annoyed me at times. 8/10

8. It's Complicated - Seen on 27/01 - Felt physically sick at the sight of a half-naked Alec Baldwin! Cringe-worthy, quite clichéd. Did have some redeeming moments and wit though; Meryl was by far the star. 5/10

9. Brothers - Seen on 30/01 - Quite slow in parts, but an interesting concept. Natalie Portman was too pretty to say she was supposed to be a grieving wife!! 6/10

10. Un prophète - Seen on 05/02 - Not your typical Hollywood film. 7/10

11. The Princess and the Frog - Seen on 09/02 - Very cute, but draws heavily from other Disney films. Still felt like an utter Disney Princess watching it though. {^_^} 7/10

12. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief - Seen on 17/02 - Dreadful, simply dreadful. Absolutely rubbish opening and it just got worse. AVOID. 2/10

13. Valentine's Day - Seen on 23/02 - Mediocre. 5/10

14. A Single Man - Seen on 26/02 - Beautifully shot, but not much substance. 7/10

15. The Crazies - Seen on 28/02 - Tolerable. Had the obligatory jumpy bits and gore. 6/10

    It's book competition time!

    I'm giving away two brand new books in my first ever books giveaway! First-up is Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever, a YA book about teen Macy Queen:

    On the outside, Macy Queen is cool and calm. On the inside, she's breaking. Silently struggling with her Dad's death, and spending the summer apart from her oh-so-perfect boyfriend, Macy is smiling her way through - she's 'fine'. It's only when she meets a group of new friends - and artistic, sexy Wes catches her eye - she realizes she can wear her heart on her sleeve sometimes. Because life doesn't stop when someone disappears - and even though she's lost so much, can Macy see what she has to gain?

    The second give-away is Phillipa Ashley's Just Say Yes:

    Lucy Gibson needs to get away. When her good-looking, popular boyfriend Nick Laurentis, winner of reality TV show Hot Shots, proposes to her on air she’s stunned – into silence. Every girl loves a romantic gesture, but she’s just not ready for that kind of commitment. With the press hounding her as the one who callously broke Nick’s heart, Lucy escapes her London flat to seek refuge in an isolated Cornwall cottage. But little does she realise that life down there will be far from uncomplicated...

    Anyone can enter, wherever you are in the world, and all you have to do to enter is leave a comment stating which book you'd like to win (you can say you'd like to win both!). Make sure I have a way of contacting you if you do win (e-mail address, Twitter handle etc). The competition closes on January 31st. Good luck!

    Writing goal #11

    11. Keep a personal journal for 2010 - up until 2005 I used to write in a journal most days; have bought a Moleskine diary to revive this!

    This is a new goal I added in the New Year. After I read Barbara Stoney's biography of Enid Blyton, I decided I wanted to revive writing in a physical journal this year. From 1996 - 2005/6ish I kept journals, but as the drama took over my life, I found I had less time and inclination to keep writing about my life. Instead I opted to write fiction as my catharsis! (I cringe reading them - my notebooks are all stashed away with the view to burn them, possibly after I've gone through and taken out the memories I'd like to keep - is that silly?)

    Anyway, I've bought a Moleskine diary for my scribblings and I'll maybe share some of my entries. As I write completely different by hand to how I type to the screen, if I put these up you'll find the entries different to my blog style! :)

    Does anyone else keep a diary/journal? Any Moleskine fans out there?

    2010 writing goal #6

    6. Write crime/thriller book - I really want to try my hand at a new genre and I started writing a crime/thriller called Boudica's Attic set in 1920s New York. Must finish it!

    This goal is rather fitting to one of the writing competitions (goal #8) I'm going to enter this year. I'm going to make Boudica's Attic my entry for the Dundee International Book Prize - this is fitting because I was in Dundee when I had the idea!

    The idea emerged in Spring 2007 when I spied a lipstick in Boots called Boudica. I immediately fell in love with the name but realised it wouldn't suit a modern story. As I love 1920s New York, I plotted a story based in this period, but I only ever wrote the first 5,000 words of it. I've been putting off finishing it to concentrate on other projects, but now I have a deadline to meet!

    There's a taster of Boudica's Attic on URBIS, if you're interested. I put it up there in April 2008 to see how people felt about the narration style - if you click through it says Chapter One, but it really is more of a taster - these were some of the comments:

    Very interesting concept, I dare say unique. The plot was building nicely. The story drew me in very quickly and held my attention. I’m sorry to say it was all too short. Your descriptions and imagery were very telling of that time period. It had a nostalgic feel to it that was heart warming. The main character, Boudica, is as complex as she is simple. Just this brief introduction, showed her as a precocious child with an old spirit. The mystery part is yet to be revealed, but for some reason, I’m hooked already!

    First, let me say I really like the way you use the language. The phrasing and the use of language helps ellude to a time frame, almost immediately. Then you follow it up by telling us where you’ll begin your story. Very nice and really helped focus my attention, made the mental images even more clear. The rhythm of the piece also flows very well.

    Incredibly well written and thought out characters. I love the distant recollection of the narrator. So many times a narration of a story of this sort is done omnisciently, but your choice of the first person lends a quiet yet closer viewpoint without distracting from the overall story. I applaud the voice of the piece and look forward to reading anything coming from this narrator.

    I'll keep you posted with my progress! Let me know what you think if you have a look at it, but also let me know if you've ever been influenced by an unusual item! If not, what influences you? -x-

    2010 Reads

    I'll be updating this post throughout the year once I've read a book, whether it's a brand new read [B], a second-read [R] or a re-re-read [RR], and I'll add my ratings on Goodreads.

    Keeping in line with my 2010 goals (because of 2009's bookfest of 321 reads!), I'm going to try and limit myself to a mere 12 reads a month ... we'll see how that works out (despite having a to-read pile of 40-odd books, I've just placed another order on Amazon. Gah! :s)!

    Happy reading!

    1. The Strain - Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan [B]
    2. Enid Blyton: The Biography - Barbara Stoney [B]
    3. Elsewhere - Gabrielle Zevin [B]
    4. An Education - Lynn Barber [B]
    5. Let the Right One in - John Ajvide Lindqvist [B]
    6. Just Say Yes - Phillipa Ashley [B]
    7. Gucci Wars - Jenny Gucci [B]
    8. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Seth Grahame-Smith [B]
    9. Handling the Undead - John Ajvide Lindqvist  [B]
    10. Charlotte's Web - E.B. White [RR]
    11. The Host - Stephenie Meyer [RR]
    12. My Championship Year - Jenson Button [B]
    13. The Shadow Project - Scott Mariani [B]
    14. Twenties Girl - Sophie Kinsella [B]
    15. Othello - William Shakespeare [B]
    16. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan [B]
    17. Changing Grooms - Sasha Wagstaff [B]
    18. A Midsummer's Night Dream - William Shakespeare [R]
    19. Peyton Place - Grace Metalious [B]
    20. Top Tips for Life - Kate Reardon [B]
    21. Coco Chanel: A Biography - Axel Madsen [B]
    22. Hippie Hippie Shake - Richard Neville [B]
    23. The Iliad - Homer [R]
    24. The Children's Book - A.S. Byatt [B]
    25. The Love Boat - Kate Lace [B]
    26. Girl from Mars - Julie Cohen [B]
    27. Wicked Games - Sasha Wagstaff [B]
    28. Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel [B]
    29. What's Yours Is Mine - Tess Stimson [B]
    30. Until I Find You - John Irving [B]
    31. How to be Married - Polly Williams [B]
    32. The House at the Mosque - Kader Abdolah [B]
    33. Under the Eagle - Simon Scarrow [B]
    34. The Eagle's Conquest - Simon Scarrow [B]
    35. Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick [B]
    36. Angelology - Danielle Trussoni [B]
    37. Icons of England - Edited by Bill Bryson [B]
    38. Brixton Beach - Roma Tearne [B]
    39. A Million Little Pieces - James Frey [B]
    40. One Day - David Nicholls [B]
    41. Things I Wish I'd Known - Linda Green [B]
    42. If I Never - Gary William Murning [B]
    43. Be Careful What You Wish For - Alexandra Potter [B]
    44. Suddenly Single - Sheila O'Flanagan [B]
    45. The Septembers of Shiraz - Dalia Sofer [B]
    46. The Hollow - Jessica Verday [B]
    47. Ransom My Heart - Meg Cabot [B]
    48. From Dead to Worse - Charlaine Harris [R]
    49. Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris [R]
    50. Dead in the Family - Charlaine Harris [B]
    51. 24 Hours Paris - Marsha Moore [B]
    52. The Bitch - Jackie Collins [B]
    53. At Home - Bill Bryson [B]
    54. Excellent Women - Barbara Pym [B]
    55. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins [B]
    56. Darkfall - Dean Koontz [B]
    57. Who's That Girl? - Alexandra Potter [B]
    58. Della Says: OMG! - Keris Stainton [B]
    59. Uprising - Scott G. Mariani [B]
    60. The Carrie Diaries - Candace Bushnell [B] 
    61. When the Eagle Hunts - Simon Scarrow [B]
    62. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins [B]
    63. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro [B]
    64. Pierre et Jean - Guy de Maupassant [B]
    65. A Spring Affair - Milly Johnson [B]
    66. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle - Monique Roffey [B]
    67. Pictures of Lily - Paige Toon [B]
    68. Forbidden Pleasures - Jo Rees [B]
    69. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro [B]
    70. Young Bloods - Simon Scarrow [B]
    71. 44 Scotland Street - Alexander McCall Smith [B]
    72. Redcoat - Bernard Cornwell [B]
    73. The Junior Officers' Reading Club - Patrick Hennessey [B]
    74. Picture Perfect - Jodi Picoult [B]
    75. Living la Vida Loca - Belinda Jones [B]
    76. A Summer Fling - Milly Johnson [B]
    77. The Eagle and the Wolves - Simon Scarrow [B]
    78. Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen [B]
    79. Numbers - Rachel Ward [B]
    80. Guantanamo Boy - Anna Perera [B]
    81. My Single Friend - Jane Costello [B]
    82. Midnight Girls - Lulu Taylor [B]
    83. The Ice Cream Girls - Dorothy Koomson [B]
    84. Bel-Ami - Guy de Maupassant [B]
    85. The Wish - Sasha Blake [B]
    86. Holly's Inbox - Holly Denham [B]
    87. Confessions of a Wedding Planner - Tamyrn Kirby [B]
    88. Poisoned Cherries - Quintin Jardine [B]
    89. Stone Cold - John Francome [B]
    90. Skinner's Mission - Quintin Jardine [B]
    91. The Dead - Ingrid Black [B]
    92. Sacred and Profane - Faye Kellerman [B]
    93. Murphy's Law - Colin Bateman [B]
    94. Sleep With Me - Joanna Briscoe [B]
    95. Do You Come Here Often? - Alexandra Potter [B]
    96. Pastures Nouveaux - Wendy Holden [B]
    97. The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova [R]
    98. Arabesk - Barbara Nadel [B]
    99. Unsticky - Sarra Manning [R]
    100. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert [B]

    Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year! Hope you all had a lovely New Year's Eve - did anyone do anything exciting?

    I got a wee bit concerned last night after spying some strange 'fireballs' in the sky, but apparently lots of Chinese lanterns were released and that's what they were. *phew* Thanks Twitter for clearing that up for me! (I've never seen them before, but Google also informed me they would either be UFOs(!) or Chinese Lanterns!)

    Wishing you all the best for 2010, and here's hoping for a fabbity year! I am very keen to begin my goals tomorrow; I hope you stick to yours if you've made some! {^_^}


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