Thursday, 28 February 2013

Books, more books and missing books

Despite my best efforts I have not managed to post every week - I did move house and go on holiday though - but I have almost completed my character list for the A-Z challenge. 

There are now only two gaps - W and Y - and the characters to fill them are proving elusive. How can it be so hard to find them?!

The rest of the list looks like this (but knowing me it could well change several times over the next month as I might read or remember another book with a character I like more!):

  • A = Alice in After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell
  • B = Benny in The Tax Collector by Peter Carey
  • C = Canning in The Imposter by Damon Galgut
  • D = Dolores in She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
  • E = Esther in Frozen Music by Marika Cobbold
  • F = Fiona in Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham
  • G = Gregor in Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • H = Henry in What Did You do in San Francisco by Raymond Carver
  • I = Isabel in Talking to the Dead by Helen Dunmore
  • J = Janusz in 22 Brittania Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
  • K = Kate in Hurry Up and Wait by Isabel Ashdown
  • L = Lizzie in Sworn Secret by Amanda Jennings
  • M = Manon in Property by Valerie Martin
  • N = Nick in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • O = Oscar in Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
  • P = Pagan in Lace by Shirley Conran
  • Q = Queenie in Small Island by Andrea Levy
  • R = Rachel in Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes
  • S = Saul in The Ice People by Maggie Gee
  • T= Tatiana in Trading Tatiana by Debi Alper
  • U = Unnamed in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • V = Vincent in A Dark & Broken Heart by RJ Ellory
  • W = ???
  • X = Xenia in The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
  • Y = ???
  • Z = Zara in Purge by Sofi Oksanen

One of these characters, Esther in Frozen Music, was the person I spent my reading time on holiday with. I chose to take this novel with me as the author, Marika Cobbold, is Swedish and I went to Scandinavia. OK it was Norway, but it is next door and I couldn't find a novel I wanted to read by a Norwegian author as I didn't start looking until the day before I went. So, as I had this in my 'To Read' pile and it had frozen in the title as well, I thought it a suitably fitting read for my holiday in the Arctic Circle. Which was amazing and I was lucky enough to see the Northern Lights while I was there. This is the beach where we stayed in one of the cabins and you can see some of the other pictures I took here.

Just before I went on holiday the Self-Editing Your Novel course that I've been doing since the start of the year ended. I can't recommend it enough if you are finding the second draft of your novel, or short stories, much harder to write than the first. After not being able to edit mine, no matter how many times I left it and went back to it, I am now getting stuck into the re-write and have lots of new knowledge and skills to help make it the best it can be. 

Because the feedback I got from the course tutor, Debi Alper, who is also the judge for the first Retreat West Shorty Story competition, was excellent I've been filled with new confidence that I can really do this writing thing. We'll see how long it lasts though as I'm sure the day when I think everything I write is complete rubbish will appear again before too long!

I have also got Susan Elliot Wright mentoring me for the next six months while I complete the re-write and as I've just read her debut novel, which is excellent and has many of the same themes as mine, I think with her help my writing will improve even more. You can find out more about her novel here.

While I was away on holiday the Festival of Writing 2012 book was published, featuring the blog that I posted on here after my first ever visit to this infamous event. So my very first book publishing credit! Hopefully not the last. It's got lots of great blogs in it along with tips for surviving the festival, which I shall definitely be swotting up on before this year's visit.

Please all get your thinking caps on for those W and Y characters as I have scoured my bookshelves several times and just can't seem to come up with them.


  1. My goodness, you have been busy. I did the self-edit course last year, it was good, and taught me a lot. I hope your mentoring goes well, I've heard good things about mentors, but I've never had one. I'm going to check out the comp and try to think of some W and Y characters!

  2. Hi Louise, it will be my 1st experience of mentoring as well. I'll keep you posted as to how it goes. Would be great to read a story of yours in the comp; and to get some suggestions for those elusive characters!

  3. Hi. I just nominated you for the Liebster Award over on my blog :) Sharon

    1. Thanks very much, Sharon! Really appreciate it and will post about it very soon :)

  4. Hi Amanda .. Just William for William ...?

    Perhaps there's an Yvonne somewhere ..

    Good luck with everything .. cheers Hilary

    1. Thanks Hilary. I was trying to think of a novel with an Yvonne in but just couldn't think of one. William is one I've also thought of and I was considering doing a little cheat and using Bill but then couldn't think of one for that either! I will get there in the end :)

  5. Hooray - thanks to my good friend, Harriet Jones I have now filled in W with Winston from 1984 by George Orwell. Only thing is I have now realised my copy is missing, which is why I didn't find him on those repeated book shelf rummages. So, just the Y to go now...

  6. Hi

    What about Yossarian from Catch 22 for your Y?

    Good luck with the challenge, I don't envy you. I can barely find the time to post once a fortnight.

  7. Hello Stephen, I haven't read that but Yossarian has now made my list and I'll read Catch 22 next. I've always meant to so this is the perfect prompt. Thanks for helping me out to complete my list.

    I've been wondering when on earth I am going to find the time to write all these! Lock myself away in a room and try and do the first 13 all in one go, then do the same again for the rest of the letters is the only way I'll fit it in I think.

  8. Winston from 1984 - he's a great character. Or Winnie the Pooh :)

    I hope you manage to find your remaining letters. Good luck with the challenge.

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