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.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

She's a right character

So, despite the fact that last week's post talked about how difficult I've been finding it to fit everything in, I've signed up for the April A-Z Challenge again. Meaning I have to post a blog a day every day in April, apart from Sundays. 

You must be mad, I hear you say. You're probably right. But in the new more organised world that I am living in, I already have a plan in place. On the editing course that I'm doing at the moment we have been looking at the importance of voice and characters in action, and this is what has inspired my approach to this year's blog challenge. 

Every letter is going to be dedicated to the characters in novels that I have found memorable. And just to prove how very organised I now am, I have decided on characters for virtually all of the letters already. And it's only the 2nd of February - I could be taking this organisation thing too far.

As I am moving house in a few days all of my books have been packed away so the remaining letters will have to wait to be filled until we are all settled into our new home. There have been some real tussles for some of the letters, I do wish authors would use names beginning with S and T less often, but I think I have made a final decision for most of them. 

So far I have characters from Margaret Atwood, Isabel Ashdown, Damon Galgut, Marian Keyes, Peter Carey, Raymond Carver and Maggie Gee, to name a few. There are many more in place covering crime, thriller, women's fiction, literary fiction and short stories.

The ones that are still missing characters are: E, F, L, P, Q, W, Y and Z. What characters beginning with these letters have been memorable for you?