Author archive: Caroline

Are ‘how to write’ books any help?

I will admit that I am a sucker for books. Any excuse. I never pass by a bookshop. And although I primarily read fiction, I do have quite a large collection of “how to write” books. So… are they any help? I think so. When my writing gets stuck, I often reach for a “how to” book. I don’t always find the answer but I do often get some insight into something which just helps me find a new way forward. What is particularly interesting is that I can read the same book on different occasions and each time something…

My August in Edinburgh

August is over… and I feel like I’ve been in a marathon. Feet pounding pavements en route to events, dodging flyers, groups of tourists, etc.  2,839,000 tickets were sold or issued for free for more than 3,500 shows, and it feels as if I might have been to most of them.  I did try to pace myself by giving myself festival free days, but once the book festival opened its doors, it all became harder to limit my time. I’ve added it up. I saw sixteen and a half hours of fringe and sixteen hours of book festival events in…

Best books of 2017

When Goodreads asked readers to set themselves a reading challenge for 2017, I thought why not make it a round figure? 100 seemed plausible at the time. But as it turned out, not quite achievable, although I’m not far off.The challenge did mean keeping better track of what I have read, and it’s fun – at least for me – to look back on the year and consider what I read and why. Non fiction  Only a couple to mention this year, but really worth while. Into the Blizzard by Michael Winter is the human story behind the fate of the Newfoundland regiment…

Writing is not always solitary

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I lurve events to do with books, authors, writing. Usually these also involve visits to illustrious places. Last year I drove all the way to Wigtown (which, believe me, is a LONG way from most places) just to catch the last day of their annual book festival, and to soak up the beauty of Scotland’s premier book town. This May I spent a long weekend in Ullapool, sitting inside their village hall – despite the glorious weather outside – experiencing back to back writers talking about their books and the craft, although…

What to work on next

While Rich Girl, Poor Girl is out on submission, it is time to turn my attention to other works. I’m working on three other novels for young adults: I have a first draft of Albatross, while Tombstone has been through two or three re-writes, and Not Dead is in the planning stages. Albatross began life during Nanowrimo 2012. http://www.nanowrimo.org  (Nanowrimo: novel writing in a month. It’s a great way of getting going with a new project. If you’ve not participated before, do give it a go this year!)  I’d toyed with the idea of writing a book exploring gender identity for some time, and it seemed to…

Rich Girl, Poor Girl

Rich Girl, Poor Girl is currently out there on submission, and so I’m unable to fiddle with it any more. It started life a few years ago as Emily’s Dreaming in which the protagonist Emily has vivid dreams which come true, and she is forced to use her psychic powers to track down nanny Gabrielle who kidnaps Emily’s baby brother. Version Two Prey lost the psychic element and concentrated purely on the kidnap and the evil nanny. The latest version is now a dual narrative thriller – now Gabrielle is sixteen, and we see how and why she gets into…

Echoes of the City

I’ve recently been involved in a fascinating project. @EchoesoftheCity has recorded site specific podcasts linked to various locations in the city of Edinburgh, designed to be listened to as podwalks. When the call first came out for writers to submit stories for this project, there was also a list of suggested sites. As soon as I saw Broughton Street on the list, my story came to me, fully formed, and took little over half an hour to write. That was a first draft, of course, which required editing, tidying, etc, but the basic core remained the same, and I am…

Everything but the kitchen sink

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but less is more. On my fourth draft of current project and I’m paring right back to find the story is getting stronger and stronger. I’m learning that my default reaction is to say, ‘oh that’ll be good’ and ‘what about if this happened’ and ‘wouldn’t it be fun to add this’… Yeah that’s all good up to a point, but eventually you have to make choices and get rid of stuff. A book doesn’t get stronger the more you crowbar in, it improves when you take all those extra ideas out, and find…

The Jane Austen Writers Club – what a great book for writers.

I don’t usually blog about one particular book, but for this, I will make an exception. Not a beginners book – you need to know what PoV and characterisation etc are for instance – but for someone who wants to improve, particularly in plotting and editing – this is an excellent read. I particularly loved the last chapter which was full of encouragement for those who are serious about writing but not yet published or agented. Most ‘how to’ writing books use examples to illustrate certain points of technique, and while this can be helpful, if the extract they’re referring…

Best books of 2016

The decision to keep a book journal was one of my better moves this year. Having only started in March, my year to date total is 60, which implies my total read was probably in the region of 80-90. Not too shabby. Could do better, if there wasn’t quite so much choice on TV, methinks, and how many hours wasted on Spider Solitaire when I could have had my nose in a good book? I’m going to aim for 100 next year, not least to diminish the ‘pile to read’ a bit. Re-visits There are always a few old favourites…

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