Sunday, 29 April 2012

That's my Kindle in the fetching turquoise stripey case
I wrote earlier in the year about my decision to take part in the Eclectic Reader Challenge and the reasons behind this. Several months have passed and I admit I haven’t made huge inroads into my list of titles. Which is peculiar, because I always have a book on the go. In fact, all I seem to have done is change the list a bit, and not in a making-it-easier way. It now looks like this.


The Murder Wall (Mari Hannah)
Me Before You (JoJo Moyes)

Deathwatch (Nicola Morgan) and Pure (Julianna Baggott)
A Game of Thrones (George RR Martin) or The Passage (Justin Cronin)
Science Fiction
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Philip K Dick)
Bluestockings (Jane Robinson)

The Odessa File (Frederick Forsyth)
Great Expectations (Dickens)
My favourite genre

I have already written about some of my initial choices, but here’s how I filled in most of the gaps.

A Twitter friend, Rebecca Bradley, recommended Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You as an excellent example of a modern romantic novel, and the Amazon reviews back this up. This is a genre I never knowingly read, but at least I’m consistent: I don’t watch romantic movies either.

I thought I was on firm ground when I chose Deathwatch by Nicola Morgan as my YA read (a genre which didn’t exist when I was growing up). I’m an admirer of Nicola’s no-nonsense approach to getting published, and it was she who persuaded me to sign up for Twitter. However, when I was deciding whether to read the Berwick Book Group’s April choice, Pure by Andrew Miller, I came across a book of the same name by Julianna Baggott which sounded much more tempting than Miller's. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where many of those who survived ‘the Detonation’ have to live with whatever they were touching at that moment fused to them, be it a toy, a chair or even another person. Those images alone made me load this book on to my Kindle. So I'll be reading two YA novels.

What is it about fantasy novels that they have to be so huge? Here again I have two candidates, but I doubt I’ll be able to manage them both this year. A Game of Thrones (780 pages) was chosen because my husband loves the TV serialisation and I thought I might persuade him to put down his WW2 non-fiction and read it after me. Then I saw a review of The Passage (765 pages) and it sounded too interesting to ignore. I might have to resort to eenie-meenie-minee-mo.

The recent rumpus about TV reviewer AA Gill being mean to Professor Mary Beard helped me make my non-fiction choice. I read a profile of her which said she used to parody the image of female intellectuals by wearing blue stockings. This reminded me that I had bought myself Bluestockings, which explored the fight for women to get a university education back in the days when ‘doctors warned that if women studied too hard their wombs would wither and die’. I was especially pleased to have chosen this book: as I took it down from the shelf a £20 note fell out, a Christmas gift from an aunt.

Finally, I’ve plumped for The Odessa File to fill the thriller slot, in honour of Frederick Forsyth’s appearance at this year’s CrimeFest in May. I have never read any of his work before, although I’m a big fan of some of the film adaptations. It’s not often I watch a film and read the book afterwards, so this will be doubly interesting.

So that leaves literary, historical and horror fiction, and this is where YOU come in. If you have any favourites in those genres, please let me know in the comments below or tweet me @JanetOkane (I’ve come to realise that unfortunately some folk have problems leaving comments on Blogger blogs).

I promise to make my reading selections based on your recommendations!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Lucky 7: Seven lines from new works

Winter's Gate by Charles Simpson*

My thanks to both Susan Williams and Isabel Costello who have tagged me to take part in Lucky 7: Seven lines from new works. The rules are simple:

  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS or WIP
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy the next 7 lines, sentences or paragraphs and post them as they’re written
  4. Tag 7 more writers and let them know.
My list of 7 people I’ve tagged is at the end of this post. Who to choose was a tricky decision. In the end, I purposely chose writers who I haven’t followed on Twitter for very long, as I’d like to get to know them better. There’s absolutely no pressure to take part if you don’t want to or haven’t got time.

It’s been fascinating, reading other writers’ excerpts; I hope you’ll get something from mine too. These 7 lines are from my first crime novel, No Stranger to Death, which I’m currently transferring to Scrivener as a training exercise. Assuming I master the software, I plan to write the follow-up, which is at the planning stage, straight into it.

To put these words into context, you need to know that our heroine Zoe is in the pub with her new friend Kate who lip-reads because she’s deaf.

‘No one need hear, silly. You don’t have to talk out loud.’
Feeling foolish, Zoe silently mouthed an account of Hazel and Ray’s argument. Kate waited until she’d finished then, speaking more quietly than usual, asked, ‘Any idea what it was all about?’
‘Your guess is as good as mine. But it must have something to do with Chrissie’s death.’ Zoe brought out her purse, preparing to go up to the bar for more drinks.
The front door opened and Neil rushed in.
Over to you, if you’re so inclined:

 *Charles Simpson kindly agreed to my use of his image on my blog. I hope one day to own an original. You can see his work at