Tag Archive | writing

Reviews Count!

I was in a coffee lounge having morning coffee with a group of friends when a woman I had met briefly before came up to me.

I’ve read two of your books now, and I really enjoyed them,’ she told me.

You might think that’s not uncommon for an author to hear, but for me it changed a pleasant outing into a special morning. To be told  your work has given a reader pleasure is the ultimate satisfaction for any writer.

It made me think about the importance of book reviews, for both readers and writers.

For readers, an assessment by someone else who has read a book, showing their like or dislike of a story, can be a helpful guide in choosing whether a book is worthy of the investment in time takes to read it. Of course, a book review is subjective – no book can please every reader. But it is a signpost, pointing in one direction or another.

For a writer it is also a guide. Do readers like my work?  Do they hate it? The answers to that question can make or break a writer’s confidence. For a novice writer it is acutely important.

I remember well when my first book,  Inheritance, was published. I had written it and re-written it many times, until it was as good as, I believed, it could be, but as a beginner in the world of writing and publishing I was full of doubt. Was it any good?  I had been fortunate to find a publisher willing to take a chance on an unknown writer, but what would the world of readers think of my offering? This was my big test. Could I really write? It was with trepidation that I waited for the first review. When it came, from Aussie Authors,  I was shocked.

I reprint the review here:

Inheritance – by Kate Loveday is listed as a “romance mystery novel yet the book is so much more.BgpI3riCIAAwoyC

It is the story of young Cassandra Taylor who inherits a cattle property from her uncle. The property – Yallandoo – in Northern Queensland, though suffering from the long-term effects of the drought, is in dire need of Cassie’s wholehearted efforts to keep it self-sustaining.

The male interest – Mark Pierce – is a man who comes with his own set of personal issues and a child in tow while attempting to woo Cassie into selling him Yallandoo for his own business development purposes.

If the story ended there it would be a typical romance novel yet the author has incorporated so much more into this book. Apart from Cassie’s childhood memories and emotional bond with the property and the staff who run the cattle station, the girl has a feel for the land, the rainforest areas, the aboriginal heritage and the descendants who still remain, now working for Yallandoo.

With lots of characters, each with their own personality, perspective, and in some cases – agendas, Kate has done a terrific job of weaving them all together.

Overall I found the book compelling. Kate Loveday has a wonderful talent for getting into each and every character’s head and telling the story from their point of view. The different twists and turns in the story retain the reader’s interest while not all the outcomes are as one would expect!

A very believable story; one that draws the reader in and leaves them feeling as though they have not only met these people but have really managed to get to know them all, very well.

With her first novel ‘Inheritance’ Kate Loveday has created a fantastic read. I for one, applaud her wonderful talent. Great work! Can’t wait for her next book! I give it 5 Inkwells.   Reviewed by Sarah Cook

I had never expected such a glowing reception!

This review gave my confidence the boost it needed, and encouraged me to continue writing. I have always been grateful that Sarah Cook took the time to read and review my book. It encouraged me to continue down the path of writing, whch has brought me so much pleasure and satisfaction. I(nheritance went onto receive an ‘honourable mention’ in the Hollywood book awards 2013)

So next time you read a book that you enjoy, perhaps you will take the time to write a review. It could mean a great deal to another reader – or an author.

https://amzn.to/2vStAhI

http://www.kateloveday.com

 

 

 

 

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Review of Dear Mrs Bird

This book is a little gem. I picked it up expecting it to be a light, funny, possible witty read. It is all that, but so much more. It is set in London in 1940. Bombs are falling, air raids are almost nightly. People go about their business as usual as is possible when they know they might find their house, or even their whole street, demolished when they leave the air raid shelter.Emmy Lake is a young woman who wants to Do Her Bit. As well as working in a legal office she is a volunteer helping to man the phones in the auxiliary fire service at nights, but she dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent. When she sees an advertisement for a junior position in a London paper she applies and gets the job.

She is dismayed to find that instead of being involved in Important News she is merely typist to the extremely intimidating Henrietta Bird, an advice columnist, or ‘agony aunt’, on the paper. Mrs Bird will not answer any queries that she deems to contain Unpleasantness, which includes any requests for advice on Relationships or, heaven forbid, SEX. It is Emmy’s job to open Mrs Bird’s mail and she is forced to cut up these Unpleasant query letters and dispose of them without even showing them to Henrietta.

When Emmy reads letters from women who are Lonely while their husbands or boy friends are Away Fighting, or who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who have other intimate problems, she worries about them and decides to reply to them herself, with unexpected results.

Emmy and her friend Bunty are appealing characters that you can’t help loving as they Make The Best of these appalling times.
This story is funny, witty, moving and poignant. I read it over a weekend and loved it.

Review of The Tea Gardens by Fiona McIntosh

This is a beautifully written book. The descriptive passages of life in India in the early 1930’s and the beauty of the Himalayan mountains are mesmerising. Sometimes I felt that the beauty of the writing was more stirring than the story.

Isla Fenwick is an English woman doctor reaching an age where her father is becoming insistent that she make up her mind which of her suitors, of which there is no shortage, she wishes to marry.

He brings home an old friend, Jovian Mandeville, who is a little older than Isla. When Jovian proposes marriage she accepts him, realising that the crush on him in her childhood days is now love. However she wants to spend a year practising medicine in India, as her mother had done before her death. Jovian agrees, providing she promises to return and marry him a year later.

At the hospital in India she meets the unfathomable Professor Saxon Vickery, and travels with him to a tea plantation in Darjeeling. Drawn to him in a manner she has never before experienced, she must make a difficult decision.

 

http://www.kateloveday.com

Review of ‘The Crossing’ by Michael Connelly

Another good Harry Bosch book. Harry is on enforced retirement from the LAPD when he is approached by his half-brother Mickey Haller, defence lawyer, to investigate a murder. Mickey is defending the accused, and believes in his client’s innocence. Harry is at first reluctant, as he has always worked to bring the guilty party to justice, and feels he would be betraying his past as a cop by crossing to work for the defence. After meeting the accused he agrees to take on the case, because if the accused is innocent, the murderer is still at large, and he wants to find the guilty person. His condition is that he will reveal the truth of what he finds, whichever way it goes

This is a real whodunnit, with Harry working his way methodically through all the clues. In the process he finds many flaws in certain LAPD members and procedures, which forces him re-consider his previous working life.

 

http://www.kateloveday.com

Nothing new under the sun

There’s nothing new under the sun. How many times have you heard that? A dozen? A hundred?  When it comes to fiction it’s true – no matter what idea you come up with it’s been done before. But as a writer it’s your responsibility to make it all seem fresh and alive, as if it’s being told for the first time. This applies to all genres – mystery, romance, dramas of human endeavour, in fact all fiction.

Take all the great love stories – Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, Gone with the Wind, Pride and Prejudice, Casablanca. Add a few of your own favourites if you like, and think about them. They’re all about love, about boy meets girl, man meets woman, and about the obstacles that come between them and their true love. Same idea, different problems, different resolutions, different writing. Those authors took an old idea and, using their own special magic, wove stories that have been loved by generations of readers. They haven’t all been joyful stories, many of them haven’t had happy endings.

But they have all touched our hearts.

And how have they done it? The authors have taken the idea, and they’ve created their characters and situations and woven their stories around them. But it’s the characters that are the pivot. If the characters are real people, people that come alive, people that we can love or hate, then we care about them, and we care what happens to them.  And that keeps us turning the pages to the very end and then, perhaps, we’re sorry that it is the end.

As a writer how can you do this? First, your characters must be real to you – you must know them intimately. As you write you must be able to get inside their heads, to know how they feel. If you don’t know, then how can you make your reader know? Your reader wants to feel their emotions, to share in them. Emotions are mankind’s common language, we all have the same emotions – love, hate, anger, sorrow, joy – and we never lose them.  And as well as the emotions, you need to know how your characters will react to any situation. For this point in time you must become your character. And of course you must create situations that will put them through the wringer, so we can see how they’ll come out on the other side, see how much they’ve changed.

All this means that as you create your story you must write from your heart. However, once you’ve finished the story you must begin to use your head, for this is when you must take your rough diamond and polish it.

You owe it to your readers to make sure your words flow in a manner as close to perfect as you can make it. It’s not just a matter of ensuring there are no errors in spelling or grammar, you must also think about the sounds of the words. Are they pleasing to the ear? If in doubt, read your work aloud.  Do the words sing? Do they convey your idea as you wish? Or are they stilted and banal? Simple words, beautifully expressed, should be your aim.

So there it is. WRITE from the heart – EDIT with the head. Take an old idea and make it new.

And perhaps your story will touch hearts!

http://www.kateloveday.com

On writing a series

When I finished writing my first novel ‘Inheritance’, which is a standalone book, set in contemporary Australia, I had no ideas about writing either historical fiction or a series. However, we had moved to an area on the mid-north coast of NSW, an area that figured prominently in the early days of colonisation, and I became interested in its history.

This led me to explore the attitudes towards women in the nineteenth century, and I decided that my next book must be about the life of a woman in that era, when women had few rights and were dominated by men. I determined that my character would be a spirited woman who did not take kindly to subjugation. Then I began to look at the attitudes towards women over the years, and decided it would be interesting to do a story of three generations of women – mother, daughter and grand-daughter – spanning the second half of the nineteenth century and up to the end of the flapper era, the 1930’s. Would the patronising attitudes of men towards women have altered? And how would women have changed? I realised it could not be told in a single book, and decided to make it a series of three books, one for each generation. So far so good.

What I did not realise was the problems posed to writers of series.

The first book, ‘An Independent Woman’, was straightforward. The main character, Kitty, lived her life in the book and when book one ended, she had a daughter, Joy, who was a baby. Now, I had to continue Kitty’s story in book two, so I couldn’t just start it when Joy was a grown woman, too much time would have passed.

First problem – how to cover the years as Joy grows from child to young woman, and hold the reader’s interest?  Not an easy task. She went to school. She learned to ride and developed a love of horses. Not riveting phases of her life! So book two, ‘A Liberated Woman’, continued Kitty’s story, and covered Joy’s life from age thirteen to young womanhood.

Second problem, as time passes there is the continuation of characters, and how they would change as they were affected by the changing history of the times. It was a period of uncertainty in Australia, when there was continulal debate over the decision of whether the separate colonies should join together to form the Federation of Austalia or not – some for, some against. There was also a severe recession in the 1990’s. How would my characters be affected by these problems?

I thought I knew my characters well but when it came to writing scenes I realised there were so many small details to remember, particularly with places and minor characters. How exactly had I described Lady Barron? Craddock?  Harry Osborne? In which hotel in Sydney had Kitty stayed? Minor points perhaps but important enough that I had to return to book one to check.

And with a series there is always the question of how much to explain in the second, and subsequent, books in case people start reading that one first. Each book must really be able to stand alone as well as being read in sequence, but it’s hard to do that without boring those who have read the first book. Finding the balance between these needs is challenging. Each book must have its own plot, its own characters, including some from previous books, and its own changing tensions. But it must still relate to the preceding story and answer the questions left unanswered at the end of that, and to have its own problems unresolved at the end that will be answered in the next book, if you want readers to be waiting for the next of the series.

When ‘A Liberated Woman’ was published last year in paperback ( the ebook will be available on Kindle and Smashwords later this month) I knew it was time to get on with book three, but already I could see that the planned trilogy would not be enough.  There would have to be at least a fourth book if I was to fulfil my original intention.

By now I’ve started keeping a list of characters and other important facts, hoping to overcome some of the problems.  I’m still writing book three of the series, which I hope to publish by the end of this year, but I am already thinking ahead to book four. And will that be enough? Or is this why series keep growing? Only time will tell.

Words

Words

I first wrote this several years ago, but I believe it is still true today for anyone who wishes to write well.

It‘s been said that words are pegs to hang ideas on. But if you’re a writer and you wish your writing to flow, to express your ideas in the best way possible,  then you need to choose the best pegs to showcase your ideas . A writer should think of words as either diamonds or stones. The great writers made sure they included a fair share of diamonds among the stones in their sentences.

By this, I don’t mean to shun the use of common words, but to choose those that evoke an idea in the most effective way, words that have strong connotations. For instance, you might want to describe an old man walking down the street. You say, ‘The old man walked down the street.’ Picture that in your mind’s eye. Then change it to, ‘The old man shuffled down the street.’ Only one word altered, but isn’t it a different picture?

You don’t need to use long words to impress, a good writer chooses simple words full of meaning – strong words. Take Shakespeare’s, ‘the sands are number’d that make up my life’. Simple words – big idea. He knew a thing or two about words.

Sounds can make words sing. Listen to them, let them run through your consciousness.  Beyond the sense of a word is its sound, its spirit. Words strung together to show their melodies, playing off one another, can build like a piece of music, creating a beautiful harmony. If you read a passage that flows easily, pleasing your ear and conveying its message with simplicity, then the writer has achieved his goal – his words will live!

Of course, words are not just written, we speak them all the time. And how you say your words can categorize you, every time you open your mouth.

pygmalion

Take ‘Pygmalion’, later updated and presented as that all-time favourite musical, ‘My Fair Lady’. Who can forget  the shrill tones of the early Eliza Doolittle as she tells her would-be teachers, ‘Eeeeooowww, I washed me ‘ands ‘n face afore I come, I did.’ There’s no mistaking her as the grubby little flower-seller from Covent Garden. However, after Professor Henry Higgins, who intones ‘the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain’ ad nauseam, finishes with her she is taken for a lady – and dubbed a princess.

Such is the power of words!