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A blog by Nikki Dudley about the gaps in everyday life...

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Thursday, 31 March 2011

How NOT to respond to a bad book review

Hi all,

There's been some recent controversy about this review and response on Twitter. The co-editor of my online mag, streetcake, sent this on to me. It made me laugh a lot!

Read the review of The Greek Seaman by Jacqueline Howett on the Big Al's Books and Pals blog - pay particular attention the the comments below the post. The author gets just a little bit irate...

Also, see the reviewers follow up blog about negative reviews

I'm really glad I didn't do anything like this when people reviewed Ellipsis. I might've been a little upset by a few comments made about my novel but it's best to just take them in your stride, not go on the blog/site and attack the reviewer that's for sure!!! All of it is lessons learned for the next novel, not something to cry yourself to sleep about.

Hope you enjoy the blog posts! It gave me a giggle x

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Do you read 50 books per year???


So Michael Gove has now told us that children should be reading 50 books per year.

Despite putting up tuition fees and slashing funding to local councils (hence libraries and other public services), Michael Gove had this to say:

“One of the biggest problems in the English state education system is that only a minority can follow an academic education and that only a minority can go to university. Quite wrong. Our expectations have been too low for too long. The aspiration for someone to read 50 books a year isn’t from a school in the poshest part of Manhattan where they are all going to have bound copies of CS Lewis, this is a school where 83 per cent of the kids are on the equivalent of free school meals, but they still expect them to read 50 books a year.”

Hmm, thanks Michael. Although I think it is a good thing if anyone promotes more reading, I think this idea doesn't really take into account the varying interests of people. Perhaps a child won't read 50 books per year but is achieving high marks in science, or maths, geography, or on their apprenticeship course. And what if they read but the books they choose are not deemed the 'right' type of book i.e.: graphic novels, non-fiction, biography? Also, what if a person prefers to read comics, magazines, newspapers or online articles?

Gove's suggestions of authors includes: JK Rowling, CS Lewis, Philip Pullman, Kenneth Grahame, Rosemary Sutcliff, Alan Garner and Ursula Le Guin.

I have only read Rowling, Lewis and Pullman. I have however, read a lot of books in my life. And as a child/teenager, I probably wouldn't have been any cause for concern for Mr Gove. However, do I really read 50 books per year?

It got me thinking... So here is all I can remember reading in the last year (not including newspapers, magazines etc. I will however include poetry collections, which are usually shorter than fiction novels!)

1. Little Women
2. Pigeon English
3. Comedy in a Minor Key
4. The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes)
5. The Hunter
6. The Devil's Whisper
7. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
8. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
9. The Woman Before Me
10. Ellipsis (several times!!!)
11. The Killer Inside Me
12. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
13. Norwegian Wood
14. Taropoetics (poetry)
15. Strangers
16. Unhooking the Moon
17. No and Me
18. Farewell, My Lovely
19. Now You're One of Us
20. Invisible
21. In the Country of Last Things
22. Wuthering Heights
23. The Music of Chance
24. Light Boxes
25. Crime and Punishment
26. Past Continuous
27. The Book Thief
28. After the Quake
29. Like (poetry)
30. Y chromosomes (poetry)
31. The Art of Racing in the Rain
32. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
33. 253
34. Helpless
35. Even the Dogs
36. Prop (poetry)
37. High Performance (poetry)
38. Cutting Movement (poetry)
39. What a Carve Up!
40. Vox
41. I am the Messenger
42. The Ruined Map
43. Zygal: A book of mysteries and translations (poetry)
44. Coconut Unlimited
45. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian.

...That's all I can think of actually!

I also re-read and started these other books:

1. Hunting Unicorns (re-read)
2. Howl and other poems (re-read)
3. The Satanic Verses (unfinished)
4. Last Exit to Brooklyn (unfinished)
5. Ghost Stories of M R James (unfinished)

So according to Michael Gove, I don't meet his targets! There may well be a few books I have completely forgotten but overall, this is quite a comprehensive list. I think it would be a struggle to read 50 books a year as I feel like I've read a lot as it is!

So, how many books have you read this year?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A hello from Nikki - writing update

I just realised I haven't written anything on here for a month. Not good!

Although, I would love to write something more structured, I have quite a lot going on, so I am just writing a quick update. The main issue is that life just gets in the way - netball, Spanish lessons, writing in snatches, a trip to Birmingham, meeting up with people, illness and work!

I have been desperate to get on with writing the sequel to Ellipsis, with the working title Semblance. I am tantalisingly close to the end. It is currently 80,000 words (5,000 words more than Ellipsis was) and looks set to grow even further. Perhaps editing will cut a little off at the end.

Overall, I am happy with Semblance. I do have a few gripes that I need to fix.

A) Is the first part too slow in pace? Do I need to cut it down? Do the differentiating chapters from the two perspectives work?

B) Are the characters narrating, Richard and Alice, true to the way they were represented in the last novel? Obviously there is more intimate detail here but is it realistic? Also, I don't want Richard's narration to be too similar to Thom's in Ellipsis. Although they are related, I want them to have different voices.

C) Does the ending come too quickly? It seems like I am suddenly at the end and I want to be sure the build up is realistic and gives enough backing for the dramatic ending.

These are things I am sure I will figure out, particularly when I give it to a few select readers to consider. Luckily I know some people in publishing who hopefully will be keen readers and most of all - be honest with me!

One thing I really want for Semblance is much tighter editing. Particularly I want to spot errors and also, some reviewers for Ellipsis mentioned my descriptions as something which hampered the pace of the novel. It didn't seem that I used too much, more that the ones I did use were rather dense and heavy, hence putting them all together in a row made it slower in their eyes. I want to make sure I am even more succinct this time. Although, I do write how I write, and I wouldn't want to alter it too much just because of a few reviews.

Anyway, I am already thinking about my third novel, which I imagine must be a good thing. This must mean I feel like Semblance is doing well, like a child ready to be independent or something... Ideally, I will get back to writing poetry too. Lately, it's been focused mainly on death (not as morbid as it seems, I promise...) and to be fair, there's only so much you can write about that issue!

Any budding writers out there, any tips for editing your novel well? Despite having one novel out there, I still feel I have a lot to learn.

Until next time, hasta luego...

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