Love is in the air…

For some of you Valentines Day is an excuse to shower that special someone with cards, flowers, gifts and attention. For others it’s a black hole of loathing with thoughts of revenge and regret and a fervent wish you could squash your useless ex like a bug. For most though, it’s a day like every other and one more opportunity to be grateful for the important people in your lives and to cherish the small moments of love and thoughtfulness I hope you all experience. 

Now, for those of you in a loving mood today, I thought to focus on Love as we know it in fiction! Have I told you my novel is a love story? No, well it is! I’m hoping eventually it will be a fantastic love story full of life’s ups and downs, the little things we do to show we care, the new and the familiar, the lost, the forgotten and the heartbreakingly honest.

Until then though, and because I love a good list… Here are my Top 10 favourite love stories in fiction!

  1. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
  2. Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness
  3. Me before You – Jojo Moyes
  4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  5. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  6. Call me by your name – André Aciman
  7. The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
  8. The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
  9. The Fault in our Stars – John Green
  10. Until the end of the World – Sarah Lyons Flemming

I could tell you why they’re my favourites, but I don’t want to spoil them for anyone who hasn’t read them yet and you can make up your own minds as to whether these deserve a spot in your Top 10!

If you don’t have plans for Valentines Day – curl up with a good love story! That’s what I plan to do! If you’re looking for your next read, you could try out one of my recommendations above or check out these other lists here and here. And if you have any brilliant suggestions for me – don’t hesitate to post them in the comments below!

Happy Valentines Day!

Getting the feedback you need…

Having tentatively taken my first steps along the road of writing a novel, it has occurred to me to wonder – is what I’m writing any good??? Should I even bother spending hours and hours on something that may just be “meh”? I noticed last week that, having written my first scenes, I was quite happy with the tone I could see forming… Then a few days passed, I read through them again and wondered what on earth I was doing!

At this point, chucking in the towel feels fairly justified… but then I remember why I’m doing this. I pull on my big girl pants, roll my shoulders, stretch my fingers, tighten the non existent hairband in my short cropped hair and try again. The visual you’re probably sat with now has me chuckling (sorry, not sorry). Seriously though, am I the only one who feels sitting down to write is like preparing to run a marathon? Any who… I digress.

So, I’m sat here in my little writing bubble and wondering if I was half asleep when I wrote my last scene, doubting I have what it takes to be an author – a good one that is – and thinking I should just give in whilst I’m ahead. Can I look at this objectively and see what a potential reader will see? Not a snowball’s chance in hell! I’m already blind to any faults and inconsistencies, problems and pitfalls. I need feedback from someone with fresh eyes. I need a kind, but honest voice of reason that can tell me to forge ahead or pack it in! I need… an Alpha Reader!

Alpha Reader? Yup. Alpha as in first. As in top dog. As in A* reader! A few months ago I had no idea alpha readers even existed. Their job? To read your first fumbling efforts at fiction and tell you what works and what doesn’t. Your alpha reader is someone you can trust, who won’t mind reading your craptastic spelling and grammar and telling you what parts they adored and what parts they didn’t quite understand, what characters they loved and what characters they felt need more attention. Your alpha reader is also someone who will encourage you to keep going and give you some helpful hints.

I’m happy to say I have 3 very lucky (to my mind) alpha readers who have said they are more than willing to read what I write and give me some highly appreciated feedback! This puts me in the “I have the best husband and friends in the world” box and I know you will all agree, writing just got a whole lot easier… Not? Well, maybe not. But at least now I can get a feel for what works outside of my bubble and that will make the next step a little less daunting to take!