A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Goodreads Average Rating: 3.95 out of 5

Genre: Adventure, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Alternate Universe

‘My hand shakes as I brace myself against the brick wall. Rain falls cold and sharp against my skin, from a sky I’ve never seen before. It’s hard to catch my breath, to get any sense of where I am. All I know is that the Firebird worked. It hangs around my neck, still glowing with the heat of the journey.’

– Claudia Gray, A Thousand Pieces of You – Chapter 1

 

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray Book CoverA Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray is the first book in the ‘Firebird’ series. The story follows Marguerite Caine who hunts the man that she believes is responsible for killing her father. Using a device, created by her parents, called the Firebird; Marguerite jumps into multiple alternative universes to chase her father’s murderer down. However, the truth is fair from what she expected.

The one thing that attracted my eye to this novel was the amazing cover design. The colours and image just screamed at me to pick it up off the shelf. I am so glad that I did.

From the beginning Claudia Gray kept me in the story. We jump straight in to Marguerite’s story and I spent the whole novel waiting to see what would happen. The characters in the novel kept me interested and intrigued, and they all felt real. One of the best things for me is to read a book and feel like the characters are real people. Claudia Gray did it well in this story.

The storyline was a quick and easy read, I didn’t have any trouble keeping up with the story and there was no confusion. The story didn’t fall flat and there was always something that would happen that you didn’t expect. It is a story that keeps you guessing what will happen next.

I loved the overall settings that the story took place in, an advanced futuristic London and an not so advanced past Russia. Even though these types of places are miles apart they fit together well.

One of my favourite things throughout the story was Marguerite’s love for her family, friends and romantic interest. There was never any part in the story where Marguerite would seem to forget them or be too interested in doing something else, everyone she cares for is constantly on her mind. It made her out to be such a loveable character, to me, that you can’t help but cheer for her to succeed.

I am so excited to jump right into the sequel, Ten Thousand Skies Above You, and see what will happen next.


Other Books in the Firebird Series:
– Ten Thousand Skies Above You – Book 2
– A Million Worlds With You – Book 3 (releases on 1 November, 2016)

 

Show Me, Don’t Tell Me

Old school typewriter

Have you ever heard the saying: ‘Show, don’t tell.’

Because I have. For the past two and a bit years, this saying has been drilled into my head by teachers and writers. This simple phrase can help a write in many ways and it can sound a bit confusing, someone even told me once that it sounded like a daunting task. ‘Show, don’t tell’ is relativity simple.

To use ‘show, don’t tell,’ you first need to understand when writers mean when they say this to you. This saying breaks down into two parts; tell and show. Tell is simply when a write tells you what is happening, it is simple exposition. Show is when a writer uses evocative description.

Examples:

  • Tell – The wind was cold.
  • Show – The icy cold breeze seeped in through her thin dress, covering her in goose bumps.

 

  • Tell – She was wet.
  • Show – The water dripped from the ends of her hair, and off the edge of her fingers.

 

See how show gives you a vivid image while tell is simple and to the point, but it is completely boring. You want something to excite the reader, something that gets them to read on and maybe go and buy any other novels that you have.

See it. Hear it. Smell it. Taste it. Touch it.

The five senses are a writers best friend when it comes to ‘show, don’t tell.’ This is the main tool, in my opinion, that you will use to remove the ‘tell’ and reveal the ‘show’ in your writing. They help you really delve deep into the world that your character is in.

When you first start writing a scene and your not really sure who to describe it, then write the scene using simple descriptions. Once the scene is finished then go back and add in your sensory detail. What does the place smell like? What can your characters see around them that stands out? What can they hear? If they are laying on grass, for example, is it itchy? Is it soft? Is it wet? Small details like these gives readers a clear image of what the world is like for your characters.

For example:

  • Without Sensory Detail: The meadow was large and open. Filled with grass, and surrounded by a fence. In the centre was a tall tree, its leaves hung over a small damn.

In the example, you can see that readers can understand the place the writer is explaining. Its a meadow with a tree and a damn. But to make it even better think about the senses. What can the character see, smell, taste, touch and feel? Simple questions that can improve the overall imagery.

  • With Sensory Detail: The meadow stretched on for miles, surrounded by an old broken wooden fence. The grass stood tall and gently swayed from side to side. In the middle of the meadow stool a tall large willow trees, its leaves hanging from its long branches just over the surface of a small damn.

The differences might be a few words here and there but detailed description is important. You don’t want anyone reading your work to think its boring. If you think you need practice then simple look up a writing prompt or a story idea, and just practice your descriptions. As they say, practice makes perfect.


These links can give you more information for ‘show, don’t tell’ and hopefully help you some more.

Who’s Afraid by Maria Lewis

Goodreads Average Rating: 3.83 out of 5

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Shapeshifters

“I wasn’t sure how long I’d been running for or how much land I’d covered. When I felt the ground start to rise slowly uphill I knew it was a good sign. I was moving forward and not in circles. It was about the only thing that had gone right for me so far. The second I thought that, a red-hot stabbing pain burned along my spine. I yelled out and fell to my knees.”

– Who’s Afraid by Maria Lewis – Prologue

Book cover for a novel by Maria Lewis called Who's AfraidWho’s Afraid by Maria Lewis follows the story of Tommi, a young woman who has recently lost her mother and violently discovers her birthright as the world’s most powerful werewolf. The beginning of a new series is full of characters you will come to love.

This book was another birthday present this year from my sister. Compared to After She’s Gone by Lisa Jackson, this book liked right up my alley. The front cover, to me, screamed supernatural badassery and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

The story is a smooth flowing and a very quick and easy read. The main character Tommi kept me interested from the very first pages and the more I learned about her the more I wanted to follow her. She is a unique character who is hard to forget with her bright blue hair and her strong will.

The overall story kept me waiting for what would happen next and anticipation was building up inside. I kept guessing when certain things would happen, since I like predicting how a story will go, but was completely surprised when I got it wrong. And the way the story ended shocked me completely, I didn’t at all expect it to end up like that.

There wasn’t really anything in the story that disappointed me, nothing I can complain about. It was a fun and interesting read that made me want more when it ended. Anyone who loves a good paranormal, or shifter, action packed romance story is in for a treat when they read this.

The sequel is due for released on the 17 January, 2017.

Writing A Crime Novel Part 1 – Planning

Photo of Police Tape, saying 'Police Line Do Not Cross'.
By Tony Webster (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Crime Novels are a whole new type of world to some readers. For a reader who has never picked up or read a crime novel inside they will find a new experience. Most readers will either love it, or hate it. Crime is a very divided genre and many readers will love knuckling down with a good murder mystery, but others have better things to do (or better things to read) in their spare time.

“Murder mysteries are puzzles that are fun to resolve.”
– Kathy Reichs

As an aspiring author, crime has been one of the genres I have wanted to write for; along with fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary. I want to join the ranks of famous crime novelists who are talked about for their fascinating killers and intriguing plot twists. And this is me giving it a go.

I have dipped my toes in a bit of crime writing but never really sat down and planned a whole novel based on a murder mystery. Now I have started. Since beginning my crime novel has started not even two weeks after I have began this blog, I figured it could possibly be an interesting post series that I could update every fortnight on what I do with writing my crime story. I want to chat about planning and characters, and the issues I have along with the successes (or what I think is successful anyway). And I want to do this without giving any sort of spoilers away.

“There are two kinds of people who sit around all day thinking about killing people…mystery writers and serial killers. I’m the kind that pays better.”
― Richard Castle

Planning

Sitting down to plan my crime novel I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what I wanted to write about. The clear thing to me was it had to be about a ‘crime’, which might sound obvious and a dump thing to say, but I knew if I didn’t think about the ‘crime’ aspect first then I would most likely forget all about it. That gave me the first thing I knew I need to do.

The Crime. The Victims. The Killer.

With every crime comes a victim or multiple victims. So what did I want to do? Did I want a serial killer or person would it be a missing persons case. I was watching an episode of ‘Criminal Minds’ as I was thinking about it and I knew I wanted to do a story about a serial killer, who had killed multiple people and would kill many more until they were stopped.

Before I decided on who my killer was I chose their victims. Creating them one by one, I slowly picked little details here and there and the story wrote itself. I knew how every victim would die and why the killer chose them. The actual crime seemed to write itself, and the more I knew about the victims the more I knew about the killer.

The next step to me was to create my killer. Who was my killer as a person? What was their life like? Their struggles and the successes? What drove them to kill? Love? Family? Friendship? Or was it something mental? As seen with many crime shows; ‘Criminal Minds’, ‘Law and Order: SVU’, and ‘Bones’, there are many different reasons why people kill or commit crimes. In ‘Criminal Minds’ there is generally a mental cause. In ‘Bones’ it normally has to do with money, love, sex, betrayal, etc. With my victims laid out all the questions I asked came flooding out and I had a killer written before me on the page and I was happy.

Next…

When I plan a story I normally begin with my main character. Who this person is? What they do? What is their deep desire that is hiding within? But I found that I couldn’t really think of anyone. Nothing seemed to create a spark or get my creativity flowing. However, having my victims and my killer, I found ideas jumped out at me and told me who my main character would be. But that is for next time.

‘The way to write a thriller is to ask a question at the beginning, and answer it at the end.’

– Lee Child


REFERENCES

The quotes on this blog post were found from these websites

 

After She’s Gone by Lisa Jackson

Goodreads Average Rating: 3.51 out of 5

‘He watched. Carefully. Paying attention to every detail as the rain sheeted the night-dark sky and streetlights reflected on the wet pavement.Two women were running, faster and faster, and he smiled as the first passed into the lamp’s pool of illumination. her face twisted in terror; her beautiful features distorted by fear.’

– Lisa Jackson, After She’s Gone – Prologue

Novel by Lisa Jackson, After She's Gone, Australian CoverAfter She’s Gone follows the story of Cassie Kramer and what happens after her younger sister and movie star, Allie, goes missing. Cassie deals with her own sanity while trying to find out what happened to her sister. The third instalment of Lisa Jackson’s Northwest series. This book brings a new mystery for readers to enjoy.

Much like Stephen King, I never heard of Lisa Jackson when I was given this novel. After She’s Gone was given to me, from my sister, for my birthday this year. At first glance I wasn’t sure what my sister had brought me, but as we are all told from a young age: ‘Never judge a book by its cover.’ Flipping over to inspect the book further, I couldn’t help but feel intrigued to read it soon as possible.

The opening to After She’s Gone is one of my favourite ways to open a story. Without giving it away, I was pleasantly surprised by how Lisa Jackson twisted the beginning to not confuse her readers, but surprise them. It filled me with excitement for the story to come and I wasn’t disappointed.

The overall story was filled with twists and turns that kept me guessing and I loved how Lisa Jackson wrapped the story up. I found it satisfying and was sad the book came to a end. The character interest me and I wanted to know more and more about them.

I feel the story has a bit of everything for most readers. If your not really interested in a mystery than you probably wouldn’t bother buying this novel, but there is plenty of stuff going on. There are family issue, sibling rivalry, mental issues, lover quarrels, etc. the list is endless. I like how the story touched on all these issues and they really made the characters feel like real people.

However, Lisa Jackson did spend a lot of time with Cassie’s internal dialogue. I felt like the story wasn’t balanced enough. It seemed like there was more time spent in Cassie’s head than experiencing the world around her. The pace also dragged a bit more than I would have liked.

The over all experience of After She’s Gone was interesting and an good read.

Character Profile

Character profiles can be one of the most important elements when writing. They can help characters seem vivid, real, and alive. The purpose of a character profile is: to assist the writer in creating a character that is as lifelike as possible and to help with continuity issues in the story. It is a simple tool that can help organise your thoughts and ideas about a certain character, and it can help keep track of a character’s idiosyncrasies and relationships. It can also help you think about certain traits or details that you would never have consider about your character.

If, however, you want to write a character from the ground up, a character who is as real as any person living, yet wholly your own creation, then there are three aspects you need to know in depth: the physical, sociological and psychological.
— mooderino, quote from The Three Dimensions of Character

Character profiles are something that I personally don’t always like to use. When I first begin writing a story I like to discover the character as I write. The more I get into the story, the deeper I dig, the more I learn who my character is.

Even if you find the bad guy generally repulsive, you need to be able to put yourself so thoroughly into his shoes while you’re writing him that, just for those moments, you almost believe his slant yourself.
— K.M. Weiland, quote from Maybe Your Bad Guy Is RIGHT!

In some situations though, you can find yourself struggling to move through the story. This can be for a number of reason, but one common reason is because you don’t know your character well enough. An easy way to do this is to answer some questions and you can begin to see your character in a new way. You understand them, and new twists and turns in your story can become clear.

Usually, we combine internal and external conflicts for a richer story. That means we have to understand how our characters approach and resolve conflict.
— Jami Gold, quote from Using Conflict to Understand Our Characters

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The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King


Goodreads Average Rating: 
3.96 out of 5

“I’ve made some things for you, Constant Reader; you see them laid out before you in the moonlight. But before you look at the little handcrafted treasures I have for sale, let’s talk about them for a bit, shall we? It won’t take long. Here, sit down beside me. And do come a little closer. I don’t bite. Except…we’ve known each other for a very long time, and I suspect you know that’s not entirely true. Is it?” – Stephen King, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Introduction

51tR6+p5KSL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_I am new to the world of Stephen King but what I have read so far I have enjoyed. I first stepped into the world of the ‘King’ in 2015 when I read his novel Revival. The book was something that intrigued me from the first page and kept me flipping. When I found The Bazaar of Bad Dreams at my local Kmart I took it right off the shelf and brought it home with me. I didn’t bother a glance inside or at the blurb to see what it had to offer. All I knew was that I wanted to explore another world just like the one Stephen King had provided in Revival. (I didn’t even realise till I got home that the book was a collection of short stories.)

Some readers think that buying a book without looking it up or at least having a glance through to see if it is something that would interest you is silly. Normally I would agree with those readers, since I am a cautious reader. However, reading Revival introduced me to a whole knew author who I knew existed but had never explored. The end of Revival left me wanting more of Stephen King’s work and that desire came flooding back when The Bazaar of Bad Dreams appeared.

I am pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint. I wasn’t left sitting in my room at 2 am wondering why I wasted my money. I wasn’t thinking why didn’t I look it up first. I was left sitting on my train halfway between Laverton and Newport sad that it had come to an end. This collection of shorts stories sent me through a whirlwind of emotions from immensely intrigued to snorting with laughter. I loved Stephen King’s dark humour and plot twists; his cliff-hanger endings were exciting and left me with a fun cluster of built up curiosity.

Putting the book down at night to sleep, or closing the book and putting it away to get off the train was hard. I love it when a book pulls me in so much that I just can’t get enough of it. It is hard to find a book that keeps me wanting more. In this case it is an author I want more of and cannot wait to pick up more and more of Stephen King’s books.