Great Reads: Books in Verse

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Books in verse are few and far between, but in my opinion, they are an absolute gold mine when you find them. I absolutely adore poetry, so when a book combines my love of verse into its pages, I’m always a fan. So here are some books in verse that I think are great!

1.

One by Sarah Crossan

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Grace and Tippi don’t like being stared and sneered at, but they’re used to it. They’re conjoined twins – united in blood and bone. What they want is to be looked at in turn, like the truly are two people. They want real friends. And what about love? But a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead for Tippi and Grace. One that could change their lives more than they ever asked for… – from Goodreads.com

I knew this book would be heart breaking, and guess what it was! I loved the story of Grace and Tippi and the end almost brought me to tears! The book is quite hefty in size, but honestly, it passes so quickly because you’re so swept up in the story. An absolute must read for lovers of Jandy Nelson!

2.

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

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On a sunny day in June, at the beach with her mom and brother, fifteen-year-old Jane Arrowood went for a swim. And then everything, absolutely everything, changed. Now she’s counting down the days until she returns to school with her fake arm, where she knows kids will whisper, “That’s her! That’s the Shark Girl,” as she passes. In the meantime there are only questions: Why did this happen? Why her? What about her art? What about her life? – from Goodreads.com

I have never, ever, read a book about someone who gets bitten by a shark! (But Jaws is on my TBR pile!) It was truly one of the most unique reads, and coupled with it being told in verse makes this book absolutely one of a kind. Jane deals with a huge loss that brings out symptoms of depression, which makes for really interesting reading considering Jane’s unique circumstances.

3.

Far from You by Lisa Schroeder

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Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn’t quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can by writing her music, losing herself in her love for her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife. But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half sister, she’ll face issues she’s been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful. Perhaps she’s not so alone after all…. – from Goodreads.com

Being a bereaved child and having a step family made it very easy to identify with Alice, and the need to believe in Angels and Spirits. This was another heartbreaking verse book that filled my heart right from page one!

This concludes my recommended reads in verse! Are any of these on your TBR list, or have I just convinced you to go on an Amazon binge spree? Let me know in the comments!

black butterfly – how would you feel

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How would you feel

if you were in

my position:

I’d like to see how you handled it.

 

People called me out

already, I’ve only known you

a few months.

It’s not what I feel

that bothers me. It’s the fact

that I do feel for you

at all.

I guess this letter

is going to be bitter, because I can’t stand the fact

that you’re with her, when I know I could give you

so much more.

 

I can’t stand the fact

you’d rather be with someone else

than with me, who lives

right next door.

 

I’m bitter because it makes me think

we could have had

each other, we were almost there.

I’m bitter because you’re getting the fairy tale

and it isn’t with me.

 

I wonder why

I feel this way, when you give me so much pain.

You’re scared

You’re shy

You’re insecure and yet

I’m scared

I’m shy

and insecure.

 

Do you remember that time

across the dinner table, you looked

at me.

You held my gaze

for a second longer than necessary. I hold onto the smallest things.

You looked

gorgeous that night, too.

 

I cried over you

and I hate myself

for it.

Great Reads: Poets

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I absolutely love reading poetry, and being a poet myself it would be silly not to love them. For me, poetry is as good as reading a short story, as whatever you’re doing, whether you’re snuggled in bed or on the tube to work, there is always time for a poem. Poems are bite sized chunks of emotions, with the ability to make you feel grounded at any time during the day. Below, I’ve listed some of the poets I think are great!

Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath is not only the most famous female poet on the planet, she’s also the most famous poet, period. Born in Boston, MA, she was diagnosed and sort treatment for depression, which inspired her to write her only novel The Bell Jar as well as many poems that were published in the eight anthologies she penned. Her most famous is Ariel that was published after her death by suicide. One of my absolute favourites from her collection is a poem titled Mrs Drake Proceeds to Supper, which you can find in her Selected Poems anthology, edited by her husband Ted Hughes.

Charles Bukowski

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Another poet that struggled with mental health, and alcohol addiction, was Charles Bukowski, who’s dirty realism of life in Los Angeles was captured perfectly in his poems and novels. In 1986, Time Magazine called Bukowski the “laureate of American lowlife”, which seems to perfectly resemble not only Bukowski’s outlook on life but also the tone in which he wrote. In 1962, the love of his life, Jane, died, which resulted in a lot of poetry as a way for Bukowski to cope with the bereavement. Like Plath, Bukowski also wrote an autobiographical novel about his life in the American Postal Service, aptly titled Post Office. One of my favourite poems that Bukowski wrote is a short and simple one titled Dark Night Poem. They say nothing is wasted / either that / or it all is.

ee cummings

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Another Massachusetts born poet is Edward Estlin Cummings, who was better known by his pen name ee cummings, and styled as such in most of his publications. Cummings is known for his unique style, abandoning any structure through favour of fluidity. He also wrote an autobiographical novel in 1922 titled The Enormous Room about his experience of being imprisoned in France during World War I. Throughout his life time, Cummings wrote approximately 3,000 poems most of which were chronicled in anthologies. One of my personal favourites from his collection comes from the selected poems of 1923-1958 anthology which begins “if there are any heavens…”

Carol Ann Duffy

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Moving onto one of the more contemporary poets on the list, we have the current Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. I first was exposed to Duffy’s writing at school when studying for my GCSEs where I read and loved her poems on Anne Hathaway and Miss Havisham, but many years later I found a second-hand anthology called The Kingfisher Book of Poems about Love where I was blown away by her poem titled Words, Wide Night. Lets just say, there is a reason Duffy is the Laureate of Poetry.

Roald Dahl

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Roald Dahl is the pioneer of children’s literature, having written seventeen books over his lifetime. He also wrote two poetry anthologies for children, one titled Revolting Rhymes, which gave a new spin on original fairy tales like Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. The other anthology was called Dirty Beasts, and in true Dahl fashion, made us feel sick to our stomaches in a way only Roald Dahl could achieve.

So there we have it. Here is the top five list of poets I think really are worth reading. Are any of these poets in your favourites list? Or do you have a recommendation for me to get my teeth into? Let me know in the comments!

#CampNaNoWriMo – Week 4

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I did it! I managed to write 50,000 words in 30 days! AGAIN!

This last week has been a real uphill struggle for me, as I really felt like I was burning out, but I managed it none the less. At the end of week three, I managed to stretch ahead and get back on target as I was a day or so behind on my word count. It’s funny how just skipping out on one day can sometimes really make you struggle to get on target again, but I did it, and in the final week four, all I had to write was a further ten thousand.

Most of that ten thousand went on back story, filling in the gaps and structure. In my story, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes that the main protagonists don’t know about, that it’s important for me to get straight in my head what’s happening so I can correctly convey the story and how much information to reveal to the characters and when. Some of this information I translated into the story in different ways, some I left as “extras” for myself to refer to. I did consider a multiple POV at one stage, but firstly, I would have had to go back and interject the other points of view which seemed like a lot of work, and secondly, it really felt much more powerful and harrowing if we kept the characters, and to the same extent the readers, in the dark about the true nature of what’s going on outside of their circle.

My plan moving forward with this story is to be more ruthless with the structure, as I really just let the words flow without worrying too much about what was going in which chapter. I don’t know when I’ll be revising the piece, as right now I’m going to be taking a well-earned rest from writing, but hopefully soon. I also want to write in, and incorporate, lots of other short stories and creative works that really formed the foundations of this book. I had the initial idea in my first year of university which was almost six years ago now, and there’s a lot in what I wrote then that I want to rework into the form it is now. I’m really, really proud of what I’ve been able to achieve with this story, and it’s true what they say about never throwing anything away. You don’t know when it’s going to crop back up into your mind again, in different clothing or fully formed.

How did your April #CampNaNoWriMo go? Did you manage to complete your word count? Or did you find it as difficult as I did? Let me know in the comments!

#CampNaNoWriMo – Week 3

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This blog post comes a day late due to technical difficulties with my WiFi and also with my laptop. I’ve managed to push through and so here we are! These are the stats for my week three stint of CampNaNoWriMo.

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As you can see I’ve been lagging about a day behind with my writing due to the day I missed. It was a simple case of life getting in the way and so my creative project suffered for it. I know lots of writers have a similar problem balancing those areas of their lives, and I definitely struggled with balancing mine last week. Having said that, I only missed one day of writing, and have continued on never the less.

Last night was actually the night where I had a break through with my piece. I was in the shower, which is one of the many places I find I have good ideas, and it felt like a light bulb had been switched on over my head. At risk of giving too much of the plot away, it concerned something that I had been struggling with for a few days. I knew what I wanted my characters to get, or achieve, but I didn’t know how to get them there, or really what “there” looked like. I got there in the end, and it gives me hope that eventually I’ll be able to work all the kinks out and have a really strong arc if I just give myself the time.

I’ve also been considering the structure of the novel this week. I had originally split the piece into three parts as I usually do to help with structure, but it the plot has presented itself in very straightforward “before” and “after” pieces. The “after” section that I’ve been working on has, for the majority, been made up of the part three section of the story, and so I’m thinking it’s going to be a much more fluid, and full of pace, if I move with where the story takes me and leave figuring out the structure to a later draft. At the moment, I’m only concerned with getting my characters from A to B, and getting the words down.

With my writing epiphany yesterday, I happily only have ten thousand words left to write of my piece, which is going to lift a lot of pressure from this final week. I feel like I’ve asked and answered a lot of questions, and I’ve really been smoothing out areas of the plot that were very grey, and almost invisible to me at the start.

I hope your third week of CampNaNoWriMo has been going well. Have you had a similar journey to me this April? Let me know in the comments!

#CampNaNoWriMo – Week 2

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This week’s blog post comes a little later than usual, as in the past twenty four hours I haven’t been doing as much writing as I should have. As is the usual with most of my NaNoWriMo attempts, the second week has been incredibly difficult compared to the first. I have frequently lost my writing thread, and due to a combination of reality and emotional stamina, and because of this I haven’t arrived at the place I wished I had by now. Having said that, after I complete today’s word count, I’ll be halfway through my manuscript. My goals are still within reach. And I know that I’m being incredibly hard on myself because I’m a perfectionist.

My writing this week has had me jumping all over the place. I wrote sections of the last third of the novel, the epilogue and of course more of the beginning. I like to know where my characters are going to end up. It gives me a much clearer goal for them, and me, to strive for. However, trying to piece all of these bits together has proved challenging. Having said that, if I’d had to write in a linear fashion, I would have been stuck by the various ideas I’ve had along the way. It’s swings and roundabouts.

Coming into the third week, I’m hoping to pick up the pace and get on target with my daily word count again. I’m also back to work after having two weeks off which will help me establish a routine. I just need to make sure that I’m striving every day to get the words down on paper, and not let the weight of the struggle keep me from achieving. I’m going to try and get some of the middle section of the novel done so that I can string together the beginning of the last third I wrote in the first week. Being able to do that will make me much more confident and give me a direction.

It’s so important to get words down on paper during this time and worry about them after wards! I hope everyone is still doing well with their CampNaNoWriMo challenges? Let me know in the comments!

Preparing for #CampNaNoWriMo2017

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I absolutely love participating in NaNoWriMo whether it be the Camp edition in April/July or the regular write-along in November. There’s something so infectious about setting time aside to write and celebrating the art of words with people all over the internet.

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time last April and really, really enjoyed it. What I liked was that the Camp edition has the added bonus of cabins, which means you get put into a chat room with other writers where you can spur each other on, ask questions and get feedback. This is something that isn’t available in the November challenge.

This April, I’m going to be working on a brand new story! The last three attempts at a NaNo challenge, I’ve written completely new ideas. So I’ve begun to structure my first writing project of 2017 in preparation. As usual, I like to break it down, usually into three parts, and I give myself 20,000 words per part. That way, I have a 10,000 word grace period if I’m feeling stuck. (And sixty goes into three better than fifty does!)

Also, following the trend of my last few projects, I’ll be tackling a new genre. This time I’m going to try and combat magical realism, but it will of course be YA because I can’t stray too far from who I truly am as a writer. I, so far, have never written magical realism before, even though I’ve had this seed of an idea in my head for years. I’m looking forward to the new challenge.

I don’t want to give too much away about the plot yet but it’s certainly going to be mysterious, because again, I can’t stray too far from who I am. I love mystery! And packed full of drama. I also have a working-title too: The Elementals.

I’ve also dedicated a new notebook to this entirely new project which is always exciting for us stationary fiends. I’ve been carrying it around with me and filling it up with new ideas for the book, letting my imagination run wild and really mulling over the story before I put it down into words. I’ve been dreaming it up before I go to bed, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil and whilst waiting for a train. In my opinion, it’s in those blank spaces of life where we write our best work.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to in the run up to Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ll be doing weekly updates here as usual, so I hope you’ll enjoy hearing about my (hopefully, fruitful) progress.

Are you going to be doing Camp NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are you writing this year? A new project or an old favourite? Are you waiting until November to get your write on? Let me know in the comments!

#NaNoWriMo – Week 1

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It’s that time of year again where we all hunch over our computers and try to bash out a novel in a month! Does it sound mad? Yes. But there’s method in our madness. Have a look and see how I did in my first week of NaNoWriMo2016.

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When I realised NaNoWriMo was coming around again, I knew for definite that I was going to be participating. I’d been mulling over an idea in my head for a few months and after developing it in a notebook, it was finally time to unleash it in a word document. I wasn’t at all apprehensive because I knew I had completed a 50k NaNo Project twice already, and so knew I could do it again.

The story I have decided to write this year is a futuristic novel set in a regressive society that mirrors Elizabethan England. World War three has destroyed the earth and the humans left over are rebuilding society from the World’s previous blueprint. Beatrice, the rightful Queen of the Republic of Karelia returns to her Kingdom to reclaim her throne since she has come of age, and must neutralise a threat of invasion from her neighbouring Kingdom.

My aim was primarily to keep to the word count for everyday and get ahead on words if possible so that on the days where I’m feeling less inspired I don’t have to torture myself into completing the required amount. I did hit a few issues especially during the middle of the week. For me the problem wasn’t finding time to write, it was typing the standard “housekeeping” scenes and and trying to push through to get to more exciting scenes where the action rose. I also have never written a story that involved world building before. It was a lot of fun building my own world in the preparation stage, but putting it into a story and making it work was entirely different altogether. I struggled not “info dumping” or leaving out the world building all together (and so thus confuse the reader), and have tried to keep it in a healthy balance.

This first week I completed nearly the first quarter of my book, which is brilliant progress! By the end of next week I hope to have achieved the half way point at twenty five thousand words.

Popular Books I’ve Not Read (Yet!)

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When talking about books, so many people love to gasp in horror that I’ve not read their favourites, but in my 25 short years I guess I just haven’t got around to it yet! Here are the top books that I haven’t had the chance to pick up (yet).

These books are in no particular order.

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

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In a sleepy village in the Shire, a young hobbit is entrusted with an immense task. He must make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ruling Ring of Power – the only thing that prevents the Dark Lord’s evil dominion. – from Goodreads.com

The amount of people that have told me I MUST read LoTR, especially since I am such a fan of fantasy, but I completely missed the boat when it comes to this series. It has such an incredibly large following and many dedicated readers, and I know one day I’ll finally get around to picking this series up.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

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Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. – from Goodreads.com

A few years ago this book BURST onto the scene, and garnered the same popularity that Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train earned in it’s wake. To be honest, I don’t know why I haven’t got round to reading it yet because it’s right up my alley, so perhaps I’ll place it higher up on my TBR from now on.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? – from Goodreads.com

Again, speaking of Gone Girl, it’s another book I haven’t gotten around to reading yet which is crazy because I love mystery/thrillers. I have seen the movie adaptation though which was a crazy ride in itself, but I’m hoping to complete the experience by reading the book one day.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

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Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with her foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall. – from Goodreads.com

Just about everyone and their mothers have read this book and I can understand why, it is narrated by death after all, which is enough to make me pick it up too. It’s just a case of ‘so many books and so little time’ but it’s definitely one I’ll be eyeing up once my TBR pile gets a bit lower.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

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When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? – from Goodreads.com

Like many other hardcore Potterheads, I ran to my nearest bookstore and pre-ordered The Casual Vacancy when it was announced. Soon, the gorgeous hardback was in my hands but then the reviews started to roll in and I got scared. I didn’t want anything to tarnish my precious JK Rowling, so I put the book down, un-read and waited… and waited… and never picked it back up again. I know I’ll read it one day and I know I’ll probably love it as it’s similar to one of my favourite movies Hot Fuzz, so I’m quite happy that this little gem is waiting for me for a rainy day.

So these are the top five books I’ve got on my ‘long list TBR’. Do you have them on yours too? What other books have you not gotten around to reading yet? Let me know in the comments!

 

Preparing for #NaNoWriMo2016

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I never thought I would ever finish my book, let alone have written two before I turned 25. That’s a crazy achievement for me, and it’s all thanks to NaNoWriMo. Four years before I first participated, the thought of doing a month long writing sprint filled me with anxiety. But once I found ways to prepare and manage my idea, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. So here are a few tips and tricks to get you going.

  • Find an idea you’re happy with

Writing your novel won’t be enjoyable unless you genuinely like what you’re writing! If you’re stuck for ideas, or simply want some help to guide you through the writers block, see my blog post on writing a book here.

  • Make an outline

Some people are pants-ers, some people are planners. I am personally a planner, and I feel so much more relaxed when I have an outline of a scene in my head ready to be written. Sometimes I’ll even write the dialogue in script form, just so I can get it down on the page and then convert it to prose later on.

  • Make a schedule

This is coming from a certified planner! However, designating time in your day to sit down and write will help you achieve the 1,667 words you need to win. It could be an hour before you go to work, on your commute, during your lunch break, after work or even before bed. I always find I work better in the late afternoons/evenings, so I always make sure I’m sitting poised and ready to write by then.

  • Enter in your novel

On the NaNoWriMo website, you can start entering in your novel from early October. The sooner you do it, the more committed you will be to the project. You can even upload a book cover as well, so until November comes you can get creative and make something that fully represents the novel you intend to write.

  • Add your friends!

Something that kept me going during the first NaNoWriMo I did was seeing how my friends were progressing throughout the month. Whether it’s a healthy competition or just checking in and talking through ideas, having friends by your side always makes the experience more enjoyable.

Add me to your buddy list here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/clareholmanhobbs

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Either add me to the buddy list or let me know down in the comments what you intend on writing this year. Happy writing!

National Novel Writing Month begins on November 1st and continues until November 30th. Each participant aims to write 50,000 words in a month, which averages out at 1,667 words a day. You can find all the information on the project at the website: nanowrimo.org