Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Recommended Read: Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain

Back cover blurb:

Since that awful day, Laura Brandon's little girl hasn't uttered a word.  When a psychiatrist suggests that Emma won't talk because she's terrified of men, Laura is guilt-ridden. To help Emma, she needs to know what unspeakable secret lies behind her husband's suicide.

Laura thought her family was perfect, but her quest leads her to a shocking truth.  For her child's sake, should her father's sins be kept silent?


When I was out with my husband quite recently and picked up Diane Chamberlain's book, Breaking the Silence, I knew it was a good story but I didn't expect it to be exemplary.  OK, maybe I am not in the position to say it is exemplary, I am not a highly-acclaimed critique but I must say, I have read many books and this is highly commendable.  The moment I began turning the pages, I was hooked.  I couldn't stop.

Every chapter in the book is linked to the next.  It has multiple plots and impressively written. From Laura's pendant in the beginning of the story to her daughter's inability to talk.  Every single sentence is carefully woven, interlacing each of them into the next part.

I love the way this novel was written.  Definitely my cup of tea.  It is not overly wordy.  I like Diane's style.  I will definitely read more of her!

How about you? What are you currently reading? What books do you recommend?

Disclaimer:  I purchased the book, Breaking the Silence.  My review was in no way influenced by the author or the publisher.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A Chat with Author Beth Webb

As promised, here is my surprise author interview.  Last year, I came across and read an enthralling story about a girl named Tegen.  I was enchanted by her and wanted to know more and find out if there's another book that continues her beautiful story.  In my search, I found out that there are four more books following Star Dancer, (Fire Dreamer and two more on their road to publication and one which intrigues me, Tegen's World)...and I also found the book's author, Beth Webb, on Facebook.  How cool is that?  I took the chance and asked Beth if she'd spare me some time for a blog interview and she so kindly said yes!  Yay!  I was so excited!  I'd like to thank you, Beth, for taking the time answering these questions despite your busy schedule.

Here's the interview, blog friends, I hope you enjoy it!

When did you find out you wanted to be a writer? 
Beth Webb:  I was about 3. I couldn't read or write, but I loved making 'books' with light bulb packets  (with a ballet dancer on) cut up to open like a book,  and folded pieces of paper inside, scribbled on. I remember being very frustrated that I couldn't make the writing as black as in a proper book.

What was your first job ever? 
Beth Webb:  I think I was a mother's help. I was a disaster. I got shouted at because i didn't know how to use an upright vacuum cleaner. (My mum had a cylinder one). I was 14.

Were you working full time when you began to seriously write and finish a novel?
Beth Webb:  Yes, I was illustrating books for adults with learning diabilites for St George's Hospital Medical School. I was also a full time mum of four. Don't ask me how I did it all - I have no idea. 

What was your first story ever written? 
BW:  Hummm... I can't really remember. When I was a teenager, there weren't many books for young adults, so I wrote my own episodes of 'Tha Man from UNCLE' (with me playing opposite David McCullum (Now 'Ducky' in NCIS), of course! My first published piece was when I was 15, I interviewed my fav rock group and sent it into a pop magasine.

Do you ever get a writer’s block?  If you do, how do you get rid of it and carry on writing?
BW:  Rarely. More like fatigue when I just feel too numb to keep going. For writer's block I go for a long walk, or blow lots of bubbles. One BIG rule with WB is NEVER to think, just chill and daydream. Lots of Mars Ice Cream helps (but makes me fat!). Another thing I do is to go to the book shop of library and get out LOTS of books and read for about a week - not to 'nick' ideas, but to refresh the brain and get back into gear.

How long does it take for you to finish the first draft?  

BW:  If it's 'flowing,' I can do a draft of a 60,000 word book in 6 weeks. If I'm struggling, a couple of years.

What do you consider your greatest achievement so far as a writer?

BW:  It's always the book I'm currently working on - so it's got to be Wave Hunter, out in May or June this year. After that it'll be something else. Probably Bk 4 of the Star Dancer seires - Stone Keeper. 

Who are the authors who inspire you? 
BW:  Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula le Guin, Katherine Langrish, Jenny Nimmo, C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien, Neil Gaiman. I could go on for ever.

What made you write for children and not adults?

BW:  I do write for adults, but haven't seriously tried to publish much. I love writing for children and young adults because the stories are faster, more to the point and less self-consciously 'literary'. Basically kids books are more fun both to read and to write. 

Do you write full time now?  If not, do you have a day job? Would you like to tell us about it?

BW:  I write almost full time. I also teach creative writing, mostly at local schools or Kilve Court When I'm not doing that, I'm helping my old dad.

Do you have a special place where you write?  Does it have to be really quiet or do you prefer some music?
BW:  I usually write in my study, where I'm sitting right now. I have a lovely big desk and a gentle AppleMac (my dearest friend, probably). I have to have absolute silence because music has rythyms that might spoil the rythyms of the words I'm trying to write.  I believe that even prose has to be written rythmycally, like poetry.

I've read Star Dancer and fell in love with Tegen and am still scared of Derowen.  I find her story very interesting and unique.  Where do you get your story ideas from?  Do you base your characters to real life people?
BW:  Story ideas have no manners, they pop up everywhere and all the time, crawling out of life's nooks and crannies. I just scrawl them down in a notebook. Some are more persistant than others. Those are the ones that tend to get written.

I also often use ancient myths and legends to give my stories structure. Eg, many of the stories Tegen tells and refers to (eg the one about the boar with the comb between his ears) comes from a wonderful collection of Welsh stories called the Mabinogion.

These sorts of tales are also are the nearest one can get to original Celtic storytelling art, so by referencing them, I hope to add real authentic flavour to my work.

As to the characters, they are rarely real-life people, I can only think of one actual incidence, the others tend to evolve from experiences and people I have known. For example, my sister and I were bullied relentlessly by 'Ma Bennett', an awful teacher at school. From her, I learned how to fear fierce old women. That fear I put into Tegen's experience of Derowen, but 'Derowen' isn't 'Ma Bennett' as such.

What advice would you give to writers aspiring to get published out there? 
BW:  You've got to really, really want to be published. It's a nasty, backbiting, tough world, but also loads of fun and thrilling. A bit like taming and riding a rather bad-tempered dragon, I'd guess. Also, It's important to think about why you want to be published? Is it the cudos, or just because you HAVE to tell stories? There are other ways of telling stories than being mainstream published that are less stressful, and maybe more effective (see my link to my Guardian blog - on 'Not Being Published' on my website

    1. Anything else you’d like to add?

BW:  Can I have a cup of tea now please?
Ooops, sorry, did I really forget to offer you a drink?  My apologies.  Let me get you a cup of tea....

Please visit Beth's website to find out more about her books! .

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Heartfelt Gratitude

I'd like to thank you for all the lovely and heartwarming comments you have left on my last post.  It is truly heartfelt and I really really appreciate them.  Thank you also to those wonderful people who sent me emails. I feel so blessed, so lucky to have found such beautiful people like you.  The world is indeed a better place because of you, all of you.  So, thank you.

The bad days are over, thank God.  My son goes back to school tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to spending the week having a regular routine again.

Lastly, I'm sure you have heard the bad news about Japan.  My heart also goes to all the people of Japan.  A good friend of mine lives in Chiba.  I'm glad to know she and her family are alright and I keep praying and hoping that they will continue to be safe.  Hugs to you, Menchu, Hiro, Yuuna and Yuuki.

Not a big post today.  I will be returning with a surprise author interview soon.

Stay safe, blog friends.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Don't we all have that Inner Strength?

Not too long ago, I deactivated a blog site which was all about my son, J.  I thought that it was unfair because he couldn't tell me if he agreed to the idea or not.  He is a special needs boy.  He cannot talk so he will never be able to tell me.  But today, just for today, I'd like to talk about him to answer some questions friends often ask me.  I must warn you, this will be an unusually long post.

"Do you cry each time something happens?"
"Where do you get your strength from?"
And, quite often, they say to me in sympathy, "It must be horrible for you."

I'd like to say, before you continue reading, that I don't want pity.  We are not an unfortunate family.  We are probably just different from the regular families you see around you.  But like everybody else, we have good days and bad days...and we've had a few bad days quite recently.  J had just been to the hospital again.  It was one of the many times when we had to call an ambulance.  He can be unwell all of a sudden - from  a seizure to a cough that we think is harmless but then turns into a nasty chest infection.  He is fragile and because he cannot walk, he is often prone to infections.

Stressful, you say.  And I say, yes.  But I guess one gets used to it.  How do I handle the stress? When something happens, I  become the supermum.  No, just kidding.  What I mean is, I just have to deal with the situation rationally.  It breaks my heart to see my son unwell.  But I cannot let panic or emotion get the better of me.  I have to think straight at all times - until I am sure J is safe.  And the family is alright.  Then I sit down and go with the pain.  Do I cry?  Yes, if I need to.  If it gets too much for me.  Let's face it, I'm still a human being.  I have to let the tears fall - to feel okay afterwards.

Very often, people say, "I wonder where you get your strength from."  Believe me, you have the same strength, too.  I can't remember if it was Julia Roberts who said something like this in a magazine interview:  "When you become a mother, you discover that strength in you that you never know you have."  But I say this, the kind of inner strength she talked about isn't only found when you become a mum.  Everyone has it and you discover it in you when you have to use it, when life throws something challenging at you.  Remember the saying, "What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger."

I always try to be positive.  To see the light at the end of the tunnel.  To continue to believe that when there's life, there's hope.  And the sun always shines after the rain (in the UK, it doesn't though.  It stays gloomy most days. That is unfortunate).  When we have good days, we enjoy them.  We love going out, having a meal together, shopping together.  J is adorable and we get a lot of joy from him.

I don't know how I stay positive.  I try my best to be.  In life, we always have a choice - to get depressed or to be happy.  To feel sorry for ourselves or get on with it and make the most out of it.  I feel down and out too, sometimes. But in the end, I always choose to not complain about life.  But to embrace it.

The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on water, but to walk on earth. (Chinese Proverb)

PS.  Thank you for the virtual hugs and love you send through your e-mails and phone calls.  They make me feel better.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

What are you reading?

So have you been reading lately? My March literary resolution is to go to at least two author readings at my local book store or library.  If my community does not have authors passing through, I can watch a reading on line.  After hearing from the author, I must read the book. Unfortunately there's not much going on where I live and I don't know a reading on line.  So, to make up for that, I am featuring an author this keep your eyes peeled, fellow bloggers and lovelies! *wide smile*

And what's more?  I have a line-up of interesting books to read this month.

I am also currently reading Breakthrough by Stephen Tremp and will be posting my review very soon.

And - did you know that Susan Schreyer's Levels of Deception is now available on Smashwords and Amazon! Yayyyy, Susan!  If you love mystery and suspense, you will love this, too!

And next month will be a BIG month because India Drummond's Ordinary Angels will be out! So exciting!

Oh, I'm not quite done yet, friends. Don't forget Talli Roland's The Hating Game! The books will be on the shelves on 9 March! Woot!!!  Available at bookshops and Amazon!  Congratulations, Talli!

To find out more about these books or to purchase, please click on the the images on the right hand sidebar of this blog and it will take you to the sites.

So, what are you reading?  Tell me about the story so I can add it up on my TBR list! :)

Happy Wednesday!!!