Friday, 22 August 2014

How Important is Routine to a Writer?


I've been reading a lot lately about the importance of routine for different writers. This got me thinking about my own routine. Do I actually have one? Would I be a more productive writer if I did have one? How easily am I swayed from my routine by other factors? All good questions which make me wonder.

In some ways I do have a routine. It tends to follow this pattern.

Early am - Deal with social media

am - write

Lunch - when hunger strikes

pm write and/or edit

evening - free time.

Now you will realise from this that I have no fixed set times for working. These timelines are fluid and flexible. This means that other factors can easily get in the way. So my plan is to write a more sensible timetable and stick to it. The idea is to see if I become a more productive writer and my output increases. 

The last question is, how easily am I swayed from what I am doing by external factors is the one which I found most illuminating. I am the first to admit I am a bit of a social media junkie and I can very easily be swayed from what I am doing by notifications from various social media sites. I have come to realise that this can take up a large proportion of my writing day. Although I say that this can build up my fan base and allow me to interact with others, it is still time taken away from my core job which is writing. I recently attended the Cromarty Crime Writing Festival. During this Ian Rankin spoke about his writing routine. He writes on a computer so old, it has no internet action. This is a deliberate ploy so that he is not distracted by going on to the internet every five minutes. Whilst I appreciate that this is a great solution, I cannot see it working for me. As you can see from the photo above, I write on an iMac and I am not entirely sure I want to disconnect if from the internet. I can, however, switch off notifications. This should stop me responding to every message which comes through. He also said part of his routine is eating snickers bars. if I took that tip on board I would be the size of a house. So maybe I will need to think of something else.

I am also good at being distracted by friends and family who want me to go and do things. I am both an adventurous, and social person, so I usually respond by saying Yes. Maybe I should do slightly less of this, but in all honesty, often it can be put down to research. I may be out but I am always thinking about things which could go in a book.

I have discovered I am a person who likes a clean and tidy desk in order to write. This is illustrated of the picture of my writing desk above. I have a very large office, but one part of it is a utility room. Given I live in Scotland there is a lot of inclement weather which means my washing is hanging up in  my office, drying. Thinking about this, it really irritates me and puts me off my stride. In future I am going to hang the washing up elsewhere. One less distraction and more time for writing.

So I am off to put what I have discovered in to practice. For all my reader friends I hope you have found this glimpse into a writer's life interesting. To all my writer friends I will leave you with two questions. What distracts you? Do you have a writing routine, and if so what is it? Please share in the comments below and help other writers, myself included. 

Bye for now Bookaholics. See you all back here soon. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Bad Christian's Manifesto by Dave Tomlinson


Today's book is a completely different type of Christian book. 

Dave Tomlinson is a Church of England Vicar who opens the church doors to all those whom society may reject. The tagline says reinventing God and this is what and this is what Dave Tomlinson does, both in the pages of this book and in real life. Not a total reinvention per se, but reinventing the way we look at God.

It is obvious that Dave is a deep thinker and has a love for God's people that shines of the pages of this book. Some of the things he says in the book resonate with me and I am sure will resonate with many other readers. This is not an easy read in that it makes you think about the prejudices that you may hold. Many of these are deep seated and come from the view of the Church in which you grew up. Dave challenges us to let go of these prejudices and to enter into dialogue with the people of God. He asks us to get to know people better and to demonstrate God's love and compassion to them.

Do I believe that this book is necessary for the times in which we live. Yes.
Do I agree with every single word which is written. No. However, this is true of many other books Christian, or non Christian, which I read.
Do I think Christian's should read this book. A categorical Yes, with no qualifications.

I would recommend this book to all Christians. In today's society we all need to think about how we react to, and treat, people. It ill help you to think about the way you are demonstrating the love of God in the world today. 

Please note that the book is not available for purchase until 11 09 14. Following the link you will be able to preorder the book.

  

To my US readers I apologise there is no link. You can find the book by searching on Amazon US. 

That's it for another day on Bookaholic. See you all again soon with another great review. Until then grab yourself a new book and keep reading.

I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review. I was not, at any time, asked to provide a positive review. The review is based on my reading of and enjoyment of the book. 




Friday, 15 August 2014

Button Books by Joyce Mitchell



I continue the surprise in my eclectic reading collection today by bringing you three adorable little children's books. Yes, I know that's unusual but these books deserve to be reviewed. This Bookaholic is never surprised to shy away from something different. 



Button.

It says in the book blurb that Button the dog is adorable and he is. In fact the's the cutest dog ever. In this book we are introduced to Button and his owner, Buffy. The simple words will be easy for pre school children under 5. It will help the older children to learn to read. In this book Button is learning some simple tasks, like counting to three and going up and down stairs, amongst others. This will help children to learn and reinforce what they are learning in real life.

The supporting illustrations are superb and really bring Button and Buffy to life. A great little book which would be enjoyed by both boys and girls of pre school age.



Button Goes to Hollywood

In this book Button wins a competition and goes to Hollywood. The book mainly describes his trip so this book is useful for discussing different modes of transport. As he does the trip on his own Buffy, does not feature heavily in this book. I really enjoyed the book and it would be great for pre-school children. The one thing I will say, is that the concept of Hollywood may be a little too difficult to grasp for British children under 5. However, the concepts in the book still translate well having travelled across the atalantic. A great addition to the Button Books.




Button Goes to the Doctor

In this book in the series button has to go to the Doctor. Trying to keep him calm, Buffy suggests that he take his favourite bag of red buttons. It is raining, which should resonate with UK readers. On the way they see birds in the park and talk about what they can see. Button is examined and given a clean bill of health and a button shaped biscuit. He also learns to talk in human language. This is a lovely little book and children under five are sure to love both the book and Button the dog.


This book series is fabulous. It will help children of under 5 learn many different concepts. Button the Dog is delightful and children are sure to love him. The illustrations are superb and really bring the books and the characters to life. Joyce Mitchell is a highly talented children's author and I am looking forward to seeing more books in the series.

As an added bonus the books are free at the moment so well worth downloading. The links are below for UK and US

Button UK
Button US

Button goes to Hollywood UK
Button Goes to Hollywood US

Button goes to the Doctor UK
Button goes to the Doctor US


There we are for another week. For all those who read to children it is well worth grabbing these books now. See you all again soon for another review. Till then keep reading, and get those children reading. Bye.





Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Book Review: Rowan's Rule by Rupert Shott




I know it is not often I bring you a biography on Bookaholic but today I am reviewing a cracker. This is one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time. The Biography of Rowan William's, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

I believed Rowan Williams to be a very complex man and was interested to read this book. However, I did think it had the potential to be a somewhat difficult read. I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that this was not the case. The writing style is clear but the book is still an in depth look at the life of the former Archbishop of Canterbury. It draws a portrait of a man who was intensely spiritual from an early age. Academically bright, he shone in the world of academia, and yet remained humble. The book shows that there was so much more to Rowan Williams over and above what was portrayed in the media and his public life. During his time as Archbishop of Canterbury he wrestled with many issues which still plague the Church of England today. He had to make difficult decisions which affected him deeply, many of which went against his own personal feelings. Yet he put the church and it's best interests ahead of his own interests. He was also deeply evangelical, and ecumenical, and worked tirelessly with churches of other denominations. He was respected by all those leaders with whom he came into contact.

This is a fascinating portrayal of a man whose life was given over to serving the God whom he loved. However, it is so much more than that. It is also a social exploration of the the Church of England and the way in which it has developed over several decades. I would highly recommend this book. It is not in any way stuffy and in fact is an enjoyable read which is full of interest. This version has been updated and contains new material.

I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. This review is based on my reading of, and enjoyment of, the book. I was never at any time asked to provide a positive review.





The link above is to buy from the UK site. Apologies to my readers in US but there is no link for the US book. You will be able to do a search and find it easily.
 

So there we have it for another day. What will I pull out of the bookcase for my next offering. Join me back here soon to find out. Until then keep reading.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

R.T. Kendall: In Pursuit of His Wisdom


Good afternoon Bookaholics. I trust you have all had a relaxing weekend and have been able to read some great books. Over the last couple of days I have been reading a superb book by  R.T. Kendall. He is a great theologian and a man of wisdom, and was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. 

In this book he sets out how we receive wisdom from God. The book is clearly set out and easy to read. Each chapter takes a different approach to looking at wisdom as found throughout the bible. The first area that he covers is that wisdom comes from fear of the Lord. This is our starting place for getting wisdom which is God based. This is a recurring theme throughout the book. He outlines many men, and women, of God who have demonstrated great wisdom, many of whom are from the Bible. The surprising part is that he also shows areas in their lives where wisdom was lacking. This usually happened after they turned from God. One chapter is given over to people in this world who have demonstrated great wisdom but were not Christians. Kendall believes that God has given them wisdom for a specific reason, even if they themselves are not aware of this.

I particularly liked the chapter where he looks at the wisdom of Jesus. He raises some excellent ways in which we would be best served to follow Jesus in the area of wisdom. He also brings out some somewhat surprising facts. I wont say too much here as it is worth reading the book and hearing what Kendall has to say. 

This is an in depth book which covers wisdom in all its facets. However, it is easy to read, and the principles within its pages, easy to apply. I am glad that I have read the book and I would certainly highly recommend it to all Christians.

I was given a copy of this book for review purposes. I was not at any time asked to provide a positive review. My review is based on my reading, and enjoyment, of the book. 


Although this is the UK link, the book is also available in Kindle in the US. However, Amazon US would not allow me to get the link. If you do a search you will be able to get it from Amazon. It will apse be available in Paperback in most major bookstores and all Christian bookstores. 

So we come to the end of another Bookaholic post. I am off to read Rowan's Rule, the biography of the previous Archbishop of Canterbury. I am really looking forward to this and to telling you all about it soon. Take car my Bookaholic friends, grab a book and keep reading. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

Deep Trouble by Jean Erhardt




Today on bookaholic I bring you a great little mystery by  previously unknown, to me, author Jean Erhardt.

This is not a long book but packed within its pages is a lot of fun and laughter. The mystery is good, but where this book really comes into its own is the characterisation. The characters are larger than life, and I actually mean bigger than that. They are so eccentric I wondered how the author managed to think them up. Yet they still, somehow, mange to be loveable and I loved each and every one of them. They leapt off the pages an in to my mind and I could imagine them perfectly. The main character, Kim Claypoole is a fabulous character who I am looking forward to seeing again in future books. 

When I said earlier that this book was fun I meant laugh out loud funny. The tears were streaming down my face at times. It was a good job I was home alone or they might have been carting me off to the funny farm. 

This is a great little book and I would certainly recommend it. I will be looking out for future books in the series.

We are fortunate to be able to host a giveaway on the blog this week so enter below to win some fab prizes.



         

That's it for another day on bookaholic. See you all back here soon and keep reading.



Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Location, Location Location. What does a sense of place mean to a writer?


It has been sweltering hot in Dundee for the past couple of weeks. Although I have been writing I also wanted to get out and about in the sun. I justify this with the premise that all work, and no play, makes Wendy a very dull author indeed. With the sun at my back it was time to explore the location of my books. 

DI Shona McKenzie, the star of my murder mystery books, lives in Broughty Ferry, so it is here I chose to spend the day. Broughty Ferry has a beautiful beach as can be seen above. However, despite enjoying the day, my mind turns to crime. How could this beautiful location be incorporated into a book, with a deed so vile, no one could possibly imagine it. Except an author of course. The photo will serve as a reminder when I am writing about location in my books. 

What else did I find in Broughty Ferry? 


There is a rather fine castle, which was first fortified as a castle in 1454. Given the history of Scotland I am sure that many a murder has taken place within its walls over the centuries. With the blue of the harbour it looks idyllic today, but is it?




Broughty Ferry, like many parts of Dundee, is a mixture of the old and the new. I love this picture with the new cuddling up to the new, and yet somehow working. 


Broughty Ferry sits on the estuary of the river Tay, with the Kingdom of Fife on the other side of the river. They are joined by the Tay Bridge, which can't be seen in this picture. However, despite being separated by the river, Dundee, and Tayport in Fife, are close enough to be joint partners in any mayhem contained within a book. 

As writers, we have to set the scene for our readers, giving them a sense of place. Going out and taking photographs such as this can help us with providing vivid word pictures which can be translated visually by our readers. However, one caveat. This should ideally be done in different weather conditions. The sun always seems to be shining in my pictures, but not in my novels. Not that I want the rain, or the wind, or the storm to arrive but when it does, I will be dressing up warmly and taking the bull by the horns. My loyal readers are worth every freezing cold minute.

I would like to finish with a question. To all authors. What is your top tip for ensuring a sense of place in your novels?