Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Hambledown Dream, by Dean Mayes

The Hambledown DreamThe Hambledown Dream by Dean Mayes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say about this story? Any story that has me crying in the first few pages is destined to be good. To have me genuinely caring about the character from page one is a true show of skill from author Dean Mayes, and each and every character in the story was equally well developed. The story really got me thinking - what if you were a screwball all of your life, and were suddenly given a second chance to turn your life around? This story made me conscious of the importance of making the most out of your life. The story carries a powerful message and forwards it to the reader with ease (and regularly saw me shedding tears).

The setting for 'The Hambledown Dream' is vivid and jumps out from the pages. From the scary streets of Chicago, to the bracing salt sea air of Hambledown in Australia, to the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens, this novel will transport you around the world.

'The Hambledown Dream', by Dean Mayes is a wonderfully crafted story that is easily relateable to the reader. I would highly recommend this book.

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The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

The AlchemistThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book painted vivid landscapes for me to experience along with the main character. I could almost feel the heat of the sun, and smell the spices of the land. I was a bit disappointed as I felt there was only minimal character development, and I wished I could get to know them all a bit more. Other than that this is a nice little read, and I enjoyed it.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Planning For a Novel

Research I find easy. I can spend hours and hours reading up on a topic, and I will absorb all of the information like a sponge. I can map a story out in my head, and when I go to write the words flow over the page like a bubbling brook. But the planning…well, that often leaves a lot to be desired. My problem is that, once I start writing, I don’t want to stop. In the short term, planning out each chapter gets in the way of my immediate desire to write. I have tried everything; notebooks, sketch books, Power Points, dot points, flowcharts have all been attempted to no avail. And then, in planning for last year’s NaNoWriMo I unwittingly stumbled across a planning technique that actually seems to work for me. And so I am sharing it with you. It may not be anything new, or anything special, but I would love to share it in case it will help any one person with their planning.

I got together a stack of about 20 pieces of scrap paper. I am a big ole tree hugger, so any printing I do gets cut up until quarters. So these scrap pieces of paper are one quarter of an A4 piece of paper. I folded this pieces of paper in half, and then stapled (sometimes I use sticky tape too) along the fold line. And, ta da! I had myself a miniature scrap book for minimum expense (because, let’s face it, us writers are not generally known to be magnificently wealthy). It can fit in my pocket or handbag, so I always have it with me.

 Image: My most recent creation

Each page in my miniature scrap book represents one chapter in my story. This is the genius behind my discovery. Limiting myself in such a way prevents me from rambling on in my planning. It means I only have space to put essential points down. There is no possible way that I can begin writing my novel in this book. Not unless, that is, I discover a machine like the one in ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’ and I, along with my pen, get zapped down into miniature size. I have now planned several stories this way, and am very pleased with my invention. 

Does anyone else have any planning tips or ideas? I would love to hear them!