Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Recent Reading - May 2012

There's a growing number of stories out there that I’m wanting to read right now, and that’s on top of the already large ’Reading Pile’, nay, let's call it the ’Reading Library’- as this is what it's becoming. Last year I blogged about my reading affliction (basically I tend to read lots of stories at once, a few chapters at a time, buy books/ebooks every week and then jump between stories, leaving novels unfinished or unread), and I have to say it’s still here. But now it's not just hiding in my browser’s History folder like a dodgy website, it's out all over the page, infecting everything.

Worry not, however, as there is hope. I have finished reading some stories! Our plucky reading-hero has managed to untangle himself from the piles of unread books and figure out how to turn the pages on his Kindle (the forward/back mix-up a thing of the past).

So here's a little look at what I've been reading this month and what I've thought...

Stephen King's ON WRITING.

I've finally managed to read this, and I have to admit I really enjoyed it. Written in a semi-autobiographical and engaging way, it made me laugh, smile and get ever-so-slightly teary, and I discovered how to highlight and make notes on my kindle app on the iPad!! (I know, am-a-zing!). A thought-provoking book on the life of a writer, with some fantastic writing tips.

5 out of 5 stars of writing.

THE EMPERORS GIFT by Aaron Dembski-Bowden.

ADB has really captured the character of a Space Marine in this Grey Knights 40k novel. Again, vivid descriptions and characters, with great set pieces. This is a character driven novel, which in doing so seems to enrich the 40k background - very like Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn in that respect - rather than just pay lip service to it. Well worth a look for SF fans everywhere!

Four out of five silver-armoured heroes.

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins.

Yep, I went there. This kind of dystopian future story has been done before, but I did like the POV and the structure of the story does get you reading more. Thought the writer thinned out the last act (thought it was a bit wishy-washy). There is a plucky heroine, and shes deadly with a bow. ’nough said.

Two out of five dystopian love stories.


Another full-on-action-packed-explosive-thrill-ride! With lots of exclamation marks! Exciting! Fun! Guns! Little robots! Was a great holiday read, great set pieces and escapes (reality was strrreeeechhhed ever-so-slightly), and a decent baddie this time too. But those exclamation marks! Grr!

Three out of five action-adventure-exclaimation-marks!

Next month I have stories lined up to read from Chuck Wendig, Graham McNeill, William King and David Mitchell. Severally doubt I'll read them all as I'm sure I'll find other shiny new things to capture my reading time. Let's see if I can even get one of them into June read list!

I'm always looking for a good read, so drop a comment on what you think is worth a read. See, looking for other Shinies already...

- Posted using BlogPress, while stuck at a train station waiting for a train, from my iPad. In a bar.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Breaking the Block, Idea two.

You're staring miserably at a blank screen, wishing you could scrunch up the page in frustration and throw it in the bin. However, these days most of us don't use paper to write on, so throwing your computer/laptop/iPad in the bin is costly, and you'd probably be throwing out all the good work you have completed which is saved on the hard drive...

Here's a few thoughts that have helped me in the past to overcome the blank screen, and may save you chucking your computer around the room!

Over the years I've discovered that I communicate and learn best visually. So I remember, and enjoy, stories better if I see it or if I can vividly visualise the story I am reading. When I'm talking to someone about a story, or even telling them about my day, I use visual words and phrases such as ’I saw’ or ’it looked like this’.

Now, here’s something to consider to help open those writerly-mind-canals. How do you take things in? And how do you best communicate? I've read a few books and saw some websites on how we can communicate and learn (from NLP books to management courses). Here's the supposed three main ways: Visually, auditory and kinaesthetically.

Visually is seeing and reading, auditory is listening and speaking, and kinaesthetically is touching and doing. Ok, I'm being very basic here trying to get my point across, but you can easily find articles and books on this if you want to find out more. Here’s a link to a website that goes into more detail, and has some form of test which may or may not help you discover your dominante way to communicate: Buisnessballs

So, when I'm getting frustrated with myself over writing, or while trying to plot a story or overcome a block, I do something that inspires me or opens doors in my mind. However, I keep in mind that my preferred way to communicate is visually. I read a story, look at art or watch a film I love. Also I listen to music that conjures up images from my favourite films or stories (soundtrack music is great for this) and relax my mind, opening it to those inspiring scenes, thus energising my ideas.

I do this while holding my notebook (crazy, I know, using this ’paper’ thingy!!! But I can rip it...), and start jotting down notes when the thought-river flows. Or I have my laptop or iPad near me and start writing when inspiration strikes.

Either you'll have an idea of your preferred way to take things in, or with some research you can find out. Use this information to help create ideas for your writing or inspire you to write. It's almost a form of self manipulation - but in knowing yourself, and how you best think, you can overcome the blockages to your creativity and maybe even push your aspirations forwards.

Mainly though, you'll be writing again. And your page, whether it be a computer screen or a bit of paper, will be filling up with words.