Book News: The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst

the lost

The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst is published today and you should totally go out and buy it/download it to your e-reader Right Now.

I was lucky enough to get a review copy of this book and, although I’m not a proper book reviewer*, I’m very happy to shout loudly when I find something I think is brilliant. And this is brilliant.

It’s wildly imaginative with a central premise – a town of lost people, filled with lost items – that is so well realised it gave me actual goosebumps as I began reading.

I was delighted to read on Sarah’s blog that this is the first book of a trilogy. The second, The Missing, is out in December. I know what I’m putting on my Christmas list…

* I will only ever recommend books on this blog, which means I will only feature/mention books I genuinely love. Karma, innit.

 

 

 

 

Toot! Toot!

A spring afternoon spent skimming stones on Elie beach.
A spring afternoon spent skimming stones on Elie beach, followed by fish and chips. Every conversation prefixed by the words ‘this time last year…’

Toot! Toot! Yes, I’m afraid that’s the unseemly sound of me blowing my own trumpet…

I’ve been feeling very nostalgic this month. The warm sunshine and the hedgerows bursting forth with cow parsley reminds me of writing The Secrets of Ghosts. Plus, we’re fast approaching the one year anniversary of my debut, The Language of Spells, being published.

This time last year I was unpublished. Now, I’ve got two books out and am well on the way to finishing another one.

I worked towards this point for so long (and spent so much time wondering if I would ever get there), that it still feels like a dream.

This time last year I was terrified. I felt exposed. I kept waking up in the middle of the night, fearful of my writing being ‘out there’. What if everybody hated it? What had I been thinking? I couldn’t do this… People were going to look at this thing that I’d made up and they were going to know how stupid/vapid/talentless I really was.

Instead, I had the most fabulous year. Friends and family were lovely and supportive and said so many nice things about the book that I just about swooned from happiness.

Book reviewers and readers were just as nice and I couldn’t have wished for a better reception.

Which brings me to my trumpet-blowing… Almost a year on and The Language of Spells is number six in the magical realism chart on Amazon (US), and people are still discovering it, tweeting about it, emailing me, and leaving lovely reviews.

I just read this one on Amazon:

I genuinely enjoyed reading this book and have purposely held off on buying the sequel so I will have something wonderful to read when I’m down. The whole story is well-written and engaging. I love the family dynamic. 

I feel so lucky and so grateful. My readers are the best! Thank you!

 

Progress Report: Slow and Steady

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I empathise, my hard-shelled friend. Progress is slowwwwwww.

Hello, my dears!

I thought I’d give you a quick update on my progress with the New Book. I’ve got my messy first draft completed – hooray!

However, progress has slowed considerably… I’m about a third of the way through the second draft and it’s hard (say that last bit in a drawn-out whiney voice to get the full effect).

I’m not a fast writer, but while spewing out a first draft I can get 1000 words in a session without too much angst.

When I’m rewriting/imposing order on the chaos, progress feels so slow. I spent three hours writing yesterday and my overall word count inched forward by 36 measly words.

It doesn’t help that this stage is fraught with anxiety. For me, at least. I’m a fairly anxious person, anyway, and the task of facing my crappy first draft, making big decisions (rather than just scribbling away and thinking ‘I can fix it later’), is inherently stressful.

During rewrites I’m aware that I’m working towards something I will actually show people. I’m thinking of the reader’s experience, rather than just writing down whatever pops up from my subconscious.

Plus, this book feels more ambitious than anything I’ve tried before and I’m scared I’m not up to the task. Argh.

Still. Slow and steady progress is good. I must remember that if I keep going, rewriting it one scene at a time (or one paragraph or one sentence or one word), I will get there.

Probably with plenty more wailing and flailing, though.

[Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

 

 

Friday Five: Random Recommendations

Random picture to go with random recs. Mmm... Vintage!
Random picture to go with random recommendations. Isn’t it beautiful?

Hello, hello! Hope you’ve all had a good/productive/positive week!

My aim to finish draft two by the end of May has been going pretty well, but it does have the knock-on effect of everything else going to hell in a hand basket. Is that the phrase? I have no idea and I can’t Google it as I’m using the ‘stay focused’ app and it locks me out of Google (and Twitter and Facebook and many other interesting and enlivening things) until five pm. See? I *am* working hard!

Without further waffle (stop cheering in the back, there), here are five random recommendations.

(I know, it’s not much of a blog post, but wait until the end of the month: I’ll have lost the power of language all together by then and will simply post ‘burble burble blarg’.)

1. Superdrug shampoo and conditioner. I haven’t tried all of them, of course, but I am THRILLED to discover that all of Superdrug’s own brand stuff is BUAV approved (not tested on animals), which makes cruelty-free shopping super-easy. I’m currently using the Pro Vitamin Thermal defense stuff and I love it. I also got the coconut and almond shampoo for the kids, which has the added bonus of smelling like cake.

annpatchett2. Ann Patchett is one of my favourite novelists and her non-fiction stuff is fabulous, too. Have you read Truth and Beauty? Just wonderful. Anyway, last week I finished her latest book, This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage. It’s a collection of essays and articles (including The Getaway Car, which is about writing) and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

3. The aforementioned ‘Stay Focused’ app. It’s a free extension for Chrome and is customisable so you can block certain sites for certain hours in the day. You can also set a timer for your access to those sites (ten minutes is the default) so when you’re faffing about on Twitter it tells you ‘five minutes until you’re locked out’ and counts down. Once you’ve used your minutes for the day, it displays a cheery ‘shouldn’t you be working?’ if you attempt to access any of your banned sites.

4. Struggling to get started on your book or other creative project? Like playing video games? Felicia Day has made a video-game-themed vlog packed with tips for getting started, staying motivated and finishing creative work.

5. Tumblr. Yes, I realise this is unlikely to be news, but Tumblr is full of funny/awesome/creative/crazy stuff. And cat gifs. While we’re on the subject, why not follow my tumblr? Advanced Procrastination.  Thank you!