Thursday, 30 August 2012

Book review - ALONG CAME A SPIDER by James Patterson

From the back cover:

The whole nation was in uproar when two celebrity rich kids were kidnapped - and then one of them was found dead. For such a high-profile case, only the top people would do: Alex Cross, a detective with a PHD in psychology, and Jezzie Flanagan, a fast-rising young Secret Service agent. Yet, even they were no match for the killer. He could switch from blood-crazed madness to clear-eyed sanity in an instant. But was he the helpless victim of a multiple-personality disorder - or a brilliant, cold-hearted manipulator?

I have read one other James Patterson book but when I came across this one in a charity shop I recognised the title straight-away and having read a later book featuring Detective Alex Cross I thought it would be good to read his debut in Patterson's work. I loved this book. I couldn't put it down and when it ended one of my first thoughts was that I must track down the other Alex Cross books James Patterson has written. 

The subject matter is quite disturbing as all books that deal with serial killers are I guess but I think it is handled well. Yes there are some graphic details of crime scenes but they aren't extensive and yes they shock you but they tell you what you need to know. The plot had lots of twists and turns and certainly keeps you guessing. Several moments when I was shocked by the turn of a good way! I love it when you can't guess what is about to happen but it makes sense in the context of the story.

As an introduction to Alex Cross I think the book does a good job at helping you understand him. He is very likeable and I can see he has real longevity as a character. I think it is so important to get your Detective right in these kind of books as you need to care for him and be rooting for him to solve the case as well as wanting him to stay safe. I definitely did all these things. Although my only issue was that I know Morgan Freeman played this character in the film of the same name so I constantly thought of him as I read. This is obviously not a criticism of the book but in a way it meant I didn't create my own vision of the character. Now I love Morgan but I found myself thinking 'I can't imagine him saying that." Again, this is not a criticism of the book, more a criticism of my brain!!

This book isn't a mystery as it often shifts to the killers point of view so you aren't trying to guess who did it but focusing on why he does what he does. I loved the criminal psychology part of my degree so this element of the book really appeals to me and I love exploring why people act the way they act as much as it might terrify me. The villain in this piece is a fascinating character and I felt he was very well developed and terrifying.

This book is perfect for anyone who loves a psychological thriller and doesn't mind a few grisly details along the way. A brilliant read and I will definitely read the other Alex Cross books as soon as possible!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

ROW80 Check-in 29th August 2012

I am writing this while watching the Paralympics opening ceremony so apologies for any mistakes as one eye is on the television!!

This week has been less eventful than last week as I haven't been travelling and sleeping on friend's floors so writing has been smoother, except for today but more of that in a moment.

Here are my goals:
1) Write at least 1,613 words a day on new WIP for CampNaNo.
2) Two ROW80 check-ins a week no matter how short but sweet they are.

3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge (or as much as I can!).
4) Review one book a month.

So I don't get confused will just work down the list.

Goal 1
Monday - 1,697 words
Tuesday - 1,499 words
Wednesday - 1,948 words

Total CampNaNo word count so far - 47,093 words!!

My word count for today shocks me as I have been plodding away for hours and not really watching my overall word count. The last two days the words have just poured out without any real effort on my part or so it has felt. And then today it has felt hard. Not impossible but hard. But I got there! And with two days left of CampNaNo and less than 3,000 words to write I feel good! My book is nowhere near done but chicklit books are usually between 80k and 120k so I will plod on after CampNaNo is over. I can hand on heart say I would not have written half as much without the motivation of completing camp once I said I was going to do it!

So I guess from the first of September I need to look at goal 1 and adapt it. Or maybe not? I want to take part in NaNoWriMo this November so I need to get this book finished by maybe mid October so I have NaNo preparation time. How am I even thinking about November when I haven't finished camp??!!  So next two days, write 3000 words atleast and then I will have won CampNaNo!!

Goal 2
Halfway done and see no reason why I won't check-in on Sunday.

Goal 3
I have read two books so far this week and am on book 63 of the year.

Goal 4
I haven't done this but I know which book I am going to review and intend to do this tomorrow. After checking out some check-ins I might make some notes to get started.

So that is that. A successful few days and it feels so good to be close to achieving the goal of 50,000 words for August. I hope you have all had wonderful weeks and I hope the next few days are our most productive yet!!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

ROW80 Check-in 26th August 2012

Well as predicted on Wednesday it hasn't been the most straightforward of writing weeks but I am pleased to say I am keeping on top of things. I think!

Here are my goals:
1) Write at least 1,613 words a day on new WIP for CampNaNo.
2) Two ROW80 check-ins a week no matter how short but sweet they are.

3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge (or as much as I can!).
4) Review one book a month.

Goal 1 - This has been very up and down with some days seeing no days written and other days loads! By the time I had finished typing up the words I had written on the train I was on 32,938 so that means on my two train journeys I had written 5,376 words. I can't help but wonder how many words I would have achieved if I had been typing on the train.

So on Thursday I wanted to get ahead and I managed to write 3,073 words. I went away on Thursday and didn't do any writing on Friday but had a great time at the spa. I did lots of thinking about writing though and lots of little snippets of ideas came to me which lend themselves to a fantasy novel. Will think about this when CampNaNo is over! When I got back on Saturday I worked out that I needed to write 4,289 words and I managed to write 4,333 words taking my total to 40,344. Felt so good to break the 40k barrier!

This morning I wrote 1,605 so my CampNaNo total is 41,949!!!

So Goal 1 is on track and yes it has not been overly consistent but when I have needed to sit and write for longer periods I have managed to make myself do so with ease.

Goal 2 - Check!

Goal 3 - I am reading book 61 so still behind but reading whenever I can.

Goal 4 - Must do this in the next few days! I have read some great books this month so will go back and decide which one to review although I think I have already decided.

So things are going well. Although I have spent time worrying about hitting my word count when I sit down to write Matchmaker, Matchmaker I really enjoy it. I am finding it easy to write as my MC and my plot outline is working out well although I have worked out some scenes I want to include later on.

I am out for the rest of the day but will check out some check-ins tomorrow! Hope you have all had a great week!!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

ROW80 Check-in 22nd August 2012

Hello my friends! It felt very strange not checking in on Sunday and not seeing how you were all doing but I had a great time up in Edinburgh. Such a beautiful city and so many comedians and dance acts to see in the Festival. Just brilliant. On the writing front though, not really sure how I am doing!

Here are my goals:
1) Write at least 1,613 words a day on new WIP for CampNaNo.
2) Two ROW80 check-ins a week no matter how short but sweet they are.

3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge (or as much as I can!).
4) Review one book a month.

Lets start at the beginning.
Goal 1 - On Friday I was on target. I had aimed to try and get ahead but didn't really manage it so went away on target. On the train up to Scotland I wrote for a few hours although I had forgotten how slow I was at handwriting. On Sunday and Monday I didn't write. On Tuesday on the train home I wrote again but not as much as Saturday, all the late night and cocktails seemed to catch up with me! Today I haven't written anything new but am in the process of typing up my train writing although my friend had a baby on Sunday so I feel justified spending the afternoon with her and her new baby boy! I am going to aim to type up the rest tonight. At the moment I am at 29,325 words and by the end of today I should be on 35,464 words to be on track for camp. I fear I may be behind!

Tomorrow I will be able to write but am going away with another friend tomorrow afternoon and we are having a spa day on Friday. I am SO excited about this as we have been to the spa before and it has lots of amazing steam rooms and I have a massage booked. After spending seven and a half hours on a train yesterday my back is very knotted and sore so I am very excited about this mini break!! I don't know if I will be able to write on Friday as I will be busy lying around in a bathrobe but I will back on Saturday and back to writing!

Goal 2 - Checking in now and had said last Wednesday I wouldn't be checking in on Sunday so I guess on track with this?

Goal 3 - I read two books - one on the train up and one on the train back amongst writing. I wish I had the stamina to handwrite for seven hours but I didn't and I thought I would use the time to read as well.

Goal 4 - Still needs to be completed. Must put some thought to this.

So that is me. Not slashing through word counts with a sword but plodding along and accepting my failings. I still have hope I will make the 50,000 word count by the end of August and I am trying not to get upset by the inconsistent graph on my campnano graph. I liked it in November when my daily word counts were above the line!!

I hope to get around to check-ins tomorrow morning and I hope everyone is being a bit more consistent with their goals then me.

Before I go, a final random thought. I was away with some friends and the boyfriend of one of my friends in Edinburgh. On Monday he randomly sat at the table with a notebook and was writing. I asked him what he was doing and casual as you like he said 'Just writing some ideas for a story I thought of'. Of course as a secret writer (known as Secret Agent Em to some of my writing buddies) I was intrigued and asked him more about it. He has never really written anything since school, he was just inspired by some work he recently did with a child he works with and a story idea just came to him so he thought he would give it a go. I told him about Campnano and this is a big deal for me as only my family and a couple of friends know I am writing and only one friend knows about my blog. I just felt stunned at the ease with which he told me about what he was doing as we don't know each other well. He was so confident like it was no big deal that he was choosing to spend his time doing this. It just got me thinking about how scared and nervous I am to tell people I write. Why? Why was he confident about it and I feel like a cliche to mention that I want to be a writer? I have no insightful answers to round off with but I wanted to mention it as it made me really question my fear. What am I afraid of?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

ROW80 Check-in 15th August 2012

I got off to a shaky start this week. On Monday I could just not get going. I had no reason not to write in the daytime and spent most of the day feeling bad for not writing. I knew I was behind on my word count for CampNaNo and maybe I was apprehensive about catching up with my words but for some reason I just couldn't get going. I ended up writing in the evening whilst watching a movie with my sister and brother-in-law. Yes I got the writing done and it took hours but I caught up with where I should be for Camp but I kind of missed most of the movie. So yesterday and today have been better. I have written in the morning yesterday and today and I am now ahead of schedule. Big smile!

My goals are:
1) Write at least 1,613 words a day on new WIP for CampNaNo.
2) Two ROW80 check-ins a week no matter how short but sweet they are.
3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge (or as much as I can!).
4) Review one book a month.

Goal 1 - word counts are:
Monday - 3, 301 words
Tuesday - 1,553 words
Wednesday - 2,069 words

Total so far - 24,652 words!!

Actually, when I look at the word counts I have had a great week!!!! And I am so close to the halfway point on my 50,000 word goal.

My other goals are ticking along. I am checking in, I have read a book this week and am reading book 58 of the year. Still behind there but making progress. I will write a review at some point this month. I will!!

So, so far this week so good! I am however going away to Edinburgh on Saturday until Tuesday which will be great as I have two really, really long train journeys the length of the country so I can do lots of writing whilst I travel. I am not going to be able to take my laptop so I will handwrite and then type up the words when I get back. As I am going up with friends and we only have two days to explore Edinburgh and see as much of the Festival as we can I am not going to write on the Sunday and Monday. This isn't ideal during NaNo but I know I can work around it and the plan (I love a plan!) is to try and write over the word count for the next two days so I won't fall too far behind.

I hope everyone is doing well this week and as I will be in Scotland I won't be checking in on Sunday so goal 2 is suspended for a week but I will be back next Wednesday with hopefully a lovely word count!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

ROW80 Check-in 12h August 2012

Ok, this has to be quick as the Closing ceremony of the Olympics is starting any minute now and I want to watch it!!
Here are my goals:
1) Write at least 1,613 words a day on new WIP for CampNaNo.
2) Two ROW80 check-ins a week no matter how short but sweet they are.

3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge (or as much as I can!).
4) Review one book a month.

Ok, Goal 2 - big tick, Goal 3 - big tick (now on book 57 of the year) and goal 4 - to be completed at a later date!!

Goal 1 is going well although I am behind as I was out for the day yesterday and didn't do any writing. Here are my CampNaNo word counts:

Thursday - 1,632 words
Friday - 1,166 words
Saturday - 0 words (ouch!)
Sunday - 1,832

Total so far - 17,729 words

I am really pleased with what I have accomplished but I need to make up the gap as soon as possible as it is amazing how far behind you can get if you miss a day in NaNo. I am enjoying it though and as predicted I am struggling with too much time (please don't throw things at me!) as I have time to analyse my WIP as I go and this has caused some writer's doubt at times. In November when I am writing around work I have no time to think beyond 'write, write. write!' and found I was less critical of myself. I am going to try and put this doubt to one side and just write.

I will check out how some of you guys are doing but for now I must go and watch the closing ceremony. What an amazing couple of weeks it has been! Hope you have had great weeks!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

ROW80 Check-in 8th August 2012

Another busy few days and lots of lovely words flowing without me having to drag them kicking and screaming out of my brain.

My goals are:
1) Write at least 1,613 words a day on new WIP for CampNaNo.
2) Two ROW80 check-ins a week no matter how short but sweet they are.
3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge (or as much as I can!).
4) Review one book a month.

Goals two and three are underway and I am currently reading book 55 of the year. Behind schedule still but I hope to catch up. A review will come at some point later this month so goal four is somewhere at the back of my mind but goal one which is the 'big one' in my mind has gone well.

Word counts are:
Monday - 2,181 words
Tuesday - 1,753 words
Wednesday - 1,618 words

Total so far - 13,099 words

It is amazing how much you can write when you actually, you know, write. I am still not finding the time to write first thing in the morning as I tend to have my nephew for a couple of hours so my sister can sleep or get some chores done and I love this time with him so I don't mind one bit. I have managed to write late morning or in the afternoon so I feel fresher than I do in the afternoon.

So CampNaNo is going well and hopefully the rest of the week will see the words flow. I hope you are all having amazing weeks!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

ROW80 Check-in 5th August 2012

Well it is 11.15pm so I will be checking in on time but don't expect much sense out of me. And so the NaNo madness begins!!!

My goals are:
1) Write at least 1,613 words a day on new WIP for CampNaNo.
2) Two ROW80 check-ins a week no matter how short but sweet they are.
3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge (or as much as I can!).
4) Review one book a month.

Right. Where to start. Reading has taken a bit of a back seat so I have not read two books this week and a book review will happen later this month. I am checking in so goal 2 is a big fat tick for this week.

Now for the elusive goal 1. For the first five days my word counts have been inconsistent but I have written each day which is something.

Wednesday - 2,054 words
Thursday  1,692 words
Friday - 783 words
Saturday - 2,153 words
Sunday - 865 words

Total so far: 7,547

So very up and down. By now I should be on a total of 8,065 so I am bit behind but I should be able to make that up over the next couple of days. Friday's words were low because I was at a wedding which meant all day out and today we have had a family day. I knew I would struggle to sit down and write at times but I didn't think I would find it this hard to find time to write. As I am not at work for the summer (if anyone doesn't know I am a teacher) so I thought it would be easy with all this time but what I hadn't banked on was distractions. In term time I live by myself so in November for NaNoWriMo I wrote when and how I wanted once I got home from work but staying with family has been a completely different experience. And not just staying with family but staying with my sister, her husband and my beautiful nephew who will be eight weeks old tomorrow. I do not know how you ROW80ers with children do it. How any writers do it. I find an hour passes and all me and him have done is cuddled and played. It is quite simply lovely. My sister is totally supportive of my writing for CampNaNo so it isn't that but I want to be as helpful as possible and as the lovely Lauren pointed out he is only to be this tiny once so I need to make the most of it.

I am going to try and get in  morning writing routine so I can enjoy my days without constantly thinking about when I am going to squeeze in my writing. So I guess I should go to bed! I am not going to beat myself up because I have written over 7,000 words in five days and that is pretty great!! I will try and get round to some check-ins tomorrow but hope everyone has had a brilliant week.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

ROW80 Check-in 1st August 2012

This post is intended to be a short one as my fingers and brain are tired after my first CampNaNo writing session! August has arrived!!

My goals are:
1) Until 1st August Spend 30 minutes at least a day on preparing for my new WIP.
2) Think of a name for CampNaNo project!
3) Two ROW80 check-ins a week no matter how short but sweet they are.
4) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge (or as much as I can!).
5) Review one book a month.

The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind as the CampNaNo prep has consumed most of my thoughts. I spent about 3 hours on Monday working on plot, characters, trying desperately to decide on a POV and making my WIP notebook which contains all the information I need. I hope!

I am checking in so goal 3 is underway and I have reviewed The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo which can be found here so goal 5 is completed this month!

Now with CampNaNo starting today a goal change is needed. The aim is to write 50,000 words in the month of August which works out at 1,613 words a day. My goals therefore are now:

1) Write atleast 1,613 words a day on new WIP for CampNaNo.
2) Two ROW80 check-ins a week no matter how short but sweet they are.
3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge (or as much as I can!).
4) Review one book a month.

Today I have written 2,054 words which is lovely because already it means I am slightly ahead which hopefully will give me some leeway later in the month when I go on holiday. I really struggled to start today. I actually felt oddly queasy! I am not sure why as I have planned as much as I could but I guess taking that first step is hard. I am going to just try and write and not analyse or edit as the most important thing is to get my words down. I have decided to write from a first person point of view, let's hope I don't decide to change POV halfway through!

Hope you are having a great week and I look forward to checking out some check-in later :)