My must-read books list

My long list of books I’ve loved… These are books from all genres and none, for all ages. It’s not a snob list of books I pretend I’ve read – I have actually read each of these, to the end, at least once. And I think everyone would enjoy most of them, too.

I’ve adapted a list I filched off Facebook, removed some, added some. There’ll be lots I’ve missed off or *shame* forgotten. I’ve stuck to one (max 2) books by any author, even though it pained me to resist temptation.

I invite you to do the same and pass on your list. But before you do, please let me which of these you’ve read (or your top 5 or 10 favourites off the list) and which titles you’d add or delete.

And which of these have you hated? Or tried to read and gave up in boredom or disgust? I junked Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and the Shipping News, for instance. Got bored by the first, and enraged by the second.

This isn’t a contest and there are no right or wrong answers. It’s just fun to see what people read, what they like and what they don’t.

There are two which you might think I’ve chosen just because of their titles. You’ll know when you see them… But genuinely I love these books for much more than the title (although they are little extra bonuses).

Tell me about your books and whether they’ve changed your life in any way. And what are you reading right now?

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Make 2013 the Year of Your Novel

This is it.

where do you get your ideas?
This is part of Val McDermid’s back catalogue – how much do you want a pile of books with your name on the spine? Now’s the time to start…

This is your year. 2013 is the year you invest in your writing self and get that book written.

Have you been messing about, tinkering with ideas, going on self-publishing courses, gazing out of the window as shreds of story drift past?

Have you been re-reading the 14,573 words you’ve written so far and wondering how on earth you can get it to 20,000, let alone to novel-length?

Make this the year you start… and finish… and publish that novel.

Invest in yourself, set aside the time, focus.

To get you started, I’m running Where do you get your ideas? one-day workshops in California this month. If you’re near Carlsbad, Palm Springs, San DiegoSanta Monica, Sacramento or Los Angeles, check on the workshops page here for dates and how to book.

What will you get from the course?

You’ll get inspired, wrung dry, spurred on, started or re-started. This is a full-on writing day that will send you home with new 3D characters who have a past and – most importantly – a page-turning future. They may be minor players with plot-twisting roles to play, they may be fascinating villains or spellbinding protagonists. They may be lovable, charming, loathsome or comical… but they will nag at you and demand to be given life on the page.

You will end the day with a packet of techniques you can use every day to spark ideas for characters, their traits and quirks and flaws, as well as atmosphere, setting, props and catalysts.

You will have new writing buddies who could become your partners in crime (or romance, or fantasy…) to share mutual moans and be each other’s mentor and motivator – so valuable in the lonely process of writing.

Armed with all this, everything else you have learned will make sense and take shape – dialogue, pace, structure, themes… writing techniques that are essential but useless until you have those bestselling ideas.

*dingdingding* Come and get ’em!

NB Courses in the UK begin in March, and the week-long intensive retreat will be in Transylvania in September. 

Happy New Writing Year!

First post of 2013: I wish you happy writing, smooth revising, and joyful publication. May all your plot lines run true, and your characters surprise you.

Now for some stimulus to kick off your fictional year.

Writing prompt for New Year's Day on wheredoyougetyourideas.net
Who is Richard? Why does he get his name dug into the beach?

 

Where do you get your ideas? Writing prompt for New Year's Day
Whose face is this? Who sculpted it and why? What will happen to it in three hours?

Where do you get your ideas?
Why is the boy looking so dejected? What is his connection to the couple? What will happen when the sun goes down?

 

where do you get your ideas?
How would your protagonist react to this appearing all of a sudden? What effect would this reaction have on your storyline?