Thursday, 29 January 2015

Are You Making the Most of Your Opening Chapter?

Good morning to all my bookaholic friends. Lovely to see you all here on this dreary winters morning. However, we all know that reading, and writing, can cheer up the bleakest of days. Today on the post we are going to be talking writing, opening chapters in particular.

I have been reading K.M. Weiland's excellent post on the perfect ingredient for Opening Chapter. This got me thinking about what I and others think about what should be in the opening chapter of a book. I am sure we all know the importance of a cover in attracting readers, but once they open the words on the page need to speak for themselves.

I was fortunate to attend a workshop, on creating a killer first line, led by highly talented crime author Alex Gray. If you are not familiar with Alex, or her works, you can find out more here. Following this I am always conscious of the importance of the first line in drawing readers in to the story. I examine the first line from every angle and try it out on the lovely authors in my writers group. This would be my first definite must have for my chapter. A killer first line. Nothing to do with crime writing, this is the same for all writers.

Secondly, as I write crime, I will always make sure that the first murder is seen in the opening chapter. I combine this with ensuring that there is a level of tension which will keep readers wanting more. 

In the article above, it is suggested that the protagonist is always introduced in the first chapter. This is excellent advice and should always be followed. Or should it? The difficulty with lists is that one can often follow them slavishly to the exclusion of creativity and original thought. I have read some exceptional books where the killer is introduced in a very short first chapter. This has me hooked and wanting to find out more. However, I will add, that the reader will get bored if the protagonist, in my case the detective, doesn't tip up fairly quickly.

So what do others think? What are your tips, or go to's for the perfect first chapter? 

So it is farewell from Scotland. Have a great day wherever you are in the world. Always remember, whatever the weather may be like outside your window, it is always a perfect day to keep reading and/or writing. The picture at the top of the mage is to remind us all that even though we are in the grip of winter, summer is just around the corner.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Guest Post: Review of YA book What If?

Today I welcome very special guest to Bookaholic. 13 Year old Zoe has agreed to review a superb new Young Adult book for us. I am sure all Bookaholics will join me in extending her a very warm welcome.

Hi! I’m Zoe and I’m 13 years old. I am reviewing What If? by Caroline Johnston.

What If? is a really interesting and worthwhile read for any teenager who has been thinking about God. Caroline Johnston presents an interesting view point about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

The story is about 14 year old Rachel Anderson, a shy girl who has gone to church her whole life. She faces a lot of interesting challenges and opportunities, including auditioning for the school play, and imagining that Jesus is one of her friends at school.

I really like this book as I find a lot of teenage fiction is dark and heavily layered with deep traumatic issues. Although this book has some big questions in it, it is basically positive, and it has a nice storyline.

Rachel is a character who I found easy to relate to and understand. She is not a generic teen fiction heroine either. Unlike most of the main girls in recent YA book, she is not ridiculously brave, nor totally quiet and shy. She is not a two dimensional character, but neither is she impossibly deep as some heroines are. She has some friends, but isn’t the most popular kid in school. I think most girls my age will be able to relate to her, and like her. It is easy to believe that Rachel lives in your town, or goes to your school. The author has really nailed exactly what it means to be a teenage girl.

I would recommend What If? to girls (and boys who don’t mind reading about girls) aged 11 – 15. It is not hard to read, or too long, but it is thought provoking, and stays with you a long time. This book is a very good specimen of Christian YA fiction.

Thank you Zoe for an excellent review. Zoe, as well as being a reviewer, is also a writer in her own right. I am sure we will be sharing a lot of Zoe in the future.

What if? is a book which is well worth buying for all young women. It will make them think about what they are doing and the way their faith plays out. If you would like to buy the book it is available from Amazon in paperback in UK. This would make a fabulous present for any Christian teenage girl.

Also available as an ebook from EatACD

That brings us to the end of another Bookaholic blog. I look forward to seeing you all back here soon. Until then keep reading.

Friday, 9 January 2015

The Snake Pit: Jr. High Can Be Torture

Good morning my bookaholic friends. It's a wild and windy day here in Bonnie Scotland. Perfect for curling up with a good book. Today I bring you a YA book. Yes I know that's un usual but I did promise you an eclectic selection. This one deals with the issue of bullying, hence the reason I have read and reviewed it here. 

This book has to be, without question,  one of the best books on bullying I have ever read. It should be obligatory reading at all secondary schools. Cinda is different as she has a facial deformity. On her first day at school she trips and falls in the cafeteria and is the laughing stock of the whole school. This gives the queen bee and her followers reason to feel they can mercilessly bully her. 

Cinda is a great character and Donna Dillon does a superb job of showing the full range of her emotions. She also shows the emotions and characteristics of all the main characters. It is a short book but the author, who is an adept writer, draws the characters well and keeps the story taut. It takes a unique approach to telling the story, which works well. It takes the form of interviews of all the key players. Although you know they are being interviewed you don't know why and this makes you keep reading. The author pulls no punches in telling the story and at times it can be a bit distressing. However this is necessary in order for the reader to get a sense of the impact of bullying. 

I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to all teenagers and adults. It is available in all Amazon stores but here are the links for UK and USA

Donna has also written several other children's and YA books including a follow up to this book. These can be seen at her Amazon Author Page These are superb books and it is well worth taking a look. 

There we have it for another day bookaholics. Who knows what will appear next. Keep watching to find out. Above all, keep reading

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A Happy Crime Writer's New Year

Good afternoon Bookaholics and welcome to the first blog of 2015. I trust you all had a great Christmas and New Year and that you got lots of lovely books for Christmas. I was fortunate to get a few so watch this space.

So what has this Crime Writer and reader been up to over Christmas and new year? Firstly I am sporting one of my Christmas presents. I love this T-Shirt and the perfect present for me. In case you can't read it from the picture it says "You are Dangerously Close to Becoming a Body in my Next Novel." You do not know how true this is. As a crime writer I am always one step away from planning the next murder. Seriously, never upset a crime writer. They can bump you off in ways that are too horrible for the human mind to imagine. Unless it's a crime writer's mind that is.

So what of 2014. The most exciting part of this had to be the launch of the first book in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. Shona is keen, eager and ready to prove to the world what she can do. So far she hasn't disappointed with the book being warmly received. The book launch at Waterstones Bookstore was so much fun and very well attended. Definitely a great way to launch my career as a published author.

Unfortunately I haven't had huge amounts of time to read recently as I have been knee deep in all things Christmas and New Year related. Much like the rest of the world. I am waiting for my family to arrive so we can have our New Years Day Dinner together. That brings me neatly to the end of my post as I have a steak pie to carve up, er. sorry cut up and serve. See you all back here very soon my bookaholic friends. My wish for you over the coming year is that you will have everything you need. See you all soon.