Book Review: Writing Fiction by James Essinger

Book Review: Writing Fiction by James Essinger

Today I am reviewing something slightly different to the usual books found on this blog. When I am not reading, blogging or sleeping I write fiction. Like many readers, I dream of seeing my book in a book shop surrounded by authors I love so when I was offered a chance to review this book on writing fiction I knew I had to take it.  My writing journey can be found here.

Book Review: Writing Fiction A User-friendly Guide by James Essinger

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide (1)

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide

Title: Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide

Author: James Essinger

Genre: Non-fiction, Writing

Publisher: The Conrad Press

Release Date: 1st August 2019

Blurb

‘Writing Fiction is a little pot of gold… Screenplay by Syd Field for film, Writing Fiction by James Essinger for fiction. It’s that simple.’

William Osborne, novelist and screenwriter

Writing Fiction – a user-friendly guide is a must-read if you want to write stories to a professional standard.

It draws on the author’s more than thirty years of experience as a professional writer, and on the work and ideas of writers including:

  • Anthony Burgess
  • Joseph Conrad
  • George Eliot
  • Ken Follett
  • Frederick Forsyth
  • Dan Harmon
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • David Lodge
  • Norman Mailer
  • John Milton
  • Ben Parker
  • K. Rowling
  • William Shakespeare
  • Martin Cruz Smith
  • R.R. Tolkien

The twenty-four chapters cover every important matter you need to know about, including: devising a compelling story, creating and developing characters, plotting, ‘plants’, backstory, suspense, dialogue, ‘show’ and ‘tell’, and how to make your novel more real than reality.

Also featuring special guest advice from legendary screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the three immortal Back to the Future movies (1985, 1989 and 1990), and novelist and screenwriter William Osborne, whose many screen credits include the co-writing of the blockbuster  Twins (1988), this highly entertaining book gives you all the advice and practical guidance you need to make your dream of becoming a published fiction writer come true.

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Writing-Fiction-user-friendly-James-Essinger-ebook/dp/B07VYY9XH9/

https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Fiction-user-friendly-James-Essinger-ebook/dp/B07VYY9XH9/

My Thoughts

James Essinger is a novelist, non-fiction writer and publisher so he has the experience to write a writing guide. This is a concise, useful and easy-to-read book for beginners and breaks down the important elements of fiction writing. Examples are given to illustrate the advice with links to Back to the Future, Titanic and The Day of the Jackal.

I enjoyed learning about how the oral tradition of telling stories around the campfire has evolved through time to Dickens, Conrad and more modern novelists like Ken Follett and the importance of picking a role model suitable for today’s readers. He gives a good overview of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey which gives a story a solid structure. There are several tips that will help my writing but as a writer of women’s fiction and magical realism some suggestions were not applicable. If I had read this before learning the expectations of readers from those genres, I think I would have come away disheartened after trying to fit my manuscript to all the points given and failing. The bias to male authors made the book less relatable to what it could have been.

Would I recommend?

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide is useful and the length makes it ideal to read  between writing your own chapters. It is worth reading for writers of crime and thrillers.


Author Biography

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide (2)

James Essinger

James Essinger has been a professional writer since 1988. His non-fiction books include Jacquard’s Web (2004), Ada’s Algorithm (2013), which is to be filmed by Monumental Pictures, and Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership (2019). His novels include The Mating Game (2016) and The Ada Lovelace Project (2019).

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/james.essinger  

https://twitter.com/jamesessinger

 Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources and The Conrad Press for the copy of Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide to review and give my honest opinion.

Happy reading!

Love

 

 

Book Review: How Not To Write Female Characters by Lucy V Hay

I am a writer – mainly for fun though I am currently writing my first novel. If this ever gets released into the public domain you will be the first to know. Quite often on social media there are cringe worthy threads showing examples of how not to write female characters so I was pleased to be invited to take part in this book blitz tour so I do not fall into the same trap.

Book Review: How Not To Write Female Characters by Lucy V Hay

How Not To Write Female Characters by Lucy V. Hay

How Not To Write Female Characters Book Cover

Title: How Not To Write Female Characters

Author: Lucy V Hay

Genre: Non-fiction, Writing

Purchase link: Amazon

Blurb

Female characters. When fifty per cent of your potential target audience is female, if you’re not writing them in your screenplay or novel? You’re making a BIG mistake!

But how should you approach your female characters? That’s the million-dollar question … After all, women in real life are complex, varied and flawed. Knowing where to start in creating three dimensional female characters for your story is extremely difficult.

So … perhaps it’s easier to figure out how NOT to write female characters?

Script editor, novelist and owner of the UK’s top screenwriting blog http://www.bang2write.com, Lucy V Hay has spent the last fifteen years reading the slush pile. She has learned to spot the patterns, pitfalls and general mistakes writers make when writing female characters – and why.

In How Not To Write Female Characters, Lucy outlines:

•WHO your character is & how to avoid “classic” traps and pitfalls
•WHAT mistakes writers typically make with female characters
•WHERE you can find great female characters in produced and published content
•WHEN to let go of gender politics and agendas
•WHY female characters are more important than ever

Lucy is on a mission to improve your writing, as well as enable diverse voices and characters to rise to the top of the spec pile.

REVIEWS FOR LUCY V’S WRITING ADVICE:

‘A timely guide to creating original characters and reinvigorating tired storylines. ‘
– Debbie Moon, creator and showrunner, Wolfblood (BBC)

‘Lucy V. Hay nails it’
– Stephen Volk, BAFTA-winning screenwriter: Ghostwatch, Afterlife, The Awakening

‘Packed with practical and inspirational insights’
– Karol Griffiths, development consultant and script editor, clients include ITV, BBC, Warner Brothers

‘A top-notch, cutting-edge guide to writing and selling, not just practical but inspirational. Lucy’s distinctive voice infuses the entire journey. Quite brilliant. Here’s the woman who’ll help you make things happen.’
– Barbara Machin, award-winning writer & creator of Waking the Dead

‘Delivers the stirring call to arms that writers must not only write, but take their work to the next level themselves, making sacrifices and taking risks if they want to see their stories on screen.’
– Chris Jones, Filmmaker, Screenwriter & Creative Director at the London Screenwriters Festival

‘Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays is a must-read for any writer, producer or director looking to create (or in the process of creating) a thriller production. It could also be immensely useful for those generally curious about the genre or looking to learn more.’ – Film Doctor

‘Lucy V Hay explains what a script reader and editor’s role in filmmaking, tells you to work on your concepts and that dialogue is the last thing to work on in her new book.’ – Brit Flicks

My Thoughts

As a writer at the bottom of the learning curve in this craft, I welcome any advice. This short book is ideal for novice and experienced writers. It is informative in a humorous way so you don’t make the females in your novel stereotypical and one dimensional. Luckily, I read many books written by women with female protagonists which helps see examples of Lucy Hay’s words in action though some stereotypes still creep in. All characters deserve to be rounded and developed. Her words of wisdom guide the way to make this happen.

Would I recommend?

It is a quick read, perfect for those on a deadline this July with Camp NanoNoWriMo. It serves as a reminder for writers on the importance of female characters in fiction and am happy to have it on my writing forever shelf for future reference.

Her blog is worth bookmarking too for handy tips and information.

Author Biography

How Not - hands in the air, looking up

Lucy V Hay

Lucy V. Hay is an author, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2015), as well as the script editor and advisor on numerous other features and shorts. Lucy’s also the author of WRITING AND SELLING THRILLER SCREENPLAYS for Kamera Books’ “Creative Essentials” range, as well as its follow ups on DRAMA SCREENPLAYS and DIVERSE CHARACTERS.

Social Media Links –

Thanks Rachel’s Random Resources for bringing this book to my attention and inviting me on this book blitz tour.

Are you a writer? What do you think are the big no no’s in writing a female character?

Happy reading and writing!

Love

Meet the Author: Jennifer Gilmour

 

Jennifer Gilmour is a force to be reckoned with; not only is she an author of two books, she works tirelessly to raise awareness of domestic abuse and change things at a National level to improve the support abuse survivors are given. Her debut book, Isolation Junction was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign and is a fictional account of Rose living in an abusive relationship and her fight to break free. This is FREE on Kindle between 8th-12th Jan 2018. Jennifer’s second book, Clipped Wings is a compilation of survivor’s experiences. It is a pleasure to meet her on the blog today.

“Ice cold rain splattered her face; her toes and fingers were numb and yet she sat there huddled up and gently rocking herself. It was a black night with no stars, like someone had just switched off the sky. The only light shining on her face was the orange glow of a single street light. Rose couldn’t cope anymore, she was crying into her hands so hard it hurt her heart; it was a deep spike of a pain rushing through her body and this wasn’t the first time she had felt it.”

 Extract from Isolation Junction

 

Jen G reading

Jennifer Gilmour – Author

 

What was your original inspiration to start to write?

I was on an awareness course about Domestic Abuse. Alongside me were about 8 other women who had been in abusive relationships. As the day progressed, I found that I simply couldn’t believe that some of what the other women were saying was exactly what I had gone through but just in a different format. Domestic Abuse tends to go in a cycle (see photo below) and whichever way it begins, the behaviour spirals again and again. At first it could be months between incidents but for me, as time went on there were many instances within one day. It is quite normal to try to prevent the cycle from starting again by changing your behaviour as much as possible. By the end of the course I had come to understand that we were all subjected to the same behaviour and that no one knew before that this could even happen to someone i.e. that a relationship can be so unhealthy and soul destroying. I realised that others simply needed to know more about this unacceptable behaviour; they needed to see the warning signs before the relationship goes further or the behaviour gets even more serious. On the other hand I needed others to see the behaviour for what it is. If people are in a relationship and the behaviour within it is not acceptable and is not their fault, it can’t simply be changed by changing yourself.

cycle_of_abuse

I knew I had a story to tell and with my previous unfinished written work I realised my first novel had to be more than a book but a message – a way for others to be able to pass a book on to help victims and to get the penny to drop and bring about realisation of what is happening sooner. This means that when the relationship ends victims and survivors realise they are not the only ones out there and its ok to talk about the abuse.

How do you focus and not let your work with domestic abuse affect you emotionally?

Originally I didn’t look after myself and worked on Isolation Junction, blog posts and research even if I wasn’t in a good place. I couldn’t switch off to what I felt needed to be exposed and couldn’t understand why something so common was hidden so well. It did take its toll on me and I am happy to admit and address this. The solution was simple and that was to train myself to channel my thoughts and focus on my current happenings and not letting my mind wander. It can be still a challenge but I feel like I manage myself better and take a healthier approach.

How do you direct people who may need support after reading your books?

At the end of my books there is a message from me which include the UK 24-hour free-phone National Domestic Violence helpline, which is 0808 2000 247. There is also a support page on my website; http://jennifergilmour.com/support/

I do receive a lot of messages and I have personally referred to local centres, once I directed someone in Africa to her local support service. I have been a listening ear to many as well, the first step is telling someone about what’s happened to you and so I urge anyone to speak to a ‘safe’ person or service. ‘safe’ meaning someone who isn’t involved with the perpetrator or who you most certainly can be trusted and will help you.

What do you do aside from writing?

I am a mum of three which keeps me pretty busy when I am not writing; I have a 5, 7 and almost 2 year old. As a family we enjoy the hobby Geocaching which gets us out and about, learning about the local area as well as having some fun. It can get rather competitive, if you haven’t heard of it Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
I am also a Jamberry Nail Wraps Consultant which brings in most of my income to support my work in the domestic abuse sector including my writing. You can find out more about that on my other website: https://jennifergilmour.jamberry.com/uk/en/

What is your favourite book?

My favourite book is the Harry Potter series, it took me to a different world away from my reality growing up as a child, teen and adulthood. It started my imagination going as I have been writing from a young age and it was all fantasy writing and poetry.

What is your favourite drink?

That’s hard because I have a cup of tea (breakfast tea) four times a day and I can’t go without my tea. But I have a Dolce Gusto machine and I absolutely love caramel latte.

Where is your favourite place to write?

Favourite place to write has to be a lovely local café that does amazing coffee (to keep me going) and scrumptious cake. Although, we have a lovely big bay window that we plan to add a couple of individual chairs and a little coffee table, I imagine using this a lot and can see myself writing with the sun beaming through the glass

Jennifer Gilmour

About the Author

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write her first novel Isolation Junction. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.

Since the publication of her debut novel, Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed. Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recover programme for those who have been in abusive relationships.

Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice. Jennifer hopes that Clipped Wings give’s a voice to survivor’s experiences and raise’s awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse.

Links:

Website; www.jennifergilmour.com

Facebook; www.facebook.com/isolationjunctionbook

Twitter; www.twitter.com/JenLGilmour

Clipped Wings on Amazon UK; https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076KNZJZQ

Clipped Wings on Amazon USA; https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076KNZJZQ

Isolation Junction; UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LX4HLT0

US link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX4HLT0

Goodreads author profile; https://www.goodreads.com/JenniferGilmour

Clipped Wings on Goodreads; https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36449221-clipped-wings

Huffington post blogger profile; http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/jennifer-gilmour

More book reviews for Christmas

It is Christmas Eve! How did that arrive so quickly?  There is just enough time to squeeze in  a quick collection of reviews of other books I have read this Christmas.

Romance

Christmas stockingTitle The Christmas stocking and other stories

Author Katie Fforde

This is a gentle, delightful collection of stories for the festive period by a popular author.  They are perfect length to read with a cup of tea when you can snatch a few moments.
I enjoyed them especially A Dream Christmas but prefer the author’s longer work where you can connect to the characters more.

 

Mistletoe coveTitle Christmas at Mistletoe Cove

Author Holly Martin

Holly Martin has written a festive romance that made me make wish wishes did come true. The characters are relatable and I had my fingers crossed throughout that life would be perfect and nothing bad would happen to the fun loving pair. It has the funniest smouldering sex scene I have ever read. It is worth reading purely for that.

 

Christmas WishTitle   A Christmas Wish

Author  Erin Green

A Christmas Wish is a treat to curl up with on a cold day, in your snuggly socks and drinking hot chocolate.
On Christmas Eve Flora finds herself staring at the steps of a house where she was abandoned as a baby in 1984. Unsettled in her life she decides she needs to discover her history and her links to the village. With the help of policeman, Joel who literally crashes into her life, she delves into the secrets and rumours of Pooley.
The festive air, charming characters and possibility of romance along with the mystery of her parentage makes you read just one more chapter.
I look forward to reading more books by Erin Green.

 

Non-fiction Books

HarkTitle Hark! The Biography of Christmas

Author Paul Kerensa

This a well presented and written non-fiction book about the history of Christmas throughout the ages. It is easy to read and it’s gentle humour makes it a joy.

It is ideal for Christmas fanatics like me to have in their stocking.

 

 

 

Chistmas flandersTitle Christmas: a biography

Author Judith Flanders

As a lover of Christmas, I thought I knew what this time of year was about and the origins of our traditions but this book opened my eyes to how little I really knew. This is an in-depth exploration of Christmas and takes you through the evolution of Christmas including religion, festivities, books, gifts and decorations.  It is a perfect read for those who get excited at the first sign of decorations in the shop or are always on the look out for more knowledge to impress friends and family especially over the Christmas dinner.

It is a book, I long to have a physical copy of on my bookcase to dip into every year.

 

What festive books have you been reading?

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and many books arrive in your stockings.

Merry Christmas and happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

The Witching Hour by Silver RavenWolf

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are changing colour and falling which means Samhain/Halloween is fast approaching. It is a time for pumpkins, candy for Trick or Treat, ghoulish delicacies as well as vampires,  ghosts and of course, witches. This book is loosely connected to October’s theme but it steps away from fiction into non-fiction.

I have always been intrigued in wicca, witchcraft and magic so I am grateful to NetGalley and Llewellyn Publications for the chance to read the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Witching Hour: Spells, Powders, Formulas, and Witchy Techniques That Work

The Witching Hour

Author Silver RavenWolf

Publisher  Llewellyn Publications

Blurb

The Witching Hour—that moment when every fiber of your beings says, “This is the time to do the magick, the ritual, the enchantment for what I need.” It could be dawn, a misty twilight, or the deepest, darkest inky night. It’s a time when all of your being urges you to get up, get moving, and get working! Confidence that you can easily step from the problem at hand to the success that you desire seething around you. And you know, to the depths of your soul, it is time for magick! The moment of your own power has matured!
This is a book of magic—formulas and techniques for working with herbal blends and powders, techniques for connecting to the ultimate oneness of universe, inspiration for deepening your magical work and seeing your intentions become real changes in the world.

I am new to exploring magick so my knowledge is very basic. At the beginning I felt slightly overwhelmed by the wealth of information. I returned to the book after reading around the subject. This time the experience was different. This book is not one to be rushed, it requires a clear mind and read away from distractions. It requires focus like the Magick it is teaching. Silver RavenWolf provides in-depth information which can not be faulted, with tips about the little things which is perfect for novices like me.

Personally, I think this  is a book where a physical copy would work better than an electronic one for its ease of use, tactile nature and formatting. I am looking forward to adding one to my bookshelf.