About Me

My photo
Bookish. Publisher at Louise Walters Books. Reader, writer, and editor. Working class gal.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

My books in 2014

For the first time this year, I've made a list of all the books I've picked up to read during 2014 - probably with half an eye on the post I'm now writing! I love a reading list, it's fascinating to find out what other people have read and enjoyed. Sometimes, if I'm honest, it's interesting to find out what people haven't enjoyed! But that's a bit of a minefield, so I'm going to dob out and keep to myself any books I abandoned by any writer now living, simply because I don't want to upset anybody.

Well, I started 43 books this year, actually more than I thought I would manage. I was wondering if I would manage one a week, and I haven't, especially when I factor in the fact that I actually finished 32 of  them.

So - I gave up on Mrs Dalloway AGAIN. Will try it one more time in 2015 and if I still can't cope with it, I'll let my copy go. I also gave up on The French Lieutenant's Woman. What a disappointment that was! I thoroughly disliked the way it was written, in the end. I just wanted the narrator to SHUT UP and tell us the story. I can see what John Fowles was trying to do, but for me it didn't work. I still managed to read half of it though, before admitting defeat!

Here are the books I read in their entirety in 2014, in order of reading. All fiction unless stated otherwise:

The Things We Never Said by Susan Eliott Wright
Angel by Elizabeth Taylor
The Victorian Chaise Longue by Marghanita Laski
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt
The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull
84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff  (memoir-ish)
The Night Rainbow by Claire King
Saplings by Noel Streatfeild
Never Had It So Good by Dominic Sandbrook (History)
A Garden of Earthly Delights by Joyce Carol Oates

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida (memoir/self-help(?)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates
Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell
Regeneration by Pat Barker
Solutions for Novelists by Sol Stein (Writing How To)
Solutions for Writers by Sol Stein (Writing How To)
The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh
The Sick Rose by Erin Kelly
Hester's Story by Adele Geras
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (the only re-read this year!)

The Ship by Antonia Honeywell
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
The Shining by Stephen King
The Testament of Vida Tremayne by Sarah Vincent

Throughout the year I've dipped into Philip Larkin's Collected Poems, and invariably found beauty and grace in those pages. My copy is definitely not destined for the charity shop.  

And finally... I'm currently stuck into The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. I rarely read or write short stories. I'm going to try to do both in the coming year.

Merry Christmas and all good wishes for 2015!

PS, thank you to Helen MacKinven whose blog post today inspired me to write this one. Hers is fabulous:



Monday, 1 December 2014

December Give Away

Seasons Greetings! 

Is it really December again? I'm frantically trying to get everything organised - presents bought, trees chosen, cards made (yes, made - craft project with the kids). I enjoy all this fuss though, Christmas is a fun time of year despite the horrible weather and short days. 

It's been a fantastic year. 2014 saw the publication of my novel Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase. I can't tell you what a thrill it's been, spotting my book in the shops, reading reviews (even the bad ones) and knowing that people are reading my novel. It's something I don't think I'll ever get used to. 

All the Mrs Sinclairs on my bookshelves!

The beautiful Hungarian and Italian editions

I'm fortunate that Mrs S has also been published in several foreign languages. To date, Swedish, Norwegian, Hungarian, Hebrew, Italian and Spanish, and more to come in 2015. It's also available as an audio book. All of which brings me to my December Give  Away!

The romantic Dutch edition

The Spanish version, using the UK hardback cover design

I am offering a copy of Mrs S in Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, Dutch or on MP3 CD (English). If you would like to win one of these editions, please reply to this post by midnight on Monday 8th December and I will pick a name at random on the Tuesday morning. I will post anywhere in the world, so if you would like to give your prize to somebody else, I will gift wrap it too (actually, I'll probably get my creative daughter to do the gift wrapping part!)

The English MP3 CD version (NB, does not play on a regular CD player. You need the MP3 thingummy-bob-bit! It does play on a PC though.)

I hope everybody has a wonderful December.


Monday, 29 September 2014

New challenges and a giveaway

I haven't blogged for so long, but I have plenty of excuses!

It's been an amazing summer, finally seeing Mrs Sinclair published in paperback and eagerly checking my ranking and reviews on Amazon every few minutes! I've had some lovely reviews and a couple not so lovely :-) I'm learning to accept the bad reviews, after all everybody is entitled to their opinion, and entitled to give it. You invite all the criticism once your work is out there, so I'm being philosophical about all the reviews.

I've had two foreign editions sent through to me, the Norwegian and the Dutch, both with beautiful covers, I think. I have a spare Dutch paperback, so if anybody would like one, or knows somebody who would like one, please get in touch.

I'm working hard on another novel. I'm fine tuning it and hoping to send it to my agent soon. I had a bit of a setback over the summer, but if there's one thing you need as a writer, it is self-belief, preferably in bucket loads. Mine is only slightly depleted... well, quite depleted... OK, depleted... but I haven't lost that little inner core inside of me that says, don't give up, keep going, you've worked hard and you will have to work harder. It's a good feeling, an affirmation from me, to me, that I need to just keep going with this project. Writing is a funny old thing - each piece of work brings its own challenges and set of rules and expectations. Right now I'm giving it all I've got...

... which brings me to my biggest news, which is that I'm now a home schooler/home educator, whichever term  you prefer. One of my sons has been struggling in school for far too long and finally we decided to try not going to school. I have been so worried about finding the time to write... and I was so looking forward to September when I was going to have all the children in school and five days - five whole days! - to crack on with my writing. Of course, that's no longer the case, but do you know what, it doesn't matter a jot. I'm still finding the time to write, and I managed Mrs Sinclair with a baby in one hand and a pen/keyboard in the other. So I know it can be done... and I'm doing it. And my son is much happier, which makes me smile, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Rambles over, good luck with whatever challenges you're facing at the moment


PS, don't forget the Dutch Mrs S giveaway!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase paperback giveaway

I'm doing another giveaway for Mrs Sinclair, this time for a signed paperback. It's officially out on 14th August, but I already have my hands on my author copies... so if you would like to win one, please leave a comment on this post and I'll pick a winner one week from today, Monday 4th August. I'll post anywhere in the world.

I'd like you to tell me about the most treasured and/or useful item that you keep in your suitcase, or that you pack into your suitcase, and why it's so important to you. 

(You can make it up if you prefer!)

Good luck.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Chocolate Book Tag Challenge

Thanks to Gill Edwards who tagged me for this. Here's a link to hers:


The idea is to link your favourite books with your favourite chocolate bars. If you don't like chocolate I guess you could use crisps or something else equally delicious. I'm sticking with chocolate because I do quite enjoy it. Occasionally.

Here goes!

Dime bar = Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

For me, it's easy to link these two. I love this book so much, one of my fave reads last year. It's not a long book, and a Dime bar is also small, and compact, but both pack a punch - I love the smooth outer and the hard snap in the centre. In fact, the snap in the Dime bar sets my teeth on edge, and this book does too, metaphorically, and in a good way. Moreover, Dime bars are a lot of fun and so is this book. In fact, when I re-read Bernadette, I'm going to make sure I have a stack of Dime bars to hand to accompany it. Yum! 

Green and Black's Organic Dark Chocolate = Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Probably don't really need to explain this one. This chocolate bar is dark, not too sweet, rich, beautiful and unforgettable. Like the book. 

Cadbury's Milk Chocolate, the one with the little squares to break off = Perfect by Rachel Joyce

I read Perfect last year too and loved it so much. I love the clarity and simplicity of it, and Cadbury's Milk Chocolate shares those qualities. I couldn't put Perfect down and I'm afraid once that purple wrapper has been opened... A bit of a classic, both.

Bounty = Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

I don't eat Bounty bars often. I loved them as a child and I loved Penelope Lively's books too. Imagine my delight as an adult to realise that Penelope Lively also wrote books for grown ups! This book, probably her best, is exotic and  delicious, just like a Bounty. It is also nostalgic, looking back over the life of its protagonist, and for me Bounty is deliciously nostalgic too. 

Revels = Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski 

Revels are so good. You don't know for sure what you're going to get when you open that bag and start eating. I felt the same when I bought this book on one of my visits to the Persephone Book Shop in London. I loved the striking end papers and matching book mark, and I liked the sound of the novel. My goodness, am I glad I listened to my instincts, because it is one of the very best books I've read. The ending is incredible, such a moving, breath-taking moment. I burst into tears the first time I read it, and wasn't far off the second time. Just like a packet of Revels, you are guessing right up to the end. Wonderful book. 

The biggest Easter Egg you can get your hands on = Mother Missing by Joyce Carol Oates

For some reason the chocolate of an Easter egg is the best way to eat chocolate. I think it must be the smooth curves. Also, the thrill of what you'll find tucked inside the egg. Whatever it is, it's almost magical, and when I read this book by JCO, that was magical too. I had to read it again straight away. I couldn't stop reading it, just like you can't eat some of that Easter egg and then neatly wrap up the rest and put it away for another time. I was so inspired by this amazing novel that I decided to really get to grips with my own. I believe that if I hadn't read this book I would still be messing around with mine, not really knowing what to do. 

So there you have it, chocolate and books. Which bars and books would you choose? I'm not tagging anyone but would love to see your choices.   


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

I'm delighted to be part of the WoMentoring project which launches today. Brain child of author Kerry Hudson, WoMentoring is for female writers who feel they would benefit from free mentoring from a professional female author, editor or agent. Full details about this exciting scheme and information on how to apply for mentoring are below. I've volunteered to be part of the scheme and my profile is up on the website, along with all the other volunteer mentors - around 70 in total. There's a good mix so I think all would-be mentees will find the one they feel they'd like to work with.   

The WoMentoring Project exists to offer free mentoring by professional literary women to up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities.
The mission of The WoMentoring Project is simply to introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support. The hope is that we’ll see new, talented and diverse female voices emerging as a result of time and guidance received from our mentors.
Each mentor selects their own mentee and it is at their discretion how little or much time they donate. We have no budget, it’s a completely free initiative and every aspect of the project - from the project management to the website design to the PR support - is being volunteered by a collective of female literary professionals. Quite simply this is about exceptional women supporting exceptional women. Welcome to The WoMentoring Project.

Why do we need it?
Like many great ideas the WoMentoring Project came about via a conversation on Twitter. While discussing the current lack of peer mentoring and the prohibitive expense for many of professional mentoring we asked our followers - largely writers, editors and agents - who would be willing to donate a few hours of their time to another woman just starting out. The response was overwhelming – within two hours we had over sixty volunteer mentors.
The WoMentoring Project is run on an entirely voluntary basis and all of our mentors are professional writers, editors or literary agents. Many of us received unofficial or official mentoring ourselves which helped us get ahead and the emphasis is on ‘paying forward’ some of the support we’ve been given.
In an industry where male writers are still reviewed and paid more than their female counterparts in the UK, we wanted to balance the playing field. Likewise, we want to give female voices that would otherwise find it hard to be heard, a greater opportunity of reaching their true potential.

In an ideal world we would offer a mentor to every writer who needed and wanted one. Of course this isn't possible so instead we've tried to ensure the application process is accessible while also ensuring that out mentors have enough information with which to make their selection.
Applicant mentees will submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about how they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be for a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time. Selections will be at the mentor's discretion.  

(These wonderful illustrations have been designed for the WoMentoring Project by artist Sally Jane Thompson, who is also one of the mentors)

The important bit - the website:

And on Twitter @WoMentoringP

Hashtag #WoMentoring

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Indulging in fantasy casting

I think we've all done it - pondered which actors would be perfect in a film of the book-what-we-wrote. So here's mine! If you've read the book please tell me what you think, or if you can think of anybody better :)

PS, I don't have a film deal, this is just for fun.

Roberta: Rebecca Hall? She looks very much like "my" Roberta.

Philip: Benedict Cumberbatch? (Posh but down to earth at the same time, like Philip)

Jan: James McAvoy?


Tom Hardy? (both have the sort of Jan-look I imagined when I was writing him, especially Tom, but I have a soft spot for James. I know, I know, who doesn't?)

And, finally, Dorothy: Rachel Weisz? (Just the right mix of vulnerability and strength that I think Dorothy has)

What do you reckon?