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Books read in August & September 2017

I completely missed writing a books of the month post for August so I’m going to do two months together! Here are the books I read over August and September:

  
I definitely didn’t read as much over the past two months as I’ve been working hard on my book series, the deadlines are very tight so reading has taken a bit of a back seat. Two of the books I read were non-fiction – one on kindness and one on Lagom, and the rest were novels including two I’ve been meaning to read for years and which were my favourites of the bunch!

  
My books of the month for August and September were Murder On The Orient Express and We Have Always Lived In The Castle.

I haven’t read much Agatha Christie and I had never seen an adaptation of this one so luckily had no plot spoilers. It was an easy and gripping read and I definitely didn’t see the ending coming!

The Shirley Jackson novel is an unusual one. It’s about two sisters who live in their house with their sick uncle and are despised by the people in the village. The rest of the family died a few years ago from poisoning. It’s a creepy tale written in a wonderful voice by one of the sisters and I couldn’t put it down once I started it.

What books have you loved lately?

Victoria

xoxo 

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How to get through a crisis of confidenceย 

When people ask me about writing, I think one of the questions I get the most is – how do you keep writing when self-doubt strikes? This happened the other day and I joked that most times I sit at the laptop I have a crisis of confidence but then I thought more seriously about the question. 

Just how do you keep on writing when faced with rejections, peer criticism, one star reader reviews and people asking why you’re not as successful as JK Rowling yet? 

Here are my top tips:

1. Know why you do it: 

It’s easier to keep going back to the laptop if you remind yourself why you’re there to begin with. Do you love creating characters? Do you get lost in your stories? Are you desperate to have a book in a bookshop? Why are you writing in the first place basically? You could even make sure you remember by putting it on a post-it so you can look at it when you’re struggling. 

2. Remember it will pass:

Don’t panic if you have a day when everything you write just seems rubbish or you’ve hit that horrid middle part and you have no idea how you’ll get to the end of your book. Take a break and breathe, recognise you’re stumbling and don’t stress about it. Read a book or do something you enjoy then go back to your story another time when you are ready to get over that hurdle.

3. You are not alone:

Every writer has a moment of self-doubt. Yes, even JK Rowling. I promise you. We have all looked at our words and worried they were all terrible. All writers have wondered if we’d ever get published. Fear is in our veins because this is our passion. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t worry. Writing is hard and we’ve all struggled. So don’t feel alone – we’ve all been there, and we all will be there again.

4. Inspire yourself:

Try to turn the crisis around by giving yourself a pep talk. Out loud if necessary but you can also use anything positive to counter that pesky doubting voice in your head. If you’re published you could read a good review of your book or reach out to a writer friend to cheer you on. Dig out some good feedback from an agent or look back at a positive comment from your editor. Or check in with your mum and get her to remind you how amazing you are! Look back at your previous stories – you’ve written a book and you can do it again. Anything to lift you up and get you back on track.

5. Keep writing:

There is so much in the life of a writer that is out of our hands. You can’t know if you’ll get an agent or if your book will be published or how many copies you will sell. That can cause a lot of stress and worry but we need to remember that a lot of it we can do absolutely nothing about. All we can do is write. Write that story you want to tell. Don’t start second guessing in the middle whether it will be a bestseller or not, just keep going, get to the end and pass it on to the publishing Gods. You’ve done all you can do. Words are our superpower. So put that cape on and get your butt back in that chair because you can do it! 

  
How do you get over a crisis of confidence? Share your tips on the comments!

Victoria

xoxo 

Pre-order Random Acts Of Kindness for 99p! http://amzn.to/2vPgtuP

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Random Acts Of Kindness

  
I am delighted to announce that I have a new book deal! My debut novel The Second Love Of My Life was published last year and it hasn’t been an easy journey securing another book deal. I have had some lovely messages from people who enjoyed my debut eager to hear news of my next one and finally I can tell you all about it.

Random Acts Of Kindness will be my next book and it is being serialised in four parts digitally, which means you get to read the first quarter really quickly – you can download it THIS Decmeber! 

For a book about kindness, it’s inception was pretty perfect really. An editor at Simon and Schuster who I had worked with when I won a short story competition got in touch with my agent to discuss working with me again. It was lovely that she remembered me and my writing and was keen to bring me back on board. We met and talked about ideas for a story and we came up with the concept of kindness as something we’d like to work on together. So her act of kindness has turned into a series about kindness! 

Here’s the press release announcing the deal:

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/ss-sign-new-books-hepburn-and-walters-digital-originals-list-630926

And you can pre-order part one right here: 

http://amzn.to/2vPgtuP

In the same week the deal was announced, I had more opportunty to receive the kindness from strangers. Someone drove into the back of my car at a red light and caused a huge crash. There were police, ambulances and the fire brigade at the scene and I was taken to hospital as they were worried about my neck. Thankfully there was no serous damage but I’m been very stiff and sore and been emotionally in shock since, and I still can’t believe it happened. My car is a write-off. 

I’m writing this post on my sofa trying to rest and feel a bit less sorry for myself. I am so happy I have my new book to look forward to. I definitely experienced a lot of kindness after the crash which may appear in the series from the emergency services to the driver of the car in front of mine who was shunted too, which helped as did all the congratulations I had on social media about the new book. 

It really has been a tough year and to be honest I did think that my writing career may have stalled indefinitely. Giving up felt not only an easy option at points but once that I should make. Maybe I should go back to a more stable and less stressful job, I thought, maybe I wasn’t good enough to be an author. But I kept trying because I love to write and I didn’t want to give up on my dream, and at last that has paid off. It’s scary though. As a writer, so much is out of my control. All I can do is keep writing stories and hope that someone will want to read them. And I really hope you will enjoy reading this one. Kindness is most definitely needed in the world right now so it feels like a very timely book to be writing. 

I would love to hear about any acts of kindness you have received recently and I’m sure I’ll be talking lots more about kindness on here and the new series as we get closer to publication date. 

If you ever have any writing questions, please do get in touch and I can post some advice on here too. This blog has felt rather neglected lately so I would love to revive it with your help.

  
Victoria

xoxo 

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Books read in July 2017

Here are the books I read in July! I only managed four after the massive Outlander last month threw me off: 

 
I had wanted to read We Were Liars for ages and I love this special edition hardback copy. It’s a gripping YA read with a hyped twist and the storytelling is very original – worth picking up.

I also enjoyed Cathy Bramley’s cosy Plumberry School Of Comfort Food. It was a pure comfort read perfect for curling up with. 

I wasn’t 100% sold on Miss You as I didn’t really like the male lead in it. It has similar premise to One Day so I think I was subconsciously comparing the two, and I loved One Day, so maybe that’s why.

  
My favourite book this month was the wonderful Eligible which is modern twist on Pride and Prejudice. I actually don’t always enjoy updates of Austen but this one somehow kept the spirit and romance of the original but was completely contemporary and felt like a story in its own right too. I raced through it and would definitely recommend it!

What did you enjoy reading this month?

Victoria

xoxo 

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Books read in June 2017

  
This post is later than I had planned because near the end of June I started to read Outlander and wow it’s a LONG book! But I decided to finish it and include in the June pile as I was really enjoying it. Now I’ll be reading less than usual in July – maybe I’ll pick the shortest books on the TBR pile though. 

So this month I read two proofs that were sent to me by publishers – Truth or Dare which was an enjoyable teen book about a girl and boy who start a truth or dare YouTube channel to raise funds for his sick brother. How To Stop Time was a clever and moving story of a man who has a condition that means he ages super slowly and how he has to hide his secret from the world. I really enjoyed this one and it’s going to be a film staring Benndict Cumberbatch which I think will be brill.

My next read was a bargain supermarket buy and was a moving women’s fiction story based on a real life singer who had cystic fibrosis called A Song For Tomorrow. 

  
But my choice for book of the month for June is Outlander. I’ve had this on my shelf for ages after buying it for ยฃ1 from a clearance box. I saw adverts for the TV series and thought it was about time I read it.

It’s a real romp of a book. Claire finds herself swept from 1940’s Scotland back in time to the 1700’s and has to try to survive in a time where superstition and violence run riot. It’s a massive book and it immediately transports you back in time and really evokes what life was like in the Highlands back then. Key to the story though is the romance Claire has with a young Scot called Jamie despite being married in her own time.

This book was a total guilty pleasure. Full of sex and violence, it’s no wonder it’s been such a best seller and I was completely drawn into Claire’s journey and swooned over Jamie with her. I will have to read the sequels and try the TV show too. 

What did you enjoy reading in June? Any recommends for me? Are you an Outlander fan?

Victoria

xoxo 

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Books read in May 2017

  
This month I neglected my pile of non-fiction books and read five novels instead. Two were books that I’ve been meaning to read for years – The Secret Life of Bees and When God Was A Rabbit, which I read along with thriller I Found You, the YA story The One Memory of Flora Banks and the black comedy serial killer book Sweetpea so a diverse mix for sure! 

I love reading a mix of genres but I do have a big soft spot for coming-of-age stories so I knew that I’d enjoy The Secret Life Of Bees but my favourite read this month was this one:

  
When God Was A Rabbit is a quirky, moving and almost fairy-tale like coming-of-age novel about a brother and sister growing up in 70’s England. The first part is their childhood then we jump into their twenties and follow their story as adults. The book is both funny and sad and the voice of Elly pulled me in from the first page. I just loved this quirky family and their ups and downs and could have read about them until they were eighty. I will definitely pick up the author’s other books now. Definitely one for my top books list. 

What did you love reading this month?

Victoria

xoxo 

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To the Fools who Dream

  
I finally watched La La Land the other day and I loved it but particularly because I empathised so much with the two main characters who are in LA to make their dreams come true – one wants to be an actress and the other wants to own his own jazz club. Like most people with big dreams, they are struggling and are ready to give up when they meet.

When I was watching the film I actually asked my mum “do you think it’s better to have a dream but struggle to make it come true or not to have a dream to begin with?” The question hung over me all night. I don’t think there is a right answer. Like most things in life the grass probably seems greener on whichever side you’re not on.

I admire everyone who tries to make their dreams come true particularly in the creative world I find myself dreaming in because the struggle is actually real. It’s far easier to give up, to move on and try something else but then you’d have to live with the frustrating “what if?”  question – what if I had kept trying? 

  
The film deals with this question and the sacrifices you might have to make on your journey. I cried at the end of it. Sometimes a film feels like it speaks just to you. I was having a writer wobble when I watched it. It reminded me that for better or worse I am a fool with a dream. I will never know if I would be happier without my dream but I do know that giving up on it would make me unhappy. 

Once you have a dream it’s hard to shake off. We will struggle and we will fail and we will have those wobbles and wonder if we’re crazy to want to keep living this life. And yes I think we probably are! But we dust ourselves off and we keep on trying and keep on believing because we know that making our dreams come true is the journey we are supposed to make. 

Once you start dreaming it’s almost impossible to stop. There are always new obstacles to overcome, new ideas to inspire you, and the determination to stay where you want to be when you do make your dream come true. Once a dreamer, always a dreamer perhaps. I quite like this idea because then it is about the journey we go on and not just all about the destination. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you make all your dreams come true, it’s enough to have them and keep on working towards them.

I always come back to my favourite quote said by Walt Disney that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It” and I hope it’s true. That those of us who have a dream have it because we can make it happen. Even if it does drive us a little bit crazy.

  
Do you think it’s better to have a dream but struggle to make it come true or not to have a dream to begin with?

Victoria

Xoxo