literature

World Book Day

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I woke up this morning to the usual packed timeline on Facebook and Twitter of enthusiastic parents proudly displaying their works of art.

The works of art being their children dressed up as characters from a story to celebrate the 2014 World Book Day.

As I rolled over in bed looking at these images on my phone I felt a tiny sense of sadness that my children are both too old for this, but that was immediately overtaken by a sense of relief.
I am now excused from the pressure exerted on us parents from the schools in what became known to me as shaming those parents who couldn’t spend weeks preparing a hand-made costume.

Oh yes indeed, I used to despise the pressure that was World Book Day in my kids primary school.

It wasn’t cute, it wasn’t a celebration of books, characters and authors – no it was a competition amongst the nightmare playground mothers who thrived on little Cayden or little Sophie winning the coveted prize awarded by the school for the best costume.

Being a full-time working mother I used to feel intense pressure the moment that letter from the school had made its way home to announce that National Who’s a Bad Parent? World Book Day was coming.

I all but booted my kids out of the car every day as I had to battle the traffic to get to work each day.

Where would I find time to go to the crafts shop, make the costume and more importantly make a good job of it so that child was not picked on by those kids dressed by Gok and Tony Hart. The ones where the mothers had spent the past two weeks in between Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women to cut, stitch and design those costumes.

One year I made Mr Bump during my lunch break at work as soon as I’d realised that tomorrow was the show off day. I’ve been up to 1am gluing pipe cleaners to a swimming cap to make a “Wild Thing” until finally the last year I had to endure this mockery of books, I gave in and bought a Where’s Wally costume which I accessorised.

World Book Day 2011, as my child rocked up dressed as Where’s Wally, he was pushed aside by Cayden who had to get the double doors open so that he could walk into school with flipping Hogwarts attached to him.

Deep breathe – it was fine. I would never have to endure this test to how to make a working mother feel like a failure again.

I wouldn’t have minded but for most of these competitive parents experience of reading probably went as far as Fifty Shades of Grey, never mind read on a regular basis and passing on their love of books to their kids.

World Book Day should be a time to celebrate the great stories of the past and present. Let’s try and get back to that instead of making it such a vile excuse for parents to show off.image

18 July : Word counts #wpad

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Love them or loathe them word counts are an essential part of being a writer and the thing we become obsessive about (well maybe just me).

• If I write five hundred words then I can reward myself with fifteen minutes on twitter and facebook.

• 45 minutes of radio should be approximately 7500 words. Heck I’ve written over 10,000 words – HELP!

• If I make the font size larger then does that mean that I can write less?

• If I make the font size smaller can I write more?

• Does anybody else think that word count matters?

• Does writing 140 characters constitute as actual writing?

I tend to be of the type that writes too much and then has to trim the fat from the script, rather than having to pan something out. I think being like this must be better than not having enough words on the page and then having to add dialogue to meet the word count.

Most writers are probably used to having to work to word counts anyway. Those who went to university had word counts drummed into them for three years (unless a Maths graduate etc). Any publication that is written for generally follows a word count too.

It’s a useful way to write anyway, given that it trains the writer to be economical with their words. I for one can waffle for England with my fingers.

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.

What makes a good read? Challenge 12

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What makes a good read? What is it in a story that makes you want to pick that book up or switch on the kindle and snuggle up to be drawn into an imaginary world?.

I remember learning to read at school. The books back then were Dick and Dora, Fluff and Nip books. dick_and_dora3

The exhilaration I used to feel when I had read a word correctly, remains with me now. I recall bringing reading books home and being so excited when I could recognise a word that I had learnt. That was the only part of starting school that I was looking forward to – being taught how to read.

I enjoyed group reading in primary school as I have discussed in a previous blog post. In the summer holidays I was always at the library, and in the summer of 1985 a brand new library was built in Clayton Green which I practically lived in. There was not much else to do in the area that I grew up in, unless you wanted to hang around the shops. I certainly didn’t want to do that, I’d rather hang out with my friends from Sweet Valley High, Famous Five and Nancy Drew.sweet valley high

nancy drew

I tend to always finish books, but that’s more about my personality than anything. I am a “finisher off” and regardless of the quality of story, plot and characters I think about the author and the hard work that they undertook to write this story. I also think, I should keep going with a story as it may get better. That was certainly the case for the Stieg Larrson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” first novel. Those first two hundred pages were a drag, but I persevered as I had read so many good reviews about the book. Glad I did as it was as good as the reviews stated.dragon tattoo

I am currently reading “We need to talk about Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. I am finding it uncomfortable to read, as it is dealing with a delicate subject but the characters of Kevin and Eva are so captivating that I want to know more about them as people. I am pretty sure that Kevin’s story will be different to the story that Eva is telling at the moment.

So that’s what makes a good read.

– Memorable characters. Likeable characters who have many flaws that they become interesting to observe. I like to identify with a character, but of course I don’t want them completely like me – that would be boring. I want their characters to drive their actions, and to see the results of this unfold before my eyes. I like strong, female characters who are not the typical cliché of what a woman is. In ‘We need to talk about Kevin’, Eva is a successful, professional woman with her own business who travels around the world. She didn’t want children, but thought she better had as that was the done thing to do. The repercussion is that she developed post-natal depression and never bonded with her son. A memorable character.

– Cliffhangers. I want something to happen that will make me want to read onto the next chapter. It could be the smallest detail, but when I invest my time in a book I want it to be the most difficult task for me to put the book down. It’s nice to be taken from reality, and if that fantasy world is captivating and exciting, then please keep me there for a while longer. That washing can wait.

– Good writing. I won’t profess to be an expert otherwise I would have been published by now, but a book has to read well and not annoy the hell out of me. Only one book did that and it was 50 Shades. I know, I’m sorry I bought into the hype and read the first one. Only the first mind you, the writing really frustrated me. The “Oh my”, and references to the internal goddess and all that guff – yes I wrote the word guff!

What do you think makes a good read?

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June – I’m behind already but determined to catch up #wpad