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

Optimum Atmosphere – Challenge 10 in blog writing for June challenge

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The next blog writing challenge is about optimum atmosphere.

I could delve back into my “raving” days where every weekend I would be part of a gathering of like-minded individuals who were all congregated for the same goal of dancing till the early hours of the morning and feeling euphoric. But we change as we get older and so do our preferences.

My optimum atmosphere is anywhere that my kids and husband are. I like nothing better than us all sitting together watching television in the same room, or listening to them singing in the shower, spending time outdoors as a family and long car journeys where we can all sing along (that doesn’t happen much due to varying tastes in music), but when something comes on the radio that we all like I just sit back and listen.

It doesn’t happen as much these days as we all seem to be busy and in different places, but I cherish those moments when they do arise.

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

People think I’m……. Challenge number 9

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Whatever people think of me, they are probably right.

As part of a training session with work I had to find out what my work colleagues thought of me by giving them a set of twenty words, and for them to choose ten words that best describe me.

The work colleagues who really know me well practically chose the same words as I chose for myself. The others would choose words which didn’t surprise me, as I am quiet, shy and can appear intense with people that I don’t really know. But, those who know me well, know that I am not like that with those I feel comfortable with.

My neighbours in the street probably think I am rude and ignorant, as I avoid making small talk or engage in conversations. It’s not that I am either, it’s just whenever they see me outside it is usually either going to, or coming home from work. Working 12 hours on 3 days a week, the last thing I want to do is start making chit-chat about the weather. Some people like that sort of thing – not me!

My close friends think I am focused and lead a busy life. They are right, and that is how I prefer my life to be. In my twenties, I was raising children and didn’t have much else going on in my life. This lead to low self-esteem and arguments in the house, through my frustration. Towards the latter end of my twenties I lost a very close friend suddenly and it made me re-evaluate my life. I wasn’t living, I was merely existing and it was time to discover the things that I enjoyed doing. Just because I was a mother didn’t mean that my life had to end. So, I started playing netball again, began to write, developed friendships and found a job that I felt passionate about. The rest is history!

Advice to newbies – challenge 8

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The only advice I would ever give to another writer would be to

1) write everyday
2) Listen to any constructive feedback that you receive.

The second piece of advice I can do with ease. At first it is very difficult to share your work, let alone allow anyone to critique it. But like everything in life, the more you do something and come out of your comfort zone the easier it becomes.

Writing everyday is something that I find difficult at times. I enjoy putting words into a script, or on a notebook, but life can get in the way. It would be fantastic to be able to work part-time and write during my days off, but the reality of a mortgage and bills to pay can sometimes cause havoc with the dream. Take the past ten days, work is extremely hectic and I have worked long hours as the university I work at is in the middle of exam boards.

My priority is to make sure that my students have been awarded their degrees so that they can attend the graduation ceremony next month. This involves early starts, late finishes and the last thing I want to do when I am exhausted is to the switch on the laptop no matter how much I enjoy writing.
Hence, I am very much behind on this June writing challenge.

I’ll catch up though. I hope.

Best Achievement – Challenge number 7

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There are a number of things that I have achieved during the past eight years. The main one being is overcoming my fear of flying.

As a child I flew twice, and both times were before the age of six so I don’t have much recollection of that experience. In my early twenties I began having panic attacks which became such a problem. At the height of them I wouldn’t leave the house on my own. I would avoid supermarket queues, doctors waiting rooms and even driving on the motorway.

I managed to overcome those obstacles, but I then refused to board an aeroplane to go on a holiday to Majorca with my husband and son who was only one at the time. I couldn’t face the thought of being trapped with all of those strangers in case I had a panic attack.

Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who accepted that this was a difficulty that he would have to live with. So, we holidayed in Devon and Cornwall every year.

Then my eldest son went on holiday with his Grandad to the United States. As I watched that plane take off from the Aviation Viewing Platform at the airport I broke into tears. What if something happened when he was away and he needed me? I decided at that point that I had to do something about this. So, I started a course of hypnotherapy sessions with a recommended therapist, and I booked onto a Fear of Flying course with British Airways at Manchester Airport.

I’d had six hypnotherapy sessions before the course and didn’t tell anybody apart from my close friend that I was doing the flying course. That way, if I didn’t get on the plane then nobody would know any difference.

The course was fantastic, and it was so reassuring that I wasn’t the only one who was nervous. I recall talking to one of the airline staff from British Airways during the lunch break and telling her that my husband and children didn’t know where I was. I made up my mind then that I was determined I would get on that plane. I did, and the feeling of triumph was exhilarating. We were told of every noise and every sensation that we would experience, which reassured us all.

Since then I have been on holiday to Spain, Menorca, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Holland. This summer will be my first long haul flight as I jet off to the USA and Canada. Don’t get me wrong I still get nervous in airports as I don’t enjoy waiting around, but my life has been enriched so much since I have been able to experience new countries, cultures and create my own adventures. Image

A secret hobby – Day 6 of the Writesofluid challenge

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I have got behind on a number of days with the @sofluid writing challenge due to being very busy at work at the tail end of last week. As this week is also going to be a busy one, it may also be that I have to write a few blogs in one go. If I can sort out my time management it would be possible to just write them in advance. We’ll see.

So, onto a secret hobby. The only thing that springs to mind on this is a new hobby of mine which I haven’t really told anyone about due to the fact that people will think it’s a bit weird. Well should I say, when I excitedly told my other half about it he couldn’t see the appeal.

Anyway, a month or so ago a person on twitter who I follow tweeted about http://www.postcrossing.com and that she had received a couple of postcards that morning. I had a quick look at the site, as I do tend to look at links etc if I am interested by a specific tweet.

Postcrossing is free to join, and you are given an address from a member who could be anywhere in the world, all you have to do is send them a postcard from where you live. In return, once yours has been received and logged on the site then you will receive one back.

As someone who had dozens of penpals as a teenager, one thing I miss since the arrival of email and facebook is receiving letters in the post. This is the next best thing.

So far I have sent postcards to Russia, Germany, Bulgaria and Netherlands and am currently awaiting my first to be returned.

I guess you could classify that as a new secret hobby, although not so secret anymore.

What I would like to try – Day 5 of the June writing challenge

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And so day five has come and nearly gone for the @sofluid write a blog post per day challenge. So, far I have really enjoyed participating in this. Not only has it made me focus on writing a few paragraphs, but it has also given me a few extra followers to my blog http://www.northernscribbler.com and to my twitter account @sarahcassidy.

The thing that I would like to try is joining a writing team on a soap such as my favourite which is Hollyoaks, and see how I would manage writing other people’s characters.

One of my assignments for my MA Scriptwriting was to work collaboratively on a radio drama. It was challenging at first as there were some big personalities in the team, but after a few weeks we got to know each other better and began to devise a full eight part drama. For me the experience was valuable, as previously I had only written my own ideas and devised my own characters.

Therefore the thing I would like to try would be attending an actual story conference, and to be given the opportunity to write an episode of television of my own. Of course getting that first writing credit under my belt would be a dream come true.

I would also like to try joining a book club, but at the moment I don’t have the time to commit myself to reading in the short space of time that these groups command.

It’s taken me nearly a month to get 43% through ‘We need to talk about Kevin” and I’m reading that each evening before bedtime. Maybe when I am a successful writer and I can choose my working hours, will I be able to return to being the book worm that I once was as a teenager. book club