Friday, 22 August 2014

Reading: falling in love - again!

As the title suggests, I have an announcement. I, O'Dwyer, have fallen in love with reading for the second time in my life.

The first time was as a tiny imp when my parents took me to our village's local library, which I'm proud to say, remains open. I was given three emerald coloured cardboard tickets - I can still see them as I write this, and was overwhelmed by the idea that I could choose from all those books, lined like soldiers. To cut a long story very short, my love of books began - I devoured whatever I could.  Fast forward through life, there's been an ebb and flow regards the amount of material I have consumed each year but never have I stopped reading books. Though, I've also never stopped breathing, so it figures really.

So why the falling in love, again? Well, nine years ago I decided to study for a psychology degree, and a short time after that decided to stretch my sanity to the limit by studying for an English Literature degree  - yes, alongside the psychology degree study. I know, a moment of sheer madness but hey, I completed both with decent grades! The academic reading that I had to undertake was enormous, and I recognise that I couldn't have contemplated such a feat if I hadn't already been an avid reader, but over six years the constant deadline for reading academic literature meant I hadn't much time to read for pleasure. That luxury had died, everything I read came from my pre-printed study lists filling my free-time between the day job and my writing. Let me add, I still purchased books, I couldn't resist browsing whilst shopping - a girl has to maintain her sanity in whatever form she can but, to leisurely read, consume and while away time reading anything unrelated to my study  had near enough gone. I read the odd one or two new releases, The Ghost House by my friend Helen Phifer was one such read, it took me nearly three months to complete! Shocking but true.

Arrive Thursday, 5th June 2014 my final exam for my English Literature degree. That day finally arrived and on arriving home the very first thing I did was to browse my 'To-Be-Read' bookcase. Yes, not just a pile a bookcase, which as I look across my writing room is crammed full but there's also 32 books piled on the floor in front. Anyway, I picked my first book to read for pleasure. I can't explain how good it felt to know I could take a day, a week or seven months to read the book if I wanted. No one was breathing down my neck regards study deadlines, so began my rediscovery.

Fast forward a few weeks and I am back, head over heels in love with reading but more surprising I'm loving that I'm loving it. I've been on holiday from the day job for five weeks now and I'm proud to say have devoured five books in that time. This week, I started 'Birdsong' by Faulks, I know I must be the only woman not to have read it, but hey, I was busy. I've revisited the 'Goodreads' website and updated my entries on their reading challenge, I've even joined two on-line book clubs. But most of all, I've enjoyed curling up in the armchair, with a fresh cuppa and simply reading. The simple action of turning each page excited to continue to the next has been wonderful.

So, for all the moaning over recent years that my reading habit had been destroyed by my academic study I'm actually pleased to have experienced the situation, and rediscovered my reading habit. To ensure that such joy continues I've have already chosen my next five reads:

Five beauties!

Jill Mansell - Mixed Doubles
Miranda Dickenson - Fairytale of New York              
Hazel Gaynor - The Girl Who Came Home
Rowan Coleman - The Memory Book
Pamela Hartshorne - The Memory of Midnight

Hopefully this little selection will keep me busy into Autumn.

Please feel free to comment or recommend a book, I now have time to read them x

My 'To Be Read' bookcase... and my sax!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Research, Reading and Retweeting

Hi folks, I've had a busy few weeks since the school holidays started so thought I'd drop by to update. Yesterday I spent a fanciful day at Blenheim Palace doing research for a novel - which was a welcome change from my writing room. It was my first visit to Blenheim; it certainly won't be my last. We enjoyed a champagne afternoon tea in the Indian Room which was utterly gorgeous which beat both hubby and I, forcing us to bring a selection of cakes back home. Anyway, after much chomping and slurping we spent a considerable number of hours striding about the corridors and gardens snapping everything that moved. My muse was in her element absorbing everything that could be useful or tangible.

I took a previous research trip to London a few weeks ago - spending the weekend plodding about the capital armed with a camera and dictaphone. This writing lark is all good fun - nothing is ever wasted but stored until required ;-)

Whilst off work I'd promised myself that I'd indulge my love of reading, so far I've managed to read:

Janice Preston's  Mary and the Marquis

Alison May's Sweet Nothing

And am partway through reading: PJ Nash's Triage

My next read will be Louise Marley's A Girl's Best Friend

Which brings me onto retweeting, it's a habit of mine to retweet book links, cover reveals, publication launches and reviews whenever possible. I'm selective I only ever retweet what I believe followers would be interested in. I truly feel we should always support other writers, regardless of our own publishing position - it's better than being one of the green-eyed brigade who seem hell bent on denying the competition any publishing success. Retweet like crazy and help push a novel up the charts - it feels good and authors are eternally grateful.

Time to love and leave you, so enjoy!