For 2018 I’m setting myself something other than the number of books I want to read—I’m adding conditions (so to speak) to encourage me to pick up books I might not otherwise choose. I’ve come up with a list of 30 variants and my goal is to tick off at least 20 of them.
Here’s my challenge:
Do you want to join me?
The list has been drawn up in such a way that you can stick to your preferred genres, or branch out into something new. There is a PDF of the list you can print here.
I’ll be updating my progress monthly here on the blog and on Facebook, so feel free to share you own progress, and/or pass on any recommendations.
I look forward to hearing about your reading choices for 2018!
For 2017 I set myself a goal of reading 35 books, and by that I mean 35 books cover to cover. To date I have read 36 with a couple waiting for the week after Christmas. Goal met!
I dip a lot. What I mean by that is I read every day, but often that translates to picking up a book I've read before, opening it at a random page, and reading.
So here's the 36 books for this year:
My favourite book this year?
The Martian (no, I haven't seen the movie). A brilliant story that I read in one day. If you haven't read it yet and you enjoy a good adventure story, grab yourself a copy!
The two thriller series I found/was recommended: The Orphan X books (15 & 16) and the Victor the Assassin books (34-36). Both series are addictive and the books are hard to put down. Evan (Orphan X) is one of the best characters I've ever come across. I highly, highly recommend both these series, though they are not for the weak of stomach (i.e. there's a lot of violence).
Onto next year. I'm taking recommendations, so feel free to let me know your favourites.
Under a Namibian Sky by Angelina Kalahari
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this story! It kept my emotions swinging from happiness - that breath catching excitement - to heartbreaking sadness, and back again. The location and descriptions of Namibia are wonderful, and the glimpse of life in another country added to the story. Highly recommend this for anyone who loves a good romance with great characters, setting, and a feel of reality.
View all my reviews
I'm not big on doing writing courses, but this week I’m off to do some professional development for my writer life.
The Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival 2017 is on in Hobart and I’m off to learn more about writing. In fact, I’ve already started. Yesterday I attending a Creative Writing Masterclass (sounds impressive, huh?) and today a Travel Writing Masterclass is on the agenda. Great timing, I know! Tomorrow I’ll be going to a couple of sessions on Adventure Writing, and Story and Science.
The festival is only run every two years and this may in fact be the last. The current arts funding has been cut to the organisation that runs the festival, the Tasmanian Writers Centre, so the future looks shaky.
All the more reason to go along.
I’ve linked to the programme here, and I encourage you to have a look at what’s on offer—and that includes you readers out there! You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy the sessions.
Maybe I’ll see you there!
Can you remember learning to read? I guess most of us were so young when we started that we don’t recall the process. I can’t. I have absolutely no memory of learning—it feels to me as though I’ve been reading all of my life. I know I started early. Apparently I used to steal my older brother’s readers and read them before he could. Yet another cause of sibling arguments in our home, no doubt!
Mum and Dad really encouraged my reading. I remember Mum was always bringing books home for me and allowing me to browse shelves at second hand shops. I read books over and over again and kept some favourites for many years. I went through phases of likes: The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Kit Hunter, any book on witches I could find, and classics like Black Beauty and National Velvet. There was one time I would only borrow the thickest books I could find in the library, and as I went through the teenage years I read every doctor/nurse romance and the like the town library could supply. Then my parents introduced me to Georgette Heyer. Dad gave me ‘The Conqueror’ to read when we studied William the Conqueror in Year 7, and I proceeded to annoy my history teacher by knowing everything there was to know on the subject. I have read all of Heyer’s historical books, and own the complete collection—including the rare ones. Dad also gave me my first Horatio Hornblower book (historical British navy- read them all), and the Richard Bolitho books of the same genre. These days I absorb thrillers, and romance, at a steady rate, which explains the genre I write! I could go on and on and on, but I’ll leave it there.
I consider myself lucky to be a bookworm, and I can thank my parents for fostering my love of reading. In the end we shared reading. They would recommend books to me, and I would recommend books to them. Both of my parents have now passed away, but I have friends and work colleagues who are only too happy to pass on books and recommendations, so the supply is still coming.
Writers are told that to write, you must read, and read a lot. This has to be one of the few pieces of writing advice I not only agree with, but follow. I don't always read 'new' books, in fact I spend a lot of time re-reading books. These days I am trying to branch out a little and read things I wouldn't normally consider (Except erotica. Nope. Just no!). I've finished reading a thriller and my next book is about a trek on the Kokoda Trail.
I’d be happy to hear your recommendations! Any genre, fiction or nonfiction—whatever you’ve read and enjoyed. Just leave a comment!
My bad hand is playing up this week, so instead of a blog post I offer you this Ted Talk about the world's most mysterious book, the Voynich manuscript. I love the theories put forward about what the book is about - what do you think?
I’m not going to start with the old ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ stuff. This post is all about covers, and only covers. And it’s an appreciation of the beautiful—nothing more, nothing less.
We all have different taste when judging something’s appearance. I love visuals. I love seeing all kinds of shapes, colours, contrasts, and effects.
A friend recently loaned me a book he’d just finished as he thought I would like it. I probably will enjoy reading it as it’s a thriller, but it was the cover the wowed me from the get-go. Some may think it’s nothing special – beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all – but I love it! Here it is…
I am drawn by the image of the man. You can still just make out his features and the details, but the text and images fill his shape, giving a wonderful visual impact. The colours appeal to me as well – the background with the splash of vivid blue across it. The back cover is the reverse, the silhouetted man surrounded by the text and images. The whole combination had me clutching the book to absorb it.
Do you have a particular cover, or picture, you love? I’d love to see it, so feel free to share!
This week I’ve had some rare time off from writing. Most weeks I try to churn out a few thousand words, but I’ve been busy lately that some time off is warranted.
Here's what I have been up to…
I’ve completed all rounds of edits (mine, beta readers, professional editor) and I’m letting the book sit for a week or so before proceeding with file uploads. It’s worth doing – I’ve already had a couple of thoughts and made a few minor changes, and it’s easier to do this now rather than once I’ve uploaded files to Amazon and IngramSpark.
Along with the edits have been other tasks such as assigning an ISBN, applying to the National Library for a cataloguing in publication entry, obtaining a template from IngramSpark for the cover of the print edition, and formatting the text for both electronic and print editions of the book. Oh, and I’ve been playing with cover designs, too.
Stay tuned for release date announcements and the cover reveal!
If you want the news before it goes onto my blog and Facebook, you can join my ‘News’ email list - see the right hand side of my blog.
In the meantime...
I’m very close to hitting the 50,000 word mark of my current project, but I’ve put it aside for a week or so. The story has required a degree of rewriting—twice—but it’s improved each time. Once the next release is set and ready, I’ll continue with writing this one before I start edits on another manuscript.
And don't forget about reading!
I’ve read a couple more books since I last updated on this year’s reading challenge. My current read is the latest Jack Reacher book—Night School. My to-be-read pile keeps growing faster than I can read the books. It’s not a complaint, the only difficulty is deciding which book to read next. And then there’s the books I want to read, but don’t have yet…
That’s about it at the moment—quite enough to be going on with, but I enjoy it. Stay tuned for more updates.
by Alison Clifford
It’s Friday again – they come around so fast! I thought this week I’d update you on my reading challenge.
To refresh. The last two years I set myself the goal of 52 books in 52 weeks. This year I’m cutting myself some slack and I’ve set the goal at 35 books, and so far I’m cruising!
First cab off the rank was James Phelan’s The Hunted, the second of the Jed Walker books. I read the first one, The Spy, a year ago and it’s taken a while to get hold of the second. It was worth the wait! James Phelan writes thrillers with a clear simplicity. There’s plenty of action and lots of dialogue, but none of it is drawn out or laborious. I’m a fast reader, so I don’t like having to slow down to be able to picture the scene. The Jed Walker books are brilliant, in my opinion. You may notice I’ve also read the third book, Kill Switch. Another fantastic story! If you like thrillers, then I think you’d love these.
Espionage was interesting to read. It’s relevant research at the moment, so I liked the stories and information it contained. I followed that with The Silly Side of Sherlock Holmes. Talk about a chuckle! The author has taken Sherlock Holmes illustrations from The Strand Magazine and added his own story to them, with hilarious results.
The other book I read was a memoir called That Fry Boy. This book has been on my to-be-read list for quite a while. It’s written by James Fry and takes you through his school years, the horrendous bullying he suffered and the devastating consequences. I can’t recommend this book highly enough—it’s a wake-up call to us all, and an incredible story.
My current read is Selected Stories by Henry Lawson. So far his descriptions and perspective of life in Australia in the late 1800’s is interesting. It is certainly highlighting the different attitudes we have today from those held many years ago.
I’ve added links to each book’s Goodreads page, in case you want to find out more.
That Fry Boy, by James Fry
Espionage, by David Owen
The Hunted, by James Phelan
Kill Switch, by James Phelan
The Silly Side of Sherlock Holmes, by Philip Ardagh
Do you have any recommendations for books to read? I'm always looking for something different and would appreciate any ideas!
by Alison Clifford
We’re heading for the start of a new year and it’s customary at this time to make resolutions for the year ahead. I’m not into resolutions—they’re an invitation to fail. I have, however, done a lot of thinking over the past few weeks and I’ve made some decisions about 2017. So no resolutions, only plans.
I have two projects I’ve started and I hope to finish at least one of those. ‘I hope’ sounds kind of non-committal, but it may be that another story starts screaming to be written and the two original projects may get shelved for a bit longer. I will write another story, which one is the chosen one is the question.
I’m planning to publish two books in 2017. Both have been written—it’s just a case of pulling them into shape. Sounds easy, right?
I’ve thought quite a bit about where I want my blog to go in the New Year. Blogging is something I love doing and I want to improve my blog in 2017. Up to now I’ve had a mapped out editorial calendar and posted to plan each week. I have to admit I’m not completely happy with how that is working, so in 2017 I’m going to do something completely foreign to my nature.
I’m going to wing it.
I want to keep the focus similar, but I want it to be more informal. How that is going to look is anyone’s guess!
Something New (because I don’t have enough to do already!)
I must be mad, because I’m about to start a second blog. This one is going to be about writing, and in particular, help and tips for those new to the writing game. It’s also going to focus on indie authors—those who want to self-publish. I’ll be winging it, like my main blog, at least to start with. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and apparently now is the time I’m doing it! It’s called Write Mind and I’ll be sharing links to some of the posts on Facebook. If you want to write and would like some tips, feel free to come along for the ride.
One thing I’m sticking with is my annual reading challenge, though I’m going to cut down the number of books I plan to read from 52 to 35. As I did last year, I’m going to try to read books from several genres and try books I might not normally read. I have my reading challenge set up on Goodreads and it tracks the books I read and tells me how many I have left to complete the challenge. If you haven’t already had a look at the Goodreads website, I encourage you to do so—it really is the ultimate website for readers!
Do you want to play along? You can set any book number you like and read whatever you like. I’d love to hear about some of the books you’ve enjoyed.
That’s about it for now. I think that’s more than enough to be going on with! Don’t forget, if you would like to be notified by email of special deals and announcements, sign up to my list. The sign up form can be found on this page (on the right).
I hope you have a fantastic New Year and that 2017 is good to you!
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All about my writing life: news, research, books I've read, and more.