Tag Archives: readers

Slow Burn Story

Successful writer, murder your darlingsThis week I have been finishing a slow burn story. Writing has totally absorbed me. Hardly had time to eat and sleep, let alone read my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Actually Tweet or post Facebook status? Haha. In a contest between us, snowballs in hell would be the bookies’ favourite.

It’s been great. But…

Connecting with a Slow Burn Story

Bad Brides


Then, suddenly, a dear friend tagged me on Facebook to write about seven books in seven days.

Well, actually, after she tagged me, she realised that she had been doing it wrong. Because what she was originally tagged me to do was put up seven book covers in seven days.

In all innocence she had forgotten the covers, while she made interesting points about her various reading choices. I knew several (she had actually given me one) and at least one of the others, Bad Brides, intrigued me mightily.


By the time she made her discovery, however, I’d already gone on my own path into something different again.

I was posting pieces about books that were a slow burn story from my point of view as a reader. I had embarked on reading every one of them reluctantly. Then Robin McKinley’s Sunshine and the six others became beloved friends, read and re-read. I loved them all to bits .They were permanent keepers.

It hasn’t happened often. But when it does, it sticks in the mind. And it’s sometimes quite hard to remember why I took against the poor book in the first place. Though I managed to unearth the reasons for the six books I’ve covered so far.

That led me on to reflect that, anyway, novels don’t stay the same, as you grow up, add experiences, lose patience and forgive injuries. SO every novel might turn out to be a slow burn story.

Returning to a Slow Burn Story

I pondered this when, by chance or good luck, I happened to pick up Deep Secret when I needed a break from writing. (It’s been pretty intense.) This was precisely a book that I first read with great hopes that didn’t seem fulfilled. It’s by one of my very favourite authors, Diana Wynne Jones.

Yet, somehow, it never gripped me.

I have vaguely wondered whether that was because she’d written it in the first person, which mostly she didn’t. Or whether it was because the first person narration was divided between two (or rather two with a third at the end) people who seemed to have exactly the same voice, while being completely different characters.

It certainly holds one of DWJ’s most unforgettable episodes. That is based on the folksong or skipping game How many Miles to Babylon? which has always sent a shiver up my spine. This is now redoubled, thanks to Our Author.

She gets a lot of fun from Tolkien fans and their fellow paranormal enthusiasts, too. (And there is a fantastic orgy, which our protagonist, characteristically, treats as an irritating obstacle in his important work.)

The fans aren’t all comedy relief, though. There is a wild jester-character who becomes increasingly terrifying to me and whose purpose and fate remain unresolved. Which may contribute to some of my unease, even now, I think.

And there is a truly scary scene where fans dressed as monks, supported by armed Vikings, set up a sort of transcendental Hum of Power. I totally believed it and was on the edge of my seat by the climax.

But the whole? No, didn’t quite hit the spot. Because for quite a lot of the time I didn’t, couldn’t, suspend disbelief.

Writer of a Slow Burn Story

On re-reading, however, I have decided that the hollowness was in me, rather than book or writer. This year, by a neat quirk of fate which I think she would have appreciated, I went to my first fans’ conference – on the work of Diana Wynne Jones herself.

And it was set in Bristol, where she lived and much of this story takes place.

Twelfth Night maskIt was, however, both more highly academic and rather less costumed than the full-on experience such as next year’s CoNZealand or Bubonicon 52  Though several websites show that her research on these conferences was thorough – the role-playing, the costumes, the alien languages, the international attendees. Maybe the egos and the professional rivalries, too. I wouldn’t be surprised.

But the core of the book, which I hadn’t noticed amid the cast of thousands, is a kind young man, serious about his work, who has just lost his mentor and is trying to do a decent job.  And he has one glorious moment which I think most people, certainly most writers, will recognise.

To his disgust, Rupert, our narrator, has been listening to a lot of distinguished authors claiming that all fantasy-writing is about plot, discipline and calculation alone. And then –

...I had one of those moments that Ted Mallory and his fellow-panellists claimed not to have. Ideas, thoughts, explanations, notions hit me and drenched my mind like the surf of a huge Atlantic roller. Rolled me over among them. I went down at first, and then sprang up and rode the wave with growing and enormous excitement. Everything I knew about what had been happening today assembled itself beneath me as if the pieces had been lying around hoping I would see them and put them together. And I thought I knew what was going on and why.

So now, of course, I have to read it again. Not immediately. But soon. Because there is more here for me than I thought a week ago. Yay!

Sophie Weston Author


Oh look! It’s Christmas… Time to panic?

No! Don’t panic!

Covers ears at the deafening groans.

There are a couple of months to go before we need to start to panic, but the groans are undoubtedly justified.

The children have only just gone back to school, the supermarket aisles are full of the momentary distraction of fake pumpkins and Halloween costumes, but they are already piling up the Christmas chocolate. (I took these two photographs just this morning.) And greetings cards are on sale for those organised enough to get them written before they get swept up in the season.

But forget the stress…

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Haunting Ursula Torday

publish for impact blurbA few weeks ago, I blogged about author Ursula Torday  and how I had a sort of virtual not-quite-relationship with her which was like a haunting. I fell over her books on three different occasions in my life, years apart. And now, ten years on, I have just done so again.

So that makes four.
We clearly have unfinished business.

As a result,  I have been reading her books and digging a bit – and reconsidering the very helpful email that her godson, Robert Torday, sent me 10 years ago. This is how it started this time…


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Author’s Shadow

Twelfth Night mask I deliberately called this blog “Author Shadow” rather than “Author Discovered” because its subject is not new to me nor, even now, wholly understood.

Sometimes an author grabs you. You know nothing about them. You don’t know why. Yet they speak to you as if you know them – or they know you.

In some ways this author has been walking beside me, in the shadows as it were, nearly all my life. Yet, just occasionally over the years, lightning has flashed and for a tiny moment my mystery lady has been almost revealed. Continue reading

The Sweet Sorrow of Endings

I have done it!  I have finished my latest historical romance!
Hooray, I hear you say. At last.
About time.champagne to celebrate book endings

writer worries waiting for editor's verdict

It has been polished, re-polished and sent winging its merry way to The Editor, the god-like creature who will pronounce judgement upon my baby. As some old writer hack said, “parting is such sweet sorrow.”
It is an anxious time.

But while I wait, chewing my nails to the quick, I have been pondering on Life, the Universe and…


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Christmas Wishes and 12 Days of Goodies to come

curl up in front of fire for 12 days of Christmas

Goodies to Come for the 12 Days of Christmas…

Starting on Boxing Day, we’ll be posting a daily fun episode of the 12 Days of Christmas, but instead of suggesting a song to sing, we’ll be focusing on books we have read and a few of the ideas — sometimes silly or frivolous, sometimes serious — they’ve given rise to.
Please join in with your own suggestions. We’d love to hear what you think.

Don’t miss the First Day of Christmas, here on 26th December
pear tree at the ready…

Writing for a Reader – a personal journey of discovery

Writing for a ReaderWriting for a reader is how I finished my very first book. That probably sounds strange, after my heartfelt blog about writing for one’s own inner reader. But the truth is that, although I’d been writing all my life, the very first book I finished was written for a particular reader.

And the key word here is FINISHED.

My First Time Writing for a Reader

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The Inner Reader and the Alchemy of Editing

My Inner Reader and Editing have rather taken over my life in the last few months. This is for a range of reasons. The reasons were all pleasant – or , at least, interesting. But her arrival was a surprise. And, as it turns out, a game changer.

Enter the Inner Reader

inner reader, mystery womanI should explain about my Inner Reader. She’s bit of mystery woman. Continue reading

Lessons of a Serendipitous Editing Week

By pure serendipity, this last week has turned out to be all about editing.

It wasn’t supposed to happen. I had finished the substantial edits needed on my new book, The Prince’s Bride. I felt they made the story hugely better. The publisher’s editor accepted them. The book went up on Amazon for pre-order. It should all have been done and dusted.

But … Continue reading

Resolution for Writers?

resolution needed to endI don’t know if I’m a particularly picky reader, but I do like a novel to have some sort of resolution. It doesn’t have to be a traditional happy ending – though, as a writer, I always end up with my characters looking forward hopefully. But that’s my quirk.

I can take bereavement, despair or the end of the world in other people’s books. Even enjoy them in a Having a Good Cry sort of way.

What I can’t be doing with, is to turn the page and find that there’s no more book. And in the last few months I’ve found that happening more and more.

Is a Resolution purely a Matter of Taste?

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