BOOK REVIEW-Soul Catcher-Rowanne S. Carberry

The Soul CatcherThe Soul Catcher by Rowanne Carberry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An enjoyable read. Being a fan of supernatural crime stories, and kick-ass female protagonists, I loved the premise of this novel.
The reader is plunged straight into Jemma’s world, sharing her confusion and fear as events unfold.
Scenes of torture and carnage are described in gruesome, but not gratuitous detail. The villains were terrifyingly believable.
While I empathised with the main character, seeing the horrors that that she is forced to witness, I felt I would have liked to have had more backstory to know her better. I like Jemma is vulnerable and upset through many of the scenes, but does harden and begin to embrace her role as the story progresses.
While the chemistry between Jemma and her love interest felt exciting and believable, it did seem progress quite rapidly.
I want to read more of her exploits, and see how she adapts to her new role. Also it would be lovely to read more about the rest of the supernatural team, and her relationships with them.

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REVIEW- WRITING COACH-BRIDGE TO STORY

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For some time I had been wanting to have a coaching session with E J Runyon at Bridge to Story. One of my writing buddies had been coached by EJ while writing her debut novel, and told me how much the coaching had helped develop her work. I checked out the Bridge to Story website, and tried out a few of the writing exercises, which I found helpful.

Me being me, I kept dithering about it. I either didn’t have funds, or I’d get worried about having my work dissected and judged. Plus the added anxiety of having to Skype. I hate having my photo taken, or speaking on the phone. Having face to face video chat with another human being is a whole other level of awkward.

Then I was lucky enough to win a free coaching session. I took the opportunity to give it a go, hoping I would get a cure for my editing phobia, and improve my writing.

When it comes to writing, I love the adrenalin rush of the first draft. The process of extracting a story out of my brain and onto the page is exciting. The story seems to gain a life of it’s own, no matter how intricately I have planned and plotted. There’s always something new that comes out when I type or write the words onto the blank screen or page.

Where I falter is the editing process after. I reread my work and am overwhelmed by the huge task of extracting my story from the pile of cliché, rambling narrative passages, clunky dialogue and other myriad of bad writing.

I felt confident that I would get the best advice, having read my writing-buddy’s novel The Secret King: Lethao, DK Cassidy’s short story collection Spilt Milk edited by EJ, and EJ’s own novel A House of Light and Stone , all of which I loved. Spanning a broad range of genres from literary fiction, magical realism, to sci fi/ space opera.

20750611_296415600766290_1673828969_nWith a pain not unlike extracting a rotten tooth. I pulled an old word.doc of a short story I’d written for an Open University Creative Writing course some eons ago, and a god-awful first draft from NaNoWriMo  2017 from my files. Feeling sorry to inflict the jumbled mess of words upon my poor coach for the hour.

I was relieved that Skype was just a voice call (saves on bandwidth), with text doc displayed in chat window, so I could see the editing work as we progressed.

EJ was so warm and approachable, putting me at ease immediately. It was lovely to finally put a voice to the person. Her passion for writing and helping others to create beautiful words shines through.

Discussing my first draft, and writing process with EJ, she immediately identified the main issues I was having. Working through a section of my work, she guided me through the edit step by step. I felt that I was given tools to hone my writing, and practical advice on how to approach editing tailored to my personal needs.

Bridge to Story has an art for extracting the essence of the work, to allow the author’s voice sing out from the page, rather than imposing her own style, or a prescriptive formula.

After studying creative writing in an academic environment, the Bridge to Story approach was refreshing. I now am feeling confident that I can chisel something worthwhile out of the detritus of my pile of first drafts, some of which I have been meaning to edit for near on a decade. I feel excited to start editing.

Music review-MonochRomantic-Munro

I found this band through one of those late night youtube video trails, which lead along a meandering path of recommended viewings to unexpected places of the interweb.

I discovered Munro through the lead singer Jake Munro’s  partner, youtuber Toxic Tears  (they also have a brilliant gaming channel Metal Ass Gaming ).

I listen to a diverse range of music within the metal genre, from the symphonic melodies of Nightwish, classics like Iron Maiden , to the darker extremes such as Cradle of Filth, along with more obscure black metal and folk metal. One genre I have not really explored is Djent.

Jake Munro composes and performs incidental music as background to his daily vlogs, which I liked. This made me curious to check out his band’s music, so I added their debut album MonochRomantic on my spotify playlist while I did my morning workout.


The band’s music has enough of a heavy baseline and growling vocals to appeal to my metal taste . Technical Complexity which are typical of the Djent genre. While having catchy melodies to appeal to those who like their metal more mainstream. Most unique is the discordant, dissonant tones (I’m no musician, so am unsure if those are the right terms) which which give an edge to the music, adding another layer to the sound.

The production is good too, especially for an upcoming, independent band. I am glad I diversified from my musical comfort zone. I would highly recommend giving Munro a listen.

Munro have since competed in Bloodstock Metal to the Masses roadshow, which was their first live performance, and are in process of releasing their second album. I am looking forward to hearing how their sound has developed, and to hear some more great music.

Book Review-City of Bones-Cassandra Clare

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The characters are multifaceted and believable, the story is well written and the world intriguing; with fantastical elements, yet with basis in real world.

I enjoyed this first book of the series, but it didn’t immediately hook me into the world or its characters in the same way as Clare’s Infernal Devices series (think it was the Steam Punk element and historical setting which I liked).

I am still looking forward to reading the rest of this series and discovering more about the world of the Shadow Hunters post-Infernal Devices.

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Book Review-Dreaming of America-Glenis Stott

Dreaming of America: A Journey of BetrayalDreaming of America: A Journey of Betrayal by Glenis Stott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This fascinating story explores the reasons for Clara leaving her husband and other children to make a new life in US with her lover and their daughter Jenny. It also examines the repercussions for the family she left behind. life in 1900s England is vividly captured. I love that the point of view switches between that of Clara and Jenny in US, and her family in England. This story is moving without being sentimental, and delves into the main character’s actions and motives without being judgmental.
The epilogue is poignant-brief biographies of the author’s family on which the novel is based.

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Rather late Catch-up (from 18 January)

Writing fail this week. Have got a virus again, with an annoying cough (pretty much have been catching bugs every other week since August)-more worn out than full-on ill.

I had been beating myself up for not getting anything done this month, having planned on doing a full rewrite of my NaNoWriMo novel, and to write every day.

While I was browsing through my scrivener file for Nano 2017, I saw that my novel is now organised in chapters/ scenes,and chronological order.

This is some achievement considering I had done more pantsing than plantsing during November, which resulted in my novel being a mess. Each scene switched between different characters’ POV, time, and setting. I’d often mixed up past and present tense in one paragraph. There were endless side plots, which often went nowhere.

That was confusing enough, but I then had to organise time travel, portals, and alternate dimensions into some sort of coherent structure.

I hadn’t seen the bigger picture because I had been chipping away on it a section at a time, concentrating only on the scene I was working on. I’m feeling a little better about myself now. I have achieved something this month, even if I didn’t reach the goals I had set.

Sometimes doing nothing, or the minimal is okay (I am still dragging myself into work, despite not feeling great). Sometimes If you push yourself too hard, as I have done in the past, you end up more ill & likely get burnout.

Postscript 29 January

Not feeling too bad now, still not 100 percent, but getting there. I haven’t managed to write every single day, but am improving. Doing the 85K Writing Challenge is helping to spur me along. Though I am not writing the full 85K, just adding missing scenes to my novel, ready to start the 85K Editing Challenge in April.