Said Sirius Seriously #2

I did one of these ages ago (like, wow, two years ago ish). But now, I’m revising it with new found writerly knowledge (see, you just keep on learning!).

Last time, I said to never use the word ‘said’ because it was dull and boring. I always used to use a different word other than ‘said’, even if it took me ages to find an appropriate one. Since then, however, I’ve began to do the exact thing I said not to: use the word ‘said’. And often, quite a lot. 

Why the change? Well, a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s easier. Why spend hours looking for a synonym of ‘said’, when the word itself will suffice? Sure, it might not always be the most interesting or quirky or different, but it still works. 
  2. Readers don’t ‘read’ the word ‘said’ that often – it’s obvious it’s being said – so using a relatively complicated synonym will mean that they may pause in your writing, which breaks their flow of reading. 

Common synonyms of ‘said’ – like whispered, shouted, yelled and some adverbs like seriously or quietly – don’t tend to take away from the writing because readers are so used to reading them. But using a relatively complicated verb like ‘recounted’ or ‘narrated’ means the reader pauses and perhaps has to take a moment to realise what the word means. 

Using ‘said’ all the time can be boring, but using synonyms all the time can get complicated for the author and takes away from other action on the page which you might wish to draw attention to. ‘Said’ is an ‘invisible’ word – the readers just skim over it and move on to the next word. So if you don’t have to, don’t waste your energy on finding something else. As a great saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

~~~

Sorry I haven’t written that often guys, a) I hate writing on the iPad and b) I’ve been away. I’m leaving America tomorrow, so posts will be back to normal for next week! Well, as normal as they get with me, anyway! 

Guest Review: Teardrop by Lauren Kate//By Victoria

Teardrop by Lauren Kate is simply amazing. When I checked Teardrop and its companion novel, Waterfall out from the library, I wondered if I would like them. I definitely did. The first chapter of the book was kind of confusing and started with a guy named Ander and how he saved a high schooler named Eureka’s life. Apparently, Ander stalks Eureka and is urged by his people to kill her. He also happens to know every detail of Eureka’s life. Creepy, right? In the next chapter, the narrator zooms in on Eureka and her thoughts. I personally do not prefer such a sudden main character switch in the beginning, but after a while, everything made sense because Eureka was just as lost in her world as a reader would be. I was amazed by even without having to have Eureka narrate the passage, I could understand her feelings just as well.

Eureka was told by her mother not to cry, ever. Sometimes, Eureka gets jealous since other people can express their emotions so freely but Eureka must never cry. In a car accident on a bridge, Eureka’s mother died. In her will, she leaves Eureka a letter, a thunderstone, and a book that’s written in a language no one happens to understand. Eureka’s best friend, Cat (she’s not a real cat, she’s a person) has a friend who leads them to find a fortune teller. Ander warns Eureka that her other best friend, Brooks, is dangerous. What’s more interesting is that Brooks warns Eureka that Ander is bad too. In the storybook Eureka’s mother gave her, a woman named Selene is engaged to King Atlas but then runs off with his little brother, Leander, instead. Leander eventually breaks Selene’s heart. Eureka, Brooks, and Ander each play a part in the story. Ander’s relatives, the Seedbearers want to kill Eureka since her tears can bring back Atlantis, the evil city where Selene’s tears destroyed. I knew from the beginning Ander and Eureka would fall in love and the Seedbearers were obviously bad. However, I did not anticipate the Seedbearers would murder Eureka’s stepmother to attempt to kill Eureka, since they were supposedly doing “good things”.

Normally books are either kind of boring (e.g. Yay! That boy loves me! or What can I do to get his attention?) but sometimes they’re full of action (e.g. Oh no! A monster is coming in five days and I will try to save everyone! The monster arrives and I lost all my energy defeating him.) My personal favorites are the ones which the characters where are fighting but don’t engage in some kind of bloody combat most of the time. Teardrop matched the criteria perfectly. Books that are similar to Teardrop include The Maze Runner, Free to Fall, and Waterfall.


I love reading and writing things!  If I read a good book, I can pretty much guarantee by the end of the day it’s finished! I love writing because it’s a great way to share my ideas with a lot of people quickly.  One of my favorite parts of writing is thinking of a creative name that matches my story.

Website: thepowerinwriting.wordpress.com


Click here for an opportunity to guest post yourself! :D

Book Discussion: Book Recommendations

Saying ‘I love books’ would be an understatement. Probably. I mean, I really do love books. I’m on many bookish sites, including some ARC sites and, obviously, GoodReads. 

On GoodReads, be it the app or the website, there’s a section which gives you recommendations based on what books you’ve already added (or sometimes they just come up on your timeline). 

   
 
However, recommendations and I sometimes have disagreements. For example, as above my recommendation of ‘because you read Anna and the French Kiss…’ doesnt mean a) I loved it, nor b) I’ll like The Sky Is Everywhere. (I haven’t read it so I can’t compare.) The Genre recommendation seems more plausible, as it gives a lot (there were 50 in the genre section) and it also gives high ranking ones anyway. 

But it’s as simple as this: just because I’m a vegetarian, doesn’t mean I automatically love all vegetables. It’s similar with books: just because I 5-starred one YA romance novel doesn’t mean I’ll love all of them. I do like some recommendations, but I tend to find them through similar-minded people on Instagram, or my friends and Goodreads occasionally (such as someone who started reading a book I found interesting, or ‘trending in…’) but I have so many books anyway, I find some recommendations not only annoying but unwanted! Especially if it’s similar to a book I loved… And then it’s nothing like it. 

This post might’ve been a bit scatter-brained, but I am shattered, so sorry about that. But anyway: what is your opinion of book recommendations? Yay or nay? Do you like giving them (I didn’t write about this, but I do! A friend of mine recently read a book I recommended and loved it!)? Getting them? What do you think about automatically-generated recommendations, such as on Goodreads? Comment and tell me all! 

18/08/15

So, apparently my last blog post didn’t post until just now. Uh. Sorry?

And also I am incredibly sorry for no posts this past week! I’ve been simply so busy and my and Jake’s results for our AS levels came out so neither of us had the time (nor brain power, probably) to write a half-decent post. I will try my hardest, but apologies if there’s only a Friday post this week. 

That being said: you want to guest blog? Please, feel free to email me and ask. A chance of free promotion, if you want! My email is sprinkledwithwords@hotmail.com

Hope you’re all well. I’m having an awesome time in America, and you can see updates on my instagrams if you want (here and here). 

Until the next time! 

A New Development//aka I screwed up and here I am

Hello everyone!

So I am not in the UK anymore… Nope, I am in Orlando, FL on holiday with my family! Over the next three weeks, we’re travelling from Boston, to New York, to Orlando (aka all of the theme parks), to Washington, D.C. and finally to Virginia. And, as you might be able to tell from the title, I screwed up in something: and that’s being a crappy admin and not queueing enough posts for whilst I’m away. 

I’ll try and do as many posts as I can, even if they may look a bit weird because the format is strange on the app, but if I can’t, my lovely boyfriend Jake will (hopefully) be posting in place of me!

He’s followed this blog for a few weeks now so kind of knows what’s going on and I trust him completely to deliver the best to you guys. He writes too, don’t worry about that, and I personally adore his posts! You guys probably won’t want me to come back at the end of the three weeks… ;) 

Anyway you can follow my blog to keep updated on what I’m up to and where I’m going and all of that and I’ll do my Monday post still but have a lovely week all and I hope the posts are delivered not only on time but complete over the next three weeks!

And, uh, sorry for being such a bad blogger. *slaps wrist* I’d like to say it won’t happen again, but, knowing me, it probably will. 

Jake’s blog. If you were curious. 

And have some pictures of what I’ve been up to in central Boston. :)

 

George Wasington

  

view from our hotel

  

i really really wanted to go here…

 

Ways To Live Forever by Sally Nicholls

TITLE: Ways To Live Forever
AUTHOR: Sally Nicholls
PUBLISHER: Marion Lloyd Books (Scholastic)
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2008
NUMBER OF PAGES: 200
PRICE: £4.99
ISBN: 9781407107080
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Bought from a school fete
RATING: 4.5/5


Sam is eleven. He loves facts. He wants to know about airships and space and what it’s like to smoke a cigarette and go for a drink in the pub. He wants to know because he has leukaemia, and he’s dying. Sam especially needs the answers to the questions no one wants to hear.

I picked this up on a whim because I thought I’d heard of it before but then I put it on my shelf for a rainy day. Today wasn’t a rainy day, but I simply decided to read it and I only put it down to toast some crumpets. I read the entire thing in about two hours, and was fighting back tears from about the middle of it (okay, so I was feeling pretty tearful anyway but y’know).

This debut (!!) novel is made great by the protagonist: Sam, adorable, witty, curious Sam who wants to know answers and makes lists and is portrayed very realistically by not wanting to hang out with his aunts and uncles in the last few weeks he has to live.

The other supporting characters handle Sam’s sickness in various ways, and I think that this is very good, as it’s very realistic and provokes a variety of reactions from the audience. For example, his best friend Felix is very matter-of-fact about it, and as he is also dying this provokes empathy, whereas Sam’s dad walks away when the topic of conversation comes up.

The story ends how you expect it to: the protagonist dies (okay and this isn’t a spoiler because the first bit is, “By the time you read this, I’ll probably be dead.”). The ending is actually done very well and ties in with other bits of the story.

Yes, this story did make me cry and it did make me think. It’s amazing how Nicholls managed to make a book about an 11 year old dying humorous and optimistic too. I’d definitely recommend it. I’m not even entirely sure who it’s intended for, but I think any age could read it.

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

TITLE: Room
AUTHOR: Emma Donoghue
PUBLISHER: Picador [Macmillan]
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2010
NUMBER OF PAGES: 401
PRICE: £8.99
ISBN: 9780330519021
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Borrowed from my mum
RATING: 3/5


Jack is five. He lives in a locked room with his Ma. – from the back of the book

Okay. Ooooookay. This book. Wow. (Just so you know… that wasn’t a particularly good “wow”)

I’m just going to start by saying that this book and I just didn’t get on. I mean, I thought/hoped that we would but, alas, it was not to be and… splat. Basically. And I’m going to start with the negatives and move onto the positives so if you really like this book skip the next couple of paragraphs.

To start with, I just plainly didn’t like it. It’s the type of thing that if it were a film, I would’ve turned the TV off, or I would’ve changed the subject if it were a conversation. I spent most of the book reading with a frowny face (I swear if books are the reason I’ve started to get crinkle lines in my forehead I’ll be annoyed). I didn’t like any of the characters except for about three (there’s quite a big cast, just so ya know) and I didn’t like Jack, the protagonist. By the end of the novel, he was so tedious and I get that’s what it’s like for a 5 year old all of the time, but come on. A change of POV would have been a delicious at this point (but, I guess that adds to the overall affect of the novel). And I understand that Jack has been through an awful lot, but man I wanted to slap him. And I’m against hitting children as a punishment. Just… I really felt for some of the characters who had to look after him, and I felt that their anger – which, by the way, wasn’t directed at him – was written well and accurately. Because uuuugh he really annoyed me.

The start of the book was the best bit, for me. Tension-packed and really interesting (and before I got annoyed at Jack and “Ma”), I did actually like reading it. And then it just seem to get like a really pot-hole filled road, okay, I didn’t like the middle. The ending kind of picked up but wasn’t as good as the beginning.

The actual concept of the book was intriguing and I did think it was a good idea (shame about the protagonist who I wanted to strangle by the end of it sorry Jack but oh my days I couldn’t have read any more). Donoghue clearly did her research and it was written very well. If you were wondering why I gave it three stars instead of two when I apparently distasted it, that’s because the writing was so great and more-ish. Sure, the protagonist was getting on my nerves, BUT it was written in such a way that I could literally not put it down. I think that that’s a gift of a great writer – the book doesn’t have to be to the reader’s liking particularly, but they can’t put it down because it just grips you.

I came into this book with high hopes and, unfortunately, personally they were not met. Obviously that doesn’t mean they won’t be met for you, but I just didn’t like it and I don’t think I’ll read it again: it often left me feeling kind of deflated after a reading session. However, I can see why it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize (I still can’t get over how gripping it was) and I might try and read some of Donoghue’s other books in the future (that is, if my TBR pile severely diminishes. Seriously, if it topples over it’ll probably squish me flat and even with my pudge it’ll probably succeed).

Write Everyday

write everydayLast year at a young writer’s conference, author Ian Shircore (Conspiracy!) was signing a copy of his book for me. Okay, so I was clearly an enthusiastic member at this conference, and he spoke to me about becoming a writer. The conversation went something (something as in I’m almost completely improvising) like this:

IAN: So you want to be a writer? 

ME: Yeah! 

IAN: Do you write everyday? 

ME: Well. Kinda. I mean, I don’t write fictionally everyday but I write a diary everyday if that counts.

(IAN looks up at me like I’m an idiot or something.)

IAN: Of course that counts! At least you’re writing! 

And that, folks, is what today is about: trying to persuade you to write everyday.

I confess: Wednesday was the first day I hadn’t written for the whole day in… months and months. Other times I hadn’t written in my diary, but I’d written an article, or fiction stuff. And, to be honest with you, it felt just plain weird.

Did you know, it takes you doing something for 21 days for it to become a habit? (Well, according to scientists. I’ll post the “scientifically decided” funniest joke in the world at the bottom of this article. See for yourself.) Anyway, the point of that was that you have to keep doing something to, well, keep doing it. Write everyday. Lots of words make a sentence, lots of sentences make a story and lots of stories make a writer.

Somethings to write if you don’t know what to write:

  1. A diary. You can record your feelings, thoughts, what you did, what you saw… even what you wrote, if you wrote anything!
  2. A journal. Kind of like a diary, but you might use prompts and make lists, or record ideas, facts, figures, draw in it etc.
  3. Plan. Kind of counts as writing, I guess? Plan your next best seller (okay even if you don’t write, the planning bit is fun), or your character’s children and/or family tree.
  4. Characterise. Write character sketches, a back story, or a conversation between characters.
  5. Write what you’re actually working on. Y’know, that could work too.

Even if you don’t feel like it (believe me, everyone has those days) get something down on paper. It might – probably – will actually make you feel better. And that’s good all ’round, huh?

Book Discussion: Gendered Books

bd; gendered booksOften, books are aimed at one gender or the other. For example, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is aimed primarily at girls, whereas Anthony Horowitz’s books are aimed primarily at boys. Now, I’m not saying that each sex can’t read each other’s books, but the question is, should we have gendered books, and even if the content is gendered should aspects like the cover and author’s name be gendered too?

To continue using the example above, Anna is a pink book whereas Horowitz’s are reds, greens and blues most of the time. This automatically genders the book in our society of today: no young boy would ordinarily, or stereotypically, be seeing reading a pink book. However, girls can, it seems, read any colour book and still keep in the stereotypes of society. For example, on my own bookshelves I have every colour of the rainbow (providing you’re going with the ROYGBIV version!). Whereas on my brother’s bookshelf, he probably has just ROGB. So… a much less wide collection.

Famously, Jo Rowling had to use a pseudonym when publishing the Harry Potter series, so she could “appeal to everyone”. Jo’s name is Joanne Rowling: she has no middle name, so the “K” is borrowed from a relative, and stands for Kathleen (or nothing in Jo’s case, I guess). But what does this tell us about how publishers think people’s minds work? They thought “JK Rowling” would sell better than “Jo Rowling” because then it could be debatable about the author’s own gender. Does that mean publishers think boys won’t read books written by authors like Cassandra Clare, Jodi Picoult or Lauren St John if they wrote the kind of stuff a boy would read?

Suzanne Collins is probably one of the biggest anomalies in the situations I’ve set up here: she clearly has a female name and her books come in a variety of colours, but both girls and boys read and enjoy them. Some of the editions of The Hunger Games are published in black, orange and blue (my collection); some are all black (my brother’s collection); and the newest ones out are pink, orange and green. And yet, both genders alike will probably read any of these, which then begs the question: is it the content which dictates what the different genders stereotypically read?

In the three female authors I named a paragraph ago, Cassandra Clare may appeal to both sexes (I’ve never read anything of hers, so I don’t know), Jodi Picoult is aimed at adult women and Lauren St John is aimed at teenagers – a gender is not specified. Clare writes about demons and angels, Picoult writes literary fiction about families and St John writes mainly about animals, such as horses or giraffes (uh, that’s two different series). But it’s interesting to discover that boys will probably read the former and girls the two latter… as well as the former. It seems that today’s society means girls are more likely to read anything open to them, but boys are sectioned off to read action/adventure, westerns or crime. It seems that if a boy settled down with a cosy romance, they’d be looked on as “weird”.

The final question of this post? Should books be gendered at all. Personally, I think that, as a lot of things in society, it can’t be helped. Most boys simply don’t want to read about horse riding or kissing. Some girls only want to read about these, whereas other girls are open to all. In some ways, it appears that girls are the more flexible ones: or perhaps have a wider degree of interest. Other times, it seems like publishers try to warp the book’s author, cover or blurb to appeal to one sex and not the other, securing an interest base.

Now it’s over to you, dear readers. How much do you think books are gendered in today’s society? Do you think they should be? Do you think it can be helped? What type of books do you/your parents/your brother and sister read and do you think they fit into these categories neatly, or can you find anomalies like Suzanne Collins? I’d love to hear from you! 

Book Review: Escape from Shangri-La by Michael Morpurgo

TITLE: Escape from Shangri-La
AUTHOR: Michael Morpurgo
PUBLISHER: Egmont Press
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1998
NUMBER OF PAGES: 207
PRICE: £4.99
ISBN: 9781405226707
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Bought in a box set
RATING: 4/5


Everything was normal until a stranger turned up on the doorstep and said he was Cessie’s grandfather. He’s great, until he starts forgetting things and has to go to a nursing home. Cessie misses him a lot, but she still doesn’t understand the mystery of something he kept on saying: “Don’t let me go to Shangri-La, Cessie.”

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while and I got through it pretty quickly. It was a warm and friendly story, about family and love and history, as much of Morpurgo’s works are. I didn’t feel that involved with this story, however, but I did enjoy it.

The plot is simple but effective: stranger on the door, mysterious place he doesn’t want to go, and then… argh, this is hard, that’s a great spoiler.

Escape from Shangri-La talks a lot about WWII and it’s based around the D-Day landings and the boats which were used, which is how the climax of the plot happens. Something I really like about Morpurgo’s work is that he takes unknown characters and/or situations and puts them into big historical events. There were so many boats on D-Day that a lot are often forgotten about, and he takes one of these “forgotten” (read: fictionalised, in this instance (at least, I think)) boats and makes them real and remembered.

I didn’t really get “into” the characters, aside from Cessie’s granddad as I loved the history and romance aspect. To be honest, I think one of the biggest character developments came from a very minor character!

Escape from Shangri-La is a nice little kid’s book, but I wouldn’t suggest it for older teens and/or adults like some of his other works (such as Dear Olly or Cool, which, although they are totally kids books, are great for adults too especially if you’re trying to explain something to both yourself and a child (Dear Olly deals with physical disability and Cool deals with a child in a coma)). It was a nice way to spend an afternoon.