The Witch’s Bookshelf : Marked for Life by (book review)

Marked for Life: Emelie Schepp

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Summary: Jana Brezelius (lead character), is a public prosecutor who works closely with the police. When the head of immigration is shot, apparently by a child, Jana ends up in the middle of an investigation that will turn her world upside down.

Review: ‘Marked for Life’ has been on the bestseller list, and has fit bragging on the cover, that’s why I chose to read it in the first place. Every once in a while I like to see what everyone else seems to be enjoying, sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised, sometimes I’m not.

This one is a not.

Now I don’t like to be too rough or trash other peoples works, because as a writer I know just how damned hard it is to get your novel to the point that it’s readable, much less golden. That being said, Emelie Schepp’s writing is good, readable, very nice. The characters are interesting, the plot is alright. But isn’t that the problem? It was alright. All this, despite the inclusion of human trafficking, and children turned hitmen.

Part of me resents whoever wrote the blurb on the back, because it feels like it gives away too much of the plot. That leaves me wondering if I would enjoy the book more having not read the blurb (my summary is different than the blurb fyi).

The next book in the series is ‘Marked for Revenge’, but I can’t seriously see myself wasting anymore time on this series. There are so many amazing, life changing books I want to read, I have to be picky.

If you’re not picky though, and you want an easy read, I’d give it a try. I’d also keep an eye on Emelie Schepp, she has a great deal of promise. ; )

 

Have you read this book, or any other books by Emelie Schepp? How were they? What was the last book you read that you wish you hadn’t wasted your time on?

 

Writing a Novel: When the Honeymoon Phase is Over (5 Tips)

The Blackwater Witch was only the second novel I’d even finished the first draft of, that being said, I was pretty damned excited (wohoo, look at me over here, I have an entire first draft!!!). It was easy, I was in love with the story, the characters, the world, they were mine. It was dirty, gritty, scary, twisted, and best of all, it had a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Cue the editing…

Noooooo, why is this so hard!

I’m pretty sure every author who has stuck with it long enough has experienced this feeling. So how did I get through eight or nine (lost track) drafts, and to a semi-polished story? Well, here are my top five tips, maybe they’ll help you, maybe they’ll make you bury your head in your hands and sob in despair, I hope sincerely that it is the first of the two.

 

1. Determination: If you want to be a writer you’re going to have to develop some pure determination, things don’t just happen, and the best writers don’t just become so overnight. If you aren’t a hundred percent determined that you’re going to finish your project, it will chew you up and spit you out.

Don’t despair though, as far as I’m concerned, determination is something you can achieve at any point in time, in another words, it’s never too late (unless you’re literally on death’s doorstep).

So maybe you have days where everything looks like crap and you want to get in a rocket, and take your manuscript to the nearest blackhole (it’s 1,600 light years by the way) and toss it in, but the important thing is that you pull yourself back up, brush off and keep soldiering on.

 

2. A Plan: This is my favorite advice. Why? Because editing a novel is nothing like writing a novel. Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m a pantser, but when it come editing time I do one of two things, A: Make no plan and end up swimming in a swirling abyss of confusion Or B: Make a plan that I can follow, and see my progress.

Progress is the most important word here. Progress helps you see the light at the end of the tunnel. For me this means that once I have all my chapters lined up (in separate text documents) I edit each one once, mostly looking for big stuff like holes that need to be filled and story lines that need to be tweaked, and things that say ‘blurgh gurg’ when the character is really supposed to be saying ‘I love you, dammit!’. In short, the obvious stuff. I go over each chapter four more times after that, tweaking and polishing as much as I can, but keeping in mind that even after that I’ll still be able to go over it again. Each chapter that receives five full edits gets put in a special folder titled 5. It’s kinda like getting little sticker stars for a job well done.

Then I give myself some time away, that way when I come back it will look fresh, I’ll see things I didn’t see before (wow this chapter seemed so awesome when I read it last time, how come it’s so terrible now?). I go over all the chapters two more times, as quickly as I can so that I get a better overview, then, only then, do I go out and hunt a beta reader…

3: A Deadline: I don’t know about you, but for me a deadline really sets a fire under me. Sure I’m the one who made it, so if I break it no one is going to punish me, but nothing stings like disappointment in ones self.

Make your deadlines reasonable though. Make sure you have the tools you need to accomplish them, and don’t be too worried if you go over a day here and there. If deadlines do nothing else for you, they will give you extra structure to work with, a goal to work towards.

 

4: Editing First, Internet Last: I know you’re currently scrolling around, hunting for that unsubscribe button, but that’s only because you know it’s true. Sure, it’s hard. Come on, just one peek, what’s in my email, how’s my blog traffic doing, just a little, then I’ll work.

Nope, the internet is a web, one designed to keep you tangled up until your novel rots into oblivion, so be careful.

 

5: Discover New Things About Your Characters: Even if you did tons of outlines and character bios to start with, there’s always something new and juicy to discover. My favorite exercise is to write pivotal scenes from my characters life, even if they don’t end up in the book. I just write them, loosely, discover them.

Learning more about your characters can open your world back up, make it exciting again, and that excitement goes a long ways. This also helps you fill in details that you couldn’t before, make the story more life like.

 

 

What are your favorite ways to get to editing? Have you even started? Do you even have a first draft? Let me know down below!

Writers Block

I am staring at my screen, taking in the jumble of chapters, parts of a novel that I want dearly to finish, but have consistently failed to even surmount a first draft of. It just feels so complex, I can’t wrap my head around it, and my thoughts, like the chapters cluttering my drive, are jumbled.

I have decided quite fastidiously that I will finish the first leg of editing this novel by the end of the year. Am I crazy?

My mind refuses to even skim the characters, I am tired, I want desperately for all of the pieces to fall into place, but I haven’t even got a board to put them on. It’s impossible.

As writers we set out everyday to make the impossible happen. Everyone tells us that we can’t this, and can’t that.

You can’t write a good book, it’s too hard.

You can’t sell a good book, there are too many out there already.

You can’t make enough money writing to exist.

Through all of these negations, there is something more true, and that is that hard work pays off. Here’s the thing, I know that I will settle my mind, sit down with a piece of paper and pen and outline (once again) a rough draft, then I will pull the pieces together and go from there. I will go at it day after day, and sooner or later, I will succeed in reaching my goal.

Bottom line, you are as good of writer as your self determination allows you to be, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

With love and commiseration to all of my crazy writer friends out there!

Meno<3

The Witch’s Bookshelf: The Girl on the Train (Book Review)

The Girl on the Train: Paula Hawkins

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I knew I would like The Girl on a Train when I saw the movie trailer in theaters (Snowden being the movie of choice). Now there is always a big difference between movies and books, I know that, but there was just something about the story that pulled me in. So I lept at the chance to pick up a paperback copy of the bestseller and dove in.

Most books take a page or two to get into, a sort of breathing area where you get used to the authors voice, or try to put the world together in your mind. This novel managed to skip all of that. I felt quite at home in Rachel’s skin right away. Honestly this preceding sentence sums up the entire book, feeling at home, cozy. Not that the plot was a cozy plot, it was indeed a rather twisted and mysterious plot, but the voice and world were cozy. I know no author ever wants to hear this, but I could easily put the book down and come back later. I think this is a compliment to her writing style though. You don’t always want to read an edge of the seat sort of novel.

The novel is split into three different points of view, which from what I’ve heard makes the movie rather confusing. Rachel feels like the main character, most of the time is spent in her body. She is a lonely drunk, fighting the feeling that she is crazy, fighting the blackness that comes when she gets too drunk. She spends everyday riding the train into London (hence the title), and staring at the houses as they go by, fixating on the one a few doors away from her former house (where her ass of an ex lives with the girl who he cheated on her with, Anna). Megan Hipwell (who Rachel has christened with another name, imagining her life from the outside) makes up the second point of view. Megan is, in Rachel’s point of view, missing for pretty much the whole book, but we flash back to her life as it was before she disappeared. Anna is the third point of view, living there on that street, suffering Rachel’s constant harassment. All of these points of view come together to weave a nice puzzle, each chapter leaving another clue. To tell you the truth it had me guessing til the very end, which is no small feat.

I highly suggest this novel, especially if you like something slower. It was well written, well put together, a perfectly done plot, the ending was in no way disappointing. If you’re worried you won’t like it, I’d read the first part of chapter one, you’ll know by then.

 

Have you seen the movie yet?