On my book shelf this summer

I haven’t posted much about what I read, mostly because I’ve been so focussed on my writing for the last six months. As my draft is coming to the real pointy end, I’m looking forward to taking some time out to read a bit more. My book club, which has been really quiet this year, is also reconvening. For a change, I thought I’d share what’s on my To Be Read (TBR) pile.

I read a relatively wide variety of books, though my favourites are usually contemporary fiction. On my bedside table I always have a stack of books that I want to get through. Always fiction, maybe a re-read, sometimes a memoir or non-fiction and quite often, something a little spiritual or thought-provoking.

At the moment, I have three books on the bedside table, another three eBooks on my phone and four I need to track down over the coming months. So, here’s my list:

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This was a book club pick from months and months ago. I’ll admit, I started it some time ago but I just couldn’t get into it. I’ve seen the TV series and I think it was done so wonderfully that I can’t help but feel let down by the book. However, had I read the book first I probably would have loved it as well as the show.
  2. Those Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney. I’m a huge MM fan and have read most of her books. I’ve actually read this one, too, but it was years ago. I found it at my parents house recently and decided to bring it home to devour again. I’d like to model my own writing on MM. I think she’s a master story teller; I’ve got a long way to go.
  3. Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez. This is the sequel to a book we read in the first year of my book club, some four years ago now. I’m not sure I’ll get to it anytime soon. When I do, I know it’ll be quick and easy, and wonderful to be back in the Middle East with a group of strong, intelligent and resilient women.
  4. True Refuge by Annabelle McInnes. This post-apocalyptic romance was written by my fellow masterclasser and friend, Annabelle. I’ve only just started it and though it’s not the type of book I’d usually pick up, I’m enjoying the fast pace and unnerving premise. It’s only the first in a trilogy so I’ll no doubt be dipping into this world for quite a while yet.
  5. The Tea Gardens by Fiona McIntosh. I love tea and the kind of fiction that takes me on an armchair journey across the world (and into the past). I’m sure I’ll love this.
  6. A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester. This came up as a free eBook through iTunes just the other day and I couldn’t resist snapping it up. I’ve long followed Natasha on Twitter and her blog, and I’m sure I’ll love her books. I bought her most recent, Her Mother’s Secret, for a friend earlier this year (and I’m waiting for it to boomerang back to me ;P).

Upcoming Book Club picks:

Mine is See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. I read an article Sarah wrote about the research that went into this book, including a stay at the house where the murder actually took place (it’s now a BnB), and I just knew I had to read it.

My other clubbers have chosen, What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton, History of Wolves by Emily Fredlund and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

 

Phew! That’s my list… What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?

The Writer’s Room: Jodi Gibson

Today in The Writer’s Room, I’m welcoming Jodi Gibson. Jodi and I met – and sat next to each other – during our 5 day Fiona McIntosh Masterclass. Jodi is a prolific writer, having multiple manuscripts under her belt. She also has a wonderful blog, full of writing insight, book reviews and fantastic author interviews. You can find Jodi on her websiteTwitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Jodi Gibson writes contemporary women’s fiction and is currently working on her first novel. She also blogs about all things writing and books. In her spare time, you’ll find Jodi with her nose in a good book, baking in the kitchen or dreaming of her next travelling adventure. Jodi lives in country Victoria, Australia with her husband, daughters, dogs, cat, horse and chickens.

1. Firstly, can you give us a bit of a run down of your writing approach? (when, where, how much, etc)
I try and write five days a week, Monday to Friday. I don’t have a set time that I write, but I will write for at least 1-2 hours, or to whatever my set word count is. At the moment, I’m editing and rewriting, so I’ll either do as much as I can within the 1-2 hours, or aim for 1-2 chapters.

2. What genre do you write in and can you share a bit about what you’ve written to date?
I write commercial contemporary women’s fiction. I have three manuscripts in progress at the moment. One which is nearing completion, one in fourth draft form, and one in first draft. The one almost ready for submission to publishers, follows a young woman who returns to her home town after her mother dies. Whilst there she is forced to confront the situation she ran from seven years earlier. But will the lies and secrets of those she once called friends be too much to bare?
The other two manuscripts are a lighter reads, but still very much character based. I enjoy writing characters who find themselves at a cross roads in their life.

3. Where do you draw inspiration for your writing?
Everywhere! News, articles, books, blogs, podcasts. I tend to write about real life experiences that we can all somehow relate to. My writing is very much focused on the character’s emotions and journey. A writer must be attuned to everything around them, a story ideas are everywhere.

4. What’s your favourite thing about being a writer?
When I write, it feels like the most natural thing for me. And although it can be tough going at times, it ultimately brings me joy. I love the feeling of exploring a story line and smashing out a first draft that I have no idea where will end up. And I’ve also learned to, I won’t say love, but enjoy, the editing process. There is something very satisfying about knowing each time you edit your work, you are improving it.

5. And what do you find most challenging?
Pulling the whole story together in a cohesive manner! Getting the character arc right, ensuring the story flows, getting the pace right – all that fun stuff.

6. What sort of training / study have you undertaken as part of your writing journey, and have you found it useful?
I’ve completed quite a few writing courses with the Australian Writers’ Centre including their 6-month novel program. This year I also completed a five day intense masterclass with prolific Australian author, Fiona McIntosh which was one of the best things I’ve done. Although I don’t think you can or should ever stop learning, I also think there comes a time when you just need to write. And I also don’t believe that you need to undertake a professional or tertiary education to be a writer. Sometimes you can take on too much information and become overwhelmed

7. Why did you start writing?
I guess in one way or another, it’s something I’ve always done. I remember writing stories when I was younger, and then I was obsessive about keeping a journal through my teens and early twenties. But a career in writing wasn’t something I ever considered until I reached my mid-thirties when one day I sat down and began writing a story that had been in my head for years. Although that story is sitting in the metaphorical bottom draw and may never see the light of day, it was the catalyst for me to realise how much I loved writing and how I wanted to see where the journey could take me.

8. Do you have any advice for other emerging writers?
Don’t let fear or imposter syndrome stop you from writing. If you have a desire to write – do it! Writing isn’t something that comes out perfect the first time. One of my favourite quotes is from Ernest Hemmingway when he said, ‘We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.’ Which is so true. Like everything, writing takes commitment, dedication and practice. The more you do it, the better you will do it. So just write, and see what happens.