Saturday 26 October 2019

Feeding the Creative Soul – Book Reviews

Writers need reviews; they need feedback from readers, they want word about their books to spread and what better way than by word of mouth via a review? 

But of course writers are readers too. Reading feeds creativity and so does reviewing. There’s something about thinking in depth about a good book that can spark ideas almost from nowhere. Many of the best reviewers are also successful and prolific writers. Indeed, writers more than most should be conscientious about reviewing what they read.

As a writer I know that all too well. Do I live by it? I’d love to say an unequivocal yes, but I can’t. One reason is time. If I’m going to review a book, I want to write something about it, not just tick a random number of stars*. I tend to ‘stack’ my reviews, save them up until I get into a proper review mood and then catch up the backlog. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I leave it just a bit too long and as I sit down to put pen to paper I realise that I don’t remember enough about the book to say anything coherent, so it has to return to my read-again pile and hope that I’ll catch it next time round.

I’m just in the middle of a bit of a review frenzy at present. Not expecting to clear the entire backlog, but HERE is a recent one.

*more on the tiresome star system in a later post.

Sunday 20 October 2019

Feeding the Creative Soul - LitFests

LitFests are ostensibly for readers, but writers are readers too. We just view information from a different slant, which comes in handy when the creative well is coughing up an intermittent flow.

The 2019 Festival of Words brought a multitude of writers to libraries around the East Riding of Yorkshire, some well known, others trying to carve themselves a household name. It is this latter group which often proves the more rewarding. For a start, they tend not to be swamped by adoring fans, and they remember how it was to struggle and are therefore more open to answering a question or having a quick chat.

As with all enterprises, to gain the most from a LitFest go prepared. Make time to read one of the authors’ previous works. This in itself can spark our own writing: the pacing used in a passage of description, the way a confrontation is handled. It also widens our pool of genres and sub-genres.

Discussion panels on a fixed subject can prove eye-opening, as happened during the Gothic Thrillers event. Not only did I leave with new authors to read, but with a marketing angle I hadn’t previously considered.

Linda Acaster