The 15 Book Greatbigjar January Challenge

Are you brave enough to take on this challenge? Do you choose to accept the challenge I lay before you with dignity, loyalty and courage? Then, yes, you may enter the realm of madness that is The 15 Book Greatbigjar January Challenge.

There is no room for complacency in my mad world, I do mean business. I will be reading morning noon and night as the holidays are over soon and the school run-for-your-life begins in earnest next week, but you never know. You don’t need to read the books on my list, just make your own list and see how you get on.

There have been so many books I have wanted to read over the last month or so – I now have that dreaded collection gathering vertically beside my bed, tripping me up when nocturnal trips out the room occur and stubbed toes are sadly going to be the norm from now until the small mountain is depleted.

However, it’s a new year and we need to embrace what 2013 is going to throw at us with enthusiasm and excitement (ahem – that means you Greatbigjar sitting on the sofa, still eating left over chocolate Santas from taking the Christmas tree down yesterday).

The world around me is on day 5 already and I am still only on book 1! Not a great start but I will give it my best shot and my aim is to read 15 books in 26 days! That’s 1.73 days per book – eek!

So, wish me luck, break a pencil or whatever the good luck mantra is for writers (any suggestions for this please let me know).

Here is my list, I thought I would go for old and new books as there are so many out there that I need to read again and again, they are so special in many different ways.

1. ‘Why be happy when you could be normal?’ by Jeanette Winterson – you may know this author from the best seller and TV series ‘Orange is not the only fruit’ back in 1985. This is a further look into her life as she grew up and wondered where her life may go following all the events she encountered as she grows up and leaves the nest. I’m on page 72 – yikes!

2. ‘A Gathering Light’ by Jennifer Donnelly – this is a novel published in 2003, a young girl is given letters by a guest at the hotel she works in. The book centres around the murder of that guest and the information supplied in the letters that inevitably affect Mattie, her family and friends throughout the book.

3. ‘Left Neglected’ by Lisa Genova – I recently read ‘Still Alice’ by this author and I couldn’t put it down, what an amazing book.  I thought I would try another.

4. ‘The Blackhouse’ by Peter May – I love everything about the Western Isles so I am very keen to get started on this particular book.

5. ‘Rush Of Blood’ by Mark Billingham – I bought this at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August and due to reasons unknown to me, I lost it and then found it again – yay!

6. ‘Sing You Home’ by Jodi Picoult – admittedly my first purchase from this author – please forgive me Jodi!

7. ‘The Impossible Dead’ by Ian Rankin – my favourite crime author, I will not say how long I have had this as Ian would weep and waggle his finger at me. All I can say it’s a hardback book in pristine condition and it has been kept in a safe place  – promise!

8. ‘Mother Tongue’ by Bill Bryson – why not!

9. ‘Good Behaviour’ by Molly Keane – set in the early 1900’s this book details life in a house slightly like Downton Abbey – gotta love a bit of Downton!

10. ‘Blind Eye’ by Stuart MacBride – Another book I picked up at the book festival – sorry Stuart *hangs head in shame*

11. ‘The Broker’ by John Grisham – I think ‘The Firm’ was the last one I read so I thought I had better sort that out.

12. ‘Mansfield Park’ by Jane Austen – I felt it was time I read something of hers that didn’t involve a half-dressed man emerging from a lake looking very dapper indeed, you know who you are Mr D.

13. ‘You Had Me At Hello’ by Mhairi McFarlane – great film quote so I thought I would see if the book was even remotely anything to do with it. Or not as the case maybe.

14. ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel – imagine being on a boat in the middle of the ocean with only a tiger for company! Well, I always prefer to read the book before seeing the film – so here I go.

15. ‘The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window & Disappeared’ by Jonas Jonasson – the name had me intrigued, a bit like The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time.

So there you have it – my list. A little bit of everything to keep the old grey matter ticking over.

Anyone out there fancy doing this with me? Safety in numbers and all that? Create your own list send it on to everyone you know and we can eat chocolate santas together while we try to achieve what some might say is unachievable! Shame on you, whoever is saying that! But yeh you’re probably right! Oh no you’re not (in Greatbigjar pantomime style).

I think I need to work on my pep talk. Sigh.

Excellent news – my friend and fellow mad twitter junkie Sheila Hudnall (@Sheila_DFT) has agreed to take on this mighty challenge too – here are a list of her 15 books she aims to tackle before midnight on 31st January 2013:

1. The Fangover – Erin McCarthy and Kathy Love
2. Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet – Darynda Jones
3. Before and Ever Since – Sharla Lovelace
4. Blessed by a Demon’s Mark – ES Moore
5. Playing to Win – Jace Burton
6. Blood and Magick – James R. Tuck
7. The Prophet – Amanda Stevens
8. Books to Die For Anthology
9. Blaze – Joan Swan
10. Demon’s Curse – Alexa Egan
11. Exposed to You – Beth Kery
12. Flip This Zombie – Jesse Petersen
11. Eay Slay Love – Jess Petersen
12. Feast of Souls – Hailey Edwards
13. Seduced by Blood by Laurie London
14.Dancing on the Head of a Pin – Thomas E. Sniegoski
15. Skinwalker – Faith Hunter
Get reading!

Happy New Year – Seven Steps To A New Me!

Happy New Year!

I don’t know whether you are like me or not but I always try to start the year off trying something new, different and possibly better for me health-wise. So, do I lay of the Chardonnay, slam the door in the face of cheese and biscuits and stop counting cocoa beans as one of my 5-a-day?  I could. But that would be dull and not very exciting in the whole grand scheme of everything resolution-like, now wouldn’t it?

So here I am, baring all to you as I make my resolutions for 2013.

1. Write one or more blog(s) every day – that’s some serious bloggage to you and I.

2. Stop making up words that don’t exist (in my mind doesn’t count, ‘bloggage’…really! I weep for the future!).

3. Read at least two books a week (20 books for January blog to follow!)

4. Re-read every single piece of literary wonder I have ever written and be ruthless with the delete button. It’s not going to sell if I’m the only one that likes it. And Neil. But he doesn’t count as he has an unbiased position in the household as Greatbigjar’s husband.

5. Reduce my time on Twitter – *puts hands up in the air* I’m addicted and it’s getting silly and I love it. ‘But it’s a fantastic networking tool’ says my inner demon. Sigh.

6. Get published. Again. But this time in my own right.

7. Write a crime novel with as much blood and guts that you can shake a shitty stick at. Details to follow…wooooo (ghostly noise).

In 2013 I will mostly be striving to love… my family even more than I do now, my bank less and to also try to find inner peace – I too want to find it like Po the Panda, without the voice of Dustin Hoffman whispering in the background though.

Onwards and upwards we go – where we will end up who knows but it’s going to be one hell of a ride!

Procrastinator Of The Year 2012 Goes To…


I think there comes a point in your life that you need to evaluate where you have been, where you are going and where you hope to be. I have so many ideas flying about my head now regarding potential books that I would never have thought about before or even considered writing as they are not my genre.

Personally, I blame my 9 cyber friends (yeh, you know who you are) – I joined their merry clan and we created what I can only describe as the most dark, zombie-filled, siren festive story I have ever had the pleasure of being involved in., the scary thing is I wrote chapter 8 and the goose bumps are rising, as I am next to have my section entered online. Not one for the kids I might add lol.

That sounds great I hear you say but I am now left with the quandary of whether I continue on this fantastic sinister road or do I go back to the fluffiness that is writing for children. My hands are up in fake surrender as those who know me, know that I love to read crime and post-mortem type books.

Maybe 2013 is the year that I go all out and write my first crime novel, filling my daily life with gore, crime and all things blood-soaked? Or do I meander through the fun-filled path where I left off writing for children? Or maybe both?

So, I sit here and procrastinate again *sigh*. Possible New Years resolution: must not procrastinate so much, get my finger out and MAKE A DECISION 🙂 Easy now, one thing at a time lol.

Maybe’s aye, maybe’s naw.

A bit like the mice from Bagpuss…

I passed a retro sweetie shop the other day. So I went inside. Well, you know it would be rude not to…

Firstly I was hit with the sickly-sweet smell of marshmallows, followed closely by the sound of a chocolate fountain. You were given a choose of different fruit on sticks to dab into the waterfall of loveliness that takes your breath away (wiping drool away now!). Bliss. The array of colours and wrappings that have long ago disapeared from our supermarket shelves. I spent at least ten minutes coming out with some gobble-Dee-gook such as ‘Oh wow, I remember that?’ and ‘I’m sure that came in orange flavour too’ etc etc the list goes on. That would have been fine but I was by myself. Nutter.

I had no idea how long I stayed in there for but the ‘ahem’s’ and ‘tutt’s’ from the owner made me grab some needless but ‘I’m sure they will get eaten’ goodies before I was escorted out the place for stalking the coco beans, never mind licking the glass along the way.

I walked home reliving my youth, my newly purchased goodies swinging lightly in the bright bag by my side.

I remembered everything we ate back then. The Creamola Foam we used to get as a special ‘treat’. There was nothing else like it. From ‘bagsying’ who would get to open the jar with the wrong end of the spoon, to who would take the first plunge into the crystals.  It was the anticipation of the rise of the bubbles and whether or not  they would break over the rim of your glass that got us all screaming at the top of our lungs…mine never did though, no matter how long I stirred it for.

Apparently you had to have ‘The Knack’ – which when you are 4ft tall and 8 years younger than said Knack specialist, I didn’t have. Jog on – as they say.

It’s funny when you think back to doing things like this, you always made an involuntary noise – such as an unwanted fart in a space suit. Completely unnecessary but you can’t help yourself. A bit like the mice from Bagpuss.

Then came pudding. Call it what you will, but we called it pudding and I still do. Dessert is for people who live in hot countries, my once 6 year old naive brain thought – being from the Northern Hemisphere I had no idea what a hot country was until much later in life.

The Creme De La Creme of puddings when I was growing up was Angel Delight. Not just any flavour, it had to be Butterscotch. With halved pears dunked on top with whipped cream – Mr Whippy style.

Being an adult (easy now – I didn’t say a responsible citizen) I haven’t given my wee boys the above mentioned e-ridden joy-ride that is all things edible in the 70’s/80’s, but I may in time. Maybe when they are older and wiser unlike their Mum.

So, back to the Haribo’s for me then 🙂

Ten things to do when you can’t write!

So, here I am, slogging away, continually checking my twitter feed and hopelessly losing the will to write with every passing minute. It’s going to be one of those days!

I feel like I am back at school and doing everything in my power to avoid doing my homework. My notebook lies open beside me, glaring at me and mocking my lack of enthusiasm, a bit like spotting a slice of cake when your trying to be good.  So Mrs ‘Look at me all perfect and black’ Notebook your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to bring me round, muster up some energy for me somewhere or as I suspected you could just sit there and glare at me for the rest of the day.

Ten Things To Do When You Can’t Write:

1. Make a cup of tea. Ah yes, I hear you all sigh – the old faithful. That will do the trick surely?

2. Pick a letter of the alphabet and write down as many words as you can that describe how you are feeling. I am choosing ‘f’ today because it can involve a word I use when I am angry, lost and succumbed into silence by my inept brain… ‘flummoxed’ is the word I was thinking of. Of course it was! So today I am mostly: flummoxed, fraught, frightened and farty  (don’t ask – it’s a ‘can’t write’ thing) when I really should be flowing, full, frivolous and funny. Maybe tomorrow then?

3. Go for a walk. No this does not mean a slow trudge to the local newsagent, wearing your jammies under your coat (you know who you are!) to stock up on chocolate and tomato flavoured crisps (yum). It means a lovely meander through the misty fields nearby, letting the literary juices flow and a masterpiece under your belt by tea-time like Holly Hops on a Summers Day – oh wait, that’s wine I’m talking about now! Er, no thanks, not today.

4. There is a saying ‘A tidy house means a tidy mind’ or something along those lines, so maybe a wee spring clean or ‘gut’ as they say in these parts wouldn’t go amiss. But then that would mean actually thinking and doing stuff and that old chestnut ‘Making A Decision’ would come into play. Sigh.

5. Rant – now there’s a word that conjures up the fire in your belly. Have a good rant, in my case at myself as I am Home Alone. But then who is going to hear anyway? I have been known to rant at my wee cats, they are usually asleep and a leg twitch every now and again means that I have acknowledgement of sorts.

6. Hit the Library with a bag full of intentions – although the last time I did that – It Was A There I was feeling the joys of Spring-ish Autumn and making my way down the road listening to a bit of The Bubbles (Michael Buble to anyone that doesn’t know what I am on about) and feeling ‘You are so right Michael, I haven’t met the agent of dreams yet but you never know’. I enter into the fantastic establishment that takes over a corner in Leith and lo and behold. RYME-TIME. For all those un-initiated this is a two hour slot of singing and general hilarity for the under 5’s. Don’t even try it, just turn around and walk away. As lovely as it is you can’t read or think for that matter when they all get going.  Reading this back, I think it’s fair to say I am slightly deranged and possibly about to celebrate my 80th birthday with a big bag of humbugs.

7. Exercise  – now there’s a word. Not like a nice lazy walk but a fat-burning-sweat-ridden visit to the gym. Moving on.

8. Therapeutic Archive Rummaging – nothing like a good rummage (easy now!) over your old files on your ‘pooter. I found some hidden gems that I am currently bringing up to date from about 5 years ago. Amazing stuff and makes me feel all better as I am prone to forget that I have been writing for a long time and a lot of unfinished work really needs to get completed instead of clogging up my meg storage allocation (check me – like I know what that is).

9. Have a bath – depending on the time of day possibly without the glass of wine, candles and soothing music lulling you to sleep – if this happens, start at number 1 on this list and work your way down until you are fully awake and functional again.

10. Eat – now you’re talking!

So folks, I have done 1, 2, 3, 5 and 8 so far today. I’m thinking maybe a 9 followed by a lot of 10 and I’ll be ready to start back at The Desk Of My Writing Life aka my sofa with laptop on knee.

Have a good day y’all (I’m not American but I have always wanted to say that).

‘The blog for ‘Brit Writers and Writers Everywhere‘ blog.’