Blog 61: Dreaming About Owning a Bookshop? Read This Book…

Although I’ve been busy writing away in a vampire-style, hermit fashion, I have read one book recently that made me chuckle and say ‘this sounds familiar’. Why familiar? Well it’s because this book gives an honest insider’s view of my part-time job, and that book is Shaun Bythell’s ‘Diary Of A Bookseller’.

       If you haven’t guessed by now or read my other blogs, I’m currently working part-time in a large second hand bookshop. It’s got two floors and over seventy thousand books, with genres ranging from fiction, sci-fi, classic fiction and children’s to history, science and art. Seventy thousand is a big number, and as John Green mentioned in his vlog on Tuesday, humans tend to be pretty bad when it comes to visualising big numbers. So think of it this way, imagine your average small retail shop and then times it by six or eight, that’s about the size of the bookshop I work in. You may be wondering why I’m trying to get you to visualise the scale here, but scale is important. Shaun Bythell, the author of the ‘Diary Of A Bookseller’, runs The Bookshop in Wigtown in the Dumfries and Galloway region in Scotland, which has one hundred thousand books. read more »

Blog 60: Why You Should Add Reading to your New Years Resolutions Goals (Especially if you write) – Jen Hughes

 

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

                                                                                                                                       Steven King

 

“Read a lot. Read anything you can get your hands on.”

                                                                                                                                                    JK Rowling

 

“Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.”

                                                                                                                                       Virginia Woolf

 

If you’ve clicked on the link and read up to this sentence, you are already some of the way there. This point has been driven home by so many writers already, it has become a cliché. To be a good writer, you should read regularly. (Maybe not as much as a thousand, but it’s a goal? At this point, you may either say, “Duh, what’s new?” or “But I can’t concentrate on reading while I’m writing.”. read more »

Blog 59: Thoughts On Science-Fiction

It seems that almost everyday my newsfeeds pops up with some article claiming that an alien artefact or lifeform may have been discovered, even The Guardian posted an article last month with the title ‘Is ‘Oumuamua an alien spacecraft? Initial scans show no signs of technology.’  For those of you who have more important things going on in your lives, Oumuamua has been classified as an unusually shaped asteroid. You’re probably wondering why this interests me and why my blog is about aliens and not my New Year’s resolutions. Well I’m interested for two reasons; one because despite the fact that humans have found no evidence of alien life many people still believe there is alien life out there (myself included), and second, because I’m writing  a science-fiction novel with aliens right at this very moment.

The classic argument as to whether or not aliens exist is; well if they did exist then surely we would have found real solid evidence of their existence by now. Seems logical right? read more »

Blog 58: Writing Something For Christmas – Jen Hughes

Image result for christmas readingBelated Happy holidays. Holly, jolly holiday season. It was that time of year again. The Christmas adverts were out, Christmas films were back-to-back on the TV, we had Christmas snow (or, in the case of my hometown, a slippery slick of sugar-coated sheet ice), the same five Christmas songs were on a loop in all the shops, tinsel and fairy lights drenched everywhere, and people shopped like the world was about to end. The more acceptable time of the year to have a Christmas tree is coming to an end, Christmas holidays, Christmas, Christmas and now we’re all stuffed from eating lots of food and socially exhausted from spending time with our family and friends. It’s also the time of year where poor students have been busy cramming for preliminary or end-of-semester exams and pulling all-nighters for essays or other deadlines. If you’re a performer, you’re probably silently relieved that Christmas has finally passed and you’re not now limited to just the festive playlist, which of course had to be about Christmas or you would have appeared as though you had crawled out from under a rock.

I learned this the hard way two years ago. read more »

Blog 57: Why I Will Fail NaNoWriMo (For Real) This Year – Jen Hughes

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) is a movement where, for 30 days in November, any writer can attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. It is the writer’s equivalent of a run and a community of fellow runners to cheer you on. Last year, I dared to participate for the first time. It was a great motivational tool to write a rough draft of my novel, The Dormant Queen.

I was in a pretty good position to participate in NaNoWriMo too. For one thing, I had the time to write every day, which is something a lot of writers struggle with.  I had been working 10 hours a week in a primary school in my area, so I wrote every day before and after work, as well as on weekends. There was rarely a day went by that I wasn’t working on the novel. I added my word count onto my account on their website diligently, and even had time for a quick (albeit terribly written) blog post letting all 10 of my followers know how I was doing. read more »

Blog 56: Christmas Book Recommendations.

It’s the run up to Christmas and you’re looking for the perfect present that isn’t plastic toys, socks or alcohol? Well, maybe I can help. When it comes to books that are being read by the people around me, particularly those closest to me, I like to keep my ears and eyes open. So the last few months I’ve done just that, I’ve watched what people have been reading and what customers have been buying at the large bookshop where I work part-time. I’ve got book recommendations from myself, friends, family, bookshop owners and complete strangers, so without further ado, here are my book recommendations this Christmas… read more »

Blog 55: Artists and Authors.

You might not think that authors are often artists too, but it seems to be true that creative people like to explore lots of different creative avenues even if their efforts are purely for pleasure and never taken seriously. With the recent opening of the British Library’s ‘Harry Potter – A History Of Magic’, I was surprised to stumble across blogs and articles claiming that J.K. Rowling herself has drawn pictures of her characters, though it is unclear as to whether or not any of these drawings are actually on display at the British Library. But if you’re dying to have a look at Rowling’s artwork, you should be able to find her drawings with a quick google search or a visit to her Harry Potter website Pottermore. read more »

Blog 54: My First Collaboration and What I’ve Learned From It – Jen Hughes.

In life, you have groups you work well in, and ones you don’t. It applies just as much to writing collaboratively as it does to everything else. I conveniently forgot about the horrible experiences I’ve had working with others when I eagerly signed up to contribute to an online magazine in August last year.

I found an opportunity on one of the many Facebook writers groups out there. The website was run by a Dutch guy looking for extra writers for his website. From the get-go, you could see it was his brainchild and his artistic vision. It had parts of his complex novels and his stories on it. There is only so much content, however, that one man- even to the imaginative powerhouse such as he- could produce.

So this is where I came in. read more »

Blog 53: One Year In A Book Shop.

Image result for writer

So it’s the one-year anniversary of when I finally moved out on my own and started volunteering part-time in a book shop, and it has been an amazing and rewarding year, both for my general confidence and my writing. I’ve learnt more about the world through direct experience and talking to people in one year, than I ever did at school or university, and I feel that that is a really important thing to note. I’m not saying that traditional education doesn’t have it’s uses, it does, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that our educational systems are somewhat lacking in life skills. But enough about that, education is a topic I could talk about for forever and I want to share with you what I’ve learnt in the last year. read more »

Blog 52: Stage Fright – Jen Hughes.

I was a bit worried. Not overly worried, just a little. My little brother was having a party. (I can’t call him my “little” brother anymore, seeing as he’s 6 ft and I’m 4’11” but oh well). He wanted me out of the house, not because he hated my company or anything but because it was a teenage party. Full of spotty youths being drunk and falling over. Not really my kind of thing, but it does dent your ego a touch when the dog is more likely to get invited to a party than you are.

Luckily for me, I had something else to do that night. Stage Fright was on. I hopped on the number 6 bus to the little café at Queens Court, Ayr which is run by local cultural movement Freshayr. For those who don’t know, Ayr is a town on the west coast of Scotland and is best known as being the hometown of our national poet, Robert Burns.

Robert Burns is most famous for New Year’s Eve favourite Auld Lang Syne, however he has written many poems and songs adored throughout the world such as Tam O Shanter, Tae A Moose (where Steinbeck’s novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ got its title) and My Love is Like A Red, Red Rose to name just a few. Not surprisingly, Ayr has milked tourist revenue to ridiculous proportions, with countless Burns themed pubs, restaurants, festivals, statues, you name it, it’s got a Burns reference somewhere. Yet it has little to offer to actual poets who live in Ayr, which is why Freshayr came into being. read more »