What the Hell is British Culture Anyway?

There’s no escaping it, the last few months have been tough here in the UK. Starting with the attack on Westminster Bridge, then the explosion in Manchester, another attack in London, and, most recently, the Grenfell Tower fire. So many people needlessly killed, so many lives ruined, so many wide-reaching ripples of grief.

In fact, things haven’t been right for a while. In short, it’s felt like a country divided. And over the last few years, I’ve heard a lot of people going on about British culture, and how mass immigration is watering it down. Attacking it, even.

But what the hell is ‘British culture’ anyway?

I’ve never been able to pin it down. I’ve asked people, challenged those who say we’re losing it, asked for a definition. And no one’s given me a satisfactory answer yet. What is it? Eating fish and chips by the sea? Meat and two veg? Binge drinking? What exactly are these British values that everyone is so desperate to save?

But watching the events unfolding in the last few months, watching the reactions and responses, I’ve finally nailed it down. I finally feel like I know exactly what British culture is.

It’s joining together in times of trouble; looking for the things we have in common, and not our differences. Standing strong in the face of adversity, with a bold display of bravery, unity, and bloody mindedness. Helping those in more need than yourself, even when you have little to give. Carrying on, no matter how wet, difficult, or horrendous things are. And doing so with a sense of humour, always able to laugh at ourselves and our enemies. And above all, above all, love over hatred, and the knowledge that good will always win.

That’s what British culture is to me. And I couldn’t be prouder to be a Brit.

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group: The Real Struggle

Insecure Writer's Support GroupToday is June’s instalment of Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which sees hundreds of writers and bloggers worldwide post about their insecurities, support others with theirs, and offer up advice for overcoming them. If you want to visit the other IWSG member blogs, or sign up yourself, you can do so here.

All writers have a certain part of the book-writing/publishing business that they really struggle with (or, more likely, several parts, but we all have our absolute nemesis). Mine is blurb writing. Even more so than titles.

My biggest problem with it is that, for some reason, when I sit down to write one, every cliché my brain knows spews itself onto the paper. I just can’t help it!

I’m learning, I think I’m getting better, but no part of my book suffers more revisions than the poor blurb.

I’m working on one now. Wish me luck! What’s your writing nemesis?

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Got Goals? Plugging Away

Big Goals BloghopMay has been happily productive, and I am, as the title suggests, just plugging away at my next book.

The Mothers will be the last book in my Paper Duchess series, and it’s coming along quite nicely. It’s got some great twists and turns plotted out, but as I write, the characters are throwing in some more curve balls, which is great. Even though the book is fully plotted out, they’re still making their own decisions and surprising me with them.

But there’s not much more to report than that, just steady progress behind the scenes. Long may my writing mojo remain!

How’s your month been? If you want to visit the other blogs in this blog hop, or fancy signing up yourself, check out the linky list here: sylmion.blogspot.co.uk/p/do-you-have-goal.html

The Mothers Coming 2017

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Changing My Spots

Insecure Writer's Support GroupToday is May’s instalment of Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which sees hundreds of writers and bloggers worldwide post about their insecurities, support others with theirs, and offer up advice for overcoming them. If you want to visit the other IWSG member blogs, or sign up yourself, you can do so here.

There are those who say people don’t change, that old habits die hard, that leopards…well, you get the picture. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

I’m sure, as writers, we all know that there’s always something new to learn, or a new viewpoint to consider, that we don’t, never have, and will never know it all. It’s important to be open to change, otherwise we simply keep making the same mistakes over and over. I’m sure we’ve all got the unfinished manuscripts to prove it.

I used to insist that I was a discovery writer, that plotting simply did not work for me. And, you know what? It was true. Plotting didn’t work. But it wasn’t because the concept of it was wrong, just that my method was.

It’s taken a long time, and a lot of unfinished stories (and, actually, a lot of soul-searching too) to discover how I plot, and what systems and strategies are right for me. But that’s what it’s all about, right? Trial and error.

So this is me now, elbow deep in plotting. Lots of pens, lots of index cards, lots of colour. And, not only is it working for me, but I’m loving it too. I’m a convert!

Plotting

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Got Goals? Endings and Beginnings

Big Goals BloghopHello strangers! I completely missed last month’s post, but I have a very good excuse: it was my son’s 1st birthday. Such an important milestone. So I now have two months to catch up on.

So, The Visionary (The Paper Duchess Book 3) was published as an ebook at the end of February, and after a lot of fiddling and to-ing and fro-ing, I finally published the paperback version just yesterday. It’s so nice to be able to wave that book goodbye at last, and let it fend (mostly) for itself. Alongside its existing siblings of course. And, as every motivational poster tells us, endings always herald new beginnings. You know; doors opening and closing and all that.

So what is next? Well, a beginning and an ending, in a sense. I’m just about to start writing The Mothers (The Paper Duchess Book 4), and I’m so excited about wading into a brand new project. First drafts are my favourite bit. But The Mothers will also be the concluding book of the series. That’s actually a really sad thought. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to those characters, and that world.

But you know what? There’s those doors again, because I have got some other projects I’m really excited to get started on.

How’s your month been? If you want to visit the other blogs in this blog hop, or fancy signing up yourself, check out the linky list here: sylmion.blogspot.co.uk/p/do-you-have-goal.html

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Review: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Behind Her Eyes This may be a somewhat controversial view, but here goes…

★★★
For months before this book’s release I had excitedly followed the hype on Twitter, and I grabbed my copy as soon as it was out in our local Waterstones, chatting with the cashier about how great it was supposed to be. I think that was problem number one. It was too hyped up, and I started reading it with impossibly high expectations.

Of course, all the hype was about the final twist, that Twitter hashtag of #WTFthatending. And that, I think, was problem number two. Rather than immersing myself openly into the book and its characters, I spent the whole time looking for clues, trying to figure it out, to be one step ahead. I kept the whole thing, untrustingly, at arms length, and found myself not caring about the characters at all.

My third problem was that it was written by Sarah Pinborough, one of my favourite authors. I so wanted it to be another The Death House, which had me sobbing at the end, or 13 Minutes, that I read in just a few days. But it wasn’t.

I hate giving this just 3 stars, but it left me unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and, frankly, a little angry that it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. I didn’t like the final twist, and the very ending annoyed me immensely.

But I don’t think it was all the book’s fault. I wanted too much from it. It was over hyped and failed to live up to its marketing.

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