New Subscription Update

 

A quick update for you all, as promised in our recent posts, by the end of the week there will be a new collection added to our subscriptions at The Owl and Bear Gift Company.

The Horror Subscription, available in a range of subscription lengths. Perfect for those who love things that go bump in the night.

Of course as all of our subscriptions are tailored to your specific tastes we will endeavor to find the perfect books for you whether this be contemporary horror or older classics from the likes of Stephen King.

What Makes A Good Story?…Continued

As promised here are my remaining requirements for a good story.

No Long Backstory

OK so I think that this is a difficult one to achieve, because I need to know enough about the character to understand their motives and drives, however I don’t want to sit through three chapters where I am told how they were brought up, who they lived with, how they had no friends and accidently killed their goldfish when they were five. Instead I want to be shown this information, I want it drip fed into the story so that I can have ‘ah ha!’ moments when I understand why they are behaving in a certain way.

The Ending

The ending of a story is so important to me. I feel let down when I read those books that you never want to end, but you cant stop reading only to have a rushed ending that leaves you feeling completely unsatisfied. Now of course I am a sucker for the happily ever after’s, every now and then. Its nice to know the characters have finally found true love, happiness and stability and are merrily going off into the sunset in their new, now peaceful lives.

However what I really like are those ending that throw you a curveball. The ones you never saw coming where you stare at the wall for half an hour after closing the books trying to work out what happened. For me this is a sign of a really good story, one that has drawn you in and leaves you still thinking about it days later.

I would love to know what you feel makes a good story.

Best Wishes

Lotty

What Makes a Good Story?

I have been thinking a lot recently about what it is for me that makes a good story. I enjoy a variety of genres in fiction and will happily skip from a horror novel to women’s fiction if the book can draw me in. Here are my own personal requirements for a good story.

3 Dimensional Characters with flaws

For me to be drawn into a story I need a character that I can relate to and care about. I want to understand why they are, the way they are. I don’t want them to be perfect either in looks or personality. In fact if a character is perfect I am less drawn into the story as people simply aren’t perfect. I want my characters to be not wholly good or wholly bad. Which leads me onto…

Character Development

As the story progresses I want my protagonist to develop. Maybe they have a personal issue to overcome, or a fear, or a way of reacting to situations because of their past which is no longer serving them now. Whatever the issue is I want my character to overcome his or her difficulties, because quite frankly if a character can overcome issues it gives hope to us all!

I will continue this in the next post. Until then…

The Owl and Bear Gift Company news!

Happy New Year! We hope that you all had a lovely holiday period and are suitably refreshed for the New Year and all that it brings.

We had a very busy December period although managed to fit some festivities and family time in along the way. However this meant there was very little time left for reading and so we plan to make a bit of time over the coming months to catch up on this.

2016 will bring a new book collection for The Owl and Bear Gift Company  book subscriptions as well as some new additions to our gift range so look out for those.

We are looking forward to another successful year discussing books and related issues with you all.

The Great Christmas Knit Off – Alexandra Brown

After being jilted at the alter, Sybil is struggling to keep a grip on her life. She is lonely and feeling down, exhausted by trying to make it through the day. After a blunder at work, Sybil decides on an impromptu visit to her friend, who has recently moved to the quaint village of Tindledale.

In Tindledale Sybil meets a whole host of quirky characters that help her mend her broken heart and realise her dreams.

This is real ‘chic-lit’ genre and has the cheesy feel-good factor that comes with this style of festive read. The characters are flamboyant, there is the typical romantic interest and of course the community spirit that is compulsory in novels of this genre, all set in a picture perfect, snow topped country village.

However, this is not a criticism. This novel has no shocks, twists or turns, but what it does have is Christmas-ness in bucket loads. It contains all the festive elements that we have come to expect in Christmas fiction such as the importance of caring for one another, spending time with friends and family, a festive setting and wonderful wholesome food.

If you’re looking for something light hearted to read whilst snuggled up with a mince pie and a mug of hot chocolate, this might be the Christmas book for you.

My Christmas list

Its that time of year again, Children are writing their Christmas list’s and shoppers are rushing around looking for the perfect gift for loved ones.

But I have had a problem in the gift department this year, my family have been asking me what they can tell Santa to get for me as a gift and I have been really struggling.  Because when it comes down to it, I have all of the material possessions I could ever need.

So my Christmas list looks like this….

Dear Santa,

I have tried to be a very good girl all year so here are my Christmas wishes

Time – please can I have a little more time in my days as this will be useful for a number of reasons

  1. I will be able to spend more time with family and friends
  2. The time I spend with my son will be longer and more fulfilling
  3. I will have the capacity to cook healthier meals for my family
  4. I will get more sleep so won’t be exhausted by 6pm
  5. I will get a chance to eat lunch
  6. I will be able to take up hobbies
  7. My house will be cleaner and tidier
  8. I could exercise regularly

Creativity

  1. I love being creative, but it would be nice if my drawing and painting improved
  2. If I could be presented with the opportunity to be more crafty I would be most grateful
  3. This would help stop writers block

Health

  1. I have had a number of minor health problems this year and it has made me realise just how important our health is and how fragile we all are, so please help me improve mine and my loved ones health.

Of course Santa, these are all very personal requests and I have a lot bigger ones for the world in general, but maybe we can save that for later as I know you are really very busy right now.

I hope to catch a glimpse of you on Christmas Eve, I will leave your mince pie, milk and carrot for the reindeer next to the fireplace as always.

Love Lotty xx

 

Novel Paper Roses

We have been very busy here at the Owl and Bear gift company. Last week we had a lovely order to make a bespoke rose from specific paragraphs from a specific novel.

The novel was sourced, which took a little bit of ringing around bookstores and a frantic dash to get the very last copy so that the order could be completed as the customer had a tight deadline.

After ensuring our customer was happy with a mock up product, we set about making the real thing. We are really happy with the finished product, as was the customer (and we hope the gift recipient was too!).

What do you think?

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Children Book Review – Stephen the Impala

Stephen the Impala is a lovely children’s story. Stephen lives in a big park, but he doesn’t have any Impala friends and is lonely, so he sets off to find some. Along the way he meets all kinds of animals you may see whilst on Safari in Africa.

This is a sweet story, interspersed with photos of various African animals which all have a small box next to them, providing an interesting fact regarding the specific animal.

I would say that this book is targeted at younger children as the story is simple and easy to follow, therefore it may be a good introduction to animals in Africa. Alternatively, it may be suitable as a first reader book, my son who is 6 managed to read this book to me and enjoyed finding out facts about the animals and talking about the pictures.

Overall this is an enjoyable story that is the perfect length to retain a young child’s interest.

Is this really work?

For so long I spent my life working in ‘normal’ jobs. I have been a shop worker, a waitress, an administrator, an auxiliary nurse, a midwife, a proof reader and editor. Then I realised, none of this was making me happy. I had tried different vocations believing it was the jobs themselves that were causing me to feel down, so I frequently changed from one career path to the next.

It wasnt the jobs, I just wasn’t listening to myself, what I really wanted to do was write. I wanted to use my creativity in a productive way, but the problem was, I needed to earn money whilst I was writing. I had looked for part time jobs so that I could do this, but none fit into my homelife arrangements, I had worked full time but it left me so tired by the time I had spent a full day working and then took care of my son and house that I had little energy left to write. So I took a leap of faith and my lovely little company The Owl and Bear Gift Company was created, inspired by my love of all things literature.

Yesterday I spent the day with the extremely talented professional photographer Erika Tanith. We took a walk into the English coutryside in order to take some lovely photographs of our products for the website. Erika who is extremely elegant and taller than me gracefully climbed over a gate and into a lovely space filled with autumnal woodland and sunny clearings, I attempted to follow. Trying to get my bottom onto the top of the gate in order to clamber over.  I jumped, once, twice…no my legs were simply not long enough for me to be able to make it over.  So rather ungracefully I crawled underneath, much to my embarrassment (sometimes its difficult being short!).

Once on the otherside we set about preparing for the photos, I unpacked boxes whilst Erika set up her equipment and composed beautiful displays.  I assisted in any way I could, which mainly consisted of chasing over enthusiatic dogs away from our products and collecting leaves.  A few hours into taking photos I mentioned to Erika how lovely it was to be out in the sunshine having a day off. I was thoroughly enjoying myself and the day was flying by in a whirlwind of setting up displays, talking and laughter.

Erika, who knows of my past and my aspirations smiled at me and said “this isn’t a day off, this is now your job”

I grinned back, she was absolutely right, this was now a day in my working life! I feel so lucky, I now know why people tell you that you should do a job that you love. I didnt listen to that advice for far too long.  As my son grows up, it is something I’m going to ensure he follows, no matter what his future path may be, becasue I want him to be happy. I want him to be at work and not feel like he is working, because he is doing what he loves.

This morning I have done some paperwork for the company, I have finished the housework and prepared tonights dinner in the slow cooker. This afternoon I have free time so that I can write, before collecting my son from school. I can follow my dreams.

Is this really work? Yes, and I am so lucky that it is!