Today is a celebration for me. Novel Kicks is ten years old.
Back in 2009, it was a little different to what it has now become but the main focus of it remains the same. I wanted somewhere for people who like to write fiction and for people who love to read to come and discuss books, stories and the writing of them.
I hoped then that I would still be going for as long as I could so to have made ten years, for me, is amazing.
Some times it’s been hard, like when I have been trying to run the blog alongside night shifts for work or where the anxiety has been a little strong. The to-read pile is something that remains taller than me but I still love it.
I love posting about books I’ve enjoyed reading or a writing prompt to help writers like me who need a push to write that story.
I have had the privilege to question some of my favourite authors about their writing days, favourite authors and fictional characters – writers I have and continue to look up to like Lisa Jewell, Giovanna Fletcher, Jane Fallon, Cecelia Ahern and Jane Green to name but a few. Many of these amazing authors I have met in person too and yes, I got completely tongued tied on most of these occasions. I seriously fangirled myself to embarrassment. Haha.by
July is here and wow, the weather has been amazing. I am keeping everything crossed that it lasts. As June is now finished, I wanted to look at some of my favourite things from last month.
My favourite book from last month was Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay by Ali McNamara. I am a huge fan of Ali’s novels so it was no real surprise that I adored this novel.
Her writing style is so effortless and she creates wonderful characters. The plot for this book was great; a woman inherits a castle and meets a handsome stranger. Also, this cover is just so beautiful.
Here’s the blurb for the novel.
Amelia is a single mother, doing her very best to look after her young son, Charlie – but money is tight and times are tough. When she first hears that she is the last descendent of the Chesterford family and that she has inherited a Real-Life Castle by the sea, Amelia can’t quite believe her ears. But it’s true!
She soon finds that owning a castle isn’t quite the ticket to sorting out her money problems that she’d first hoped: she can’t sell, because the terms of the ancient bequest state that any Chesterford who inherits the castle, must live there and work towards the upkeep and maintenance of the family home. So ever-practical Amelia decides to uproot her little family and move to this magnificent castle by the sea.
Living in a castle on the beautiful Northumberland coast is fun at first, but organising the day-to-day running is a lot more complicated than Amelia first imagined. Luckily she has help from the small band of eccentric and unconventional staff that are already employed there – and a mysterious unseen hand that often gives her a push in the right direction just when she needs it most. It’s only when she meets Tom, a furniture restorer who comes to the castle to help repair some antique furniture, that Amelia realises she might get the fairy-tale ending that she and Charlie truly deserve…
There are so many great TV shows being released right now. The one I enjoyed most in June was definitely Black Mirror. I do think that Charlie Brooker is a genius. It’s sad he’s not doing his end of year show but if it’s because he has been writing Black Mirror, that is fine with me.by
Happy New Year everyone!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year. 2019 has arrived. I will now spend at least the next month incorrectly writing 2018 instead of 2019.
I had a very lovely and quiet Christmas with family and friends. One of the things I love most around this time of year is that it’s an opportunity to start again; new challenges, new goals and a brand-new slate. I am in the middle of setting my new writing goals for the year and I endeavour to gain more ground with this than I did last year (I hope.)
One of the things that I did manage to do before midnight on 31st December was to finish my Goodreads reading challenge and believe me I did cut it fine. I think I had about an hour to go.
I like challenges like this because these days, with things like Netflix and the Internet, it’s very easy for me to slip into a routine where I will just sit and watch telly. Therefore things like the Goodreads challenge will mean I will decide to read a book rather than box set a TV series. I blame Netflix for my dry reading spells last year.
My challenge in 2018 was 52 books; roughly one a week. I felt that this was doable. However, it’s amazing how quickly life can get in the way and I realise that I did go little chunks of time without reading which is something that I want to change this year. Therefore, because I never learn, my target for this year is 54 books.
The good thing about the Goodreads challenge is that you can set your own goals.by
As I get older, Christmas traditions have become all the more important to me.
When I was growing up, it was the magic of waiting for Father Christmas. We’d leave the milk and biscuits and we’d get so excited when there would be presents waiting for us under the tree in the morning.
My Mum would hide a stocking filler and give us clues to find it. Then my Grandparents would arrive at some point.
I still have the same level of excitement about Christmas. some of the old traditions are still there joined by some new ones.
Family must be involved in my day, even if I am working. I have been known to make an eighty mile round trip after a night shift on Christmas Day so I can spend time with family.
Most of my traditions usually begin on 1st December once National Novel Writing Month is over. This is when the Christmas music is transferred to the iPod, the Christmas themed mugs come out, the Christmas phone case is used, Heart Xmas is set in the car and this is when we buy our tree. A real tree can’t be beaten.
Once my husband and I have the usual ‘can you get the decorations from the loft’ conversation, he and I both decorate it with a Christmas film or music on in the background.by
I love summer but I love when Autumn rolls around too and it’s for a few reasons. The colour of the trees, the excuse to cuddle up under a duvet as the weather gets cooler, Halloween and Christmas. I even love listening to the sound of the rain on the roof. Yeah, I am strange.
Another reason why I get so excited for this time of year is that the countdown has begun for National Novel Writing Month.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, it is ‘thirty days of literary abandon.’
Founded by a group of writers in San Francisco in 1999, the idea is that for thirty days between 1st – 30th November, we tell the internal editor to leave us alone and just write. It’s all about getting the fifty thousand words written rather than worry about the quality. There is a whole load of advice on how to approach editing once the challenge is done.
My internal editor has a lot to answer for and I think this is why I love this chance to say goodbye to it for a while. The community surrounding NaNoWriMo is incredible and so supportive. I really feel like I am a part of something.
This will be my seventh year participating but it still hasn’t lost any of its excitement.
Your book can be in any genre and POV you like.
My routine is that I buy a new notebook in October. I know, any excuse right? I always set out to plan what I am going to write. Some years have a more detailed outline than others and more often than not I will start out with a plan and end up a pantster by the end of the month. That’s part of the fun.
The advantage of this challenge is the fact that by the end, you will have words down on paper or computer. Even if you don’t finish, you will still have more words written than you did at the beginning of the month. It’s a fun way to write.by
Hello fellow writers. Happy Friday.
It’s been a funny old week hasn’t it with various things going on. One thing is certain for me though; there has been plenty to inspire stories.
One of the other things that I find inspires and motivates me are quotes.
I know that inspirational and motivational sayings are not everyone’s cup of tea. (My friend hates them,) but you should find whatever helps you (especially if you’re new to writing.)
I wanted to share some of my favourite quotes about writing. I hope they help someone out there to pick up that pen or open that laptop (note to self, take own advice.)
This is a list of my favourites. If you have one that is not listed here, let me know in the comments.
‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ – Nelson Mandela.
(This is one that comes to mind when I am trying to begin. It is always overwhelming when I read all these published novels and think that my yet unwritten first draft is never going to be as good. The thing to remember….. all these published novels started off like mine and yours.)
‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’ – Walt Disney
(This is along the same lines as the first one and I remember it to remind me to have fun whilst writing and to not allow uncertainty cloud the fun element.)by
We are now on that last stretch before the weekend with all the hope that the weather will decide to give us glorious, warm sunshine (I know but it’s good to be optimistic.)
I don’t know about you but April for me has just flown by. Life away from reading books and writing has kept me a little busy (there were also a couple of personal events that happened this month which meant some quiet days with a want to not do a lot.)
I have not done that much writing over the last month. I think I managed to do 2,000 words give or take. Those words still count and it’s still a decent word count to reach. It is easy to play down small words counts as only this and only that. It’s not easy to convince yourself that slow and steady is OK if it works for you to build your novel.
I go through this horrible habitual process when I begin something new. I will write, then I will stop, I will immediately read what I have written and then I will have this urge to begin again. I fight every time to break this habit.
A first draft is not going to be publication ready to begin with so every word you write does matter.
As a new writer, I tend to play down the whole thing; my brain won’t let me call myself a writer. Sitting in a room full of writers, I will feel like the impostor.by
Greetings fellow writers.
It’s a quick catch up from me this week. As I get ready to begin to write my novel, I have been thinking a lot about what starting my book will actually mean to me.
Many people announce that they would like to write a book. It is said that everyone theoretically has a book in them.
However, despite what the overwhelming feeling of standing in front of books in a book shop will tell you, it is only a small percentage of the people who say they want to write a book, who then go on to get the courage and the motivation to get their bum in a seat and apply pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard (whatever your preference is.)
So, even beginning a book is a huge achievement.
Read advice then forge your own routine. Each person’s process will be unique to them.
Read, jot down ideas and practise your craft. Confidence is bred from experience and that can only mean one thing. You need to write.
Greetings one and all. How has everyone’s week gone? It’s hard to keep the smiles going when there is so much negativity going on in the news and bad weather going around isn’t it?
I just wanted a catch up this week. It’s been a little bit of a quiet one. I’ve managed a little work toward the novel and hope to start writing on 1st March.
As we race toward the end of February, I am looking back on this month and finding that it went by in a bit of a blur.
My weeks tend to be like that if I am with the day job especially when I am working more night than day shifts. Night shifts are a curious thing. It makes you feel as though you have permanent jetlag (I call night shift me, ‘zombie Laura,) but there is something lovely about being awake in the early hours. It’s always so quiet.
When work does get in the way (or other commitments,) it’s easy for me to fall out of any routine I have begun to build up.
I will have my days off, start to develop routines and habits and then the work days will come and the motivation will waver. I am not sure why this happens. It’s not all the time but it’s frustrating all the same. Tiredness is such a productivity killer.by
Hello all. How is everyone?
This week has been a little bit of a quiet one for me. It’s mostly been consisting of night shifts which has meant that I have been mostly trying to sleep during the day. That sounds amazing when you’ve not got people ringing the doorbell and buses thumping by. Oh, and a cat craving attention. Even when I close the door, we will meow until I have opened it.
It’s that law of when you need to sleep, you can’t and when you get to work, all you want to do is fall sleep. Then when you get to sleep, you wake up and clock watch. My head will remind me of things before I sleep – embarrassing moments in my life (it likes reminding me of those.) My to-do list, that I need a drink of water. It will helpfully wait until I have almost dropped off. Does this happen to anyone else?
I have been managing t0 get a lot of reading done this week which is great. I have read some great books this month too; Who’s That Girl by Mhairi Macfarlane, If I Ever Fall by SD Robertson and The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott (reviews and blog tours coming soon.)by
Hello all. How is everyone’s week going? Can you believe we are already hurtling toward the middle of February? It’s incredible really.
I have been a little obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy, Gilmore Girls, Lucifer and reading loads this week. I always like to snuggle in and make my way through box sets when I am not working. It is so cold at the moment and I am not good with the cold at all to the point where the boy will make fun of me. I give as good as I get though.
Loads of TV time means lots of looking at Pinterest too. I can lose hours on that and You Tube.
I’ve been looking a lot at office spaces (I have been doing a little bit of planning as I have been looking at homes for my characters. Promise.) I am so nosey and love looking at other writer’s writing spaces.
I always think that having a lovely writing space is important. It’s also very personal. Some people like it to look minimal preferring not to have clutter. I always wonder how people manage this.by
Hello everyone. I hope you’re all having a wonderful start to February. January was a long old month (it always seems to be for me.)
I’ve attempted to jump into planning my novel over the last few weeks (at times I have been able.) I am discovering the power of yes and no.
I’ve previously not had a good track record when it comes to my writing time. I don’t always protect it. It has been easy for me to say ‘I’ll write some tomorrow.’
I am the queen of procrastination.
I think a lot of this is down to my attitude. I don’t see myself as a writer and so I reason with myself and say it doesn’t matter. Well, guess what… it does matter. It matters a lot.
One big lesson I am trying to take on board this week is the power of yes and no.
YES, I will make time to get to a specified word count so I gradually build my first draft. YES I will keep myself to that promise.by
Hello everyone. We’re over hump day and speeding toward the weekend. Yay!
I come to you today through a cloud of copious amounts of tea, coke zero and probably some of the worst night’s sleep I’ve had. Well, technically day’s sleep as I’ve been on night shifts for the last few nights.
Finding a positive in my sleepy, clumsy state, there is something I like about being awake at a stupid time of the morning (I will always prefer to be sleeping at night but when I can’t, I try to find good.) I like the stillness of the night time. The lack of busy. I find it incredibly calming.
When I don’t sleep, I read. I have been thinking a lot recently about the act of reading and why I like it. I do love the escape. I adore having access to the lives of the characters who inhabit the worlds I read about. I like discovering new book series and authors. There is not a lot that can beat that feeling I have when I discover an author and realise that there is already a vast catalogue for me to pick my next book from (which is pretty much what happened when I discovered Lisa Jewell for example.)
As I have been trying to write my own book, I have been wondering how much being a big reader helps with my writing.by
Hello everyone. I hope you’re all having a good week. Can you believe we’re already halfway through January!
One of my new year resolutions was to try and be a little bit more productive. This is the year I want to start and complete my first book. Less talking, more doing.
I’ve been using something called the Pomodoro technique over the last few days. Many people have probably already heard of this but for those who are unfamiliar with it, it’s a helpful way to be more focused and disciplined.
There is a series of twenty five-minute sessions and then five minute breaks per twenty five minutes. During the timed session, you do one task and then completely focus on that. The phone goes to silent, the internet gets forgotten (yes, that one is hard to comply to.) You focus on one task for twenty five minutes.
Once that time is up, you walk away for five minutes. You get a cup of tea, have a little dance, grab some water. Then you come back and try again.
You know what, it works. I’ve managed to do some blog stuff, stay on top of my e-mail (for the most part,) and most importantly, some novel planning. Hurrah.by
Hello 2017. I am hoping for a bit of snow. Building a snowman then going inside for hot chocolate, stew for dinner and then snuggling up with a book. I love snow provided I don’t have to drive in it.
Aside from the weather, this time of year always has me thinking about resolutions. I do try and make them every year. They usually last about a week and then I lose the plot with them. Thinking about it, I usually set resolutions that are unattainable. I set too many and then always end up disappointed. So, this year, I have only set three.
The first one is to write something positive and put it in the happy box that is sat on my desk. I did this the year before last and it really did make a difference to my frame of mind. I tended to add a thing a day toward the end of the day and this meant that I ended the day on a positive note. I got out of the habit over the last twelve months so I am pleased to be getting back to it. If this is something you’ve not done before, I recommend it.
The second resolution is to get more exercise. I love to swim. I find this form of exercise works for me so much more than going to a gym every day. I have never felt that comfortable at the gym especially since I did a Bridget Jones off a running machine when trying to pick up my water bottle. Yes, it was an embarrassing but funny sight! Swimming is much more my pace and it’s so great for thrashing out plot ideas and blocks as well as reducing anxiety. Also, if I manage to get healthy and loose weight, then that is a bonus too.by