April has seemed such a long month.
There is certainly a strange atmosphere right now as we all try and navigate our way through this situation. To me, it feels like that week between Christmas and New Year where you’re waiting for something to happen but not quite sure what to do with yourself.
I am naturally the type of person who likes being at home, preferably with warm pyjamas, a duvet, a cup of tea, a snoozing cat and a book although I am slightly obsessed with Animal Crossing right now. Despite being this type of person, even I am beginning to struggle with the lockdown. It’s necessary to stay at home but we’re only human. It’s natural to find it hard, even when you know it’s the right thing to do.
At the beginning of April, I was struggling with motivation to do anything (my enthusiasm to do housework is never there.)
It’s amazing how tiring doing nothing makes you, right?
I have been reading a lot which I love. I am also finally writing and I am so proud of this fact.
If you’re struggling to be motivated, I wanted to share something that has really helped me in the last few weeks.
Since discovering a website called Unchained Writer, I have managed to write every day since 9th April. My aim is 1,000 words each day and for the most part, I have managed this with a couple of exceptions. Regardless, it all helps to get me closer to writing and finishing a novel I have been trying to find the confidence to write for years.
Unchained Writer has been a real game changer for me. It’s made such a difference.by
I know we’re already in the middle of April but I wanted to share some of my March favourites, especially as we are all stuck inside and if you, like me, are looking for recommendations, then posts like this are perfect.
Without further ado, let’s get into my favourites.
My favourite show that I’ve recently watched is The Stranger.
This is based from a book by Harlen Coben. I had heard so many people talking about this TV show both on and off social media. I had also throughly enjoyed Safe which was another adaptation done for Netflix.
I did worry that the hype was going to ruin The Stranger but I need not have worried.
Richard Armitage plays the husband of a woman who disappears under suspicious circumstances after he has confronted her with a secret, disclosed by someone he has never met before.
That’s all I will say about the plot but what follows are many twists and turns which resulted in me trying to guess what was coming and completely failing.
I throughly recommend it especially if you can binge all the episodes. The theme song is such an ear worm too.
The app I have been enjoying the most is Disney+. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, then you will know how big of a Disney fan I am despite being in my late thirties. I have no regrets. Hahaha. It was inevitable that this was going to end up on my favourites list.
I had been incredibly excited and impatient for this app, especially as it had already launched in the US. I was just about stopping short of marking off the days in my diary until it’s launch and I have not been off it much since. I love the fact that I can access it from my Sky Q box.
I am seeing films listed that I have not seen for years. It is going to be easier to complete my Disney watch list that’s for sure.
I know that it means an additional subscription but I feel it’s worth it. Not only have you got movies and TV shows, there’s a lot of behind the scenes and short films too. Also, Star Wars and Marvel if you’re a fan (I am more of a fan of the latter if I am honest.)
As usual, I found it quite hard to pick a favourite book for March. I enjoyed all the novels I had the chance to read. If I had to choose a favourite, it would be The River Home by Hannah Richell.by
It has slipped away that’s for sure. How was it for everyone?
As it’s Friday and almost the end of the month, I wanted to do something a little different and something I have not really done before (or if I have, it was ages ago.)
As I was preparing questions for authors, I began to wonder how I would answer some of these questions if I were answering them. The variety of answers is one of the things I love most about doing author interviews. Everyone is so different.
So below, I am answering fifteen questions about me – things that you may not know, others I may have answered before. I would love to get to know you too. If you fancy a go at answering these, please do in the comments below. I think this is going to be fun. Here we go.
Yes, I do. It’s Elizabeth. I did remember asking my Mum once if it was in honour of anyone. I think she may have said The Queen. Even if she didn’t, I am taking that.
Where were you born?
I was born in Bournemouth, which, for people not from the UK, is a seaside town on the south coast of England. I adore it and miss living there. There was something so lovely about getting out of school and heading down to the beach for an hour after school or deciding to walk home after work and listening to the waves as I walked along. I find that sound calming.
I wanted to be a teacher. I was always in awe of them. They seemed to be all-knowing.
Yes, I was one of those students that loved homework although I think that was as much to do with the fact that, the more I did, the more new notebooks I could insist on having. My stationery addiction began early.
I would even pretend to teach classes when I was much younger, using the side of my wardrobe as a blackboard. My Mum wasn’t impressed. Hahaha.
It was only as I finished senior school that I moved away from teaching and went into radio broadcasting.
What’s my favourite holiday destination?
Oh Walt Disney World. No question. You can forget about being an adult and no one cares. In fact, it’s encouraged.
Who’s your favourite author?by
My niece turned 21 this month and if there is one thing that has done, it’s made me aware of time.
As I get older, I am finding that time is going so much quicker. It was something my Mum would warn me about but it’s easy to take time for granted.
Time. We always think we have more than we do.
Amongst other things, I have been thinking about the time I give to writing.
For many years, I have wanted to write a novel. It’s been my dream for a long time. Yet, I don’t allow myself the time and commitment it needs.
Why don’t I?
Confidence and not knowing where to begin are elements for sure, but I am coming to the belief that I am not respecting my goal to be a writer. Or in fact, my right to call myself a writer.
“I don’t have time.” “I would have done it but I ran out of time.”
These reasons are how I have justified it. When I sit back and look at it though, I realise that they are simply excuses.by
My first favourite is series two of the Netflix show, Mindhunter.
OK so technically this was released in August but as I didn’t do a favourites for last month, I can give it a mention.
Series one, episode one had me totally hooked on this show. I pretty much bingewatched it over a day. I was beyond excited to get into the second series especially when you take into account how series one ended.
This was just as brilliant and amazing as the first and focuses on the Atlanta child murders whilst also continuing some plot points from the first series.
This series was incredible and I can’t wait for series three. It’s well written, has brilliant acting and is just… awesome. End of. If you’ve been wondering whether to give it a go, please do.
My second favourite is an app and it is Layton: Pandora’s box HD for mobile.
I have been a massive fan of the Professor Layton games from when it appeared on the Nintendo DS. I am not a big gamer but I love puzzle games and so this is right up my street.
Although I have played Pandora’s box before, it has been so long, it’s like playing a new game especially as I think they have added some new puzzles. I don’t remember playing them anyway so even if you’re familiar with the game, I think you will get something from this new format.
I was delighted to see it was available on the App Store and I love the fact that I can play it when I have a few minutes without having to carry the DS around.
The book I most enjoyed last month is I Wanted You to Know by Laura Pearson.by
One of the things I try to encourage on this blog is sharing work. As writers, feedback is important but for me, also putting my work out there is one of my greatest fears.
Today, I am posting a short story I’ve written. It’s called The Clerk. This is probably the first one I have properly finished that hasn’t been part of a writing course assignment. It was originally written for a competition.
As a newbie writer, I have not had the courage to post anything like this on Novel Kicks.
You could say I am putting my money where my mouth is. So, here goes. I hope you enjoy it and if you don’t, that’s OK too.
I’m off to hide under my duvet.
***** Beginning of The Clerk*****
I open my eyes.
It takes moments to focus. Below my arms is the rough fabric of a green worn armchair. Around me, the windowless circular room is cluttered with endless piles of neatly stacked paper.
I can hear noise but I can’t see where it is coming from. When I manage to stand, I can just about see a typewriter that seems to be operating on its own.
I move around, not wanting to disturb anything. I don’t see a door.
‘Ah, there you are dear.’
A small, plump woman dressed in a black baggy cardigan, a long skirt with her hair pulled into a bun shuffles into the room. Placing the papers she is carrying down on the nearest table, she takes a seat, gesturing for me to do the same.
‘Come on girl, time is short.’
‘Where am I?’
A tea-tray appears and floats toward us. She hands me a cup.
‘I’m dreaming right?’
‘I suppose you are in a sense.’
‘Where am I?’
‘Not the most original of questions dear. You can do better.’
‘You don’t know me.’
‘I do my dear.’
‘I’m sure I’ve not met you before.’
‘I have known you from the moment you were born.’
She pours more tea.
‘Let me explain, dear. I’m Bertha. It is my job to document.’
‘Document what exactly?’
‘Your life my dear.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘I am a clerk. Everyone has one. I document all the events of your life.’
‘All this, she says, pointing to the papers, ‘is your life.’
Anxiety sets in, ‘how am I here?’by
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