I know I say this kind of sentence a lot but how are we already in April?!
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of my favourites from March. So, let’s get to it.
The first favourite was the BBC series, Peaky Blinders.
OK, I love this series.
My husband and I came to this series late. In fact, we’ve pretty much watched five series worth over the last month and wondering what took us so long to discover it.
Cillian Murphy is amazing, I am slightly scared of Arthur (LOL) and the last series, which we’re currently watching, isn’t the same without the wonderful Helen McCrory/Aunt Pol but it’s still brilliant so far. No spoilers. Promise.
If you’re looking for a gritty drama and you’ve not yet watched Peaky Blinders, I would throughly recommend.
My second favourite in March was Wordle.
There was a time where I couldn’t check my Facebook feed without seeing a load of results from friends who were also playing.
I have even downloaded an app that gives me more than one puzzle a day! Yes, I know.
Anyone else love Wordle?
My third favourite is an app called Beatstar.by
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
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
Usually, as we reach the end of the old year and are approaching the new one, I am a mixture or happy, excited and nervous. I’m also a little sad that the year is coming to a close. However, 2016 has been a year I am quite happy to say goodbye to and won’t be too sad to leave.
It’s been a difficult year personally (probably the worst one I’ve had) and so I look towards 2017 with hope that it has got to be better than 2016. Please, 2017? Pretty please!?
One of the few saving graces of this year are the great TV shows I’ve discovered and amazing books I’ve read.
Thanks to Netflix and fiction, I’ve managed to procrastinate beautifully.
Some of my favourite shows this year have been House of Cards (such a fan of Kevin Spacey anyway but he’s brilliant in House of Cards,) The Big Bang Theory, which had me wondering why it had taken me so long to discover it and The Gilmore Girls. I want to go live in Stars Hollow.
Book highlights this year have included so many wonderful books. Some of my highlights have included The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell, Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern, Bridget Jones’ Baby: The Diaries by Helen Fielding, No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan, Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent, The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale, Somewhere inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin and Hungry For Love by Lucy Beresford.by
National Novel Writing Month 2016 is over. It’s unbelievable how quickly November passed. Saying that, I am looking forward to the moment where I can say so long to 2016. It’s been a strange year right?
On a personal level, November was a hard month for me as it would have been my Mum’s birthday on the 5th November. The first one without her was always going to be hard. NaNoWriMo was a good distraction.
It was nice to have a fictional world to disappear into for a while. The challenge of 50,000 words is good therapy.
This year, in terms of reaching a daily word count, it was one of my most successful years. I managed to do between 1,700 and 1,800 words per day every day. I got to the overall goal on 28th November so there was no rushing it at the last-minute.
The story I created was a mess. This time around, it was an opportunity to write through my grief. This story will probably never see the light of day again but I am still proud of myself. All things considered, I am very pleased.by
Wow, we are already halfway through National Novel Writing Month. That is slightly hard to believe.
This month seems to be moving at an incredible pace.
Despite a few personal things I’ve had to deal with this month, so far, I am on track as far as the writing is concerned. In fact, I am slightly ahead of where I’d expect to be at this point in the month. As of yesterday, I’d passed the 30,000 word mark. I am very pleased.
My approach this month has been slightly different to previous years. At this point in the past, I have seen myself in various states. One year, I was already finished by now whereas the year before last, I finished on 30th November with two minutes to spare praying that my internet connection would hold long enough for me to be able to verify my win (which it did thank goodness!)
Where NaNoWriMo is concerned, I am very much a pantster. I tend not to plan much. I have a vague idea and tend to just go with it. With this writing challenge, I tend to like to see where the story will take me. (This month, the non planning was more that November jumped out at me slightly and I ran out of time.)
This year, I have been taking it slow and steady roughly writing 1800 words a day. I have to say, I am liking this pace. If I finish too early, then I don’t know what to do with myself.by
It is amazing how quickly a week can go and how little you can actually achieve. It has been seven of those days that seems to have merged into one. Where the day job (or in my case this week has been my first lot of night shifts for months) has taken priority.
I have been trying to sneak bits and pieces in here and there. I’m still making my way through Emma. I am a little behind. I am not too worried about that. Reading Austen was never about how quickly I could get through them. If you’re reading along with me, how are you getting on?
I have been writing about two hundred words of a short story this week to make sure I at least write something. My planning has got to a stage where I need to sit down and map out plot so it is not something I have been able to do this week as I don’t want to rush it. I have done that before and it has not got me far. I am so tired from my shifts though that once I do get home, I just want to sleep. Surprisingly, I am not actually getting too worked up about it. I am still working my way through the plot in my head. That counts…right?by
‘I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’ – Douglas Adams.
Happy Friday all.
I can’t quite believe that August has gone and we’ve now reached September.
It’s been one of those weeks where the day job has kind of taken over. I’ve been on mid shifts which on the whole don’t bother me but it’s meant that productivity of everything else has been put on the back burner. This includes the Austen challenge.
However, I now have a few days off so I will be back on track with finishing Emma before I know it…I hope. For the people doing the Austen reading challenge with me, the book for September is Mansfield Park.
My deadline to begin my novel was yesterday. I’ve not fully finished my planning so I’ve not started writing yet. Not finishing my planning has been my number one procrastination excuse. No more. I have given myself one more week.
I have so many feelings about beginning my novel. It has been something I have been talking about for such a long time. It’s this thing that has been built up in my head. I do worry about whether I am going to be able to begin it and keep going this time. However, I also think about when I’m a lot older and what I would regret more. Finishing a novel that possibly is not publishable but I’ve done it or not starting. Plus, there is also editing.by
Happy Wednesday everyone.
How lovely has this weather been? It’s been absolutely gorgeous. On Sunday I went with some family over to Moors Valley Country Park near Bournemouth. I remember going there a lot when I was a child. There was such a magic to all the woods that seemed to go on for miles.
I would love reaching the climbing structures (and was very annoyed that I am now too big to go on them. It does suck being a grown up sometimes.)
If anything, the lake and the surrounding area is just as beautiful and I will never stop loving the steam train that runs around the park. As I passed the play area and saw the climbing frame, the zip wire and the area with the slide that looks like a castle, it brought back so many memories.
On Monday I also got a chance to spend the day at Sandbanks beach which is one of the most beautiful beaches. It was lovely to just swim in the sea and sit in the sun. As we had family staying, there has not been a lot of writing and planning but there has been a bit of chilling out and it’s been nice.by
Hello Wednesday. How are you?
We are halfway through the week (unless like me you’re a shift worker.) I hope you’ve been making the most of the sunshine when it has dared to show itself (Sunday was incredibly warm.) What I love about summer is that I can emerge from the chair in my little writing nook and get outside for some fresh air and brightness. It is so quiet where I live and although it is surrounded by houses there is also a lot of woodland (perfect for if I need a walk for inspiration.) It is not near the beach (which I was only fifteen minutes away at the most growing up) but it is the next best thing for sure.
The Austen reading challenge is going OK. I am trying to read it around another book so not reading as quickly as I could be doing. Emma is one of the books I’ve not read so the plot is a little bit more unfamiliar to say, Pride and Prejudice. So far so good. Emma is actually quite a tragic character isn’t she. She’s so busy matchmaking that she doesn’t take care of herself.
The obsession I do have at the moment is Pretty Little Liars. I am a little late to the PLL party but I am wondering what took me so long. It’s so good. I’ve even got the husband watching it. All six and a bit series are currently on Netflix and I’ve managed to watch all of them. I am suffering from PLL withdrawal. This new obsession hasn’t helped my productivity one bit. I blame Netflix.by
Happy Wednesday everyone!
I can’t quite believe that we are already into August. The time is slipping by me in a surreal manner this year. Today marks the third year we’ve been in our current house and yet it doesn’t feel like five minutes since we moved in.
Before we know it we are going to be pulling those clocks back (I know, I said it. Ssshh, I hear you cry.)
This week I’ve been mainly trying to sleep and failing. Being wide awake at 2am isn’t so bad when I’m on my days off but on workdays it means copious amounts of tea and numerous walks around the building just to keep myself awake. In the last few days I’ve managed to spill tea all over the carpet (and my bag didn’t escape unscathed either,) drop things, walk into the occasional wall and drop a can of coke on a concrete floor, which had it spraying out absolutely everywhere. Lack of sleep does not do anything for my coordination. Ha-ha.
The writing side of my week has shown some progress. Most of my characters have had biographies written about them now. It’s nice to have a sense of who my characters are. They are becoming much more real to me now. Now it’s time to work on the plot.
One thing I have set myself starting this month is my Austen reading challenge. When thinking about it, I’ve realized that I have not read all of the Austen novels. I know!
So, the challenge is to read one a month for the next six months.
If you fancy reading along with me I am going to be reading them in this order…
Welcome Summer. I’m pleased you could join us. I’d almost forgotten what you look like. Haven’t the last couple of days in the UK been absolutely glorious?
I do love winter. I love being able to come in out the cold, wrap up warm and snuggle. I love that chill in the air that carries with it the potential promise of snow and yes, I am a bit of a Christmas nerd.
However, I have to say that there isn’t much that beats lounging around midweek beside the sea in the beautiful summer sunshine with a cold drink, a notebook and a book which was pretty much my day yesterday.
This week has been a good one for me as I have tried to chill out a little, read, see friends and generally just watch the world go by. I feel I’ve not had much of a chance to do that recently. I’ve read some really great books (like Lying in Wait and I’m currently reading A Certain Age. Both are proving to be excellent although the jury is still out on A Certain Age as I am still reading it.)by
This past week I had expected to be going to the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual conference. My cat had other plans and it has meant about three trips to the vet. My cat Buddy, who we thought had swallowed something he shouldn’t get rushed to the vet by us at half eleven in the evening on Tuesday night. Turns out, after him having to stay for two nights, he didn’t swallow anything bad but had something completely unrelated. I have seem more of the vet in the last week than I want to see for a while and I certainly think my cat has.
I think I have had enough excitement for one year if I am perfectly honest.
We did meet a lovely couple who had also brought their cat in. He had a brother at home and their names were Ronnie and Reggie. Unusual names for cats.
As a result of our vet visits, I ended up missing the RNA conference which was being held up at Lancaster. Best laid plans and all that.
However, life sometimes does get in the way like that doesn’t it. Not that my cat got in the way but you get what I mean. He was more important.
There was an element of me that was feeling slightly guilty because my plan had been to have something to present to an editor this year but that hadn’t happened so it’s great in a way as it means I can now focus on the conference next year so there was a silver lining. I am looking forward to attending next year.by
It’s been a while eh?!
2016 for me has been an eventful one (a little bit of an understatement actually.) I have wondered whether to talk about what has been happening in my life recently and whether it would do any good to write about it but I have always gone to the written word to express my feelings. I’ve always kept diaries over the years (not always good at keeping them up though.) Whenever anything happens, I go to the page. Not to write a novel but to just express myself. Recently, I’ve been mostly doing this on seven hundred and fifty words. That blank page listens and it helps.
For me, this year has handed me some pretty intense experiences. Firstly, a miscarriage. This was back in January and it broke my heart. Chris and I had been trying for eight years. The day we found out, I felt as though I was walking on air. All the anxiety and fear I had been feeling had melted away. All that mattered was the baby.
A few weeks later, I needed to have an appointment for a scan as a problem developed. That moment when they confirmed what I think I already knew…time had never slowed like that for me before.
Miscarriage is one of those things that is not really spoken about but once you go through it, you realise that it is something people around you have been through. You get your head around the idea that you are going to be a parent and then…. nothing. You’re left with nothing but this real enormous feeling of sadness and loss for someone whom you never met and yet incredibly miss.by
For the most part I’ve always enjoyed dreams. I will go to sleep wondering what awaits; what strange or fascinating montage my subconscious has waiting for me. There is the occasional bad dream which I am not so fond of. However I mostly just find them interesting even the bizarre ones.
I can usually remember most of what I’ve dreamt. As I am waking up, if I can tell myself to remember, I usually can (although this wasn’t the case this morning and not being able to remember my dream is annoying me.)
I’ve been using my dream journal a lot at the moment and I am enjoying looking at the dreams. My dreams recently have included having a lounge area set up in the middle of a road in a quiet suburban street. A well-known you tuber happened to walk past and have a chat with me, I’ve been stuck in a library (this one wouldn’t have been bad if I wasn’t trying to hide from someone,) to having a ‘Night Manager’ version of Hugh Laurie hiding out in the attic behind a wall hidden by a bookcase which moved. That bit was pretty cool.by
I am not entirely sure where this last week has gone to be honest. This is my main problem when I am on shift for the day job. Twelve hour shifts really do mean that the days go like lightening. I am really having to try and look after myself so things, like they have this week do sometimes get put to one side.
I have been struggling with motivation and things over the past couple of days. The beginning of the week, I was getting many things done. I’d prepare my to do list, set a timer and get much of it achieved but the lack of sleep is taking its toll which has meant that my productivity level has dipped right down.
Not that I am beating myself up about it. I have good days and bad days (which is par the course if, like me you have anxiety.)
Due to been easily distracted these last couple of days, (my brain has had the concentration span of a child,) I have been doing anything but writing. I’ve been doing other things like watching films, listening to music, reading and playing games on the phone.
This is where I find the apps and games on the phone to be really good for getting me focused on something fun. My shift pattern makes me feel tired which then makes me feel out of it so it is very easy for me to loose days off to nothing.by
I can’t believe how quickly this week has gone. I can’t believe we’re already into the second week of March. Time seems to be going doubly fast at the moment. My shifts at work have had a little bit of a say in that I guess. Five, twelve hour shifts in a row does have a tendency to suck my time away. As a result, I have not got as much done this week as I had hoped but no matter. It’s a new week and a new to-do list.
Due to work, I’ve only managed to do a couple of days on preparation and planning of my novel. Going by the fact that I wasn’t managing anything previously, it’s a large step. I am seeing it as a positive. One thing I have been enjoying this week is my writing journal. I have always tried to jot down my ideas for things when I think about them. I do this mostly because I don’t trust myself to remember it (and that has happened more times than I care to admit.)
About a year ago, I did a writing course who encouraged the students to keep a writing journal. It was one of the elements of the course that I most enjoyed (and another excuse to go out and buy a new notebook.) Once I had finished the course though, I got out of the habit of keeping one.by
This week has been a mixture of being productive and retreating into a book with an occasional need to hide over the covers. The weather is less than inspiring. I am one of those annoying people who love snow as long as I don’t have to drive in it. I think snow is what we should be getting if it’s going to be this cold.
It’s certainly one day at a time for me right now but I am still constantly thinking about my novel and have been setting myself the challenge this week of doing thirty minutes a day of novel planning. It’s amazing how much you can get done in that time provided you don’t get distracted.
My seven hundred and fifty words streak is still going strong. I am currently on my four hundredth and twenty-seventh day. It is such a good tool as I can use it to bash out ideas, write fiction or just empty my head. My latest habit has been to include a hundred words inspired by a prompt so it’s at least making sure I am writing a piece of fiction every day as well as giving me some great ideas for future work.
This week, I’ve also been making the most of to-do lists. I have always been a list maker. I love them and have always been a fan. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t start my homework without making a list of what I had to do (I will forget the fact that I still left some of it until the last-minute.)by
This week has mostly consisted of large bouts of wanting to crawl back under my duvet and not come out again until the summer. However, I’ve armed myself with a thick jumper and continuous cups of tea (as much to keep my hands warm than the fact that it helps makes everything better which tea does.)
To try and fight off anxiety this week, I’ve been reading a lot. I began reading The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger at the beginning of the month and finished it this week. It took me a little while to get in to I have to say. I am not sure why.
I’ve also finished Kill Me Again by Rachel Abbott. Novel Kicks took part in the blog tour for her latest novel (click here to view the post.) I started this book and finished it within two days. I couldn’t put it down.
I absolutely devoured Kill Me Again. It was a great crime/mystery and has ignited a reading phase, as I had not read much since the New Year started. I never like when I have slow patches in my reading, as I love reading.
I am now currently reading The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides and liking it so far. Has anyone read any of the books above or read anything good and have a recommendation?by
February could be renamed ‘the month in which I don’t write.’ I get my notebook out, I open my laptop but then I lose the motivation. Life has got in the way a little this month. It’s amazing how much that has played havoc with my productivity and it is something I need to work on. Life is something that does happen though and there is not a lot I can do about that. It doesn’t stop me from feeling guilt about not writing.
However, even though I have not been physically writing, I have been thinking about my novel. When I’ve been driving, I’ve developed plot lines, when I am sat watching telly, I am thinking about my characters; these people who seem to not want to leave me alone. I see this as a good sign as it means that the book is still churning away in my head even though I have not written anything.
I know I can’t carry on like this. I know that at some point I am going to have to fight through the procrastination and the other things in my life that seem to be sucking up my time but I am feeling a little happier about where I want my book to go and that can’t be bad.by
I can’t quite believe that 2015 has come to an end and we’re already eight days into 2016. Last year went so fast. I know that this year will probably do something similar. The older you get, the quicker it goes right?
I’ve been thinking a lot about 2015. I am a member of the New Writers Scheme which is part of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and last year, I didn’t manage to get any of my novel in for appraisal by one of the readers. I am not sure what happened. I just seemed to run out of time and what I had written didn’t seem good enough. I lost my confidence a little. So, if I have any goals for this year, it is to get my novel into the NWS by August.
As well as my writing and throwing myself into planning and writing my book, I’ve been thinking about the books I read in 2015. I read so many brilliant novels and escaped into so many stories and met so many characters. I went through the list and tried to pick my favourites (which was so difficult to be honest.) However, here is a list of my favourite novels from last year. What were your favourites?
Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott.
(Black Dot Publishing, 2015.)
This was a great book; a thriller mixed with mystery. This novel had me gripped from the first page and I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t guess what was going to happen and a mystery novel that can have me guessing until the end is good.
It focuses on Emma and David who seem to have the perfect life. However, David has known sadness when his wife was killed in a car accident and his six-year-old girl goes missing. When his daughter suddenly reappears, Emma has to question everything that she knows.by