Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Here's to the future...

It was my 25th birthday on Saturday. I meant to write a post beforehand, but I was too caught up in the last day of school and then celebrating my actual birthday.


The Engineer surprised me on Saturday morning - he'd decorated the house the night before and put up a banner and some balloons, and then he made me pancakes for breakfast (this was actually a request from me but he did it without complaining, bless him). I spent the day with my uni friend who travelled up from London - we went into the city to do all our Christmas shopping (and I actually managed to get everything I wanted - result!) and then the Engineer picked us up later on and we all went out for pizza. While I was off doing having some well-earned girl time, he'd stayed at home and baked a birthday cake for me - I have to admit that he does have his good points ;).


I had such a fantastic day. I love birthdays anyway - not just mine, I get super-excited about everyone's birthdays - but I felt truly blessed this year. Over the past few years, I seem to have developed rather a negative mindset - I assume people don't want to talk to me, or don't like me, or they don't care, or they're having so much fun in their own lives that they've forgotten all about me - not just around birthdays, I mean everyday too. I know this is a terrible mindset to have but when you deal with anxiety and bouts of depression, it just becomes the norm - for me at least. But this year, I felt humbled by all the birthday wishes I received. Everyone who's important in my life either called me up, or left me a Facebook message, or sent me a text or sent me a card or an email - and at the end of the day, that's all that matters. That the people that I love and cherish most in this world are always there for me. I just need to remember that more often.

I thought that I'd feel really depressed about turning 25. When I was younger, I had so many visions and daydreams about what I would achieve by the time I reached 25. I would have a book deal with a major publisher, my book would be a major film, I'd be a huge success and have loads of money. I'm not afraid to admit this to you - I'm simply being honest. And you know what? It makes me smile to think about all my hopes and dreams. Sometimes life doesn't turn out quite the way you expect, but that's okay. Just because I'm not exactly where I want to be right now, doesn't mean I never will be. I have loads of time to accomplish everything I want to achieve. And because I know I'm willing to work hard to make my dreams come true, I know I'll get there in the end, no matter what age I am. Maybe my books will never get turned into films - so? Maybe I won't ever get a book deal - so what? I love self-publishing!



Turning 25 has brought me a kind of peace. Yes, I'm not where I want to be career-wise, but also, I'm so willing to work hard and keep writing. Nothing will ever stop me doing that. Whatever life throws at me, I'll roll with it. That's part of the beauty of life. Also, at the risk of sounding disillusioned, I have this sense that 2016 is going to be a good year. I can feel it in my bones. I'm struggling to explain why I feel this way - but the last time I felt this good about a year, it was 2009, and I remember telling myself on New Year's Day, '2009 is going to be my year.' In 2009, I moved out, went to university, and met the Engineer, after finally giving up and thinking that I'd never fall in love (how's that for teenage angst ;)!). So, I hope my premonition for 2016 will turn out to be right too. (Although, it's already going to be a great year because I'm getting married to the aforementioned Engineer in July).

I hope this new-found peace and sense of contentment lasts - I'm going to need it when my depressive state returns in January/February, like it usually does. But for now, I'm filled with a sense of peace and goodwill - I'm heading up north to spend Christmas with my family and I can't wait to see them again. Today has been spent wrapping presents and making gingerbread. Tomorrow, I'll be making two special Christmas cakes and some cookies for various family members' Christmas presents, before heading up to see my parents.

I probably won't be around much over the next week or so, as I intend on enjoying this holiday to it's fullest. So whether you feel like this about Christmas:

 

Or like this:


All that remains is for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas - I hope it's filled with all your favourite things, no matter what you get up to - and all the best for New Year. Roll on 2016! It's going to be a good one!

Merry Christmas!

What are your plans for this festive season? Do you ever get a sense about whether or not you'll have a good year? Have you set any writing goals for the New Year?

Monday, 14 December 2015

Author Interview with Murees Dupe!


I'm honoured to welcome the lovely Murees Dupe on my blog today to talk about her amazing book, The Amaranthine. I loved interviewing her, as she truly is an amazing author and a lovely person - enjoy!


Hey Murees! First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your novel, The Amaranthine?
At the heart of it all, it’s a love story. True love does conquer all. Claire is a human misfit that never belonged anywhere. When she meets Alex, she realizes there is more to her than she first thought. He shows her a new way to live and she really grows into her own. All while her relationship with Alex intensifies.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I liked the bickering between Alex and Claire. I feel like their relationship has blossomed right in front of my very eyes. Their relationship is romantic, but not sappy. At least I don’t see it that way.

Where did the inspiration for the Thelum series come from?
I’ve always been a bit of a loner. So, naturally, when I got to write my own stories, I wanted a world where someone like me would fit in. But mostly I like the idea of a world where anything and everything is possible.

How many books are you planning in the series?
I’m planning to have the series go on indefinitely. Hopefully I will always have great ideas:)

Alex and Claire have a bit of a tempestuous relationship - what can we expect to see from them in the future?
I don’t think they will ever get to the stage where they are absolutely smitten. They will always have a love/ hate relationship, just more civilized. But . . . a happy ending is possible:)

Who's your favourite character from The Amaranthine?
Claire, hands down. She’s awesome. I wish she could be my friend.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on the next book in the Thelum Series, possibly called The Ancestor. The story continues with Alex and Claire, right where book 1 ended. Lots of exciting things to come.

What would your one piece of advice be, for anyone who's thinking about self-publishing/writing their first book?
First, know exactly what you want to accomplish. When you know, go for it. No matter what, keep believing in yourself and keep going until you reach your goal. Also, love of writing is essential.

And finally...here's a quickfire round!

Winter or summer?
Winter. I can’t stand heat.

Night in or night out?
Night in. No doubt.

Cake or chocolate?
Cake.

Books or films?
Films? It really depends on my mood.

Night or day?
Night.

Cats or dogs?
Both. Please don’t make me choose.

Tea or coffee?
Chai tea only.

Three things you can't live without:
My family, my pets and writing.

What keeps you awake at night?
Everything and anything. I tend to worry too much.

Describe yourself in three words:
Stubborn, passionate and moody.


Thanks for stopping by Murees!
Thank you so much for having me. It’s always a pleasure and honour.

About the author:
Murees Dupé was born and still lives in South Africa. When she is not thinking up new stories, she is spending time with her family, playing with her three dogs and cat, watching TV, or overindulging on desserts.

You can find out more about Muree's awesome book, The Amaranthine, or check out Murees' blog here!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Bitten by the writing bug...


If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen over the weekend I was struck by inspiration for a certain scene while I was taking a shower (what is it about showers and being hit with inspiration to write?? Is it because you can't physically get to a computer/pen and paper??). I wasn't planning on doing much writing over the weekend as I wasn't feeling my best, but I thought I might as well write it down and see what happened.

All I can say is wow.

I don't know what's been going on in my subconscious brain, but once I wrote that scene I just couldn't stop. All weekend I've been thinking about this particular character and his story. I've been mapping out his world, other major characters have popped into my head (almost) fully formed, and incredibly, I already know how I want the story to end. I spent most of my free time on Sunday doing research into the kind of world I want to set this story in and making up names for the different places. It was insane.

Last night I couldn't sleep - mainly because I was too warm (there's something I never thought I'd say in December), but also because this character literally wouldn't get out of my brain. So I started writing - again. My laptop wasn't to hand so I wrote out another scene on my phone, as well as making as many notes as I could, while my brain fired them off at me almost too fast for me to process. I finally had to stop - I thought I was being all quiet and covert, until the Engineer rolled over and wanted to know what I was doing as the light my my phone was keeping him awake. So I grudgingly had to call it a day. But all day at work today I've been looking at the clock, itching to come home so I can get writing again.

I don't have a proper outline for this novel. I don't even have any kind of plan. If you've been following my blog, you'll know how unusual this is for me, but I can't explain it - having no plan just feels...right. I don't know all the ins and outs of this story yet, but the excitement I get when I think about discovering more about this world is just amazing. All I'm planning to do is write whatever scenes pop into my head and just roll with it. In fact, I might even draw a map of this new world tonight, which again, is something I've never done before but I'm so excited to try out. Luckily, the Engineer is away on business until Thursday, so this week I'm literally just planning on writing as much of this story as I can, while this inspiration and enthusiasm lasts.

At this moment, I don't even know if I'm going to turn this into a full novel. I might get halfway through and realise it's not working, or that I've run out of steam. But strangely, this doesn't make me want to stop. If anything, I want to write more. Because even if this ends up being nothing, I'll still be a better writer than I was before I started writing it - after all, practice makes perfect! And there's something incredibly liberating about writing simply for yourself - it's like there are no limitations on what I can or can't write, because at this moment in time, I'm not planning on sharing it with anyone.

So that's my news - I've got my tea and my cake and I'm off to write until I can't prop my eyes open anymore (which may be sooner than I'd like, as I barely got any sleep last night). But despite how tired I am, I still can't wait to get going!

Hope you're all having a good Monday!

Have you been bitten by the writing bug recently? Have you ever thought of a story that you simply HAD to write right then and there? How's your writing going this week?

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

December IWSG: Hitting the pause button

Welcome to another Insecure Writer's Support Group post! If you'd like to check out the list of participants, and discover more about this awesome group, you can check out the official IWSG website here.


I can't believe it's been a month already - where has the time gone??

In all honesty, I've been struggling with my writing this month. I don't think I've actually touched my WIP for about three weeks. It's frustrating not being able to write, but I do have (kind of) valid reasons. Mentally, I haven't been in the best place for the past few weeks - today has been better, but I'm not completely out of the woods yet, unfortunately.

But that's not my main reason for not writing - a few weeks ago I mentioned about how I was trying to juggle work, writing and doing house renovations, and wondering if I would have to give something up in order to get something else done. Well, in the end, it was my writing that I've chosen to put on hold for a little while. It's not a decision I've taken lightly - I still think of writing as being a business, and I know that if I want to be successful, I've got to work on it. However, my fiancé and I have been having a few discussions lately about life and what we want out of it. I don't want to give anything away, just in case it doesn't come off and I end up being disappointed, but at this stage, we got some very exciting (albeit tentative) plans for after our wedding next year. And in order for those plans to work, we need to get the house completely finished so it's ready rent out by the summer. As you can probably guess, this means that at this moment in time I've had to hit the pause button on my writing and instead focus on finishing the house. Which means that instead of coming home and sitting down with a cup of tea and writing for a few hours, instead I'm coming home and picking up a paintbrush and working most of my evenings.

Could I balance my writing with my house renovations a bit better? Maybe. I could always do one night on, night off and alternate between the two, but if I'm completely honest, I'd rather direct all my energies into one thing at a time. The plans my fiancé and I have is basically something I've wanted to do since I fifteen - and I know that if I don't do everything I can make it a reality, I'll regret it. I'm not giving up on my writing, no way - it's still the career I want more than anything in the world, and I'm never going to give up. In fact, I've been thinking of plot twists and the story structure for my second book while working on the house, so I guess that's a good thing. This weekend my fiancé is going out for the day on Saturday, so I've made a promise to myself that if I finish painting the stairs by the weekend, I can spend Saturday writing - I can't wait!

So that's my news. That's also why I haven't been quite as active online lately, although I am hoping to change that. I'm going to try and post up some photos of the house in the next few weeks too :).

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

How's your writing going this month? Have you ever had to stop writing for a while, in order to get something else done? Or do you see writing as being more important?

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Morally Complicated YA - or the supposed lack of...

I haven't been around online much lately - mainly because I've been busy applying for new jobs and trying to do bits and pieces to the house when I can. Also, since the clocks went back, it's pretty much dark when I get home from work, so all I want to do is curl up in a blanket and read/sleep (which is what's mainly been happening if I'm completely honest). The lovely Murees Dupe sent me some great articles about using social media the other night, and they said about how you shouldn't feel forced to post something to social media - it should be something you enjoy, and you should only post when you've got something to share/say. Which is the principle I've been trying to live by (it's not just me being lazy, oh no...ahem...)

However, tonight I have something to say.

I saw this hashtag on Twitter yesterday: #MorallyComplicatedYA - at first, I didn't pay much attention as I was busy making supper, so I made a mental note to check it out later and then promptly forgot. However, when I got back from work today I decided to check out Twitter and the hashtag popped up again, this time with a photo:

(Thanks go to Diana Urban for taking this screenshot)

I read the excerpt in the photo (because I'm one of those people that'll look at every photo on Twitter, no matter what) and then I realised I needed to do some more digging. What was this book? Did I miss something? Well, actually, yes, it turns out I did.

I won't bore you with the whole details of what I found out (i.e. I Twitter-stalked a lot of YA authors until I found the cause of the problem - no, I'm not weird, honest...cough cough...) but here's the Publisher's Weekly article I finally found, which is the one that everyone was referencing in their increasingly angry tweets:


I'm fuming. Normally, I try to steer clear of Twitter arguments and I'll just seethe quietly in a corner until I get over it. But I don't know if maybe I'm just tired from work and I don't have the patience to deal with any more bullshit or what, but tonight, reading this news just made me so angry, that I had to write about it. 

I don't know if I've ever read such a condescending load of crap. 'The morality of the book is more complicated than a lot of YA so I wanted to try doing it on my own' - my eyebrows nearly shot off my forehead when I read that line. I'm not saying that YA doesn't have it's problems, or that there are YA books that aren't up to scratch - every genre has books like that. Are there YA books I don't like because of the main character, or a weak plot or weak writing? Of course! Just like there are are chick-lit books that I both like and dislike, or fantasy books that I love or hate. But equally there are hundreds of YA books that I absolutely adore - and if it wasn't for YA, I sure as hell wouldn't be an author right now. I just cannot believe that this guy is taking the liberty of tarring every YA book with the same brush - not every YA book is Twilight, or the Hunger Games, or Divergent. The depth and breadth of YA out there is simply breathtaking - no matter what your tastes, you're pretty much guaranteed to find a YA book to suit you. And yet, Bergstrom is strutting around like he's invented the wheel. Um, I think you'll find there's literally hundreds, if not thousands, of 'morally complicated YA' books out there long before you came along, my friend (Flowers in the Attic, anyone?)

My other favourite quote is this one: 'Kicking butt to save your dad is actually a lot easier for me to swallow than kids killing kids in The Hunger Games.' Ahh yes, because kids killing kids isn't morally complicated at all. It's not like The Hunger Games kickstarted a massive debate about our modern day culture of watching reality TV, and how much we can really be desensitised to the idea of war. All violence, no matter what the situation, or in what medium we read or learn about it, is going to be morally complicated in some shape or form. To dismiss all other YA books as being somehow less important than his own book is incredibly insulting. 

And yet, you know what really angers me? The fact that if you read the sample chapter of his work, it's so glaringly obvious that he's never bothered to research his target audience once. It's almost like he's heard that YA books 'must include X,Y, Z' in order to be successful and so he's crammed as many of those tropes into his work as possible. Where's the originality? Where's his unique writing style? There's absolutely nothing that I've read in his work that makes him stand out - to me at any rate. I don't know - maybe because I'm a YA author, I clearly have no clue what I'm talking about? You know, seeing as how YA authors can't possibly understand how complicated the issue of morality can be (I'm looking at you, Suzanne Collins).

Shame of Bergstrom for thinking he's a million times better than all of the other amazing YA authors out there. But even more, shame on the publishers for accepting it. There's so many talented YA authors out there, whether they've self-published or posted their work on Wattpad or on their blogs, that deserved to be recognised for all their hard work and dedication to the genre. These are the authors who can only dream of the success that Bergstrom has acheived  - and yet, mainstream publishers seem to think that if they stick to what they know, they'll make far more money than taking a chance on authors that actually have an original voice. It just makes me sad. 

Publishers - you have the power to change things like this. The future of YA is literally in your hands - take a chance on authors who DO write 'morally complicated YA' (i.e. a very large majority of them). Readers - you deserve so much more than this drivel to read. If you want recommendations for actual 'morally complicated YA', I strongly recommend you search for the hashtag on Twitter - there's hundreds of fabulous recommendations that I simply can't list all on here. And my dear fellow authors - keep doing what you're doing, and don't let condescending people hold you down. I love you all, but also, remember - don't write a book in a specific genre and then shit all over the genre you're supposedly writing for. It's just not cool.

What do you think of the #MorallyComplicatedYA debate? Is everyone overreacting? What do you think about the selection of YA books available?

Friday, 13 November 2015

Fridays are PJ Days...


Today I got to go to work in my pyjamas, in honour of Children in Need. I don't think I've ever spent a whole day in pyjamas before (when I'm not ill that is), so it was a bit weird waking up, having a shower then getting back into my (clean) PJs. But I have to say, it grew on me. I can now see why some authors would choose to stay in their PJS all day...if I ever reach the point where I can write full time for living, I'm totally going to make Fridays my 'PJ day' and write in my pyjamas all day.


Anyway, I haven't managed to do a lot of writing this week, as I've been concentrating on blogging/setting up Wattpad. But I'm hoping that I'll manage to find some time to write this weekend while the Engineer tidies up the last of his car bits. The sequel to Synthetica is currently standing at 15,000 words, so that's a positive. I'm hoping to add at least a few more thousand words to that word count by the end of the weekend.

The next part of Synthetica is now up on Wattpad - so do go and check it out if you like sci-fi/serialised books :).

Tonight, I'm planning on staying in my pyjamas and ordering a pizza for supper. Sounds like a good night to me!

Happy Friday, everyone!

How do you feel about staying in your pyjamas all day? What are your writing plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

What pad? Wattpad!


I've finally taken the plunge and signed up for Wattpad.

For those of you who don't know, Wattpad is a free community site where you can upload your story/novel in parts. The idea is that you can upload your stories for free, as well as read other people's work and leave comments on it/vote if you like it. I'm a little late to the party (as always) - Wattpad currently has 40 million users, and it looks as though it's only going from strength to strength.

I'm still trying to find my way around the site and figure out how it all works, but I'm having fun so far. There's A LOT of sci-fi/fantasy stories on there, but I've already bookmarked a couple to read over the weekend.

At the moment, I'm currently in the process of serialising Synthetica on there - why? Because I want to give people an introduction to who I am and what my work is like. I'll be working on something exclusively for Wattpad in the near future - I've got a couple of ideas, but nothing concrete yet. But I'd like to have something original on there by Christmas.

If you'd like to check out the first couple of chapters of Synthetica, you can find them on my Wattpad profile here. At the moment, I'm aiming to upload a new part every Wednesday and Friday (although it won't let me upload a part right now, which is super irritating, but I'll keep trying - hopefully I'll have another new chapter up tonight).

So that's it! Hopefully I'll see you guys over there :)! And don't forget to check out my work ;)!

Are you on Wattpad? What do you think of it? Do you have any favourite stories that you've discovered on Wattpad?

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

30 Seconds by Chrys Fey: Book sale!

99 CENT SALE on 30 SECONDS by Chrys Fey!

Sale ends Nov. 20th so take advantage now!



Blurb:

When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he's made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He's determined to protect her at all costs.

The Mob's death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart's life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she's dodging bullets, she's falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?


Excerpt:

She had no time to react when a strong force bowled her through the doorway of her apartment, and a large hand plastered over her mouth. The man she had bumped into on the stairs had a firm grip on her as he kicked the door closed behind them. She struggled to get free, but his hold kept her back pressed against his chest.

“It’s okay. I’m a cop. My name is Blake Herro.” He hauled her into the living room. “There are six armed men coming up the stairs. We need to hide. Where can we hide?”

Her mind went blank, she even forgot about the ice cream.

“Where?” he demanded with a quick shake.

She pointed to the six-foot long, three-foot high handcrafted cedar chest she used for a coffee table. Officer Herro pulled her to it and flung open the lid.

“Get in,” he ordered.

BOOK LINKS:
The Wild Rose Press / NOOK / KOBO / Amazon US / Amazon UK

Don't forget 30 Seconds is on sale for 99 cents now, so grab your copy while you can!

Monday, 9 November 2015

To vlog or not to vlog, that is the question...


Over the weekend I've been thinking about my website, and my author 'brand' and all that jazz. While going over my marketing plan and ticking off the things I'd done on my 'to-do' list, I discovered that I'd written down the word 'vlog' with a huge question mark next to it.

I don't tend to use YouTube that much. In fact, my dad knows how to use YouTube better than I do - the only time I ever go on it, is if someone links to a cute animal video on Facebook.

But apparently book vlogs are becoming more of a big thing now. I've seen on Twitter a couple of people doing a video of their book reviews and I've watched a couple of author interviews on Goodreads, but I only really know of one author who posts videos to his website. In them, he discusses his books, his upcoming projects, his mental health issues and being transgender - they're really interesting videos, but then again, he is a NYT bestselling author. If I posted a video up, would anyone even bother to watch it?


Yeah, I could discuss the things I already write about on my blog, such as self-publishing, and review a few books and talk about my writing (or lack of), but would people actually find that interesting? I'm just not sure. I think I'd have to come up with a certain angle for my videos, but if I'm completely honest, between blogging, using Twitter/Tumblr/Wattpad, as well as actually writing my next book, I just don't know if I'd have the time to commit to vlogging as well.

The topic of social media is a source of never-ending fascination to me. I find it incredible how people can make an actual career out of making videos on YouTube or posting photos on Instagram. Yes, I'd absolutely love to reach more readers and have a conversation with them, but it sounds like it would take up an incredible amount of time to set up. Plus, I hate the way I sound/look on video.

So, what I'd like to know is:

Do any of you vlog? If so, how do you find it?

Do you think vlogging is becoming more of a thing for authors? 

Do you watch vlogs by other authors? (Please, do link to their videos in the comments, I'd love to check them out)

Do you think authors vlogging is a good thing or a bad thing?

Seriously, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! If you have any info on vlogging, please share it in the comments below :)

Have a great Monday, everyone!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Getting that Friday Feeling



It's finally the end of the week! Time to party:


Or if you're like me, time to get in your PJs, drink tea and eat pizza while watching films.

I feel like this week has simultaneously gone at a snail's pace, and yet, passed in the blink of an eye...maybe it's because I've been working at my day job and then coming home and putting in several hours every night at my second job that I do for love, not money (or, as you all know it, writing).


Honestly, it's been exhausting coming home, having a quick cup of tea and then jumping on the computer for a good few hours before I have to go and make supper/reassure my fiancé that I'm still alive. But I have really enjoyed it. I love the sense that my writing is in my control - I can either sit and complain about my day job driving me crazy, while grumbling that I'm not getting any writing done and oh yeah, did I mention the house is still an absolute tip from when the builders came in? - or I can do something about it.

I want to make writing my full time career. I want to be able to work for myself, not someone else. I want to do a job that I love every day. So I'm damn well going to make it happen.



Is it exhausting? Yes. Do I wish I could sit down the moment I come home from work and just chill all night? Yes. But hey, there's nothing in the rulebook that says I can't have a night off now and then, right?

This weekend, I was torn between sitting down and getting some writing done, or focussing on the house and finally getting some of the decorating out of the way. The Engineer has a uni friend coming to stay with us this weekend, so they can go and work on his car together - which means I've got an unexpected extended period of time in which to do as I please (normally at the weekends, I'm the one that gets dragged into helping him hoist out the engine or changing the brake pads). Do I get cracking on the decorating, as the house is driving me mad in the state it's in? Or do I get some serious writing done?

I think I've managed to convince myself over the right choice, just by writing this blog post. Although I've started to develop a serious eye twitch every time I look at the state of our ceilings, the fact is, writing is more important to me right now. I want to make a career out of it - and I can't do that if I don't actually do any writing.

So this weekend I'm planning on waking up early, psyching myself up, and then writing until my heart's content. As a treat, I may even stock up on cake beforehand, as a motivation to keep going. Whatever keeps me at the computer...

Have a great weekend!

Do you juggle writing with a full time job? How do you make the time to write? What are your writing plans this weekend?

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

IWSG November: Marketing Madness


Welcome to November's Insecure Writer's Support Group! We're a friendly bunch of writers that get together on the first Wednesday of every month to post about our writing insecurities, as well as offer encouragement to others. The IWSG was set up by the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh - if it sounds like your cup of tea, then you can check out the official IWSG website here, or their Facebook page here.

So what's been eating me up this month? Well, I've barely done any writing since mid-way through October, but that's not what's bothering me - I'll write in my own time, once I've done something about my huge to-do list that's somehow appeared from nowhere. No, the thing that's taking up most of my time at the moment is the bane of every introverted writer's life - marketing.


The wonderful Murees Dupe recommended a book about marketing for writers to me, and although it's got my super-psyched to start and promote my work, at the same time, I am finding the thought of starting rather daunting. What if it doesn't work? What if all my ideas are horrible? What if I end up losing readers?

But before I get myself sucked into the void of paranoia, and 'what ifs', I have to remember one thing - just trying something, anything, is better than not trying at all. If I'd let my fears conquer me, I would've never have written my book, and I certainly wouldn't be here blogging today. All I can do is try. And if one thing fails, well then, I can simply move onto the next idea that's on my marketing plan (which, by the way, I LOVED doing - anyone else out there enjoy writing and colour-coding lists? No? Just me then).

I just thought I'd share with you the most crucial piece of information I got from this book - that marketing your book should always be about the reader, and you've got to treat your writing as a business not a hobby. This is a remarkably simple idea, but I never would've thought of it on my own. And it's with this mindset - that my writing is a business, not a reflection on me personally - that has given me the guts to create my own marketing plan for my writing. No doubt I'll be sharing my marketing successes and failures with you over the coming months, so stay tuned!



Do you have a dedicated marketing plan for your writing/book? Do you see your writing as a business or a hobby? What are your fears this month?

Monday, 2 November 2015

My (not-so) Dreamy Office Space...


As I mentioned in my previous post, today was my first day back at work after a week and a half off. It didn't go as badly as I was expecting, but I can honestly say it hurt getting up at 6.30am again. One thing that I did decide to do on my time off is to try and become more serious about my writing - I'm not just talking about writing novels, I talking about freelance writing too. And today it just really hit home for me how much I would simply love to work from home and write all day for a living. But what's the one thing an aspiring writer/author/freelancer needs in order to be super-duper productive? A nice snuggly/jazzy/comfy home office of course!

At the moment, we're currently halfway through renovating our house (it sucks - trust me on this, if you're having building work done, go and see if you can kip on a friend's sofa for a few days - the dust alone will drive you mad) - we've got the stairs in, new kitchen lights and we've plastered over all of our horrible artex ceilings. So it's coming along, however, the one area that is being seriously neglected is our spare room.

I'm almost too embarrassed to show you a photo, but here it is in all it's glory:

  


Mmm, don't you just love the sight of brown, unpainted ceilings? As you can tell, my spare room is currently a dumping ground for everything we don't actually have a proper place for yet.

However, it's now my mission to ensure that my spare room will be transformed into a place of beauty, calm and serenity (unless of course, I'm listening to classic rock or something on Spotify). So here's a kind of mood board of what my ideal home office space would look like, if I had a) the room and b) when I have the time/motivation to do up the spare room:


First of all I'd LOVE to line one of the walls with bookshelves - obviously so I could go and browse my collection for inspiration, not just procrastination...I also love the colour scheme used in this office - I'm a sucker for pale pastel/country colours and this blue would make a really relaxing workspace. The sofa would also be amazing to have, if I needed a break from the computer screen, without having to go downstairs and resist the temptation of TV. 


Again, I primarily chose this photo for the colours. It looks beautifully calming - and the table for the teapot and cakes is a must for any writer too. I especially love how this office is clearly outside. If I had the money, I'd definitely build my own separate office cabin (or buy a shepherd's hut) at the bottom of the garden, so I could look out over the fields as I write. Although my budget sadly won't allow for that, I do like the white desk and the desk lamp, so perhaps I can incorporate some of this design into my own office after all.


I adore Cath Kidston, and this whole set-up just reminded me of her designs, and I knew I had to include it. I'm still in two minds about what colour to paint the spare room, but I am strongly leaning towards a pale pink - I don't tend to wear pink much at all, but I find it to be an incredibly calming colour on walls. I love this wallpaper and how the desk lamp matches in with the decor. The bookcase is a must-have, as are the storage boxes (for the stack of notes/notepads I've accumulated over the years), and I particularly like the fancy pin board, where I could plan out my latest novel in all it's glory. 


Okay, so I don't actually like all the filing cabinets in this particular office, but I do like the colours - I like how calming (are you noticing a theme here? Writers need to remain calm AT ALL TIMES) the white is, but the pops of bold colour really make it personal.


And finally, I'd love to have a swinging bubble chair just casually hanging from my office ceiling (for guests to sit on obviously, not just so I can take a nap...), and I absolutely adore the brightly coloured rug in the second photo - I think it really makes it stand out. So if all else fails and I have no space to build my bookcases, maybe I'll just paint the whole room white and get a really bright rug instead. Sorted!

Overall, I guess I'd just love my office space to be calm (there's that key word again), but also a place that'll encourage creativity, be full of light and most of all, make you want to stay there and work. After all, that's the key to being a good writer - actually staying at your desk and writing.

This blog post was inspired by the fab people over at WeWork, a community of shared office spaces across the world. If you're looking for a space outside of your own home, feel free to check out WeWork to see if they're in your area. They've got shared office space locations all over the world and offer all sorts of amenities, benefits and discounts to freelancers, startups, remote teams, and more. You can read more about WeWork and their mission here

Do you have a home office? What's it like? Do you enjoy working there? What would your ideal home office space look like?

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Happy NaNoWriMo day!


Today is the 1st November, which means not only is Christmas (and my birthday) now only mere weeks away, it's also the start of NaNoWriMo!

For those of you who are new to writing, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the idea is that by midnight of the 30th November, you'll have written 50,000 words. Its a tough task, but definitely achievable. If you're just getting started with your writing, I would highly recommend giving it a go - it's invaluable in terms of teaching you about vital it is to write every day (or at least, getting into the habit of writing regularly), as well as giving you the opportunity to reach out and connect with fellow writers all over the world. If you'd like to know more, check out the NaNoWriMo website here.


Although I love the concept behind NaNoWriMo, this year I've decided not to officially participate. However, I will be there in spirit if not in person - I'm going to attempt to get the bulk of my latest WIP down on paper, as well as maybe try and get another project off the ground, but we'll see how my WIP goes first.

Also, I just thought I'd give you all a heads up - I'll be making a few changes to my blog/other social media sites over the coming week, one of which being (provided it all goes to plan and I don't mess it up) my blog URL will be changing. At some point over the next couple of days, it'll be changing to rachelpattinson.com. So this is just a warning in case your can't get onto my blog for a day or two (because knowing me, it'll go wrong somehow) - but fingers crossed everything will be up and running by IWSG on Wednesday!

So that's it! At the moment I'm just trying to tackle my huge to-do list that I wrote while on holiday last week, as well as mentally preparing myself to go back to work tomorrow after a week and a half off.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Are you taking part in NaNowriMo this year? Why/why not? Do you use a custom domain name, and did you find it easy to set up? Let me know!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Small victories...

It's been a little while since I last posted - the Engineer and I went away last weekend to see some old uni friends, and then I've just felt pretty bogged down with work and one thing and another. But I'm back now, feeling refreshed and ready to go!

And I have some good news! I did read all your comments on my IWSG post, and firstly, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented. You all inspired me to stop moaning/procrastinating and actually get on with what I'm here to do - write. So on Thursday night I finally started working on the sequel to Synthetica - I'd made a detailed synopsis some time ago, but I hadn't actually got around to writing a word of the actual manuscript. 

And oh my, was I in for a shock.




I think I've actually completely blanked out how difficult it is to write those first few pages of a manuscript. Seriously, it felt like I was pulling teeth. I just wanted to cry and scream and break something. You want to know how many words I managed to write? 281. I'm truly not exaggerating when I say how awful those 281 words were. They were appalling. If you read it, you wouldn't think I was capable of even speaking English, let alone writing it.


But you know what? It didn't stop me. On Saturday, I got up, had breakfast, wandered around for a bit and then sat and wrote most of the day. On Sunday, I repeated Saturday's routine (with an impromptu trip food shop thrown in).

This weekend I managed to clock up a total of 5127 words. When I look back over what I've written I think I can pretty much break it down into chunks like this: around 3000 of those words will ultimately be cut because they make zero sense, 1000 words will be chopped and changed into some kind of coherent order, 800 words can be kept outright (because they're basically essential words such as 'said', 'he', 'Anais' and 'and') and hiding amongst all the crap, there might be 200 words/phrases if I'm lucky that I'll keep because they're actually telling the story I want to be told.

Does it make me feel disheartened when I realise that most of my weekend's effort won't survive the final cut (however far away that may be)? Not at all. If anything, I'm happy that I actually have something to work with now - instead of staring at a blank page, I can remodel, cut and paste or rewrite my novel altogether, until what's on the page finally reflects the book that's in my head. After all, it's only through trial and error that we can really see what it is we truly want out of our writing.

So that's my news. Book 2 is coming on slowly but surely and right now, I'm super happy about that. Also, I've discovered that I've now lost a stone since the summer, so I went on a small shopping trip after work tonight and I was delighted to find that I can now just about shoehorn myself into a size smaller than I was :). A small thing, but nonetheless an achievement for me :).

Happy Monday, folks!

How's your writing going? Do you find first drafts strangely torturous to write too?
 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

IWSG October: New beginnings

Welcome back to the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Every month, writers get together to celebrate/commiserate/console/chat about all of the worries, pleasures and general day to day happenings of being a writer. Whether you're old or young, new to the writing game or a writing veteran, we're all here to help, no matter how big or small your problem seems to be! If you'd like to join up or read more about this fantastic group, check out the official Insecure Writer's Support Group website.




I'm going to keep this post short, to the point (ha!) and positive. First of all, thank you to all of you who commented on my post about autumn earlier this week - seeing how excited you all are about this coming season made me feel a lot more positive about life and writing in general, so thank you so much for all your kind words :).

I guess it's not so much that I'm worried about my writing today (I say today because last week/at the weekend I was totally paranoid about it all...but so far today, so good...), it's just that once again I have to find the energy to begin my second novel. The outline is there and whenever I look at it, I get super excited - it's just 'finding the time' to write. Essentially, I'm just procrastinating. I know I should just get down to it, but every time I think I'll do some writing I come up with an excuse - my favourite one at the minute is the fact that I don't have a laptop so to write, I have to use my desktop which is located oh-so-far-away upstairs...which is actually a very good thing, because it's nowhere near the TV/other distractions!!

So this month, I'm just going to have to get on with it. I'm going to complain and dig my heels in and drag my feet, but eventually I'm going to have to get stern with myself and just do it. I even thought today about waiting a month until NaNoWriMo starts, but again, that's just another form of procrastination!



Thanks for stopping by! Hope you're all having a lovely week :).

Are you procrastinating about starting your latest project? How do you keep yourself on track? What are your writing woes this month?

Monday, 5 October 2015

Autumn Days...

It's that time of year again; there's a crispness in the air, the nights are turning darker (and colder), and the leaves are beginning to fall. Yup, that's right - it's the arrival of my favourite season: autumn.


I adore autumn. I love the colours, I love the chill bite in the air, and obviously, I love Halloween. I love waking up in the morning and beginning to feel that stillness in the air that only the arrival of autumn and winter can bring. I love seeing the mist shrouding the fields as a hazy sun begins to rise. Even at 24, I still find this time of year magical. It reminds me of being a small child and going hunting for conkers in the churchyard, deliberately stepping on crunchy leaves in my path (I still do that now too if I'm honest...) and watching my breath fog the air as I walked home at sunset.


There is no real reason for this post, other than to reassure you all that I am still here, and to share my love of autumn with you. I think at the moment, I need to remind myself of all the small things that I know and love - once again I'm having doubts about my writing, and my daytime job isn't going so well. It's at times like these that I simply need to stop, breathe, look around at all the beauty that autumn brings, and then return to my writing/day job with a smile on my face (or failing that, at least the sense that everything will be ok). Sometimes I do tend to get so wrapped up in my own head, I forget about everything else that's out there. But autumn can be so simply breathtaking (when it's not raining that is), I just need to enjoy the here and now.

Have a lovely Monday, everyone!

What's your favourite season? Do you have any childhood memories of autumn?



Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Writing confessions...

Hey everyone!

Apologies for long absence - I'm tempted to say it's because I've been so busy and that I've managed to write 2 books in the space of six weeks, but that's a complete lie. If I'm completely honest, I've done nothing for the past month or so. Nada. Zilch. And it's been amazing.

I knew when summer began that I wanted to take a bit of a break, but somehow I kept extending it and extending it and now it's pretty much autumn and I've been back at work for the past two weeks. But to be honest, I think I needed the longer break. Yes, I could've forced myself to write, but I probably would've hated everything that I'd written - I would've gotten worked up about everything again and it would've ended up damaging my writing career in the long run. So at the end of the day, I'm super glad I took so long out.

But now? Well, a funny thing has been happening...I've been waking up in the mornings with the urge to write. This doesn't necessarily mean that I've actually written anything mind you, but it's such a huge relief to feel that awesome, tingly, I-must-write-or-I'll-explode type thing again - it's reassuring to know that I haven't completely lost faith in my goal to become a fully-fledged author.

And that brings me nicely onto my next point - I've had a lot of time to think and reflect on my writing over the past month or so. If I'm honest, I've come damn close to jacking the whole writing thing in. Being away from the internet for so long means that although I feel well-rested, I also get super paranoid that everyone has forgotten me and my books and that I'll have to start from scratch all over again - and then that makes me think, what's the point? It's hard work, I might as well give up now! But I had a moment of clarity the other day - I don't want to give up.


For me, writing isn't a hobby. It isn't something I dip in and out of on a whim. It's who I am. It's who I want to be. I cannot imagine being anything but an author. Sound ambitious? Maybe it is. But it's the only thing in my life that I've been absolutely 100% certain about since I was about fifteen years old. Yes I love books, and I'm happy to read for days on end (which pretty much describes my whole summer) but at the end of the day, reading about someone's else's worlds will never be enough for me. I love creating worlds and characters and sharing them with readers - it's just something that I have to do and that I love doing.

Something that has helped me come to this conclusion is the fact that I've started to come to the realisation that there's a very very high chance that I'm not going to be that author who churns out 100 books a year and earns a million pounds a book. Sorry if that sounds conceited or big-headed, but I'm just trying to be honest - and if I'm brutally honest, there was still a small part of me after I published Synthetica that still believed something like that might happen. But you know what? I'm happy to hold my hands up and admit that lately, my pride has been getting in the way of my writing - it's not something I like to admit to, but it's the truth. And I feel 100% better for admitting it - now I can move on and keep going with my writing career.

My first book won't earn a movie deal or become a Hollywood blockbuster. My next book might take me a year to write, or five or ten. I might not be able to write so much that I have books coming out of my ears, but you know what? That's ok. All I can do is keep doing what I'm doing.

And I'm doing just fine.


How's your writing going? Any news from the summer? Do you find it difficult to get back into writing after taking a break?

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The Amaranthine by Murees Dupe Release Day! ...Kind of...

Hey everyone!

It's been quite a while since I was last on here! I do apologise for my absence, but I have to admit, I loved every minute of it ;). I'm not going to ramble on too much today, because I have a special announcement for you all instead - the lovely Murees Dupe has self-published her first book - yay!! It was actually released yesterday, but my laptop went weird and wouldn't let me schedule any posts...so I'm posting it today instead.

I had the great privilege of reading this book before it was released, and I can honestly say that I loved it. Although I don't write paranormal novels, I do like to read it and I thought this book was great! I'm not very good at reviews, but if you like paranormal romance, you should definitely give this a go. Plus - isn't that cover just gorgeous?? I think I'll have to have a word with Murees about her cover designer ;)!

Congratulations to Murees! I can't wait to read the next one :)




Title: The Amaranthine (Thelum Series)
Author: Murees Dupé
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 8 September 2015

Blurb
Claire is sassy, human, and an outcast of society―who only wants to know where she belongs.

Alex is arrogant, selfish, and an immortal warrior―who thinks he’s prepared for everything.

Claire knows the world of immortals is where she belongs. As her guide and guardian, Alex finds it hard to resist Claire’s subtle charm. Can the two overcome their differences and embrace their passion for each other, or will the possibility of true love be lost to both forever?

Find your copy here:
E-book: Kindle * Nook * Ibooks * Kobo
Paperback: Amazon

About the Author
Murees Dupé was born and still lives in South Africa. When she is not thinking up new stories, she is spending time with her family, playing with her three dogs and cat, watching TV, or overindulging on desserts. To learn more about Murees, visit her website www.mureesdupe.com.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Movie Madness: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Welcome to another Movie Madness post!



Today's movie isn't a recent one, but it's one that I've wanted to see for a while: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In case you've been living under a rock for the past 20+ years (hands up who used to watch the cartoon version? Me too!), TMNT is the story of four genetically mutated turtles who live underneath New York. They've been raised in secrecy, but when a kingpin threatens to unleash a virus across NYC, they're forced to come out into the light, and be the heroes their city needs them to be.


This film is a typical adult/kid crossover film - there's a whole lot of action for the adults, and a load jokes for the kids. Despite my utter love for everything TMNT and it's entertainment factor, this film did fall a little bit short for me.

Firstly, it did take a while for me to get used to seeing the turtles in 3D, rather than 2D. I was born and raised on the cartoon version, so it did take me a while to get used to it. But the graphics were good, although I did feel like they'd blown up each turtle's personality out of proportion. I already knew that Michaelangelo was the joker, Donatello was the tech guy, Leonardo was the leader and Raphael was the cool dude; but they just made it so completely obvious in the film that I found it wearing. Also, there's a part were Raphael makes a giant, heartfelt speech while they're falling from a skyscraper and all I could think was really? You're about to die, and instead of screaming, you're making a speech?? I know, I know, it's a kids film, but even so (in all fairness, they were falling for A REALLY LONG time).

Michaelango's jokes also started to grated on me after a while. I'm all for a funny character, but I personally don't like characters that have to make a joke every time they open their mouths. But I guess a kid would probably enjoy the jokes more than me anyway.

In terms of plot, I actually quite enjoyed this film. It followed a very similar vein to the more recent Spiderman films with the whole 'company trying to create a potentially deadly new form of technology and it's a race against time to shut it down' vibe. I actually thought the plot was quite sophisticated for a kid's film and despite the ridiculous jokes/action sequences, I did want to keep watching to find out what happened in the end.

Megan Fox played April O'Neil, and although I'm not huge Megan Fox fan, I thought she did okay. It would've been nice to explore her character a little bit more, as well as delve a little deeper into the bond between the turtles, but I guess they did have a lot to fit in in an hour and forty minutes. But the one thing I think let this film down was the villain: the great and irreplaceable Shredder.

I LOVED Shredder as a kid. In fact, I probably had a tiny bit of a crush on him if I'm honest (what can I say? I love my villains!) But in the film? He's a bit of a joke. He barely makes an appearance, and when he does, he's dressed in such a ridiculous outfit that I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying because I was too busy wondering how many knives one man really needed:

Personally, I think he's a tad underdressed...

I feel like they really wasted an opportunity to delve into Shredder's character, but maybe I just need to stop thinking about this film in adult terms. As a kid, I probably would've loved Shredder. Oh, but guess what the name of Shredder's terrifying 'clan' is? The Foot Clan. I could not stop laughing. There must be more menacing names for a clan than 'foot' surely?

Anyway, overall, TMNT was an entertaining film. If you've got kids, this'll definitely keep them entertained for one afternoon during summer; and if you're from the original TMNT era like me, I think this is probably worth a watch just for old time's sake.

Have you seen TMNT? What did you think? Did you used to watch the cartoons? Who was your favourite turtle?? Mine used to be Leonardo, but I have to confess that I do have a soft spot for Raphael's bad boy vibe now...
 
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