Monday, 25 May 2015

Muse Party Blogfest!

I know I'm a little late to the party (I'm just going to tell myself I'm fashionably late instead of actually late), but today is the lovely Sarah Foster's fourth blog anniversary, and in celebration, she's hosting a Muse Party blogfest! So pop open the champagne, grab your muse, and come join us!

Let's get this partttayyyy started!

Who is your muse (or character)? Tell us a little bit about him/her and why you brought them. 

I decided to bring along Anais, my main character from my book Synthetica. I ummed and ahhed over who to bring, but to be honest, Anais is the whole reason I actually managed to finish writing a book, so I reckon she counts as my muse too. She's feisty, unafraid to say what she's really thinking, super cool (like, who doesn't want candy floss pink hair??) and basically the polar opposite of me. I think that's why I like her so much - I love making friends with quiet people like myself, but you can't deny that loud people have a certain energy that draws you to them, especially when they're genuinely nice people as well - Anais definitely has that spark.

What are you guys wearing? Dressing up or keeping it casual?

Oh man, me and Anais agree on one thing and that's the comfier, the better. I'm in leggings and a casual day dress, while Anais is wearing skinny jeans, t-shirt and her favourite red leather jacket (which she happened to steal from my real life wardrobe).

It's a potluck! Did you bring something yummy?

I love baking so I brought some cupcakes and some traditional English scones with jam and clotted cream! Anais brought her favourite ice-cream (salted caramel) and a big bag of crisps. I hope that's enough? Is it enough? I don't know! I always freak out over these things...

Open bar! What are you both drinking (booze or otherwise)? 

A strawberry daiquiri for me, please! And anything with a kick for Anais - a rum and coke for now, but I have a feeling she'll try and sneak in a cocktail or two later. Her and Dalla (her OTHER best friend - and also, alas, imaginary) do love their fruity cocktails.

Wallflowers or social butterflies? 

I'm definitely the awkward wallflower - Anais is somewhere between the two. She's happy to make conversation if she's in the right mood (i.e. drunk or with Dalla), but despite appearances, she can be rather shy at times. Also, if she's hungry, steer well clear - she's not friendly when she's hungry (she inherited that from me too - whoops). But as this is an awesome party with lots of food, she's pretty content and happy to chatter away :).

What song(s) will you and your muse sing for karaoke?

There is no way on this earth you will ever get me to do karaoke. Sorry! But Anais should be up for it, after a couple of rum and cokes. I tell you what - bring out the cheesy tunes, and I MAY consider participating ;). Anais (*cough* me *cough*) loves anything from the eighties and nineties, so if you've got the Spice Girls, Bryan Adams, Five, Backstreet Boys, Billy Idol etc...we're in!

What's your favorite party game?

Monopoly. I'm pretty old-school. Anais likes it too - YES YOU DO, ANAIS, DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT - ahem, as I was saying, WE like any type of board game ;)

Which one of you is more likely to end up dancing on a table top?

I did that once in Zante, on my one and only girl's holiday, and I'd like to keep it that way. Anais, however, would probably be all over this, especially after a cocktail or three.

Has your muse been a good date and would you ever hang out with them again? 

Anais has been a great date! I always love hanging out with Anais - makes me feel a bit sad for all the crap I'm about to put her through in books 2 and 3, but hey, at least she'll have this one last good night to remember...what's that? No, Anais, I didn't say anything....mwahahaha.....

Thanks so much to Sarah for hosting this awesome event! I've had such a blast at this party, and I hope you have too :)!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish...

I'm so glad it's nearly the weekend. This week just seems to have dragged on and on and on...

Writing-wise, I've been super excited to start the outlines for both the sequel to Synthetica and a brand new fantasy series idea I'm currently toying with. Whenever I'm not at my computer, I keep imagining scenes for the fantasy series; I love that little flame of excitement that makes me want to rush home and get cracking.

And yet, when I do finally have the chance to sit down and write - I don't want to. The ideas are all in my head, but I'm finding it strangely tough to get them down on paper. Is it because I haven't actually written an outline in so long, I've forgotten how to start?

I think that I've forgotten the fact that an outline (as well as a first draft) isn't perfect - it's simply for throwing my ideas together and seeing if it works. I can always change it if I have to, that's the whole point. But I'm scared - I'm scared of it being a giant mess with nowhere to go. I know I just have to fight through the fear and get on with it, but I am finding it difficult to get started. And because I want to write but can't, I keep berating myself for not starting which I think puts me off writing even more.

Ah well, guess I'll just have to keep Sam Gamgee's wise words in mind:

In other news, I spent over an hour tonight emailing possible reviewers for Synthetica. The reviews I've had so far have been fantastic (a huge thank you to everyone who's left one/downloaded a copy of my book!), but I'm starting to realise that you can't really stop promoting in self-publishing. Synthetica definitely sells better when a new review goes up, but it's a bit of a catch-22: no one will buy the book if it doesn't have reviews, but because it doesn't have a lot of reviews, it's a slow burner when it comes to selling copies! I know I should've sorted all this out before I published it, but you live and learn :).

How's your writing going this week? If you've self-published a book, do you find reviews help your sales or not? Readers - would you review a self-published book? Why/why not?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Monday Movie Madness: The Maze Runner

So I've decided to try out a new feature on my blog, and as you've probably already guessed from the title, it's going to be about movies ;). Since the A to Z Challenge ended I've been trying to think up ways of keeping my blogging schedule going, so this weekend I sat down and had a brainstorm for blogging ideas, other than just writing about my, well, writing. I managed to come up with a couple of ideas I hope you'll like :).

The first of these ideas is Movie Madness - a post that will hopefully (if all goes to plan and I don't lose interest like I did with my book reviews feature...) take place every Monday. The idea behind it to have a chat about any movies I've watched over the past week - because believe me, I watch A LOT. While I'll endeavour to keep this as a weekly feature, I'm not going to put a load of pressure on myself; if I watch a film, great, if not, well I'm sure I can think of something else to blog about.

I'm actually more excited to show you the badge I made especially for this feature. It occurred to me during the A to Z Challenge that when I blog, I really don't tend to use pictures which can make my posts look a bit boring. So I've decided to jazz it up a bit:

What do you think? Is it weird that I'm strangely proud of it...?

Anyway, let's move on to the actual point of this feature: films. The movie I want to talk about this week is The Maze Runner.

The Maze Runner is a film based on the popular YA book series by James Dashner. It follows the story of Thomas, who has no recollection of who he is or where he comes from. When he wakes up in The Glade, an encampment surrounded by a terrifying stone maze, it's up to him and the other boys imprisoned there to find their way out before it's too late. But with the maze resetting itself every day, and terrible creatures called Grievers roaming the corridors at night, is it already too late for them to escape?

I haven't read this series, but despite my reservations from the reviews I've read about the books, I did enjoy the film. The story was fast and action-packed, and there was always something going on which kept my interest. Thomas' relationships to the other boys was fascinating; I loved seeing how he interacted with those boys who had been in The Glade for three years and how they took to his presence. Some of them welcomed him with open arms, others, well, not so much.

However, I do have to admit that there were a couple of things I didn't enjoy so much. For one, I had to look up the name of the main character as I wrote this post because he was kinda forgettable. He seemed like your average YA hero - pretty to look at, but not an awful lot going on behind the scenes. When he enters The Glade, the other boys deliberately keep important information from him, which he seems to accept without too much of a fight. If it was me, I'd be screaming at them to tell me what was going on.

While I did enjoy the overall premise of the film, I couldn't help feeling like it was all a tad ridiculous. Apparently this story is set in a dystopian world which has been ravaged by nuclear war...that's pretty much all we're told in the film, and I couldn't help feeling like if this world was real, surely the government wouldn't squander resources on a giant maze designed to kill the youngest and healthiest survivors of the human race? Can you imagine how much manpower, building materials and time it would take to build this:

Maybe this idea and the concept behind the maze is explored in more depth in the books, but I wasn't very satisfied by the lack of explanation in the film.

Overall, despite making me scoff a few times (such as when one boy unveils a miniature wooden sculpture he's managed to craft of the maze - tell me, how was this possible if the maze is always changing?) this film isn't bad - if you're looking for a bit of escapism for a rainy afternoon and you enjoy other YA films such as Divergent or The Hunger Games, then you'll definitely enjoy this too.

Have you seen the Maze Runner? What did you think of it? Have you read the books? What films have you been watching this week?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

IWSG May: Time to breathe

Good morning! Apologies for this post being a day late - I have no idea what happened yesterday, I did remember it was time for an IWSG post, but then I forgot to post it!!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group was set up by Alex J. Cavanaugh - it's a safe place for all writers to post their insecurities, no matter how big or small, on the first Wednesday of every month.

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet - to be honest, I don't have many insecurities this month, as I haven't had the time to write! But that's what I'm aiming to work on this month - I'd like to get the outline for Synthetica 2 (not it's real title, honest) done and dusted, so I can revise it and then start the first draft over summer. Exciting!

I've noticed over social media for the past few days that a lot of people I follow have been finishing off WIPs, starting new projects, and seeming to write a whole book in a very very short space of time. It's a bit discouraging tbh, but then again, everyone works differently I guess.

I've decided to try and channel these negative thoughts into something positive - it's inspired me to keep going with my own writing and not to give up. I've got a couple of other novel ideas in the pipeline, so I'm currently toying with the idea of trying to get those outlines done too - if the professionals can write several projects at once, I can too, right?? I'd really like to knuckle down and getting serious about writing, and start all those other stories that are floating around my brain...but then again, maybe that'll be too much pressure...we'll have to wait and see!

How about you? Can you work on several projects at once? Do you find it makes you more productive, or not?

Hope you're all having a lovely Thursday, and if you're in the UK like me, don't forget to vote :)!

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Monday, 4 May 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015: Reflections

Good morning all! May the 4th be with you! (Sorry, couldn't resist...)

So it's now May and the A to Z blogging challenge 2015 is officially over for this year. This was my first year participating in the challenge and I have to say, I loved every minute of it.

I didn't really have a specific theme for the challenge -  I decided just to post any writing tips or advice that I thought fellow indie/first time authors like myself might be interested in. After all, I originally set up this blog to document my journey through to becoming a published author and I thought that if there was anyone else out there in the same position as me, they might appreciate the encouragement, no matter how big or small.

I really loved having a topic to blog about for a whole month - normally I'm pretty stuck for blog ideas, or I find myself too busy to post, but this challenge has made me fall in love with blogging all over again. I'm definitely going to be trying harder to post new and exciting content for you guys from now on! I actually have a couple of ideas based around a few of my posts, so hopefully I'll have some interesting blog posts for you all this month as well :). This challenge surprised me: the posts I thought people would like to read and comment on where the ones that weren't as popular, and my completely random, weird posts about jackknifingexceeding your expectations, villains and flash fiction are the ones that people seemed to like to read!

I really really enjoyed visiting other blogs and making new friends. There are a couple of blogs that I followed that I know I'm going to continue to visit. I felt bad that I didn't really get a chance to look at more bloggers who signed up, but as this was my first year participating, I found it hard enough to juggle blogging and returning comments. But that's going to be my goal for next year and for my monthly IWSG posts: to visit the linky list and discover more wonderful bloggers.

I'd love to participate in the A to Z challenge next year as well - the lessons I've learnt from this year are: to schedule more of my posts so I'm not rushing to write them (I scheduled the first two weeks of posts and it was definitely less stressful at the start of the challenge!), posting in the mornings instead of late at night and I'm thinking about having a definite theme for next year - I really enjoyed reading blogs that featured flash fiction pieces every day, so I might try my hand at that next year :).

I'd just like to say a big thank you to everyone who visited, followed and commented on my blog during the challenge. Your support and encouragement helped me to make it to the end - I know I never would've finished without you :).

Hope you're all having a wonderful May Day, and enjoying the sunshine while it lasts :)!