Review of the Year or What the Hell was That?

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I think it’s safe to say most of the reviews this year will be asking ‘WTF?’ Political and world events seemed to just be one cataclysmic event after the other. And on a personal level, I’ve had a couple of ‘WTF’ moments too. I won’t miss this year one bit.

But for me, there have been good moments too. The biggest thing was, of course, the publication of my first e-book. After writing stories for twenty-six odd years, I finally have a full-length piece of my work out there for people to read. No matter what happens next year, I did it and now I have, I intend to keep going. I’m currently editing a bunch of short stories for the next book whilst planning the one after that, another full-length novel. I’m working to finally establish that I am a writer – in my mind if nothing else.

Thanks to everyone I know and everyone who follows this blog or my social media accounts. Thanks for being there, for helping me, for encouraging me when I needed it and for reading my book!

To my fellow writers wherever you are in life or career, keep going. Keep sending those words out. Keep speaking even if you feel silenced. Stories are the lifeblood of us all, whether we’re reading them on the page or being part of them via Virtual Reality goggles.

We are all stories. See you on the flip side.

 

Liked that? Try these…

6 Reasons Why you Might want to Buy my Book
Writers Who Inspire me

 

 

Christmas special offer now on – get “Under this Skin” for only 99p! Limited time only!

hiresIt’s Christmas Eve my friends and you know what that means. Time to start eating and reading!

For a limited time only, get “Under this Skin”, my original e-book, for the bargain price of 99p! Snuggle up with this fantastical, five-star tale whilst chowing down on (several) mince pies.

Offer starts 8am today. The price will go up to £1.99 on Dec 27th and be back at its original price of £2.99 on New Years’ Eve.

Take me to the offer!

 

Visiting Alice Liddells Grave

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Any fan of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ will know that its eponymous heroine is based on a real person. Alice Liddell was the fourth child in the Liddell family. They were friends with Charles Dodgson AKA Lewis Carroll and it was on a boating trip that he whipped up the tale of Alice and the White Rabbit which Alice encouraged him to write down. ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ were born.

Alice lived most of her life in and around Lyndhurst in the New Forest. And it’s handily not that far away from where I live. It seemed only right that after photographing Lewis Carroll’s final resting place, I should do the same for Alice herself.

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You can find her around the back of the rather grand St Micheal and All Angels. A handy sign points the way. On the headstone, Alice is referred to as ‘Mrs Reginald Hargreaves’, which does jar, but put that down to the times in which she lived.

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The grave itself has a rather lovely white stone memorial. It contrasts with the very apt red and white rose bushes planted inside.

 

If you’re ever passing through, I would definitely recommend stopping by to  see this charming site.

 

Try these next…

 

Lewis Carrolls Grave, Guildford
Jane Austen’s Grave, Winchester
Take Five Books

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Adult colouring books are all the rage. And by ‘adult’ I mean they’re more complicated than ones for the kids, not that they’ve got er, ‘adult’ subject matter (maybe yours do, I’m not judging). You can’t walk into a book shop without falling over a table full of them, swoops and curls of black and white, sometimes with a hint of gold to look extra classy.

They seemed to appear as therapy for a range of mental health issues, including simple stress relief. The market for them has certainly exploded over the past couple of years, so there’s definitely a lot of people doing them.

I’ve got an Alice in Wonderland one (‘natch) that I’m working on.

As a child, colouring books were stressful, as my overwhelming perfectionism did away with any ‘fun’ I might have had. Now, older and wiser, I just go with whatever pencil comes out of the box.

Anyone else out there got the colouring book bug?

Where's the oddest place you've done it

Write I mean!

On trains and buses, boats and rooftops, beaches, balconies and the bottom of the sea, we writers will do it anywhere (get your minds out of the gutter please!) I’m sure you know what it’s like to have the Muse (or just the need to flex those writing muscles) strike at an unexpected moment.

Personally, the oddest place I’ve done it was a department store. Working 9-5, you can only re-arrange the cushions and lights and mirrors so many times before you start to feel a bit zombified. In the long periods between customers (because no-one buys lights on a Wednesday afternoon), I used scraps of paper we kept for customer notes to scribble out a ghost story set in, yes, a department store.

So, where’s the oddest place you’ve done your writing?

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4 roadblocks to your writing and 4 ways to steamroll themFor every writing problem you may be having, there is an answer.

Not necessarily an easy answer that involves lamps and Genies but an answer nevertheless.

Here are 4 common roadblocks that stop you from writing – and 4 ways to steamroll them flat.

1) I don’t have time to write

When I was younger, there was a TV show about a boy with a watch who could stop time. I think everyone would kill for one of those, writer or not.

You’re allowed to have a busy life, a job, a family, kids, pets and all sorts of other commitments. You’re allowed to have days when you don’t write. Don’t feel bad about them.

But –

the fact remains that your book/short story/poem/screenplay isn’t going to write itself. So you’re going to have to make time. That might mean making a few little sacrifices; you wake up a bit earlier, you write in your lunch break or skip an evening TV show for a couple of hours of writing instead. If you don’t drive on your commute, you could fit in a few words then. Or even keep a notepad in the toilet – multi-tasking to the extreme!

2) I’m just not inspired

You can’t write without inspiration right? Well…actually, you can. People who write for a living don’t have a choice. It may sound mercenary but if you have to, you’ll find something to write about.

If you’re stuck on a scene, skip it and move on. Try editing something you’ve already written. Or go and write something completely different to keep your mind active until you’re ready to go back to your WiP. Blog posts are good!

Physical activity can also get the creative juices flowing. A simple walk can work wonders for the old noggin. A trip to the Library is even better. Grab a book to find your inspiration.

3) I’m not sure my writing is any good

Join the club, we’ve got jackets.

Every writer ever, in the history of writing, has doubted their work or their writing abilities. And not just once either. It’s completely natural. And it may be that what you’re writing on isn’t going to work out.

Step back. Let your work breathe. When you return to it, give it a the once over and, if you decide to scrap it, don’t chuck it entirely. Keep a copy so that if nothing else you can cannibalise it for ‘parts’.

You also need to remind yourself why you writeWhy do these characters dance through your through your head and onto paper? Because they need to. Because you need to. You may not be the next Charles Dickens (I know I’m not), but you will always have to write. 

4) I keep getting distrac-oh a butterfly!

The internet is a wonderful and terrible place. So are Netflix and Instagram  and all the other distractions of the digital age. When you turn on your computer to write, you open up world of procrastination right at your fingertips. I know this. I’ve already been distracted six times in the last paragraph.

Hmm…what was I saying?

You can try swapping your laptop for a pen and paper. But if you’re anything like me, you type faster than you can write anyway. Then you’ll need to get serious and unplug the internet. You can do this literally or by using handy apps from Chrome or Microsoft. Use them to block the Internet on your computer for as long as you need to get things done.
Or try a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, with or without music, to help you focus.

And hide the TV.


 

What are your top tips to get past major writing difficulties?

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Image of ATAT on Endor in Star Wars

I grew up surrounded by fantasy and sci-fi. Maybe that’s why it’s what I love to write now.  Bedtime stories were The Hobbit, Wind in the Willows, Roald Dahl. Daytime video viewing was Star Wars, Willow, Labyrinth and all the Disney films. It’s still seen as odd if you’re into fantasy and happen to be female. People assume you aren’t into it for the ‘right’ reasons, whatever they are. Sexist bollocks of course!

Anyway, all this leads to the fact I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens last week. I went with my boyfriend, who’s decently into fantasy but didn’t grow up with Star Wars like I did. We had the toys, the books, the games, you name it. I was the one at the screening with the Star Wars T-shirt! They’ll be no spoilers, but suffice to say both I and the boyfriend loved it. It brought back the feeling of watching the original films, with the added bonus of being on a very big (IMAX) screen that practicaly swallowed me into the story.

What did you think of the film?  And are you a fantasy fanatic?


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Writers desk

It’s all over. Both the year and my book.

Completing the book has been my biggest achievement and one I didn’t expect to happen. When I looked back at my New Years postfrom January 2015, I was surprised to find I’d gone beyond what I thought I could do.

I completed the 2nd edit on my book and started and completed the third. I never thought I would do that. I also continued with this blog and gathered 350 or so followers from the fellow bloggers (and a hello and thanks to all of you). It’s nice to have somewhere to share my work and my ramblings about books and places. And it’s great to follow other writers and gain all the insights I can.

Back to the book, this year begins with the question ‘What now?’ I think the best idea is to have someone read it, someone who will give honest, constructive feedback that hopefully doesn’t just consist of ‘don’t give up your day job.’
Any advice about how to go about this will be gratefully received!

I hope you all had a good year and have a good one in 2016.

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Notebook collection

Notebook Collection #6 – Weald and Downland Museum

I’ve be coming to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum since I was a child. It’s an endlessly fascinating place, especially if you love history which I do.

The site covers 50 acres and is filled with houses and workplaces dating from history. Some also have their interiors filled with historical objects. There are many knowledgeable volunteers on hand, often in historical dress and able to answer any questions about the buildings. If you’re writing anything set in historical Britain, this is a great place to go for research to really be able to see and understand how people in different social backgrounds lived.

Now to the notebooks.  They’re both what I like to call school-trip-specials. Often kept with rulers, rubbers and pencils etc and all with the signature multicoloured stripes, overlaid with the tourist attraction logo.

Weald and Download Museum notebook

The owl one that goes with it could admitedly be from anywhere but hey it has an owl on it and he has a bored expression I find endearing.

Owl notebook

Plus he was only 50p.  Little notebooks like this are very handy for stashing in any size of hand bag ready to be used whould inspiration strike.

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I Bought the Final Discworld Novel

Well, I had to didn’t I?

The final Discworld novel. After this, there will be no more. I knew this day would come eventually, but it shouldn’t have come so damn soon.

The Sheperd's Crown by Terry Pratchett The Sheperd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

I’ve started reading it and it’s just as good as I expected albeit tinged with bittersweetness in every word. One day I shall have every Terry Pratchett book on my bookshelf, saved as my tribute to him. For now I’ll just savour this last adventure.

Have you read the book yet?

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