Happy Sixth Birthday to me.

So it has been six years since I started this blog. It doesn’t seem that long. A lot has happened but mostly what it made me think is how rubbish I have become at blogging recently. I have neglected my blog lately and not because of the usual workload excuses either – or not just because of those. Mostly out of writer’s block.

For the last year or so, I have found it increasingly hard to think of things to write about. Not just blog-wise but in my fiction writing as well. I have been working hard at editing Choose Yr Future but new projects have not been forthcoming. I seem to have started dozens of things. Starting is not so much the problem but continuing once I have started.

Over the last six years, a lot has happened. I published Shattered Reflections which was an interesting experience rather than an out and out success. Don’t get me wrong, people said good things about it. It garnered a couple of good reviews on Goodreads but I found it hard to promote myself. On top of this, life events (such as my mam’s illness and then death) made it difficult for me to entirely concentrate on my writing career.

Still, I think I learned some valuable lessons. I think I’ll be better at it this time. And even if little more than my close circle of friends read it then I will be happy enough. I never aimed to make a fortune. Writing has never been about that for me.

I’m not going to promise that I will blog more. I know that those sort of promises can fall flat easily. But I do enjoy it and I quite often it helps me get my thoughts together. And as for finding the next project that is going to take off, perhaps I just need to be a bit more patient.

Can’t quite believe it has been three years!

It really doesn’t seem that long. I can still remember how nervous I used to be at first. I’m rubbish at public speaking and blogging seemed a bit like that at first. I’m not really given to baring my soul to other people either so it took a while to become comfortable with the whole process.

At first, the aim was to market my book – something I didn’t do very well and hope to do better at this time with Choose Yr Future  – and to talk about culture and anything that interested / annoyed me. Having my novel published was exciting and even though I didn’t sell loads, I have had four and five star ratings and in a lot of ways (although obviously not mortgage paying ways) I’m happy with that state of affairs. I’d hate to make loads of money but have realms and realms of one star reviews. It wouldn’t seem worth it.

Part of the reason I failed miserably in my promotion of Shattered Reflections was I had a lot of family issues and was travelling constantly between Newcastle and Sheffield. I quickly lost track of things that I was supposed to be doing with the book and it seemed less important anyway compared to what I was going through.

The blog helped me then in a new way with various reading challenges. I have always read a lot and at this particular point in my life, I was definitely in need of some escapism. So I started to post book reviews and that was interesting because it made me take in what I was reading a bit more.

It’s too late now to try and rescue Shattered Reflections but when Choose Yr Future is ready to go, hopefully I will have learned enough lessons to make a better go of it.

Finally, I would just like to say thank you to everyone who reads my blog and who likes posts or follows me. It never ceases to amaze me that people might like the words I put down on the page and it always makes me feel a little happier.

Blog Post No. 101

Okay so really this should have been written for the post before. 100 posts. Nice and Neat. But I wasn’t concentrating and so didn’t realise I had written 100 posts until after I wrote the previous post.

Anyway, this is my 101st post. It is a milestone, I guess and seems quite surprising as I can’t even begin to recall what I might have written for a 100 different posts. I would have imagined that it would have taken longer to reach what seems like quite a high number although in reality it has involved blogging little more than twice a week.

I would like to say thank you to all the people who follow the blog and who take the trouble to comment or to like my posts. It is always a surprise to me that people might find the random things I have to say interesting and I still get excited about each new comment and like.

I’m look forward to the future and writing the next 100 posts. Thanks again for reading.


Versatile Blogger Award – Thanks

I have been away for a week or so in the internet free zone of my mother’s house. (At least I managed to get some writing done but all other tasks for the summer have so far been a non-starter.) When I returned I discovered that Sarah Evans at A Place that does not exist had nominated me for a versatile blogger award. It is lovely to think that my readers are inspired by my blog. In fact, I sometimes find it hard to believe that anyone is even interested in my ramblings. I’ve spent the last few days trying to decide on blogs to nominate myself as one of the things I have to do is nominate other blogs for the award. As well as add seven things about myself.

Ten blogs I’d like to nominate for this award. (I know I’m supposed  to do fifteen and I promise I will add the others but I’ve been having a lot of computer issues and I want to actually get this posted.)

1. A Fictional Existence

2. My novel opinion

3. My Little Heart Melodies

4. Xarglebooks

5. The Struggle to be a writer that writes

6. Book Snob

7. Book Journey

8. Doing Dewey

9. I like big books

10. Love at first book

I will contact each of them individually to let them know. Here are the rules for anyone who has been nominated:

1. imagesDisplay the Award Certificate on your blog.
2. Announce your win with a post. Make sure to post a link back to me as a ‘thank you’ for the nomination.
3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers.
4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have linked them in the post.
5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

Seven things about me:

1. I have written a lgbt novel called Shattered Reflections which was published last year. I’m rubbish at promoting it.

2. I love to write and will continue to do so regardless of how many I sell, how many readers I have etc. I’m currently working on two projects – Choose Yr Future and The Meaning of Sickness.

3. I read a lot and try to read as many different genres as I can. My favourite author is Margaret Atwood. I’m really looking forward to reading Maddaddam.

4. I get stupidly excited when our seasonal veg delivery comes.

5. I’ve stopped listening to what is in the charts and I no longer care that I do not know what the young folk are listening to.

6. I like it when it is really cold and the sky is blue better than when it is really hot and sunny. The sun gives me a headache.

7. I secretly watch Hollyoaks even though I would definitely look down on anyone else who watches it. I blame Emmett J Scanlan as I have a massive crush on him although he has now left and I am still watching it.

Thanks again to all my readers and I will endeavour to try and keep the blog as interesting as I can.

A Year Already

I can’t really believe it. A year since I first wrote my first blog. I can’t decide whether that seems like an awful long time ago or if it has flown by. Is it possible for both of those statements to be true?

In terms of my writing and this blog in particular, it seems like a long time ago. When I look at my early posts, they aren’t terrible by any stretch but I wasn’t sure of my own voice. I wasn’t really aware of my audience.

In terms of my fiction writing, I have published Shattered Reflections, had some good reviews and feel like I can call myself a writer now. It is strange, how it feels now to be writing Choose Yr Future. It’s no longer a secret thing. People ask me how it’s coming along. Not only that, it’s no longer just for me. Potential publication. Less hypothetical than before. It makes it more serious, I suppose but that is a good thing. It’s less like a hobby, more like real work.

Of course, time has flown by at it’s usual speed – too quickly. Too often, I am writing at the end of a long day. I don’t necessarily believe that you have to hit a quota everyday. I do try to write everyday but sometimes that comes down to ensuring I have a note of all the possible ideas that have come to me rather than lovingly crafted sentences. But there is not a moment when I am not thinking or planning and as long as I make a note, I know that I will get it written eventually.

So I can’t help but wonder what the next year will bring. It is certainly exciting. With the six weeks holidays coming up, I should get the first draft of Choose Yr Future finished. (Also on the cards, a career change. Teaching is eating up too much of my time. At least part of the summer needs to be spend trying to find something new.) And then it will be editing, beta readers all the way through to a final draft. I can’t wait.

It’s been a dry month

June has not been a fun month. And I feel as though I have got nothing done. Of course, this is nowhere near the truth. I have done an awful lot. Those exam papers didn’t mark themselves. What I mean is, I’ve done very little writing and even less promotion.

I have managed to write one more chapter of Choose Yr Future. But it was in between marking or when I was tired and if truth be told, it probably isn’t very good. I also have a lot of notes written down hastily when an idea would strike (why is that never when you are sat at your computer trying to write?) which hopefully will still make sense when I get round to fleshing them out.

I have done very little online. The most obvious victim of this was my blog. It had been very much neglected, poor thing. Sometimes I wish I was in more of a routine with blogging, y’know writing a blog every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, or whatever. But the nature of my day job makes that sort of routine very difficult to keep to.

However, I have now got some more time – hence the three blogs in a week catch up – and soon I will be on school holidays with whole weeks worth of free time to use up on promotion and writing. Hopefully, I will have a first draft by the end of it.


A Resolution of Sorts – 30 Day Book Challenge

I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions. They make us all feel better, of course, after the excesses of Christmas. But I find a couple of things about them depressing. For a start, they tend to be negative, giving up things, forcing yourself to do things that you don’t want to. It always seems a strange way to start the year. The other thing is the tendency to break them is high as if making the resolution was enough in itself. This relates to the negative nature of resolutions. No one really wants to keep them. They just want people to admire their potential resolve.

Last year, I decided I wanted to make resolutions I would actually keep so I resolved to choose things that would make my life more pleasurable. I resolved to watch more films and to read more books. This has been great and ensured I have discovered new writers and directors, seen things I wouldn’t have bothered with. I have made an effort because I actually wanted to keep them.

This year, I am resolving to blog more. So to start the year I am going to do the 30 day book challenge as created by Becky

DAY 1. – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just end already – Ian Rankin Inspector Rebus Series
DAY 2.  Favorite side character – Walser, Spud, Ponder Stibbons
DAY 3. – The longest book you’ve read – A Dance with Dragons – George R. R. Martins
DAY 4. – Book turned into a movie and completely desecrated – The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
DAY 5. –  Your “comfort” book – Rankin and Pratchett.
DAY 6. Book you’ve read the most number of times – Steinbeck, Ellis, Bulgakov
DAY 7. – A guilty pleasure book.
DAY 8. – Most underrated book – A Disaffection and The People’s Act of Love.
DAY 9.  Most overrated book – David Nicholls and Ian McEwan
DAY 10. – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving – THe Memory Keeper’s Daughter and The Book of Lost Things.
DAY 11. – Favorite classic book – Dickens, Salinger, Stevenson.
DAY 12. – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.
DAY 13. – A book that disappointed you – A Sense of an ending and Lighthousekeeping
DAY 14.  Book that made you cry – Dancer from the Dance and The Book Thief.
DAY 15.  A character who you can relate to the most – Little Women and The Robber Bride
DAY 16. Most thought-provoking book – Naomi Klein and Joanna Blythman.
DAY 17. – Author I wish people would read more.
DAY 18. – A book you wish you could live in – Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
DAY 19. A favourite author – Margaret Atwood
DAY 20. Favorite childhood book – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women
DAY 21. – Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t
actually finished) – On the Road, The Old Man and The Sea, The Scarlet Letter.
DAY 22.  Least favourite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise – Atonement and The Time Traveller’s Wife
DAY 23. Best book you’ve read in the last 12 months – The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex
DAY 24. – Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like/liked.
DAY 25. – The most surprising plot twist or ending.
DAY 26. – Book that makes you laugh out loud.
DAY 27. – Book that has been on your “to read” list the longest.
DAY 28. Favorite quote from a book.
DAY 29. – A book you hated – 50 Shades of Grey
DAY 30. Book you couldn’t put down.

I’m staring at a clean white page…

It’s not often I find myself staring at a blank page for very long. I can usually pull something from my head onto the page – even if it is something that I end up changing irrevocably or ditching all together. However, today I have been struggling. In fact, the day before as well. I was struggling to think of something to write about here, in my blog.

It is both funny and exciting that people read and seem to enjoy my blog. And unexpected. I had no idea how much fun it would be to write or how seriously I would start to take writing it.

When I first wrote, a mere two months ago, I had never even read a blog. I had no idea of the sheer amount of writing out there on the net. I read books, newspapers and used the Internet to buy stuff, find information but I didn’t look to it for anything else. I hadn’t really caught up with the rest of the world. I didn’t really want to.

How quickly things change. First of all, there is the sheer excitement that people are reading your words. It no longer feels like I am shouting in the dark. I can imagine an audience out there. Connections have been made. I didn’t realise, at first, how much it would feel like a conversation. Both when I am reading other people’s blogs and when they read and comment on my blog. I have learned things, felt supported and, perhaps most importantly, I have discovered other writers. It is good to realise that other people have felt the same way you do and are willing to share their experiences and help you along. I never imagined when I started this strange journey that one of the results would be the feeling of being part of such a warm community. It’s good to know you all.

Hello world!

I have never been so nervous. This is the start of something new and I feel the usual amounts of trepidation that you feel when you put a new project into motion – will it work, will I be able to do it, will people care, read, be the least bit bothered about what I have to say. Not only that but I will be allowing people to read what I have written, something that I previously only allowed those the closest to me to do. If the people who might read my work were sat in front of me, armed with red pens in order to correct and change, I could not be more anxious.

I have been writing for years now. In fact, as long as I can remember I have tried to put stories together. It stresses me out when I cannot write and if I’m not actually writing, chances are I am thinking about what I could write. It seems about time to try and actually see if what I have written is good and to get myself some readers.

Having recently become unemployed, I decided that it was time to have another try at getting published. And this time I was determined not to lose heart, give up or become depressed by the rejection letters or – in some ways worse – good but we can’t guarantee a market so no type letters. Publishers are as cash-strapped as anyone at the minute so of course, it is not a good time to be trying to get started. Nevertheless, I was determined that this time something was going to happen.

Things have changed a lot since I last tried to get published about 10 or so years ago. My teaching career had taken off and teaching being what it is, I had little time for writing or to put in the hours it takes to find an agent or a publisher so it all went on the back burner. Now I’m back and there is a whole new way of doing things. I have to admit that I was a little bamboozled. Where to start, what to do first, I’m still not sure if I’m taking the right path. I’d welcome advice from anyone who has been down this road. I look at my computer and I sometime just want to scream “Help” at it. And of course, it just sits there smugly, unaffected by my panic.

Other days are more productive and I have found some sites (www.authonomy.com, for example) where I have posted my writing and where comments have been good and that has helped a lot. I’m learning how to share my work through facebook and twitter and try not to sit anxiously checking for notifications when I have done. Most excitely, I have decided to publish through Createspace and Amazon and am currently waiting for the proofs so I can check them. Excitement and anxiety fight with each other for supremacy on a daily basis but now I have started down the road there is no turning back. Which is good because I am nothing if not a coward.

So, I will be keeping everyone updated of my progress through this blog, both with Shattered Reflections and with new projects that I am working on.