Thursday, 23 July 2015

Sea, Earth, Sky

Hello everyone, it's been a while and I apologise for how awful I am with keeping up with this blog.

I'm going to keep blogging here, specifically about my writing, but I wanted a space to write about other things without this becoming a huge mish-mash of posts and topics. I set up this blog to talk specifically about writing and reading (I can't believe how long ago - nearly four years!) and I am so impressed that I've kept it going. Over the past few years I've tried out different topics, different series and regular posts, trying to keep it going and I don't want to lose that.

I will keep posting on this blog, hopefully about writing, events I go to (YALC post coming soon, as well as a recap of the Winchester Writers' Festival.... I know, it's been a while, I really should), and more, as well as general updates on my writing (yes I really need to do that).

But I also wanted a space where I could explore more specifically other interests, such as my love for the sea and coast, the countryside, and my attempt to live a simple, happy life. So I created this space here at Sea, Earth, Sky, where I have lots of upcoming ideas for posts and series. Join me there - and please subscribe, follow, like etc. Thank you! And thank you for all your support - the journey continues!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Places to go, places to see: who wants to go travelling?

I am a creature of habit and like visiting the same places over and over. I love familiarity. Despite that, there are places that I would love to visit, some of them just because they look so beautiful, others because of stories I've written or read, or others just because of books. Some are nearby, others further afield, but I know I can - and should - go to all these places - one day.

I've been to Fowey a couple of times this year, and I will never tire of it. It's my favourite place. And I can't wait to head back to Edinburgh this summer.

"I'm in love with places I've never been and people I've never met"

But I think the beginning of the summer makes me even more dreamy...

1. Dublin/Ireland
It's meant to be beautiful!

2. Scottish islands.
This is partly for research, but also the idea of a small island really appeals to me. Except it would be cold, but still, I want to visit!

3. Sweden
Again with the cold thing, but it looks so pretty!

4. Denmark - Copenhagen
Partly again for research, but also just because it looks beautiful.

5. Bronte parsonage
For obvious literary reasons.

6. Greece
Oh goodness. It just looks amazing.

7. Croatia
Looks absolutely gorgeous.

8. Hay on Wye

9. Cardiff/Wales
Doctor Who. Torchwood. What more can I say? Plus I've never been to Wales. I really need to. It looks lovely.

10. Stratford

11. Oxford
I've driven through Oxford before, but never really stopped. It features in one of my books, but I've never actually seen it - I should!

And further afield... I would love to go to New Zealand and many places in America, especially as I have friends scattered all over the country.

Plus, I would love to revisit several places, including Italy, Vienna, and Prague.

Where would you like to go?

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Series I need to complete

With the release coming up of Royal Wedding, and the Waterstones Piccadilly event with Ally Carter and CJ Daugherty, I have been thinking of some of the series that I have read, but don't actually own all the copies of, leaving my shelves a little sad (but maybe my bank account a little happier...). So here are the top series I still need to complete.

1. The Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot
I KNOW. I have remedied the fact that I never finished reading this series (due to being "too cool" as a teen for a while) but I still don't own books 7 to 10. I need to sort this!

2. Sarah Dessen
Not technically a series, but who cares. I have read everything Sarah has written, but mostly either from the library or on Kindle, which is problematic when you want to reread them!

3. Gallagher Girls - Ally Carter
Again, I mostly read these from the library. Sadly.

4. Night School - CJ Daugherty
I read some of these on my Kindle, which just doesn't feel the same.

Does anyone else own any incomplete series like this?

Monday, 1 June 2015

Why Pinterest reinvigorated my writing

So, recently, I started using Pinterest again. I'd used it a little bit before and liked the idea. But I'd never used it for my writing. I knew friends who did, and I didn't think that it would work for me. But then something, I can't remember what now, prompted it. I think I thought that I should look up some pictures as a guide for my Scottish island story. And so I thought of Pinterest, and just like that I was hooked.

So now I've created boards for all my projects, and scroll through them before I start writing, in order to take me back to that place. In a way, because I'm working on several different things at once, it helps me get back into that frame of mind and to the right place.

So I'm now a huge fan of Pinterest and using it for writing, in a way that I hadn't thought I would be. It's a great way to find inspiration and ideas - from landscapes to character outfits. I'm a very visual person and I see things like films in my head, if that makes sense, so of course it makes sense that it works for me.

Does anyone else use Pinterest for writing inspiration?

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

What I'm Writing

It feels like it's been a long time since I've really blogged (and I can't sugar coat it, it has been a long time). I had such good blogging intentions this year, but blogging fell by the wayside as I had to organise my time and focus on my actual writing in the time that I had. So I haven't blogged as much as I should have. And I don't know why. It's not like it's hard to sit down and write a post. But it hasn't happened. I've planned out a few posts, so we'll see how that goes.

For this post, I wanted to share with you all what I've been working on, writing wise.

I'm sure you all know (and if you saw my earlier post about the Writer's Voice) that Treading Water is done and I'm currently querying it - so I won't bore you with that.

For now, I'm sticking with YA contemporary -with a few small deviations and new formats! My MG stuff has taken a back seat for a moment.

I finished another edit of another YA contemporary a little while ago - called Sweet Little Lies. I've also been editing a more paranormal-esque boarding school YA, which at the moment is called Wildfire.

But that's been put aside for some first drafts that have just demanded attention. They are both rather different: one is a road trip across Europe, and involves royalty, Royal Weddings, and boarding schools. I still haven't come up with a title that I'm completely happy with, but I'm having fun writing it.

The other one is more of a writing challenge - set over twenty four hours and with four points of view. So far, it's proving interesting and I keep wondering if I should make it just one point of view, but I think the four different ones make it more interesting and different - although I'm thinking of changing it ever so slightly, but for now, I'm going to stick with it and see what happens! This one is called The Longest Day - rather fitting title I think.

What are you all working on writing wise?

Does anyone else work on far too many projects at one time, like I seem to do? Let me know!

Friday, 22 May 2015

2015 book releases I can't wait for!

I haven't blogged in a while and I feel bad about that. I keep meaning to blog about things I've been doing, but it hasn't happened, and I apologise.

Instead, I decided to put together a list of ten books being released in the next few months that I can't wait for. Already this year we've had some amazing book releases, and it seems that every month there's just plenty more books that I can't wait to read, making my TBR pile more and more worrying. These are roughly ordered in release order.

1. Sarah Dessen - Saint Anything
Okay, so I cheat slightly, because this book was released a couple of weeks ago, but this was one of  my most anticipated books of the year and it certainly didn't disappoint. This made me sob, laugh, wish I could write as well as Sarah, and long for pizza. One of my new favourite Sarah Dessen books!

2. Liz Kessler - Read Me Like A Book 
This is another cheat, because this book was released recently, but I've been looking forward to this for a long time - since I first heard about it and I can't wait to get it.

3. Giovanna Fletcher - Dream a Little Dream 
I've loved Gi's previous two books, so I'm looking forward

4. CJ Daugherty - Endgame
I have adored the Night School series from the moment I picked up the first book and so I can't believe we're at the end of the series. I'm both excited and apprehensive - but I can't wait to read.

5. Robin Stevens - First Class Murder
I feel like we're incredibly lucky to be getting another one of these wonderful books this year. Arsenic for Tea was released in January of this year, and this summer, we're being treated to another!

6. and 7. Meg Cabot - Notebooks from a Middle School Princess and Royal Wedding 
This is two in one, and just because I was so incredibly excited to hear that Meg would be writing more books related to the Princess Diaries world. The Princess Diaries was the first proper YA I read, back when I was about twelve, and it seemed such a different but wonderful world, I adored it. I was also worried that my teacher wouldn't let me read it! So I couldn't have been more excited for these two books!

8. Lucy Clarke - The Blue
Lucy's first two books were full of wandering, travelling, the sea, and gripping stories, and so I can't for this next one!

9. Emylia Hall - The Sea Between Us 
I absolutely adored Emylia's first two books, which were so beautifully written, and I feel that this one, set in magical Cornwall, is not going to disappoint. I can't wait!

10. Rainbow Rowell - Carry On 
I don't want to wish the summer away, but I really can't wait for this book! I adored Fangirl, so I was super excited when this was announced (I think excitement is a recurring theme of this post).

And a bonus -

11. Lisa Glass - Air
I love Cornwall, surf stories, and UKYA so I adored Blue. Can't wait for this sequel!!

What a list!

What book releases are you all looking forward to in the next few months?

Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Writer's Voice: Query and first 250 (Treading Water)

Query and first 250 words of my YA novel, Treading Water, for an online competition, The Writer's Voice. (Also good if anyone wants to know how my novel opens and the query I've written!).


I am writing to you to seek representation for my young adult contemporary novel, TREADING WATER. Treading Water is a story about what happens when everything you know is about to change, as well as family, growing up, and first love. It is complete at 64,000 words.

Eighteen year old Marian Key and her famous artist father have always lived in the same old crumbling farm house. Marian has been looking forward to returning home from school for a summer of swimming and solitude all year, and she can’t wait to shed her winter self.

But when her father announces that he is selling her childhood home and moving to America, everything Marian knows is threatened. Suddenly, the summer is fraught with the prospect of change and losing everything that she loves. She is desperate to hold onto her home, no matter what the cost, but she doesn’t know how. Time is beginning to run out, as the house is invaded by family, including a cousin who she doesn’t see eye to eye with. As Marian finds enemy forces moving in, she struggles to remember what it is she loved about her home.

Then there’s the mysterious boy Marian comes across in the woods. Sebastian Hawk is a student and artist, who is fascinated by fairy tales and finds a magic in Marian’s home that she thought had gone. After an uncertain start, Sebastian and Marian team together, as Marian tries to come to terms with growing up, moving on, and ghosts from the past, as well as falling in love for the first time. Can Marian save her home before it’s too late?

I recently completed a Creative Writing MA at the University of Exeter. I am a member of SCBWI and write for MuggleNet. In 2013 I had a short story, ‘Tide’, published in an eBook, Jam, and another short story, ‘If I Remember’ was a runner up in a YA short story competition. I was also shortlisted for an IdeasTap and Writers Centre Norwich fiction mentoring scheme in 2014 and have been awarded a Young Writer’s scholarship for the Winchester Writers’ Festival this year.

FIRST 250: 

We found the ants in the honey the morning my father made an announcement at breakfast. It was two days into the summer holidays. This seemed important, although the ants stick more in my memory. After all, it wasn’t every day you came across drowned ants in a honey jar. The morning sun bounced off the gold lid, lighting up crumbs that were scattered across the table.
 ‘Marian,’ my father said, the rejected honey pot in front of him. He laid his knife down on his plate. His voice was hesitant and hoarser than usual. His movements were slow. I paused as I buttered my toast.
 I didn’t want to look at him, nor did I want to hear what it was that he had to say. I stared at that honey pot, with the tiny black bodies floating in the thick mix. They were small dots that could have been breadcrumbs or bits of dirt. How had they even got there? They were ants on a suicide mission. It was sad to see that they had all followed one another, like a group of soldiers who trusted their leader implicitly, not realising that they were heading to their death. I shuddered.
‘Marian.’ My father cleared his throat. ‘I’m going to sell the house.’

Monday, 20 April 2015

REVIEW: "Rebecca" adapted by Emma Rice and Kneehigh Theatre

Rebecca, adapted by Emma Rice and performed by KneeHigh Theatre. 


Rebecca is my favourite book and so of course when I heard that Kneehigh Theatre were putting on a production of Rebecca, I was intrigued – but also concerned. That’s always the way when your favourite book is being adapted for stage and anything could happen.

Before the day rolled around, I heard opposing accounts of the production, so naturally I was apprehensive.

There was no need.

While the adaptation was perhaps not what I expected, in many ways it was better. So much better. I can’t remember the last time I walked out of a theatre thinking, ‘I need to go again.’ In fact, I didn’t want to get out of my seat – I wanted to stay and wait for the evening show (we went to a matinee). I wasn’t expecting it to be that good, and as a long term du Maurier fan, I was delighted.

This was not the straight forward Rebecca adaptation that you’ve seen before. This was so much more. But if you had told me that Rebecca with sea shanties, musical instruments, comedy, and a puppet dog would actually be good, then I would have laughed. But it was so fantastic and so clever.

To start with, the amount of detail that went into the production was staggering. From the curling R monographs in the staircase and on the vases, to the lines lifted directly from the original book and so much more.

The set itself was spectacular and really cleverly created to reflect both the beach and Manderley itself. Rebecca’s boat, Je Reviens, was part of the set itself, meaning that Rebecca’s body and her boat was present on set throughout the whole play (until the end, when the ghost of her is FINALLY shaken off), echoing that ghostly sense that is present throughout the book.

The casting was pretty perfect too. The actress who played Mrs de Winter was pretty much how I imagined her and she played the role perfectly, showing all the anxiety and uncertainty that the character has, before the transformation later on after Maxim has confessed. The other roles were well cast – and I particularly enjoyed the casting of Robert, the footman who gained a greater role – and a comedy one at that – in the play. It was fantastically handled and showed how life would have continued on in the house, despite this tragedy lurking in the background.

The story told in the play took the essential elements of the story and kept the core heart and feeling. Lighter moments were inserted and they worked well – coming particularly from Robert, Beatrice, and Jasper the dog, played by a puppet. It sounds ridiculous, but it was very clever and well done. There were great comedic moments too, which sounds odd, but it was done very well and just worked. 

The music worked well too, and I loved the atmospheric songs sung by the cast. It really fitted the mood and atmosphere. All in all, it was really sharp, clever, and all consuming. I couldn’t – and still haven’t – stopped thinking about it. I only wish I could have seen it a second time.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Spring days and writing days

Well hello there! It's been a while. Things have got busy and I've found that when I get busy, blogging is the first thing to go. I haven't even managed a What's Up Wednesday the last couple of weeks!

But today is a writing day and I'm catching up with various things like blogging this morning before getting on with some proper writing. Oh, I miss writing days.

I can't believe that it's April already - how did that happen? Looking forward to lots of things this month, including MuggleNet Live!, Rebecca, and Victoria Schwab - all next week! Crazy. So excited though. It's going to be such a great week, although I have so much to do before then.

In exciting news, I was offered one of ten scholarship places at the Winchester Writers' Festival in June and I am so excited. I can't wait to meet lots of other writers and go to lots of workshops and talks - plus one to one meetings with various agents/editors. I am so excited but rather nervous too. I sent off my choices this weekend, so I'll find out soon which courses I am doing. I can't wait!

Plus, before that, there's the Fowey Festival and I can't wait to go back to Fowey (if only I never had to leave) and do lots of du Maurier things.

Otherwise, I've been enjoying the beautiful spring days, all the lovely flowers, the feel of the sun on my face (I've missed the warm sun SO much), the longer days, and looking forward to summer. I'm also dreaming of windsurfing - I WILL get out there soon. I will.

I'm wondering too about how I should make sure that I keep up blogging. Should I do regular features, lists - or what? How does everyone else keep up with their blogging when they get busy? Obviously I want my writing to be my priority, and if something has to go.... but I don't want to let my blog completely slide!

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter - and enjoyed lots of lovely chocolate.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

What's Up Wednesday (7)

Woah, I can't believe another week has passed already. We're racing through March, I can't believe it. Welcome to another edition of What's Up Wednesday, the weekly meme hosted by Jaime and Erin.


Read Lobsters this week, which was fantastic. About to start Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warning, although I have a desire to start rereading all the summery books I can, as spring is in the air and it makes me feel like rereading all those light and wonderful summer stories!

STILL EDITING. Although, I actually managed to sort the ending out for my YA story this week, so am pleased with that. Plus, am making good progress with my new story, so am pleased about that.

Goal: continue editing, address comments, sort out character development. Plus, keep writing new story.


Getting my head down and focusing! As well as just focusing on one thing at a time. It's nice to have a couple of different things to work on, but also have the focus to really concentrate on one.


There were lots of announcements this week - from YALC (soooooooooo excited, who else is going?) to the sad news of Terry Pratchett's death, so in many respects its been a strange week. I am still so very sad about Terry's death. He was such a wonderful writer and man and the world will miss him greatly. I'm going to have to go back and reread some of his books - as well as crack on with some of the ones I haven't read yet.

It feels like spring is here to stay though - was a gorgeous day yesterday, and I'm looking forward to more days sat outside and walking around barefoot - as well as the bluebells!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

What's Up Wednesday(6)

Here we go again! Welcome to another edition of What's Up Wednesday, the weekly meme hosted by Jaime and Erin.


I'm reading Black Dove, White Raven at the moment by Elizabeth Wein and I LOVE it. So good. While at Foyles this week, I also picked up The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark and Stung by Joss Stirling.

Ashamed to admit that I really haven't done much writing this week because I've been so busy and had my head full of other things. That's not to say that I haven't done anything, just that it's been rather thin on the ground. But, I am still editing (I promise), and still playing with something new!

A goal: to actually do some useful editing this week!


I saw Gayle Forman speak this week, and that was really inspiring. I also saw my lovely friend Laura and it's always really great to chat to another writing friend about what we're working on etc.


My extra busy week has come to an end (thankfully) and I collapsed in tiredness! It has been a great week though, seeing lots of friends, and doing other various exciting things - as well as seeing Gayle Forman! It's been lovely and sunny too, and I am so, so incredibly happy that spring is finally here. I love seeing all the primroses, daffodils, crocuses, and more!

Have a great week everyone.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Gayle Forman at Foyles

My busy week came to an end with a wonderful Gayle Forman event at Foyles. As Gayle rarely comes to the UK, this was incredibly exciting, and I couldn't wait for the event. I met up with the lovely Laura, and after buying a few books (not many, really), we headed up to the auditorium to wait.

Gayle is the author of best selling novels such as If I Stay, Where she Went, Just One Day, and Just One Year. If I Stay was made into a film last year, with others due to come soon. Yay! (Although I am hoping for a Where She Went film).

The event itself was great fun. Gayle answered questions, told great stories, and spoke about her writing routine, previous books, I Was Here, the If I Stay movie, and so much more. It was all very inspiring and I couldn't wait to get home and write again! While Gayle said many great things I wish I'd written down, I do remember her talking about I Was Here and discussing how the break up of female friendships partly inspired this book, because they can be so devastating. She also spoke about why she writes about characters who are out of school, and her own writing routines - which was all very inspiring.

Gayle then staged a reading, getting volunteers from the audience to help her. Then she answered questions from the audience - and that was it!

 I got a few pictures, but they came out a little blurry:

Afterwards, we queued up for the signing and were able to meet Gayle! She was lovely and commented on my Hogwarts t-shirt (she's a Slytherin by the way). We had a picture and she signed my books: 

It was a really excellent afternoon, and I am so happy that I've met Gayle. She's one of the inspirations for my own contemporary YA writing and so it was an honour to actually be able to meet her and hear her talk about her writing.

Next month, we're going to see Victoria Schwab - I can't wait!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

What's Up Wednesday! (5)

I can't believe it's Wednesday again - I nearly forgot about this.

Welcome to another edition of What's Up Wednesday, the weekly meme hosted by Jaime and Erin.


I finished A Darker Shade of Magic, which was fantastic. As it was my birthday this week, I treated myself to some new books that I'm looking forward to reading: Black Dove, White Raven, The Last Leaves Falling, and Lobsters.

Still plodding along with those edits!

Plus I started something new. Oops.

Goal: keep editing, playing with new story.


I always forget how much I love being able to switch off and write by hand. So writing by hand. It's wonderful.


This week has already been jam packed and exciting. It was my birthday on Monday, I attended a Studio Tour Hogwarts Express Preview yesterday, and have more exciting things lined up this week - including a Gayle Forman talk and signing. Can't wait!

Hope everyone else is having a good first week of March - spring is finally here and I'm so excited.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

February Round Up

Well, what a month! It only feels like days ago I wrote the January round up, and now here I am writing one for February.

We're finally emerging out of winter and into spring, which is my favourite season. I love the flowers - the bluebells, daffodils, primroses, and the bright, sunny days, the hope and expectation that there is in the air...

But anyway, back to February...

February has been a mixed month. There has certainly been some bad moments, with my laptop crashing and all that - and that just being a bad moment in a rather bad week. But I feel like things are looking up now.

The month kicked off too with the Bloomsbury Harry Potter Book Night at the Waterstone's Piccadilly, which was absolutely awesome and I had the best night.

I've read lots of good books this month too. Some of the ones I loved include:

The Farm Beneath the Water by Helen Peters,
The Sin Eaters Daughter by Melinda Sailsbury,
The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson,
Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens,
I Was Here by Gayle Forman -  and more!

Some of the great releases this month too included the new Maureen Johnson book, A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, and Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (in fact those were the only three books I let myself buy this month... pretty good going, considering that January had been rather decadent!).

I've also done lots of writing - my star chart looks pretty great this month!

not quite full as took picture early!

Since joining the gym at the beginning of the month, I've been getting into a good routine and going to lots of classes and using the gym a lot too.

I'm glad that February is over though and I'm looking forward to March! This blank calender page is rather tempting - another fresh start is always nice, there's so much hope and expectation!

Are you guys glad that February is over?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What's Up Wednesday (4)

Welcome to another edition of What's Up Wednesday, the weekly meme hosted by Jaime and Erin.

Over the weekend I started A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab! I've been so excited about this book and I was surprised and happy to find it in the bookshop early! Loving it so far.

I finally printed out Nowhere House and so I've been slowly reading that out and writing down some edit notes. It's amazing how many different things you notice when you're no longer staring at a screen. Still editing SLL too - plus I had the idea for something new *gulp* so I've been making lots of notes for that.

Goal: keep editing!


Printing out a draft and reading it out loud! Works wonders. 


This week has been better than last week - I got a new laptop (yay) and all my documents have been restored *phew*, so I'm very happy about that. I have plenty of exciting and rather nerve wracking things coming up this week and next, so it's going to be rather busy and different! Also it's my birthday next week (how did that come round so quickly?!), so that's going to be fun!

See you all next week - I can't believe that February is nearly over. Wow, how quickly time flies.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

What's Up Wednesday (3)

Welcome to another edition of What's Up Wednesday, the weekly meme hosted by Jaime and Erin.

My reading has slowed down a bit this week. I got a stack of books out from the library, which I'm looking forward to reading, and I really enjoyed reading Gayle Forman's I Was Here. I've also been indulging in some rereading of Famous Five books...

I finished my edit of Nowhere House! Now I just need to print it out and do a proper line edit of it, before sending it to readers, but haven't got round to printing it yet. In the meantime, I'm embarking on a serious edit of Sweet little Lies - and I finally sorted that time line. So now I have those chapters to rewrite - and that what I want to focus on this week! As well as getting that draft of NH printed. 


Making a calender of events in my novel! This really helped me to straighten everything out in this story and work out what I needed to change and edit. It also resparked my enthusiasm for this story, so I'm looking forward to working on it. 


What a week. It hasn't been the best of weeks. My laptop finally died, and while *fingers crossed* I'm getting everything back, it's been rather stressful - and I'm glad I had saved my current WIPs onto a USB stick. Phew. And that's just been the icing on the cake of a rather stressful week! But at least today the sun has come out and it actually feels like spring, there's that nice smell in the air, so I'm a little more hopeful now...  

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

What's Up Wednesday (2)

Welcome to another edition of What's Up Wednesday, the weekly meme hosted by Jaime and Erin.


I've been reading a lot this week. I've raced through several books including, The Sin Eater's Daughter (soooo good), The Shadow Cabinet, and the The Farm Beneath the Water. And I've just started I Was Here by Gayle Forman - been looking forward to this one! 


I'm still plodding on with NOWHERE HOUSE, editing and adding words. I hit 30k, my target, yesterday though, which makes me very happy. I need to get back to editing Sweet Little Lies. Things are much the same as usual!

So this week, hoping to finish going through Nowhere, hopefully add some more words, and maybe start some editing on SLL again. We shall see....


The sticker/calender method. I talked about this last week briefly, and I know that others have written about it recently as well, but this week I realised just how quickly I've got used to it/how well it works in encouraging me to do things so that I have stickers on my calender and don't just spend time just messing about online! There's nothing better than being able to reward yourself with a few stickers! 


Last week I went along to the Waterstones Picadilly Harry Potter Book Night as part of MuggleNet to take part in a fun quiz. It was a great night and incredibly surreal! You can read a piece I wrote about the night for MuggleNet here.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A (late) January Round-up

Well, January has been and gone! Who can believe it?

This post is a little late *cough*, considering it's already a few days in February, but I thought I would get this up anyway.

January was the month of many exciting book releases. Some of the best books that I read this month include:

1. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
2. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
3. Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders (this wasn't new this month, but it was to me, and incidentally, this book won the Costa Children's Book of the Year prize!).

Plus, these books got released at the end of the month, so they can be included in this post:

1. Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens (adored, but technically I read it in February....)
2. All Fall Down by Ally Carter (ditto)
3. The Sin-Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
4. I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Writing wise, I have been busy, and my star chart (which has gone amazingly well for the first month is very busy and full. I managed to rewrite and add lots of new chapters to my MG story, Nowhere House, plus I continued to edit my YA, Sweet Little Lies. And, I managed to do some other writing while I was away, which was great and very freeing! So a good writing and editing month on the whole. A good start to the year!

And now onto a new month (since I took this picture it has already begun to fill up, I promise):

January saw a trip to Fowey, which was amazing and I had the best time. I'd never been in January, but I loved it. See some pictures here. Plus, I graduated.

I also joined the gym, so you know, that's good as well. It's certainly been a busy - and good - month. 
This month, I'll get up the end of the month post a little sooner.... Have a good February everyone!

What's Up Wednesday

I've seen this on so many other people's blogs and I've been meaning to start it for ages. What better than a new month? So here goes. Hopefully it'll be a good way of posting something simple every week!

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme created by Jaime and Erin. Go visit their blogs to find out more.


I'm currently enjoying ALL FALL DOWN by Ally Carter, which is fantastic so far! I love Ally Carter and so I was very excited to get my hands on this.  I just finished ARSENIC FOR TEA by Robin Stevens, which was amazing. I'm looking forward to reading THE SIN-EATER'S DAUGHTER by Melinda Salisbury later this week! Plus, I've got the new Neil Gaiman to read. So many treats and so many fabulous books are being published at the moment. 


I'm currently editing, editing, editing. Which I do enjoy, but sometimes I just long for the excitement of a first draft! 

Currently, I'm trying to focus on two different projects (after being sidetracked last week by another old project, which I read through and made notes for). Trying to focus this month on my middle grade story, NOWHERE HOUSE, and a YA project, SWEET LITTLE LIES.

Writing goal for the week: sort out the timeline for SLL and continue editing/making notes on NOWHERE. 


At the moment, I'm remembering that I can't do everything at once and that drafts don't become perfect with a click of the fingers! For now, what works for me when editing and trying to get into the flow of it is reading through a draft, adding small bits as I go and making notes about how to extend/change things, make a list of things to work on, and go through the draft, addressing each one by one. For example, with SLL, the next thing I'm going to address is the timeline! 


Well, it's Harry Potter Book Night this week (tomorrow at the Picadilly Waterstones), which I can't wait for. Rather nervous too about my role, but it's going to be great. Can't wait! 

Plus, I joined the gym last week! Oh yes. So I'm getting into a good routine and hoping that my foot doesn't give up on me again. All in the name of getting ready to go windsurfing again!

Hope you enjoyed my first What's Up Wednesday. See you all next week! 

Friday, 30 January 2015

What's On My Desk

The wonderful Cole posted this great post about her desk and tagged me to do the same. How can I resist? I adore seeing other writers' desks and so I leapt at the chance to do this myself. It just so happens that I recently sorted my desk, so it appears a little more organised than the usual chaos! At least it means that hopefully you'll be able to see things.

Like Cole, I don't really have all the post it notes everywhere like planners do, but if I'm just beginning something or editing something, then there are usually pieces of paper and stray post its everywhere with notes that I have made! 

I made an attempt to create an annotated picture, which you can see below.

But, here are some un-annotated ones.

Here you can see the stack of notebooks (mainly used, although there are a couple of unused ones lurking in there), the star chart, inspired by Victoria Schwab, Laura, Cole, Emma, and anyone else who uses this system. It's working so well so far, I love it! 

You can see more of my inspiration board in that picture too - including many Daphne du Maurier pictures and Harry Potter/Hufflepuff things! Plus, the wonderful notebooks that Laura has made for me.

Here's the annotated one, un-annotated, plus another angle of my desk. I'm lucky to have a pretty big desk, but still at the same time, I want it to be at least double the size!

The main people reading this will already have been tagged, so I challenge anyone else reading to do this! And make sure to link me to the posts, I can't wait to see what all your desks look like!

And for inspiration, have a look at a wonderful picture of Daphne du Maurier at her writing desk here.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Fowey (again)

I have just, once again, returned from Fowey. What a surprise - it seems to be all I write about these days, which I guess is just a massive hint to get on and move there. But you know, things like jobs have to be sorted. I can keep dreaming anyway... I'm hoping to volunteer once again at the Festival this year, which will be ace!

We had gorgeous weather while we were there, and it made me fall in love with January (a month I usually hate). We had a little bit of rain, but we were also treated to a gorgeous rainbow.

We walked, and drank lots of coffee and cider, and wrote lots, and read. It was pretty perfect really. It's always hard to leave, and this time, somehow it was even harder to do so. Hard to wrench myself away!

And of course it just feels like a dream now. 


Till next time.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Amanda Palmer and the Art of Asking

You may know Amanda Palmer, for many different reasons - her TED talk, her music, her kickstarter, her marriage to Neil Gaiman - or you may not know her at all. Whether you know who she is or not, if you're a creator/artist/writer etc, you need this book.

Before I received Amanda's book for Christmas I knew Amanda in the sense that I followed her on Twitter, and knew a bit of her music (but not much), had followed her Kickstarter, loved Neil Gaiman, and she was just there. And then she started writing a book. When this book was released, I added it to my Christmas list, intrigued to see what Amanda had written.

Although I wanted to save this book for sometime after Christmas, I found myself starting -and devouring it - in two days. After a rough period pre Christmas, it left me feeling inspired and motivated again - and relieved that despite being completely different people, with different ambitions (like I'm not a performer at all), there was someone who understood, in some sort of way.

Amanda talks about the fraud police (something which I'm sure affects every writer I know), asking for help, doing what you love, and so much more. She writes,
When you’re an artist, nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand. And you feel stupid doing it.
She further writes,
There’s no “correct path” to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to art school, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.
She talks about taking things - "take the flower" and wanting things and working hard and how it has tot hurt enough to make you really want it: "it doesn't hurt enough yet". 

She writes,
There's really no honor in proving that you can carry the entire load on your own shoulders.'s lonely. 
She writes about art and creating:
Collecting the dots. Then connecting them. And then sharing the connections with those around you. This is how a creative human works. Collecting, connecting, sharing.
There are so many fantastic quotes in this book, it would be impossible to share them all here. This book was inspiring, reassuring, and motivating, as well as incredibly moving. It was beautifully written and I loved the way that Amanda shared such personal stories, and anecdotes. I never write in books, but I was scribbling in this one, underlining things, and circling things. This is going to be a book that I carry around, that I refer back to when I need to.

Amanda reminds us that it's okay to ask, even if that's the hardest thing to do.

And that I think is an important lesson for us all. 

Take the flower.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Who can believe it's 2015 already?

I can't believe how fast this month is already going. I've been making the most of the month so far though, and have started using the calender reward system that Victoria Schwab, and many of my friends (Laura, Cole, Emma, and more) favour. Victoria has written about the system here. And so far it has been fantastically successful! It's rewarding to see the stickers build up and be able to see exactly what you've achieved. Otherwise, I find that it's so easy to forget what you've actually done and just spend your time feeling bad about things. I highly recommend it! I do need to get some more stickers though, I wasn't really prepared.

The rest of the month promises to be busy, and while of course I'm hoping for lots more reading and writing, I'm also returning to Exeter for graduation, spending some time in Fowey (eeek!!), and then visiting school friends in Leeds - so it's going to be a busy couple of weeks. A mini holiday I suppose - and I think I need it! Will be good to get some perspective, make plans, think about the future, forget about inboxes full of rejections (both from agents and jobs).

But that's life I suppose. And compared to all the grisly and really depressing, scary things that have been happening in the news recently, it's nothing.

I am busy both editing and writing, which is going well so far - one of my resolutions for this month - and year - was to not let myself get bogged down in too many projects or get worried about what to work on. I've set myself clear targets for what I want to achieve and all the other ideas can wait, for now anyway. So far it seems to be working! I've got to remember that there's time for everything - although it doesn't seem like that sometimes. I feel like I have to be working on EVERYTHING all at once. But I've got to remember to take it slow and easy - and there you go. One of my goals for this year, which is so far going well. I hope to keep it up!

I hope that everyone else is having a productive 2015 so far, and are managing to stick to their goals and keep being creative! How's it going for everyone?