Happy December!

Sadly, not my wreath. Or my door.
Sadly, not my wreath. Or my door.

Hello, my lovelies!

As the more astute will have already noticed – it’s December. I know I say this every year, but I cannot believe how quickly the last twelve months have flown. It’s been a mix of a year (with plenty of bad stuff in the wider world, for sure), but there have been lots of positives, too, and I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. In fact, I am living a charmed life (something I hate saying as I imagine a giant axe falling to punish me for my happiness/good fortune/smugness) but it’s the truth; I am an exceedingly lucky woman and I am very, very grateful.

I was a wee bit stressed last month with a combination of parental responsibility and book deadline, but I’ve spent the last couple of weeks enjoying the absence of that stress and getting things sorted for Christmas. This has involved Leaving The House, which is most exciting. I’ve been to Edinburgh with my lovely husband for some art-appreciation, Christmas shopping, some beautiful walks and a fancy writerly lunch with the fabulous Clodagh Murphy.

captainamericakiltI also enjoyed a family trip to the cinema to see Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (so much fun!) with a bonus sighting of this Captain America kilt outfit.

Oh, how I love Scotland!

I’ve been working, too, of course, but now I’m going to ramp up and get as much done as possible before the holiday.

I’m taking a small break from fiction to write a book on writing. It’s a combination of everything I’ve learned over the last few years, with tips and advice from top authors I have interviewed on The Worried Writer podcast. Part of me worries ‘who cares what I think?’ but I do feel that I might be able to help other people. Basically, I want other writers who are anxious or filled with self-doubt to think ‘if she can do it, then I can, too!’.

In reading news, I loved Elizabeth Buchan’s The New Mrs Clifton and I’m currently enjoying The Quarry by Iain Banks (it came out a couple of years ago but, as the author passed away and I knew it was the last book from him, I have been saving it).

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading – and for your support and encouragement this year. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas/holiday and that you will join me again in 2017!

Don’t forget, you can keep in touch by signing up for my free readers club (plus, exclusive content and giveaways!).

 

The Power of Story

theendIt’s finished! Phew!

Yes, I finally finished The Book Without An Ending (actual working title: Beneath The Water) and, let me tell you, it was a massive relief.

As I write without a plan, there are always several ‘oh, bugger, what on earth is going to happen next?’ moments, but once I get half-way or two-thirds in, I usually have a clear idea of where it’s heading. The details of this can change, but there is a general, comforting gist. Not this time.

After typing ‘The End’ (hooray!), I took the week off from writing, but kept having those annoying post-finishing thoughts about things I could have added/made better. Urgh.

Still. It’s away on submission, so there is nothing more I can do right now – except obsessively check my email for news, of course.

So, I have been catching up on email and admin/accounts and, more importantly, Reading For Fun. Such a joy after being on deadline.

I loved Anne Marie Casey’s smart and engaging The Real Liddy James, and am halfway through Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link. I haven’t read any of Kelly Link’s stories before and they are extraordinary. Next, I’m going to dive into Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be The Place which I wanted to read the moment it came out. I am a huge fan, but I forced myself to wait so that I could give it my full attention.

In other news, my eldest turns sixteen next week. Sixteen! I am always wobbly and emotional before my children’s birthdays, but this does feel quite significant. She is talking about university and the next stage of her life and it is really beginning to hit me that she will, one day soon, leave home. Gah.

To celebrate the Strange And Terrible Linear Passage Of Time (or, ‘birthday’, if you prefer), we had a family trip to Comic Con in Glasgow. My daughter and I did our first ever cosplay as a mother-and-daughter demon hunting team and we met the fantastically talented (and lovely) Hillywood sisters.

We also saw Jenny Colgan speaking on a panel about writing and publishing Science Fiction, stocked up on cuddly Totoro toys (you can never have too many), and generally had a blast.

If you have never been to a con and like the idea of being surrounded by lots of folk being unabashedly enthusiastic about the stories/fictional worlds they love, I definitely recommend it. And as a writer it was an inspiring and energising reminder of the power of story.

2015: The Greatest Hits

Snow Jabba
Snow Jabba says ‘Hug me – it’s Christmas!’

Hello, my lovelies!

The snow has all gone (for the moment) and Jabba the Hutt, lovingly moulded by the Painter family has sadly melted away… However, school has finished and pre-Christmas holiday excitement is in full force around here!

I love the turn of the year and the chance to reflect on the previous twelve months. It’s been pretty wonderful both personally and professionally and I’m so very grateful.

InTheLightofWhatWeSeeMy agent sold my dual narrative novel, In The Light of What We See.  It’s out in April 2016 in paperback, ebook and audiobook, and I can’t wait!

Earlier in the year, I wrote (and had published) a Pendleford novella The Garden of Magic.

I also finished the first draft of my urban fantasy and started another book. And I’ve got an idea for series which is tugging at my sleeve. Hush now, series idea, you’ll have to wait your turn…

 

 

 

theworriedwriter_300I started a podcast and have been amazed and delighted by the lovely authors who have given up their time to be interviewed for the show. It’s been wonderful to hear from fellow writers (from those just starting out to the very experienced), and I’ve been so touched by all the positive comments and support for the show. I hope to make it bigger and better in 2016 and have lots of plans to make the site www.worriedwriter.com an even-more valuable resource.

I have ordered a shiny new planner for next year and am excited about making plans and setting goals for 2016.

My main plan, as in previous years, will be to write as much as possible. Ideally, I want to write/finish three novels, but as long as I’m working hard and creating lots, I will be happy.

I also wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ for visiting and reading, and for all your kind words over the year. THANK YOU!

Happy holidays to you all!

 

Shiny New Things

2015 has got off to a cracking start with some Shiny New Things…

First off, BBBITWIO* has given me an iMac (his ‘old’ one!) and I’m a wee tiny bit excited. Meep!

imac_small
Quite apart from the fact that my PC had become a bit temperamental (the screen flickered with irritating regularity and it took FOREVER to start up/shut down), I’m also now able to use the Mac-only collaging/brain-storming software of my dreams… Curio.

Plus, my lovely Mum and Dad gave me a colour printer to replace my old black-and-white, so I’ll be able to print out pictures for my paper-and-glue book collages (as well as other crafty projects) – yay!

In other news, I’ve** moved this website over from wordpress.com (free blogging platform) to wordpress.org (self-hosted). Hopefully, you won’t see any difference or have problems with the new site, but please shout if I’ve inadvertently broken anything.

Also, if you were kind enough to follow my blog using the RSS button, you may find that you have to re-subscribe to continue getting the posts by email. Sorry!

While I’m on the subject of subscribing to things… I now have a mailing list. If you would like to receive an (occasional) newsletter from me with book news and recommendations, exclusive content and giveaways, please consider signing up here.

I promise not to share your details or clutter up your inbox with too many emails.

Thank you!

* Best Big Brother In The World: It’s Official

** My use of ‘I’ in this paragraph is somewhat misleading… Please replace with the more accurate ‘my wonderful husband’.

 

 

Tracking Goals Using The Plannerisms Planner

I’m obsessed with goal-setting and stationery, so when I discovered a planner/notebook thingy which has been designed expressly for the purpose of tracking goals, I knocked it out with a club and dragged it to my cave immediately.*

It’s called the Plannerisms Planner and I went for the ‘aqua’ colour-way which is a lovely soft turquoise. The pages are decent quality and there are two ribbon markers so that you can keep your place in both the monthly and weekly planning sections. There are also pages for listing monthly, quarterly and annual goals, a pocket in the back and an elastic closure.

Here it is with a lovely spotty-fabric notebook my daughter gave me for Christmas:

planner

I’m going to use this alongside my Filofax (which I will continue to use for appointments, daily to-do lists, and notes).

If you want an idea of how the weekly view looks, here are last week’s pages (at the beginning of the week, before I’d filled it out):

planner2

 

As you can see, you have a blank column at the start of the week where you can list recurring goals such as ‘writing’ or ‘yoga’ and then you can either put a tick in the appropriate box (or a value if you want to track number of words written or miles walked or whatever).

I’ve split the pages with some washi tape so that I have space above my recurring goals for other tasks and deadlines.

I’m using the monthly planner pages to continue with my sticker reward system for writing fiction.

I know that we’re not even half-way through January, but this is really helping me to stay motivated. Hurrah for stationery!

* Well, you know. Clicked ‘buy now’ and waited impatiently for the post.

What I’ve Been Reading


girl-reading

As well as lots of research books for my WIP, I’ve had a binge on ‘just for fun’ fiction recently, and I’ve read some absolute crackers.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

If you’ve managed not to read or hear anything about this book then I urge you to borrow/buy it immediately. Don’t be tempted to Google it or to read any reviews as they are spoilerific. I read this book purely on a recommendation, without knowing anything about it at all, and I think that’s the best way… So. Go read it. It’s good. It’s really, really good.

gospelThe Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris.

Maybe you’re not as obsessed with myths as I am, but I’d still heartily recommend this retelling of Loki’s life. Joanne Harris a brilliant storyteller and, as befits a trickster God, the voice is beguiling and witty.

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Yes, I’m incredibly late to the party on this one, but I’m adding my voice to the choir, anyway…  Agent Fabulous recommended I read this and I’m so glad I did. The character of Don Tillman is compelling, funny, and touching, and I absolutely didn’t want it to end.

silkworm

 

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Yes, it’s fashionable to say snidey things about J.K. Rowling’s prose but I’ve never been fashionable and I’m not about to start now. The Silkworm is an excellent  mystery set within the literary scene of London. I adore the crime-solving duo of private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant/Doctor Watson Robin Ellacott, and am already looking forward to their next adventure.

How about you guys? Read anything fabulous recently?