Country Music, Writing Goals, and Camp NaNoWriMo

Today I spent some time shopping. Surprisingly, no – I didn’t buy any books! Instead, I bought some clothes and – wait for it – a Blake Shelton CD. Because no shopping trip is complete without a little country music.

I legitimately can’t seem to go into a HMV store without buying country music nowadays. I think I have a problem, but the ACM’s are only a week away so I consider it preparation, not that I really need it. Country music is always on my brain. I love it so much it’s a part of my dissertation and I’ve lost count how many books I’ve got stacked up against my desk on the subject.

Okay, maybe I do have a problem.

But today was a good day. I actually felt fresh for a change. You know that feeling when you don’t get out of the house for days and you just need to get out? I felt like stale pizza – isn’t that a nice image. I just needed OUT, so today helped with that. Some quality time with your sister, new clothes and good music is just the solution.

And because I feel fresh, now I can concentrate on writing for the evening. I promised myself I would write 1,000 words of my novel in prep for Camp NaNoWriMo tonight and – BOOM – in the car earlier I got some inspiration for the next few scenes. I was listening to Luke Bryan, so I’m guessing I’ve got him to thank for that. Word count, here I come!

Thanks, Luke.

I’ve got Cornish Story Magazine stuff to work on later – (like I said in my last post, we are always looking for new submissions on interesting topics, so get in touch if you think you could offer us something!)

It’s looking like a good evening.

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Pent Up Energies

Tomorrow I want to do things. Actual things. Tonight I’ve just scrolled endlessly through my Twitter feed and changed my Facebook profile picture and cover photo. All this has, coincidentally, amounted to very little.

I want to change this.

So I’ve made a list and I want to stick to it! If only to stop me checking my Twitter newsfeed every five minutes.

1. Go for a walk

I want to go for a walk through the woods, across farmland, or simply just walk somewhere near the sea. My creative energies are all pent up right now and I feel like a walk – alone – will help me get what I need. Ironically, perhaps getting lost in the woods will help me find what I need right now, creatively.

2. Write a fresh post

I am guilty of not posting here as regularly as I could. Whether I write about my day, post a picture I took out on my walk, or tell you all about my new writing project I’m taking on for Camp NaNoWriMo, I want to do more. I don’t want to just let this blog die.

3. Write 1,000 words

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Here’s the tricky part. I’ve signed up to Camp NaNoWriMo again this year (which I am insanely thrilled about) and want a head start in the game. So I’ve promised myself to write 1,000 words of my novel, even if it’s a load of dribble. At least it’s something, right?

4. Do some work for Cornish Story

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I work for an online publication called Cornish Story magazine. We celebrate all things to do with Cornish culture. Although we have an academic background, we are always looking for fresh material on any subject from anyone who’s passionate about Cornwall. So if you’re looking to submit to us, just drop me an email! My email is emily@cornishstory.com. We’re really friendly, I promise.

And voila!

Of course, if I could get some more research done for my dissertation (which is on cowboys and country music, y’all!) then that would be marvelous. But, you know, I don’t want to take on too much.

Until this is done, I don’t feel like I’m going to be a very happy writer person. So I guess I’d better get started.

Book Review: Red Witch

I wrote a book review for Cornish Story recently. You can view the website here (psst.. we are always looking for new submissions!) so I thought I would share here.

Mostly because I am so looking forward to meeting Anna McKerrow again (the author) at the Porthleven Lit Fest next month, but also because I forgot to post this when I actually wrote it.

Red Witch by Anna McKerrow

Last year, Anna McKerrow released her debut novel Crow Moon which tells the story of the wayward sixteen year old Danny Prentice, a witch, who cares more about chasing girls than being loyal to his magical covenstead. The exciting debut saw Danny thwarting his own demons and gradually learning to accept responsibility to protect his homeland known throughout the series as Greenworld.

Now, with the release of McKerrow’s second book, Red Witch, readers get to hear the story of Demelza Hawthorne, who flees Cornwall at the end of the last book in search of refuge and tranquility after discovering that the boy she loves has died on the fields of battle.

The Young Adult author came to Cornwall last year on the release of Crow Moon and chatted to visitors in Waterstones, where she held a book signing with other writers. Though she lives in London, the author has a deep love for Cornwall and its unrelenting mysticism. These factors alone give the author an abundance of stories focusing on paganism, magic and witch stories which she focuses on throughout her books.

Although the first book is initially set in Cornwall, the narrative of the second book takes place in Glastonbury, somewhere which has close links to pagan rituals and magic,  an echo of the Cornish landscape. For protagonist Demelza, a life on the run constitutes leaving Cornwall, escaping Greenworld and crossing over into the Redworld, a landscape similar to ours which McKerrow describes as ‘a crime and corruption-riddled Britain’.

Set in 2046, the Redworld is a land where fossil fuels are running out and political unrest is at large with the working class and the poor. For Demelza, her journey is a cathartic one and one that leads her towards Bran, a handsome and intriguing individual whose attraction is undeniable.

The pair embark upon a dangerous romance, meandering through the different avenues and pathways that the Redworld has to offer to a young witch escaping heartbreak. However, as the story unfolds, she begins to question whether she can really trust this handsome Bran, and has to face the possibility that she might not belong there after all.

At the end of the novel, the inclusion of the traditional Cornish folk song,The White Rose, shows a certain sensitivity and gratifying nod towards Cornish culture while simultaneously keeping it well within the theme of the Celtic, witches, spirituality and the dazzling realm of Greenworld.

The book is an exhilarating sequel to the first, a book which is full of passion, adventure and, above all, forces of magic! Read this book and you will fall in love with the story, the characters and the dire struggle for a Greener way of living as opposed to the harsh, chemical Redworld. It is a book not only for teenagers but, as stated on the back of the book by Irish author Louise O’Neill, ‘a terrifying cautionary tale for our times’.

Alongside working on arts projects for the famous reading charity Book Trust, Anna McKerrow is currently writing the final book of the Crow Moon trilogy, which will be published in March 2017.

Red Witch was released on the 10th March 2016.

You can find Anna McKerrow on Twitter and view her website here.

Originally published on Cornish Story Magazine.

Emily Barr: Final Writing Workshop

Today marked the last day of the incredible writing workshops I’ve been a part of with many talented writers at Falmouth University. The writing workshops were taught by the fabulous Emily Barr, who is a bestselling (and very skilled) thriller novelist.

Even more exciting, she has a new YA book coming out early next year which is published by none other than Penguin, so watch this space!

These workshops have been amazing and a real gift to be a part of. I’ve learnt so much, from writing about sense of place through to writing about characters with amnesia and how to deal with that. Emily was also kind enough to bring her husband – also a writer! – to these workshops and having him there too was a huge insight into the children’s publishing world, as he’s also a children’s writer.

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The workshops were held over a period of five or six weeks and, inbetween this, I was lucky enough to have two focused individual sessions with Emily, where we talked about novel writing, what it’s like to be signed by a top publisher like Penguin and copy edits. What was even cooler was how she persuaded me to bite the bullet and follow my own writing dream, which is to travel out to Texas and do some research on the novel I’m writing – a YA novel set against the backdrops of the rural South.

I’m planning to go during Easter break but if that doesn’t happen then there’s always the summer. I’ve already saved up some money for the trip (I have been saving since the first year of my undergraduate degree: that’s three years). I just need to take someone with me, if only to make sure I come home and don’t run off with a cowboy, which is an actual true danger.

These writing workshops have made my writing stronger, they’ve made me listen to other people’s writing with more precision and clarity, and to be more confident about reading my work aloud. I always struggled with this before, so it’s great to have a balance between reading your work on the page and reading it out loud to other people.

To be a part of such a great writing community every single week has been really special and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m sad that it’s over but feel so lucky to have been a part of it all. But it’s not over yet! We have one more last personal session with her on Wednesday and I’m excited about this. Afterwards, we’re all meeting for drinks, so now I guess I can say I’ve shared a few drinks with Emily Barr! Yay!

But, seriously, it’s been so wonderful. Even better, I feel like I’ve made some new friends as a result of this great workshop and gotten some awesome new skills!

Until next time.