Authors, Writing

Book Signings!

Last night I met Sarah Winman, author of bestselling novel When God Was a Rabbit and the recently published A Year of Marvellous Ways. The first time I read When God Was a Rabbit I was mesmerised and immeasurably hooked. I loved it so much I even cracked the spine a little bit (something I rarely ever do with books).

So I’m certain that A Year of Marvellous Ways will hold just as much magic for me as Rabbitdid, if not more.

To meet an author – published, famous, and successful – always washes a tidal wave of excitement over me. And, of course, last night was no different on the crowded shop floor of Waterstones, Truro, the tiny capital city of sunnyside Cornwall. There was an informal interview between Sarah and a lovely employee of the iconic bookstore which weaved the stories of Sarah’s childhood memories, the people she’s known in her life and, ultimately, how the book and its characters came about.

I was captivated.

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The evening went on and, as she was talking, I became hugely gratified to discover that, when she writes a novel, she usually writes roughly 1000 words a day. This, for me, was monumental, in that while I am currently writing my own novel I also tend to write 1000 words a day.

(In no way am I comparing myself to this bonafide successful writer, but hearing those words gave me hope: it said, ‘I can do this!’)

It was truly a comfort in itself; knowing that an author like this also simply writes 1000 words a day and still gets the novel finished on time.

Because, you know, when you aspire to be a full time writer yourself, you always imagine bestselling authors to be hammering out 5000 words a day or more, scribbling page after page after page.

She read clearly and calmly, with just the right emphasis on the right characters when speaking their own dialogue. Her words written on the page and then spoken from her own mouth were entrancing and not even for one second did I actually find myself bored.

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To my joy, she signed my copy of her book which is now sitting on my shelf. And, not only this, but I asked her if she would sign my own journal; a notepad I use to scribble all my thoughts and story ideas in whenever I’m on the move. She complied and asked if I was a writer too. I told her yes, I was, and she listened as I spoke about my own fiction writing and the novel I’m continuing to write over the summer.

She listened.

Of course, I was in a queue so had to hurry along, but she gave me the utmost hope for my writing (not to mention a truck load of inspiration) and told me good luck with my writing adventures and said that, if I stuck to it, I could publish a book too one day (with a lot of hard work and torturous rewrites. I know.)

Everything takes a little bit of time and a whole load of patience, and most importantly, a great deal of work. As a current participant of CampNaNoWriMo, I’m mostly keeping to my word count goal of 500 words a day, if not 1000. Watching my stats go up is like watching a plant grow; it can be really, painstakingly slow, but the progress is still there and visible!

By way of word count, my goal is to have 36,000 words of my novel by the end of the month in total. But, the way I’m going, I’m hoping I can totally beat that!!

So, ultimately, here’s to Sarah Winman – on a brilliant and captivating debut novel and what I already know to be a truly wonderful second novel in A Year of Marvellous Ways, even though I haven’t read it yet.

Here’s to inspiration.

Cornwall, university, Writing

Telltales & Such Things

Hey, everyone. Hope the sun is shining your way. It is currently down here in Cornwall!

Just an update to notify you of new features I’ve written recently. They’ve taken a while to air on the website so there’s a few all in one go! One is a feature on my best friend who recently completed her Duke of Edinburgh award and advice she has to give, so if you’re into doing the award or even just thinking about it then make sure you check it out!

Another is a feature on a course mate of mine who I met whilst working on the Lionel Shriver author workshops. I really wanted to document the experience and get another point of view on how exciting and precious the time we spent with Lionel was, so I decided to interview her on the experience we shared. Her feedback was brilliant!

The other is on a sweet little writing group I’ve recently discovered under the name of Telltales based in Cornwall, largely Falmouth which is my student home town. Details about the group can all be found via the link!

Please give them a read if you’re interested!

 

Telltales Writing Group: http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/telltales-writers-group-based-falmouth

Campus Celebrity: http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/campus-celebrity-aysha-bryant

Last week’s Campus Celebrity: http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/campus-celebrity-ashleigh-fox

 

Book Reviews, Cornwall, Hobbies

IT’S HERE!

I received this beauty in the post after ordering it from Waterstones. Can you believe that no book shop has it stocked in Cornwall?! None that I could find anyway. I even looked up its availability online, just so I could go and get it physically. But no such luck.

I hate buying books online because

1. What if they don’t look right?
2. What if there’s a crease on the front pages?
3. What if – God only knows how – the spine is already marked or slightly broken?

I’ve had this experience with brand new books bought online, so you can see why I’m a little shady at committing to that way of consuming. Books are a very huge part of my life, therefore I want them to look pretty sitting there on my shelves! Who wouldn’t?

But this came through in the post two days ago and I am ridiculously happy about it. I did expect it to be thicker but it is a trilogy after all so I let that slide. It’s so pretty. I keep picking it up, putting it back down, then picking it up again. I’ve vowed to get through my current Lionel Shriver book quickly so I can read this beauty as soon as possible!

Once I’m through, I’m going to buy the other two! Despite if it even has to be online!

Hobbies, university, Writing

Writerly Reflections

Why did I want to be come a writer? It’s a fairly simple question to ask but rather a difficult one to answer.

I suppose first of all I wanted to write because I loved reading. My story isn’t one of reading J.K Rowling and desperately wanting to be the way she is as a writer, which is odd because I love the world of Harry Potter a lot more than anything else. The world of Harry Potter comes up fairly frequently in my blogposts. My story came from being twelve years old and desperately wanting to be the girlfriend of famous boyband members. In particular, members of McFly. I could gush on about them for hours in my little notepad I kept hidden in my wardrobe.

What they looked like when I thought I could be their girlfriend. That’s right. All of them.

In order for that to come true, I started writing fanfiction in little diaries I bought from Clintons. I wrote so many stories, and they were all filled with bad writing, bad romance, and probably some really bad dialogue. I still have them, but they’re far too embarrassing to read. But without them I wouldn’t have gotten this far! I would stay in my room for hours every single day of the summer, endlessly spilling my pen into the pages that I kept private. Because nobody was allowed to read it.

Bad writing = good writing!
(Eventually!)

 

Gradually, I moved onto writing from paper to Microsoft Word but still in secret. I would wait until my whole family had gone to bed before I could start tapping erratically on the keys of our shared computer keyboard. I don’t know why it all had to be kept in such secrecy. It just felt so private. I’d never done it before.

When I started to grow older, I realised that – yes – I wanted to become a writer, an author, unconditionally. And all I did in my spare time was fantasise about how incredibly amazing that would be. I have drawings in my old collected notepads of book covers with my name on them, that one day I could actually be a published author. I still have that dream today and am not going to stop writing, ever. Now, I am pursuing a writing course at university. People say it’s a waste of time, choosing Creative Writing as a degree, but I would never have come across the writing opportunities I’ve been given without enrolling onto this course.

Since September, I’ve started a new novel in my own time, written short stories almost every single week during term to submit, become a weekly feature writer for a worldwide online magazine, submitted to a number of different writing competitions, gotten the chance to meet famous writers and poets, and next week I get to be in a workshop with an award winning author!

Really, I don’t think I decided at any point – yes I want to be a writer. I kind of fell into it, and as I got better at it, I then just grew into it.

Writing is awesome.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/writing-challenge-reflections/

Hobbies, university, Writing

4,000 Words

Following my blog post about the author workshop I’m thrilled to be participating in, I received an email yesterday outlining the work we’re going to be doing to work with Lionel Shriver. Basically, the most pressing thing to do is come up with a piece of writing that is 4000 words long and submit it to her so it can be evaluated and critiqued.

I know, it sounds simple enough really, doesn’t it? It sounds like this is the most work we actively have to do within these workshops, aside from critiquing others’ work and really buckling down with all the fiction writing activities. It’s exciting and I already have loads of pieces that amount to either just below 4000 words or over. All I’d have to do is tweak it up a little and then submit, let her read it, and go!

But that’s just a little way too terrifying.

Writing 4000 words within two weeks is pretty simple and easy. That’s plenty of time. I have no issue with that. But coming up with 4000 words to submit to a real live – award winning author – FROM AMERICA is scary, to say the least. It’s incredibly daunting and I don’t even know where to start.

Giving her the first 4000 words of my novel is slightly embarrassing, as the protagonist is a womanizing jerk and in the second chapter there is a drunken bathroom scene in which two teenagers get a little too excited with each other (to put it that way). But it’s the most recent writing I’ve done and I have to admit I’m a little  bit in love with it. I am proud of it. But to give her something else feels odd, as I don’t feel my other writing is as good as the novel I’m writing right now. The piece we submit can be anything, on any theme, and can be complete, or a work in progress or something entirely different. Just as long as it’s fiction.

I think I am struggling. Being intimidated by author power-status is a little bit unnerving! Especially when you get to meet them!

education, Hobbies, university, Writing

Lionel Shriver Workshop

Writers In Residence is a thing. A University thing, I think. And, to me, it’s a very important thing. It means that aspiring writers (like me) get the opportunity to submit their pieces of writing and if they win they get to participate in scheduled workshops with that author.

A real author!

This year, it is Lionel Shriver, who wrote the award winning book We Need To Talk About Kevin and she is coming to the university where I study. HOW EXCITING!

Naturally, I got so excited when the emails came around saying that students could apply to be in the workshop for Writers In Residence. With Lionel Shriver. A very successful author and journalist from America. I applied as soon as I was ready, as soon as I’d written something I thought was the absolute best I could aim for.

Choosing to come to university was a big task for me, but when I realised students got the opportunity to work with actual authors and published writers, go to poetry readings and indulge themselves in a special writing world that they may not have had the chance to do otherwise, my mind was pretty much made up. I decided to go, almost based on that. That it was a world I would be opening myself up to that I may not ever get the chance to do in the real world.

Establish contacts, hone my writing skills, just overall be with people who shared my love for the world of writing and adored literature.

really wanted to go. And it’s totally worth it. All of it. Even the ‘sit-by-myself lunchtimes’ and the ‘almost-talking-to-nobody-Fridays’. It is all worth it.

Because – dare I even say it – my application got through to the Writers In Residence workshop and soon from the beginning of April and all through to May I am getting the chance to do some fiction writing with Lionel Shriver.

It’s with 11 other applicants, and we will be spending two hours every week with her to develop our writing skills and get one to one sessions with her also if we so desire. I can’t wait. Following a disappointing email from a publisher for a short story competition saying my submission hadn’t got through, to then read this email was full blown amazing and I still can’t even believe I managed it.

It seems that since university, my life has had its doors open and opportunities flood their way in through. They may not all be successful ones on my part but I love being given the chance to throw my arrow in the bucket along with all the other applicants too. I feel this is what being a writer is all about.

Hobbies, Poetry, Writing

What Love Was Theirs

 

 

She used to think that the one she loved shined marvelously for her, and only her. But the starlight shining bright has faltered and it’s grown dim. She doesn’t know what to think of her beloved any longer, now that she has become changed. What they had was a love story, bursting pinks and violet reds, churning out love and sweet things ripe with passion. It was all over the place, people didn’t know where to look.
Now she scalds her tongue on the love that’s burnt and it tastes bitter. Invisibility used to be her shield, the thing that kept her hidden, but now she cries out to the one who refuses to know her. The One. Who, like a child, is ignorant of her squalor.
Staying forever young and forever sixteen is bullshit. Everybody knows it. Unless you want to die, cased in your tomb like a precious thing inside a cabinet, at the ripe old age of a nearly wasted adulthood. At least the coffin does not show glass, so admirers can press their fingertips up against the glass. Their oily noses. Their eyes that are pearls.
Disrespectful.
What love was theirs was untouchable, almost a secret. But jealousy thrashed it, caged it so it remains weak but does not die. It can’t escape from the confines of her heart. A winter passing can last forever inside a broken heart; it begins to get cold, icy winds pick up speed and all parts of the body are left freezing. Dying. But strong enough to keep going indefinitely, for however long until the love gets fixed.
The Best Day is a fictional plaything, constructed inside the mind to make you feel better. So what you thought was the best day that time will never be and you will never get it back. It’ll stay locked inside you forever. A favourite song is no longer important, as it pulls the dregs of those memories up to the surface.
And, oh, it’s far too much to bear.

Hobbies, Writing

Marietta

    I knew a girl who had gotten dumped. I say knew. She hovered around the floating edges of my break times, my classes, my petulant walks through corridors. She’d never mattered to us much before. But now she was always on my mind.
Her skin, it etched in the name of the boy who had done and got her heart broke, and the blood ran off her fingertips. Marietta. She looked like a corpse dressed for Halloween. Her skin was so pale. The lace from the dresses that seemed embroidered onto her skin, her arms, became bumpy with bloodstain. It trailed all the way up to her elbow. People stared. Even the teachers stared. Too nervous, they never said anything to her. I could never work out whether they were scared of hurting her mutated feelings, or simply just her. She had an aura about her that rendered people strange. A sickly, pasty kind of feeling that sweeps over you when you walk past her in the corridor, or catch her watery blue stare as you look up.
The boy’s name was Todd Bow. Everybody knew him, so as a result everybody then knew her. Before him, I guess you could say she was normal.  She seemed so anyway. Like your average, functioning girl. But love has its way of ruining
the best of us. If we let it fester, it turns us inside out, upside down, and bent over double in pain. Blood poured from her heart, and now it poured from her arms too.
A mathematic compass was her tool. Her art for punching holes into her veins. You know the ones. We’ve all
purposely pricked our fat, fleshy fingertips with one just so we can see it hurt. Its pinprick point like a poised and ready needle. It digs in and burrows itself beneath our skin, if it should like.
Marietta took it too far. God knows what her mother thought. Perhaps she never told. Yet we all knew; we could all
see the faded lines beneath the white lace, and the fresh ones too. We could all see the quiet disdain she held in her voice when she spoke, like every boy she addressed was guilty of breaking her heart. We could all see the fresh
etchings of a T … then an O … a deep, stinging D … and finally one more. It wasn’t like she was hiding it, like she faded into the background like some old piece of furniture. She was there everyday, on everybody’s minds.
I think she knew it.
The boy hardly knew what to do. They’d lasted six months; he’d never realised how hard she’d fallen. She avoided him like the plague, yet he remained on her arms, his name a hideous inscription, like she was bound to him forever. And she liked it that way.
She shamelessly strapped his identity to her skin like it was the only thing she had.
In the end, I suppose it was.

Baking, Hobbies

CAKE!

I know I may be a whole four days late, but I wanted to share the cake I made for my love interest at Valentine’s. Buying and putting the whole ingredients together, I thought it would be a complete nightmare. I had never made or even attempted a cake on so big a scale as this. Usually my range of baking consists of getting a mix and going from there. So I was super, duper, wheely squeezy proud when the cake came out looking relatively fine and hadn’t flopped!

I proceeded with the icing – which at first went badly – then after I’d got it melted and all syrup-y it went perfectly, like a dream. (Like a dream cake?) With all the Haribo love hearts on it, I can happily confirm that perhaps it really is a dream cake. At least, for children I guess you could say.

Nevertheless, my boyfriend loved it! At least he told me he did.   He’s eating a piece right now, in between chewing his headphones and typing madly away at his keyboard, probably in the mad process of hammering out another screenplay.
My Valentine’s present from him was a handmade, beautifully written comic. He likes comics and is a big nerd for them. Because he got no monies, he made me that over the course of two weeks without me knowing. A few people read it before me, and apparently they cried.
Yes, I cried too!

I think our gifts to each other really did say how much we love each other this Valentine’s. Although my present didn’t seem to shine as bright as his, despite all the shimmer spray I put on it to make it all silver shiny!

P.S
Apologies if this post made you feel slightly queasy with all the ‘love’ references. Just when you thought Valentine’s Day was over for another year!

Hobbies, Writing

To Die, Or Not To Die?

I’m a writer who has a basic outline of a plan which I follow through as much as I can. But I’m a writer who never knows where her end is going. Eventually, I find it. But right now, I’m writing a story with the theme of alienation, about a man who  is gossiped about by his neighbours, whilst strange things are happening in his house. Truthfully, the house wants him dead. Odd, I know.

Right now, it’s nearing the end and he’s almost at the other end of sanity. But I don’t know whether to have him resolve the ordeal peacefully and have a somewhat happy ending, or whether to let the house ultimately get its wish so he can once again be reunited with his late wife. See, there is a happy ending in there somewhere.

Then there’s his dog too. One of the neighbours have resolved that when the man goes, the dog shall too. But killing off a dog seems too sensitive a topic to write in a short story? Surely? Especially if the man himself commits them both to suicide inside his dingy old dark living room.

I imagine him to be somewhat similar to Filch, just a little less tragic.

I’m struggling to find my ending. Have you ever stumbled over this too?
If you did, what did you do?