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.

Knickers

Eleanor had gotten her knickers in a twist. Her mother was always warning her about it, that one day if she wasn’t careful it would happen. Now Eleanor looked down shamefully at her knickers, tried turning them this way and that to untangle them. It was absolutely no use. She tried stepping into them and pulling them up past her thighs but it just wouldn’t do. To deal with that, lumbering around all day, would be far too uncomforable. She sought out another pair, then another, and another. But she was utterly dismayed to find that every single pair of knickers was in a twist, all joined together and conjoined in a long line of sad complex knicker twists.

We keep this love in a photograph

I’m not a crazy manic ‘buy-all-the-albums’ fan of Ed Sheeran. I appreciate his music and some of it really does strike a chord with me when I want it to. When his new album ‘X’ came out I wasn’t too fussed and just let the music come to me naturally and accidentally rather than actually seek it out like so many other fans do.

I’m not one of those fans.

But, recently, it’s started to dawn on me that by the end of the summer my long-term boyfriend will have upped and gone away – that is, to university. Like me, he wants to write for a living.

I’m – actually – really proud that he’s going, so he can do what he wants to do instead of staying here for me and resenting me for it years later. I’m no fortune teller but there’s a strong chance that would’ve happened if he’d stayed.

I’ve seen flashes of it appear sometimes and I don’t want to be that person who holds him back while I do all the things we both want to do, like write.

Now, Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Photograph’ really causes all kinds of emotions to flutter precariously around my chest, to hover over my heart and, in turn, make my eyes glaze over whenever I listen to this song. Ed Sheeran’s ability to make you just stop and think – and really listen to the words he’s singing is, to me, incredible. Not many artists can do that lately for me.

I really miss the feeling of being so in-the-moment with a song that it’s special when it happens to me now.

The song ‘Photograph’ is so much about being in love. I find that the musical arrangement along with the lyrical quality is something extremely difficult to define because it’s so good. But, for me, right now, being in love is all I know and all I want to be in, so I feel confident in defining it as perfect.

I think music has the ability to make you become part of another world and, for me, that largely gives me the ability to write and just to feel something when I write. Writing teen fiction deals with a lot of feelings and, almost always, with love. Heartbreak, lust, loss, and all that kind of emotional stuff that nobody wants to deal with after they’re a teenager – because it just hurts too much.

So I’m grateful that ‘Photograph’ can enable me to feel something like that; the way it can help define the idea of love for me. It enables me to really see what’s important and that, whenever I listen to it, I will stop and think and those thoughts will lead me to my long-term boyfriend, because he’s really just so special to me.

 

And if you hurt me
That’s okay baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go
Wait for me to come home

You can fit me
Inside the necklace you got when you were sixteen
Next to your heartbeat where I should be
Keep it deep within your soul

As well as that, I love that by writing teen fiction I get to second-handedly experience these emotions that my characters will go through and I’ll get to grow with them, passing on to them my own experiences and they’ll let me be a part of theirs too.

I think this line in the song really defines teen fiction for me, both as a reader and a writer and I love that I’ve been able to find it:

‘Only words bleed inside these pages’

This song is really special because it enables me to see life in so many different ways, from potentially varying perspectives. I love it and for it to be so rich in meaning and emotions I know I’ll hold it dear to me for a very, very long time.

‘Photograph’ by Ed Sheeran. Go and listen to it.

Grammar Rules

Did you know there are certain rules regarding the ways you can write speech as to whether you are American or British? I know, I was shocked too! It turns out I’ve been writing the speech of my characters’ lines in my stories wrong for years because I’ve been writing in the American way! To be honest, I much prefer the American way. Maybe because I read a lot of American books, or just because it comes a lot more naturally to me.

Basically, if you are British (like me) and want to write dialogue you must use inverted single commas like this:

‘To write is to capture something beautiful’

as this is the proper way!

However if you are writing in American English then you must use the double quotation marks like this:

“To write is to capture something beautiful”

I mean, how crazy is that? I always thought it was a matter of preference. But when it came up casually in conversation at a fiction workshop I was in it made me stop and think. Had I really been writing incorrectly all this time? The answer was yes after I researched it. (Always to Google!)

I’m sure it’s never that important anyway. I have had things published with American speech marks in it for dialogue when I am technically supposed to be writing in British English. It’s not like you’re going to get dismissed from a writing competition or, even worse, a novel manuscript you’ve submitted to a publishing house, because you’ve included the wrong speech marks in your work. If you can’t make up your mind and use both frequently all over the place then that might lead to something different! But ultimately, it is up to you whatever you choose to do.

Since I am technical in all my writing and like to correct anybody’s grammar given the opportunity, I will be writing in the formally correct way constantly now and try to keep it up as long as I can. If you are like me, and like everything to be perfect in your writing, from the style down the spelling, you too will probably reflect and check your errors! This is exactly what I did.

Unfortunately, I hate editing my own fiction writing so it took me a mighty long time to correct everything! I hope, if you didn’t already know this little scrap of knowledge, I have enlightened your day.

Good luck with your writing!

Good Morning!

It’s Sunday, and as much as everybody else really rather hates Sundays, I have grown to love them. I have no classes to go to, I have usually done all my readings for university week, I have no part time job to attend, and basically I can do whatever the swive I want! Technically I don’t even have to leave my bed (apart from dietary & toilet necessities). So it’s great having Sundays! I really actually love them.

I can get more writing done (which I definitely plan to do!) I am writing a short story submission on the theme of flowers/light inspired by Eva Figes beautiful poetic novella Light which is a fictional take on the life of the great painter Monet who lived in France. It has been struggling these last few weeks or so, but I feel today’s the right day to do it. I have it all thought out! First draft: hello!

I can bake a cake! Now, this one probably won’t happen today because I already made triple chocolate muffins last night. Despite the fact they didn’t rise very well, we still all ate them whilst sitting round watching Flight of the Conchords. I’m sorry I didn’t watch Eurovision, but … FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS!

I can make a soup without time constraints! Today I will be making potato and leek soup. I’m so excited. I love making soups. They just taste so yum.

I can read more of The Selection by Kiera Cass. YES! Aspen is so far my favourite, but that might be because I am just imagining him to be William Moseley.

I can watch Father of the Bride! I have been wanting to watch this film for about a week and a half now, just haven’t had the time or the company. But now with it being an empty Sunday I might just get round to it!

On the plus side, I am also feeling better from being ill this weekend too! Bonus! And all it took was two cartons of orange juice, five bowls of chicken/mushroom/homemade butternut squash soup, three bowls of strawberries and plenty of time in bed reading. Great way to get better!

Look alive, people. It’s Sunday! What will you be doing with yours?

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!

Writer News!

I have some fantastic news! As a writer, I am always looking for ways to get my writing ‘out there’, so to speak. Even this blog has a way of doing that – which is obviously why a lot of people do it. So I was rather ecstatic (and still am!) over an email which delivered me with the information that I am now an official weekly features writer to an online magazine! Now, of course it is university based and it will not get me a paid contract however I am just so excited!!

I submitted the application a little while ago and every question I was answering I just kept thinking, ‘I want this, I want this, I really really want this. It sounds perfect!’ Despite me desperately wanting the position, I hardly dared to believe I would actually, really get it. Imagine my surprise when I read the words ‘I would be happy to have you as part of the team’ that got sent to me. I was overjoyed. I was so happy that my boyfriend and I started dancing in all kinds of circles across our bedroom floor.

As a weekly features writer, I am SO excited to write about all kinds of new things, from university campus news to fashion critiques. I even plan to write a feature on the campus cat (because, yes, our university does indeed have a cat). Woe betide me if I cannot write about cats on this magazine. That’s just unthinkable. I’ve hopped, I’ve skipped and I’ve ran hot with glee all over little places in my mind. My first plan is to write about our Harry Potter society at the university – because it’s a brilliant society and deserves some devoted recognition! With a brilliant photographer for the events at hand, I hope it will look stunning when I write it up in full. Our society really is just … the best. If you’ll excuse my saying so.

I probably ought to reflect on what the magazine is actually about. Basically you can find it at http://www.hercampus.com/ and it is an online worldwide magazine targeted towards women at university, written by students all over the world on different campuses. In my mind, it’s basically a kind of University version of Cosmopolitan magazine – which I always love reading. Heat magazine and all those other gossipy ones rub me up the wrong way. It’s like, who cares if a pregnant celebrity hasn’t gotten rid of her babyfat? THIS IS LIFE. GET OVER IT. Her Campus is basically the way to go for trendy campus news, or reviews, or anything relatively girly, or campus related. It’s actually really good. You should check it out.

Now, I had probably ought to go and write up something for the magazine. Hopefully writer’s block won’t catch me out too soon.

TTFN. x