Still Here, Still Writing • Writing Thoughts

Whew.

It’s been a while.

I haven’t updated this blog in… what, two months? Maybe two and a half? I haven’t really been keeping track, but it’s always been in the back of my mind. What’s stopped me from posting? A couple of things; stress from working two jobs and a total lack of motivation and creativity, but mainly my failure and the embarrassment that tags along with it.

You see, in my last few posts I joyfully announced that I’d soon be finished my first draft of my first novel, in doing so fulfilling a lifelong dream of being an author. Not being a successful author, or an author who even sells a single copy, but an author who has finished writing a book, because that’s what writing a book makes you; it makes you an author. I wanted to be an author before my momentum and motivation came to a stuttering halt, and I’ll still want to be an author after the next inevitable bout of writers’ block too.

Ultimately, it’s down to me. I haven’t finished my novel yet. I let the pressure I put on myself by setting a deadline completely derail me. I lost faith in my plot, in my characters, in my ability as a writer, and the saddest thing is it’s all so damn predictable. I’ve written several posts about it on this very blog; I’ve posted articles on tips to beat writers’ block, how to stay motivated and persevering even if you and everyone else doubts that you can do it. But in the end, it’s you and the keyboard. And sometimes knowing how to beat something isn’t the problem, it’s making yourself do it in spite of your fear of failing.

I have fear, but fear doesn’t control my dream, it just can’t. Completing this is too important to me. I’ve had two months of excuses and feeling sorry for myself and doubting myself more than I ever have before, but now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get writing again. And the next time this happens, because it probably will, I’ll do the same.

Bottom line: Writing is hard, but nothing worth having ever comes easy.

Getting My Mojo Back • Writing Thoughts

Any time I see or write the word ‘mojo’ in any context, an image of that crazy monkey Mojo Jojo from the Powerpuff Girls pops into my head. Wouldn’t it be great to take over a word and make it so indistinguishable from your character that anytime someone sees it they think of your creation? That’s the dream, right?

writing mojo

Well, it may be the dream but it’s something that feels very very far away from my abilities at the moment. I’ve been on a downer for the past week and I’m kind of ashamed to say I didn’t write any more of my novel. Not one single word. Nothing. And it’s not like I just forgot about it, it’s been on my mind all day every day.

I don’t have an excuse except that some of my old fear has crept back in. This fear that has masqueraded as writer’s block and crippled my progress for years cannot be allowed back in. If it settles in the most insecure parts of my mind it will rot away at my confidence until my motivation to write is just a distant memory.

writing mojo

I know why this is happening, too; I’m so depressingly consistent in my insecurity that I can pinpoint exactly why this fear has returned, but knowing why I’m scared doesn’t do much to eradicate the fear.

I’m so close to finishing my first draft, something I’ve never even come close to before, and the thought of completing my book only to be rejected is enough to make me want to stop completely so I never have to face it at all. If I can honestly say I never managed to finish my book so it never got a chance to be queried by an agent or publisher, it’s not quite as bad as total failure and rejection, right? The thought of my book going absolutely nowhere except a file on my hard drive and knowing that I’m not good enough to be published is enough for that fear to return.

writing mojo

I know it’s really just a defence mechanism. It’s something to protect me and my dream from being crushed. If I was the same writer that I was a couple of years ago, sure, I’d probably let my fear and insecurity take over and push the pause button on my book for yet another few months or years, but I’m not that writer anymore. I’m so scared of failure, but my dream is to be a writer and I can’t just let myself down because of fear.

J.K. Rowling was rejected many times before she was finally published, and her books are some of the most beloved stories of all time. She and countless other writers faced rejection again and again before seeing their stories on the shelves. I know logically that even if I’m not taken on by an agent or publisher that that doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer or that my story is bad, but I’m very sensitive when it comes to my work and I’m just worried that rejection after rejection is going to crush me. I know, I know, it’s useless to obsess over it before it even happens, but for whatever reason it’s all I’ve been thinking about this week.

writing mojo

I’m going to do myself a favour and kickstart my motivation today. I’m going to put on the kettle, settle down in a comfy chair and bang out at least 1000 words. Hopefully it’ll set me on the right track to get my draft finished or, at the very least, to banish some of that crippling fear.

Wish me luck!

 

So Close To The Finish Line • Writing Thoughts

NaNoWriMo finished over two months ago and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (finally!), and in case you were wondering, yes, my novel is filled with cliché, overused phrases just like that one. However, the only reason I’ve even gotten this far is because I’ve put the editor in me firmly on the back burner and allowed myself to just write. 

Many authors agree that the magic of writing is in the re-writing, and I couldn’t agree more. I know there are lots of problems with my draft and there will be plenty of things I’ll have to change, polish or re-write entirely, but for now I’m happy just to finish. That is the goal for this next month, and hard as it is sometimes, I do see myself with a full draft by the end of the month. I’m very excited!

It’s now officially the 5th of February so I have approximately 3 weeks left. In saying this, I’m not going to hold a rope at my own throat. If I don’t finish in the next few weeks I’m not going to make myself feel like a failure. I have a planned deadline that I don’t want to go over (and I don’t think I will unless I come down with dreaded writer’s block), but as long as the draft is mostly done by the end of the month, I’ll be happy enough.

This is just an update as to where I’m at with my NaNo novel (honestly I didn’t think I’d get this far). Once I get the first draft polished, I plan on re-reading it and making more changes, then I’ll approach an agent and publishers. After that, I’m going to go back to my initial story (check out my M.A.D. section to find out more about my first attempt at writing a novel) and create a proper outline for it (I think I’ve finally abandoned the ‘pantser’ life). Then for Camp NaNoWriMo I’m going to try for 50k again!

Phew.

That’s the plan. Fingers crossed for me!

Christmas Book Haul • Books To Read In January

As an adult, I don’t get as much for Christmas as I used to, but I still received some great books from family and friends that I’m really looking forward to reading this January.

I mentioned to my friend that I wanted book 1 in the Grisha trilogy, Shadow and Bone, and it turned out she was my Secret Santa so I finally got my hands on it. My luck is never usually that good! I half-expected to get a generic shower and body set, but this is infinitely better!

My mammy got me The Spire (which I’ve wanted for months!) and Paper Girls 2, which she got for a great discount off Book Depository (a fantastic site to buy books), and another friend of mine got me The Legend of Eli Monpress from eBay. Unfortunately, it’s a little damaged even though he paid for a version supposedly in excellent condition so he’s going to try and get his money back. I don’t mind about some damage as long as I get to read it, so no worries on my end!

christmas book haul

I got Flashfall from December’s Fairy Loot and it looks right up my street. It’s nice to have a TBR list for every month during my book challenge as it gives the year a bit more structure. For 2017, I’ve dropped my goal a little and I’m aiming to read 30 books; I’m absolutely positive I’ll reach it, and if I exceed it then all the better.

Flashfall by Jenny Moyer 

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner, Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

The Spire by Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely 

The Spire is a mountain of metal and stone that rises out of the middle of the desert, containing a vast city of twisting tunnels, grinding elevators, and ancient machinery, and home to over a million human and non-human residents. Sha, the last of the Medusi, is responsible for keeping watch over them as Commander of the City Watch, despite the fact she isn’t shown any respect due to her race. When a string of grisly murders is committed just as a new Baroness of the Spire is about to be sworn in, Sha will have to find the serial killer and bring them to justice. But the new Baroness has a deep hatred of non-humans, and Sha will have more than one enemy at her back.

The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron 

Eli Monpress is talented. He’s charming. And he’s a thief.

But not just any thief. He’s the greatest thief of the age – and he’s also a wizard. And with the help of his partners – a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls – he’s going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he’ll need to steal some big things. But he’ll start small for now. He’ll just steal something that no one will miss – at least for a while.
Like a king.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Paper Girls 2 by Brian K. Vaughan

The smash-hit series from BRIAN K. VAUGHAN and CLIFF CHIANG continues with a bold new direction, as intrepid young newspaper deliverers Erin, Mac, and Tiffany find themselves launched from 1988 to a distant and terrifying future…the year 2016.

All blurbs from Goodreads! 

What books are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

Fairyloot Unboxing December 2016 • Sci-Fi Adventure

As you probably know, I’m a big fan of Fairy Loot, and even though I’ve only received two boxes total, I would still heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a quality bookscription box. Unfortunately, I don’t have the spare funds to buy it every month, but hopefully in the next couple of months I’ll be able to subscribe again. For now, however, I’ll be pining from afar.

fairy loot december

I received December’s box a couple of weeks ago but didn’t take the time to put up any information on it (my bad!), which is a shame as I filmed a video on November’s Royals And Rogues box, which you can find on my YouTube channel.

This month’s theme was Sci-Fi Adventure and I really enjoyed the contents! I’m not hugely keen on receiving Pop Funkos in boxes because a lot of the bigger boxes all have that and they just seem very similar to me; there’s so little that’s unique about them anymore and quality takes a nose dive. I don’t want that to happen to Fairy Loot, but I think it was a one-time thing for Christmas and the release of Rogue One.

fairy loot december

I got a Stormtrooper (although I would’ve LOVED C-3P0) and I’ll count my lucky stars I didn’t get Rey (as I accidentally have two of her!) He now sits proudly on top of my vanity table, guarding my makeup from any rebels looking to steal setting powder.

I also received Kryptonite bath powder from Geeky Clean. I actually got the October horror box from GC and loved it. It’s cruelty free (and vegan!) and the company has a huge range of sweet smelling wonders. Apparently the kryptonite smells like cupcakes but unfortunately it can’t weaken Superman. You’ll have to get REAL kryptonite for that!

I also got a pair of galaxy socks which are very cute, although I think they’re made of polyester which isn’t the most feet-friendly material. However, they’re nice to look at and lounge around in on a cold day! They’re exclusive to Fairy Loot as well, which is nice.

The Starbound trilogy makes an appearance in this box (which unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to read yet!) in the form of an exclusive watercolour bookmark by Lexy Olivia. Also included are art prints and buttons which were designed exclusively for the box by Taratjah. One of the prints features the boys from the Lunar Chronicles and the buttons feature Darrow and Sevro from the Red Rising trilogy.

fairy loot december

Bonus items include a sampler for Way Down Dark (which, to be honest, I’m not remotely interested in) a Red Rising art print and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet art print as well. The people who put the box together also included a Christmas postcard, which was a cute touch. It’s nice to see the faces behind the business.

Finally, the book is a blend of sci-fi and rebellion. Flashfall by Jenny Moyer is the first in a new series that apparently features strong characters and is set in a unique world. Let’s hope that promise is fulfilled! It came with a signed bookplate, letter and bookmark from the author, of course.

I’m excited to get stuck in and hopefully add Flashfall to my new #30kbookchallenge for 2017. Here’s hoping it’s a good one! I’ll be sure to post a review whenever I’m finished.

I hope everyone had a wonderful new year!

FairyLoot Unboxing November 2016 • Royals And Rogues

I just published my third video on my YouTube channel, but it’s the first one where I’ve shown my face so that’s new! I’m hoping to work on my channel in 2017 but I’ll publish one or two by the end of the year just to get things going.

I recently cancelled my Owlcrate subscription so that I could try out FairyLoot (I couldn’t justify buying both at the same time!). I went for FairyLoot because I couldn’t believe the amount of items included in each box and their high quality. I was with Owlcrate for almost a year before I cancelled and I noticed that I just wasn’t that excited when my boxes came anymore. And I’m a person who REALLY loves getting mail! The quality of the products seemed to decline; perhaps that’s just me, but it’s something I noticed.

Cutting to the chase, I’m really glad that I subscribed. In this month’s box, I got a Queen of Books mug which was designed exclusively for FairyLoot and themed tea (earl grey) was also included with some little filters. I don’t usually use loose tea leaves but I’m excited to give it a go! The last time I drank earl grey was when I worked in a comic store when I was 14 and my boss bought it for me to try. Maybe it’ll be nostalgic!

I also got a gorgeous black and gold Calipha pocket mirror which was another exclusive item inspired by The Wrath and The Dawn duology, and a Queen of Terrasen notepad. It was apparently hand lettered by Alexis Lampley and the design was inspired by the Throne of Glass series. I always bring a notebook with me when I head out and this pretty little one is the perfect size for my handbag!

There was also an item inspired by the featured book, Nemesis by Anna Banks, which features carnivorous mermaids, war, romance and an energy source called spectorium, which is what inspired the item included. It’s a purple soap in the shape of crystals. I thought that taking the featured book and its world into consideration was a really nice touch.

A signed bookplate, author letter and parani sketch were included as well as two art prints inspired by Red Queen. Not a bad haul!

Check out my full unboxing video below: 

All in all, I’m really impressed with the box and I’m definitely staying signed up for the foreseeable future!

If you’re interested in this box, check out their website here, but be warned: there’s a waiting list so prepare yourself for a bit of a wait.

REVIEW • OWLCRATE UNBOXING OCTOBER 2016 – ONCE UPON A DREAM

October’s Owlcrate arrived a few days ago but I was in Lithuania at the time so I only got around to opening it today. It’s lovely coming back to mail, particularly when that mail contains a glossy new book with some cool accessories!

In this month’s box I received a fabric button bookmark from My Heart My Tribe. I got a black and white one which I’m delighted about because I know there was a blue one too but I wouldn’t have liked it as much. Black and white goes with everything!

owlcrate october 2016

I also got a passport notebook from The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild. There were some pretty fun details included inside that are reminiscent of the movies, which was a nice touch. I’ll add it to my pile of little notebooks I haven’t yet used! You can never have enough!

Owlcrate collaborated again with The Geeky Cauldron to create a bangle charm bracelet inspired by Sleeping Beauty. Personally, that movie scares the crap out of me (the fireplace with the green ball and THAT MUSIC still haunts me to this day). The bracelet is exclusive but it’s not really my cup of tea. It’s still quite nice though, particularly for a fan of the Disney movie!

owlcrate october 2016

I really liked the green beanie from Whosits & Whatsits inspired by the Lost Boys in Neverland. There’s a cute little red feather embroidered on the front and the colours are just perfect coming in to fall and winter.

Finally, the book I received is called Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, and it came with a signed bookplate and an exclusive tattoo. The book is a darkly atmospheric tale about the magic that occurs in the middle of the night. Based on Russian folklore, this is the tale of Vassa and her magical wooden doll Erg as they try to survive working the night shift at an incredibly ‘imagery’. It sounds really interesting so I’m excited to start reading it this week!

owlcrate october 2016

Overall, the box was pleasant but not very inspiring. I haven’t felt very excited about a box for a few months now so it may be time to move on to another subscription box.

I think this might be one of my last Owlcrates as I’m eager to switch over to Fairy Loot. It’s a little cheaper and the contents seem to be of higher quality so I might continue getting boxes until December and then switch.

Did you get the box this month? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!