Outlining A Novel And Getting… Somewhere • Writing Thoughts

I’m a pantser. Always have been, and probably always will be. Recently, I’ve taken a more ‘pantser/outliner’ approach, particularly in the last month. What I’ve discovered is that it definitely helps me visualise the big picture a lot better, and I give it the good ol’ college try, but ultimately I go back to old habits.

I’m not saying winging it is a bad thing, it can be a fantastic way for your characters to meander and for you as the author to explore their personalities, but when it comes to putting together a 70k+ novel, you can’t just be a pantser (though I believe Stephen King would disagree with me here).

pantsing author

I’m nearly finished my first draft. I have about 20k left to write (approximately) and with my word goal of 1k per day, I believe I’ll have a wonderfully messy, infuriatingly scattered manuscript ready for editing by the end of the month. However, I’m several weeks away from my deadline and I still don’t have an ending.

Something about picking a path for my characters to walk that leads to the end of the book is terrifying to me. What if I get it wrong? What if I have a solid book up until the last few chapters and I screw it up at the final hour? That’s the kind of thinking that stops any half decent writer from getting anywhere; fear. Useless, taunting fear that offers absolutely no benefits to an aspiring writer. All it does is make you stumble and stall and, for some unlucky souls, it can make you quit.

pantsing author

While I’ve been half-pantsing and half-outlining my novel from almost the very start, but I have a hope that it isn’t too late to get my thoughts together in the form of a clear, concise outline. I have my beginning, my middle and now I just need a solid ending, so that’s my plan for tomorrow. I’m going to sit down with a pen and paper and plot out what’s going to happen to my characters; who’s going to live, who will die and what shocking event is going to happen to bleed into the sequel.

Are you a pantser or an outliner? Which do you prefer and why? Comment below!

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 SEPTEMBER 2016 – DARKNESS

September’s Owlcrate box, which has a ‘DARKNESS’ theme, has arrived and once again I’m really happy with the contents. I was surprised that the company decided to go for this theme in September rather than October what with Halloween, but I think it’s because some of the other subscription boxes have been quite similar lately and Owlcrate might have been trying to get in there early and avoid that next month.

‘ONCE UPON A DREAM’ is the October theme so it’ll be interesting to see what they include to match the theme. I hope it’s not too airy fairy!

In this month’s box, I got a candle inspired by Throne of Glass, a very popular and highly rated series that I haven’t gotten around to reading just yet. The candle itself is apparently an exclusive from The Melting Library but unfortunately the sticker on mine is a little worn and I’m not crazy about the scent, but I’m sure it would be a favourite item of people familiar with the series.

Owlcrate September 2016

I also got some merchandise for Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children, which is another book on my TBR list. The merch I got was a canvas pouch featuring a spooky quote from the novel by Out Of Print. The movie is coming out very soon so it’s not surprising that this item was included. I’m a big fan of cute little bags and as I have an ever-expanding makeup brush collection, this will definitely come in handy!

I also got a bath fizzer from Da Bomb which is apparently a fortune teller type product. You ask a question that’s been on your mind, toss the fizzer in the bath water and wait for the answer to appear. Definitely a fun product – I can’t wait to use it!

I also received an exclusive bookmark from Evie Bookish featuring a quote from Six of Crows. I love a good bookmark and it’s bang on theme for October so I’m happy with it even though I haven’t read the book. Speaking of books (finally!), I received two in this crate, one of which is called Remade (apparently it’s an ongoing episodal book – it looks quite interesting) and the main book, called Three Dark Crowns.

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The story, by Kendare Blake, is about three sisters who are each blessed with unique powers but also cursed with the need to fight the others to their death in order to claim the crown of their kingdom. The idea sounds quite cool and I’ve already got stuck in (only 11 pages but still…) so I hope to have a review up in the next few days.

Unfortunately, I was unlucky this month because most of the products were inspired by series that I haven’t read yet, however it does give me a bit of a kick in the butt to tackle my TBR list.

Overall it was a great box and I’m excited to try out all the new things I received.

Did you get this month’s box? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Books Read In August 2016 • #50BOOKSCHALLENGE

August was a total disaster reading-wise unfortunately. I won’t feel too bad about it, however, as it was a lot to do with the fact that I was concentrating on writing my novel and I was also finishing up at my job (which I recently quit to focus on writing).

Nevertheless, I got two books read:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 

The Cursed Child I was waiting to get my hands on this book for a long time. Since I heard the script of The Cursed Child would be released to the public, I was totally ecstatic and couldn’t wait to get my paws on a new Potter story. Although I know a lot of people were disappointed with the story and the execution, I was happy enough after reading it. I went into it knowing that it was a play script and not a novel or a story in the traditional sense, so I think that allowed me to enjoy it a lot more.

The main problem I had was when I was imagining the events in my head; I constantly jumped back and forth between the actors who were cast in the play and the actors from the films. This was incredibly distracting for me, as in the past whenever I read a Potter book I imagined how everything happened very clearly. I know myself that the play will be an entirely different experience and easy to visualise because, well, it’ll unfold right before my eyes.

I enjoyed the book for what it is, but I can’t see myself re-reading it anytime soon.

Brain Fetish

Brain Fetish I picked up this graphic novel while browsing the artists’ alley at Dublin Comic Con. Truthfully, the only reason I picked it up was because of how awesome the cover is. Seriously, it’s so original I love it! I didn’t know going into it that it’s a book on relationship advice, but that was a pleasant surprise as I sat down to read it.

I really like the simple illustrations and there are a lot of Maus vibes (though Brain Fetish is far from the genius of Maus to be completely honest). I enjoyed the book and it’s something that I would go back to read if I was having trouble in my relationship. I’d also recommend it to friends who were going through the same trouble, as the advice is sound albeit from an anecdotal source. Overall, it’s a good graphic novel with plenty of interesting gems in it – an ideal read for someone looking to make some life changes.

Book count: 30/50 

What did you read in August? Let me know in the comments!

Books Read In June And July 2016 • #50BOOKSCHALLENGE

It’s safe to say I’ve been absolutely terrible at keeping up with my lists to track my reading progress, but I’ll get away with it by saying I’ve been too busy reading!

Low Volume 1: The Delirium of Hope 

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 21.40.23The art in this is absolutely stunning, but the story is fantastic as well so it was overall just almost perfect. It’s about a woman trying to save her children and her world from being destroyed by the forces of nature and a corrupt government which has given up. It has plenty to offer; a nasty villain, heart break, characters coming back from the brink and beautiful world building. It’s a must-read! Though it has a lot of sex and nakedness so top tip: don’t read it on the bus!

The Pro Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 21.44.58

I read this years ago when I worked in a comic book store but I hadn’t gone near it again until recently. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure graphic novel. It’s about a prostitute who also has superpowers and she struggles to juggle dealing with scumbag clients, her newborn child and being a part of a goody-two-shoes superhero group. Plenty of fun, but it’s explicit so be warned.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 21.43.23Bitch Planet Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine 

This is a great female character-driven story about prisoners just trying to survive in an environment that’s trying to change everything about them, everything unique, everything that makes them who they are. If you like Orange is the New Black, this is a great book for you, plus there’s the bonus of no Piper Chapman!

They’re Not Like Us Volume 1: Black Holes For the Young Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 21.43.55

This is very similar to X-Men in that there’s a bunch of young people with superpowers in a house together with a powerful guy in charge. However, this story takes a much darker turn and explores some very cool (and disturbing) aspects of humanity and being “different”.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 21.44.31Paper Girls Volume 1 

If you like Stranger Things on Netflix, then you’ll love Paper Girls. It has some gorgeous art and it follows the same kind of theme of aliens on earth as well as time travel. It’s charming, easy to read and easy to like. The main characters are newspaper delivery girls in the 80s who come across some pretty weird shit. A huge thumbs up from me!

This Savage Song Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 21.43.36

I got this in July’s Owlcrate and I immediately got stuck in because it’s written by V. E. Schwab, who is one of my favourite authors. It’s about monsters and humans and a truce that’s about to collapse and plunge the city into war once again. The two main characters are great and they don’t live up to their first impressions, they surpass them. Kate is surprising and August is a sweetheart, and I can’t wait until book two is released. The musical aspect to the story and the types of monster are so unique; I love to see that kind of ingenuity from writers.

Book count: 28/50

REVIEW • OWLCRATE UNBOXING JUNE 2016 – ROYALTY

I currently subscribe to Geek Fuel, Sci Fi Block, Owlcrate and Fandom of the Month Club and although I’ve been thinking about cancelling the other three, I can’t see myself getting rid of Owlcrate any time soon; it’s too good.

I love a bargain and while subscription boxes aren’t really seen as a good deal, I feel that Owlcrate is great value for money. Not only does it brighten my day, it allows me to check out debut books from authors I may not have come across otherwise.

The theme for June was ‘ROYALTY’. Now while this theme didn’t exactly leave me shivering with excitement, Owlcrate almost always comes through, so I figured I’d be optimistic.

Owlcrate June Royalty

The book I received is My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows. The cover itself is incredibly striking, with a huge neon pink font that takes up the whole picture. With little notes like ‘It’s not easy being queen’ and ‘Off with her head!’, I was excited to see what this book is all about.

New York Times bestselling author, Tahereh Mafi, described the book as “The Tudors meets Monty Python. Prepare to laugh and gasp and clutch your pearls.” Being compared to Monty Python is big, and it’s a huge factor in why I’m so excited to read it.

The actual blurb on the back states: “Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger – and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.” Personally, this kind of premise just isn’t my cup of tea, but from what I’ve read about the unique little tid bits as well as comedy and fantasy, it definitely has potential. I’ve read my fair share of crappy blurbs and ended up loving the book. #CantJudgeABlurb

Owlcrate June Royalty

As well as a book, there is a note from the authors. I find this debut interesting as it’s not often you see three authors helming the one book. It reminds me of the times my friends and I came up with grand book ideas as kids and wrote the first few pages on an old Dell. It’s great to see a writing team get a book published so props to them!

There is also a very pretty crown made out of card included and, I must say, it puts Christmas cracker crowns to absolute shame. I’ll probably pop it on when I’m feeling fancy!

There was also a bracelet handmade by Rich Love Shoppe which was inspired by The Lunar Chronicles. It fits perfectly and I love the pewter shade of the jewellery; I usually wear black so this will go with everything. There’s a quote encased in glass as the jewel on the band and it reads ‘Even in the future the story begins with once upon a time’. Love it.

Owlcrate June Royalty

No ‘royalty’ themed box could be complete without some reference to Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, and the beautiful print by Evie Bookish is gorgeous. It states ‘Words can lie. See beyond them’ in lovely curly font.

There is also a discount code for a bookmark from mybookmark-shop.com so I’ll have to check out the styles later. Not that I’d need to, really, as a very cute set of exclusive magnetic bookmarks from Craftedvan was included featuring a purple tinted king and queen with their carriage. Adorable!

I also received a mystery mini from Funko with a princess theme. I ended up getting Cinderella! It’s quite cute, but I can see it ending up in the bottom of a drawer somewhere. I would’ve loved to get Jasmine or Snow White!

Owlcrate June Royalty

All in all, I really enjoyed this box and I look forward to getting stuck into that book! Next month’s theme is Good Vs Evil which I am ecstatic about! However, I’m a little worried because there was a sneak peak included and it’s now been revealed that there will be a full size POP Funko in the next box.

Although I think these are fine, things have gotten a bit crazy, and now every subscription box seems to have one. They’re the TY toys of this generation and I’m worried that it’ll lower the quality of the rest of the box. I hope this is a once off!

Did you get this month’s box? Let me know in the comments!

Book Themed Gifts • Wishlist

It’s nearly the end of the month and that means pay day! Instead of investing my money or saving it or putting it towards a deposit for an apartment, I usually make the (somewhat unwise) decision to spend it on treats for myself! Hey, nobody’s perfect.

To prevent myself from spending too much on stuff I really don’t need (but really do want!), I write out a list of my favourites and pick one or two to buy. Not a bad system, right?

Readers Gonna Read Enamel Pin 

This pin is so cute! Generally I wouldn’t wear badges but I think pins are lovely, plus they don’t have to be pinned on your person – they look just as nice on a bag or scarf or on your curtains. The phrase ‘readers gonna read’ is aces and it’s only 10 quid PLUS shipping. I must have it!

1lit

Custom Shakespeare Necklace – Recycled Book Jewelry 

It would be incredibly hard to pick my favourite line of Hamlet (I’m also not going to jump for ‘To be or not to be, that is the question!’) though ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be’ comes pretty close to being my favourite.

As a huge fan of Hamlet as a character, I would love the rose gold pendant that says ‘Enter Romeo’ so I think that’s the winner here.

2lit

Lunar Chronicles Inspired Candle Collection 

You can never have too many candles! Unless you live in a wooden house… then you should probably cut back. These mini candles have really interesting scents and they’re based off the Lunar Chronicles series. I’ve only read Cinder so far but I’ll be starting the next in the series very soon.

cinder

Lord of the Rings Inspired ‘Straight Outta Mordor’ Shirt 

I know the whole ‘Straight Outta…’ thing is kind of past its sell-by date, but I’d buy this ‘Straight Outta Mordor’ shirt anyway. Haters be damned!

 

4lit straight outta mordor

Lord of the Rings Mug Color Changing Mug LOTR Cup 

I recently received a heat activated Kylo Ren cup for my birthday but someone in my house put it in the dishwasher and it was pretty much destroyed. I think this would be the perfect replacement! Plus isn’t it just gorgeous to look at?

5lit cup