2017 (!)

Image from: http://lucillemichieli.tumblr.com/

I can’t believe that it’s 2017 already. Where did the time go? This means that I am out of excuses, since I’ve been saying that this year is when I will get back to writing and get my stuff into gear.

So, I need to make a plan. A writing/editing plan. Keeping in mind of course the available time I have, and my limitations in regards to my chronic pain and fatigue. I don’t want to have another burn out, but I also don’t want another year of doing virtually no writing. This is it. I’m going to publish at least one of my books this year. It “only” needs some editing. (I say “only”, because it needs a lot of editing and editing is hard work.)

I don’t really want to do New Year’s Resolutions, as I don’t necessarily believe in the whole “new year, new me”-thing. But I would like to put some goals up for the year.

  • Create a writing/editing schedule and stick to it.
  • New blog theme, including a new header. I find it difficult to choose something I like. It needs to be easy to read while also easy on the eyes, and not too boring.
  • Get better at commenting on other blogs.
  • Read more books (maybe review them?).
  • Finish up my short stories.
  • Publish first book (self-publish as e-book) before the end of the year.

Non writing/blog related ones are:

  • Start getting rid of and sorting through all the boxes of stuff just “hanging around”.
  • Finally sort out the closet in the hallway. It’s a mess!
  • Figure out a better way to store things in the kitchen. It’s small and I desperately need to figure out better solutions to fit things!
  • Home improvements (lots of rooms need painting etc. and we’ve been here a year now, no more excuses!).

What are your goals/resolutions for 2017?

Gift Ideas for Writers and Readers

With the holidays coming up, I thought it might be nice to share some gift ideas for your friends or family members that are writers, readers – or both!

lunchbox

How about this Lunch Box Book from The Literary Gift Company? I wouldn’t mind bringing this beauty to work. You can find it in three different colours. If you don’t like that, The Literary Gift Company has a whole site filled with amazing gift ideas for the literary connoisseur.

mugA coffee mug for the coffee-drinking writer from Zazzle.

kindle-cover

Marston Bindery makes these amazing covers for Kindles and other e-readers that look like real books. This one is the original look of the first publication of Pride & Prejudice, but they have lots of other ones as well.

notebook

Or why not a beautiful notebook for jotting down all of those plot ideas that come to you at the oddest of times? This particular one is from Etsy.

hp-pillow

You can never have enough throw pillows, right? (Not right, according to my partner who has forbidden me from buying any more, but what does he know?) Here’s one in the shape of a Hogwarts letter, for all those of us who waited for ours in vain… And if you don’t want that, there are so many amazing things that you can find at Society6.

poe-mug

Another mug, because like throw pillows; you can never have enough! This one has Edgar Allan Poe quotes, but they have several other mugs and a lot of other fun bits and bobs as well over at the Writers Store.

socks

You could always wear a pair of socks that lets your surrounding know that you’re deep in a book and should not be disturbed, except of course to bring you your wine.

iphone6

An iPhone case that looks like the classic Moby Dick. I have one that looks like a generic book from BookBook, but this one is lovely as well.

There are many, many more gifts ideas out there for readers and writers, but I have to stop somewhere, and I think we’ve reached the end, at least for now.

Does any one else have any good gift ideas for writers and/or readers?

A White Rose (part 1)

An old story, written a very long time ago. Published for the Repository, so that I can collect all the old writing in one place.

The sun’s last beams gave the old city a warm glow, but that didn’t make Ereptus feel any more comfortable. He’d left the city years ago, to never return, but now he’d felt obligated to come back. An old friend had asked him to, and since Ereptus owed him his life, he couldn’t ignore the summon when it had come.

Few people were still outside, so Ereptus could easily walk down the streets and alleys without being seen. He didn’t want to bump into any of the people he’d had time to upset while he lived there. Walking down a back alley he heard some muffled shouts and the sounds of a subdued fight. Against better judgment he turned towards the noise and saw two men who were attacking a young girl. The girl was skinny, but she fought well.

Normally Ereptus would just leave the scene. He’d made a habit of staying out of other people’s business, but something about the girl’s desperate, yet futile, resistance made him step closer. The girl caught sight of him then, in between kicking one of the men in the groin, and grabbing the other’s hair making him scream. Ereptus froze.

The girl must be young, not a day over fifteen, but probably younger still. What caught him most by surprise though were her eyes. They were a pale green, so pale that they seemed more yellow than green. He’d never seen such eyes before and they completely captivated him.

Then the moment of stillness was over; both men had recovered from their current states and were advancing on the girl again. Ereptus then did something he’d never done before. He stepped in to help the girl. With a few swift movements, he had the two men unconscious on the ground. One didn’t spend a whole life living on the streets without acquiring some useful tricks.

(more…)

Pinterest

A few years after everyone else, I finally discovered Pinterest. While it’s definitely something that makes you feel inadequate, it’s also great for inspiration and ideas. I’ve started boards for some of my writing, as well as for general use.

If you’d like to keep an eye on my Pinterest, you can find it here.

Amongst other things, I have boards for:

Writing Help
Writing Help
Inspiration for Home
Inspiration for Home
Writing Inspiration / Quotes
Writing Inspiration / Quotes

 

Time Lost

I feel like life is moving at a grueling pace some days, and other days seem to go on forever. No, that’s not quite it. While at work, the day never seems to end, but because I’m so tired my spare time is over in a snooze (quite literally). Suddenly another week has passed, and I still haven’t accomplished anything.

My tiredness seem to have gotten worse again. Maybe it’s the time of year. Everything is darker. Colder.

I force myself out of bed in the morning, I go to work, I make it through the day… Then I get home and I struggle to stay awake. Most days I don’t manage, and I end up sleeping for a couple of hours. Precious hours when I should be doing other things, but I just can’t keep my eyes open.

tired-cat

On a positive note, it’s only three more weeks of school until the Christmas holiday. Two glorious weeks off!

I went to the hospital a week ago for a blood draw. Never been fond of needles, but as long as I don’t look I’m fine. This time I jumped when the nurse jabbed me, and she said “you’ve obviously had a bad experience”. My last experience was the daily blood draw they did in the hospital last summer when I had that surgery that went so very, very wrong. When my veins kept blowing from the blood draw and IV, and my arm looked like I’d joined the local Fight Club.

That little comment from the nurse was all that was needed to bring it all back, and to my mortification I broke into tears. She was very understanding though, just got me a few tissues and let me have a few minutes before calling the next patient. I never expected to have that kind of reaction, since I’ve always managed my blood draws okay in the past, despite the fear of needles.

Another positive note, turns out my values are all fine. No more monthly injections! The mal-absorption issue seems to have sorted itself out. Go me!

go-me

Lastly, I’ve started another blog. I know. I know. I’m like a serial blogger. Not in that I write lots of blog posts (I wish!), but in that I keep making new ones. It’s supposed to be focused a bit more on my writing, because I felt like the title of this blog might put some people off. I don’t know. Maybe the blog addict in me just wanted another blog. I could just put everything on that one, but I suspect no one’s really interested in my random ramblings. (Not that I think they’re particularly interested in my writing and rambling about that, really.) I just like to keep my ramblings for posterity, or something. It’s quite nice to be able to go back 10 years through my blog posts and see what I’ve been up to. It’s like an online journal/diary.

If anyone wants to check it out, it’s http://thestrugglingwriter.com and I even made it a Facebook page. Because… I could? It’s nice for posting random pictures and things that don’t deserve its own post.

Okay, that’s enough rambling for today.

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Tonight I went to the cinema to see the new JK Rowling movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

It’s not really a Harry Potter prequel or sequel per se, but it does take place in the Harry Potter universe. To be exact, about 70 years before the first Harry Potter book. I’m a big HP fan, so I admittedly am somewhat biased when it comes to this movie. If you come into this movie with no knowledge of the HP universe, you can still enjoy it as a good movie – but I think that you definitely get a lot more out of the movie if you do know the universe that you’re stepping into a bit. There are some little nods to the original books, but the story can hold up quite well on its own.

fantasticbeastsposter

The story is about Newt Scamander, who you might remember from the original books as the author of the book “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them“, that Harry and his class mates study in school. I find it quite amazing how JK Rowling has taken a tiny reference in the original books, and made a whole new series out of it.

Newt, a British wizard, is having a brief stop in New York with his case full of magical creatures. It would have been a brief and uneventful visit, had the case not gotten lost and some of the creatures escaped. We get to see Newt trying to get his beasts back, while trying to avoid getting into trouble with the Magical Congress (American version of Ministry of Magic), and things quite quickly get out of hand.

There’s a lot more to the story than I originally thought, and I really enjoyed delving deeper into the wizard world. It’s also interesting seeing the differences between the British/European wizard world and the American one. The cinematography is beautiful, and the beasts themselves a combination of adorable, imaginative and impressive.

Eddie Redmayne is a brilliant Newt Scamander, and I must say that I really enjoyed Colin Farrell as Graves. Dan Fogler deserves a mention as well, as the “no-maj” (American name for a “muggle”) that ends up entangled in Newt’s mess, and allows us to see things from his eyes in a world that he didn’t know existed.

I don’t want to say too much about the movie, because I don’t want to risk spoiling it. There are a few things about it that bothered me, but because they are mainly in regards to plot twists and things that happen later in the movie, I won’t get into them here.

All in all, I think it’s a film that’s definitely worth seeing, especially if you enjoy the world of Harry Potter.

Has anyone else seen the movie? What did you think?

Day of Fare Well

An old story, written a very long time ago. Published for the Repository, so that I can collect all the old writing in one place.

It was a dull and grey day with rain pelting the large windows of the spacious country house. Apart from the smattering of the rain the villa seemed eerily quiet and subdued with not a single light lit. Sara felt cold and slightly uncomfortable where she was standing in the hall with her back towards the living room. Without having looked she knew that her parents would be on opposite sides of the house; they had been for several days now. Rather than seeking each other’s comfort they had secluded themselves in their own misery.

Looking to the tall, blond man at her side Sara made a nod towards one side of the house.

“My mother will be there,” she said quietly. It felt odd to speak when the house was so quiet, as if she was disturbing a sacred realm of silence.

The man who had not left her side the past few days nodded.

“You know what you must do,” he said. “I will leave you now.”

Overwhelmed by a sudden fear of being left alone Sara turned her head sharply and screamed. “No! Don’t leave me! Did you hear me? I said no!”

She tried to grab hold of him but he had already catapulted out of reality, leaving her alone in the chilly hall. For the past few days he had not left her side and it felt as if a part of her had disappeared with him. Rubbing the cold skin on her arm she hesitantly started to walk towards the bedroom where she knew that her mother would be.

In the bedroom her mother was sitting on the bed propped up against the headboard. Her face was devoid of make-up and her hair hadn’t been washed for several days. A half empty box of tissues was lying on the bed next to her, and a photo frame was lying on the floor with its face down, having been dropped as her mother nodded off. Even unwashed and with the obvious streaks from tears on her face one could see that the woman on the bed was attractive. She looked restful in her slumber, but there was no mistaking the sadness in her features.

Sara knelt to pick up the photo frame on the floor. Taking a look at it she found that it was a picture of the family taken last summer when they had visited the Grand Canyon. Her parents looked very happy and very much in love, both holding an arm around Sara who was standing in the middle. Placing the photo frame gently in her mother’s lap Sara leaned forward and kissed her softly on the cheek.

“Everything will be all right,” she promised in a whisper.

Her mother shifted restlessly in her sleep, but as her hand found the photo frame she settled down again. Sara quietly left the room.

Making her way across the house she avoided the living room and went to her father’s study. As she had expected her father was sitting behind his desk with his elbows propped on the surface and his face buried in his hands. A glass and an almost empty bottle of brandy were the only things on the desk, everything else had been shoved off in a fit of temper and was lying scattered on the floor.
Her father had always been a handsome man, but it almost seemed as if his salt and pepper hair had turned more salt than pepper in the past few days. Sara moved silently to her father’s side and touched his shoulder gently, but he didn’t react. Leaning closer Sara whispered in his ear.

“Don’t worry. Everything is fine,” she breathed softly. “Take care of mom, she needs you. And you need her. Don’t forget that.”

As her father stirred slightly Sara moved away, but he didn’t make any sign of having heard her. Then he stood up and ran a hand through his ruffled hair, looking sadly out the door towards the other side of the house. Sara took a few steps further away as he moved around the desk and started walking. Following him silently across the house Sara watched as he stopped for a second to glance into the living room before he continued to the bedroom at the end of the hall. Sara stood quietly by the entrance to the living room and watched as her father tenderly roused her mother from her sleep.
The two adults looked at each other for a moment in silence and then embraced, holding on as if they would never again let go. Sara felt a little warmer, the house was finally coming back to life. Turning to the living room she went inside and continued to the room’s current main feature.

The open mahogany casket was placed in the middle of the room and was flanked by two large flower wreaths. Sara looked at her own pale form lying inside the casket and felt a small stab of pain at having to leave this world. Yet she was grateful that her many months of pain were finally over, and her parents had finally found their way back to each other.

“Are you ready?” The tall man who had stood guard by her bed as her life slipped away had returned to stand by her side before the casket.

Sara nodded and took the man’s offered hand. As he closed his fingers around hers she felt an odd tingling in her body as the world around her began to dissolve for another kind of reality.

The Repository

Posts marked as Repository are old stories and poems that I’m putting on here for safekeeping. One of my hard drives blew up, and I lost most of my old stories. Fortunately a friend had copies of some, and I found another few on an old website. As I go through them and format them I will be dumping them on here.

They’re nearly all written when I was a teenager, so my writing isn’t the best (then again, it still isn’t, I’m always working on getting better), but you’re all welcome to read them.

I have made a page on the site, also called Repository, where I will link to each new post in the category so that they’ll be easy to find. There I will also put a tiny bit of information about the story.

 

I need a plan

Since I’ve decided that 2017 is the year that I’m going for it in regards to getting a novel published (most likely self-published as an e-book, but I will write more about that another day), I need to start making a plan on how to go about it.

In fact, I really need two plans. The first one being how to get my manuscript edited and ready for publication, the second one being a general writing plan. A schedule, basically. I need to figure out how to fit writing into my life again.

I started this blog a little bit before 2017 as a means to get me back into the writing habit, even if only to blog for now, and to start said planning.

My first step will have to be to find a dedicated time for writing. This is most likely the most difficult part, and I admire writers who seem to be able to sit down and just get it done. I need to work on becoming one of them!

My weekends and evenings are generally free, minus two nights a week. The biggest issue for me is probably energy, rather than time. When I get back from work I’m usually knackered, and I often end up falling asleep. I suspect this is because of my chronic fatigue, in that I have a limited amount of energy and work tends to drain all of it. Still, if I can somehow push through it – that’s easily an hour or two every day that I could write rather than sleep.

Me, after work.
Me, after work.

I think that’s going to be my goal. Limit the sleeping (anyone have any tips on how to stay awake?) and use that extra time to write.

Step two will be to figure out how to split my time writing between the things I want to write/do. There’s the editing/proofreading and formatting that needs to be done on the finished manuscript(s), as well as the writing I would like to do on new projects. I don’t think it’s good to do only editing and proofreading, one also needs to do some writing and get the juices flowing. And after all this time, I definitely need to practice writing again!

What I need to do!
What I need to do!

The Love of Reading

I love reading, always have, and I would like to think that being an avid reader also makes one a better writer. By reading you expand your vocabulary, you learn the rules of writing and sentence building, and you can get inspiration.

A writer that doesn’t read is missing out on something very vital. You have to study your art if you want to create something. That goes for everything, not just writing.

I don’t read as much as I used to, partly for lack of time and partly for lack of energy, but I do try do read as much as I can. My favourite genre is of course the one that I write myself; Historical Romance, more specifically Regency set romance. I read a lot of other genres as well though, anything from fiction to humour, from horror to fantasy. I won’t lie though, most of what I read will be romances.

Lately I’ve tried to expand my romance reading from nearly exclusively historical romance to contemporary. I don’t like it as much, but I have found quite a few good stories.

eyesofthedragonGrowing up my switch from children’s books to adult books came early. I think I was eleven or so when I could no longer find anything of interest in my bookshelf or the young adult section of the library. Looking at the large amount of books in my mom’s library I asked her for a suggestion. She gave me Stephen King’s The Eyes of the Dragon, and I loved it. That book got me interested in the fantasy genre, as well as the horror genre as I ended up reading most of King’s books.

In the next few years I read nearly all of Stephen Kings books (that had been published up to that point), nearly all of Dean Koontz’ books of the same genre. I also got very interested in fantasy, and devoured the books of David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Tolkien and many others. For a long time, my main discourse when it came to books was horror and fantasy.

I don’t remember who introduced me to romance novels, but it wasn’t until my early to mid-twenties once-an-angelthat I truly fell in love with the genre. It was when I found wonderful authors such as Teresa Medeiros, Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn. This was also around the time that I gave up on trying to write a fantasy novel, and instead focused on writing romance. After writing many stories through my life, I realised that no matter the story – I had characters falling in love, whether I had planned it or not. So in the end, I decided that what I should probably be writing, is romance novels!

That is my story both of me as a reader, and as a writer. I do believe that the two are connected, and I will strive to continue reading as much as I possibly can.

What kind of books got you into reading? Are you still reading the same genres? If you’re a writer, do you mainly write in the same genre that you’re reading?