2018? Wait… What?

I can’t quite believe that it’s 2018 already. Last year went so fast, a lot of things happened, and now it’s suddenly a new year. With even bigger changes happening.

Christmas was spent here in the UK this year. The boyfriend and I have an agreement that we spend every other year here and every other year in Sweden with my family. It was quiet, but nice. On Christmas Eve we visited the boyfriend’s grandmother with a lot of the extended family, then had a nice Swedish-inspired Christmas dinner at home. On Christmas Day we went over to his parents’ house where we spent the day with them, his sister and her husband.

New Year’s I was working, so not much happening there.

I got some lovely Christmas gifts, which I just simply have to show off. I got other nice things as well, but I don’t want to photo spam you too much.

I got some amazing books.
Coasters in the shape of cats!
The boyfriend got me a Kindle!
An owl snow globe! Is it just me, or does it look a bit like Hedwig?
Who doesn’t need a Hogwarts sign with hooks?

Holiday Q&A

This is a holiday themed Q&A hosted by The Blended Blog, but I came across it on Novel Ink. Feel free to join in and answer the questions!

1. Real or fake tree? My preference is always for a real tree, but since moving to the UK, I’ve had to make do with a fake one. I’m hoping to go back to a real tree in the future when we’ve gotten rid of our carpets and have wooden or plastic flooring.

2. Favourite Christmas cookie? Gingerbread cookies!

3. Home on Christmas morning or travel? We celebrate in Sweden every other year, and in the UK every other year, so it varies. But we generally don’t travel on Christmas when we go to Sweden but arrive a day or two before.

4. Clear or Coloured lights? I’m a traditionalist, I have clear lights on everything indoors at least. And a warm light, I can’t stand the icy, cold ones!

5. Send Christmas cards? Sometimes. I try to always send one to my grandma, but as for everyone else it varies from year to year.

6. Favourite Christmas present received? I’ve had so many wonderful gifts throughout the years, that I honestly don’t think I could pick a specific one.

7. Favourite Christmas present given? I love trying to find special gifts, I can’t show any of this year’s gifts yet – so here are a few from a couple of years ago link.

8. Stockings or No stockings? In Sweden stockings isn’t really part of the tradition, but since moving to the UK I’ve started with stockings. This year we have four hanging in the living room, one for me, one for my partner and then one each for the dog and cat!

9. Christmas PJs? No, I wear my normal ones. I did however buy a knitted dress this year that looks like a Christmas pudding. Because I look like a pudding this year, get it?

10. Favourite Christmas carol? I don’t listen much to carols, probably prefer just regular Christmas songs.

11. Favourite holiday tradition? Going home to Sweden for Christmas and celebrating with my family!

12. Early shopper or last minute? Definitely not early. I finished my shopping a few days before Christmas, does that mean last minute or somewhere in between?

13. Favourite Christmas movie or show? I love Christmas movies! Elf, Bad Santa and Die Hard (it is a Christmas movie, I’ll fight you over it!).

14. Favourite holiday beverage? This Swedish drink called must. It’s somewhere between root beer and coke. It’s impossible to explain.

15. Cookies and milk for Santa? I’ve never done this. In Sweden the tradition is to put out some porridge for Santa, but I’m not sure I ever did that either. Sorry Santa!

Holiday Reading

I got myself a whole slew of Christmas novels and novellas that I figured I’d read and review for the holidays. That hasn’t worked out so well, I’m only halfway through my second one, so at this rate I’ll still be reading Christmas stories in April!

Still, I wanted to ask – does anyone have any recommendations for good holiday romances? Do you like holiday romances?

I did read a few last year, so I will give my notes on those (and the one I finished this year) for now.

Unwrapping Her Perfect Match by Kat Latham

This holiday romance starts with Gwen who’s at a charity auction to bid on her sister’s boyfriend (on her sister’s behalf), but after a conversation with another handsome rugby player ends up bidding on him instead. At 6’1”, Gwen has always felt like a giant, but “Little” John Sheldon makes her feel all woman.

I did like the chemistry between the two main characters in this book. Gwen has some baggage from something that happened to her in her youth, and it threatens to derail any relationship she’s ever had as an adult. John is quite understanding about the situation, and tries his best to help. Which doesn’t always work. I liked that when he acted like an ass, whether intentional or not, he did usually realise and would try to fix his behaviour.

There were a few things in the novella I liked less, but I can’t go into it without possible spoilers. Still good enough to read once, and you don’t have to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one.

MILF on the Shelf by Nico Rosso

This is an erotic novella so it contains explicit language, in case that’s not your thing. It’s about a middle aged woman who takes the chance to feel something again with a younger man. I wouldn’t say it’s a love story per se, but more about finding a way back to yourself.

I liked that it has a Chinese-American heroine and an African-American hero. It’s also refreshing to read about an older woman/younger man rather than the other way around. I’d say it’s definitely worth the read as long as you don’t mind explicit language.

Christmas at Copper Mountain by Jane Porter

This was a sweet romance where Harley, still recovering from the loss of her husband and children, takes a temporary job over the holidays at a ranch to get away from all of the memories for Christmas. The owner of the ranch, Brock, is a gruff widower, and is out of the house most of the time – which suits her perfectly. Things change when Brock’s twins unexpectedly arrive home from school, something Harley didn’t sign up for.

When she realises that the twins have never celebrated Christmas, she makes it her mission to make sure that they do. To Brock’s initial dismay. (I personally got a bit of a von Trapp feeling early on, but it plays out quite well.)

The book is sweet, and it deals with the personal loss of both main characters quite well. However, I was very thrown when the book turned very Christian towards the end. I hadn’t realised that this was a spiritual romance, and it seemed to come out of nowhere, since there had been no real references of it up until that point. That did sort of ruin the book for me a bit, mainly because I didn’t expect it.

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Ski Pro Brenna has been in love with ex-skiing champion Tyler for years, so she knows all about unrequited love. When an overbooked skii resort forces them to share a chalet for the holidays, they are both forced to look at their relationship in a new light.

I quite enjoyed this book, there’s a fair amount of unresolved sexual tension (though any actual sex scenes take place behind closed doors), and both main characters seemed realistic and interesting. Tyler is a single dad, which is quite new to him (the daughter has lived with her mom up until recently), and the feelings involved in having to now take care of his daughter seemed real.

This was possibly one of my favourite Christmas romances so far.

I read a few others, but they can’t have been very good, because I have little to no memory of them.

The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation by Erica Ridley

No memory of this whatsoever. I’m sorry.

The Twelve Nights of Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Little to no memory of this. The one thing I can remember is that the couple’s meet-cute is the hero finding the heroine naked on his hotel bed. (As I remember, she lost her job and worked in a hotel – so a friend/colleague told her to stay the night in the suite – then her clothes got wet and she had hung them up to try, only to fall asleep on the bed.)

A Christmas Kiss by Jess Michaels

I remember it being a Regency, and that it felt too short. It suffered from what a lot of novellas do – the lack of time for proper character growth. Everything felt just a little bit too rushed.

Personal Update

So, it’s been pretty quiet around here lately – that’s because I’m spending hardly any time at the computer these days (and I’m too old to write anything longer than a text message on my phone), due to feeling exhausted (and uncomfortable) most of the time.

There’s a reason for that.

If everything goes well, there will be a baby joining us in March 2018.

I’m happy, but also terrified.

It’s frustrating in a way though, because pregnancy seems to have exacerbated my chronic fatigue, and I’ve spent most of it being more or less passed out on the couch when not at work (and only barely staying awake at work). Which means that, again, nothing is being written or edited. I need to try to pick myself up for the last trimester and do as much as possible, because who knows what kind of time and energy I have once the baby arrives (methinks – very little).

Anyway, it’s good news. And lots of writers are parents, so hopefully I’ll figure out a new routine eventually where I can fit both baby and writing.

Future Imp, ETA March 2018.

10 Halloween Movie Tips

With Halloween weekend upon us, I wanted to make a list of some of my favourite horror movies for those who aren’t sure what to watch this weekend. (Though I imagine many, me included, will be binge watching the second season of Stranger Things on Netflix!)

These are ten of my favourite horror/ghost/zombie movies.

(Btw, while I am posting the trailers to give you a sneak peek at anything that seems interesting, I personally tend to never watch the whole trailer since some of them feel like they give away too much. But it’s up to you what you want to do.)

The Cabin in the Woods

A slightly different take on a horror movie, pointing out some of the cliches, but in a very good way. It’s about a group of friends who go to a cabin for the weekend, which seems like a typical horror movie start – except it’s not quite like other horror movies.
Stars Chris Hemsworth (which is never a bad thing), and Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy.

Orphan

A couple adopt a 9-year old girl, but she may not be quite as sweet and innocent as she seems. Is there anything creepier than children in horror movies?

The Awakening

I really enjoyed this movie. It takes place after the second world war, and is about a woman who exposes hoaxes and charlatans. She’s invited to a boarding school which has been haunted for some time. Expecting to quickly debunk the ghost stories, she finds that maybe there’s more to the story than she initially thought.

Tucker and Dale VS Evil

This is a Comedy/Horror, and one of my favourites. It’s about Tucker and Dale, two hillbillies who go up against a group of college kids. Which you’d think is pretty standard for a horror movie, except Tucker and Dale are good guys, just mistakenly thought of as bad by the college kids – leading to a lot of hilariousness.
Stars a favourite of mine; Alan Tudyk. It’s currently on Netflix UK, not sure about other countries.

The Descent

A group of friends go cave exploring, but end up realizing that they may not be alone in the caves.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

No Halloween movie list is complete without this classic. I think I will go listen to the soundtrack again now.

The Orphanage

A really good movie about a woman who moves into a former orphanage with her son, then odd things start happening. Definitely gave me the creeps when I was watching it.

Shaun of the Dead

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star in this epic Comedy/Horror movie in which they have to deal with most of the world having become zombies. That is, once they figure it out. They’re a bit slow on the uptake.

The Others

I can’t imagine that anyone hasn’t seen this great ghost movie, starring Nicole Kidman as a mother who lives with her two photosensitive children. Odd things are happening in the house, and she starts to suspect that they are not alone.

28 Days Later

One of my favourite zombie movies. Maybe because it’s a little bit different. Cillian Murphy Jim wakes up in the hospital after a coma, only to find that he’s alone. 28 days earlier an incurable virus spread across the UK and he must now find a way to survive.

 

What are your favourite Halloween/Horror movies?

Mini-Rant

So, there’s a thing going on over at Facebook at the moment which is frustrating me somewhat. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That’s good, we should raise awareness about these things.

But! And this is a big but, I’ve been receiving messages on Facebook saying to publish a post with a single heart, but no comment – to raise breast cancer awareness. I’m sorry, but how am I raising awareness exactly if I can’t explain what the heart is for?

This isn’t the first time this happens of course, you see it every now and then. Post a fruit/the colour of your something/whatever random thing they think of – but don’t tell anyone!

I thought we were raising awareness! To do so, you need to tell someone. Me posting a heart on my Facebook page does nothing. The whole point of raising awareness is talking about it.

Or even better, go donate to the cause.

Rant over.

Biggest Time Sinks

I think we all have our own things that we do instead of that writing that we ought to be doing. In this I’m not going to include the obvious things like working, sleeping, eating and keeping the house tidy (in all honesty, I tend to find ways to procrastinate these too!).

Gaming

I’m admittedly a bit of a gamer, not as much these days as I used to be – but I still play a fair bit. The games vary a bit, but the longest standing one is probably World of Warcraft. I even used to run a WoW blog for a few years, but as my gaming slowed down, so did my blogging about it. Other games I play are Dragon Age, Diablo, Stardew Valley and a bunch of little ones on Steam when I have the time.

TV-series/Movies

I probably watch more series than movies these days, but I do love a good movie and go to the cinema to see some of the ones I’m really interested in. TV-series are so good these days though, and there are so many of them. Too many! Services like Netflix, Amazon etc. have made series and movies so accessible, that it’s easy to waste hours binging on a new show.

Internet

No surprises there. I can easily waste hours just browsing the web, checking blogs, updating my own, perusing the latest posts on Facebook. Oh, and what’s new on my favourite YouTube channels? I also use the internet to keep in touch with my family in Sweden, so in fairness – I do love having access to it. When living away from your family it makes the world seem a little smaller.

What are your biggest procrastination fiends / time sinks?

This blog is no more (obsolete post imported from old blog)

I doubt anyone still has this on their blogroll/feed reader, but if you do – I just want to let you know that the blog isn’t likely to come back. I may eventually use the domain for something else, I haven’t quite decided. I’ve had it for over 10 years, so I don’t really want to part with it, even if I’m not using it.

I still play WoW, but not nearly to the extent that I used to. Maybe a couple of times a week. My raiding is pretty bad at the moment, due to a work schedule that makes me miss at least half the raids any given week. So my motivation this expansion hasn’t been great.

If you’d like to keep in touch, I have a personal blog where you can find me; The Struggling Writer.

I wish you well in all your future adventures. Fare well from your friendly neighborhood Warlock (who these days main a Hunter).

Blog Update (obsolete post imported from old blog)

After lots of back and forth, I decided to move everything from my old blog to this one. It’s too much work to update two different blogs, and I just can’t do it. It’s not like I’m a prolific blogger in any case, and two blogs is just not a possibility for me.

Originally this blog was meant to be mainly for writing, but I am someone who likes to overshare write about my every day life, so I struggle to not do that. So it’s better to just have everything in one place. The name of this blog makes more sense as well. As much as I love the name “Carpe Effing Diem”, I think this one is more me. I’ve never really been one to seize the day as it were, I’m a worrier and someone that has to think about things before I do them. Preferably for days or weeks.

The Struggling Writer sounds a lot more like me. I am want to be a writer, and I struggle daily. Not just with writing, but just about everything, really.

So from nowon, this will be the blog I use, where I will share things about my life and my struggles with writing, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and everything else.

I’ve just imported everything from my old blog, so while I sort through about 10 years of blogging, it may look a bit disorganised, but I will get there, I promise!

So, what changed?

I’ve been thinking back to how I was writing before I got sick ten years ago (and everything fell to pieces). What has changed? Why am I struggling with writing to the extent that I am?

Ignoring the fact that I have chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, why can’t I pull myself together to do these things? Or is that the reason in itself? It can’t be. I know people who suffer from these things and they do get writing done.

Working full time for the last year and a bit for the first time since before I got sick is definitely not helping. I have limited energy, and currently it feels like all of it is going towards getting to work and doing my job. When I’m home, very little – if anything – is left. Not working, however, is not an option – because of that pesky detail of paying bills.

After a busy week, I just spent a whole day in bed. So energy levels definitely aren’t at their best at the moment.

The one thing other than my illnesses that I know is different is that I had a friend/colleague that read my chapters as I finished them. I think on some level that helped me feel motivated to keep going. Writing a book, as any writer knows, is a sludge and a rather lonely process. You have no idea if what you’re churning out is terrible or at least decent. (Most likely terrible, there’s a reason there’s a revision process!)

Still, having that one person who read each chapter as I wrote them – it kept me going. And it gave me an idea if I was on the right track, because she’d question things if they didn’t make sense and some things I could then nip in the bud instead of possibly missing them during the revisions/editing. I definitely miss having that.

None of this helps with my lack of energy, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Truth is, I have no solution, I think maybe I just needed to vent.

If you have a chronic illness of some kind, how do you get through it and find the energy/ability to write?