You Don’t Need Socks to Write!

You Don't Need Socks to WriteOne morning, I was desperately trying to get my five year old to do his homework, and he, as usual, was coming up with every excuse he could think of, ending with “I need my socks on.”

“You don’t need socks to write!” I replied, chalking it down as yet another one of those sentences I never imagined I’d ever have to say to another human being. But it got me thinking, and, actually, it’s very good writing advice.

Some people wait for the perfect conditions to write. Whether that be an active muse, a quiet house, a private space, the right weather, the moon in their star sign, whatever their particulars are. I’ve done it myself. Put off writing because I didn’t feel right, or the house was noisy, or the table was messy.

The truth is, as with most things, there is no perfect time, and if you sit around waiting for this magical moment, you’ll never write a word. Sometimes, you just need to sit down (or perch somewhere, or stand, or whatever) and get some words out of you. They may not be perfect words, they may not be any good at all, but the more that come, the better they will get. Who was it who said you can’t edit a blank page?

So don’t fret over the particulars; don’t worry if the sun isn’t right, or your chair is a little uncomfortable, or your coffee is a little cold, just write. Get some words out. Wonderful, imperfect, foolish, misspelt words. And remember: you don’t need socks to write.

Insecure Writer's Support GroupThis post was written as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. If you want to visit the other IWSG member blogs, or sign up yourself, you can do so here.

Feeling Determined vs Being Determined (How I Got More Hours in the Day)

Monday MotivationI’ve felt determined for a long time. Years and years. But despite my burning sense of determination, I just wasn’t managing to get things done. There was always something conspiring against me. I was too busy with the kids, or I didn’t have somewhere quiet to write, or the muse just wasn’t with me. I was a victim of circumstance. I wanted to do it, but there was too much against me.

I wailed about it on social media, grumbling about how blessed other people were with their writing nooks, their school-age children, their luxury of free time when I had none. They were lucky. I, however, was not.

It has taken a long time, a good number of pep talks, and a whole load of failure for me to finally figure out my problem. There is a difference between feeling determined and being determined. And the difference is action.

There’s no big secret here, no grand revelation, and there is definitely no luck involved. It’s about changing your mindset. It’s taken me years, and I feel so foolish for taking so long to realise it. Feeling determined is not being determined. I’ve only just come to understand that.

Last year, something clicked. And, you know what? Over the last few months I have not stopped. Not for a second. I am constantly on the go. Insanely busy. But it’s productive busy, happy busy, exciting busy.

The old me was busy too. But that was I-don’t-have-time-for-this busy. That was not even trying to write because I knew my toddler wouldn’t grant me anything close to an hour of peace and quiet. That was thinking anything less wasn’t worth the bother. That was feeling determined.

New me writes two sentences on the way back from the toilet. New me types while she’s eating lunch. New me takes a notebook and pen to toddler groups. New me writes like the wind while her toddler naps because he might sleep for four hours, or four minutes. New me doesn’t wait for the muse. New me grabs her by the throat and says “Now!” And sometimes the words flow, and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth, and sometimes it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written. But I do it anyway. That’s being determined.

I’ve recently started setting a 5am alarm. I get up and write while the kids are still asleep. When I posted about it on social media, I got a number of people telling me I was ‘lucky’ to get an hour of peace and quiet in the morning. I smiled at that. That’s what I used to say to other people. But it’s not luck. It’s getting up at 5am. It’s not waiting for my muse to show up. It’s writing while the kettle’s still boiling. It’s getting words down no matter what. Because some mornings I do get an hour before my boys get up. Other mornings I get two minutes. But two productive minutes are better than ten minutes of waiting for the perfect moment.

It’s not luck. It’s being determined.

Got Goals? Ready to Go!

Big Goals BloghopSo much has already happened, and we’re not even a full month into 2018 yet. It’s definitely setting up to be a crazy busy year!

I’m currently on track with my goals for the year, with The Smudger already up for pre order on Amazon and other retailers, ready to release on 27th February. It’s still more than a month before its release, but it’s already garnered some fantastic reviews from early readers over on Goodreads. I’ve got some exciting plans to really boost its release, and it really feels like I know what I’m doing this time, like I’m not just fudging it as I go. I like that feeling.

The plotting is going well for book 2, although a little slower than I would like. But I’m just impatient to get started on writing it. These books, the characters, the world, I’m just so excited about them. I want to dive into the story again.

Today, three days earlier than I expected, I received the paperback proof of The Smudger, and it is a truly beautiful thing. It’s so sad that all the fonts get lost in the ebook, because the paperback is stunning both inside and out. That’s why I’m a lover of hard copies, of actual books. The spine and the back of the book are gorgeous too, and you lose it all with an electronic copy. So, all in all, January has turned out pretty great.

How are your goals going? Join the Got Goals? Bloghop here.

The Smudger Paperback Proof

Got Goals? A Whole New World

Big Goals BloghopLast year saw the completion of my set goal: to write and release the full Paper Duchess series of books. So what now?

2018 has arrived with a whole head full of ideas and plans and goals. In fact, it’s more than one head’s worth. They’re pretty much pouring out of my ears! And every time I think I’ve fitted them into my schedule for the year (yes, I’ve actually scheduled the entire year!), up pops another idea. It’s starting to get pretty crazy! So, I guess it’s time to get started…

The SmudgerFirst up this year will be the release of The Smudger, the first book in The Memory Trader series. That means new stories, new characters, and an entire new world to explore. The book is currently out with beta readers and should be ready for a late February release.

After that, it’s book 2 of the series, currently titled The Scratch, with a proposed release date of late April. It’s gonna be hectic, but I think I can do it. These books are proving so much fun to write, and I’m totally in love with the characters and the world they inhabit, so that makes things a lot easier.

Next in the schedule is a project I’m not ready to talk about yet. I’m hoping to launch it in the summer, so you’ll have to wait a bit to hear more about that.

AfterThe end of the summer will hopefully see another book release, a full-length novel set in the same world as my book After: A Post Apocalyptic Story Collection. Its working title is When They Returned, but that’s definitely going to change (because, frankly, it’s rubbish!)

I’ll be wrapping up the year with a book that’s been rattling around my head for over a year now. It keeps getting pushed back and pushed back as other projects come to the fore. It’s a standalone book, so it’s become something of a forgotten child. It will be called The Notary of Gotliss Street, and is planned for an early December release.

There you have it: my crazy busy 2018. Of course, somewhere in all this I still have to eat, sleep, oh yeah, and be Mummy to my two boys!

What are your goals for 2018? Join the Got Goals? Bloghop here.

Hey, 2018! I’m Coming For You!

Insecure Writer's Support GroupSo, here we are, just a few days into 2018. A new year. A new start. A fresh start. A new chapter. An empty book. The first step of a journey. Whichever tired old metaphor you’d like to use. Because they are tired and overused, but that’s just because they’re true.

Even if you try to avoid all the hype over resolutions, all the motivational quotes pasted onto images of sunrises and rainbows and people climbing mountains to look at sunrises and rainbows, it’s hard not to get caught up in that overall feeling of hope. Of hoping for this year to be better, bigger, brighter. For you to go places, to take yourself places. Because, believe me, those places aren’t coming to you.

Despite the sarcasm, I feel it too. That fresh chance to do things right. To put the mistakes of last year behind me, and push forward, bolder and wiser. I’m even planning things. Me! Planning! Little Miss make-it-up-as-you-go-along. And I have big plans, exciting plans, secret plans.

Despite my determination to make 2018 fabulously wonderfully brilliantly excellent, I can’t help but wonder if I felt like this at the beginning of 2017. If I sat here and thought “This is going to be my year”, just like I am now. I also wonder if I thought that in January 2016. But it doesn’t stop me thinking it now. There’s only one way 2018 will be fabulously wonderfully brilliantly excellent, and that’s if I strive to make it so. It’s down to me. Just me. Little ol’ me. So, you’d better get out of my way, because I’m coming through.

(Hopefully.)

What do you have planned for 2018?

This post was written as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. If you want to visit the other IWSG member blogs, or sign up yourself, you can do so here.

Where Are Your Stories?

Victorian correspondence My dad deals in stamps, and postmarks, and the like (you’d be surprised how much some postmarks can be worth!) Every now and again, he gets hold of piles of old correspondence: letters, envelopes, postcards, personal documents. And he lets me take my pick of the items that aren’t worth much.

To him, the interest is in the stamps and the postmarks. He can track and trace them, and that’s where his stories are. Where the letters have been, how much the postage was, where and when they were sent.

To my brother, the stories are in the actual paper itself. That’s what he gets excited over. The embossed pictures and patterns, the scalloped edges, the watermarks.

But to me, the stories are in the words. The names and addresses, the contents of the letters. The lives lived, the news shared. Even the seemingly mundane business correspondence has a story to tell.

This latest batch are all Victorian, dated between 1870 and 1900. Some still have their sealing wax, melted and pressed on more than 100 years ago. And even a Victorian mourning envelope, edged in black, used to inform of a death.

I love imagining these people; what they looked like, how they lived, and how this particular correspondence may have changed their life forever.