Archive | February 2012

Yet Another New Start

You’d think as this is my 4th round of ROW80 I’d know I really should start writing and working on my goals from the beginning, not leave it until well past half way to get stuck in.

OK, to be honest, I started off ok, I’ve just gone downhill. I’m hoping (it is only hope) that doing this is over now.

On Monday night I spent an hour reading through the novel and planning what I have left to write to finish it. I’m not sure if the plan is how I want the novel to end (to be honest I’ve not actually got to the END of the novel, just on from where I am now), but if it’s written, then I can make the decision later. As someone once said you can edit words – if I keep um-ing and ah-ing I’ll have nothing to edit.

The first novel I started seriously writing (you may have heard me talk about it a lot – ‘Holiday’) started in third person. After a couple of chapters I thought maybe it wasn’t working in third and needed to be first. Instead of sitting on it for a couple of months dithering about it, I got on and wrote the next scene in first person.

It worked, and I carried on writing it in first (although in editing I will need to go back and change the narrative of the first few chapters). If I hadn’t have just tried it, I wouldn’t have known. The same applies for The Man of My Dreams – I may not be about to write the section I want the final edit to have, but I’ll never know if I don’t try it.

A lot of people have given me advice about the whole editing/writing battle – thank you all so much. I haven’t properly made a decision about what I’m going to do, but for the short term (maybe week) I’m going to concentrate on writing – now that I have a few scenes worked out in my head.

Lent starts today. Although I’m not religious I do like to give up things for lent – for two main reasons – I think it’s good to test myself and, what I generally give up is bad food, so I think it works towards losing weight (or at least getting me into better eating habits).

For years I had a few basic items I gave up each year, then each progressive year I’d add another item. I can’t remember how it went, but something like: Year 1 – gave up chocolate bars, chips and crisps; Year 2 – chocolate bars, chips, crisps and pizza; Year 3 – chocolate bars, chips, crisps, pizza and biscuits.

After a while (and with my ridicously rubbish memory), I forgot what I’d given up. Then last year I didn’t give up anything. This year I’m going to come back with a vengeance!

I’m giving up, for lent – all 40 days: chocolate bars [normal bog standard bars of chocolate – chocolate in drinks, cakes, icing doesn’t count, and neither does other shaped chocolate – eggs, balls etc. This may sound like ‘cheating’ but 1-it makes me more aware of having chocolate, bars are my usual go to, I don’t have other shaped chocolate during lent anywhere near as much as I have bars at other times of year, and 2- it’s my game and I’ll play it how I like 😉 ]; pizza, crisps, chips, and biscuits. Some of them will be pretty easy to give up – like chips and crisps – I don’t have them that much, not on a daily basis, but sometimes I want/need/crave them, so that’s when I’ll be tested.

The point of telling you all this is that it’s going to help with the goal of not eating more than 1,400 calories a day. Of course giving these up aren’t the be all and end all of eating better, but they’re going to help. A lot.

Exercise is going well. I’m walking to and from the tube to work – 30 minutes a day. I’ve not been to the gym recently, but do plan to tonight. We’ve still not got hot water (don’t even get me started on this – it’s now been 16 days) so I’ve been visiting the gym, but only to shower. Visiting to shower has been putting me off going going. Tomorrow the water gets fixed (I hope) so my gym regime will recommence.

My other goal is reading. The book I’m reading at the moment is After The Snow by SD Crockett. It’s weird, but I’m liking it, a lot more than I thought I would!

How are your ROW80 or other goals going?

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Better, But Still Not Very Good

Well, this check in, for the first time for WEEKS (I am not kidding), I can actually report that I’ve done some writing. Not, much but some. I have my buddy Laura to thank for it.

So how much is not much? A piddly amount – 791 words. I guess that’s not that few, but it was in 1 day. Just one day. Oh dear.

Laura and I were texting the other day, and she encouraged me to try to write JUST 50 words. 50? That’s nothing, I could do that. So… I… didn’t. I got home that night and just didn’t have the energy. The next night though, I did.

I’d made a decision that I was going to read the first 3000 words of the novel that night, and that would be my work on it for the day. 3000 words because Novelicious have a competition running where you have to enter that much of your chick lit novel. Prizes include novel critiques, Kindles and books. I read through it, liked some of it, hated some of it, and… nearly cried ’cause it was so sweet. Ahhhh.

I think it’s got potential. If I could just finish it and edit it…

After reading the first 3000 words, I got an idea for a scene later on (possibly the last scene). I’d already turned the laptop off, so I grabbed a bit of paper and pen, and started plotting it. Then before I’d got too far, instead of planning, I started writing it. What I wrote wasn’t as good as what I’ve got in my head for this scene (I’ve been going over it again and again in my head for the last couple of months), but it’s words, and words are editable. Brilliant.

I’m going to do some writing now, but after this I don’t really know how to decide what I should do. I want to finish writing the novel, but I need to edit the first 3000 words. I should really finish writing it before I start editing, but maybe I should just edit this bit, then go back to finishing writing it.

What I’d really like to do is stop writing, read it and start editing it. I really, really want to do that, but I think I shouldn’t. I think I should get it all finished, then read and edit. What my problem is, well what my problemS ARE, are: 1) I’ve missed out a massive side story that I need to wiggle back in, I’m going to have to change, or add a lot to add it back in, and it was a good side story, so I want it in there; and 2) that I don’t know how I’m going to finish it.

These two points make me think that I should go back, read it and start editing. I just don’t think that’s how it should be done. Of course, everyone’s different, and so maybe that way would work for me? Or maybe I’m just saying that cause it’s giving me the get out clause I need to stop writing now. I just don’t know.

What if I carry on writing it, finish it, and then when it’s time to edit it, I don’t want to? Should I just be editing now while I want to – because I’ve never actually WANTED to edit something, maybe this is a sign I should do it while I want to? I just don’t know.

Ah well, it’ll work itself out, somehow. Closing date for the Novelicious competition isn’t until the beginning of April – maybe I could finish the novel, and edit those 3k by then… You never know!

In other news, my mum is thinking about re-starting the writing course she’s got – the one I’m also doing (supposedly). That’s made me think about picking it back up (because you know, I can’t decide whether to write or edit at the moment, so why not throw another thing on the pile?). It would be good to do that, but if I’m completely honest, I don’t want her to finish it before me (even though I started it a LONG time after she did – we’re both rubbish and left it). Sigh. I don’t know.

I’ve just had a thought. When I was at school, during GCSEs, I managed to juggle 9 subjects, during A-Levels four, then at uni a few modules at once. Why now can’t I juggle two things? OK, so I admit juggling writing and editing the same project probably isn’t a great idea, but why not juggle writing/editing with the writing course? Some might suggest that if I don’t ‘have time’ to do 1, then I really shouldn’t be telling myself to do two. They might be right. AGH. Guess what? I just don’t know.

Seeing as I don’t know anything at all, I’m going to go. If anyone had a great idea about what I should do, please, let me know your thoughts.

Oh – I have 3 other goals for this ROW80 round: exercise, reading and eating well. Um… I’m walking a lot. Reading a little, and eating a lot (I know it’s supposed to be eating little, but never mind). Maybe this week will be better! Fingers crossed please guys!

Between A Mother & Her Child by Elizabeth Noble – Review

For Maggie and Bill it was love at first sight . . . 

One impulsive wedding later and with the arrival of three perfect children, Jake, Aly and Stan, the Barrett family seem to have it all. Until the day their world stops turning.

When Jake dies suddenly, they’re swept away on a tide of grief that fractures Maggie and Bill’s marriage. She and the children are left clinging to the wreckage of their family. And they need help, because in her grief Maggie is in danger of losing Aly and Stan too.

Enter Kate, housekeeper, companion and shoulder to cry on. She’s here to pick up the pieces and fix what isn’t completely broken. But can Maggie trust Kate? And why is Kate so keen to help?

When Bill falls for another woman, Maggie realizes she will have to fight to put her family back together – but will they still want her?

Years and years ago I read a novel called Alphabet Weekends, by Elizabeth Noble. I thought it was so good I decided I’d read more by her, so I read The Tenko Club (sometimes known as The Friendship Test – no idea why the 2 names?!), that was really good too, but for some reason Noble just dropped off my radar.
Until someone suggested Between A Mother and Her Child. I wasn’t sure about it to start with, it sounded a little morbid, about a child that dies, but as I’d enjoyed those previous novels I thought I’d give it a go.

It took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I really got into it. The brilliant thing about it is you can see each part of the story from each person’s perspective. Like you think one thing about someone, from another’s POV, but then that person has a chapter, and suddenly you understand their motives.

It’s a tear jerker, obviously (I cried so many times, at so many different things, I even cried just then rereading the end), but it’s also quite heart warming. For the few days I was reading it (it didn’t take long it was that good), I could hardly stop thinking about it, like I’d be cooking dinner, thinking about what I’d just read on the way home.

I strongly recommend this – although if you do decide to read it, don’t anywhere in public, I had tears on the underground.

 

 

Pointless Check-in?

I’m not really sure there’s any point in me writing this at all, I don’t think I’ve done anything in the last week, definitely nothing I’m proud of anyway. I haven’t even looked at my chart all week – it’s that bad!

This week was my last week in my current job before I start the new one tomorrow. Right now I’m pretty excited (as well as really scared, I’m going to have responsibility and people answering to me, neither of which I’ve had in the last 4 odd years!), but last week was just crazy busy. I wasn’t handing over to anyone so felt like I had to finish everything as much as I could before I left. Inevitably I didn’t, but I did as much as I could.

As much as I could considering what shit was going on out of work, and I had to take a day off. Our boiler broke on Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning our landlord said he’d get someone out immediately. Apparently that meant Thursday morning. I took the morning off, but they didn’t come. When we called them they said they’d be there at some point. I ended up being at home all day, but didn’t do anything productive because I kept thinking I was going to go to work in a minute. What a waste.

Someone finally came Saturday (neither of us could be in on Friday to meet them), and he was here a whole 10 minutes before he said he’d never seen anything like it, and couldn’t help. Really! So, we’re waiting for a more senior engineer to come out. That’s going to be tomorrow night. So that’s going to be 6 days without hot water (luckily we have ceiling heating, so at least are warm). We both have gym membership, so can use the showers there, or showers at work sp we’re not smelly. Not ideal, but could be worse.

So that really messed up my week.

I pretty much gave myself the week off doing anything, knowing how stressful work would be (and that was not even knowing about the boiler!). My 4 daily goals are: Eat less than 1400 calories, exercise for more than 30 minutes, write more than 500 words, and read. This is what I managed this week:

Eating: I don’t think I’m even going to go there. Next week…

Exercise: Walked for 20 minutes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then also gym for 39 minutes on Wednesday. Thursday, Friday, Saturday nothing. Gym for 37 minutes today. Not great. Not by a long shot. This week WILL be better.

Writing: We can just pass this one too, nothing.

Reading: I started Me Before You by Jojo Moyes on Sunday. I finished it on Thursday. It was brilliant. Didn’t read anything Friday, or the weekend. Must have read a lot Sunday to Thursday though, so not all that bad.

This week will be better.

I say that, but it’s my first week in my new job, so I can’t possibly know what I’ll be doing to know IF it can be a good week. I think the only thing I know for certain will be good is exercising. I’m going to try to walk to work every morning from the tube station that is 20 minutes away. Guess I have to walk home too. That’s going to be good.

The stop is also 1 further away than my current one, so that’s about 3 minutes longer reading. Not great, but every little helps I guess.

I have to try to eat better this week. I’ve been given a gift voucher for Dorothy Perkins (congrats on the new job), but don’t want to buy anything when I’m as heavy as I am. Hopefully this will be a good incentive to lose some weight. Hopefully I can also get into a good routine in the new office, not having chocolate every day.

Hope everyone else’s week was better than mine, and hope this week coming is great!

A Very Busy Week

I’m not really enjoying this week, and it’s only Tuesday 😦

This week is my last week in my current job before I move sites and get a promotion – woop! All good. But it means I have to wrap up everything here, and my company haven’t employed anyone else to take over from me so there’s no one to pass things on to. Not great.

That means that I’m pretty sure everything else is going out the window this week. Last night I was at work until nearly 7. By the time I went shopping then made dinner, I was exhausted. I watched a couple of episodes of Glee* then went to bed. Tonight I’ll probably leave late then have someone’s leaving drinks to go to. Tomorrow I’m out the office all day. I should be finished early though, so might be able to get some writing done then. Or maybe go to the gym. Thursday and Friday I’ll be rammed at work, then a leaving meal on Thursday and my leaving drinks on Friday.

Honestly, I’m tired just thinking about it.

At the beginning of the week, I pretty much decided to give myself the week off writing. I’m stressed at work, and don’t need the added stress of fitting in writing. I don’t want to push myself too much then start my new job a stressy mess, or ill. I’m happy with that, but it could lead to a downward spiral.

What if I start my new job next week, and decide to give myself that week off to, you know, to get used to it and fit in. Then what if the following week I’m too busy, so give myself that time off too? See, slippery slope.

I’m not going to let it happen.

On the days I’ve been writing in the last few weeks, I’ve been writing like a demon, pretty much getting over 1,000 words per session. I want to carry that on, so I’m not going to let myself have ‘excuses.’ Yes, I have a busy week this week, but I’m going to try to fit in writing. I’ve managed to fit in a blog and I didn’t think I’d manage that, so who knows what else I can do?

I’m trying to keep up with exercising too. I was too tired yesterday to go to the gym, and I left my trainers at home today (honestly it was a mistake). I WILL go tomorrow, and I’ll try to go over the weekend. When I can’t go, I’ll carry on walking lots.

On days I haven’t been going to the gym, I’ve not been playing on the Wii either. Walking yes, Wii no. That’s not good. I was in a great habit of playing on Just Dance 3, but I’ve slipped. I need to get back on to that. Especially as I’m not actually losing weight. Or I am during the week, but then I put it back on at the weekend. How rubbish is that.

I also haven’t been updating my chart. I know that’s because I’ve not been doing well and don’t want to have RED-RED-RED, but that’s not helping. If I fill it in and see the sea of red, maybe I’ll be shamed into exercising and writing.

I hope everyone else’s week is better than mine!

*I’d watched a couple of episodes of Glee before and quite enjoyed it. I decided it’s time to go back and watch it from the beginning. Hopefully this plan won’t stand in the way of everything else…

Snapshot by @CraigRobertson_ Review

A series of high-profile shootings by a lone sniper leaves Glasgow terrorised and police photographer Tony Winter – a man with a tragic hidden past – mystified. Who is behind the executions of some of the most notorious drug lords in the city? As more shootings occur – including those of police officers – the authorities realise they have a vigilante on their hands. Meanwhile, Tony investigates a link between the victims and a schoolboy who has been badly beaten. Seemingly unconnected, they share a strange link. As Tony delves deeper, his quest for the truth and his search for the killer lead him down dark and dangerous paths.

In 2010 I signed up for the Thriller & Suspense Challenge (now Mystery & Suspense Challenge) with Book Chick City. That year Simon & Schuster gave away ARCs of upcoming releases to everyone who took part. Some people got a novel I can’t remember, some people got Craig Robertson’s debut novel Random.

The book was too big for my letterbox, and I wasn’t in, so I had to go to the post office to collect it. I clearly remember sitting on the bus on the way back, telling myself I’d just have a quick look at it, but not start it properly because I was in the middle of reading something I was enjoying.

That was a mistake. I was gripped. Literally from the 1st page. I didn’t want to get off the bus when it came to my stop, because I had to stop reading. I was like that until I finished it. It was gross (some murders, some actions are too disgusting to be put in words – Robertson doesn’t agree). When I put it down, although I was repulsed at some of the things I read (the eye, the eye!!!), I knew without a doubt I’d read anything else written by him.

Somehow I missed Snapshot getting released last year. As soon as I found out about it, I got it. I finished the book I was reading within a couple of days, and I started Snapshot. And I didn’t do anything else until I’d finished – including going to buy new boots, which my boyfriend had promised he was going to buy!!! Can you believe it!?

It wasn’t a gripping from the very first page novel, but by the end of the 2nd chapter I knew it was going to be good, and I wouldn’t be able to put it down – and was right.

The main character Tony, is a little bit weird, and sometimes I got a little freaked out by him, but at the same time he’s pretty loveable, and gets you into the story quickly. It’s fast-moving and gripping and just bloody brilliant actually. Towards the end, I totally thought I’d got what was happening, and who the murder was,  but Robertson was too clever for me and just a few pages later it turned out not to be. Which although I was gutted about, gave the novel a brilliant twist and kept it going.

If you like thrillers, I’d totally recommend this. In fact if you don’t, I still would. It’s nowhere near as gross as Random, but saying that, there’s still a lot of blood and gore. Maybe I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve a weak stomach!

Robertson’s next novel comes out in June – I definitely won’t be missing that one!

A Little Late To Be Improving

The last 2 days of January totally ROCKED for me for writing. On Monday I went to a NaNo style write in. I wrote 700 odd words by hand. When I got in I typed them up, then carried on where I’d stopped in the cafe. My count ended up being 1492. Woop!
On Tuesday I wanted to keep the momentum going so after watching a film, I went to the bedroom and churned out another 1055 words before bed. Woop again.
The problem is that is all a little too late. The Man of My Dreams may be coming on pretty nicely (ish), but ultimately I’m only on 72,612 (I say only…). It’s not finished. I’m nowhere near the ending. Well I guess I’m semi close, but I’ve got a lot more to do. How much I don’t know. But more. Maybe 20k more? I don’t know because I don’t really know how I’m going to get to the ending yet. Well only a very rough idea.
When I started this novel I thought it would be about 70,000 words long. Apparently that’s quite a nice length for a first-time chick lit novel. I didn’t know how I was going to get there, but that was my goal. During NaNo I got 50,000 words. That left 20,000 to go. I planned to write them in December. That didn’t happen. At the beginning of January I was mad with myself for not hitting my target, but I extended it by a month, so the end of January to finish it.
Ahh. Well that was January there *points to the past*, and I’m still not done. That’s not at all good. No siree. The only positive thing I can think to say is that I’m now at the word count where I planned to end it. Past that in fact. That’s not much comfort though is it, not when in December I’d already known it was going to be longer.
Looking at the figures, I wrote 10,385 words in January. That means I must have done 12,300 something in December. January was worse that December? That’s shocking! I’m really not happy with that. It’s like 300 words a day. That’s 200 less than I was aiming for.
As there were a lot of days where I didn’t write, it does mean that I had a lot of good days – on 9th, I wrote 2099, 10th 1084, 24th 1159, 30th 1492 and 31st 1055. If only I could get more of those days!
I now don’t know what to do towards finishing it. Should I give myself another month? Another two? Should I stop giving myself goals so I stop failing them? Should I say I need to have it finished before I start the new job (a week on Monday – way too ambitious I think, but an idea). I don’t know. I’ll have to have a think.
What I do know, is that I seem to be on a roll. I want to keep it going as long as possible. If I could make 5 days in a row green, I’d be so happy. A week and I’d be thrilled. I’m trying it, I really am.
In other goal related things – eating’s going badly again, but exercise is cancelling some of it out, and that’s going well. Reading’s only going ok this week.
Here’s my chart: