Archive | October 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 – T Minus 1 Day

It’s NOVEMBER tomorrow. How did that happen? Seriously, we’ve had 10 months this year! 10. I can’t believe it. And now it’s NaNo again. AGAIN. So I have to start (choose to) writing another novel tomorrow. Um, eek!

That paragraph got me thinking about this year. It’s been pretty good. I got promoted in February back to a job where I have responsibility, feel like I’m making a difference, and one that has manager in the title. Since leaving the hotel, it took me 4 1/2 years to get that Manager title back. That was 3 1/2 years of floating about, not really knowing what I wanted to do, and 1 getting the experience in Facilities Management to get the job. It’s been a long road, but it’s been fun, and I’ve met some great people, and now I’m in a good place.

This week is my 4th week in another position. Another promotion, although only tiny this time – my title is the same, but I’ve got my own building, rather than assisting someone for part of the week, and having my own the rest of the week. Woop! It’s going… well… OK. It’s not going to rock my world, but I’m going to get some great training, and some great experience. I hope. The site is really quiet, so, I’m going to be able to do some writing while I’m there, daily. Woop! I just need to get over this mental hurdle I’ve got that’s saying it’s going to be a rubbish site! It’s not, it’s going to be good for my career, and for my writing! What more can I ask for?

Lets move on and look at my goals, and how I’m doing with them:

Writing*: 100 words or NaNo plotting 5 days. On Monday I did quite a bit of plotting. I still don’t know what’s going to happen in the second half to make it to the end, which is worrying me, but I’m hoping I’ll get there. Part of me thinks that I’m just not clever enough to think up some good thriller/mystery plot points. Part of me wants to hit that other part of me for thinking that though. We’ll see. I guess a good thing on this is if I know what’s going to happen in the first half, that will probably be 40,000 words, so I’ll only need to worry about another 10,000 to get through NaNo. Of course, really, I don’t want to be thinking like that. I want to finish this novel, not stop at 50,001 on 31st October.

I was saying I did plotting on Monday. On Tuesday, I realised I should do some writing, so when I got in and was tidying up, I started thinking what I could write. I decided I’d write a bit from my main character’s recent history. An afternoon with her niece. 350 words. Boom. Not 1,667, but not 100 either! I ALSO did some plotting.

Nothing yet today, but it is early (plus, if I’m 100% honest, this blog was written on Tuesday night, so definitely no Wednesday writing or plotting!)

Goals, come on Helen, concentrate!

Writing: 1,000 creative words posted on my blog. Not done yet. I’ve just (literally this second) decided that this week’s words, will very fittingly be the first 1,000 ish words of my NaNo novel, on Thursday. It fits well because in my head Thursday is fiction posting day (I guess it comes from my One Thousand Thursday idea, which I’ll definitely be doing in November!!).

Blogging: 1 book review, 2 check in posts, and the writing post. I reviewed Case Histories by Kate Atkinson yesterday. This is my first check-in blog. Still time. As above the writing one will be Thursday. Next week I’m going to reduce this goal down to 1 check-in per week. I’ll still aim for 2, but with NaNo, if I don’t have time for both, I’m not going to get worried about it. I need to focus on the 1,667 words.

Exercise: Gym or run x2. I nearly went to the gym yesterday, but I left work quite late, so decided to go today instead. Will do something at the weekend, or maybe Friday. We’ll see. Yesterday, when I decided not to go to the gym, I decided to walk to the next tube (not the closest one), in the end, I walked to the one further than that – over 3k, and over 200 calories. Not bad, especially not bad for someone that couldn’t be bothered to go to the gym!

Eating: Fasting 1 day (500 calories), 1400 calories 5 days. Didn’t count Monday. I think I did OK. No idea though. Tuesday I got 1,222 calories, so really happy with that. I’m going to try today as the fasting day, but I’m not sure, because I’m planning on going to the gym, so I should really eat to give me energy for that. I dunno.

So there we have it. I can only count 2 days, but they’ve been good days so I’m very happy. Lets hope today goes well, then I’m kicking off NaNo tomorrow. Woop!

*Note – of course from tomorrow, my writing goal changes to 1,667 words EVERY DAY!

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson Review

Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet – Lost on the left, Found on the right – and the two never seem to balance.

Jackson has never felt at home in Cambridge, and has a failed marriage to prove it. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, he attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realise that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected…

I read my first Kate Atkinson novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, when I was 16 when I chose it for my A-Level coursework. I loved it before I started, but unfortunately, by the end of the course I’d read it so many times, and dissected it so much that I got sick of it, and it put me off any more of her books. My step mum gave me this years ago, telling me I’d love it. I put it on a shelf and forgot about it.

Then the To Be Read Pile Challenge came along, and I thought it was time to add it. It took me another 9 months to pick it up to read.

I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it, but I enjoyed it a lot. I looked forward to picking it up, and thought about it when I wasn’t reading it.

Jackson is investigating several things, which I found interesting because there were lots of little mysteries in the one novel, plus Jackson’s story.

Case Histories is the first in a series of Jackson Brody novels by Atkinson, I’m definitely going to check out the next ones. It was also turned into a BBC series, which I’ll be really interested to watch if I can get hold of it.

Sunday Check-In, Good and Bad

It’s just days to NaNo. For the last 3 years, October has been the most productive month of the year, not so this year. Usually I think I need to get ready for writing 1,667 words a day by consistently writing daily. I think I kind of forgot that this year. Maybe this year I’m going for resting before NaNo!

Lets look at my goals this week, and how I’ve done:

Writing: 100 words a day on 5 days, or NaNo prep on those days. I did some prep on Monday and Tuesday. That is all. Just a few days left till NaNo, so I guess I’m doing a lot of prep in the next few days. Storyline, character names, character personalities, etc. etc. I’ve got a lot to do! I can do some tonight, it’s not too late.

Writing: 1,000 words creative writing posted to my blog. SUCCESS. On Friday I posted a story I wrote last year about Aliens and microwaves. That’s £5 in my fund from the boyfriend.

Blogging: 1 book review, 2 check-ins and the creative blog. Done, done, done! Woop!

Exercise: Gym or run 2 days. Pass.

Eating: ‘Fasting’ 1 day, 1,400 for 5 days. I did the ‘fasting,’ although I managed 623 not 500 words, but it was still good, so happy with that. Not so happy with the other 5 days and the lack of counting over those. How about I try again this week?

 

I like these goals, so I’m going to use them this week. Well until Thursday anyway. Thursday –  Sunday my writing goal will be 1,667 words.

Usually, I’m feeling good about NaNo, but this year I’m just feeling a little dread. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not doing chick-lit, and a little worried that I’m not going to be able to do this thriller/black comedy thing. I don’t know if it will have any comedy. I don’t know if it will be a thriller. All I do know at the moment, is that it’s called Love Authority. At least I’ve got a title, that’s better than the one I started in 2009, it’s still called ‘Holiday,’ with the ”.

On a final note, My Christmas cake is in the oven. I’m really excited, it’s the first one I’ve ever made. It’s going to be in the oven for another couple of hours. Unless I had it on too high a temperature for the first 2 hours. Oops!

Enjoy your last couple of days of freedom before NaNo if you’re doing it!

Aliens and Microwaves – An Old #FictionFriday

When Steve and I were discussing me posting my writing, and the terms behind the £5 per week insentive, we decided what I post, could either be something new, written that day/week, or something old, and edited. I think the idea is to get me in the habit of editing, so I go and do it to one of the novels I’ve got finished (or nearly finished).

With that in mind, I thought for the first week that I posted some writing, it would be cool to post the last Fiction Friday piece I wrote. It was over a year ago, so I couldn’t remember it, but searched on my blog, and decided it was a good one.

If you’ve not heard of Fiction Friday, I’ll explain. The guys over at Write Anything, used to post a prompt for Fiction Friday. It could be a picture, a sentence, a snippet of a conversation, anything. Participants had to write, using the prompt for at least 5 minutes, then post their work on their blog, unedited.

When I first started ‘playing,’ it was terrifying. 1) Posting MY work, 2) Posting my work, UNEDITED. I got over the fear, and loved it. Unfotrunately, life got in the way, so I couldn’t ‘play’ as much as before, and I think the same happened for other participants, and Write Anything stopped doing it. It was a shame, I really miss it.

Like I said this following piece, is the final time I played. I used to post the prompt first, but I think this time, I’ll post the writing, then the prompt. I warn you, it’s not my usual pink and fluffy chick-lit, there’s a sci-fi feeling to it (Aliens, duh!).

Don’t worry. Don’t worry. It’s a hoax. Of course it’s a hoax. I mean, Aliens don’t exist do they? Of course they don’t.

Except I’ve always felt that they do. The universe is huge, and you can’t tell me, that in something as large as it is (which I can’t even comprehend), there’s no other intelligent life forms? Of course there is. But they’re certainly not coming to earth. And certainly not walking out of the microwave.

It has to be a hoax. Aliens walking out of microwaves. You couldn’t write about it, it’s so strange. But the BBC reported it. The BBC, one of the most credible news sources in the world reported it. They don’t do hoaxes. Not even on April 1st, and it’s not April 1st. Well maybe sometimes on April 1st, but it’s NOT April 1st.

It’s not, is it? Have I gone mad? It’s… When it is? My mind’s gone blank. It’s… Of course, it’s May 2nd. It’s Julie’s 10th Birthday tomorrow.

Julie. Julie and Billy. Where are they? Why aren’t they at home with Tom? He didn’t say they were all going out, and he would’ve told me. If they didn’t have any specific plans, they wouldn’t have got out the house this early. Not on a Saturday.

I try the land line again and it rings out. The feeling of dread grows. One of the kids always gets the phone. They race for it. It’s their greatest competition. So why aren’t they answering? They must be up. They can never stay in bed past 7am at the weekend. Ironic when you have to literally drag them out during the week. Those weekend cartoons!

I turn off my phone and throw evil looks at my stereo. Why isn’t it working. Of course I know Billy and his love of putting things in holes they don’t belong is what’s wrong. Sweets don’t fit well in the CD hole. God I hope he’s ok. I hope they’re all ok.

Is it me, or is the street quieter than it should be at ten to nine on a Saturday morning? I have no real way of knowing, I’m usually either at work, or still at home watching cartoons at this time, but it feels quieter. The whole way over, I’ve only see about three other cars. That can’t be right can it? Is something wrong? It is isn’t it? Oh no.

Words from the TV report I was watching flood my head as I pull up on our road. ‘Government warnings… Don’t use microwaves… waves are facilitating their descent to earth… Unplug… Do not use.’ Even though I’m less than 500 meters from home, I try the phone again.

Come on, come on. COME ON Tom. Answer the phone. Answer it. Damn.

That’s it. I can see the house. IT looks normal. Except that noise. What is that noise? Shit, it’s my heart. It’s not natural to beat that fast.

The curtains are still drawn. I can tell that the lounge light is on. Why the hell isn’t anyone answering the phone?

I pull up on the drive and am out the seat before I’ve got a chance to turn the ignition off. Sod the car. My hand’s trembling as I put the key in the lock. Shit, stay still hand. Stay still.

‘Kids! Tom!’ I shout as I finally get the door open.

‘MUM!’ I hear from the lounge, along with a scrambling sounds of them getting up and dashing to me.

‘Julie. Billy. My babies. You’re ok. You’re ok.’ They’re ok. Calm down. They’re ok. I want to hold them forever, never let them out of my sight again, but before I know it they’re off, back to whatever show they’re watching.

‘Why didn’t you answer the phone?’ I shout to their retreating backs.

‘Daddy says it’s broken,’ Billy shouts to me from in front of the TV. ‘The man from Bee Teas has to come and fix it.’

Of course. Of course. It’s been on the blink for a few days. OF course. Everyone’s ok.

‘Where’s your dad?’ I ask as I put my bag down on the sofa.

‘In the kitchen. I’m having a strawberry Nesquik.’

 ‘I’m having a chocolate one.’

‘Yes, but my Strawberry one is nicer…’

The sounds of them arguing fades as I realise the implications of what they’re saying. Julie likes it hot. Hot milk means Microwave. NOOOOOOOO.

‘TOM!’ I turn immediately and run down the hall. ‘TOM! TOOOMMMMM!’ I hear nothing except the sound of my blood running through my veins and my breathing. The kitchen door is closed. Shit. Why’s the kitchen door closed?

I freeze for a second when I get to the door, terrified of what’s behind it. ‘Tom?’ I slowly open the door. ‘To…’

Tom is standing immediately inside the kitchen. His face freezes me. I’ve never seen such a look of horror on anyone. I’ve never understood what people mean when they say someone’s gone white. Tom is practically translucent. His dark eyes look hollow, and he’s actually trembling. It doesn’t take me long to realise why. Running round the floor are… things. Hundreds and hundreds of things. Not just the floor, the worktop, the table, the chairs. They’re climbing up the cupboards, and… oh god, they’re all over the ceiling. Every surface of the kitchen is covered in white things running about. So many of them it looks like a wave of white over everything. They’re moving too fast for me to see what they are, but they look like… It sounds crazy but they look like Stigs. One inch high Stigs. Yes, Stigs from TVs Top Gear. I think they look like one inch men with huge white heads and white boiler suits.

I can tell the look on Tom’s face is reflected in mine as they start coming out the kitchen and filling the hall. What the hell? I’m frozen. I’m not even exaggerating. They’ve done something and I can’t move. Nothing. Not my arm, not my legs.

Oh god the kids. I can’t see behind me, but I imagine they’re scurrying for the lounge. They’re so quiet though.

‘Daaaad! Where’s my Nesquik?’ It’s the last thing I hear before I black out.

 

When I come to, everything’s white and cold…

 

The prompt it came from is:

The government has issued a warning that a particular (and common) household item has begun to have an unusual side effect on pets ( or children, or adults) . You realise that own this item and cannot contact anyone at home to check or warn them. When you arrive, you see…

So, did you like it? Did you love it? Did you think it was any good at all, or did it bore you? Are you still even reading this? Please, let me know your thoughts, I can take negative, as well as positive.

Another New Goal

I know it’s more than halfway through the week, but I need to adjust my goals. Not massively. In fact, it’s not so much adjusting, as adding to.

My current goals are (with this week’s progress)

Writing – 100 words a day for 5 days, or work on prep for NaNo for those 5 days. Monday – lots of prep for NaNo. Tuesday a little prep. Wednesday none. That’s fine, I’m going to try to work everyday for the rest of the week, because Tuesday’s prep really wasn’t up to much!

Blogging – 2 Check-ins for ROW80, 1 Book review. Monday posted a book review (The Snowman by Jo Nesbo), and now toady’s check-in. OK, so the check-in is late, but better late than never!

Exercise – gym or run twice. Not done anything yet. Planning to go to the gym tomorrow, and running Saturday, but not too confident on that one.

Eating – 1400 or less calories a day for 5 days, 1 day ‘fasting’ (500 calories). Today is my fasting day. I’ve had strawberries, blueberries and yogurt. I’ve got salad for lunch, and vegetables in tomato sauce for dinner. My stomach knows I’m dieting even though I would have had that for breakfast anyway – it’s been growling since 10am (I only had breakfast at 8am!). Lets not think about the other days where I should have eaten 1400 or less.

Those are my current goals, which I’m doing ok with. Now, my extra goal.

Blogging – post one blog with my creative writing a week.

This was my boyfriend’s idea. A few years ago, I used to take part in Fiction Friday, where you were given a prompt, you wrote for at least 5 minutes from it, then you post it. Yes, you post what you wrote, you didn’t even have to edit or anything.

It was scary at first, but when I’d done it a few times, I got quite used to it. It became, dare I say, easy to post my stuff. It was great, because I was getting comments on my stuff, but more importantly, I was doing that getting my stuff out there thing.

Boyfriend pointed out yesterday, that I haven’t posted any of my writing for months, or maybe years, which means when I’m in the position of sending out my manuscript to get an editor, it’s going to be even more terrifying than it could have been when I was posting stuff weekly.

Therefore, he’s decided that for every week that I post some writing (not including blogs) of over 1,000 words, he’s going to put £5 in a pot for me, to spend on anything I want. Oh, with the exception of anything I NEED, because I should be buying that anyway. Woop! Do I not have the best boyfriend in the world?

So now I have another goal this week. I’m excited, but also a little scared. That’s another think I need to think about. However with NaNo round the corner, it’s going to be ok. I hope!

Speaking of NaNo, I’m going to the London kick-off party this evening. I can’t wait. I was debating whether to do NaNo this year or not, but the thought of the parties and events was enough to make me want to! Forget the writing, it’s about the social life, right?

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo Review

SOON THE FIRST SNOW WILL COME. 
A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Their house is empty but outside in the garden he sees his mother’s favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman. 
AND THEN HE WILL APPEAR AGAIN. 
As Harry Hole and his team begin their investigation they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. 
AND WHEN THE SNOW IS GONE… 
When a second woman disappears it seems that Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed: for the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his home turf. 
…HE WILL HAVE TAKEN SOMEONE ELSE.
 
 
I got given this ages ago, but hadn’t read it, something else always came up. Plus I’d not read any Jo Nesbo books before, plus it says ‘The Next Steig Larrson,’ which kind of put me off a little (although I loved his books, they were a little long, and so much pointless info was in them!). I finally read it then as nothing else was appealing on my shelf, and really wish I’d read it before.
Harry Hole is the MC, an alcoholic detective hunting a serial killer. He’s not perfect (alcoholic, so obviously not), but his flaws make him a great character.
There are quite a few twists in the novel, and things that seem pointless as a reader (but as a writer I know different), so I was constantly trying to work out who the killer was, if it was even a character that had been introduced. I was still surprised in the end, although it was more of a ‘oh yeah, of course’ than a shock. Brillinatly done though.
The only thing I’d say negatively about the book, was the final paragraph, it didn’t seem to make sense to me. I had to google it, to try to work out what I’d missed. It seemed I wasn’t the only one – I found quote a few forums and blogs questioning what it was about. No one had a concrete answer, but a few made enough sense for me to almost be happy with it. Gotta say, I’d love to meet Nesbo to ask him.
 

Pointless Sunday Check-in

Oh dear. Another few days have gone by without me doing some writing. Again. I’ve got excuses though – busy at work, a night out, a hangover, shopping, a night out, and well, none today. Unless I can say reading and cooking is an excuse?

This week coming should be better. I’m going home to my Mum’s tomorrow (an hour and half on the train), then back to London on Tuesday (slower train, so two and half hours), so that’s  good bit of time to write. I’m out Wednesday and Thursday and Saturday, so they won’t be so good. I’m going to lower my goal – instead of writing every day, I’ll write 5 days. Here are my goals:

Writing – write 100 words 5 days.

Blogging – Wednesday and Sunday check-ins, and 2 book reviews.

Exercise – gym or run twice

Eating – 1400 or less calories 5 days and 500 calories 1 day.

Running is getting hard to do for me – trying to force myself out when it’s cold is very hard. Gym is good. I went this week, which I’m really happy with, it’s the first time that’s always the hardest. After the first time, I always find it easier to go the next time.

I didn’t manage the fasting day this week, there always seemed to be some reason. I’ll try harder this week.

So those are my goals.

This week also has the NaNo kick off party on Thursday (and one on Sunday, but I can’t make that). Can’t wait. Although I still need to come up with more idea for the novel. Maybe I’ll do that instead of writing some days.