Tag Archive | Before I Go to Sleep

My Week Reviewed

I’m almost ashamed to post my achievements this week – there are none. I had one goal for the week, ONE and I didn’t even achieve that.

Up to now, my weekly goals have been to spend some time over 3 days, reading my novel, to blog (ROW80 check-in), to write a book review, and to do some exercise. This week, I can’t remember why, but I just set myself the goal of editing. My boyfriend was away, so I’d planned to come home and work on the novel, not turn on the TV, not do anything, but read, read, read. Not too hard eh? Uh, wrong. Lets look at my excuses… uh… reasons.

With boyfriend away from Wednesday, I planned to start on Wednesday.

London had tube strikes Wednesday and Thursday. The tubes on my normal way to work, weren’t running where I needed them to, or on my back up, or last resort way. I had to find another way there, and back. Getting there wasn’t too bad, but on Wednesday, I didn’t want to risk getting stuck, so I thought I’d walk part way home (I work about 10km from home, walkable, but not the whole way, on my own at night, and not with my laptop, or in the evening). I walked about 3/4km then got the tube. When I got home it was late. I ate and crashed in front of the TV, exhausted – no energy for editing/reading (note, had I have had exercise as a goal, that would be a win!).

On Thursday, I stayed at work until 8pm. Got home at 9.30pm, no way I was going to do anything then. Friday I had dinner plans.

Saturday, I found a novel I started reading – Undreamed by Paul Western’Pittard – and COUDLN’T PUT IT DOWN. I’m not exaggerating. I started reading it at 10am, had to get up to (poorly) clean the flat (for a viewing, but I was hung over, so it was very poor), then sat back down with it. I made food, but while I ate it, and the whole rest of the day, I read it until I finished. It was brilliant. If you’ve not heard of it, go look now here. Buy, read. You won’t regret it. I love psycholgical thrillers – this reminded me a lot of one of my favorite books – Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson.

Anyway, by the time I’d finished it on Saturday, it was pretty much bedtime, no time for anything else.

Today, I realised that I don’t have any paper at home, so couldn’t print off the next bit of my novel to read – classic excuse eh.

It’s not all that bad. I read 20 pages on my journeys  on Thursday and Friday, I just wanted to do more.

I have found that there’s a lot missing from the version I’ve printed off. I think I probably saved different sections as different files. I hope, because otherwise I’ve lost some. I hope it’s on my boyfriend’s external hard drive. Tomorrow, I’ll get paper, and check. Fingers crossed please.

Another reason this week wasn’t all bad, is that I nearly missed my tube stop TWICE because I was so into the novel. That’s good, right.

I need to thank Laura for sending me texts from ‘my novel.’ Had she not done this, I’m sure the week would have been a total disaster. She reminded me about it. Thanks buddy!

I still wish I’d put exercise on my goals list last week – I went for a run today, and I’ve been kind of doing my own 30 day squat challenge. Ish. It is exactly as what it sounds like, 30 days of squats (with breaks every 4/5 days for rest). I don’t know the exact number of squats you’re supposed to do, but I’ve been doing them while I clean my teeth almost daily. Not too bad. I also did a lot of walking.

Goals for this week:

2x runs, 2x 20 minute + walks, 2x 10 minute walks (getting off the tube a stop earlier)

Print off another section of The Man of My Dreams. I’ve got another 12 pages, that I know about. Maybe the missing bits are in those 12 – I think I’ve got more missing than that though.

Read said 12 pages. 

Find the missing pages of The Man of My Dreams (pray they’re on the hard drive). Print more.

Read more. 

Start with sticky notes of plot points etc. I started this way back, last year, the year before? But I’ve put them in a note book, rather than up. They’re no where near complete. I’ve got blue butterflies and hot pink squares. That’s pretty cool right – should give me a push! Hope boyfriend won’t mind me decorating the bedroom walls/mirror again!

Fast twice – at least – I also managed this last week! Up until today, I’d lost weight. I need to stop weighing myself daily!

2 book reviews, one for here, one for Novelkicks.

I think that’s very achievable. Here’s to a good week – this will be my best week this year, who am I kidding, since NaNo 2012, if I achieve everything!

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SJ Watson and Rachel Joyce at Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival

The problem with following so many people on Twitter, is that sometimes I don’t hear about cool things until it’s too late. Last week I heard about something cool, luckily in time – The Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival. Awesome.

So I looked through the program, and saw a few things that interested me, and then I saw SJ Watson (author of one of my favourite books of the year ‘Before I Go To Sleep’) and I knew I had to go to that. Not only was it him talking, it was also Rachel Joyce (author of ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry,’ which I’ve not read, but is on my TBR list), and the title of their event was ‘What Makes a Successful Debut Novel a Global Winner.’

I was under no illusions that I would go there and get the secret to hgetting a global, or even national winning novel – I’ve been to enough author talks to know there isn’t a magic formula – but I knew I had to go. And luckily for me there were still tickets, and also luckily for me, I could take the day off work to go (it was 2pm, so I debated just taking the afternoon off, but not going to work on a Monday morning was way too appealing). I got a ticket, and looked forward to it ever since.

As normal at this kind of thing, both authors read pieces from their novels. Obviously I’ve read Before I Go To Sleep, so knew the opening scene he read. It was awesome though, hearing it read, by the author. I’ve not read The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, but like I said, it’s on my TBR list, and hearing it read out by the author has pushed it higher on the list.

After the readings Alison Barrows from Transworld (both of their publishers) asked them questions, and then the audience asked them questions. Obviously being a budding writer, some questions were more relevent and interesting to me.

Both attended the Faber Academy, which funnily enough I was reading about last week. It’s like a school for authors, and because of going, both met their agent there. I’m thinking it’s like The Brits School for singers – it seems all new singers come from there! It’s something I’d love to do, but it’s slightly more expensive than I can justify at the moment. Ah well, lots of people still get published without going there.

I’m reading my notes from the event now, and cringing at the bad writing, why didn’t I try to make it more legible?

Watson and Joyce are very similar with their writing processes. For instance, neither plot before they write (I know this doesn’t work for me, surprisingly, I have to have a plot, very unlike me!), and both really explore the character and really get the character, before the story takes shape. Again, I’m different, in that I think of the story, and then the characters. I know from reading countless other things, my ways of these aren’t bad – they’re just different.

SJ Watson said something that I thought was brilliant. ‘I thing the biggest reason people don’t get published is their book isn’t good enough.’ It sounds stupid to be so enthralled with that comment, but he’s totally right. If your book IS good enough, and you put the work in, the chances are you’ll get published.

Which leads me nicely to the next thing they (both) said. Before trying to get an agent/publisher you really need to make the story as good as it can be. Go over and over it until you can’t make it any better. This is something that worries me, because I’m scared I’ll get bored of the novel and think, you know what, that’s good enough, and start sub-ing it to agents, knowing if I spent longer on it I’d get it better. That’s me, I’ll get bored of going over and over it. Hopefully not, and hopefully writing this down will make me consider this later down the line (you know, when the book is finished, and I’m part way through editing or think I’ve got it ‘good enough.’ In fact, I might write it out as a quote and stick it up somewhere (oh the boyfriend will love me for that!).

The last thing I’m going to mention that they said, is that you really, really need to try to get an agent/editor. They said people think that one will just come to them, or they’ll find one easily, they said it’s a lot of work, and has to be worked and worked on.

After all this, unfortunately the alloted hour was up, the questions stopped and we had to say goodbye. Or nearly.

Both Joyce and Watson were hanging around to sign books. As I don’t have The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, and really can’t afford to buy it this week, I couldn’t ask Joyce to sign mine, but I could ask Watson, and did. I had a little chat with him, which was nice, and he signed my copy of Before I Go To Sleep. YAY! A signed copy of it, not just signed, but written to me.

I had a great afternoon (even if it was just an hour), and came home all inspired to write. In fact, I wrote 354 words when I got home. If only I could have an event like this every week!

Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson Review

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

This was chosen as our book club book for last month. Each month one of us suggests a few books, and we all decide which we like the most.

For some reason I love books about memory – The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner, and films too – Memento and 50 First Dates. Without reading any of the other book descriptions, I KNEW I wanted to read this on. I knew that if it wasn’t the chosen one for the book club, that I’d still have to read it.

I was gripped from the off, you’re literally thrown in there with her and feel the horror of what she’s going through from page one. It starts with her waking up, thinking she’d had a one night stand and is in her mid twenties. She runs to the bathroom, to find she’s actually 20 years old.

I loved this book so much. The writing was so real, you felt you were there going through it with her. Every time I put it down (which wasn’t many, I read it very fast), I shuddered at the thought of going through that – of forgetting everything that had happened the day before, of not remembering my partner, having to fall in love with him again each day. Horrible.

The thing that wrecked it for me, was that it won two crime awards – Crime Writers’ Association Award for Best Debut Novel and Galaxy National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year. Great things for the author, really great things, but it meant I read it wondering about the crime. Instead of just reading it and letting the story come to me, I was looking deeper into everything to find the crime. That’s not a criticism of the novel, I couldn’t get enough of the novel, I just wish it hadn’t been branded on the cover.

I strongly recommend this novel. All three of us that read it (yeah, it’s a small book club, more just friends getting together, and deciding on a book to all read), totally loved it. I think you will too!

Something’s Better Than Nothing

Hi! I’m still alive. I don’t even want to look at the date of my last blog, it will be way too depressing. From my visitor stats (which go up massively when I blog) I can tell it’s not been for a while. A long while. Sorry!

Shall I throw out the old excuses? I’ve been so busy at work, it’s causing me to be so tired, I’m reading too much I don’t have time for blogging… Oops, how did that get in there? That’s not a good excuse. It’s an excuse, but it’s a terrible one. I shouldn’t be reading instead of blogging -or writing for that matter.

I’ve always got that old ‘to be a good writer you have to read a lot’ old nugget, but I seem to remember I used that in my last blog (wow, I can remember things really long ago!).

If I’m truthful, at the moment, blogging and writing aren’t really even in my mind. I hardly ever think about doing either. It’s bad. The good thing is though, that when I thought about writing on Sunday, I actually did some. Only 250 words, but everything large starts with something small.

My new job is taking up a whole load of my day, and if I’m honest night. I’m working way more than 7 hours a day, even if sometimes it’s just through my lunch break (I took a whole hour yesterday, I think that’s the 3rd time since I’ve been in this role – 6 weeks). Last night I was here until 7. That’s unusual, but I often do an hour more at the end of the day. I check my emails so much too, almost first thing, just before bed. It’s crazy!

I keep telling myself that this is just the ‘setting up’ and ‘getting used to’ the job. I hope it is. The Building Manager I work with (that’s my role) leaves at 5 nearly everyday, so it is possible (of course she comes in much earlier than my 9.30!).

Anyway. I will get into a better habit of things soon. Until I do, I’m not going to make any elaborate promises of writing every day, blogging all the time, and reading less. Reading is probably good for me because it’s relaxing me. I won’t make these promises because I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that I won’t keep them! I will at some point get back on the writing and blogging train (I have a novel to finish after all), lets just hope it’s sooner, rather than later!

Ooh, before I go, I should probably mention the books I’ve read recently(if I can remember them): Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson – read it for my  book club and totally loved it, couldn’t get enough of it, brilliant. Although scared me a little. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green – I don’t know why this appealed to me (Cecelia Ahern If You Could See Me Now anyone?) but it did, and I’m so glad it did. I couldn’t put it down. And I’m totally adding it to my list for Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge.