Random Writing Tip #2 – Paper

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I don’t really like writing tips. I find them to be mostly the same regurgitated crap all over the internet. But after being stuck in a total editing rut for weeks I decided to take action and put into practice some of the editing tips I’ve heard about, but completely ignored previously. 

And I feel a bit stupid because one of them actually really helped. 

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I have no idea where this gif is from but I love this girl’s style.

OK, so what’s the tip? It’s freaking PAPER you guys! I know right? It’s just paper. 

I printed out my first nine chapters…

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Then went to bed with all the bits of paper, a cup of tea, some tea light candles,  my iPhone speakers which are awesome and in the shape of a cat, and a metallic purple pen. I like this one from Paperchase. And I sat there, in bed. And I read the first four chapters in one sitting, purple penning as I went. 

And most of it wasn’t so bad. I didn’t hate it nearly as much as I thought I was going to! 

Everything looks different on paper. It looks real. It looks like a real manuscript. Real words on real paper. It’s almost like it’s parts of a book! 

If you don’t do this already, get yourself some printed pages and get to bed immediately! x

 

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Writer’s funk

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I’m in a total writer’s funk. Everything I write is crap. Everything I’ve already written is crap. Everything I edit is crap. Everything I have ever written in my whole entire life – crap. It’s not even writer’s block. Writer’s block is like you have nothing, writer’s funk is like you have SO MUCH but it’s all trash. I could sit here and type for days but nothing good is going to come out.

So I’ve written this whole YA novel, like a second draft. It’s totally rough as guts and most of it doesn’t make sense (time travel is HARD!). I got to the point where I couldn’t do it on my own any more, and because I’m not super rich or anything I recruited a couple of friends to help out, you know, just reading what I have and giving me some first impressions, what works for them, what doesn’t, you know the deal.

You might think that my funk is due to the feedback I’ve gotten and I’m all sad and crying because everyone thinks my novel is crap. But actually, the feedback has been really positive and helpful and I probably don’t deserve any of the nice things they have said because it’s SO BAD.

Every time I open a chapter to send it to someone as an email I’m re-reading it because it’s been a while since I looked at the first few chapters and everything I read is TERRIBLE!

I was reading a chapter this morning, the bit where my protagonist goes back in time, I mean that’s meant to be a big part of the story right? And as I read it I was like – OMG this is so boring. Nothing is interesting, my character sucks, my setting sucks and my story sucks.

MY WHOLE BOOK SUCKS!

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But does it really suck? Or do I just think it sucks? Am I just having a bad day? Because sometimes I re-read chapters and I giggle to myself and I think – tee hee, that’s really good!

But not today.

Am I just in a funk or should I give up all my dreams of ever being a published YA author?

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Of course I know I won’t give my dreams away. I know I’m just having a bad day but I also know I need to put in a hell of a lot more work. But is all this hard work worth it?!

I guess this is when you start asking yourself – why am I doing this?! Why do I put myself through weekends and evenings and sunny Fridays off work to sit at a laptop and want to throw it out the window because I can’t even make time travel exciting.

So why am I doing this? I could be spending my free time doing something else, like reading Insurgent, continuing my Tru Calling marathon from yesterday (OMG have you seen that show? I LOVE IT!), going outside, I mean the sun is out for the first time since October, or I could sleep, or clean, or I could do some knitting.

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So why do I do it? Why do I have these super shitty days where I think I’m the worst writer on the face of the planet and it’s all for nothing and KEEP DOING IT?

*Shrugs*

Because I love it. Even when I hate it. I don’t really hate it. I hate that I don’t think I’m good enough, but I’ll just have to get good enough.

Real Genius

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Real Genius (1985) was allegedly inspired by and based on real events that took place at the California Institute of Technology in California. I would seriously like to have dinner with these people if that is true because this is one of the most ridiculous movies I’ve seen in ages!

10 reasons to watch Real Genius!

1. Val Kilmer. I think this is his best work, I’m not even joking. His character was awesome, I never doubted it for a second. This was the first time I’ve ever seen him in a movie and thought he was even a little bit attractive. I think it’s the antennas.

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2. This totally awesome 80’s tee!

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3. Making coins out of liquid nitrogen for the coffee machine. That’s just soooooo 80’s!

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4. Inventions! Those crazy kids are always building cool stuff that hasn’t been invented in the 80’s yet, like this thing below.

tumblr_mnjjllAD211qk5mr2o1_5005. Val Kilmer’s footwear.

chrisknight146. Freaking LASERS!

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7. The future of distance Ed.

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8. Deb Foreman from Valley Girl making an appearance and using the most awesome pick up line on Val Kilmer.

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9. Nerds eating pizza.

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10. POPCORN!

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DNF and LOVE!

I just came across this blog post on Bookmarked Pages about DNFing this afternoon while taking a break from being obsessed with young Axl Rose, eating cheese popcorn and working on my sequel. And I got to thinking about how the whole DNF thing is basically exactly the same as LOVE.

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What’s a DNF? In this context, it’s a book you Did Not Finish. As in, Outlander was so long and the sex scenes bugged me so I DNFed.

As I was reading this post I thought about my own reasons for doing a DNF. The main reason I DNF is if I’m just not enjoying myself that much, if there’s no spark, no connection. If the book isn’t making me want to pick it up and read it it’s looking like a DNF.

Do you know how many books there are in the world? I don’t. No one does! Now that we have self publishing on the internet pretty much every person on the planet is working a novel, which means that including all the books already written, there are a hell of a lot of them out there. So why are you reading a book you don’t love? Why are you reading anything less than a page turner?

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Some reasons I’ve done a DNF:

1. The plot is going nowhere. Nothing has happened for about 100 pages.

2. The characters suck, you don’t care about any of them.

3. It just annoys the hell out of you for some reason – bad sex scenes (my bugbear!), unrealistic dialogue, things that don’t make sense, people dressing badly, annoying characters, etc. etc.

4. It’s really badly written – I actually don’t mind a badly written book if it’s got a good story, The Ghost and the Goth books are a good example of this, not great literature, but a fast paced cute story with a crushable protagonist.

5. It’s not your style, you don’t connect, you don’t know why, it’s just not working.

6. You have a pile of books about a mile high of other books to read, including a John Green book.

7. Your life is too short for this.

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So why do you keep going when you should probably just DNF?

1. You think it’s going to get better. Hello, you’ve read more than half of this book, it’s had it’s chance to woo you!

2. You don’t want to seem like some kind of failure. Reading a whole book you don’t like is not a success people!

3. Everyone else read it and thought it was awesome. There must be something wrong with you. Don’t worry, I’m the only person I know who has liked The Ghost and the Goth books, who cares? You can DNF that book, I won’t change the way I think of you. If I did I would be a jerk. I also DNFed The Host even though I loved Twilight, so yeah. No judgement here.

4. You have nothing better to do. OMG, go to a book store or hit up Good Reads or Amazon or one of my fave sites, FYA and look at the book reports for inspiration because there are SO MANY GOOD BOOKS in the world. Or send me a message and I’ll send you some chapters of my current draft and you can give me some feedback. Or look at cats on the internet because that’s fun too.

So how does this relate to relationships? Argh, do I have to spell it out? This whole post has been a metaphor for your relationship!

I’m so lucky because my current relationship is like a John Green novel. But I’ve been there kids, I’ve been in a DNF, quite a few actually. And sometimes, you just have to put that book down, go out to Waterstones with a Starbucks in your hand and find the YA (or genre of your fancy) section and browse around a little because there are WAY too many good books out there to be reading something you don’t just love.

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Divergent dissected

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May the odds be ever in your… faction?

Dystopia is the new Vampire and I have to admit it, I’m so over dystopian YA novels even though everyone else seems to love them. So I really didn’t want to give in to the hype and read Divergent, it just looks soooooo Hunger Games. but when I saw on YouTube that John Green was reading it I was like, OK, if I want to be like John Green, I should do what John Green does.

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But guess what? I’m so glad I did, because it was AWESOME!

I’m going to rate Divergent today using the Twilight test*.

[*Disclaimer – Although I think Bella is lame and Edward is a little creepy I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Twilight. I even went to Forks on a vacation.]

The Bella Swan test (or the how lame is the protagonist and could they beat Bella in a fight? test)

I’m sad to say it, but Tris is a little lame. She kind of reminded me of Bella in that shell of a female character type of way. She is [SPOILER!] Divergent in a world of factions which is meant to be this really amazing crazy rare thing that can get you killed but I didn’t really think she was all that amazing. She has these super mind powers but not much personality. Just like Bella is Vampire heroin and ends up saving the world even though she’s boring as bat poo. I didn’t totally buy a lot of Tris’ Dauntlessness, she often came across more as an agnsty Abnegation than anything, even though she can jump off a building. Bella became a vamp but it didn’t make her any more fun either. Who would win in a fight? Tie probably.

The Edward Cullen test (or the how brooding is the romantic lead? test)

Four is a total book crush. The description of him in the book is kind of vague – ‘He has a spare upper lip (what does that even mean?) and a full lower lip. His eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are a dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting colour.’ I like the bit about his eyes, but the rest is like huh? What about his hair? As we get to know him a little more I make up my own mind about how he looks anyway and  trying to avoid any images from the soon to be released movie as much as possible. For me he was kind of rock star slash emo slash skater boi, kind of like a young Jared Leto in eye liner but with more muscle. I had a bigger crush on him before we knew his real name [SPOILER] is Tobias. Tobias is just not a sexy name Veronica Roth. Having said that my sexy lead male is called Sammy. But he rocks it. Tobias rocks Four but not Tobias. Who would win in a fight? Four. He’d take down Edward Cullen by being too cool to even fight him. He wouldn’t waste his time on Edward Cullen, he’s too busy taking down the government getting a new tattoo.

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The Vampire Heroin test (or the sexual tension test)

Totally awesome at the start. So much build up between these two just made me go – OMG he touched her arm! Eeeeeeee! But then towards the end [SPOILER) it got a little like then they kissed, then they kissed again. Meh. Once they kiss for the first time the sexual tension is all down hill from there and so you better have a good plot from there on in, which this book does. Yay!

The Cullens test (or the meet the parents test)

Tris’ family are so cute, and her Mom is like – OMG. Something sinister is going on with Four’s Dad but we don’t totally know all about it just yet… Caleb, Tris’ bro seems pretty cool I guess, he seems like he has a lot of potential to be even more cool and do something pretty awesome over the course of the next two books (am I right?! I’ve only just started Insurgent!) so let me get back to you on that one.

The cafeteria test (or the who do you wanna eat lunch with? test)

Christina. She’s a pretty cool chic and a good friend, but Tris is always off snooping around or doing something without inviting her along and then later moping about how Christina did something without her. Not the greatest friendship, but it’s got potential. Well, maybe not…

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The Renesmee test (or the how stupid is the story line but did you keep reading anyway? test)

Pretty stupid, like how can you divide a society into five factions based on their responses to a test? I did the test and I got Amity. But I’m pretty sure I’m divergent because even though I picked the blue shoes (because I wanted to get Amity) I really liked the black Dauntless ones. So yeah, at times the metaphor was a bit too obvious, but I didn’t really care anyway, because I got totally sucked in and just allowed it. Even though it was a bit stupid, it was totally awesome. But then, isn’t that what YA novels are meant to be all about? Twilight sucked me in hardcore even though I hated parts of the story and most of the characters (I’m so team Jasper FYI). But at no point was anything in this book as stupid as Renesmee, because Renesmee was just like…

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The Wuthering Heights test (or the would you stay up all night reading it while waiting for your boyfriend to sneak in through the window test)

Yes, yes I totally would. The writing is super simple, which kind of left me feeling empty at times, like give me some more description, what the hell hair colour is Four meant to have?! But it made for a speedy read, and the faster I read it the faster I got to the book store to get Insurgent so yes. I would stay up all night reading it but maybe not past 11:45pm on a school night.

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10 reasons it’s about time to watch About Time

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Happy belated Valentine’s day kids! As a special treat the BF finally agreed to sit down and watch About Time with me. I’ve only been hassling him about it for a couple of months so really, it was about time he watched it with me. Har har!

Was it the best time travel movie I’ve ever seen? Nope. Was it a little bit 80’s? Nope. Did it have at least ten things going for it? Well yes, it sure did, and here they are in no particular order…

1. It’s just a little bit Narnia. How does our protagonist time travel? It’s genetic, and he can only do it in a closed space like a wardrobe. 10 out of 10 for time travel randomness.

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2. Bill Nighy can do it too. He uses time travel to read books. Using time travel to read more books? 10 out of 10 for excellent reasons to time travel. I could actually get through Outlander if only I could time travel in my wardrobe.

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3. Bill Weasley is in it. 0 degrees of Harry Potter separation. A+

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4. Gingers in Ray Bans. Need I say more?

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5. Rachel McAdams. Total girl crush.

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6. Rachel McAdam’s has really bad hair in this movie. Yes this is a reason to watch it. It’ll totally make you feel better about your own hair.

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7. Proper adults in animal onesies.

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8. Cornwall. It looks soooooo pretty!

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9. Making out on the Bakerloo line.

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10. The Dad love totally got me!

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Super cute, super romantic and totally corny. Watch it with someone corny or with some popcorn(y).

Four and a bit stars.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Shakespeare

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Love him or loathe him (I love him!), you’ve got to admit Shakespeare is kind of a legend in the writing biz (let’s not get into whether or not he really wrote this stuff because it will make the rest of this post much less exciting). So when destiny led me to Stratford Upon Avon a couple of weeks ago I had to go pay my respects to the man.

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The sign outside the church made him pretty easy to find. It costs £2 to go into the church and have a look. Seems a fair price to pay considering they’ve been looking after him for all these years.

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So here he was, and here I was. It was quite a moment. I felt totally connected, not only to Shakespeare himself but to like, everything. Here he was, the man who accomplished so much with his writing, not only in his own time, but for all time to come. He is a household name all over the world, generations of people have known and loved his work, and you know what, he was just a man.  Just like you and me (I’m not actually a man). He lived and he died, and in-between he wrote some pretty cool stories.

I’m not counting on this level of success for myself, in fact I don’t really want it, that’s like way too much responsibility. But I do really hope that one day people read my stories, and that they like them, and that when I die at least a couple of people on this planet come to see me because my stories made them happy.

And then, just when I thought I was about to explode from so much inspiration I decided to take a little detour on the way home and go and see some stone circles – the Rollright Stones. I tried to time travel through them, but it didn’t work for me on this particular day. Perhaps I needed a full moon, or a new moon, or to be there on a specific day and time and to walk around clockwise 9 times. I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure there’s a way. Stone circles are definitely time machines.

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