Welcome! Thanks for stopping by to catch up with my latest writing adventures.

Monday, 3 December 2012


Check out the badge to the right...go on...take a peek...yes, you read it right, I'm a NaNoWriMo WINNER!

I can hardly believe it myself.  I know I was better prepared this year, but even so, it surprised me how easy it was to get to the 50,000.  I hate to say 'easy', because it makes it sound like I could have done it whenever I felt like - though possibly this is true - and that I should have knocked out many multiples of 50k and produced a string of novels by now.  But it really did feel like a pleasurable experience, and looking back I can only remember a couple of days out of the thirty where it felt like a chore.  It almost doesn't feel real.

The extra and unexpected benefit is that I have made friends through NaNo.  I 'homed' myself to Chester and went along to their write-ins at least once a week, and this helped tremendously with my motivation (there were stickers as rewards - I'm a sucker for a sticker).  The online forums were the same.  And having a dedicated #writingbud in the form of a Facebook friend was a brilliant aid, as she and I 'raced' to each daily target and each milestone - 10k, halfway, 40k and on to the finish line.  I genuinely can't get over how different an experience it has been to 2010 and 2011, where I had no plan, no Scrivener and no writing buds (in person OR online).

The best part is that instead of being glad November is over and desperate for a break from my story, I'm finding that I'm missing writing every day.  This can only be a good thing!  Surely it means that I truly am A Writer?   Officially?  I've decided to take December off and then possibly take part in a 90 day challenge that runs from January 1st to March 31st - I'd like to write at least 500 words a day.  Previously this would have seemed daunting, but post-NaNo, 500 words seems like a brief word sneeze...  ;o)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Scrivener - a revelation

Hello loyal readers - and you truly must be loyal if indeed you are reading this after such a long hiatus.  After a good deal of personal turmoil, life is on the up again...and that means I can get back to writing! 

In preparation for NaNoWriMo 2012 I've treated myself to Scrivener - a piece of software designed for writers (of all kinds) as a sort of word processor/corkboard/research storage/Harry Potter-style 'room of requirement'.  That doesn't really do it justice, so please do find out more about it from the Scrivener people themselves here.  I only got it a couple of days ago, and am waiting for Scrivener for Dummies to turn up from Amazon before I get too far in, in case I'm teaching myself the wrong way to use it!  But what I've seen so far looks great.  Being able to keep everything in one place (instead of over a range of Word docs, picture files, web links etc) is AWESOME, and the corkboard feature means you can write separate scenes and rearrange them as you like.  I think having the freedom to write small chunks, knowing it will be easy to piece them all together will be quite liberating for me.  Writing in Word feels very linear, purely because of its ever-scrolling nature. 

This year's NaNo promises to be a whole new experience...I can't wait! 

Happy writing,


PS I bought my software using the discount code found at this website - 20% off is not to be sniffed at! 

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Booklog #24

I'm sure you're bored of reading apologies from me on here (assuming that anyone is still reading, of course) but again I must say sorry that it's been almost a full month since my last transmission.  I've been been busy either revising for my OU exam, or being ill, or both (not fun!).  But the exam has now been and gone - results due August 5th (eep!) - and the lurgy that's been draining me of both energy and brainpower has mostly cleared up now, so here I am to furnish you with the details of my latest reads.  Reading is about the only thing I've been able to manage in any spare time lately...

Since last booklog I've finished:

* Rattle His Bones ~ Carola Dunn
Would you believe it?  I actually got the murderer!!  I have to say though that it was more a case of guessing from a list of dodgy suspects than actual deduction...  4/5

* The Hemlock Cup ~ Bettany Hughes
A huge biography of Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher.  If you're not familiar with Bettany Hughes, she's a historian who has done a number of TV documentaries about various ancient world subjects.  Her writing is the same as her presenter style, so it feels as if she's talking to you, which is nice!  I won't go into huge detail, but if you're interested in learning about Socrates' life and death (by hemlock poison, hence the name) in relation to the social situation in Greece in the 5th century BC, this is your book!  4/5

* Unseen Academicals ~ Terry Pratchett
I'm a big Terry Pratchett fan so I knew I would enjoy this to a certain degree, but I do find that how much I enjoy them varies depending on the main 'topic' (he usually takes something familiar, such as Christmas, the post office or discovering Australia, and 'Discworldises' it).  This is about football so I wasn't overwhelmed with anticipation, but it was actually better than I expected.  If you're not familiar with Pratchett's style but want to try him, I would suggest starting at the very beginning of the series as it sets up so many of the characters that recur throughout the Discworld series.  Not that you need to read them in order, you really can pick up any of them and jump right in, but I personally would find it more enjoyable knowing the backstory where possible.  4/5

* Beyond the Bougainvillea ~ Dolores Durando
I chose this Kindle freebie as a bit of light relief and despite all the hardships that the heroine goes through (and there are a lot!) it was just that.   I don't usually go for romance/real-life (not 'real-life' as in true story, 'real-life' as opposed to fantasy or another more specific genre...what you might call 'everyday life' I suppose) but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed following Marge's journey from abused teenager in rural North Dakota to...well, I won't say how she ends up, let's just say...happier middle aged woman.  The ending was a little predictable, but I think the feeling of knowing what was coming added to the 'comfortable' feeling that I got reading this.  And as I was after a bit of gentle comfort reading, I was very happy with that. 4/5

* Mistress of the Art of Death ~ Ariana Franklin

Set in the 12th century, a female doctor specialising in autopsy (an absolute outrage in most parts of the world at that time...a woman?  Practising medicine?  Touching dead bodies?  Shocking!!) is sent from her home in Italy to England, along with a Jewish man renowned for his ability to solve mysteries.  Four children have been brutally murdered in the town of Cambridge and it is the task of these two to work out why and by who, as the murderer's actions have cast suspicions on the Jewish residents and this has caused civil unrest which has meant the King isn't receiving all the taxes he's owed (it's the King who requested that they come and investigate - still with me?). 

Of course as with any good murder mystery, the closer they get to the truth, the more dangerous it is for them and there are a good few surprises along the way.   I thought I'd worked out who the killer was, but as usual, was totally wrong.  It's very immersive - I really felt that I was in the 1100s with them (and of course as a history nerd I loved that) and though I wanted to find out who the killer was, I also didn't want it to end, which I think is a sign of some very good writing on Ms Franklin's part.   5/5

* The Girl in the Cellar ~ Patricia Wentworth
This was a cheap paperback I picked up in a discount book shop ages ago, I'd never heard of the 'Miss Silver' series, even though the back cover touts her as being another Miss Marple.  It has a peculiar writing style - it feels a bit like 'stream of consciousness' writing where every single thought that passes through the character's head is written down, including repetitions, stumblings and suchlike.  I found this a bit off-putting if I'm truly honest, but I suppose it could be a way of expressing the heroine's confusion (she has amnesia for much of the book).  As a mystery story, it's no Agatha Christie (certainly no Miss Marple!) but it's okay.  If you see it cheap, have a look!  3/5

* The Spartacus War ~ Barry Strauss
Just as it says really - an account of the war that took place to bring down the revolution ignited by the slave/gladiator Spartacus back in ancient Rome and as immortalised on film.  Nice conversational style, so is a pretty accessible read for anyone.  If you're interested in history then give it a try... 4/5

This puts me at 49/100 in the 100 Books in a Year Challenge - on track so far!  

Since last booklog I've started:

* The Body in the Transept ~ Jeanne M Dams (this is our new book club read, thought we'd have a break from Carola Dunn's 'Daisy Dalrymple' series)

* The Iliad ~ Homer (I figured that having studied little bits of it, I should probably read the whole thing for completion's sake...it'll be slow and over a long time though so get used to seeing it here!)

I'm still reading:

* Crime and Punishment ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky (over halfway through now)

Goodbye and happy reading!