Friday 24 September 2021

A Quick Catch Up


A Quick Catch Up

Can you believe we're at the tail end of September already?

Luckily, I LOVE September as we start to edge into autumn, with the weather cooling, the leaves falling, and the promise of Halloween. I haven't switched my summer clothes over for warmer ones in my wardrobe yet, but it will be happening soon (Jumpers! Snuggly cardis!)

The summer passed really quickly and I (finally) had my second pfizer jab, met up with some writer friends in Manchester (for the first time since Lockdown 1) and enjoyed the summer holidays with my girls.

Here's what else I've been up to over the past couple of months:

What Are You Working On?

I've just finished the first draft of a new book, which was a bit of a surprise as I hadn't planned on starting a new book until Nano. I wrote it over the summer and I really enjoyed discovering Tessa's story (you can find out more about it here).

The End

I've already plotted out the book I'll be writing for Nanowrimo, so I'm now writing some short stories. If you're a newsletter subscriber, you'll be able to read them soon (if you're not a subscriber yet but would like to be one, you sign up for free here)

What Are You Reading?

I'm currently reading The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams.
I loved Our Stop last year, so I've been really looking forward to diving into this one!

The Love Square | Laura Jane Williams

I've also recently read:

The Guest List by Lucy Foley | The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver | Autumn Dreams at Mermaids Point by Sarah Bennett | The River Home by Hannah Richell

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The River Home by Hannah Richell

What Are You Watching?

I've been getting my fix of quiz/game shows recently, with Only Connect and The Hit List being my favourites, and I've also been feeding my nerdiness with A House Through Time.

The kids and I recently discovered Ackley Bridge on Netflix (and found series 4 on All4) and we really enjoyed watching it. There isn't much that the three of us will sit and watch together, so this made it extra special.

The teen and I have been catching up on our crime dramas, including Vigil and Lucan and the first two episodes of Vera, and we loved the latest series of Ghosts. I'm really looking forward to watching the rest of this year's Bake Off and getting stuck into Strictly.

What Have You Been Instagramming?

Instagram Collage

Reading and writing in the garden, the flowers I've been growing, Luna and day trips.

You can find me on Instagram here

So that's what I've been up to over the summer. Let us know what you've been up to in the comments below :)

Wednesday 15 September 2021

The Accidental First Draft

The Accidental First Draft

Do you remember the list of writing goals I made for 2021? Nowhere on that list did it say write the first draft of a whole new, non-Nanowrimo book. Yet I finished one yesterday.

I was in the middle of planning Book 14 (which, because I sneaked the third instalment of the Beginner's Guide series in, is now Book 15*) when Tessa's story started niggling at me. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I like to plan my books a lot. I'm an uber-plotter. The book I'm going to start writing for Nanowrimo, for example, has already been planned out, chapter by chapter, so that I'm ready to go on 1st November. I didn't have a plan for Tessa's story. I had a first line, that kept repeating itself over and over in my head, so even though I was busy planning Book 15, I wrote it down. And I added a bit more. And then a bit more.

By the time I'd finished planning Book 15, I had one and a half chapters of Tessa's story, written in tiny instalments. I still didn't have a plan for this book, but I decided to carry on, to see where Tessa took me.

The End

She took me to almost 90,000 words. I somehow wrote a whole book, with a beginning, middle and an end, without a plan, without really meaning to. It's a rough first draft, but there's a story there. There are characters I've got to know over the summer, who I've grown to love, and it's a bit strange not to be discovering what happens next in Tessa's life this morning. But I know she's happy, and that brings me a lot of joy.

I'll be putting Tessa's story aside for now: I have a list of goals for 2021 that I'm still working on. But she'll be going on my list of goals for 2022 and I'm looking forward to returning to her world.

*To make matters even more confusing, Book 15, which I'll be working on during Nano, has been usurped by Tessa's story, so is now
Book 16?

Monday 6 September 2021

Back To School

Back To School

And just like that, they're back to school.

Isobel is in her uniform and she's just set off to start Year 8. She finished Year 7 at home, self-isolating after a positive case in her class bubble. It was the second time during July that she'd had to self-isolate and work online from home; she went back to school for a day and a half after the first time before the text came through to say she was being sent home.

The rules have changed during the summer holidays, so contacts of those who test positive shouldn't be sent home. In theory, this should mean less disruption to school (and, let's be honest, less time off for people in work) but as a parent, this doesn't make me feel any better because it isn't any safer. In fact, it's less safe. She's taken her mask to school, but we have no idea whether mask-wearing is ongoing, and who knows about the ventilation in the classrooms or the CO2 detectors that were promised? But we have to send them into school (if you look back to the 2020 home schooling posts, you will see I am no home educator).

Sea Life Centre magnet with turtles

Can we please re-do the summer holidays? It was a much more relaxed time as we sat in the garden when the weather allowed, watching the bees enjoying our flowers. We visited family and went to the Sea Life Centre (which, due to Covid restricting how many people were allowed in at one time, was lovely and calm, even in the middle of the school holidays). We went on walks with Luna, and we celebrated A Levels results. The teen and I were finally double-vaxxed (and even that was less stressful than this back-to-school stuff). And I somehow managed to write almost 80k of a new book I hadn't even planned.

Writing in the garden

It would be lovely to keep us cocooned in a perpetual summer holiday, but it's never going to happen. And I know we'll soon be back into the school day routine, learning how to navigate the updated Covid regulations. And before we know it, it'll be the summer holidays all over again.