Good Reads 2016 Challenge


I am doing the Good Reads reading challenge again this year. I love being able to track what I have been reading and it ensures I always have my head in a book when I have some free time.

I did a similar post to this last year, so I have decided again to post my thoughts about my favourite books of the year so far.

The Outsiders by S.E Hinton

The Outsiders

I was always a little curious about this novel. Quotes from this book (and the subsequent film adaptation) seem to come up in pop culture quite a lot. Also, when I lived in New Jersey, I knew a boy who had ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ tattooed across his stomach in huge letters! So I was quite happy to finally order a copy of the Outsiders and see what the fuss was all about.

It’s a fairly short read, and one I wish I had read when I was younger. I feel like it would have been a lot more relevant to me as a teenager. It’s scrappy and raw, a contemporary classic that truly reflects all the layers and pain of being young and misdirected.

The Lola Quartet by Emily St John Mandel

 The Lola Quartet

I have been slowly reading all of this author’s books. I loved Station Eleven, so thought I would check out the rest. I have The Singer’s Gun left to read, which I actually reserved and collected from my local library last week (recently re-discovered – how much fun libraries are!).

Firstly, I adore her writing style. It is detailed and slow burning. All the different strands of the story come together and nothing is forgotten.  I love anything that combines genres – you couldn’t put any of Mandel’s books into a specific box. Her characters are flawed and realistic, with tiny details and quirks, some of them likeable, other distinctly annoying or frustrating. I recommend this one for anyone who loves mystery, drama, and has a yearning for travel in their literature.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

 Me Before You

This isn’t my usual genre at all, but this book really got to me. I couldn’t wait to read the sequel, but I actually gave up on it because I couldn’t get on with the story and a certain main character wasn’t there! Anyway, there was something so lovely and sad about this book I just couldn’t put it down. It is definitely outstanding within its genre, something that I imagine is very difficult to do. The ending DID frustrate me a little, but it also asks a lot of complex questions. We all have a limit, so what would yours be?

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic

I briefly mentioned this book in my last blog post. Having struggled to manage writing and full time work recently, alongside a busy social life, going to the gym AND staving off bouts of anxiety…I’ve not felt at my creative best for a while.

This book made me realise the picture of a writer that I have in my mind is not real or attainable. It takes hard work and persistence, the drive to develop writing skills and be constantly learning all the time. It also made me see that having a full time job is SMART.

I really would recommend this to all creative types. I know of many people who give up completely when they realise that writing or making art is not something they can do all the time. I have learned that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, which is a big, important lesson that everyone should learn.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons To Stay Alive

I really needed this book. As someone who battles depression and, more recently, anxiety, it was a necessary read. It is important to talk about these things in all forms – through reading or writing, or discussions with family and friends.

Reasons to Stay Alive helped contribute towards my perspective on the things that affect me, and it’s nice to remind yourself sometimes that it’s not just you and you’re not alone. Other people feel it too.

Open Submissions and other adventures


June is here and sunny weather with it, at last! It’s definitely time for a 2016 update – the second novel is finished! I do think I could squeeze another edit out of it, but at this stage I feel I need some space away from the manuscript, so I am enjoying taking some time to focus on other things.

One of the main reasons I have been so quiet is that from August last year, to last month, North of the Moon was with Hodderscape for their open submission period. It got down to the last 5%, which is a pretty good achievement, as Hodderscape are a HUGE publisher. I didn’t make it through unfortunately, but I am certainly not disheartened. If anything I am encouraged, as my initial extract was sent last summer and has been edited and polished quite a few times since then. For an early draft to get so far, I feel pretty motivated.

In addition to this, The Poisonwood Shadows is still with Gollancz following their open submission earlier this year. I haven’t heard anything yet, so no news is good news.

At the moment, I am working on sending North of the Moon to agents. It took a really long time for me to get to this stage. Four years ago I starting sending The Poisonwood Shadows to agents waaaaay too early. So now I wouldn’t want to send anything out unless I was completely happy with it, and ready for the full manuscript to be sent out if requested. I think this is one of the most important pieces of advice for fellow writers. I’m not an agent, but I’m fairly confident they would be able to tell when a submission is only half baked. Though it is exciting when you write something, and you want to send it out there…keep hold of it until it is complete. Edit it a few times yourself, or have a friend look at it. Make it the best possible piece of work you can create, and THEN submit it.

I ordered the Writers and Artists Yearbook 2016 late last year, and have been trawling it for information over the last few months. I’d recommend trying to get hold of this, as it contains a lot of useful agent details and pages and pages about the ever changing publishing industry(LOTS of pages – have you seen the size of the thing?).

Now that my second novel is done (at the moment), I have time to move on to my next project. Since I have been reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I have found myself inspired to work HARD. I have a lot of different ideas in my head right now, and am attempting to put down a first draft for three of them. So my aim is to write 500 words per novel, per day, Monday – Friday. I’m not expecting to stick to this strictly. Some days I may write more. Some days I may write less, or nothing at all. But I know that 1500 words a day is doable, so I am going to give it my best shot.

Other things that I have been doing – I completed my AAT Level 2, and am now working on my level 3 qualification. Though writing is my main activity, I believe it is important and smart to have a backup career. A full time job gives me a good and regular wage, funds my lifestyle and enables me to pay my mortgage (oh yes, I bought an apartment as well!). I recommend a backup plan to any aspiring writers!

I’ve had a few trips too – I went to Amsterdam (watch out for the bicycles!), visited the dreamy, beautiful Port Merion in Wales and went camping for the very first time down in Cambridge. I have a few trips planned over the next few months, so cannot wait for long, warm days!

October Update – it’s my birthday!


Well, it’s been so long since I updated my blog, I just had to do a post! It’s October again – my birthday month. Autumn is here and it has brought with it some wonderful things – cold air, crunchy leaves and the new series of American Horror Story to name a few. Yesterday I hit the grand age of 30, which is simultaneously terrifying and exciting. More than anything I am feeling inspired to step things up a notch and work a lot harder on all aspects of my career.

Firstly though, I need to update you all on Preston Comic Con, which was way back in August! (I swear I meant to post about this sooner!) The day was awesome and I loved being able to chat to visitors about my book and writing in general. I sold and signed quite a few books, so overall I was pretty pleased by the end of day, though I was also absolutely exhausted! Socialising is draining for a hermit writer :P

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I don’t have any future events lined up at the moment, as I have mostly been getting my head down and working on book number two. I recently completed my first draft, and am pleased to have smoothed out the plot holes and annoying little questions that arose, and am now working on building up the bones of the text with the second draft. This is a really exciting stage as I get to expand on all the lovely bits and do more actual writing, as opposed to removing text/checking spelling/punctuation, etc.

I am intending on becoming more regular with my blog posts as winter rolls around. It’s time to go into hibernation a little and stop going on holiday so much. Time to get some solid work done, Cee.

Anyway, please drop me a tweet to say hello if you feel so inclined and keep an eye out for any further updates I may have!

xx

 

 

Talk Nerdy 2 Me (again)


I attended my first event as an author on Friday and it was really fun. I had such a good time chatting to people about writing and the self publishing process. Lots of people bought books and I also got to catch up with a few old friends, which was unexpected!

The event took place at the Harris Library in Preston. It was wonderful to be amongst so many creative types. I think it’s really important that artists and authors support each other, so it was lovely to get a chance to chat to some others within the community.

The whole evening was a learning experience. As a writer I know now to always have a blurb, so I will definitely be adding one to the back of my book and getting some flyers printed up!

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I have signed up to my second event this summer, so I will be posting more about that soon!

Talk Nerdy 2 Me


I’m really excited to be taking part in an event at Preston’s Harris Library next month. It’s on Friday 8th May, and I will be appearing in the ‘Author Corner’ for Talk Nerdy 2 Me. I’ll be selling my book and chatting to people, and I really can’t wait!

It’s a great chance to meet some fellow writer’s and creative types. I’ve ordered a special batch of books to sell, so if you are in the area please pop down to buy a signed copy!

The facebook page for the event is facebook.com/talknerdy1, so be sure to check it out! The event runs from about 4pm until 9pm :)

Can’t believe it’s March!


Spring is coming, and I am very excited about it! Lighter mornings, longer evenings – it’s lovely to finally be coming out of hibernation.

I’m still not finished with the first draft of my second novel, though I am now on the final third! I am aiming to be done by the end of April. That may be a little optimistic, but I am really looking forward to a long summer of polishing and editing.

Aside from my writing and other projects which take up so much time, I have been making a huge effort to read as much as possible. I’m even doing the Good Reads 2015 reading challenge! Reading is so important – it inspires, it educates, it calms and keeps the mind active and engaged.

I thought I might write a little about some of the books I have read and loved recently. If you have read them also, I’d love to know what you thought!

Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

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It took me a few chapters before I was really into this one, but I am so glad I stuck with it. The post Georgia Flu world is both terrifying and inspiring (from a writer’s perspective!). I love anything apocalyptic or dystopian, and I found this book to be original and gripping, with all the ends nicely tied up! I definitely recommend this and would love to see a film adaptation!

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

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I just loved this book and was sad to finish it. I wanted to carry on reading about Cheryl’s adventures and now feel inclined to take myself on a similar journey! I love the idea of utterly challenging yourself and doing something so life changing. Wild is beautiful, funny and has an exceptional message throughout. It’s not too late.

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

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This had been on my list for years and I can’t believe it took me so long to actually read. The story is melancholy and just stunning. I rarely sob my heart out at books, but this one really got to me. I loved the writing style and the main character of Toru. I sort of wish there had been more written about his life as an ‘adult’, but I guess the missing parts all adds to the beauty of it!

I have so many other books to read right now, but the ones at the top of list are:

The Mime Order – Samantha Shannon

Stone Mattress – Margaret Atwood

Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman

Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain

Thanks for reading and fingers crossed I will have a bit more writing progress next time!

Christina xx

2015 is here!


Capture

It’s a brand new year and it’s starting to feel like we’re really heading into the future now! I am LOVING my Kindle at the moment and can’t stop downloading books. Add to this my already existing addiction of constantly buying REAL books, I am definitely feeling the weight of all this unread literature!

I have a lot of things planned for myself this year, and wish I had more time for everything. It’s definitely on my list of resolution’s to stop procrastinating so much!

At the end of last year, I finally got around to publishing the e-book I had been working on. It had been an ongoing project for quite a while, and I really need to make some time to do a bit more promotion on it. The book is called The Modern Writer’s Bucket List and is aimed at writer’s looking for a bit of extra guidance and inspiration as they attempt to navigate the ever changing world of publishing.

It is available on Amazon, so please check it out and give it a review! I’d love your feedback. *Hint – it will be free to download from 9th – 11th January 2015!*

I also have a lot of plans in my head to continue the promotion of The Poisonwood Shadows, so hopefully I will see these through also! Aaaaaand, as always, I am STILL working on my second novel. I have been thinking a great deal about what to call it and am yet to settle on anything. The second novel is proving to be pretty tricky as I have a lot less time on my hands than I did when I was writing the first one, but I will stick at it and aim to be getting SOMEWHERE with it by the end of this year (fingers crossed it will be earlier than that though!)

Thanks for reading!

Christina x

Front Cover Woes!


Folks, it’s been a while since I posted an update, so I thought I had best do one! It’s been a busy few months, with work and then being injured and unable to do much at all (!), then going on holiday (California road trip!), more work and all sorts of other stuff.

But – I have been promoting The Poisonwood Shadows the whole time, and working on a bunch of other super exciting projects. I’ve spent HOURS trying to re-design my book cover, only to decide that I actually quite like the original. So scratch that! Still, it’s infuriating to have the beautiful, magical book cover that you imagine in your head, but not being able to translate that into real life. I wish I was more creative! Maybe one day…

Anyway, other exciting things – I’ve been really getting my head down and working on my second novel. It’s going so well! I love that feeling when the words are flowing faster than you can write :) Yep, I’ve got a lot of that going on, so I’m hoping to really make the most of that before it slips away and nail that first draft…

Along with the second novel, I have also been working on another secret project – another book! I won’t give much away, as I still have a lot of ‘putting together’ to do on it, though it is a non fiction book and I have written the text for it. More on that later though, when I actually have something to show!

So, that’s really where I’m up to at the moment – promoting and writing (and reading Game of Thrones books), same old, same old!! Fingers crossed I will have some more exciting news soon. Keep coming back :)

Unpublished content!


I’ve been having a little clear out, and keep finding random notebooks and bits of paper with various writings on that I’d long forgotten about!

On one sheet of paper I found a short, unedited paragraph that I think was supposed to make it into The Poisonwood Shadows – oops! Reading it back, it sounds very much like the dream I had which gave me the idea for the book, so it’s very possible that this was one of the very first bits of writing I did when I started the novel.

As it’s too late to put it in now, I thought I’d post it here as extra content for those who have been reading the book. Enjoy! :)

The night was starless after a day of blue sky. He watched on the roof of the city, holding his secret close. He reveled in his mystery, the enigma wrapped up in a storm.

Below, the cobbled streets were dark and wet, the few gaslights a comforting constant. He felt warm air, a breeze on the eve of war.

Biting his lip, he turned and dropped down to the pavement. It was time now…time to run.

I know it’s a bit vague and mysterious, but also very nice to unearth some of the work I did years ago and be able to see now what it has grown into :)

I am working hard on my second novel right now and also planning more promo stuff for The Poisonwood Shadows. As well as all that, I have spent some time doing editing work for Almond Press, so it’s all go at the moment, though I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Free on Amazon


From today until Sunday, The Poisonwood Shadows will be free to download on Amazon. The Kindle KDP Select programme offers a lot of promotional benefits, so I’ve recently chosen to exclusively publish with Amazon. Click on the image below or visit this link to go straight to the book on Amazon and check it out :)

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