May Writing Update


It feels like it has taken absolutely ages, but I have finally finished the first draft for my third and fourth novels! I’ve absolutely exhausted myself working on these, along with a shiny new edit for The Poisonwood Shadows AND studying for an accounting exam (which I thankfully passed!).

Both books really need a few rounds of editing. They are scrappy and the word count isn’t high enough. Both are lingering around the 55k mark, but now that I have a beginning, middle and end, I am confident I can bulk both these out in my edits.

Editing can be a nightmare. It’s often frustrating and makes my head hurt! But I feel like getting down the initial draft of a novel is the real challenge. It can be tempting to give up when the words just aren’t flowing or the story doesn’t seem right, and it takes a lot of determination and effort to persist. It can feel like churning toffee or driving with no wheels sometimes, but you really have to power on through and force the words out. Soon enough the inspiration with return and the words will flow out of you!

Now I’m feeling really inspired to get on with my edits. Once the printed manuscript arrives, I’ll be making a start with book four to begin with. My aims for this month are to increase the word count and put together a cleaner, more developed edit, then prepare a submission of the first three chapters, along with a new submission for The Poisonwood Shadows.

There’s a lot of work still to do. I’m hoping to start looking at book three within a month or two, and I’d like to give North of the Moon a final polish before I start querying that one also. As the last year or so has been heavy on writing, I’ve been starting to feel extremely hermit-like, so I’m looking forward to beginning a round of queries again. I’ll also be on the lookout for open submissions and competitions, and I’m happy to be reaching this next exciting stage!

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 😛

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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

 

 

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!


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

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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A published novel


So, my book has now been published, and I’m really enjoying the challenge of promoting it. At the same time however, it’s TOUGH finding an evening here and there to actually do that and I have recently made a promise to myself to do better. I found a couple of posts about my book on Tumblr and it was so cool to see that someone was enjoying it and actually quoting it online! Check it out

I’ve been working hard on my second novel recently. It’s soooo lovely to get back into some good, honest writing and really exciting that it’s finally taking the form I imagine in my head. The new novel is really focused on music, so I am hoping to post a playlist of songs that are inspiring the writing, songs that will actually play a part in the book itself. Which does sound weird, but I’m sure all will be explained eventually!

I have updated my Press page with the interview I did for Preston FM back in May (which was so much fun!). Please give it a listen and check out the links to see The Poisonwood Shadows on sale. I have also set up my very first Kindle KDP select offer and the book will be free to download this weekend! Keep your eyes peeled folks 🙂

Literary Heroines


As it’s coming pretty close to ‘publishing time’, I decided to reblog a post I did for another website on Literary Heroines. My own book features what I believe to be a pretty strong female lead, and I enjoyed looking up some of my favourites. I’ve since thought of A LOT more, so would love to do another post on this subject sometime soon!

Anyway, I hope it’s an enjoyable read for you all. The best heroines are smart, brave and independent, but not necessarily the perfect woman. Which of the below do you relate to most?

Hermione Granger – Harry Potter books

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Hermione is smart, sassy and knows exactly how to defend herself. She may not always know exactly how to act in certain social situations due to her extreme smarts, but she is loyal friend. Most importantly, rather than becoming pathetic and useless when her boyfriend left her, she got on with saving the world with her friend. Now that’s a heroine!

Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice

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Lizzie is an independent, do it your own way sort of girl.  She doesn’t excel at anything in particular and she’s okay with that. She may be stubborn and judgemental at times, but she is open to the lessons life has to offer and it certainly works out okay in the end!

Catherine Linton – Wuthering Heights

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The daughter of Cathy and Edgar grows up innocent of her mother’s volatile history. Adorably curious and adventurous, she looks for the best in people and doesn’t always find it. With the fire of her mother and mildness of her father, Catherine is smart and caring, but knows how to stand up for herself.

Jane Eyre – Jane Eyre

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Jane may be meek and plain, but she’s got it figured out. She is content with the simple life, shunning the gaudy, false side of life. Slow and steady is her approach, and though often overlooked, she sticks to her values, stays true to herself  and still wins the man she loves.

Daenerys Targaryen – A Song of Fire and Ice books

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Dany is a fighter, with a steely determination. She will suffer through anything and still come out with her head held high. She’s no stranger to the tragic, the horrific and downright bizarre, but remains clear-headed and never doubts that she’ll come out on top eventually.

Lisibeth Salander – Millennium Trilogy

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Lisibeth is unique and unashamedly herself. She will gladly embrace her dark side if required, and always finds a way to defend herself in the most creative of ways. She embraces her work with dedication and razor sharp intelligence, doesn’t care what people think of her, and loves to stay on the rebellious side of things.

Wendy Darling – Peter Pan

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Wendy loves to play, and is certainly in touch with her inner child, but she’s also mature enough to know when it’s time to grow up and be an adult. She is caring and motherly, with a desire for fun and adventure. If only it could be that way all the time!

Paige Mahoney – The Bone Season

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Paige has cut her own path in life. She might be an outside, but she’s okay with that. Fiercely caring defiant, Paige will fight with all she’s got to look after her friends. Through all of life’s unexpected, unwanted turns, she keeps her fighting spirit and never gives up.

Celie Johnson – The Color Purple

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Celie is inhibited and stamped upon for a long time, but life’s lessons slowly give her a purpose in life. She is not the smartest of women, due to the restrictions the men in her life place upon her, but she loves powerfully and patiently waits for her talent and lot in life to find her.

Alina Starkov – The Grisha Trilogy

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Alina has a dark side and she’s well aware of it. She is no stranger to living in conflict, torn between one life and another. One side wants a quiet, easy life, the other yearns for power and success. The goodness in her will always fight for the ones she cares about, though she will always wonder about what the other side of things would be like.

Matilda Wormwood – Matilda

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Though surrounded by total fools, Matilda quietly gets on with things in her own way. She keeps the secret knowledge that she is meant for great things to herself, patiently biding her time and doing the best she can with what she has until her world begins to grow a little.

With such a fantastic list of heroines, you can’t fail to be inspired! I hope you enjoyed reading, now go out and do something great with your weekend 🙂