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!

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!

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

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!

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 🙂

Book release and pricing


I officially approved my book for publishing yesterday, which is a HUGE deal! I’m so pleased, but at the same time a bit apprehensive because I’m not too sure if it’s really done. I could say that forever though, doing draft after draft, so I decided to take the plunge at last. I’m looking forward to getting on with promoting it and properly starting work on my next book.

One of the major road blocks I have come upon while going through the publishing process is the sales channels I can use to sell. Basically if I choose to sell through Amazon, I will have to charge a minimum of £10 per copy, and this is before I make any royalties. Firstly, I’m really not that interested in making profit on this. I just want to people to read it. But I don’t want to rip people off. I rarely pay £10 for a book. Unless it’s one I REALLY want to read (the last time was probably the seventh Harry Potter book!).

So who is going to spend a tenner, plus shipping? I wouldn’t expect that from anyone. I looked into it some more however, and found out that I can bulk buy copies of my book. Now that’s the way forward! It costs me just over £5 per book, so I’ll begin by buying a bunch of copies and setting up an online shop and doing it myself. I’m pretty happy with this way of doing things (since I labelled myself a DIY writer, anything I can do myself is just an added benefit to the process!).

I’ll still have the option for people to buy on Amazon, but would encourage any potential readers to buy via my website once it is set up. From there I’ll look into other sales routes and see where I end up, but one step at a time!

Anyway, I’ll be doing a proper website update soon, so please keep checking in. Thanks for reading!

Literature Inspiration


It’s been a while since I’ve really had anything to post, as I’ve been getting my head down and editing (and editing and editing!). I feel like I’ve finally hit the home stretch, and hope to be done by the end of the year, with a view to publish in January. It’s a bit longer than intended, but I’d rather not burn myself out with the work I do – it would only show through in the final product which is the last thing I want!

Fitting in work, roller derby, family life and a social life around writing can be tough, but I always try and make time for reading each day, as well as all the other stuff. I aim for an hour, but don’t always make that! Reading LOTS is one of the most important pieces of advice for writers. There are so many benefits, such as improving your language and imagination, as well as relaxing a buzzing mind at the end of the day.

I wanted to write about some of my favourite books and how they have inspired me as a writer. I seem to lean towards tragic heroines who have affairs and go mad, though that’s certainly not intentional! It’s more the way their emotions are captured that has influenced my own writing style.

I tend to swing between my what my ‘favourite book of all time’ is, so I’ll start with my top five:

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

I read this book every so often and it never seems to get old. What I can’t get over is how ahead of its time it is and how Emily Bronte imagined it all wandering around on the moors of Yorkshire back in the 1800’s. I adore the raw emotion of Wuthering Heights, and the fact that it’s not really a love story, but a tale of madness and obsession. It’s haunting, spooky and a true classic.

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Cider With Rosie – Laurie Lee

Cider With Rosie was my Grandma Olive’s favourite book, and this has probably had a slight influence on why I like it so much. The book has an innocence to it that reminds me of being younger. There is a wonderful nostalgia the whole way through the book, and I can’t get enough of the way Laurie Lee’s countryside village has been written. The scenery, seasons, characters and all of his memories build up such a safe and comforting visual picture in my head. I have always loved books like this, as they provide such an escape. I try to include descriptions of all the senses in the way I write to really try and engage the reader and take them away from wherever they are.

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On The Road – Jack Kerouac 

On The Road is a contemporary classic for a very good reason. I’m a huge fan of travelling and experiencing anything that’s beautiful, breathtaking and memorable. A part of me has always wished I could emulate the way Dean and Sal just head on out without worrying about where they’re going and when they’re coming back. I love how fearless these characters can be. Kerouac has an amazing writing style (though I have to admit, I have really struggled to get through some of his later stuff). He writes as he feels, and the book has such an energy and a flow that captures what I love about my own travels.

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Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary is a bit of traumatic, arduous book at times, as the main character becomes so weighed down and tragic. It’s beautifully written though, and similar to Wuthering Heights in its emotion. I found it difficult to get into at first, but once it really hit its stride I couldn’t put it down. Finding beauty in fragility and tragedy is something I love in a novel. The characters are so flawed. I loved Emma’s quirks and senseless annoyances – tiny things that build up and lead her to create an idealistic daydream world that she just can’t translate to real life. I like books with imperfect characters who make bad choices!

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Peter Pan – JM Barrie

This is the ultimate children’s book for me. I love its innocence, but also the tragedy of the boy who never grows up. JM Barrie has such an imagination and I adore the way he captures the magic of childhood. It’s not particularly one that has influenced my writing, but it’s a story that has always stuck with me and reminds me to keep a hold of my ‘inner child’.

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A New Story


I began writing what will hopefully turn into my second novel last night. I’m in a very exciting place at the moment, as I am now in a position to publish and I can’t wait to be getting on with it! I am still trying to ‘get there’ with my first book, The Poisonwood Shadows. It is finished, but I feel a bit frightened to really let it go and I can’t stop polishing and messing about with the text. Right now it feels like a carousel of punctuation, editing, questioning every decision, chasing my friends for feedback and researching punctuation. Still, the end is in sight and I’ve got a lot of hard work planned for myself.

I’ve been working on this for over two years now, and I really feel like it’s time to be finished and onto the next thing, so my first big challenge is to finally complete the book and be happy with it. I’m loving the process. It’s a fantastic feeling to know that I have learned so much and developed my skills as a writer. I read a lot and am trying to find at least an hour day to curl up and lose myself in a book (currently reading A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin).

It’s a funny thing being a writer. I know it’s not just me. Our heads are filled with ideas for novels. I have at least six up there right now, and I have begun four of them. I see so much potential, but then finding the time and giving it the space to develop is a whole other story in itself. That’s partly why I can’t wait to put The Poisonwood Shadows to bed and be finished, as I will have so much more time to give to what’s coming next. I really want to document all of the stuff that’s going to be happening, so I have decided to keep a blog of my progress.

I hope to include things that will inspire both myself and other writers, so please keep checking in. Thank you for visiting!