Reading and Writing Update – March 2018

What I’ve Been Reading

As of right this minute, I have read eleven books this year so far – three audiobooks, three poetry collections, two non-fiction books, a novel, a short story collection, and a novel-length piece of fan fiction – though I’m hoping to make it twelve this evening.

11 books off my goal of 52 is 21%, which means I’m exactly on track.

You can follow my reading challenge on Goodreads here.

What I’ve Been Writing

After a very slow start to the year, which I promise to stop going on about from here on out, I’m finally getting back in gear.

I wrote just over 5,000 words in January, almost 6,000 in February, and I’ve written roughly 3,000 so far this month but, again, I’m hoping to finish another piece tonight. Mostly, I’ve been editing. A lot. Which brings me on to my next topic.

Works Accepted & Published

In January I had a small, jokey piece of flash fiction posted on the Belfast Writers’ Group website – we decided that’s something we’re going to do periodically, now.

In March I had a poem published in the inaugural issue of the Bangor Literary Journal, AND I’ve recently heard that a flash fiction piece by myself will be included in Issue Two as part of a feature on Women Aloud NI members. That’s due out in April, as is a different literary journal that is publishing a flash fiction piece of mine – not sure if I can publically announce the details of that one, yet, but keep your eyes peeled on Twitter and Facebook.

Things Just Passed

I’ve just finished my first term at Crescent Arts Centre as a tutor and my last there as a student.

International Women’s Day is over for another year, but it was fantastic to be part of a brilliant set of events both on the day itself and the following weekend. There’s a video of my reading at the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin here.

The past two days, I’ve have had Kindle editions of my books all on offer for free and was delighted to find that I topped a few of Amazon’s charts in doing so – see photo, below.

Things Still to Come

Camp NaNoWriMo is happening in April, and I’m all signed up. My target is set to 20,000 words which will see my novel finished. Hall-e-lu-jah! It can’t come soon enough. But, that said, I have one important thing before that – my birthday, which is on Friday *does happy dance* 

Finally, a new term is starting at Crescent Arts Centre soon – after Easter – and I’m all set to teach again. My class will be running on Friday evenings, and I’ll be trying out an all-day workshop as well. More details on that here.

Did I mention things had been busy?

February Update

For me, January felt like a too-long month but, despite the fact that it seemed to stretch and stretch, I never quite managed to fit in everything I had planned. I only finished reading one book (a novel-length piece of fan fiction) though I did listen to most of an audiobook, too. I finished it (Star Wartz by Patrick Tilley) in the early hours of this morning. So, here I am on the first of Feb. with two books off my 52 book goal for the year and five-thousand words written of my ten-thousand-word January goal.

I think it was getting sick right at the start of the year that threw me off. For about a week, all I could focus on was the physical pain I was in and whether I was going to be taken into hospital. The jury’s still out on that one. I may be sent back there tomorrow after I see my GP again, or I might have to wait a year – who knows?

On the plus side, after having to cancel the first week of my class, I started it a week late and it is going well. My task for tomorrow is to put in a proposal for next term. Now that my taxes are (finally!) in, I can really focus on it.

Maybe I can even get back to writing fiction after that. I certainly hope so!

Reviewing 2017 & Making 2018 Resolutions

There is so much I could say in this post, about lots of good and bad and trying things that have happened this year, but I’ve already spoken about many of those things in lots of different other places, both as they happened and after the fact – yes, I’m a serial reflector, I confess! – and I’m going to cover what I wrote and what I had published in a separate blog post in the new year, so let’s talk resolutions. I started 2017 with six of them:

  • Get married
  • Read 50 books
  • Join the Society of Authors
  • Get a literary agent
  • and a cat
  • Take an official proofreading course

Getting Married – I did that. It was awesome! Probably enough said 🙂

In terms of books – my Goodreads goal for 2017 was 50 and (as of an hour ago, when I finished a collection of stories by Dr Suess) my total is 57. Of that, there was the usual mix of genres and formats. Audible tells me I listened to 12,760 minutes of audiobooks this year, and my most active day for listening were Sundays, apparently. My reading goal for 2018 is 52.

I didn’t join the Society of Authors or get a literary agent, so those goals have moved to 2018. But I did get a cat and (as a complete surprise to me as well as you), I ended up getting a dog as well! Giles (pictured above; bottom right) has been with us less than a week and having the time of his little life.

The proofreading course I mentioned is something I keep changing my mind about. Part of me wants to do it, but then there are other things that would be of more use to me that I want to do more, so it’s nothing I’ve followed up on thus far. It would be nice to have, but if I never complete it I won’t exactly feel sad.

Things of a higher priority on my ‘to do’ list currently are getting my driver’s license and eating a bit more healthily. I’m not intending to go on a diet, exactly, but I do want to take better care of my body.

Those are pretty much my plans for the new year. I guess we’ll see how it goes!

August Reading Audit

After reading this article about taking a closer look at what’s on our bookshelves, I decided to have a look at my own and crunch some numbers. Because, really, I can’t resist scribbling notes and coming up with stats. (Yes, I’m a nerd, are you new here?)

For context, I went into the task thinking I had:

A – a lot of books in general
B – most of my books still unread
C – most of my books (both read and unread) written by women

I should say at this point that I was looking at my physical shelves, e-reader, and audiobooks. I didn’t bother with comics or graphic novels. Fan fiction also wasn’t included at this stage.

Without going into too much detail (knowing that others don’t love stats quite as much as me) my findings were basically:

A – I don’t have as many books to read as I thought
B – I’ve already read a fair chunk of the books I do have
C – most of my books are indeed written by women, but not by a particularly high percentage

Seeing as gender representation isn’t an issue for me (Yay!), I’ll end discussion of that particular point here. Though it will be something I’ll keep an eye on, in future.

Regarding points A and B: I have approximately 100 things in my possession, either in print or online, ready to read. That includes some novel-length fanfics I’ve bookmarked but doesn’t take into consideration a bunch of free Kindle books I got once upon a time and I have no intention of ever starting.

Because of these 100 things (novels, poetry collections, audiobooks, etc), I’m going to reinstate the book-buying ban I placed on my self during the first half of the year. So, between now and Christmas, I’m going to see how low I can get that number.

Wish me luck!

Six Months of Books

Now that half the year is gone, it really is high time I got around to summarising everything I’ve been reading. I set myself the goal of fifty books this year, and I’m very pleased (not to mention surprised) that I’m well ahead of target with thirty-seven already down (74% of target, 13 books ahead of schedule).

Here is a breakdown of those thirty-seven books:

Poetry

Through a Hedge Backwards by Rene Greig, Reflections from the Enler by Alex Dempster, The Orchard by Isobel Gamble, The World’s Wife and Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy, Famous American Poems edited by Gene Baro, The Goose Tree by Moyra Donaldson, Undying by Michel Faber, Crow by Ted Hughes, and Stranger Baby by Emily Berry.

Audiobooks in the Dresden Files Series

Turn Coat, Changes, Ghost Story, Cold DaysSkin Game, and Side Jobs all by Jim Butcher.

Young Adult Novels

No Life But This and Spinning Thorns by Anna Sheehan, Terror Kid by Benjamin Zephaniah, Amoung the Ghosts by Amber Benson, Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Life and Death by Stephanie Myer, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Inish Carraig by Jo Zebedee (audiobook)

Adult Novels

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin (audio), As You Like It by Shakespeare (audio), Where Three Roads Meet by Salley Vickers, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Non-Fiction

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (audio), The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight (audio).

Novelty/Gift Books

In the Garden of Happiness by Dodinsky, Doug the Pug by Leslie Mosier, and Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones by Bryan Cogman.

Other

The Female Line edited by Ruth Carr (poetry and short stories), and a novel-length fanfic.

*sighs a deep, contented breath* What have you guys been reading?


Want even more stats? Follow me on Goodreads here.

End of Year Reading and Writing Audit 2016

Before I let myself get too carried away with excitement for the new year, I thought I should wrap up the one that’s coming to a close. For context and comparison, here is my ‘year in review’ post from 2015.

Earlier in 2016, you might remember I carried out what I called a “literary audit.” Since then, I’ve been keeping much better track of what I write. It’s been good to look back and it certainly makes posts like this a heck of a lot easier! Anyway, without further ado…

This month I wrote 4,000 words. During the entire year, I wrote over 100,000 – can’t say exactly because, like I said, I only started taking note part way through the year (it was 95,000 words total, April – December). I do know I wrote 55,000 words of fanfic (January – December) and a hell of a lot of poetry.

December saw me devouring four audiobooks, a Kindle short, and a novel-length fanfic, leaving my books read for the year at 54 (off a goal of 45). Goodreads have laid all my stats out in a handy chart, here.

Personal Highlights for Twenty Sixteen:

Finally, 2017 Goals:

  • Get married
  • Read 50 books
  • Join the Society of Authors
  • Get a literary agent
  • and a cat
  • Take an official proofreading course

Also: In a bid to catch up on my ‘to be read’ pile, I’ve decided to not buy any new books for the first six months of 2017. I can still loan out books from the library, however, and I’m allowing myself to continue getting one audiobook a month during this time.

I am so excited for this!

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up 2016

Four years ago, yesterday, I had the joint book launch for Still Dreaming and Wake. That was also the first year I won NaNoWriMo (and won it properly, by working on a novel and not just lots of smaller writing projects).

This November? Well… let’s just say it’s been very different, and not just with the many, many small projects, either.

Main point: I didn’t win. I got sick for three weeks and went on holiday (not in that order), but I also managed twenty-two thousand words and I’m really happy with that.

November =

  • 1 Holiday
  • 7 boxes of tissues
  • 6 blog posts (1,100 words)
  • 20 micropoems (800 words)
  • 4 bottles of cough medicine
  • 3 and half fanfics (17,000 words!)
  • numerous squares of chocolate
  • despair about a lack of client work, followed by…
  • a lot of client work
  • 3,000 words towards my novel
  • a partridge in a pear tree 

While I’m here, I should also probably get my reading update out of the way – not that there’s much to report!

Books Finished: Diary of a Wimpy Vampire by Tim Collins, A Choice of Emily Dickinson’s Verse

Books Started: White Night by Jim Butcher, No Life But This by Anna Sheehan, one fanfic novel

Books Bought: The Female Line: Northern Irish Women Writers

(Okay, so that was a little more than I actually remembered. Go me!)

How was your November?

Reading and Writing in October

2016-reading-challengeI’ve been quite busy, this month, but the main thing to report is that I completed my 2016 Goodreads Reading Goal. That’s a total of forty-five out of forty-five books read, several weeks early.

Books Completed in October:

Words Written in October: 12,000

  • 5,500 words of Novel Work
  • 3,500 words of Fan Fiction
  • 1,300 words of Poetry
  • Piece of Flash Fiction (1,000 words)
  • 2 Blog Posts (700 words, combined)

An Epic Month for Books! (Reading Wrap-Up Sept. ’16)

Stack of Recently Acquired Books
Stack of Recently Acquired Books

After a couple of months of not reading much, September had me flying through books (at least, by my standards). I completed eight things – count ’em, eight!

Current Tally: 39 books read out of 45

Currently Reading: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and Summer Days, Summer Nights: Twelve Summer Romances edited by Stephanie Perkins.


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A Seasonal Summary

At the launch of the Bangor Poetry CompetitionFirst years at university often fall foul to what’s called ‘fresher’s flu’ – a really bad cold resulting from coming into contact with so many new people and their accompanying germs.

I managed to attain this affliction for three years running. (Thanks, immune system!)

This September, I seem to have defied the odds once more. The cold that seemed to have vanished at the end of August, returned during the night last night. Maybe it’s only fitting, seeing as I’m due to start a poetry course this semester. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been really busy, meeting a lot of (wonderful) people.

Last night I was at the launch of The Fourth Annual Bangor Poetry Competition, and the night before that I coordinated my second Women Aloud & FSNI Poetry Recital.

In five months – to this day, exactly – I’m getting married.

…needless to say, things are crazy, and exciting, and amazing, and scary cool!

The season has changed, and I’m trying to set myself up to make this new one a good one, knowing that good things are coming at its end.

Going forward, I’m once more gonna try and implement a weekly work schedule in which I spend two complete days a week writing for myself, completely disconnected from the internet and phone.

But before all that, let me catch you up on last month…

Last month, I finished reading To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han, I read Belonging to Myself (a poetry collection) by Jenny Cleland, Why I Write by George Orwell (review here), and I listened to Summer Knight (fourth book in the Dresden Files series) by Jim Butcher. As such, I’m 31 books into my 45-book goal for the year.

What I wrote during August? A bunch of blog posts, a piece of flash fiction, notes for a novel I have on the backburner, five poems, and two pieces of fan fiction. Total words: just over four thousand.


Read about my recent client work over on my work blog.