Ripped: A Novel

A few people have been asking me about the book I’m working on at the minute, so here goes.

It’s called Ripped, and it’s a contemporary young adult novel. Which is to say it is set in the real world (no fantasy elements), with a teenage main character, and intended for mainly a teenage audience (though it will appeal to some adults too).

The tagline I’ve written for it is ‘Can a family be held together by the red tape that helped tear it apart?

Summary

Mya’s life was hard enough already, dealing with her sociopath step-dad on a daily basis, but when she goes into labour during maths class, things are set to get a whole lot worse.

She hasn’t told her boyfriend, Richard. She hasn’t told anyone; hasn’t got any support in place, and is helpless when her step-dad forces her to give her baby up.

Mya had no idea social services would offer the baby to Richard before putting her in the system, and she certainly never would have guessed Richard would say yes. Now all she can do is fight to get them both back.

It’s quite character driven – written in close third person point of view, so you really get inside Mya’s head.

I’m aiming for is a total word count of 50,000 when finished, so not too long. I got half-way through the previous draft when I realized I really needed to work on the story structure. So, this year, I’ve been rewriting the whole thing from scratch.

Yeah, I’m biased, but I think the updated plot works a lot better. All in all, I’m really happy with how Ripped is progressing. I have plans to finish the bulk of the rewrite this month (as part of NaNoWriMo), tie together any loose ends next month, and start querying agents in January.

Ripped isn’t the first novel I’ve worked on. Previously, I’ve written drafts of two other novels, which I plan to go back to once this one is done.

If you’d like to support me as I plug away at my path to publication, please consider donating to my Patreon. Even $1 per month helps.

Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear what you think of my premise.

A Long, Long Year

I want to write an update on life and writing and everything quite literally in between, but I’m having trouble knowing where to start…

Flicking through past blog posts, I can see that NaNoWriMo last year didn’t quite go to plan for me. After that, in December 2016, I tried to take a break. That didn’t quite work out either. I’d been so heavily involved in client work, I’d built up a ton of momentum and found the sudden stop incredibly jarring.

Next, the come-down happened. Burn out from doing too much for too long hit me once I finally stopped and took a breath. I think I allowed myself three whole breaths before New Year hit and I was right back to expecting the world from myself.

I wanted to hit 2017 running but found that I couldn’t go straight back into top gear having stopped the engine for a bit. So I beat myself up for a while, wrote a couple of stirring blog posts about how I was determined to do better. And then I got married, which of course was wonderful but also a bit of a whirlwind that left my head spinning. Months of building up to a single event can kind of have that effect.

Home from honeymoon, I told myself ‘this is it, time to be serious now, get back to work for real.’ So I threw myself into the Women Aloud NI events in March. I had a birthday, and then a little bit of a breakdown in which I admitted to the world just how sick my new husband was/is and how burnt out I was still feeling.

I carried on caring for him, and battling the government on his behalf, and trying to keep up the level of client work I’d been doing before, and trying to write and everything else. And the writing was pushed to the side because I didn’t have the time or the energy, and I felt worse and worse about that. (Writing keeps me sane, I swear. When I can’t do it, I really come apart at the seams.)

During that time – May until like September – client work became increasingly stressful and time-consuming to the point where I snapped and couldn’t do it anymore. I had pushed aside practically all of my clients to work on one main contract and it became too much, so I quit, leaving myself with no income from my business.

I actually stopped operating as a business somewhere along the line, knowing that I needed to focus on my craft as an artist.

The lead singer of my favourite band died during this time, too. A big part of the band that had got me through my teenage years without killing myself killed himself. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I could barely think, much less write.

Then a big relief came when my husband won his welfare appeals, and we finally were able to get the pet we’ve always wanted.

And then I got swept up in launching Belfast Writers’ Group’s two new short story anthologies.

And now I’m here, about to start NaNoWriMo 2017. I had hoped that I would be going into this year’s writing challenge with the backing of the Arts Council, but I have just gotten word that they have turned down my application for funding.

So, I’m going to redraft my novel anyway; not doing much client work or taking a wage besides. I am going to write and relax and try not to traverse any further into burn out territory.

Not gonna lie, I’m exhausted before I even begin this next leg of my journey. Please, please wish me luck.

Breaking News: Double Book Launch!

Belfast Writers’ Group have been going from strength to strength since we reformed in September. After stalling for nearly two years, we are finally launching a new short story anthology AND re-releasing the first anthology with new, bonus content.

I have a story in the second edition of Ghosts in the Glass, a story in Creatures and Curiosities, and another story in ‘creatures’ that I helped write with my husband. It’s his first publication, so we’re really excited.

The official launch for both books is on Friday 27th of October at Malone Lodge Hotel Belfast, between 7 and 9.30pm.

Please come along for some readings and free tea and coffee. Facebook event here.

Four Years of Fan Fiction

On this day, every year, I post some stats about fan fiction I’ve written; today being July 28th – exactly four years since I started writing it. You can view my stats for 2016 here, and 2015 here.

When I started, it was only Buffy fanfic, and it was only posted in a single place: Elysian Fields. After a year, I started sharing work to FanFiction.net and dipping my toe into other fandoms, also. Last year I decided to re-edit my back catalogue and stick it all up on Archive of Our Own. That is still a work in progress, as you’ll see below.

Total Words Written: 320,000
Words Posted to AO3: 100,000

On EF, I have left over 1,000 reviews totalling 50,000 words, and 84 people have favourited me.

130 people have favourited me on FF, and I’ve left 150 reviews there.
Total views to my FF profile page: over 10,000.

I have almost 500 ‘Kudos’ on AO3. Hits are over 12,000, subscriptions over 100, and 69 bookmarks (honestly, I don’t really know the difference between subscriptions and bookmarks, but I post the details here for reference anyway).

I’m not even going to begin trying to count how many reviews I’ve received, because it was in the thousands last year and it took me forever to total. Needless to say, though, I’m feeling pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished.

Writing Through the Night

It’s 6.27am. I haven’t slept yet and, at this point, it’s unlikely that I will sleep before I head out to my last creative writing class for the [academic] year. I’m considering walking into the city centre instead of taking a bus. It’s the kind of mood I’m in.

One of the reasons I’m still up, aside from being an insomniac/nocturnal and having a criminally early class, is that I was writing a short story that’s been playing on my mind/heart for a while. It’s inspired by a conversation that happened in my aforementioned writing class. And it’s a story that, I think, could be developed further. It’s one that I’m tempted to turn into a short stage play. One that I’m considering having sequels to. I don’t know yet, and that’s okay. It’s not the point of the blog post.

I just wanted to say that, in times like these when I don’t have the time or energy to write much, writing is still what I come back to. It’s still what I love.

Perhaps it’s cliche, but I feel like there are so many stories in me. I want to write them all. And not even in the way of overworking myself that I’ve previously written about. I just mean that I am certain that telling stories – whether by poems, or plays, or novels – is what I want to devote my life to, ultimately. (Well, that and love, but that’s a different blog post.)

It is one of my sincerest goals to be considered prolific – to get as much down on paper in my lifetime as humanly possible. I don’t know if I’ve said that before or not, but it’s 6.38am and that’s what I’m thinking about.

Conquering Chips

Don’t be fooled by the title. This is not a post about dieting.

I know I set out some new year’s goals for myself here yesterday, but I’ve been thinking about how I want to develop my writing specifically, and none of them were really about that.

So, my plan, cunning and complicated as it is, is to write (at least) a little bit of fiction every day. Poetry and blog posts are great (I mean, really!), but I want to start chipping away at the big mass of novel ideas that are in my head.

‘You know how you conquer a mass?’, I remind myself, ‘One little bit at a time’.

More practically than that, though, I’m thinking of getting something (anything?) down in a Word document before I open my web browser for the day.

Yeah, I know, cunning and complicated it is not. Maybe that’s why it stands a chance of success. Either way, I feel the need to keep track of my progress, so I might pick up a diary or calendar to mark off as I go.

And, of course, I’ll still keep posting end-of-month writing wrap-up posts here. Let’s just see if I can make the total wordcounts a bit bigger!


A little gift from Day One – new short story: Blast Zone.

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)

Poetic Waves (Writing Review – Sept. 2016)

shortlisted-poet-certificateMaybe it’s because it’s the run up to National Poetry Day (in the UK) and the FSNI National Poetry Competition (in Northern Ireland), but September seems to be a fairly poetry-focused month for me.

It was last year, and is even more so this year – no doubt spurred on by me starting a poetry class and having a poem shortlisted in a local competition. Regardless of the reason why, though, the fact remains that I wrote a shed-load of verse last month, and I’m still writing a lot now, as I near the end of October.

I’ll get into the nitty gritty of stats in a moment but, first, I’ve been having some thoughts about this whole poetry lark…

The way I figure it, I’m on my fourth wave of poetry. Maybe (/probably) that’s a weird way to look at it, but what I mean is that I see a clear distinction between the poems I wrote as a child (which I’m counting as wave one – anything written up to the age of about 16), the poems I wrote growing up (16 – 24, as summed up in Juvenilia), the poems I wrote in the last few years (as featured in Still Dreaming, Wake, and The Love Poems), and the ones I’m writing now.

I could be deluding myself, but I really think my new set are at a much higher standard than ever before. It makes sense, after all, that I would improve with practice, I’m just impressed with how much and how sudden it all is.

Obviously, I’m not the most objective person to judge that, but the feedback I’ve been getting in class has been really encouraging. Plus there is the fact that I’ve been able to finish poems that have been sitting, half-drafted, on my hard drive for years.

All in all, I wrote thirty new pieces and added to five more (totaling two thousand words). Also in September, I wrote three and a half blog posts (eight hundred words), a synopsis of a new story (one hundred and fifty words), one short story at a thousand words, a second short story at one thousand, eight hundred, a piece of flash fiction (seven hundred words), and two thousand words towards my novel.

What’s all that? Eight thousand, five hundred words, also known as a successful month!