On Winning the Lottery (Writing Update – October 2018)

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. The title of this blog post is a bit click-baity, yes, but it’s also technically true.

The big news I am delighted to share with you is that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland are funding me, using lottery money, to write my second novel.

I’m practically shaking with joy, just being able to write that. Each element of the statement makes me want to scream with happiness.

Let me break it down for you:

  1. I have written a novel.
  2. I’m writing a second novel.
  3. The arts council are funding me to do so.

If this is a dream, please no one pinch me!

The book in question is called Life Lessons and is the sequel to my first novel, Full Term. Currently, Life Lessons is sitting at the 10,000-word mark. I have between the 1st of November this year and the end of April next year to finish the draft. Those dates include NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where I’m hoping to get the bulk of it done and CampNaNo, when I’ll be going over it all again before handing it in at the start of May.

Between now and then, I have a letter appearing as part of an exhibition in Glasgow this December. Sadly, I can’t make it to the launch but I still think it’s such a cool thing to happen and I’m delighted to have been included.

I also have a few other opportunities I’m currently waiting to hear back from – there is a residency I have applied for and a competition I have entered book one into. Part of me wanted to wait on those decisions before making this post, but I just couldn’t put it off any longer.

I want to thank the wealth of people who have congratulated me across social media already this weekend so, so much for their love and support. It’s been a long road getting here – I can remember my disappointment this time last year, when I was unsuccessful – but I’m not done yet.

Onward and ever, ever upward 🙂

The Fear

I have wanted to be an author for a very long time and have been working on novel drafts since 2009/2010. That’s nine years ago, give or take, which seems crazy to me.

Undoubtedly, a lot has happened in that time, not least of which, I have improved my writing and related skills.

I’ve said before that the novel I’m working on at the minute (that I started at the beginning of 2017, I think) just feels right to me. I really think this is the one that could see me getting an agent and publisher. I’m also so close to finishing it; on the pinnacle of sending it off for submission. My beta readers have given me nothing but positive feedback (and I’m not even bribing them, promise!).

And here’s the thing: I am scared to go that last mile.

For all I’ve dreamed about coming to this point and talked almost incessantly about nothing else for months of my life at a time – and for all of the hugely terrifying, genuinely important things going on in the world for other people (like, you know, terrorism and Brexit) – I am currently gripped by the sudden realization that this is real. Or it could be.

I’ve built this up in my head and heart for so long, I… I’m not scared I’ll fail, I don’t think. I’m not sure what it is that’s behind the fear, I just know that it’s here and it’s making me hesitate.

Maybe I’m worried I’ll actually succeed – get an agent and publisher – and that it won’t live up to my expectations, which aren’t even that inflated, realistically. I’ve done my research. I’m under no illusions that I’ll become a rich and famous. And yet… there’s something.  Continue reading

December Update: News, Events, and 2018 Plans

I’m sure I’m not alone in having a lot happening at the moment – December seems to be an ultra crazy month for most people. But, aside from Christmas, there are three biggish things in my life right now, and I’m here to tell you about them.

New Job

Starting in January, I will be teaching a class! With actual students!!

The class is Social Media for Creatives: How to Build & Maintain an Online Platform for you & your work, and the initial run will be two hours a week for ten weeks but, if it goes well, I might get to run the class again.

Women Aloud NI 2018

Women Aloud have just announced their programme for International Women’s Day 2018, and I’m taking part. As well as reading at events in Belfast and Dublin, I’ve been put in charge of coordinating this year’s cross-border in-train recital.

Novel Update

The novel I rewrote during NaNoWriMo last month now has a new title, and I have two sequels planned as well.

Those of you who follow me on Patreon will be able to see the details I have already released there but, for everyone else, I have added a specific page here on my website where you can keep up to date with how things are going. (Spoiler alert: they’re going well so far. I am so excited!)

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.

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?


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