Happy New Year, Somewhat Belatedly ;-)

Like most people on planet Earth, I’m glad to see the back of 2020. What with the pandemic, and then flooding to hit our village on Christmas Day (thankfully the floodwater stopped about three feet from our front door, but not all those who live locally, as well as in the villages both up and downstream from us, were as lucky), 2020 felt somewhat mentally exhausting.  Which is why I’ve been quiet for a while online.

It’s going to take me a while to get caught up with comments and posts and responses to the WWP, but I will get it done.  I’ve a few writing projects on the go at the moment which is where I am focusing most of my energy (the final read through of my Historical Romance Novel, the finishing touches to The Winter Ghost, and a bit of editing for The Dreamer), all of which I hope to complete this month, just in time for Wattpad’s Open Novella Contest to open again in February.  I failed at it last year due in no small part to poor time management and thinking I could commit to more projects than was actually possible (if you know me, you’ll know that is an ever-present obstacle!).

This past weekend, I rewatched The Lord of The Rings movies, which is always a joy, but specifically to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday. I remember the first time I read the books. I was about 10, and from then on, Middle Earth has been an obsession for me, as it has been for many.  If you follow my book review blog, Sammi Loves Books, you will know last year I started reading the seven books that make up C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.  Currently, I’m on book 5, but I have a sneaky suspicion those remaining books will be set aside for a while as I pick up LOTR – I’ve already been thumbing multiple copies.  I keep telling myself it’s only because I want to look at the maps – which I do as I love maps – but I know it’s only a matter of time before I start reading…and then everything will stop until I finish it.  And I don’t mind; I find it inspiring.

Do you have any reading or writing goals for this year? Do you have a book obsession?  Indulge yourself and tell me all about it in the comments…

Wishing everyone all the best for 2021!  Stay safe and take care,

Sammi x

Season’s Greetings and All the Best for 2021

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support and words of encouragement this year.  It has, we all know perfectly well, been a strange one…

But whether you’ve joined in with the Weekend Writing Prompt, talked NaNo goals with me or wished me well with my writing (yes, my historical romance novel is complete! Woohoo!), it’s been appreciated. I’ve been quieter than I would have liked these past few months, and keeping up with blogging has been a struggle, but I endeavour to do better in 2021 🙂

I’ve enjoyed connecting with new blogging friends and enriching friendships with old ones. I find so much inspiration in your blogs, writing, art, photography and creativity, and know you will continue to inspire me into 2021 and beyond.

Wishing you the brightest and most blessed Christmas and all the best for 2021! Be kind, especially to yourselves.

Stay safe and take care,

Sammi x

Checking in…a quick update

It’s been a while since I last shared an update. Here goes…

Blogging Break

a random photo…

For a little while I’ve been planning a bit of a blogging break.  Trying to keep up with blogging (on three websites), with writing and editing my WIPs (of which, I accept, I have far too many), submitting work to various places and searching out venues to send it, social media and wattpad, as well as everything life has to throw at us…well, it’s just too much, and in some instances I am failing completely (I’m looking at you Wattpad…).  Hence the need for a blogging break, to give this brain of mine a bit of a rest because it needs it.  It will also give me the time to think about which projects would benefit most from my energy.  A little bit of focus and clarity can go a long way…

This means things will be a little quiet around here for the next few weeks.  I will however, schedule the next few Weekend Writing Prompts…

The Winter Ghost

Last week I made this announcement on Wattpad / Facebook:

This is just a quick update to say that yesterday I put the finishing touches to the final edit of The Winter Ghost. Woohoo!
This little story has come a long way since I wrote the first draft as part of 2019’s ONC. The finished manuscript doesn’t look much like the version that’s posted here – it’s been restructured, extended, there are maps…With the help of some fabulous beta readers I’ve really tried to make this story the best it can be.
Since it can be hard to find a traditional publisher that accepts fantasy novellas, I’m probably going to publish it myself, and with that in mind, I’m going to unpublish the first draft posted here, but not before 13th September 2020. That should give anyone reading it the chance to finish it – or those who have yet to read it, the chance to read it from beginning to end, should they wish.

So if you want to read the original draft, you’ve only a couple of weeks to do so.  You can find the story here:

With this story now completely completed, as I mentioned in the announcement, the next logical step would be to release it out into the world.  This will be one of my main priorities for the next little while.  If I can find a traditional publisher who accepts fantasy novellas I will consider submitting it to them, but it’s highly unlikely, and so I will probably publish it myself.  There is going to be a lot of hard work in my future, but it will be exciting also, I’m sure.

Submissions

I’ve had a few pieces of work accepted recently. A couple of poems and some short fiction.  It always feels good to keep my list of publications ticking over, albeit slowly, even if it’s just for confirmation that someone somewhere thinks my work is ok and maybe…hopefully…enjoys it.  I’ll share more on these closer to the time they become available to read.

WIPs

As I’ve already said, I have more WIPs than I think any sane person should admit to…My goal at the moment is to make enough progress on some of these projects to at least give them a complete rough draft, just to see what’s looking promising and what needs a lot more work.  With others, I’m trying to be sensible and mark at least some of them as “On Hold”.  The problem I have is, as soon as I put a WIP on that list, I’m struck by a level of inspiration that I can’t ignore…Sigh…

Current projects I’m actively working on are:

  • an as yet, not ready to be revealed, historical romance
  • The Dreamer – An Andromache Jones Mystery novella
  • Oathbreaker and other books in the series / world
  • The follow-on to The Winter Ghost

I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe.  What projects are you working on at the moment?  What plans do you have for the near / distant future?

A Little of This, A Little of That

I must apologise for my lack of presence around the blogosphere in recent weeks.  I’ve been a little preoccupied with offline projects.  How I envy all those who can blog daily and juggle four or five WIPS! 😉  Anyway, I thought it might be fun (for me, if not for you) to let you know what I’ve been up to…

What have I been working on?

A couple of weeks ago I finished my revisions for The Winter Ghost, my paranormal fantasy mystery novella (gosh, that’s a mouthful!).  While I’ve been letting that sit quietly for a few weeks, I’ve returned to The Sacrifice and The Summoning, a novel-in-progress that centres on my amateur witchy sleuth, Andromache Jones.  Having not worked on this in over a year, my progress is slow but steady, and when it’s time to go over The Winter Ghost again later this week, I’m determined to keep this project ticking over.  I would love to have the first draft completed in the next couple of months, if I can…but…

Beta Readers

My main priority at the moment is The Winter Ghost, and the next novella in the series.  If, when I have another read through of TWG this week, and my alpha reader thinks it’s good to go, I am hoping to ship it out to half a dozen or so beta readers to see what they think.  If you would like to volunteer as a beta reader, I would love to have you read this story, so please get in touch!

Weekend Writing Prompt

Please know, that while I’ve not been commenting on responses to the WWP, I have been reading and liking them.  So if I liked it, I read it.  Some of you may know that I suffer with anxiety, including social anxiety, and sometimes I do struggle with leaving comments, especially if there’s a lot to leave; it just gets too much for me.  I’m not deliberately ignoring anyone or think that your writing doesn’t deserve a comment, it’s just the way I am and some months are worse than others…

Submissions

It’s also been a while since I submitted any of my writing to magazines / journals / anthologies.  The last piece I submitted was a short story to an anthology back at the beginning of November!  So that’s another thing I’ve been working on.  So far, three pieces have been sent out, and one of them has been accepted!  Woohoo!  Fingers crossed for the other two.  Submitting my work is another thing that effects my anxiety, especially when there’s been a big gap between submissions.  My aim is to try and reduce that gap so that it has less of an impact on it…

Whispers and Echoes

It’s been a while since I closed submissions to Whispers and Echoes – eight months, I think.  This long a hiatus wasn’t my intention at all.  In fact, I had planned to reopen to submissions back in January.  However, I was mulling over changing the format to one that required a little less time and commitment (but no less love!) and that issue seemed to take a while to resolve itself.  But it has now, and I’m pleased to say that I am opening submissions again on the 1st June!  Yay!  And everyone reading this is being favoured with advance notice.  If you do wish to submit to the journal, head over to the Whispers and Echoes site (I’m still putting the finishing touches to it – what do you think to it?) and check out the submission guidelines – and if you want to submit early go ahead!  I’m hoping to see the inbox fill up with your work 😉

I think that covers everything, at least writing-wise.  How’s everyone’s writing going? Let me know in the comments.

If you made it through to the end, thank you so much for reading and enjoy the rest of your week!

Where I’ve Been and What I’m Doing (an update post)

Things have been a little chaotic here since the beginning of July.  It all started with my attempt to write the first draft of a short novel in a month, and ended with the (hopefully) final edit of a poetry collection – but there were many exciting things in between.  So, by way of an update post, I thought I would share a little of what I’ve been up to.

Writing a Short Novel in A Month

As always, things never quite go to plan.  My short novel has turned out to be longer than I anticipated, but it’s been so much fun writing it.  I’ve been uploading the chapters to Wattpad and there are currently 27 posted.  I must say, the response to the story has been better than I could have ever imagined and I’m ever so grateful to those who’ve been reading it.

It’s been a week since I did any work on it, but hopefully that will change in the next day or two.

If you are interested in reading it or want to learn more about it, you can find Oathbreaker here.  Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts – your wisdom could help shape the rest of the story.

 

Stratford-upon-Avon

Another trip to The Bard’s birthplace.  Although the weather was still hot, thankfully it cooled a little for our few days away, otherwise it would have been unbearable.

One of the things we did this visit was take a boat tour up the river.  I took the photo of the church in which William Shakespeare is buried, from the boat.

 

 

Banbury

We drove through Banbury on the way to Stratford-upon-Avon, and having seen how lovely the town looked from the car, decided to stop on our way home.

Of course, those of you who know your nursery rhymes will have heard of Banbury:

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes

It was interesting to learn about the history around the nursery rhyme, and although there are many theories as to her identity and the time in which she lived, no-one is certain.  As for the statue, I’m not usually a fan as they often have (to my eye) strange faces.  Not so with this one; I thought there was something absolutely captivating about her.

Shrewsbury

A day and a night in Shrewsbury, a popular choice for time away in our house.

That evening, as the sun was setting, we visited the site of the Battle of Shrewsbury, where the photo was taken.  It was fought in 1403 between King Henry IV and Harry Hotspur leading a rebel army.  For a place where so many men lost their lives in the most horrific of ways, it’s strange to think how peaceful the place was…

 

Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle

This is one of my favourite places in the world.

Situated on the top of a hill, with England to one side and Wales to the other, Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle is a beautiful, evocative place.  It doesn’t take much of an imagination to find yourself transported back 3000 years in history…

As we explored the stones, rain was coming in off the Welsh hills, giving my photo a magical, moody, intense quality.

It was hard choosing the one photo to share, but I think this one captured our time there perfectly.

 

Lilleshall Abbey and White Ladies Priory

On our return trip, we stopped off at two ruined monastic sites, Lilleshall Abbey (in the photograph) and White Ladies Priory.

We have visited these sites on a number of occasions and each time they have astounded us with their impressive remains.

The atmosphere at each site conjures images straight out of Cadfael: monks and nuns going about their daily religious life, as well as making you wonder how those in residence must have felt at the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII.  If you had never been part of the outside world, I can imagine how life beyond the walls could have seemed scary.

 

Wall / Letocetum

At Wall, there are the ruins of a small Roman town, on one of the main road arteries in Roman Britain, Watling Street.

The Latin name of the town is Letocetum.

The ruins here are of a mansio, where horses could be changed and lodgings for the night found, and a bath house.

It’s an amazing place to wander around, and a great source of inspiration for my historical fiction writing.

My Poetry Book

One of the projects I’ve been working off and on is my first proper poetry book.  Now, after much tinkering, I think it’s finished…Woohoo? Well, sort of.

The problem I have with my poetry is I can never tell if it’s any good.  So, I think the next sensible step is ask if there is anyone out there interested in beta-reading it for me?  Ideally, I would like to get it in front of a poetry publisher as I’m not sure I have the necessary skills to self-publish, and to do that it would be great to hear what other people think of it.  For more information, please check this out.

Weekend Writing Prompt Year 1 Anthology Update

First, let me apologise for disappearing off the face of the earth.  Things just seem to be so busy at the moment and finding the time to hang out on the blog is getting increasingly difficult.  Can someone tell me why there are only 24 hours in a day when I need at least 30?!

I’m about a month behind reading WWP responses, but I endeavour to catch up and read them all.  As I’ve said before, I might not get round to commenting on them all (though I’ll try), but know that if I like it, I read it and enjoyed it 🙂

So, let’s talk about the Weekend Writing Prompt Year 1 Anthology.

Thanks to everyone who has so far emailed over their contributions.  I will soon start going through the emails to see what we have and which prompts still have no responses.  I’ve extended the deadline over on the submission guidelines to 10 August 2018, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets one more final extension, probably the end of September but we will see how things go.  It might not be necessary.

All anthologies need titles, so I have come up with a name for this one.  “Outcast and Other Words” – What do you think? I also plan to design a few badges should anyone wish to use them on their blogs / social media.

I’ve secured the wordpress site, but done very little to it at the moment.  When there’s something to see over there I’ll post the link.  The aim is to have the site read like an online book, with each of the word prompts from Year 1 serving as the chapter titles…

Well, there it is.  I know things are moving slowly at the moment, for which I apologise, but, when it all comes together, I’ll know it will be great.

Thanks everyone for joining in.  Have a great weekend!

News from Camp (Camp NaNoWriMo April 2018)

So, Camp ended a few days ago after a busy month of trying to meet a self-set goal.  This time round I was aiming for writing 30,000 words over the course of April. The reasons for this was down to the challenge I set myself at the start of the year, “1000 words a day”.  As for that challenge, I’m a little way off the pace, though I’m getting caught up.  But, I digress…

Camp NaNoWriMo – April 2018

The Projects

I had planned to focus on two projects during April:

  1. A novella I was part way through come the end of March.  However, come the 1st of April, I switched projects, and decided to start a new novella.  The reason: the storyline of Novella #1 was moving in a direction I hadn’t expected or planned for.  I needed to decide whether I was going to allow the story to do its own thing or whether I was going to go back and write the story I’d planned.  It was a question I wasn’t ready to make a snap decision on.  So, I had another idea fully formed (like all writers, I have notebooks and files on the PC full of ideas and outlines), broke it down and started writing.  And this turned out to be my main project for April.
  2. With an ever hopeful heart, I was *planning* to get around 10,000 words added to last years NaNoWriMo novel.  Again, I realised that it would be difficult to just jump straight back into this project as I had not had the time beforehand (as I had hoped) to get reacquainted with it enough to add words to it.  Personally, I don’t like redrafting / editing until I have a workable beginning, middle and end so I can work on it as a whole.  So, although I didn’t actually need a second project because my Novella held most of my focus for April, I did work on an in-depth planning project at the same time.  This undertaking is another novel, and one I’m really excited about.  However, I’m holding off starting it until the first draft of the novella is complete.
The Numbers
  • Word count goal: 30,000
  • Validated goal: 36,647
  • Final total: I wrote an extra 1665 words late on the 30th, bringing my total to…drum roll, please…

38,312

My Thoughts

I’m really happy with what I achieved and am really looking forward to July and the next Camp.  The online writing group I’m part of, The Plot Bunnies, have a private cabin, and they are just a fantastic, supportive and knowledgeable group of ladies.  They are the best and I feel immensely lucky to know them. They also did really well on their own projects – so, well done, again ladies!

I wish Camp could be held every month because I just get so much done.  It forces me to focus on particular projects, but more than that, it makes me accountable.

As for my two projects, I’m still working each day on the novella and it’s coming along nicely.  I should have the first draft complete in a week or two.

All in all, Camp was a success and I’m sad it is over.  But then, if it didn’t end I couldn’t get excited about it starting up again, could I?

What’s Next?

I’ve seen glimpses of loads of posts I’ve missed for those who took part in the A-Z challenge and NaPoWriMo which also took place in April.  I hope this went well for everyone.  It’s such an achievement to post so many posts in such a short space of time, so well done, all!  Feel free to post a comment or two to tell me how it went.  I would love to know.

Those of you who join in with the Weekend Writing Prompt, will have seen that the most recent prompt was numbered “52” meaning we have just completed our first year of prompts.  Yay!  To mark the start of year 2, I thought it would be fun to mix things up…you’ll have to see tomorrow’s dedicated post to find out what I mean…

I hope for normal service to resume as of next week.  Until then, I’m going to go back and check out the responses to the Weekend Writing Prompts that I missed.  I know there are going to be tonnes of fantastic stories and poetry waiting for me to delve into.  Just so you know, I probably won’t be able to comment on each and every post I missed, but know that if I “liked” it, then I read and enjoyed it 🙂

The Magical Items that the Postman Brings…and a few updates

Wow…I can’t believe it’s February already.  Where has the start of 2018 gone?  It has been ages since I posted anything on here that wasn’t the Weekend Writing Prompt, and there were a few weekends where I thought even that might not happen 😯 .

So what have I been up to? – A Few Updates

Well, my birthday’s been and gone, making me a year older since I last posted a non-prompt related post. For presents, I got a number of beautiful things any scribbler would treasure: notebooks, pens and journal materials, as well as a few other things, including a copy of Francis Pryor’s Britain AD and the DVD box set of The Bridge season one.

In what little free time I’ve managed to scrounge together so far this year, I’ve been writing: poetry, short stories, and even my novel WIP has had some time and energy spent on it.  It feels like it’s been a slow start to the year (I remember complaining about the same thing last year!), but some progress is being made.  I’ve set myself a little personal challenge this year, which seems to be helping me make the most of my available time.  I’ve called it the “1000 words a day challenge”, where the aim is to be able to say by the end of 2018 that I have written, redrafted and edited 365,000 words.  This way, even if I don’t have time to write everyday, I can work towards the overall goal. So far, I’m on target!  Yay!

I’ve also been trying to catch up on reading some of the responses to the Weekend Writing Prompt.  I spent half of yesterday enjoying some amazing poetry and prose, from old and new participants alike.  It’s wonderful to see so many takes and interpretations of the same prompts.  You are all so very talented 🙂

Now for the second part of the post…The Magical Items that the Postman Brings

Just before Christmas, my copies of One Turn of The Wheel arrived in the post.  I still can’t believe that there is a book out there with my name on it.  I have received some lovely comments about this collection of tiny tales, and I can’t tell you how much they warm my heart and make me smile!

If you would like to read The Goblin Dance in its entirety, you can do so by heading over to the publisher’s website.  If you would like to order a copy of One Turn of The Wheel, it is available to buy as a paperback through Lulu.

At the beginning of January, my contributor’s copy of Children of Zeus arrived, containing my short story, A Family Reunion (which you can read more about, here):

And lastly, some very surprising news…during the last half of 2017, I wanted to challenge myself to send out more of poetry for publication.  For some reason, I find it harder to submit poems than I do short stories.  And so I did just that.  One of the venues I chose was Paper Swans Press, who were holding open submissions for a pocket poetry pamphlet on the theme of love.  I didn’t have any expectations of being included in the pamphlet; they made it clear that it was going to be a very small publication.  You can imagine my surprise when months later I received an email that says my poem was one of twelve that was chosen out of a couple of hundred to be selected for publication.

You can learn more about The Pocket Poetry Book of Love, including how to order one, on the publishers website.

My contributor copy of the pamphlet arrived in the post this week, and it’s just lovely!

I Won! (NaNoWriMo 2017)

First well done to all those writers who have already finished this year’s NaNo and good luck to those who are still writing away.

I completed the challenge on 24th November 2017, which is by far and away my best NaNoWriMo effort ever.  But that doesn’t mean that the novel I’m writing is complete.  Nope.  I’m guessing I’m still around 20,000 – 30,000 words off finishing my first draft, but I thought that after writing over 50,000 words in 24 days I had earned a few days away from the computer.

So that break is now over and my next task is to take a look at what I’ve written so far and find out what I still need to say.  I have an idea that most of those remaining words come from the middle of the book, with the rest required to tidy up the end chapters.  At this stage, I’m happy with the opening chapters / Act One.  My aim is to add around another 5,000 – 6,000 words to my NaNo total by the end of November, and then hopefully have the first draft completed by the end of the year.

All-in-all, I’m pleased with what I have written and what I have learned about my writing process.  It seems targeted writing sprints were my best weapon in my writing arsenal, especially on days when time was short.  I’m even finding I am using them for other projects too as a way to boost my productivity and sharpen my concentration.  Also having an good outline kept me focused.

With the 50,000 word target achieved, the pressure’s now off, so I’ll have a bit more time to spend catching up on all the amazing blog posts I’ve missed in my absence, especially responses written for the Weekend Writing Prompt.  I’ve tried my hardest to keep on top of it, but alas, I just couldn’t manage it.

If you participated in NaNoWriMo this year, how have you found it (so far)?

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Week 1

A whimsical image that has no bearing on this post whatsoever…enjoy 🙂

So, we are a couple days into the second week of NaNoWriMo, and I thought I would post an update on how my first week went.

My word count so far, on Day 9 is: 18,136.  If I keep up with my current rate, I will finish, so the stat-bot tells me, on the 25 November.  I’m glad to see my writing buddies who are participating this year are doing well too and have had a great first week.  Woohoo!

I’ve noticed that my writing process is slightly different this year.  When I write, I don’t necessarily tackle chapters in chronological order; I tend to write whatever I feel like writing no matter where it is in the storyline and then magically weave them altogether later.  At the moment, I’m solely concentrating on Act 1 (I use the basic three act structure with some focus points I’ve added in along the way), with my focus on the first six chapters.  I’ve been moving around these few chapters but stopping myself from exploring any further yet, except in terms of notes and planning, which of course, I’m not counting in my word count.

This has had an effect on my pacing: I’m hitting on average 2,000 words a day, whilst allowing myself a writing-free day once a week.  This seems to be working well so far.  I’ve also been able to edit sections as I go, which is helping me see how the next few chapters are going to unfold.

I even found some music on YouTube that compliments what I’m writing nicely.  My story is set in winter, and one hour of wintry music not only taps nicely into the season but also gives me a set timeframe within which to concentrate on nothing but writing this novel.  And I’m surprisingly still finding time to spend on other projects too (which I’m not including in my word count because they are separate from the novel).

At this point, it feels like things are going well.  Hopefully, this will continue and by the end of November I’ll have at least half a novel that makes sense and won’t require too much redrafting / rewriting.  Fingers crossed!

Are you participating in NaNo this year?  How are you finding it so far?