My Life

Camp Nano – Week 2

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The title pretty much tells you all you need to know about this post (which I am currently writing while being distracted by Game of Thrones, so good to have it back). I am doing another update on Camp Nano.

It’s going well so far. Officially I have just over 3,000 words written down on the document that is currently housing this month’s attempt at this. However I have written more than that.

I’m not quite sure how much more, but it’s all scrawled in my truly awful handwriting in a notebook and I haven’t quite gotten around to typing it up and adding stuff to it, because it is mostly dialogue. That is mostly because I have been really good at procrastinating, as per and also I was finishing up Jane the Virgin (as well as starting it to be quite honest, I clicked play on ep 1 of Season 3 on Saturday and was finished on Monday) and am trying to keep on top of blogging this week.

But I was randomly inspired on Friday night while I was sat in a church and ended up with a lot of time to kill (I was at a book launch event in Piccadilly being held in a church, I didn’t just go and hang out there on a Friday night after work) and I spent about 45 minutes just writing and ended up with about 4/5 A4 pages to work with.

I am slowly getting around to typing that all up and I think that I should soon hit the halfway point with it. And luckily for me I have a couple of ideas related to what I am writing that I can embellish and so right now I feel kind of confident in the fact that I can get to my word count set for the month.

Which isn’t something that I thought I would be, but there you go.

Parentheses count: 3. See you tomorrow!

 

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Books, Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge, Book 31 – Nevernight

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I am back at it with the book reviews today because I finally finished another one the other day (Friday to be exact) and I have finally digested my thoughts on it to the point where I feel like I can talk about it.

The book in question is the following:

2017 Reading Challenge, Book 31, Nevernight
2017 Reading Challenge, Book 31, Nevernight

This was probably the book that I was most excited to read all year and even when I got it last year I was super excited to read it, to be honest I don’t why it has taken me so long to read it given that we are now half way through the year. But whatever, that doesn’t matter. The point is that I’ve read it.

And I fucking loved every second of it.

It opened in the most interesting of ways and it went on the way it started. Part 1 did initially take a bit of getting used to in terms of style as it switched between the present day and the past, but once I got used to that I was hooked. The way Mia’s motives and thoughts all wove together in the first part was so brilliantly done and so interesting and it built tension so well that by the time I got to Part 2 I was just desperate to keep reading and it was a huge inconvenience for me to have to keep getting off trains every day.

Part 2 was Mia training for what she had set out to do and it was where everything really took off for me. It built the world nicely and showed just how high the stakes are. The second part of this book was brutal. I mean it did let off but hardly. It really upped the stakes for the narrative and further set the tone for what was to come. Like I said, it was the point for me that I got really hooked on this book. Seeing the way that these characters interplayed with each other within this game and the kind of institution that they were in. The siblings (not the acolyte ones, which would make sense if you read the book) were so weird and creepy and their role in this was borderline horrifying. The punishments and the attitudes to death were also mildly alarming, especially the punishments, which involves the siblings and is why I found them horrifying. Oh and also the Blood Walk. I thought I read that wrong at first and then I thought it couldn’t actually be real blood, then it registered with me that it was (it was early in the morning when that was introduced to me the first time, I’m always slow on the upkeep at that time). It was brutal. So satisfying, but brutal.

Now Part 3 housed the most unexpected twists and turns for me. Not that I ever knew what was going to happen or anything, but still what happened I really did not see coming. It’s not that I trusted Ashlinn, but ya know I kind of didn’t think she was going to do that. I am not going to lie at the point that the twist happened I very nearly threw the damn book across the train. And then went promptly into denial. Mainly because I don’t think the thing that happened really happened (even though I know it did) and I needed to finish the book and know how Mia was going to deal with all of it.

Now, you know me, I am all about endings. I have been jaded by so many of them. But not this one. Thankfully. The Epilogue was the perfect mix of conclusive and also left scope for the next one (which I am already excited to read even though it’s not yet been published and I have 20 other books to read first, oh and I’m technically on a book buying ban right now…). I mean it also fuelled my denial for some reason but I found it very satisfying to read.

Mia is one of my favourite new characters. She is so complex and layered and wonderful to watch grow throughout the pages of the book. Seeing her become more comfortable and in control with her powers and also the complexities of the powers themselves and the way they are viewed in this world created by Kristoff was so delightful to read. Tric, I don’t know at what point I became attached to Tric (not as attached as I was to Mia obviously, but she’s the protagonist, there is a sense of safety with Mia for now…) but I do know that it happened and I was bereft come the closing of the book. I found Hush a really interesting character as well, he very much suited his namesake. I was curious about Jess and Ashlinn. But why did you gotta do me like Ashlinn??

I like that in the context of this book there is no clear idea as to who exactly is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because they all exist in this murky grey area and the whole story is being told from a slightly unreliable narrator who seems to have a bias towards Mia. It felt real and grounded for that reason and I loved it.

And finally, the footnotes. I have such a complicated relationship with footnotes. On the one hand I get them, but on the other they drag you away from the main narrative and sort of cause you to get lost sometimes. These were manageable for the most part and it was fine. But every time I realise that there are footnotes in something I get serious David Foster Wallace vibes and remember that he sometimes had whole side stories in his footnotes that related to the story. I honestly went a bit mad with him and Brief Interviews and it was all down to the fucking footnotes. So yeah, be warned there are footnotes that are used for word building purposes and where initially they can take you out of the story, they do become less frequent as the narrative goes on and therefore remain manageable (or at least they did for me).

I cannot recommend this book enough. Seriously I really can’t. I mean be warned, there is sex, violence and strong language (oh my gosh this has just reminded of a section in Part 1 that summed up my thoughts on a word so perfectly it was unreal, I think it was the point I fell in love with this book…just like another character did) but it’s worth it if that kind of stuff doesn’t bother you. It’s without a doubt my favourite book of the year so far. It may remain my favourite book of the year, there are very few that I think that can contend for that role right now. I am so excited for Godsgrave and part of me wishes that I could read this book for the first time again. Although I have a feeling that should I re-read this book I will find new layers of things to love that I didn’t notice as I was devouring it the first time.

If it wasn’t obvious at this point: 5/5 stars

Parentheses count: 6. See you tomorrow!

 

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Beauty, My Life

Subscription Madness

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I’m sticking a similar vein to yesterday’s post, just because that is the kind of mood I am in and I am still trying to digest my thoughts on Nevernight before I post my review which will come tomorrow, so for now we have this.

I am terrible at remembering to do things that need changing or replacing or whatever, which is why I just signed up for VITL (a vitamins subscription) and stopped relying on myself to remember when things were running out and they needed replacing. I now get them delivered to me just as they run out on a monthly basis, it’s great. And so I am all for just leaving things to automated subscriptions so that I can’t forget about them, and as yesterday suggested I am very easily influenced on occasion.

So when I ended up deep in a Buzzfeed article spiral I ended up with two new subscription services under my belt.

And they were for razor blades and toothbrushes. Both of which I never remember how long I’ve been using for and when I need to replace them, so outsourcing it is just great all around for me. So here is just a short summary of my thoughts of them as I’ve been using them both for a few months now (one for longer than the other).

Friction Free Shaving

I’m guessing the title gives it away as to what this one is for. I have always been terrible at remembering to change my razor and my legs don’t really like me for it. And what with it being summer now and all that jazz it means that regular leg shaving season has officially descended. And well this site offers four fresh new razors either monthly or bi-monthly for £8 (if you get a 5 blade one, the 3 blade one is cheaper). I’m on a bi-monthly one because I don’t shave my legs that often that it would be required for me to change the blade every week, so I change it every two (and even then I still almost forget sometimes). I noticed the difference almost instantly, I literally always forget the difference that a new blade makes in the whole process and now I get that often it’s wonderful. Although I do still somehow manage to take giant chunks out of my legs regardless. I’m a fan. Oh and also the customer service team were great. So wins all around.

Quip

Aka the hipster toothbrush. Mine is black. Super sleek, doesn’t require daily charging and is light. And I love it. I mean it’s an electric toothbrush. It’s not going to reinvent the wheel or anything and nor is it claiming to. But it’s a gentle kind of electric toothbrush. It also helps me to pay attention to where I am actually brushing my teeth and for how long for. It also makes it a lot easier for me to just feel like I’m getting a deeper clean each morning and night. This toothbrush in conjunction with my toothpaste leaves my teeth feeling super clean. The best part is that in 3 months a new battery and brush head, I don’t quite remember how long I’ve had it for, but I know it’s not been 3 months, I think it might have only been 1 so far. I have also been converted to this one as well.

And those are my current two subscriptions that I currently partake in (actually it’s 3, but I only talked about two) which I am currently loving, if only mostly for the fact that it means that I no longer have to think about replacing them because they are just delivered directly to me. And that’s always fun.

Parentheses count: 5. See you tomorrow!

 

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My Life

The Charcoal Experience

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Never one to jump on a bandwagon (actually sometimes I do, sometimes I steer well clear of one) I ended up falling into one of those weird loops where I just read all the possible articles that I could on something.

In this case it was charcoal toothpaste.

It started off as reading about Emma Watson’s beauty regime and ended with me heavily leaning towards giving it a shot.

And then I stopped leaning and just fell.

Into the toothpaste aisle in Boots looking at the charcoal toothpaste options available to me. Then there was one that was on offer and the calling became too much so I answered.

And now I brush my teeth twice a day in a foam of black.

That surprisingly didn’t take much getting used to. What did though was watching where said black foam ended up. Charcoal is funnily enough a lot harder to quickly deal with than regular toothpaste, so I have to be extra careful when I’m going about brushing my teeth and remember to rinse the sink out for a bit longer (not gonna lie, I am better at doing this at one end of the day then the other, guess which one?).

The one I use is Curaprox Black is White and I bought it at the beginning of June and now in mid-July I still have at least a third of a tube of left, maybe closer to half. My point there is that it’s long lasting, I reckon I might have another month left with this tube quite comfortably unlike my previous toothpaste which lasted 4-6 weeks. The fact that one tube lasts for so long means that it makes the price tag a little less of a terrible blow to take.

In terms of the actual toothpaste it has a nice fresh minty taste. I mean it says fresh lime mint but it’s minty. It’s nice. It’s refreshing and not too overpowering as it could have been. It leaves my teeth feeling cleaner than when I used my previous toothpaste. And it has a pretty similar texture to a regular one as well, although it is a little coarser, but not noticeably so, once I’ve used mouthwash.

Obviously the hype around charcoal toothpaste is that it helps to whiten teeth, and to be honest I have noticed a difference but also I’ve not massively been paying attention to it. But there is a difference.

For the most part I think I will probably stick with it but then also I’m not like holding myself to that. Mainly because the price tag is a bit too big just for toothpaste but that’s a small drawback that may not actually affect anything. I’m gonna see how long this tube actually lasts and then make a decision. For now though, I’m converted.

Parentheses count: 0. See you tomorrow, yes really!

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My Life

Camp Nano- Week 1

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You know me, I love an update post and it’s been a week since July started which means it has now been a week since Camp Nano has started, and well I actually have words to contribute to my overall word count aim for the month.

You read them al yesterday.

That’s it.

That’s all I have written so far.

And it is just under 2,000 words.

Which means that I am 2/10’s of the way through my goal for the month. I am not gonna lie, I am surprised at myself. I know I set myself that target and all but I also know myself and so I didn’t necessarily think that I would actually get close to that. Or even really make a start with it.

My faith in myself is real high as I am sure you can see.

The fact of the matter is I’m almost scared of writing at this point. It’s gone past the point of writer’s block and just careened into outright fear. But I feel like now that I have momentum with that I can actually achieve my current target for the month, maybe even exceed it if I so dare.

I just need to remember that in the end as long as I am putting words on a page then I am at least doing something. Which is more than I have been doing for months now.

So my current word count 10 days into the month is: 1,780 and I am going to go back into it and work on this thought that plagued my head on the train journey home.

Parentheses count: 0. See you tomorrow!

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Creative Writing, writing

Snapshot 53

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Yeah, I know I went dark again, I was all prepared to get home on Friday night and finish this post up, but then I went and got a life instead and that went out the window and so here I am doing it today instead. I got randomly inspired to get back to these characters one afternoon where I pretty much lost the will to work in the heat and got distracted. And then I remembered that I don’t really know my own timeline of this thing anymore so I had to read through all my previous ones, of which there are 55 in total, and I still don’t think it 100% lines up, but it does enough. Please do not ask me where this slots in to the whole thing, because I don’t quite know specifically, it’s all very vague in my head. But there you go. 

‘What if I wanted to quit all this?’ Lizzy asked quietly as she gently closed her laptop. Ryan looked up from reading her most recent book and raised an eyebrow.

‘Quit what?’

‘This whole being an author thing? The slaving over a keyboard and hating everything that makes it onto the page thing. My job. The job I chose and backed myself 100% to achieve’ She sounded dejected and was tugging at her hair absent mindedly

‘Well what would you do instead?’ Ryan settled the now closed book on his lap and turned to face her fully.

‘Become a lady of leisure.’ She laughed humourlessly.

‘Would you be content doing that though?’ 

‘Probably not.’ She shrugged.

‘Then what would you do?’ He tried again, gently.

‘I don’t fucking know. I don’t have a plan B. I never had a plan B.’ Her voice was clipped, anger bleeding into it.

‘There’s nothing wrong with that.’ Ryan offered quietly.

‘I never said there was.’ The anger came through the forefront and winced slightly at herself as the anger hung in the air. Ryan closed his eyes and took a deep breath before he continued talking.

‘I know you didn’t, where is this coming from?’ Lizzy sighed and scrunched her eyes shut.

‘I’ve been staring at my screen for the last hour and there’s nothing. And it goes beyond just regular writer’s block. I can always work through that, this is something else. This is a deep rooted sense of nothing. I can’t pull a sentence together. I’m two chapters into this book and now there is just a black hole of nothingness where I can grab hold of nothing and have no idea where to go. It’s just darkness.’

‘Then stop.’ Ryan said simply and Lizzy opened her eyes to look at him intently.

‘And do what?’ She mirrored his earlier words.

‘I dunno, nothing. You’re burned out. It finally happened. So just stop’

‘I have a deadline, I can’t just stop.’

‘Have you talked to your agent about this?’

‘No.’

‘Then how do you know they won’t be flexible? It’s better to have a slightly awkward conversation that might actually be beneficial to you then to have you force a book out that you are not even close to being happy with.’

‘But that’s the problem. I don’t know if I will ever be happy with it. That book you’re reading right now, I have  rewritten the ending to it about seven times since I submitted it.’

‘You always do that, that doesn’t signify anything. Just take a break. A long break.’

‘What if I wanted to quit all this? Lizzy asked quietly as she gently closed her laptop. Ryan looked up from reading her most recent book and raised an eyebrow.

‘Quit what?’

‘This whole being an author thing? The slaving over a keyboard and hating everything that makes it onto the page thing. My job. The job I chose and backed myself 100% to achieve’ she sounded dejected and was tugging at her hair absent mindedly

‘Well what would you do instead?’ Ryan settled the book on his lap and turned to face her fully.

‘Become a lady of leisure.’

‘Would you be content doing that though?’

‘Probably not.’ She shrugged.

‘Then what would you do?’

‘I don’t fucking know. I don’t have a plan b. I never had a plan b.’

‘There’s nothing wrong with that.’

‘I never said there was’ she snapped, wincing slightly at herself.

‘I know you didn’t, where is this coming from?’

‘I’ve been staring at my screen for the last hour and there’s nothing. And it goes beyond just regular writer’s block. I can take a step back from that and then work through that, this is something else. This is a deep rooted sense of nothing. I can’t even pull a sentence together. I’m two chapters into this book and I’ve reached an abyss. A black hole of nothingness where I can grab hold of nothing and have no idea where to go. There is just darkness.’

‘Then stop.’ Lizzy looked at him intently.

‘And do what?’

‘I dunno, nothing. You’ve churned out a book a year almost the entire time I’ve know you, sometimes two. You’re burned out. It finally happened. So just stop.’ Lizzy groaned and titled her head up to the ceiling, closing her eyes again.

‘I have a deadline, I can’t just stop.’ Her voice was strained, but still held an element of exasperation.

‘Have you talked to your agent about this?’

‘No.’ She whispered.

‘Then how do you know there is no flexiblity? It’s better to have a slightly awkward conversation that might actually be beneficial to you then to have you force a book out that you are not even close to being happy with.’ Lizzy titled her head back up slowly and pushed her hair off her face.

‘But that’s the problem. I don’t know if I will ever be happy with it. That book you’re reading right now, I have  rewritten the ending to it about seven times since I submitted it.’ She gestured vaguely at Ryan’s lap and he threw the book on the coffee table.

‘You always do that, that doesn’t signify anything. Just take a break. A long break.’

‘It’s not that simple and you know it.’ She quirked an eyebrow.

‘No, I think it might be that simple, I think you’re just making it complicated. You’re scared.’ His voice was soft and it riled Lizzy up in an unexpected way.

‘No, I’m not.’ She snapped.

‘You don’t have to get defensive with me Liz. But you can’t ignore this.’

‘So I admit defeat?’ Her voice dropped and Ryan moved from where he was sat on the armchair to sit next to her, pulling her legs onto his lap.

‘To who? What has defeated you?’ He started tracing random patterns on her bare calf. Lizzy stared at his fingers as they moved in some kind of trance as she spoke softly, any anger she may have felt slowly seeping out of her.

‘This has. My job has. The job that I chose to do. The one that I fought tooth and nail to get into and stick at. The job that people told me I shouldn’t do for so many reasons. I just accept that those people were right?’ Ryan’s hand stilled momentarily, bringing Lizzy back into the room.

‘They’re not right though are they? People love your books. You’ve had your books turned into films. Your books have been on the New York Times Bestseller lists. You’ve done what you wanted to achieve, but sometimes even the best of us have to accept that we are not a superhero and take a break.’ His hand started moving again and Lizzy’s attention settled on it once more.

‘But this is the last  book though…’ She protested weakly.

‘So, you want it to be as good as it can be, don’t you? If you’re looking at a screen and you can’t figure out what you want the characters that you have lived with for years to do then you need to take a break.’ He said matter-of-factedly.

‘What like you are?’ She scoffed, shifting her gaze to his face momentarily.

‘If you’re referring to the fact that I have never been in the studio more then since we announced our hiatus then I see you that and raise you almost every single holiday we have ever been on where you claim that you are going to take a couple of weeks off and then don’t. We’re just not taking part in the juggernaut that was our life that threatened to ruin us and burn us out even further, I’m a song writer, writing songs is what I do, no hiatus is going to take that away from me.’

‘Yeah, and I’m a writer. If I don’t write, or can’t write, what the hell do I have?’

‘You still have that, don’t be ridiculous. It’s a break not a retirement.’

‘Of course it’s not a retirement I have people waiting to see how the fuck this thing ends, I can’t leave them hanging like that.’ She smiled.

‘And you won’t, you’ll just leave them for a little bit longer then you originally anticipated.’ His hand stilled again and the room briefly fell silent.

‘What if I never go back to it though?’ Lizzy whispered after a few moments.

‘We both know that you will. But for now, try and relax. Stop stressing about everything, which I know is easier said than done, but think about it. Dyl and Tom are gonna be dads soon and we have a nursery that needs finishing. We’ve never been off for an extended period of time, well ever, really. And before you know it you’ll go back to having about a million different ideas that you want to write and not enough time to write them all again in no time. But it’s okay to say that you need to stop.’

‘How does one even go about doing nothing?’ She laughed.

‘Well first of all you need to talk to your agent and publishers before you can entertain it is an idea. And then you just take it one step at a time. I would suggest we go on holiday, but we can do whatever. Just go off the grid.’

‘A holiday sounds good. I’ll deal with the logistics of it all and then get back to you.’

‘It’ll be fine. It may even be fun. I don’t think we’ve ever not been working the entire time we’ve known each other.’ His hand started moving again, shifting further up her leg.

‘Well that’s depressing.’

‘Let’s not dwell on it and just let it happen.’ Ryan smiled at her and stilled his hand again on her thigh.

‘My family are going to be so confused when I tell them I’m taking a break from this all.’ She joked.

‘Can’t lie, I’m surprised you’re considering it. But I’m grateful that you are.’

‘I’m gonna go deal with this before I chicken out.’ She stretched behind her and grabbed her phone, smiling at Ryan before swinging her legs off his lap and getting up to leave the room.

Parentheses count: 0. See you tomorrow!

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My Life

The Halfway Point

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Given that I did a two month and a four month update on this it seems only fitting that I would do a mid year check-in. Although it is totally insane that we are now at the halfway point of the year, did it not just start? With that in mind, here we go then…

1) Take Better Care of Me Hair – I’m due another hair cut at the end of the month, which is progress given that generally speaking once I get a hair cut I then don’t go back for years on end. And in this year alone I’m due about 3 of them…so, it’s going well. I mean I say that, I have also not untied my hair in three days and it’s coming up to two weeks since I last washed it and it’s weirdly straight and so dry right now, but this is a blip and is mainly because I’ve been busy and it needs at least a couple of hours to so which I just haven’t had this week after work, but like I said, it’s a blip. Other than that, it’s going well. This is the healthiest my hair has been in a long while.

2) Take Better Care of My Skin –  I’ve added an SPF to my routine in the morning and Vitamin E facial oil at night, but honestly there’s not all that much I can really do. Except stop picking at my face when spots do appear. But yeah, I feel like just being consistent in what I’m doing is the best thing that I can do for it. I have also increased the frequency with which I exfoliate my skin, from once to twice and I’m gonna see where that leads me. But yeah, I am making progress with it I guess.

3) Tone The Hell Up – So, I’m still mostly off sugar, but that gets harder the hotter it gets because I want ice cream alll the time. I still tweaking with my diet in a general sense and I eat more fruit and veg than I used to, but there are parts of it that could definitely be better. I also dropped off cardio for the past 6 weeks (I started introducing it on Monday again) for a couple of reasons and switched to do more low impact exercises. So pilates, yoga and barre. It all burns. It all works. I feel stronger, I can get deeper into a push-up, my arms have some shape to them, there are hints of defined back muscles. I actually feel good in my body. Look, I can’t lift, I don’t do strength training and I don’t know if I want to, but I can hold solidly hold a plank for 60 seconds and I can finally touch the floor with straight legs. And currently my legs feel like a really heavy weight and my glutes burn and I still have a barre class to do this week which is going to make it worse (and yet also better…), but this is going well. It’s completely changed my attitude to myself and has helped with my mental health in a huge way that it didn’t before recently. And yeah, I don’t hate my body anymore, I had a breakthrough with it recently and came out the other side with an attitude that me 4/5 years ago would never even have dreamed of. I’m gonna up my cardio again at some point to two/three times a week again, but currently I’m mainly focused on low intensity, isometric workouts that really help me tone up and burn sooo much.

4) Start Saving Properly –  Can we not talk about this one please? It’s not gotten all that much better, I transfer money, sometimes I forget about, sometimes I need to transfer it back in. That plan that I was talking  about a couple of months ago will happen, I just don’t know when…

5) Get Better Organised – This comes and goes to be honest. Sometimes I get proper to-do listy and feel like I can conquer the world, but most of the time it is all just organised chaos in my head. I’m trying, probably not hard enough, but I’m trying nonetheless.

6) Try And Be More Creative/Just Write More – Again, I don’t really know how to assess this one. I’m going to try and rectify that this month, but I’ve made no progress with that so far, but I’m gonna have to for tomorrow and I’m almost excited for this.

And there we go. The halfway point update. To be honest, it’s kind of going the way that I thought it would go. Number 4 and 5 are proving grey areas of difficultly because I’m me. 6 is kind of following the same vein as before given that I put it on the list in the first place because it wasn’t happening all that much. The first 3 are going in directions that I didn’t necessarily think they would, I mean skincare is, the fact that I actually got a hair cut for the first time in years still surprises me and my new attitude to exercise has also caught me off guard. I mean I started doing it just to be a bit healthier, but now it’s almost paramount to keeping me sane these days.

Anyway, see you in September with the next update on this!

Parentheses count: 2. See you tomorrow!

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