Blog Hop: Why I Write

This blog hop was started by Katy at Folly and Bloom and the aim is to find out more about bloggers and what makes them tick. I was tagged by the lovely Dorristhelorris – many thanks!

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Why Do I Write?

There are a lot of reasons why I started this blog, and why I write in general, but I guess they all add up to the same thing: I like it.

The only part of school I enjoyed was writing. I even quite enjoyed writing essays. Whenever we were given a topic to write about I was off, no questions asked. My best friend at the time used to give me a weird look and ask how I did it. How did I start writing straight away? How did I know what to write? How could I just think of something on the spot and have two pages written before she’d even finished a sentence? I still don’t really know the answer to that, but I used to say just write whatever comes into your head. Simple.

I think I’ve always loved writing stories. My mum found some of my infant school books a few years back which prove that I’ve always had a good imagination (and been a little weird).

See if you can decipher them…

Not much has changed...still writing rubbish stories, still can't draw, still want to be a lovely young princess in a dig castle...
Not much has changed…still writing rubbish stories, still want to be a lovely young lady princess in a dig castle…

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As for this blog. I mainly started it to improve my writing. Obviously, I love to read, and I’m a firm believer that the more you read, the better you write. So I wanted to start reading a bit more seriously, and keeping a record of what I love and hate in a book. I also wanted to get into the habit of writing everyday.

I always blame this blog on the fact that I’ve barely written any fiction since starting it, but to be fair I was always pretty rubbish at that. I’d have short bursts where I’d write non-stop in all my spare time, but then never finish what I started.

I’m still working on finding a balance between blogging and creative writing.

What am I working on?

Apart from all the usual blog stuff, I’m currently working on my Horror October month. I did a horror-themed month last year too, when I was relatively new to blogging, and it seemed to go down a storm. It was totally off the cuff last year, so this time I’m actually planning it and hope to have some amazing guest posts and features.

In my almost non-existent creative writing time, I’ve started editing the YA novel I wrote when I was at uni. It’s a complete mess, to the point where I don’t know if it’s salvageable, but I really want to try. Until last month, I hadn’t looked at it for about three years!

Anyway, it’s set in a fictitious village in Shetland and is about two brothers who are being pursued by Odin as he believes they can help him destroy the world of the living. Their arrival in Shetland, where they plan to hide, turns a young couple’s lives up-side down.

How does it differ from others of its genre?

There are so many book blogs out there that it’s hard to say what’s different about mine. I like to cover all genres, but YA is my favourite so I can’t help featuring that genre a lot. I like to think I bring my own personality to it, which makes it unique to me. And I don’t own a reading device! BOOKS, PEOPLE!

If we’re talking about my messy novel, I guess it’s your average YA paranormal novel with a few twists. When I started writing it, Twilight hadn’t happened yet (the two brothers have all the characteristics of vampires, but they’re not- it’s a long story. A messy novel-length story), and Norse mythology wasn’t being used much in fantasy. Both of these things are quite popular now, which is good and bad. But, at this rate, it won’t be finished for another 10 years anyway so I don’t have to worry about the marketplace right now.

How does my writing process work?

Hmm. Well, it differs.

For reviews I used to write notes as I went along to make writing them up easier, but I felt like it made them too clinical. Now I simply read the book and if I like a quote or want to remember something I’ll note down the page number, but other than that I just go ahead and write exactly what I thought of the book a day or two after finishing it.

I try to encompass the feeling I got when reading the book, but without it just being OMG I LOVED IT SO MUCH. And as I said earlier, I think it’s really important to think about why you loved or hated whatever it is you’re talking about.

I used to write most of my blog content during the working day (and by that I of course mean lunch time if my boss is reading this), but as my days have got busier, and the blog has grown, I have to set aside a good few hours at the weekend, and a couple of week nights to write all the posts for the following week. I could probably do it all in one night if I didn’t procrastinate so much. And by procrastinate, I mean watch TV.

This post has made me realise how much I want to add in at least one night a week for editing my novel, or writing new things.

Will there ever be enough time?

Thanks so much to Kelly from Dorristhelorris for tagging me.

I’m tagging Amanda from Amanda’s Nose in a Book, who does it all – blogs, writes and crotchets! And Mishka from A Writer’s Life for Me, who is the author of romance books in a variety of sub-genres, including Prophecy of Stones that I’m due to review soon (I haven’t forgotten!). 🙂

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts #6

This meme is hosted by the Bookishly Boisterous and the idea is simple. It’s a round-up of your week, in and out of book world. A place to store your thoughts, and basically anything you’d like to share on your blog.

It’s been a while since I did one of these posts so there should be lots to talk about but….

1. Why is it that every time I come to write this post I completely forget about all the things I wanted say? It’s like a curse. I even leave links to things I wanted to mention in a draft post, but by the time I come to write it, I’ve forgotten what I had to say about it. Must try harder.

2. Does anyone remember Jim Henson’s The Storyteller? I loved it so much. My memory of it was jogged because it’s being made into a graphic novel and it looks stunning. I’m kind of on a graphic novel kick since Comic Con a few weekends back. But more on that later.

Archaia, the official publisher of Jim Henson comics and graphic novels, is launching a new comics miniseries based on one of Henson’s franchises. The Storyteller: Witches will focus on different folk tales just like the television series from the late ’80s. The Storyteller featured a narrator sitting in a cozy chair by the fireplace; he told viewers about magical creatures and happenings. As the Storyteller wove his tales, you watched them come to life before your eyes.

More info and photos here!

3. How have I only just discovered Gay of Thrones?????. It’s brilliant.


 
4. I was thinking about publisher websites the other day. I rarely go on them and wonder if maybe I should? I know some publishers have their own reading groups and forums, and some seem to have their own reading services for bloggers. I only really use NetGalley, but now I’m starting to think maybe I’m missing out..Am I…AM I?

5. Two really good things (and one potentially bad thing) came out of my weekend spent at the first YA Lit Convention (YALC) which took place at London Comic Con a couple of weeks ago:

5.1 It definitely seemed to start a buzz about YA in this country and hopefully the genre will continue to go from strength to strength and maybe even gain some credibility – stranger things have happened.

In the News:
The Guardian – Why You Should YA

The Telegraph – YALC Review

Grown-Ups: You can read YA!

5.2. It inspired me to dust off my unfinished YA manuscript which I’ve been ‘working’ on for YEARS. I hadn’t even looked at it for about 18 months, and it was pretty much as bad as I feared, but I’m enjoying the puzzle that is a complete rewrite. For now!

5.3. My slight obsession over Peter Petrelli Milo ventimiglia has come back with a vengeance after seeing him in all his bearded glory at Comic Con. My friend Dora and I had a film night at the weekend consisting of the classic that is Pathology (hot) and this HILARIOUSLY bad Hammer Horror-esque vampire porn. Hello.


 
My review of YALC and LFCC can be found here: Part 1 / Part 2

6. I went to see Begin Again, the new Kiera Knightley film and I actually quite liked it (the trailer looked pretty awful). There’s just something I love about films about musicians. Maybe it’s because I wish I was musical, but I’m so far from it – I barely know what an instrument is. I quite like music-based books too and found this list of YA Music-Based Books on MTV.com the other day. Oh look, my wishlist just expanded.

7. I’ve been back on a healthy eating & more exercise mission the last few weeks. It’s going pretty well. I made THE best tuna burgers the other day. Seriously, THE BEST!

8. I’m kinda over the summer already. I want it to be Winter. I love Winter! I want cosy nights in, hot chocolate, mulled wine and fairy lights, and I want it now. I’m sick of getting sunburnt, I’m sick of hayfever and my constantly itchy face and I got biten all over my legs the other weekend so I’ve had to cover them up. It’s too hot for that. Roll on Christmas.

9. I can’t shake the idea of moving somewhere new. I’ve been wanting to do it for ages but it’s hard to know where to start. I think I need a new adventure.

10. I’ve been using Pinterest for a while and I really like it. It took me a while to figure out what the point of it was, but I think I have now. I’ve started using it to post about my blog too, not many seem to do it, and I wonder why…

Well, that’s what’s been on my mind lately. You should join the fun and tell us what’s on yours!

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts #4

This meme is hosted by the Bookishly Boisterous and the idea is simple. It’s a round-up of your week, in and out of book world. A place to store your thoughts, and basically anything you’d like to share on your blog.

1. I’ve been ill on and off for the past two weeks and it’s really starting to piss me off. It all started with a sore throat, and then my right ear went weird and hurt when I swallowed and I thought I was going deaf. And now, I just have a cold that won’t budge. Even trusty old Lemsip isn’t working. Ugh. I’m putting off going to the doctors because I generally think time heals most things. HURRY UP, TIME!

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2. Despite being ill, last Saturday was Eurovision day and I had a little house party for it because Eurovision is like the best thing ever. As tradition dictates, I instructed everyone who came to bring something to represent the country they were backing, whether it was food, drink or outfit based. Oh man, there was a lot of food. It was awesome.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about (you guys are missing out) you can read what Eurovision is all about on the link above, but basically, it’s a great excuse for a party, and the campest thing ever. BEST NIGHT!

The UK did rubbish, as always, even though we had a pretty good entry this year, but I was glad to see Conchita Wurst, the Austrian drag queen win – screw you Russia! My other favourite was Iceland…oh Iceland you make me happy. Check it out:

3. Eurovision also made me realise that my blog must be coming up to its one year anniversary as I remember my introduction post was a picture of me standing over one of my best friends who had partied a bit too hard at last year’s Eurovision. Whoop…I can’t believe it’s been a year already. I’ll be doing some birthday/round-up posts next week. I think my first post was on the 22nd May 2013. EEEK!

4. I’ve been seeing a lot about Children’s Book Week in blogland this week, which I guess is like America’s version of our World Book Day…anyway, it got me thinking about all the children’s books I love so I’m planning a special post for it on friday – if I have time to write it!

5. And while we’re on the subject of children’s books, I came across this awesome article by John Green, discussing why he thinks YA fiction appeals to adults – YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD FOR YA FICTION… it does surprise me that besides from a few of my friends and the book/blogging world, most people don’t understand why I read so many books aimed at teenagers when I’m 30 years old! BECAUSE THEY ARE AWESOME, HELLO. I hate when it gets looked down upon too, but it’s nearly always non-readers that do that. Idiots.

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6. I bought a little rose plant a few weeks ago. I don’t really do flowers or plants usually, I’m just not that person, but I saw it and thought it looked cute, and now I’m having a bet with myself to see how long I can keep it alive. I’m pretty rubbish with these things. The label on it said that the soil should always be moist and it needs feeding twice a week. Is feeding the same as watering? Seriously guys, I’m clueless. And people ask me if I think about having kids…LOL@YOU…I don’t even know how to keep a plant alive!!! I’ll probably get drunk and try to eat it or something. The plant, not the fictional baby.

7. I really need to get back into writing. As much as I love doing this blog, it’s completely taken over the time I used to spend writing (plus all the time I spent doing god knows what…). I have a YA novel and a handful of short stories that still need work (especially the novel…it’s so terrible ATM) and about a million other ideas for things I want to write but haven’t gotten round to. I really need to set aside some time each week to do that!

Top Ten Tuesday: Things on my Bookish Bucketlist

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week. This week the topic is Top Ten things your your Blogging/Bookish (or not so Bookish) Bucketlist. My list also includes my writing bucketlist.

  1. Live in a castle. It’s not too much to ask is it? IS IT?
  2. Write something amazing. Get Published. Win at life.
  3. Open Vintage Bookshop (one of my dreams is to own a actual book shop but I’ll settle for an online one I suppose).
  4. Attend Launches, Book Blogger/Publishing Events etc
  5. Do  (& pass obv) an MA in Creative Writing/Publishing.
  6. Go to Hay festival.
  7. Win at NaNoWriMo!
  8. Get a ‘Never is an awfully long time’ tattoo.
  9. Read the Iliad.
  10. Go on a Writer’s retreat.

Blog Take-Over: B.I Woolet on the inspiration behind their World of Arcas series.

I’m absolutely delighted to hand over my blog today to B.I Woolet, authors of The Hunter, The Bear and the Seventh Sister (HBSS). I fell in love with the world they built instantly and I was intrigued to find out where their inspiration came from.

But first, here’s the low-down on HBSS:

hunter
Title: The Hunter, The Bear and the Seventh Sister
Author: B.I Woolet
Details: E-Book, Paperback
Publication Date: January 28th 2014, by ArcasArts

When a beautiful and powerful stranger throws Jackson into the world of Arcas, his predictable midwestern life instantly vanishes into an all-consuming adventure.

The last kingdoms of Arcas possess enduring youth, beauty, and wealth but have slowly crumbled under the weight of endless apathy and a painful past.

The rising evil of Gurges Ater now threatens to reopen the ancient kingdom pillars created long ago as passageways between Earth and Arcas. With access to both worlds, Gurges Ater will quickly conquer the weak kingdoms and establish his own throne.

Can Jackson along with a paranoid bear, a lone hunter, and the surviving seventh sister work together to protect both Earth and Arcas?

Or will the unlikely heroes allow their own fears, pain, and past to paralyze them as Gurges Ater opens the pillars and claims the throne?

Leave your own world behind, dive through the shimmering portal, and join Jackson to discover the beauty, danger, and adventure awaiting you in the World of Arcas!
Read my review here.

Thanks Lipsyy for letting us take over your blog today! 🙂

Fantasy and Sci-Fi adventures…

have always been an enjoyable part of our life. Like many others, we grew up escaping to the worlds of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. We loved to “journey” to other worlds but never thought that we would actually create one. Many readers have asked us about our inspiration behind The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister, so today we hope to give you some of the inside scoop on our journey through the fantastical world of Arcas.

The idea of writing a fantasy story did not start on the side of a glorious mountain or before a marvelous sunset descending upon the crashing ocean. The World of Arcas was born during… a baby shower. I (Benji, the “B” in B. I. Woolet) was by sitting by the fire on one cold November evening in 2011. Actually, I was hiding a bit from the whole awkward feelings about being a man at a baby shower that wasn’t for my wife or for my baby. So, I sat alone in the back room, enjoying the warmth of the fire and looking out at the snow covered ground. Perhaps I secretly wished to be transported away, so I wouldn’t feel so out of place. “What would happen if I transported to another world?” I thought, staring at the flaming logs and breathing in their smoky incense. Thus, the dawn of a new world, the breath of new characters, and the rumors of a new adventure in the World of Arcas were all conceived during a baby shower.

The backbone of The World of Arcas Series is the union of astronomical science and fantasy. When we first started writing HBSS, the links to objects in the celestial universe weren’t totally formed yet. As fate would have it though, about the same time as the genesis of HBSS, my wife and I got interested in astronomy. As beginning stargazers, we started by learning the constellations and how to star hop. Once we recognized individual stars and the various characters in the night sky, we could use our telescope to find cool deep space objects.

orionDuring the day, we were creating a fantasy world. At night, we were gazing at the stars. As we searched the dark sky one night, the powerful figure of Orion—the hunter—almost demanded to enter the story. We knew there were already stories about Orion from various cultures throughout human history, but those stories seemed so removed from our world, so distant. It was time for the stars to come to life for a new generation. After all, the constellations do not just belong to the ancient world; they belong to those of us who are breathing, and seeing, and enjoying them right now. They needed a new story for a new age.

Now, of course, we didn’t get rid of the old legends all together. We did what most people do while forming a creative work: borrowed, altered, and added. Otava (which comes from the Finnish name for the constellation) is the great bear Ursa Major. However, in American culture, many people don’t even know it’s a bear; we usually think of it merely as the big dipper (which makes up the back half of the bear). Hence, we made our bear into a culinary enthusiast! And we also added a few jokes about Otava’s “big dipper.” But there are also many new and interesting aspects of the bear that we added to make him a loveable, powerful, and quirky character!

Ok—beware! I’m about to get super geeky on you now!

Another example of mashing together science with fantasy is found in the chapter “The Ring and the Lyre.” My “go-to” constellation is Lyra when I stargaze. I first use a trick my uncle taught me to test my optics out on the “double-double” (a set of two double stars in Lyra that you can “split” with the telescope). Then, I immediately look for the famous Ring Nebula (M57). It’s an amazing nebula, and I wanted something special for it. For the musical fans out there, the idea formed out of something similar to the dream sequence in Oklahoma.

ringWe turned the stringed Lyre into a magical instrument. So when Sulafat (Gamae Lyrae – the second brightest star in Lyra) plays the lyre, a cloudy magical ring appears that is reminiscent of the Ring Nebula: Upon reaching the bank, the cloud formed a ring swarming round and round, displaying blues and greens in the center along with golds and reds on the outside. The colors were vibrant yet muted by the white haze. A beautifully haunting tune quietly radiated through the ringed cloud.

There are so many other amazing star connections to be discovered as you journey with The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister! Don’t get me started on the epic Horsehead Nebula in Orion, our inspiration for the warhorse Alnitak. Or the gravitational modeling involved in creating a planet within a trinary star system.

But don’t worry! Even if you are not into astronomy, you can enter the World of Arcas and enjoy the ride in complete bliss without worrying about star names or constellations or nebulas. It’s a fun adventure story for the whole family to enjoy. The backbone of Arcas may be the celestial universe, but the life of Arcas radiates through its memorable characters and on-going action.

HBSS was a two-year writing project and all this science stuff is great, but it doesn’t reveal our greatest inspiration. We were fortunate enough to receive continual encouragement from close friends and family to follow our dream and finish this first book. Every day at the gym, one of my closest friends asked (consistently for two years!) how the book was coming along. Now folks…that is real inspiration. Friendship.

Meet the Authors

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B. I. Woolet (Benji & Ila Woolet) is the author of The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister, the first book from the World of Arcas series. Benji studied Music Composition leading to a Bachelor’s in Music, and Ila studied English leading to a BS in Education. When they aren’t working, writing, or chasing their three little girls around, they are active in their local community and church. The couple enjoys creating lyrical and literary arts, playing music together, and exploring nature. They are happily married and live in Indiana.

Links
Website: World of Arcas
Facebook
Twitter
Find the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and Goodreads.

Image Credits:
The Ring Nebula: The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2002/28/image/d/

Orion: images adapted with the courtesy and written permission of IAU and Sky and Telescope Magazine.

NaNoWriMo

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This is the first year in three that I haven’t taken part in NaNoWriMo! I just didn’t feel like I had it in me to try this year after three failed attempts. Three failed attempts also means three more incomplete manuscripts to add to my growing collection and I just couldn’t handle a fourth. They sit in my computer laughing at me!

I also didn’t think I’d be able to take part and have enough time to blog but I’ve seen that a lot people are managing to do that….HOW ARE YOU DOING THAT???

Anyway, I wish you all luck, you are braver souls than me and I’m hopefully going to find time this month to complete at least one of my unfinished novels so I don’t feel too left out!

If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month in which crazy people attempt to write at least 50,000 words in November, for better or for worse. It’s a really fun way to force yourself to write everyday. But, I’ve also found it completely impossible. There’s always next year.

More info Here.

Happy NaNo-ing!